View My Stats

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hobnobbin' With The Cee-lebs

This is something I hadn't done for quite a while, but I just spent the last three weeks in L.A., and I did my share of it.

I was out there trying to do some money and actor-wrangling for my movie.

Tonight, NBC is starting up again with "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here", that Godawful "Reality" show.

Three weeks ago, I had lunch with Alana Stewart, who has been quite visible lately because she produced the documentary about Farrah Fawcett, and she was on TV constantly, talking it up.

Alana had appeared on the original "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here".
She had appeared in one of my plays ten years ago, and we had gotten along famously, mainly because she was quite wonderful in it, and a dream to direct.
She channeled, of all people, Vivian Vance. And boy, did it work.

(For those of you who remember my "post-a-clef", she was none of those people. She replaced one who was.)
If you knew anything about Alana Stewart, you'd know that she liked her creature comforts, and you'd have bet any amount of money that she'd be the first one to extricate herself from that "Reality" show. And after they had her stick her hand into a jar of live worms, you would have won that bet.
She'd much rather be in a movie. That's what I was counting on.

She also knows everyone in Hollywood. When she was in my play, the audience was a regular Red Carpet. She'll probably be in my movie, and probably deliver me a prominent leading man.

We ARE talking about getting a movie made, which is still one of nature's imponderables.
Until the cameras start rolling, and even after that, we're always talking about "if" rather than when.
Unless you're Spielberg.

A few days later, I had lunch with Mai Britt, whom you might recall as the star of such movies as "The Young Lions", "Murder Inc.", and "The Blue Angel" (The one without Dietrich).

She's probably best known as having been Mrs. Sammy Davis Jr.

I became friends with Mai (pronounced "My". If you call her "May" once too often, she'd probably break your arm.) in the early 90's, when we were both living in Tahoe.

She is truly one of the great humans. A loyal, caring friend. How many of those can anyone find?
Great sense of humor.
Sharp as a tack.
Takes great pride in stealing the cover of Life Magazine away from Inger Stevens in 1957.

Two incidents worth noting: When we were in Tahoe, a childhood friend, of mine, Elliot Zisser, was coming up to visit with his family.
When we were kids, to make fun of him, we all called him "Cowboy Zisser", because, of course, it was so appropriate. It stuck for many years.

I invited Mai to join me and the Zissers for dinner at Caesars Tahoe's Italian restaurant.
I said to her beforehand, "Mai, if when I say 'This is Elliot Zisser', you say 'Cowboy Zisser?', you can name your own price."
Her price was dinner.
Still one of the highlights of my life.

The other incident was when she invited me to conduct the Passover Seder at her house for her and her 20 year old son Jeff.
Mai had converted to Judaism for Sammy, but never really had much of an opportunity to put it into practice.
Now you've got to understand. I am not exactly a paragon of religion.
I'm as Jewish as they come, but both of my wives were not Jewish, and as far as shul goes, I am at best a Once a Year Man.
So conducting a Seder was one particular dance that I'd never been invited to.

She got out Sammy's solid gold Passover dishes (what else?), and I conducted the Seder.
One of the highlights of my life.
She provided two highlights.

It had been fifteen years since we last saw each other.
But when we sat down for lunch three weeks ago, it was like we had never been out of touch (which we had). And we picked up right where we left off.
Just great.

This past Saturday, I was back in Michigan, and a friend of mine invited me to see Paula Prentiss appear in a local production of "The Glass Menagerie".
She looked great, and was great.
And I got to meet and chat with her husband, Richard Benjamin, who has been one of my heroes.

As I rattled off everything I knew about his career, which was everything, he seemed quite pleased, and was quite gracious.
I wish I had more to write about him, but the meeting was brief, and we had no prior history.
I hope I am fortunate enough to develop some with him.

I'm in Connecticut this week, planning to make a Wednesday jaunt into Manhattan to catch a couple of shows and meet up with several of my readers for dinner.

And Conan started up last night. I'll probably have something to say about that.

This is about as chatty a post as I've ever put up.
I promise you, I'll sharpen my knives again real soon.



  1. Mai Britt--great to hear she's still alive and well. She was wonderful in MURDER, INC, one of the films you mentioned. Actually, just about everybody was great in that one. Why isn't it out on DVD?

  2. Richard Benjamin is so underrated it should be a felony. My Favorite Year is one of my absolute favorite films, ever.

  3. Both quite charming people, and both seemingly quite content with their lives.

  4. Catch 22 was a very important movie to me in my teenage formative years. Sigh. I thank her for that.

    Ditto My Favorite Year.

  5. OMG...and Quark! Am I the only one who remembers -- and loved -- Quark?



Blog Archive

About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."