Nov. 24, 1953–It’s a GOOD MORNING back in Hollywood after battling N.Y.’s smog. Problem is reaching L.A. proportions–even the N.Y. Times carried an editorial about the stuff which they call smaze…The big town acts like any ordinary hick town: Ads for UI’s All-American call Tony Curtis, New York’s own…New Gawkers are oblivious to the filthy streets, snarled traffic and high prices for first-run films…Broadway is cluttered with countless, smelly penny arcades, dim reflections of the Great White Way…June 3, 1958–GOOD MORNING from London: Foreign film public relations men (film flacks to us) are required to see “Teacher’s Pet” (in which the Hollywood press guest appearances) so the praisers can recognize them as they roam the streets of Europe. The following fourth estaters now on the loose in London checked in at the “Inn of the Sixth Happiness” set: Hedda Hopper, Ruth Waterbury , Liza Wilson, Bart Sheridan, Vernon Scott, Joe Hymans and Earl Wilson…The back lot has been transformed into the huge sprawling village of Wangcheng at a cost of $ 200,000 and spreads over what would be four L.A. blocks…Originally “Inn” was to have been filmed in China, but when Chiang Kai-Shek objected to certain sequences, the locale was shifted to Hong Kong, where again difficulties forced the move to England (This is a quota film)…Ingrid Bergman never looked lovelier, but she still does not look toward Hollywood for a long time to come. It is not by her choice, however…”I don’t regret one moment of it,” she admits about her past…”I’ve been gone for 10 years,” she recalled. “Do you realize I have never seen smog?” June 5–BONJOUR from Paris, where it’s Spring and that to a Frenchman is the most important thing…Paris is pleasure particularly to Darryl Zanuck’s beaten “Roots of Heaven” battalion…Sickness besieged them through the African location…We met Zanuck in a small restaurant across the street from the Prince de Galles Hotel, where he was toying with a hamburger, the first food he’d touched in 40 hours…Juliette Greco, desperately ill, nearly died when the ratio of red to white blood corpuscles passed the danger point… June 6–“Brigitte Bardot is Juliette Greco’s best friend, but for some strange reason,” says Darryl Zanuck, “she won’t introduce us to her”…Bardot is working on a stage across the street from Zanuck’s “Roots of Heaven” at the studios in Boulogne, 30 minutes from the heart of Paris…The streets of this little town look like the European streets on the back lots of Hollywood…Groups of extras for the Bardot film mill around the snack bar…This is a uniform film and it’s curious to note “American soldiers” talking French…Confusion seems to reign on the French film compared to the American and British crews next door, but they don’t have Bardot. We found her sitting in her dressing room listening to swing records…”I am so anxious to go to America,” she said, “but now I have so many pictures to make over here, I do not know when I go”…She’s most anxious to meet Frank Sinatra, now en route here, with whom she is scheduled to work this fall. June 9–BUON GIORNO or GOOD MORNING from Rome: The thin Italian, Frank Sinatra, is here in Rome, too. And not to play a role in “Ben-Hur”…Ava Gardner checked back in Rome for “The Naked Maja”…WHEN IN ROME DO AS–METRO: The sets which have been built for “Ben-Hur” are absolutely beyond belief–and description. Both interiors and exteriors are so magnificent they should be preserved along with the Rome of the past!…The Circus Maximus built for the famous chariot race is fantastic. This sequence alone will cost one million bucks The arena covers 18 acres…The stands for the spectators are five stories high….It makes the true ruins of Rome’s Ancient Circus, where the chariot races were held, look picayune by comparison…Especially when the chariots whizz around the track and thousands of Italian extras drown the air with their screaming!…Funny to watch the Italian extras, in togas, returning to the stadium eating American hot dogs–in Italian hard rolls. June 11–Random recollections of a rush through Europe: Errol Flynn, who has been squiring a very, very young girl about Paris, answers critics: “I may be too old for her, but she’s not too young for me”…And on that uplifting note, we return to Hollywood. March 1, 1960–Squaw Valley…”Greatest Show On Earth”–live, that is…That’s the Olympics, natch, where the Victory celebration for medal winners each day looked like something outta “Ben-Hur” or “Quo Vadis”…At this event, however, the trumpet blares weren’t dubbed–the horns harmonized beautifully, sent chill-producing sensations thru the already chilled Squaw Valley air as they preceded each medal presentation in the huge semi-circular platform behind the Olympic torch, and below the competing nations’ banners stretching from 50 ‘-tall statues…What showmanship!…One of the unforgettable scenes viewed by yours truly was the day all three flagposts held the banner of the U.S.S.R. As the flags unfurled noisily, a silent shudder swept the crowd, made up mostly of Americans, of course. Americans, recalled that Red satellite countries refused to dip their flag to V.P. Nixon at opening day ceremonies! Aug. 14, 1961–GOOD MORNING from Munich, which will have to substitute for Berlin, East that is, these days for Billy Wilder lensing “One, Two, Three” on yet another huge set built by Hollywood filmmakers abroad…This one built not entirely by choice–the Reds nixed Wilder’s earlier plans to lense on the East side of the Brandenburg Gate and he has, in addition to having reconstructed same, added an entire city of rubble in a giant set duplicating the Red sector… Dec. 4, 1962–GOOD MORNING from Wahweap, Utah, site of the initial location of George Stevens’ “Greatest Story Ever Told,” and a report on the first five weeks’ lensing of the biggest domestic film ever made…Despite the pinpoint planning by Stevens the film is facing problems almost as Herculean as those of the epix recently made abroad. Latest is that Stevens’ first and only choice to play Mary Magdalene, Joanna Bunham (Mrs. Henry Osborne) has just found she is pregnant….Stevens also faced with another deadline over which he has no control–the countryside in which he is shooting the town of Nazareth, walls of Jerusalem, the River Jordan, Lazarus’ house–will commence being flooded Jan. 15 when the government closes flood gates of the nearly-completed Glen Canyon Dam, creating a lake (Powell) 180 miles long, with 800′ of water…Stevens had chosen this never-before-filmed country knowing it would never again be photograph-able…You ask everyone concerned how much the film will cost and they shudder–there is no budget setting the limit to its cost–only the limit set by Stevens for its perfection. July 15, 1963–GOOD MORNING FROM ROME where the cry now is YANKEE (filmmaker) come BACK!…There is no more “runaway” here. As a matter of fact, there’s so little film production, it looks like Hollywood of last year…Proof of the end of the “runaway” era is evident on the Via Veneto. It’s no longer the general meeting place for actors, would-be-actors, filmmakers, gawkers, hawkers and what-have-you. Now it’s only a place where tourists are searching the sights made famous in films…The glory that was Rome in the golden era of Hollywood gold is gone… July 17–GOOD MORNING FROM MADRID, which is about to capture the glory that once was Rome’s. Another major studio is to break ground, again to be bossed by, owned by, run by–and, he adds, “loved” by, Samuel Bronston…Currently on the studio site is the set of the Roman Forum, used in Bronston’s “Fall Of The Roman Empire”…The set is undoubtedly the finest created for any film–and Bronston sounds more enthusiastic about this $ 16 million epic than any of his others…next is “Circus,” which Henry Hathaway directs here… July 18–The lobby of the Castellana Hilton looks like the reception room of a major Hollywood studio…This was the Excelsior in Rome five years ago…Ask Hathaway why it is no longer Rome’s and he answers, “GREED.” June 10, 1964–GOOD MORNING–from Salzburg, Austria, the first stop on 20 th-Fox’s one-week “Instant Europe” tour of its companies far from the comforts of Hollywood and home. The trek also serves to prove Fox’s bounceback–and a taste of things to come form the expanded foreign as well as domestic feature and TV operation headed by Darryl F. Zanuck and son Richard…Ten minutes after our arrival in Salzburg, we find the reason for “The Sound Of Music’s” 14-day delay in sked–the weather…Christopher Plummer, suffering from the effects of the weather, admits the footage which has been nabbed “between the rainshowers” is so beautiful, you wonder if it has been worth it because no one will believe it. He, of course, added “But that’s Hollywood for you–coming over here in the rainy season”… June 12–from Forte Dei Marmi, Italy…Here on this beautiful Italian coastline–which looks so much like California, “Agony and Ecstasy” is being launched in the quarries where Michelangelo himself chose the marble for his famous works…Charlton Heston is here now, in these same quarries which are still in use. “It’s mighty hard work,” Heston admits, and he’s in mighty good shape, having prepared physically as well as artistically for the role…Asked does he get a piece of this picture, he answered, “Yes–but when I told them I want a piece of THE picture,” he of course referred to a piece of the pictures in the Sistine Chapel–which he will “paint”… June 16–At an RAF airfield, 50 miles out of London, “The Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines” company built 14 planes of the 1910 era. They actually fly…the weirdest assortment of heavier (not much) than air aircraft ever seen. Shapes vary from boxkites, triplanes, circular wings, bumblebee shapes, rhomboids, etc. Ken Annakin will direct England’s top stunt men–and one femme test pilot…the intrepid pilots taxied down the bumpy grass field and, to the utter amazement of the corps, (including Elmo Williams, Stan Margulies, Ken Annakin and the entire company) four of them got off the ground–some only 10 feet but others as high as 125 feet and at the frightening speed of 45 mph…It is a remarkable scene… June 17–Darryl Zanuck, in a final luncheon with scribes, said: “We don’t go abroad to save money but to put on the screen what you saw here.” He further noted, “We also are aware now that 52% of our revenue comes from outside the U.S.” LONDON–Nov. 13, 1974–In London, at the Dorchester we discovered Otto and Hope Preminger winding their stay as he completed “Rosebud”…Otto would not discuss details on l’affaire Bob Mitchumon “Rosebud,” in which Peter O’Toole replaced Mitchum after five days lensing. But, Otto denied Mitchum’s statement to us that he was fired. “I did not fire him–but UA will sue him”…Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman will bow their latest Bond, “The Man With the Golden Gun,” in giant multiples this December…The time (and effort) needed to produce and sell Bond film have precluded any outside filmmaking by Cubby as he had once planned. He also admitted he’s even curtailed his appearances at the gambling tables. He said the oil-rich Arabs who now fill the London gambling clubs make onetime big spenders look like penny-ante poker players. Broccoli said he once saw a London table laden with $ 2,000,000 in bets by the oilionaires: That’s shah biz. PARIS–Nov. 19–Woody Allen, fresh (?) from Hungary and back in Paris for two more months’ lensing “Love and Death,” frankly admitted, “I would have preferred to make it in California.” Actually, he would prefer making it in N.Y. As his pal, producer Charles Joffe, reminds, “Woody doesn’t really like any place but N.Y.”…But his secret pic project takes place in Russia in the 1800s. It’s a satire on “War and Peace,” with Woody playing a rich coward sucked into the Army…Why Hungary? First of all, Russia was out of the question. Then Yugoslavia wanted the film, but, said Joffe, “Hungary is desperate to get some of that U.S. film business–that formerly went to countries such as Yugoslavia. Hungaro Films and Mafilms were very cooperative. We also got help on manpower–extras at $ 7 a day (for battle scenes), whereby Paris would have cost $ 40… JERUSALEM–July 6, 1978–It’s a GOOD MORNING…after a vacation which finale’d between bomb blasts in Israel. The explosion we experienced, however, were of the special effects, film variety–but, not too far away from the latest PLO blast in Jerusalem. We had departed our room in that city’s King David Hotel , which was among those being red-lined-phone wired prepped for the visit of Vice-President Mondale, and traveled southwest to the beach resort area in Herzilya. On the private sands at nearby Givat Olga a bunker stood as a grim reminder of the days when British fired on Israelis trying to land from Cyprus. Now Israel duplicated the northern coast of Africa, Nov. 8, 1942, for Lorimar’s “Big Red One.” The country will also double Sicily, Omaha Beach in France, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. Later, the company moves to Ireland to complete castle sequences…It is a major breakthrough for U.S.-Israel film cooperation since the pic has nothing to do with Israel’s biblical or contemporary history… July 14, 1987–GOOD MORNING FROM MOSCOW: In the shade of the Kremlin and Red Square, we viewed Russia’s controversial and once-questioned feature documentary “Chernobyl.” Death has already taken the director and several crew members from radiation suffered while filming at Chernobyl. The sun was glistening on the gold domes of the tulip-shaped Byzantine churches in Red Square which wars, plagues, pogroms and–smog, had not destroyed. And now the one-year-old nuclear explosion was unreeling within a cannon’s throw of the historical Red Square site. We viewed the film in one of the grand theaters of the Rossia Hotel, headquarters of the 15th Moscow International Film Festival….The theater was equipped with multiple-language earphones for the international group. The sound was adequate and the film quality was marred by frequent flashes, spots, distractions. We were told it was not because of inadequate technical work but from the actual radiation in Chernobyl, which eventually took its toll of the filmmakers… Nov. 7, 1988–GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON: Jack Nicholson, back in London after a week at the Ritz in Paris, was hard at work in “Batman” playing the Joker. On location in an old power station in Acton, the company was working 14 hours a day. For Nicholson that included a couple of hours to get into makeup and an hour to get out of it…Anjelica Huston flew over to see Nicholson and also to loop “Witches” for Nicolas Roeg. She couldn’t get over Jack’s look as “The Joker.” Nor will anyone else… Dec. 6, 1988–GOOD MORNING FROM WASHINGTON D.C. and our last visit at the White House with two former actors, the President and Nancy Reagan. “It’ll be nice to have you back in Hollywood,” we noted to the Reagans as we made our way up the long receiving line of black tie’d dignitaries and showbiz folks. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that”… May 15, 1989–BONJOUR from Cannes: We could barely make our way through the milling mob from the Carlton to the Martinez for the Pathe party celebrating the “A Cry In The Dark” screening. “Cry” star Meryl Streep, seated next to Giancarlo Parretti, was taking bows for the film. She returned to the U.S. yesterday to continue production on a very different film for her–“She Devil,” in which Roseanne Barr costars. It’s a far-out comedy, “but with a little sadness,” quickly added Meryl…Kirk Kerkorian steamed up to the Hotel du Cap in his yacht with his lady, Barbara Grant, widow of Cary…Carolco’s Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar are doing business aboard the yacht Galu. They had just wound their first film with Sylvester Stallone, “Lockup”–they have nine pix more to film with his White Eagle banner… Sept. 13–GOOD MORNING FROM VANCOUVER: “Harry Cohn would be spinning in his grave knowing a writer owns his own studio,” said Stephen J. Cannell Saturday night at the gala opening of his (and Comweb’s) North Shore Studios in North Vancouver…Cannell’s series occupy two stages; five shows are sold for this season, two more for midseason replacements and two are set for the ’91 season…And Vancouver itself has doubled for almost any American city with some buildings even suitable to carbon D.C… July 5, 1991–GOOD MORNING: from Marne-la-Vallee, 19 miles east of Paris. We are knee deep in mud on the site of Euro-Disneyland. Neither rain nor–anything is stopping the 6000 workers, hundreds of giant trucks arriving from all over Europe, or the 80-plus enormous cranes from making the April 12, 1992, opening date. Here to confirm it is Michael Eisner….Eisner is gung ho on park expansion including another–of their own–in Japan. There had been many bids in Europe for the Disney park, Eisner admits. The French won out for many reasons–financial and otherwise. “I grew up in New York,” he reminded. “And we were used to getting everywhere on the subway.” When France agreed to run a special Metro line directly from Paris to the Park, plus a special line of the TGV (very fast) railroad, it helped clinch the deal. Major loser was Spain… January 22, 1992–IT’S A GOOD MORNING…after a visit to Hong Kong, where the street action makes Times Square on New Year’s Eve seem like a quiet day in the country…The deal-making involves not only Hong Kong and China–but all of exploding Southeast Asia with its hundreds of millions of new customers–and seemingly as many new businesses…What about ’97? Every newcomer asked about Hong Kong’s future when China takes over. I posed the question to Sir Run Run Shaw during dinner with him, followed by a Hong Kong Arts Festival concert by the Swingle Singers at the H. K. City Hall. “Yes, everyone’s concerned (about China),” he allowed, “but they’re making so much money–they can’t count it”…
Want Entertainment News First? Sign up for Variety Alerts and Newsletters!
- Entertainment One, Los Angeles, California
- Petrol Advertising, Burbank, California
- The Los Angeles Film School, Los Angeles CA
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., New York, New York
- MPCA, Los Angeles, California