Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And Now the Answer We've Awaited

The following (unedited) critique on my previous day's blog entry is from my friend and surrogate mother Betsy Gehman of Lynchburg, formerly of New York and Beverly Hills (you heard her voice in "Singin' in the Rain"; she was in early live national TV and was even a girl singer with a big band in the 1930s and 1940s). Betsy, one of the most perceptive and outspoken people I've ever known, knew the moguls and stars, the writers and producers and directors and stuntmen for many years and she has a good understanding of how Hollywood has worked for a very long time. She was even listed in one of the McCarthy-era "Red books." She's tough and blunt.

Here's her take:

"In the early days of the Virginia Film Commission those folks had the wit to send emissaries to Hollywood. There, one big party for lotsa producers and stars attracted enough good will to get some movies made [in Virginia]. Maybe even the Governor acted as host at the H'wood party (which, by the way, always takes place in Beverly Hills, where all those moguls actually live and party).

"Those were the days when rich movie-wise John Kluge was, I believe, helping to activate the film aspirations of the state. Maybe Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek had a hand in the good will generated back then, since they were residents of C'ville, too.

"Anyway, it was all hugely successful. Mentions in Variety and Hollywood Reporter (the literature most closely perused by everyone who works in H'wood) were continual back then.

"The "buzz" worked. So what happened between then and now? Did everyone just forget how to do it? And I mean everyone. No one person can be that dumb.

"But go ahead, re-invent the wheel (or reel, if you prefer ).

"Y'rs, Betsy (former resident of Lotusland; haven't heard that expression since the 1950s! LOL)

"p.s. I'm sure Bootie Chewning is a dynamo and good at her job, but unless she's literally on fire, I think she might better be described as having 'flair', rather then 'flare'."

I mean, hell, none of us got out of that one alive. Except maybe Morgan Griffith.

(The attached photo is of Betsy, center, being visited backstage in 1953 at the Broadway play "Top Banana" by actor Farley Granger of "Strangers on a Train," Academy Award-winner and good friend, Shelley Winters--"A Patch of Blue" and "The Diary of Anne Frank," top left. The others are part of the play's cast.)

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