The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on October 28, 2008 · 57
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 57

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
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Fighting cancer Studies show that physical activity and proper nutrition are important in reducing not only the risk of breast cancer but also recurrence. SEE STORY, PAGE 2E LIFE TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2008 f WBrandy I XH McDonnell bmcdonnell(3 JP Mocking has found its niche "Why is there a guy, a reindeer and a gumball machine watching some weird movie at 2 in the morning?" That question uttered over the phone to my pal (later boyfriend, later fiance, now husband) Patrick during my freshman year of college started me on the path to geeky cult fandom. I had stumbled onto "Mystery Science Theater 3000," or "MST3K." The Emmy-nominated TV series centered on a guy (first creator Joel Hodgson and later head writer Michael J. Nelson) and his robot friends, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, who are forced by evil scientists to watch horrid B movies. Their only defense mechanism: to mercilessly mock, or "riff," the films. Created in 1988, the show ran for u years. A special 20th anniversary DVD box set, out today, includes four films no sane person would watch without the nonstop wisecracks to soften the cinematic blow and video of this year's San Diego Comic-Con "MST3K" cast and crew reunion panel. "We kind of invented this new kind of weird little thing, and then because we were ... open-minded, we were able to kind of figure out how to master it. It's a niche, I guess," Hodgson said. It's a niche many of them continue to fill. Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Mary Jo Pehl and Frank Conniff almost a year ago started the "Cinematic Titanic" DVD series. The group mocks bad B movies while appearing in a different silhouette motif. Nelson, along with Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, create RiffTrax, audio downloads of them heckling popular A-list movies such as "Iron Man," "300" and "Road House." People play the MP3S along with the films to get the funny effect. The group also offers an online forum for fans to post their own riffs and has performed live. "The fans have kept the show alive really," said Beaulieu, an original "MST3K" cast member. "So, we've never really left that world, and that world really won't let us leave." MORE TO COME Read more about the anniversary of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" in Wednesday's Life section and on McDonnell's BAM blog, blog.newsok. combamsblog. - The character Count Gregore has been known in the Oklahoma City area for 51 years. PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN TELEVISION I COUNT GREGOREJOHN FERGUSON STILL ON THE LOCAL SCENE COUNT'S COUNTDOWN In a video, Count Gregore gives his top 10 scariest movies. WWW.NEWSOK.TV THE INCARNATIONS OF JOHN FERGUSON: Count Gregore John Ferguson out of costume. Count Gregore Duke of Mukeden BY DAVID ZIZZO Staff Writer Strangers still give John Ferguson that deja vu look, like they know him but they're not sure why. "They get suspicious when I start talking to them," he said. Some recognize his voice, others his face. Sort of. It's because Fer- guson is so good at bad, or at least acting that way. For decades, he was known for his alter ego, the sinister but strangely beloved local TV character Count Gregore. It began more than 50 years ago at WKY-TV when the king of local children's programming, Danny Williams, needed a villain, someone to play opposite Wil liams' hero character, Dan D. Dynamo, aka 3-D Danny. "I wanted to be on that show," recalls Ferguson, 80, of Moore. So Ferguson, an actor from Indiana who had tried the Hollywood thing for a few years, sat down with some makeup. He fooled around until he had created a despicable guy in the mirror. Williams went for it, and the Duke of Mukeden was born. The who? The Duke was only one of many characters Ferguson would play, including the tycoon, Redbeard, Bazark the Robot, Dr. Person, even a good -guy character, Danny's sidekick Ubick. "Like Spock to Kirk," as Ferguson described it. All would soon fade from the growing TV scene, though. But an unrelated character would make Ferguson an enduring local celebrity, a persona for which he's still known. Keith Mathers, operations manager, asked Ferguson to come up with a character to host a series of horror movies, a late-night TV show called "Shock Theater." At 'if'? 11:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10, 1958, Count Gregore was unleashed on Oklahoma. The mysterious and macabre yet chummy Dracula-esque fellow with a sense of humor struck a nerve with local audiences. Station officials didn't realize it immediately, though. They replaced Ferguson, who went to work acting in gunfights at a new amusement park, Frontier City, and the count seemed down for the count. But public demand for him was so great that within two months, a station official went to the amusement park to tell Ferguson "we've got to have you back." Over the next couple of decades, the count made the rounds of local TV stations, hosting horror and even general oldies movies shows, including "Nightmare Theater," "Sleepwalk ers Matinee," "Creature Features" and "Horror Theater." Through it all, Ferguson and his campy count adapted to the times, going hippie in the '60s and dis-coing through the '70s. The count also was a favorite at parties, sock hops and drive-in theater appearances. When he wasn't the count, Ferguson was an announcer or sales representative at stations. The count's regular TV appearances finally ended in 1988. But Ferguson never retired, he said, always finding things to make financial ends meet. In the late 1990s, for instance, he spent five years as a "course cosmetologist" for Oak Tree Golf Club. The count, like the undead persona he was modeled after, lives on. He reappears occasionally, showing up last week as a guest with KAUT's "2 Movie Guys." And Ferguson still can't quite put his finger on why the count was and is -so popular. "I'm surprised to this day," he COSMIC ROCK "Queen Paul Rodgers: Let the Cosmos Rock" is a high-definition concert movie from the band's tour kickoff in Freedom Square in Kharkov, Ukraine, on Sept. 12 in front of more than 350,000 fans. At 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6, three Oklahoma theaters will present the concert, which features the band's greatest hits and new music from their album "The Cosmos Rocks." The theaters are Quail Springs 24, 2501 W Memorial Road; Tinseltown USA, 6001 N Martin Luther King Ave.; and Spotlight 14, 1100 N Interstate Drive, Norman. Tickets are available at presenting theater box offices and at www.Fathom Elizabeth Banks may not return for 'Spider-Man 4' Elizabeth Banks, who played J. Jonah Jameson's secretary Betty Brant in "Spider-Man" 1-3, tells that she may not return in "Spider-Man 4" saying she's "the last person they call" in regards to the Spider-Man films. She says she was originally given the Betty Brant role as kind of a "consolation prize" for losing out on the Mary Jane role, but now does the films as "kind of a favor," though she doesn't think the producers see it that way. BLOG.NEWSOK.COM NERDAGE HALLOWEEN ROUNDUP Goblins, ghosts and vampires are populating many a neighborhood this time of year, and we'd like to see yours! Submit photographs of your Halloween decorations whether indoor or outdoor for possible inclusion in The Oklahoman. E-mail pictures to featuresdesk(9 Health & Fitness 2E TV puzzles 4E Advice 5E Comics 6E

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