Saturday, September 13, 2014

REMEMBERING BERRY BERENSON PERKINS, A VICTIM OF 9/11

Carole Mallory Headshot

Remembering Berry Berenson Perkins, a Victim of 9/11

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Berry Berenson Perkins was the personification of unconditional love.
On 9/11 after the towers fell, I was driving to a meeting to be with my sober family when my cell phone rang. "Carole, sorry to hear about Berry," my friend Heather Mac Rae said. "She was on the American Airlines Flight II when it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center."
"What? Where are you?"
"New York."
"Get out of there. Gotta go," I said as I hung up. I can still remember where I was -- the intersection of Township and Suede Road in Norristown, Pa. It was as though Berry was buried here. At this red light.
I remembered the love Berry gave to me, to everyone. She nursed her husband, Tony Perkins, who lost his battle to AIDS on September 12, 1992. She raised their two sons Osgood and Elvis. She didn't care about public opinion. She was brave. I wondered if she were in the front of the plane or the back. I hoped the back. From my stewardess days with Pan Am I could visualize the interior of a jet. If she were in the tail, she probably would not have been tortured. I suspected the first class passengers were brutalized in front of everyone to use terror to keep control.
Enough.
I want to remember the good times. When I met Berry. We were acting students with Wynn Handman the director of the American Place Theatre in New York. It was the late sixties. I was a model and Berry was a talented photographer and married to Tony Perkins. Wynn assigned me to study Streetcar Named Desire. I was to play Blanche and Berry was Stella. Wynn wanted us to work together. When we changed outfits in the dressing room, I said to Berry, "I've never touched a pregnant woman's belly. Could I touch yours?" She giggled her infectious laugh. "Of course," and there I was feeling a future infant. A moment one does not forget. Her tummy was so hard.
Then Berry and I went on stage as Tony Perkins and our class watched us do our scene. Tony was directing as Wynn was away. Some of the class members were: Richard Gere (An Officer and a Gentleman), Brad Davis (Midnight Express), Philippe Anglem (Elephant Man), Heather Mac Rae (Hair), Marisa Berenson (Barry Lyndon), Penny Milford (Coming Home), Robert Moresco (Oscar winner for Crash which he co-wrote), and Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away). After class sometimes Berry and I would have a bite.
In 1974, I filmed Stepford Wives and then moved to Paris as I had become the fiancée of Claude Picasso, Pablo's son. Irritated that I had portrayed a Stepford Wife, in 1975, Claude jilted me. When I returned to New York three-quarters of a basket case, Berry and Tony would invite me to their townhouse in the village to play card games. Tony loved games. They became a kind of family and always made me laugh. They didn't drink so I would bring my own wine in a brown paper bag. I just had to have wine with every meal. After all, I was chic. (I became sober in 1980.)
Berry's sister was model/actress Marisa Berenson while shocking pink designer Elsa Schiaparelli was their grandmother. Regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars, Schiaparelli's designs were heavily influenced by Surrealists like her collaborators Salvador Dali and Giacometti. Her clients included Mae West.
Berry's mother was a Countess named Gogo, married to a shipping executive, but despite Berry's heritage, she was down to earth and did not choose her friends depending on their status. While she knew the rich and famous, her idea of a good time was sitting on their terrace of their village townhouse watching the sun go down while playing with her tots, Osgood and Elvis. Today Oz Perkins is an actor and Elvis Perkins, a musician.
One day Berry said to me, "You know when we were kids and Marisa and I would play, she was Queen and I was in her Court." Then Berry laughed her infectious laugh. I would have been in Berry's Court any day. Marisa had it, "Half ass backwards," as my Pa. Deustch mother would have said.
In 1988, when S&S published my novel Flash about a female flasher, Berry invited me to lunch. "I loved Flash and the way you laugh about sex. It's so healthy. Can you recommend any books for my boys to read?" I was flattered and recommended Updike, Anais Nin, Nabokov, Terry Southern. Shortly after this lunch Berry and Tony gave me a dinner party for Flash and invited his agent Sue Mengers.
When Tony was diagnosed with AIDS, in 1992, Berry gave him a party in New York knowing he did not have long. Photos were taken and autograph books were signed and everyone laughed and appeared to be happy yet resigned to his impending death. Little did everyone know nine years later Berry would abruptly join him.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SHOWTIME'S RAY DONOVAN MAKES TV THE PLACE TO BE SUNDAY NIGHTT

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Carole Mallory Headshot

Showtime's Ray Donovan Makes TV the Place to Be Sunday Night

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Showtime's Ray Donovan triumphs over Boardwalk Empire, The Leftovers and Masters of Sex on Sunday night's festival of the best in TV series. Well, we do have Steve Soderbergh's The Knick. But that is on Friday. With all of its colorful costumes and rich period detail not to mention Pat Birch's exciting choreography, Boardwalk Empire has become predictable and convoluted. Masters of Sex is also predictable, but The Leftovers is not.
Still it does not have the pistol like through line in plot that Ray Donovan has. The Leftovers is exciting and wild, but it is Ray Donovan that keeps you hanging on the edge of your bedpost wondering what producer Ann Biderman's writers have dreamed up. Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan owns his character ofRay Donovan's father completely.
We know Voight won an Emmy last season, but what happened to the Emmys this show merited this season? While Voight is triumphant, it is Liev Schreiber who tears up the telly. He has a controlled anger that is menacing. His wife Abs (Paula Malcomson) packs a wallop of an Irish housefrau moved to Hollywood the land of corruption and legal cover ups. "Oh, we must protect the rich and famous and far from righteous," is the show's mantra and it is Ray Donovan who is the fixer. A team of Avi (Steven Bauer) and lesbian Lena (Katherine Moenning) to do the dirty clean up and sleuthing while Ray tries to hold his marriage together and role of Daddy.
In this most recent episode, Snowflake, Ray's daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsay) has witnessed the brutal murder of her boyfriend, the up and coming cross over singer Marvin Gaye Washington (Octavius Johnson), and Rekon (Kwam Patterson) by Cookie (Omar Dorsey). a dangerous black mobster. She calls her Daddy Ray who tells her not to go to the police, but Bridget's mother, Abs, thinks the opposite and arranges a meeting with her boyfriend Jim (Brian Geraghty) who is a cop in homicide.
Ray is outraged and believes if Bridget testifies against Cookie, he will kill her. Bridget does not testify to this when she is interrogated by the police, but the truth that she was in the car and saw Cookie murder Recon and her lover Marvin, is now known by her mother and her mother's boyfriend. This puts Bridget at risk and the mercy of the gossip of her mother and Mr. Homicide Detective.
Meanwhile Bunchy, (Dash Mihoke) one of Ray's brothers is falling in love with a woman, Patty (Heather Mc Comb), who is pure and the mother of a young whippersnapper. What separates Ray Donovan from the mundane shoot-em-ups is its expose of the sexual crimes of the Catholic Church and the murder of a priest who raped Ray Donovan and his brothers while Ray's father did nothing to stop this abuse. Brother Bunchy is so damaged he cannot have sex with a woman or see this woman's small boy naked. Shades of his former assault at this age resurface.
The fine acting and plot twists keep Ray Donovan head and shoulders above the normal TV fare. It has trumped with Jon Voight and Live Schreiber tearing up the air waves. At the end of this episode, Ray visits a crusading writer, Steve Knight (Eion Bailey)who claims to heal through preaching self-love. Knight, a client of Ray's, has a girlfriend Ashley (Ambyr Childers) who is one of Ray's lovers. When Knight, the smug bizarre scam artist, sees a disheveled, tortured Ray at his door, he invites Ray in and says, "Do you want to tell me about your day?" Ray enters this handsome sleaze balls home to either have sex with his girlfriend or to seek advice as to handle the black mob of Cookie who is a threat to Ray's family.
You just don't know but sure as heck want to know and so you will return next week to this unusual cast of fine actors playing former inhabitants of Boston known as Southies. While Ray Donovan may have begun as a repeat performance of a humdrum TV cop show, it has risen above the boring and predictable to the cream in the crème fraiche in its stunning characterizations of people trying to cope amidst the smarmy values of Hollywood and the damage the Catholic Church has reaped on young boys. Elliot Gould tip toes in for a show stopping appearance as Ezra Goldman, a client of Ray's. Terry Donovan (Eddie Marsen) who has acquired Parkinson's disease from too many blows owns the local gym which is the laundromat for Ray's dirty money and performs some of the finest acting in this show.
Maybe the real enjoyment from watching this lalapalooza is the respect it has shown in casting of Hollywood legends and often over looked fine actors in small, but meaty parts. We have: Ann Margaret, Richard Benjamin, Rosanna Arquette, James Woods, Sherilyn Fenn, Denise Crosby a relative of Bing Crosby and, of course, Elliot Gould.Ray Donovan has three episodes left so it is not too late to tune in and let it entertain you. I assure you, it will.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

REMEMBERING THE ROBIN WILLIAMS I KNEW

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Remembering the Robin Williams I Knew

He was a friend decades ago, then our lives took different, but parallel paths. A few memories from afar . . .

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While realizing I was two days early for a screening at the King of Prussia Imax in suburban Philadelphia, my phone rang and my cousin said, "I read you knew Robin Williams."
"Yes," I said. "Why?"
"Well, he died."
"No. You know he was one of us." My cousin is also sober. "Was it his heart?"
"They're saying self-inflicted."
"Oh, no," I said, collapsing as I hung up. I had to get home. I had to write about Robin. The Robin I knew. If ever briefly. But I knew him well. Long ago.
I felt that a part of him resented having to be 'on' so much of the time.
It was the late 1970's, those Mork and Mindydays, and we were in Harvey Lembeck'scomedy workshop. Yes, we were classmates. Robin would just jog into our Saturday morning class which had the likes of John Ritter, Marylou Henner and Alana Hamilton Stewart, and strut his wonderful comedic stuff. Then he would leave us laughing and jog out again. He would work his material out on our class as though he was having a tennis volley with words.
One morning, I had the good fortune to meet him, to go to dinner with him, and to become intimate with him for a short time. What did we have in common besides laughing? Cocaine. This was my alcoholic bottom and I was enjoying getting high with the help of alcohol and coke. And Robin was, too. How sad we were.
I remember how insecure he was once the laughter died down. He was sad and I was sad and we shared our sadness together. He was not a funny person when he was not "on." And I felt that a part of him resented having to be "on" so much of the time. To become a success. To be accepted. To be loved.
Several years before, I had dated Peter Sellers and Robin Williams' tendency towards depression reminded me of Peter Sellers who was filled with self-loathing.
As absurd as it now seems, Robin and I performed at the Comedy Store at the same time. I performed with the class, but, of course, Robin was the draw and did his solo standup routine, and was wonderful. Up and coming and out there. But inside tormented. He was not forthcoming with his feelings. In fact, he never discussed them. Neither did I. We were both emotionally frozen with our real feelings buried deep within. I did not know about feelings until I became sober.
For instance, I always thought Robin was handsome, but he felt ashamed of an aspect of his looks.
When I became sober in 1980, I wanted to reach out to him to try to carry the message, but he was too famous by then to communicate with. When he was 12-stepped—that is, helped by sober alcoholic/addicts who brought him to the sober rooms—I cheered inside. I was thrilled for his new lease on life, and the thought that now his comedy would be safe, and he would live a long healthy and, finally, happy life.
Then I read he had checked himself back into a rehab though he had many years of sobriety. 'Uh oh,' I thought. Then I read he had had a heart attack. Not good, I thought. Not good at all.
Sometimes fame makes it so difficult for the famous to cope with sobriety. And very recently I read he was back in rehab again.
Tonight, as I watch news of his passing, I will never forget the joy our class in comedy improvisation had watching Robin Williams work out his comedy muscles; his new material; his generosity in wanting to make us all laugh, while inside dearest Robin was not laughing at all.
Carole Mallory is a writer and actress from Philadelphia. She appeared in The Stepford Wives, among other films. She has written for Esquire, Elle and Playboy and is the author of Loving Mailer and Picasso's Ghost and teaches creative writing.

MOVIE REVIEW... THE EXPENDABLES 3: A TESTOSTERONE FEST


'The Expendables 3': A Testosterone Fest

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I enjoyed The Expendables 3 more than I thought I would. Nostalgic eye candy. These guys are good. Fast paced action. Good acting. Mediocre script. Predictable plot. But fun to see these boys strut their superstar stuff. Yet I wonder with all the excellent production values why there wasn't a more creative plot? Of course, Stallone wroteThe Expendables 3 with the help of Creighton Rottenberger, Katrin Benedickt and David Callaham. Yes, a woman was involved in this homage to machismo.
Barney (Stallone) must add to his team of expendables with newbies for a battle with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), the notorious arms dealer, wanted at The Hague alive to go on trial for his war crimes. The 'alive' part makes Barney's battle a bit challenging. Directed by Patrick Hughes the action film is fast, but some of the battle scenes are too long, too chaotic, too too. The finale is one which Stallone fans will cheer and the audience did, too. His sense of humor is still alive, well and in Rockystyle still there for us to cheer -- if a big hokey, but by this point who cares. Not me. I was too busy watching the bulging biceps to care about this idiotic plot.
Equal time is in order for each expendable and one wonders just how Sylvester Stallone got this group together. "I could have gone for you thirty years ago," Ronda Rousey says to Stallone. Gracious of Stallone to make fun of his aging. He is a magnificent 68 and after a plug search of the entire cast, I did not see any in sight though I am sure some lurked beneath the comb overs. I also did not see any women in sight. Oh, yes, there is one. Ronda Rousey. She is tough like this team of testosterone. But it is youth that steals the thunder and has its appeal when 29 year old Kellan Lutz, (a total ten) and a cherubic 25 year old Glen Powell, give us an opportunity to compare the young'uns to the elders who hang in there to light up the screen. Stallone, of course, takes major camera time and is the champion of the soulful stare. The silent, sensitive tough guy with a heart. Kelsey Grammar's part is one of the smallest, but he steals his scenes from Stallone because he is just that good. Fresh out of jail for tax evasion Wesley Snipes is fun and funny and has a line about tax evasion that ignites the audience. Antonio Banderas's early delivery is forced and awkward, but once his character gets going he is a fresh breath of comic relief while Harrison Ford is the champion in the acting department and age does not seem to disturb his craggy look. Arnold Schwarzenegger is awkward in his opening scenes and at 67 looks more weathered than most of these boys, but he gets it up for the finale and shines in typical mayoral splendor, cigar in mouth tough guy that he is. Jason Stratham portrays his usual appeal as a dependable expendable named Lee Christmas.
Uber alles is Mel Gibson as the villainous Conrad Stonebanks who holds The Expendables 3 together with his sheer nastiness. And he is oh, so good at this. But it is Stallone's final line that is the pay dirt the audience is waiting for. A mighty fine moment.
In the last battle scene I did catch myself yawning while thinking how many of these shoot 'em ups does one have to sit through. So I would not look to this film to have variety, but if you want to watch men play tough guys with style and ease The Expendables 3 is for you. If on the other hand, you want a sensitive well-crafted plot with equal time for women, stay home with your TV and watch Masters of Sex.
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Read more at http://malloryhollywoodeast.blogspot.com/.



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