Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dick Warlock talks about Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch

Legendary Stunt Man Dick Warlock talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his role in HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1983)

TV STORE ONLINE:  You had worked on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) and HALLOWEEN II (1981) with Debra Hill and John Carpenter....

WARLOCK:  Right, and they asked me to be the Stunt Coordinator on HALLOWEEN II and then I was asked by John to play Michael Myers and one of the cops.  When it came time to shoot HALLOWEEN III they invited me back to work with them again.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Right, and in HALLOWEEN III you have a more prominent role as an actor...

WARLOCK:   That's right.  I play the "Assassin" in the film...

TV STORE ONLINE:   Had [Director] Tommy Lee Wallace had you mind for that role in the film or did you play that part just because they needed someone for it...

WARLOCK:  You know, I'm not sure. I'll have to ask Tommy that the next time I see him.   It was probably because I was there and they needed someone for that role...Tommy and Debra had both expressed to me how happy they were with the work that I had done for them, so it probably just came out of that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going in to HALLOWEEN 3....Did you get to read the script prior to shooting?

WARLOCK:  Yes, I did.   I worked on the film as the Stunt Coordinator.  Not every stunt guy that works on a picture gets to read the script before hand though.   It was important for me to read it because we had to break it down.  You have to work with the prop department so you can put together the things you need, and then you take a look and see where a double may be needed as well.

TV STORE ONLINE:   The Assassin is such a memorable character in H3....Did you put any thought into playing him past what Tommy Lee Wallace might have given you direction wise?

WARLOCK: Well, it wasn't method acting...laughing    People will ask me often how I came up with the way that Michael Myers walks in HALLOWEEN 2, and that came about because I had remembered how Nick Castle had gotten up in that scene in HALLOWEEN (1978) where he was laying down by the side of the bed...Do you remember that scene?

TV STORE ONLINE:  Of course...

WARLOCK:   That was really mechanical of Nick.   So when I played Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN 2 I just tried to carry on what Nick had done in the first film.  When George Wilbur played Michael Myers later one in the franchise...I asked him, "Didn't you see Part 1 or Part 2?"  He said, "I don't care how you guys played him in those..." As for the Assassin, I didn't know that was what the character was called as we were shooting the film.    I just knew that he was a robot, and I just considered him to be a sort of Michael Myers without the mask on.

TV STORE ONLINE:  When the Assassin dies in HALLOWEEN 3 he has a strange orange liquid come out of his mouth...

WARLOCK:  Oh, that's a  secret!  I can't tell you what that was...


WARLOCK:  No, I'm only joking.  I tell that to kids that come up to me at these horror conventions who want to talk about H3 with me....I ask these kids at these conventions if they can guess what that liquid was, and only one person has ever guessed right!  Can you guess what it was?

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've always wondered if it was Tang or something like that?

WARLOCK:  That's very close.  What it was...It was frozen Orange Juice Concentrate.   Right before we started rolling someone opened up a can of frozen concentrate and I put it in my mouth and then I spit it back out!

TV STORE ONLINE:   Playing the Assassin in Halloween 3....Did it give you the acting bug?  You'd done so much stunt work up to that point, but getting a chance to bring a character to life...Does it give you a desire to do more acting?

WARLOCK:  Over the years I've done bit parts in all kinds of things...Initially I think that I would've liked to done more of that, but over the years I've come to realize that I suck as an actor.  I just don't think I'm believable as an actor...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've worked on so many incredible films as a stunt man....Hollywood doesn't seem to give the stunt man as much respect or acknowledgement as he deserves... Do you agree?

WARLOCK:  I don't know...When I first started in the business, it was very hush-hush.  Actors would go on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to talk about their movies and if someone would point out a stunt they'd take credit for it as if they did it.  We accepted that.  We never tried to upstage the actor.   That changed when Hal Needham made HOOPER (1978).   Before HOOPER, Hal had been the loudest voice about not wanting the tricks of the trade to be known, but when he made that film he really put all of that out in front for everyone to see.  I don't really feed on praise if that is what you're asking, but it is nice sometimes to be recognized for your work.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of Hal Needham....He branched out to direct a film, and so did stuntman Chuck Bail...Did you ever want to branch out and try your hand at directing?

WARLOCK:  Not really.  I didn't really have a desire to do that.   I've done a bit of Second Unit directing on a few things under the table, but that's enough for me.   I don't really have the ego that one needs to be a director.

For more with Dick Warlock please visit his official website HERE:

Friday, March 21, 2014

INTERVIEW: Catherine Hicks Continued: FEVER PITCH (1985)

 A little left overs?   On the heels of our interview with actress Catherine Hicks about the 1980 telefilm MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY we had a bit extra left over with Hicks talking about the 1985 unjustly maligned final film of the great director, Richard Brooks.
TV STORE ONLINE:   FEVER PITCH...Was that something you had to audition for?

HICKS:   That was my brush with old Hollywood actually.   The famed Producer Freddie Fields had seen me in GARBO TALKS (1984) and he had told Richard Brooks about me and I got the job based on that recommendation.

TV STORE ONLINE:   So who was this character "Flo"  character to you?   How did you find her?

HICKS:   Well,  she was in the similar vain of the lonely blond character that I play sometimes.  That character got her start in a television movie I did with Annette O'Toole and Lisa Eilbacher called LOVE FOR RENT (1979).  I played a little polka-dotted blond that takes her own life... I was thinking about the film PICNIC (1955) when I was doing FEVER PITCH.  I kept thinking of the theme song from that film "Moonglow".  We shot FEVER PITCH in Las Vegas, and that piece of music seemed to fit the loneliness of Vegas with its trains in the background.  I think I was trying to capture that feeling with that character in FEVER PITCH that you felt in that theme music from PICNIC.  I also thought about Marlene Dietrich too, because I wanted Flo to have that sort of tough edge to her.   What's funny about it....Everytime I see ELMER GANTRY (1960), I'm reminded of working with Richard Brooks on FEVER PITCH.  He helped with that character too.  He would tell me that she was just like Shirley Jones in ELMER GANTRY, and he would give me little things to do like how I wore my shawl in the film...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Right, I was going to ask you about that shawl  scene in the film...

HICKS:  That was something that just happened unintentionally.

  FEVER PITCH was such a labor of love for Richard Brooks...

HICKS:   I don't know, and to be honest, I didn't think that it was a very good film.  I just wanted to work with Richard Brooks and Ryan O'Neal.   I think Richard had been alone a lot by that point, and as he had gotten older I think he gave in to entropy a bit.   I just thought that the entire film was run over by its simplicity in message.

TV STORE ONLINE: I'm a huge admirer of FEVER PITCH...For me it feels like a film out of the '40s...But the film is cut so fast. It has this hectic pace about it, where it makes you lose your breath when you're watching it...

HICKS:  That's interesting. I guess you could say that it adheres to modern conventions with it's editing style then.

TV STORE ONLINE:    And FEVER PITCH is so wonderfully surreal....I love that sequence with Ryan O'Neal where he starts to attack those guys with that telephone as if it were a lasso...

HICKS:  Yeah, it's kind of like an acid trip.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   What do you remember about shooting that sequence in the dressing room with Ryan O'Neal?   I love that sequence because it just goes on and on and Brooks shoots the entire thing in a mirror...

HICKS:   What I remember about shooting that scene was that I stayed up all night going into it.   I wanted her to feel exhausted when she had to deal with Ryan O'Neal's character. One thing I remember about working with Richard Brooks on FEVER PITCH was that he used to always yell at the extras.  He used to say, "These young people...They don't listen!"   It was interesting because it was like he had picked up on the start of the techno age and how technology has changed our culture today. There were some hairy moments on the set of FEVER PITCH, but he liked me and he like Ryan O'Neal.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Catherine Hicks looks back at her Emmy nominated performance as Marilyn Monroe in 1980's Marilyn: The Untold Story

Emmy nominated actress Catherine Hicks talks with TV STORE ONLINE about her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the 1980 telefilm MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY.  The film is based on a best seller by Norman Mailer.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In doing some research and watching some interviews online with you....Why do people only seem to be familiar with three pieces of work that you've done over your career?  People only ever talk to you about CHILD'S PLAY (1988), STAR TREK 4 (1986), or the television series Seventh Heaven (1996-2007)?   No one talks about your stunning work in MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY (1980) or the Richard Brooks film FEVER PITCH (1985)?

HICKS:  Well, when everything is said and done, the horror, sci-fi, and family show stick out because they have some what of a fan base for them.   MARILYN is available on YouTube, but I don't think it's available on DVD currently. So maybe that's why I don't get asked about it when I go out to these movie conventions to meet fans.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I found a quote where a writer called you, "The Donna Reed of the new millennium..."   I love this analogy...laughing

HICKS:  Laughing...I'll take it!   I play both those extremes.  I can play a sexy dumb blond and I can play a nice clean cut mom.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So let's talk about MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY...You're so incredible in that role, and it wasn't your first time playing Marilyn was it?  You had done the Arthur Miller play After The Fall and also Bus Stop on the stage while you were in college, no?

HICKS: The part of my story that is the most interesting is that while I was in college I wasn't interested in acting in the theater.   While I was in school I was studying English and Theology.    My epiphany happened later.   I timidly went to the theater one day while I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame.  I just went in to audition for like one of twelve squid tentacles. That's all you could do there because of all the theater majors.   When I decided to purse acting I ended up going and studying at Cornell University, and after I graduated,  that's when I did After The Fall.  We did it up in a rep company up in Ithaca, New York.

Cornell wasn't like Yale Drama School where there's a lot of polish of exterior styles.  We did major interior work.   We were working in Stanislavski and Grotowski.   It was a very different approach to theater.   We were studying theater that rocks the world of those that see it.   Theater should go to the core of everyone that is experiencing it.     We prepared After The Fall for a year before we performed it, and the performance was on campus and it was only for two weekends.   But, all of that deep preparation for Maggie was still inside of me when I got on a bus with my head shots and headed for New York City. I wanted to be on Broadway.   

There was a former theater student from the program at Cornell that saw me in After The Fall and liked what I had done, and he helped me get an agent.  So not long after getting to the city, I booked three national television commercials and I was hired onto the soap opera Ryan's Hope (1975-89)


HICKS:   Marilyn, again, was still inside of me from doing After The Fall.   I think that she's still inside of me all these years later as well.   When I think about her, I'm never thinking that its an adoration of a great movie star, but that she's my dead older sister.    I felt then, and still do, that I have to act as a sort of Defense Attorney on her behalf so that her story can be told, and that the facts aren't twisted.   When I first moved to New York I started researching her too.  I would ask people if they ever knew her.  I can remember, I got into a cab one day and I asked the cab driver if he had ever had Marilyn Monroe in his cab, and he slammed the brakes on and said, "I grew up next door to Arthur Miller!"    Then, after about a year in New York I finally got to Broadway.  I was cast in a play and Jack Lemmon was in the play as well.  So I would talk to Jack Lemmon about working with Marilyn.   I was just always gathering, gathering, gathering information about her.    After the play was over, Jack Lemmon had told me that if I wanted to continue climbing the ladder that I should move out to Los Angeles.  I didn't want to though.  

I wanted to stay in New York and climb the ladder on Broadway.    Then I got a call from my agent and they wanted me to go out to Los Angeles and audition for a television series, in which Jack Warden was a part of.   So I went out to do that, and I got the part.   I went back to New York to start packing up my apartment and I heard about a casting call in which a producer was looking for someone to play Marilyn Monroe.    The project hadn't been announced yet though.   So I moved out to Los Angeles, and I was living alone at the time in the Hollywood Hills.  This was the late '70s at the time and it wasn't totally developed out, so I can remember just walking alone at night through the hills and just thinking about how spooky it was, and about a chorus of all the dead blondes that Hollywood had devoured.   Then I thought about how Marilyn Monroe grew up in Hollywood.  

Then the project was announced, and I just knew that I had to get that role.   I didn't think that anyone could play Marilyn but me.  I just felt as if I knew her so well because of all my research and because of After The Fall.  Arthur Miller had exposed so much about her in that play.   I went in to audition, and there were two hundred blondes waiting to be seen.  I went across the hall and sat alone for hours in a business office and I waited until all of them had gone home.  Then I went in and saw John Flynn and Larry Schiller (Directors: MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY), and I knew it was mine to get.   I went in and read and I had my Frederick's of Hollywood bra on that day too...laughing   I just felt it in my core that I knew who she was.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   Larry Schiller was a photographer who knew Marilyn Monroe, and of course, Schiller worked closely with writer Norman Mailer, and they collaborated on two books on Monroe, one of which was used as the basis for the screenplay for MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY...Did you read those books prior or after getting cast as Marilyn?

HICKS:  I did.  I had read them, but I'm not sure if it was  when I was still living with my parents in Arizona or after I had left home.  My parents had moved there from the East Coast originally for health reasons.   And Norman's coffee table book with all of those pictures inside...I just internalized them all.   Growing up in Arizona was very lonely for me.   We moved there and we lived out in the middle of nowhere.   I remember when I was a little girl in Arizona, my grandmother came to visit us and there was a parade.  It was this little western parade and Marilyn was in it.  Because she was there at the time shooting BUS STOP (1956), and I can clearly remember the day she died, I can remember seeing RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954) for the first time.   I just knew who she was, but I never played her as a sex bomb, I played her as a lonely little girl, because that is what she was, and that's what I was too..  

Arizona was very lonely for me growing up there, and even when I first moved out to Los Angeles and was living alone as I mentioned, that was a lonely time in my life too.   Hollywood can be a lonely place.    We both had that loneliness in common.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Those Mailer/Schiller books on Marilyn Monroe are my favorite volumes about her...There is that saying, "Men wanted her, and Women wanted to be her..."  But it seems to go beyond that, doesn't it?   There's something organic about it, something metaphysical?  What do you think it is about her all of these years later that still has us so fascinated and captivated by that Marilyn Monroe mystique?

HICKS:  I think it's that little lonely seven-year-old girl.   She was abandoned and she was alone.  Her mother was taken off to an insane asylum.   She was frozen in time at age seven.  That's why she always had that little girls voice.    Women want to help her and women want to protect her.  Men wanted her, and yes, she was sexy.  Vulnerability is sexy.  I think men also wanted to protect her too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Seeing all of her films....Do you think that she truly was a great dramatic actress?  Many wouldn't consider her such...

HICKS:  Well, I think she's a great comedienne.    I love BUS STOP and I love THE MISFITS (1960).   THE MISFITS...is really the brilliance of Arthur Miller.  He was around those three actors, and what he was really writing for them wasn't a film, but their eulogies.   Those three actors were all wounded birds and they would all pass away not long after they shot that film.   It was a pre-death gathering, and they were all doomed and they were all dying.   It's an amazing film for that reason.   She did method work as an actress...Yet she was naive enough to be just who she was.   She had the courage to be simple and herself.   She also, sort of perfected a persona that she created.  All of those Marilyn-isms....I think a lot of actors do those types of things today.  In order for someone to be a movie star, the audience needs to be addicted to that movie stars mannerisms and want more.   Most movie stars do about five things, and we all love those five things.    Underneath that all, you could see a glimpse of her loneliness in every role she played.

TV STORE ONLINE:  That's interesting...In my notes here...I've written about your performance in MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY, "Catherine Hicks as Marilyn is extremely naive and she radiates this incredible energy within the frame..."  How did you find that naive aspect of her?  Is that stuff just all part of working in sense memory?

HICKS:  Not really...You just go to your inner child.   You remember how to look at the world magically.   That's Marilyn.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What's your process in creating her visually?  Does the costume or the haircut assist you a great deal in bringing her to life?

HICKS:   I think so.  I remember at the time that I was going to addition for Marilyn, I had a friend who said, "Oh Catherine.  You're not doughy enough."   I thought to myself, "Well, I was a fat little girl.  I can gain weight in five days."   So I gained some weight.  I always thought that there was a special liquid-ness to Marilyn.   I liked playing Marilyn because it allowed me to turn my head off.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY had three directors that worked on the film.  There was Larry Schiller and then Director Jack Arnold of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) fame....

HICKS:  Right, and John Flynn too.  When I went in for my first audition I met with John Flynn.  He had seen that television series I had done with Jack Warden.   When I went in for him, I did that sort of Marilyn lip quiver that she does at times.   I think Flynn left the project not longer after that, and that's when Larry Schiller brought on Jack Arnold to work on the film.  He was a great director.   Larry Schiller was the producer and he was really at the helm of the project.  I had to audition three times to get the role, and it was with Larry on my third audition that I got the part, because I had gone in to see him and I was playing a scene and I was on the floor acting because I felt comfortable there, and he gave me the role then because he said that that was something that Marilyn always did too.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  Considering that MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY is based on Schiller and Mailer's book Marilyn...Did Norman Mailer ever visit the set to watch you as Marilyn Monroe?

HICKS:  No, he didn't.   I did hear from Larry that Norman liked my Marilyn.  His only criticism was that I didn't make her "smelly" enough.   He said, that we made her an angel and that she could also be smelly and stay in bed for days, and she was the kind of girl who would eat spaghetti in bed and stain the sheets...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Being the massive admirer of Marilyn Monroe that you were and still are today...Did it ever feel surreal recreating some of those important moments in her life and some of those scenes from her films?   What about recreating the famous dress scene in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955) in the film?  I feel like I read somewhere that Schiller and crew actually had that massive Marilyn billboard recreated and put up in New York City....

HICKS:  Yes, they did!  It was great, but again, I really felt as if I was playing her Defense Attorney in a way...Throughout the entire shoot...I was committed to getting people to understand her lonely and misjudged and overlooked path.  I was really on a mission.   Her story is really a tragedy.   That's the one thing I learned from being in After The Fall.   She didn't have to die.   She could've stopped acting.  When she married Joe DiMaggio, he wanted her to stop acting. Arthur Miller abandoned her.  She was abandoned her entire life. These men were threatened by her rising star.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about shooting the portion of the sequence where her dress is being blow up into the air?

HICKS:  DiMaggio really told her during that to, "Put your dress down!"   We shot it, and then Larry brought in a body double to do some more risque shots for that for the European release of the movie.  I think that both Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller really could've tried harder to make their relationships with Marilyn work.  I think they were jealous of her fame and how much she was loved by her public. It really takes an infinite amount of love to fill an empty heart and that is why she just couldn't give any of it up.

  Marilyn was never taken seriously by most in Hollywood, and then there are actresses today that get type cast based on a previous role of because of how they look.  It seems as if Hollywood hasn't changed since Marilyn's time....As a young up-and-coming actress yourself at the time of MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY did you ever experience any of that bias or typecasting in your own career after you played Marilyn?

HICKS:  I didn't really.   When I started out I was always given smart roles.  I was given to playing doctors or lawyers.   I was well trained, and I wasn't given sex bomb roles.  I was never asked to sleep with anyone to get a role.   Feminism had happened, so it was a different world in a way.    With Marilyn, I'm sure there was some of that going on.   She was an abandoned child and that's why people wanted her.   Yet, there was probably a trade off too.  I'm sure she slept with people and in turn got a role out of it, but I don't think she saw it that way wholly either.  I'm sure she did it because she felt loved too.  She needed that.  I don't think she worked her way up the ladder in an icky way, I think she did in a lonely way.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In all of your MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY research you did....In the process of playing her in the film...Do you think that you learned anything about Marilyn that you hadn't known or understood before about her?

HICKS:  Well, Alan "Whitey" Snyder was my make-up artist on the film, and he was Marilyn's make-up man and friend for many many years.  I tried not to ask him any questions about her, but I'd ask little things that I thought would help me get through a particular days work.     He'd hint at things though, I learned through him that Joe DiMaggio was threatened by her success because his own career was over in baseball.   I heard many stories about how Arthur Miller would leave her alone often.   People would come out of the woodwork and tell me things about her too.   I learned a lot about her from just being in the Hollywood Hills and being alone and lonely. When I played Marilyn in After The Fall I didn't know Hollywood, and when I moved out to Hollywood I was very lonely.  I didn't have any friends for the first couple years after I had moved out here.  I remember, I took my driver to the MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY wrap party.  I even befriended a story owner and I'd go in and see him at night and talk with him for hours just so that I didn't have to go home and be alone at night.  I think I really learned profound loneliness from being out here and in playing her.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One of the great scenes in MARILYN: THE UNTOLD STORY is that sequence where Marilyn is placed in the insane asylum and she's just covered in sweat...

HICKS:  Right.  I think we shot that on a sound stage.   That's all a part of After The Fall too.   It was all about her channeling her mother.   I think at that  point the character had taken over and I was just allowing her to come through.   I think that scene had its own life, and I'm not sure how much of that was even me.   That's when acting becomes something truly wonderful but frightening.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about that incredible moment with Marilyn down in the subway in New York City where she befriends that police officer?  Marilyn looks at him and says, "Will you just talk to me?"

HICKS:  Wow, I had forgotten about that scene.  That was just me being lonely.  It's funny...Growing up in Arizona, I felt so alone because we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no social community or anything like that.   I would say that line to people back then!  Even today, and I have a husband and a daughter, I'll say that.  I'm always looking for a good friend...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Then what about that scene where Marilyn is drinking out on the rooftop in New York City and has that imaginary argument with Joe DiMaggio where she says, "I don't know how to be a wife for you!"    That's just some incredible work...

HICKS:  Thanks.  I don't know where that came from.   That same friend of mine who told me originally that I wasn't "doughy" enough to play Marilyn...I've never forget something she said, "It's in your heart Cath..Don't worry."    In a way, I didn't do anything.  I just let myself go and let it fly.

 Interview Conducted By:  Justin Bozung

Thursday, March 13, 2014

INTEVIEW: Joan Benedict Steiger talks with TV STORE ONLINE

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm really dying to ask you about working on the original Steve Allen Show in the '50s...

STEIGER:  It was wonderful.   I first started out on the show as the spokeswomen for Hazel Bishop cosmetics.  I was on the Sunday night show live for about a year, and then I went on to work in the sketches on the show too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What kind of a guy was Steve Allen?

STEIGER:  He was a wonderful man.  He had such a terrific sense of humor.  People don't realize just how many songs he wrote too.   He was so brilliant.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Then you had some involvement in the making of BUTTERFIELD 8 (1960) as well, no?

STEIGER:  Yes, I did.  I was living in New York City at the time.  I used to bother the MGM Casting Director in New York.    Back then, everything was so free and open.  There was one person that handled everything then and it wasn't like today where you have someone and their ten assistants.  I went in to see him one day and he said, "Joan, I have something for you.  Daniel [Mann] is going to do BUTTERFIELD 8 with Elizabeth Taylor.   Daniel wants to do a lot of rehearsing and Elizabeth doesn't want to".  MGM  had told Elizabeth Taylor that if she didn't do BUTTERFIELD 8 she couldn't do CLEOPATRA (1963).  So Daniel was looking for an actress that would work as a stand-in for her.  So I auditioned and I got the job.   I worked on the picture for almost a year.  I rehearsed with Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher.   I was in the movie too.  I played the secretary of Elizabeth Taylor's psychiatricist and I have one line. I take Elizabeth Taylor into a room and say, "She's here, Doctor." 

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've done so much work on the stage...I was wondering if we could talk about your portrayal of the "Queen Of Mean" Leona Helmsley?

STEIGER:  Well, that was the best role I've ever done.  I did that here in Hollywood at The Matrix Theater.   I was on a stage for an hour and ten minutes.  We would do the whole thing without taking a intermission.    I spent six months learning the role.    When we did it, Leona was in jail in Connecticut.  What happened to her...A lot of her anxieties and that short fuse came from the loss of her child.  She and her son worked together in real estate in New York City.   The son had wanted to take a vacation, but Leona had asked him to close up some business in Florida before he left on vacation and something happened and his heart literally exploded and he died.   She was never the same after that. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you ever hear from her while you were playing her?  Had she heard about the play while she was in prison?

STEIGER:  The play was based on published materials.  So there wasn't anything that wasn't already known by those that were following her in the press.    With that being said, we all thought that she had representatives in the audience and if we would've done something crazy about her she probably would've had us shut down.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I'm a huge fan of Don Knotts and I love your character in one of his later films THE PRIZE FIGHTER (1979)...

STEIGER:  I had known Don for years before that.  I had first met him when I was on The Steve Allen Show.  He was friends with my first husband and we worked together on the stage in The Mind with the Dirty Man.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  You were also on Days Of Our Lives in the '80s, right?

STEIGER:  I was on that for over a year.  I was on General Hospital for three years. I played "Edith Fairchild".  It was a great experience for an actor.   Its  very wonderful and difficult for actors that are just starting out.   You have to be a quick study to be on a soap opera because there are so many lines, and you memorize them and then when you come in the next morning to work all the lines have been changed.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You were on those shows when they were at their campiest.

STEIGER:  They were a lot of fun.   I was always amazed at what we could get away on television during the mid '80s. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you working on now?

STEIGER:   I'm working on my memoirs now.  I'm also working on a film and I may be working on a television series soon as well.  I can't say too much about those now though.  You'll have to follow my website for more on those...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Thanks Joan.

STEIGER:  You're welcome. Anytime.

For more with Joan Benedict Steiger please visit her official website HERE:

Friday, March 7, 2014

INTERVIEW: Richard Elfman talks about his weirdo cult musical FORBIDDEN ZONE

Writer/Director Richard Elfman answers some weird questions about his ultra weird cult movie musical FORBIDDEN ZONE...

TV STORE ONLINE: Richard, I was curious to see if any of the Olsen & Johnson films like HELLZAPOPPIN' (1941) or CRAZY HOUSE (1943) were an influence on you as the director of FORBIDDEN ZONE (1982)?

ELFMAN:  Well, my immediate influence was the work of R. Crumb.  In the FORBIDDEN ZONE when you see all of that stuff with characters going down through intestines that's really my homage to R. Crumb.   Then, also I was really influenced by some of the German Expressionist filmmakers like G.W. Pabst, and then films like THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920).    Also, Max Fleischer, and his stuff from the '20s and '30s had a big influence on FORBIDDEN ZONE...

TV STORE ONLINE:   What about Busby Berkeley?

ELFMAN:  Yeah, there is a little bit of that stuff in there for sure, although I didn't do anything on his scale.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Was that '20s or '30s era specifically the style you were after for the film?

ELFMAN:  Well, I wasn't really after a particular time period.    I think it plays into exactly what I was doing with my brother Danny [Elfman] in our music group Mystic Knights Of Oingo Boingo back in the late '70s in that what we were doing was reprising things from the past.   The idea behind that was to showcase things from the past that were deemed classic but as a fan of it you couldn't buy it at that time.  At that time you couldn't go out and buy a movie that featured Cab Calloway or Josephine Baker or a revue of Yiddish vaudeville.   In FORBIDDEN ZONE we span 1915 to 1949, so we were never really going after a particular era.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where does the title for the film FORBIDDEN ZONE come from?   It can't be an homage to PLANET OF THE APES (1968) can it?

ELFMAN:  No.  Originally I was planning on calling the film THE HERCULES FAMILY but that didn't seem to fit any longer after we had created the King and Queen characters in the film.   I really just pulled the title FORBIDDEN ZONE out of my head and it made sense because there was just so much going on underneath.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a huge fan of actor Joe Spinell, so I have to ask how he came to be cast in the film?

ELFMAN:  Well, it was Matthew Bright [FORBIDDEN ZONE co-screenwriter]  who found him through his acting teacher.   I saw him and I thought he was great because he played a great grease ball.    I'm sure you remember him from THE GODFATHER (1972)?   He was great.  I'll never forget that Joe asked me if he could keep the sailors suit after we were done.  I just told him to really amp it up for that character.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love how he has "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on the knuckles of each of his hands...

ELFMAN: Right, that was something I wanted him to have.  Joe was really great to work with.  He immediately understood the part.  He got that he was simply a abusive sailor that was there to screw the mom and beat up on her kid.   In an earlier draft of the screenplay, for that scene, Matthew Bright had Spinell's character just beating the hell out of the kid.  He was supposed to just wipe the floor with the kid for like three minutes straight until he was a bloody pulp.    We shot it that way, but we had to cut it down in the editing of the film because it really killed the pacing.

 TV STORE ONLINE:  In a few of the things that have been written about FORBIDDEN ZONE to date....There's talk of tension on the set between Susan Tyrell and Herve Villechaize...

ELFMAN:  Right, well they had been a couple.  They really loved each other, but they had some terrific fights.    They were mostly tragic and comic.     Susan had a big bellowing voice and Herve, although he was a charismatic man, had this little voice.   So you'd hear Susan yelling at who you thought was no one but when you'd get closer to her you could hear Herve responding to her.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about Viva?  How did she come to get involved in the role as the "Ex-Queen"?

ELFMAN:  I can't remember how we got her.  I think someone that worked with us just knew her and said, "Hey, do you wanna come and play this character?  You can write your own scene?"  She was great.  Viva has a really wonderful acid tongue and a great wit about her and she and Susan [Tyrell] didn't get along to well.  In fact, in the scene where they have to fight each other...Things got pretty heated and we had to break them apart...laughing   We did get some good action out of it though...laughing  I waited a while when it was happening before I yelled cut! 

Check out Richard Elfman's website Buzzine HERE:
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A FULLER LIFE: Sam Fuller's wife and daughter Christa and Samantha Fuller talk about Fuller's autobiographical war film THE BIG RED ONE (1980)

TV STORE ONLINE talks with the great filmmaker Sam Fuller's wife and daughter Christa and Samantha Fuller about his 1980 autobiographical World War II masterwork THE BIG RED ONE.   

Fuller's film was heavily cut for its initial release in 1980.  In 2004, the film was reconstructed by Richard Schickel and released onto DVD.

A FULLER LIFE; a documentary by Samantha Fuller
TV STORE ONLINE:   THE BIG RED ONE reconstruction has been out on DVD and Blu-Ray for some time now, but I was wondering if you could talk a bit about how the reconstruction of the film got off the ground?

CHRISTA FULLER:  It took me twenty-four years to get it done!   When THE BIG RED ONE played at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980 the jury there had wanted to split the Palm d'Or between Akira Kurosawa and Sam.   But Sam was very unhappy because when he made THE BIG RED ONE -- It was the film of his life, and he had only been given four million dollars to shoot it.   He was really lucky on THE BIG RED ONE to have [Director Of Photography] Adam Greenberg because they took that four million and made a film that looked like it was shot for twelve million dollars.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   It seems like Adam Greenberg had some background in working as a cameraman on films made in Israel...

Sam Fuller working on THE BIG RED ONE
CHRISTA FULLER:  Right.  He did, and they shot THE BIG RED ONE in Israel.    Adam would go on to shoot THE TERMINATOR (1984) and have a very big career in Hollywood.   He once said, "I've worked with one hundred and fifty directors and not one of them worked like Sam Fuller."  He loved Sam.   Sam had a lot of pressure on him while he was shooting THE BIG RED ONE.  He had to disappoint a few of his friends to make that film.   Stanley Cortez, Sam's Director Of Photography on SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963) and THE NAKED KISS (1964) had hoped to shoot THE BIG RED ONE with Sam, but because the budget was so tight, he couldn't do it.     THE BIG RED ONE was produced by Gene Corman, and while he's a great producer, he really should have gotten more money for Sam to make the film.   Corman had hired a sound cutter to edit the film and he didn't have the proper experience, so when it came time to edit the film all of the cans of film were messed up because the sound cutter hadn't numbered the cans of film for editing and Sam had shot over four hours of film on THE BIG RED ONE.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is there any truth to the rumor/mention that Peter Bogdanovich had tried to get Sam more money via his relationship at Paramount Studios?

Actor Lee Marvin in THE BIG RED ONE
CHRISTA FULLER:  Yes, that is true.  And Martin Scorsese was supposed to play "Private Vinci".  Paramount offered Sam one million dollars to make the film and Sam told them to forget about it.   Sam turned down opportunities to direct big war movies.   Sam had been offered THE DESERT RATS (1953) and PATTON (1970).  He actually turned down the opportunity to direct something on Patton twice!   In 1968, a producer for 20th Century Fox Frank McCarthy, offered PATTON (1970) to Sam but he turned it down.   In the late '50s Patton's son came to see Sam at his office at Fox and said, "I hear you hated my Father."  Sam said to him, "That's right."  Yet, Patton's son offered Sam the rights to his story for nothing because he was sure that Sam would make a truthful and realistic film of Patton's life, but Sam turned that down because he felt that he was just too close to the story having fought in the war and he didn't think that he had a sense of irony regarding Patton, so he turned it down.   

Sam Fuller with "Griff" actor Mark Hamill
Darryl Zanuck at Fox also offered Sam the job to direct THE LONGEST DAY (1962) but he turned that down.   He had so much love for his war outfit, The Big Red One.  I can't tell you how close all of those men were to each other in that division.   Sam's beloved General Terry De La Mesa Allen was the polar opposite of Patton.  He slept on the ground with his soldiers and all of his soldiers loved him.  He didn't ask anything of his soldiers that he wouldn't do himself.   After the war he was on the cover of Time Magazine.  Whereas Patton, not many soldiers admired him. In fact, Patton once pissed on soldiers down in the trenches during the war.  Allen wasn't always clean shaven.  His uniform was always wrinkled and he prayed before every battle.   Sam loved him.

TV STORE ONLINE:   In Sam's autobiography, A Third Face, and more specifically in the chapter on THE BIG RED ONE, it's written that the film was originally four hours and twenty minutes long....So is there even more footage out there that didn't make it into the reconstruction of the film?

Fuller with daughter Samantha
SAMANTHA FULLER:  Well, on the Special Features for the DVD there are about thirty minutes of scenes that they were unable to put back into the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  And that includes the scene with you when you were just a little girl...

  That's right.    I was cut out.  But my mother's scene was put back in...

  Yeah, that scene with the German Countess is incredible...

  The German Countess badmouths Hitler. I was happy to see that scene restored in the reconstruction.   The film was shot in Israel as I mentioned but that particular scene was shot in Ireland.   We shot a bunch of scenes in a castle there that the Director John Boorman lived in.  He had a horse that he called "The Big Red One" while we were there.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Sam was your husband....But what was the experience like in that scene working with Sam Fuller the director?

Christa Fuller in THE BIG RED ONE
CHRISTA FULLER:  You better know your lines, because he shoots fast...laughing     There was another part of that scene that wasn't in the film too.   The German Countess was wearing a pearl necklace and when she is shot the pearl necklace comes apart and the pearls start to fall off one by one to the floor. 

TV STORE ONLINE:    How did Sam cast "The Four Horsemen" roles in the film?  Did he have an idea about certain actors that he thought he might want for those roles or did all of those actors just come through an audition process?

  Well, Sam had a clear idea that Lee Marvin would be playing the role that he plays in the film.    When Sam tried to get THE BIG RED ONE off the ground in the late '50s the studio had wanted John Wayne to play the role of the Sargent.    John Wayne loved Sam.   They had a friend in common by the name of Ray Kellogg.    In fact, it was Ray who gave Sam the footage that he used in VERBOTEN! (1959) of the Nuremberg trials.

I gave him the idea to cast Mark Hamill because STAR WARS (1977) had been so big and he had seen Robert Carradine in Hal Ashby's COMING HOME (1978).    Sam had worked with Lee Marvin before on a episode of The Virginian (1962-71).   They got along very well and they never really had to talk much to each other, because they had both been in the war.  Lee had been a marine just like Director John Ford.    Lee called up Sam after he finished reading the script to THE BIG RED ONE and said, "This is your Sargent talking..."  

John Ford and Sam were great friends too, and Sam thought John Ford was the greatest director.  Every year on the anniversary of D-Day, John Ford would call Sam and say, "Fuck The Big Red One" and he'd hang up...laughing   It went on for years between them.    John Ford adored Sam and he always wanted Sam to write a script for him but it never happened.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You mentioned moments ago that Sam turned down the opportunity to direct many war films....Do you think he did that because he wanted to work in other genres of film?    I would have loved to see what Sam could've done within the confines of a comedy...

The Four Horsemen and Sargent
CHRISTA FULLER:  Sam wrote a comedy!   It was optioned even.  It's my favorite script that he ever wrote.  It was called "The Lusty Days".

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did Sam ever mention where some of the characters in THE BIG RED ONE came from?   Where do you think "Zab" came from for example?

:  I see a lot of Sam in Zab actually.   I see a three letter name.   I think Sam is a bit of every character in THE BIG RED ONE.   Plus Zab is a writer in the film, and he's a cigar chomping writer at that.   I think Zab is the closest Sam came to physically portraying himself in any of his films.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In the documentary on THE BIG RED ONE DVD you suggest that there is a bit of Sam Fuller in the Lee Marvin character in the film as well...I was wondering if you could talk about that a bit more?

SAMANTHA FULLER:  I do think that Sam shared elements of himself between all those characters.  You see Sam's history as a cartoonist in "Griff" and you see the sensitive side of Sam in that character too.  You see the rascal in Sam in the "Vinci" character.   In the film you see Lee Marvin, a man who had fought in World War I and then World War II.    In fact, he even kills a man in combat not aware that the war has been stopped.  I think that the Lee Marvin character really struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has killed all of these men, and I think that was a struggle that my father dealt with inside of himself as well.

Actor Robert Carradine as "Zab" in THE BIG RED ONE
TV STORE ONLINE:  One of my favorite aspects in relation to THE BIG RED ONE and this is something that's mentioned in Sam's autobiography A Third Face...Is how Sam was offered several chances to walk away from serving in the infantry on the ground in WW II to become a war journalist but never took it.

  Exactly.    It's because he believed that he was fighting for a cause.   And this was the war that was supposed to end all wars.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Sam started working on THE BIG RED ONE back in the mid/late '50s...Why didn't he just move forward on his own on it instead of making other films?

CHRISTA FULLER:  He wanted to.   He even went to scout for shooting locations.   He went out with his wife at the time and a friend of his, Ray Harvey, who was a four star Colonel and had served as an adviser on FIXED BAYONETS (1951).    He finished the script for THE BIG RED ONE in 1958 and in 1959 his mother died and it was a complete shock to him.  Also, that was the year that he divorced his wife too, because his mother and his wife had not gotten along.

Fuller during World War II
Fuller served in infantry in The Big Red One unit

SAMANTHA FULLER:  Also, I think the fact that the studio had wanted John Wayne to star in the film...That didn't suit Sam.   While they were friends, Sam didn't see John Wayne in that role that Lee Marvin would eventually play.   I think that turned him off of the project for a while possibly.

So when THE BIG RED ONE comes out in 1980.. It's an edited version of Sam's original vision for the film, it's not the film that we have on DVD and Blu-Ray today...It got decent reviews by film critics, it had been nominated at the Cannes Film Festival. but it didn't do great at the box office....

CHRISTA FULLER:    Right, but the investors made their money back and then some right away...ABC Pictures had put in two million dollars for the budget for the film and Lorimar had put in the other two million.   It made eight million dollars with its foreign distribution alone and at the time of its release World War II wasn't a popular war at the box office.   I think we owe Steven Spielberg something for creating a renewed interest in World War II.   Had he not made SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) or his mini-series Band Of Brothers (2001) the reconstruction of THE BIG RED ONE might not ever have gotten underway.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Because there was a team working on the reconstruction of THE BIG RED ONE....As his family, how comfortable are you with the claim that Warner Brothers has made in support of the reconstruction's release to DVD and Blu-Ray that what we now have is Sam Fuller's definitive vision of the story that is THE BIG RED ONE?

CHRISTA FULLER:   I'd say it's pretty close.  I think Warner Brothers did a wonderful job on it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  To speculate and fantasize a bit....You have to wonder if this version of THE BIG RED ONE, this reconstructed film, had it been released in 1980...You have to wonder if it wouldn't have been nominated by the Academy for Best Picture that year.

Fuller and daughter Samantha in support of her
new documentary  A FULLER LIFE
CHRISTA FULLER:  Well, Sam didn't really think that way...I once introduced Sam to the writer Henry Miller who was friend of mine.   What Henry Miller said to me really shocked me afterward.   He said, "Your husband is an innocent. "   I didn't understand what he meant until years later.   I think Sam just liked to play everything as this rough and tough kind of guy.  I think that he put on this face because he needed it in order to endure through the horrors that he had seen while he was fighting in World War II himself.    He needed it to keep his innocence.   We all do that, and we all have an innocence that we don't want to lose inside of ourselves.   I think writers and artists have to maintain that innocence or idealism in order to create.   Sam listened to Beethoven every day.  He would play Beethoven as he sat with a cigar in his mouth at his typewriter.  

I don't think it matters.   Regardless of whether the Academy saw the edited version of the film or the reconstruction, it doesn't matter because at the end of the day he made the film.  He made his story his way.

Samantha's documentary A FULLER LIFE features actors James Franco, Robert Carradine, Mark Hamill and Tim Roth.   It also features directors Wim Wenders and Joe Dante.   To find out more about the documentary please visit the film's official website HERE and follow its progress on Facebook HERE
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung