12/11/09

CITY ISLAND: PRODUCTION STILLS PLUS JONATHAN WINTERS!


Click on the above to enlarge us filming the fabulous Julianna Margulies. And click on the below to enlarge a wider view, with the assistant camera girl replacing JM in the window, slate dutifully in hand.


Anyway, thanks for the nice comments on the "new look" for our blog. The new look, designed by web-artiste cosmicJANE, is meant to signify a new beginning for our mission. As of the first of the year, I'll be blogging the whole damn history of getting "City Island" made. The purpose: self-promotion, of course. But I'd also dearly love to create a book, complete with the screenplay and oodles of photographs. There's a certain air of urgency to this ambition of mine considering the whole damn format of bound books printed on paper appears to be on the verge of extinction. So what better place to write the first draft of the book then on this blog. If I time things correctly, I'll be done with the story on the day before the movie opens, March 18 2010.

Check out the last comments section for some links to footage of Andy Garcia in Deauville from the invaluble JC. The "Lunch at Cartier" afternoon was quite an amusing experience. You might be able to feel the air of dissipation and general exhaustion--it was after four hard days of press and partying. As I recall, the lunch they served was cold--lots of pate and vegetables, and Andy and I sent out to the hotel for a couple of much needed steaks.

And now for a true treat: on Thursday, author James Gavin ("Stormy Weather"--the Lena Horne bio) and I set out for Santa Barbara, California, to meet and interview for our documentary on the history of Cabaret a true legend. Jonathan Winters in eighty-four years of age and I'm happy to say that he isn't one bit saner or nearer normal then he ever was. The man is brilliant--entertaining, constantly "on", always turning everything into a routine and sometimes...scary in his ability to dramatize and act out any situation. Indeed, Jonathan is frank about his own edgy grasp on sanity over the years (he's been in and out of a couple of institutions) and he's perfectly willing to revisit some very painful portions of his youth. Clearly, like most comedians, there is a lot of pain at the root of his personality--much of it directed at still unresolved feelings of inferiority in the eyes of his long dead parents. I recall seeing Jerry Lewis in an interview years ago reminiscing about how he gave his father a Cadillac and his father--an unsuccessful vaudeville performer--said to his famous son: "I wanted a convertible". This made the now aging Jerry cry--can we ever actually please our parents? As a tear rolled down his cheek, Jerry pointed at it and said to the interviewer: "This is why I do the comedy."

Clearly in Jonathan's case, the comedy had to do with making up for what his father perceived as a lack of ability, intellectual and otherwise, in his only child. "You're the dumbest white boy I've ever seen", said this lovely man to a boy who even then must have been a true original. His mother, it turns out, was a performer herself--she had her own local radio show in Springfield where he hails from. But even this seems not to have brought him closer to her. Instead, she was jealous of his early success and sought to belittle his gifts. Oh, what people do to each other...

Here's me and Mr. W.

Although our interview was supposed to be exclusively about his cabaret career in the 1950's, there really is no way to limit the incredibly fertile mind, flashing wit and endless invention of his mad genius. In some ways, our questions were somewhat beside the point; to talk to Jonathan about any subject is to engage him on everything that is passing through his mind. And the way he processes all thought is comedically. Everything in life can be turned into a routine, according to this principal. And in fact he's correct. A most wonderful, if somewhat exhausting, way to look at life.

Meeting Jonathan Winters. An unforgettable deal. Below is from the Jack Parr show in the late 50s. Jonathan is given a simple prop and told to go. Watch what he does with a pen and pencil.



And here he is on Johnny Carson, years later. Enjoy...



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