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Archive for October 2017

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ME TOO and Some Other Stuff

 

 

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My memories of Harvey Weinstein from my brief employ at Miramax were first, eating delicious cookies and rugalach brought by his mother from a bakery in Queens. These were on tap in the hip building where the higher level folks worked. I would occasionally sneak over to see a friend, nab dessert and listen to the screams. Not really…but the tension in that office was palpable.

One time I did procure a meeting with a lower chieftain to discuss my desire to move from the print shipping department to something a little more creative in that building. I recall an employee with a more interesting job than mine sitting at the booth next to me talking to a somewhat higher chieftain. Her skirt was hiked up almost like hot pants; he seemed intrigued and I briefly considered dressing more inappropriately for future interviews. I didn’t get them.

 

In the time there, I only had one conversation with Harvey. Both of us grew up in movie theatres, my grandfather and father’s in Pennsylvania; his upstate New York. I had hoped that we’d share memories of this bizarre type of babysitter, but he was too busy building an empire.

When all of the news broke out, I was surprised as I had never heard anything about the sexual issues, only the crudeness and tantrums. It is very sad indeed and brought to mind my innocent days of auditioning as an actress. Once while going to a reading for a horror film, I was asked to pull my pants down so that the producer could see how I ‘shaped’ up. I thought fast, and told him I had my period and would prefer to stay dressed. He accepted that excuse but insisted that I read the scene while stretched out on a couch and directed me to ‘move sensually’ while he fed me the lines, sitting behind a big desk. Of course, afterwards, I felt like a first class shmuck…but I wasn’t union and all of us actors wanted to build credits.

 

Then there was the time I went for a ‘pay for singing classes’ waitress job. The place was a very fancy hotel with promises of big tips. The big boss, who made Harvey Weinstein look like George Clooney, wanted to see how I looked in a tighter blouse. I wasn’t born yesterday and thought it was fishy, but like the good girl I was trained to be, went back to his office wearing a stretchy tight shirt that was almost see-through. It was only then that I was informed that the job included after hour work with the male diners and that a practice session with the boss was required.

 

Sometimes these guys worked in packs. I showed up for a play audition and when told it had already been cast, was sent up to another floor where the man was looking for people for print work. I found myself in a fancy office apartment with a producer who was in a rush for his meeting with Dolly Parton, but had enough time to consider me for a hands commercial. After showing him my paws, he realized that I could be better for something else and insisted I try on a kimono while reading some copy about frozen food. For this, I studied with Shelley Winters?

 

But it’s not only actresses who are tortured in this way. I was fired from a job at NBC after only three days. I had been hired to work as an assistant to a unit manager in the news department. I recall that the man was balding and not funny. He kept calling me short stuff and it just didn’t feel right. I had quit another job for this job and had just applied for my dream apartment using NBC as my proof of employment. In only three days I was fired; suddenly unemployed and looking like a liar to the new landlord. My then boyfriend, heroic and as shocked as myself, marched up to the HR Department to inquire as to what I could have done so wrong in only three days. He was told outright, as the HR lady read my file, “that the boss said I wasn’t bouncy enough.’ Now I know what that means in terms of body language, but I also think he felt I didn’t bounce back and laugh each time he tried to put me down. Many years later, my name was part of the massive lawsuit female employees had against NBC.

Just to cut out  some of the stress of the last week, I started calling my little doggy Hervy Weinstein, cause she humps my leg whether I want it or not. But she knows she’ll get a bath, whether she wants it or not.

Mr. Weinstein is part of a long history of rude men who misuse power. It is hard to understand them without understanding their childhoods and even then, there may be no answers. Perhaps Harvey never got bathed or was warmly touched as a child. Perhaps he grew up like me, seeing life projected so large that normal life seems a bit unreal and he chose the role of the last tycoon. Or maybe he’s simply a sociopath who can’t be redeemed.

 

Luckily, there are courageous women who recognize that the shame is not theirs to own, but that of the predator. Lucky, that there are men who are as appalled by this type of behavior as women. It doesn’t matter whether these incidents happen in a movie studio or a war torn country; they dehumanize all the participants. It is up to all of us to recognize how quickly a power imbalance can erode our higher instincts and stop it in its tracks, shout about it to each other and seek help if the impulse doesn’t stop.

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Written by nancykoan

October 17, 2017 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Joan Didion — The Center Will Not Hold

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Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

10/14/2017 12:57 am ET

The first film I saw at the Woodstock Film Festival is actually a film I could watch on Netflix as it’s release date is October 27. But I’m pleased that I didn’t wait. …, a documentary about the writer Joan Didion, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, directed by her nephew, director and actor, Griffin Dunne is very special.

 

We start out learning something about Ms. Didion’s character through her ancestors… a group of pioneers who traveled with the Donner family; but instead of taking the deadly pass, separated and took the long way around to the West and survived. Ms. Didion is a real survivor too … she survived living in LA during the late sixties’ violence and the Charles Manson era. She survives the loss of her beloved husband and writing partner John Gregory Dunne and not much later, her only daughter Quintana.

She writes constantly throughout all these life passages, not only to not only report on events, but to reach a deeper understanding for herself of how she feels about them. New journalism.

 

The film shows her early successes with magazine articles and later books like The Year of Magical Thinking and Play it as it Lays, and film scripts. She has a point of view that is very her, very unique. We watch her mental processes as she tries to make sense of uneasy connections… how when Roman Polanski, once spilling red wine on her dress , corresponds to later in life finding herself writing about Linda Kasabian (one of Charles Manson’s girls) and then helping her buy a dress for court.

Ms. Didion has a rich mind, able to both detach as a journalist and at the same time create beautiful, sultry sentences as an essayist.

 

Mr. Dunne, so well liked in Werewolves in London has directed other films before, but this film has a mature resonance. He loves his aunt, but is willing to go underneath and probe around a bit. The ‘dark’ side of the Irish is all throughout this film. Ms. Didion shows us by her example how not to be devoured by these challenging aspects of life, love and loss. This is as true for the audience as it may be for Mr. Dunne, who lost his own sister in a well publicized and violent circumstance.

 

There is plenty of humor in the film, too; Calvin Trillin’s anecdotes really lighten things up and the archival footage, thoughtful and plentiful, takes us through the many stages of Didion’s life in New York and California. Music is used very well and Mr. Dunne’s narration never overwhelms the story but keeps it all nicely in the family.

Written by nancykoan

October 14, 2017 at 5:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

THE VENERABLE W…evil draped in saffron

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Written by nancykoan

October 12, 2017 at 1:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized