14 months ago I wrote that one good thing came out of Francis Coppola‘s The Cotton Club, and that was Michael Daly‘s “The Making of The Cotton Club,” a New York magazine article that ran 22 pages including art (pgs. 41 thru 63) and hit the stands on 5.7.84.
I described it as “one of the most engrossing accounts of a troubled production I’ve ever read, and which still is. Dazzle and delusion, abrasive relationships, murder, tap dancing, pussy, cocaine, flim-flam, double talk, financial chicanery and Melissa Prophet. Excellent reporting, amusing, believable, tightly composed…pure dessert.”
This morning I happened to read another great making-of-a-disaster article called “My Battles With Jon and Barbra,” a blow-by-blow account of the making of the 1976 version of A Star Is Born, written in a state of seething anger by director Frank Pierson and as delicious in its own way as Daly’s article.
Pierson, who passed in 2012, was arguably a better screenwriter (Cool Hand Luke, Dog Day Afternoon, Haywire, Presumed Innocent, Mad Men) than a director, but he certainly knew the realm.
Howe’s intro: “This is the infamous article, written by the director of A Star is Born and published shortly before the film had its premiere. Streisand and Jon Peters begged Pierson not to hurt their film by publishing it. The article was a betrayal to Streisand — a public airing of behind-the-scenes battles that, traditionally, were always kept private between director and star. It is included here so readers can understand why Streisand is so private and wary of the press.
“A different edit of the piece also ran in the November 15, 1976 issue of New York magazine. I’ve incorporated several of the excised sentences here, as well as scans of some of the photos that appeared in that magazine.
“In 1983, Barbra told journalist Geraldo Rivera: “Pierson’s article was so immoral, so unethical, so unprofessional, so undignified, with no integrity, totally dishonest, injurious. If anyone believes it, without examining who that person is, to try to put a black cloud over a piece of work before it’s even released: that’s the most important indication of who that person was.”
Again, the article itself.