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IN MEMORIAM

Alexander Salkind

A Brief Footnote

Since we first presented this tribute to the magic and legacy of Alexander Salkind, significant events have occured regarding his library which have had a profound influence on Santa Claus: The Movie. The following update should give you an idea as to where we presently stand:

In September 1996, a newsgroup campaign was initiated under the leadership of a webmaster nicknamed Hiphats. Purpose of the campaign: to instigate a reissuing of Superman: The Movie in time to coincide with that film's 20th Anniversary. By January 1997, Hiphats revamped his newsgroup into a website which he renamed The Superman File, ostensibly for the purpose of maintaining the reissue campaign, as well as introducing potential beginners to the Superman property. Two months later, on March 8th, 1997, Alexander Salkind died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, aged 76, of undisclosed complications resulting from leukemia. He was survived by his wife and co-conspirator of more than half a century, poetess/playwright Berta Dominguez D.; Ilya, his only son and longtime partner; Pauline Coutelenq, his production executive and companion; Maria Gatti de Monreal, his executive assistant; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Shortly thereafter, another webmaster, MegadethDC, later to rename himself GandAlfDC (and far much later, Dharmesh), launched his Superman in the Movies page, which ultimately merged with Hiphats' Superman File. The result became the most comprehensive unofficial site devoted specifically to the Superman films. During this same period, Canal+ Distribution acquired all rights to the Alexander Salkind library --- that is to say, all those properties bearing the Salkind name which are not controlled by Warner Bros. Specifically, this included all of Alexander and Ilya's pre-Superman works, both Musketeer movies, Crossed Swords, Where is Parsifal?, Supergirl --- and, of course, Santa Claus: The Movie. By this time, Canal+ had acquired worldwide rights to the Avengers television series starring Patrick Macnee (the basis for WB's ill-fated 1998 release starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery), as well as the entire 22-film library of the long-since defunct Carolco Pictures, including, among other titles, Terminator 2, Chaplin, Rambo II and III, Basic Instinct and Cutthroat Island.

The U.S./Canadian domestic television rights to both Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie (along with Superman III as well, of course) continue, however, to be controlled by CBS Television Distribution, formerly Paramount Domestic Television, and did not affect the original merger deal between Viacom and CBS. At the same time, all North American homevideo rights to Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie were transferred to Troy, Michigan-based Anchor Bay Entertainment, under an additional deal with Canal+. Coincidentally, Warner Bros. controls all North American television rights to the two Musketeer films and Crossed Swords; Canal+, however, retains all other ancillary rights.

It is important to point out, however, that both Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie were acquired by TriStar Pictures for U.S./North American release (TriStar having been formed by --- indeed, having taken its very name from --- a partnership between HBO, CBS and Columbia Pictures); because of this, we must consider the two films as part of TriStar's history, first as an independent company, and later, as part of the Sony Pictures regime.

At some point during 1998, this present website, originally referred to as SCTM.com: A 15th Anniversary Tribute, along with the other components of Richard Washington's Blackbeard's Castle, was launched here on the web, with a view toward morphing into a full-fledged set of websites. By Christmas 1998 (naturally!), Mr. Washington declared that all Blackbeard's Castle sites, including SCTM.com, were to indefinitely remain in a constant state of construction.

In spring 1999, Anchor Bay released the full 125-minute director's cut of Supergirl, marking the first-ever release of any of the Salkind Supermovies in expanded form. By late July, Anchor Bay had completed a more definitive 'special widescreen edition' (including, among other items, audio commentary featuring director Jeannot Szwarc and moderator Scott Michael Bosco; and, of course, the Supergirl making-of documentary). This 124-minute version is currently available from Warner Home Video as the International Version. Meanwhile, Richard Washington announced that, effective November 2001, SCTM.com would be renamed KringleQuest.com. On September 29th, 1999, Dudley Moore went public with his statement in which he revealed that he had been diagnosed with the disorder known as PSP, or progressive supranuclear palsy.

By April 2000, Hiphats' original newsgroup had blossomed into the Superman Web Central --- still the most comprehensive webguide to the Salkind Supermovies anywhere. Meanwhile, as a partial result of the Web Central's efforts, Rhino Records released John Williams' score for Superman: The Movie in an expanded double CD. Among the previously unreleased goodies: all versions of the Main and End Title sequences; Can You Read My Mind? with AND without Margot Kidder's vocal track; and remastered tracks from the original two-record Soundtrack Album. In May 2000, American Movie Classics aired Superman: The Movie in its widescreen version for the first time on U.S. television.

On Thursday, May 11th, 2000, Hiphats contacted Richard Washington with the news that Anchor Bay Entertainment would reissue Santa Claus: The Movie on VHS and DVD in director's pan-and-scan and widescreen versions. Estimated release date for the "new" SCTM: August 29th, 2000; the DVD version contained audio commentary from Jeannot Szwarc and film restoration expert Scott Michael Bosco; four original theatrical trailers, and the Santa Claus: The Movie making-of documentary. All DVD versions --- Supergirl and SCTM --- were digitally enhanced with THX stereo sound.

In late June 2000, Dudley Moore, while resuming his treatments to keep him as fully alive as possible despite his PSP diagnosis, compiled several of his recordings, most of them having been never before released to the public, for a new CD album. News of the compilation was revealed when ABC News' 20/20 Friday encored their powerful segment in which Barbara Walters interviewed Dudley concerning his life, his career, and his battles with PSP.

In late June and mid-July, 2000, Paris-based conglomerate Vivendi began talks to acquire controlling interest in Canal+ and the motion picture operations of the Seagram Group, including Universal Pictures. The combined company, to be known as Vivendi Universal, would potentially add Universal's 80-plus years' worth of outstanding film and television works to Canal+'s already burgeoning library of controlled properties --- including the complete Salkind collection. Again, we stress that these are the Salkind projects whose rights are not controlled by Warner Bros.

In late August 2000, while completing work on the International Version of Supergirl, Anchor Bay's restoration team unearthed what is believed to be the last surviving print of a full-length, 138-minute version. As a result, Superman fans could treat themselves to two versions of the same Supermovie on one DVD. This version of Supergirl, presently out of print, was presented in an exclusive limited edition format as the Director's Cut. As for Santa Claus: The Movie, that DVD features four theatrical trailers --- two Domestic; International (U.K.); and German Versions; the making-of documentary; audio commentary with Jeannot Szwarc and Scott Michael Bosco --- and, for some strange reason, a 30-second POV clip, with audio missing, of the reindeer exiting the Toy Tunnel!

The joining together of Vivendi, Canal+ and Seagram Group's filmed entertainment divisions into Vivendi Universal took effect December 11th, 2000; making Universal de facto controller of the various film properties earlier discussed, including the Salkind library. Meanwhile, the upgrading of KringleQuest.com was launched in early January 2001; and the reborn site premiered on SCTM's 16th anniversary, Tuesday, November 27th.

In February 2001, Hiphats and the Superman Web Central team announced that, after 23 years, Superman: The Movie would be released in an exclusive, Collector's Edition DVD, scheduled for a release date of May 1, 2001. The other Salkind Supermovies --- Superman II and Superman III, along with the Cannon/WB joint production The Quest for Peace --- were also included in the Collector's Edition Supermovie Chronicles. However, several weeks after the Superman: The Movie DVD was released on the date in question, Hiphats declared that his efforts as far as further restoration of the Salkind properties are concerned would henceforth be terminated --- leaving us KringleQuesters to temporarily step in and pick up where the Web Central team left off!

Also in May, 2001, Warner Bros. and DC Comics were named as defendants in a $20 million lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles County Superior Court by Pueblo Film Licensing, successors to the Estate of Alexander Salkind and its Trustees. The suit alleged that, for the DVD release of Superman III and IV, WB edited and altered material "belonging" to Pueblo Film Licensing without PFL's consent. PFL sought an injunction which would result in Superman III and IV being effectively pulled from the store shelves. This in turn would result in the two DVD packages being auctioned at ebay.com. The case was renewed in late June 2002 when PFL took on WB again --- this time, in a U.S. District Court in and for the City and County of Los Angeles. Pueblo now accused Warners of copyright infringement and misappropriation, alleging that "the video package (for Superman) contains a copyright notice in Warner Bros.' name for all the supplementary material, including any additional and/or deleted sequences for the 1978 film." Warner Bros., therefore, effectively represented itself, said the suit, as exclusive holder of said copyright when such privileges rested solely with Pueblo Film Licensing. The suit sought unspecified damages, legal fees, and an injunction barring WB from future distribution of Superman-based videos and/or DVDs. In December 2002, the parties involved settled the case out of court; terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

On March 27th, 2002, Dudley Moore lost his epic struggle against PSP, when he died of pneumonia-related PSP complications at the home of his caregiver, Rena Fruchter, in Plainfield, New Jersey. He was 66 years old. Our section Remembering Dudley has more reflections on this wonderful entertainer and his unique legacy. Less than five days later, Hiphats deactivated the Superman Web Central after almost seven years of serving online as THE undisputed Salkind standard-bearer. For a short time, KringleQuest.com assumed the lead as one of the major successors to the cause. Almost one month to the day after Dudley Moore's death, the Sci-Fi Channel aired the first primetime screening of Superman: The Movie in its widescreen version. During this same weekend, Richard Washington sent out the first of several e-mails to the Canal+ librarians concerning the Salkind library, the intent being to release all the titles in that library to the public in a special Salkind "retrospective."

In late May 2002, KringleQuest.com ceased to be a regular feature of Richard Washington's Blackbeard's Castle due to difficulties with Yahoo!, Inc., which by that time had acquired the GeoCities database and property, regarding bandwidth constraints. As a result, KQ.com subsequently joined up with Tripod.com, where it remains to this day.

In July 2002, two years almost to the day since the original merger deal was announced, Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Marie Messier resigned amid allegations of deceptive business practices within the Paris-based media giant. The subsequent disassembly of Vivendi Universal potentially would have placed ownership of the Salkind properties in jeopardy, resulting in a possible re-acquisition of said properties by Pueblo Film Licensing. That possibility changed in the late fall of 2006, when Warner Home Video began developing the Superman II Director's Cut project.

In January 2003, after a nine-month absence, Hiphats reactivated the Superman Web Central, to launch a year-long countdown to Superman: The Movie's Silver Anniversary. KringleQuest.com continued on as one of the several Salkind/Superman sites that contributed to this all-important milestone. However, in late May 2003, GandAlfDC put his Superman Cinema site up for sale, citing the desire to move on with both life and career. The site was reactivated, albeit in limited form, during the first week of June 2003.

In January 2004, the Web Central was presumably deactivated again; meanwhile, final negotiations continued for the merger of NBC and the former filmed entertainment divisions of Vivendi into a new company, to be known as NBC Universal. Meanwhile, Ilya Salkind, in conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, announced that, in the wake of his return to Los Angeles, he'd already begun pre-production on the first of three epic dramas about --- as the project was originally titled --- Alexander the Great from Macedonia. Ilya also announced the redevelopment of his long-dormant, top-secret film project on the Abominable Snowman. By March 2004, the first version of the Ilya Salkind Company's official website was activated; it wasn't long before that site considered KringleQuest.com worthy of a link or two.

On September 4th, 2004, Ilya Salkind and Daniel Bergin contacted Richard Washington with the announcement that their Alexander the Great movie would now take the official title Alexander the Great from Macedonia --- The Young Prince. In addition, the new Team Salkind expressed an interest in a possible Santa Claus: The Movie 20th Anniversary Special, to be developed either for broadcast television or homevideo markets. Richard wasted no time in responding with his plans for the Anniversary Special project.

In early February 2005, the Superman Cinema site was briefly rendered inactive. The apparent cause: lack of visitors to its prior URL location. The site returned approximately six weeks later.

On August 19th, 2005, Richard Washington explored the Anchor Bay Entertainment website; apparently, they too were busy preparing for Santa Claus: The Movie's 20th Anniversary --- with a special commemorative collector's edition, which hit the streets October 4th, 2005. The official package design for the new edition was then posted on the Anchor Bay site within a single week.

In late November, 2005, the sci-fi/fantasy magazine Dreamwatch reported that Warner Bros. and director Richard Donner had at long last come to a mutual accord, and began talks to prepare, under Donner's supervision, a full-scale restoration of both Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Estimated target date for potential DVD sales: Spring 2006. News of the double Donner restoration also coincided with Warners' releasing the first teaser trailer for their Superman Returns project, which was released worldwide June 28th, 2006.

On January 18th, 2006, Richard Washington received an e-mail from Christian Fitzpatrick, the "young lad from Chicago with no previous acting experience," who, of course, was partnered with Carrie Kei Heim as the heroic young pair who help the Knight of Christmas rescue Patch in Santa Claus: The Movie. Apparently, Chris had somehow resurfaced somewhere in Boston; shortly afterwards, the adult Christian again vanished into apparent private life. Present whereabouts: unknown. Again.

In late June 2006, it was announced that the Complete First Season of the Superboy television series would be made available on DVD. With several negotiations having been made between Viacom, the series' original U.S. distributor, and Warner Home Video, the 100-episode show, the only regular series supervised by the Salkinds, and --- other than the five making-of documentaries --- the Team's only major works created specifically for television could now be shared with the public again ... for the very first time.

On July 26th, 2006 --- the eve of his own birthday --- Ilya Salkind gave KringleQuest.com Founder Richard Washington the biggest birthday present of his life to date, when, during a by-phone conversation, Ilya revealed to Richard his plans to develop two major projects for his already-popular Ilya Salkind Company. One project, Siegel & Shuster: The Legend Begins....., would follow the adventures of young Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster before DC Comics ever bought their idea for the concept that would ultimately become Superman. Another in-development project, Santa Claus --- The NEW Movie, would be a potential continuation of the events depicted in the 1985 original film. Please click here for Richard's new comments on the Salkinds' world, post-Superman Returns.

With the release of the Superboy series' first season, as well as the inclusion of the Supergirl and Santa Claus making-of documentaries on their respective DVDs, the question of when the first two Superman making-of documentaries written and directed by Iain Johnstone would be released in DVD form was answered when Warner Home Video announced the Superman Christopher Reeve Collection and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. Shortly afterward, Richard Washington announced the renaming of this website as KringleQuest.com Beyond, reflecting the 25th Anniversary of Santa Claus: The Movie; in March 2007, Mr. Washington reflected on the 10th anniversary of Alexander's passing. As for Anchor Bay, the Toledo-based video house was reborn as Starz Home Entertainment, but briefly retained the anchorbayentertainment.com URL; whereas its former parent company renamed itself as Starz Entertainment LLC.

On Christmas Eve 2008, Ilya Salkind again contacted Richard Washington; this time, to update KQ Beyond's Founding Elf as to the status of his Santa project, now to be called Santa Claus is Missing: The End of Christmas? Ideally, Ilya expressed to Richard his hope that David Huddleston and Judy Cornwell would reprise their original roles from Santa Claus: The Movie; Richard, meanwhile, suggested the opportunity to be able not only to interview Ilya himself, but also Scott Michael Bosco and, if possible, Jeannot Szwarc as well.

In August 2009, Jim Hudson, a professional Santa Claus based in the Toledo, Ohio, area, contacted Richard Washington with the news that he, Mr. Hudson, had purchased several items linked directly to Santa Claus: The Movie from ebay --- items placed there by Ilya Salkind himself! Each item bore Ilya's signature, along with an official certificate of authenticity.

In mid-July 2010, Superman Cinema was unexpectedly deactivated; the London-based website resurfaced yet again several weeks later, GandAlfDC citing issues between himself and his ISP. By August 2010, all U.S./North American homevideo rights to Santa Claus: The Movie were transferred from Starz Home Entertainment to Lionsgate Home Entertainment; accordingly, the film has since resurfaced in a new, 25th Anniversary commemorative High-Definition DVD/Blu-ray. However, shortly after this vital transfer, the Ilya Salkind Company quietly dissolved all existing assets, and deactivated the second version of its website.

Having renewed his company's web presence at IlyaSalkindCompany.net, Ilya prepared to settle down after his mysterious disappearance and devote himself entirely to touring and maintaining his Facebook presence. But shortly before Halloween 2011, GandAlfDC, now calling himself Dharmesh, shut down the Superman CINEMA website --- yet it endures as the Superman CINEMA Archives, at Jim Bowers' CapedWonder.com.

And then, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Entertainment, Christopher Nolan's Syncopy and Zack Snyder's Cruel and Unusual Films joined their collective forces to bring Kal-el back to the big screen, in the sixth official Superman movie, Man of Steel. The KQ Beyond Team's assessment of this film can be found here. Shortly after Man of Steel was made available to the U.S. DVD/Blu-ray market, KQ Founding Elf Richard Washington, by now styling himself as the self-proclaimed "Elf Without Jingles," obtained a more professional-looking Santa suit, along with the addition of his own separate Santa-themed website, ElfWithoutJingles.com.

On Thursday, February 11th, 2016, KringleQuest Founding Elf Richard Washington once more received an unexpected phone call from Ilya Salkind. The veteran producer, properly at home with partner Deborah Moore, proposed an interview with himself, Pierre Spengler, and possibly Jeannot Szwarc as well. In return, Richard expressed his ideas for his long-in-gestation KringleQuest! The Documentary project, along with other matters.

The next generation of the Salkind legacy was given its second major death in the family, with the loss of Ilya's eldest son, Sebastian, from his marriage to Jane Chaplin. KQ4 was unable to secure the circumstances of Sebastian's passing.

To be continued......

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