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New Jersey Turns 350! Come Celebrate, As I Show Old NJ Films and TV Shows… But Not THAT Old
June 20, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments

It was 350 years ago, on June 24, 1664, that New Jersey, long before it became a state, became named and acknowledged as a territory. That deserves a celebration – and it’s getting one…

In Trenton and across the state, New Jersey is celebrating its 350th, with celebrations so voluminous they have their own website, OfficialNJ350.com. The New Jersey State Archives released to me the above photo, which is described as the “Release of James, Duke of York, to John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret, original proprietors of the Colony of New Jersey, June 24, 1664.”

It’s a story that involves intrigue and betrayal, and, eventually, a very New Jersey-sounding act of cold-blooded revenge: the digging up of the body of Oliver Cromwell, former Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, just so his body could be beheaded, and his severed head displayed on a pike in the public square at Westminster Hall – for 24 years.

Sadly, the New Jersey 350 committee did not think of producing Oliver Cromwell bobbleheads as a party favor. But there’s a party nonetheless.

This weekend and beyond, there’s a roster of events taking place simultaneously – including, on Sunday, June 22, a one-hour lecture I’m giving, with loads and loads of vintage movie and TV clips, about the history of film and television as it relates to the Garden State.

As part of the anniversary, I was asked by the New Jersey Historical Commission to put together a panel of experts to assemble a list of significant film and TV productions produced or set in New Jersey, or prominently featuring New Jersey natives. That list appears as part of the NJ350 website, and I had invaluable help compiling it from veteran Philadelphia Inquirer film critic Carrie Rickey, tri-state native and Cleveland Plain Dealer TV critic Mark Dawidziak, and filmmaker and Rowan University film professor Jonathan Mason. The film list includes that Internet-anticipating 30-second classic from the Edison studios, 1894’s Boxing Cats, and concludes with a trailer for a film opening this weekend: Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys.

As for TV, it covers everything from Trenton native Ernie Kovacs and his groundbreaking television experimentation of the 1950s and early 1960s, up to and including HBO’s The Sopranos and, unfortunately but unavoidably, MTV’s Jersey Shore and Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET, June 22, in the auditorium at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton (205 W. State Street, zip code 08625), I’ll be showing clips from all of them, and more, as my contribution to the 350th birthday of the Garden State. And yes, a clip from Zach Braff’s 2004 movie Garden State is in the mix, too. I’ve also written a blog for the NJ350 website, which includes the list in its entirety.

If you’re in the area, come by and say hi. And stay for the mutton cheesesteaks.

That’s a joke. But I wish it weren’t…

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Bruce in Cherry Hill
David - appears to be an error in the 5th paragraph of this piece. You give date of your forthcoming lecture as July 22. Three 'graphs later you give correct date, June 22. But I'd already followed hyperlink to the NJ350 web site. Since other readers may do the same, please correct the text. Thanks!
Jun 26, 2014   |  Reply
maggie in Trenton
Nice list!
Oh, yes, I remember seeing "Baby It's You" in the movie theatre when it first came out. The story took place here in Trenton. A scene where the characters were driving to the Jersey shore showed a beautiful aerial shot of their car crossing the Trenton Makes The World Takes bridge......from NJ to PA. Ummm..... Of course, everyone in the theatre knew immediately that was a blunder, and one guy yelled at the top of his lungs, "Hey! Yer goin' the wrong way!" Thirty years later, that's the only thing I recall about the movie. :)
Jun 21, 2014   |  Reply
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