LETTER FROM L.A.: Not seeing Dennis Quaid; Production bumps; Silver screen at the Blue
copyright 2002, Jim Chevallier
didn’t feel like going out this Saturday night. I did it for you.
you’d want to hear about Dennis Quaid’s band, which was possibly playing at the
Gate. I wanted to see him myself, too, to congratulate him on his subtle and
powerful work in “Far From Heaven.”
booking didn’t happen, the Gate itself is not a bad place to spend an evening.
It’s one of several clubs on La Cienega, with a décor that mixes medieval
themes with the ambiance of an old men’s club. The dinner area is cozy enough,
with low lights and discreet reflections, a long bar and a small seating area.
Saturday they opened the other half, revealing: a disco floor in front of a
much larger seating area and another bar, with several small alcoves around it.
Dennis Quaid, well, I’ve seen his band enough to tell you that it’s just a heck
of a lot of fun. Lots of rocking oldies and blues. Quaid himself covers the
stage with manic energy, hunching down, rolling his eyes and just generally
going for it, full tilt. You get the impression this is what he does to keep
his juices flowing. And if letting it all out on stage allows him to lay back
as beautifully as he does in his latest film, let the good times roll!
certainly a different experience from seeing Jeff Goldblum, whose jazz band has
played around Hollywood for years. Goldblum, at his small electric keyboard,
looks a bit like Lurch at the harpsichord, primly picking out chords as he
watches his sidemen (and occasional singer) with a bemused air. It’s hard too
not to notice the long lines of long-legged women who generally wait to talk to
him during the breaks.
Gate, the one long-legged woman I talked to was a French actress who looked
like Sandra Bullock. Yet she’d gotten through the summer doing voice-overs (in
French – there’s a surprising amount of that work here, often on Hollywood
films that are headed over there.) I also ran into an African-American
filmmaker whose credits are solid enough for him to have judged scripts for
Sundance. While looking for funding for four different projects, he’s getting
by as best he can. And a woman who’s worked in set design for years is still
trying to move into interior design. She complained that, for what film work
there is, kids are coming out of school ready to work for what she did twenty
years ago. But she’s not ready to step that far back.
her what Gary Marshall says in his wonderful book Wake Me When It’s Funny:
it’s fine to take a step backwards sometimes; just don’t advertise the fact.
good news keeps coming: production is picking up in Los Angeles. Is this, as
was predicted last year, because people are afraid to fly after 9/11? That
would probably be the most cynical hypothesis.
All I can
say for sure is that it doesn’t seem to be affecting those around me. Actors
still bemoan the lack of auditions. Friends in production still can’t find
Not that that means life is any
easier for those who are working. One exhausted person turned out to be
taking the briefest of breaks from working on “Presidio Meds”, which has been
shooting four episodes at once, partially because of Blythe Danner’s recent
departure and partially because of reshoots (even directors, it seems, aren’t
perfect.) When you consider that shooting one episode is pretty demanding,
having to do four at once is exhausting just to think about.
recent screening at the Pacific Design Center introduced me to the SilverScreen
Theater, whose waiting area looks almost like a disco (or, one person said, the
funeral parlor of the future), with silver-brass fabric on a square seating
unit and rows of round lights, almost like portholes, along the side. Not to
mention a cozy little wet-bar. Stylishly appropriate for the center, an
L.A.landmark for designers and architects – even if its dark blue glass bulk
has earned it the nickname of the Blue Whale.