ONE: ‘The Apple’, this Euro-trash musical that Shocking Videos called “extraordinarily, stuperfyingly, painfully ‘for god’s
sakes turn it off, I tell you anything you want to know’ bad”, is so notorious that this title deserves its own large web site. Stories
like angry attendees at the premiere screening throwing their free copies of the movie’s soundtrack at the screen are stuff of
TWO: Allen Carr did approach Olivia about starring in ‘Can’t Stop The Music’, but both couldn’t agree on salary and Valerie
Parnine was cast instead.
THREE: Even though the movie is not a musical, Flash Gordon can be easily compared to Xanadu. Both movies contain
flashy costumes (though Flash beats Xanadu on that category by 250 to 1), both had a profound influence of the 1940’s in their
design, the opening credits and some of the SFX were done by the same company (R/Greensburg), both were distributed by
Universal Studios, the film scores were done by rock groups known for their elaborate sound (ELO with Xanadu and Queen
with Flash) and both had hit singles from their soundtracks, though Flash Gordon only had one, it was the main theme called
FOUR: For a long time, there were speculations as to whether or not the music was “performed” by ELO was really ELO or it
was merely Lynne utilizing his considerable talents as a multi-instrumentalists. This matter was cleared up in a 1997 Bev
Bevan radio interview were he explained that they (the band members) were brought in to re-record Lynne’s songs at a slow
excruciating pace and Olivia flew to ELO’s regular recording studio in Germany (with her two assistance in tow) to sing her part
of the theme song.
FIVE: Utmost of interest to fans are the almost endless gallery of alternative and missing scenes and dialog (like Kira
meeting Sonny in the art studio; “Tell me, is that what I look like?” Sonny: “You keep changing and disappearing”) and different
versions the music; you get to hear a demo of John Farrar singing ‘Magic’, a very rough instrumental version of ‘All Over The
World’, ‘Whenever’ with a slightly different more energetic arrangement with a drum beat and, for the finale, another rough and
striped recording of ‘Xanadu’ and an extended cut of the 40’s pin up dance number. In fact, most of these alternative versions
cropped up in the movies trailer.
SIX: When this author approached Peter Kuper and asked him about this old project, he froze and, thankfully, began to laugh.
He said that it was indeed a rush job and he became involved only because his roommate was behind the stiff deadline and
needed help coloring a page. It was believed that Marvel was also working on a similar project for the Sgt. Pepper movie, but it
fell through at the last minute.
SEVEN: Despite Variety’s original estimation, there has been an on-going debate over how much the movie had grossed in
the US market.
Thanks to the internet, such obscure information can be unearthed…for good or ill. Box Office Mojo.com has lists of US movie
grosses that goes back to 1980, in which it places Xanadu as #28 for that year with a $22,762,571 tally with 249 theaters.
Where and how the web site compiled this information, it’s unknown, but for now, it’s the best we got to settle this argument.
EIGHT: Of course, all this format assembly line talk can not be complete without mentioning the latest digital chapter, The
Digital Video Disc: DVD. Released in 1999, ‘Xanadu’ made it to this level as a widescreen edition with some vary sparse
‘production notes’ and very little else. Some fans were disappointed that the disc didn’t contain more important bonus features
like deleted scenes and the ‘Making Xanadu’ TV special, but the disc did have that all-too rare Xanadu movie trailer, which
featured different (abet very brief) versions and re-mixes of many of the songs.
NINE: To makes this more complicated, there’s a 1979 documentary that inspired the two previous Beaver films, The Beaver
Kid. This time, the ‘Kid’ turns out to be a real life hyperactive Salt Lake City teenager named Gary who claims to have an
“alternate” personality named ‘Olivia Newton Dawn’ and performs the original feat at the high school talent show in front of the
TEN: Patrik Guttenbacher, the co-author of the elaborately researched 1996 book on ELO, ‘Unexpected Messages’, recently
remarked: “The short instrumental version that plays over the cast credits was mentioned in the book as Instrumental of Xanadu
but it’s real title is XANADU OVERTURE, according to [ELO archivist] Rob Caiger who found the tape box (11/20/02). The
Xanadu Overture was the basic track, of which Jeff Lynne reworked ‘Love Changes All’ in 2000.”
ELEVEN: One of the script problems Beane had to contend with was that movie barely acknowledged Greek mythology; an
example of this was that the muses were only identified by numbers, as in Muse No. 1, Muse No. 2, etc., not by names. This led
him to do an extensive research and changed Kira’s Muse identity from Terpsichore to Clio. He later explained that in the movie,
she never got to say her full name as she got cut off by Sonny, and, as she was the central ‘muse’ in all of this, some
adjustments had to be made. “In most ancient Grecian lore,” Beane concludes, “the leader of the muses is traditionally either
Clio or Calliope.” To make things more livelier in this arena, he borrowed an inspirational pinch from another failed Greek-style
Hollywood movie, 1981’s Clash Of The Titans.
TWELVE: It’s worthy to note that the XoB producers used this brief sound bite in one of its YouTube commercials marking
its one-year anniversary on Broadway. We have yet to hear a rebuttal from Ms. McFadden herself.
THIRTEEN: Such fan talk brought back up the age old question of what Xanadu fans should/might call themselves. This time,
Fanadu and Du Crew were added to the fandom dictionary.
FOURTEEN: This wasn’t the first time that the Xanadu dancer’s were
profiled. One member of this elite dance group, Hillary Carlip, did so as
part of her 2006 memoir, Queen Of The Oddballs. Carlip was hired and
was dressed up as a 20’s swim-suit model for the All Over The World
number (and yes, you blink and you’ll miss her) and a juggler in the final
number (ditto). In a chapter entitled, ‘Dear Olivia Newton-John’, Hillary
‘tells’ Olivia in letter form of some of the dancer’s shenanigans behind the
scenes and how it had a positive effect on her personal life.
FIFTEEN: In foresight, it didn’t help much when they used Michael
Jackson’s 1979 #1 hit Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough during the wrap
party section in the TV special Making Xanadu. Not exactly chimp digital
clearance change these days.
A illustrated page from Hillary Carlip's Oddball that was
included in her Xanadu chapter, Dear Olivia Newton-John.
|The following material were used as references and sources for this
Various articles and clippings from Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Broadway World,
Playbill, Wikipedia, USA Today, Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, Variety, New York Times,
People Magazine, Only Olivia (ONJ fanzine), Face The Music (ELO fanzine) and Record
World; various published (print and TV) interviews of Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Lynne,
Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, Bev Beven, etc., American Cinematographer (August ‘80),
Xanadu The Book! Seriously! (book published by Xanadu On Broadway), The Billboard
Book Of Number One Hits (1985), Mediascene Preview (Sept.-Oct. ‘80), Millimeter (Sept.
‘80), The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Hits,... Top 40 Albums, Record Collector (? ‘95),
‘Xanadu’ Marvel Movie Magazine, Billboard’s Movers and Shakers, Entertainment Weekly,
Rolling Stone (Oct. 4, ‘90), Tower Pulse! (? ‘86), , ELO Showdown internet list, and the
actual ‘Xanadu’ script.