Tag Archives: Hollywood

Jewison cover

LEGENDARY HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR NORMAN JEWISON GETS BIO TREATMENT FROM AUTHOR IRA WELLS

Last week, I was honoured to attend an online gathering of film critics, writers, film directors and industry insiders to hear author IRA WELLS discuss his new book NORMAN JEWISON: A DIRECTOR’S LIFE published by Sutherland House Books (Founded in 2017 by Canadian author and publishing executive Kenneth Whyte). As a long-time fan of the Canadian director’s films, this was a dream Zoom meeting! Ever since my first viewing of The Thomas Crown Affair starring the king of cool, Steve McQueen, and the gorgeous sophisticated Faye Dunaway, I was hooked on Jewison’s style and on-screen “rhythm” – that chess scene from Thomas Crown stands as one of the most erotic scenes ever committed to film…and they kept their clothes on!! From 1965 thru ’68 he served us some of the era’s (and film history’s) most iconic films: In the Heat of the Night presents southern racism in all its brutal ugliness and features that slap heard around the world, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming is a hilarious look at how the cold war affects small town America, and McQueen’s earlier cinematic outing with Jewison, The Cincinnati Kid takes us into the shady but exciting world of high stakes poker. Fiddler on the Roof, The Hurricane, Moonstruck, F.I.S.T., Rollerball, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Soldier’s Story…going all the way back to the beloved Canadian tv series, The Wayne & Shuster Show, Jewison has delivered provocative, compassionate, engaging and hilarious content for his audiences to devour. This new book is now on my Christmas list for Santa…and the fat man better show up early with this present!th (6)About the man, the book and the author:

NORMAN JEWISON directed some of the most iconic and beloved films from the 60s through the 21st century, from In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crown Affair to Jesus Christ Superstar and Moonstruck. But despite being what his friend, award-winning screenwriter William Goldman called “a giant of the industry,” Jewison could also walk the streets of any city in the world and go unrecognized. Jewison was a man of contradictions: he cared more about telling great stories than gaining fame and fortune by showcasing movie stars, but generations of Hollywood’s marquee actors—Judy Garland, Sidney Poitier, Faye Dunaway, Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington—trusted him at crucial moments in their careers. Yet, for all his talent and the passionate support of his actors, Jewison suffered heartbreaking rejection from the executives who refused to believe in his dreams.t crown heat of the night th (7)Norman Jewison: A Director’s Life is a story of artistic survival and reinvention, and about the fate of original cinematic ideas in an industry increasingly captive to corporate greed. Drawing upon exhaustive archival research and dozens of interviews, biographer IRA WELLS (pictured below) provides a soulful portrait of an idealist who had to fight for every frame of his legacy. Here are Norman’s legendary collaborators— Hal Ashby, William Rose, Steve McQueen, and more—brought to vivid life in original letters, telegrams, and revealing, unpublished interviews. A clear-eyed reassessment of Hollywood’s final golden age, Norman Jewison: A Director’s Life is both the intimate portrait of an artist and a rallying cry for anyone who has had to fight for their creative vision.Ira headshot (1)Author IRA WELLS is an assistant professor in English and Academic Programs at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The New Republic, The Walrus, Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Review of Books, and American Quarterly.  Advance reviews and kudos are pouring in for Ira’s book….

“Renowned filmmaker Norman Jewison is a contradiction in terms: one of the great purveyors of classical Hollywood storytelling and an outsider at the same time. Finally, with Ira Wells’s rewarding biography, Jewison receives the attention he richly deserves. Wells’ vibrant, well-written chronicle is one of those indispensable film books that illuminates the times and life of one of film’s major practitioners.”Michael Barker, Co-President and Co-Founder, Sony Pictures Classics

“This is a terrific book and a fun read. Norman Jewison directed some of the most enjoyable films of our time. I thank Norman for his films and applaud Ira Wells for capturing both Norman’s legendary feistiness and his great generosity of spirit, both of which I experienced first-hand.”Joe Eszterhas, writer of Basic Instinct, Showgirls, and Hollywood Animal

“Ira Wells, wonderful storyteller and master stylist, takes us to the movies, then behind the scenes, then beyond, bringing new life to films and stars we thought we knew.  This is a book you will never want to put down.”David Yaffe, author of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell th (2) th (3) th (5)NORMAN JEWISON: A DIRECTOR’S LIFE
ISBN [hardcover]: 978-1-989555-38-5
Price: $28.95 USD / $34.95 CAD
Page count: 490
Available NOW from Amazon and in-stores or direct from the publisher: https://sutherlandhousebooks.square.site/product/norman-jewison/61?cs=true&cst=customth (4)

 

Chillin' in Niagara on the Lake

ACTOR, ARTIST & POET PHILIP CAIRNS RELEASES BOOK OF POEMS ABOUT HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS….AND BED BUGS!!

Over the past five or six years, I’ve had the opportunity to promote plays, art shows or poetry readings by my friend and client PHILIP CAIRNS. He’s currently celebrating the release of his latest book HOLLYWOOD POEMS AND OTHER DIVERSIONS, now available from Amazon.ca. The first section of the book offers stream-of-consciousness narrative poems about Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, Lee Grant, Anita Ekberg, Gloria Grahame and Canada’s own Jackie Burroughs. The author weaves biographical tidbits about these women into each poem, and includes snippets about his own life growing up as a gender-questioning, queer boy in Scarborough, then living as a struggling artist in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. The second half, “Bedbugs and Cockroaches” features satirical, comical stories and poems in which these itchy-scratchy critters come to life. They are like truth-telling cartoon characters, forcing the protagonist in each piece to face reality. The first half is mostly serious in tone and confessional while the second half will make you laugh out loud!coverPhilip has already garnered glowing kudos and thumbs-up from fellow writers and literary media, and I recently spoke with him and asked him to share his thoughts on completing the book during this past year of Covid.

What was the inspiration for your new book of poetry & prose, Hollywood Poems and Other Diversions?  It was David Bateman, my editor, who suggested the concept. He’s very familiar with my work through my public readings. We’ve also co-written short plays that were performed at various festivals. This book is 12 years’ worth of poems, written on the theme of the Golden Age of Hollywood, though not by any means the only poems I wrote during that period. I’ve been a movie freak since I was 9 years old. I was sleep-deprived all through my adolescence because I stayed up half the night watching classic films on the late show. As a teenager, I once saw 4 movies in one day with my best friend. I always identified with the actresses. I loved to get lost in a different world in the dark. I would often sit through a movie more than once. I once saw a double bill of a Robert Altman film and a Jane Fonda movie and I sat through both of them twice…8 hours of movies. I was in my late teens and seeing Bonnie and Clyde was a turning point for me; I came out of the theatre wanting to have sex with Warren Beatty and wanting to be Faye Dunaway. That was scary for a 14 year old. Many of the poems in my book are loving biographies of movie stars I love like Anita Ekberg, Gloria Grahame, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. And Canadian icons like Mary Pickford and someone who was supportive of my work, Jackie Burroughs. But interwoven in many of the narratives, there are incidents from my life growing up as a queer, gender-questioning person in Scarborough. The second section of the book is pure fun, the Bedbugs and Cockroaches chapter. These critters come to life and do tasks like raiding a jewellery box and hiding pills, and they comment on the action with razor sharp accuracy. They are satirical and fun pieces and mostly fictional. They usually get laughs – I used to perform these works live a fair amount. I love to hear an audience laugh. Bringing laughter into people’s lives is manna from heaven. This is such a challenging planet to live on. Economically, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel.IMG_4161Have you spent time in Hollywood and visited any of the homes of those legends about which you write?  I’ve never been to L.A. It seems kind of scary with all those back streets full of pup tents close to movie star mansions. I’ve been outside of Brad and Angelina’s former place in the French Quarter and I did go to the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago where I starred in a short film that played at the Short Film Corner. I went to lots of cocktail parties and met filmmakers from all over the world. It was surreal. I went to one queer party in a tent on the beach but that said, No Celebrities Allowed although it was hosted by a queer celebrity. When I left the party, there were fireworks over the water. We’d been to a screening of our movie that day as well. I think it was the happiest day of my life. I felt like Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief without her jewels and fine gowns.

As a young man, were you a big movie fan and if so, who was your favourite star and what was your favourite film?  Probably from 8 or 9 years old, I’ve loved movies. I was precocious. I was reading newspaper reviews of foreign films when I was 9 or 10. I wanted to be on TV from the age of 4 or 5. My favourites as a child were Hayley Mills and Annette Funicello. As a teenager, it was Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. In high school, I once asked my mother if she would write me a note for the office saying I had a dentist appointment. I told her I wanted to see a Marilyn Monroe movie on TV. You know what her response was? “Okay. You’ve been working hard at school and I know how much you like her so I’ll do it.” Wasn’t that cool? She and I didn’t always get along that well but that’s another story. My favourite film is The Wizard of Oz. Number two is 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Cabaret with Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, is on my Top Ten list of fave movies. Judy Garland is my fave singer and her record, Judy at Carnegie Hall, is my favourite album. My second favourite album would be Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Notice a theme here? And of course, All About Eve is on my Top Ten list, as well. I think I have about 25 films on my top ten list. I love many of Robert Altman’s films. Watching James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden on the late show when I was 16 was a turning point. I sobbed in my bedroom the whole next day. I love Brando, Montgomery Clift, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Lee Grant, Bette Davis. The list goes on. I work as a background performer in film and TV – I feel lucky that I get to be on set with famous actors and watch them work and be well paid to do it. My family isn’t impressed because being a background performer is the lowliest position on a film set. It was worse back in the 1970s when I started out. I’ve been at this a long time, plugging away in the underground trying to be heard. I don’t go to a lot of auditions these days. I would love a really juicy part in a film. The character would be someone who questions their gender. I lived the life of a gay male for decades, and now I don’t identify as male or female. For me, gender is totally irrelevant. What I have between my legs serves as a function and gives pleasure but does not define who I am. What difference does it make what gender I am? At the same time, I wish to be considered for male roles in film, TV and theatre.  Below, Philip performing poetry readings around Toronto.1799986_10151999725607129_1737786910_o readingsIn the second part of the book, you’ve written about bedbugs – those stories are so funny and biting (pun intended!) – what motivated you to explore those themes?  I suppose it was losing my bed to bedbugs. They kept spraying and spraying but they wouldn’t go away so I threw out my mattress and box spring. It was the only one I had ever bought as an adult. I have been sleeping on the floor every since. They are really horrid little creatures. I don’t know what made me give them voices. Weed, maybe? I can’t for the life of me recall. I love writing those pieces because the bedbugs and cockroaches can say things that people normally are too polite to say…like a little devil sitting on your shoulder. It’s almost like those pieces write themselves. I am just the channel or conduit. I think they work because audiences laugh and even request them.

Philip, you’re quite the renaissance man – a fine artist, a writer, poet and an actor for both film and theatre…what do you find more challenging or fulfilling?  I think I do all these things because I don’t like to be bored and I bore easily. What I found hardest was making a living. I always had to have another part time job to get by, and I would have to juggle things. Sometimes the Universe is kind. I was rehearsing a play and I got 2 TV commercials which shot at night so it meant not much sleep but I could still attend rehearsals. And then finding time to paint, write, draw. I’m pretty driven but I also need down time to recharge. Often, it’s marketing time that goes out the window. I’d rather get out the drawing book and coloured pencils than start submitting myself for film roles or my work to publications. I think I find painting the most relaxing even though I feel it is not my strongest talent or skill. Reading my poetry in public or sitting in the audience watching one of my plays is exhilarating and fulfilling when you really connect with an audience. You can feel it in the air. Total silence. No snoring. Ha!! Hearing a big, big belly laugh from an audience is indescribably wonderful.  I suffer from stage fright these days. I have a terror of forgetting my lines. But if I’m reading one of my poems, I’m fine. I have it right in front of me. I’ve been studying with the most wonderful acting teacher, Alan C. Peterson, which has taught me to tune out everything on a film set or on stage, and just focus on what is happening in a scene. That is all that is happening.  Below, Philip running lines as Julius Caesar and as a glammed up blonde for a recent indie filmRoadrunner Commercial Durango Miller’s Abortion is FunHas the isolation and quarantining throughout this past year of Covid affected your writing or ability to earn a living?   My income from film and TV has dropped considerably but then my expenses have dropped, too. I used to spend a fortune going out with friends and colleagues. Now, I make all my meals at home. But it has afforded me the time to assemble the book and edit and rewrite it which is much harder than the initial writing of a poem or story.  It’s a great feeling when you’re in the zone and it’s flowing out of you onto the page or screen. That usually happens with the first draft. Since the first lockdown, I’ve written a lot and done a lot of drawing and painting. I don’t like to watch more than one movie or TV show per day, if that. It’s been a time of deep, deep reflection. What is awful is that all the dumb, stupid things I’ve done in my life have come bubbling up to haunt me, perhaps to teach me a lesson or something. It has helped me to grow but has been quite painful to behold.head shot (2)

Below is a selection of Philip’s paintings that have been exhibited in Toronto galleries…Crystals on my Kitchen Table Terra_Multi-Gender Being From Another Solar SystemAbout the author: Philip Cairns writes poetry, performance-pieces, plays and short stories. His work has been published in Labour of Love, Resistance Poetry 2, Excalibur Monthly, Xtra! and The Body Politic. In Toronto, Philip has performed his own writing at “Plasticine Poetry” at The Central, A Space, The Art Bar, the Black Swan, the Gladstone Hotel, Glad Day Bookshop & the Theatre Centre. He was one of the organizers, and a frequent host for The Beautiful and the Damned Poetry Cabaret at The Central. He was MC for “Sexy Words” at Lula Lounge and “Bent Expressions” and “Smash Words” at Press Club. He performed in “Hard and Able #2” at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, on the TV series “William Shatner’s Weird or What” and in “The Judy Monologues” at the Toronto Fringe Festival and in a province-wide tour (winning the Best Actor award at the London One Act Festival). Philip has exhibited his acrylic paintings, watercolours and coloured pencil drawings in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Toronto and Edmonton, most recently at Urban Gallery, the Parliament Street Library and at Arcadia Art Gallery in Toronto.

Philip has a number of interviews coming up in May, including CIUT-FM radio’s Howl! show as well as on the Art Bar online poetry show May 11. Follow Philip on Facebook for all the news… Facebook.com/philip.cairns.16

HOLLYWOOD POEMS AND OTHER DIVERSIONS
By Philip Cairns
Purple Poet Press (April, 2021)
$17.89 – Soft-cover, 186 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8701703214
Available from Amazon.ca

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RIVETING VIETNAM WAR-ERA MOVIE DEALING WITH PTSD LAUNCHES ONLINE DURING COVID CINEMA SHUT-DOWNS.

I’m thrilled to welcome filmmakers SAMUEL GONZALEZ JR. and CHRISTOPHER “KIT” LANG to the Fordham PR client roster.  Their feature film BATTLE SCARS launches online via Amazon Prime July 21st with DVD sales orders already available from Walmart. The film will be available with wider online release starting August 4th, 2020 (Vudu, iTunes, Google, etc.).

As Covid-19 has forced cinemas to close or restrict audience numbers, filmmakers around the world (esp. indie filmmakers) have been forced to shelve projects or, like Sam and Chris, find other opportunities to screen their films. Thanks to the dedication of cast and crew, and the support of family and friends, the filmmakers have managed to bring Battle Scars into your home via multi-platform streaming outlets, delivering its message about the horrors of war and its ongoing human toll from PTSD.

Vietnam took everything he had…now he’s taking it all back!107046776_763218854485241_4205911393826522464_nVietnam war veteran, Michael Delucca (Christopher “Kit” Lang) suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and struggles to resist the dark memories of his frontline experiences shared with best friend Vinny (Arturo Castro) that haunt him. Estranged from the post-war everyday life around him, working a steady but low-paying job, and even with a supportive girlfriend Jane (Emily Trosclair) and the opportunity to reconnect with the son he never watched grow up, Michael sinks into a gritty underworld from which he may never return.

Written and directed by real-life decorated war veteran, Samuel Gonzalez Jr. (pictured below), Battle Scars depicts the insurmountable difficulties faced by thousands of soldiers after returning home with brutal authenticity.

gonzalez_picI had the opportunity of chatting with the director who shared his inspirations and on-set experiences with me….

Congratulations on bringing this story to the screen, Samuel. I gather you have first-hand experience being on the front lines in Iraq – did this inspire the story of Battle Scars and in what way?  All wars are different. And all wars are the same. My experience was different from the ones who fought in the jungle – as opposed to the large sandbox I ventured in to.  No, what inspired Battle Scars was being on the front lines of a war very much in our own backyards. Walking in New York City at night, I would see many veterans – every year growing in numbers – simply freezing to death on the streets. I wondered – how does one person who was born, had dreams, desires and passions of his/her own, end up like that? Once you dig a little to find that out, you’ll start seeing the real war is closer than you think.107767236_2750641465155149_7961340331678085522_nMany returned service men and women will likely view this film – do you think it may trigger memories and/or hope your film encourages them to reach out for help and support with their own PTSD?  A response in the form of awareness among veterans and civilians alike would be just what we’re hoping for. For Vietnam veterans and veterans of all foreign wars to remember that we are all united, not only through our shared service but through the invisible wounds we share – the invisible monsters we all bring back. PTSD. May this film be a beacon of light to bring us closer together to finally stitch it up.14054901_1079885625399702_8534525803781222453_nYou’ve undertaken a variety of on-set jobs from Sound, Camera & Electrical dept, Location mgmn’t, Cinematography and AD, as well as editing and acting. How has all this experience prepared you for directing and writing scripts?  Making this film was the ultimate film school experience. Literally discuss an idea, put it on paper (in our case, a dinner napkin), find the crew or slave labourers at that rate (ha ha!) and go out and put your vision through a camera lens – all for little to no money. If I can go back in time in a DeLorean (yes.. I went there) – is to stop this from happening and rip up that napkin and order the brisket instead. But, alas, the sirens went off and making the film was a war in itself – sacrifices were made and rough battles were won and lost in order to reach the beach. But ultimately it prepared me for the future – my continued career and how to properly manage a set and crew, take car of my actors and how to responsibly handle delicate subject matter as the one we discuss in our film. It taught me the right ways to do things and the wrong things that were done. Grateful for those wrongdoings, as the pitfalls of the film taught me how to handle those that were on the road ahead. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world and am thankful everyday for the experiences the film gave me and my team – it’s priceless and I am the filmmaker I am today because of it.  Director & castYou had a very modest budget on which to shoot Battle Scars – how did you manage to pull off the Vietnam up-county fire fight with such realism?  Thank you, it was very challenging. Sometimes it’s the limitations such as budget that force us to be at our most creative. Doing your best with what you have and that’s where I point the camera. We had to scout specific locations we thought could pass for the jungle. I think my experience helped me grab what I needed. I wanted to convey the chaos that war is.107377203_720954032027606_3389208399628510251_nIt’s so difficult to access audiences during the Covid shut-down, but with your digital viewing platforms do you think that home viewing is more advantageous, especially considering the intense intimate angst your lead character goes through on-screen? Viewers may feel more emotionally secure watching the film from their own sofa…yes? I think it comes down to connection. I believe any film is really meant to be experienced in the theater.  However, home entertainment systems get us pretty close. It’s a personal film, but film is meant to be communal. So if we have to watch the film separately, at least we can all connect online.

Have you already started thinking about your next project and if so, can you share any hints as to the subject? Are you planning something a little lighter? You think I’d learn but never lighter, never smaller. But I will say that my job as director is to serve the story. If the story is large, that let my vision enhance that in scale. If it’s small, then I will paint with mightier strokes but still on a large canvas. Many projects in the making and new releases coming soon. In the meantime, you can order my published novel titled THE CHORDS OF WAR – a semi-autobiographical true story of 5 soldiers who form a rock’n’roll band during the height of the Iraq war, ultimately using music to inspire and motivate thousands of troops and to get them home alive. Acclaimed show runner Graham Yost (Band of Brothers, Justified, The Pacific) opens the book with a rave review and discussion. My next feature film, a psychological horror film, is currently in production as I type this, and my latest short film The Springfield Three, the true story of one Americas most bizarre and unexplained disappearances, has won multiple festival awards after screening at Screamfest 2019. It has also been picked up for worldwide distribution, having its television premiere this October on SHORTS TV (the distributor for all the theatrical released academy award winning short films.) Thank you for your continued support, Glenda!

Battle Scars will be available for viewing online as of July 21st via Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, GooglePlay. Orders for DVD sales are already available from Walmart & Amazon, with wider release as of August 4th, 2020.

Check out movie trailers and cast & crew info at www.BattleScarsthemovie.com and follow on Instagram @MovieBattleScars and       www.facebook.com/moviebattlescarspromo ad