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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Vikings’

Last night I watched the Monday Night Football game which happened to be the first outdoor Vikings game in Minnesota in 29 years. It proved to be a historic game in that the Chicago Bears broke the record for special teams touchdowns in a season. It was also a night when the Minnesota Viking’s honored the 50 Greatest Vikings.

One of the player’s honored was Ron Yary. When I was in film school, and a few years after graduating, I work as a photographer for Yary Photography. A company that Ron and his brother Wayne owned in Southern California. Ron was an Outland Trophy winner in 1967 when he helped lead USC to a national championship. In 1968, he became the first lineman to ever be the overall NFL #1 pick in when the Vikings drafted him. He played in four Super Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. Quite a career.

Ron lives in Southern California and in 1986 “was the guiding force” in starting the Southern California Viking Club which is said to be the largest Viking fan club outside the state of Minnesota. Of course, all of this fuels L.A. football fans because despite Los Angeles being the second largest media market they currently do not have an NFL team.

What lead the game being played outside last night was a damaged roof on the aging indoor stadium where they usually play. The Vikings would like a new stadium to stay in Minnesota. Of course, many in L.A. would love to have the Vikings move to Southern California. Various reports (rumors) have the Vikings’ front office in talks with businessmen in LA. An article on Forbes.com has a Minnesota Senator promising a stadium tax bill in January 2011 that will help keep the Vikings in Minnesota.

Either way, look for some Minnesota Vs. LA drama in the future. (For the record, L.A. has already lured screenwriters such as Diablo Cody, the Coen Brothers, Nick Schenk from Minnesota.) I don’t know, the Venice Vikings just doesn’t have the right ring.

Congrats to Ron Yary for yet one more honor to add to his career.

P.S. Here’s one of the photos I took when I worked for Yary Photo. It’s of the Los Angeles Rams in 1985. It was signed by Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson and is in my office at work. (One additional personal meaning is in this photo is Chuck Scott, a number #2 draft pick from Vanderbilt, who I played football with in high school.)

That ’85 Ram team won their division, but eventually lost to the Chicago Bears in the playoffs. The Bears lead by Walter Payton. Jim McManhon, and Mike Singletary would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. And just to come full circle with a screenwriting connection—before Chicago-raised screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote Juno she thought about writing about the ’85 Bears team as her first screenplay.

Scott W. Smith

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Prairie Home Companion

Saturday afternoon & evening in the Twin Cities I was able to pack enough fun into about a six hour period to last me for the rest of the year. I was in Minneapolis to attend Emmy Night for the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. But I also saw over in St. Paul that  A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor was kicking off their season opener and I thought that would be great to see live after listening to the show a long time before I moved to Lutheran territory here in the Midwest.

The show was sold out but I was hoping to get a couple rush tickets. Worst case scenario, they were piping audio of the show live outside in a street celebration that included a meatloaf supper and a street dance. I literally got the last seat as the couple in front of me generously passed on account that they both couldn’t get in and my wife was already inside.  (They call it Minnesota nice for a reason. Yah, you betcha. And what a great seat it was as it’s where I took the above photo.)

So I was able to see The Sam Bush Band, Connie Evingston, Sarah Jarosa, and Garrison Keillor and his gang perform. Complete with a Guy Noir skit, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a Powedermilk Biscuit Break. Good stuff. And the 1,100 seat Fitzgerald Theater, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2010, is beautiful and a great place to watch Keillor work his magic.

Fitzgerald Theater Sign 0443

Overall the show and the venue reminded me of the Grand Ole Opry which I was able to catch years ago while traveling through Nashville.  I remember hearing Keillor once saying that the Opry was an early inspiration for his show.

Yesterday was also significant in that it was Keillor’s first show since he suffered a minor stroke just a few weeks ago.  I don’t know how much Keillor has written over the years (and I doubt he does) but the 67-year old began his broadcasting career while a student at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1966 with a degree in English. He’s written everything from radio programs, short stories & novels, poems & sonnets, songs & essays and a screenplay.

He appeared in the Robert Altman directed film version of  A Prairie Home Companion and was the voice of Walt Whitman in 9 episodes of the Ken Burns PBS film The Civil War. And on top of all that work Keillor also hosts The Writer’s Almanac, a daily radio program and podcast. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1994. He’s had quite a career since being born in Anoka, Minnesota in 1942. (So all you creatives outside New York and L.A. keep that in mind. Great things from small places is what this blog is all about. I never get tired of telling people that Bob Dylan was from Hibbing & Duluth, Minnesota.)

When the Keillor show was over I had to zip over to downtown Minneapolis to the Pantages Theater for Emmy Night. The Pantages Theater was built in 1916 and renovated in 2001/2002. I was up for two Regional Emmy Awards and ended up winning one for location lighting on a commercial I produced and shot. What a thrill to accept the award on the same stage that used to stage vaudeville performers when it first opened and in a theater that used to play movies starring Rita Hayworth and a host of other Hollywood movie stars over the years.  Thanks to Teresa Vickery and all the people working behind the scene who moved the venue and helped pull off the Emmy Awards this year. And congrats to all the winners.

Scott Emmy 09 0445

Yes, Saturday September 26 goes down in my book as one nice day in Minnesota.

(Apparently there was a little magic still in the air Sunday as 40-year-old Bret Farve tossed a 32-yard game-winning touchdown with just two seconds remaining in the game to give the Minnesota Vikings a victory in Farve’s debut regular season game in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Is someone writing scripts for the NFL?)

And just a word of caution for those working on writing screenplays— Keillor had said around mid-summer when asked if he was going to make another movie, “I’m working on a screenplay now, a fragile love story set in Lake Wobegon, and want to finish it before Labor Day.  And then we shall see.” I don’t know if he finished that screenplay on time, but he did have his stroke on Labor Day.

Update 9/28/09: One regret I have in my years of living in Burbank was never going to see a taping of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Keillor has that kind of iconic clout and if you enjoy his program this would be a good year to buy tickets for A Prairie Home Companion. (For the ’09/’10 season they will record the show live from St. Paul, MN, Bismarck, ND, Des Moines, IA, New York, NY, San Francisco, CA and Atlanta, GA.)

Scott W. Smith


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