All you ever wanted to know about the Cosby sweaters (and more): The available camera technology meant that certain patterns and textures had to be carefully avoided. “The show was shot with multi-cameras,” says Lemire (costume designer), “and back then they had a lot of problems with strobing, so it was very difficult to use certain patterns.” The stockinette stitch, a standard on most sweaters, alternates rows of knitted and purled stitches, which results in a subtle ribbing or stripe effect. The cameras used for “The Cosby Show” made even solid-colored stockinette sweaters vibrate or strobe when onscreen.
Thus Lemire turned to the complicated prints that made up much of the fashion lexicon during the 1980s. “The predominant company that made Bill’s sweaters was Perry Ellis, and that’s because they didn’t cost too much money, they used a flatter knit, and they would have patterns, meaning I could have color there without Bill being in a solid color.”
“I had very little money to use, and it never grew to very much, so I borrowed stuff. The garment district, and Missoni in particular, was wonderful about loaning them.” Ultimately, Cosby’s sweaters came from all kinds of sources, ranging from mainstream department store labels to handmade, one-of-a-kind items.
When you watched Don Draper drop the needle on The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” during Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, was your immediate reaction, “Holy crap, how much did that cost to license?” You were not alone. As you may recall, when Conan’s band played “Lovely Rita” on air during the last days of his Tonight Show run, a lot of people assumed it was a calculated budget-hit middle-finger to NBC. According to Questlove, who knows some stuff about playing walk-on music for late-night talk shows, the price tag for that blip of Beatles would be $500,000. He turned out to be wrong in that particular instance, because NBC had a blanket license with Apple Corps that made usage cheaper. But, obviously, getting The Beatles is never cheap. So what kind of cash are we talking about? Satiating inside-baseball curiosity, ArtsBeat dug around and got the numbers for Mad Men’s Beatles placement: For that bit of sitar magic, the show doled out a cool quarter of a million dollars. Nuts, right?
According to Matthew Weiner, this was the first time a master recording of a Beatles song has ever been used in a television show. (A rep from the band’s label couldn’t confirm that was true, although he did admit that usage was pretty rare.) Weiner told ArtsBeat, “It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing. Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century.” Bold declaration, Mr. Weiner. Fine Young Cannibals might have a thing or two to say about that!
Getting the track wasn’t as easy as dropping off suitcases and suitcases of cash, though. As Weiner explains, “I had to do a couple things that I don’t like doing, which is share my story line and share my pages … Asked what he would have done if Apple Corps had … said no, Mr. Weiner replied: “I don’t know. I would have changed the story.”
Lars Von Trier’s Kingdom (Riget) tv show opening. For some reason that sequence was shown as trailer in theaters around 1994-95, including before kids movies. I must have seen it a couple of times and it used the scare the shit out of me. I only discovered recently what the trailer was from but that sequence is burned into my brain.