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Tribute to Norman Jewison at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Global Film Village: Tribute to Norman Jewison at Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Marla Lewin

Norman Jewison is a Canadian, although he always made Hollywood films, movies about social issues, humanity, and values, still they always entertained.

Cher, Faye Dunaway, Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Haskell Wexler were there to share this special evening with Norman.

Dawn Hudson from Film Independent LA, began the evening and said from the stage, that she wanted to feel that they could also adopt Norman as an independent filmmaker for all of the wonderful films he had made during his career often on small budgets. Norman is still full of energy, humor, and witty stories and appeared quite humble, considering all his accomplishments.

Joining Norman on stage initially were moderator Leonard Maltin, Carl Reiner, and Eva Marie Saint, who starred in THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING.

Although Norman was always grateful to Universal for his movie career starting with 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE. He soon began to chafe as he was becoming typecast as a comedy film director. He said once his agent got him out of his contract with Universal, he was free to pick the projects he wanted to work with. One of those films was IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, which was timely then, and is still timely today.

Haskell Wexler the cinematographer of that film stressed that Norman never shied away from topics about civil rights, and humanity. He pointed out that he and Norman had marched in Selma. Norman and Haskell shared the same philosophies, and when Martin Luther King was shot, they hopped on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia. Norman decided to live abroad unhappy with the Vietnam war, however he continued to make Hollywood movies with big stars.

Carl Reiner reminisced about the day they almost lost Norman. Every weekend the actors would take a small Cessna back to Los Angeles from their location in northern California near Fort Bragg. It was truly a small plane with only room for 4 passengers and a jump-seat really only suitable for luggage. This particular day the weather was terrible and Norman was in the jump-seat. Things got so bad they decided to turn back when there was a thud and a whoosh and Norman was gone. The hatch had blown open and everyone was shocked to find Norman"s seat empty. Actually he was on the floor with his legs wrapped around a chair leg struggling to close the door but he was half way out of the plane at the time. Luckily they were able to get Norman back in the plane,close the door and return to the airport.

Faye Dunaway, star of THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR thanked Norman for creating such a sexy image for her with the famous chess scene in that film. She said that scene has helped men fall in love with her ever since. They both talked about working with Steve McQueen and his carefree attitude of life and acting.

The Bergmans said there were two directors they worked with who truly understood the importance of using their composed music to drive the over all story of the film. There was Sydney Pollack, and Norman Jewison. So with Sydney passing away this year, it was on Norman's shoulders to continue making Hollywood movies that are artful and truly matter. They also talked about how they created their memorable songs for THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.

Cher had forgotten to thank Norman Jewison when she received her Academy Award for MOONSTRUCK, so for the first time since 1987. they reunited, Norman now 82 talked fondly about convincing Cher to do the role. Cher confessed to how she wanted to bow out of it because she was so busy. But Norman was so enthusiastic she was caught up in his excitement and just went along with him. A decision she has never regretted. She forgot to thank him again during the panel discussion but did make a point of doing so as she introduced MOONSTRUCK to an audience of appreciative fans.

Norman plans to make another film from a script by John Patrick Shanley, and John who could not be there last night, gave me a message for Norman. He said he loved him, and was thinking of him, and gave me this quote, "I had at one time in my life a cast iron bulldog who's sole purpose was to hold open the door. To me, Norman Jewison is a cast iron bulldog holding a door to the human experience." JPS

Norman had a function after the event for 50 people at his home in Malibu. I previously covered the party in his honor we attended on Thursday night. There we met his longtime attorney and friend Ralph Brown, who flew in from Toronto for the event. He now told me I have him on a retainer, how does that work. Norman is so loved by his former production team that many flew in from across the country to be here for the tribute. Independent Hollywood art director and production designer Robert Boyle, who worked for 46 years in the industry was there at 99. It was truly a magical night and made me again thankful for all of the marvelous movies that Norman has given us. I am looking forward to more from this master storyteller.


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