Hollywood Notebook: Ron 'Tarzan' Ely's 'Doc Savage' movie ahead of its time

The Fresno BeeJuly 13, 2014 

Giuliana Rancic and her husband, Bill, are featured in the E! Network reality series "Giuliana & Bill."

AP

It's now the big thing in Hollywood to be in a superhero movie.

In the case of Ron Ely, he played a superhero long before it was cool.

Way back in 1975, Ely — best known for playing Tarzan in the TV series of the same name — starred in the feature film "Doc Savage." The character was created by Lester Dent for stories that published in pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s and later in comic books.

The movie didn't do well. When I suggest to Ely — during an interview for his work in the Lifetime movie "Expecting Amish" — that maybe "Doc Savage" was ahead of its time, the actor says that he believes the film actually was a little behind the times.

"We did a movie that was in a style that really didn't fit the intellect of the audience at that time. I never wanted it to be cartoonish. I wanted it to have an intellectual appeal. They wanted us to do it tongue in cheek. We ended up lampooning ourselves," Ely says.

In the film's defense, there was a change in studio heads just before the final edit was made and there was no budget for extra special effects or sufficient editing.

The film did so poorly that plans for two more movies in the series were immediately canceled. In this new era of superhero movies, maybe it's time to try another film based on the character.

High praise

A false report that Chis Colfer was fired from "Glee" — sent out by someone who hacked the Clovis East graduate's Twitter account — got me thinking about what life will be like for Colfer after the series ends.

There is no need to worry, he already has branched out into the publishing and feature film worlds. It's almost a regular occurrence these days that actors I'm interviewing for other projects have worked with Colfer.

The most recent example is Angela Kinsey, formerly of "The Office." She is starring in a funny new Hulu series, "The Hotwives of Orlando." Along with her work on "The Office," Kinsey appeared in the feature film "Struck by Lightning" that was written by and starred Colfer.

Kinsey played a guidance counselor who didn't have too many good ideas about dealing with life. She loved the role and getting to work with Colfer.

"I got to improvise a lot and I had Chris laughing so hard he was crying. He's a lovely human being, very kind and so generous. He's one of those actors who gives everyone his undivided attention. He did that despite writing and starring in the film," Kinsey says. "He's just a wonderful person."

Life's an open book

It's a weird world. On one hand, celebrities want their privacy. On the other hand, some celebrities will throw open the doors to allow camera crews to film their lives.

Bill and Giuliana Rancic are among those who have opened their doors to camera crews. The couple — along with their son, Duke — have had a lot of what most people would consider private conversations televised through the E! Network series "Giuliana & Bill."

Bill says that exposure was something they found challenging at the start and fodder for many discussions.

"But once we first started putting those personal matters out there, we got back a lot more than we gave. And what I mean by that is so many people would say, 'Thank you. My family now knows what we're going through with infertility,' or some of the other subjects that we've had to cover over the last seven seasons of the show," Bill says.

Giuliana adds that it's gotten easier over the years.

"We don't feel the cameras as much as we used to, and we're OK with it, because there has been a lot of positive feedback. We're OK just opening up our lives, and we just feel like as long as people can relate to us and they enjoy watching us, maybe they get a little takeaway from our show," Giuliana says.

"We're really happy to put it out there because we just feel at the end of the day, we have this unbelievable platform."

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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