If you are like me, you still miss Smash, the television series that revolved around a group of people creating new Broadway musicals, where everyone must balance their often chaotic personal life with the all-consuming demands of life in the theater. The series features original music by the team of gay composer/lyricist Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
The series created by playwright Theresa Rebeck with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer was broadcast by NBC for two seasons in 2012- 2013. The series revolves around a fictional New York City theater community and it features a large ensemble cast that included Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, and the delicious Anjelica Huston. It was terrific until it wasn’t terrific, but it broke new ground during its troubled production. I enjoyed it immensely, in no small part due to its talented cast.
She has had three Academy Award nominations with one win; three BAFTA nominations, three SAG Award nominations, five Emmy Award Nominations and four Golden Globe nominations. It is so great that Anjelica Huston is still working. Her next project will open this October, in theatres if we still have them, or on some streaming service. It is titled The French Dispatch Of The Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, written and directed by Wes Anderson. The film focuses on the French foreign bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper.
The film stars an ensemble cast, including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. The film’s supporting cast features some of Anderson’s regular collaborators, including Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, and Huston.
Huston’s memoir, A Story Lately Told (2013), written without a ghost writer, is a wonderful read, well-written and brimming with anecdotes her highly unusual childhood with her famous family of Hollywood royalty, but it only takes us to her 17th year and her problematic affair with photographer Bob Richardson. The juicy stuff about Nicholson and friends continues in a second volume Watch Me: A Memoir (2014)
I sure do admire her work as an actor and director, and I have always found her personal life captivating. Huston has been working since 1969!
I believe that my favorite performance by Huston is in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), but I might have to think about that, there is ten more that I treasure:
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Prizzi’s Honor (1985)
The Dead (1987)
Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)
Enemies: A Love Story (1989)
The Grifters (1990)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Addams’s Family Values (1993)
The Golden Bowl (2000)
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
For camp value, try and find The Ice Pirates (1984), a Star Wars riff directed by Stewart Raffill, who also did the nutty screenplay. The film stars Huston with Robert Urich, Ron Perlman, our hero Bruce Vilanch, John Carradine and NFL player John Matuszak.
The film was made at MGM when David Begelman was in charge of production. MGM was in financial trouble in the 1980s, and bankers put a limit of $8 million on all the studio’s films.
MGM had a contract with Robert Urich to make a TV series and insisted on him being cast. Begelman wanted Huston, a personal friend, in the film. Matuszak was cast because one of the financiers liked him.
Begelman who was found to be stealing money from the studio and he tried to sabotage the film. Another producer, John Foreman, was a close friend of Paul Newman‘s and when Begelman said something nasty about Newman’s wife, Foreman punched him!
”At the end of the film, they were meant to arrive at Earth and they fly over the beaches of Malibu with everyone swimming in the water and the studio head cut that out! He never told me and it was gone. I had to drink vodka to calm myself down.“
The film is noteworthy for its cheeky, cheesy, cut-rate production values, mid-1980s “color-blind casting”, plenty of sex, and deliberately shlocky direction. There are herpes, castration and eunuchs in space! The costumes and the climactic “time-warp” battle are pure camp.
Surprisingly, it was a moderate box office success, grossing a domestic total of $15 million on a $9 million budget.
Apparently, Huston really likes wool:
Huston celebrates her birthday this evening, unfortunately, not with me.