I’ve recalled this before, but during the summer of 1980 I was part of a press contingent that was invited to watch the after-dark filming of John Carpenter‘s Escape From New York on Liberty Island. The gang was out in force — bearded and scruffy Kurt Russell in his Snake Plissken garb, costars Season Hubley and Adrienne Barbeau (who was married to Carpenter at the time), producer Debra Hill. Things began with a well-catered yacht party. By the time it ended everyone had at least half a buzz-on. As some of us prepared to leave to watch Carpenter and Russell shoot a scene under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Russell got up and addressed the throng: “We’ve had a great time, we’ve loved having you here…now go home!” And everyone laughed their guts out. It was that kind of mood, that kind of party.
Sean Hubley, John Carpenter, Kurt Russell during the shooting of Escape From New York. Carpenter looked like a spry 32 year-old at the time — today he looks like he’s pushing 85.
I wrote my piece for The Aquarian, an alternative New Jersey weekly that’s still going. Here’s a little anecdote that will give you an idea what it was like to collaborate with my stuffy editor, whose name was Karen something-or-other. During the yacht party I overheard Barbeau say to Carpenter, “I have some whites for you, honey, if you need some,” and so I put it in the article. Karen scolded me over the phone for including such a potentially litigious anecdote. “Thank God I caught that and took it out!”, she said. “What were you thinking?” I was thinking, Ms. Tight-Ass, that whites (i.e., Benzedrine or some derivation of) are relatively harmless prescription drugs and that adding this line gave the piece a little inside flavor, directing being a tough job that keeps you up into the wee hours, etc.
I’ve also mentioned before that hotshot Indiewire editor-columnist Anne Thompson was part of the PMK publicity contingent that organized this event.