New York NewsdayLet's do "Launch"
March 8, 2006, Sunday ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: PART II
COVER STORY /" 'Failure' Not an Option"
By Frank Lovece
Special to Newsday
Sarah Jessica Parker hates looking at herself on screen. Not because she has what Hollywood refers to as an interesting face which at some angles, in any case, looks drop-dead stunning but because she zeroes in on everything she's doing wrong as an actress, whether she is or not.
"I have a very hard time seeing myself. It gets much harder, much harder," she says, "because I care more and more and more.
"There came a point where I was curious about studying acting, but then I felt very scared because I knew that I was reliant upon some bad habits and I was desperate to keep them in my own bag of tricks," she half-jokes. "I thought if I went into acting class, they would take them away from me and I would, of course, be exposed and then I would never work again." She laughs. "So I would rather just live the lie."
Let's see: She's lived that "lie" through Broadway's "Annie" as a kid; through "Square Pegs," a cult-favorite sitcom, as a teen; through more than three-dozen feature films and TV movies and, of course, through her long, Emmy Award-winning stint on the cultural phenomenon that was "Sex and the City." And last December she snagged a Golden Globe nomination for her role in "The Family Stone."
What, is she kidding?
It's hard to say. But Parker's self-effacement wouldn't be uncommon for someone who comes from a family of eight children where talent abounded; brothers Toby and Pippin, for example, helped found the Off-Broadway theater company Naked Angels, while she was off doing fluffy movies and overwrought telefilms, dating John F. Kennedy Jr. and living with Robert Downey Jr. Given the pas de deux of ego and insecurity found in many creative people, it might actually elude her that she has the rare gift of being a Carole Lombard comedienne.
Zooey Deschanel, who plays her friend and roommate in "Failure to Launch," sees other icons. "I like to do a lot of takes. I don't mind; it's fun for me. Sarah kinda does it perfectly every time. She's a real pro; she really has it down. It's pretty impressive to watch her work. She's got that old-school actress thing, like Katharine Hepburn or Claudette Colbert. She has an earthiness to her."
On a recent winter day Parker is in a midtown hotel suite doing media interviews for her new romantic comedy, "Failure to Launch", about a young woman whose profession is getting 30-something men who still live with their parents to fall for her after which the guy moves out of his jubilant parents' home and she breaks up with him, leaving him heartbroken but housebroken.
Parker's Paula meets her match in Matthew McConaughey's Trip, a commitment-shy serial dater whose social life with buddies Ace (Justin Bartha) and Demo (Bradley Cooper) is like Outdoor Life Network porn: rock-climbing, mountain-biking and surfing with the dolphins. And Paula falls for him for real.
The movie's often funny, the relationship itself ... somewhat implausible. Why would these two fall for each other?
Parker has to think about that. "Well ... that's what the script says!" she says, giggling. "Y'know, you just kinda throw yourself in and believe that love is unexplainable sometimes. You have many friends where you don't know why she loves him, and you don't know why he loves her."
Of her co-star, Parker adds, "Matthew's great. He's easy-breezy. Effortless. Loves people, loves being on the set, loves the camera, the camera loves him, y'know, it's a love-fest."
She notes this some days before McConaughey, on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, hemmed and hawed about working with Parker before eventually giving props to her comedic timing. He went on to call her "very peculiar, too. Man, she's a very interesting woman."
Says Deschanel: "They were different kinds of people and had different chemistry." As for McConaughey's comment, "I'm sure he was just being silly. He's got a good sense of humor, [but] he's dry."
The movie's director, Tom Dey, likewise suggests, "I think that was just a Matthew-ism. ... She's different from anyone else he knows. They got along great, by the way."
And in any case, Parker has moved on. She gets serious in the upcoming film "Spinning into Butter," a racial drama she also produced. And she appears in the upcoming documentary "Life After Tomorrow," about the musical "Annie."
A kitschy prison musical film, "Slammer," may follow, and Parker acquired the rights to the book "Love Walked In," for which Peter Tolan ("Analyze This") is writing a script. She's also mulled over starring in a remake of the comedy classic "The Man Who Came to Dinner."
Going with the flow
And there is, of course, always her family to keep her busy. She melts describing her own Matthew Broadway star Broderick ("The Producers"), who'd already done such films as "WarGames," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Glory" before the couple married in 1997. "A sweet, cool and very kind man," she says with a smile. "But he's a pretty serious, confident, brainiac too. ... I think my child is really, really lucky that he inherited so many of the Broderick traits."
She's reminded that son James Wilke Broderick is only 3 1/2. "Well, they're in there somewhere, and I think he's really lucky."
And she is a confirmed New Yorker. Of fans of the street, Parker notes, "You hear some heavy New York accents. 'Seh-RAWW!!!'" she mimics. "'MATT-you!!!' Yeah," she says, laughing again, "they stand outside our window, speak our names at 4 a.m. when they're drunk and urinating on our stoop! Which is a very New York tradition, I understand. I want to deny nobody that right!
"Not three months ago, a guy had opened our gate, walked right into where our garbage cans are, where the door to our home is, and urinated on our plants! And Matthew happened to be coming down the stoop ... and he looks at the guy, and it was quite dark, and Matthew says, 'What are you doing, man? Get out of here!' And the guy was, like, offended!
"'All right, all right!' like he was mad at Matthew! He's urinating! On our plants! And he's offended! That's a classic. You gotta love it."
New York Newsday
March 5, 2000, Sunday ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: FANFARE; Page D11
LENGTH: 899 words
COUPLE OF THE YEAR
Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Stone Play Lovers in HBO's New Lesbian-Themed Anthology. Got a Problem with That?
By Frank Lovece
ELLEN DEGENERES and Sharon Stone, lunching at a corner table in an Upper East Side hotel, are discussing their HBO movie, "If These Walls Could Talk 2." They're so effusive that if these walls could talk, too, they wouldn't get a word in edgewise.
Stone finishes DeGeneres' sentences for her. DeGeneres finishes Stone's. They trade comic quips and compliments. All in all, they seem more like a "married" couple in real life than they do in their segment of the film, an anthology about lesbian relationships in three American eras.
"I'm totally against outing somebody," DeGeneres says. "As much as I would loooove..."
"Oh, me, too!" Stone interjects.
"...to do it to certain people," DeGeneres continues.
"I almost did it once," says Stone.
"You almost came out?" DeGeneres asks.
And like that. You really can't blame them for being so giddy and gay, so to speak: "If These Walls Could Talk 2" is the highly touted follow-up to HBO's acclaimed 1996 ratings success about abortion in three eras. And their segment, "2000," in which Stone and DeGeneres play a lesbian couple trying to get pregnant, strikes a note of hope in that the casual acceptance they get from a sperm-bank head (Regina Kind) and a fertility specialist (Kathy Najimy) goes completely unremarked-upon. Yet the fearful closeting of "1961," starring Vanessa Redgrave, and the judgmental-feminist backlash of "1972," starring Michelle Williams and Chloe Sevigny, haven't, they note, ended just lessened in degree.
"Look at Matthew Shepard," DeGeneres says, referring to the Wyoming youth who was beaten, tied to a fencepost and left for dead, essentially for being gay. "There're so many people who are closeted today because it isn't safe, and because you have people like Dr. Laura Schlessinger" the popular radio and soon-to-be TV talk-show host "who calls us biological deviants and biological freaks." Schlessinger, with Clintonian parsing, has said her use of the terms "deviant" and "a biological error" refers not to homosexuals, but homosexuality.
"If These Walls Could Talk 2" opens with a scene from the terribly earnest 1961 movie "The Children's Hour," based on Lillian Hellman's play about a lesbian scandal at a girls' school. When Edith (Redgrave) and Abby (Marian Seldes), an old, covertly lesbian couple, exit the theater, someone asks how the movie was. "Too much high drama for my taste," Abby replies a seeming signal from segment writer-director Jane Anderson and executive producers Suzanne and Jennifer Todd that the filmmakers don't intend "Walls 2" to be taken as a terribly earnest, good-for-you drama itself.
No one, in any case, would mistake the Stone-DeGeneres segment as earnest drama. Anne Heche, DeGeneres' significant other, wrote and directed "2000" as a comedy it was originally titled "Miss Conception." DeGeneres joined the project, as segment costar and executive producer. The latter, she cracks, means, "I helped cater. Hey, I didn't know! I had to clean up, sweep they said it was part of the job!"
But seriously, folks, "I think it was because these two straight women, Suzanne and Jen, who are wonderful executive producers and did all the work, wanted me to say, as a gay woman, 'You're doing a gay story, this is my opinion of it, this is what I suggest."'
As it happened, that didn't include the nude lovemaking scene between herself and Stone. "This was my first love scene," recalls DeGeneres, dressed casually in T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. "So we're starting to talk about what we're gonna do. Now, it took me a long time to even get to 'OK, I'm gonna be comfortable with this, we're gonna do this, it's important for the story..."'
"I think it took until the day, really," says Stone. "...but then I was fine with it."
"...Then they, Sharon and Anne, both at the same time said, 'You know what? Let's just go for it,"' DeGeneres says. "And they just got up and walked away! And I'm, like, following them: 'What do you mean, 'Go for it? What does that mean?"'
The resulting scene, with nudity on both actors' part, isn't "salacious," they and Heche have insisted in the press.
Still, DeGeneres says she was told a group of gay male friends got sexually excited watching it.
Neither used a body double. "It's in my contract that they can't," says Stone, with unexpected forcefulness.
"It's not a 'body,' it's not a sack of flesh and bones, it's a being. And that person's beingness is alive and present in your work. I don't want anyone putting their intention into my work, certainly when they're naked," she says, her voice trembling at the end.
And besides, Stone adds, laying it on, "Ellen has no idea how beautiful she is how beautiful her body is, how sexy she is. I don't know why. You don't have mirrors in your house? You don't see yourself on TV?" she asks.
DeGeneres isn't buying it. "I'm fine. I'm happy with how I look. But it certainly isn't what most people find attractive. It's funny though," she adds. "I'm the gay one, she's the straight one, I'd wanna be in bed with her! I wouldn't go, 'OK, now someone else jump in while she kisses my back!'" She chuckles. "That'd be weird. Like a tag team!"
New York Newsday
September 26, 1999, Sunday ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: FANFARE; Page D10
LENGTH: 1433 words
COVER STORY / 'LIVE' AT 25
IT'S NO LONGER THE BOOMERS' BABY, BUT AFTER A QUARTER-CENTURY, THIS SATURDAY NIGHT STALWART IS STILL MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH
By Frank Lovece
IT'S THE SILVER-ANNIVERSARY season of "Saturday Night Live," a show that's outlived five cast members, one founding father and its own original skin. The "25th Anniversary Primetime Special," which airs live Sunday, Sept. 26, is less about celebrating a series than an idea.
Sure, the guest-host monologue, the commercial parody, Weekend Update, the dependable "Live! From New York! It's 'Saturday Night'!" all those things have been in place since the show debuted Oct. 11, 1975. But that's just form, not content. The style and concerns of its humor, the types of topics broached, the attitude those are what really make up a show. And all those things have changed so much that in a very real way there's no single series called "Saturday Night Live," but rather, a string of different, similar series of the same name.
That's probably how "Saturday Night Live" has survived these 25 years.
Is the show still relevant? You hear such dire things. Yet in recent seasons, cast members and former unknowns Adam Sandler and Chris Rock have rocketed to join such alumni as Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Dennis Miller, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, John Belushi, Chris Farley and Phil Hartman as stars. The show still attracts top-name hosts and musical acts, and it regularly wins its time slot. It's still appointment TV for many twentysomethings. And it still inspires people to want to get into comedy.
"I had grown up babysitting a lot in Cleveland," remembers Molly Shannon, who brings her Catholic schoolgirl character Mary Katherine Gallagher to movies in October with "Superstar," "and I always watched 'Saturday Night Live' after I put kids to bed. To me, this was the only job I ever wanted. I read all the books about it, and I couldn't believe it when I got this job!"
And yet, isn't the show supposed to stink now? Even the cast itself, most vocally Al Franken, said it hit bottom in the 1994-95 season. Many critics no longer consider it groundbreaking.
But it doesn't have to be. Once you've broken ground, it's not a bad thing to put up a building. And "SNL" has constructed something solid these last couple of seasons. The current incarnation starring Shannon, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Tracy Morgan, Cheri Oteri, talented Weekend Update anchor Colin Quinn and others "might not appeal to the baby boomers who embraced the show so fervently when it began," concedes Jeff Weingrad, himself a boomer who with Doug Hill wrote the backstage history "Saturday Night" (Birch Tree Books/William Morrow, 1986). "But for a younger generation especially, it offers up a lot of good comedy."
Sure, those of us weaned on what you could call SNL Classic the original five-year run variously starring Aykroyd, Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Murray and the late Belushi and Radner might not find the late '90s Norm Macdonald/Adam Sandler/Roxbury Guys era gold, but that's more a matter of taste than talent. Look around: Youth comedy has changed for the "Beavis & Butt-head." It's gone "South Park." Or to put it another way, there's something about the Farrelly Brothers.
"I think if we were still doing the same show we did in 1975-80, it would be stale," suggests Lorne Michaels, the show's creator and the executive producer for 20 of its 25 years, including now. "Different generations have come into the show and reinterpreted it and made it their own, dealing with things funny to them. That's what's kept it alive." The audience, he avows, "has stayed the same, primarily people under 30 or 35." If the current "SNL" crew's humor is more lowbrow and less intellectual than in the old days, that's the point.
"It's a generational shift," says Michaels. "They're not interested in making the baby boomers laugh." In that respect, "Saturday Night Live" is the same as it ever was. The boomers are the Establishment, and the show never catered to that. It's easy to forget hell, it's long been forgotten but "SNL" successfully fought to bring new language, ideas and subject matter to TV comedy.
"Sketch-comedy shows today, even people like David Letterman, all owe a certain debt to 'Saturday Night Live,' because it opened up the doorway," says Weingrad.
That's even true of pay-cable, where you can use raunchy language and broach adult subjects in large part because of "SNL's" trailblazing. Think not? Imagine the outcry if HBO ran hardcore X-rated movies: Even premium channels are subject to pressure over language and content.
There had been attempts at topical satire before "SNL," like "That Was the Week That Was" (NBC 1964-65) and "The Great American Dream Machine" (PBS 1971-72). But they didn't push the envelope, and in any case appealed mostly to the highbrow crowd, never attracting big enough audiences to be dangerous. "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (NBC 1968-73)? It talked the talk more than it walked the walk it was hippie humor diluted for Middle America.
The closest progenitor to "Saturday Night Live" was "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS 1967-69). As Lenny Bruce was to standup, Tom and Dick Smothers were martyrs who spearheaded change in TV comedy. The network fought them constantly over both trivialities (the use of the word "mind-blowing," ultimately forbidden) and more McCarthyesque things: Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez and others were excised, censored or postponed for anything smacking of antiwar sentiment. An interracial-marriage sketch caused a furor. As for religion, an innocuous Moses-and-the-burning-bush sermonette by David Steinberg ("Moses said, 'Who shall I say sent me?' God said, 'Whom!'") forced an on-air apology and contributed mightily to the show's cancellation.
Barely six years later, "SNL" took on that and other serious risks by allowing such taboo topics as religion and sexual mores to be satirized and commented upon. Granted it wasn't in prime time, yet George Carlin questioning the mystery of faith by suggesting, on the very first show, that God was just "a semi-supreme being" because "everything he ever made died" was a far cry from Bill Cosby and his hilarious but safe "God and Noah" routine. Without the early "SNL" years as a cultural beachhead, there could have been no Dana Carvey Church Lady sketches, or Alec Baldwin as The Handsome Priest (who hilariously made Victoria Jackson shudder while simply talking about Oreos: "And then I lick out the creamy center").
Those first five years were a marvel, though not the Nirvana some make them out to be. "I was there for the golden years," says Michaels, "and trust me," he adds, "they weren't always that golden." Yet compare them to the 1980-81 season the first after he and the original cast left, and producer Jean Doumanian and a new troupe nearly killed off the show and they were golden and studded with diamonds.
The show could have passed away that season, just as "SCTV" and other shows had their golden years and then departed. But two survivors of that cast arguably saved the fledgling franchise. Through the next few seasons, audiences began talking up "SNL" again. You began hearing the phrase, "Yeah, but that black guy's funny!" Eddie Murphy indeed was and Joe Piscopo as well. Murphy in particular broke new ground with black-urban bits Garrett Morris never imagined "How to be a Ho," "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood" as well as with colorblind comedy like his sketches as embittered showbiz legend Gumby.
A gradual rebuilding process brought stability, and continuity ended a few years of revolving-door casts, which helped viewers finally get to know "SNL's" performers. Nora Dunn, Kevin Nealon, Julia Sweeney, Rob Schneider and Norm Macdonald became familiar names through these years (and some performers who didn't, like Ben Stiller and Jay Mohr, springboarded to success elsewhere).
"I feel the show's an institution," says Shannon. "Completely. I'm in Gilda Radner's old dressing room and I can't believe it. It's such an honor to be following all those performers, to be on the same stage." Author Weingrad agrees. "I think it's almost impossible to look at a show that's been on mainstream television for as long as it has no matter how much out of the mainstream its sensibility may be and say it's not an institution."
There's the difference in a word between "SNL" then and "SNL" now: The trailblazer created trends. The institution validates them.
Newsday (New York, NY)
August 6, 1995, Sunday, ALL EDITIONS
LENGTH: 988 words
Russell Crowe Has Enough Ego to be a Bad Guy You'll Remember
By Frank Lovece
HIS NAME is Sid 6.7, and he lives in virtual reality. That's because he's not a person, just a computer program that looks and acts like a person. Unfortunately, Sid's vicious. Beneath his cherubic exterior lie the personality traits of 183 human monsters, including Hitler and Manson and a terrorist who'd killed the wife and child of ex-cop Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington). When he escapes from a police training simulator computer and ventures into the real world in the new sci-fi action film "Virtuosity," his killings aren't virtual anymore.
As evil incarnate yet stylish and witty Sid is the kind of unforgettable villain who leaps out at an audience and, pardon the expression, slays 'em. Think Alan Rickman in the original "Die Hard," or Charles Dance in "Last Action Hero." Or rather if acclaimed Australian actor Russell Crowe, who plays the role, has anything to say about it don't. "What a load of ---," says Crowe, bristling at the suggestion. "What do I have to --- do with Alan Rickman and Charles Dance?"
But aren't they terrific actors who played memorable villains? "That's your opinion," Crowe says, putting the matter to rest. He lights up a cigarette not asking if anyone else in the room minds, of course then smiles like Sid 6.7 before a kill.
Well, okay, so maybe Sid has more grace and tact. He also dresses better than the 31-year-old Crowe, who's looking studiedly scruffy today in a denim shirt, blue jeans, outback boots and several days' worth of downy beard. Still, no one can deny Crowe's got talent as big as his ego: His Sid is the latest in a series of dazzling performances, from his breakthrough role as the evil skinhead Hando in "Romper Stomper" (1992) to the devoted gay son in "The Sum of Us" (1994) to the gunslinger-turned-man-of-God in "The Quick and the Dead" (1995) a role he won at the behest of star Sharon Stone, who insisted no one else would do. Along the way, he's picked up two Australian Film Institute awards the Aussie equivalent of the Oscar.
Yet while Sid may well lead the actor to become a leading man in America, Crowe asserts, "It's just another role. It's just the latest thing I'm talking to people about. I'm purely a working actor." Yeah, yeah but doesn't he hear Hollywood calling after years of bottom-budget Australian art films? "I've got offers on the table," he announces, "for more money than I got for this one, for half the --- time. But doing only studio movies is not my aim, and if I ever start thinking like that, then I'll go start doing something else for a living." Crowe, indeed, is following up his two big studio pictures with a pair of more modestly budgeted films: "No Way Back," with Michael Lerner and Helen Shaver, which Crowe cites as a $ 1.3 million micro-budget independent, and the U.S. / U.K. co-production "Rough Magic," with Bridget Fonda. As for his doing anything else for a living, it's unlikely he's in the family business.
A New Zealand native born in Wellington, the capital, Crowe grew up around film. His maternal grandfather, Stan Wyemss, was a cinematographer who, Crowe claims, produced the first film by director Geoff Murphy, late of "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory." Crowe's parents were set caterers who emigrated to Australia when Crowe was a child. There they worked on the TV series "Spyforce," where the producer was his mother's godfather. Crowe, at age 5 or 6, got hired for a line of dialogue in one episode, opposite series star Jack Thompson, who years later played his father in "The Sum of Us."
"My family's been in the business for three generations," says Crowe. "I'm just the first one stupid enough to stand in front of the cameras!" The family moved back to New Zealand when Crowe was about 14. He returned to Australia at 21, intending to apply to the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
"I was working in a theater show, and talked to a guy who was then the head of technical support at NIDA," Crowe recalls. "Actually," he says, "I was a family friend who was living in the house that he grew up in. I asked him what he thought about me spending three years at NIDA. He told me it'd be a waste of time. He said, 'You already do the things you go there to learn, and you've been doing it for most of your life, so there's nothing to teach you but bad habits.' "In any event, adds Crowe, "I wasn't one of those ooh-la-la-honey-lovey-darling performance sort of kids."
In 1990, he won his first film role in "The Crossing," a small-town love triangle directed by George Ogilvie ("Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome"). Before production started, however, a film-student protege of Ogilvie's, Steve Wallace, "rang me up and wanted to have a look at this guy George was gonna use as his lead." Wallace was casting the film "Blood Oath," a.k.a. "Prisoners of the Sun" (1990), which, Crowe says, "had nothing to offer in terms of great characters or anything, but it was ten weeks of on-set experience."
CROWE WENT on to become a top down-under star. He continues to live in Sydney, Australia, and his pet project, the in-development film "Pacific Meltdown," concerns French atomic testing in New Zealand's claimed nuclear-free zone.
"I want to do movies that have a strong sense of purpose, and work with people who have a vision," Crowe says. "Whether that's in a supporting or a lead capacity is neither here nor there. And if you get locked into a major-studio-only kind of career, though it may seem huge on one level, your options begin to get limited." For Russell Crowe, it seems, "Virtuosity" is its own reward.
New York Newsday
October 25, 1993, Monday, ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: PART II; Pg. 43
LENGTH: 899 words
A TOAST TO 'ROCKY HORROR'
A Cult Classic Vamps on TV
By Frank Lovece
"LET'S DO the time warp again"?
We never knew we stopped.
From almost the moment a movie-musical megaflop called "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" played theaters, briefly, in 1975 and then segued into a $ 150-million midnight-movie institution we've been dancing to a step called the time warp, singing along to the sound track, and throwing toast at the screen. (We'll explain. Give us a minute.) More than a movie, this weird melange of monster-flick pastiche and campy sexual kitschy-koo became, inadvertently, an audience-participation extravaganza.
Fans who showed up time and again at artsy outposts like the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village began to sing along to the score. Soon they started tossing witty-bitchy comebacks to the dialogue. Then they began throwing rice during the wedding scene. And then, of course, when somebody in the movie proposed a toast....
Then came the costumes. Then came dance-along performers. Then it all became so campy as to make RuPaul look straight. Though none of this would seem quite so much fun at home, "Rocky Horror" was a hit when it came to video in 1990.
Now, at last, the final great cult-movie holdout is coming to television. Sort of: Fox is indeed airing the TV debut of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," but it's intercutting, or perhaps blemishing, the film with newly shot scenes of theatrical-audience participation.
"It's more exciting, the way we're doing it, than just making it Monday-night-at-the-movies," insists Lou Adler, the famed music producer who brought the original "Rocky Horror" stage show to the United States from England, and acted as executive producer of the film.
The film itself has been trimmed from the 95 minutes of its R-rated American release to a TV-acceptable 93 minutes and 13 seconds. It's also being broadcast slightly sped-up, to fit into a two-hour time slot with commercials plus Meat Loaf's newly taped intro.
The plot (for the fuddier-duddier who don't already know it) tells of a dark and stormy night at the castle of pansexual Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), whose preferred ensemble is fishnet stockings and a merry-widow corset. Upright Brad Majors and uptight Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) come seeking help for their stalled-out car. But the doctor has his own seductive plans for the couple as well as for his muscleman-monster (Peter Hinwood). There's a ghoulish but rocking butler and maid (Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn), a cannibalized motorcycle wild-one (Meat Loaf) and his grieving girlfriend ("Little Nell" Campbell). And there are top-notch songs, electrifying choreography, and Jim Sharman's sweatily kinetic direction.
Sharman had directed the stage version as well. Then it was just "The Rocky Horror Show," which he and playwright-composer O'Brien had mounted at the small Royal Court Theater in London in 1973. An avant-garde success, it had twice moved to larger venues by the time Adler caught up with it.
"I had just had a son with Britt Ekland," recalls Adler, "and I was flying to England to see them as much as I could. And one time she called and said there's this play I should see and try to get involved with. It had already played in England for about ten months when I saw it, and had a following even then, mostly of showbiz-type people." Adler loved what he saw, approached producer Michael White at a party that same evening and the two closed a deal.
Employing most of the original cast, the musical did as well at Adler's Roxy Theater in L. A. as in London, prompting Adler to bring it to Broadway's Belasco Theater. He'd already convinced 20th Century Fox to produce a film version budgeted, he says, "at under $ 1 million" and had it shot during the bicoastal hiatus, with Bostwick and Sarandon replacing the original Brad and Janet.
The Broadway version stiffed, however, after just 45 performances. When the movie did equally dismally, Adler and Fox publicist Tim Deegan scrambled to place it anywhere even at midnight showings, starting with an April Fool's Day, 1976, run at the Waverly. And the film took on a life of its own continuing to this day in a reported hundred or so theaters nationwide, along with fan clubs and at least three books.
The eye of this storm has always been Curry, now a respected musical-theater and film star (Tony Award-nominated for "Amadeus," the upcoming "Three Musketeers" movie). As a young London actor, he'd first heard about the play, he says, "because I lived on Paddington Street, off Baker Street, and there was an old gym a few doors away. I saw Richard O'Brien in the street, and he said he'd just been in the gym to see if he could find a muscleman who could sing. And he told me that his musical was going to be done and I should talk to Jim Sharman. He gave me the script, and I thought, 'Boy, if this works, it's going to be a smash.' "
Undoubtedly, some "Rocky Horror" fans will take issue with the broadcast version, as they did when the videocassette release offered dubbed (stereo) songs from the original-cast album, rather than the movie's (mono) sound track. And like the videocassette and disc, the TV version likewise will not include the songs "Once in Awhile" and "Super Heroes," found on the original, 100-minute British theatrical release, but cut from the initial U. S. print.
The reason? So that Adler retains something exclusive for the film's 20th-anniversary videodisc, due in 1995. "The film seems to have a mind of its own," Adler muses. "It shows a direction it should go at any particular time. And I do try to make it very special," he declares, "whenever we go to another medium."