COMMENTARY-Passing parade

Members of the entertainment community have always marveled at the idiocy which brought about the downright willful destruction of much of the BBC’s television and radio history. It never made any sense that those old shows simply disappeared. Now we know part of the answer.

The Daily Telegraph last week reported on statements from Sir David Attenborough, who talked with Alan Yentob in front of an audience of the time he was the policy maker during the late sixties. This was the headline:

David Attenborough: my regrets over wiping Alan Bennett ‘dross’

Sir David Attenborough, the broadcaster, admits one “scar on his conscience” from his early days in broadcasting: sanctioning the wiping of priceless Alan Bennett sketches. Sir David, who was controller of the fledgling BBC Two from 1965 to 1969, said he could not “dodge” the blame for the mistake, after making an executive decision to cut costs.

“One of the scars on my conscience is that the Alan Bennett programmes, which were wonderful, are not recorded and were lost,” Sir David said. “I mustn’t dodge it. I can remember perfectly well someone coming to me and saying ‘look, we have to build another set of vaults and it’s going to cost x million pounds.
“‘We will need that if we’re going to keep everything, so can’t you please find a way to keep the jewels and get rid of the dross? It means how many episodes of What’s My Line?’ or whatever quiz do you want?’
“And of course when you’re faced with that you have to decide whether to put the money into new products, new people, or cherishing the old. I took the decision that I did take, which was to say to every department, if you’ve got a long-running series select one out of six – or whatever it was – and save that. But be strong and get rid of the rest.
“That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t have kept some of the Alan Bennetts; we should. Why we didn’t have some of them, I don’t know.”
[Former Director General] Alan Yentob added other programmes had suffered the same fate in different periods of BBC history.
“I think we can say the same about editions of Monty Python and others which have somehow disappeared,” he told an audience.

I had to comment at the end of the article with my 2 cent’s worth. I said

Vaults do not cost millions of pounds. Choosing between products, people, and intellectual property, the property of others, does not fly or make sense. This man has no integrity whatsoever. He should be sued to the limit, class actions, for these crass decisions which he admits. No mercy! And, this cost the corporation (meaning us and the government) many millions from future sales.
I am reminded that I appeared with Eric Porter in a BBC Play of the Month. It was “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1968. It disappeared. We were told that a technician had pressed a delete button by mistake. Now we know the truth. Thanks, Mr Attenborough.

DYLAN FARROW SAYS:

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.

That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face — on a poster, on a T-shirt, on television — I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

This time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me — to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories — have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.

But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.

 

WOODY ALLEN SAYS

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought. We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy. The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct. Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined. Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested. Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story. The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t. Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused. I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence. Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992… In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Could it be any clearer? Mr. Allen did not abuse Dylan; most likely a vulnerable, stressed-out 7-year-old was coached by Mia Farrow. This conclusion disappointed a number of people. The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, “we will probably never know what occurred.”

But we did know because it had been determined and there was no equivocation about the fact that no abuse had taken place. Justice Wilk was quite rough on me and never approved of my relationship with Soon-Yi, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was then in her early 20s. He thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19. In fairness to Justice Wilk, the public felt the same dismay over Soon-Yi and myself, but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted. (Incidentally, coming on the heels of the media circus and false accusations, Soon-Yi and I were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts, and everyone blessed our adoptions.)

Mia took custody of the children and we went our separate ways.

I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.” I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge. Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession. “Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.

I pause here for a quick word on the Ronan situation. Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? Again, I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.

NOW it’s 21 years later and Dylan has come forward with the accusations that the Yale experts investigated and found false. Plus a few little added creative flourishes that seem to have magically appeared during our 21-year relationship.

Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root? Is it any wonder the experts at Yale had picked up the maternal coaching aspect 21 years ago? Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.” One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.

After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair. Here I quote Moses Farrow again: “Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.” Finally, does Mia herself really even believe I molested her daughter? Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Of course, I did not molest Dylan. I loved her and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being. Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman, and Soon-Yi and I are both hoping that one day she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way. No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing. (This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.)

 

JULY 12, 2013

This is all about the colon. First there were lawyers. Then there were doctors…

Keeping fingers crossed. This ACTORVIST patient ain’t finished yet! Wife nearby.

 

JULY 16, 2013

Well, I’m still alive. Still in what’s called “recovery”.

Interesting people, doctors. They are pretty well all specialists today. They have their own turfs. And I find they don’t talk to each other a whole lot. I have to think about heart, lung, blood, liver, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and now my gut. I get back a mixture of good news and bad news. I think the key is having a good, open primary physician to be able to talk to. But they’re very very busy these days, there’s not enough of them, and they seem to be very hard to get ahold of. I’ll know more next week, I guess.

Nevertheless, I go home tomorrow.

 

We Brits sure know how to have fun! Last night as the sun was settling down behind the mountains on the western horizon, in the gardens of Santa Monica’s very stylish Fairmont Miramar Hotel overlooking the beach, there was a promotion and celebration of all things British as it exists in the fair city of Los Angeles, California.

It was a kind of fancy dress party, inspired and themed by some members of the DOWNTON ABBEY cast who were present and being honored. This is Hollywood, after all. So we “expats” were invited to attend dressed up, if possible, in something suggesting the flapper era of England, circa 1920.

Since the story begins around the time of the S.S.Titanic sinking, and progresses on up into the twenties, there was scope for a wide choice of costume. The only other fancy dress ball I ever attended was as a child when my parents sent me as a choir boy and I won first prize. So I decided to be a man of the cloth, dressed in a cheap RC priest outfit (their robes don’t change an inch), and for good measure took a young friend who came dressed as a prostitute picked up on the way in, and whom I’d brought with me to convert. She was bursting out here and there, torn slip, retro French knickers, suspenders, seamed stockings and all. There we were, arm in arm, and quite a few heads turned.

And so the evening began, with Tin Pan Alley entertainment, tapdancing exhibitions, a lively banjo-led band, and touchy feely dancing. And we know how to enjoy being silly and sexy, as well as serious.

An Irish tourist came running up, fell to his knees, and begged me to hear his confession. He wanted to know where my church was. He was quite serious, if a little drunk on the great spiked Ginger Beer coolers. I told him I was a traveling priest, used a kind of modest curtained pope-mobile, and could come his way on prior notice. He scribbled me his motel address. It was only when I told him to bring his Master Card or cash, that he figured out that I was maybe not what he thought I was. Then I saw a couple of very attractive women sitting in a corner. I asked who they were, and they rather sheepishly confessed they were on the organizing committee, and were — Americans!

I found again many of my old and dear friends, and we duly swapped cards, past attitudes forgotten and forgiven. Attached to my business card is my California Notary card, designed unsubtly to let people know that I am able to 1. tell the truth, 2. keep secrets, and 3. uphold the law. This is Hollywood.

Famous British companies are well represented, Boots, Jaguar, Cunard and all, and I look forward to wandering around this week in search of having a good time while learning more of the business side of it, which in this economy gets to be the point. But as of this week, with the stock market at all time highs and employment improving, there is hope and a renewing spring-like step in the air. Entrepreneurship is budding.

Frivolous lawsuits abound, aided by the court system, lawyers, and this time by the unions. And they dilute the serious issues that should be getting our attention. (Hint, like pro se actors vs. Breakdown Services Ltd., SAG/Aftra?)

Nikke Finke broke this news to us on March 19:

Last night a federal judge in Seattle ruled that a lawsuit brought by an actress who accused the online film and TV database for posting her birthdate in her bio without her permission will go to trial. U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman denied summary judgment from IMDb on Junie Hoang’s breach of contract claim, meaning the case will go forward to an April 8 trial date. The core claim makes the central issue of the case whether the site enables age discrimination in the entertainment biz with its policy of posting ages on individuals’ web pages.

In the original lawsuit filed in October 2011, Huang claimed she attempted to increase her exposure on the website in 2008 by subscribing via credit card to IMDb Pro. She changed her name and didn’t reveal her age when providing information for her profile. Soon after joining, her age appeared on the site, revealing info she claims harms her chances of landing film roles. Huang claimed the site performed record searches using her credit card information to obtain her age and did not remove the information when she requested it. Amazon called the suit “frivolous.” But then-separate unions SAG and AFTRA backed Huang’s action saying that when actual ages are posted “they become known to casting personnel, the 10+ year age range that many [actors] can portray suddenly shrinks and so do their opportunities to work”.

As a start, IMDb doesn’t offer webpages for subscribers to fill. It gives information deemed to be reliable, that’s all. And it gives it to everybody, producers, performers and craft professionals, either for free or a for a small fee at the IMDb Pro website.

This actress spoofed her name, and didn’t wish to reveal her age when providing her information. If she’d been selected for a Wikipedia “biography of living people” profile, you can bet they’d have her nailed down with accuracy, including her birth name and age. I have this to say, as if there were no more important things to think about.

Junie, there IS no privacy any more. Get used to it. When all’s said and done, the truth won’t go away, and lies will. Your age, your health, the nature of your sickness, your height, your weight, the natural color of your hair, your sexuality, your use of body enhancements, your clothes, your underwear, your income, your debts, your criminal history, your driving history, your court records, your credit history, your FICO score, your marriages, your lovers, your citizenship, your parents, your ancestors, your acting credits, your car, your home, your children, and why you died. Nobody’s kidding anyone any more. Consider, the more we’re different, the more we’re the same. Set me up or bail me out is today’s cry. Only one thing matters in the end. SPELL MY NAME RIGHT.

Then I decided to have a little fun.

I’ve been an IMDb Pro subscriber for years, where I’m John Clark (II), and have my own credits, contacts, pictures and clips displayed. They’re great people, and perform a useful service. They list just about everything knowable about a person, an agent, a manager, and a production company, with their phone numbers and addresses. Also film and tv reviews, and my favorites are from users, especially under the “hated it” category, (always, to me, more interesting.) You can indeed send in corrections, and they are always verified by them. So I sent this to IMDb:

Some people think I’m 80, over the hill, weigh 300 lbs and can barely see, let alone walk. Actually, I am 45, Greek, of royal birth, and an Olympic athlete with a black belt in Judo. I can speak 14 languages, and make love multiple times without a break if the scene calls for it. I have worked 12 times for Spielberg (I’m his favorite), mostly doing my own stunts. I need work. Here’s my number, in case CAA doesn’t return the call.

IMDb ignored me and hasn’t made this correction! H-e-e-l-p! Should I sue?

Nikke Finke has a free site which I rather like, it’s where you go for the latest breaking news on the Hollywood front. It’s called DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD.

Today, she informed her readers that the managers were at it again, pleading their cause before a federal judge, but were thrown out. Here, she can speak for herself:

Personal managers took it on the chin Tuesday in U.S. District Court when Judge Dean Pregerson wouldn’t touch California’s Talent Agencies Act. Instead the judge threw out an outrageously broad lawsuit filed by the National Conference of Personal Managers seeking to overturn the state’s ban on managers “procuring” employment. That provision has effectively allowed clients  to void their management contracts and not pay commissions even if the managers obtained a job for them. (Managers are unlicensed whereas talent agents must be licensed by the state to procure employment.) Pregerson rejected the managers’ claim that California has created “involuntary servitude” for them. “Not being compensated for work performed does not inevitably make that work involuntary servitude,” the judge ruled. “Plaintiff’s members have choices.” He also rejected claims that the Talent Agencies Act violated the Commerce Clause, the Contracts Clause and the First Amendment.

Well, that got my pulse going and my blood-pressure pointing north. A lot of managers made comments outlining ideas for future strategy, and I just HAD to chime in with my voice and MY comment:

John Clark says:

ACTOR HERE! Spoiler alert – rant ahead – listen up.
 We actors are entrepreneurs by instinct and training and dreaming. When we’re not working, we work out, honing our craft, and wait for the phone to ring. And wait and wait and wait. 
So, in frustration, we pick up the phone and call a casting director about a project we heard about, maybe from a writer friend, and a part we think we’re right for. She/he won’t take the call. We call the packager.  Same thing.
 We call Breakdown Services to ask for a reasonably priced subscription to their researched data-base of parts, characters, and jobs available day by day. They won’t sell to us.
 We’re SHUT OUT of OUR industry!


Remove all of us actors? What will be left is NOTHING…NOTHING…NOTHING.


Remove all of these agents and managers, then what’s left? Why, the world of entertainment and fantasy fulfillment for paying audiences happily humming away.


I’m eighty years old. I’ve been a part of our industry since I was a famous child star in England before the end of World War 2, and quite famous since (for all the wrong reasons.) I won’t be around much longer.
 And I say F**K Y*U to agents and managers for preventing me from making direct contact with my goals. [I used the actual words, which Nikke allows and my webmaster doesn’t.]


I pass this advice to the next generation of actors. “Get in touch with your own self, and make sure there are no degrees of separation between you, your soul, your spirit, your sense of creativity, your business sense, and any roadblocks in and to your ability to GET WORK!

”
Thank you judge, thank you SAG/AFTRA/EQUITY, and thank you Government for controlling the agencies by licensing them, and rejecting the “managers” of actors’ lives. If these “personal managers” really want to “represent” their clients, then they should marry them, and go all the way.
 And that is my rant for the day.”

There was an immediate response.

WTF are you talking about? Because CD’s won’t take your calls, Managers shouldn’t be paid for the work they do for you insecure, ranting, miserable actors?

Comment by Huh? — Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 2:22pm PST 

To which I said

If you had half of a brain, you’d have made sure that the client’s checks, contractually, were made payable to you, subtract your commission, and then net it off to the client. But then you’d be a fiduciary, subject to the laws of fraud, and actors are smart enough to see that, and won’t let you do it. Which makes YOU an insecure, ranting miserable ex-hairdresser manager. Boo hoo.

  • Comment by John Clark — Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 5:33pm PST

(Oh Lord, maybe I should not have said that. Now I’ll NEVER get a manager to represent me, nor an agent for that matter! Or maybe even a haircut .)

February 13, 2013

We must assume that Dorner’s life has ended. He left quite a trail, and many loose ends, which we now have to pick up and make sense of. I plan to resurrect the record of his days in court, under the watchful eye of, and rejected by, Judge David Yaffe, who has just resigned, bowing to the pressure of the corruption exposed by 70 year old Richard Fine, whom he consigned to 18 months of solitary confinement in Men’s Jail, and was released last year. In a way, Yaffe started this whole thing.

We owe the following profound description and overview of what went down to Darwin Adikia, who posted it at CNN.com. It is very much worth reading, and shows how we are all involved, like it or not, by what we do, and by what we don’t do.

Continue Reading Christopher Dorner (cont’d)

February 7, 2013
Reading ex-officer Dorner’s manifesto is a chilling experience. He is obviously sincere, and his points are well taken. Many in society feel just as he does, whether perceived as wronged by co-workers or lawyers or the courts or family or loved ones. They too have seen their efforts to get satisfaction frustrated at every turn. But it is not given to normal and sane people to act out as he is doing. We have psychiatrists to prevent that kind of thing.

Dorner will probably be cornered and shot on sight, as in Bin Laden. He won’t be taken alive to express his truth from the dock, which would be a pity. We could all learn from what he might say. We all have our truths, and we will want to hear his.

Now we read of 2 ladies in a pickup minding their business which was to deliver the L.A. Times along a street in Torrance very early in the morning. They were ambushed by cops, then wildly shot at in a fusillade of bullets, nearly losing their lives. A case of very mistaken identity. The police thought they saw a large black man driving a truck of the wrong make and color.

I may be too late now, but I have a word of advice for what Mr. Dorner should do next. He should hole up in a house somewhere, then call the media, then call the police to come and get him. Then he should emerge with his hands up for all to see, maybe waving a white flag. Then he has a chance to not get shot, appear in the dock and express himself, and possibly get a measure of satisfaction before he’s put away, probably for life, where he might become a very good writer.

I have reproduced his statement here, unedited, but spell checked. He’s an intelligent man, well read, and a liberal! And many many showbiz and other notable people will see that their names are listed, his favorites and his unfavorites, among some shrewd observations.

**********************************

Feb 4, 2013 9:14:04 AM
From: Christopher Jordan Dorner /7648
To: America
Subj: Last resort

I know most of you who personally know me are in disbelief to hear from media reports that I am suspected of committing such horrendous murders and have taken drastic and shocking actions in the last couple of days. You are saying to yourself that this is completely out of character of the man you knew who always wore a smile wherever he was seen. I know I will be vilified by the LAPD and the media. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name. The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command staff, and executive positions.

The question is, what would you do to clear your name?

Name;
A word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to.

Name Synonyms;
reputation, title, appellation, denomination, repute.

A name is more than just a noun, verb, or adjective. It’s your life, your legacy, your journey, the sacrifices and everything you’ve worked hard for every day of your life as an adolescent, young adult and adult. Don’t let anybody tarnish it when you know you’ve lived up to your own set of ethics and personal ethos.

Continue Reading The Dorner Manifesto, unedited

It was 1945, Princess Elizabeth was 18 and I was a small impressionable boy of 12 when I met her. It was just before the end of the war. I’ve been dazzled ever since, so be kind.

The speech is an annual affair, and this year the message was particularly worth watching and reading because Britain had a mind-spinning time of it in 2012. Here she made a speech to start off her Diamond Jubilee year.

June 3. Marked the beginning of her Jubilee celebrations (that’s 60 years on the throne), catching up fast with Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months. We followed the procession of ships on the Thames on a rather watery day.

July 23. She sent a message of congratulations to cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who had just won the Tour de France, the first Brit to ever do so, and was later to win the most golds at the Olympics.

July 27. She opened the Summer Olympics, hosted in London, and

August 29. Opened the London Paralympics.

September 10. Andy Murray became the first Brit (ok, Scot), to win a Grand Slam event (US Open) since Fred Perry in the thirties. He’d also won gold at the Olympics, first to do so in 100 years.

Now it’s the end of the year, and with 2013 upon us, it remains to be seen what’s in store for an encore.

Makes me proud to remember the land of my birth, although I gave up citizenship long ago for silly reasons (unbelievably, I was protesting my country’s intervention in Biafra!)

God Save the Queen still rings in my ears. Happy and Glorious. Can’t help it.

 

Dustin spoke on stage after the screening with many funny anecdotes in the making of QUARTET, especially in his director/actor dealings with Maggie Smith, who has quite a reputation for being “difficult”, as does Dustin. He said they got along “just fine”.

He spoke of the minutiae of the producing/directing process, how he had little to work with in terms of budget, and had to complete it using his own money. He also spoke of his preferred director methods. Hates those who keep precise lists and set ideas of how actors and equipment should move, and likes those who arrive on set with very open minds.

I am second to none in my admiration of Dustin, who is 5 years younger than me, unwillingly became an unknown actor in his early twenties, while I unwillingly became a child star aged eleven. I not only admire his acting, but also his approach to his career, designed by himself. Just as conflict exists in the good story told, it exists in the good life lived. I think we share that approach.

I’ve talked here about the ways the actor can manipulate his senses and emotions, from the inside or outside, in the unending quest for a great performance. And about having no degrees of separation between you and yourself.

Agents and managers are tools. But here’s where that plan falls apart. If you are a star, an icon like Dustin, you can do it. If you are a star like Lynn Redgrave, you can also do it (with my help). If you occupy the lower depths, like me these days, you will become the tool of those same agents and managers. The tail wags the dog.

The almost legendary story of the Agatha production in 1979 is worth telling here, only because he brought it up at great length. As a matter of fact, he chose to bring up Vanessa’s behavior too, recalling her unpopular political dance with PLO honcho Yasser Arafat. He held his nose, as though to say “Vanessa didn’t notice this?” And of course, it didn’t help the marketing of the movie.

Dustin had been invited to join Barbara Streisand, Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman who had set up their own producing company First Artists Productions. They felt that they were the most important part of movies because they were the draw, and were seen onscreen (probably true). Besides, they didn’t trust the majors’ accounting practices (definitely true), and wanted to choose their own scripts and have approval of directors, casts, writers, and final edit. They invited Dustin in with his own production company Sweetwall Productions. The second to involve Dustin, this was their 17th, Agatha.

It was beset with problems from the start. Julie Christie bowed out for health reasons. Producer David Puttnam (now a life peer) was upset he had to accommodate Dustin into what he thought was a finished script and also bowed out, (but first vowed never to work with this “difficult” actor again.) Dustin, by then executive producer, had gone over budget, and so the company took his control away. Dustin claimed he wasn’t paid in the agreed way, and insisted on maintaining control all the way up to final cut. Recently hired lawyer Phil Feldman had come in as president and chief executive officer though, changed the conceptual field, and got himself sued by Dustin for 30 million dollars, which was the amount Dustin claimed for his fee, plus what he put into it, plus the amount he claimed the movie would have made if he’d been left alone. Trust lawyers to fix things, right?

Anybody who thinks that major stars are loving warm human beings are just plain wrong. They lord it, often unyieldingly, over their individual turfs.

Anyway, it became clear that the presence of Agatha director Michael Apted approved by Agatha actor/producer Dustin Hoffman, this night was not without purpose. It was a time for digs, and they flew. But Dustin also graciously congratulated Michael for the success of 56 Upthe continuing follow-up of his Up Series examination of cradle-to-grave British lives.

The time came for the Q & A, but there were no microphones available for audience participation, and so an actor in the front row got up and joined them with his actor question. Then I decided it was my turn. I put up my hand, and Michael asked me up on the stage, and so it was that I shook hands with Dustin.

I said that he and I had worked together some 50 years ago, but it was not as actors. It was in the kitchen at Ted Flicker’s The Premise on Bleecker Street, where we made the coffee, served the refreshments and cleaned up afterwards, while his friend Gene Hackman was improvising along with George Segal and Joan Darling up on the platform.

“You”, said I, “went on to become the iconic star that you are, and I went on to become Vanessa Redgrave’s brother-in-law, and then a director. And come to think of it, didn’t Vanessa get into the litigation act too? I have vague memories of that.” He looked a little stunned.

At which point Michael hurriedly asked me to move on with a question, which was “Now that you’ve crossed the aisle into the director’s corner, will it have changed you when you next act in a movie?” To which he replied that he wasn’t sure, but it would certainly make him more sensitive.

[As I left the stage, I couldn’t help but recall an essay I had written for the L.A. Daily journal. In it, I reflected that I’d studied acting technically from the outside (British, Canadian) inside (U.S. the Method, Lee), and then ventured into the theater of the truly absurd, the inside of a courtroom, not pretending real life, but actually doing real life, villains and crooked deus ex machinas and all. I thought I bet Dustin or Pacino or De Niro wouldn’t dare go that far. Maybe I’m ahead of ’em. Yup, foolish, and I’m proud of myself!!!]

And so a great evening came to an end.

Go and see Quartet. I think you’ll like it.