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MacGuffin

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2007, 08:17:17 PM »
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David Mamet's crazy about Hollywood. Truly.
Heís got an industry book out, but itís not scathing. Tinseltown, he says, hasnít Ďgone bad.í
By Maria Russo, Times Staff Writer

David Mamet, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and well-compensated Hollywood screenwriter and screenplay fixer, not to mention sometime director and TV honcho, was unpretentiously ensconced in his office, a small, airy apartment located in a pleasant cinderblock complex in Santa Monica. This is where he works ó reading and thinking, harboring no grudges, planning no acrid verdicts on the movie business ó even as his latest book, "Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business," is being widely interpreted as just that. The reviews alleging its bitterness and cynicism about the Hollywood game have already rolled in. The general impression is that when Mamet unsheathes his pen on this particular topic, there will be blood in the water.

Misinterpretation, according to the writer who gave us the remorseless "Glengarry Glen Ross" on Broadway and the merciless "Wag the Dog" in the multiplex. "I don't think Hollywood has gone bad," he said last week, seated on a couch, seemingly at peace with the world. "It's the same as it's always been."

His muscular, 59-year-old torso was hugged by a T-shirt bearing the name of the academy where he practices Brazilian jujitsu, a variation of the ancient Japanese martial art that turns an enemy's strength against him by using leverage rather than brute power. As for his stance toward the topic of his book, he was unequivocal: "I love Hollywood," he said.

Just as the book is being published, the revival of his 1988 Hollywood satire, "Speed-the-Plow," is opening tonight at the Geffen Playhouse, and the two works are of a piece, never mind the almost 20 years separating them. According to Mamet, the essential condition of Hollywood has not changed one iota since he wrote the play, with its entertaining take on grasping producers and their oily mores. When it opened on Broadway with Madonna, no less, as Karen, the scheming temp, the play seemed dangerous and au courant. Now it plays as almost a tribute to a pre-Digital Age Hollywood where you knew, at least, who the enemy was.

The business end of movies

Detached from reality as it may at times seem, Mamet's contrarian, matter-of-fact assurance that everything will be OK, that art will find a way to flourish, is a refreshing alternative, anyway, to the hand-wringing, punctuated by apocalyptic pronouncements, that's so in vogue these days. If the rest of Hollywood appears to be in full-on crisis mode, frantically backpedaling as its audience shifts their preferred viewing environment to their living rooms, their preferred format to the swiftly released DVD, their preferred context to the fast-forward-enhanced home entertainment center, Mamet has been too contentedly busy to read the memo. What he has been reading instead is "a lot of political-economic theory."

"I've been fascinated by it for a while," he explained. "So I started thinking about the business end of movies thematically."

Hence, the new book, which takes it title from a brief, satirical 1960s animated short (actually called "Bambi Meets Godzilla") in which Bambi, innocently nibbling at flowers, is stomped on by Godzilla. It's a black-and-white parable for all manner of unfair Hollywood matchups, beginning with the old virtuous-artist-versus-craven-moneymen dichotomy.

"Curiously, and alone among art forms, movies are both an art form and an industry," Mamet said. "The book is a reflection on it as both." He then commenced a lengthy discourse on free markets and democracy. "Movies are a strangely wonderful example of the free-market economy," he said. Whatever may be wrong with Hollywood, or for that matter the nation, "the free-market economy is not the problem."

What about the widely held idea that the film industry, as a business, is in the midst of some fundamental shift, an irreversible contraction? Mamet looked unconvinced, even slightly blank. "It's always been the same," he repeated. "The studios have fallen apart several times in the last hundred years. An economist will say that's just the nature of the system."

He gave another lengthy and possibly learned explanation of the economics of the movie business, concluding with the idea that, where the big studios are concerned, there's "too much necessity of rationalizing subjective decisions to third parties. So the system breaks down. But then it corrects itself."

Still, you can't blame Mamet's publisher for presenting "Bambi vs. Godzilla" ó much of which originally appeared in his column in the Guardian and in Harper's Magazine ó as a tough-guy indictment of Tinseltown corruption. And, of course, when Mamet commits his views to paper, he does not do so with a feathery touch. His prose persona is an odd ó and oddly appealing ó combination of wintry New England headmaster and former Chicago street-punk who's been stabbed and shot, but won the ensuing fistfight. He writes a lot of one-sentence paragraphs, which mimic the bludgeoning effect of his widely admired and emulated boom-boom-chop-chop dialogue, while at the same time preserving his more arch and antiquated literary predilections.

Here, for example, is a maneuver that summarizes the benighted realm of the bureaucratic movie executive who prefers to keep movies "in development":

"The successfully matriculated executive, marginally concerned with art and diminishingly concerned even with 'product,' devotes his new wisdom and increased leisure to opportunities for trickery, greed, stock manipulation, and merger, as in any business.

"In the film business, one department of this glee is called 'the development process.'

"This is the fig leaf of propriety covering, if I may, not the genitals of artistic potential but the empty space where they once lay."

Nothing like great acting

He may not have axes to grind, but Mamet is at the very least rankled by all the hangers-on, the peripheral players who have dragged down the art of film over the years. This includes not just useless, venal producers but also film critics ("a plague") and anyone dumb enough to go to film school in the hope of becoming a filmmaker.

But this is also a book infused with love ó the sweet, helpless love Mamet has for film, and the communal process that makes it. Because what will rescue Hollywood, in the end, is simple craftsmanship, Mamet insists.

Great acting, especially, knocks him out. On Tony Curtis in "Some Like It Hot": "This is a performance one wishes to hug to one's chest." And he puts in the book this almost-gushing sentence: "I got to make a heist film with Gene Hackman." At their best, his pronouncements about film rise to a blunt eloquence: "Movies possess the power to speak to the human soul, to free us from the weight of repression. What is repressed? Our knowledge of our own worthlessness."

"Do you want to know what the book is really about?" Mamet asked, the conversation having moved upstairs to the loft, where his desk sits, surrounded by books, old-timey posters, volumes of Torah commentary and drawings made by his two young children. He gestured to the wall behind the desk, which displayed a collection of vintage studio passes, small painted and embossed metal badges, each unique and surprisingly lovely. "I love the movie business," he said yet again. "I'm crazy about it! It's the most fun in the world."
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2007, 12:41:09 PM »
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Bought the book yesterday, gonna jump into it today.
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MacGuffin

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2007, 12:25:32 PM »
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David Mamet is one of the greatest writers who ever lived. Heís had success in every medium heís worked in from theater to film and in the past year in television with The Unit, which he co-created with Shawn Ryan. The show has become a ratings success for CBS. But what people love the most about Mamet is his wit, his hilarious cynicism and his ability to teach. That teaching gene has been put on display with Mametís acting classes, his book On Directing Film and now his new book, Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business. Due to the nature of making studio films and mainstream television Mamet has been steeped in the business end of Hollywood for many years now. With Bambi vs. Godzilla he uses the classic 1960ís cartoon short as a metaphor for how Hollywood treats its denizens.

Daniel Robert Epstein: What are you working on today?

David Mamet: Iím working on about eight things. I think mainly Iím working on revising a television script for my TV show.

DRE:The Unit has obviously taken off and itís going to be around for a little while. Youíve never had your own show on before. How has that experience been for you?

DM:Itís a lot of fun. Itís like making a movie constantly.

DRE:Whatís it like working with Shawn Ryan?

DM:Iíve got a lot to learn from Shawn. Heís running two shows and he looks like heís half asleep all the time. Iím in awe of him sometimes. I have a shitload to learn from him. Heís great. In addition to being a wonderful administrator and a terrific producer, heís got a terrific story sense. The hardest thing about dramaturgy is of course the plot. They say anybody can write a good first act and thatís true. So a lot of times weíd be sitting around in the room and I or someone else will be jacked up and heíll say ďInstead of the guy, what if it was the girl? What if you took scene three first and put it first?Ē The other good part is that he loves going into the editing room, which is another form of storytelling. It is taking the finished product and saying, ďOkay, I get it. My good ideas donít make sense. Iím going to reshuffle them and make them make sense.Ē To answer your question, itís great working with him.

DRE:Iím sure youíve had the chance to make television shows before, what was it that made you say, ďNow itís timeĒ?

DM:I donít know. I know I had the chance to make television before. I wrote a couple episodes of Hill Street Blues back in the dark ages. That was before sound had come to television. It was silent. But it just happened. I was just mucking about. I had directed a couple of episodes of The Shield for Shawn and I just finished a movie called Spartan with Eric Haney who had written a book called Inside Delta Force, about his years in Delta Force. Shawn, Eric and I were having sushi and the idea came out of the woodwork to do a TV show based on Ericís book so there you have it.

DRE:So everything just came together at the right time.

DM:Yeah, thatís right.

DRE:Itís interesting that this book, Bambi vs. Godzilla, has come on the heels of you directing a movie for a major movie company [Spartan for Warner Bros] and you have a show on a major television network. So youíre literally in the middle of Hollywood and youíre writing this book about Hollywood. Are those things connected or is it something youíve been thinking about for a while?

DM:I think theyíre very much connected. Iíve always counted myself really fortunate to be in show business. It was either that or crime because other than show business I donít think I have any skills. So Iíve always loved the business and the craft end of it. As a dramatist you donít have to spend much time with the business side of it. You write the plays, you put them on, the people come, you make some money. The people donít come, you write another play and put that on. Itís fairly straightforward. So since getting more and more involved in Hollywood Iíve been more involved in the business side of the equation and itís fascinating.

DRE:Youíre someone thatís given a lot of respect by actors and directors, do you feel like youíre given the proper respect by the people you call out?

DM:I donít know that Iíd call them out. I certainly donít name any names nor would I. Thatís not my place. Iím not there to invite individualism. Iím there to support the system for good or ill. What Iím talking about is that show business is absolute, unfettered free market capitalism. Iíve never thought about economics before so to look at it that way has been very interesting.

DRE:Are you someone thatís been able to reconcile the idea of art as commerce?

DM:Yeah because if I donít reconcile it for myself, my grocer ainít going to. Iím very fortunate. I grew up in Chicago in the golden age of Chicago Theater. Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey had just written Grease in a garage. Dennis Franz and Joe Mantegna were doing work over at the Organic Theater and I was doing American Buffalo with Billy Macy and Mike Nussbaum in our little garage theater. Then John Malkovich, Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf came down, took over the little garage theater and they started doing all the Sam Shepherd plays. There was nothing between us and the poorhouse except putting the asses in the seats. Thatís all there was. So we never drew a distinction between art and commerce. Here we were putting on plays for the fun of it, but if the people didnít come we didnít eat. That was a wonderful salutary experience in the essence of show business. Which is, if they didnít laugh, it ainít funny.

DRE:[laughs] One of the things you talk about in the book is how screenwriters will change their scripts to accommodate all the notes they get. I interviewed a big television writer named Bruce Helford last year. If I had to guess I would say he agrees with you about that. But one thing he said was, ďTheir notes may not be exactly what you wanted to do but you find ways to slip those notes into what you do.Ē What do you think about something like that?

DM:Well, Iíve had two experiences, one was notes in television and the other was notes in the movies. In television I havenít gotten any notes. Shawn may have gotten a couple notes because heís, quite graciously, much closer to the networks and the studio than I am. But as far as I can see we havenít gotten many notes. The only notes that weíve gotten are about clarity. In the movies when youíre working as a writer for hire, you get an incredible amount of notes and theyíre almost always bad and stupid. The problem is, youíre getting paid to put up with stupidness and once in a while somebody has a good idea. So one is constantly wearing oneís artistís hat and exchanging it for oneís whore hat and sometimes your head gets chafed.

DRE:Have you ever felt like a whore?

DM:Iíll tell you what my dear friend Shel Silverstein, may he rest in peace, said. I was bitching and moaning about screenwriting and he said, ďDave, Iíll tell you what itís like. Itís like youíre the greatest cabinetmaker in the world. People come to you and say I want you to make a perfect example of a Biedermeier table and weíll pay you whatever you want. You say, okay. You work on it youíre so proud of it and they take it and they set fire to it. You say, You said youíd pay for it and you set fire to it. They say Oh no, we just wanted to do it for a movie effect. So they come back next year and say, We want you to make another one of those Biedermeier tables. Weíll pay you even more money than we paid you last year. You say, Ok, Iím a craftsman. Itís all about craft. I need the money because my girlfriend and my kids like it. So you build the Biedermeier table even better than before and they take it and set fire to it. By the third or fourth year you arenít going to be making that table quite as well anymore because you know theyíre going to fucking set fire to it.Ē The problem with writing movies for hire is that youíre constantly saying to yourself ďWhat difference does it make? Theyíre going to ruin it anyway.Ē Of course you canít say that because then you are a whore. So you say, ďNo, I will not go down that road. Iím going to write the best goddamn script I can.Ē Then they hate it. So you say, ďWhatís the problem?Ē The problem is not with the people who are paying you because what they do is perfectly clear. The problem is with yourself. Not that youíre writing a less good script, but that you know that youíre getting paid to write a script that no one is ever going to fucking understand.

DRE:A willingness to have your work destroyed, is that what it is?

DM:Destroyed, but the idea is that it ainít your work. Itís somebody elseís. The law calls it writer for hire because thatís what you are.

DRE:How long did it take in your writing career to come up with the three questions that you write in Bambi vs. Godzilla?

DM:Itís actually Aristotle, right out of the Poetics. But it took me a long time to realize, ďDuh, thatís what itís all about.Ē Part of it is Iíve been working very closely with the writers on the TV show and trying to impart to them the few things that I know that might be helpful to younger writers.

DRE:I know that youíre someone that likes to have a lot of control when it comes to your work and for a television show you have to let go a bit. Is that where the team-up with Shawn comes in?

DM:Not so much with Shawn because weíre co-producers on the show. Itís like any good marriage, automatically one personís going to do one thing and the other person is going to do the other and you help the other guy out. In a bad marriage you say ďOkay, listen, I took the garbage out Wednesday, you take the garbage out Thursday.Ē ďI fed the cat yesterday now you have to feed the cat,Ē In a good marriage you do it automatically, so I think weíve got a pretty good marriage as producers. But itís the nature of television, one cannot direct every one. When you finish your show on Monday, someone else has been prepping to shoot a new show on Tuesday so you canít be both prepping and directing. You canít do them all. Also, you canít write them all. Theoretically you could, if you were younger and had a lot of chemical aid. But you would go insane if you had to write a 46 minute movie, basically half a movie, every eight days. You might be able to do it for a couple of weeks but after that youíre going to start to go insane because itís very taxing. So when youíre doing a television show, you have to delegate responsibility to the other writers and directors.

DRE:Does one have to know the rules of Hollywood in order to break them or avoid them?

DM:The greatest document of Western Civilization in, my estimation, is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. They put the two guys into the cage. Remember what the guy said?

DRE:Two men enter, one man leave. Right?

DM:Yeah, but what does he say after that?

DRE:I donít remember.

DM:We know you wonít break the rules, there arenít any.

DRE:[laughs] Thatís better than what William Goldman says.

DM:Nobody knows anything. Both of those lines are spectacular.

DRE:[laughs] Is Bambi vs. Godzilla, along with your book On Directing Film, the way that you teach classes?

DM:I donít teach classes in writing. Iíve tried. I canít do it. I do teach classes in acting. Bill Macy and I started an acting company 21 years ago in New York called The Atlantic Theater. Itís still thriving in New York and I just started an outpost branch in LA so weíre going to be teaching acting a little bit out here. The rules for acting and the rules for writing are the same. Who wants what? What happens if I donít get it and Why now?

DRE:I interviewed Bill Macy a few years ago and he told me that you really love actors.

DM:I adore actors.

DRE:But do you love the bad things an actor can do as well? Such as when the unnamed actor in Bambi vs. Godzilla stomps all over that car wearing combat boots.

DM:Thatís not because he was an actor. Itís because he was an asshole. Many of the most successful writers in the history of the world were either actors or failed actors or in love with actors. Thatís because the way you learn how to write a play is not by sitting in your chair, itís by watching actors and especially by watching actors around an audience. It helps to try to figure out whatís the actor actually doing. What is it that the audience perceives about what the actorís doing? Iíve been an actor, Harold Pinter was an actor and Chekhov was in love with actors. Youíve got to watch what the actorís doing if you want to learn how to write a play.

DRE:I spoke with Stuart Gordon last year about Edmond and he mentioned about how you were willing to change the script for the movie version. It seems that the directors that direct movie adaptations of your plays are very reluctant to take out the dialogue. But when you direct there is much less dialogue.

DM:Well, you donít need dialogue. If somebodyís making a movie out of my plays, thereís a self-regulating mechanism that regulates the rhythm of the performance and of the audience. Thereís a feedback loop between the actors and the audience. In a movie thatís not true. So sometimes in a movie one has to alter the pace because the pace is the pace of the shots not the pace of the performance. Therefore sometimes youíre going to make cuts in a movie.

DRE:Have you finished Joan of Bark yet?

DM:I finished the screenplay but I didnít shoot it. Itís sitting on the shelf.

DRE:Is that what youíre planning on doing next?

DM:I donít know. Iíve got several of things. Sony Classics asked me to do a movie version of The Voysey Inheritance, which is a 1905 play I adapted. Itís currently on at The Atlantic Theatre in New York. Iíve got this other project I may do about the martial arts community in LA.

DRE:What would that be about?

DM:Thereís this subterranean community thatís cross-pollinated between cage fighters and cops and boxers and stuntmen and Navy Seals. Itís a really interesting community. It is sort of a samurai film. It is about a guy whoís the worldís greatest fighter but he doesnít compete. He just trains people because he says, ďIíll train you to walk out of the alley alive but I wonít train you to get points from a referee.Ē The movie is about how he gets seduced away from his path and becomes commercialized.

DRE:Is that something you would write as well?

DM:I wrote it already. I think I may do that in the next year or so.

DRE:Spartan and, one of my favorite films, Wag the Dog are very political, are you still interested in writing about politics?

DM:Yeah, Iíve been working on a secret play. I donít know how good it is. But itís a play about a political issue I think concerns us all. Itís about the President of the United States and whether or not heís going to pardon a couple of turkeys for Thanksgiving.

DRE:Oh thatís funny. He always does it. Isnít that bizarre?

DM:Yeah.

DRE:Have you heard of these prank phone calls where they use Al Pacinoís dialogue from Glengarry Glen Ross?

DM:Oh yeah. Do you know about the Toynbee tiles?

DRE:No, I donít. Whatís that?

DM:This is the weirdest thing that ever happened. I wrote this play [called 4 am] about a million years ago that was an homage to Larry King when he was late night talk show host on radio in the 70ís. A guy calls in and heís talking about the film 2001 based on the writings of Arnold Toynbee. The Larry King character says, ďI think youíll find that 2001 is based on the writings of Arthur C. Clarke.Ē The guy says, ďNo, Larry. I believe that youíre wrong there. 2001 based on the writing of Arnold Toynbee tells us that all human life will be reconstituted on the planet Jupiter.Ē They had this rather silly conversation for ten minutes. It turns out that now you can go on the internet and look up Toynbee tiles. There are these tiles that are showing up all over the country that say in mosaic ďToynbee says all life reconstituted on Jupiter.Ē You can go to these links and theyíll tell you how to make these tiles and where to put them up.

DRE:Are things like the Toynbee tiles and the prank phone calls complimentary?

DM:Itís great.

Iíll tell you another weird thing. A guy sent me this in the mail. Apparently, one of the Iraqi ministers, like the minister of electricity or something like that, got kidnapped and they held him for a while. I donít know what they did; they probably whacked him on his knuckles. He got away and the Times asked him how he escaped and he said and I quote, ďI did the Chicago way.Ē Which is an idea that I made up for Sean Connery in The Untouchables. I thought it was nice this guy was quoting from that.

DRE:I remember reading a story about during a screening of The Untouchables you walked out during the Eisenstein homage because you didnít write it, is that true?

DM:I donít know if itís true or not but I do mention the Eisenstein sequence in Bambi vs. Godzilla. I describe it as a prescient adumbration of Brian De Palmaís The Untouchables.

DRE:I believe that De Palma is supposed to direct a prequel, any interest in seeing that?

DM:No, not really but I suggested to Brian that he do a sequel and call it The Retouchables.

DRE:[laughs] Did he think that was funny?

DM:He didnít think it was funny.
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2007, 10:27:47 AM »
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Mamet directs Ford TV ads
Source: Los Angeles Times

In an effort to get more people to notice its new vehicles, Ford Motor Co. has enlisted the help of filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet to direct some commercials [see below].

The television spots, which were scheduled to debut Tuesday night during Fox's "American Idol," compare the company's Edge crossover vehicle with the BMW X-5 and the Lexus RX-350, Ford officials said.
 
Agency copywriters wrote the dialogue in an effort to mimic Mamet's work, and he didn't change any of the words, a Ford executive said.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated announcement, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin said it had acquired Mamet's papers for use by students and scholars ó more than 100 boxes of journals, correspondence and drafts of all of his plays and screenplays.




ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2007, 10:54:31 AM »
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Mamet to Return to Theater of Politics
Source: New York Times

The last time David Mamet dipped his sharp pen into presidential politics was in 1997, when he was a co-author of the screenplay for ďWag the Dog,Ē about a ó ahem ó fictional president who tries to stage a fake war to distract from a damaging sex scandal.

Anyone wondering what he would have to say about todayís fraught political environment doesnít have to wonder much longer. Politics are the subject of Mr. Mametís next play, ďNovember,Ē scheduled to open in January 2008 at a Broadway theater to be announced.

The play, to be directed by Joe Mantello, is a contemporary comedy about a president named Charles Smith and is set a few days before the election, in which he is running as an incumbent. The action unfolds over one day and involves, according to a synopsis provided by the producers, ďcivil marriage, gambling casinos, lesbians, American Indians, presidential libraries, questionable pardons and campaign contributions.Ē

As a chronicler of moral frailty and heartlessness in the darker corners of American culture, Mr. Mamet has written about thieves, real estate salesmen, academics and Hollywood producers, but outside of ďWag the DogĒ he has generally steered clear of American politics.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Mamet said he had written some political essays when he was much younger and had lately been drawing crude political cartoons for huffingtonpost.com.

This play, which he described as ďthree men in a room trying to work things out,Ē was inspired by the absurdity of the presidentially pardoned turkeys every Thanksgiving.

ďNovemberĒ would be Mr. Mametís sixth play to open on Broadway (plus two revivals) but the first to have its world premiere there. ďIt just always seemed to be a Broadway play,Ē Mr. Mamet said.

Much of the team behind the play has worked together before. Mr. Mantello directed the Tony Award-winning revival of Mr. Mametís play ďGlengarry Glen RossĒ in 2005. The producers of that revival, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, will be producing ďNovember.Ē Scott Pask, who a co-designer of ďThe Coast of UtopiaĒ this season, will design the set.

No casting has been announced, but the chatter percolating around Broadway is that Nathan Lane is under consideration for the role of President Smith.

ďI can neither confirm nor deny that he is doing the role,Ē Mr. Richards said. ďIt calls for a great actor with superlative comic timing, and certainly someone like Nathan Lane fits that requirement.Ē
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2007, 09:53:10 PM »
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Lane to star in 'November'
Actor cast in Mamet Broadway show
Source: Variety
 
Nathan Lane will play the presidential lead role in "November," the new political comedy by David Mamet due to begin perfs on Broadway in December.

Lane had been tipped as the likeliest candidate to play the fictional President Charles Smith in the show, about a day in the life of a beleaguered commander-in-chief.

No other casting for the five-person ensemble has been announced. On the design team, Laura Bauer (costumes) and Paul Gallo (lights) will join the previously announced Scott Pask (sets) for the Joe Mantello-helmed world preem.

Mantello ("Wicked"), who helmed the Tony-winning 2005 revival of Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," previously directed Lane in "The Odd Couple" and "Love! Valour! Compassion!"

Last new Mamet play to run on the Rialto was the 1997 production of "The Old Neighborhood," originally produced by Boston's American Repertory Theater. More recently, scribe's comedy "Romance" was a hit at Off Broadway's Atlantic Theater in 2005.

"November," produced by the "Glengarry" team of Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, starts rehearsals Nov. 26 for a preview period that kicks off Dec. 21. Production opens Jan. 17 at a Shubert theater yet to be confirmed.
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2008, 07:10:45 PM »
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David Mametís Election Season
The playwright on Hillary, corruption, and our democracyís saving grace. 
By Boris Kachka; NY Mag

When the star of The Producers decides to play a U.S. president in a Broadway play written by David Mamet (November, opening January 17), is it any wonder he becomes a desperate con man? Mamet, whose last play was the 2005 courtroom farce Romance, deliberately got this new comedy up as early in the primary season as possible. But Nathan Laneís president, Charles H.P. Smithóa cash-poor incumbent on the verge of losing reelectionólooks a lot more like a certain lame duck than like any of the current White House contenders. And Smith is in a venal class all his own, deploring the job as ďtoo much stress, too little opportunity for theft,Ē and lighting on the annual Thanksgiving-turkey pardon as a potential fund-raising scheme. Mamet may not have expected the primary seasonís latest surprises, along with all the expressions of hope (Change! Change! Change!) that make scandal-a-minute 2006 (amply referenced in November) seem like a long-ago nightmare. But then, heís got a surprisingly positive take on the political processówhich he laid out for us, albeit in broad terms (just donít ask him to endorse a candidate).

So what made you decide to write a comedy set in the Oval Office?
Like a lot of other Americans, Iíve gotten very interested in politics lately.

And what do you make of the primaries?
I was shocked, after Iowa, to find myself thinking, Well, you know, if there were the two candidates, McCain and Obama, either of them would probably make a hell of a president.

And what about Hillaryís tearful turnaround?
Well, I only heard something on the radio. I donít think Iím misquoting her. She said, ďI have so many opportunities for America.Ē* [Long pause.] Thatís kind of wonderfully revelatory. Itís not that there are so many opportunities for America, but she has so many opportunities for America.

Will you be voting in the California primary, and for whom?
Of course Iím going to be voting. Iím entitled to my political opinions, and I get to vote because Iím an American. But Iím not the guy to ask about politics. Iím a gag writer.

But you write about politicsóespecially your strong pro-Israel stanceóon the Huffington Post and in books.
If youíre writing an opinion piece, itís your job to write your opinion. If, on the other hand, you wrote a novel, as Virginia Woolf tells us, it would be inappropriate if you let your novel be influenced by your political opinions.

But they certainly influence November. Your president started a war in Iraq, detains citizens illegally, ďfucked the country into a stuffed hat,Ē and has poll numbers in the toilet. Sounds like some classic Bush-bashing.
Itís very clear from the first moment that itís not a play about George Bush. Heís an incumbent whoís running for a second term, thatís the whole gag of the play.

Do you think thereís any correspondence between your play and whatís going on right now?
For a long time, I felt politicians were stealing my material. I wrote Wag the Dog and then that scandal followed. I guess plagiarism is the sincerest form of thievery.

But how do you see life imitating November?
Everything changes. I mean, thatís the great thing about politics. Itís like fighting a war. No plan ever outlives the first encounter with the enemy.

But Nathan Lane plays a deeply cynical president, and a lot of people seem relatively upbeat about politics right now.
Itís not a cynical play. I might flatter myself by calling it a populist play, because thereís one polemic going on between the president, whoís unutterably corrupt, and his speechwriter, whoís in his view unutterably naÔve. At one point she says to him, ďPeople say weíre a country divided, but weíre not a country divided, what we are is a democracy.Ē And I think that is the meeting ground of the two positions. That the only country thatís not divided is totalitarian.

That almost sounds like something Aaron Sorkin would write for The West Wing. Sorkin owes something to your style. What did you think of that show?
I thought it was a great show. Listen, the essence of any television show is to take people backstage and stick them with a group of people weíre told are special. We can call it the White House or Delta Force or cops or doctors. But itís the same idea.

So do you enjoy writing your own showóThe Unitófor TV?
It calls on a lot of skills that I have, a lot of skills that I donít have, and some skills Iíll never have. But itís different. Itís like in the Book of Jobówhere all the comforters said x, y, and z happened and ďonly I am escaped to tell thee.Ē

Um, how is it like that?
Iím sure itís like childbirth: You just canít understand it until youíve done it. Because it combines the rigors of making a movie with the rigors of running a widget factory.

Okay. But you do consider theater more important than television?
No. I do it for a living. I would rather go see The Music Man than The House of Bernarda Alba. And Iíd rather go see Our Town than Long Dayís Journey Into Night. Because they partake of entertainment. Youíve got to put the asses in the seats and keep them there.

You also directed a Ford commercial. Why?
I did it for the money. Why do you think I did it?

And you needed the money that badly?
Well, itís nice to have, because you can buy things with it.

So the whole business of ďselling out,Ē you think itís bullshit?
No, of course itís not bullshit. One is faced with that every day. All of us. Whatís a moral choice, whatís not a moral choice, and so forth. Somebody even more pedantic than I might say that thatís the whole question of drama: How does one make a moral decision? And further, that a moral decision is not the choice between wrong and rightóthatís easyóbut between two wrongs.

Youíre almost starting to sound cynical again.
The good news is itís a spectacular country. Weíve been around for 230 years in spite of human nature, because thatís what the Constitution is all about. Itís saying, of course everyoneís gonna try and take control. Of course theyíre gonna subvert every law thatís supposed to keep them in line. Of course the president is gonna want to be imperial, of course Congress is gonna want to become obstructionist, of course the judges are gonna be activist. Duh. They figured this out in 1787 and drew up a few sheets of paper that have kept the country in line. Itís a great place to live.
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Re: MAMET
« Reply #37 on: March 25, 2009, 07:52:08 PM »
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Mamet to direct his own 'Race'
Writer making Broadway directorial debut
Source: Variety

NEW YORK -- David Mamet will make his Broadway directing debut next season with the world preem of his new play "Race."

In Gotham, Mamet has previously helmed productions of his plays "Oleanna" and "The Cryptogram" as well as magician Ricky Jay's outings "Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants" and "Ricky Jay: On the Stem," all of which ran Off Broadway.

"Race" will be the second new Mamet play to bow on Broadway in two years, following the early 2008 opening of "November." Plot details remain sketchy, with producers saying only that the subject matter of the show is self-evident in the title.

A spate of Mamet revivals also has been seen on the Rialto in recent years, including productions of "Glengarry Glen Ross," "American Buffalo" and "Speed-the-Plow."

No cast for "Race" has yet been announced. Preview perfs begin Nov. 21 ahead of a Dec. 10 opening at a Shubert theater to be determined.

Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler -- the trio behind "Glengarry," "Speed" and "November" -- produce.
ďDon't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.Ē - Andy Warhol


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Pas

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2009, 03:53:07 PM »
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I just watched House of Games and was wondering something : are we supposed to be surprised ? The way it's made it looks almost as if the end should be a twist or something.

They should let us know straight up front what is going because the way it stands it's so stinkin predictable that I was at least expecting a double-punch, maybe even triple-punch. When it ended I felt very ''wtf'' because it was so obvious and they were all acting as though they were revealing things of the story that everybody with half a brain have already figured out.

The doctor lady, Crouse her actress name I think, CANNOT FUCKING ACT. she's terrible, like really terrible. Her hair is really fucked up too.

And the music ??! What in the hell is that jazz ?! It sounds like some Agatha Christie TV-Movie music (if you know what I'm talking about you'll no doubt see the resemblance and how pathetic that is)

Anyway MAJOR letdown. I'm starting the Spanish Prisoner now, hopefully it'll be better.

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2009, 01:37:39 PM »
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They should let us know straight up front what is going because the way it stands it's so stinkin predictable that I was at least expecting a double-punch, maybe even triple-punch. When it ended I felt very ''wtf'' because it was so obvious and they were all acting as though they were revealing things of the story that everybody with half a brain have already figured out.

The film has been very influential to other con films so because of that it hasn't aged well. When it was released in 1987, everything about the film felt brand new. If it was made today things would have to be different, but for the time it was appropriate.

The doctor lady, Crouse her actress name I think, CANNOT FUCKING ACT. she's terrible, like really terrible. Her hair is really fucked up too.

She's fine in Mr. Brooks, but I had a tough time stomaching her in this one. Mamet wants to keep actors as mechanical instruments for the dialogue. A lot of actors who are very expressive become simplistic when working with Mamet. Lindsay Crouse, a limited actor in her own right, came off even worse under Mamet's direction because of his style, but at the time she was Mrs. David Mamet so was guranteed a role.

And the music ??! What in the hell is that jazz ?! It sounds like some Agatha Christie TV-Movie music (if you know what I'm talking about you'll no doubt see the resemblance and how pathetic that is)

Well, that's a reference. The film was billed as a mystery noir so it had to have some of the trappings of one. All the psychological aspects of the film are supposed to be surprising. The idea was to make people expect a genre tale, but stun them with more.

All of this is me saying that I believe House of Games may be one of the most influential films of the last 30 years. It's influence is underwritten, but the style of con it shows it has been duplicated in numerous films and TV shows. There is a level of normalcy to it all so House of Games has a tough time coming off as fresh today, but I still believe it's pretty good. The acting, writing and even direction are still quality.

Pas

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2009, 02:19:28 PM »
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I like what you say about being very influential can make you...redundant for those who watch or listen or even read later.

The first reference that immediately came to mind is the character Sawyer in Lost and his con man story, very similar to house of games about ''owing money to the mob'' etc.

I finished the Spanish Prisonner and I found it much better, even though again the whole mystery was crystal clear except a few well done touches (the political asylum request to Venezuela etc).

Somehow I am always very entertained while I'm watching Mamet's films but will often be very critical of them afterward and even will think they sucked. When you look at how great and surprising the ending of Matchstick Men was, the twists of con movies like Spanish Prisoner and House of Games is really disappointing.

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2009, 10:04:30 PM »
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I dunno - I feel like The Sting and The Mission: Impossible tv series, as well as noirs like Night and the City have all had bigger influences on the small but noticeable con genre.  And most of all of the movies take notes from "The Big Con: Story of the Confidence Man" anyways - it's a book about the big time grifters written in the 40s that all screenwriters read.  After reading it you realize that most of these stories come straight out of a chapter in the book.
I just bought another Mamet book.  I loved RedBelt and I love his books - his opinions sometimes are very flawed but I like checking against them regularly to see where my materials and approaches stand.  for example, when I was freaking out about the short film I shot earlier this year I checked against Bambi vs. Godzilla to see if I was full of shit or if my script was full of shit.  The book said I wasn't, I hope I wasn't.  You guys can be the judge in a few months.  Or if you're impatient, PM me.
ďTragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.Ē
- Buster Keaton

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2009, 10:41:39 PM »
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I dunno - I feel like The Sting and The Mission: Impossible tv series, as well as noirs like Night and the City have all had bigger influences on the small but noticeable con genre.

I was conscious of those films and TV show, but the reason I still quoted House of Games as more influential is because it had the new dramatic aspects of the con film that made it so rife for copycats today. House of Games has all the modern aspects of con psychology. The Sting still feels unique because of its innocence and tone to the con. It was a throwback to the 1930s. I also don't necessarily see Night and the City as a con film on the same level. There is one in the plot, but it doesn't override the whole plot the way it does in the Sting and others.

Obviously I speak with some limitation because I don't know the book you quote and say is influential. It very well could be, but for my two cents, the mold I see in House of Games is what permeates through most modern con films. But I'm not a historian on the subject so don't want to be forceful with my opinion. I'll more likely yield to you with the book reference and interest in the subject.

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2009, 12:14:48 AM »
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mamet's books are great. i constantly find myself returning to on directing film, and three uses of the knife.

pete

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Re: MAMET
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2009, 01:17:47 AM »
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fuck I have to buy those too?  fuck.
ďTragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.Ē
- Buster Keaton

 

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