Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Hollywood by Michael B. Druxman

Michael B. Druxman. Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Hollywood: More of My Wacky Adventures in Tinseltown. Albany, Ga.: Bear Manor Media, 2013.

Druxman advises that the most important quality required in the film industry is tenacity. It took him ten years before he sold his first screenplay. Once that happened, more offers were extended.

Druxman was an agent. Druxman collected movie press kits. He discovered a bookstore that was selling press kits that had been stolen from the Warner Brothers library. Warner Brothers got their press kits back. From then on, Warner Brothers was more apt to listen to Druxman when representing his clients.

Druxman began as a Drama major (he lated switched to Sociology) at the University of Washington. He learned, when wondering why a humorous line was not getting a laugh, was that an actor should never anticipate the laugh. Stating it naturally allowed the humor to come forth.

Druxman went into stage directing in Seattle theater. Druxman observed Seattle did not present edgier plays. He successfully challenged their perceptions and fought over censorship with the theater board. He then cast and directed the plays that he wanted to present.

Druxman found there was not much money to be made in community theater. He moved to Los Angeles. He opened a low cost publicity service for the film industry. It was called Michael B. Druxman and Associates, although there were’t really associates. The standard deal was Druxman received 5% of an actor’s income during the time he handled publicity.

Druxman had three clients who stayed with him when they receive larger incomes. He considers them “men of principles”. THey are Steve Kanaly, Michael Ansara and Henry Darrow.

One client whose career he tried to resurrect was Reed Hadley. Yet there was a demand for new talet at a time when Hadley was a familiar face yet lacked a memorable name as a box office draw.

Druxman was hired to add dialogue to the movie “She Freak”. His name does not appear in the credits. He earned not to let that happen again.

Druxman observed that, in a comedy duo, the straight person’s reaction to a comic’s joke is what causes laughter.

Druxman can confrim from steam club membership that on of the most endowed actors was Rock Hudson. As several frustrated actresses stated, “what a waste.”

Druxman handled publicity for several composers including John Williams and Johnny Mandel.

Gale Gordon was a Druxman client. A published once asked Druxman to write a biography of Gordon as none existed. Druxman explain there was no book, as he did his work, went home to his wife, and was never involved in any scandals.

Edward Dmyrtryk, a director, was a client. Drmtryk once told an actor, who questioned his motive for a scene walking through a door, that “your motivation for walking through the goddman door is that’s the only way you can get into the goddamn roo Now, shut up and let’s shoot the scene.”

Druxman similarly recalls when he was directing and a addressing an actor on his motivation, telling him “Your motivation is that that’s where I want you to be.”

A director Gerald Mayr once told Druxman that, when directing animals, there is “nothing to it. I just tell the trained that I want the chimpanzee to do this or that, and the trainer makes the chimp do this or that.”

Druxma did publicity for Stanley Myron Handleman. He became popular and did several TV appearances as a comic. Handleman fired Druxman. Handleman found peopel began to ire of him and his career dwindled to a few appearances.

Druxman represented Jack Carter. They had a falling out yet ears later had friendly reunions.

Druxman represented Nicholas Hammond, the actor who was the first life action Spiderman on the 1977 TV series “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Hammond though, ever wore the Spider-man costume as that was a stuntman.

Druxman notes it is not just talent that gets parts. Often an actor fits a conception that the director has for how the character should be. More talented people are often rejected in favor of an actor who fits the part.

Richard Castallano was one of the most difficult clients Druxman represented. He was demanding. He threatened creative people with threats suggesting he had mob connections.

Charles Nelson Reilly was a client. Druxman found him as “scatterbrained” in real life as his acting persona. Reilly was on “The Dean Martin Show” where Marin and guests read their lines from cue cards with little or no rehearsals. Reilly learned his lines until once his script blew out of his convertible car. He decided from then on to also read cue cards as the others did.

George Raft was actor Druxman knew although they didn’t work together. Druxman observe how Raft, a big star, turned down roles in what became big hit movies such as “The Maltese Falcon” and “High Sierra”. Raft [aod $10,000 to get out of his contract. Raft ended up hosting at a restaurant in return for meals and little pay.

Druxman had a client who wanted an expensive trade ad celebrating that the actor had one line on a TV show.

When an actor has a poor performance, the truth can hurt and lying may be bad. Keenan Wynn once advised, when seeing an actor after a bad performance, to smile, shake the actor’s hand, punch the actor on the shoulder, and say “son of a bitch.”

Barbara Hershey, a Druxman client, changed her name to Barbara Seagull. She then changed it back.

A writer once wanted to create a TV series based on a character he wrote for a “Get Smart” episode. The writer later realized the “Get Smart” owners had the rights to his character.

Druxman writers how powerful the film industry is. A major star, unnamed, once killed a woman in a drunken hit and run. The studio was able to keep the story from the press.

Druxman doubts author’s Charles Higham’s ethics in printing gossip without finding facts. Highman wrote Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy while those who knew Flynn find without any merit. The Flynn estate sued yet couldn’t since the law states a deceased person can’t be libeled.

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