Posts tagged ‘Hollywood’
December 19, 2013
“There are three stages of an actor’s career…”
— Burt Reynolds
December 11, 2013
100 Years Ago in Pop Culture:
The Birth of a Filmmaker
In 1913 actor and filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille began shooting The Squaw Man In Hollywood.
It was a bit of an accident that DeMille and his crew were there. They had planned to locate to Flagstaff, Arizona, but the weather was so bad that December, nor were the vistas as spectacular as expected, that they took the train to the end of the line and decided to stay, the California climate and scenery being perfect for their endeavor.
The Squaw Man, a romantic drama based on a play, involves an English peer falsely accused of a crime his cousin had committed. He escapes to the American West and marries an Indian woman, only to return home, without his wife who had died, when he is cleared of all charges.
The six-reeler, the first feature length film made in Hollywood, was a huge success. DeMille, rather taken with the story, remade the move twice, again as a silent in 1918 and then as a talkie in 1931.
Tyrannical on the set, he wore a whistle around his neck and carried a large megaphone, so his instructions were loud and clear. Although not an actor’s director, he was loyal to his actors, casting Claudette Colbert, Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Robert Preston, Paulette Goddard, and Charlton Heston in multiple pictures.
DeMille became a celebrity in his own right, dressing the part in an open-necked shirt, riding pants, and boots. However, in his cameo appearance as himself in Sunset Boulevard (1950), he wore a conservative dark suit and tie.
The director’s best known endeavors came late in his career. He made Samson and Delilah in 1949, The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952, and The Ten Commandments in 1956. In Egypt filming the Exodus scene for the later, then-75-year-old DeMille climbed to the top of the massive Ramesses set and suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Against his doctor’s orders, DeMille was back directing the film within a week.
Setting his sights on the stars, DeMille was planning a movie about space travel, when he died of a heart ailment in January, 1958.
© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved
November 7, 2013
Seen and Heard on Hollywood Boulevard:
Hot Lips. Loose Lips. Read My Lips.
October 27, 2013
5 Ways to Enjoy a Hollywood-Style Halloween
Hollywood is haunted. Make no bones about it. There are skeletons in the closet and rumors rattling the actors. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the living from the walking dead. So, do as the fear-mongers on Sunset Boulevard do, and have a spirited Halloween.
1. Rent a costume.
Are you having trouble deciding to be traditional or original? Dressing as a gangsta like James Cagney or a rapper such as Jay-Z? Then visit the Western Costume Company. They rent thousands of costumes from major motion pictures for Halloween. Even if you’re located in another part of the country, their website has some great ideas.
2. Wear makeup instead of a mask.
If you go this route, take some advice from Oscar-winning makeup effect artist Rick Baker: “Painting on a face is like painting on a canvas. You have to understand the principles of highlight and shadow.” To participate in the zombie zeitgeist, that’s so today, “Use oil-based paint sticks for the black shadow and a black eyebrow pencil to add lines and highlights.”
3. Put on your dancing shoes.
At Hollywood Forever Cemetery the party to celebrate Dia de los Meurtos, on November 2 this year, starts rockin’ after dark with hundreds of Aztec Ritual Dancers in full costume and musical performances on three stages. What’s happening at your local burying grounds?
4. Visit a haunted house.
If the current residents of the house where Ozzie and Harriet and their sons David and Rickie lived in Hollywood have experienced unusual phenomenon, who’s to say that the dwelling down the street wouldn’t make the perfect place to hold a séance.
5. Watch a movie.
Heads will roll and bodies will pile up, whether you’re into icky, creepy, bloody, gutsy, scary or all of the above. After all, movies are what Hollywood does best.
Halloween: it’s not just about the candy anymore.
© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved
October 17, 2013
On Hollywood Boulevard:
Something Old, Something New
Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre was reopened in September after a four-month renovation. Now called TCL, rather than Grauman’s, after a Chinese television manufacturer bought naming rights, the venue now has one of the country’s largest IMAX screens and almost a thousand stadium seats, once again spacious enough to host movie premieres and accommodate the attendant paparazzi.
But the best news for movie fans? The iconic imprints of our favorite superstars are still in place.
In 1927 Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford, the King of Hollywood and America’s Sweetheart, as well as co-owners of the theater with Sid Grauman, were the first to officially step in wet cement. They each had their own square smack dab in front of the entrance.
Many others, by themselves, as a couple, or in a group, have followed.
It must be lonely on the range because singing cowboys signed for themselves and their horse. If you look around, you’ll find Tom Mix and Tony, Gene Autry and Champion, Roy Rogers and Trigger. “Happy trails” to you and your four-legged partner, too.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are co-located, although he got his square in 1938 and she followed, as usual, one year later.
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy share space, as do Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Groucho, who also left an imprint of his cigar, fell all over themselves to get their hands dirty.
When Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released in 1953, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe were memorialized in adjoining areas, writing the movie title above their signatures. Three years later in honor of the movie Giant, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and director George Stevens left their mark on the same day. If this was some sort of stunt to publicize their movies, who cares?
Certainly not Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Matt Damon fans. A big crowd greeted them and producer Jerry Weintraub of Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen at their signing-in ceremony in 2007. As Clooney said, “If I had to be on my hands and knees with three other guys, I can’t think of three better guys to do it with.”
Do you think the Star Trek cast plus creator Gene Roddenberry were thinking the same thing when they were honored with a square in 1991? After all, together they had gone “where no man has gone before.” They are to the right of the box office. Star Wars stars Darth Vader, R2D2, and C3PO are on the left.
More recently the Twilight Saga‘s Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner celebrated the release of Breaking Dawn — Part 1 by participating in this Hollywood tradition. Stewart summed up the experience exclaiming, “I think this is the coolest thing ever.”
If the past is a guide to the future, as an ancient Chinese proverb divines, the popularity of the Chinese Theatre, regardless of its name, is ensured for a long time to come.
© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved
October 3, 2013
Big Feet. Big Hands. Big Heart.*
Arnold Schwarzenegger wears size 12 boots.
He means it when he says,
“I’ll be back.”
“In this industry, there are only two ways up the ladder.
Rung by rung or claw your way to the top.
It’s sure been tough on my nails.”
— Jack Nicholson
“Everybody, no matter how old you are, is around 24, 25 in their heart.”
— Bruce Willis
* Photos by: Susan Marg. Taken at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre;
Hollywood Boulevard; Hollywood, CA.
September 21, 2013
Seen and Heard on Hollywood Boulevard:
“Lovely Ladies Waiting for a Bite”*
* From Les Miserables
July 31, 2013
Hear Ye Hear Ye:
Talking About the Stars
Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of chatting with Betty Jo Tucker, movie critic extraordinaire and the editor/lead critic of ReelTalk Movie Reviews, and her co-host James Colt Harrison, also an author of thousands of reviews and articles about Hollywood, on Betty Jo’s radio program “Movie Addict Headquarters.”
My book Hollywood or Bust was the central point of our conversation, and I was peppered with lots of questions. Where did the idea come from? What was the biggest challenge in writing the book? How did you decide on the themes in the book? What are your favorite quotes in the book?
Oh, there are so many. I like the first quote in the book from Hilary Swank: “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.” I think that sets the tone of the book because Hollywood and the movies, even life itself, are all about dreams.
On the loss of privacy that comes with fame, I like Jennifer Aniston’s quote: “When someone follows you all the way to the shop and watches you buy a roll of toilet paper, you know your life has changed.” The lesson here is to be careful for what you wish.
Betty Jo had her favorite quotes, too. She pointed out how touched she was by Charlie Chaplin saying, “I was loved by crowds, but I didn’t have a single close friend. I felt like the loneliest man alive,” and she played a few minutes of music Chaplin composed for Modern Times. Afterwards she noted, “There he is making everyone else laugh, but he had such feeling.” And, then we moved on to more amusing topics.
James shared a story relating a chance meeting between Clark Gable and William Faulkner on the MGM lot where they were both working in the 1930s. Clark Gable knew who William Faulkner was, but Faulkner couldn’t return the compliment. Ah, writers. What would the movies be without them?
As screenwriter Joe Eszterhas has noted: “Screenplays are a bitch to write. One man wrote War and Peace. Thirty-five screenwriters wrote The Flintstones.” Ah, Hollywood.
If you want to hear more, here’s the link for your listening pleasure:
July 21, 2013
Betty Jo Tucker is a movie critic extraordinaire, currently serving as editor/lead critic of ReelTalk Movie Reviews and hosting “Movie Addict Headquarters” on BlogTalkRadio. An author herself of Confessions of a Movie Addict and Susan Saradon: A True Maverick, she took time out of her busy schedule to review Hollywood or Bust. Her review, posted on authorsden.com, is reposted below.
Hollywood or Bust Book Review
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Happiness for movie fans like me is reading “Hollywood or Bust” by Susan Marg! I love all the quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks from some of my favorite actors and actresses that are included in this fascinating anthology. So, of course, I found Marg’s revealing, star-studded book impossible to put down once I started it.
As someone who has had a longstanding love affair with the cinema for over fifty years, I was surprised to find so many delicious surprises in Hollywood or Bust. For example, why did Mel Brooks start out as a drummer? What did Sandra Bullock learn from directing a film? How does Harrison Ford define a movie star? What did Elizabeth Taylor have in common with the critics? Why did Michael Caine want to win an Oscar? And that’s just the tip of the show-biz iceberg.
The complete title of this entertaining read is Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown. And “dish” they do — from the price they pay for stardom and what they think about acting as a career to their feelings about each other as well as about directors, writers, studio executives, agents, and the Oscar. According to Marg, their observations “are caustic, critical and cynical on the one hand — but they are also eye opening, amusing, inspiring, and in some cases, even endearing.” Most of all — to me — they are extremely readable.
Marg calls herself a writer, a reader, a television watcher, a moviegoer, a theater attendee, and a museum visitor. She is also the author of Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by Harper Collins. To read more about Marg, go to her interesting popular culture blog “The More Things Change” at www.susanmarg.com.
July 4, 2013
Reviewed by Gayle Colopy for Bookpleasures.com on July 2, 2013
By Susan Marg
Publisher: Cowgirl Jane Press
Hollywood Or Bust is a collection of celebrity quotes from actors, producers and other notables in the film industry. The quotes are grouped in chapters loosely based around the quest for recognition and fame, the up and downsides of having achieved it (or not), and the inevitable downhill slide once the public has moved on to newer, fresher flavors of celebrity. The book covers a wide time span, with quotes from studio heads of the “Golden Age” of motion pictures to contemporary luminaries like Lindsay Lohan and Quentin Tarantino.
The path to stardom begins with a vision. (Hilary Swank: “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.” Each has their own definition of what stardom means. (Harrison Ford: “Stars are people who sell a lot of popcorn.”) There are ruminations on the effects of stardom. (Clint Eastwood: “It’s like waking up with a hooker – how the hell did I get here?” Robert Mitchum: “I’ve still got the same attitude I had when I started. I haven’t changed anything but my underwear.”)
There is a price to be paid for success. (Bette Midler: “The worst part of success if to try to find someone who is happy for you.”) Artistic ambitions may take a back seat to other considerations. (Charlton Heston: “The trouble with movies as a business is that they’re an art; the trouble with movies as an art is that they’re a business.” Michael Caine: “You get paid the same for a bad film as you do for a good one.”) Disillusionment may set in. (William Faulkner: Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder.” Marilyn Monroe: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
Eventually, there is a fall from grace. (Michael Medevoy, producer: “This is a business that eats its elders instead of its young.” Joan Collins: “The problem with beauty is that it’s like being born rich and getting poorer.”) The stars may come and go, but that entity known as Hollywood lives forever, a force unto itself. (Michelangelo Antonioni: “Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing.”
The collection is a slim, breezy read, something one could knock off during a long waiting room visit or a very short flight. Like junk food, there’s not much nutritional value here, but for those with an interest in stars talking about stardom, Hollywood Or Bust may prove to be irresistible.
The reviewer Gayle Colopy: Gayle is a semi-retired veteran of various governmental, non-profit and commercial enterprises, and is now a freelance writer based in northern California. His literary preferences are Beat-era American literature, classic erotica, and fiction writers who blossomed in the Sixties, including Joseph Heller, Donald Barthelme, Ken Kesey, Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Hunter S. Thompson.