Friday, March 29, 2013

Joan Bennett: From Collinwood to Hollywood

We're delighted to share two recently-discovered images of Joan Bennett backstage on the set of NBC's Hollywood Squares, taken on September 13, 1970. Joan was appearing on the much-loved game show to promote the release of House of Dark Shadows.

Joan is seen pictured with panelist Bill Reynolds and her good friend, horror legend Vincent Price in the first image, and is seen alongside Hollywood Squares and Bewitched regular Paul Lynde in the second. Click on the images for a larger view.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Barnabas Makes Headlines

  • TV Guide have named Barnabas Collins one of TV's 60 Nastiest Villians of All Time. Barnabas placed at number eight: "The Dracula of daytime TV was a spooky and tragically romantic 200-year-old vampire who haunted Collinsport and pursued the local female population fangs first," says the magazine.
  • The Hamilton Spectator has published an update on the fan campaign to get Jonathan Frid immortalised on Canada's Walk of Fame. In the piece, Jonathan's nephew Dave Howitt reveals that the original Barnabas cane, which the actor kept until the end of his life, has now been donated to the Smithsonian Museum. To read more, click here.
  • And finally, original Dark Shadows writer Joe Caldwell was recently interviewed by Tor, discussing his involvement in the creation of Barnabas. "We never wanted to play to the metaphor, but instead, play the vampire straight," he explains. "The audience wouldn’t connect with Barnabas if he didn’t seem like a real person, with real problems... We almost wanted to make you forget he was a vampire sometimes." To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kathryn Leigh Scott's Novel Mystery

Dark Shadows actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans) has written a new novel, Down and Out in Beverly Heels, which is released today. We caught up her to chat about the book's inspirations and her writing routine...

So Kathryn, what was your starting point for Down and Out in Beverly Heels?
I once saw a segment of 60 Minutes about women who were living homeless in affluent neighbourhoods in plain sight – what I call homeless and hiding it. I was intrigued by the idea of a woman who had it all and lost everything, and it doesn't take much. Illness, bad investments, career meltdown, divorce, mental health issues or natural disaster can destroy everything in short order. For me, writing and acting always begin with a what if? So I imagined not only what it would be to lose everything – home, friends, reputation, earning potential – but how to survive it and, most important, redemption and finding the road back. But I also write funny, so my story has an edgy humour.

You first published the story as Murder in Primetime, back in 2006. What made you decide to revisit the idea and how different is the new version from the original?
I printed a limited number of Murder in Prime Time paperbacks that were never sold in stores, but only available to fans of Dark Shadows at the festivals and on my website. I asked everyone who read the book to send me their suggestions to make it better. Well... I got so many really complimentary letters full of ideas... I used all those reviews and comments to rewrite the book, and even changed the name of the lead character. It's a far better book, and I am now almost finished with the sequel!

The theme of suddenly losing one's financial security seems more topical now than it was when the book was first published...
In truth, these days anyone can identify with this story because it's about people who have worked hard, found success through their own efforts and then see it all wiped out. Who doesn't understand that?

Meg, your central character, is an actress from a cult television show. Dare we ask how much of her is drawn from your own experiences?
I write like an actress. I write in scenes and imagine what I would do 'if'... Hollywood is a world I know and experience, so it's fun to write about, but also when something goes wrong, the public exposure is terrific! I know you can hear my voice in the writing, but Meg Barnes is quite different from me and what she experiences only exists in my imagination.

What's your approach to writing? Are you disciplined when working on a manuscript?
I make up a story and write it down in a few pages, that are full of what ifs. Then I write an outline and force myself to write 1,000 words or three pages a day and I don't get a glass of wine until I do. Sometimes I find an excuse to come up with less, but it has to be a really good excuse.

Who inspires you as a writer?
I've always been a fan of the great British women mystery writers, who create wonderful atmosphere, characters you care about and stories that pull you into their world...  Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, P.D. James, Josephine Tey... I love them and their use of language! And I'll never be their equal.

Nonetheless, is there a particular passage or scene in the book you're proud of?
There are some scenes where Meg is auditioning and working on set that I think really capture the behind-the-scenes experience... and I'm most proud of the scenes when Meg is very vulnerable as a homeless woman living in her car.

What are you working on next? Are there any more novels in the pipeline?
I have a screenplay based on Down and Out in Beverly Heels completed and another screenplay in the works. I'm almost finished with the sequel to Down and Out... I am half through a non-fiction book  and have the sequel to Dark Passages to write.

To order Down and Out from Beverly Heels in paperback and Kindle formats, click here.

Kathryn is also offering fans a bonus signed bookmark with proof of purchase from the book from Amazon. For more information, click here. Kathryn will be signing copies of the book at New York's Barnes & Noble store on 82nd Street and Broadway on Monday April 1 from 7.00pm. For full event details, click here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Glimpse Inside The Studio

Reader Ron Edens has written in to share some great shots of the original Dark Shadows studio, located on Manhattan's West 53rd Street. More than 40 years on, it's a still a working studio space, and until recently was the home of The Wendy Williams Show

"It was actually formerly a lumber yard before ABC took it over and although narrow, extends north from 53rd up to 54th, thus giving them a block's length to have multiple sets up at one time," explains Ron. "I rang the bell and a worker came to the door and I asked if I could take a peek. He said, unfortunately, no way. OK, I thought, fair enough, so I took a picture from the street and then went over to 54th Street to see the loading dock entrance. Lo and behold, the bay doors were open, so I took a couple of pictures! It's pretty exciting to see where the Collinwood drawing room and all of those other great sets were!" Click on the images for a larger view.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March News Digest

  • A fan campaign is underway to get Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins) commemorated on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2013. If you would like to submit a nomination for Jonathan, you can do so by clicking here.
  • Sharon Smyth Lentz (Sarah Collins) has just launched a new official website, offering signed photographs and other merchandise. To pay a visit, click here
  • Christopher Pennock (Jeb Hawkes) is one of the artists taking part in Hanged, a group art exhibit which runs at the JP Art Market until March 31. For more information, click here.
  • Bella Heathcote (Movie Victoria Winters) is to star in a new independent film, The Curse of Downers Grove. The movie is slated to begin production this spring.   
  • The Tim Burton Dark Shadows movie comes to Cinemax next month. The film will be seen daily on the channel, with screenings beginning on April 6.
  • And finally, visual effects house Buf have posted some of their work on Dark Shadows, demonstrating before and after versions of the digital effects shots they contributed. The video can be viewed in the window below.