Forever Hollywood

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About the Filmmakers

TODD McCARTHY (Writer-Director)

Todd McCarthy is chief film critic for Variety and Daily Variety. Over the past ten years, he has also been active in making documentaries about various aspects of Hollywood and the movies. He won an Emmy Award in 1990 for writing "Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer," which was made for American Masters and PBS. The same year, he co-wrote the acclaimed documentary "HOLLYWOOD MAVERICKS," which looked at the difficulties iconoclastic directors faced in getting their films made within the Hollywood system. In 1993, McCarthy wrote and, with Arnold Glassman and Stuart Samuels, co-directed VISIONS OF LIGHT: THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY, which was shown at leading film festivals around the world and won the best documentary awards from the New York Film Critics Association, the National Association of Film Critics and the Boston Film Critics Association.

McCarthy's highly acclaimed biography, Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, was published by Grove Press in 1997 and will come out in a paperback edition in the fall of 2000. He co-edited, with Charles Flynn, the classic anthology Kings of the Bs: Working Within the Hollywood System, wrote the introduction to the new edition of cinematographer John Alton's pioneering book Painting With Light, and has contributed to many of the world's leading film publications, including Film Comment, Premiere and Cahiers du Cinema.

BARBARA ZICKA SMITH (Executive Producer)

Barbara Zicka Smith co-founded the American Cinematheque and has served as the organization’s Executive Director since 1992. Since 1993, she has been instrumental in developing the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood as the permanent home of the American Cinematheque. Prior to her involvement with the Cinematheque, Smith was the Associate Director of the legendary Los Angeles International Film Exposition (FILMEX) from 1977 to 1983.

SASHA ALPERT (Producer)

Sasha Alpert has produced many distinguished documentary films. For the PBS series "The American Cinema," she produced, wrote and directed the hour-long episode on the Western, and produced the segment on Film Noir. For the highly acclaimed PBS series "Voices and Visions," she produced the episodes on Sylvia Plath (documentary first prize winner at the Chicago International Film Festival), as well as one on T.S. Eliot. She also produced the recent documentary INSIDE THE CIA for TBS.

Alpert directed the CBS primetime sweeps special "Here Comes the Bride, There Goes the Groom," as well as a Disney Channel special about the history of inventions. She also supervised casting for two seasons of MTV's "The Real World" and "Road Rules" and worked as the supervising story editor for the 1996 season of "The Real World."

DALE ANN STIEBER (Line Producer)

Dale Ann Stieber has had a long association with the American Cinematheque and is currently a Trustee. Prior to line producing FOREVER HOLLYWOOD, she and filmmaker Michael Henry Wilson produced the feature documentary, IN SEARCH OF KUNDUN, her third project with Wilson, and second with Martin Scorsese. She has also line produced the three-part (3-3/4 hour) BFI series, "A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies," and was production supervisor for the AFI feature documentary HOLLYWOOD MAVERICKS.

Raised in Ohio and educated at the University of Southern California, Stieber began her career in film at Filmex, Los Angeles' first film festival. Subsequent film and video credits include: producer of the (Dale Ann Stieber cont’d) satirical short "All About Lurleen" (directed by Florence Dauman); co-producer and co-editor of Viveca Lindfors' semi-autobiographical drama UNFINISHED BUSINESS; and production supervisor of "Michael Jackson, The Legend Continues." She has produced or managed live stage events for the American Cinematheque, notably at the Hollywood Bowl, and tributes to Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas and Sean Connery. As an editor, her credits include the award-winning documentary on child abuse A BRIDGE FOR THE CHILDREN; a Russian fairy tale, THE LEGEND OF THE EMERALD PRINCESS (starring Oleg Vidov); and sequences for the yearly Academy Awards, the Emmys and the Television Hall of Fame.

ARNOLD GLASSMAN (Co-Director/Editor)

An award-winning film editor, Arnold Glassman co-directed, co-produced and edited VISIONS OF LIGHT: THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY, which won the 1993 best documentary awards from the New York, Boston and National Society of Film Critics associations. He won the American Cinema Editors' "Eddy" Award in 1998 for his work on "Frank Capra's American Dream," and was nominated for Emmys for that film as well as for THE CELLULOID CLOSET and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

Most recently he served as the editor and co-producer on Universal's Alfred Hitchcock centennial project, "Dial H for Hitchcock: The Genius Behind the Showman." Glassman edited the Emmy-nominated "Dying to Tell the Story" for TNT and contributed to the multi-part series "Sex and the Silver Screen" for Showtime and "Warner Brothers 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory."

In addition, Glassman edited several original documentary series for HBO, The Disney Channel and all the major networks. He was also associate editor on the Coen Brothers' RAISING ARIZONA. His latest project is editing the documentary "Cukor On Cukor" for PBS's American Masters series.

NANCY SCHREIBER (Cinematographer)

An award-winning cinematographer who, in 1995, became the fourth woman voted into membership in the American Society of Cinematographers, Nancy Schreiber has worked extensively in feature films and documentaries. Working with Todd McCarthy and Arnold Glassman, she shot the award-winning 1993 documentary VISIONS OF LIGHT: THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY, and four years later shared the best cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival for the documentary MY AMERICA…OR HONK IF YOU LOVE BUDDAH. In the documentary field, she was nominated for an Emmy for THE CELLULOID CLOSET and photographed THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and the HBO/Amnesty International world tour film starring Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman.

Among her many feature and cable movies credits are Neil LaBute's Your Friends and Neighbors, Chain of Desire, for which she was nominated for an IFP Spirit Award, Lush Life, Reaching Normal, Thicker Than Blood, Nevada, Prairie Fire/Standoff The M Word, Deadbeat and Scorpion Spring. Her most recent feature is Shadow Magic, which was shot in China. She has also photographed more than 100 music videos. Schreiber received the Kodak Vision Award at the 1997 Women in Film Crystal Awards.

PAUL RYAN (Additional Cinematographer)

Paul Ryan has done diverse notable work as cinematographer and second unit cinematographer on many features and documentaries. After working in engineering and as a professional ski racer, he shot documentaries on such subjects as the Hell's Angels, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, competitive skiing and Salvador Dali.

He was second unit cameraman for Terrence Malick on DAYS OF HEAVEN, and later for Robert Redford on A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT and THE HORSE WHISPERER and for Sam Raimi on A SIMPLE PLAN. Among his credits as director of photography are Tom Dicillo's A BOX OF MOONLIGHT, WHEN RIVERS FLOW NORTH, ALAN AND NAOMI, OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS, WILDFLOWERS and most recently, THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD. Ryan has long been a resource artist for the Sundance Institute.

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FOREVER HOLLYWOOD

SYNOPSIS

No other town has a story like Hollywood, and FOREVER HOLLYWOOD tells it in a way that no film ever has before. Featuring two dozen major stars and directors who give their unique perspectives on the history of the movies and the entertainment capital that created them, this American Cinematheque production vividly demonstrates that, while motion pictures and the industry may have changed enormously, the allure of Hollywood has remained potent and undiminished over the course of the 20th century. To people all over the world, Hollywood has always represented glamour and the hope of success and celebrity, and countless people arrive every year to pursue these elusive but not impossible dreams. Even when the town of Hollywood itself went into a decline in the 1970s, the industry continued to flourish, and now Hollywood Boulevard, much like New York's Times Square before it, has begun its comeback. FOREVER HOLLYWOOD is part of the resurgence that will once again make Hollywood Boulevard worthy of its status as one of the most famous streets in the world. The film will be an exclusive permanent attraction at the stunningly restored Egyptian Theatre, the first movie palace built on the boulevard and now the beautiful home of the American Cinematheque. The one-hour feature is designed to make Hollywood history come alive for film lovers and visitors, to evoke the distinct periods that produced so many different and cherished films, and to illustrate how Hollywood was influenced by significant social and cultural changes in the world. Many sources help to tell the story: striking archival footage dating back to the earliest days of the industry, behind-the-scenes glimpses of studios and films in production, rare home movies of the stars, tantalizing peeks at Hollywood nightlife and its famous clubs, remarkable historical material that reveals the ever-changing face of Los Angeles over the years, and new interviews with leading stars and filmmakers who tell the tale of the city and the movies from their infancy to today.

Springing from this backdrop are interludes from the films themselves, ranging from all-time audience favorites to motion pictures that memorably reflect the way the film business has looked at itself. The result is a constantly surprising and vastly entertaining panorama of Hollywood movies that imaginatively places them in the context of the famous community that produced them. FOREVER HOLLYWOOD is narrated by Sharon Stone and features Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Jeff Bridges, Andre de Toth, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Salma Hayek, Charlton Heston, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Lansbury, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Edward Norton, Robert Redford, Rob Reiner, Vincent Sherman, Kevin Spacey, Steven Spielberg, Gloria Stuart, Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and John Waters.

The film is written and directed by Todd McCarthy, produced by Sasha Alpert and co-directed and edited by Arnold Glassman. Barbara Zicka Smith is the executive producer.

 

FOREVER HOLLYWOOD

SHORT SYNOPSIS

FOREVER HOLLYWOOD a surprising and vastly entertaining look at the movies and the town that created them, is a permanent daily attraction at the beautifully renovated Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Bouelvard. This dazzling hour-long film brims with moments from much-loved films as well as with privileged looks at the entertainment capital as seen through evocative archival footage of its Golden Era, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the studios, rare home movies of the stars and tantalizing peeks at Hollywood nightlife and its famous clubs. No other town has a story like Hollywood, and its remarkable history is told here by such Hollywood luminaries as Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Shirley MacLaine, Edward Norton, Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey, Steven Spielberg and John Travolta. Sharon Stone is the narrator.

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FOREVER HOLLYWOOD

DIRECTOR'S NOTES

Until recently, at least, most people working in the film industry were not from Los Angeles or California. They came from somewhere else--the East Coast, the Midwest, other countries--and grew up with images and impressions of Hollywood formed, for the most part, by the movies themselves. And it was something about these movies--the way they portrayed the romance, the chance for fame and success, the opportunity to make a living in such an exciting and creative way--that induced so many people to pursue a dream that inevitably remains elusive for most but occasionally comes true. Hollywood's history has been told many times and in many different ways, but it was our point of departure on FOREVER HOLLYWOOD, to tell the story from the perspectives of numerous distinguished people who were drawn to the flame and persevered to forge impressive careers. The careers of these great stars and directors range across nearly the entire century, and they all have vivid memories of what Los Angeles and the movies industry were like when they first arrived: Of the city when it was a largely rural landscape criss-crossed by streetcar tracks, when thousands of dreamers poured in every week during the Depression to try to crack the giant studios, when soldiers mixed with stars during World War II, when L.A. began changing from provincial town to major city in the '50s, when the Sunset Strip was home to bikers and hippies in the '60s, and when the Hollywood and the studio system, after bottoming out, began the resurgence that continues today.

Surprisingly, it soon became clear that, for all the film-clip-driven surveys of Hollywood history that have been produced, none had ever placed motion pictures in the context of the development of the town that created them. It was purest chance that the movies, which quickly became the United States' greatest, and certainly most famous export, took root in Hollywood, a sleepy, alcohol-free hamlet in the 1910s dominated by churches and transplanted Midwesterners. But the movies transformed the sedate little community into a place dominated by looming, fortress-like studios and factory-like labs and service companies, but which paradoxically developed a reputation as the most glamorous and alluring place imaginable, a virtual paradise on Earth blessed by perfect weather and populated by beautiful people. Of course, this was just the package, as the real Hollywood was--and is--a place of struggle and hard work, for which there are sometimes extravagant rewards.

Speaking to the many remarkable people we interviewed for FOREVER HOLLYWOOD, it was particularly interesting to hear of their initial feelings about the town, before they made it or, for those few who grew up there, while they were quite young. Their impressions remain vivid: Gloria Stuart remembering when her native Santa Monica, in the 1910s, extended only as far as 7th Street, with the open space beyond stretching all the way to Hollywood; Robert Redford recalling how the wondrous Los Angeles of his childhood began being spoiled after World War II; Angela Lansbury reminiscing about the the great studio era and the town's glittering night life; Clint Eastwood recalling his tough years of unemployment during the 1950s, when all the young aspiring leading men seemed to look just like him; Quentin Tarantino, by contrast, idealizing the 1950s as the best time in the city's history, a moment when the old and the new were both present; Jeff Bridges and Rob Reiner harking back to their teenage days on the Sunset Strip; Kevin Spacey revealing how he used to sneak onto the Universal lot just to watch movies being made; Steven Spielberg recalling his awe-struck first glimpse of a studio soundstage; Salma Hayek conveying her image of a glittering Hollywood as she grew up a star-struck young girl in Mexico, and Edward Norton evoking how he first arrived in Los Angeles amidst the hoopla of an Oscar night. It became evident that, beyond demonstrating how Hollywood and the movies grew together, our film would implicitly reflect how Hollywood chose to portray itself to the world during various periods. We naturally looked at every film about the movie business we could find; only a small number of them could be included in our finished film, but a fascinating progression emerged in regard to Hollywood's self-image. The handful of Hollywood-set films of the silent era such as SHOW PEOPLE and THE CAMERAMAN tended to be larky romps emphasizing the fun of the profession. The dominant Hollywood-themed pictures of the 1930s almost invariably painted a romantic portrait of a privileged place where dreams could come true, where a "nobody" could suddenly become a "somebody." Best exemplified, perhaps, by WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? and its stepchild, A STAR IS BORN, these films were not without troubling and even tragic elements, but the basic thrust was upbeat and inspiring, creating the lasting image of Hollywood as an industry town, populated by colorful characters, where talent and hard work, aided by good luck, was rewarded. Like pictures in other genres, the self-referential Hollywood films after World War II became darker and semi-disenchanted: SUNSET BOULEVARD; IN A LONELY PLACE; THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL; THE STAR; and THE BIG KNIFE, just for starters, retained some of the moody glamor, but the romanticism had a sordid, curdled tinge to it. Filmmakers at this stage clearly relished pulling back the curtain on some of the more disreputable aspects of the industry, an attitude that coincided with the aging of the original stars and the beginning of the decline of the old-line studio system. By the late 1960s-early 1970s, it became almost impossible to find a Hollywood-on-Hollywood film that was anything but an outright self-immolation. Self-hatred ruled the day, as seen in picture after picture: Hollywood Boulevard became a literal battlefield in ALEX IN WONDERLAND no icon was sacred in MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and the savagery of the masses asserted itself in THE DAY OF THE LOCUST.

As behind-the-scenes figures have become increasingly familiar to the public over the last two decades, the scathing approach has remained in fashion, the more "inside" the tone the better, as in THE PLAYER and THE MUSE. At this point, the most daring and surprising film anyone could make about Hollywood would be one that didn't attack it but rather portrayed it as a fun, exciting place to live and work. Surely some people in the business must enjoy their profession, but no one has yet admitted it onscreen. FOREVER HOLLYWOOD, of course, represents its own kind of reflection by Hollywood upon itself. It's safe to say that all 23 people we interviewed for the film, who have been "studying" Hollywood and its ways all their lives, have complex, nuanced, finely tuned thoughts about their industry and the town that fostered it. The majority, and perhaps unanimous conclusion is that Hollywood is neither the place where all dreams come true, nor is it the most venal place on Earth. It's a location that both exists in the imagination of the world and is terribly real, a spot where anything can and does happen, a place where people can make and remake themselves and where some people achieve fame and fortune beyond all reason and others are dashed upon the rocks. In its balanced, judicious and informed expression of these truths, the most "accurate" fictional film about Hollywood is probably THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, which doesn't stint on the egotism, greed, hypocrisy and betrayal endemic in the business, but astutely emphasizes the fascination and enduring allure that attract people in the first place and then keep them coming back for more.

A film along the lines of FOREVER HOLLYWOOD was first conceived several years ago, but was always tied to the rebirth of the Egyptian Theater as the permanent home of the American Cinematheque. This dream, which seemed so farfetched to many doubters at a time when Hollywood Boulevard reached its lowest ebb in the early-to-mid-90s, took several years, millions of dollars and tremendous effort to achieve, but it finally came to pass thanks to the help of many individuals, companies and institutions, from the celebrities who gave interviews, to the studios that provided clips, and the firms such as Kodak and Panavision that supplied film and cameras, respectively. Apart from the technology-oriented productions of Cinerama and Imax and special event pictures created for worlds fairs, Disneyland and other theme parks, few films have ever been specifically made to be shown in a particular theater, but so it was for FOREVER HOLLYWOOD and the Egyptian. Knowing that the film would exclusively be presented on one of the biggest screens in Los Angeles, we shot the interviews in 35mm--a rarity in documentaries today--on specially designed sets at Raleigh Studios soundstages in Hollywood. Stylistically, we tried to achieve a look of timeless elegance that would as comfortably suit the stars of the '30s and '40s that appear in the film as it would today's luminaries. The clips from the more than 75 feature films were obtained from the best available 35mm materials, no longer the easiest matter given the fact that most vintage pictures are now most conveniently preserved on video and DVD. Archival footage, of which we have more than 250 shots documenting various stages in Hollywood history, is now often available only on videotape, so this had to be transferred to film with the utmost care. In presenting the diverse footage, we were insistent upon preserving the original formats and aspect ratios, from the virtually square silent screen image to more recent widescreen, a task to which our technical staff diligently applied itself. On the musical side, we used sources that evoked Hollywood's distinct historical eras as well as score excerpts from the feature films themselves. But in searching for our dominant musical theme, we recalled Stephen Sondheim's remark that the definitive Hollywood theme remains David Raksin's for THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Fully agreeing that this theme has never been matched in its evocation of the romance, melodrama and intrigue of the movie world, we approached Mr. Raksin and, to our great delight, he agreed to let us use it for our film.

FOREVER HOLLYWOOD was made for the general public, to be entertaining and accessible to visitors from Kyoto and Milan as well as from Peoria and El Paso, people who like the movies but don't necessarily know much about them. From the outset, it was evident to us that Hollywood Bouelvard sorely lacked any attraction to provide its millions of annual visitors with any information at all about the community's history, and we were anxious to remedy that situation. At the same time, we wanted to offer some substance to people who do know, or think they know, something about Hollywood, to give them glimpses of the town and its past that have seldom been seen. In making the film, we were reminded above all of how Hollywood, at its best, has always had an intensely multi-faceted appeal, appealing to the head and heart, lofty virtues and base instincts, sophisticates and the children in us all. It was this many-layered allure that we tried to match in FOREVER HOLLYWOOD.

--- Todd McCarthy

 

 

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