Now in our sixth calendar year!|
PCR #271. (Vol. 6, No. 22) This edition is for the week of May 30--June 5, 2005.
Hello, gang! I apologize for the lateness of this week's rant. After only a total of 8 hours sleep in Amity and a hard week back at work I'm amazingly still coming down from the high that was JawsFest. Sadly, that high is cut short with the news of Anne Bancroft's passing. Shall we begin?
ONE OF THE GREAT ONES
I was very shocked to hear of the passing of Anne Bancroft this week. Bancroft died at the age of 73 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York after losing her battle with cancer. Born Anna Maria Italiano on September 17, 1931 in the Bronx, NY. At 21 she made her film debut in "Don't Bother to Knock' and continued to find work in film and theatre throughout the 1960s. While on Broadway she won two Tony awards and was asked to star in the film version of "The Miracle Worker." For this film she won the Best Actress Academy Award in 1963. In the 1960s she began building quite a name for herself, culminating in her role as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate." Among her other films are "Prisoner of Second Avenue," "Elephant Man," "To Be or Not To Be," "Torch Song Trilogy," ""Night Mother," "Point of No Return" and "G I Jane." She was Oscar nominated four more times for her work in "The Pumpkin Eater," "The Graduate," "The Turning Point" and "Agnes of God." She met writer Mel Brooks during an appearance on a television talk show. The two were married in 1964. Though she is probably best remembered best as for her role in "The Graduate," I will always think of her as an actress who seemed to easily portray, for want of a better word, "class." In 1999 she became only the fifteenth performer to win the "triple crown" of entertainment awards when she won an Emmy to go along with her Tony's and Oscar. She is also the eighth performer to win both a Tony and Academy Award for portraying the same character. In 1980 she made her directorial debut with the comedy, "Fatso." She also had several cameos in her husband's comedies. She is survived by Brooks and their son, Max.
WHO WAS THE GRADUATE?
Before Dustin Hoffman was cast as Benjamin Braddock in "The Graduate," he had to wait in line as a list of young actors either passed or were considered not right. The producer's original choice was Burt Ward. However, his contract for the next season of televisions' "Batman" kept him from taking the part. Director Mike Nichols wanted Robert Redford, but realized that Redford's looks would make him wrong for the part, since Benjamin was supposed to be sexually awkward. Charles Grodin was cast but left the project after a disagreement in salary. Other actors, from Warren Beatty to Jack Nicholson to Richard Dreyfuss (who did get a line in the film later as one of Benjamin's frat brothers) , were considered before Hoffman won the role.
A happy 90th birthday to Mr. Les Paul. If I have to tell you who he is you shouldn't be reading this!
Just letting everyone know that Matt went directly from Martha's Vineyard to attend to a week's worth of business in New York City. I'm sure he'll regale us with his memories of JawsFest next week. Speaking of...
OK, I've had some time to recuperate and reminisce about the past weekend's events. For those new to the PCR or who weren't paying attention, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of the film, "JAWS." This past weekend, the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (where the movie was filmed) held a three day celebration of the film. I think the best way to tell the tale is to take it day by day:
Due to last minute planning, I didn't arrive until after lunch. After flying into Providence, Rhode Island I am met by Matt and his wife, Denise. With a suitcase containing clothes, photos and scripts in the trunk we drive to Woods Hole to take the ferry over to the island. Matt and I strike up a conversation with a reporter from "Starlog" magazine who eventually tells us, in his own words, that "Jaws 2 blows." We will later use this information against him. Upon arrival at Oak Bluffs (one of the several towns on the Island) we take a taxi to Edgartown, the town that is featured as Amity in "Jaws." Once in town I ask the taxi driver to take me to where I am staying. A cabin located at 36 Braleys Way. Well, not just a cabin. THE cabin! In an odd twist of fate I had to cancel my hotel reservations and have lucked out into getting the loft in the same cabin that director Steven Spielberg and co writer Carl Gottlieb lived in while shooting the movie. After what seems like an eternity, the driver finds the street but can't find the driveway. I tell him to just let me out and I would call my cabin mates. Within minutes I am met by an international junket of "Jaws" junkies. Dana and his son, Chris, from New Hampshire; Eddie McCormick, recognized as the United Kingdom's biggest "Jaws" fan; and Tim, from Australia. Add into the mix Eddie's pal, Andy and model sculptor Pat Delaney and his friend, Andrea, and we had quite a group. As I enter the cabin my attention is pointed to an old desk that has seen better days. Dana tells me that it's the same desk that Carl Gottlieb's typewriter sat on 30 years ago as he wrote the script pretty much on the fly. I take my luggage to the loft and just sit on the edge of the bed and close my eyes. Below me, at one time or another, the cast and crew of my favorite film met for meetings and dinners, their discussions slowly helping the story take shape. Too cool. I get a ride back into town and meet Matt and Denise for a burger at a local bar/restaurant. "Jaws" is playing on the television, quietly. The bartender has heard it enough this week. Happily, Matt and I provide an almost flawless dialogue for those within earshot. At the end of the bar sits a man who tells us that he is in the film. We wait until his scene pops up. "There I am!" he yells, pointing at a little boy on the dock as the ferry doors open. "I've still got the shirt I'm wearing there" he tells us. True collector that I am, I instantly offer to buy it from him. After our burger we take a taxi out to Oak Cliff where the movie will be screened, outdoors, later in the evening. We arrive to find a mob on a hillside. The good news is that my cabin mates have saved a spot for us down front. The bad news is that we have arrived too late to get a cool beach towel that Universal was giving out to celebrate the new 30th Anniversary DVD. Prior to the screening we are introduced to several people responsible for all of the hoopla. First up, the man who created it all, author Peter Benchley. Looking frail after a recent hip replacement, Benchley tells those assembled that he is amazed at the effect his book and the film have had on people. Next up are various cast members, including Susan Backlinie (Chrissie, the first victim), Jeff Kramer (now an Emmy award winning producer, then Deputy Hendricks), Jay Mello (Sean Brody) and Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner, the mother of the boy who was eaten off the raft). Now we meet Carl Gottlieb, who not only co wrote the film with Benchley but appeared on screen. Then Joe Alves, who helped design the mechanical shark. Finally, we are told that a very special person has a message for us. As an image of director Steven Spielberg hits the screen the crowd erupts in applause. Spielberg begins by welcoming us to the first annual JawsFest, then wonders if that means the second one will be held in another 30 years, or if it will be a an every 5 year or even 1 year event. It is quite obvious that Spielberg is moved by the fact that, 30 years later, his film has so many fans. After the welcome, the screen goes black, the Universal logo hits the screen and soon the familiar strains of John William's Oscar winning score slip out of the sound system. When the title, "JAWS" hits the screen, an even louder ovation is heard. It is quite apparent to all of us "oldsters" that many of the younger people in the audience have never seen the film and that a majority of the viewers had never seen it on the big screen. While it was great to see it back on the big screen, I most enjoyed watching the youngsters scream and jump at all the right parts. In a moment reminiscent of "Rocky Horror," our group joins Roy Scheider in admonishing his on screen son by yelling, in unison, "GET OUT OF THAT BOAT!" After the screening our group of 8 squeeze into Dana's SUV and head back to the cabin. There, we are treated to a visit from Greg Nicotero, an top special effects artist who has worked on such films as "Kill Bill," "Sin City," "From Dusk to Dawn" and, most recently, George Romero's "Land of the Dead." Greg has brought along a DVD that features some of his most well known work, including some great zombie footage from "Land of the Dead." I learn later that some of the people in the room, including the writer from "Ain't It Cool News" actually got to play zombies in the film. Beat from almost no sleep the night before and one hell of an exciting day I head upstairs to bed.
||CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE|
Welcome to Amity|
Matt (center, light blue sweater) and friends wait for the outdoor screening.|
Spielberg's video welcome.|
JAWS back on the big screen.|
Jeff Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)|
"Quint" and filmmaker Jim Gelet.|
L - R, Carl Gottlieb, me and Matt|
I had hoped to head out to some locations with my cabin mates but 6:30 came way to early! I awaken at 8:30 and stumble downstairs where I encounter Eddie's friend, Andy. Asking where the nearest shower is I am pointed to the bathroom in his room. It's only later that I realize that I have now taken a shower in Steven Spielberg's bathroom. Feeling frisky I decide to hoof it into town, rather then spend $15.00 on a taxi. I'm surprised when it only takes me seven minutes to hit downtown Edgartown. I meet up with Matt and we stand in line for autographs. While there we meet several other fans, including a young man and his mother who, like Eddie, have traveled over from England. I comment that their speech is quite different from Eddies' (who hails from Liverpool). I then try to do an imitation of Eddie by saying, "Hello, mate" and instantly feel like an idiot. In the first group of celeb signers we meet Susan Backlinie, Jeff Kramer, Lee Fierro and Jeff Voorhees, who played the little boy that was eaten off the raft. While in line both Matt and I are interviewed for the local Martha's Vineyard television station. When I meet Lee Fierro, Matt tells her "he wants you to slap him!" (she gives Scheider a good smack in the face in the film) Happily she refuses, instead blowing me a kiss. After we get our signatures and photos, Matt and I head off to the Main Street Diner for lunch. While we are waiting to have our order taken, Jeff Kramer walks in and sits in the booth near us. We quickly invite him to join us, but he begs off as he is meeting someone else. Doing the next best thing, we make sure his waitress gives us his check. Jeff is obviously touched by our gesture. He shakes our hands and thanks us. We return the thanks a hundred times over. Back to the Amity Town Hall for more autographs. Here we meet Roy Scheider's stand in and the man who, as a youth, was the little boy with the fake fin in the film. At the end of the table sits Marc Gilpin, who played Sean Brody in "Jaws 2." He seems pleased that Matt and I appear to have been the only fans that brought along some "Jaws 2" items to have signed. We speak to Gilpin for some time and find out that his sister, Peri, played Roz on "Frasier." I look over and see the Starlog reporter and ask Gilpin if he's going to talk to him. When he says yes I remind him that the guy told us that "Jaws 2" blew. "Really," Gilpin asks? When we nod he tells us he'll take care of that. At the very end of the table I meet Miss Belle McDonald. Belle played the mother of the family that the Mayor asks to go into the water during the last beach scene. She is very impressed that I have a script for her to sign and asks me where she can get one. I tell her I would gladly send her one. She gives me her address and a hug. Later Matt, Denise and I go to dinner at the Kelly House, home of many cast and crew meals and one infamous food fight that ended up with the "Jaws" gang in the hotel swimming pool. After we eat we head to Matt's hotel, where we spend the next couple hours sitting in the courtyard while Matt entertains on guitar. At 10:00 pm Matt and I head to the cabin. I give him the grand tour and introduce him to my cabin mates. Matt takes off at about 11 and I'm getting ready to head to bed when a line of cars pull up the drive way. Fresh from the "Amity Ball", about 30 fans have made their way to our special place to "look around" and hang out with their fellow "fin-attics." Finally, around 4 am, everyone has left and once again it's time for bed.
After an early wake up call those of us in the cabin get ready to leave by picking up after ourselves and our guests. We need to be gone by 10 am so the morning is spent rushing around with trash bags and dust cloths. We all pose for one last group photo and it's then time to say our goodbyes. Many of us have been emailing each other for years and have finally come together face to face. We vow to keep in touch and do it all again sometime. I meet up with Matt and we head over to the Kelly House. We have been asked to participate in a fan documentary entitled "The Shark Is Still Working," a twist on a favorite story by Richard Dreyfuss on the making of the film. While waiting outside a car pulls up. Out steps Kristen Henshaw, the daughter of Craig Kingsbury. Kingsbury played Ben Gardner in the film and was also Robert Shaw's inspiration on how to play Quint. After speaking to her for a few moments we are taken aback when she asks us if we would be interested in getting her late father's autograph. She then allows us to choose a canceled bank check from Mr. Kingsbury's account, the check of course bearing his signature. When she suggests taking one dated on our birthdays I immediately search and find one that had been made out on September 16, 1994. Kristen explained that, after losing a large amount of cash when he was younger, her father wrote checks for everything. Looking through them I could see that they were written for amounts ranging from eighty seven cents to a couple hundred dollars. What a great and unexpected surprise. We then head back down to the docks for the documentary and arrive just in time to greet Bruce. A four foot long replica of the shark's head has been traveling all over the island this weekend. Unfortunately, due to some vandalism early in the event (several of the shark's teeth had been stolen) Bruce now remains on the boat that is ferrying him around, spoiling the opportunity to pose with him. Shortly after lunch I do my interview for the film. The filmmakers seem very happy with my stories and my fingers are crossed that I'll make the final cut. Then it was time for lunch and off to the ferry back to the mainland. As we pulled away from the dock I looked across the water and realized that we were taking the same route that the Orca took as it headed out to sea. Looking out across the water I was flooded with the memories of the past few days and a genuine sadness hit me. Thinking back to Steven Spielberg's words, I vowed that whether it's another thirty years, five years or next year, like Douglas McArthur, I would return!
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.