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April 11, 2017:

DON’T WANE ON MY PARADE

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, here I sit like so much fish, pondering the imponderables whilst listening to music and writing these here notes. And as I sit here sometimes the sheer enormity of what I’ve been doing every single day for the past sixteen years occasionally overwhelms me, or at least whelms me. That’s a rather large amount of sitting here like so much fish. Fourteen of the sixteen years have been right at the table I’m sitting at right now, whilst two years were sitting at a table much like this two blocks away. I seem to be waxing nostalgic whilst the evening is waning or, in other words, waxing and waning.

Yesterday, I must tell you, was a day. I did get eight hours of sleep and the dream I was having just before I woke up was rather a lovely dream I’d like to have every night. Once up, I did the usual things – answered e-mails, had a couple of telephonic conversations, after which I moseyed on over to Jerry’s Deli, which was jammed at 11:50. Why? Because all the Jews of Studio City took the day off as did their loud children, and of course having the day off meant they HAD to come to Jerry’s Deli to have a big meal because, you know, the huge Seder meal they were about to have in the early evening wasn’t going to be enough food. It was amusing on some level but thankfully I arrived just as someone was leaving one of my preferred tables. The jernt was so loud it gave me a splitting headache that stayed for most of the day. I had a turkey sandwich and a few onion rings. After that, I picked up the errant and truant check and went to the bank, where I deposited it.

Then I was happy to cast another person, which just leaves one to go, and frankly if I haven’t cast it by the end of today, Guy Haines can do two songs and that will be that. The search for the guest star, however, continues. But the cast we do have is superb. I chose a couple more songs and actually got music to the chosen songs to the chosen cast, just trying to stay ahead of the game. I got a call from the general manager of the musical, who told me the writer had come in town early and asking if we could all lunch today, which I was totally fine with. Then the writer called and we had quite a lovely chat and he was very gracious about all the changes I’d suggested and how they’d helped them see some issues they simply hadn’t seen because sometimes it’s hard to see when you’re so close to a project. Then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I finally got around to watching a Blu and Ray that’s been sitting here like so much fish for over a year, maybe two, a motion picture entitled What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Some history first, as always: I first saw Baby Jane on its opening day (evening actually) at the Wilshire Theater. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before – a unique, one-off film (that would soon be ripped off so many times I finally stopped counting), with brilliant and fun performances by its two leading ladies – and WHAT leading ladies – Miss Bette Davis and Miss Joan Crawford. The film got HUGE laughs throughout, a couple of gasps, and the full house was simply mesmerized by it all. I went back about six times during its lengthy run at the Wilshire, and loved it more each time, and appreciated it for different things each time. The pace was perfect, the writing was filled with quotable lines, and Victor Buono was a complete and delightful surprise. I loved the photography by Ernest Haller and the music by De Vol. I loved the opening sequence with Baby Jane singing I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy and her temper tantrum right after with her daddy.

Over the years, I’ve seen it bunches of times and I kind of thought I’d about had it. But watching it again, it’s just great filmmaking and scriptwriting, and acting. I was especially taken with the production design of the house this time – it’s absolutely stunning. And I love the few location shots in Larchmont Village and Hancock Park – what a time capsule. I’ve been to the house where it was shot – it still looks the same save for new paint and upkeep – it’s at 172 South McCadden. But it’s Miss Davis and Miss Crawford that are still astonishing all these years later – Miss Crawford has the more subdued role and she’s just great. But Miss Davis, with the much showier role, is simply genius – you could not ask for a better casting of the role. And Mr. Buono is so weird and funny – what a great start to his career. And how brilliant of director Robert Aldrich to cast him. And of course I had to say along with Miss Davis when it came time – “But’cha are, Blanche, y’are in that chair.” A good time was had by the likes of me and the Blu-ray is lovely. And now I want to watch Feud but I don’t see the channel is doing any reruns and I’m certainly not going to start in the middle.

After, I was searching some location information and came upon the remake. Either I actually never knew about it or I’ve blocked it out of my mind that I knew about it. Like The Manchurian Candidate you just have to ask yourself, how stupid are people to think they can get away with a substandard remake that basically changes EVERYTHING that made the book and original film work. It’s on You Tube and I watched the first hour and then skimmed the last third and boy you cannot imagine how bad it is. As wonderful as Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave have been in other films, they are absolutely dreadful in this – and the rewriting and new bits are embarrassingly bad and so ill thought out that you just want to hit the screenwriter in the head with a frying pan. Truly dreadful and updating it was the worst of all the decisions.

After that, I listened to music, and then I waxed whilst the evening waned.

Today, as mentioned, I’ll be lunching with the writer of the musical. After that, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, do some errands and whatnot, and then finish choosing songs and find our final cast member.   After that, I’ll relax and watch a movie.

Tomorrow I’m up very early and we begin the open Equity call at ten and go all the way until six. Thursday and Friday are ten to five appointment days, and Saturday are callbacks. I’ll be ready for the loony bin on Sunday, I have no doubt.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a lunch, hopefully pick up packages, finish choosing songs, find our final cast member and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Miss Bette Davis and Miss Joan Crawford? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have waxed and waned on my parade.

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