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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

"E.T." ... A Special Remembrance

by Steve Vertlieb

On June 11th, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen's most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (here's the Amazon link).

I was being groomed at the time to be a weekly entertainment and film critic for WTAF TV29 (then an affiliate of Taft Broadcasting). The segments would have aired on Friday mornings, as part of the station's daily, hour long "Newsprobe" news and information series. The TV station was subsequently purchased by Fox TV, and changed its call letters to the current WTXF TV. Here, however, and in celebration of a beloved film's first release, is a portion of that original television review from thirty eight years ago …

One of the highlights of the movie is, of course, the soundtrack. John Williams' music helped make Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial one of the most iconic movies of all time. Learn more about his creative process in this behind-the-scenes look at how he created the score for the film! How magic is made ... John Williams talks about his inspired, ethereal scoring for Steven Spielberg's fantasy masterpiece, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in this YouTube link.

While considered a noble "pilot" effort by everyone concerned, the idea was ultimately abandoned, and this fledgling television "Roger Ebert" found his on air career in shambles, except for some sporadic "guest" appearances in museums, universities, and on competing tv stations.

And then there's the E.T. Christmas Special/commercial, A Holiday Reunion. I was taken completely by surprise and delight by this enchanting holiday gift from NBC Universal that premiered Thanksgiving morning during NBC's telecast of the annual Macy's holiday parade. Sure, you can argue that it's a crass commercialization of Steven Spielberg's beloved 1982 children's classic fantasy but … you know what … it's a beautiful, sweet, and loving mini sequel featuring Henry Thomas reprising his original role as Elliott, fully realized special effects, and John Williams' gorgeous original motion picture score.

If the original motion picture, and this mini sequel doesn't fill your eyes with tears of happiness, nothing ever will again. What a joyous Thanksgiving surprise, gift, and treat for "children" of all ages.


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