JOSEPH FIENNES’ MICHAEL JACKSON FILM PULLED BECAUSE IT’S JOSEPH FIENNES’ MICHAEL JACKSON FILM

HOLLYWOOD – Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of Michael Jackson won’t be shown because Joseph Fiennes was cast as Michael Jackson.

An episode of a TV show in which Joseph Fiennes plays late pop icon Michael Jackson has been cancelled because Joseph Fiennes was playing Michael Jackson. The episode was part of the TV show Urban Myths which was due to show on British television later this month. An insider with the production spoke to the Studio Exec:

We made the show and even put out a trailer earlier this week, but then one of the viewers complained that Joseph Fiennes – a white man – was playing Michael Jackson – a black man. We vociferously denied it at first but then we went in and screened it and sure enough there he was. How he had sneaked in was beyond us. The whole thing was Bad, and not in the way Michael intended the word.

Joseph Fiennes will be appearing in something else.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS CHARLTON HESTON

HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actress they called the ‘Holy Arse’: Charlton Heston.

Years ago Technicolor was quite the in thing and I was all for it. I know that Spencer Tracy wasn’t a fan, but that was only because it made his knees look silly. There was a time when if you were filming a biblical epic it had to be in Technicolor, or Charlton Heston would refuse to have anything to do with it! 

They were lovely pictures to make, even if they all ended up as long as the Roman Empire, and if truth be told they weren’t really that difficult. All you had to do was put on a toga, swap your brogues for a nice pair of sandals, and remember to say ‘aye’ instead of ‘yes’.
To this day I’ll still tell anyone who’ll listen about the time we were standing at the bottom of a mountain waiting for Heston to make his was back down with the Ten Commandments, and I bet Yul Brynner $15 that he wouldn’t be able to remember them all. He got stuck after the first three and started blabbering on about guns instead, and poor old Yul had to pay up! 

The only bit I didn’t enjoy was the chariots, because as soon as Heston got behind a horse good manners went out the window and he’d start racing around like a mad man and try to knock you over. I was also in that one with Betty Taylor where she played Cleopatra, what was it called? Memory falters. 

During the death scene I had a lovely bit of comic business where it was revealed that I was terribly afraid of the asp, and my delivery of the line ‘why did it have to be snakes?’ brought the house down! Sadly the film was already running at over three weeks long and my part ended up on the cutting room floor, but when I suggested to little Stevie Spielberg that he use it in Raiders of the Lost Ark he jumped at the chance. Spielberg repaid the favour by casting me as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but I had to let Sean Connery have the part after I broke one of his golf clubs. 

Incidentally it was my idea that he should have a bash at a Scottish accent in The Untouchables, but that’s another story…

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS LASSIE

HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the dog they called the ‘barking arse’: Lassie.

Robert Mitchum had just been telling me how he single-handedly introduced the tin can to Venezuela when there was a knock at the door. The room was full of the smoke from Bobby’s jazz cigarettes so it took me a while to answer, but imagine my delight to find none other than Lassie standing in the porch!

Naturally I invited her in for tea, but there were more urgent matters at hand. Through a series of excited barks it soon became apparent that Dean Martin had fallen down a well, and it was up to Bobby and I to rescue him! 

I helped Mitchum to his feet, had a quick brandy and a couple of sandwiches, and we set off to find Dino. I will be honest and say that the search got off to a slow start. Neither of us knew of any nearby wells, and we did get distracted for a couple of hours in one of my favorite cocktail bars. After a while Bobby said we should forget about the wells altogether and so we started lifting up the man hole covers from the road to see if we could find Dino trapped in the sewer system. 

The traffic is quite dangerous on Hollywood Boulevard and although we did try to explain the urgency of the situation to passing motorists few if any were sympathetic to Dean’s plight. Lassie ran off as soon as the police arrived, and I regret to say that we never managed to locate Dino. 

I was told several years later that in fact he was at home in bed with a slight migraine the whole time, but it’s like Lassie said: better to be safe than sorry. I wish she’d been as safe around Rin Tin Tin, but that’s another story…

For more of Sir Edwin FLUFFER, be a peach and Click Here.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER REMEMBERS: GRETA GARBO

HOLLYWOOD – In this first extract from his memoirs In Like Niven Sir Edwin Fluffer – actor, raconteur and gentleman – recalls his relationship with Ms. Greta Garbo.

For the life of me I’ll never understand why everyone now thinks of Greta Garbo as a recluse. When I first moved base camp to the Hollywood Hills the self-styled silent Swedish seamstress (she made all her own clothes) was the life and soul of the party, as well as being a dear friend, a good neighbor, and, for a time, my lover. She was my lover for another two times the next morning as well.The first time I saw her she was stood at the end of her drive putting out the rubbish. Jimmy Cagney would put his out the night before which not only attracted vermin but also led me to coin his legendary catchphrase ‘you dirty rat’.

I’ll never forget how on that morning Greta turned and waved to me with those slender but surprisingly strong fingers that had taught a young Elizabeth Taylor how to play the banjolele. Straight away I felt like we’d known each for other years. She was always popping in and out to borrow a cup of sugar or shout at my wife who she suspected of making those prank phone calls that kept her awake at night.  But darling Greta never held a grudge and she was always the first person we’d ask to water the plants when we went away on holiday.

Of course it wasn’t until much later that I discovered the nailbrush in the downstairs bathroom was missing, but that’s another story…

THE MAKING OF THE WILD BUNCH

HOLLYWOOD  – In the latest of our ‘Making of…’ series, we look at Sam Peckinpah’s unusual move into romantic comedy: The Wild Bunch.

The Idea

Sam Peckinpah had wanted to make a realistic Western for years, but following disputes on Major Dundee and his firing from The Cincinnati Kid the controversial director found himself relegated to television. Here however he plotted his return and when he was handed a screenplay for a Romantic Comedy entitled A Bunch of Wild Roses which already had William Holden and Elizabeth Taylor attached, Peckinpah seized the opportunity. Shifting the caper to Mexico, Peckinpah guaranteed he was away from the supervision of the studios and began with the aid of screenwriter Walon Green. Green notes:

Every day we would shave Elizabeth’s part. Just a line here and there then a scene. She had a house with Richard Burton in Mexico at the time so she was really looking forward to the film, but it soon became clear that her part was getting much too small. When she pulled out, we had what we wanted and we changed the title to The Wild Bunch of Roses, though we fully intended to leave off the last two words of the final cut. The aristocrat who falls in love with his son’s governess became Deke Bishop. And the film became the Western that Sam had always meant to make.

Production

Sam Peckinpah wrote to his mother to describe the difficulties:

Hi Mom,

Still in Mexico trying to get this God Damned film made. Excuse my French. This assholes (sorry) just don’t know violence. They only know violence from crappy John Wayne Westerns where someone is shot and a trickle appears from between their fingers if at all. I want them to blow holes in each other. Blood should gout out and there should be the real image of what projectiles can do to flesh and bone.

Dear Samuel,

That sounds nice. How is Elizabeth Taylor. Is she as pretty as she is in the glossies?

Hi Mom,

Yeah, she’s a swell gal, but she’s not in the film no more. The problem is no one understands what I want. I need to treat time differently. When something violent happens to you, your whole perception of time changes. I keep trying to get the actors to act slowly, so that they look like the whole thing is happening at a different speed. It works quite well, but when one of them falls over of course they can’t help falling at a normal speed. Damn it! How am I supposed to solve everything? Sorry, ma I have to go and get surgically drunk.

Dear Samuel,

Why don’t you just film them at normal speed and then slow the film down. Wouldn’t that work best? You’ll need to film it at a different speed so the quality of the image remains sharp. I’d say  a multiple camera set up with cameras working at 24 frames per second, 30 frames per second, 60 frames per second, 90 frames per second and 120 frames per second.

Hi Mom,

I wish you’d not interfere with the technical side of film making that you clearly don’t understand. We have all the actors on wires now so that when they fall we can lower them slowly. Problem solved. You women!

Reception

The critical reception of The Wild Bunch was generally positive, though the film’s scenes of graphic violence dominated early reviews. Vincent Canby wrote:

There’s this bit right, where Ernest Borgnine gets the Gattling gun and he goes ‘RATATATATATATATATATAT!’ and like the Mexicans are going ‘Arrrgh’ and then this kid shoots P’Kew! and Borginine’s like ‘Urhhh’ and someone else shoots and goes P’Kew! But Borgnine still has the Gattling gun and it goes ‘RATATATA!’ ‘RATATATATATATTATATAT!’

The Wild Bunch was released in 1969.

For more of The Making of CLICK HERE.

FLUFFER AND THE FOURTH ESTATE


Many of the better actors I’ve worked with over the years have what one can only describe as a love/hate relationship with journalists, but not me: I love them! Not the ones who say nasty things of course, they’re a bunch of untalented, lazy, useless shits, but the rest of them are jolly good chaps. 

Journalists are always quite easy to spot because when you’re at an interview or a press conference, they’re the ones who tend to ask an awful lot of questions. I met one once who had a job writing articles for the newspapers, and he was fascinating. Apparently everything they come up with is actually based on a true story, so it’s not that different to being in the movies really. I’ll tell you who didn’t like journalists though, and that was Clark Gable

If he saw one coming toward him in the street he’d hide in a doorway to avoid them. If that didn’t work he’d just punch them in the face and run off, but when he twisted his ankle teaching Edward G. Robinson the rhumba he had to get a bus instead. It wasn’t the same. 
Playing a journalist in a picture isn’t too difficult, you just need to wear your shirt sleeves rolled up and undo your tie a bit. Dustin Hoffman once told me that he played one in All The President’s Men, but I don’t remember them being that small. Not one of the Munchkins ever played a journalist, so maybe he was pulling my leg. I’m not saying all journalists are giants, in fact most of the ones I’ve stopped to have a drink with have been what I’d call an average height, but you never ever see a short one. Apart from Danny DeVito in LA Confidential. And Tintin. 
There was one occasion when a journalist treated me very shabbily indeed, and that’s when he misquoted me when I said Elizabeth Taylor was a witch. But that’s another story…

BURTON AND TAYLOR: REVIEW

Marla Singer and Jimmy McNulty star as Liz Taylor and Richard Burtonimpersonators in a parallel universe.

Steam cleaned of sex and only flirting with debauchery, either at the behest of their family, the increasingly puritanical BBC, or a scriptwriter lacking the required testosterone; Burton and Taylor is more of a can of beer and a fumble behind the bike sheds than champagne cocktails and a lengthy buggery session at the Dorchester.

It does have its moments though and sure,  West and Bonham Carter don’t look ravaged enough to play Burton a year before death and Taylor a few months from rehab, but it’s obvious that given a more daring script they would be more than capable of ditching the Hello Magazine gloss and embracing some earthy grit.

There’s sweetness, tenderness. The odd smashed glass and angry exchange. But the chemistry between the two leads smoulders rather than sizzles and you always feel you are watching a censored version of the truth.

Still it’s a show well worth a view and it serves as a timely reminder that Helena Bonham Carter has been playing the hyper-real Tim Burton eccentrics for too long. The lady has the acting chops and she’s smoking hot to boot so let’s hope we see her playing more straight up feminine roles in the future.

MY DRUNKEN LIFE: JACQUES PONK

 HOLLYWOOD – A new book by famous Hollywood scribe and roué (and personal friend of the Studio Exec) Jacques Ponk My Drunken Life is published today with much fanfare from the Sunset Boulevard branch of Barnes and Noble.

Ponk started his career as a stunt man in the early Sixties making films with such esteemed auteurs as Jean Paul Melville and Jean Luc Godard. Ponk admitted that much of his time, especially while working on Godard’s films, consisted of reading magazines.

‘Jean Luc didn’t ask for much stunt work, although once I did have to shut a window abruptly,’ recalls Ponk, screeching with a laugh that devolves into an asthmatic cough. 

From 1967 on, however, Jacques Ponk became a professional alcoholic, paid thousands of dollars a night to match some of the biggest stars in the world drink for drink. ‘The problem with many of these hard drinking guys is often their entourage would have no one to match them,’ says Ponk. ‘My job would be to keep them company into what Frank Sinatra would call “the wee small hours of the morning.”‘

Unbeknownst to Ponk he was also preparing a treasure trove of anecdotes, but why publish now?

Dicky Burton’s dead, Dicky Harris too, Ollie Reed likewise. So this is a way of paying tribute to those guys. And the amazing things we would get up to.


So here are a few choice snippets:

  • I was in Dublin with Dicky Burton. He was filming The Spy who Came in from the Cold and he wasn’t very happy, because Liz wasn’t there. So we began drinking and he got so drunk he trying to say “supercilious” and he just couldn’t.
  • Ollie Reed and Alanie Bates and me were drinking in this lounge bar in Paris. It was 1968 and there were students on the streets in running battles with the police. Anyway, we were drinking Manhattans and at one point Ollie Reed told us this long story about Peter O’Toole and then about twenty minutes later he told us the exact same story again … because he was drunk you see.
  • Tony Hopkins was a roaring drunk in his time. And once we were in Malibu and we were both very drunk. Tony stood up to go to the toilet but he stood up too quickly and had to sit down again. Ha ha ha!! Happy days, happy days.
  • I’d drunk three Magnums of champagne with Dicky Harris and we were toasting the success of The Wild Geese and Dicky drank his champagne but it went down the wrong hole. He was coughing and we were laughing and… by God, we don’t have stars like that any more. Giants. Giants I say.
My Drunken Life by Jacques Ponk is available from all good book stores.

LIZ AND DICK: SO BAD IT GOES PAST ‘SO BAD IT’S GOOD’ AND COMES UP BAD AGAIN

The new made-for-television movie Liz and Dick is set to challenge Showgirls as the film that people will pretend to like as camp but just find horrendously bad and think maybe they should be doing something else with their lives and isn’t the world, when you come to think of it, full of enough pain and suffering without adding this kind of drudgery to it.
It stars Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor (an accomplished actress) and Grant Bowler as Richard Burton (an accomplished actor) and yet there seems to be a problem.
Charting the couples impetuous affair from their meeting on the set of Cleopatra on, and featuring hootingly bad dialogue, the Lifetime production has been widely and deservedly panned. The idea that Lohan’s own upended career could in anyway make her comparable to the iconic Taylor was one that should have been drowned in the Martini from whence it was born. Our very own Sir Edwin Fluffer has had to retire to his bed chamber having watched what he called ‘a travesty of a farce of two travesties of a mistake’. Avoid like an STD.