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Krofft brothers back in limelight
Question of the Day
The producers who brought a large-headed dragon, talking hats and Freddie the Flute to Saturday morning television are returning to the limelight, thanks to one of their most memorable programs.
Sid and Marty Krofft’s “Land of the Lost,” directed by Brad Silberling (“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”) and starring Will Ferrell, hit theaters Friday, and the original creators could not be happier.
“This is a miracle,” 72-year-old Marty Krofft says. “We went from hero to zero back to hero, and we’re at the top again.”
The brothers, known for such surreal, kid-friendly 1970s programming as “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Liddsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” have been pushing since 1995 to get a big-budget “Land of the Lost” movie made.
It took the right production team familiar with the Kroffts’ signature style — campy, colorful fantasy realms populated by puppets and actors in outlandish costumes — to make it happen.
“Everyone who worked on this movie grew up with our shows, so there was a great respect for the characters,” 79-year-old Sid Krofft says.
For those not familiar with the live-action television series during its 1974-76 run, Marty says, “We were getting 8s and 9s in the ratings, and that meant we could have been probably in the top 15 in prime time,” despite airing on Saturday mornings.
“Land of the Lost” featured a father, son and daughter team of explorers caught in a dimensional warp and stuck in a prehistoric world filled with a species of lizard men called Sleestak, a hairy primitive boy named Cha-Ka (Chaka in the film script) and a grumpy Tyrannosaurus rex.
The series’ origins were tied to Sid Krofft’s fascination with the 1940 movie “One Million B.C.,” starring Victor Mature. He says it “scared the hell out of me.”
The duo also bet that “Land’s” creatures and a Swiss Family Robinson-themed story would help retain the aging audience that had stuck with them through five successful television series.
“We knew that every adult and every child on this planet was crazy about dinosaurs,” Sid Krofft says. “We also struck gold with characters that kids could totally relate to and go on adventures with.”
The new film plays up the laughs through parody and replaces the family with a team of researchers, but it still features plenty of dinosaurs — a computer-generated variety that Marty Krofft calls “the best I’ve ever seen.”
The prehistoric beasts are light-years ahead of their predecessors, having been created by a team of more than 150 designers using a full complement of 3-D modeling technology and led by Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer.
Marty Krofft recalls that in the old days, their version of a difficult special effect involved shooting a guy walking down the street.
About the Author
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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