Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Ted Newsom: 1952-2020

Yours truly with Ted Newsom in August 2010.

Word has been circulating online that writer-director Ted Newsom has passed away at age 67. No details seem to be available, but he's had a myriad of health problems in recent years, so news of his passing isn't all that surprising. But the world of Monster Kid fandom will be a lot less interesting without his unique voice.

A day at Don Glut's house, with Ted Newsom, Bill Warren, and others. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I met Ted only once -- in August 2010. When I went to visit Donald F. Glut at his home in Burbank, Don took it upon himself to invite several fandom luminaries to join us. Naturally, Ted Newsom was among them. I was especially pleased to meet him, as I always enjoyed reading his perspective on things, even when I disagreed with him.

Actually, out of all of the folks who attended that day, I'd have to say that I gravitated toward Ted the most. I appreciated his wit (which was just as quick and amusing in person), and he was a friendly fellow. I had a great time picking his brain about a variety of topics.

From left to right: Ted Newsom, me, William Winckler, Sid Terror, Don Glut, and Tim Smyth. 

I'd hoped to meet Ted right before I left for Japan, but it wasn't to be. I lost touch with him over the years and thought about reestablishing contact (especially after my friend Jacob hung out with him in California). Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I never got around to it. I'll just have to hang on to the memories I have.

RIP, Ted.

UPDATE (7/9): Given the general theme of this blog, I thought this story that Ted shared on Facebook on May 4, 2019, ought to be preserved for posterity.
I had a CSUN teacher named Al C. Ward. He had been writing for films and TV since the early 1950s, first for the Brian Donlevy series Dangerous Assignment (Bela Lugosi's wife Lillian worked on that; she married Donlevy 10 years later) then shows like Ben Casey and The Fugitive and finally as writer-producer of UMC Medical Center. I had a potential gig writing a dubbed comedy version of the two Steve Reeves Hercules films ("Hercules Recycled"), and I asked Al about it. He said "When I first started out, I had a job like that. They had this Japanese film with a lot of special effects and they needed an American version. I wrote the thing, and they said 'Y'know, if you take a little less money, you can have a piece of this.' I said 'Oh, no, give me the cash.' That was a movie called 'Godzilla.' Brilliant." 
He won have been 100 this year. Poor laddie passed away in the prime of his youth ten years ago.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Great Day with a Former Toho SFX AD!

Yosuke Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, despite heavy rains and winds, I took a long train ride out to the Nerima area to have a visit with former Toho SFX assistant director Yosuke Nakano. Nakano-san began working in that capacity on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) an continued on through Rebirth of Mothra II (1997). But he continues to be involved in tokusatsu and animation to this day.

It was great to hear many stories from his career. I'll have more to say about Nakano-san in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled on my other website!

Revisiting Another Megalon Location!

Tsukushino Park Road. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On July 29, I made a return visit to a filming location from Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) -- Tsukushino Park Road. Its relevance as a filming location ought to be obvious to anyone who remembers the film at all. It's where Yutaka Hayashi and Hiroyuki Kawase "borrow" the model jet. The area isn't very active these days, and most of the shops there seem to be permanently closed. But it looks remarkably similar to the way it did in 1973. Here are a few of the photos I took.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New Displays at the Godzilla Store Tokyo!

Godzilla is ready for summer in Tokyo. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I stopped by the Godzilla Store Tokyo and was quite amused by the new displays. Fortunately, I had my camera with me, so I'm able to share them with you. Enjoy!

Shinjuku at Dusk!

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Here's another view of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building (on the right) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building taken in the evening. Both buildings have been prominently featured in the Godzilla series. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Tokusatsu Is Back!

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, events in Japan are slowly but surely starting to come back. It will still be a long while before things get back to normal, but I'll take what I can get. Tonight, the first tokusatsu-related event in a couple of months was held, and naturally I had to attend.

The guest of honor was legendary SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano, no stranger to such events. Many precautions were taken to ensure that the coronavirus would not spread, and given Nakano-san's age, I was relieved to see that. The other special guest was Takashi Naganuma, a veteran Toho model maker.

Takashi Naganuma. Photo by Brett Homenick.

One interesting thing was that I got to see clips from a Japanese SDF PR film (made with the cooperation of Toho) that featured the late Shigeo Kato as a fisherman thrown overboard during a storm, who was rescued by the SDF. I was also surprised to see that a few shots from the film were used as stock footage in Godzilla 1985. (The shots in question were the ones in which the SDF is searching for Godzilla at sea.) 

Safety first!

As usual, lots of fun and many laughs were had during the evening. It was great to return to the events after a couple of months. Hopefully, things will continue to open up and get better.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Seven Samurai's Shigeo Kato Passes Away at 94

Shigeo Kato in Kamakura in March 2017. Photo by Brett Homenick.

According to Japanese media reports, veteran Toho actor Shigeo Kato passed away at his home at 7:00 a.m. on June 14, just days shy of his 95th birthday on June 16. A private funeral was held with his daughter Yuko as chief mourner. 

Mr. Kato puts flowers on the final resting place of Akira Kurosawa. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I had gotten to know Mr. Kato quite well over the years. We were put in touch by screenwriter Wataru Mimura, and I first met Mr. Kato in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in the summer of 2014. I last visited Mr. Kato in late October of last year with my friend Jacob. Due to COVID-19, I was reluctant to visit Mr. Kato this year.

With Mr. Kato in January 2016.

Mr. Kato's credits are too numerous to list. He is most likely the last surviving cast member of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), and he has appeared in countless Godzilla and other monster movies for Toho. You can read the first interview I conducted with Mr. Kato last year to give you more of an idea of his career. I should have the second interview (that focuses more on his acting career) ready to publish in a few days.

Shigeo Kato was one of the kindest people I've ever met, and I'll always cherish the generosity he showed me over the years.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kato.

UPDATE (6/20): My followup interview with Mr. Kato has been published at Vantage Point Interviews.