STAR POWER

SECOND ACTS

STAR POWER

Actors and directors keep going. Why would they not?

BY RAY McALLISTER

June-July 2017 Boomer Magazine

Usually, I write these columns about someone I’ve interviewed. (That at least takes a little work … I didn’t even do that much this time.) The “Second Act” theme highlights someone eschewing actual retirement, choosing instead to do something they’ve always wanted to do.

But we’re just returning from four whole days of second acts – not to mention continuing first acts and even third acts – by people who engage in actual acts. As it were. The occasion was the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Hollywood.

Early morning picture of the TCL Chinese Theater (better known as Graumann's Chinese Theater), one of a half dozen or more theaters showing films during the festival.

Father-son hand-footprint ceremony was a small event because of its location in front of the TCL Chinese Theater. Here's a picture of Billy Crystal introducing the guests of honor, Carl and Rob Reiner, taken as I walked by hurriedly.

Zooming in from across the street. Billy Crystal welcomes Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner to the stage during a hand- and footprint ceremony. To the right, in a gray suit, is TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

April 7 · · Real picture, cropped, from the TCM website (by Charley Gallay): Tom Bergeron, Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Ben Mankiewicz, Norman Lear.

TCM, of course, is a network built on second acts, giving new life to classic movies. But it was in the festival presentations from stars who have either changed directions or persevered in their true love that there were lessons to be learned and examples to be followed.

Let’s take Peter Bogdanovich. He was there to talk about his career – and to introduce two of his films, The Last Picture Show and What’s Up, Doc? Bogdanovich is 77. This man’s been a director and actor, not to mention a film critic and film historian, and he continues to work on projects he loves. In recent years, he’s acted in The Sopranos and directed a 2014 screwball comedy. Did I mention he’s 77? He could spend his days sitting poolside.

The famous acting-directing Reiners were both there, father Carl and son Rob. Their appearance coincided with a hand- and footprint ceremony at the famed Chinese Theater, with introductions by Ben Mankiewicz, Tom Bergeron and Billy Crystal (and Norman Lear watching). (Small event, and we couldn’t get in. I took pictures from across the street. You’ll have to take my word on who’s in them.) At the festival, they introduced some of their classic movies. But they’re hardly sitting still. Rob, at 70, just directed LBJ and directed and acted in Shock and Awe. Meanwhile, Carl has been writing a book. Not just a book. A book a year. Not bad for 95.

Ben Mankiewicz, left, and director-actor-historiam Peter Bogdanovich. (Indoor lighting, heads in the way when the two were sitting, made photos challenging ... especially for me. As the following photos attest, I never did figure it out.)

Hysterically funny Mel Brooks and Mankiewicz, introducing "High Anxiety." Image below are of the two; image above is one projected on a big screen.

Mankiewicz and Michael Douglas. This was at The Montalbán Theatre, formerly used for both movie and TV projection. It seats 900, but only 500 for filming, so lines were long. This was filmed for showing over the air next year.

Another Mankiewicz-Douglas, hoping I'd get one clearer. Didn't.

Here's a real picture, to prove those blurry people really were Mankiewicz and Douglas. (From TCM website, by EDWARD M. PIO RODA)

Festival was dedicated to the face of TCM, Robert Osborne, who passed away just one month before. His star is in front of The Montalbán Theatre.

April 8 · · Film critic Leonard Maltin interviews actress Lee Grant.

April 8 · · Illeana Douglas interviews Dick Cavett.

April 6 · · Shockingly, a better picture on the TCM site than mine. (By Emma McIntyre)

April 8 · · Script supervisor Angela Allen (who worked on a number of John Huston films), left, is interviewed by writer/documentary director Cari Beauchamp before a screening of Huston's "Beat the Devil," starring Bogey, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollabrigida.

April 8 · · Hollywood Walk of Fame star for Don Rickles, who passed away on the opening day of the festival.

Lee Grant. Now she’s had some trevails. She introduced her first movie, Detective Story, in which she acted when she was 24 and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. But she was married to a Communist Party member then, even if never a Communist herself, and fell victim to McCarthyism. She refused to testify against her husband, was blacklisted and could not work in motion pictures. Think of Hollywood and its emphasis on young, attractive women. Grant fit that image but was unable to work between the ages of 24 and 36. But she came back to a TV, movie and directing career, winning Emmy and Academy awards, among many others. She keeps rolling. Last year, the paperback version of her critically acclaimed memoir came out. Oh, by the way, she is 90.

Michael Douglas is 72, a Hollywood superstar and an American Film Institute lifetime achievement award winner. We got to sit in on the filming of Mankiewicz’s TCM interview with him. (Look for it next year. We were in the center of the audience.) (I laughed uproariously and nodded thoughtfully. I hope to be on-air.) So he’s finished, right? Douglas won three major awards playing Liberace on HBO in 2013 and is still acting in movies. Maybe he’ll get a second lifetime achievement award.

Mel Brooks introduced his film High Anxiety, a takeoff on Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense films (and which introduced the phrase “high anxiety” into the lexicon). Brooks, let me say, is hilarious, as funny as his films, if not more so. Genuinely hysterical. He was quick-witted, demonstrative and shared great stories about Hitchcock and many others that left the audience gasping for breath. Sharp as a tack. Brooks is 90.

Retirement?

Nobody mentioned it.

To see photographs of the event, visit RayMcAllister.com or Ray’s Facebook page.

Ray McAllister, former Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and former Boomer editor, is also the writer of six books. An expanded 10th anniversary edition of his Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island, a paperback edition of Ocracoke: The Pearl of the Outer Banks and an audio book of Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks are all due out by this fall. In addition, in May, he published another writer’s book, Portsmouth: The Way It Was, by Ellen Fulcher Cloud. For more: RayMcAllister.com.

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