(Photo by Russell Yip, SF Chronicle)
Since I learned Monday that my friend Bingham Ray had died of a stroke at Sundance, I've been tweeting random memories of him. He was 57, but we first met in 1984 when he was 30 and I was 27. In the years I knew him, he worked at New Yorker Films, Alive, Samuel Goldwyn, Avenue Pictures, October Films (which he co-founded with Jeff Lipsky), United Artists, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment... I can't keep track of them all, but I hadn't spoken to him since he moved west in November to head up the San Francisco Film Society. What I can't fathom right now is that I won't be running into him, as I could be sure I would, at a film festival or his office if I happened to be in town, or calling or e-mailing him on a whim... What I treasure most are the things I've been spontaneously remembering and tweeting about, like:
* Bingham Ray was a New Yorker. When he first moved to LA he took the bus [on Santa Monica] to [work at] Goldwyn -- the only passenger who wasn't a Beverly Hills maid.
(He learned to drive and got his license.)
* Great memory: Spontaneous BBQ lunch w/ Bingham Ray, Jeff Dowd, RTJ, K. Murphy, Julia Sweeney & me at the (tiny) 2000 SxSW Film Fest.
(This was one of those coincidences that wound up becoming a treasured afternoon. I remember being so happy to have these favorite people from different yet overlapping parts of my life for so long -- I'd known "The Dude," Richard, Kathleen and Julia since the 1970s -- all together at one table! You just never know which moments are going to stay with you indelibly.)
Oscar turns 75 this year, old enough to write a second volume of its memoirs. The Academy Awards are always called Hollywood's Prom Night, and like all prom nights they inspires a lot of memories and photographs and scrapbooks, and sometimes you go rummaging through them.
PARK CITY, Utah--Robert Redford remembers the early years of the Sundance Film Festival: "We had 30 or 40 films, in two theaters. I was standing in the street outside the Egyptian Theater, handing out brochures like a street hawker, trying to talk people into coming inside. I saw David Puttnam, who was running Columbia at that time, and gave him the pitch. He went in, saw Jim McBride's 'The Big Easy,' and bought it. That was the first film bought at Sundance."
Between Beverly Hills and the Valley. He came around a curve and saw a car coming straight at him - a driver trying to pass five cars. On one side of Beatty was oncoming traffic. On the other side was a 100-foot drop.