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Julian Schlossberg Returns to Tell More Hollywood Tales!

February 17, 2024
Notes
Transcript
This week Julian Schlossberg returns to tell more tales of life in the arts. From reading his life story as the narrator of the new audiobook version of his memoir, Try Not to Hold It Against Me, to his work with the great Elaine May, to keeping the classic 1970s picture Mikey and Nicky in circulation, we had tons to discuss. Make sure to check out his new podcast, “Julian Schlossberg’s Movie Talk,” the first episode of which is an interview with the great F. Murray Abraham. And if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend!
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:06

    Welcome back to the Bulwark goes to Hollywood.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:08

    My name is Sunny culture editor at the Bulwark I’m very pleased to be rejoined today by Julian Schlossberg. The author of try not to hold it against me, a producer’s life, Julian. Thanks for being back on the show.
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:19

    Thank you, Sunny, for having me, and I’m always happy to be here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:23

    I, so I your your your guy reached out me said, you know, Julian’s got the audio book out now. Would you would you like him back on the show? And I I was like, yes, I would. I would like to. But I have to ask so you you did read the book yourself.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:36

    Yes. You you
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:37

    I did. Yes. I did.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:38

    Now I have I have always wanted to get an author who has read the book themselves on the show to talk about this because I can imagine I here is my nightmare, is sitting there and having to read the actual copy of a thing that I have published and not be able to, you know, kind of tinker with it. As I’m going, did you read it word for word, were you making little changes as you went? What was the what was the process like?
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:02

    Well, as you pointed out, it was word for word. And yes, I would sometimes read it and say, okay. I think on the next book, I’ll put this in a little bit better, perhaps, you know. But by and large, I was pretty happy doing it, Sonny. You know, I was lucky enough to have spent nine years on the air.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:23

    On radio in New York, first on WMCA, and then W o r. So I had the ability at least to speak to the microphone. I often have met authors who write beautifully, but are not articulate, which is interesting. You you kinda think I go. I see.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:40

    The lord giveth and the lord tucketh away. You know?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:43

    Well, this is you know, I I like to joke that I have a face for radio and also a voice for writing, because I, you know, I I am one of these people who mostly despite all of my various podcasts and whatnot. I like to just they’re in right because it’s a little more solitary. I feel like you’re putting yourself out there when you’re when you’re speaking the words more than when you’re writing them there. Did you do you not feel that, that that sort of, I don’t know, wall of separation?
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:11

    Well, it’s clearly a wall of separation. On the other hand, if you’ve been raised as an only child, you like the attention. And so writing is solitary. It can get lonely, but reading it or feeling there’s an audience somewhere makes you feel, oh, well, I’ll get some more attention perhaps. You know, there was a Porn star named Marlon Chambers, she made a movie called insatiable, and I think that could be my life story, I guess.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:41

    Well, that’ll be number two, you know, insatiable producers, second line. Well, if I it’s alright. One that one last question on this because it is I, again, I do I do find it. I find it very interesting. The when you’re when you’re sitting there, you say, you know, you feel like you’re performing somebody.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:56

    Does that change how you read it when you’re when you’re do you feel like you’re having a conversation with the the listener? Like, how does that how does that actually work?
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:03

    Well, that’s my goal even when I do interviews, when I’m doing what you do. I wanna feel that I’m having a conversation, not an interview. And all the interviews I’ve done and I’ve done presidents and I’ve done secretaries. I’ve done the biggest people, in in many fields, Willie May’s, Quincy Jones. I mean, it goes on and on.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:24

    I have no notes. I don’t believe in it because once The person being interviewed sees you have notes, they know it’s an interview. But if you’re looking at someone, as you and I are doing now, into each other’s eyes, But if the brain is a muscle that kinda says, oh, I’m having to talk, and that’s what I prefer to do.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:45

    It is. And and I it’s funny. Literally, as you were saying that, I was pulling up my own notes because I do I need the touchstone there. I need to be able to to, you know, just get get quotes and that sort of thing. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:58

    And it is a crutch, and I I rely on it, but it’s one of the reasons why I have not had two radio shows. In New York City. And and you have
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:07

    But I but I would say this. I study like it was a final in college. If I’m gonna be doing president George H. W. Bush or I’m gonna be talking to Clint Eastwood, I’ve memorized stuff in my head as, you know what a pneumonic is, like Sure.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:24

    Home homes for the Great Lakes, H. You’re on Ove, Ontario, Michigan, I do the same so that I’m not going in unprepared, but I’m going in without notes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:37

    Yeah. Yeah. So let’s let’s talk a little bit, about your you you, did a recent guest stint on Turner Classic movies. You are interviewing Elaine May, the director, writer, performer, playwright. She’s a multi hyphenate.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:54

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:55

    About some of her movies. And, let’s I want I wanna talk about that a little bit because I wanna talk about two two separate angles here. The first is Elaine May herself, fascinating. Career, that you have, that you have been a participant in for now five decades. I mean, you you guys got together on, on, Mikey and Nikki.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:17

    And there’s there’s a great story, about about that in your book. Could you could we could you could you tell everybody once again, I think we talked about this a little bit last time, but just remind folks how you two got, acquainted with each other, over a very rough preview screening that Paramount put on.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:34

    Well, that’s true. I, I went to Paramount as the head of production in the East Coast. Which really didn’t mean very much because there wasn’t that much production in the East Coast, but we did do Saturday night fever. We did a few films there. The fact that I was the head of it really didn’t mean anything because it couldn’t say yes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:53

    You can’t say yes in a job. You’re not the head of anything. You all I could say was no, and I’ll get back to you. That was about it. Anyhow, I was told that, Elaine, May was on the phone.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:06

    I was shocked. I didn’t know her. It never met her, and I picked up the phone. And I said hello, and she said, Warren Beatty tells me that you’re okay. For a studio executive.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:18

    Apparently, the bar wasn’t too high. So I said, well, I’m glad to hear that, and she said, I understand they’re gonna sneak my new movie, Mikey and Nikki. Would you please make sure they don’t put my name there? Because it’s not a comedy, and I’m totally associated with comedy. And I said, sure.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:38

    I will. Do and I went into the meeting and told Head of the studio, she doesn’t want her name. We can use Peter Falk, John Castavetes, but not Elaine. They said, no. We can use Elaine.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:50

    I said, no. No. She’s really specific about it. And I said, no. We’re gonna we’re gonna use her name.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:55

    And they did. And so I went to the screening in Washington, with this man and Elaine and an audience, and the beginning of the film has some real comedy. And so the audience was having some fun. And then it turned tough and real and gritty. And the audience turned too.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:15

    They felt they had been duped And by the time it was over, they were people walking out, people booing. It was a terrible experience. And, I went into the manager’s office, and Elaine came in, and there was a group of paramount executives, including myself, And she said, you know what a liar is? And I said, yeah. I she said, well, that’s what you are.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:43

    And I said, why? And she said, well, you said, I my name wouldn’t be in there. And the pet of the studio said, I overruled him. And Elaine said, apparently, he was in charge of overruling people. And, that’s how it started.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:59

    I felt terrible. I had let down someone I had great admiration for who had come through a friend and Warren, and, On the plane ride back, she wouldn’t speak to me. So the next day, sunny, I showed up at her home, And I said, let’s go out together and look at all the theaters as if they’re cross plugging, Mikey, and Nikki. And we went across the city to about ten theaters. Most of them were not plugging it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:28

    We made them I asked them to put up the plug, the cross plug, the trailer, and we started becoming friends, and she recognized I had been putting in an untenable position, which I was. The mistake I made, which would never have happened a little later, was I should have told her. But I didn’t because I didn’t know her that well, and also I was just starting a new job. So it was all a bad beginning, but it ended up being very close friends. And, I’ve produced all her plays and, have worked with her as her quasi manager at times.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:09

    And also After Mike and Nikki did not, was not really handled well by paramount, Elaine May, Peter Folk, who starred in it, and I, went to the studio, and explained that her contract had been violated, and They said, we said we want the film, and they were kind enough to give us the film. And so I’ve distributed it ever since from that rocky beginning in Washington to, for the last two. I don’t know how many years, I’d say, close to forty five years.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:46

    Yeah. I can we, drill down on that just a little bit? Because that that’s a little more information, than you had in your book. And I find this really interesting. So you you go to you go to paramount and you say, the her her contract has not been met.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:58

    I I’m just curious what what was it that, you you specified in the contract. Was it just like it wasn’t advertised correctly? It wasn’t given the proper rollout. Like, what did you how did you convince
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:09

    Every every everything you could imagine was listed as a possibility, including What what you’re supposed to do when you have a studio movie, especially if you have someone who had already done a new leaf and heartbreak kid, is to have a first class, release. Which includes spending an x amount of money, which they didn’t spend, which included doing the distribution, which they didn’t do. And, And I had pointed out to the head of business affairs that Elaine had sued the same studio already. On a new leaf. And so I said she litigious, and I can tell you now there’s gonna be trouble.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:50

    And they, at this point, they didn’t. The film hadn’t performed. They didn’t care. They just wanted away from all of us. And, So that was a a a happy ending.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:00

    And, since that time, we’ve been able to play the film around the world. So it’s, a a a real, as Richard Brody in the New Yorker calls it a masterpiece, it is a masterpiece.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:15

    Well, I it it’s, and just one last question on this before before I move on. I when when when you say you guys, when you when you bought the phone, I mean, did you have to Was there a did they ask for the production budget? Like, were they were they did they ask for a payment of any sort, or were they just like, here you go. You you can have it. We’re we’re Where are hands by?
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:34

    They were they were very generous and very kind about it. I think they felt that they really hadn’t done what they should have done. So they they was no. There was nothing that was, onerous at all about the deal.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:48

    That’s wild because I can’t imagine that’s thing happening today. I mean, you go you go to David Zazlaf and you’re like, Hey, you you messed up my my movie. It wasn’t that expensive. Just give it back to me. Maybe, like, yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:59

    No. No. That that’s gonna be twenty twenty million. Can you yeah. Then you can swing that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:03

    Well, this is it there’s more to it, sonny than that. But you’re absolutely right. You know, the studio system has changed greatly over the years that I’ve been doing this, which is sadly sixty years. That’s a long time. But, when I represented Aliyah Kazan, he had a deal with Jack Warner, On a face in the crowd babydoll in America America, that after ten years, the film was revert to him.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:32

    And he owned it. No money paid. That was that. Alfred Hitchcock had a deal very similar where his movies after a certain period, he would be the owner. Bob Hope had a couple of films that way.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:47

    So it’s not unusual. It’s just obviously, it’s not something publicized for reasons that make sense as no one’s real business. In fact,
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:57

    Yeah. No. It it and and it is I mean, I think that there’s a similar story about, apocalypse now, I believe apocalypse now, reverted to Francis fourth Copa after a certain amount of time. Which, you know, has led to multiple releases. And it’s good in a way, not just for the, you know, sense of ownership, that the, that the director has, but also, you know, it it keeps these things alive.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:24

    Well, yes, even though now with streaming, and with the ability on your set to just plunk in something, it’s alive. They’re they’re it’s not the way it used to be where they were when I grew up in the business, there were revival theaters. And they specified. They they that was their specialty reviving movies that, either couldn’t be shown on television or weren’t because of certain sexual or violent aspects, so they could bring it back. Or just to say, hey, guess what?
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:58

    There’s two great hitchcock’s plane at the New Yorker in New York City. I wanna see it. I remember seeing Two what was it? The rules of the game? Mhmm.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:10

    Oh, just incredible movies that were being revived Firing film, for example, would also be included there because television wouldn’t play a foreign film in those days. They didn’t want dubbed on, and they certainly didn’t wanna put titles on. It’s interesting now, Sonny, you know, titles for a long time were very, very, a real problem for most distributors. But now that CNN and Fox all have these credits running underneath. The public is more apt to handle it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:46

    No. That’s actually a fascinating observation. I’d never thought about it that way, but maybe that is kind of what has given audiences the ability to focus on two things at this on the screen at once in a way, in a way they didn’t use to. Because I, you know, anytime I, I, I read about Netflix and subtitles, the the thing that the Netflix always says is, a, most people watch foreign films in dub. Most people watch foreign TV shows and Dove, they prefer the dubbing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:16

    However, a large number of, American audiences just have subtitles on all the time. They have them on all the time. And that and and they do it either because they don’t wanna listen too loud or because they they’re kind of half paying attention to the show. You know,
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:32

    And don’t forget my group who are hard of hearing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:34

    And then and then you have and then you have absolutely the the the the, you know, audiences are getting slightly older, which leads to, more more, of that issue. No. It’s it’s that’s the chirons. I’m gonna blame it on the chirons from now on. That’s what I’m Yes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:48

    Well, that could be another song, blame it on the Kahirah. Yeah. No. It’s true. It’s true.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:56

    I’m I’m fascinated by the changes that I’ve seen. And dubbing was a very interesting process. I remember working with Ralph Julia, dubbing a film he was in, and, fell in love with an actor I’d only liked from afar, certain times You meet people who, let’s say, you’ve really liked and cared for, and they turn out to be someone you’d rather not be in a fox hole with. And, but the other time, it’s nice when it’s someone like Raul, who was just as sweet as sweet could be.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:30

    Which what movie was that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:32

    Tango Bar was the name of it. Okay. And it’s one of the many movies I had that very few people ever heard of.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:40

    I have not seen it. I’m sorry. I will admit.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:43

    I think that there I think your listeners would probably amount to all have said would say the same thing. No. Ivy, it was interesting. I had a library. I owned a company called Castle Hill Productions, and I had a library of Literally over five hundred movies.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:58

    I I was probably one of the largest independent distributors in the country. If not the largest, I don’t know. But What was important was that you never knew on a film that you had, what years later might turn out to be successful, even at the time even if at the time it wasn’t. For example, I had a movie called Across The Trax. The stars were Rick Schroeder and Carrie Snodgrass.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:26

    At the time, they both were names. Rick, Rick, was doing, I think, n y PD Blue, and I think he had been a little boy little man in the boxing movie, the champ, or or was he with, Yeah. I think that was where he was. And then Carrie had done diary of a mad housewife, so they were known. The third title it came up said introducing Brad Pitt.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:50

    Mhmm. Now that meant at that time zero. Right. And eventually, it was Brad Pitt that sold that movie. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:00

    So you just don’t know. You don’t know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:02

    I’m sure. No. The the Castle Hill, stuff I find fascinating, and you you, I think he wound up selling Castle Hill to, Shop Factory. Right? That’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:12

    That that’s right. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:13

    Are you still involved with them at all? Do you do, do any any work with, the folks that shout?
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:18

    No. No. I I formed my own company. I have other films and projects that I’m doing, but they were very good to me. There was no I have no and no complaints.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:28

    Which, of course, in our world, is very comp very surprising since everybody’s always complaining.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:33

    Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s that’s for sure. Alright. So I I I just wanna jump back to Mikey and Nikki for a sec here because, it’s it it is as as you mentioned in that that Richard Brody quote is, I think, pretty I think people largely agree with Brody at point that this is, considered to be a classic, certainly of, you know, nineteen late.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:51

    The nineteen sixties, nineteen seventies, all tourist era, you know, that kind of almost almost neorealism in New York, right, that that that that vibe. And I was watching it I was watching it last night. I put it on last night to prepare for this. And it was interesting to me that it was on two it’s on two different streamers. It was on HBO Max and,
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:13

    the criterion.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:14

    Channel, which is where I I chose to watch it on the criterion channel, you know, the classy gentleman like myself. But it was, but it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s fascinating to think about The world of streaming, as you mentioned now, versus the the world of revival art house, theaters. So when you you’re taking this movie around for decades before, streaming comes around. How what was the process like? Would you just call up a theater in LA be like, hey, you’re doing a series on this?
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:42

    You would you like or or did the calls just come to you? Like, what was the promotion like on your end?
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:46

    The the the calls pretty much came to me because if you wanted Mikey and Nikki, Some would call Paramount, and then they paramount would give them my number or the company’s number, or, the word got out. You know, when you when you have a a product that people want, as you know, people find you. They get I did not go out and sell the movie. The movie sold itself. And then Quentin Tarantino, Harold it, then Martin Scorsese held the heralded it I mean, it was constantly being talked about, and that was very helpful.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:22

    I mean, Stanley Kaufman, who was one of the most revered critics in this country was writing for the new republic, and he said, Mikey and Nikki is one of the ten best films of the last decade. Decade. So, you know, there are people who are real fans of the movie and people who you and I respect who feel that way. So It’s been a a wonderful thing, and working with Elaine is just a joy. We did the TCM interviews, and, She doesn’t give interviews.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:54

    I always call her the Greta garbo of our time. You know, she just doesn’t wanna do these things, but we were able to get her on, and it was, seems to be people are still writing about it. So I’m kind of pleased that I was able to gravel and beg and get her to do it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:13

    I I feel like there’s been a real Elaine May revival over the last. I feel like she’s a favorite of film Right? Like, people people people love to, talk about her movies. I feel like there’s even been, kind of an ishtar rehabilitation in, in recent years. People you know, saying that that that movie got a bum rap, which, I I think it’s really fascinating.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:34

    I I I’m curious. Maybe maybe maybe say, don’t wanna speak for her. But is she aware of this kind of burgeoning Elaine May Oh, yes. Creepy dumb.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:44

    And She she is, and she’s quite pleased. Then I’m I make her aware of it, as all when I can’t. Once again, the New Yorkers said, in Ishtar’s case, a maligned masterpiece. Manchester Guardian called it a brilliant movie. I mean, you know, it was way ahead of its time.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:03

    It was prescient about the Middle East It’s one of the funniest that and it also has one great thing going for it for anyone who wants to perform or be an artist or be creative, It says, look, you don’t have to be great. If you love what you’re doing, do it. Go out and do it. And, There’s so many people who, as you know, Sonny, have two jobs. They have their job and show business.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:30

    That’s the, you know, we have no royalty in this country, except show business and and sports figures, and of course rock and roll. So, or music better say. I don’t think Taylor Swift is rock and roller, or maybe she is for all I know. But that’s our royalty. And so, yes, I think Ishtar shows a lot about that including what she predicted for the Middle East, which has sadly come true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:58

    Go. Yeah. Everybody should go back and give Ishtar another chance if you if you were one of the the folks who did not love it the first time around, or frankly just skipped it because they heard, oh, class disaster. You know, why would I why would I spend the two hours to watch it? Just go go check it out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:16

    The, I I I’m glad you mentioned Stanley Kaufman, who’s one of my favorite critics. I actually have several collections of his behind me right now. I may even be able to find, that, that review you were talking about. But I wanna I wanna take I wanna take issue with something you wrote in your book. Julian, I’m I’m I’m sorry.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:35

    I’m I I rarely put people on the spot like this. I’m I’m I’m gonna I’m gonna take
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:39

    it from you. I’m happy. I’m I’m ready. I’d like to have an issue taken.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:44

    Alright. So, in your book, you write, quote, at that time, movie critics really mattered, maybe too much. As a result, I would never, I would have never used their names in the newspaper ads, the ads wouldn’t read Pauline Kail or Judith Chris, they would say the New Yorker or New York Magazine, the critics possess too much power and I would have hoped to spark a trend that the other studios might follow end quote. Now, as a critic myself, as, you know, as a, as the occasional you know, quoted in posters and trailers or whatever, I will say that my my I I I disagree with this slightly in the sense that it’s better to have a relationship with a critic like the reader does because the readers aren’t necessarily going to the New York Times and saying, like, oh, well, the New York Times says this. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:33

    It’s their preferred author. But maybe I maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. It it I I and and the other reason I wanted to bring this up is because later in the book, you mentioned, you mentioned that Clive Barnes had praised a show, that you had put on, but he did it, in he had moved, I think, from the New York Times to the post, to the New York post. And because it was in the New York post, it wasn’t as prestigious.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:55

    But if you were just, you know, if it was just Clive Barnes, it’d still be fine.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:59

    Right? No. It the answer was, no. It wasn’t. It wasn’t about Clive Barnes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:04

    It was about the New York Times. And and but let’s take one at a time, and I Any other issue you wanna take?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:11

    No. No. That was it. That was it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:12

    Okay. I’m in. I’m in. I was talking about the period of the nineteen seventies and sixties where the critics had tremendous power. And it was ridiculous because To me, the audience should be able to make up its own mind.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:30

    So what I meant, though, was if you were talking about the New Yorker or New York Matt, there was only one major critic. So it wasn’t as if I was taking that person’s name totally away. People who read the New York Times or whatever would or the type New Yorker would know who I was talking about. I just didn’t like the idea that they were controlling and they were. They had it’s not now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:57

    They they don’t even matter now in many cases. You know, But it mattered tremendously then. It was it too much was riding on it. And I I was against it, and and I still I still am. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:12

    Yeah. Well, let me I so I guess so I you know, I obviously did not live through the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies. I’m looking back on this possibly with a, you know, unearned nostalgia. This this idea of the critic as somebody who can help shape taste But I I I do wonder if that wasn’t better than what we have now where the only thing that gets attention is whatever gets a three thousand screen release. Or gets an Oscar push.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:40

    Right? I mean, I I, you know, the critic today is lucky if they can get a hundred people to show up to see something that’s playing at the local movie theater that isn’t, you know, on, again, three thousand screens or twenty five hundred screens.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:55

    If those were the two choices, I’d go back to using the critic’s name. If those were the two choices now, And then I’m I I wish there was a third alternative, but I don’t know of it at this point. So yes, But today, it’s, as you say, very, very sparse as far as who will go. And by the way, on the Clive Barnes thing, that was not for movies. That was for theater.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:23

    And that was a whole different story. You needed the New York Times, and here’s the funny thing, and I do write this in the book. I I ended up producing a play called Vita and Virginia with Vanessa Redgrave and Aileen Atkins, and we were the largest Hit in the history of off Broadway. I followed it with testifying acts written by David Mama, Elaine May, and woody Allen, and that was even larger than Veter in Virginia. So I thought, oh my god, sunny.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:57

    I’ve been wasting my time and movies. I should have been doing theater. I then immediately had three flops in a row, of course. Bam, bam, bam, but the the next play I did after Veter in Virginia and Defifying acts was a play with Tom Courtney called Moscow stations. And I was euphoric the next day when it after it opened because the New York Times gave it a rave.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:22

    I figured that’s it. Well, I found out even the New York Times, with a rave, was fighting what appeared to be a play one man about a Russian, drunken, intellectual. And I they tell us three strikes and you’re out. Yeah. And sadly, we were out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:43

    No. That’s a tough one. I the the world of Broadway has changed so much too. I mean, the world of Broadway and off Broadway. I I I don’t know that world as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:51

    That’s not my world, but I I get the sense that, you know, the the for lack of a better word, the disnification of of that, that space is more or less complete now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:02

    Yeah. It’s a terrible change as far as I’m concerned, and one of the reasons I’m not producing very much on theater as I did, I did about forty fifty plays. So, first of all, Broadway has become, I guess, Disneyland in a way that seventy to seventy five percent of the people who come to Broadway theaters are tourists. Never used to be that way. It was the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area that pretty much financed Broadway, and it was a small Contension of Chorus may be twenty, twenty five percent.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:38

    But now they’re in charge, and you can see by the plays being produced. That they’re in charge because they’re not Tennessee Williams or Eugene O’Neil or Arthur Miller right now. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:52

    Yeah. No. It’s, it’s it’s definitely, again, it it then not my world, but I I I can I can feel the change just from just from reading the paper and and the New Yorker and the New York Times and everybo everywhere else? I wanna talk about, something we didn’t really get to discuss last time, that I I I wanted to to highlight, the, the no nukes concert.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:15

    Oh, yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:16

    The no nukes concert. I am, so I for Christmas, this is just a happy coincidence. For Christmas, I received, the LP version of the Bruce Springstein performance, and it came out a couple years ago, but I I got it on record, as a as a present. And I’ve been listening to it, and it’s great. It’s, you know, it’s classic, darkness on the edge of town era, Bruce Springstein.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:39

    That’s wonderful. But I and then I went back and I was I was rereading the the the the brief mention in your book about it, but you are also you’re credited as a director, on the film version of that. So I could you can you tell I don’t really have a good question here. I just want stories I want stories about the No new concert and, and and what it was like to, you know, direct that film. Like, what what your involvement was, how that how that all came together.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:06

    Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’re gonna get.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:09

    I want stories.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:10

    You want I, you know, uncle Sam wants you? But Sunny wants me. Okay. Barbara Copel, a wonderful documentary filmmaker and a friend had, made a beautiful movie called Harlan County USA. We had met I got her a distributor for it, and we became friends And she called me and said, I would like to do this concert I’m gonna do.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:35

    Would you produce it? Niza will tell me about it. And she told me who was in it, and, Bruce Springstein and James Taylor, Carly Simon Crosby, Nash, the Dewey Brothers I mean, Bonnie Rade a wonderful group of people. And I said, sure. I I’d be interested.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:51

    And and so I came and I did, joined forces with a man from the record business named Danny Golberg, who was the had been the president of Warner Records, Mercury Records, and He and I, ended up producing it. Then, Barbara, after she shot it, we had Haskell Wexler as our director of photography, and nine of the greatest camera men you ever could see because we shot five concerts in, Madison Square Garden and one in the, near battery park, had the largest outdoor rally, I think, in the history of the planet at that point, hundreds of thousands of people. And then we was we’re in an editing room with all this footage, and Barbara got another job. And she said, look, you You you know, you’ve directed. Do you wanna edit this?
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:41

    I said sure. So Danny and I ended up editing with our editor named Tony Anthony Potenza, Tony Potenza, three of us then ended up. I produced it with Danny, and we directed it with Tony, all three of us, And, it was, one year. It took us one year to put it together. And, very proud of it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:03

    We sold it to Warner Brothers. And, it’s a film that, Bruce I don’t think Bruce has ever made a movie. I think this is the I may be wrong, This may be the only movie he’s ever been in, and, Thunder Road and, the river, are two of the best numbers in there, and then quarter to three was just just tore up the place. So it was a a a joy to do that film. We took no money.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:32

    All three of no. Tony got paid. But Danny and I took no money. And, We ended up open up in the finest theater in the city of New York, cinema one, and, it was a a wonderful and exhausting experience. And something I would never want to do again.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:50

    I w I I I was living with a lovely lady at the time, And in the middle of the night during, I guess, halfway through the film, I woke up with these chest pains, And I she said to me, are you gonna die for no nukes? So I didn’t die. That’s let’s see. That’s almost forty four years ago. So here I am still that floating around, but not making concert movies.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:18

    And boy, when you work with musicians, the one thing you find out is there’s something called rock and roll time. If you say I wanna meet at noon, and they come at two and you get annoyed, they can’t understand why you’re pissed off.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:31

    Yep. Yeah. No. I can, I can imagine what that is the so when you were working with the, when we were working with the artist, I mean, were you were you working on setup, set lists, like, how like, how the thing would be shot? I mean, were they were they kind of protective over, like, well, you can’t you can’t shoot us this way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:51

    You gotta shoot us this way. Like, How did that how did that, work?
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:54

    That might have worked on a conventional shoot, but again, Madison Square Garden eight or nine cameras. You’re just you’re you’re just shooting from every different angle. No. They they were they were wonderful. The musicians were great.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:08

    They didn’t take any money. They really cared about the the the fear of the proliferation of of nuclear, factories that were In many ways leaking, like three mile island, and then years, a few years later, Chernobyl, I mean, there there were not enough safeties on it. Now thank goodness there there is. But it it was a no. That never happened.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:30

    The only thing that Haskell and we all did together was decided and he pretty much decided where the cameras would be, where they would be. But they we had, so many cameras that four or five were stationary. They never moved and four moved everywhere, up and down and around backstage, all but others stayed where they were. We wanted to always have the ability to have one straight shot to go to if everything else failed.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:01

    Yeah. One one, thing that you you wrote in your book, And I I I think I have the quote here. Hold on. Having been involved in almost every aspect of the entertainment business, I found that the people in the music business were the worst people to do business with. Now this is not the artist necessarily, but what what was it about dealing with music business executives that was so so awful?
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:26

    Well, we are we are all living in a society where all of us at times seem to lie at times. There’s different kinds of lying. There’s lie there’s blatant lies, and then there’s a lie of omission. Where you just don’t say certain things that would change the full playing field. In, the record my history with the record executives were that lying was the was the, a coin of the realm.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:54

    That’s just what they did. You didn’t get a straight answer, whatever you were told invariably wasn’t the case. But as I say, right now, and I don’t know if this is, historically changed when a president of the United States, like Richard Nixon, got involved, and all of a sudden, even a president could be questionable, even though I think over the years, we’ve had more than one that has been, but this that really became blatant. And maybe the whole set the fabric of the society got worse. I mean, lying has been going on since the create creation, including probably the god of Eden.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:40

    But I would say that it was the most blatant in the music business, then the mute, then motion pictures, then television, And theater was where I met the finest people, the more educated people. Now, of course, this is a generalization. Obviously, there are great people in all phases of show business. But by and large, the people who decided to do theater, which is really hard to make a living, in theater. Film, television, music, you can really make some real big money theory you can too.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:16

    But it’s, what they say about producing for theater is you can’t make a living, but you can make a killing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:26

    Yeah. No. That’s, anytime I look at the, some of the blockbuster plays and the the money that has spilled out of those. It’s it’s it’s eye popping.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:37

    Yeah. It’s true. It’s true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:40

    Alright. Well, that was that was pretty much everything I wanted to ask. What what do you think oh, you know what, there was? Actually, I had one more follow-up from our, from our previous conversation. How how is your interview series?
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:53

    Thank you. Yeah. I I’m doing like you are. I’m doing two podcasts. One is called tales from Hollywood Land with two other producers, and we’re talking about what it is to produce a movie today, what it was to produce a movie, And then we do things about Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder and how do you produce it with different things.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:13

    But my new podcast, which is just me alone doing in-depth interviews with some of the finest people in the business. And we we launched last week with f Murray Abraham, and we’re now doing Richard Benjamin. We have Twiggy. We’re gonna have David Mammett We’re gonna have Robert Klein. We’re gonna have Sandy Duncan with Carol Kane.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:38

    It’s a great lineup of people that have agreed to come on. And in some cases, do what I’m doing with you coming back after all these years to do another interview with me. So I’m quite excited about it, and it’s, on Apple and iTunes and Spotify and it’s easy to find Julian Schlossberg’s movie talk.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:00

    Everywhere, everywhere podcasts are sold. Alright. So, that that, like I said, that was that was pretty much everything I wanted to ask. Is there anything you think folks should know about. Your audio book, what any anything else?
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:12

    What else?
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:12

    It’s it’s pretty short. Could I read you just a little Section of the audio book, if I might. Yes. Okay. It it comes in after the chapter on no nukes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:22

    So you’ll see why it matters. After I had, code produced and co directed it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:27

    Sure.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:28

    I wanted to produce a film on a novel by Dachael Hammet Red Harvest. The Hammit estate was controlled by Lillian Helman. I had never met her, but since we had mutual friends, they arranged for me to visit her in a hotel suite. In Los Angeles. I arrived on time, and I was shown in by a lovely female assistant.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:48

    The assistant said she was so excited to meet me as she was a big fan of No nukes. She was in the middle of describing one of the highlights of that film when we heard a voice screaming from another room He’s here to see me. I was quickly ushered in to see miss Helman. We talked for a long while sadly, the property I wanted was already under contract, but I enjoyed her company. She smoked continuously coughed a great deal and was quite funny.
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:17

    That was the only encounter I ever had with Lillian Helmon, but it wasn’t the end of her impact on me. Three years later, she died and then strange as it may seem, she came into my life almost on a full time basis as you will hear. So that’s a little trailer
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:37

    for the book. A little teas. Yes. Yeah. That’s it’s interesting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:41

    I I I had recently read red harvest. Oh, god. For for because somebody was circling an adaptation, and I think it still hasn’t been properly adapted. That’s correct. At least not under the name Red Harvest.
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:57

    That’s correct. And I must say between you getting The Bruce Springstein for Christmas and getting red harvests, we seem to be tied at the hip here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:08

    Well, I, it’s, you know, red harvest is a classic, by the way. If every if no if you haven’t read it, it’s it is a it’s it’s a kind of foundational noir text. You you gotta you gotta check it out. I believe, god, is it Yojimbo that is, like, kinda based on it? It’s one one of the Kurosawa films.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:28

    Maybe maybe not you, Jim, but I can’t remember. I might I I’m sorry. I’m rambling. No. No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:33

    No. It’s a I’m trying to think of it What was high and low based on? Who knows?
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:39

    I’m going to look it up right now. Hold on. Alright.
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:42

    I I can hold Why while you’re doing while you’re doing that, I can tell you that I’m just about finished my second book.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:50

    Oh, good.
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:51

    Which is I’ll give you the title. It doesn’t come out till the summer because I’m still tinkering with it. But the title is my first book, part two.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:01

    That’s a good title. Well, it’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:03

    it continues the stories of the first book. You know, Sonny, it’s a very funny thing. I was very fortunate to get terrific reviews, and I’m I’m just nice to say. So but there was a bit of a backhanded slap here because what they seemed to like best was that every chapter was short?
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:24

    I Will Saletan somebody who reads a lot of books, they’re the the the the critics curse is to be, given these, sometimes the books are very good, but when you get to these, you know, very long chat you know, we need little breaks. We’re we’re hopping between books. So that’s, that’s a structural thing that’s you get you should maybe consider keeping that do.
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:47

    Oh, no. Don’t even say it. I I I’ve I’m, you know, I’m a believer. I mean, after all, if enough people tell you you’re drunk, at least sit down.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:56

    Yes. Yes. That’s, I’ve got that one as well. Alright. Yojimbo.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:01

    I was right the first time. I didn’t even need the one. So, the anyway, we’re we are we are off track here. Again, the the name of the book is try not to hold it against me, producer’s life. It is out on audiobook now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:14

    You can you can pick it up at Amazon. It’s unaudible, or or pick up an actual hard copy of the book. I’m still a hard copy guy myself. So it’s, it’s nice to have in both or either
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:26

    Well, what’s what’s what seems to be at least seems to be exciting for some people is to hear it in the author’s voice. So happily, the I I have now an a a way that you can listen to it as I tell it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:41

    I will say I I I I appreciate that myself. I picked up, I picked up Quentin Tarantino’s book, cinema speculation on audiobook, and expecting him to have read it all because he read the opening chapter. I’d read that. I or I’ve listened to the the sample. I was like, oh, I’ll listen to him do the whole thing because Quentin Tarantino has a very particular cadence and pitch and but he only did the first chapter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:07

    I I I returned it. I was like, I don’t want, I don’t want some random persons I wanna hear Tarantino doing Tarantino. Yes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:14

    It’s true. He didn’t wanna do what Barbara did. Barbara streisand as a forty eight hour. So that you can read that at your leisure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:24

    That’s a that’s a that’s a long one. Alright. Julian, thank you for being back on the show. I really it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:29

    Thank you, sunny. Have a nice week, and I appreciate it too. And I hope to be back on the third time with, my first book part two.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:38

    I may I am excited to get you back on here. We’ll definitely do that. Okay. Again, my name is Sunny Bunch. I am Culture Editor at the Bulwark, and I will be Next week with another episode of the Bulwark goes to Hollywood.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:47

    We’ll see you guys