Click below to see my interview with John Wroblewski of Johngysbeat.com from C2E2 in Chicago - April 15, 2012.
Click below to hear my interview with John Rothman on KKSF NewsTalk 910 San Francisco, broadcast April 24, 2012.
Click below to hear my interview with Dave White of KSAV.com's The Dave White Show, broadcast April 24, 2012.
Click below to see my interview with Athena Stamos of CraveOnline.com from WonderCon in Anaheim - March 16, 2012.
More from WonderCon: CLICK HERE to listen to Bruce's interview about BILLION DOLLAR BATMAN with Tim Powers of Fandom Planet!______________________________________________________
BILLION DOLLAR BATMAN on Greg Vance and Ryan Downing's podcast "Stupid Wankers": CLICK HERE to listen to a one-hour conversation about Batman, Superman and James Bond (CAUTION: some strong language).
CLICK HERE to see Bruce's April 1, 2012 interview with Chris Brockow from the Superman Supersite!_______________________________________________________________________________
BRUCE SCIVALLY ON WRITING BILLION DOLLAR BATMAN
The interview below covers my memories of Batman and my experiences in writing Billion Dollar Batman.
Q: Why write a book on Batman in movies and TV?
SCIVALLY: I wrote another book, Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway, in 2007, and as I traveled around to comic book conventions promoting it, I was often asked when I would write a book on Batman. So I did.
Q: Why the title Billion Dollar Batman?
SCIVALLY: Because The Dark Knight earned over a billion dollars worldwide. And even before that film was released, Warner Bros. referred to Batman as their biggest corporate asset, so the character is clearly a very vital part of a large multi-national corporation.
Q: What are your earliest memories of Batman?
SCIVALLY: My earliest memory is of Adam West in the classic 1960s TV series. I was all of five years old when the show premiered, and even in north Alabama, where a color TV was a luxury my family couldn't afford, the show made quite an impact. Like the rest of America, my older brother and I were swept up in Batmania. We tuned in every Wednesday and Thursday night to see Batman and Robin battle against the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, King Tut and a host of other villains. We persuaded our parents to buy us Batman coloring books and balloons and record albums and even a weird plastic "flying Batman" ornithopter-type toy that never quite worked.
Q: Did you read the Batman comic books?
SCIVALLY: My brother and I began collecting comic books in the early 1970s, and of course we had a heap of Batman comics. This was during the time that writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams were reinventing the character, making him more modern and mature, and we thought that was pretty cool.
Q: Were you still buying Batman toys?
SCIVALLY: Oh sure. We had the first Batman and Robin Mego action figures—the ones with removable masks—and a plastic Batmobile for them to ride in.
Q: Is it true you starred in a Batman movie?
SCIVALLY: Kind of. When I was about 13, I decided I wanted to become a filmmaker. So, I got a GAF Dual-8mm projector for Christmas, and among the movies I bought to show on it were edited-down versions of the old 1943 Batman serial. Later on, when my brother and I saved up our allowances and bought a Super 8mm movie camera, we made our own Batman movie. It was actually a spoof called Batdude. Our mother helped us out by sewing some pretty cool Batman and Robin outfits. My brother, being a couple of years older than me, and taller, was Batdude; I was a very knob-kneed, skinny-legged Rotten, the Boy Blunder. Our silent 10-minute epic, shot on a budget of about $20 and change, received good notices from the three or four people who saw it.
Q: Do you still have it?
SCIVALLY: No comment.
Q: When you moved to Los Angeles, did you have any Bat-sightings?
SCIVALLY: After I graduated from USC, I looked about for a job and ended up as, of all things, a security guard at a condominium off the Sunset strip. One of the residents was Burt Ward—Robin from the 1960s TV show—who was always cheerful and still brimming with youthful energy. And several years later, after Michael Keaton became Batman, I saw him in a vegetarian sandwich shop in West L.A. But I'd seen Keaton prior to that, at the premiere of Batman in 1989.
Q: How did you get into the Batman premiere?
SCIVALLY: I was working at a talent agency in Beverly Hills. One morning I happened to see an item in Daily Variety announcing the premiere of Warner Bros. new movie Batman in Westwood that evening. I called a friend and we decided to crash the proceedings. We joined the throngs of fans waiting for the stars to arrive, and caught glimpses of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson and various other celebrities. There were also numerous fans in costume, some dressed in Adam West-style blue-and-gray outfits, and some in all-black Michael Keaton-style suits. When we were allowed into the theater, you could feel the excitement when a "Batsignal" shone on the theater curtains, and when the film started and Batman first appeared, dropping down from the shadows, there were audible oohs and ahs.
Q: Did you go to premieres of any other Batman films?
SCIVALLY: No, but I was at a pre-release press screening of Batman and Robin, which a friend who was a film critic invited me to. That was quite a night. We entered the theater, which was packed with other critics and several hundred enthusiastic fans recruited to fill up the theater. Before the film began, a Batsignal was projected onto the theater curtains. The fans cheered mightily. They continued cheering and applauding as the curtains parted and the film's credits rolled. But as the movie unspooled, the cheers began to taper off, replaced first by groans and then by boos. Thirty minutes in, people began walking out. By the halfway point, only the hard-core fans and critics who felt duty-bound to see the film all the way through remained. When it ended, there was no applause, only silence. For the Warner Bros. executives in the theater, it must have been devastatingly depressing—what should have been one of their biggest hits was poised to be one of the year's biggest turkeys.
Q: Were you in Chicago when The Dark Knight filmed there?
SCIVALLY: I'd been living there for about a year at that point. I managed to spend a day on location at Navy Pier and observed director Christopher Nolan at work, but the scenes being shot didn't involve Batman or the Joker, so I didn't see Christian Bale or Heath Ledger.
Q: Of all the actors who have played Batman, who is your favorite?
SCIVALLY: Adam West, because he's the one I saw when I was a kid, and those childhood memories always seem to be the most potent. But I think all the Batman actors were good, with each one bringing some of their own persona to the role. Even George Clooney. The film he starred in was flawed, but he certainly looked good in the Batsuit, and was a credible Bruce Wayne. And the Christopher Nolan films are just great movies, period.
Q: How do you think the more recent Batman movies compare to the Adam West series?
SCIVALLY: You really can't compare them. The Adam West series was made to appeal to small children, with some sly humor for the adults, while the Christopher Nolan films are clearly made for an adult audience, with no humor. But you can't say that one interpretation was more correct than the other; they were each appropriate for the time in which they were made.
Q: Do you feel you were in any way personally influenced by reading the Batman comics or watching the Batman TV shows and movies?
SCIVALLY: I think I was more influenced by Superman and the Lone Ranger. They were my moral compasses. Batman was just entertainment.
Q: Who were some of the people you interviewed for the Batman book?
SCIVALLY: One of the first was Michael G. Wilson, the producer of the James Bond films, whose father, Lewis Wilson, was the first live-action Batman in 1943. I also had a lengthy interview with Tom Mankiewicz, who wrote the script that eventually evolved into the Tim Burton Batman. Sad to say, Mankiewicz died before I finished the book. Then there was Lorenzo Semple Jr., who co-created and wrote most of the scripts for the 1960s TV series, and Michael Uslan, who has produced all of the Batman movies since 1989 and was the man directly responsible for bringing Batman to movie screens. I also spoke to Bob Hanks, son of Robert Lowery, who played Batman in 1949, and Deborah Dozier Potter, daughter of William Dozier, producer of the 1960s TV show. And Jane Adams, who played Vicki Vale in the 1949 serial, and Ed Begley Jr., who appeared in Batman Forever. And Sharmagne Leland-St. John gave me some good info on Douglas Croft, who was the first live-action Robin.
Q: Do you cover the animated Batman series in the book?
SCIVALLY: No. Once I began writing about the Batman animated series and feature films, I realized that if I continued, the book would balloon to the size of a Tolstoy novel. So I decided to concentrate solely on the live-action versions.
Q: Batman was created in 1939. Is he still relevant in our modern era?
SCIVALLY: Now more than ever. Batman is a very dark character, one who has psychological issues and is motivated by a deep sense of rage and injustice. And in these uncertain times, I think a lot of people feel a deep sense of rage and injustice. So he still definitely strikes a chord. I believe one of the reasons he's remained so popular is because, quite simply, he's us.
In the interview below, I talk about my memories of Superman and my experiences in writing Superman On Film, Television, Radio And Broadway.
Q: When did you become a Superman fan?