GET BACK AKA BROTHERS IN ARMS — I first saw the Let It Be movie (now re-named obviously) in 1970 and loved it. I thought it was a first-class vehicle that showed a band in crisis. I still have the original book, which I believe came with the purchase of the record. When news broke that Peter Jackson was to helm a re-vised film, I was very, very dubious. In fact, I went on the record several times saying that I would not be a part of this revisionist history. Let’s face it, Jackson was still in school as was I.
Then I read a piece on Part 1 (of 3) by Roger Friedman in his Showbiz 411. It just moved me to completely change my view. I watched Part 1 the other day and not only was it completely rivetting … and, brighter, but, it just took me right in.
I mean, there are The Beatles we’re talking about. There has never been, and never will be, a group like this. From 8 to 80 … their fans are multitudes.
There’s been so much media on this, it’s been pretty extraordinary. I can’t remember where, but one said they the film shows them as brothers – and, as we all know, brothers fight. I have to say that every single review I’ve read -whether personal or trade- was rather insightful. Everyone has their opinion, but Ias a recent convert, I’m glad I watched it.
Whether it’s watching McCartney basically compose “Get Back” on his bass; or, watching Paul and John connect on harmonies in “The Two Of Us”; it’s pretty overwhelming. I was a fan then … and, remain one now.
I’ll get to Part 2 and 3, but, right now, I’m in.
LIKE BEN — (Via Deadline) In 1968 up-and-coming journalist Ben Fong-Torres held a full-time job with a prestigious publication known as Pacific Telephone’s employee magazine. His side gig wasn’t bad either—freelancing for Rolling Stone.
As fate would have it, Fong-Torres’ eventual notoriety would come not for his profiles of Pac Tell employees of the month, but for in-depth Rolling Stone pieces on some of the greatest recording artists of all time, at the top of their careers: Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Ray Charles, among many others.
Fong-Torres’ pioneering work as one of the country’s first prominent Asian-American journalists comes into focus in the new documentary Like A Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres, directed by Suzanne Joe Kai. The Oscar-contending film opens today for an exclusive one-week engagement at the Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica. It has been submitted for consideration as Best Documentary Feature and as Best Picture for the Academy Awards, and can be viewed via the Academy’s portals for those two categories.
“I was 23 when I started writing for Rolling Stone,” Fong-Torres recalls in the trailer for the documentary. “There was nobody who was Chinese-American or Asian-American doing anything in printed media. And, yet, I wanted to be out there.”
The film includes remarkable archival material from Fong-Torres’ Rolling Stone days, and interviews with the likes of Elton John, Quincy Jones, and Carlos Santana, as well as Annie Liebovitz—the photographer who shot alongside Ben at Rolling Stone, and Cameron Crowe, the former RS contributor who featured Fong-Torres as a character in his 2002 film Almost Famous, about his days as a young rock writer.
The film situates Fong-Torres in the broader context of American history. Even his surname tells a story: because of the Chinese Exclusion Act that barred immigrants to the U.S. from China, Fong-Torres’ father had to pose as Filipino to enter the country, adopting the last name Torres as part of the ruse.
Like a Rolling Stone is a production of StudioLA in association with XTR. The film is written, produced and directed by Suzanne Joe Kai and executive produced by Oscar winner Freida Lee Mock, Doug Blush, Alvin Lau, Bryn Mooser, and the late Tony Hsieh.
Ben was far along in his career when I first met him. Gracious, provocative, funny … he is a terrific writer. From Quincy, to Elton, Steve Martin and Stevie Wonder, he got to them all. It’s too bad this isn’t on a streaming service, as that would really get the word, out. I can’t recommend this enough. Check out the trailer here:
SHORT TAKES — On Little Steven’s Underground Garage, Micky Dolenz’s re-imagined version of “Circle Sky” was voted one of the Coolest Songs of 2021. You can vote for that song and maybe make it #1 of the year and win a prize for a stay at the Hard Rock Café at the Riviera Maya. Vote + learn more here: http://undergroundgarage.com …
Can Burt Bacharach really be 93? … Steve Tyrell Tuesday night at Sony Hall … Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza seems to be the hit of the holiday season so far. Amazing that the two leads are Cooper Hoffman (son of the late-great Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alana Haim of the group Haim. And, yes, this is the one where Bradley Cooper plays producer Jon Peters. Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia are among my two faves of his. He’s a adventurous director for sure. Can’t wait to see this one …
So, 20 years later actress Lorraine Bracco doesn’t like the way Sopranos-creator David Chase ended her character Dr. Melfi? I don’t know Ms. Bracco, but she should be forever grateful for the opportunity Chase gave her. She quipped in a recent podcast that she begged Chase to play her character’s husband and he begged off. Honestly, that would have been great. My one David Chase-remembrance: I was looking at the Ferrari window on Park Avenue when the HBO-show was at its height. I turned the corner and who did I see looking at the display too? David Chase. We shared a moment and then he went in. Now living on the West Coast, he remains one of TV’s most complicated characters. Surely, The Sopranos was one of the best shows ever … I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the only acts I knew were Harry Connick, Jr. and Foreigner. Foreigner’s captain Mick Jones was there, standing in the back of the group shot, looking terribly cold Hey, it’s great exposure; what an audience, but the shameless promotional was a bit exhausting … SIGHTING: American Idol’s Kimberly Locke at last week’s Freda Payne-show at Birdland …
And, think about the debt we collectively owe Stephen Sondheim. From West Side Story to Company to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to Gypsy to Sweeney Todd. Incomparable. Huge, huge loss. RIP.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — William Schill; Queen Latifah; Steve Tyrell; Tom & LIsa Cuddy; Danny Fried; Liz Smith; Billy Norwich; Joel Diamond; August Darnell; Steve Walter; Danny Heaps; Thomas Silverman; Brad LeBeau; Magique; Shep Pettibone; Randy Alexander; Keith Girard; Robert Funaro; the Rebel Cafe; and, ZIGGY!