9:55 am Update: The lack of reader responses to Mark Harris‘s interview with Lincoln director Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day Lewis isn’t surprising. What are they going to say? What is the highly intelligent and always perceptive Harris going to ask? You know before listening that it’s going to be the usual modesty soup and “here’s how it all started” and “I was humbled and honored and more than a little scared” and blah blah blah.
In a 10.9 q & a with Jay Penske, L.A. Times guy Ben Fritz notes that “many staffers at Variety are understandably nervous about what [Penske Media’s] purchase means for them,” and asks Penske, “Do you expect there will be layoffs or staffing changes? Do you intend to invest in the editorial side of Variety?”
Penske’s reply: “We are not buying Variety to gut the newsroom, we are buying the business to build it. Are there going to be changes? Yes. Do we want to reduce our dependency on print revenues? Yes. How quickly can that happen? We’ll know more in the coming months.”
Last night I attended a serene, high-altitude screening-and-supper party for David Chase‘s Not Fade Away (Paramount Vantage, 12.21). It was at the Laurel Canyon home of elite sound mixers John and Nancy Ross, and was filled with journalists, Paramount publicity staffers, filmmakers and, of course, the Not Fade Away guys — Chase, James Gandolfini, exec producer and music maestro Steven Van Zandt and costars Bella Heathcote and John Magaro, among others.
Not Fade Away costars John Magaro, Bella Heathcote at last night’s gathering — Tuesday, 10.9, 9:55 pm.
Not Fade Away director-writer David Chase.
Not Fade Away exec producer Steven Van Zandt, Paramount publicist David Waldman.
I haven’t written a review but I respect Not Fade Away for its authenticity — it’s largely a personal-recollection saga drawn from Chase’s own history — and the grounded musical current. It’s basically a 60s cover-band saga than runs from late ’63 to early ’68 (and not the summer of ’67, as one or two NY-based critics indicated) about growing up and romance and failure and digging in and moving on.
Magaro (also in Liberal Arts) plays a New Jersey kid who starts a band with some pallies and experiences moderate success and struggle while going through all the changes that everyone else did in the mid’ 60s. (No LSD satori though.) Gandolfini plays his hard-assed, bluntly phrased, disapproving dad. Heathcote (Dark Shadows) plays Magaro’s free-spirited, highly perceptive lover and comrade.
Van Zandt told me that the Not Fade Away soundtrack album with have about 20 or 24 tracks, and will be out sometime in late November or thereabouts.
I asked Vam Zandt if he’s interested in the Pono, Neil Young’s new digital music device that will deliver vinyl-level sound. He didn’t know about it. Chase didn’t know about it either. I don’t know squat about it myself except that (a) it’s supposed to deliver a much greater dynamic range than CDs or mp3s, (b) a lot of classic material is being remastered for the Pono, and (c) the player will cost a shitload.
As with many films, Not Fade Away was once a lot lengthier than its final-release version. Van Zandt said it was three hours at one point. I for one would love to see the long version when it comes out on Bluray/DVD. Not Fade Away tells a long and detailed story in terms of the many characters and time span, and I’m sure loads of good material was cut out. And the long version has no narration, I was told. (I’m frankly not a fan of any narration in any film, if it can be avoided.)
Mark Harris‘s Yahoo q & a with Lincoln director Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day Lewis begins at 6:35 pm (Pacific) today. I’m not going to try and crash the 4pm screening, and I’ve given up trying to appeal to Disney publicity about attending tomorrow night’s DGA screening. They’re locked into a contrarian exclusion mode, and I can roll with that. I bought it and that’s that.
Either way and any way, the Lincoln buzz is out and circulating as we speak. A Best Picture nominee, for sure, but not a winner. A Daniel Day Lewis Best Actor nomination will happen, yes, but he won’t win. Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor, and maybe Sally Field for Best Supporting Actress…fine. And John Williams‘ score doesn’t suffocate or overwhelm. Good for him.
Whatever I might say or write (or whatever Scott Feinberg or David Poland or Sasha Stone or Pete Hammond or Tom O’Neil or Kris Tapley will say or write) will have no effect. The fate of Lincoln is locked — unchangable, unswerving.
Last March I suggested that the emphatically carnal, thick-lipped Scarlet Johansson wasn’t a great choice to play the thin-lipped, somewhat rigid-mannered Janet Leigh in Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock. I failed to mention another disharmonious element: Leigh came up in an era in which all Hollywood actresses had smallish, slender noses — it was pretty much absolute law — while Johansson’s nose is slightly wider and thicker, which blends with (or has been permitted by) today’s less Anglicized aesthetic.
About 14 years ago I wrote a piece about slightly bulbous, bee-stung noses becoming slightly more noticable among younger actresses of the day (Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Chloe Sevigny), but my Mr. Showbiz bosses said “no, no, no…that will push the envelope and anger people.” People get irked whenever I remind that beauty standards were narrower and stricter and more white-bread in the old days. You can throw spitballs and stamp your feet all you want, but noses had to be fairly small and narrow or button-like in the big-studio era, the ’50s and the ’60s. That’s one reason why Barbra Streisand was such a breakthrough phenomenon when she starred in Funny Girl in ’68.
“Because Obama doesn’t relish confrontation, he often fails to pin his opponents on the mat the first time he gets the chance,” Maureen Dowd has observed in new N.Y. Times column. “Instead, perversely, he pulls back and allows foes to gain oxygen.”
Which has always infuriated me. That too-polite, I-gotta-be-cool wussiness. I’ve never been angrier at President Obama than I have since last week’s debate. For showing me and everyone else that when it comes to one-on-one, do-or-die, be-a-man moments, he’s a sidestepper. Or has this tendency to be. He’s certainly no Lee Marvin.
“It happened with Hillary in New Hampshire and Texas and with Republicans in the health care and debt-ceiling debates. Just as Obama let the Tea Party inflate in the summer of 2009, spreading a phony narrative about ‘death panels,’ now he has let Romney inflate and spread a phony narrative about moderation and tax math.
“Even though Obama was urged not to show his pompous side, he arrived at the podium cloaked in layers of disdain; a disdain for debates, which he regards as shams, a venue, as the Carter White House adviser Gerry Rafshoon puts it, where ‘people prefer a good liar to a bad performer.’
“Obama feels: Seriously? After all he did mopping up Republican chaos, does he really have to spend weeks practicing a canned zinger? Should the man who killed Osama bin Laden and personally reviews drone strikes have to put on a show of macho swagger?
“Plus, he’s filled with disdain for Romney, seeing him as the ultimate slick boardroom guy born on third base trying to peddle money-making deals. Surely everyone sees through this con man?
“Just as Poppy Bush didn’t try as hard as he should have because he assumed voters would reject Slick Willie, Obama lapsed into not trying because he assumed voters would reject Cayman Mitt.”
I don’t remember the script (which I read three or four years ago when it was called “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho“) being as tart and droll as this. I’m encouraged. Anthony Hopkins has obviously nailed the Hitchcock way. It’s also clear that Helen Mirren matches him line for line. Reactions, please.
“Paramount executives did not want to produce the film and refused to provide the budget that Hitchcock received from them for previous films with the studio. Hitchcock decided to plan for Psycho to be filmed quickly and inexpensively, similar to an episode of his ongoing television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and hired the television series crew as Shamley Productions. He proposed this cost-conscious approach to Paramount but executives again refused to finance the film, telling him their sound stages were occupied or booked even though production was known to be in a slump.
“Hitchcock countered with the offer to finance the film personally and to film it at Universal-International if Paramount would distribute. He also deferred his director’s fee of $250,000 for a 60% ownership of the film negative. This offer was finally accepted. Hitchcock also experienced resistance from producer Herbert Coleman and Shamley Productions executive Joan Harrison, who did not think the film would be a success.” — from the Wiki page.
I could be a cheap smartass and say that Alex Karras, 77, has been traded to that Great Football Team In The Sky, but that would be a shallow and cavalier way of saying he passed this morning from kidney failure at his Los Angeles home. I’m sorry but we all have to go sometime. Karras was by all accounts a likable and compassionate fellow. Condolences to friends, family and colleagues.
Karras’s first push was on the football field with the Detroit Lions from ’58 to ’70, and then as a successful actor from ’68 on. His first Hollywood score was playing himself in the film version of Paper Lion (’68), based on the George Plympton novel. He best-known portrayal was as the hulking Mongo in Mel Brooks‘ Blazing Saddles but he also delivered a very respectable performance as a football coach in Against All Odds.
When I heard the news this morning his Against All Odds emoting was the first thing I thought of, if you wanna know.
I always presumed that Brooks called Karras’s character Mongo instead of Mongol as a capitulation to p.c. massagings of the early ’70s. The reference was obviously to “Mongolian idiot,” the catch-all term for victims of Downs Syndrome in the old insensitive days.
“Telegram for Mongo!” Or was it “Candygram for Mongo!” One of these.