DOUBLE-0 HEAVEN: Mark Yuknevitch, Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer and Giacomo Selloni enjoy the good life at Hudson Bar and Books.
There's a top secret hideout for 007 fans in New York City - at least those who enjoy cigars. (Well, Roger Moore did smoke 'em in Live and Let Die) Hudson Bar and Books at 636 Hudson Street is a tiny but atmospheric slice of heaven that pays homage to James Bond, with some cool artwork from the films adorning the wall, including a rare Bollinger champagne poster created for A View to a Kill. In warmer weather, there are some cafe tables outside but in the winter, you want to get there early to grab the couch in the back lounge area. Here you can enjoy Bond-style cocktails along with your stogies. There is a TV that only plays Bond movies during the entire time the bar is open and in evenings there is an elegant, sexy hostess on the premises. There are also cigars that can be purchased on the premises, so the city's Draconian smoking laws are not entirely without loopholes. Click here for more
Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) finds a unique way of welcoming Queen Elizabeth to San Francisco in the first Naked Gun film.
Keith Olbermann is primarily known as one of American TV's most controversial political talk show hosts. However, the unabashed liberal commentator also has an encyclopedic knowledge of films, as well as an off-the-wall sense of humor. Olbermann devoted a segment of his show Countdown to paying tribute to the late Leslie Nielsen. He shows clips from early in the actor's career and astutely points out that his renaissance as a comedic actor was due largely to his ability to spoof his own image as a stalwart, cardboard heroic type. Olbermann rightly observes that Nielsen could never return to playing a dramatic part, but the trade-off was worth it. Click here to check out the insightful segment, along with some great clips highlighting Nielsen in Airplane, Police Squad and The Naked Gun.
You'd have to go back to 1992 when Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven generated Oscar buzz to find a western as anticipated as the Coen Brothers' forthcoming remake of True Grit. The first version won John Wayne an Oscar back in 1969- and Entertainment Weekly says Jeff Bridges, now playing the role of Rooster Cogburn, might follow in his footsteps. We're just happy to see someone bringing this great film genre back to the screen. Click here for more
In Mel Gibson's new film, he plays an emotionally disturbed man obsessed by a beaver. Please, no obvious jokes about all the guys you know who share his obsession because in this movie, we're talking literally about the kind of beavers that build dams...or at least, a furry hand puppet of the buck toothed creatures. The bizarre comedy-drama was shot on a modest budget before Gibson's latest public relations nightmare. The trailer has just been released and it's as bizarre as you might imagine, drifting from goofy comedy to gooey romance. On the up side, he does co-star with the wonderful Jodie Foster, who also directed. Whether Foster off-beat film proves to be a debacle or a quirky success remains to be seen. Judge for yourself by clicking here to watch the trailer.
The legendary Sir Christopher Lee returns to Hammer studios for The Resident.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Long-suffering Hammer horror fans must feel like the Rodney Dangerfield's of today's movie business: they just don't get no respect. For many years, Hammer has been promising to re-emerge as a viable production company. The result was Beyond the Rave, a youth-oriented low-budget horror pic that "premiered" on web sites in 2008. The studio fared better with this year's Let Me In, but the movie still under-peformed at the box-office. Hammer lovers were far more enthused about The Resident, a creepy thriller that not only attracted two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank to star, but also brought legendary Sir Christopher Lee back into the Hammer fold. Alas, this film seems cursed as well: it will receive only a cursory theatrical release before going straight to DVD in March. Click here for details.
Steve Martin photographed in London by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston. (Photo: copyright Mark Mawston, all rights reserved)
As we reported last week, Steve Martin was the center of an awkward appearance at New York's famed 92nd Street Y. Martin was there to discuss his new novel, which is set in the world of art. When the interviewer did not ask Martin about his comedy roots, the management became anxious- especially when viewers who were watching on closed-circuit TV E mailed complaints that they were bored by the conversation. The management apologized and issued refunds. Now Martin responds with his side of the story in a New York Times opinion piece. Click here to read
Taschen have released yet another high end book commemorating rare photos from a classic film. In this case it's Taxi Driver. Steve Schapiro was the unit photographer on Martin Scorsese's lauded 1976 movie and has released remarkable photos in this limited, signed edition volume. The bad news: it retails for a cool $1,000 per copy. The good news: if you gotta have it, you can save a few hundred by purchasing the book from various dealers through Amazon. Click here to order. Click here for the Hollywood Reporter's photo gallery from the book.
Eureka! Entertainment Ltd has released a Blu-ray and DVD combined two-disc limited edition dual format steelbook of the cult classic blood-spurting Japanese/American film Shogun Assassin.Hailed in the West as one of the most popular samurai films ever, it is a spectacular representation of violence in film as an art form.
The film depicts the story of ronin Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama)and his son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa).After the deranged Shogun has Ogami’s wife murdered in an exercise to test the samurai’s loyalty, Ogami abandons his role as official decapitator and, with son in tow who now travels in a wooden cart affixed with hidden lethal weapons, takes up the life of a paid assassin.Lone Wolf and Cub now wander among the wilderness of ancient Japan constantly fending off attacks by ninja spies hired by the Shogun.The warrior’s lightening sword skills are soon pitched against the deadly weapons of the “Masters of Death” as they go head-to-head in a bloody climatic battle.
Shogun Assassin was released in the US in 1980 and comprises of an edited version of the first two films (Sword Of Vengeance andBaby Cart At The River Styx) in the Lone Wolf & Cub sagafrom the early 1970s directed by Kenji Misumi and adapted from the hugely popular manga series.The project was undertaken by producer David Weisman and director and writer Robert Houston and includes English dubbing with a voice-over narration by Daigoro (voiced by then child actor Gibran Evans) as well as a new superior electronic soundtrack co-written by Mark Lindsey, former lead vocalist with the ‘60s pop outfit Paul Revere and the Raiders. The English dialogue was written to match the actor’s lips movement and thus the translation isn’t exact and the plot line is somewhat altered and simplified as a result. However, Weisman and Houston remained respectful to Misumi’s original work and kept in the vicious, violent scenes which incorporate slicing off heads and hacked off body parts including nose, ears, fingers and arms, leaving one poor ninja as little more than a rolling torso.
Although Eon Productions is following tradition by keeping information close to the vest, several reliable sources indicate that the next James Bond film is back on track, with a planned release for the pivotal year of 2012, which marks the 50th anniversary of the movie series. Kate Winslet recently acknowledged that she is moving back to London so that Sam Mendes can be near their children while he directs the new 007 pic at Pinewood Studios. Longtime Bond composer David Arnold has also recently said that plans are moving forward. Sources say Daniel Craig will coordinate his seemingly endless film projects to accomodate the project. Bond producer Barbara Broccoli has been visiting actor Russell Beale at his London production of Death Trap. Beale is a favorite of Mendes and has indicated his enthusiasm for playing a Bond baddie. For more click here
We apologize for getting the word on this out too late to catch the premiere broadcast, but TCM is showing a new Clint Eastwood documentary about jazz great Dave Brubeck this month. Click here for story - and check TCM schedule for next screening.
Everyone remembers where they were on days of historic importance, especially if there is an element of tragedy involved. On December 8 1980, I was heading off to work and pulled my car over to buy a newspaper at a local shop. When I got back in, I turned on Howard Stern, who was then a star-on-the-rise on New York AM radio. Stern's off-the-wall humor was cutting edge at the time and his antics made my lousy morning commute tolerable. When I turned on the radio, Stern was in the middle of discussing John Lennon's murder. "This is crossing the line", I thought, feeling that Stern was making one of his usual sick jokes. I suddenly realized, however, that this was a rare occasion when the shock jock was playing it straight. The idea that someone might murder John Lennon was so mind-boggling that I couldn't think of anything else- in fact no one could. The term "loss of innocence" has been so overused that it long ago became a cornball phrase employed to describe every tragic event. However, with the death of Lennon it seemed approrpriate. Like just about everyone on the planet, my mind drifted back to all the wonderful moments in my life that his music seemed a part of: buying my first record as a kid (it was a 45 rpm of I Feel Fine by The Beatles), having my dad take me to see A Hard Day's Night at the Loews Theatre in Jersey City- and not being able to hear any dialoguge because of the girls screaming every time there was a close up of one of the Fab Four, and so many other great memories. Doubtless, so many people felt the same way, which is why tonight, fans from around the world will congregate at the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park across from Lennon's home, the Dakota.
Making this anniversary of his death so poignant is the fact that Rolling Stone reporter Jonathan Cott, who conducted the last interview with Lennon just days before his murder, has unearthed the original interview tapes and they are being published this week. Only snippets of the interview were originally used because the issue it was supposed to run in was largely devoted to his life and legacy. Cott forgot he had possession of the original tapes until he came across them while cleaning out his closet. In one portion of the interview, Lennon eeriely says he'd be more interesting if he was dead, but being a icon who dies young was an idea that appalled him. For more click here
Cinema Retro's seventh year of publishing has officially started now that issue #19 is shipping to UK and European subscribers. Subscribers in North America and other parts of the world will get their issues shortly after the new year, once the issues arrive from England.
Thanks to everyone who has subscribed or renewed their subscriptions. If you have not done so, please do so today. Every issue is a limited edition collector's item, so don't delay and end up missing any issues of the new season.
Issue #19 is truly one of our best to date. Consider these highlights:
We celebrate the Blu-ray release of The Exorcist with Matthew R. Bradley and Gilbert Colon's in-depth interview with author William Peter Blatty, who discusses some fascinating aspects about the making of the classic movie. There's also an abundance of facts and rare photos including a cover photo that is bound to give you the creeps.
Todd Garbarini has an exclusive interview with the original cougar, Angie Dickinson, who discusses Roger Vadim's quirky sex comedy/murder mystery Pretty Maids All in a Row, with Rock Hudson as a horndog high school counselor- who might also be a serial killer.
Lee Pfeiffer celebrates the 45th anniversary of the film version of The Sound of Music by visiting the famed Von Trapp Lodge in Vermont, where he met with Johannes Von Trapp, son of Captain and Maria.
Steve Saragossi presents an in-depth look at the career of an under-rated leading man of 60s and 70s cinema: Rod Taylor.
In part two of Matthew Field's interview with Lewis Gilbert, the famed director looks back on his "personal" films including the classic Alfie.
Dave Worrall takes you behind the scenes at the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 auction in London
Tim Greaves examines the off-beat 60s sex comedy Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush
Phil Gavin looks back on the history of classic Hammer horror film posters.
John Surles recalls his meeting with actor/singer Jimmy Dean and his role as Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever.
Famed character actor Shane Rimmer's new autobiography
S.O.S Film Industry - Gary McMahon culls comments from famed filmmakers who take issue with the direction of today's motion picture industry.
Adrian Smith covers Brian Clemens, director of many classic episodes of The Avengers, at his BFI tribute in London.
Matthew Field covers Sean Connery's appearance at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and gets to meet the Great Scot, who introduced a screening of The Man Who Would Be King.
More on the world of 007 in this Bond-heavy issue: Gareth Owen and Dave Worrall spend a day with director Guy Hamilton and accompany him to an outdoor London screening of Goldfinger.
Raymond Benson provides us with his choices of the ten best films of 1978.
Darren Allison covers the latest soundtracks on CD
Plus extensive DVD and film book reviews
TO SUBSCRIBE FOR SEASON #7 (ISSUES #19, 20 AND 21), CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION.
Director and actor
Lamont Johnson passed away in October at age 88. Every obituary I have read
leads with the sentence "Emmy- winning director..." and he did
do marvelous work on episodic TV (The Twilight Zone), "Movies of the Week" (That Certain Summer) and mini-series (Lincoln). On a personal level, I will always remember him as one the best, most underrated
directors of the 70s. One of his films- The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) stars George Peppard -who has never been
better- as a ruthless government investigator in the first,
and, imho, best of the classic conspiracy thrillers
from the 70s (All The President'sMen, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, Executive Action). Like much of Johnson's best
television work, complex political, moral and ethical issues are weaved into an
engrossing melodrama. Unlike the other fine films mentioned , there
is real pathos here. One cannot help but feel an emotional connection
to Michael Sarrazin and Christine Belford as they
struggle to make sense of their shattered lives. The final confrontation
between Sarrazin and Peppard in a deserted security complex is absolutely
mesmerizing, and will leave you breathless. The Groundstar
Conspiracy was not a box-office
hit, but it did receive considerable critical acclaim. When
it made its network television premiere,
TV Guide promoted it with a "Close-up" review -
an honor reserved only for the most prestigious motion pictures. A true
suspense classic, it deserves to be rediscovered by future generations of film
French poster for The McKenzie Break
Another 70s thriller worth seeking out is The McKenzie Break (1970) starring Brian Keith. Keith plays a
Irish/British officer tasked with preventing German soldiers from escaping an Allied POW camp in Scotland (!) This one of the most
intriguing WWII films ever made. A classic battle of wits combined with
exciting action, this dynamic film, like Groundstar, has an unforgettable climax.
For the Cinema Retro
family, the passing of Mr. Johnson is especially poignant. A fan of old
-time radio, I am a regular listener to Greg Bell's satellite radio program Radio Classics on Sirius/XM. One evening, whilst listening
to an episode of Tarzan, Mr. Bell
informed his audience that Tarzan was voiced by none other than Lamont
Johnson. Thrilled by this news, I proposed an article featuring
an interview with Mr. Johnson, to CR. editor-in-chief Lee Pfeiffer.
Lee was supportive of the idea and encouraged me to begin preparation.
I tried as hard as I could to reach Mr. Johnson over the summer but
to no avail. I will always regret the missed opportunity.
In the meantime, I recommend visiting the Archive of American Television web site where
you can access a lengthy interview conducted with Lamont Johnson about his
outstanding work in the medium.
November 30, 2010 - Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)
Cinema Retro contributor- and Friars Club member- Eddy Friedfeld takes you inside the recent roast for Quentin Tarantino.
“Quentin Tarantino changed the face of cinema, and now it’s time for cinema to return the favor,” Roastmaster General, filmmaker/comedian Jeffrey Ross said, as the Friars honored the acclaimed writer/director with an assembled dais of actors and comedians skewering him with insults, making fun of his body of work, his body, and each other.
The eclectically star-studded event held in front of a capacity crowd at the New York Hilton’s ballroom on December 1st, included Uma Thurman, Jerry Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Rosario Dawson, Eli Wallach, Patricia Arquette, Kathy Griffin, Howard Stern, and Harvey Weinstein and was ably hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, who turned to his friend and collaborator and said: “I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jim Henson every day for designing your face.” “Quentin believes that men and women of any race had equal rights to be raped and maimed on the movie screen.”
“Inglourious Basterds” co-star Eli Roth turned to Madsen and Buscemi and said: “Mr. Brown and Mr. Blond, you look like Mr. Ash and Old Yeller,” referring to their “Reservoir Dogs” characters. A raspy voiced Madsen said: “Uma Thurman, you are the object of Quentin’s affection. I used to be.” “Quentin, because of Harvey Weinstein you’re sitting here. And because of “Grindhouse,” Harvey has to borrow cab fare to get home…He is the only documented case of a man who envies his own penis,” Richard Belzer said. “Quentin has severe abandonment issues. His father left not only before he was born, but before he came.”
Perhaps the most prestigious arts award given in the United States is the Kennedy Center Honors, which takes place annually in Washington D.C. Every year a diverse group of people from various aspects of the arts are honored by the top names in show business and politics. This year's honorees included Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, choreographer Bill T. Jones, Broadway composer Jerry Hermann and country singer Merle Haggard. Keeping in tradition, the President and First Lady were in attendance at the black tie event. President Obama is known to be a big McCartney fan and had previously admitted that one of the great thrills of his life was watching Sir Paul sing "Michelle" in front of his wife at a performance at the White House. The Washington Post pointed out the incredibly diverse list of attendees from the music world: Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Itzhak Perlman, Renee Fleming, Jennifer Hudson, Harolyn Blackwell, Steven Tyler, Jessye Norman, Leon Fleisher, Denyce Graves, Joshua Bell, Terence Blanchard, Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Cook, Norah Jones, Kid Rock, Theodore Bikel, Matthew Morrison, Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, Christine Baranski, Angela Lansbury, Karen Ziemba and Florence Henderson. If only a Hollywood agent were managing the affair: it would have been the ultimate jam session. The intertwining of show biz and political figures has occasionally resulted in some awkward moments. It was during the administration of President George W. Bush that Barbra Streisand was chosen to be honored, thus leaving her with a difficult choice. Streisand was so adamant in her vitriolic criticism of the President that many predicted she would never appear at the White House for the pre-ceremony festivities. Yet, such is the prestige of this award that Babs did just that and was photographed politely shaking the President's hand.
A popular beach resort dependent on tourism dollars is terrorized by repeated shark attacks. Several people are mauled. Under economic pressure to resolve the crisis, local authorities announce they have killed the predators and reopen the beaches - only to have the attacks resume. A scenario from Jaws? Yes- but it also reflects the situation at Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt's most popular beach resort. Last week, several divers were mauled by separate shark attacks. The authorities said the rogue sharks were caught but now a German tourist has been killed in a new attack. For more click here
The oft-requested 1963 comedy Sunday in New York finally comes to DVD through the Warner Archive. The film had previously only been available on VHS. The movie is based on Norman Krasna's 1961 play which was a modest hit on Broadway starring young Robert Redford. Krasna also provides the screenplay for the film version, which was directed by Peter Tewksbury. The film was somewhat of an eyebrow-raiser at the time, with its relatively bold approach to modern sexuality among young people. The movie's major asset is its engaging cast of lead characters: Cliff Robertson, Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor and Robert Culp. Fonda plays a frustrated 22 year-old virgin who is made to feel guilty about her sexual urges. She is going out with millionaire society boy Culp but is frustrated by his lack of romantic aggressiveness.Fonda makes an unannounced visit to her brother, airline pilot Robertson, in order to seek advice out the wisdom of a girl keeping her virginity until marriage. Robertson piously counsels her that only 'good girls' get the best husbands, but secretly hides his own life as a playboy. His Manhattan bachelor pad needs a revolving door to handle his liaisons with tempting airline stewardesses.
Boorman in conversation at the Irish Film Institute. (Photo copyright John Exshaw. All rights reserved.)
By John Exshaw
While the Irish Film Institute’s recently concluded French Film Festival (18-28 November) provided a number of interesting divertissements for those seeking a respite, if not deliverance, from the seemingly endless catalogue of corruption, cronyism, clerical criminality, and chronic incompetence that has engulfed the country in recent times, the highlight of the programme for the discerning cinéaste was undoubtedly the joint appearance on Sunday 21st. of director John Boorman and eminent French film critic, Michel Ciment, for a Q&A session following the screening of Phillipe Pilard’s 2009 documentary, John Boorman: Portrait.
Boorman, of course, is that relatively rara avis, a British auteur, one whose body of work (or oeuvre, as they like to say in France) has tended, as is often the way, to command greater respect abroad than at home. Ciment has long been an influential supporter, collaborating with the director on the book ‘John Boorman’ (Faber & Faber, 1985), originally published in France as ‘Boorman: un visionnaire en son temps’, and also conducting the interview which comprises Pilard’s 52-minute film.
Now 77, and looking dapper in suede jacket, blue shirt, and rust corduroys, Boorman opened proceedings by remarking, “I haven’t seen it [the documentary] before, and I have to say I was very embarrassed at how inarticulate I am. It reminded me – you know, Michel wrote a book about my films, a wonderful book, and the basis of it was an interview I did with him after each film, and he then translated my stumbling, inarticulate words into good French. Later, the book was published in English, and Gilbert Adair, who’s a very stylish writer, translated it from the French back to English. So between Michel’s very fine writing and Gilbert Adair’s stylish writing I was astonished how witty and articulate and clever I turned out to be. It was rather like James Thurber – once, you know, a woman came up to him who was very proud of her French and she said, “Oh, I read your book in French and I have to tell you it was hilarious in French.” And Thurber said, “Yes, it loses something in the original.” In the case of Michel’s book, on the other hand, it actually gained an enormous amount in English. . . .”
In an effort to crack down on pirated films, music and goods, the U.S. government's Immigrations and Customs Enforcement bureau has launched an assault on web sites that it claims is propagating illegal activity. In some cases, I.C.E. is seizing the actual web site domains and closing them down. Illegal downloads cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year, but it's hard to stop the pirates, who can open up new sites from territories outside the USA. In certain parts of Asia, it's almost impossible to buy a CD or DVD that isn't pirated. The New York Times reports on the crackdown, stating:
"Among the domains seized were torrent-finder.com and those of three sites that specialized in music: onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com. TorrentFreak, a news blog about BitTorrent — a file-sharing system that has tended to elude the authorities because it is decentralized — said that at least 70 other addresses had been seized, most belonging to sites related to counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other goods."
Critics of the enforcement say innocent parties are being punished, along with the guilty. For more click here
Irwin Allen's 1968 sci-fi series Land of the Giants is available as a complete DVD collection from Fox. All 51 episodes are included in the limited edition boxed set that boasts 9 DVDs. The discs are packed with extras including cast and crew interviews, Irwin Allen's home movies, still gallery and collectibles repros included in the set. Here is the series description from Amazon:
Premiering on ABC in 1968 and lasting just 51 episodes before its cancellation in 1970, Irwin Allen's fantasy series Land of the Giants has built a sizable (if you'll pardon the pun) fan base in subsequent decades thanks to its mix of adventure, science fiction, and camp; now those dedicated fans can enjoy the entire series in an impressive set that features a wealth of extras. The template for Giants is remarkably similar to that of Allen's Lost in Space; here, the passengers and crew of the commercial spacecraft The Spindrift encounters a mysterious energy force en route to London and finds themselves on a planet which parallels Earth in every way save one – its inhabitants are twelve times the size of the marooned crew. The protagonists are less tightly knit than Space's astronaut family Robinson – in fact, pilots Gary Conway and Don Marshall regularly butt heads with architect Don Matheson and entertainer Deanna Lund – though all seem to agree that orphan Stefan Arngrim is cute as a button and Kurt Kasznar is as much a pain in the neck as Dr. Smith (amusingly, Jonathan Harris turns up in this set in the episode "Pay the Piper"). But The Spindrift castaways' adventures are less juvenile than those of the later Lost in Space episodes, and the special effects (which cost the network a record-setting $250,000 per episode) are impressive for the period. The nine-DVD set for Land of the Giantscontains the series' entire network run, as well as the unaired pilot, which offers a similar take on the debut episode, "The Crash," minus John Williams' jazzy theme and other elements. Most of the surviving cast members (Kasznar passed away in 1979, and Heather Young is not included) is featured in interviews about their experiences on the show, and there are several home videos of producer Allen directing the program and interacting with the over sized props and sets. Also featured on the discs are galleries of publicity shots, episodic photos, show merchandise and of the photogenic Ms. Lund, and the MAD Magazine parody. Meanwhile, buyers can also pursue a reproduction of the comic book adaptation and a booklet with more cast interviews and photos, and check out a set of trading cards, a Spindrift key chain and crew iron-on patch – all of which is contained in the set's clever carrying case, which reproduces a wooden cage that held the Giants' heroes in one episode. Though casual admirers may balk at the Giant Collection price tag, diehards will undoubtedly appreciate having the entire set and quality extras at their disposal. -- Paul Gaita
CLICK HERE TO ORDER AND SAVE $109! YOU CAN ALSO VIEW INDIVIDUAL EPISODES FOR 99 CENTS EACH.
(Legendary New York restaurant owner Elaine Kaufman has died at age 81, a staggering loss to Gotham's social scene. Elaine's restaurant was a favored hang-out for celebrities, largely because Elaine would use her less-than-shy demeanor and imposing physical presence to ensure that no one pestered the stars. Long time ABC radio film critic Bill Diehl shares his memories of Elaine in this exclusive column for Cinema Retro)
By Bill Diehl
This photo was taken last year when I dined at Elaine's with my one-time intern, Emily Smolar, now a producer at Paula Zahn's "On the Case." Emily took the photo. I reminded Elaine that I first met her in the late 1960s when WNEW's Jim Lowe took me up to her restaurant at 88th and Second Avenue. "Elaine," he said, "I want you to meet one of the newest member's of our WNEW staff, newsman Bill Diehl." And as I recall Elaine said, "Jim, any friend of yours is a friend of mine." I was never a frequent visitor to Elaine's after Jim's introduction although I returned in the mid 80s for the promotion of a book about Hugh Hefner's Playboy, "Mr.Hugh Hefner and the American Dream," by Steven Watts. Hef wasn't there (I did meet him in 2000 when I had a private visit to 'The Mansion' for an interview) but his daughter Christie was at Elaine's for the book party along with lots of other celebs.
Among the quotes about Elaine's passing---these from the Daily News:
Author Gay Talese: "We're all a little less alive today with Elaine dead."
Woody Allen: "She protected everybody. The bar was so full of celebrated people. But you were never bothered, because everybody was a bigger deal than you."
And I love this, from the N.Y.Times obit---a guy at the restaurant once asked Elaine for directions at the men's room. Elaine said, "It's in the back...take a right at Michael Caine." She was quite something, a real New York fixture. Lots of obits in the NY Papers...NY Times of course has a lengthy one, also the Daily News and the NY Post.
Food was never great at Elaine's but of course celebs didn't go there for the food...they wanted a 'den mother' and that was Elaine.
Tom Hanks will star in director Kathryn Bigelow's first film since she won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker. The movie, titled Triple Frontier, will deal with the perilous war against crime gangs in South America. It is envisioned that the film will have an ensemble cast of big names, a la Traffic. Click here for more
Christopher Nolan has confirmed that he will make one last chapter in the Batman "Dark Knight" saga. Nolan says the exhaustive process of bringing Inception to the screen makes writing a new Batman flick seem like a pleasure. Fan reaction is sure to be mixed. Followers of the Caped Crusader's exploits will be delighted that Nolan is back in the director's chair, but are sure to be disappointed that this will mark the end of his era with the franchise. Click here for more.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Johnny Depp said his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean would have been sent to Davy Jones' locker if it had been up to Disney executives who were distraught by the prospect he was portraying a gay hero. Click here for more
Steve Martin photographed in London by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston. (Copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved)
New York City's 92nd Street "Y" is noted for its program of hosting intelligent, in-depth interviews with famous people in the arts. However, things went awry when Steve Martin was interviewed last night by his friend, New York Times writer Deborah Solomon. The discussion centered on Martin's knowledge of and enthusiasm for the field of fine art, which is the subject of a new novel he was promoting. Solomon and Martin thought things were going fine in front of the well-heeled audience, but backstage it was another story. E mails from people watching on close-circuit TV began to flood in, complaining that the interview should cover more mainstream topics such as Martin's comedy work in films and on TV. A note was actually delivered to Solomon on stage instructing her make the change. Solomon and Martin were stunned but Martin did comply and answered a number of questions before the evening ended. This morning, the "Y" management sent out E mails to all attendees apologizing for an event that did not live up to their standards of excellence. They also gave a full refund in the form of a $50 certificate good for future events at the "Y". Solomon expressed outrage, saying that she felt the audience would have been sophisticated enough to show interest in other aspects of Martin's career. For more click here
Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that Warner Brothers, producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder are ramping up the search for an actor to play the Man of Steel in the studio's latest attempt to relaunch the Superman franchise. Apparently, Brandon Routh, who played the role in Superman Returns, will not be considered. That film, directed by Bryan Singer, was not a bomb, but under-performed and apparently some of the blame has attached itself to Routh, even though most fans felt his performance was quite credible. Rumor has it that the studio will probably search for an unknown actor. Click here for more
All of a sudden Honest Abe Lincoln is hot in Hollywood. In addition to the bizarre graphic novel adapation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Steven Spielberg will adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals as a major film titled Lincoln. Liam Neeson, who was to originally star, dropped out and Daniel Day-Lewis will assume the lead role in the film. For more click here
Here's some encouraging news for Michael Douglas fans who are cheering him on in his battle against throat cancer. Douglas and family had a fun-filled vacation over the Thanksgiving weekend at Disneyworld- and the Oscar winner sure looks pretty fit. For more click here