Thursday, June 12, 2014

Paul Larson's Emmy win!

Paul Larson at the Emmy ceremony in Boston with his award for
Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector

A television documentary celebrating history through music in the Adirondacks can celebrate its Emmy Award win this week.  Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector won a regional Emmy award for Outstanding Documentary at the Boston/New England Emmy Awards gala.  The Mountain Lake PBS production tells the story of Adirondack historian Marjorie Lansing Porter, who recorded traditional folk songs and stories from the last generation of people who remembered them, thus preserving them for the future.

"Porter is a hero for having captured these songs in the nick of time," said producer Paul Larson, who received his award at the gala this past weekend.  "Without Porter's original foresight and hard work to preserve these treasures, we would have lost a lot of music and stories that originated in the Adirondacks.  She never cared much for receiving awards for herself, but she would probably have been thrilled to know the songs she collected have received such a high honor."

The program includes musical performances from contemporary folk singers, who aim to revive Porter's songs.  Performers included Dave Ruch, Lee Knight and Dan Berggren, who had all previously worked with Porter's collection in their own projects, and who helped Larson understand the historical significance of the folk songs. Larson invited the Bacon Brothers, Kevin and Michael, to record a song for the project, as they frequently visit their family camp in the Adirondacks.  Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stooky of Peter, Paul and Mary fame gave their insight into traditional music of the northeast. Larson was also able to speak with folk legend Pete Seeger, a conversation that became his official final television interview when the singer passed away in January of this year.

Paul Larson with his Emmy award for
Songs to Keep:  Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector

"Mountain Lake PBS has aspired to tell the stories of the Adirondack region for over 35 years," Dan Swinton, executive producer of the documentary, said. "We are extremely honored to receive this award as it reinforces our role as an important voice for our communities we serve."

This documentary was just one part of a multiplatform project aiming to increase awareness of and access to the Marjorie L. Porter Collection of North Country Folklore. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY) partnered with Mountain Lake PBS, SUNY Plattsburgh, and The Adirondack History Center Museum on the initiative which included: an album of new recordings from the Porter Collection interpreted by well-known regional and national musicians;  a traveling exhibit about Marjorie Lansing Porter and her work, including new original research with descendants of Porter and the singers she recorded; a manuscript of all the folksongs of Porter Collection; publication of a 40 page songbook from the Porter Collection; a concert series hitting six locations throughout the Adirondack Park; and this 1-hour televised documentary.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences distributes Regional Emmy® Awards in 20 regions across the United States.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Monster Kid of the Year Walks Among Us!

Paul Larson with his Rondo Award:  Monster Kid of the Year 2013, for his successful efforts to unearth and distribute rare, nearly forgotten Vincent Price footage that he put on The Vincent Price Collection Blu-ray set.

     Every year, as the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award spotlights shine on the brightest in their respective fields, the Rondo Awards honor achievements in the darker corners of entertainment, the world of classic horror movies.  People working for monster magazines, spooky DVD releases and scary movie soundtracks are the types who win the internationally-known Rondo Award.  The awards are sponsored by the Classic Horror Film Board, a website dedicated to all things Dracula, Frankenstein, and other creatures that go bump in the night.

     Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro said of the awards, "I love Rondo!"

     Into this misty realm steps producer Paul Larson of Mountain Lake PBS, who has just won the coveted "Monster Kid of the Year" Award, the highest honor of the award program.  Larson, producer of documentaries and the program Art Express, won the award for his work on bonus features for the Shout! Factory blu-ray release "The Vincent Price Collection."  When Larson heard last spring that Shout! was going to release a blu-ray set of 1960s Vincent Price films directed by Roger Corman, including many based on Edgar Allan Poe tales, he remembered a TV series he watched while in elementary school. His hometown PBS station, Iowa Public Television, had produced a film retrospective series in 1982, where Vincent Price himself had come to Des Moines to shoot new introductions for the very same Corman-Poe films.

     They featured the tuxedo-clad actor in an appropriately Gothic Des Moines mansion, speaking about twelve films and his time working with Roger Corman.

     "I contacted Shout! Factory first, the very night I heard they were going to create the blu-ray set," Larson said.  "Then I contacted Iowa Public Television.  I had no idea whether the Vincent Price intros even existed anymore.  They were shot on videotape and were thirty-one years old."

     As luck would have it, Executive Producer Duane Huey called Larson, and said it was a good thing Larson reached out when he did, because Huey was on the verge of retiring and was one of the few people who might know how to locate the long-forgotten footage.  Huey had written the intros for Vincent Price in 1982.

     Huey found the raw footage, and Larson volunteered to edit it back into the intros and outros as he remembered them.  Larson also interviewed Huey to create a brand new bonus feature for the blu-ray set.  "I thought the intros could use some context," Larson said.

  As for the award, "I'm completely elated about this," Larson said.  "People are saying I saved this rare Vincent Price footage before it may have vanished. To think in 1982 I was a kid enjoying Vincent Price introducing his movies in my hometown, and now I've played a role in getting this footage out to a wider audience.  It thrills me!"

     A "monster kid" is someone who has loved the classic monster movies since childhood.  According to the Classic Horror Film Board, the award recognizes Larson's "efforts beyond the call of duty" to help celebrate and preserve the archival materials that help keep these creepy creatures alive. Thousands of horror fans and genre professionals around the world vote for Rondo winners in the annual contest. The award is named after 1930s B-movie actor Rondo Hatton, whose exaggeratedly brutish facial features grace the award bust, and enabled him to play a believable thug in many films.