Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lost A Friend

Lost A Friend

Lost a friend yesterday, Xmas Day; Paul Steuber flew up the chimney with Santa and will not return unless he subs for Santa, having the smile and girth.  Actually I didn't lose a friend, I lost a broken down vehicle whose usefulness was over and it was time for Paul's pilgrimage as spirit to continue.  I have full confidence that Paul will climb whatever ladders spirits need climb to reach the North Pole of the Universe.

I gather blessings like others pick flowers.  These blessing are memory movies in mentalspace starring all the stars in my life, a cornucopia of endless variety that entertains and enlightens me.   Who do I thank?  Santa Clause?  Why not?  An embodiment of generous, unthreatening love.

So Paul Steuber you shall receive the first and maybe last Santa Clause Award for Generous, Unthreatening Love.  Too bad we don’t know if you can still tune this channel from where you’re hanging out.  You’d be a sea of salty tears reading what people from every walk of your life are saying about you.  Wow, that sucks if you can’t gloat over good press reviews.

You are a star in every heart you touched.

See you at the next bend.

Simply,  Simon

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jack, Bob & Barbra

Was reading a comment I made at HuffPost last April 23rd on Jack Nicholson's birthday:

“Met Jack briefly in 59 on a summer afternoon in Greenwich Village. He and his mates were on huge Harleys almost blocking the corner of 8th St & McDougal. One of my acting buddies, Bob Vernier, was in The Actor's Studio with Jack and he introduced us. Jack gave me that huge, gorgeous smile and it was one of those moments that you remember for a lifetime. This was 10 years before he broke out in "Easy Rider" and this "nobody" had star power even then. I'd love to meet him again now that he's a Super Star! I sussed it way back before it happened. Happy Birthday, Jack.”

When I read it over something jumped out at me: "the corner of 8th Street and McDougal"!   That was where the yellow brick road began that led to the "BEAT" Revolution, "Howling" for Equality that pretty much ended with the Beatles.  (Together, the Lads were invincible; split, occasionally sublime rather than nearly always.  Dylan gave them pot and they gave us Sgt. Pepper.)  The Yellow Brick Road for this breeding ground of Dylan and Streisand, the playground of Kerouac and Ginsberg, stretched west on McDougal to Bleeker, made a left turn south and ended up just past The Bitter End.  

McDougal between West 3rd and Bleeker, one single small block, had a dozen coffee cafes and just 2 bars.   There were poetry readings practically every night in every cafe, where the cost of admission for the whole evening was a single cup o coffee while poets poeted and a nobody like Dylan got up to recite his latest poem for free on an "open mike".   You weren't allowed to clap, there were packed tenements above these walk down, basement cafes; so you snapped your fingers in hushed appreciation or not.  It was "live" so the response was immediate.  Hearing no sound was deafening to a failure.

Conversations in these coffee cafes expanded to neighboring tables as the merits of Dostoevsky's "The Grand Inquisitor", a chapter in his "The Brothers Karamazov", is chimed in on by poets, actors, painters, writers, singers and any and all lost seekers.  There was no alcohol, just the freedom of open exchange and by consensus all these lost souls discovered a code to live by that was liberal humanism and they took that with them wherever they went, high or low.  One I knew and watched develop was a girl from Brooklyn.

A few blocks north on Bleeker you run into Gay East, aka Christopher Street between Greenwich and Hudson.  Around the same time McDougal was bursting with Dylan poetry, a singing superstar was discovered on Christopher Street.  A monster to the right wing, a full blown LIBERAL SUPERSTAR!   A certain teenage singer named Barbra from Brooklyn got her breakthrough gig on Christopher Street, sleeping on the floor of her gay mentors tiny apartment on 10th Street rather than go home to Mom in the middle of the night.  She was mature for her age and was an attentive listener to her life mentors, Beatnik actors, and she carried the faith in equality with her as she rose to astounding heights.  Her success as a liberal icon has yet to be determined:  "It ain't over, till it's over!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Ghost of NFL Films

Hi Colleen,

For the record:

I saw a late interview with Steve Sabol and his Dad on NFL Network and Steve repeated a lie Ed had told on Father's Day the year before about "a janitor suggested in 66 or 67 (before I was hired in 68) about a ballet with tch-tch-tchkaikovsky's music".   First of all, when I suggested a ballet to Ed during my hiring interview, I had not decided on which composer and music I would use were I to actually create a ballet.  So it sounds like the Sabols were denying my legendary work for the league by turning me into a janitor at the very least and denying my real contributions to the "Legend of NFL Films".

The thing that bothered me about Steve's quoting his Dad was I always thought of Steve as an equal, a filmmaker; someone who respected other's work, not someone competing for top dog fame.  Where is the thanks from the league for my contribution of the ballet and the Follies to its fame and fortune?   Hidden under Sabol & Son, aka NFL Films.  I admired Steve's work ethic as a filmmaker and skill as an executive but I was saddened when I heard him voice the party line on me and explains why I wasn't given a clean shot at doing more creative, memorable work for NFL Films, a loss for the league and the countless fans of my work.

Given your loyalty to the Sabols, Colleen, I don't expect sympathy for my complaint but I feel the need to air my grievances to Steve's assistant who was kind and respectful to me while vetting my memoirs with Steve.  In the John Wayne/Ford movie, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,  the truth is hidden and "the legend" is what is printed.  Sounds familiar to me.


Simon Gribben

Kevin Spacey

Once upon a teenage time, I considered a career as an actor and went to study acting in NY and was guided to a teacher named Allan Miller who taught The Method at The Actor's Studio but gave private classes for those who couldn't get into The Studio.  Some of his well-known students include Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Geraldine Page, Lily Tomlin, Sigourney Weaver, Peter Boyle, Rue McClanahan, Dianne Wiest, and Bruce Davison.  Streisand was in my class and we were friendly.  One of the actors who guided me to Allen was already in The Studio and was one of Marilyn Monroe's scene partners but Bob took the private classes for even more training.  Of course you all know his name by now, Bob Veneer, because he's become so famous-NOT!

Acting as a career is a huge crap shoot and I facilitated over acting or returning to college and college won out but it seems every 10 years I would go back to Allan's classes only to retreat again.  Miller had moved to LA and I also found myself in LA and taking classes again after another 10 year break.  I was assigned a scene from the play "Becket" about Archbishop Thomas Becket and King Henry II.  Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole had starred in a movie version.  I was to play Becket and this young actor I didn't know was to play the young King. 

I don't recall rehearsing the scene which was a reunion for the characters after a schism but when we played it in class for Allan and the other students, this guy starts crawling all over me, salaciously.  He's playing the King as aggressively GAY!!!  I'm trying to keep my composure but this clown is all over me.  Miller was notorious for whispering in an actor's ear and giving him a "secret" to use in the scene without revealing what it was.  To this day I wondered if Allan set this up.  Actually, it worked for the characters and keeping my cool was one of my favorite challenging moments as an actor.

The kid invited me to lunch and we chatted pleasantly and never met again as I ran out of money for classes.  On reflection, the kid looked like a young Kevin Spacey.  He had made a bold choice in that scene, something you routinely expect from Spacey.  Though Spacey is not listed as one of his famous students on his site, I've written to Allan asking about Spacey but doubt I'll hear from him; I was not one of his favorites as I bounced back and forth from college and acting.  He pulled me aside once and said I had to stop treating life like a buffet, picking here and then there, but sit down and eat a meal, commit!  I never did.  I dabbled on life's buffet.  And still do. 

Simon Gribben 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

11/3/21, the date of Charles Bushinsky's birth.  Grew up poor around the coal mines of Central PA.  Went to the mines at 16 and grew large worker's muscles, lean but well cut.  Almost died in a cave-in and had a life-long fear of enclosed spaces.   Drafted into the Air Corps in 43 and became a tail gunner in a B-29 with 25 missions (think of the horror of "Memphis Belle" as his working chore).  Won some medals and used the G.I. Bill to study art in Pasadena (a life long passion for this "Brute") and then moved over to acting.  He then changed his name to Bronson, the street's name that leads to the famous Paramount Gate.  Retired in 98 when he had a hip replacement followed by the Big A, Alzheimer, and died in 2002.

So what?  A man has haunted me since around 1955 or 56 when I was 16 or 17 and delivering shoes supplies to shoemakers, the family business, in the coal regions around Summit Hill, PA.  There was one shoemaker in this suburb of Mauch Chunk, now known as Jim Thorpe.  I entered a small shop and sitting there in a sleeveless undershirt in the most relaxed position possible, obviously doing no work., was the most powerful man I had ever seen and as a football player and construction laborer, I was used to seeing well built men and boys but this guy had them all beat and was not even close to flexing his muscles, they just rested where they lay, bursting with potential power but he was chilling, an easy smile on his face.

He explained that he was just baby sitting the shop and knew nothing about the ordered supplies that were usually paid for when delivered.  What to do?   He didn't have the money, best as I can remember, and shoemaker's usually only ordered what they needed for a particular repair, so what it was down to was, do you trust this guy or not.  His way with me won me over.  Confident, at ease, friendly.  I gave him the goods and wondered to myself, who was that cool guy with that winning smile and all those muscles?  I believe his name was Charles Bronson.   I could be wrong but I have mojo with meeting famous people before they are famous like Striesand and Dylan.  I don't know for sure if it was him but I do know a man I met won me over in a heartbeat and isn't that what a star really is whether known or unknown to the world.

Simply,  Simon Gribben

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo/Rooney Mara

If you haven't seen THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO, that is the 
American version of the first of this explosive Swedish literary 
trilogy, switch the channel as I am going specific and I don't want 
to spoil your fun unless you read mystery stories last-page-first.


This is not a movie review; it's praise of a great young actress who 
just happens to be American Royalty, that is if you're a fan of pro 
football and two of its greatest teams, The Steelers & The Giants.

(Stills) Her first name is Patricia but she (CUT THAT OFF) and 
(NOW) goes by her middle and last names: Rooney Mara,Those two last names belong to the founders of the aforementioned Steelers & Giants, her grandfathers.  So this is a girl who was raised in the 
upper 1%, a child of enormous privilege even though the families 
might vote Democratic.  Imagine living in the lap of luxury and 
deciding, "I WANT TO BE AN ACTOR!"

(Stills? Clips?) But not just any actor, (SHE WANTS)to be in the DeNiro, 
Bale, Day Lewis class where you lose or gain a ton of weight, subject 
(HER)self to pain and suffering just for your art.  Meet Rooney Mara 
with real pins sticking into her mouth, nose and eyelid.

(OC)  I read where she even got nipple rings but I guess you'd need 
blueray to see that at home.  Next time I rent, I will.  And full 
nudity while being raped and making love; nothing is left to the 

(except maybe being there yourself but not in the rape 
scene because her vengeance is too satisfyingly horrible.)

(Clips) The current James Bond, Daniel Craig, plays her partner in 
sleuthing but she is the one to do the heavy hitting and rescues 
him.  She's hot but can be cold as ice.  A female James Bond although 
this one is "Bond, JANE Bond" with nipple rings. 

Hopefully  they will film the trilogy so that we have 2 more times to see this 
artist work this character. 

(Clip) Oh, and if you caught "THE SOCIAL 
NETWORK", that slick, sophisticated girl who outwits and drops the 
founder of Facebook in the opening scene, her name is Rooney Mara.


(OC) Rooney Mara can go deep and also challenge the middle.  An All-Pro in the 

Simply, Simon

A Shot of John Wayne


(OC)  John Wayne is dead, a tombstone overhead, an archetype of heroism is gone but his legacy as an American hero lives on in films, westerns a bunch, but also some World War II films like (Stills or clips) Back to Bataan,  Sands of Iwo Jima, They Were Expendable, Flying Tigers, and The Fighting Seebees.; all made during the war that Wayne unheroically skipped. Many a top star like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable volunteered and saw real action while Big John Wayne stayed home and made his reputation as America’s He Man on camera wearing makeup, but serving as an inspiration to soldiers and civilians alike.  

But hold the phone!  He’s Back!!

[Clip from Battle Los Angeles (BLA) where soldier mentions “John Wayne” for the 2nd time and Echart clips from former films and then BLA) Aaron Eckhart, the actor who played 2nd fiddle to Erin Brockovich and became the two faced villain in The Dark Knight, going from DA to the Devil, has brought the movie version of John Wayne back to the screen in the riveting “BATTLE: LOS ANGELES”.   This is a sergeant who could give Sergeant Alvin York a run for his Medal of Honor.  The film is a deliberate homage to Big John  (1st time Wayne mentioned).   

(clips)  The movie is shot like the Bourne films, hand held violent action, but better editing and directing so you can actually absorb the heroic chaos.  But best of all, the enemies are aliens not Germans, Japanese, Arabs or native Americans; villains who are no longer politically correct to mash.   And there is even a hotshot babe in this politically correct crew of black, white and brown heroes who make mincemeat of their foes.  Hey, it’s a Hollywood fantasy so expect a happy ending, sort of.  Check it out and have a shot of John Wayne on me.

(OC)  However, beware; there is also the dark legend that Big John and his equally large buddy, Ward Bond, would get drunk and seek out Jews half their size and beat the crap out of them.   They justified their actions as striking back at the Jews who ruled Hollywood much like the Nazis blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s woes.   And all this bullying was going on while the ovens roared in Europe.  Wayne and Bond never attacked former ironworker, Lois B. Mayer, or the Warner Brothers or any of the other Jews who employed them.

Wayne’s heroism was an act but done so convincingly that his illusion lives on.  He was a much better actor than we thought and BATTLE LOS ANGELES is a tribute to his service to us all.

Simply, Simon

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


When I went to work as a filmartist at NFL Films in '68, violence was one of the reasons given why NFL Football was not the most popular sport in America; baseball was "way back then". The brutality of football did not appeal to women. In a perfect storm of unpredictable coincidences, that year I created a football ballet, "The Headcracker Suite", which aired on the Emmy show in '69, introduced by the hero of the Super Bowl, Joe "Willie" Namath (a cool, hot stud), and the ladies were impressed. Watch the football audience expanding.

Slow motion revealed the amazing grace and athleticism of these men in tight pants and, without a helmet and pads, these guys could be HOT. And the Emmys was a prime time roll out, not just for cigar chomping Sunday afternoons in front of a TV with the faithful; this was a wholesome, family demographic. TV was the last straw in this storm; an outdoor sport to watch in your own "private box" complete with a roof, a thermostat, a potty and a fridge. HEAVEN!!! And a sport seemingly made for TV; not fast and jumbled like soccer, hockey, or even basketball. Baseball was on snooze control. And the game itself with its breaks between plays and scores and commercials meant its snack time! Potty time! Bingo!

Football like every other sport is just a reality show, another piece of the entertainment feast the world devours. What you want to avoid is heartburn; like watching someone you love and admire being eaten by the Bears, the Lions, or heaven forbid, the freakin Saints! Will this damage this brutal sports popularity? As a kid, I saw football as a trial of manhood; could I face the the violence, the pain, the injuries and BE A MAN. I could and did and even turned down a half scholarship to play in college back when one could earn one's tuition each summer. I preferred playing on stages where the blood was fake, and I had had my "Bounty" moment in high school more than 50 years ago.

My high school team was playing against a dominant halfback and the coach I worshiped, A BIG, STRONG, MAN, our leader. our idol, was giving us the final chalk talk before the game. He put the halfback's number on the board and said if he couldn't finish the game, our chances for winning improved greatly. He then circled the number. On the opening kickoff, we broke his leg and won the game.

Then there is the cheating; the holding, the punching, not with fists but with elbows. One of our starters proudly said, "if you're not cheating, you're not playing the game". I had admired him but not so much anymore. I had a "high road vision" of good sportsmanship where there were no bounties, no cheating BECAUSE THIS IS JUST A FREAKIN GAME!!! It's not life and death. It's fun if you're just doing it for the play and even avoid hurting each other so that the roughhousing can continue. I always thought if a player who deliberately unloads on another and causes that injured player to leave the game, I say, throw out the bum for as long as the injured player sits, even if its forever. (God Bless You, D. Stingley)

Sure you could cheat but there is no nobility in that. Why do we play? Is it to make money? Then it's a job. And you work in a Roman Coliseum where accidents are planned and the benefits of lingering injuries suck. Yes, I want to change the game. I want to take the game back to just being a game and not "WINNING IS THE ONLY FREAKIN THING!" When fun leads to joy, it doesn't matter who wins unless you bet the rent money or bought a franchise to a brutal nightmare that calls itself a SPORT.

I took up that BS in another film I made for the NFL; a PR film that mocks PR Films. I called it "The Football Follies", and its distributor called it, "the most popular sport film ever made".