Capture the 'Fugitive'
#he Michigan Theater plays host to
"The Fugitive" and its screenwriter Jeb
Stuart for a free screening and Q & A.
Starts at 7 p.m.
APRIL 6, 2000
'Screenwriter Jeb Stuart makes campus appearance
By Erin Podoisky
Daily Arts Writer
Screenwriter Jeb Stuart, never one to lie but
certainly not above putting a spin on something,
finally came clean on the origin of the classic
Bruce Willis line, "Yippee ki-yay, motherfuck-
wr!" from "Die Hard."
"I think a lot of people take credit for it and
that's usually the way it goes in the movies. It
was not originally in the script, per se. I think
Bruce added a little touch to it but there was
something very similar to that in the script,"
Stuart, who wrote the film, said in a recent inter-
view with The Michigan Daily.
"That's the way it goes. What I will do is I
always take credit for something that turns out
great and I distance myself from it and blame it
* the actor when it screws up," he said, chuck-
Stuart will be on campus this evening to show
"The Fugitive," the Academy Award-winning
film starring Harrison Ford. He will do a ques-
tion and answer session after the screening.
Primarily known for his work on action
movies, Stuart had an interesting entry into
Hollywood's ranks. "I went through a sort of
academic course to get to screenwriting, which
is kind of unusual. I did a masters at Chapel Hill
in communications, and offofthat masters I was
'hen accepted into a program at Stanford
University and did another masters in communi-
cation which focused only on screenwriting"
He then did a year-long fellowship through
Stanford, although the program is now adminis-
tered through the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences. "It allowed me to write a
screenplay which I then sold to a studio in
Hollywood and got on the other side of the
fence," he said.
"It was kind of an unusual way to get into the
business. Most people get in sort of non-acade-
That first screenplay knocked around for 12
years before finally getting made and released in
1997 as "Switchback." "That was from what
they call a 'calling card' script and it was
optioned at Columbia Pictures. It was cast and
all ready to go and then it never was made,"
"But on the strength of that script I was
offered a five-script contract at Disney, which
was just getting reorganized. This was 1985 and
that's when Michael Eisner and Jeffrey
Katzenberg came in and took over the studio.
They were sort of scouring film schools for tal-
ent and I was in the right place at the right time.
"I never got a movie made at Disney. In fact,
I only wrote one script, but while I was in the
down-time after I turned in a draft, I did a pro-
ject over at Fox. It was an old novel that had
bounced around from studio to studio called
'Nothing Lasts Forever.' Nobody had been able
to crack it because it was about a 65-year-old
man who, at the end of the movie, goes to Los
Angeles to visit his daughter and the building is
taken over by terrorists and at the end he's
responsible for dropping his daughter off this
"I kind of revamped that and made it more
about a guy trying to get back in the good graces
of his wife. That became 'Die Hard' and that was
my second script. And then from 'Die Hard' on
it was a little bit different. Again, it was kind of
an unusual situation in that it was really, serious-
ly the second professional script (I wrote)."
"I never wrote an action movie before 'Die
Hard.' 'Switchback' is really a suspense thriller.
I like suspense an awful lot, I love Hitchcock, I
love De Palma and people like that," Stuart said.
His resume includes mostly suspense and action
thrillers, making him a successful specialist in a
tough genre. When asked if he felt his extensive
action credits list limited him, Stuart admitted
that they did, somewhat - and that isn't a prob-
lem for him.
"I do think I've been pigeonholed but it's one
I kind of gladly go to. It's not to say I don't love
screwball comedies. I'm not quite sure I would
really be a good writer for that.
"I don't really do as much action as I used to.
Those movies are driven by forces that are
greater than a great screenplay sometimes. It's a
money game. You happen to get Tom Cruise or
you happen to get Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis
for a picture and hopefully you've got a script,
And if you don't it can be a nightmare"
Many of Stuart's screenplays have been used
as vehicles for big-budget stars like Willis and
Harrison Ford. Working with such demanding
talent can constrain the development of a
movie's story, Stuart explained.
"That was the case on 'The Fugitive.'
Hopefully, if you're lucky, you work with some-
one like Harrison who has great feelings for
character and for the story. Almost every great
actor or big star has good feelings for the char-
acter. But you have to wear the other hat, which
is make sure the story doesn't get completely
Stuart took on three roles for "Switchback,"
on which he was not only writer but producer
and director as well. "I love wearing all the hats,"
he said. "It makes it easy in some respects and at
the same time if you like working with other
Courtesy of 20th Century'Fox
Bruce Willis stars in Job Stuart's famed "Die Hard" and plays cowboy cop John McClane.
people you sometimes miss that great input of
somebody from the outside that you really
respect who wants to see it maybe in a different
Since the release of "Switchback," Stuart has
been slightly under the Hollywood radar. "I've
done a couple of things, written a couple of
scripts," he said. "I'm finishing up a project for
Castle Rock called 'The September Alternate,'
which is a thriller based in Washington D.C. It's
a lot like 'Seven Days in May.' It's about an
attempted coup on the government under the
guise of a terrorist attack.
"The other is an original for Paramount called
'The Lamb.' The producers are Garth Brooks
and Kenneth Edmonds (Babyface), so it's about
the music industrv. It's another thriller but its
got a female protagonist. She's this rock star
who's more like Bruce Springsteen than Garth
"The Lamb" will feature Brooks in his recent-
ly-unveiled Chris Gaines persona. "What Garth
was trying to do was set up the sort of history for
this star. It's a pretty bold approach. The problem
is it's a matter of timing. You can put out an
album quite quickly. It's very hard to make a
"I think it's on the right track and it should be
-ery interesting once it gets going. He's got lots
of tie-ins with MTV to bring people like
Springsteen in and the Stones and people like
that to talk about Chris Gaines in a past tense sit-
uation, just to sort of set up this fictitious histo-
ry into which we plop down the heroine.
"It's been a really fascinating project, mainly
because I've gotten to spend some time on the
road with groups and talk to and interview a lot
of record people. The music business is very dif-
ferent from the movie business. It's always fun to
visit other things.
JAZZ GIANTS AND YOUNG LIONS
Daily Music Editor
Ever wondered what it would be like to grow up
with music? I mean grow up really surrounded by
music? Well, the musicians performing around Ann
Arbor this very musically-active weekend have a
The critics are predicting that young vibraphonist
Stefon Harris, who is set to perform two shows at the
Bird of Paradise tonight, will be one of the most
important voices in the near future of jazz. The 26-
year-old earned his stripes playing under the wings of
experienced musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Joe
Henderson and Charlie Hunter, and has already been
featured as an up and comer in "Down Beat" and won
Best New Talent in "Jazziz Magazine." His latest
recording, "Black Action Figure," is somewhat
remarkable in that it is essentially a showcase for his
instrum-ent, the vibraphone (which is notable simply
for the fact that the vibes have a relatively short lin-
eage of three primary players: Lionel Hampton, Milt
Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson). The album focuses
on Harris' composing and playing, with the occasion-
al supplementation of horns and soloists.
The slide guitarist Derek Trucks, at the mere age of
20, is an even better example of what effect early
musical inundation might have. Trucks probably
picked up the whole rock and roll gig by hanging out
a little too much with his Uncle Butch (how'd you
like do have an Uncle Butch?): Butch Trucks is one of
the original drummers of The Allman Brothers Band.
And in doing so, Derek probably picked up a few
tricks from Uncle Butch's late friend, slide guitarist
Duane Allman. This is a drastic comparison, since
Allman is really the only slide guitarist to singularly
emerge from beneath the shadow of the instrument's
true innovator, Elmore James. But it is this same
comparison that folks have been making ever since
Derek started filling in The Allman Brothers' slide
guitar role a year ago. In addition to The Allman
Brothers, Trucks has schooled himself by jamming
with the likes of Phil Lesh, Government Mule, Jazz is
Dead, Bob Dylan and Widespread Panic since he was
Although he is no longer really a youngster, gui-
tarist John Scofield knows how to relate to a youthful
audience. In 1998 he recorded the funky album "A Go
Go" with the aid of the band Medeski, Martin and
Wood and his latest, "Bump," continues the jazz-
funk-rock trend, featuring members of Deep Banana
Blackout and Soul Coughing. Which makes sense for
a musician who got his start playing with Miles
Davis, whose "Bitches Brew" was the original exper-
iment in fusing jazz ideals with funk and rock
Moreover, the band that Scofield is bringing on the
road promises to be no slouch. Rhythm guitarist Avi
Bortnick studied under seminal bassist Richard Davis
and has spent time exploring African, Caribbean and
Brazilian music, while drummer Ben Perowsky has
studied with Alan Dawson (ironically a noted collab-
orator of Davis') and played with respected musicians
such as Dave Douglas, Pat Martino and Don Byron.
Scofield and Trucks will perform under a double
billing tonight at Pontiac's Mill Street Entry, where
the simple possibility of seeing the two guitarists
trade licks onstage seems worth the drive.
Bassist Dave Holland also got his first break play-
ing with Davis, on "Bitches Brew" in fact. But his
quintet, which will appear at the Bird of Paradise
Friday and Saturday for two shows each night, is not
known for catering to a juvenile audience. Although
the quintet can certainly hang loose and celebrate a
jubilant groove, its experience allows the band to also
juxtapose such pandemonium against rigorous struc-
Holland's ensemble was formed in the summer of
1997 and released its first recording, "Points of
View," in 1998. Saxophonist Steve Wilson has since
departed, replaced by Chris Potter in winter of 1999.
The group has been touring fairly consistently since
their formation, becoming one of the finest acoustic
ensembles working in jazz. The 'group recently
released "Prime Directive,' which revels an even
higher level of cohesiveness than "Points of View."
Thus those interested in the contrast between the
inquisitiveness of youth and the wisdom of experi-
ence should be encouraged to explore the area's musi-
cal offerings this weekend. (And on a personal note:
last February's John Scofield show at the Ark and the
Dave Holland Quintet's spring performance at the
Bird of Paradise were the two best concerts of the
Live Sounds Around Town
Wfon Harris Quartet at the Bi j
i aradise;8' 10:30 p.m.
Derek~ Trucks and. John ScofieJd at
Mill Street Entry in Pontiac;(7:30
Friday and Saturday
D e Holland Qintet t the Bird
o aradise; 9 1: pr..
Photo courtesy of Rachel Bleckman
In addition to his own group, Derek Trucks also plays with
Southern rock legends the Allman Brothers Band.
Pnoto courtesy of Blue Note
Up and coming jazzer Stefon Harris brings good vibes to the Bird.
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