Director John G. Avildsen Told Stallone to Lose Weight Before Filming Rocky

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The success of Rocky isn’t just due to Sylvester Stallone.

Sure, he wrote the scripts and starred in the films — and the character’s enduring popularity was due to the sequels, most of which he directed. But the first film was helmed by John G. Avildsen, who won the Oscar for Best Director for his efforts. It was Avildsen’s skillful direction — and his selection of Bill Conti for the score — that set the tone for the character.

“We thought it was going to be the bottom half of a double bill in a drive-in in Arkansas,” Avildsen said earlier this week, in town for a screening of Rocky at the art museum. “We had no expectations for it.” All six Rocky Balboa movies have been released in a Blu-ray set for MGM’s 90th Anniversary. The original movie has been restored. “I see stuff I never saw in the original movie,” Avildsen said. “Snowflakes, and breath.” The set also includes 8mm “home movies” of Rocky that Avildsen shot while making the film.

I chatted with him while he was in town about the movie and its legacy.

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Rocky Broadway Review: Rocky Wins

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On Thursday, February 13th, the new musical version of Rocky premiered on Broadway in New York City, and some 1,500 effusively enthused Rocky fans–including Sylvester Stallone, Tom Hanks, and Paul Rudd–braved the cold, slushy mess that was Manhattan to see it. I was one of them. Read more »

6 Burning Questions About the Rocky II Training Run

A few weeks ago I was at the Art Museum steps. As I churned out repeats of the stairs, I spotted him: Grey sweatsuit, black beanie, black Chuck Taylors. It was Rocky.

It wasn’t Sly Stallone, of course. But it wasn’t a Rocky tribute artist, either: This was a European tourist who had come to Philadelphia to dress as Rocky and have his wife take photos of him in the pose from the original movie poster. Later, I saw him taking a photo with a second man dressed as Rocky — this one a shirtless, fedora-clad Philadelphian taking photos with tourists. For a minute I was a little worried the world might explode when two Rockies met, but we apparently survived.

Man, do people love Rocky. My stupid little article about how far Rocky ran on his Rocky II training run got quite the response earlier this week. Quite a few people linked it, friends and writers I respect told me they enjoyed it and even Runner’s World interviewed me about it. A friend was in Albuquerque and overheard people talking about it.

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How Far Did Rocky Go in His Training Run in ‘Rocky II’?

One of my favorite parts of any Rocky movie is the training montage. Specifically, I enjoy watching Rocky run the streets of Philadelphia (I and II) or on the beach (III) or in the snow (IV) or whatever happened in the fifth movie I’ve erased from my memories. Of all the Rocky training montages, though, the run in Rocky II is my favorite.

What’s always amused me about this scene is how absolutely little sense Rocky’s route makes: South Philly becomes North Philly becomes the Italian Market becomes North Philly again, and so on. Obviously, the montage isn’t meant to be taken seriously as an actual workout; it’s just a few scenes strung together so “Gonna Fly Now” can play and Rocky can finish at the top of the Art Museum steps.

But, I wondered, what if this roadwork were treated as one actual run? How far would Rocky go? Well, I decided to find out. I pieced together the routes Rocky could have traveled from scene to scene in this training montage and calculated distance. All distances were mapped out by using the USA Track and Field distance-measuring tool recommended to me by my friend and Philadelphia magazine managing editor Annie Monjar. She’s a better runner than I am, so I trust her. However, I’m not sure she could take Rocky in a footrace, at least Rocky II-era Rocky. Let’s see how far he went.

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(A) Stallone to Play (A) Rizzo in New Biopic

It’s a veritable family affair! Playboy Harry Jay Katz has bought the rights to Sal Paolantonio’s Rizzo biography, and his son David Bar Katz, whose Wikipedia page drops more names than it has any right to, will write and direct. Meanwhile, Frank Stallone will play former Fire Commish Joe Rizzo, and is begging his own brother Sly to play Joe’s brother Frank. Got it? [Daily News]