Category: Interviews Page 2 of 8
Among the notable folk that Connie has interviewed (partial list) are: David Morrell (3 times), William F. Nolan, Kurt Vonnegut, jr.; Joe Hill; Frederik Pohl; Anne Perry; Valerie Plame; Vanessa Redgrave; Michael Shannon;; Taylor Hackford; Jon Land and Liv Ullman. The interview subjects might be from the world of Hollywood or simply be much-read authors, but her interviews have run in newspapers for 61 years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
MR. NADLER: But what you told Mr. Stephanopoulos was not true, was it?
MR. NADLER: And it was a lie because, in fact, it had been a talking point, hadn’t it?
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…
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.”
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.”
[Adam Schiff Image from Wikipedia]
Adam Schiff, Democratic Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on George Stephanopoulus on February 24, 2019 had the following message for the nation about the Mueller investigation.
Q: George Stephanopoulus: What do you hope to learn when Michael Cohen testifies tomorrow (Feb. 27th)?
A: Well, many things. Why the false statements when he first appeared before our committee? Did his testimony go beyond what he testified to us the first time we looked into Moscow Trump Tower? Who else would have been aware of the false testimony he was giving? What other light can he shed? What else can he tell us about the Trump Tower New York meeting or any other endeavor he can shed light on.
Q: GS – What about the Trump campaign’s finances? You’ve suggested that is the new front in your investigation.
A: AS – This is something I’ve been concerned about for 2 years now. We weren’t really permitted to explore it when the Republicans headed the committee. We are learning the perils of ignoring the financial issues and crossing what the president called his “red line.” What we’ve learned to date about Moscow Trump Tower is chilling: As Donald Trump was campaigning for the presidency and was telling the American public that he had no dealings with Russia, he was privately negotiating with the Russians to make what may well have been the most lucrative deal of his life, even reportedly offering an inducement to Putin to make it happen. (*Note: it is reported that DJT offered Putin a penthouse apartment for assistance in helping make the deal go through.) If DJT was discussing removing sanctions against Russia, whether it is criminal or not, it is deeply compromising to our national security, so those issues have to be probed, and they include money laundering as well.
Q: GS – In regards to the Mueller investigation if the President did not collude but, if that’s not criminal, does Mueller have a responsibility to report on it or no?
A: AS – He does, in fact, have a responsibility to report it, and, in fact, if you take the position—and I think it’s a flawed one—that the President cannot be indicted and the only remedy for improper conduct is impeachment, then you have the necessity to report that to Congress, or essentially the President has immunity. That cannot be allowed to be the case. Bill Barr has committed in his testimony to making as much of the report public as he can. The regulations allow him to make ALL of it public, and we’re going to insist on that. And more than that, we’re going to insist on the underlying evidence because there is certain evidence that is only in the hands of the Department of Justice that we can’t get in any other way….the conduct of Roger Stone and Paul Mananfort, for instance…there’s just no way to get the evidence that was seized except going through the Department of Justice and we can’t tell the country what happened without it.
Q: GS – If you decline to prosecute someone, then the DOJ has said the information, the underlying evidence, should not be released.
A: AS – But, George, the Department has violated that policy repeatedly and extensively to a great extent over the last 2 years. In fact, I’ve had this conversation with Rod Rosenstein and others in the Justice Department as they turned over thousands and thousands of pages of testimony in the Clinton e-mail investigation and there was no indictment in that investigation. This was a new precedent they were setting, and they were going to have to live by this precedent whether it was a Congress controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans. So they’re going to have to abide by that. And I think, also, that, apart from the precedent they’ve already set, that the public has an intense need to know, here, which I think overrides every other justification.
Q: GS – You say they have to live by that precedent, but what if they refuse to live by it. What if they simply say no?
A: AS – Well, we will obviously subpoena the report, we will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress; we will take it to court, if necessary, and, in the end, I think the Department understands they’re going to have to make this public. I think Barr will ultimately understand that, as well. Barr comes into this job with 2 strikes against him. He applied for the job by demonstrating a bias against the investigation. He’s also been shown to not follow the advice of ethics lawyers—indeed, that was part of the reason he was hired. If he were to try to withhold, try to bury any part of this report, that will be his legacy, and it will be a tarnished legacy. So, I think there will be immense pressure not only on the department, but also on the Attorney General to be forthcoming.
Q: GS – You’re talking about public pressure. Are you prepared to take the Administration to court?
A: AS – Absolutely! We are going to get to the bottom of this. We are prepared to share this information with the public and if the president is serious about all his claims of exoneration by this report, then the President should welcome this report.
Q: GS – Do you have any evidence at all that the President colluded?
A: AS – George, there is ample evidence of collusion, and it is very much in the public record. It’s everything from Paul Mananfort from sharing polling date—and not top-line data “this is why we think Trump is gonna’ win data”—but raw data, complicated data. We’ve seen evidence of Roger Stone in communication with WikiLeaks. We’ve seen Trump’s son having a secret meeting in Trump Tower that was presented to him as part of the Russian government’s attempt to help the Trump campaign. His acceptance of that help, his interest in getting that—all of that is evidence of collusion. Whether that will amount to a criminal conspiracy that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, we’ll have to wait for Bob Mueller to tell us but to not see what is clearly in front of us means that you clearly don’t WANT to see what is in front of us, because it is quite abundant.
“The Front Runner,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitner, was the favorite film I saw this past 54th Chicago International Film Festival. It reminded me of “The Candidate” directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Robert Redford, which I reviewed 46 years ago (1972). In fact, I still have a button that says, “All the Way with Bill McKay” from the Showcase Cinemas in Milan, a gimmick given out to those who attended the film. Reitman acknowledged, in the Q&A following the film, that “’The Candidate’ was our North Star” during shooting of this film about the 1988 presidential race of Colorado candidate Gary Hart. “The Front Runner” also reminds of Beau Williman’s “Ides of March” with Ryan Gosling.
Hugh Jackman plays Gary Hart, the candidate, and the film follows the rise and fall of Senator Hart, who was considered the overwhelming front runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination until the story of an extramarital relationship aboard a yacht called “Monkey Business” doomed his campaign, causing him to drop out. I was immediately reminded of how dangerous “front runner” status can be. I thought back to the Howard Dean campaign and the “sleepless summer” of 2004, which I covered for www.blogforiowa.com. [Each candidate, Hart and Dean, shot himself in his own foot, so to speak, although Dean’s “scream heard ‘round the world” was augmented by the Kerry forces, who arranged for it to be replayed constantly in a never-ending loop, discrediting that former “front runner.”]
The movie, which runs 113 minute and opens wide November 21st, considers many aspects of the disclosure of Hart’s dalliance with a beautiful blonde (Donna Rice). Although the event happened 30 years ago, it is timely today. As Chicago International Film Festival Artistic Director Mimi Plauche said, onstage, “This is about 4 ‘P’s’: Power, Politics, Privacy and the Presidency.” She asked Director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) how he managed to focus the film, since it contained many topics?
His answer was, “The way in became an ensemble. Everyone had a different point of view. A.J., the reporter for ‘The Washington Post’ (who Reitman conceded was a composite of at least two different reporters) had a certain point of view. Irene Kelly, played by Molly Ephriam, had a certain point of view. I go into every film with questions. I came to the movie with questions. It’s kind of fun to have differing points of view.”
Asked how he came to make this film, since he was only 10 years old the year that Hart ran for President (1988), Reitman said he had heard about the race on a podcast and became fascinated with it. Plus, he said, he always looks for an ending, and this story had one.
Reitman also said, “I’ve always wanted to work with Hugh Jackman. Ever since I saw him in “Logan,” for which I think he should have been Oscar-nominated, I’ve wanted to work with him. Jackman is the most decent human being I’ve ever worked with on a set. Every day, so that he could get to meet more of the cast and crew, he’d bring scratcher tickets and personally hand them to everybody. He had a huge spiral notebook of research on Hart.”
Talking about film, in general, Reitman said, “If the theory of film Is that it is purposely messy, what is relevant? What is important? We were going to throw a lot at you in this film. It was not improvisation. It was controlled madness.”
Of the opening scene, [which sees Hart conceding to Walter Mondale at the 1984 convention], Reitman said, “That was a two and one-half minute shot with a lot happening. Your ears tell you where to look. Steve Morrow wired everybody, so you had lots of people talking. Sometimes, we’d hand someone a magazine from that year and say, ‘Read this to your seat mate and explain it to him.’ That’s your dialogue.”
Acknowledging the contributions of his Director of Photography, Eric Steelberg, Reitman said, “I’ve worked with Eric since we were 15. We do photo-boarding. We take stand-ins and go through every shot and frame on the actual location and shoot pictures. It’s like storyboarding, only with real people and lens directions. When we’re done, you can flip through the book of pictures and see the movie-to-be.”
To what extent were people instructed on how to behave?
“Our North Star throughout was Michael Ritchie’s ‘The Candidate’ (Robert Redford, 1972). We established real rooms where people were doing their jobs. All the extras were assigned in advance. We gave them photos of reporters on a bus in the eighties to show them how it really was. We used real film from campaigns. We wanted it to feel as live and messy as possible. When we saw film of James Carville eating popcorn out of a coffee filter because they’d run out of paper plates, we said, ‘We’re using that.’ From a technical point of view, this is the most obsessive movie I’ve ever made.’”
“My producing partner since ‘Up in the Air’ has been Helen Esterbrook. We both voice our respective points-of-view. It was odd that people alive then didn’t remember Donna Rice at all and talked about her as though she were an object. Even in the last few years, there’s been a shift in how we view Monica Lewinsky and that situation. We made an early decision on how to portray Donna (Rice). Halfway through the movie you meet Donna (Sara Paxton) and she’s alone. Sara kind of just took the weight of the whole movie on her shoulders in her scene and did it with great poise.” Reitman said that, in meeting all the real participants, he “felt oddly more responsible to Andrea Hart,” the college-aged daughter, but also remarked “I felt a responsibility to be decent to all the characters.”
It may be this decency on Reitman’s part that leaves the audience with a few alternative versions of Hart’s story involving Donna Rice. In one, Ms. Rice flew up to spend the weekend with Hart in his Washington, D.C., town house. In the other, Ms. Rice and another couple they had been out with for the evening entered his town house but departed via a back exit after about an hour. A major plot point on Hart’s part is that the reporters staking out his town house didn’t cover the back door. The seasoned campaign manager Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons, Oscar winner for “Whiplash”) says, “It’s not ’72. It’s not even ’82,” noting how public perceptions had changed. That remark is certainly timely today.
Reitman then told a true story he had heard from Joe Trippi, the legendary campaign manager who took Howard Dean to front-runner status early in the presidential race of 2004 and who recently master-minded the Alabama campaign of Democratic Senator Doug Jones. [Jones became the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Alabama since 1997.] Trippi confirmed that Andrea Hart, Gary’s daughter, had to be sneaked out of their Colorado house while lying flat on the back seat of a car with a blanket concealing her presence there. To make it even more convincing, someone sat on her legs and waved at the throng of reporters.
Noting that the primary/caucus system was established in the mid-seventies, to take the selection of a presidential candidate out of the hands of power brokers in smokey back rooms, it then became the press’ duty to report on the candidates. Reitman said, “The responsibility fell on the shoulders of journalists after the backroom broker system died.”
Asked “Has American gotten the leader it deserves?”, Reitman admitted that he’s not a fan of the current occupant of the Oval Office, saying, “It just kills me every day, but I’m a Canadian. I have an escape plan!” (Laughter).
The comment is made in the film, “Someone will dredge up something you said 15 years ago and pretend it encapsulates your entire life.” In light of the recent Kavanaugh hearings, this rang very true. We also learn that 64% of the public polled felt the stalking of Hart by the Miami Herald was irrelevant and unseemly.
Hart felt, “I care about the sanctity of the process, whether you do or do not!” He did not feel that the press had the right to report on his private life (“Should I sacrifice my privacy?”) Hart also said, “Judgment, like character, needs to be measured in the full context of a career.” And, later, “Politics is on the verge of becoming another form of sport. I’m an idealist and I want to serve my country.” One could point to JFK, Jr.’s ill-fated magazine “George,” which was published from 1995 to 2001 as embodying this idea that politicians were, in essence, becoming celebrities even all those years ago.
A different point-of-view is articulated by campaign worker Ann Devroy (Ari Graynor of “I’m Dying Up Here” on Showtime). Speaking to a female journalist, she says, “He (Hart) is a man with power and opportunity. As our potential next president and as a journalist, you ought to care.”
THE AXE-THROWING SCENE
Asked about one particular campaign scene, where Candidate Hart ends up at a logging site and must throw an axe at a bull’s eye, Reitman said that the cast and crew had a pool on how many takes it would require for Jackman to hit the bull’s eye. The faux candidate stepped up and hit a bull’s eye with his first throw of the axe. “Then he did the wolverine pose,” said the director, adding, “It took about 8 more takes because the rest of the cast didn’t get it down.” In the film, a spectator says, “This is a first. He might just actually throw away his campaign.”
Reitman acknowledged that, “You look for stories that can be a prism: public life versus private life” and this is definitely a relevant and interesting one from 30 years ago. The real Gary Hart is now 81 and has been married to his wife, Lee (portrayed by Vera Farmiga) since 1958.