Thursday, March 18, 2010

interviews from marjorie-digest

My blog, marjorie-digest, contains interviews. This is my interview (from last May) with the writer/director Robert Siegel... who wrote the film "The Wrestler." He also wrote and directed the film, "Big Fan," which was nominated for the 2010 Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.

This interview with Robert began on a Thursday evening at a Chelsea diner. And we concluded the interview the following day, on a muggy Friday Manhattan night in the same diner. So, this was my first two-part interview. I was excited and happy.

Robert was editor-in-chief of "The Onion" from 1996 to 2003... when it was in it's original phase as a Madison, Wisconsin publication. The editor of "The Onion" when Robert arrrived was Ben Karlin, who later left to join "The Daily Show" as executive producer. He was followed by David Javerbaum, who is still the executive producer of "The Onion" and he wrote the music for the Broadway show, "Crybaby."

In 2001, "The Onion" moved to new headquarters in New York City. And shortly thereafter Robert began writing "The Wrestler." Robert explained that the process of creating a film is a long one. It can sometimes take five years from "script to screen." But Robert knew from the beginning that Mickey Rourke was "ideal" for this film and he wrote "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke in mind. Robert knew he would be just perfect for this part. Robert wanted to create a compelling character and story. Yet, he realizes the story is both sad and emotional. And throughout, there are many scenes in the film that show the character's great and extreme loneliness with moments of so much sweetness.

The audience knows at the end of the film that "The Ram" will not last long after he makes a decision to go back into the ring. He has made a decision to die. It was the director's decision to end the film with a freeze frame... to perhaps leave the final moments without a closure.

I think there are huge emotional moments in "The Wrestler" and it was Robert Siegel from whose fingers this heartbreaking film began and... he indeed created the film which gave Mickey Rourke his "comeback." Robert was nominated for a WGA award in the category of "original screenplay" for the film.

We moved on to a discussion of "Big Fan," the film which Robert wrote and directed and which will premiere at BAM on June 19th as part of the Next Wave Festival. In the film, Patton Oswalt plays Paul Aufiero, a loner who is obsessed with the Giants and he spends much of his time calling in to a sports radio show. For this role, Patton Oswalt won the award for "Best Actor" at the Method Festival. Robert describes Paul as a "Marty" or "Rupert Pupkin"... and perhaps "Big Fan" is the "King of Comedy" of sports movies. I asked Robert if he personally knows any of these "obsessive nerds" and he said he based the character on his imagination. But we have all had experiences which make us lonely and we all share basic human emotions and it is those feelings which Robert hopes to bring to film. "Big Fan" will open on August 28th.

Well, another interview had ended. As darkness was falling, the sidewalks were still packed with people and the streets were crowded with busy traffic congestion. I started thinking as I began the walk home. People weave in and out of our lives.... but I have known Robert for several years, and tonight I continued to be impressed by Robert's sincerity, integrity, openness, and warmth.

This is from a few weeks ago, my interview during dinner with Wayno Draino:

I had a late lunch today today with Wayno Draino at a diner in Manhattan. We spoke for a long time and there is much to write so this interview will be put up in parts.

Wayno was born in Bayonne, NJ. He declares: "I was born under the smokestacks of Bayonne, and that is why most people think I have brain damage now. At the hospital, the birthing room is underneath the smokestacks and when the babies are born they get that toxic injection of smoke to prepare them for living in Bayonne. If they don't, they can die within a month." Wayno says the air in Bayonne is 60% nicotine. He grew up on a cul-de-sac, 75 feet from a chemical container. When he was a kid, he used to play "hide and go seek" and hide on top of the tank. But, "it is really tough to hide when you are glowing."

Wayno was an illustrator who did not really play with other kids because he was very introverted. He says in Bayonne everybody was beating each other up all day long. He learned to play hockey and football not because he wanted to be a great sports man. He liked tackling and punching the other kids.

He always was looking for friends... so when he was a teenager he was sitting around on the docks at his Long Beach Island summer home and everybody was real quiet. You could hear the crickets. He was introverted, but he started talking. The more he talked, the more the girls liked him. He would tell stories about his life; his wild and crazy days. He was overly animated and added punchlines and would "crack everybody up." It was an amazing feeling getting everybody in the group to laugh. He felt "connected to humanity" which is a feeling he almost never had. He was truly happy when he saw people around him laughing and that is why he began doing stand-up. And comedy is also a defense mechanism that helps him get through miserable days. It was very dark and industrial in the part of town in which he grew up and Bayonne was "not a very happy place."

Wayno said his whole family was in the TV business. His father was a film editor for CBS and at the end of his career he had his own film editing company that edited TV commercials. Early in his career, Wayno was a "shock" comic to get the attention of the audience. I met Wayno in about 1988 at the Eagle Tavern, which was located on West 14th Street in NYC. The pub had great comedy open mic nights for beginners, and this is Wayno from 20 years ago doing stand-up. We got along and became friends, and Wayne cast me as his mother in his film, which he said I could call "Challenged Superheroes." It actually had another name.... and Wayne laughed when I told him I was changing the name of the film for this blog. Anthony Ribustello was also in the film. Wayno told me the film in which I appear will soon be up on YouTube. I still can remember my first line: "Hey everybody, Wayne's here." And Wayno reminded me that I was in the illustration of the film for his "New Underground Magazine."

We went on to discuss Dan Aykroyd's "Out There" show. Wayno Draino worked for the show as a graphics and animation producer for 6 weeks. After 60 shows were recorded, the show was cancelled.

Wayno is indeed outrageous and he went on to tell me how his "doodling" got him into some recent trouble on a plane. I was really laughing. He certainly has a way of telling a great story.

Wayno Draino has given written permission for all of his art work (posted below) to appear at this blog.

And this is my brunch interview with Cheryl Ingersoll:

All young girls who grew up in the late 1960s and 1970s knew the face of Cheryl Ingersoll. Cheryl was a very popular model who appeared in hundreds of teen and romance magazines, in print ads for films, TV commercials, and she was on the cover of paperback novels. She was in a Hires Root Beer TV ad and a print ad for Knox Gelatine which appears at this blog. I can recall seeing Cheryl's pretty face on so many digests, journals, and magazines in all the "stationery" stores. In my opinion, she looked like the prettiest teenager... with a perfect smile and even more beautiful hair. She also posed for commercial artists. Cheryl says: "There were a lot of paperback bookcovers that were paintings of me." One well known artist (with whom she worked) was Charles McVicker. "He has now been for many years a highly successful landscape artist."

In the 1970s, I would always go into a luncheonette on West 15th Street and browse through the magazines with "beauty tips" and invariably I would see a photo of Cheryl. So, I was very surprised when one day, in about 1990, I was walking around and I saw Cheryl! "There she is," I cried. "That's the model!" I ran over to her and I exclaimed: "You are the pretty model I saw on the cover of all the fashion magazines." Cheryl seemed surprised that I recognized her... but, she acknowledged she was indeed "that girl." I recall telling her she had not changed and she was completely recognizable. Thereafter, we developed a neighborly relationship.

When I began this blog and saw Cheryl, I asked her if she would be interviewed. Last summer, she agreed..... and we finally sat down this Sunday morning and talked over brunch. Her face still hasn't changed a bit. Again I told Cheryl, "You still look exactly the same." She really is instantly recognizable and appears to not have aged.

Cheryl grew up in a small town in Ohio. Since she was fourteen, she thought anybody could be a model and she knew she had to go to New York to pursue a modeling career. So, when Cheryl was eighteen she left Ohio with her childhood friend, Suzanne Ryan, for Manhattan. They lived for a time at the Chelsea Hotel and in Greenwich Village. Along the way, friends helped her with advice and she developed connections. She had photos made for a portfolio and she even got an answering service. She was first signed by Lawrence Famous Talents and later the very popular Charles Ryan Agency and American Girl. And, through the Victor Jay agency she got television work. Her sister, Nancy, also was a model and they appeared in photo shoots together. Cheryl was also an artist all those years... along the way meeting the great Willem de Kooning. She worked in the city and she was considered a teenage model through her twenties and until she was almost thirty. Cheryl and Suzanne are still today dear friends.

Cheryl stopped modeling in the 1980s and she works now for Fashion Group International, which she considers family. In May, it will be eleven years she has been there and that is another blessing. Cheryl warmly added: "Please mention that my beautiful daughter, Nancy Cristina, is the light of my life. She truly is a wonderful blessing. I am a vegan because of my love of animals. I have two cats that live with me, Marcella and Sophie. Transcendental Meditation is a very important part of my spiritual life along with St. Peter's Episcopal Church." Cheryl also feels that she has had a blessed and wonderful life. She said that one of the most important things she has been doing for the past eight years is working as a volunteer at the New York Foundling Hospital. She finds it extremely rewarding and fulfilling because the "best thing is helping others." She asked me: "Do you see why I feel the way I do about my life?" And then she happily stated, "You know, it only keeps getting better!"

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