Happy Weekend everyone. You can find the usual content from my Weekend Blog - Stage 32 News, Stage 32 Success Stories, Popular and Interesting Lounge Discussions, Proposed and Planned Stage 32 Meetups, Entertainment News, Videos and Tips - below. But to start, a moment to remember Robin Williams.
Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.
Remembering Robin Williams
There’s been much written regarding the passing of Robin Williams this week. As is always the case when someone takes their life, the search for understanding and the need for rectification dominate. But when the life in question is a celebrity of Williams' caliber, one who spent the better part of four decades making us laugh, one who through his art made us feel connected to his very being, the search and need for answers is only shadowed by the dull ache in our hearts.
We live in a time where hyperbole is expended on the average. Everyone is amazing or brilliant or a genius (Shakespeare was a genius. The dude on YouTube reciting Mark Anthony’s funeral speech from Julius Caesar while juggling 7 bowling pins is not). But at one point this week I heard Williams referred to as a “singular talent”. That’s completely accurate and not the least bit overstated. Like Carlin, Kaufman, Pryor and Bruce, Williams owned his own mantle. Like those other brilliant (again apt) comedians and artists, no one could “do” Williams, but Williams. This was equally true of Williams, the dramatic actor.
I’ll never forget sitting in the theater watching Good Will Hunting. Going in, I knew little about the film except that two hotshot kids from Boston had written the script. What I do remember was that Williams’ last movie, the Francis Ford Coppola directed Jack, was one of the most derided of the decade. Coppola took some jabs, but it was Williams who took the uppercuts. He was labeled as “done”, his shtick “old” and “overwrought”. I even remember one article which referred to him as a “one trick pony”, if you can believe that. Many believed he’d never headline a film again.
As the Gus Van Sant directed Hunting unspooled, I remember being taken in by Damon’s magnetism. That is until Williams appeared. Robin had done serious before in Moscow on the Hudson, Awakenings and Dead Poets Society, but there was something different here. Hidden behind that beard, his shoulders hunched and burdened with the weight of his character’s loss, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes glossed and dulled, the melancholy in his delivery; this was new. It was exhilarating. It was captivating. In retrospect, particularly through the lens of what we now know regarding the extent of Williams’ courageous lifelong battle with depression and addiction, one can only imagine how hard all the criticism from Jack hit him and if it informed his beautifully nuanced performance in Hunting.
For many, Williams’ Hunting performance stands as the pinnacle. Many others, I’m sure, would cite Poets, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam or perhaps even Aladdin. But to me, there’s one Williams performance that perfectly blended his comedic and dramatic sensibilities and stands above all others, his portrayal of Armand Goldman in The Birdcage.
Slotted in the mix of a dream team ensemble cast, but mostly playing off Nathan Lane’s histrionic and manic, Albert Goldman, Williams shines. In an unsettling (at first) reversal, it’s Lane that chews the scenery while Williams stands to the side and reacts in type. Williams could have chosen to play this role with more, let’s say, flamboyance. To the contrary, he dials things down, which allows Lane’s performance to breathe instead of suffocate. As an exhibit to the “singular artist” defense, I present this question: Could Lane and Williams reversed roles and maintained the same dynamic chemistry? Lane as Armand? I have my doubts. Williams as Albert? Not a moment’s doubt.
It’s an eminently rewatchable (a word created by movie fans) role and one, as an actor, I take something different away from every time. That’s the gift of great art. A gift I’ll cherish.
No one will ever understand the pain Robin Williams was suffering through when he made his fateful decision. I’ve seen way too many people this week mechanically declare that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” as casually as if the subject at hand was about applying Band-Aid over a gaping wound. When it comes to a life, particularly one in pain, blanket statements never apply and questions always outweigh answers.
That’s why I choose not to speculate, but to celebrate. Below, I’ve listed a dozen articles – remembrances, performances – celebrating Robin Williams’ life. I hope you find them enjoyable and insightful. I hope they make you laugh, cry, feel. And I invite you all to share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Thanks for everything, Robin.
In our continuing effort to bring education to all crafts and disciplines, we introduced our Next Level Classes. Our first class is 4 weeks with President of Level 10 Films, Michael Wormser, Zero to Hero: How to Build an Online Distribution Platform With Little or No Overhead. To learn more about the class, see a video from Michael and to register, please click here: Zero To Hero
And to read my Stage 32 Blog post announcing our Next Level Class Series, please click here: Introducing Stage 32 Next Level Classes
Speaking of Stage 32 Blogs, we had a tremendous entry from actor turned director, David Roundtree. If you missed it, be sure to check it out! You can find it here: The Journey of Becoming an “Overnight Success”
We’re thrilled to have veteran Casting Director, Scott David, hosting our exclusive Next Level Webinar, How to Impress a Casting Director for TV Auditions, this Thursday at 9am PDT. To learn more and to register, please click here: How to Impress a Casting Director for TV Auditions
There are less than 3 weeks remaining to submit your script for The Search for New Blood Screenwriting Contest. The top 3 finalists will have meetings with top Hollywood execs and the winner will be flown out to L.A. for face to face meetings. To learn more and to submit, click here: The Search For New Blood Screenwriting Contest
Last year, I had the pleasure and privilege of mentoring over two dozen filmmakers and entrepreneurs at SXSW. This year, we’re looking to expand our reach and you can help. For more information on how, please click here: Want to See Stage 32 at SXSW?
The Top 3 Reviewed Screenplays for July are now live on our Stage 32 Happy Writers Coverage page. Congratulations to Bill Johnston, Stacey Baker Masand and Sandra R. Green. All 3 writers have had their loglines blasted to over 30 companies and have been receiving requests for their scripts! To read more, please click here: The Top 3 Stage 32 Happy Writers Reviewed Scripts for July
Some exciting Stage 32 Happy Writers pitch news to tell you about. First, this weekend we have Vast Entertainment (namely, Emmy Award Winner, Lane Shefter Bishop), Good Universe, 21 Laps/Adelstein Productions, Rumble-Media and Millennium Films all hearing pitches. This is a killer lineup. To learn more and to register, please click here: Stage 32 Weekend Pitching Sessions
And finally, beginning this coming Wednesday we have Online Pitchfest XX (20 already!) This one is nothing but literary managers. So, if you’re looking for representation or considering switching reps, this is your fest. We have managers from DMG, Renaissance, 3 Arts Entertainment, IAM Entertainment, Benderspink, Marilyn Atlas Management and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. This fest gets you beyond the “No Unsolicited Material” barrier and straight to the reps either by a face to face Skype session or written submission. Space is limited! To learn more and to register, please click here: Online Pitchfest XX: Managers
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As always, we welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the Comments section below...