Film Industry Helping Local Band Get Noticed, Helps Cancer Patients in the Process

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One of the major benefits the filmed entertainment industry brings to the Los Angeles area is the complementary impact it has on other sectors of the economy.  One of the industries most directly linked to filmed entertainment is the music industry, a monolith on its own in the region.  The two industries are closely related in many ways.  They are able to feed off one another: music enriches film and film can inspire music.   And, here in Los Angeles both draw from a deep and talented pool of artists.

The recent popularity of Disney’s Tron Legacy was, in part, driven by its soundtrack by Daft Punk.  Indeed music is such a fundamental part of motion pictures, the Academy Awards include several categories just for the art. Rather than discuss the film and music industries with such generalities, however, it may be better to put a face on this.

Enter Shirli McAllen (vocalist/songwriter), Austin Nicholson (ukulele), Ryan Feves (bass), Stuart Johnson (drums) and Michael Bolger (keys/brass/accordion): The Leftover Cuties.  Begun in 2008, by Shirli McAllen and Austin Nicholson, West Los Angeles band display a unique sound and heartwarming spirit that draws attention.  Some FilmL.A. staffers had the privilege of attending a Cuties show in mid-November 2010 at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.  The band’s web site describes their sound as akin to “Billie Holiday playing ukulele under a palm-thatched hut in 1930′s Waikiki… A delicate mix of sultry crooning, tender melodies, and bittersweet lyrics.”  Indeed, the Cuties performance evoked the feel of Hollywood in the 1930’s; it’s a hard concept to describe, impossible to forget.

If listening to the Cuties evokes the feel of a bygone era in Hollywood, it’s fitting that the film industry is helping them get noticed.  In fact, many people have already heard the Leftover Cuties without realizing it, specifically those who watch Showtime’s new hit series “The Big C”, which stars Laura Linney as a woman struggling with terminal cancer.  The show’s opening title song, “Game Called Life”, is performed by the Leftover Cuties.  When they played the song at the Casa Del Mar, audible chatter and nods of recognition rippled through the room.  Apparently, the Casa Del Mar crowd watches Showtime.

Shirli told Film Works that ever since the show began airing, she began receiving calls and emails from people with cancer who had seen “The Big C” and who were touched by the Cuties “Game Called Life”.  They tell Shirli they think the song captures the day-to-day reality of living with and battling cancer.  It’s a reminder of how deeply personal our connections to music, film and television are.

In a very direct way, the filmed entertainment industry is helping immensely talented bands like the Cuties get exposed to a wider audience.  And, in doing so, the soothing sound of the Cuties has literally soothed some of the millions of Americans who live with cancer every day.


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