Archives For August 2017

I’m not sure why LOGAN LUCKY failed to launch this weekend. Bob Lefsetz has some ideas. But Tracy and I saw it Friday night and loved it. Funny, sweet, and cynical. What’s not to love?

It’s possible that in this politically charged atmosphere the trailer for LOGAN LUCKY came off as a Rorschach test for both Trump Supporters and Trump Opposers — and it signaled to each group that this was the antithesis of what they wanted to see. Unfortunate, because in reality this is just a couple of hours of solid, popcorn movie magic with nary a politically reference.

A few years ago I was pitching a “Redneck Ocean’s 11” around Hollywood. It never failed to get a laugh and attracted some good talent for a while. But then we lost our key element and enthusiasm waned. I would love to have gotten that movie made but lucky for us Steven Soderbergh saw fit to make his own Redneck heist picture.

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Peter Bogdanovich devoted 74 pages to Jerry Lewis in his 2004 book, Who The Hell’s In It? (The follow up to 1997’s Who The Devil Made It?) Bogdanovich had a long association with Jerry Lewis beginning with an interview Bogdanovich did with Lewis for Esquire back in the early 60s.

Two things stand out to me today from that chapter on Jerry Lewis – both brought to mind by the news of Lewis’s passing at the age of 91.

The first is a comment Jerry Lewis made at the height of his power and success as a solo writer/director/actor/producer. The young interviewer noticed that the seasoned star always carried a thousand dollars in hundred-dollar-bills (this was in 1960s dollars) and that he loved to shop. Lewis: “I discovered a few years ago that I can’t buy what I really want, so I buy everything else.”

1104_053185_fn153f2-jerry-lewis.jpgJerry Lewis invented “video assist” – the system that allows for instant review of a take on a movie set. It was a cumbersome system cobbled together by mounting a video camera next to the film camera and setting up monitors around the set. All this was extraordinary and not immediately embraced by the Industry. Today, it’s standard operating procedure. And Lewis is universally credited with the concept and execution of the early innovation.

In light of Lewis’s technical prowess and innovativeness (by 60s & 70s standards), I was struck by this poignant comment when, in the spring of 2000, Bogdanovich pointed out that Lewis was still using an electric typewriter.

Lewis: “Hey, I wrote THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) on that thing. I’ve got this terrible loyalty to equipment…because I love progress but I hate change.”

Over a life that spanned 91 years and a career that spanned nearly as long – his parents were itinerant actors and stage performers – Jerry Lewis saw and contributed to a lot of progress and change.

The Summer of ’77

August 16, 2017 — Leave a comment

The Summer of ’77 started with a bang: STAR WARS

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It ended with a thud when news broke over the radio at Echo Valley’s neighborhood pool: Elvis Presley, dead at the age of 42.

In between we saw SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, read with morbid interest about the Son of Sam as he terrified New York City, and sang Cold as Ice in our cars along with Foreigner.

But I’ll never forget the late afternoon of August 16, 1977. A couple of my friends and I were swimming when the DJ broke into whatever song was playing and made the announcement of the news coming out of Memphis. The half dozen of us at the pool all looked at each other, what did he just say? According to the AP crowds were gathering outside of Graceland. The DJ promised to keep us informed and then he played an Elvis record — even though it’d been a while since Elvis had been a staple of Top 40 Radio.

No social media, no round the clock cable news, no smart phone notifications. Just Elvis songs playing over the radio for the rest of the night and people making their way to the pool to share the moment, talk about the songs, swap some stories, and get in another swim.