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Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Nomination For The Worst TV Commercial Of At Least The Last Three Decades.

This leaves me open to exclude "Please don't squeeze the Charmin."
Not that I necessarily need to.
This one is probably worse.
"Charmin", with Mr. Whipple, bad as it was, was merely grindingly annoying.
The one I will nominate is openly, actively, mind bogglingly offensive.
And even more pointless.
At least "Charmin" sold a lot of toilet paper.
At least to my mother.
I can't imagine that this commercial helps sell anything to anybody.

With Tivo, at least I am capable of zipping through most commercials.
So my level of exposure to them is relatively minimal.
But I'm given to multi-tasking when the TV is on, which leaves me far too vulnerable.
So here goes:
There are quickly moving abstract images on the screen.
Quick cuts.
There are pictures of cars..
And the soundtrack is a British-voiced vocal, performed by what sounds like a punk-rock singer, accompanied by a loud, loud punk-rock band, singing a version of the song "My Way"
You know. "My Way".
Frank Sinatra.
Written by the world's worst successful lyricist, Paul Anka.
That "My Way".
Actually, the first few times I heard it, I didn't even realize that it was "My Way" that was being sung.
That's how distorted it was.
This may have actually been an improvement, but only in that regard.
In discussions with people I know who are younger than myself, I learned that this soundtrack was not recorded specifically for this commercial.
It turns out that this was an enormous hit record for Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols, recorded over thirty years ago.
And that's what I heard.
It is a complete assault on the ears, and has turned me into a quick-draw artist with the remote.
About the original 'My Way": The story goes that when Anka first played and sang it for Sinatra, Sinatra mulled it over, knowing that it was complete shit, but also knowing that it would be a zillion seller for him, and give him a permanent way to close his act when he made personal appearances.
That it would be his self-described personal anthem.
So Sinatra, being right on all counts, recorded it.
Anka also created another set of lyrics for it, so he could sing it himself, about Sinatra: "His Way".
It contained the lyrical phrase "not in a whiz way" to get to "He did it his way"
I swear to God.
Imagine Sinatra's distress when he heard Sid Vicious's version of it.
"How dare he?"
"This is MY god-damned song!!"
It was probably worse than my distress when I first heard it.
And here's the kicker: Until the very end of it, we didn't know that it actually was a commercial for a car.
The Acura.
Considered to be by many the most white-bread car of all.
So who was this commercial aimed at?
Kids who listened to Punk Rock Music in the seventies and eighties who are now white-bread older adults.
This commercial preaches to the choir.
People who already have Acuras, or would buy one anyway.
It's not going to get kids or black people to buy an Acura.
So what's the point?
And here's an even better kicker:
The voice-over at the end of the commercial, saying something like "Acura. You should buy one." was done by Jonathan Schwartz.
He can deny it if he wants, but it was him.
I know this because I have listened to him on the radio for many, many years.
I know that voice.
He does many voice-overs.
He has been the voice for the Sinatra station on Sirius Satellite Radio.
He is the foremost authority on all things Sinatra.
He loves all things Sinatra, except Sinatra as a human being.
He has been quoted as thinking he was a monster.
He had personal run-ins with Sinatra when he openly criticized Sinatra's Trilogy Album.
It was rumored that Sinatra even sent his goons after him.
He probably thought that "My Way" was shit too, but was smart enough in this instance to keep his mouth shut.
Schwartz has been the Keeper of the Flame of the Great American Songbook.
His father was Arthur Schwartz, who wrote wonderful popular music from the forties and fifties.
And Jonathan worships him.
So I envision one of two scenarios about Schwartz taking this voice-over gig, neither of which making him look or feel good about himself:
1) He saw the commercial that he was to apply his voice to, sold out and took the check, or
2) He just came in, not seeing the commercial, got in the recording booth, said his two lines, took the check, and went home, having no idea what he was lending his voice to.
I prefer to think it was the latter.
And I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when he saw the commercial for the first time.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:
http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman

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4 comments:

  1. God Save the Queen of DiamondsSeptember 12, 2014 at 3:37 AM

    The Sid Vicious version is terrific. Martin Scorsese used it to end "Goodfellas." What it has to do with a car, I have no idea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a third scenario - he likes this version. Schwartz started out as a DJ in NY for WNEW-FM and was very much into rock/punk music. In Sara Davison's memoir "Loose Change" she recalls her boyfriend, later husband at the time Schwartz (but using a pseudonym) making her wear headphones so she can listen to hard rock music while they had sex. So he may still be secretly into rock/punk.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I still can't believe he liked 'My Way"

    ReplyDelete
  4. There's a chance you are qualified to get a free Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."