The saga continues. But first, here's a lovely review of "Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris"--now available on DVD from Amazon.

So: we were in Cannes with Clint Eastwood and Andy Garcia, where I stared glassily out at the Mediterranean wondering if--having lost our two actresses--a night of gambling and a dawn suicide might, in fact, be the best route to take at this juncture.

But back in New York it was clear that the only course was action. We had enough money to get prep started and seemed to have more on the way. So we started offering the parts to other actors and never stopped heading for our start date--which was shaping up as June/July. The first person we offered the part that Chloe Sevigny bagged on to was Emily Mortimer. Andy had worked with her in The Pink Panther movies and I'd loved her in a couple of indies--with names that, frankly, elude me. To our surprise and delight, she responded to the script and asked to meet me.

This meeting took place, as I recall, in Brooklyn near her home. It was a kind of coffee house setting--the kind of place that Brooklyn, once the home exclusively of bars and laundromats, now specializes in. Emily was so enchanting, so charming and so easy to talk with that after the meeting, I got into the car to leave and realized I hadn't actually asked her to be in the movie. I mean, I took it for granted that if she liked the script well enough to meet me and our meeting went well, then the rest would follow. But you never know. Actors can be touchy about being...wanted. I told this to her via e-mail a few days later and she was dumbfounded. Of course she wanted to do the movie! Feeling like a bit of a twit isn't usually the best way to launch an actor/director relationship but there I was. She held nothing against me. I still feel like a bit of a twit.

We backed into our actual start date by finding out our actual end date. Labor day, the end of summer, made a convenient endmark for production. Backing up six weeks created a start date in mid July. Backing up another six weeks gave us a pre-production start date of end of May, beginning of June. It was now mid-May. So we had to start prep without having filled the role of Vince's wife, Joyce--the part that Marcia Gay Harden had passed on. This was not terribly daunting, though, since we knew it was the kind of part actresses always complain they don't get the chance to do: a mother, a real woman, still a sexual being and a tough cookie who loves her family but isn't afraid to go out and take for herself what she needs. How many times have you heard actresses (in print or in interviews) complain that Hollywood doesn't give women enough of these kinds of strong female characters--that all they're interested in are young, shallow, sexy, air-headed male desire objects?

Casting the role of Joyce would be a piece of cake. We'd have it wrapped up in tissue paper and tied with pink ribbons in a week or so. Right? In the words of Sidney Falco: "you're walking around blind without a cane..."

The below clip is for you, Dan Fisher! Dan was our property master and remains a faithful reader/commenter of this blog. Here he is, "customizing" the car that Vince "drives"...

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  1. Dan seems to enjoy it!!

    So what does a property master do?

    Can not wait to read about how J.Margulies became part of the team!

    take care
    peace and love

  2. I continue to be fascinated...and you continue to deliver :)

  3. The stardom that has eluded me my entire life is now mine! MINE, I say! The homely "never been kissed" British singing sensation is last week's news! Where's my reality show? When do I get to meet the Kardashians and the Osbournes?

    Seriously, Marianna, what a property master does is work in conjunction with the director (in this case, Raymond), production designer (the stellar Franckie Diago) and actor(s) (Andy Garcia, et al) to choose, procure, and maintain (that is, manage to not lose) all of the physical properties or items for the film THAT ARE MOBILE, otherwise, they are set dressing.

    For example, Vince's car. That's mobile, it moves around. It's a prop. The couch, curtains, etc. in the Rizzo house? Set dressing, because once they're put in place, that's where they stay. (Unless, of course, we have to put a camera or lights or a video monitor where the item is dressed. Then it definitely moves, then is moved back into place when we see it on camera. But it's still set dressing, not my job to procure, so don't ask me.)

    Other examples of props in City Island: all main characters' cars (Joyce's Element -- thanks Mrs. Fisher!, Vince's Galaxy -- thanks eBay!), all of the food (see previous postings for my opinion of Italian directors and their obsessions with food), Tony's handcuffs, Vince's and other corrections officers' badges, nameplates, gun belts, etc., all wedding rings and watches, Vinnie Jr.'s briefcase and all the weird crap inside of it, all of the cigarettes that everybody in the movie smokes. (That's a lot of cigarettes.)

    And a bunch of other stuff.

    The fun part is working with the actors and director, trying to find the right object that helps define the character and tell the story.

    Also sometimes you get to smash a car with a sledgehammer.

    The yucky part is trying to get all of this stuff without much of a budget. We wound up using my wife's Element for Joyce's car because we were all set to get a promotional vehicle from an unnamed automobile manufacturer (I won't tell which one, but it rhymes with Meep) but then the offer was pulled off the table when the manufacturer discovered that Tony was supposed to hot wire the car in one teeny-tiny lousy scene and would not supply us the car unless the scene were excised. And Homie don't play that. Nor does Raymond Felitta.

    Though, come to think of it, I think he did excise it later. But not 'cause THE MAN told him to do it.

    Anyway, I think it was three days before filming, and I'm driving in my wife's car, sh-tting bricks because Joyce is supposed to have an SUV and we ain't got no money. And as I'm driving, I'm thinking, hmm, where am I supposed to get this magic car, am I just supposed to find it under my ass?

    And, alas, I did. All I needed was Helene's permission. With a sigh and a I'm-used-to-this-by -now expression, she agreed and we had Joyce's car.

    Now where was I? Oh yeah, I was born.....

    Tune in next week for the exciting adventures of how to buy and sell vintage convertibles on eBay.


  4. Daniel, thanks for the info! I always wondered how those things were handled, though I would have never guessed that the Element was actually personal property. Good thing your wife isn't opposed to other people making out in her car! :)

    Oh and Raymond, if that scene did get excised, here's a vote that hopes it makes its way to DVD!

  5. Thank you Daniel! I apreciate you taking the time to explain everything to me lol

    Sounds like an interesting (and difficult) job. But if you like it then there are more to gain right!?

    Take care now
    peace and love