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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Long Before I Knew You: Judy Holliday

Dear Ms. Holliday,

You don't know me, but I'm a big fan of yours. I love your movies. I'm sorry to say I've never seen you on stage.
I write a little blog on theatre in the Denver area. I call myself the Big Bad Wolf because it was a nickname I picked up somewhere along the way - I have a tendency to be a bit outspoken about things I believe in, so I guess it fits. I don't mind the reputation. Sometimes you have to stand up for your beliefs.
You and I have that in common. I admire your courage in refusing to name names before the Senate Internal Security Committee in 1952. That could have cost you, but you stood tough.
I also direct and occasionally act in theatre. At the moment, I haven't got much going on. I guess you know what that's like. I heard that, despite your rave reviews on Broadway in Born Yesterday, Columbia wasn't going to let Garson Kanin cast you as Billie Dawn in the movie version. One of my favorite Hollywood behind-the-scenes stories is about how Garson Kanin, Spencer Tracy, and Katharine Hepburn connived and conspired to get you the role in Adam's Rib so that Columbia Studios could see what you could do. And after your performance in that film, how could anyone not give you the role of Billie in Born Yesterday?
For me, your performance in Born Yesterday is unsurpassed. I made the mistake of watching the remake with Melanie Griffith a few years ago. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't you. So now I stick strictly to your portrayal. A friend recently directed the play in town, but I wouldn't go see it. Nothing against their version, of course, I just prefer to think of Billie Dawn as portrayed by you.
I suppose that I can confess at this point, Judy, that I have a bit of a crush on you. Okay, I have a big crush on you. Not only are you incredibly beautiful and talented, but you're courageous and strong. I'm also very attracted to the fact that, on top of all your other graces, your I.Q. is higher than mine. 172. Wow!
I would really love to meet you sometime and talk about your experiences in Hollywood and on Broadway (maybe you'd let me hold your Tony award, just for a minute).
Unfortunately, this world lost you to breast cancer in 1965 - a little over eight years before I was born. This fact weighs heavily on me, and I watch your movies with just a bit of sadness in my heart (much as you always manage to make me laugh as well).
I'm sorry there wasn't a cure then. We still don't have one now, but we're working on it. There are lots of organizations mobilized to fight breast cancer. I linked to three of them on my Twitter page today, in fact, and I will do the same next Saturday.
I'm even turning my blog pink for the rest of the month to show my support.
There are millions of us, and we will find a cure, because we all have personal reasons for taking up the fight.
You are one of mine.
Thank you, Judy. You inspire me.

Your Biggest Fan,

The Big Bad Wolf

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Save the World Saturday: STC in Asia Pacific

Okay, big Twitter/MySpace/Facebook/Wolf Blog crossover today because I'm trying to reach my widest audience possible.
Today is "Save the World Saturday" on my Twitter page. (Seventy followers and counting. Yeah, I'm a rock star.) My Twitter piglets (Twitlets?) know that this is the day of the week when I highlight one of my favorite charities.
I was going to devote this month's tweets to cancer charities given that this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I still will, but I wanted to give some space to something that is extremely timely and urgent.
Many of you have seen in the news about everything that's gone down in Asia Pacific recently: tropical storms and flooding in the Phillippines and Vietnam, earthquakes in Indonesia, the tsunami in American Samoa.
A lot of people are out of their homes - a lot of children are out of their homes.
Fortunately, Save the Children already has a strong presence in these areas, so there is a channel through which we can help.
In addition to offering individual sponsorships of needy children (you may recall me mentioning Mamtaz in my Charity Navigator post), STC has the Children's Emergency Fund set up to help out with disaster situations like these.
If you can help out at all, it is certainly needed right now. I would also encourage you to look over Save The Children's website and consider sponsoring a child. It really is just around $28 per month, and I know that I have enjoyed getting to know my kid and getting letters and e-mails from her updating me on how she is doing. I say this knowing full well that Denver Post reporter John Moore will use it as further evidence of his assertion that I am, in his words, "a cuddly puppy." (Geez, you give a guy one lingering hug . . .)
Save the Children also has Facebook and Twitter presences if you are so inclined.
Please click on the links. Please read the information. Please help in whatever way you can -- even if that's just passing the info along.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On Excusing Roman

Chinatown, Pirates, and Frantic are among my favorite movies. I admire Roman Polanski's work as a director. He has a keen eye and a fearlessness in storytelling.
I do not think that my admiration of him as a director necessitates my admiring him as a man or even a human being. I do not think that his ability or talent should make him immune from consequence.
He raped a thirteen-year-old girl. He plead guilty to having done so. In a time before hordes of paparazzi roamed the streets, before "Extra", "TMZ", and the E! Channel, and before blogging, The Hollywood machine could not muster enough power or influence or money to sweep his actions under the rug (and I'm sure we can expect that they tried).
He drugged her. He plied her with alcohol. She said no. Repeatedly. He didn't care. She was thirteen.
(If you want the more sordid details, Kate Harding wrote an eye-opening column on
He did it. He confessed to it. He fled the country.
I am surprised at the number of people who are rallying around this man. If he were not an Oscar-winning director, would these people be as willing to gloss over the facts?
Frankly, I'm a little tired of this notion that "artists" need to be excused from real-life consequences, as though being creative diminishes one's capacity in some way.
I once had an actor throw a temper tantrum in the middle of rehearsal, storm out of the theatre, and refuse to return for the rest of the day.
I began to make a list of possible replacements for him, but the producer said, "Oh, he's just being an actor."
I said, "No, those people who just had to witness that display and are still standing there ready to go on are being actors. He is being a child."
Alas, he didn't get fired that day. (He got fired a week later for calling one of the actresses at her workplace and making inappropriate advances. The producer had nothing to interject with that time.)
Being an artist isn't easy. It requires a type of thinking for which we are not trained in our rearing. Artistry requires a leap out of one's comfort zone - or it should if it's to be worthwhile.
The creative among us deserve respect for their creativity, but not excuses for their bad behavior.