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December 10, 1982 - Image 30

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-12-10
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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another with Sally Field and her kids, and a
third day still open.
On the way back, Bill muses about his im-
provisational directing style, which he de-
scribes as "a tight wire act with no net." If he
keeps his head clear and his balance intact, he
can manage to avoid falling into the abyss of
bad judgments and broken budgets that he's
convinced would bring about a swift end to
his directing career. "I have no idea how cap-
able I would be of taking it on the chin," he
says, not surprisingly, since it would be a rela-
tively new experience for him. "I'm talking
about real pants-down, boo, hiss, tomatoes-at-
the-screen rejection.
"When that happens, to tell you the truth, I
think I'll just skulk away," he says with a de-
fiant chuckle. "Really, I think I'll just say,
'You're right, you're right, I agree. You finally
caught up with me. Now I finally get to go on
a real long cruise."'
His crew has a good laugh over that one.
Six Weeks opens December 17th.

The story revolves around young Katherine
Healy, whom Bill calls "the most remarkable
non-professional I've ever worked with, and
I've worked with a lot of unknowns over the
years." Healy, a star ballerina with the New
York City ballet, was recruited for her first
film role because of her dancing skills. She
plays the daughter who serves as a catalyst in
Mary Tyler Moore's reluctant romance.
Bill recalls meeting with the film's produc-
ers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, when they
asked him the big question: Could he start
filming in eight weeks and finish 10 weeks
later? "That was the given," Bill says. "It was a
script and Dudley and eight weeks to go. So I
called everybody who had worked for me on
My Bodyguard and said, 'Can you ride again?"'
Many could, and the film was eventually com-
pleted on time and under budget.
It probably couldn't have been done if not
for Bill's studio, Market Street, which includes
a projection room where he was able to view
dailies, and editing facilities, which were valu-
able during the final phase of production.
More importantly though, the dozen or so
offices in the compact studio were stocked
with friends and associates with whom Bill
shares a give-and-take of opinions and advice.
(The studio is also where Bill currently re-
sides; he has two teenage children who live
with his estranged wife in Brentwood.)
"If I have a janitor who goes around empty-
ing the trash, or the windows need cleaning or
the building needs painting or whatever, I'd
much rather hire somebody who has the ul-
terior motive of being an actor or director, or
writing a script, than somebody upon whom
none of the surrounding atmosphere will rub
off," he explains.
Bill has a reputation as the man newcomers
can approach for a break, or at least an honest
opinion about their work. Screenplays pour in
over his transom. Almost all the films he's
produced or directed (including the endear-
ing but overlooked Hearts of the West) have
come from scripts by first-time screenwriters
without agents, and he's especially receptive to
the material, he says, when approached in a
creative way.
Though he might be able to find a higher
percentage of quality scripts by dealing with
established writers and agents, Bill says he'd
rather deal in volume. He's staked out his own
territory, and it enables him to stay close to
Venice without having to hang around pub-

--
lishing houses to find out what the hot new
novels are, and to take lunches with people he
doesn't like. "I don't have a lot of people to
compete with this way," he says. "It's some-
thing I wouldn't do well."
TB finishes his pate and lets the Olinka drift
a while longer, while he discusses upcoming
sailing plans with his friends. It's almost Labor
Day weekend, so that means three days of sail-
ing - one with producers Peters and Guber,

FRANCES ...
(Continuedfrom page 11)
they were 'sick.' And what it would do would
inhibit them, if not completely stop them,
from conceptualizing. And if you take that
away from an artist, what do you have left?
Freeman was being touted as the king of the
lobotomy, the brilliant man of the day. Later
on people realized that he was a madman."
Yates admits the story would have been too
depressing if it were not for a man in the
shadows of Farmer's life, the partly fic-
tionalized role that is played in the movie by
playwright Sam Shepherd.
"The movie begins and ends with him, so
it's not a total downer. They were soul mates.
Once when he was up on a phony murder
charge, she supported him with about
$18,000. He knew Frances from the time she
was 16 to the day she died. He's a rather ec-
centric individual, because he talks about a
truth that people don't want to hear.
'I'd heard of him, but for 25 years he was
still clandestine. He would never talk to any-
one about Frances Farmer." A private detec-
tive, he ran a make on Yates. It took months
for him to open up. "Finally one day he just
cracked. He walked me to my car and a tear
trickled down one side of his face. He said,
'It's been 25 years that I've never talked to
anyone about Frances Farmer. Who are you to
come along and open it up?"'
Every actress in town was naturally fasci-
nated by the Farmer role (Jane Fonda and
Goldie Hawn wanted it; Jessica Lange, who
finally played it, had earlier attempted, unsuc-
cessfully, to interest directors in the story).
Many of the uninterested studio bosses, how-
ever, still only foresaw a dark story of a star,
T H E M O V I E M A G A Z I N E

probably immoral, who used to throw fits.
"They didn't care why," Yates said. "I
wanted to be true to Frances, I wanted to vin-
dicate her."
Two others interested in vindicating her
were director Graeme Clifford and producer
Jonathan Sanger, whose success with The
Elephant Man earned him the ready interest of
EMI-Brooksfilms. Sanger knew that Farmer's
story, which is taken as far as her 1958 ap-
pearance on the TV show This Is Your Life (she
died in 1970), would be a heavy picture, but of
an inspirational, cathartic value. "She was not
a basket case by any means," Sanger informed
us. "She was a courageous, life-affirming per-
son who was beaten for it."
Yates' being the Woman in Charge Here
gave her some special insights into Farmer's
problems, or those of any woman in the movie
racket. "I'm not into identification at all,"
Yates demurred, "but I began to see some of
the difficulties. Women are treated a certain
way."
Also providing inspiration was Yates' show
business family. Her mother was radio star
Ann Page, and her uncle worked with Greg-
ory Peck. "Montgomery Clift was always
around and literally bounced me on his knees
as a child," she says.
Besides overseeing the final stages of Fran-
ces, Marie Yates is also nailing down an 8-part
TV mini-series, an original love story, and the
Mick Jagger project.
Speaking of which, the phone rang. She
took the call and her speaking tone was de-
lighted. It sounded like long distance. When
she hung up, she was bright with excitement.
Was that Jagger?
"No," she said. "That was the call before the
call from Jagger."
Frances opens December 3 in New York and
Los Angeles and in other selected markets on
January 28.
13

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