Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alphabetically Speaking

What a difference a "P" and a "T" make, especially when one overstays its erroneous welcome as the other remains helplessly frozen in dejected repose. It turns out that I wasn't the only person annoyed with printed TV listings referencing the "star" of the motion picture as Tom Powers -- Tom Towers had been aware of the widespread mistake for years and wanted to do something about it.

In January of 1976 I sent off a letter to TV Guide and requested a correction, though I rather expected that a popular magazine of that size probably couldn't be bothered with the trivial whining of disgruntled readers. At the same time, Towers was also making attempts to right the wrong amongst as many publications as he could.

At the same time, whatever would occur with name changes, it was obvious that one aspect of the many and varied TV movie listings around the country would probably never change: The description of the movie itself. Some listings stated that the main role involved a military intelligence officer, which was blatantly untrue (Al Chop was a civilian, working from the Air Force press section at the Pentagon). Other blurbs insisted that roles were portrayed by U.S. military personnel -- again, untrue, because roles were filled by Los Angeles law enforcement personnel. Still others claimed the movie was about unidentified "missiles from space," which certainly added to the film the very science fiction flavor it neither deserved nor desired.

The inception of the name error appeared to originate from the original United Artists publicity material, and specifically on a press book page which misspelled his name as Powers. The fact that there already was an actor named Tom Powers who appeared regularly in motion pictures merely complicated the issue. Was a resolution in sight? Indeed there was, and we'll explore the result in a future blog entry.