Tag Archives: HARRY COHN

How good was this Oscar legend? Well, try as he might, even Roger Ebert couldn’t catch him acting

“All the real motion picture people have always made family pictures. But the downbeats and the so-called intelligentsia got in when the government stupidly split up the production companies and the theaters. The old giants — Mayer,

WAYNE: with his Oscar presenter Barbra Streisand

WAYNE: with his Oscar presenter Barbra Streisand

Thalberg, even Harry Cohn, despite the fact that personally I couldn’t stand him — were good for this industry. Now the goddamned stock manipulators have taken over. They don’t know a goddamned thing about making movies. They make something dirty, and it makes money, and they say, ‘Jesus, let’s make one a little dirtier, maybe it’ll make more money.’ And now even the bankers are getting their noses into it.”

The speaker? John Wayne, vintage ’76, in Roger Ebert’s wonderful appreciation of the American screen legend commemorating the 30th (!!!) anniversary of his death last week.

“He wasn’t a drunk,” Ebert writes, “but he didn’t shy clear of the stuff.”

“Tequila,” Wayne told Ebert, “makes your head hurt. Not from your hangover. From falling over and hitting your head.”

EBERT: appreciation

EBERT: appreciation

“What people didn’t understand,” Ebert notes, “is that he could be very funny.”

But then, perhaps Ebert’s powers of perception have never been so acute and, accordingly, so astute, as they are now.

“Why did he become, and remain, not only a star but an icon?” he muses. “He was uncommonly attractive in face and presence. He was utterly without affectation. He was at home. He could talk to anyone. You couldn’t catch him acting. He was lucky to start early, in the mid-1920s, and become at ease on camera even before his first speaking role. He sounded how he looked. He was a small-town Iowa boy, a college football player. He worked with great directors. He listened to them. He wasn’t a sex symbol. He didn’t perform, he embodied.”

For more of Ebert’s remarkable tribute to Duke Wayne, as well as the responses of his unusually well-versed reader-contributors, click here.

SMITH & FRIEND: Has she seen his new website?

SMITH & FRIEND: renovated website

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “If you want to hire a great salesman, look for an ugly guy with a beautiful wife.”

The speaker? Enignmatic lady-killer Red Green (a.k.a. brilliant comic actor and saga-spinner Steve Smith,) celebrating his debut as a tweeter on Twitter.

P.S.: Did you know that construction has been completed on the redgreen.com website?”Check it out,” says Steve — “but you might want to keep your hardhat on and watch out for damp areas.”

FELICITATIONS, L’OREAL! Bilingual beauty Jane Fonda was in Paris last week filming commercials for L’Oreal Paris in French and English. L’Oreal is celebrating its 100th birthday – hey, they must be doing something right — “and this is my 5th year as brand ambassador for women over 65,” she says proudly.

FONDA: L'Oreal  birthday girl

FONDA: L'Oreal birthday girl

La Fonda admits that although she’s addicted to L’Oreal’s Age Perfect Pro-Calcium creams, she was actually filming commercials for a new line of skin cream that will be launched in 2010. “I understand that the company doesn’t like to brag about itself.” she adds, “but I want people to know that #1 they don’t do animal testing, #2 they are investing in the development of reconstituted (synthetic) skin for use in testing, and #3 they just won an environmental award for their corporate ethics (reduced water use and waste dumping and reduced use of plastics).”

FISHER: bumper sticker

FISHER: bumper sticker

At times she imagines her old acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, looking down and saying, “So Jane, it’s come to this!” But, she says, there’s a certain discipline to acting in a commercial. “You must leave behind all questions of motivation and just do what they ask. Little minute details take on huge importance–how I hold the match to light the candle; the way I set the pot of cream down on the table.

“I wish right now I had Carrie Fisher’s gift for le bon mot. She’d have such a hilarious way of describing commercial-style acting. She just wrote me and said she’d written a bumper sticker: ‘Celebrity is just obscurity biding its time.’

“For me it becomes possible,” she says, “because I really believe in the product.”

SUTHERLAND: epic thriller

SUTHERLAND: epic thriller

COMING NEXT YEAR TO A TV MOVIE NETWORK NEAR YOU: Lots of good stuff, I’m happy to report. Highlights for me include Bloodletting, an eight-part drama series based on Vincent Lam’s best-seller Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, which starts production at the end if the month in Toronto and Hamilton; The Pillars of the Earth, an eight-part limited drama series based on Ken Follett’s bestselling epic novel, with a stellar international cast headed by Donald Sutherland and Ian (Deadwood) McShaneLiving In Your Car, a new half-hour comedy series from This Is Wonderland creators George F. Walker, Dani Romain and Joseph Kay, set to begin filming in September with director David Steinberg at the helm; and Fakers, a TV movie about three apparently ordinary teenagers from one of Canada’s most elite schools who created a major counterfeiting operation under the noses of their teachers and parents.

Also intriguing: A four-hour mini-series “re-imagining” of the intriguing comic strip hero Phantom with an equally intriguing cast which includes the always intriguing Isabella Rossellini.

Sounds promising.

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Colm & Carol & Rick & Annie & Harvey & Sharon & Lana & Lee & Deborah & Joan & …

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Reportedly set to tiptoe through the tulips at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa next month: Margaret Atwood, Rick Mercer, Fred Penner and Ian Tyson, to name only a few …

BURNETT: any questions?

BURNETT: any questions?

my spies say tickets for the new Stratford production of ‘the Scottish play,’ with Colm Feore as the tortured king, are already selling briskly …  resilient movie mogul Harvey Weinstein will again host the annual Cinema Against AIDS gala and auction at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21. Set to join Harvey in Cap d’Antibes are super auctioneer Sharon Stone, singer Annie Lennox (she’ll serenade the high rollers gathered at the lavish Hotel du Cap) and Bill Clinton, who has proven himself to be a tireless crusader in the battle against the worldwide AIDS crisis … Big Love scene-stealer Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Jackie Kennedy and Jessica Lange & Drew Barrymore play her eccentric cousins when HBO premieres the much-anticipated screen version of Grey Gardens this weekend … also this weekend, Kenny Robinson celebrates 15 Years of Nubian Disciples shows at Yuk Yuk’s. Now that’s an anniversary worth noting! … and just to make you glad you had this time together, Carol Burnett is set to bring her one-woman Q&A show to Massey Hall on June 12.

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GOSH, THEY GROW UP SO FAST: Doesn’t seem possible, but APTN, Canada’s first and only Aboriginal television network, will celebrate its tenth anniversary this September. And as a member of the 2010 Olympic Broadcast Consortium , APTN will also become the world’s first Aboriginal Olympic broadcaster.  And you can check out the net’s sunny new redesigned website by clicking right here.

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REMICK: Anatomy

REMICK: Anatomy

FAMOUS WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS: Sure, that SuperBowl incident with Janet Jackson was historic in its own way. Fortunately it wasn’t a career-breaker. But I recall at least two wardrobe ‘malfunctions’ that turned out to be career-makers. Lana Turner was set to co-star with James Stewart in Anatomy Of A Murder until she saw the slutty outfits they wanted her to wear. When she refused to show up unless her costumes were changed, director Otto Preminger quietly fired her and hired Manhattan TV actress Lee Remick to replace her. The film created quite a sensation at the time, and three years later the once-unknown Remick won an Oscar nomination for The Days Of

KERR: Eternity

KERR: Eternity

Wine And Roses. And classic British beauty Deborah Kerr feared she’d be forever cast as the proper English schoolmarm until her agent got a call from Columbia Pictures tyrant Harry Cohn. Cohn had just fired Joan Crawford because she refused to wear the blowsy ’40s era wardrobe that had been designed for her; would Ms Kerr be willing to replace her? The enigmatic Ms Kerr was more than happy to do so — and that’s how she ended up on that beach with Burt Lancaster. She won her second Oscar nomination for Fram Here To Eternity, and had collected four more (for The KIng And I, Heaven Knows Mr, Allison, Separate Tables (with Lancaster again,) and The Sundowners before she received an honourary Academy Award in 1994.

The moral of this story? Never lock a clothes horse in a closet.

Or something like that.

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YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE: Still believe it’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness? Yeah, me too. And apparently we’re not alone. Earth Hour was such as phenomenal success this year that the Canadian World Wildlife Fund has created a new web-based community called The Good Life  I’ve signed up and you can too. To explore and properly exploit the new site, click here.

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SOUTH PARK EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU: Stumped by the fact that huge companies with huge debts are getting financial bailouts while small companies with small debts are going under? You obviously don’t have a proper grasp of the scientific methodology behind all these key decisions. To further your understanding and education of North American economics — no, no really, no need to thank me — just click here.

TOMORROW:  Celebrating Norman Jewison in Hollywood.