12/15/09

CITY ISLAND: STILL LIFE PLUS ARTE JOHNSON




I blog from a sound studio in Santa Monica where I await the arrival of Dominik Garica-Lorido, who has to loop one word consisting of four (maybe five) letters. The minutiae of moviemaking has never seemed so minute.

But it's also extremely important that this get done right. Because the reason were here has to do with the all-important MPAA rating. We desperately wanted an MPAA rating of PG-13 for "City Island" and, after making an adjustment or two in language, received one. But the MPAA also controls the trailer and advertising to a certain extent, and they didn't like the fact that the trailer of our movie ended with Dominik yelling "Jesus, Dad!" So we cut out the last two letters and it became "Jeez, Dad!". Only to my ears, that didn't sound right. It's very important that the trailer end with a punch, a real "zotz" of a joke, if you will. The joke that we end on--I wont give it away--works very well. But it was dependent on a suitably infuriated response from Dominik to punctuate the last moment. And "jeez" is different than "Jesus!" To me, "jeez" implies resignation. "Jesus" implies imperious, self-righteous anger. So I asked if we could do some alternative lines like: "great!" and "nice!" and others. Anyway, you can see how I spend my days. And this is a busy one, considering that I had to leave the house to be here.

I'm getting good feedback from the internet experts who are working on the movie about my "go online and write a book" scheme. So I appear to have once again booked myself a non-paying gig that will take up at least two hours a day for the better part of twelve weeks. Nice. But I love the idea and think it's a suitable way to wrap up this seemingly never-ending journey, delivering the last of the story of the making of this movie on the eve of the films theatrical release. This exercise in self-aggrandizement will begin shortly after the first of the year. Tell your friends. Or don't.

Below, meet Arte Johnson. Many of you will know him from "Laugh In". Some will have heard of him from his many "books on tape" appearances. And all those commercials. And guest shots on every major TV program of the last thirty years. Arte began his long show-biz career in cabaret in New York in the 1950's and so Jim Gavin and I made the pilgrimage to his home in Bel Air to interview him for our cabaret doc. Unlike many show-biz celebs of a certain age, there is no apparent bitterness in Arte about the fact that he was once busy and famous and now is...essentially retired. Rather than being pissed that things in the past didn't work out differently or that he isn't still as well known as he once was, he instead has a marvelous equanimity, a true satisfaction with his past and a modest perplexity that he ever had as much of a career as he did. Several times he exclaimed to us: "I never had a job! I never considered what I did to be work! I just acted funny and enjoyed myself!:" He and his lovely wife now spend six months a year traveling the world, insatiably curious about seeing the whole earth--what a wonderful use of time, so much better than sitting around moaning about the past! Here he is today:



And here he is durng the peak of his "Laugh In" limelight. Enjoy...





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8 comments:

  1. I guess thats why on sex dvds all
    they do is groan and say things
    like oh ah oh ah ah oh
    But they cant say Jesus Dad....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Peeking into this heretofore mysterious black box of film making gives me the shivers. You are brave, Raymond, and exceedingly patient.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do know that none of the crew
    looked at her beautiful legs
    when they were shooting

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jerry Orbach and I once had a discussion of what letters are funny and what letters are not. Given the enormous legacy of Jewish culture in American humor, Jerry told me, any word with K or Z in it is automatically funny. So perhaps, ever so slightly, you have upped the laugh quotient of the trailer by yielding, albeit not eagerly, to the whims of the inscrutable MPAA.

    I'd bet that if the trailer ended with Dominique blasting away at a gang of "Panamanian drug dealers" or "Russian mobsters" with an AK-47, brains and blood flying everywhere, that would have been allowable by the Ghosts of Jack Valenti.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What talented comedians on that show great stuff. thank you for
    the memory....When I see what
    they call comedy lately I want to
    throw a rock at my TV some good stuff.yes but most, garbage and they win awards.that's what makes me laugh....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Can't wait to see that trailer. Really looking forward to it! You must have had some screenings lately because I've been reading people saying good things about the movie on twitter. Also read a good review at http://www.hollywoodnews.com/2009/12/17/andy-garcia-and-cast-shine-in-city-island/

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  8. When they told you to change it you probably said to your self
    "Oh for Christ Sake" You will be
    getting a letter from the Government
    because I think they are reading
    minds now and you know that's a no no.

    ReplyDelete