Friday, August 17, 2007

Here's to you, Alan Miller!

Posting has been light due to a number of factors, but main among them is the work on my new YouTube project that has been taking up a big chunk of my spare time. It should be ready by the end of next week.

Sorry to say that, unlike the first one, this one has nothing to do with numbers. But for those jonesing for some number goodness, here's a number-themed post to tide you over.

You've got to start somewhere, don't you? Even the Internet Movie Database started small. Specifically, it started as a Usenet FAQ back in the late 1980's. It has grown since then to one of the most recognizable and used databases on the Internet.

On this database, not only can you look at individual page entries for movies and television series, you can also look at individual entries for each and every person (actor, director, cinematographer and even best boy grip) involved with creating that title.

But they had to put these in one at a time when they created it, and you can tell this by looking at the URL of a person's page. For example, Michael Caine's URL ends with "nm0000323", which means he was the 323rd person to be entered into the database.

So who was "nm0000001"? Why, none other than Fred Astaire. Now, Astaire was a great hoofer but only a fair actor, so why number one? A result of alphabetics, apparently. He is followed by Lauren Bacall, Brigitte Bardot and John Belushi in the second, third and fourth slot, respectively.

(Incidentally, I'm certainly not the first one to study this aspect of IMDb, as you can see here.)

This first set of alphabetical people ends with Victor Young (a composer during the 30's, 40's and 50's) at number 82. At 83, it starts over with a guy named Alan Miller. In his short list of credits, he has been an assistant director for Link (a thriller about monkeys starring Elisabeth Shue), an editor for Serengeti Symphony (a documentary about Tanzania) and a writer of African Bambi (another nature documentary that is shooting right now).

After Miller, we get back to some familiar (albeit random) names again like Gong Li at 84 and Armin Mueller-Stahl at 90. But let's take this opportunity to salute Alan Miller, who through some happenstance (or perhaps he was simply a friend of one of the IMDb programmers) ended up in the first 100 amongst the greats like Marlon Brando and Orson Welles. Salut!

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