Dateline: HOLLYWOOD, Tuesday, March 24
Meeting my dear friend, the Countess De Lave, on my first day back in LA since 2014 afforded us a joyous reunion. I met her at the very first TCM Film Festival in 2010. She has a rental car, and a very comfortable ride it is. As she zooms away from our good friend Mark at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Valet Portico, she has a devilish smile, and I realize she has been up to something. What that something is definitely constitutes a lovely surprise.
As she tools down Orange St., away from the hubbub of arriving TCM Film Festival 2015 passholders, I am experiencing the excitement of a new adventure.
“I’ve made reservations,” she coyly reveals as we wait at the first of several stoplights.
“You have made reservations. Hmnn. That means we are going somewhere special!” I delighted.
“Yes, we are,” she said.
“And will you tell me where we are going before we get there, or will you keep me in suspense like a Hitchcock mystery? Where will we find our maguffin?”
“I have made reservations for us to lunch at….Chateau Marmont!”
I squeal in delight. I know not how she wrangled such special treatment for two gadabout gals who love to laugh, dine, and discuss the events of the day with a wink and a cocktail or two.
As we drive, I wonder who will be there. The Chateau Marmont is the Bide-a-Wee hideaway for some of the actual movers and shakers of the film industry currently and during it’s heyday, and a serious stop on the way up or down from the peculiar pecking order established by A-listers and B-wannabes. Will Michelle Grammer be there plotting her next reality show? As well-dressed tourists, we don’t have to worry about where we fit in. We just need to have enough cash to tip and cover the bill.
As we drive through the traffic, the Countess and I discuss how much fun the first festival had been. That’s when we met, the very first night. As we chatted about the first festival, I looked up the list of all the celebs that graced the stages, attended the parties, and chatted during panels at Club TCM:
* Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo
* Editor and author Peter Biskind
* Film director and historian Peter Bogdanovich
* Film historian and author Donald Bogle
* Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine
* Actor, producer, director and writer Mel Brooks
* Producer and director Frank Capra III
* Noted filmmaker John Carpenter
* Author Cheryl Crane
* Actor Tony Curtis
* Producer and Director Stanley Donen
* Emmy-nominated actress Illeana Douglas
* Photographer, writer and editor Curtis Hanson
* Screenwriter and actor Buck Henry
* Actor, writer, director and producer Darryl Hickman
* Award-winning actress and director Anjelica Huston
* Award-winning actor Danny Huston
* Writer and editor David Kamp
* Editor and writer Sam Kashner
* Actor Martin Landau
* Actor, director and producer, Jerry Lewis
(Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regretfully announce Jerry Lewis has cancelled his appearance.)
* Actor, producer and director Norman Lloyd
* Film historian and author Leonard Maltin
* Actress Nancy Olson
* Actress Luise Rainer
* Director, producer and writer Richard Rush
* Academy Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint
* Academy-Award winning visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull
* Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight
* Actor Eli Wallach
My first Thursday in LA found me atop the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel anxiously awaiting my Fan Perspective Interview conducted by TCM’s Tim Reilly and photographed by FX’s premiere cinematographer currently working on the Syfy network’s Face Off, Bruce Dorfman. I was nervous. I told stories. I sang a song. I couldn’t hardly see a thing as the sun was in my eyes. The handsome assistant attaching my mike got awfully frisky, and I asked him if he needed a medical degree for what he was doing.
My friend, Lynn Zook, kept giving me the “thumbs up.” I stopped chatting and asked director Tim Reilly what to do, and he laughed and smiled, and said, “just keep talking.” For some reason, when I’m nervous in LA, it just doesn’t feel the same as when I’m nervous in Texas.
Here’s the youtube link to my interview that is still periodically screened on TCM: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yddHfhbr4J4
Lynn and I had met previously in Las Vegas in 2007 when I was presenting a seminar at the National AP Conference at the Venetian. We had known each other online for quite some time because of our association on the TCM Message Boards, and her enthusiasm for classic film and her encyclopedic knowledge is so inspiring. The first festival ensured that we connected with all our TCM Message Board crew like Kingrat, Filmlover, and Kyle in Hollywood. What a joyous, well-versed group of friends to be met! And I’m happy to say we all still connect online and in person.
The only member of our group who no longer can celebrate with us is the late Kyle Kersten, who unfortunately has passed away. But all of his threads created on the TCM Message Boards are archived on the site here:
The very first Gala Premiere at the TCM Film Festival in 2010, saw Judy Garland on the screen at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre tantalizing the audience with her songs, dances, and genius. Robert Osborne introduced the film, and Joey and Lorna Luft, who were in the audience. Afterward, Alec Baldwin joined Robert Osborne on stage for some cute banter and schtick.
Afterwards, I quietly slipped out of the screening to head to the Hollywood Roosevelt Pool.
Then I went to the Esther Williams and Betty Garrett pooside bash. Ben Mankiewicz introduced them and had a short discussion with those lovely ladies before the film began. Unfortunately, Esther Williams was in a wheelchair but seemed in good health and quite perky. She was wearing a cranberry red sequined jacket, and sparkled when she spoke. Still a feisty gal, and still has her bathing suit business because the Aqualillies were sporting her little red swimsuits. They had a great show, doing some of the same Esther Aquatics we’ve known and loved.
Betty Garrett was having a little trouble speaking due to a cold or something, but she was so cute, too, and seemed quite energetic. Esther left shortly thereafter, and so did Betty. But after the movie started, and the double duets of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Esther and Ricardo Montalban, and Betty and Red Skelton came on, Betty stepped back out on her patio from her private cabana at The Hollywood Roosevelt, and Garrett wistfully watched this sequence. As many of the viewers around the area saw her standing there, they turned and gave her a round of applause, and it looked like she teared up, and disappeared again into her suite. Besides meeting many new friends at the 2010 festival, the moment when Betty Garrett received applause during one of her greatest screen scenes while she stood on her cabana patio was my favorite moment during the first festival in 2010.
In 2015, I was chosen to be one of the premiere TCM Film Festival Social Producers, and had to miss the wonderful premiere of the 50th Anniversary edition of The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer introducing the film, but I was finally able to see The Man Who Shot LIberty Valance with my good friend Lynn, and her husband Jon. Keith Carradine sported a quick but enthusiastic introduction, and I cried at all the same places that I always do, especially when Vera Miles, as Hallie, reflects on her first love. The flowering cactus resting atop Tom Donafan’s casket still reaches deep into my soul, and elicits those liquid reflections of my appreciative emotions. It was a film I had longed to see on the huge silver screen of my dreams.
The first Vanity Fair party I attended in 2010 was held in Kress & Co., and I was the date of a very sweet man from D.C. whose wife was ill with cancer, and couldn’t accompany her husband. As we were walking in, I ran into Eva Marie Saint and her husband as they were exiting the festivities. Cher had come and gone in a white leather ensemble, and Hugh Hefner had made an appearance with a blond beauty. (Isn’t that the same newsflash from 40 years ago? )
Diane Baker had been escorted to the Vanity Fair party by her good friend, Robert Osborne, and I had a few moments to chat with her, as well as Jaqueline Bisset. There was even an Alec Baldwin moment when he told me “Hi, how’s it going?”
As I sat with Countess DeLave in the lovely Chauteau Marmont restaurant enjoying the canned music, and the “lightning-fast service” reminiscent of Harmonia Gardens in Hello, Dolly, I laughed and laughed. I couldn’t believe we were actually enjoying these delicious salads, and flavorful entrees in such an emotionally-charged atmosphere of the Hollywood pecking order. The moment when we walked inside the restaurant area, about 65% of all the diners turned toward us, looked to see if we were “anybody,” and then slowly resumed their conversations and appetizers.
We even were allowed to see one of the suites just in case we decided to stay there in the future. Riding up in the elevator is even a transparent adventure in the “Who is that?” culture of the “in crowd.” Both elevators have windows in them so passengers can see who is riding up to their rooms or down to the lobby. If I ever stay here, I think I’d be afraid to walk down the hall in my bathrobe without makeup to find the ice machine in the middle of the night.
Best Advice: Always keep a lipstick in the pocket of your jammies when you stay at Chateau Marmont. A girl always needs to perk up her look, and she might want to leave a message on the mirror. 😀