Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Robert Osborne Discussion with Anjelica & Danny Huston

Robert Osborne, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston

One of the screenings I attended at the TCM Classic Film Festival was for the "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" which was held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Prior to the screening, Robert Osborne introduced the film, much like he introduces films on the Turner Classic Movies channel, giving a little back story and trivia. Then he brought out Anjelica and Danny Huston to discuss the film, their father John Huston who directed the film, and their grandfather Walter Huston, one of the stars of the film.

The print was brand new and pristine - no big scratches or dirt over the image. To see the film projected on the huge screen in the Chinese theater was an amazing treat. When Humphrey Bogart's character becomes crazy with gold fever, you can imagine how creepy he looked when he appeared on the big screen. Getting to hear Anjelica and Danny Huston discuss the film and their family before the film was just an added bonus.

Below are two video clips I shot of Robert Osborne's discussion with Anjelica and Danny Huston. The image is a bit blurry but you can still make out what they had to say.

This first clip is one of my favorites. Robert Osborne asks Anjelica and Danny if "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is one of their favorites of their father's films. Danny begins to answer Osborne's question but then goes on to tell a story about how his grandfather, Walter, came to doing the jig he performs in the film.

In this next clip Robert Osborne asks Danny and Anjelica if it was true that their father John Huston had a difficult time asking their grandfather Walter Huston to take his teeth out for the movie. Osborne then asks them both what they miss most about their father. They both mention missing John Huston's voice. I just can't help thinking of John Huston when I hear Danny Huston talk. Does he not sound just like his father? He even tells stories in the same manner as his father.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Turner Classic Movies Film Festival is a Hit!

Roosevelt Hotel, TCM Festival Headquarters

Ok, so I said I probably wasn't going to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival, but how could I pass this up when it was happening in my own backyard? Because I already have a lot of big events planned for this year, the $500 festival pass was not an option. What I did do was purchase individual tickets at $20 a piece for the screenings I was able to attend.

Basically, those who had the expensive festival passes got first access into all the screenings. Then, usually about 15 minutes before the screening would start the TCM staffers would allow those wishing to purchase individual tickets to enter. Only once did I have trouble getting into a screening because there were too many festival passholders already, leaving no room for individual ticket buyers.

The big bonus to being a festival passholder was that you could attend some screenings, parties, and programs that were not available to individual ticket buyers. There were some great programs I would have liked to attend, such as a presentation of Joan Crawford's home movies presented by her grandson, Casey LaLonde. I think next year I will take some time off of work and get the festival pass.

Below is a video I put together from my visit to the festival on Saturday. It includes footage of the interior of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the TCM Boutique, and the Egyptian Theatre.

Video of 2010 Turner Classic Film Festival

The festival appeared to be a hit and I really hope they do another festival next year. It was great to be in an enviroment with so many classic movie lovers all in one spot, watching pristine prints of some terrific films and in some of the best movie theaters in the country. What was funny was how at the event you would have thought Robert Osborne was a rock star - this event was truly his stage.

Any thoughts from those who attended or maybe didn't attend ?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Page Interviews: Part One

Kenneth, the NBC Page - (c) NBC Universal

Before the television show 30 Rock, not too many people probably knew what a studio page was or what they did, unless they worked in entertainment. Now, because of Jack McBrayer who portrays an NBC studio page named Kenneth, the world of the studio page has been brought into the spotlight. Having worked as a page myself, I can say that some of the tasks that Kenneth is assigned on the show are pretty spot on:  giving tours of the studio, answering phones, running errands for various studio executives, helping out with audience coordination on TV shows. However, I would like to think that not all of us pages were as naive as the character Kenneth.

Because pages have so much access to the studios they work at, they usually have many interesting stories. When you have that page jacket on that Kenneth so much adores, no one really questions you when you walk around the studio. Nobody knows what big exec you may be running an errand for. To shine a light on some of the stories pages have, I decided I would start a new series of interviews with former and current pages.

In my first interview in this new series is former page Brian Lauda:

Brian Lauda gives a tour at Paramount Studios

For which studios did you work as a Page and what years were you there?

Well, Sony technically doesn’t have a Page program. I was a tour guide there from July 2005-January 2006. At the time, Sony’s lot was filled with mostly movies and one hour dramas, which don’t require pages. They used an outside Page company for the few sitcoms and game shows they actually had.

I also worked at Paramount Pictures as a Page from January 2006-September 2006.
For those who are not familiar, what does a Page do? What did your job duties consist of (Sony vs. Paramount)?

At Sony, my primary job was giving tours of the studio. I also helped answer the phones and schedule tours along with some other minor clerical work.
Paramount’s Page program was a lot more diverse. They actually have a structured page program. The three main duties I had as a page were 1) giving tours of the studio 2) assisting with the studio audiences for the sitcoms and other shows, and 3) performing temporary job assignments around the lot as needed.

What was your most interesting experience at Sony?

It was a slow tour day and I only had one person on my tour, which can either be extremely fun or extremely challenging depending on that person’s personality. This particular tour was a little tougher than others. My guest and I were standing in front of Nancy Meyer’s production company in one of the parking spaces. As I was talking about the building, this little car came whipping around the corner and nearly hit us. The driver put her hands over her face, and you could tell she was very embarrassed for almost hitting us. As the driver got out of the car, she waved to us and said “I’m really sorry,” before scurrying into the building. My guest then looked at me and said, “Did we just almost get run over by Cameron Diaz?” I said, “Yes, we sure did.” The rest of the tour was smooth sailing.

What was your most interesting experience as a Page at Paramount Studios?

I’m not sure if this is the most interesting, but this is definitely the most fun. If you ever visit a movie studio, you will come to find out that golf carts are the preferred mode of travel. Myself and a certain page who will remain nameless (because I believe he still works at the studio) had some time to kill between our last tour and a movie screening. It was probably around 6 or 7 in the evening and the lot was practically deserted. We thought it would be a great idea to race the golf carts around the studio. Now for those who don’t know, Paramount has an outdoor water tank. Before CGI and all the other special effects, a water tank was the place to film any type of water scene. The water tank at Paramount is particularly famous, because this is where Cecile B. Demille parted the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments. Because the water tank is no longer used very often, it is now a parking lot, which sits in the middle of the studio. This was one of the rare times the parking lot was completely empty. Naturally, we had to race our golf carts in this tank and take them up the sides of the curved walls. Only one problem…the front of a golf cart is square. Needless to say, we bottomed out and got our golf carts stuck. I nearly had a heart attack when three “suits” (studio big wigs) came walking by the parking lot. We quickly rescued our golf carts and fled the scene of the crime. Success!

What were your least favorite experiences?

Working the mail room during rainy season. Los Angeles has two weeks of rain a year, and I managed to work the mail room both of those weeks. My boxers and socks were soaked by the end of every day.

Any celebrity run-ins?

A ton. But the one that sticks out in my mind was when I was working one of the sitcoms at the Paramount lot. A couple of other pages and I were on break and standing outside the soundstage. Out of nowhere, Henry Winkler aka The Fonz, came over and started talking to us. I don’t even remember what we talked about, but he hung out with us for about 5 minutes. As a page, you are told not to approach any of the celebrities, so this was sort of a big deal. A movie studio is kind of like the zoo, and the celebrities are the animals…you can look, but don’t touch. I kept thinking I was going to get in trouble for talking to Henry Winkler, even though he approached me. Anyhow, he is one of the nicest and funniest guys in show biz. Truly, a class act.

How did you come to work as a Page at Sony and then later at Paramount? What was the process like to get those positions?

Well, in both cases, I had connections to people who worked at the studios. Hollywood is all about having connections. I believe the term is called “networking.” I basically got the job at Sony on a phone call. I don’t even think I interviewed. Paramount was a little more formal, and I had to go through more of an interview process.

Studios always have ghosts stories. Did you encounter any old Hollywood ghosts or hear any of the stories?

I never encountered any ghosts on either of the studios, but there are a TON of stories about ghosts on any movie studio you will ever visit. I will say this though…a movie studio at night is a little creepy, especially if you are walking the backlot by yourself.

Do you watch the television show 30 Rock? What do you think of the character Kenneth who portrays an NBC Page?

I don’t actually watch it, but I have heard that it is a very funny show.

What was your most unusual assignment at Sony and at Paramount?

My most unusual assignment was probably at Paramount. I was working for the Facilities Department and we had to clear out and go through all these old files. We found original studio blueprints from the early 1900s and really old pictures of the lot. It was really great to see these old items. They probably hadn’t been looked at in years, and it really gave you a sense of how much history has taken place at the studio.

Would you reccommend a Page program for others entering the work world - especially those pursuing careers in entertainment?

Absolutely. I said earlier that being successful in Hollywood is all about networking. What better place to network than at a movie studio? I would say the majority of people that came out of the Page program got some kind of job at the studio. And if they didn’t end up working at the studio, they ended up working for some other production company because they made a contact while working at the studio.

One last question. Favorite classic movie?

The Godfather

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd Home

I always enjoy flipping through old magazines and now, flipping through electronic archives of old magazines. I recently came across this People magazine article from 1974, on the hot young couple of the time, Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd. The article is about the two playing house in their new home in Bel Air, a home once owned by Kay Gable (Clark's fifth wife).

Bogdanovich met Shepherd when he cast her in his 1971 film, The Last Picture Show. Ironically, Bogdanvoich was at a Ralph's grocery store in California when his then wife, Polly Platt, pointed out a model on the cover of Glamour magazine. Platt thought she would be perfect for the part of Jacy. Bogdanovich did cast Shepherd, and an affair began during filming. Eventually, Bogdanovich and Platt would divorce. Jump ahead 3 years after The Last Picture Show, and Bogdanovich and Shepherd were living together, although not married.

Of course, we now know the relationship between Bogdanovich and Shepherd would not last either, but it's interesting to see how in love they were at the time. My favorite part in the article is when Shepherd says, "Peter was so romantic. When he walked into the living room and saw the tile, he said, 'As Valentino used to say, there is nothing like tile for tangoing.'" And the two tangoed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Every Which Way But Loose - Film Locations

(c) Warner Bros. Entertainment

One of Clint Eastwood's most successful films at the box office is one you might not first suspect. The screwball comedy meets western, Every Which Way But Loose, was Eastwood's highest grossing film up to that point in his career, beating out his previous films like the Dirty Harry series and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It's a fun film and if you live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, it's also an interesting look at the area during the late 1970s.

Here are just a few locations from the film located in the Valley:

One of the main locations in Every Which Way But Loose is the the Palomino Club. It's at this country western bar that Philo Beddoe (Eastwood) meets aspiring singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke). The Palomino was a real country western nightclub located in North Hollywood, that attracted some of the biggest names in country music during the 50s and 60s, including Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Willie Nelson. By the 1970s the club started letting some rock acts perform, but was still primarly a western bar. The club ultimately closed in 1995 and now the building is a banquet hall.

The Palomino as seen in Every Which Way But Loose

6907 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood -
Former site of the Palomino nightclub.

The Palomino as seen in Every Which Way But Loose

Eastwood and Locke at the Palomino Club

Throughout the film we see Eastwood going around the San Fernando Valley and he is often running into members of a motorcycle gang. During one encounter with two bikers, we see Eastwood in his truck with his pet orangutan in the passenger seat stopped at a red light. Behind them you can see the Burbank breakfast joint, The Corner Cottage. The Corner Cottage is located at 310 S. Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA.

Corner Cottage as seen in Every Which Way But Loose

Corner Cottage, Burbank, CA (April 2010)

The two bikers make fun of the orangutan and in turn the orangutan gives the bikers the finger. This results in a chase scene. At the same intersection of as The Corner Cottage we see the start of the chase.

 Corner of Victory & Verdugo, Burbank, CA

Corner of Victory & Verdugo, Burbank, CA (April 2010)

The chase continues around town. At one point they turn onto Alameda Avenue from Willow Street, right in front of St. Joseph hospital in Burbank.

Every Which Way But Loose - chase seen at Willow & Alameda, Burbank, CA

Alameda  and Willow, Burbank, CA (April 2010)

The building on the right is the Fotokem Industries building. Also nearby are the Disney Studios lot and the NBC studios lot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lucille Ball's First Hollywood Home

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was working as a model and studying acting in New York, when at the age of 22, she landed a part in the 1933 RKO film, Roman Scandals. The part was small, just a chorus girl role, but it brought her out to Hollywood to appear in the Eddie Cantor vehicle - and that was just the beginning for Lucy.

That small role led to a contract with RKO and meant that Lucy wasn't going back to New York anytime soon. Instead, she convinced her brother, mother, and grandfather to leave New York and join her in California. Lucy rented a home for all of them in West Hollywood, at 1344 North Ogdon Drive.

Lucy's First Home - 1344 N. Ogdon Drive, West Hollywood, CA

Lucy stayed in this home for several years before moving out into her own apartment. Her family continued to live in the home after she left and it was this same home that her grandfather, Fred Hunt, held Communist Party meetings. Lucy would later be called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although her grandfather was a Communist, Lucy tended to be more conservative.

The house is located between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue. The Samuel Goldwyn Studios and the RKO lot where Lucy worked during the early part of her career are both under 3 miles from the home - so Lucy didn't have much of a commute.

If you plan to swing by Lucy's old Hollywood home, load up on breakfast first at The Griddle, located just around the corner on Sunset. They have the most amazing pancakes I have ever seen and tasted! And although you won't see Lucy, it is a good place to spot stars getting their breakfast.


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