Ed Asner and a hugh cast of choice Hollywod stars were brought together by the L.A. Theatre Works in association with station KCRW in Santa Monica, to read word for word this classic American novel by Sinclair Lewis. It was recorded in the studios of KCRW, with stage and movie stars, such as Ed Azner, Nan Martin, Helen Hunt, Harry Hamlin and many other actors playing all the voices and narrations in the novel.
The lines were broken up so that each member of the enormous cast had something to say... all the time. The actors, each with different schedules due to their busy professional lives, had to be recorded separately, at different times, and their voices found separately on the ninety nine reels of tape that were sent up to San Francisco. Along with the tapes were several hundred pages of computerized markings as to where, among the tapes, and places on the tapes, the sentences were to be found. The tapes themselves couldn't be edited or the timing would be lost as to where anything was. I mention these details in respect for the many technical artists who have brought to attention that their skills need to be present from the very beginings of a project, particularly where the job of matching distance, timing and volume are necessary to enhance the dramatic impact of the texts.
Directions from Director, Gordon Hunt, in Los Angeles, for all the sound, all the music cues, had to be done by phone. The technical task of bringing all the voices to sound as if they were at the same or significant other places at the same time could have been designed within the recording studio. Ed Asner and Nan Martin were the only actors to be at the studios at the same hour, but being placed equal distance from the microphones with voices octaves apart left it a prodigeous technical task to make them sound as if they were anywhere near each other or far apart. Hours devoted to try to match each voice for each line, to carry out some sort of dramatic coherence was up to the techncal staff in San Francisco, James Mckee, Susan Stone and Barney Jones. Actors not being able to play off each other was another lost opportunity for the performers and not always a successful editing challenge for the technicians.
Despite all this, the results of the Earwax editors and production staff, contributed much to please the radio listeners. It was a smash hit and made a handsomely successful fund drive for KCRW.
Directed by Gordon Hunt
Recording by Tom Strother
Production Assistant Sarah Spitz
Mixed and Edited by James McKee, Barney Jones and Susan Stone
Production Assistance by Erik Bauersfeld
L A. CLASSIC THEATRE WORKS ACTORS
Ed Begley, jr.
Roscoe Lee Brown
Length: 30 half-hour episodes