Saturday, January 10, 2015

Okay, here's another one

Here's another script from my TCM Neil Simon Film Festival.  Written by me and Courtney O'Brien.  It's for CALIFORNIA SUITE, which aired last night... but so late on the East Coast that probably very few saw it (live).   It's in all-caps because that's the way it was prepared for the teleprompter.  I'm too lazy to take the time to turn it into upper and lower case.  Enjoy. 

HI, WELCOME BACK. I’M KEN LEVINE, A PLAYWRIGHT AND TV WRITER, AND YOUR HOST FOR THIS MONTH’S “FRIDAY NIGHT SPOTLIGHT” FOCUSED ON THE WORK OF NEIL SIMON.

IN OUR LAST FILM, “PLAZA SUITE,” SIMON SHARED WITH US THREE STORIES ALL TAKING PLACE IN THE SAME HOTEL ROOM AT NEW YORK’S FAMED PLAZA HOTEL. WELL, UP NEXT, WE TRAVEL TO THE WEST COAST AND THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL FOR A FILM FROM 1978 CALLED, OF ALL THINGS, “CALIFORNIA SUITE.”

THIS ONE TOO, WAS ORIGINALLY A PLAY. SIMILAR IN FORMAT, IT CONTAINS FOUR STORIES – EACH ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS, SOME MORE COMICAL THAN OTHERS. BUT IT’S MUCH MORE CINEMATIC. THE CAMERA OFTEN LEAVES THE ACTUAL SUITE. SO IT FEELS MORE LIKE A – Y’KNOW – MOVIE.

FILLING THE SCREEN ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST STARS OF THE DECADE – JANE FONDA, BILL COSBY, RICHARD PRYOR, MICHAEL CAINE, MAGGIE SMITH, WALTER MATTHAU, ELAINE MAY, AND ALAN ALDA.

AT THE TIME ALDA MADE THIS FILM, HE WAS ALSO STARRING IN THE TV VERSION OF “MASH,” I WAS A HEAD WRITER ON THE SHOW AT THE TIME AND IT’S BIZARRE TO THINK THAT NEIL SIMON AND I WERE WRITING FOR THE SAME ACTORS. I WOULD KID ALAN AND SAY, “WHO IS BETTER, ME OR NEIL?” ALWAYS A MENSCH, ALAN NEVER GAVE ME THE HONEST ANSWER.

I DID ASK ABOUT THE PROCESS OF WORKING WITH NEIL SIMON. HE SAID THAT SIMON WAS USUALLY ON SET, VERY APPROACHABLE, AND IF YOU HAD A PROBLEM WITH A LINE OR MOMENT IN THE SCRIPT HE WAS ALWAYS AVAILABLE AND HAPPY TO ADJUST IT. ACCORDING TO ALAN AND MANY OTHER ACTORS, NEIL SIMON IS AN INCREDIBLY COLLABORATIVE ARTIST – PROBABLY ONE REASON HE WAS ABLE TO GET SUCH TALENTED PEOPLE TO APPEAR IN BOTH HIS PLAYS AND HIS FILMS.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE -- FROM 1978, DIRECTED BY HERBERT ROSS, HERE’S “CALIFORNIA SUITE.”

 OUTRO

IN HIS MEMOIR, NEIL SIMON WROTE THAT THE CENTRAL STORYLINE OF THE FILM AND PLAY “CALIFORNIA SUITE” WAS THE ONE INVOLVING DIANA AND SIDNEY, PLAYED BY MAGGIE SMITH AND MICHAEL CAINE. AND I HAVE TO SAY, IT’S ALSO THE STORYLINE WITH SOME OF THE BEST LINES, ESPECIALLY THE WAY MAGGIE SMITH DELIVERS THEM. OF COURSE, FANS OF DOWNTON ABBEY ARE NOT SURPRISED BY THAT.

WHEN DIANA SAYS, “GLENDA JACKSON NEVER COMES AND SHE’S NOMINATED EVERY GODDAMNED YEAR” – IT’S TRUE. JACKSON RECEIVED 4 OSCAR NOMINATIONS IN A SIX YEAR PERIOD – AND WON TWICE, HER SECOND TIME AS THE BEST ACTRESS OF 1973 OVER MARSHA MASON, WHO WAS SIMON’S WIFE AT THE TIME.

AND AS GREAT AS EVERYONE IS IN THE FILM, MAGGIE SMITH WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO RECEIVED AN OSCAR NOMINATION – AND SHE WON FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. SHE’S IN THE ACADEMY AWARD HISTORY BOOKS AS THE ONLY PERSON TO WIN AN OSCAR FOR PLAYING SOMEONE WHO LOSES AN OSCAR.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME TONIGHT. I’M KEN LEVINE, YOUR FRIDAY NIGHT SPOTLIGHT HOST. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK FOR NEIL SIMON. COMING UP NEXT, MORE MOVIES, WITHOUT INTERRUPTION. ENJOY.

6 comments:

AndrewJ said...

MAGGIE SMITH WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO RECEIVED AN OSCAR NOMINATION – AND SHE WON FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. SHE’S IN THE ACADEMY AWARD HISTORY BOOKS AS THE ONLY PERSON TO WIN AN OSCAR FOR PLAYING SOMEONE WHO LOSES AN OSCAR.

And I believe Cate Blanchett was the only person to win an Oscar for portraying an Oscar winner (Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator)...

Martin said...

Question for Friday. I don't know if you saw the stories a few months ago about Gary Burghoff's recent Twitter shenanigans. He seemed to be dishing on Alan Alda in a pretty snarky way. Was it a fake? Did Burghoff and Alda get along, to your knowledge? Is Alda a prima donna?

David Arnott said...

Yay! Thanks, again. Also, anyone who doesn't adore Maggie Smith in this movie has something wrong with them. Well... unless they had a hump, in which case I would make an exception.

DwWashburn said...

I'm really enjoying these, Ken. I haven't been able to watch them live (I work late on Fridays) and I have the Simon movies I like on DVD. However I enjoy reading your intros and outtros. In fact your, Osborne's and Mankiewicz's intros are sometimes the best part of TCM.

Ray Barrington said...

I got to act in Califormia Suite in my senior year of college during summer classes. One of the other people auditioning, who was also there for summer, was my old second-grade teacher (who was much younger when she was my teacher). Very odd during auditions to be reading opposite her and hearing my second-grade teacher saying "Screw the Oscars, Screw the Academy Awards..."

Johnny Walker said...

Re: Burghoff.

Covering the conclusion of M*A*S*H for TV Guide in 1983, Burt Prelutsky wrote, "Although nobody wanted to be quoted for the record, the feelings about Gary Burghoff's leaving were fairly unanimous: loved Radar, hated Burghoff. As summed up by one of the principals: 'Gary had personality problems. He always felt there was a conspiracy against him. He was rude to everyone, but if anyone ever said anything back to him, he'd throw a tantrum. He had frequent spats with his cast members, particularly with Alan Alda. Once his other cast member, Mike Farrell told him that his problem was that he could dish it out but he couldn't take it, and Gary said, "And I'm getting real sick and tired of dishing it out." The poor guy didn't even realize what he'd said.'"