Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wrap Party

I went to my first actual 'wrap party' last night (see new photo right) following the completion of THE PARTY IS OVER, the new comedy I did with Cathy Baker, produced by Steve Robman and featuring a whole gaggle of very talented twenty-somethings. I sat with Cathy over dinner and drinks and finally had a chance to talk to her about some of her work over the years, specifically FOOL FOR LOVE, the Sam Shepard piece she did with Ed Harris at the beginning of her career. The play was directed by Shepard at The Magic Theatre in San Francisco and then moved to Circle Rep in New York and, well, the rest is history. It's a legendary production in theatre circles, famous not only for its quality of work but for the iconic poster attached to it - the one with Elvis tongue-kissing the elated female fan.

Shepard directed the play in the small space in San Francisco (a 99-seater) and Cathy said they were all sort of shocked when they were told it was moving to Circle Rep in New York. The Rep wanted to recast (Harris had just made THE RIGHT STUFF and was starting to get a bit of a name but Cathy hadn't done any film or TV yet and no one knew who she was) in NYC but Shepard held firm and said they could only have the play if the original cast stayed in place. Cathy told me she thought NY was going to 'eat them up' but on opening night there was such a tumultuous greeting from the opening night audience she knew they were in something special.

I was living in NYC when it played at Circle Rep and I could kick myself for not seeing it. She stayed with the play for the long run but she said Harris left after only six weeks to pursue film stuff. It is one of my favorite Shepard plays.

The director of the movie, Vahe Gabuchian (very talented young filmmaker) put together a six or seven minute 'compilation' reel for the party...just quick snippets of scenes from the film (it's a 'full length,' not a short) and I must say it looks super cool. When asked by a friend the other day what the film was about I had to think a moment. It's an odd one, to be sure. The best I could come up with was 'a thinking man's AMERICAN PIE,' if that makes any sense. I have a smallish role in it, but very, uh, entertaining.

Steve Robman (google him) produced. Steve is a very successful television and stage director and turns out we have dozens of mutual friends in the theatre biz in Chicago and New York. He directed quite a bit at The Goodman back in the day and we both know a lot of the same Chicago actors.

It's completely a youth oriented movie - I think Cathy and I were probably the oldest ones involved and that's counting the crew as well. The three lead actors, all in their early twenties, looked really good in the compilation we saw last night. In fact, the whole thing looked really good. Look for it sometime in 2012.

Angie and I are continuing with our new 'health kick.' Essentially this means we're cutting back on cigs and bread and potatoes and taking killer walks up into the mountains. Sunday we walked a place called 'Fryman's Canyon.' I saw my life pass before my eyes. I now call it 'The Widowmaker.' I'm told it's not an especially difficult hike, but it nearly closed the curtain on me. Within the first five minutes I had sweat completely through my shirt. I have a long, long ways to go with this new 'get in shape' stuff. Fortunatly, while climbing The Widowmaker, Angie let me stop now and then and take huge, gulping breaths. I pretended I was stopping for Zooey's sake (she's our 12 year old dog) but, much to my chagrin, Zooey seemed to be doing just fine and was impatient with my stop and start technique on The Widowmaker.

Los Angeles, thankfully, is in the middle of a heat wave right now so I've been spared a repeat trek for the time being. We're taking the long 'Oasis Walk' in our own neighborhood until the heat breaks. The Oasis Walk is a long one, too, but it's all flat and it circles around the 'Los Angeles River,' which is not a river at all but just a big concret waterway. Over the years, however, foliage has grown unimpeded all around and in it. It's really quite accidentally beautiful.

The work on two, count 'em, two screenplays continues. One sucks and one is looking okay. The one that sucks has me completely bamboozled. I have no idea what to do with it. The one that's okay, however, has me rather excited. I'll continue working it today.

Angie and I were also talking to another screenwriter last night at the wrap party. He recommended a book called 'Your Screenplay Sucks.' I'm going to try and pick it up today at the library. I asked him if he'd read 'Save the Cat,' the book that impacted me so much when I first started writing my screenplay, and he had pretty much the same opinion of it that I did, which is to say, initially impressed and then sort of offended by its continual references to writing a script that makes money rather than writing a script that means something to you.

Life is good. Angie and I are coming up on our one year anniversary. We were married on October 10, 2010, and we haven't quite decided what to do to celebrate. I want to take a three week trip to Europe but Angie reminded me we don't have any money, so we're probably going to go with a three hour trip to Van Nuys, which I'm told, is quite lovely this time of year.

See you tomorrow.