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George Christy 02-26-2010

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“No wonder we have a full house tonight … it’s the magic of filmmaking, and the magic of a guy named Clint Eastwood,” announced Terry Semel, former Chair and CEO of Warner Bros. at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, where Clint was being honored.   Terry co-chairs LACMA’s board of trustees, and promises there will be more not-to-be-missed evenings about film that will become an integral part of the museum.   The LACMA film department, under the expert aegis of Ian Birnie, was about to be axed by museum director Michael Govan due to budgetary concerns, but protests (we were among the protesters) kept it on life support.  Ian created 91 events last year on a “peanuts” budget of $50,000.  Unbelievable!   Terry Semel jumped to the rescue, and recently organized a sold-out tribute for Martin Scorsese, with Steven Spielberg likely to be the next honoree.

The LACMA evening launched the boxed set of the DVD collection, Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros., with Terry hailing Clint as “the consummate artist, an actor, director, producer and composer, in both television and film, his career spanning 50 years.  He’s appeared in more than 55 films, and during our 20 years at Warner Bros., my partner, Bob Daly, and I had a short regime together … only a little over 20 years!   During those 20 years, we were fortunate to work with Clint in over 20 films.

“Here’s how we made movies with Clint.  Every now and then Clint would peek his head into my or Bob’s office, and ask if we were free, as if the guy wasn’t making us any money.  He’d say, ‘I just read this script, I kinda like it.’  He never had a team with him, as many stars do – no lawyers or agents or managers.  He’d come back a few days later, peek his head in again, we’d start to talk about casting and budget, and  say, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Terry introduced Alan Horn, Warner Bros. president and COO, and Barry Meyer, the studio’s chairman and CEO.   Barry noted that Clint’s 35-year relationship with Warner Bros. is “going strong today … having starred in 30 films, directed 23, fully scored two films, and composed songs for the soundtracks of many more, a prodigious and unparalleled film portfolio.”

Added Alan Horn: “Since Warner Bros. was founded in 1923, the studio’s won eight Academy Awards for Best Picture, and twenty-five percent of those awards were films that Clint starred in, and films he also won the Academy Award for best director, and a full quarter of all the studio’s films that won Best Picture.”

Terry Semel then introduced the world premiere of Richard Schickel’s The Eastwood Factor, narrated by Morgan Freeman, which was followed by a q-and-a between Richard and Clint. 

“I like making films, telling a story, but I also like a family life,” said Clint, famous for bringing films in under budget.  “I don’t want to have my 13-year-old daughter be 2l one day, and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘What did I miss?’  I’ve had that experience, missing time with the kids when I was a younger actor, working incessantly, thinking every job’s my last job.   Just when I thought I’ll hang it up for a while, a really good script came along.   That’s the way it was, and is.”
The news nowadays about bathrooms has the Name Game landing on the toilet.     Money buys names on buildings, hallways, plaques in perpetuity.  After that is said and done, and other areas aren’t available at the Name Game Inn, drum roll, please.    Bathrooms to the rescue!

Dustin Hoffman attached his moniker to the men’s washroom at our beautiful Broad Stage in Santa Monica.  Ditto: philanthropist Ginny Mancini, who designed the comfortable floor plan for the women’s loo that includes lounge chairs and a mirrored vanity.  “I wanted to take care of our women,” was Ginny’s response about her big-heart gift the night of guitarist Lee Ritenour’s jazz concert.

Surely everyone knows that Ginny’s genius husband, the late Henry Mancini, composed musical scores and haunting rhapsodies that became treasures through the years.  Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses, Charade, the Pink Panther and Peter Gunn themes, countless others.

Ginny, who dueted with the Mel-Tones during her youth, hosted the drinks reception in her namesake loo with its colorful paintings of ladies chapeaux and handbags and shoes before Lee Ritenour’s performance.  A welcomed addition to our City of the Angels, the Broad Stage is a splendid venue,  created from that generosity of once-upon-a-time Detroiters Eli and Edye Broad.  Their philanthropic passion for the arts in Los Angeles remains peerless  — works from their massive contemporary art collection rotate on the Broad Stage’s lobby walls.   

Ginny’s daughter Monica Mancini, a lovely songbird, was on hand for the pre-concert party, as were philanthropists Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley, Marilyn Ziering with daughter Rosanne.  Also: anesthesiologist Sheldon Spector and wife Judy, contemporary arts lovers as they are, who’ve contributed a $100, 000 check to the Broad Stage, and may the Cultural Gods look after them now and forever.  

Pals partying with Ginny were the Broad Stage’s CEO Mitchell Heskel with wife Marci, operations manager David Kessler, program director Dale Franzen, with husband Don Franzen, back that afternoon from Manhattan.  No doubt Don was attending to his peripatetic client, tenor Placido Domingo, who’s scheduled for “preventive” surgery after suffering severe abdominal pains while on tour in Tokyo.

Enjoying the camaraderie at Ginny’s reception were Santa Monica’s Jamie Lee Curtis and author Lisa See, whose bestselling novel, Peony In Love, about the terrifying oppression enslaving Chinese women during the 17th century, is being adapted for the screen.  Ridley and Tony Scott are producing for Fox 2000. 

The Broad Stage attracts a huge following, the program’s lists of contributors go on for pages, and impressive it was to find the 499-seat theater filled to capacity   “Both subscribers and ticket holders,” says the Broad Stage’s marketing director Vanessa Butler, “and let’s remember our parking is free.”
Lee Ritenour shared his rewarding jazz program with the renowned saxophonist Ernie Watts, who grew up with Lee in Los Angeles.  Lee also invited the taller-than-six-feet, 18-year-old Australian guitarist Joe Kennedy to play several solo numbers and join them later with the combo that included a keyboardist/pianist, drummer, bass player.  Groovin’ all the way.   Lee’s next CD on the Concord label, Six String Theory, with B.B. King, George Benson, Vince Gill and other artists will be available this June.

So smitten was Dale Franzen with Joe Kennedy’s performance that she didn’t miss a beat booking Joe for an engagement at the Broad Stage.  On May 2lst, Placido Domingo conducts the LA Opera Orchestra and the Domingo-Thornton Young Artists in a program of zarzuela.  “For Placido, this concert’s a sentimental return to his roots,” offers Vanessa Butler.  “His parents were celebrated zarzuela performers touring Spain and Mexico.”

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