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