Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books—-her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Interviews Page 1 of 8

Tune In to Weekly Wilson, the Podcast on Thursday Nights (7 p.m., CDT)

Home podcast office in Texas.

The upcoming guest list for the Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network, while subject to changes in these uncertain times, looks like this through mid-May:

April 2, Thursday, 7 p.m. CDT – Texas author Charlotte Canion will speak with Connie about her book, “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying,” which is about coping with elderly parents when you may have health issues of your own.

April 9, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Film star Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza (also an actress) are re-scheduled after the shutdown of the network caused the cancellation. We’ll talk about Eric’s storied career, his role in “Lone Star Deception” and other topics of interest.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

April 16, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” and the force behind a series of instructional videos for young people called www.soyouwanttobe.com will drop by.

April 23, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Dr Bill Kohl, an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas in Austin’s response to the Corona virus, will share insights and information.

April 30, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Jennifer Berliner, heart transplant and cancer survivor and blogger (www.anewheartrocks.com) will share various tips regarding “sheltering in place” and remaining positive in the face of adversity. (Read up on Jennifer’s background at her blog)

May 7, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – TBA

May 15, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Author Michael Serrapica returns to talk politics with Connie.

As always, listeners can find the podcast (Thursdays, 7 p.m. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) and phone in “live” at 866-451-1451.

Film Star Eric Roberts Speaks to “Weekly Wilson”

The interview with Eric Roberts (up as podcast #3) saw me prepare an Introduction and some questions for the actor. It ended up being me talking “All About Eric” and speaking with the Executive Producer Ed Dezevallos about the film “Lone Star Deception,” but the actual interview was bumped.

Plans were to do the interview this week (3/19). Then, the Bold Brave Media Global network announced it was shutting down for an indefinite period of time….probably a week to two weeks.

Therefore, the answers to the questions were answered by film star Eric Roberts below. Hopefully, viewers stuck at home will check out “Lone Star Deception” on Amazon and—at some future point—perhaps we can make the Weekly Wilson podcast work out on audio

In the meantime, here are Eric Roberts’ answers to (some of) the questions I had planned to ask:

[From Eric Roberts:  THE INTRODUCTION IS BEAUTIFUL! ]

ERIC ROBERTS – INTRO

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

Back in 1986, in an interview with Roger Ebert following his screen debut performance in “King of the Gypsies,”  his break-through role, Ebert wrote: “Right from the beginning, Eric Roberts has had about him the promise of eventual greatness.  The movie industry does not know how he will turn out, but he holds the potential to be mentioned with Brando and DeNiro and the others who come surrounded with the aura of a special talent.”

That feeling hit me like a ton of bricks as I watched “King of the Gypsies” back in 1978 as a twenty-something film critic,— one who had been on the job for 7 years.

I fully agree with Roger Ebert’s assessment of Eric Roberts’ talent. I echo Academy-Award winning actress Sandy Dennis, who said of Eric after they appeared together onstage, “Oh, my God, this actor! I think he is the next big thing,— if he can get the material.”

Eric’s performance in “King of the Gypsies earned him a Golden Globe nomination for the Best Acting Debut by an Actor (1979). Eric would go on to earn another Golden Globe nomination in 1984 for “Star 80” and a third Golden Globe nomination, plus an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor (in support of Jon Voight) for  “Runaway Train.” 1984 gave us “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” with Eric paired with Mickey Rourke. He was awarded the Theater World Award in 1987 for the Best Broadway debut for his work in “Burn This.” Eric has been quoted as saying, “The joy is in the doing.”

Every one of these films is indicative of the power and creativity that Eric Roberts brings to his work. He has another 29 wins and 17 nominations for a variety of film awards. Eliza Roberts—herself an actress and Eric’s wife of 28 years—said of her husband’s work, “Sit tight, because, even when you’re shit, you’re fucking awesome, Eric.”

Sometimes called “the hardest-working actor in America,” Eric now has an absolutely stunning 569 credits on the International Movie Data Base, making him the hardest-working actor in Hollywood.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

Eric’s schedule, as Eliza will attest, is crazy. It sometimes has him moving between 3 sets at once. He has close to 70 projects in development in 2020 or 2021. To give you a sense of how absolutely amazing that number of credits is, (outside of Bollywood), Leonardo DiCaprio, who has only 55 IMDB credits to his name, has said of Eric “Eric is a god. He’s THE MAN.” By comparison, Brad Pitt has 56. Susan Sarandon, who co-starred with Eric in 1978’s “King of the Gypsies”— and is known to work quite frequently, herself,— has 160 credits

One of Eric’s most recent films, “Lone Star Deception” is the story of a race for Governor in Texas, with Anthony Ray Parker as a black candidate for Governor. Eric is central to the plot, playing Bill Sagle, a King-maker who was originally backing his nephew, until his nephew is compromised by a sex-tape that surfaces, complete with a demand for hush money. The nephew is forced (by Eric’s Bill Sagle character) to step down and a black candidate with combat credentials is drafted to run in his place. The co-star is Anthony Ray Parker who appeared in both “The Matrix” and “The Marine” and has 54 IMDB credits to his name, himself. The log-line says, “Fear, Greed and Texas Politics,” which seemed like a good topic right about now, nationwide.

I am very grateful to have such a busy couple able to call in for some talk about both this film, which is about to release on Amazon (as well as FixFling, InDemand, Vudu, Fandango and to overseas markets —(which could be rough with the recent news that all of China’s 60 to 70,000 cinemas are closed due to the Corona virus.)

I’m hoping that Eric and Eliza can tell us a bit more about “Lone Star Deception” and talk about his storied career and their work together.

Welcome to you both and thank you for being with me.

************

ERIC/ELIZA ROBERTS Questions

“Lone Star Deception” (available on Amazon) with Eric Roberts and Anthony Ray Parker.

1_ You have close to 70 projects scheduled for 2020/2021. How do you manage to  work in that many films at once?

E.R.:  IT’S ALL ABOUT CREATIVE AND PRECISE, YET FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

2) How difficult is it to memorize that much dialogue and remember it all, when you’re working with so many different films at once?

E.R.:  IT’S GREAT MENTAL EXERCISE, SO I APPROACH IT LIKE WORKING OUT.

3)       You were offered “9 and ½ Weeks” but turned it down. Are there any other roles you were offered, but ended up not taking? Did you ever wish you had taken those roles?

E.R.:  AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, AMERICAN GIGOLO…BASICALLY MOST OF WHAT RICHARD GERE AND JOHN TRAVOLTA DID IN THEIR EARLY YEARS.

ALSO CLIFFHANGER, WHICH ENDED UP GOING TO JOHN LITHGOW. I HOPE I’VE MADE UP FOR UNFORTUNATE TURN-DOWNS NOW.

4)      Eliza:  your father, I read, wrote the scripts for “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Firm” (David Rayfiel).  You also knew John Landis, who offered you your part of Brunella in “Animal House.” Did you grow up in Hollywood? If so, has your insider knowledge of the industry helped?

E.R.:  I DID SCHLOCK AND ANIMAL HOUSE WITH JOHN LANDIS, AND HE’S REMAINED A FRIEND ALWAYS. I THINK GROWING UP IN THE INDUSTRY AND HAVING AN INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS WORLD HAS HELPED IMMENSELY.

“Lone Star Deception”

5)      Eliza, you met Eric on a plane with your dad’s script for “Intersection” in your lap. Have there been any projects, past, present or future, where you’ve been involved in writing a script just for Eric ? (Secondary mention of cats, since Eric, you said, had a cat, Tender, on his lap at the time).

E.R.:  YES, I HAD A SCRIPT ON MY LAP AND ERIC HAD BOTH A SCRIPT AND A CAT ON HIS LAP.

I HAVE DONE A LOT OF SCRIPT POLISHING FOR ERIC. I HAD A SENSE OF WHAT WORKS FOR HIM, AND MOST PRODUCTIONS ARE OPEN TO IT.

6)       Eric, How did you come to be involved in “Lone Star Deception?” (I  talked to Executive Producer Ed DeZavellos on 3/12 and hope to again in the future.)

E.R.:  I CAN’T REMEMBER FULLY, BUT I KNOW SOME VERY NICE, PASSIONATE PEOPLE MADE US BOTH AN OFFER. ELIZA IS IN LONE STAR DECEPTION, TOO. WE WERE INTRIGUED AND SAID YES.

“Lone Star Deception”

7)      “In my estimation, Eric is a great actor…an extremely unique presence trapped in this beautiful exterior.”  “The way that Mickey Rourke was re-discovered as a great actor, I think Eric is due for that, for sure. So much of the business is luck and timing.” (David Duchovny)

Given those glowing words from a fellow actor, and Mickey Rourke’s film “The Wrestler” (which should have won him the Oscar in 2008), what directors now working would you like to work with? Any potential star vehicles in the pipeline?

E.R.:  I VERY MUCH WISH AND LONG FOR SUCH A VEHICLE. HOW PRECIOUS THAT WOULD BE.

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH THE COMMENTS OF THESE FELLOW ACTORS MEAN.

8)_  Nowadays, it seems that even extremely good actors like Robert Downey, Jr., want to play a Super Hero to cash in on the Marvel Universe films or to have a series built around them. It is as though there is the series comic book Hollywood and  indie film Hollywood. You’ve watched the industry as an insider for a long time. What are your thoughts on the films you see coming out of Hollywood now, versus when you were starting out (1978)?

E.R. : TRENDS IN ART AND IN EVERYTHING, ARCHITECTURE, FASHION, EVERYTHING, TEND TO CHANGE. MOVIES MADE PEOPLE HAPPY IN 1978, AND THEY MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY TODAY.

SOME OF THE MARVEL MOVIES ARE VERY CLEVERLY WRITTEN AND GO WAY BEYOND THEIR GENRE.

I DON’T HAVE A PARTICULAR LOVE FOR THE SUPER HERO FILMS, BUT MANY PEOPLE DO, AND BECAUSE OF THAT, I’D LOVE TO BE A PART OF IT.

10)  Throwing out some names that I know mean something to you, can you share with us a little bit about what it was like working with Sterling Hayden…..Mickey Rourke…..Jon Voight…Bob Fosse…and, of course, Anthony Ray Parker. (Take your pick and add any others you wish).

I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM STERLING. WHAT A CHARACTER! I ADORE MICKEY, AND HE AMAZES ME. IT WAS FANTASTIC WORKING WITH JON. BOB FOSSEE WAS ARGUABLY THE BEST DIRECTOR I WAS EVER DIRECTED BY.

Anthony Ray Parker.

WE HAD AN INCREDIBLE TIME WORKING WITH ANTHONY RAY PARKER. HE’S A GREAT ACTOR AND HE’S A GREAT MAN.

11)  “Lone Star Deception” Credits: “We would like to thank our pyro technicians for not blowing up the entire city. (Houston) [Comments?]

HILARIOUS! AND TRUE.

12)  You were in a bad car accident in 1981. Please tell the listeners about that and its after-effects at the time?

E.R.:  WELL, IT WAS A LOT LIKE THE FILM “REGARDING HENRY”.

I CRASHED IN MY JEEP AND WAS IN A COMA FOR 72 HOURS AND, EVEN THOUGH I WAS PHYSICALLY ALIVE, IT MADE ME FEEL FOREVER DIFFERENT IN MYRIAD WAYS.

13)  Don Okolo, the credited director for “Lone Star Deception” is Don Okolo. (“Blood ‘n Destiny” – 2009, $500,000; “The Land” – 2011, $200,000; “Gem of the Rainforest” – 2013 – $200,000).  Have you ever wanted to direct?

ELIZA IS A SUPER GIFTED DIRECTOR AND I LOVE BEING DIRECTED BY HER AND WOULD CO-DIRECT WITH HER.

14)  Lines from the film: “So little nieces, so little time.” “Politicians tell the voters what they want to hear.” Why was the main character (Tim Bayh, the black candidate for Governor) put in charge of personally paying off the various wrongdoers, such as those who kidnap his daughter Carol. Aren’t there less visible henchmen who could have been hired to carry the $50,000 to pay off “Sloane?” (That puzzled me)

E.R.:  TIM HAD MORE AT STAKE. BUT THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION AND REALLY A QUESTION FOR ED.

“It was always about the money, Charlie.” (Any thoughts on the politics of today IRL?)

“Lone Star Deception”

E.R.:  IT SEEMS WHEN YOU BOIL IT DOWN, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THE MONEY.

15)  “I’ll be taking a break when I die.”

E.R.:  YES, SOUNDS LIKE ME!

16)  “The hardest person to protect yourself from is yourself.”

E.R.:  I BELIEVE THAT.

17)  Daughter, Emma; Morgan and Keaton (musician). Currently working in the industry, or…?

E.R.:  ALL IN THE INDUSTRY.

18)  “Why me, of all the guys, of all the has-beens, of all the good actors who are over—why me?” (1/31/2018 to Sam Kashner for Vanity Fair.)

E.R.:  WHY ME? IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION. IT’S ABOUT UNDERSTANDING OUR PART IN OUR LIVES. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART WE PLAY.

19)   Your favorite Batman?

E.R.:  MICHAEL KEATON.

20)  Your favorite Joker actor in the “Batman” films?

E.R.:  JACK NICHOLSON

21)  Anything you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked you about?

YOU ASKED GREAT QUESTIONS.

WE ALWAYS LIKE TO DIRECT LISTENERS/READERS TO

WWW.NATURALCHILD.ORG

AND TO KEATON SIMONS

AND TO WWW.PIBAKESHOP.COM

THANKS, CONNIE!

March 19th “Weekly Wilson” Podcast to Feature Eric & Eliza Roberts, Ed DeZevallos

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the podcast of March 12th turned into a one-hour stroll down memory lane and into the storied career of film star Eric Roberts, with a call-in from “Lone Star Deception” Executive Producer Ed Dezevallos.

Ed not only co-wrote “Lone Star Deception” and had a small part as Dwight Jones, but contributed several family members to its cast. On Thursday, March 19th, Ed is scheduled to talk about “Lone Star Deception” with Eric and Eliza and also to discuss another passion project he is producing, a series of videos for young people to help them decide what they want to be when they grow up called soyouwanttobe.com.

Film star Eric Roberts, the star of “Lone Star Deception” and his wife Eliza are to join Ed and I in talking movies, (God willing and the river don’t rise.) If you are stuck at home worrying about the Corona Virus (as most of us are), tune in to Bold Brave Bold Media Global Network and distract yourself from your quarantine for an hour at 7 p.m. Thursday (CDT) or 5 p.m. (PT). The call-in number is 866-451-1451. The program is Weekly Wilson, just like this blog, and we talk movies, politics, and other timely topics every week.

Listen to Weekly Wilson’s Podcast

Eric Roberts to Be Interviewed on “Weekly Wilson”

Film star Eric Roberts (“King of the Gypsies,” “RunAway Train,” “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” “Star 80”) will be a guest on Thursday, March 12th, 7 p.m., on the podcast “Weekly Wilson.” His newest film, “Lone Star Deception,” will be one of the topics under discussion (*Film soon available on Amazon).

Tune in to Bold Brave Media Global Network at 7 p.m. (CDT)  on Thursday, March 12th, to hear Eric Roberts and wife Eliza (who plays his wife in the film) talk about this Texas thriller about an African American candidate for Governor of Texas. (www.boldbravemedia.com) With 561 other film credits, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from this gifted actor about his career. The podcast, like this blog, is Weekly Wilson on Channel 100, with archived shows available later.

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

 

My very first podcast kicked off the final Thursday in February. I had two guests, Ava and Elise Wilson, my 5th grade granddaughters and collaborators on “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series (6 books).

This week (March 5) at 7 p.m., the guest will be Texas author Michael Serrapica, author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals.” Michael will fill us in on the various techniques that political campaigns (and others) can use to make their propaganda effective. I have no doubt that we’ll be talking politics with Michael again, after tonight’s show.

“Lone Star Deception” (available on Amazon) with Eric Roberts and Anthony Ray Parker.

Others slated to join me to talk about movies, politics, the Corona virus, and other topics of the day include Executive Producer Ed DeZevallos on March 19th, who not only co-wrote the screenplay for “Lone Star Deception” and played the part of Dwight Jones, but contributed 5 family members to the cast and crew. Mr. DeZevallos, of Houston and Santa Fe, will be talking about this and another project on March 19th—a series of informational videos for youngsters to help them determine what they want to be when they grow up. The website for that second passion (7 and 1/2 hours of video) is www.soyouwanttobe.org.

Weekly Wilson on Channel 100, Bold Brave Media Global Network Debuts 2/27 @ 7 p.m. (CDT)

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

My podcast, entitled Weekly Wilson (like this blog) launches at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 27th on Channel 100 of Bold Brave Media Global Network.

As the maiden voyage of the Hindenburg floats out over the airwaves of Bold Brave Media Global Network, you can call in at 866-451-1451. I’ve already lined up eleven-year-old twins who will lend their youthful voices to the air waves and solve the world’s problems. (!) Well, maybe not that, but they ARE my collaborators on one of my (many) series I will start out discussing. (Check ConnieCWilson.com for the others).

Since no one will know who I am, it is customary for the hostess to tell them, which I will do during the first segment (2 after the hour of 7 p.m. CDT to 10 after the hour). Then, a commercial break will occur.

There will be 5 distinct segments thereafter (followed by commercials). For your scheduling pleasure, since I know you won’t want to miss a single word, they are currently scheduled to be:

THE COLOR OF EVIL – from 7:12 to 7:20 p.m.

Hellfire & Damnation series – from 7:22 to 7:30 p.m.

Ghostly Tales of Route 66 – from 7:32 to 7:40 p.m.

Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House, Vols. I & II – from 7:42 to 7:50

The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats series, with co-authors Ava & Elise Wilson – from 7:52 to 7:56 and 1/2.

Following these cursory descriptions of the 40 to 50 books I’ve published since 1989 (most since 2003), other weeks may see me going into great depth about a series, but I’m planning on having as many guests as I can round up. So far, here’s how that looks:

 1) Author Michael Serrapica, of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals” (politics, anyone?) on Show #2. Michael has graciously consented to come back and talk politics as the presidential race heats up. He has a background in radio and is a proud former union member and representative, so we’ll be talking politics.

2) Several representatives from SXSW of various sorts during that run (March 13-23) and before and after (working, right now, on a Val Kilmer thing at the local Alamo Drafthouse on Sunday for an article for the blog).

3) An expert on the corona virus from the University of Texas in Austin (Bill Kohl).

4) Author (Charlotte Canion of “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying” who will discuss caring for your elderly parents while also coping with your own health issues.

I am sure there will be technical issues aplenty, knowing my usual luck, but feel free to find Weekly Wilson on Channel 100 on Bold Brave Media Global Network and call in (it’s live) at 866-451-1451.

Hoping to hear from you with your questions or comments about any of the various topics this program will feature. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that it tends to be movies, politics, books, some travel, but the corona virus falls into none of those categories. Think of it a bit like any of the late night talk shows with hosts (Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.). I’ll be interested in what you’re interested in, hopefully.

“A Marriage Story” Highlights Divorce in Oscar-Worthy FIlm

 

Director Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”) directs Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in a  movie about  a marriage coming apart at the seams and its effects on the couple, their 9-year-old son, their friends, and everyone else involved. It’s a darkly comic, yet serious, film that offers opportunities for Driver and Johansson to really show their acting chops. There is Oscar buzz.

First, some background. Baumbach seems to make very personal films that often reflect his own childhood or adulthood. His film “The Squid and the Whale” had a lot to do with the divorce that he lived through as a child. Baumbach was married to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (whom he lived with for 4 years before marriage)  and she gave birth to the couple’s  son at 48 years of age (Baumbach is 7 years younger). Baumbach began working with Greta Gerwig as his leading lady and he and Leigh subsequently divorced shortly after the birth of their son Rohmer Emmanuel Baumbach on March 17, 2010. Much like the fictional couple of “A Marriage,” the wife was arguably the bigger star of the two when the marriage began, but, over time, her theatrical director husband saw his star rise, to the point of even winning a MacArthur Grant for his work in the field of drama.

Now linked, professionally and romantically, with his frequent leading lady Greta Gerwig, (who moved into directing herself with the acclaimed film “Ladybug,”) Baumbach told interviewer Eric Kohn of “IndieWire” (7/24/2019), “Divorce is like death in a way.  When it happens to you, people can speak about it, but no one really wants to speak about it who’s not in it. I just felt like there was a way to make a movie that was very much about this subject and also totally transcends it.”

Enter Baumbach’s great and good friend Adam Driver, who plays Charlie Barber in the film. He is married to Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), who was the more successful of the two theater people when they married and she began starring in his New York City off-Broadway plays. One dynamic that you can almost see at work in the film is the situtaion chronicled so many times in “A Star Is Born,” where one partner in a marriage is established and then the partners change place in terms of fame and it destroys the relationship.

THE GOOD

There are some great lines in the film and some equally great performances. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver do the honors as the doomed married couple and the script is unprepared to make either one out to be a villain. Both are honorable people and never badmouth one another intentionally. The principals—with one exception—are almost always reasonable. Until they’re not.

The scene where the two attempt to work out the details of their divorce themselves, which quickly disintegrates into a name-calling scene, is horrific, as lines like the one where the husband mourns the loss of his twenties to their marriage, saying, “Life with you was joyless.” The wife says, “I was your wife.  You should have considered my happiness.”

The script should be an Oscar contender, regardless of any other facet of the film. A couple of examples:Nicole: “I realized I never really came alive for myself.  I was just feeding his aliveness…I got smaller.”

I didn’t even know what my taste was any more.  He just put me off. He didn’t see me as something separate from himself.” (She adds that he also slept with the stage manager of his theater company. Ahem.)

Charlie says, “I feel like I’m in a dream.”

Then the lawyers get involved.  Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda add a great deal to the plot with convincing portrayals of representatives of the legal profession. Laura, playing the shrewd Nora Fanshon, tells her client (Nicole) in a throwaway line that is a reference to a Tom Petty song, “Waiting is the hardest part.” Dern and Liotta are terrific as cut-throat shark-like attorneys, while Alan Alda is the soft-hearted divorce attorney who has been through the mill himself numerous times, and understands where the rapids are in the river.

Dern adds, gleefully, to her client, “I represented Tom Petty’s wife in the divorce.  I got her one-half of that song.” Nicole says, to Charlie, that they might become friends with Nora, [her lawyer].

He responds, “Why do I feel like THAT will never happen?”

There are plenty of remarks that reflect Nicole’s unhappiness with the status quo of their ten-year marriage. She says, “The dead part wasn’t dead.  It was just in a coma” in announcing that an offer from L.A. to shoot a pilot for a television show was like a lifeline thrown to her. She seems to make up her mind rather quickly that she wants a divorce, although Charlie does not seem to realize that she is quite so determined to end their relationship for good. He seems to think she is going to return to New York City, where they have been living, once the pilot is either picked up or dropped. To me, that was not very clear, but many details of what propelled the two towards the exit is unclear.

Nicole, instead, goes to her mother’s home (well played by Julie Hagerty of “Airplane” fame) and begins rebuilding her life. When Charlie is to arrive to visit their son, she tells her younger sister Cassie (Merritt Weaver of “Nurse Jackie”) that she is to serve Charlie the divorce papers by handing them to him in an envelope. This leads to some fairly amusing scenes where Cassie is nervous and upset at the prospect  of acting as an official “server” of divorce papers, and Nicole is coaching her on the right time and place to hand over the paperwork and say, “You’ve been served.”

Charlie must find a Los Angeles lawyer, as his wife and child are now California residents, the minor child is enrolled in school in California, and his wife was born and grew up there. (Charlie is an Indiana-born boy who has become “more a New Yorker than most New Yorkers.”) Charlie first falls into the hands of a rapacious type, played by Ray Liotta, who quickly outlines his salary demands: $950 an hour and a $25,000 retainer.

Charlie leaves Ray the shark. With the help of Nicole’s mother, he finds a much more modestly priced attorney named Bert Spitz, well-played by Alan Alda. Spitz breaks the news to Charlie that “Most people in my business make up the truth so they can get where they want to go.” Alda’s character adds that he has been through 4 marriages, himself, and says, “You remind me of myself on my second divorce.” Bert’s salary demands are much more reasonable, and, for a while, it looks as though Bert and Nora will work together amicably to settle the issue of who gets what and who will get custody of young Henry (Azhy Robertson).

Unfortunately, things deteriorate further. Or, as Yeats put it, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” Charlie shows up in court with the barracuda barrister played by Ray Liotta, and things begin to get nasty

Acting and script are top-notch. Cinematography by Robbie Ryan is great, with lots of close-ups, which Baumbach felt worked best. The music by Randy Newman is good. The script has some wonderful sardonic humor, including a humorous encounter with a social service agency representative which ends with Charlie accidentally slitting his wrist in front of her and then trying to pass it off as “no big deal” while bleeding profusely.

At one point, when the vicious lawyer is asking whether Nicole has ever had a drinking or drug problem, Charlie shares that she had an addiction to Tums for a while. “She was up to a roll a day.” This does not seem to be what the attorney wanted to hear.

THE BAD

Since this is roughly autobiographical, the husband of the piece—(who did cheat with his stage manager during the couple’s 10 years of marriage)—defends his misstep, saying, “I didn’t do that until you quit having sex with me and I was sleeping on the couch.” Charlie is painted as being just a little bit TOO nice in all respects. Nicole, too, is wonderful. They each write out lists of all the wonderful things about one another, and one of the more touching scenes in the movie is when Charlie reads aloud the list that Nicole has written about him, because son Henry has found it and is trying to read it  on his own with some difficulty.

You get the distinct feeling (especially late in the film, when Charlie does accept some work that will keep him in California for at least part of the time) that these two people should have been able to work out the kinks in their marriage, unless you ascribe to the point of view that a marriage is like a flower and has a cycle during which it grows, blooms and then dies.

The ending is probably considered “positive,” since the two principals are not actively name-calling or being horrible to one another, but it just makes someone like me (married 52 years) wonder why they didn’t give a good marriage counselor a try. The entire “We’re getting divorced” movement seems to have been rushed and premature, as even Nicole’s mother suggests.

The reason for the divorce?

Apparently the best reason given for an actual divorce without any sign of marriage therapy or even a trial separation, is “It doesn’t make sense any more.”

After the trauma that Baumbach knows his own parents’ divorce visited upon him as a child, you’d think he’d be a bit more savvy about how much damage personal instability can wreak on the children of the divorcing couple.

We learn that Adam Driver can sing when he gets up in a nightclub (where he is hanging out with his theater family) and delivers a Stephen Sondheim song:

Someone to hold me too close.
Someone to hurt me too deep.
Someone to sit in my chair,
And ruin my sleep,
And make me aware,
Of being alive.
Being alive.

Somebody need me too much.
Somebody know me too well.
Somebody pull me up short,
And put me through hell,
And give me support,
For being alive.
Make me alive.
Make me alive.

Make me confused.
Mock me with praise.
Let me be used.
Vary my days.

But alone,
Is alone,
Not alive.…

Up until the point that Adam Driver as Charlie takes to the stage, grabbing the microphone, there was no indication that this was meant to be a musical. It seemed—-strange—no matter how well the lyrics fit the situation. It reminded me of the ill-fated attempt by the “Hill Street Blues” creator to put a series on television (involving police) where all the lines were sung. There was a film like that at the Chicago International Film Festival with Anna Kendrick. It didn’t work well then, either. Adam Driver does a respectable job of carrying a tune but it struck me as odd. Use the excellent Sondheim lyrics, but maybe work them into the film in a more logical way?

There is also a use of the children’s story “Stuart Little,” specifically this passage: “The way seemed long, but the road was bright and he felt like he was headed in the right direction.”

That is the way marriage works in today’s world, Folks. Easy in, somewhat easy out— but with some bumps along the road. Everybody lives happily ever after with their fourth wife, (a la the Bert Spitz character.) Change the marital vows from “till death do us part” to “until it doesn’t work any more.”

I feel like the character that Seth Meyer plays on his late-night talk show, who puts on his sweater and begins with the phrase, “Back in my day….” So, let me say, “Back in my day, we worked very hard to smooth out any rough patches in that long and winding marital road.” The reward was having shared history with one spouse who knew you way back when and knew your parents (before they, as parents do, died). The marital road today is shorter and more diverse with more stops along the way. Maybe that’s why young people often just don’t bother to get married at all any more, but simply co-habit until “this doesn’t work any more.”

It’s just a thought, and not an accepted one in Los Angeles—or, probably, anywhere else in the land of Trump.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Leave White House Post

                Sarah Huckabee Sanders

OPEN ON C-SPAN LOGO OVER CAPITOL:
ANNCR. V.O.: Earlier today former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders testified before the House Special Committee on Impeachment. Ms. Sanders was questioned by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York about various statements she has made to the media that she later acknowledged were not true.
FADE IN: HOUSE HEARING ROOM. SFX: CAMERA SHUTTERS.
SARAH SANDERS IS IN THE WITNESS CHAIR AND IS EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE.
MR. NADLER: Ms. Sanders, thank you for responding to the court order that you appear.
MS. SANDERS: Well, it was a court order.
MR. NADLER: And had you not obeyed it, you could have gone to prison. Is that why you came today?
MS. SANDERS: …yes.
MR. NADLER: Ms. Sanders, the Mueller Report quotes you as acknowledging to the Special Counsel that you lied to the White House press corps about why the president fired FBI Director Comey. Is that correct?
MS. SANDERS: Yes.
MR. NADLER: You told the White House press corps that the reason the president fired Mr. Comey was that the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey. Was that a true statement?
MS. SANDERS: No.
NADLER: And what did you tell Mr. Mueller about why you had told the press corps that “the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey?
SHE IS SQUIRMING.
SANDERS: I told Mr. Mueller that I had said that, quote, “in the heat of the moment.”
NADLER: And was that statement true? That you lied to the press corps in the heat of the moment?
SANDERS: Yes. It…it was in the heat of the moment. That happens. People blurt out untrue things in the heat of the moment all the time.
NADLER: Now, you told the Special Counsel something else about that untrue statement, didn’t you?
MS. SANDER: Yes. I admitted that saying that Comey had lost the support of rank-and-file members was, quote, “not founded in anything whatsoever.”
MR. NADLER: You also told the Special Counsel that when you told the White House press corps that you personally had been contacted by “countless members of the FBI,” that had been, quote, “a slip of the tongue.”
MS. SANDERS: Yes. A slip of the tongue.
MR. NADLER: And, in fact, you told my staff in a pre-interview that you had not been contacted by countless members of the FBI complaining about their lack of confidence in Director Comey.
MS. SANDERS: Yes, that had been an outright lie. And I admitted that to Special Counsel Mueller and to your staff.
MR. NADLER: In fact, you admitted that you had been contacted by exactly zero members of the FBI.
SANDERS: Yes. Not one.
NADLER: And you also told us that you felt compelled to tell the truth to the Special Counsel because your testimony to him was given under penalty of perjury?
SANDERS: Yes.
MR. NADLER: And that the reason you told the truth in that instance was that you were afraid of going to prison?
SANDERS: Yes. Very much so.
MR. NADLER: And you know the testimony you’re giving before this committee is also under penalty of perjury.
SANDERS: Yes.
MR. NADLER: And the reason you are telling us the truth right now also is that you are afraid of going to prison?
SANDERS: Yes. I am very, very afraid of going to prison.
MR. NADLER: And yet, two days after the Mueller Report came out saying that you had admitted lying repeatedly to the media, you lied to the media again?
SANDERS: Yes. I lied to George Stephanopoulos.
MR. NADLER: You told Mr. Stephanopoulos that when you lied about the reason Director Comey was fired that, quote: “It was in the heat of the moment, meaning that it wasn’t a scripted talking point. I’m sorry I wasn’t a robot like the Democratic Party.” Am I quoting you accurately?
SANDERS: Yes.
MR. NADLER: But what you told Mr. Stephanopoulos was not true, was it?
SANDERS: No.
MR. NADLER: And it was a lie because, in fact, it had been a talking point, hadn’t it?
SANDERS: Yes.
MR. NADLER: And are you admitting that only because you are under oath here, and you knew if you lied, you could go to prison?
SANDERS CONSULTS WITH HER ATTORNEY
SANDERS: Yes. That is correct.
NADLER: And why, after admitting in the Mueller Report that you had lied to the White House press corps, did you lie to Mr. Stephanopoulos?
SANDERS: I misspoke because I was freaked out and didn’t know what I was saying.
NADLER: You were freaked out?
SANDERS: Yes, I was.
NADLER: Are you freaked out now, Ms. Sanders?
HER ATTORNEY LEANS IN AND WHISPERS IN HER EAR. SHE WHISPERS BACK. THERE ARE A FEW BACK AND FORTHS. NADLER WAITS IMPATIENTLY.
SANDERS: Let me clarify. I was freaked out when I lied to Mr. Stephanopoulos. I am a little freaked out now, but not as freaked out as I was when I was on with Mr. Stephanopoulos.
HER ATTORNEY NODS
NADLER: Ms. Sanders, you swore to tell the truth to this committee.
SANDERS: Yes. And I have. To the best of my ability. Really, Mr. Chairman. I am not good at this. And that is the honest truth.
NADLER: I believe you. But you know that being freaked out is not a legal defense if you lie to the committee?
SANDERS: Yes. And that is why I am just trying so very, very hard to be truthful.
NADLER: So you don’t go to prison?
SANDLER: Yes. That is why I’m freaked out. Because I so, so do not want to go to prison. And I am doing the very best I can to be every bit as honest as I know how. (CORRECTING HERSELF) I mean, even more honest than that. I really don’t want to go to prison.
NADLER: Well then just tell us the truth.
SANDERS: Okay. The truth is I am especially scared of people who do not look like me.
NADLER: Oh, no, no, no. No. You don’t have to bare your soul. Just answer the questions truthfully.
SANDERS: Oh. So, I probably shouldn’t have said that?
NADLER: Well…what you said is very ugly and sad. But I know it was honest.
SANDERS: Thank you. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.
NADLER: Right. Let me ask you something. You’re about to leave the White House, and I imagine you are looking for a job with some public relations firm or maybe setting up your own shop. Do you intend to continue lying to the public and to the media wherever it is you land?
SANDERS CONSULTS WITH HER ATTORNEY. THIS IS A LONG ONE. FINALLY…
SANDERS: Yes. But only if there is no other way to help my clients.
NADLER: Okay. Just know that if you lie again publicly that we reserve the right to call you back.
SANDERS: I understand.
NADLER: But it would be great not to have to call you again.
SANDERS: Tell me about it.
NADLER: You may be excused.
SANDERS: Thank you. Am I still under oath?
NADLER: Actually, no.
SANDERS: Great! (TURNS UGLY) This whole hearing is a witch hunt! The ones you should be investigating are the lefty SPIES in the FBI who bugged Trump Tower!
NADLER: Oh boy. We will stand adjourned until tomorrow morning.
HE HITS THE GAVEL. AS A FOX NEWS CAMERAMAN STEPS IN WITH HIS HANDHELD CAMERA POINTED AT SARAH…
SANDERS: You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Chairman! To insinuate that I had been lying when this president is presiding over the strongest economy in the history of humankind!
SHE ADDRESSES THE FOX CAMERAMAN
SANDERS (CONT’D): You got that?
AS HE GIVES HER THE THUMBS UP…
FADE

(*The above courtesy of former Senator Al Franken’s Facebook Page).

Suzanne Weinert of Flatiron Pictures Is Writer/Producer/Director On the Rise

Filmmaker Suzanne Weinert, in Austin, Texas. (Picture by Connie Wilson).

Suzanne Weinert is the president of Flatiron Pictures, located in Austin (TX),which specializes in producing independent feature films throughout the Southwest. Her short “A Good Son,” which she directed, just had its World Premiere at SXSW. Thematically, it bears some resemblance to a Burt Reynolds film, “The End.” (1978) The short is playing at the Boston Film Festival April 11-16. Hopefully,  the feature of “A Good Son” (which exists) might attract the interest of Boston-based filmmakers and, ideally, a star like Alan Arkin.

Suzanne has been producing, writing and, now, directing films since she answered an ad for an intern while a student at Columbia University and ended up assisting Director Ron Howard as he helmed “The Paper” (released in 2004). After that start, while still working on her MFA in Filmmaking, Suzanne began working for Julia Roberts’ Production Company, Shoelace Productions, and rose to become Vice President of that organization.

Suzanne has worked on such films as “Conspiracy theory” (1997), “Notting Hill” (1999), “Runaway Bride” (1999) and “The Paper” (1994) and also on “Hellion” (2014) and as the writer of the 2009 film “The ExTerminators” (Heather Graham, Jennifer Coolidge and Amber Heard) which, after it ran at SXSW that year, she says, “changed my life.”

The write-up in this year’s SXSW program for her short “A Good Son” is this: “When Tommy, 75, asks his son Mike to put a Hefty bag over his head and suffocate him to death, neither believes the other will really go through with it. Until Mike’s son, Chris, 17, devises a plan that will satisfy both his father and grandfather.”

Writer/Director Suzanne Weinert of Flatiron Pictures in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

When we spoke about making movies and the theme of this particular effort, Suzanne shared these insights: “I’ve had a lot of people say to me, since they saw the short, ‘This is a conversation that’s actually going on in my house.’” She mentioned the “sandwich generation” (as the group of young people caught between caring for their own families and caring for their elderly parents is sometimes called) and asked me if I’d seen the appearance of Bea Smith’s husband on “The View.”

Bea Smith was a famous restauranteer. Several years ago Bea and her spouse sat down and talked about what to do in the event that either of them got Alzheimer’s or dementia or some other debilitating illness that would require extensive assistance. They spelled out everything each would want. Bea’s husband has done everything she asked, but when he brought another woman to their house— someone he met after Bea’s condition worsened— who has helped him  care for his ailing wife, that was controversial to many, if not to the couple themselves.

A recent news article about comedian Tim Conway, 86, shared that Conway’s wife of many years and his adult daughter were in court arguing about care for the former member of Carol Burnett’s comedy troupe, who has severe dementia and is now largely unresponsive.  Stan Lee’s death was similarly controversial and in the press a few months ago.

As Suzanne said, “They (Bea Smith & her husband) had this conversation. In America, we seem to have decided that dying is optional, so no one wants to talk about it. But the truth is, it’s going to happen to everyone and we all need to be talking about it.”

Q:  I asked Suzanne, “What is your background?”

A:   “I went to Columbia undergrad. I got a B.A. from Barnard College and then I got a Master’s degree. I started the Master’s program in Dramatic Writing and quickly realized that was not what I wanted to do, so I transferred and ended up getting an MFA in Screenwriting and Filmmaking.

While I was there, Ron Howard was looking for an intern. It was on the internship bulletin board. It said, ‘Director is seeking intern for feature film.’ I ripped off the thing and I called the number. It was Ron Howard. He was looking for an intern to work with him. So, I went down and had the interview. Kathryn Bigelow was my idol, and I remember having this conversation with Ron about Kathryn and how she’s my idol. When I was done and walked out, I thought, ‘I can’t even believe I said all these things to him.’ But he called me the next day and said, ‘I think this would be a good job for you.’ So, I was literally his intern. The Paper was a big movie. It had Michael Keaton, who had just done 2 Batmans, Glenn Close and Marisa Tomei, who had just won the Oscar for My Cousin Vinny, Randy Quaid, Robert DuVall, Jason Robards, Jason Alexander, Catherine O’Hara, Spalding Grey. The film was ‘The Paper.” (released in 2004) I was still in film school. I was in my second year. I said, ‘Oh, my gosh. I got this thing.’ It paid no money.”

Q:  What was it like working for Ron Howard?

A:  “I was so lucky to work with someone at that stage in my career who was so wonderful, so kind,  so personally generous. Ron Howard set the bar on how you should behave. I remember after just a few weeks—a teamster was coming to pick him up every morning from New Jersey. He had to come down the west side, anyway. Instead of leaving me to take public transportation at 5 o’clock in the morning, Ron would have his teamster come and pick me up first. So, I would get 15 minutes alone in the car every morning with Ron Howard.

After a while, he said to me, ‘We should pay you something.’ So, any little job along the way he would throw my way. I got to be in a scene one day, and I got paid for that. Another time I got to work with the second unit for a day as a P.A. (production assistant). Everyone took care of me. The Teamsters took care of me. I remember the last day of shooting I gave my teamster driver a pie. I’m not a cook, but I baked him a pie. For my first time on a film set, it was so magical.

Writer/Director Suzanne Weinert of Flatiron Pictures. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

But, the beauty of it was that, if Ron was there, I got to be there, which is not always the case for interns. The one thing I remember is that being a director means being able to handle 1,000 questions at one time. It was amazing. The script was written by David Koepp and Stephen Koepp who went on to become some of the biggest screenwriters of all, at the time, but this was one of their earlier works.  It was 1992. This was one of their first ones before they started doing, like Jurassic Park, Stir of Echoes and Spiderman (2002).”

After the Ron thing was done—he was going on to prep “Apollo 11”—  the chairwoman of the department knew that someone was starting a production company in New York and she thought of me. I went to the interview and I got that job.  It was Julia Roberts.

They wanted someone to read scripts and to work hard. I was really lucky. They made it really easy for me to have responsibility. And, I got to stay in New York. I was living on 16th Street. After a few months we moved the office to 19th Street. Her president of production was a guy who was so kind, so gracious. She had a process of taking a script from there to the screen. They were super welcoming—not at all the stories you hear about Hollywood. I thought, ‘I’ll stay for 2 years. I’ll get some experience, and then I’ll just go somewhere and start to write screenplays for money.’ But I was having such a good time I stayed 7 and ½ years. I stayed 4 times longer than I thought I would be there.

Q:  Other Julia Roberts stories, beyond working on “Runaway Bride,” “Conspiracy Theory” and “Notting Hill?”

A:  I love to travel. I’m a big traveler. I’ve always volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. At one point there came a time where Julia had an opportunity to go to Borneo for a while and do a thing about orangutangs. Lewis Leaky had 3 graduate students he sent to Africa. Diane Fosse and Jane Goodall and Dr.  Birute Mary Galdikas. Jane has remained this beautiful woman. Diane was unfortunately killed. The third woman is still in Borneo and runs an orangutang rescue and that’s who we stayed with.”

My habitat work, I’ve slept on church pews for a month in Alaska. I’m used to roughing it, so when Julia said, ‘Come on…do you want to go to the Borneo jungle?’ I said, ‘Sure!’ So we did that one and a few years later we did one in Mongolia. We went to Mongolia and out to the Gobi Desert for several weeks. So, the job changed, too. We just kept doing things that were personally fulfilling. To me, to go to these exotic places with these wonderful crews from Britain and elsewhere…it was so fantastic!”

Q:  After the orangutang experience, what was next?

A:  We did orangutangs in ’97 and then we came back and did a bunch more movies, and then we went to Mongolia. At that point I had been writing scripts, and I just really wanted to jumpstart my writing career. I had just sort of gotten sidetracked for 7 years having a great time. I think I was like 34, maybe. It just seemed like a good time.

I really had always had this vision that I would just sit, with a view, and write. I think it was kind of like a ‘now or never’ thing. So I left. Something happens around 33, 34, I think. You start thinking: all right. So, then I spent a whole bunch of time writing and living in New York. I wrote ExTerminators (Heather Graham, Jennifer Coolidge, Amber Heard, directed by John Inwood). It showed at SXSW, and it changed my life. I’ve filmed 12 movies in Texas recently.”

Q:  Was there ever a moment when you had to make a decision on whether to stay or whether to leave the position as Vice President of Julia Roberts’ Shoelace Productions?

A:  I just knew. Someone did a paper on a theory that every 7 years you change. You are different. You are physically different. I think that was part of it.

My short this year (“A Good Son”) screened on the first Friday, which was great for me, but a lot of my friends couldn’t see it.”) ‘A Good Son’ really is based on a true story. Tommy Ryan really is a very virile 75-year-old man. I wanted to be honest that this is a man who has lived, by his own admission, a full life. He feels satisfied. Married to the same woman for 40 years. Raised a couple of decent kids. He doesn’t want to become feeble and have the last few years of his life be a drag. I really wanted it to say, ‘Sometimes, you’re just done.

Image from Suzanne Weinert’s “A Good Son.” (SXSW Press)

I wrote the short because I wanted to have something to show to others. So, the next step, after the short makes the festival circuit (it plays in Boston April 11-16), is going to be taking the feature out. I would like to see the film made at the feature level, but no one is going to give me $30 million dollars easily. Alan Arkin would be my dream casting. Or Robert Duvall. A friend of mine directed “Get Low” and Bill Murray played in it. (Duvall was in “The Paper’”) Alan Arkin still seems very strong and virile and alive, to me. The Boston teams—the Bruins, etc.— are a big part of the short. There are all these Boston actors and Boston directors. Jon Hamm. Mark and Donny Wahlberg. Matt Damon. Ben Affleck.

Then you start to think about what Boston-based or Boston-bred actors and directors might actually want to direct a movie about a bunch of guys from Boston. That’s kind of the direction I’m taking. There’s already a network. There’s no women in it; I don’t know exactly how to get them in there, but I want the short to do well and then ask the Boston-based directors, ‘Here’s a film about your town.’” How do I reach out to the Boston directors/actors?

Q:  Which is the better route: a college film making program or starting to direct on your own when young?

A:  Columbia’s under grad at the time did not offer a film program. U.T. has a good program where you actually get to make a short. My undergrad degree is in dramatic writing—plays and things like that. I actually had to go back to film school to study that; it was a different era.

I would say now that if you got out of school and all you had was a Bachelor’s in English, you might be at a disadvantage. I learned how to work every single piece of equipment on the set and I still have a circle of closest friends who are people I trust when it comes to work, so it gave me a great start.

It helps to be in a place where film is considered a possibility. I enjoyed having that background. It gave me a great team of people who are still in play.  You need to live in a place where film is considered an option. Austin is a great town. (Suzanne winters here; spends the hot summers in Auckland, New Zealand).

The people who are still here (the industry has shrunk considerably) are willing to help the people who are just starting out. We have a film society here that is willing to help people out. Austin is a great town for this. Dallas, Houston, Atlanta—they all have a film society organized. I don’t know any other way, so, for me, graduate school was the only possible way to go. My friends kind of went a different way.

They got into advertising. They never crossed over. Once you get into advertising you stay in advertising because the money is so good and so consistent. I’ve never had to live in L.A. I can be anywhere to write. I grew up an only child in New York, but after 2009 I moved to Austin. I joined the board of the Austin Film Society in 2012, became vice president in 2014 and then President in 2016.  It’s a purely voluntary position. Everyone on the board donates their time.  I just really wanted to give back to the community while writing and producing movies through Flatiron. Every movie that I made we shot somewhere in Texas. I shot 12 movies here in Texas and I go to L.A. a couple days each month, because my manager is there and my legal team is there and a lot of the directors I work with are there. You have to go there, but you don’t have to live there.”

Q: Isn’t part of the job of a producer raising money?

A:   Yes.

Q:  How does one do that?

A:   It’s really hard and it’s gotten harder.  Extra funds seem to have dried up now. Oil is not as high, per barrel, as it used to be. People are not as willing to take a risk.

Q:  What are the best states that offer perks to aspiring filmmakers?

A:  Atlanta is pretty consistent. To the best of my knowledge, that’s in perpetuity. They’re just going to keep doing it for a long time. Louisiana. New Mexico. Oklahoma has a very good program, but it has a cap on it. Michigan tried it for a while. Indiana. Massachusetts. New York. States like Georgia have found it to be successful. New York is clued into the fact that it is really successful.

Q:  You’d like to see top notch talent attach itself to the idea of the short?

A:  Yes. Then, my production company owns the rights to about 10 different projects. My immediate goal is to get the feature of “The Good Son” done.

Q:  What’s next for Suzanne:

A:  My short is actually based on a feature script I wrote a few years ago. As I said, I’m hoping to shop that around once the short finishes its festival run. Scriptwise, a horror movie I wrote called “Ghost Passenger” is set to start pre-production this summer. And I recently set up a rom-com called “Previously Engaged” at Intrepid Pictures.  Directing wise, I’m going to shoot a pilot for an Austin-based TV series I created this fall. So 2019 is turning out to be a pretty busy year.”

Michael Cohen on “Late Night”: Were the Congressional Hearings of 2/27 the “Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players”?

 I watched (most of) the Michael Cohen testimony today on CNN. I even taped the earlier testimony, in case I wanted to go back and watch, for instance, the argument that broke out between a Democrat and a Republican about Donald J. Trump’s racist tendencies. I thought these tendencies had been fairly well established back when the state of New York targeted DJT and his father (Fred) in a sting operation that involved the duo not renting to blacks.

A black couple was told there was “no room in the inn.” Immediately afterwards, a white couple was rented an apartment. This is old news and easily checked out online. There have been plenty of other examples since then, but that would bog down this mention of today’s appearance of Michael Cohen in front of Congress and serve no purpose other than to rehash old news.

I was most put off by Republican Jim Jordan (blue shirt, yellow tie guy) who was extremely hostile and, in a particularly funny moment, tried to introduce an amendment AFTER he had already yielded his time. Then there was Congressman Matt Gaetz who threatened Cohen on Twitter, saying Michael Cohen’s wife was likely to hear about his girlfriends. (Didn’t happen). Gaetz added the rather low comment, “I wonder if she’ll be waiting for you while you’re in prison.” As Seth Meyer said on “Late Night,” “I didn’t think anyone could out-sleaze Trump on Twitter, but you did it, my friend.”

There was talk of whether Michael Cohen wanted a job in the White House.  Meyer said, “Well, that would have been a solid source of income for weeks.” I was instantly reminded of General Kelly, face buried in palm for weeks, saying, “This is the worst job I ever had.”

THINGS WE LEARNED TODAY:

1)Michael Cohen testified that Trump knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

2) Michael Cohen testified that Trump knew about the leaked Democratic documents from the DNC.

3)  Michael Cohen expressed contrition and (hopefully genuine) remorse and endured a great deal of unattractive, immature bashing from the Republicans in the hall.

Seth Meyer showed a picture of DJT in Vietnam for his “summit” with North Korean’s Kim Jung Un and made the comment, “Trump finally went to Vietnam, but he’s getting killed back home.” For those of you who have been living under a rock, this was a reference to the bogus bone spurs that Trump used as his excuse to avoid active military service in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

4)  Michael Cohen told the assembled Congressmen and women: “He (DJT) had no desire or intention to lead this country, only to market himself.”

Democratic National Convention, 2008, Denver: CNN Headquarters. (Photo from Connie Wilson’s book “Obama’s Odyssey.”)

Michael Cohen went on to talk about Trump’s goals when he began running for President and even shared that he was the one  responsible for setting up a website to explore a potential run, early on. According to Michael Cohen, 5)  “Donald J. Trump ran for office to market his brand and to increase his power. He would often say, ‘This campaign is going to be a great info-mercial.’

Added Seth Meyer, “like most things on infomercials, it turned out to be much crappier than it looked on TV.” 

6)  Michael Cohen spoke about the Trump Tower Meeting, specifically, Donald Trump, Jr. coming in and walking behind DJT’s desk and speaking to his father. Said Cohen, “What struck me as I look back was that DJT had frequently had told me his son Don, Jr., had the worst judgment in the world.” Meyer said, “That’s saying a lot when he claims his son is even dumber than he is, because he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.” (Ouch!)

Then came a close-up look at Paul Gosar (R, AZ), whose own siblings took out ads endorsing his opponent in 2018. A dentist from Arizona, he couldn’t get his statement out before his time expired, but he came with a giant poster that bore a picture of Cohen with the words, “Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” What struck me was that he could simply put Trump’s face over Cohen’s and it could  become a permanent fixture of any televised appearance by Agent Orange in the future, since Trump has told well over 9,000 verifiable lies since assuming office.

Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins (R, LA) was highlighted, saying, “I didn’t know who you were until today really.” He also likened Cohen to “many of the thousands of men I arrested” saying he doubted the sincerity of all of the criminals he had apprehended, who claimed remorse after their arrest. Higgins’ accusation was that Cohen was angling to get a TV show from his appearance this day.

7)  Cohen replied, rather calmly, “Mr. Higgins, “I’ve been on TV representing Mr. Trump since 2011.”

 As Seth Meyer said, “He looks like the kind of guy who’d say, ‘Well, I don’t have a TV set. I get all my news from a gossip-y alligator.” The writers also compared Jim Jordan’s rapid-fire staccato outburst of names of individuals who were currently accused of being less than forthcoming (Jim Comey was one) as “Like a Fox News version of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire!'” Meyer was right; the entire outburst was like a small child on the playground.

Actually, nearly all of the Republican questioners of Michael Cohen, the sad-eyed beagle amongst them, came off that way. Their chief purpose was not to elicit information. They don’t seem to care if Trump is a petty or a major criminal, but only whether they will remain in power.

8)  It seems quite sad that they are completely indifferent as to whether or not the Chief Executive (the guy with his finger on the nuclear button) might be  a traitor (a “useful idiot”) or in bed with the Russians or maybe just a petty small-time criminal who used money from his (so-called) cancer charity to pay for a portrait of himself and cheated on his taxes every chance he got. [Constitution? What Constitution! Pshaw! Ain’t no big deal!]

As Meyer concluded, the hearings merely showed ” that Republicans are supporting Trump despite the fact that there is still so much to learn about him.”

 

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