Note: Although this story is a stand-alone, the detailed background of Joe and the Land-Fields Studios was first introduced in 'The Seventh Reel' and continued in several other stories.
Arnie and Lucy were from the story, Shanghai Surprise.
Here's a brief background:
Weeks earlier, Joe had been placed in charge of cataloging and overseeing the removal of the late studio mogul Henry Land's private effects from his mansion, which his grandchildren were converting into a museum. Joe had worked at Land-Fields Studios for years and had been "borrowed" to manage this phase of the project. After discovering a collection of old films and photographs in a previously blocked alcove within the mansion's wine cellar, Joe had reported his find to Sharon, the Land granddaughter who was chairing the museum project. Thinking these were merely copies of movies the studio made and had later preserved in digital format, she gave Joe free reign over what he wanted to keep.
But as he watched the first movie, he had discovered that there was an extra reel showing a much different version of a scene that had been a song-and-dance number. Instead, this reel was very pornographic and featured the movie's leading actress, seven year-old child starlet Alice Barber. The little girl took on several mobsters in a fuck-fest instead of the cute song-and-dance number that the public was familiar with. It was the beginning of Joe's exploration through the private cache of recorded content, much of it starring children from the studio's various movies and television shows.
With the advent of sound as a regular feature in motion pictures, Land-Fields had created a subsidiary studio called Wonder Films who productions were aimed at children. These were both live-action and animated, the latter's short cartoons competing head to head with Disney and Warner Brothers characters.
Occasionally, one movie or a short-length cartoon character from one studio might resemble one from the other, particularly Disney. Publicly, both studios graciously pointed out how great creative talent sometimes produced similar results. In private, both companies engaged in espionage so cunning that certain "competitive intelligence" employees were recruited to work for the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA, during World War II. Both studios knew that a public war or lawsuit would reflect poorly on both of them - not the sort of thing to do when competing for the often tight family dollar.
In 1953, Henry Land, Jr. convinced his father that the peculiar medium of television was here to stay and would only grow in the future. The son became head of a spin-off of another spin-off as Wonder Films now had the first full-scale television production company, Wonder Vision. The first show launched was the Wonder Vision Variety Hour, featuring cartoons with stalwart studio characters like Monty Mongoose and Ernie Eagle, short serial movies, and live studio performances with a cast of engaging young children called the Visioneers.
When Disney launched its Mickey Mouse Club a year later with its blatant rip-off called the Mousketeers, the industry held its breath for some heavy duty suing. But Henry Senior intervened, assuring his son that there was plenty of room and profit for both. He wasn't entirely correct as the Disney show folded after four years, returning in syndication and other short-lived versions. All the while, the Wonder Vision Variety Hour always stayed current with the culture and still thrived to this day, now usually called 'The VH', and aired on WV Junior, the studio's cable channel for younger kids.
Joe was in his office when someone knocked on the open door.
"Yeah," he said, with his attention still on the work on his computer monitor.
Hearing footsteps, he moved his eyes up to see who was walking in. There was no one there. As he lowered his eyes, he saw movement and finally paid attention.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Changes last made on: Monday, December 07, 2015