Sunday, October 16, 2022



For whatever reason… and more often than not… I am behind the times; I am rarely (if ever) ahead of the curve. It has more to do, I think, with life in the tropics than it does with the aging process. We could argue the point, but the title of this thing is Notes From A Warm Island, NOT Missives from Assisted Living. I am sticking with “hey, mon, it’s the tropics.

Being slow to come aboard is why my spouse and I are only now completing season two of Outlander while the series itself is currently filming its 7th season in Scotland.

I had heard whispers about the show but was unprepared for what I saw. By “unprepared” I do not refer to the gorgeous photography, the expansive production values, the great costumes, the authentic sets, or even one of the more talented acting ensembles, headed by an actress who has Ava Gardner looks and a leading man who is even prettier.

I have been regularly wowed by the work of the handful of directors who have lent their skill sets to this unique show, and the writing is more than worthy of all its artists and artisans. It should be mentioned, for the prudish if no one else, that this is also one of the most sensuous and sexually explicit shows you are likely to see on big screen or small.

My surprise… the thing for which I was not prepared… had to do with the show’s main titles. It seems that when streaming a series at a clip of several episodes per sitting, the titles at the head of the episodes are sometimes truncated. Often, one is given the option to skip the titles and/or the recap altogether. In this case… at least that is my recollection… I was not offered the choice; Netflix just kept the series going… for as long as I was willing to sit…back-to-back-to back… for three or four episodes in a row… the show just kept coming with little, or no recognition of the folks who made the series.

Then the format changed… somewhere around the fifth episode. It was, perhaps, day two of watching this series, that for the first time, we were being presented with the show’s opening signature… in its entirety… qualitatively right up there with the standard we had come to expect of Outlander.

As they should, these openings with their cross references from the 18th to the 20th centuries, set the mood of the show to follow, emphasizing the very fine musical themes that would regularly be reprised in the episodes… and all the while flashing individual names upon the screen.

At my age, it is not uncommon for me to find that these named folk are not known to me. The making of motion pictures and television is a young person’s business. Irving Thalberg was twenty-eight when he ran MGM studios, supervising such classics as The Wizard of Oz and the Good Earth (to name two extremes of his tenure). Orson Welles was in his twenties when he made Citizen Kane, so was Barbra Streisand when she did Funny Girl. I, myself, was twenty-something when I debuted as the producer of Daniel Boone for NBC. Such a list as this could go on… and on… but it’s a digression from what it is I am eager to relate, which is this:

The name Toni Graphia popped up on the screen. What!? I reached for the remote control, knocking over my bottle of Boylan Seltzer in the process. A very fast mop up, then I hit pause and rewound to Ms. Graphia’s credit as Executive Producer on what has become one of our very favorite series of this or any year.

Still in pause mode, I reached for my phone asking GOOGLE for background information/credits for this Graphia person. Sure enough… there she was… “my” Toni Graphia. The young woman I started in the business forty years ago as overseer of the fan mail for Cagney & Lacey was now all grown up and… whaddaya know?… quite a success!

It took me a while to obtain an email address for my erstwhile employee, but the good news is that tropics and age aside, I still have some folks I can call about such things. Within days I had a response from the rain-soaked Scottish location where Ms. Graphia is working on the final season of her brilliant series.

Modesty prevents me from sharing the wonderful things Toni Graphia emailed about her early experiences in the business while working on Cagney & Lacey. The only way it could have been better is if our one-time C&L mentee had her “prop” department supply her with parchment paper and the leading lady’s 18th century quill with which to write it. That would be something to hang on the wall of any future assisted living facility.

Thank you, Ms. Graphia. You brought a tear to these old eyes.

Barney Rosenzweig





No comments: