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Friday
Dec092011

Rifleman Redux

By Bennett Owen

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, The Rifleman, Credit: theuglybug

Oh my God! This is too good to be true! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, The Rifleman is returning to a home entertainment system (AKA boob tube) near you!  CBS is working on a reboot of the original hit that made Chuck Conners a household name in the early 60s:

By the way, the original was produced by Hollywood legend Sam Peckinpah…he knew a thing or two about box office appeal.

Credit: Sneakpeek

Credit: Sneakpeek

But as the LA Times reports, Rifleman is just the tip of the iceberg, as Tinseltown recognizes the blowout success of True Grit, 3:10 to Yuma, HBO’s Deadwood and the solid current performance of Hell on Wheels on AMC.

Credit: tvworthwatching

Quoting the Times: “the timing may be right for a revival of a genre that glorifies open spaces, opportunity and rough individualism, industry watchers say.”

But the new generation of westerns won’t be the classic good guy/bad guy 1950/60s fare. CBS is reportedly also developing a show about a cowboy cop in 1950s Las Vegas.

NBC is said to be working on two western sagas including one told from a female perspective.

ABC has given the go-ahead to two series’ tentatively entitled ‘Hangtown’ and ‘Gunslinger.’

Hangtown is intriguing…described as ‘Tombstone meets Castle,’ it centers on the crime fighting teamwork of a traditional Marshall…an East Coast forensic physician…and a female pulp fiction writer. Creator Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) describes it as, “a broad adventure with a high fun quotient.”

Fox is developing a series revolving around the legendary Wyatt Earp. And Ron Howard is putting together an HBO series with Doc Holliday as the main character. 

Wyatt Earp. Credit: kpbs and the Craig Foults Collection

A&E may soon give the go-ahead to "Longmire," about a widowed sheriff in Wyoming.  Goodness me, the list is long and irresistible.

The Times warns us to expect a high body count in the new offerings, with a premium on authenticity. As one studio exec puts it, "These stories are distinctly American, and they're timeless. I think audiences are looking for something clear-cut and unambiguous."

And let’s face it you can’t get any more unambiguous than the Rifleman.

Credit: tvparty

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Mike DiMuzio: Modern Day Rifleman
By Emily Weaver - Kings Mountain Herald
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. The sounds of The Rifleman still echoes in Kings Mountain. Our own modern-day Rifleman is Mike DiMuzio, of Kings Mountain.
The Rifleman² was a charming Western TV saga of a single father trying to raise his son with Biblically-based morals and a code of ethics in a world often challenged by villainous fiends. The 1958-63 TV series took place in the fictional land of North Fork, New Mexico in the 1880s, where justice and goodness always triumphed evil.
DiMuzio first remembers watching it as a toddler with his father. The character of Rifleman Lucas McCain, played by the baseball star Chuck Connors, was his hero. Today, DiMuzio is the only man alive known to embody the trick-shooting skills and rapid-fire rifle stunts of the late Connors. He can shoot 11 rounds in about three and a half seconds, a feat only rivaled by his childhood role model.
A fan his entire life, he is now a leading expert on the classic show, a rifle smith and, when he feels like it, a trick-shooting entertainer. He has performed for the Single Action Shooting Society gun show in Georgia and been requested to perform in several other venues across the nation. But he often has to decline due to life obligations. It¹s not a business for me. I don¹t want it to be a business. It¹s just an enjoyment, he said. It¹s just has been a fun obsession for me. It¹s like rifle therapy.
But folks can still see his Rifleman skills in two videos on his website at riflemansrifle.com. The first demo video was filmed in Kings Mountain in May 2007 at Bill Pettit¹s gun range. He said that he made it for promotional material for the SASS gun show. The second video, however, was all pleasure.
Shootout at Circle M City Ranch was filmed at a rentable Cowboy town in Sanford, NC, on January 8, 2008. He said that he had a lot of fun filming the second one and has ideas for another more extensive episode.
Seeing The Rifleman revived on the silver screen would be a great joy for DiMuzio. The original producers of The Rifleman, they¹ve turned down four scripts over the years and I have consulted on a few movie scripts, he said, adding that he would love to one day be a consultant or trick-shooting trainer for the next Rifleman star. But he said he¹d still enjoy his rifle therapy even if that dream never comes true.
DiMuzio’s website is www.riflemansrifle.com
Check out his two youtube.com videos and website. Very cool!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzJ6nn7ttEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3jmdPGKKdI

DiMuzio describes the character of Lucas McCain as the quintessential man and the lost picture of masculinity, of righteousness and goodness, tough and tender.
It¹s kind of the lost part of the soul that we struggle to find and the rifle is really kind of a symbol of the character and the heart of the show, he said.
The modified 1892 Winchester SRC in .44-.40 caliber features a large rounded ring that allowed Connors to cock it by twirling the rifle 360 degrees, according to his website. DiMuzio handles the Winchester, firing from the hip and spinning its trick lever, with flawless ease and accuracy - a talent that came after hours of rifle therapy.
To this day, DiMuzio picks up his rifle with the exuberance of a young boy with a shiny new toy. His excitement and his passion for this symbol of his childhood hero glows in his eyes. When he received his first authentic rifle from Moe Hunt, the man who made the last few rifles used by Connors on the show, he said he simply stared at it. He was in awe. Here is this very powerful thing and I just wanted to look at it, he said. Holding it, he added, is almost like putting on Superman’s cape. Because when you watch the show, whenever Lucas McCain had his rifle you knew everything was going to be okay. It¹s a feeling of safety. It¹s a feeling of power.
DiMuzio restores and modifies trick rifles out of his home - a craft he learned from Hunt. Over the last four months, he said that he has received over 800 requests from people wanting to buy one of his rifles and about half as many who just want him to make the special lever. Not anticipating this type of response, he has since, taken himself out of the rifle-making business. I don¹t do this for a living. I¹m not a manufacturer, he said.
It¹s just that people see this and they remember the show and they want it and know that I can do it.
In his backyard and garage, DiMuzio practices with a rifle once used by Connors on the show. His tricks include a swing cock, spin cock and a move he calls high low. Although he isn’t ambidextrous like Connors, he has learned proficiency with both hands. Bullet casings fly at lightning speed as he fires.
DiMuzio is the reluctant star. He doesn¹t see himself as the incarnation of his childhood hero. But he strives to be every bit as good a man as the Rifleman was, keeping the legend alive.

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