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And I liked him a lot. Miles was funny and sardonic and dry and sarcastic. He could be an absolute delight. Gene began teaching my father, Joshua Logan, about jazz when they worked together on a musical play and Josh taught Gene about musicals. In a recent article for the Jazzletter, Gene referred to my father as, "my late friend and great mentor. He personally received eleven nominations and took home nine. The play was produced by Roger L. Stevens and two inexperienced authors were attached to the libretto.
Over the course of the two years they worked together their friendship grew, which is no surprise, as they are mirror images of each other. Just the other day I told Gene that my father was bored silly when it came to sports and Gene clutched his stomach in a hearty guffaw. They are so alike I call Gene, "Josh Jr. Gene does things like that. He is a man of action.
In his world there is no time like the present. I adored Gene Lees the moment I spoke with him on the telephone. Here was my Pop all over again. Gene has the same wit, warmth, charm, hilarity and mental radiance and is as chock full of stories as Josh was.
When my father died in I thought all the light in the world dimmed. The giant soul that was Josh was gone and everyone in the world seemed small by comparison--until I met Gene. On a recent evening, Gene looked at me across his dining table and made the following pronouncement: For more than a year I worked closely with him. Saw him practically every day. And in the years afterwards we talked on the phone every now and then or exchanged letters.
Gene and Janet Lees felt like family to me from our very first phone call. A few months later, Janet left a message on my machine, "have Christmas dinner with us. Ojai is populated with artists, musicians, writers, spiritual seekers and health spas and the Lees have lived in their graceful home for twenty years.
I was warmly and winningly embraced from the first "how do you do. Gene has lately decided that Laurence Olivier is better than he thought and taken to quoting Shakespeare at length. His favorite play is Hamlet.
Exact usage is essential. I keep The American Heritage dictionary beside me at all times.
For all of his accomplishments, Gene Lees is unimpressed about what he can do and what he has done. No one buys it, of course. Gene was born under the sign of Aquarius which reminds me of the song Age of Aquarius from the musical Hair, a play that both Gene and Johnny Mercer absolutely hated. Gene thought it was "musically cretinous. Gene, his three siblings and all his cousins are first generation Canadians; his parents and grandparents were born in England.
His paternal grandfather, Jack Lees, was a coal miner born in Taunton-under-lynne, Lancashire. He married Elizabeth Haslam, also from Lancashire. Harold Lees, no middle name, was born in and "went to work at age thirteen in a cotton mill in Lancashire. He went into a coal mine when he was fourteen or fifteen.
He was a talented painter like Genestudied music like Geneand played the violin. He practiced his fingering on his shovel when he was working in the mines. His wife was Lillian Gillard, originally from Bristol. They emigrated to Canada around or thereabouts. He was very left wing. When I asked Gene if Hamilton was beautiful he replied, "no, not particularly.
It is a cotton mill and steel town. An industrial town that sits on Lake Ontario. Fred Flatman was one of the great decorative iron workers and made the georgous wrought iron gates that hang at the Oakes Garden Theatre in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the gates in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. He was active politically and was one of the organizers the Westinghouse strike of WWI.
He was a member of the Independent Labour Party which grew in power during the war years. Fred Flatman was a great orator like Gene.
He founded a newspaper like Gene.
He adored Gene and Gene adored him. Some of the cousins hated Mr. Flatman because he had a violent temper as Gene has sometimes. He was partially deaf and used to turn off his hearing aide like Gene tunes out whenever he feels like it. During the s, Harold Lees played violin in a theatre pit band. The idea that silent films were only accompanied by piano is incorrect.
In fact the picture arrived with orchestra parts. Hugo Friedhofer taught me this. He and Gene became friends in when Gene was the editor of Down Beat. Friedhofer once told Gene, "I have known two men of genius in this town--Orson Welles and Marlon Brando--and Hollywood, not knowing what to do with genius, destroys it.
Harold Lees and Dorothy Flatman met and married in and rented a house in Hamilton. Gene was born at home but it was a breach birth and he was badly damaged. His grandmother, Lillian Flatman, insisted, "he will live. She literally saved his life at birth and was one of the lights of his childhood. He remembers "she always had a full refrigerator and all kinds of canned food in the basement.
Her house was replete with food" which was a relief compared to the continuous lack in the Lees household. Gene is the eldest of four: Patricia, four years younger, passed away in When she was in her forties, Patricia Lees finished and graduated from high school, then took some college courses. She become a writer and did some editing and reporting for one of the local newspapers in Fergus, Ontario.
The youngest child by eighteen years, David Lees, is an award-winning science writer in Canada. Gene smiles when he thinks of them; "the family is witty," he admits. Gene recalls that "we were all treated very badly [as children] regarding never having enough money for books and schooling.
And there was no need for stinting. There was actually enough to go round, but it never did. My parents were not good to us; yes, we had vitamins and the bare necessities, but as far as any emotional nurturing, forget it. My mother gave none of us any confidence and I have never fully recovered from that. Everything I have ever done has been against a wind of self-doubt blowing in my face. Regardless of the fact that he is a marvelous story teller and capable of generating hilarity in any social gathering if he feels like it, "leave me alone" is his core desire because he is always creating something in his giant mind - a book, a song, an article - and that constant creative activity requires solitude.
He needs to be alone to "hear himself think. He gazes sometimes for hours, through a wall of windows onto a view he fashioned with his own hands; the fence on the right side of the swimming pool, the bougainvillea around it which are now thirty feet tall and hang in graceful arches of purple, pink and white, the palm tree at the foot of the pool and the lavender bushes beside it, and Janet put in a dozen pink and white rose bushes on the left side to complete the rectangle.
Gene will sit serenely in his chair, thinking, reading and socializing, but mostly gazing wordlessly into the beyond forming phrases in his mind that are eventually typed into his computer.
Although Gene was blessed with a giant intellect it separated him from the other children; he told me "being brilliant was humiliating. My parents were so disturbed by my poor showing in school they took me to a psychiatrist when I was twelve. Most of what you listened to was live. Forty years later, when I met Larry Gelbart, I blew his mind by reciting whole segments of that show for him. My grandmother would never miss that. Artie Shaw was on staff for CBS.
The Complete First Season," with 17 episodes and commentary by Kennedy on select episodes, an introduction by Kennedy, a conversation with the show's creators, more, from Paramount The Complete Seventh Season, a seven-disc set with 25 episodes and four featurettes, also from Paramount Posted December 1 Buzzin' the 'B's: In "The Invitation"a young man invites six friends to dine on a private island and then poisons them, only offering the antidote to those who will confess to the lies they have built their lives on, from Lions Gate on VHS and DVD Posted December 1 For the Kids: The latest in Universal's gigantic dino franchise will make its way to video this week: Columbia TriStar has new offerings from a pair of their kids franchises: Warner will release this week "The Little Polar Bear," a new full- length animated feature based on the children's books by Hans De Beer; the story teaches the meaning of friendship between an unlikely pair, Lars the polar bear and Robbie the seal.
Posted December 1 Special Interest: Commissioner of Sewers," a documentary that traces the life and career of the famed artist, writer, poet, and metaphysician. Directed by Klaus Maeck, the film combines footage from some of Burroughs' public readings with rare film appearances, shots of his paintings, and discourses about the world as a virus, death and dreams, travel in time and space, and language as a weapon.
Home Vision Entertainment has two interesting documentaries on tap this week: Their stories have never been told, and for 50 years their artwork, consisting of more than 12, pieces, has been hidden away and forgotten until this documentary. A Portrait in Progress"directed by Marion Cajori. Sincewhen Chuck Close's first series of black-and-white portraits was exhibited, his paintings have fascinated the public.
Working from Polaroid photographs, Close paints colossal images of his family, friends, and fellow artists; operating on the edge between abstraction and representation. This is his story in a fascinating documentary. Extras include "The Mithra Treatment": Lee Ermey; and "Profiler: MTI Home Video will release "Ancient Warriors," a horror thriller, starring Daniel Baldwin, about evil spirits released when a special forces unit goes deep within the mines of Sardinia to stop a band of mercenaries from developing deadly biochemical weapons, on VHS and DVD Posted November 25 On the Indie Front: Posted November 25 For the Kids: Posted November 25 Special Interest: Docurama has two interesting releases this week: Manga Entertainment has scheduled this week the release of two anime series: Posted November 25 Coming Soon: A four-disc set with 43 minutes of additional footage added back in, in Dolby EX 5.
Both are from New Line. Extras include a commentary track with contributions by filmmakers John Carpenter, John Milius, Alex Cox, plus film historians Christopher Frayling writer of Leone's biography and Sheldon Hall, plus additional comments from cast and crew members; three documentaries: Revolutionizing the West" featurette; location gallery; production gallery; cast profiles, from Paramount.
Posted November 18 MGM is once-again releasing all three volumes of the much-sought after James Bond gift sets, pulling them from distribution after January This classic post-apocalyptic sci-fi film based on a novella by Harlan Ellison includes commentary by Jones, original and reissue trailers, trailer gallery.
Posted November 18 The Criterion Collection this week will release a new digital transfer, with restored image and sound, of Federico Fellini's "La Strada"starring Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina in a two-disc set with commentary by Peter Bogdanovich, a video introduction by Martin Scorsese, "Federico Fellini's Autobiography" documentary, and a new essay by film scholar Peter Matthews.
The new digital transfer features commentary by Miller, a behind-the-scenes stills gallery by world renowned photographer Terence Spencer, Cecil Hepworth's film of Alice in Wonderland, an essay by author and critic Wheeler Winston Dixon, music specially composed by Ravi Shankar In "Pale Flower" -- Japandrugs, drag-racing, and gambling deliriously collide in a classic of the yakuza crime genre, directed by Masahiro Shinoda and starring Ryo Ikebe and Mariko Kaga Vittorio De Sica's "A Brief Vacation" -- Italy also gets the loving Home Vision treatment, here in a new digital transfer enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.
Disc one contains the entire concert, including performances not featured in the theatrical version. Disc two contains the theatrical version featuring concert highlights, interviews, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes footage. Rhino will release this week the very cool "The Monkees -- Boxed Set Season Two," a five-disc set with all 26 original, uncut episodes, packed in a colorful collectable box resembling a miniature record player; in Dolby 5.
Extras include separate commentaries by Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork; commentary by creator-director Bob Rafelson on Episode 54; interview with Monkees editor Gerry Sheppard; song romps feature; photo gallery; vintage Monkees commercials, hidden surprises The First Season" compiles all 24 episodes of the series, plus two bonus episodes from Season 2 and 3, also from Columbia TriStar. Posted November 18 For the Kids: To honor the th birthday of Dr.
Seuss and to coincide with the theatrical release of "The Cat in the Hat," Warner will release two Dr. Seuss," with three animated classics: Seuss," a salute to Dr.
Posted November 18 On the Indie Front: Ardustry Home Entertainment will release this week "Which Way Por Favor," a romantic comedy about a group of offbeat travelers who hunt for adventure, hidden cash and Carlos Casteneda's legendary shaman "Don Juan. Lions Gate will release "Mondays in the Sun"a drama from Spain and winner of four Goya awards about six friends struggling to make ends meet in the wake of a shipyard closing in a northern Spanish coastal city; spending their days looking for work, they live in a constant Sunday Two fascinating documentaries arrive from Home Vision: Self-Portrait"in which director Robert Snyder fixes his trademark verite lens upon the legendary artist, whose story is told in his own words; extras include "The Titan: Story of Michelangelo," an interview with Snyder and excerpts from his other films The docu traces Bearden's entire career, including his paintings and watercolors of the s, experimental collages ofmature collages of the next two decades, large-scale public murals, and late landscapes.
The documentary also features commentary by art historians, artists, and others who knew Bearden, including Wynton Marsalis, Albert Murray, and Emma Amos First Run Features will release "War Photographer," a fascinating portrait of the man considered the bravest and most important war photographer of our time, James Nachtwey.
The film comes in a gorgeous two-disc set featuring Criterion's usual loving attention to detail: Burroughs' novel, read by the author. Posted November 11 Buena Vista will release two telefilms this week: Posted November 11 For the Kids: Players race around the game board while playing dynamic on-screen games, singing, dancing and having fun.
The DVD works in conjunction with the board game to give players randomized choices that allow unpredictable game play, so families can play over and over again without repetition.
Photo gallery: Meet the Team Night
Players use their remote control to spin the onscreen spinner and advance along the playing board. The story line revolves around Stitch's fellow experiments, who have been accidentally freed and are wreaking havoc in Hawaii. Lilo has set out after them but she can't capture them all by herself, and if Nani finds out what happened, she's in big trouble. Players go after Lilo to help her collect the experiments. Sounds like an interesting and exciting project for the family on a rainy weekend.
Posted November 11 Buzzin' the 'B's: Also from Lions Gate this week is "Dust," a drama about two brothers in love with the same woman with the losing brother shipping off overseas to become a ruthless mercenary, starring Joseph Fiennes and David Wenham. Posted November 11 Foreign: Posted November 11 Special Interest: In time to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragic assassination of president John F. Kennedy, Docurama will release this week two classic cinema verite documentaries: Kultur Video will release this week two films that delve into the magic of J.
From Wellspring this week comes "God and Buddha: Posted November 11 Coming Soon: With the recent theatrical release of the Ridley Scott director's cut of "Alien"Fox has put together a giant boxed set of Alien features: For a complete rundown of the release, jump to the Alien Quadrilogy press release. There's plenty of classic films being released to DVD this week.
Extras include new documentary "A Love Story: Extras include new documentary "Dividing Highway: The Story of Dark Passage," more.
Extras include new documentary "Curtains for Roy Earle: The Story of High Sierra. The film is digitally enhanced and restored. Hollywood's Quiet Hero" Biography docu; restoration comparison; and still gallery.
Robert Farnon Society -
Posted November 4 Buzzin' the 'B's: Due this week are "Dope Game," an urban thriller about four corrupt Oakland cops who resort to beatings, murders and whatever it takes to clean up the streets of the city -- and make money on the side; and "Slaves of the Realm," a swordplay adventure about captive princesses from a rich medieval kingdom forced to labor in silver mines, both on VHS and DVD from MTI Home Video. Posted November 4 Foreign: Posted November 4 For the Kids: Yum Yum Studios, the award-winning producers of "Baby Gourmet," has released their newest children's series, "Food Safarie," designed to show kids where food is grown, harvested, produced and packaged and how those foods, as fuel, affect the body.
The initial titles are "Food Safari: Baby Laureate has released the first two videos in a new series, For the Love of Posted November 4 Special Interest: Two late-nite Cartoon Network adult animated series arrive this week from Warner: Xenon Pictures, a distributor of multi-cultural and niche films, has released the award-winning "Plaster Caster," a documentary that follows the career of renowned artist and super-groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster who, beginning in the s and continuing to today, became in famous for casting rock star members in plaster.
The film follows her journey to mount a Plaster Caster exhibit in a New York art gallery, interspersed with memories and tales of her wild past. Though Cynthia is a bit neurotic and grating in her love of her "babies," her personae grows on you as the film progresses, and the film becomes a fascinating document of the culture of rock 'n' roll and the artistic impulses the music engenders. Posted November 4 Date change: Posted November 4 Coming Soon: Kevin Brownlow's "Lon Chaney: Also from Warner are two fantastic cartoon collections: Extras include an introduction by animation experts and actors; commentaries by film historians Michael Barrier and Jerry Beck, filmmaker Greg Ford and Stan Freberg; music only programs; "Behind-the-Tunes" featurettes; "Irreverent Imagination: Never-before seen recording sessions, pencil tests, bridging sequences and cartoons; "How to Draw Your Favorite Looney Tunes" featurette; stills gallery.
Also includes performances by a host of other acts on the show, including the original cast of "Oliver! Due this week are "Brooklyn South: Posted October 28 Buzzin' the 'B's: Posted October 28 On the Indie Front: Posted October 28 Foreign: Posted October 28 For the Kids: Disney will release this week -- just in time for the theatrical debut of the feature film "Brother Bear" -- "Brother Bear: On My Way Sing Along Songs," hosted by moose hosts Rutt and Tuke, featuring 30 minutes of fun and songs, including two songs from the movie.
The DVD version includes learning aides for kids: Posted October 28 Special Interest: Palm Pictures in collaboration with Spike Jonze, Michael Gondry and Chris Cunningham have teamed for "The Directors Label," a unique director-created and compiled DVD series featuring music videos, shorts and commercials, and special features including interviews, alternate versions, unseen short films and documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and commentaries from various featured artists and collaborators.
Each release will be specially packaged and include a page book full of never before seen photographs, storyboards, drawings and interviews. Eagle Rock Entertainment will release this week "Harley-Davidson: Broadway legends perform their signature songs from some of the greatest musicals of all time in Acorn Media's "Broadway's Lost Treasures.
Posted October 28 Coming Soon: At the top of the list this week is the long-awaited "The Adventures of Indiana Jones -- The Complete DVD Movie Collection," a four-disc set in widescreen and fullscreen editions, with each film on one disc, restored, digitally remastered by THX, in 5.