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November 21, 2008:

ALL THOSE WONDERFUL PEOPLE OUT THERE IN THE DARK

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, and all those wonderful people out there in the dark, in a mere two days I shall be in New York, New York to direct the Bacharach benefit, and it will be so nice to not have to do this long distance anymore. There are many details to attend to – I have to hear arrangements, watch and finesse our two big ensemble numbers, suggest any fixes I need to, see the theater and decide on all the entrances and exits, and, most importantly, decide on the structure and song and performer order for the evening. But, the nice thing is I’ll also have time to see lots of my friends and to have some fun meals. I’ve already booked several dinners, and am happily attending the Thanksgiving do of our very own FJL. Also, hopefully we’ll be having a haineshisway.com get-together on the Tuesday evening after the benefit. Meanwhile, here it is, Friday, and I feel like I’ve still got a lot of things to do to prepare for the trip, even though I really don’t. I sent ahead most of my clothing, I’ve booked my transportation to the airport, both going and coming back, and I should be able to pack very light. I bought an extra power supply for Ye Olde Laptop, I’m still debating whether to bring Ye Olde iPod (don’t really see the necessity, as all that music is on my computer, and about three hundred songs are on my iPhone. Speaking of my iPhone, yesterday was an interesting day. I got up early and did an early long jog, as I then had to hurry to an eleven o’clock meeting with my old pal Miss Leslie Ackerman. She’s created a TV show and wanted my opinion on her reel. I watched it and gave her the opinion and she’s asked me to help her with the video and the show and I think I will, as I like the idea of it very much. So, upon my return we’ll get together and discuss how to proceed. I was also contacted by a songwriter/performer who has asked to meet with me about a show she wants to do. Since I like her work, I’ll be meeting with her upon my return, as well. I came home after the meeting, went to the mail place where there was no mail at all, did some other errands and whatnot, got some assorted foodstuffs from Gelson’s, then came home and ate said foodstuffs. I was hungry for junky food, so I had a couple of chicken tenders and a couple of chicken egg rolls and a little bit of their righteous red potato salad which, for the first time, wasn’t that good (I ended up tossing some of it in the garbage). I then had a ton of e-mails to go through, all of them regarding the benefit. Our sound designer had visited the theater and was very concerned that there wasn’t enough room for our big dance numbers. He sent me a diagram of the stage with a band layout. The way he’d laid it out was interesting, but robbed us of needed space. So, I drew out the same band configuration we had last year for the LACCTAA benefit and sent that to him, and he saw right away that it freed up some needed room – my choreographer and I think we can get the numbers to work, but I’m really at a loss until I actually visit the theater, which I hope will be on Tuesday afternoon. Once that was all finished, I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched two count them two motion pictures – one I’d TIVOd, and one on DVD. The first motion picture was entitled A Blueprint For Murder, starring Mr. Joseph Cotton, Miss Jean Peters, and Mr. Gary Merrill. A decidedly “B” film, it’s a typical Andrew Stone production. Interesting ideas done competently but nothing more – the Stone trademark. The premise certainly held my interest, and I always enjoy Joseph Cotton, but there’s something peculiar about the structure of the film. Thankfully, it’s only seventy-five minutes and doesn’t give you much time to ponder the plot deficiencies. I then watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Sunset Blvd. – the new Special Edition from Paramount. I never cease to be amazed at the audacity and originality of this film – it’s actually breathtaking to watch, and I never tire of doing so. We tend to take some of these classics for granted and forget just how original and risk-taking they were. Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett’s script (with D.B. Marshman) is brilliant – every word, every sentence, all of it. The sheer chutzpah of having a film narrated by a dead man was so unique and it works so beautifully, that one just sits there with one’s mouth on the floor. Mr. Wilder never gets enough credit as a director – as a writer, yes, but no one ever praises his visual style or flair, and they should, because Wilder was as good as anyone. No, he doesn’t show off – he just puts the camera in the perfect place and tells his story. But the visuals in Sunset Blvd. are really terrific. It’s interesting that two films that came out in the same year, have some of the most quotable dialogue of all time – Sunset Blvd. and All About Eve. Gloria Swanson’s performance as Norma Desmond is not only iconic, it’s subtle, eerie, odd, unique, and one of the greats. Every line reading is perfection and she’s as much responsible for the quotable dialogue as the writers. Mr. William Holden captures Joe Gillis better than any other actor of that era could have, and that includes first choice Montgomery Clift. And one can’t say enough about the performance of Erich Von Stroheim – it’s beyond great – it’s in a whole other universe. Nancy Olson is a winning Betty Schaefer, and Jack Webb scores in his few appearances. The rest of the cast are equally good, right down to the smallest role. And then there’s Franz Waxman’s score, for my money his best. He just gets under the skin of the film and the characters in the way that all great film composers do, and which modern film composers have no clew how to do. Their music lays on TOP of the film, like a pad. The old boys knew how to write subtext, and that’s what’s missing from scores today. The transfer is top-notch (I haven’t compared it to the older Special Edition, but will), as is the sound.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below so all those wonderful people out there in the dark can read the next section.

Today, I have to get up early and do another early jog, for I have another early breakfast meeting, this one at Hugo’s in West Hollywood, with a person I’ve never met and don’t really know, but who was interested in meeting and talking with me. Directly after the meeting, I’ll come back to the Valley and go to the Gap to see about buying a new pair of jeans and one new polo shirt – not sure I’ll end up buying either, but I’ll go all the same. After that, I’m hoping that the rest of the day is clear.

Tomorrow, I’ve made no plans at all – I’ll have to get some cash for the trip, and I’ll pack, and then I’ll just relax, eat, and watch movies until I’m ready to go to bed. I’ll be posting the notes very early as I’ll have to be up at five for a five-thirty pickup.

Sunday, of course, I’ll by at the airport bright and early and also early and bright. I’m hoping to sup at Joe Allen, perhaps with Jose, maybe elmore, and maybe Mr. Kevin Spirtas – we shall see.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, have a breakfast meeting, maybe buy some clothes, and then eat something amusing (I intend to only have poached eggs for breakfast), and watch a DVD or three. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – CD, various jazz cover versions of West Side Story – Cal Tjader, Stan Kenton, Oscar Peterson, and a few others. DVD, next up will probably be Roman Holiday, followed by a couple of other films from the Gregory Peck set. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and that includes all those wonderful people out there in the dark.

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