Frank Sinatra finds a home at USC School of Film and Television
By Thom Fowler
Posted 11/24/02 20:44:02
The USC School of Film and Television recently become the home of the artifacts from Frank Sinatra’s career as America’s pre-eminent crooner. An astounding aray of awards, gold records, Oscars(tm), Emmys, letters from Presidents, sheet music and numerous accolades are on temporary display in the newly renamed Frank Sinatra Hall, formerly the Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theatre Complex. The memorobilia will be on display until March 2003 in the David Wolper Center for the Study of the Documentary in the Doheny Library on the USC campus.
Nancy Sinatra approached the podium while the student jazz band played “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” After a lengthy speech about why USC was the right home for her dad’s stuff, she went on to explain that her dad always wanted her, Tina and their brother Frank Jr. to go to college because Frank regretted not getting a college education. None of the Sinatra kids made it past a year. None of the Sinatra kids needed to make it past a year. “We’ve finally brought dad to college,” she said while the crowd applauded politely.
It seems way back when Nancy Sinatra was in college, good girls didn’t have sex before marriage. “I left college to do the dirty deed,” she told the audience. Nancy’s two daughters have recently graduated from college. “The first Sinatras to get a degree,” She proudly told the audience.
Nancy Sinatra hasn’t lost her spunk. She wore a rhinestone pin that spelled out the word ROCK.
The lavish red carpet affair was attended by friends and family of the Sinatras. Stephanie Powers, who played Mrs. Hart on the 80’s television series Hart to Hart about a husband and wife detective team, was spotted admiring the photographs in the courtyard outside of the theatre in a slate gray silk satin pantsuit. The married detective duo is coming back to television with a modern twist. Produced by Steve Martin for ABC, The couple in question are both male. Alan Cumming will play one of the Mr. Nashes in the show to be called Mr and Mr Nash.
Tina Sinatra, the muscle behind moving the collection to USC roundly thanked all the people involved and apologized to the ones she yelled at. Tina is currently producing a remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE starring Denzel Washington.
During a portion of the program, a short film was shown featuring students of USC talking about what Frank Sinatra meant to them. Several of the segments that made the final cut were students talking about THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Pretty clever. I think the film will take on a wholly appropriate new dimension with Denzel in the lead because the film is about a man’s struggle with invisible forces that are trying to control him. Any disenfranchised social outsider can give witness to being stuck in a game they can’t win and aren’t even supposed to know exists.
Elizabeth Daly, the dean of the USC School of Film and Television thanked the Sinatras for their generous gift and echoed Tina’s sentiment that “Dad” belonged at USC. Governor Grey Davis was scheduled to attend the event but was unable and in a letter of proclamation read by Ms. Daly, Governor Davis declared November 18, 2002, “Frank Sinatra Day.” “Whereas Frank Sinatra has made an invaluable contribution to the cultural life of people all over the world,” the proclamation read.
Frank’s longtime friend Quincy Jones was shadowed by assistants and two Secret Service style bodyguards. The jazz students were reminded why going to USC has its advantages when Jones conducted the band while four student singers sang Sinatra classics including “Under My Skin” which is actually a Cole Porter classic whose most famous version was sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
A cross-promotional opportunity was not missed when Frank Sinatra was compared to other pop-cultural legendary icons such as Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg. Spielberg?
But wait, there’s more! To complete the apotheosis of Frank Sinatra, The USC Trojans Marching Band filed to the stage, causing a few septuagenarian hearts to skip a beat when the doors opened and an ear-splitting drum-roll cracked open the silence of an audience that was already checking their watches and thinking about the pumpkin cheesecake and Irish coffee waiting for them at the reception.
In case you were wondering, Cheerleaders are still young, pretty, mostly blonde things with firm breasts. The attendees were all given a CD and a poster commemorating the event. The CD had one of my fave Sinatra tunes on it, “Witchcraft” but not my other Sinatra fave, “Summer Wind.”
Even though I was angry at Sinatra when he played in South Africa while every other artist and country were imposing heavy sanctions and embargoes to protest Apartheid, I can’t deny that his music is worth all the praise it gets.
The USC School of Film and Television has been training the creators of popular culture since 1929 offering degrees in film and television production, producing, animation, digital arts and interactive media. The Norris Theatre was recently outfitted with a state of the art digital projection system. Which means to me that the industry is very serious about digital. Every year since 1965 a graduate of the school has been honored with an Academy Award nomination