"Our heroes make such an impact and we carry that with us throughout our lives.” - Gary Austin, Founder of the Groundlings
No quote could be more accurate for anything other than Pee-Wee Herman.
Last week I was fortunate enough to have a copy of "Inside Pee-Wee's Playhouse" sent to me by the author, Caseen Gaines.
The book starts out with a section about the early career of Paul Reubens, and how he got his start with the Groundlings. Soon after it continues on to how the Pee-Wee character was born.
From the birth of the character, to the struggles of financing a live stage show, and making a feature film to the bridges Paul Reubens burnt along the way, Mr. Gaines highlights the highs and lows in Puppetland.
What struck me was after "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" had become a box office success, Paul Reubens was approached with the idea to do a kids show, in which he nearly turned it down. CBS was dead last in ratings for Saturday Morning programming, and needed to catch lightning in a bottle to help them compete with the other major networks.
The first season of "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" is highlighted as a struggle. From casting, to creating puppets and animation to the demands by Paul Reubens to have everything be exactly the way he wanted it, and low ratings starting out, it looked as if Pee-Wee was doomed.
Luckily, as popularity increased, Pee-Wee became a hot commodity, and had his face plastered everywhere.
The show ran for 5 successful seasons until Paul Reubens decided to take a break. Filming for the final season was done nearly one year before it aired.
The time during the hiatus is covered in key points, specifically the indecent exposure scandal, simply referred to as "The Incident."
From there we take a look at Pee-Wee in the 21st century, and see how the character is still relevant, and in demand, even after a 15 year hiatus.
The new version of the stage show is well covered also, documenting the struggles to tweak the original script and re-create the Playhouse and it's characters.
The book ends with a long list of great quotes from various cast and production members about what Pee-Wee means to them, followed by a comprehensive episode guide.
One of the neat features of the book is a large selection of behind the scenes production photos that you will not likely find anywhere else.
Caseen Gaines put in a tremendous effort of time and research into this book, going so far as to personally interview many cast and production members.
Everything Pee-Wee is covered here, the author didn't miss out on anything. I highly recommend this book, not only for Pee-Wee fans, but for any person that grew up during this time period.
You can order your own copy of "Inside Pee-Wee's Playhouse" by Caseen Gaines, Published by ECW Press, on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=inside pee wees playhouse&sprefix=inside%20pee%20&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ainside%20pee%20wees%20playhouse&ajr=2
You can also follow Mr. Gaines, who is quite personable with his fans, on Facebook
I'd like to thank Mr. Gaines not only for lending me a copy of his book, but also for taking me on a trip down memory lane, and learning new details about one of the shows I have loved ever since being 3 years old, growing up in Nebraska.
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