MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

Dretzka By Gary DretzkaDretzka@moviecitynews.com

Showest Serves Up Newsworthy-Lite Fare

LAS VEGAS — Exhibitor or journalist, one no longer attends ShoWest for its newsworthiness. Celebrity sightings are duly noted, as are the latest improvements in cookie-dough confections and sneak previews of tent-pole movies. The absence of any real news went out with the administration of the late, ever-quotable Jack Valenti. When Valenti was ringleader of the…

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Showest, cont’d

When ShoWest members couldn’t be found at a screening, seminar, buffet or banquet, they likely were strolling among the booths at the concurrent trade show, noshing on popcorn, hot dogs and soda pop. It’s here that exhibitors traditionally have been introduced to the latest in concessions, projection and other technical equipment, ticketing devices, lighting fixtures,…

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A Tale of Two Subtitled Mysteries

Although it’s difficult to argue raw numbers, statistics are only as good as the person interpreting them. Homicides and murders are especially tricky. For example, the rates at which such crimes occur can be slanted to reflect something quite different than whole numbers. In 2008, more than 14,000 “unjustified” homicides were reported to the FBI…

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Precious Reigns at Revamped Spirits

The annual Independent Spirit Awards have been slouching toward mainstream for most of the last 10 years, or, roughly, since television fell in love with any awards show that could coax a celebrity to leave his or her Malibu cocoon for the price of a swag bag. Before that, hardly anyone walking down the red…

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Dretzka

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook