In 1948, Howard Hughes, Albert R. Broccoli’s mentor and long time friend, gained control of RKO by acquiring 25 percent of the outstanding stock from Floyd Odlum‘s Atlas Corporation.
Many of RKO’s films were brought in for me to watch, such as the 1942 film Cat People which I worked on ideas for the remake released in 1983 as well as the theme song recorded by David Bowie. Other RKO films we decided to do remakes of were King Kong (original 1933), Little Women (original 1933), Alfred Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Joan of Arc (original 1948), The Ghost Ship (original 1943), and Dick Tracy which was Madonna’s idea.
Another film that I loved is Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). The original “Mr. Blandings” was brought in for me to watch when I was teenager. I connected with the film, since my mother is a real estate agent and I had been through many home renovations growing up.
Mr. Blandings (Cary Grant) is an account executive in the advertising business. His latest ad campaign is for the fictional product “WHAM!”.
This is where I got the idea to name a group “WHAM!” who would record songs I made up.
I was asked to give the singers their stage names which was soon after I met George Lucas. I came up with the name “George Michael”, with Michael for Michael Hutchence and Michael Jackson. Hutch had already told me he was giving part of my writing credit for the INXS songs to Andrew Farriss, so I named another singer Andrew.
It was the film “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” that inspired me to come up with the comedy The Money Pit (1986) starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. The film was co-executive produced by Steven Spielberg.
During the 1950’s, RKO was in turmoil under Hughes leadership as he was more interested in his aviation projects. The only smash hits released by RKO came out during this period and neither were in-house productions: Goldwyn’s Hans Christian Andersen (1952) followed by Disney’s Peter Pan (1953).
It was with Michael Jackson, I worked on adaptions of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” for the Tom Hanks vehicle “Splash” and later ideas using Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” for songs such as “Frozen” recorded by Madonna and “Snow White Queen” recorded by Evanescence. Both stories would be revitalized by Disney as “The Little Mermaid” and “Frozen” which takes it’s name from my song.
Of course, we made many references to “Peter Pan” which includes my nickname of Tiger Lily from Michael Hutchence, Michael Jackson’s Neverland, the vampire film “The Lost Boys” which INXS provided a song for the soundtrack, and the Spielberg film “Hook” starring Robin Williams.
THE MONEY PIT
During the time we were working on ideas for the film “The Money Pit”, I was writing songs which would be recorded by Ozzy Osbourne. These songs included “Crazy Train”, “Bark at the Moon”, and “Flying HIgh Again”.
This is why I named the character Anna Crowley portrayed by Shelley Long for the song “Mr. Crowley” and Walter Fielding, Sr. (portrayed by Douglass Watson) fled the country after embezzling millions of dollars from their musician clients.
Of course, I also had to name a character “Max”.