“Many young male neurotics find out early that hard labor is salve for an overactive mind,” Finn Murphy writes in his memoir about his career in long-haul truck driving. That may explain why as a young man he dropped out of college and left his comfortable suburban Connecticut life to become a hard-laboring trucker. That decision was made in 1980, and to this day he keeps on truckin’.
The mind: still overactive. He channeled that energy into The Long Haul, the story of his fuel-injected journey. We meet drivers, movers (and shakers) of all backgrounds, customers and properties of all classes and roads, and weather of all forecasts. If you’ve ever wondered who those people are behind those big rigs on the highway, get into this ride.
Finn lets us in on the secrets of a successful move and the rabbit hole that brings on a disasterous haul. We learn some trucker lingo that goes beyond “Convoy,” as well as how to maneuver a backroad, a parking space, and an irate customer. We also learn what’s actually inside those truck cabins.
In his decades-long career, Finn has covered more than a million miles driving, moving, packing, loading, and hauling. Here, he shares with us a small portion of that adventure, and shows us how a book about moving could be so moving.
Let’s start with the wheels. What was your first truck?
I started with a GMC Astro 95. It was a single screw, which means it didn’t have tandem drive wheels. It had a crawl-in sleeper in the back and a 290 Cummins diesel engine, which is small and it’s pulling a big, fat moving van. Moving vans are not really that heavy because household items are not really that heavy. We never really hit our [weight] limit. The windsheild and the steering wheel was right over the front left tire, so every time you run over a toothpick, you would get jarred. And if you had to start running over some really bad roads, you had to strap your seatbelt on or you would hit your head on the roof.
Then I moved to an International Transtar cabover, which also had a crawl-in sleeper in the back. I had a Kenworth cabover with a bunk in the back. It had a walk-in sleeper, and that just changed my life. And then I moved to a Freightliner Columbia, which was also a sleeper with a double-bed.
What are you driving now?
I’m driving a Freightliner Cascadia: walk-in sleeper, double-bunks, refrigerator, microwave, closet, and a desk for my paperwork. I picked it up in Indianapolis last November, brand new. The Freightliner is like the Buick of the trucking world. It’s very workman-like but not too fancy. The Cascadia I had cost $147,000. If you want to get one with an RV-type thing welded on, then you’re talking about $300,000. Telsa just came out with an electric Class-A truck, and that’s $380,000. But at least you don’t have to buy fuel anymore.
How important is the type of truck you drive to your reputation as a long hauler?
As movers, we don’t care so much about what we’re driving around. That’s not where our ego tickling comes from. That comes from our revenue.
What are some of the biggest long-haul driving challenges?
Weather is number one. And then you have congestion. And then you have topography. When we encounter these things, we encounter them often in combination. So you can have a bad road in bad weather with a bunch of people in front of you and a bunch of people behind you. Any kind of distracted behavior affects me, and that’s where the fear comes in. I am the most defensive driver you will ever see, mostly because I’m scared all the time.
You started driving in 1980. Was it easier back then to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL, Class A)?
Back then, if you could fog a mirror, you can get your commercial drivers’ license. I remember I had a 35-foot trailer, and an old Ford day tractor. In Stamford, Connecticut [where I took my test], there was an orange cone down at the end of the street. That’s how it was back in the day.
Today, almost all the drivers have to go to truck driving school, and that takes a month, and it costs about seven grand. And it’s probably a whole lot better than the training and the exam that I got, but it is certainly more expensive. It’s expensive and time-consuming now to get one, where it didn’t used to be.
When most people think of truck drivers, they usually don’t necessarily think of someone like you: educated, articulate and from the upper-middle-class. Did you have to deal with the truck-driver stereotype?
There is something like three million truck drivers in the United States. It’s not a homogeneous total of white rednecks from the South. And I don’t think it ever really was, except for maybe a very long time ago.
It’s getting more homogeneous as time goes on, partially because there are social implications. So many people have been pushed out of what used to be middle-class jobs in the United States. The average age of a long-haul driver right now is about 55.
What I see now are a lot of husband-and-wife teams. A lot of people choose that life because whatever middle-class job they had, say in Indiana or Kansas, it’s gone. And they have to make a living. So we’re seeing this huge influx of over-50s coming into the industry who have been downsized in one form or another.
In your book, you did a good job of describing long-haul trucking in cultural, historical and even philosophical terms.
There is a tribal aspect to this. Human beings for hundreds of thousands of years have been working together in small bands, whether it’s hunting or gathering or whatever that is. And it’s a wonderful/social cultural kind of experience with all different kinds of people.
Moving people across the country — and loading a truck properly — seems easier said than done. Is it?
It really comes down to how interested you are. If you are interested in loading a truck properly, if you bring some intellectual power to it, then you are going to be better than somebody who is just punching the clock. In the moving industry, there are some people who are just doing the job for the money, and there are some people who do the job for the beauty — and the money. And those are your better movers.
Would you say that no matter how many technological advances evolve, there is always going to be a need for human movers?
In a way, until they perfect the matter energy transporters that Mr. Spock had.
I really like to navigate families from beginning to end during their moves. I like to be there at the beginning and I would like to be there at the end. I like to make sure the house looks like a home when I leave. And that’s what’s disappearing. There is less and less of a need for long-haul movers [as opposed to local movers].
What’s happening now is you still have a group of movers moving trucks, but they’re not trailers that are picked up by a freight hauler and then taken [to its final destination]. He’s not a mover; he’s a freight hauler. He’s going to drop the trailer at a local moving company and then the local moving crew will take the trailer to the final-mile delivery and take care of [the customer]. The idea of having somebody in charge of a move from soup to nuts is rapidly disappearing.
Manual labor like this doesn’t seem easy, but yet it seems somehow satisfying. Is that true for you?
There is a clarity to manual labor because there is a definite beginning, middle and end to it. It goes back to the tribal thing, really.
Click here to devour The Long Haul by Finn Murphy.
Find out more about Finn here.
Still can’t get enough of all things auto? Check out some of Chassy’s uh-mazing documentary selections:
Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story: Willy T. Ribbs was the Jackie Robinson of auto racing. Despite being a Formula Ford champion in England, Willy T. had another race to win when he returned to America—the race against bigotry. Many owners, mechanics, sponsors, and drivers in the racing world derisively referred to Willy as “Uppity” behind his back; death-threats, unwarranted suspensions, and engine sabotage followed him throughout his journey in racing. Despite the setbacks, he was an amazing driver and he became one of the winningest drivers in the history of the Trans Am series. The establishment did everything in their power to keep this great driver down, based on his defiant attitude and antics. Through sheer determination, Willy shattered the color barrier in professional racing, becoming the first Black man to race in the Indy 500.
We Live Machinery: This frenzied documentary is an on-the-go account of the 2015 running of the Targa Baja California. The event is a classic car rally, run annually through the deserts, mountains, and cities of Baja California, Mexico. High speeds, mechanical breakdowns, hard partying, and tense drama are all part of the journey.
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman: The world knows Paul Newman as an Academy Award winning actor with a fifty-plus year career as one of the most prolific and revered actors in American Cinema. He was also well known for his philanthropy; ‘Newman’s Own’ has given more than 350 million dollars to charities around the world. Yet few know the gasoline-fueled passion that became so important in this complex, multifaceted man’s makeup. He loved racing so much it nearly sidelined his acting career. Newman’s racing career spanned thirty-five years with him winning four national championships as a driver and eight championships as an owner — Not bad for guy who didn’t even start racing until he was forty-seven years old.
Click here to see all Chassy auto docs!
Henry Ford was believed to have once said about his Model T, “you can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s black.” A hearty joke that became ironic; in the late 1920s, GM gave that punchline a counterpunch. Unlike Ford, GM began offering vehicles in all shapes, colors, sizes and especially designs (inside and out). As a result, GM surged ahead of Ford, leaving its Model T in the dust. The designer behind that revolution: Harley Earl, the first head of design at GM.
Auto enthusiasts remember Earl as the pioneer of the “concept car,” as well as the originator of clay modeling of automotive designs. He also introduced the wraparound windsheild, the hardtop sedan, two-tone paint design, and, of course, tailfins. A major component to his wheelhouse was the desire to lengthen and lower the design of the automobile, which came to pass. Oh, and he also created the Corvette.
Today, the Harley J. Earl Trophy goes to the winner of the season-opening Daytona 500 NASCAR race. The award features a miniature version of one of his concept car designs: the turbine-powered Firebird I.
Writer William Knoedelseder, author of I’m Dying Up Here, traces Earl’s high tide that lifted all the boats at GM: Fins: Harley Earl, The Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit.
Here, we ask Bill to fine-tune Earl’s legacy and shine some perspective on it:
If people know Harley Earl at all, it’s for his innovation of tailfins in postwar automobile design, but he was on the vangard of more than just that.
It was the least of his accomplishments.
What did he do before he came to General Motors?
Harley Earl, because of his unique background, grew up watching both cars and movies being made, side by side [in 1920s’ Hollywood]. He wound up making dream machines for this group of young people [silent film stars]. They had come from other parts of the country to become more rich and famous than anybody could have imagined. They were his clients and he was hired to indulge them in anything that they wanted. That had never happened before. That carried him forward: he found out what people’s aspirations were. Everybody wanted to be young and rich.
How did General Motors see a need for a designer like Earl?
GM chairman and CEO Alfred Sloane had this idea of the only way to compete with Ford. He couldn’t underprice Ford. The only thing he could do was offer something more, maybe make the cars look different more often. It was a very daunting task that could have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but Harly Earl devised a system in which you could do that [cheaply and effectively]. Do it gradually and continually so GM cars would look different every year, and in the third year, they would look a lot different. That literally blew open the car business, because it played to America’s aspirations.
How did an industry leader like Ford not envision this strategy first?
GM came up with the key to what turned out to be the future of the car business. Henry Ford had a genius manufacturing mind, but he didn’t have an artistic bone in his body. He didn’t have much of an idea beyond making a self-propelled vehicle that carried you and your shit from one place to another economically and efficiently. And to make it as cheaply as possible so that everybody could afford it. Beyond that, he didn’t have a vision.
The Model T was already on its way out. Henry Ford wouldn’t make any changes: “That’s it. It’s perfect. Leave it alone.” Model T sales just hit a wall and GM was ready. GM took over the lead and had it for the next 30 or 40 years. There was this window and GM moved into it. They basically ended Ford’s dominance.
At GM itself, Earl was not exactly welcomed with open arms. Why was that?
The car buisness was built by mechanics. It had a mechanical engineering culture. And this guy comes along with his wild clothes — they thought he was a “pansy;” they called him “Hollywood Harley” — and he was going to take the design out of their hands. They didn’t want to hand that power over to him. So they fought it. With his will and fearsome temper, and the backing of Sloan, Harley won out.
He took a huge industrial enterprise, and changed the focus from mechanics to aesthetics. He was like Steve Jobs by asking, “How should it look?” Looks are just as important as function.
He was reportedly hell to work for. True?
He had a vision that not everybody shared. He pushed it through. This runs among great men who are trying to accomplish things that haven’t been done before. They’re trying to get their troops in line to get it done. And you don’t have time to deal with someone who doesn’t get it or is pushing back. They have to go. Plus, he was impatient. He would fire people at the drop of a hat, and he had that kind of power back then. You could fire people back then for something like not liking their suit. Harley was a man of the age. And he knew he had the backing of Albert Sloan and there wasn’t anything anybody could really do about it.
How did the tailfin design of the late 1940s and 1950s catch on?
Airplane imagery was the imagery of the future. It was exciting. We had just won a global war. It seemed that anything was possible. Also, fins on a fish or a whale is all about power and stability and maneuverability. Then it just took off. Nobody forced that down the public’s throat. People just liked them.
The ‘59 Cadillac was the fin that ended all fins. The only one keeping fins after that was Cadillac. They slowly but steadily reduced them, but Cadillac defined the car by its fins. It took a few years for them to disappear.
The ‘59 Cadillac could be the single defining image of the 1950s. You can’t look at that fin and not think of the 1950s.
Although the public carries an ongoing love affair with the ’57 Chevy, designers actually prefer the ’55 Chevy. Why is that?
The designers who made it just loved that car; that was their favorite car they ever worked on. They actually liked the ‘57 the least, but the public liked it the most. The designers liked the ‘55 better because it was cleaner, it was unadorned. It appealed to their designers’ aesthetic.
The ‘57 is the collectible; that’s the car that Eric Clapton sang about, not the ‘55. I like the ‘57 better. There was something about it. It had more pizzazz. It had more panache. Buying a ‘57 Chevy is much more expensive than buying a ‘55 Chevy today.
Harley’s job was to make sure that what they designed appealed to the public.
What was his inspiration for the Corvette?
His mantra was always longer, lower, wider. At some point, he had gotten there. He couldn’t make them any longer, lower or wider. The only way to go was to go smaller. And he saw all the college kids driving around in MGs, Triumphs, and Jaguar XK 120s. That’s how the Corvette came about.
How would you describe Harley Earl’s legacy?
After Henry Ford, he should be remembered as the most important person in the development of the American car. He changed the game forever to focus on styling over mechanics. There was a problem with that after a while, but it took the car business to the heights because it did appeal to America’s aspirations.
Click here to devour Fins.
Click here to find out more about author William Knoedelseder.
Ya like automotive history? Check out Chassy’s great selection of documentaries:
The Bug Movie is a feature length documentary film about the most recognizable and beloved vehicle on the planet: The Volkswagen Beetle. From its dark past in pre WWII Germany to the Summer of Love, this car captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide. This film explores not only the history of this automotive icon, but also the intense emotional connection it has with its owners past and present, including actor Ewan McGregor and his experience with his first VW Bug as a sixteen-year-old.
The Ford versus Ferrari rivalry at Le Mans is one of the most famous battles in racing history. It started in 1963 when Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari to save the ailing Ford Motor Company, which was being crushed by GM and the Corvette on the track and at the dealerships. Ferrari was the most successful racing team in the world at that time. After months of intense negotiation, Enzo Ferrari said no — refusing to allow Ford to interfere with what he loved the most: racing. Henry Ford II was furious, and vowed to build a racecar that would dethrone Ferrari. Ford engineered a revolutionary racecar called the GT40. The battle would be at the most famous race in the world, The 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Ferrari had reigned supreme for decades. In the 1960s only two teams ever won Le Mans, Ford and Ferrari — Cementing dynasties that would last for generations.
Yep, there’s much more. Click here to check it out.
Adam’s new streaming show, Adam Carolla Goes Racing, is self-defining, and designed with your digital-age attention span in mind. For those of us who cannot get enough of the Ace Man or autoracing — or the Ace Man jonsing on auto racing — both Motor Trend and Vero speed to our rescue.
Motor Trend magazine has a channel, and the channel has Adam. Vero, the social media network that celebrates artists without algorithms, ads, or bots, also offers the series.
Join Adam as he ventures to England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, interviews famous racers like the WWE’s Bill Goldberg, and races Paul Newman’s LeMans-winning Porsche 935. More eps to come!
The Motor Trend channel offers an overdose of automotive shows as well as news on the latest automotive research. There’s a 24/7 free service that features top-rated series like Roadkill, Dirt Every Day, HOT ROD Garage, Head 2 Head, Fast and Loud, and Wheeler Dealers. A subscription service gives you thousands of hours of extra videos and it’sad-free. No cable needed.
Vero is a subscription-based social network for anyone who loves anything enough to share it, and wants control over who they share it with. The feed is composed of your posts and the posts of people you’re either connected with or people you follow. Vero doesn’t curate it, manipulate it, insert advertising in it, or hold back posts. You see what has been shared with you, when it’s been shared with you. You won’t have to pay to “boost your post”, or “reach your audience.”
Recent standout Adam eps:
Adam Meets The Porsche 935: It’s the first day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed – one of the largest automotive events in the entire world. Adam travels across the pond from sunny Southern California to race Paul Newman’s Le Mans-winning Porsche 935 in the Woodstock of cars. Will the comedian ace the first run – or will he burn out on the flint wall?
Nick Mason’s Ferrari GTO: Adam interviews the driver of Nick Mason’s 1961 Ferrari GTO. The car was purchased for about $75,000 and is now worth $60-70 million. Adam goes through the car and what it’s like to drive such a pricey piece of machinery.
Bill Goldberg Crashes His Florence Capital Toyota: WWE’s Bill Goldberg shows up at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and races a NASCAR truck. Things are going well for Goldberg … until they are not.
The 2018 Hammer Bonhams Auction: Everyone wants to see super expensive cars at auctions and find out how much they sell for! Adam and Matt D’Andria hit the Bonham’s auction at Goodwood and show us a 1967 Aston Martin, a 1962 Mercedes and a 2003 Ferrari. Watch and bid along with Matt and Adam to see if you can guess the hammer price.
Battery Trouble – Race Day 2: Adam prepares for his last race at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. But the battery in his legendary Porsche, which Paul Newman drove to win Le Mans, has suddenly gone dead. And his team didn’t bring a spare. Will Adam get his car to the race on time, or will he have to sit out his last run?
Still not enough? We completely understand. Try Chassy’s selection of automotive and racing documentaries.
Here are two big favorites:
ADRENALIN – the first feature-length documentary about the touring car history of BMW.
The film looks back on 50 years of touring car racing with the Bavarian brand, in depth with never before seen footage. The story begins in the 60s, where the cars have been prepared on the hayfield and the drivers were sliding over the Nürburgring or the Eau Rouge in Spa until the flies were sticking on the side windows of their cars.
The founding of the M GmbH in the beginning of the 70s. The M1 with the legendary ProCar races during the Grand Prix weekends. The success story of the M3. And the glory days of the DTM with wheel to wheel racing at its best. ADRENALIN lets you relive the history. Alex Zanardi’s miracle victories in the World Touring Car Championship after his terrible accident, where he lost his legs. BMW’s sensational comeback into DTM with that unexpected win of the championship title. The film illustrates BMW’s touring car highlights from five decades with stars and strategists narrating from the cockpit’s perspective. From Hubert Hahne and Striezel Stuck to Bruno Spengler. From Jochen Neerpasch and Charly Lamm to Jens Marquardt.
24 Hours: One Team, One Target: The 24-hour Race at the Nürburgring is known as the world’s biggest motorsports event. More than 200,000 fans set up their camp in the Eifel forest and cheer for their heroes in the 210 race cars. Lap after lap. Hour after hour. Day and night. It’s the stage for great stories. Sorrow and joy. Excitement and exertion. Drama and emotions. You will hardly find any event that brings the extremes this close together.
In the thick of things, the two cars of last year’s winner BMW with their 70 team members. For months, engineers, mechanics and, of course, the eight pilots have been preparing for the most important race of the year. The filmmakers Tim and Nick Hahne captured it all with their cameras – from the first test drive to the chequered flag coming down – and accompanied the BMW team on the way to achieving its goal: winning the 24-hour Race.
Click here to discover more racing and auto docs!
We’re always up for a Tom Berenger flick, but for this one we’re especially psyched. In American Dresser, Tom’s riding a Harley Davidson Electra Glide , because what else would you ride cross-country?
There seems to be some not-so-nice names for this fine machine, which piss us off: bagger, grocery getter, and geezer glide (the hot debate motors on at the Harley Davidson Forum). The name American Dresser ultimately wins the day, as does Tom’s character in the film. And we love ’em both.
“It’s a generic term for a pretty good size highway bike,” Tom says, “the one you take on long trips, with your tour box and your pack rolls and your rain gear. You can get as much as you possibly can in there, but you can have a comfortable ride for a long distance, so your kidneys are not all rattled.”
The kidneys survive, but the ride is a rattle-fest when it comes to making a decision to live your life in first gear. The tale follows John Moore (Tom), an alcoholic and recently widowed Vietnam vet. After hitting rock bottom, he picks himself up and pushes the choke in. From his home base on Long Island, he floors it cross-country. The goal is to uncover a long-kept secret that his late wife had kept from him for much of his marriage. His travel vehicle of choice: an American Dresser.
Is Tom in on the name debate, or is American Dresser acceptable?
“Once you heard it a bit, you say, yep, fine,” he says. “It’s just another noun.”
A Berenger movie is usually enough to get us watching, but American Dresser draws us in with even more top-drawer talent, including Keith David (Tom’s co-star from Platoon), Gina Gershon, Penelope Ann Miller and scene-stealer Bruce Dern. It’s a road picture, allowing the characters to explore both the micro and the macro.
The lesson (and it’s a good one): move forward, even if it’s one mile at a time. And all the while, with the help of helicopters and drones, the movie shows us breathtaking, sweeping scenes of America the (truly) beautiful.
“When you’re on a four-week schedule, you have to figure out how to do all that,” Tom says of capturing the cross-country feel. Most of the filming took place in Syracuse, NY, but Tom says, “We had a day or a day and a half of shooting in the apple orchards and out by the Finger Lakes. And we shot in downtown Sturgis [home of the famous motorcycle rally]. We shot riding in the Black Hills, riding on the Interstate, then out in the Badlands. We got some good footage of the prairies in between the Badlands and the Black Hills that you could use as generic prairie stuff in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Dakotas.”
Long rides like that leave time for plenty of soul searching. What’s been searching Tom’s soul these days?
“At my age, people older and younger than me — and even at the same age — are passing away,” he says. “That stuff always affects you.”
He was friends with Burt Reynolds, who had died just days before the interview. Tom says, “I knew him. We did two movies together. We got along great. We had dinner. I knew his son. He knew my kids. Together, we once threw a surprise birthday party for Rod Steiger. I sent flowers to him down in Florida when his dad passed away.”
As far as any roads yet to be traveled, Tom says, “I would love to stop doing what I’m doing and write a novel. Take things from my own life, but incorporate them in with the characters.”
A major character of the kickass variety could be Tom’s wife, Laura Moretti Moore, who happens to be a motorcycle fan. He says, “She’s like Steve McQueen’s little sister. She could probably take a bike apart and put it back together. I noticed that all of my male friends are real impressed by her.”
His own cycle history goes back a ways:
“I had a Honda CB450 when I was 21,” he says, “which is a big enough bike, but not as heavy as the one I had [in this movie]. This one was an Ultraglide. It was pretty loaded up and pretty heavy fare. Those bikes are real top heavy. So it takes a little getting used to. It’s could be terrible. It can spill it over when you’re going too slow.”
Hard to imagine the man who played Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes in Platoon to be taking a spill on any damn road. As an seasoned actor, Tom Berenger is good at balance, and extremely go-to for playing solid and unflappable. Hell, he was nominated for an Academy Award for that role in Platoon, which rightfully won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1986. Tom also won an Emmy in 2012 as an outstanding supporting actor in The Hatfields and the McCoys — “outstanding” pretty much sums up that performance. His list of credits are well known and beloved — now by generations of fans — including Major League, The Big Chill, Eddie & The Cruisers, Looking For Mr. Goodbar, Shoot To Kill, The Substitute and Sniper. Sounds like a weekend binge watch to us.
Of course, nothing better depicts Tom’s stoicism, winning smile and unshakable confidence better than the Close-Up Toothpaste TV commercial he filmed in the early 1970s, before he hit the Big Time.
In it, Tom is unwaivering in his conviction that Close Up will be the very strategy that will win his imbecile friend’s hopeless pursuit to impress a girl. The friend thinks the job could be done simply by purchasing a $55 cowboy hat. Tom, of course, advises him otherwise. Needless to say, the imbecile friend takes Tom’s advice and easily wins his girl. Tom is, once again, the unsung hero.
“I can’t believe that stuff is still out there,” Tom says of the classic commerical, and regarding the mysterious magic of YouTube. You can believe it, Tom, because this joint only makes us believe in you more.
Devour the trailer for American Dresser:
If you’re up for American Dresser, you’ll also love Chassy’s Indian Wrecking Crew, narrated by Jay Leno. After WWII, two brands would battle for supremacy in the early days of American motorcycle racing – Harley Davidson and Indian. Three men, Bill Tuman, Bobby Hill and Ernie Beckman, racing for the Indian team, endured lethal heat, exhaustion and barely any pay. In spite of all this, they regularly dominated the better-equipped Harley riders and were dubbed the Indian Wrecking Crew. Their battles across the dirt tracks of America would define the burgeoning sport of motorcycle racing for years to come.
Check it out:
If you like bikes, racing, classic cars, and all things automotive, click here to discover all of our Chassy offerings.
Pluto TV is a free, ad-supported streaming service featuring Chassy content: documentaries, feature films and TV shows that focus mostly on the culture and history of automobiles, motorcycles, and vintage cars. The service includes more than 100 linear channels organized into a programming grid (think cable TV, but for free), offering thousands of movies on demand from TV networks, publishers, and other digital media companies like Chassy.
Pluto TV was founded in 2013 and has since raised more than $51 million in funding from investors.
The Chassy channel launched on August 21, 2018 and is expected to be exclusive to Pluto TV for at least one year. Chassy Media was established in 2016 and offers a catalog of content on its website, in the form of downloads and DVDs. The company is now expanding into streaming television, in order to reach more fans of automotive-related content.
“Being a vintage racer and lifelong car guy, I wanted to really make sure we were getting great content out to as many gear-heads and enthusiasts as possible,” Carolla told Variety. “Launching an entire channel on a free streaming service like Pluto TV, to a built-in audience, is a win on every level.”
Chassy content slated for Pluto TV includes:
Ultimately, the channel will feature a mix of original titles produced and directed by Carolla and Adams, as well as aquired films and TV series and licensed content.
Find Chassy on Pluto TV on Channel 501.
Click here to find more Chassy offerings.
One of the key scenes in director John G. Avildsen’s Rocky is also a groundbreaking chapter in movie history. Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) street jogging/training “Gonna Fly Now” montage — which includes his famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum — utilized the new technology called Steadicam.
This innovation showed Hollywood that the camera operator’s movement could now be isolated from the scene and provide a smooth, stable motion on film. At the time, this feat was astounding; the shot would be money even if the road was, well, rocky.
Our documentary, John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, includes a behind-the-scenes look at the original Rocky, including the making of this iconic scene and use of the then-new technology. In addition to the original Rocky, Avildsen directed all three Karate Kid films, as well as Save The Tiger and Joe. His gift for underdog stories inspired millions of filmgoers and influenced popular culture for decades (yet Avildsen is barely a household name). He received a Best Director Oscar for his work in Rocky (it also won the award for best film editing). In all, Avildsen directed seven actors to Academy Award nominations.
Although Rocky wasn’t the first film to use this technology, it was an early adapter. The “Gonna Fly Now” scene is one of the most beautiful and iconic uses — and best examples — of the Steadicam. Before Rocky, it was first recognized in the Hal Ashby film Bound for Glory (1976), which received an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
Fun fact: the cam was actually first used in the Manhattan chase scenes in Marathon Man (1976), which was released two months before Bound For Glory. Rocky was also released before Bound for Glory.
By 1980, the Steadicam was becoming a further force of innovation — in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it was used in “low mode,” barely above the floor, which opened up the possibilities of creative angles and more dynamic storytelling. Later, in Return of the Jedi, the Steadicam travels through a Redwood forest at one frame per second, to achieve the real feel of a high-speed chase.
Before the Steadicam, establishing a seemingly simple shot like this was nearly impossible. The closest the director could usually get was mounting the camera on a dolly that would roll on tracks or leveled boards. This often proved time-consuming, clumsy, and impractical. Another typical “solution” would require the camera operator to hold the camera by hand, but even the most skilled professional couldn’t eliminate the bouncy effects of hand shaking and foot stepping.
Of course, the hand-held-camera technique would later prove provocative for documentaries, reality television and music videos, but in most cases, a dramatic scene in a film calls for a sense of steady as she goes.
For Rocky, the Steadicam was operated by its inventor (and Philadelphia native), Garrett Brown. He worked on the technology until it proved the ability to tilt, pan, and evenly distribute weight on whom it was harnessed. To show it off, he and his friends made a reel of “30 impossible shots” that could never be pulled off successfully without the Steadicam. Scenes included running in a field, jumping over a three-foot ledge, and running alongside a pool while following a swimmer.
“The astonishing, and lucky thing, about this little invention was you could show someone the effect and not show them the cause. You could show them the impossible shot and they would have no clue whatsoever how you did it,” Brown said.
One additional idea Brown had: filming his wife running up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. This caught the eye of Avildsen, who asked, “Where are those steps? How did you do that?”
The rest, of course is history.
The early Steadicam was not all smooth sailing; it did present some challenges. From an operator’s commentary from The Steadicam Letter (March 1989), Brown said, “My only problem was keeping the camera running in the cold. The two CP batteries weren’t strong enough, particularly after a dent in the center-post started rubbing against the internal motor shaft. We made the well-known Art-Museum-Steps shots with [Ralf Bode, director of photography] running along beside me carrying two automobile batteries to jump-start the Arri [camera]!”
The Steadicam also captured Stallone running through South Philadelphia’s Italian Market and alongside the antique sailing vessel, the Moshulu. That ship shot was recorded from a van, the first-ever Steadicam captured from a moving vehicle.
In 1978, Garrett Brown won an Academy Award of Merit for the invention and the development of the Steadicam, but he didn’t stop there. In 1979, he invented the SkyCam, which flies over and shoots stadium sporting events. In 2006, it won him a scientific and engineering award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). In 2009, he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2013.
Brown also invented the DiveCam (following Olympic divers) and the MobyCam (an underwater camera which follows Olympic swimmers). In all, he holds 50 camera device patents worldwide.
Of course, in the 21st century, the Steadicam is a non-negotiable given. New generations of camera stabilizing systems have since evolved, creating new possibilities in the digital age. It’s was Rocky’s run, though, that showed the world how the Steadicam could fly now.
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Most people know it as the “Theme From Rocky,” but the official title of the original Rocky soundtrack title song is called “Gonna Fly Now.”
It was scored by Bill Conti, with lyrics (only 30 words long!) by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins. The vocals were performed by DeEtta West and Nelson Pigford, in a recording that lasts a mere 2:48. However, those few minutes are crucial to pop culture: it accompanied Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and is forever associated with underdogs who are fighting their way toward a goal, often accompanied by a montage noting their progress.
Our documentary, John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, includes a behind-the-scenes look at the original Rocky, including how its underdog theme was captured in music.In addition to the original Rocky, Avildsen directed all three Karate Kid films, as well as Save The Tiger and Joe. His gift for underdog stories inspired millions of filmgoers and influenced popular culture for decades (yet Avildsen is barely a household name). He received a Best Director Oscar for his work in Rocky; in all, he directed seven actors to Academy Award nominations.
“Gonna Fly Now” was also nominated for an Academy Award in 1977, for Best Original Song (it lost to Barbara Streisand’s “Evergreen,” from A Star Is Born). However, United Artists released it as a single. Like an underdog, it fought its way to the #1 position on the Billboard pop chart after 20 weeks, on July 2, 1977. The magazine ranked it as the 21st most popular song of the year, exceeding over one million copies in record sales.
That same year, the song was also interpreted by jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. That version spent 13 weeks on the Billboard charts, reaching as high as #28. “Gonna Fly Now” was also given the inevitable disco treatment — Rhythm Heritage, a hitmaking instrumental group that also disco-fied the TV themes from S.W.A.T. and Baretta, took its version of “Gonna Fly Now” to Billboard‘s Hot 100 (#94). The American Film Institute included the theme in its 100 Years…100 Songs list (#58).
The song lived on far past 1977. It was reincarnated in different forms in future Rocky films, including Rocky II (1979), which featured a children’s chorus, and Rocky V (1990), in which two different versions of the original song were played. Rocky Baboa (2006) brought back the theme yet again, with additional brass as well as a vocal remix. Creed (2015) sampled the first few notes of the song during the film’s final fight scene.
Composer Bill Conti attended Julliard, but his big break came in 1976, when he composed the Rocky theme. Director John G. Avildsen wanted noble, fairy-tale, no-nonsense music for his fighting underdog. The song, which earned Conti an Oscar nomination, also cinched him the job as musical director of the that Academy Awards program (he has held this position 18 times since then, more than anybody else). Avildsen asked him to compose the music for another of his underdog movies, The Karate Kid (1984).
The success of the “Theme From Rocky” brought Conti into the spotlight as a go-to composer for film and TV. He scored the music for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981). During the rest of that decade, he created classic TV themes for Dynasty, Falcon Crest, American Gladiators and Cagney & Lacey, among others.
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A reason to live: a 21st century update on one of director John G. Avildsen’s most famous underdogs. YouTube Red will present Cobra Kai, a ten-episode sequel to the original 1984 film, The Karate Kid.
The Hollywood Reporter exclusively broke the news of the straight-to-series sequel, with stars Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) reprising their original roles. The two sat for a press conference after making a surprise appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. The actors remained friends during the thirty years that had passed since the original film (which included three successful sequels and a 2010 reboot). Entertainment Weekly called the original Karate Kid one of the 50 best high school films of all time (#40).
Our documentary, John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, includes a behind-the-scenes look at the original Karate Kid, and how its underdog theme forever connected with audiences.
In addition to all three original Karate Kid movies, John G. Avildsen’s films include the original Rocky, as well as Save The Tiger and Joe. His gift for underdog stories inspired millions of filmgoers and influenced popular culture for decades (yet Avildsen is barely a household name). He received a Best Director Oscar for his work in Rocky; in all, he directed seven actors to Academy Award nominations. This includes The Karate Kid‘s Pat Morita, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his role as teacher Mr. Miyagi.
The story takes place three decades after the original All Valley Karate Tournament. A down-and-out Lawrence seeks redemption by reopening the Cobra Kai karate dojo, which reignites a rivalry with LaRusso.
The series is written and produced by Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine) along with Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold and Kumar).
Here is their recently issued statement: “Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid. Cobra Kai will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality.”
Macchio zeroed in on the underdog theme of his character, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “[Daniel has] become very successful and maybe has lost a little bit of touch — he needs to have flaws, and he had flaws as a kid and he will have them as an adult. His heart is always in the right place. As I’ve done at 50-something years old, there comes a time where part of your life creates some challenges: raising teenagers, trying to handle your successful business and having your nemesis come back 30 years later [that] keep you up at night just because of the importance of carrying on the Miyagi legacy. Then how Daniel’s wife will embrace or not embrace this new chapter of him now going back to the dojo. I’m looking forward to that evolution.”
Zabka’s character, Johnny Lawrence, is usually depicted as the bad guy, but in this series he will have an underdog story of his own. He tells The Hollywood Reporter: “Through this show, you get to see who he was and where he came from. I never saw Johnny as a bad guy; I always saw him as the antagonist but at his core, he had a good heart. At the beginning of the first movie, he said he had one year to make it all work and that’s what he wanted to do. He was an ex-degenerate. Then LaRusso comes in town and turns his world upside down. At the very end, he hands him a trophy and says, ‘You’re all right, LaRusso.’ He has a good heart and they tap into that in the show. You’re going to empathize with him. He’s still tough and rough around the edges, but it’s a really smart and fun take on it and I think it’ll be really entertaining.”
The ten half-hour episodes are set to stream in 2018.
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