Chaz Ebert recommends the "By George" book series featuring George Anthony's conversations with Hollywood icons.
An essay about the five screen versions of "A Star Is Born," and why George Cukor's 1954 masterpiece still reigns supreme.
A video of Billy Baxter's 1980 documentary of the Cannes Film Festival, hosted by Rex Reed.
For those of us who missed our calling as jet setters, socialites or fashion models along comes the edifying, spritely documentary "Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution" to show us how much work it is to be spontaneously fabulous.
Nearly 40 years ago, in late November of 1973, something rather momentous happened at the Opéra Royal on the grounds of the King's old digs outside Paris. In the course of a fashion show that Women's Wear Daily dubbed "The Battle of Versailles," boldly assertive American runway models -- many of whom were what we now call African-American -- wore sporty, comfortable American designer clothes with such, well, panache that the absolute supremacy of French haute couture was dented for good.
August, 2012, marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Larry Sanders Show," episodes of which are available on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and DVD. This is the third and final part of Edward Copeland's extensive tribute to the show, including interviews with many of those involved in creating one of the best-loved comedies in television history. Part 1 (Ten Best Episodes) is here and Part 2 (The show behind the show) is here.
A related article about Bob Odenkirk and his characters, Stevie Grant and Saul Goodman (on "Breaking Bad"), is here.
by Edward Copeland
"It was an amazing experience," said Jeffrey Tambor. "I come from the theater and it was very, very much approached like theater. It was rehearsed and Garry took a long, long time in casting and putting that particular unit together." In a phone interview, Tambor talked about how Garry Shandling and his behind-the-scenes team selected the performers to play the characters, regulars and guest stars, on "The Larry Sanders Show" when it debuted 20 years ago. Shandling chose well throughout the series' run and -- from the veteran to the novice, the theater-trained acting teacher and character actor to the comedy troupe star in his most subtle role -- they all tend to feel the way Tambor does: "It changed my career. It changed my life."
A quiet story of incestuous desire told with deadpan precision and a fair share of subliminal humor, "The Unspeakable Act" marks its writer-director's long-awaited cinematic breakthrough. Even though New York-based Dan Sallitt (born 1955) has been making movies from the mid-1980s on (he had three under his belt before this one), his media presence has been unduly under-the-radar throughout that period. With the new movie scooping The Independent Visions Prize at the 2012 Sarasota Film Festival, and then being picked up by Edinburgh, Karlovy Vary and - most notably - BAMcinemaFest (where it plays 24 June at 9:30 PM), it's high time to put Sallitt on the map of highly original independent American filmmakers, which is where he'd belonged right from the start.
I met her so very long ago, in 1967 "You get all kinds, Liza Minnelli said. "A couple of days ago I was interviewed by a guy from the Los Angeles underground press. He didn't exactly ask me what I ate for breakfast. He came in with this tape recorder, and the funny thing was, he kept stopping the machine every time he'd ask a question and then start it for my answer. So it must have sounded like a long speech by me, babbling away about the universe."
What about the universe?
"A large topic," Liza grinned. "No, what he did ask was, how could I justify appearing on the Hollywood Palace since I was a member of the Movement."
"The Movement," Liza said. "I guess my last album gave the Movement the idea I was a recruit. So he asked, in which direction is the Movement moving? So I said it's moving toward Truth. He started his tape recorder and looked happy.
"But I really wasn't in his bag. I'm afraid of LSD, for example - scared to death of it. I don't particularly care what other people do, although these 14-year-old kids saying they've found essential reality is, well, a little frightening. I don't want to live in a world of high. And then, suppose you took LSD and found out horrible things about yourself? Some people should keep those doors closed . . . "
Liza is a small, bright, pleasant girl with astonishingly appealing eyes. The eyes remind you of her mother, Judy Garland, and some of her singing style comes from that quarter as well. But not too much. She has nurtured her own talent since, at age 15, she played Anne Frank in a company touring Israel. She had an off-Broadway debut at, 17, won a Tony at 19, was an established concert star at the same age, and now at 22 is receiving warm reviews for her role in Albert Finney's new movie, "Charlie Bubbles."
She will give a concert next Saturday night in the Auditorium Theater, but that was not the reason for this Chicago visit.
She came for a long weekend with her husband, Peter Allen. He and brother Chris, arriving from Australia like two jolly swagmen a few years ago, are having a considerable success at Mister Kelly's. So she watched their act ("Listen to this key change," she whispered during "We're Off to See the Wizard") and then jumped in a cab with Peter to dance at Maxim's between shows. "We think it's important to be together as much as possible," Liza said.
All the same, she confessed, there will probably never be an act featuring Peter, Chris and Liza, "We've tried singing together a couple of times, but our voices aren't compatible," she said. "We sound like the Sons of the Pioneers."
The chance to appear in "Charlie Bubbles" was a surprise. She was singing in London a year ago and met director Karel ("Morgan") Reisz. He recommended her to Finney who picked her for the movie "and now supposedly I'm a dramatic actor," she said. "Isn't that crazy? When I wanted a dramatic role, everybody kept coming up with musicals. So new I've finally played a dramatic part, and I want to do a musical, and everybody has more straight roles."
What kind of a musical?
"I have an idea. Just an idea. You could do 'The Fantasticks,' only do it outside, out in the fields in Italy or Spain, maybe. Do it strangely, the way it's written. Maybe steal from the style of Fellini's 'La Strada.'"
That makes it sound like a different breed from the MGM musicals her mother made famous: "The Wizard of Oz," "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Easter Parade" and all the others.
"Yes, I guess so," Liza said, "But mother doesn't give me any advice, all the same. She doesn't believe in it. She says she trusts me. That's a good feeling."
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I saw "The Wiz" (1978) and I saw "Captain EO" (1986) and I never saw Michael Jackson the movie star. For the longest time, it seemed, he was supposed to grow up to become one, but it didn't happen that way. Not long after 1982's Thriller he began transforming into something almost unrecognizable, unphotographable -- something that allegedly had to do with Diana Ross, hyperbaric chambers and, perhaps, the Elephant Man's bones. Whether an illness or a form of self-mutilation, it was a shame. The appealingly handsome young man on the cover of Off the Wall and Thriller morphed (as in the famous "Black or White" video) into a synthetic science-fiction construction that could only have inhabited an artificial universe like those of his two best-known big-screen appearances. He still worked for large crowds on stage, but -- for cosmetic and psychological reasons we may never understand -- close ups came to seem like a very bad idea.
As alien and unreal as he presented himself by the mid-1980s, the one thing that seemed genuine about him was his damage. His music became as polished and mask-like as his visage, and equally devoid of mature emotion. It may have been pop music for theme parks, but it wasn't for adults -- and he didn't seem to want to be thought of as one.
"I'd say 'Silent Movie' is my best film by far," Mel Brooks was saying, "and, let's face it, the others were pretty good. This is the funniest, the hardest to accomplish, the best. But we could not get the crew to laugh! There we were, knocking ourselves out to be funny, and behind the camera, not a snicker. This was a veteran crew. After 50 years of making sound movies, they were afraid if they made a noise it would spoil the shot. Fer chrissakes, fellas, I said, there's not even a microphone. Laugh a little! Yuk it up!"
I met Martin Scorsese for the first time in 1969, when he was an editor on "Woodstock." He was one of the most intense people I'd ever known - a compact, nervous kid out of New York's Little Italy who'd made one feature film and had dreams of becoming a big-time director one day. It would take him five years.
HOLLYWOOD - Of all the kinds of sets they make movies on, the science-fiction sets are the most fun. Here was Michael York, dressed in a 23d Century tunic, holding a ray gun and looking immensely pleased with himself. And all around him, inside the largest sound stage on the MGM lot, were vast plastic domes and rows of ominously blinking lights and strange machines that looked like dentists' chairs run amok.
HOLLYWOOD - It's the kind of place where the food is so organic that you order a salad and the house dressing is peanut butter laced with safflower oil and herbs. The tables surround a shady patio, and the waitress wears a T-shirt and shorts, an attractive combination not lost upon Burt Reynolds. He listens to the description of today's entree (something involving eggs and tomato sauce) as if it were a specialty of selected Moroccan bordellos.