The Lambs’ Virtual Conversation Nick Davis
Lamb Foster Hirsch talks with author Nick Davis about his book “Competing with Idiots: A Dual Portrait,” a fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood’s most dazzling – and famous – brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love and enmity that ultimately undid them both.
One most famous for having written Citizen Kane (with Orson Welles, as most recently portrayed in David Fincher’s acclaimed Netflix film, Mank); the other, All About Eve; one, who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dying of alcoholism and disappointment; the other, a four-time Academy Award-winning director, auteur, sorcerer, and seducer of leading ladies, one of Hollywood’s most literate and intelligent filmmakers.
Herman Mankiewicz brought us the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, W. C. Fields’s Million Dollar Legs, wrote screenplays for Dinner at Eight, Pride of the Yankees, cowrote Citizen Kane (Pauline Kael proclaimed that the script was mostly Herman’s), and eighty-nine others. Talented, witty (Alexander Woollcott thought him “the funniest man who ever lived,”), huge-hearted, wildly immature, a figure of renown and success.Herman went to Hollywood in 1926, was almost immediately successful (his telegram to Hecht back east: “MILLIONS ARE TO BE GRABBED OUT HERE AND YOUR ONLY COMPETITION IS IDIOTS. DON’T LET THIS GET AROUND.”), becoming one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood Joe, eleven years younger, focused, organized, a disciplined writer, with a far more distinguished career, surpassing his worshipped older brother, producing The Philadelphia Story, writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, both of which won him Oscars for writing and directing (All About Eve received a record fourteen Oscar nominations), before seeing his career upended by the spectacular fiasco of Cleopatra.
In this large, moving portrait, meticulously woven together by the grandson of Herman, great-nephew of Joe, we see the lives of these two men–their dreams and desires, their fears and feuds, struggling to free themselves from their dark past; and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated.
Lamb Foster Hirsch shall be our interviewer. Foster is a film historian and professor at Brooklyn College, and author of seventeen books on film and theater.
Lamb Magda Katz is our Collie (event organizer).
New York Times Bestselling Author Tawni O’Dell Thanks Oprah Winfrey For Changing Her Life
As Oprah Winfrey announced the centennial selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club on CBS Mornings Tuesday, Tawni O’Dell, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of six novels, took to social media to publicly thank Winfrey for selecting her novel Back Roads as an official Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection (#32) back in March of 2001 – describing how the selection changed her life for the better. O’Dell also fondly details the call she received from Winfrey, which quickly turned playful as O’Dell believed she was being pranked. You can check out the heartfelt thank you video here.
“Being part of Oprah’s Book Club was life changing for me not only because she sent my first novel,Back Roads, skyrocketing to the top of the bestseller list, but because she surprised me on her show by reuniting me with my ninth grade English teacher who was the first person to tell me I should be a writer. I will never forget the thoughtfulness behind that moment. Thank you, Oprah, for also affirming for me that I should be a writer and for encouraging the world to be readers!” InBack Roads,Harley Altmyer should be in college drinking beer and chasing girls. He should be freed from his stifling coal town with its lack of jobs and no sense of humor. Instead, he’s marooned in the Pennsylvania backwoods caring for his three younger sisters after the shooting death of his physically abusive father and the arrest of his mother. Life is further complicated when he develops an obsession with the sexy, melancholic mother of two down the road. When she stuns him by responding to his advances, family secrets and unspoken truths threaten to consume him. In the face of each staggering revelation, Harley does the best he can to hold it all together. Violent and disturbing yet touching and darkly funny, Harley’s story is ultimately a search for his own self-worth as he slowly comes to realize that survival is a talent. Back Roads was released as a film in 2018 and featured at the Tribeca Film Festival with a screenplay adapted by Ms. O’Dell. Her first play, When It Happens to You, received rave reviews during its off-Broadway run in 2019. Her play Pay The Writer is scheduled to begin rehearsals at the prestigious Riverside Studios in Hammersmith London. Rehearsals begin Aug 1st with an opening night of August 28th. She wrote the audio drama Closing the Distance, an enormously popular podcast of pandemic-themed monologues performed in real-time by legendary stars including Kathleen Turner, Jason Alexander, Tony Danza, and Kelli O’Hara. The production is set to open on June 19th in New York as a stage iteration entitled Windows. Tawni is the mother of two – her son is a recent PhD grad from Berkley, and her daughter is an established chef in New York. Ms. O’Dell is a native of Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Northwestern University.
Samantha Bessudo Drucker Interviews Kevin Scott Allen
Kevin Scott Allen played a Jem’Hadarsoldier in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine seventh season episode “What You Leave Behind“.
In theatre at the Globe Theatre on Broadway, Los Angeles, Allen played Buckingham in Henry VI, Part 2 and Clifford in Henry VI, Part 3.
Allen’s first on-screen appearances were in the 1970s, with guest appearances in Bearcats!” and The Waltons. He guest-starred in St. Elsewhere (with David Birney) and Ed Begley, Jr.), Otherworld, What a Country and Dragnet.
Allen had a recurring role as Ed in the series Homefront and also guest-starred in Courthouse. He guest-starred in two episodes of J.J. Abrams’ series Alias, as well as Joan of Arcadia (with Michael Welch) and 24 (with Gregory Itzin and Jude Ciccolella).
In 2006, he starred in the movies The Machiavelli Hangman, Abe & Bruno, The Chase, and Le Petomane: Parti Avec Le Vent.
Samantha Bessudo Drucker had a chance to interview with this celebrated actor for five decades. Kevin is also a sought after coach and author. Samantha had the pleasure of speaking with Scott about his new book “Murder Can Be Fatal” and what led him to write a mystery novel.
The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation’s Golden Age
In the summer of 1941, Walt Disney’s top animator led hundreds of Disney artists out on strike, nearly breaking the studio. This is the true story of those two creative geniuses, plus a corrupt advisor and a mafia gangster, who collided to cause the greatest battle in Hollywood history.
An essential piece of Disney history has been unreported for eighty years.
Soon after the birth of Mickey Mouse, one animator raised the Disney Studio far beyond Walt’s expectations. That animator also led a union war that almost destroyed it. Art Babbitt animated for the Disney studio throughout the 1930s and through 1941, years in which he and Walt were jointly driven to elevate animation as an art form, up through Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia.
But as America prepared for World War II, labor unions spread across Hollywood. Disney fought the unions while Babbitt embraced them. Soon, angry Disney cartoon characters graced picket signs as hundreds of animation artists went out on strike. Adding fuel to the fire was Willie Bioff, one of Al Capone’s wise guys who was seizing control of Hollywood workers and vied for the animators’ union.
Using never-before-seen research from previously lost records, including conversation transcriptions from within the studio walls, author and historian Jake S. Friedman reveals the details behind the labor dispute that changed animation and Hollywood forever.
Join a book talk with the author Jake S. Friedman on March 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, at The Lambs, 3 West 51st, 5th floor. RSVP@The-Lambs.org. The book will be available to be purchased and signed by the author.
Jake S. Friedman is a New York–based writer, teacher, and artist. He is a longtime contributor to Animation Magazine, and has also written for American History Magazine, The Huffington Post, Animation World Network, Animation Mentor, and The Philadelphia Daily News. For ten years he was an animation artist for films and television as seen on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Saturday Night Live. He currently teaches History of Animation at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The rest of his time he specializes in mental health for the creative psyche.
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