Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bob Rafelson: The Bad Guy

Happy Birthday!  Born in 1933 (Feb 21), he's the first half of RayBert and one of the B's in BBS.

Born in NYC to a Hat Manufacturer.

Interesting to note: Bob's uncle Sam, (Samson Raphaelson 3/30/1894-7/16/84) was a short story writer.  And playwright.  And Screenwriter. He wrote on "Shop Around the Corner" for Ernst Lubitsch and "Suspicion" for Hitchcock.  He also came up with a little story called, "The Jazz Singer".  He wrote the short story and play behind what would be the first talking movie in 1927.  A rabbi's kid wants to sing popular music, is renounced by his father and it all works out when he's a success.  Note the difference in spelling between Bob and Uncle Sam; it is simplified from "ph" to "f" and the "ae" becomes "e".  This Anglicizing shows that he had taken the lesson of "Jazz Singer" to heart.

Producer of the Monkees (with Mr. Bert Schneider) and collaborator with Nicholson and The Boys (uncredited) on "Head". Essentially, he took the money & prestige from the TV Show and used it to finance "Easy Rider" and the critical success of "5 Easy Pieces".        

Even though it's his birthday, I will take this opportunity to insert a major question into this grand biography. Hollywood is a city of angles, and I believe that he entered and exited the entire TV Show project with the most cynicism and holds the most responsibility for any and all negative publicity and bad feelings arising from the narrative arc of our story.

In short, he is the Bad Guy of our story. The Bad Father, who eagerly seeded the PR and helped craft the contracts which only gave The Boys $400 a week and little to no profits from the residuals or merchandising.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that he deserted the project around the time of "Head", not fighting to capitalize on publicity or narrative accessibility.  Mel Brooks did a movie called "The Producers" which centered on crazy and evil producers getting a Broadway show to flop, to their financial benefit.  That's what RayBert did with "Head"; they wanted to kill the Monkee project and that movie was essentially received as a public funeral.  (Never mind that today it can be seen as a fascinating experimental film and a lynchpin in the Monkee narrative).

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