Serious, Yahoo 1953-
SERIOUS, Yahoo 1953-
PERSONAL: Original name Greg Pead (changed name in 1979) July 27, 1953; born in Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia; married Lulu Pinkus (a writer and producer), January 22, 1989. Education: Attended National Art School, Australia.
ADDRESSES: Office—12-33 East Crescent, McMahon's Point, New South Wales 2060, Australia.
CAREER: Actor, director, producer, and writer. Formerly worked as a tire fitter. Film appearances include Young Einstein, Warner Bros., 1988; Reckless Kelly, Warner Bros., 1993; and Mr. Accident, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2000. Film work as producer and director includes Young Einstein (also editor, supervisor, and cowriter of song "Great Big Brain"), Warner Bros., 1988; Reckless Kelly (also supervising editor; involved with music design and visual design concepts), Warner Bros., 1993; and Mr. Accident, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2000. Also produced and directed the documentary Coaltown. Television appearances include segments on MTV, 1989. Created television series Lifestyle.
AWARDS, HONORS: Celebrated Filmmaker Award, Harvard University Hasty Pudding Club, 1988, for Young Einstein. Honorary doctor of letters, University of Newcastle, 1996.
Young Einstein (screenplay), Warner Bros., 1988.
Reckless Kelly (screenplay), Warner Bros., 1993.
Mr. Accident (screenplay), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2000.
Also wrote the screenplay for documentary Coaltown. Wrote a series of segments for MTV, 1989.
SIDELIGHTS: Australian actor Yahoo Serious (born Greg Pead) won a large following at home and abroad with his 1988 film Young Einstein, but his wacky brand of Australian humor received a less enthusiastic response in the United States. Roger Ebert, for instance, called Young Einstein "a one-joke movie, and I didn't laugh much the first time." According to Jim Delmont of the Omaha World-Herald, who noted that Serious hoped to cash in on the success of fellow Australian Paul Hogan and his Crocodile Dundee films, "My guess is that Einstein won't travel as well as Crocodile Dundee but will make enough money to finance another project or two for Yahoo."
One aspect of Young Einstein that reviewers found problematic was the fact that it takes place in some sort of alternate universe that plays on the facts of the real world. The story takes place in 1905, when the real Albert Einstein introduced his theory of relativity, but in Serious's portrayal, Einstein is an off-the-wall Aussie who discovers how to split the atom while trying to introduce bubbles to beer. He also invents the electric guitar and rock 'n' roll, neither of which existed in 1905, and falls in love with a young girl named Marie Curie. In actuality, Einstein and Curie were contemporaries and fellow scientists, but they were married to other people.
These complications, combined with the fact that American reviewers did not warm to Serious's zany humor, spelled doom for Einstein, which, despite a huge promotional effort, disappeared from theaters within just a few days. Still, even as some critics tended to pan the movie, others commented on the appeal of its star. For example, Delmont wrote that "The silly film is a pastiche of wild ideas but is full of energy and has a likeable central character." According to Ralph Novak in People Weekly, "Serious is energetic (he did his own stunts) and good-looking (think of the young Dean Stockwell with his hair standing straight out)."
Reckless Kelly in 1993 and Mr. Accident in 2000, both of which Serious wrote and made as he had Einstein, received similar press. Like its predecessor, Reckless Kelly takes as its basis a real person, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, but places him in a surreal alter-universe.
Mr. Accident, on the other hand, is a purely fictional story that nonetheless takes place in a strange fun-house world where, for instance, the Sydney Opera House is the Sydney Egg House, "the biggest free-range egg enterprise in the country."
According to David Stratton in Variety, "Serious hasn't learned from the great comedians, beginning with Buster Keaton, that this kind of frantic farce is best played out against a realistic background." He went on to note that "It's a pity, because in many ways Serious is able to devise near-classical sequences." In addition, like many a reviewer before, Stratton commented on the likeability of Serious himself, if not of his products: "The star displays an appealing persona, with his unkempt red hair and his sweetly naive disposition."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, volume 33, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Chicago Sun-Times, August 4, 1989, Roger Ebert, review of Young Einstein, p. 41.
Entertainment Weekly, September 23, 1994, Steve Simels, review of Reckless Kelly, p. 77; January 26, 2001, Erin Podolsky, review of Mr. Accident, p. 80.
Interview, July, 1989, Brad Kessler and Brad Guice, "Get Serious," p. 32.
Melody Maker, October 7, 1989, Mark Salisbury, review of Young Einstein, p. 49; October 14, 1989, Mark Salisbury, "Immedia: Yahoo Serious," p. 46.
New York Times, July 30, 1989, Myra Forsberg, "The Name's Serious. Yahoo Serious" (profile), p. H21; August 4, 1989, Caryn James, review of Young Einstein, p. B5; February 25, 1990, Caryn James, review of Young Einstein, p. H32.
Omaha World-Herald, August 4, 1989, Jim Delmont, review of Young Einstein, p. 26.
People Weekly, August 21, 1989, Ralph Novak, review of Young Einstein, pp. 13-14.
Premiere, August, 1989, Nancy Griffin and Enrico Ferorelli, "Is He Serious?" (profile), pp. 56-59.
Us, August 21, 1989, "Getting Serious," p. 34; September 4, 1989, Chris Chase, review of Young Einstein, p. 63.
USA Today, December 27, 1989, review of Young Einstein, p. D2.
Variety, October 12, 1988, review of Young Einstein, p. 18; January 25, 1989, Blake Murdoch, "Yahoo Serious' Einstein Taking Oz by Storm," p. 5; April 12, 1993, David Stratton, review of Reckless Kelly, p. 76; September 11, 2000, David Stratton, review of Mr. Accident, p. 23.
Video Business, December 11, 2000, Irv Slifkin, review of Mr. Accident, p. 16.
Video Review, April, 1990, Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell, review of Young Einstein, p. 68.
Village Voice, August 15, 1989, J. Hoberman, review of Young Einstein, p. 69.
Washington Post, August 5, 1989, Richard Harrington, review of Young Einstein, p. C1; April 12, 1990, Rita Kempley, review of Young Einstein, p. C7.
Yahoo Serious Web site,http://www.yahooserious.com (October 29, 2002).*