12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 10, 1999
The Washington Post
In "Stir of Echoes," Kevin Bacon
is a regular guy from a Chicago sub-
urb, who submits to a hypnosis ses-
sion, only to learn he's part of an
estimated 8 percent of the popula-
tion whose subconsciousness is eas-
ily triggered by hypnotic sugges-
Writer-director David Koepp
spoke of his personal satisfaction in
directing this movie, his second
directorial effort after 1996's "The
Research was fun, too. Koepp
found the idea of hypnosis so fasci-
nating, he says, he decided to under-
go a session himself.
"It was kind of intense," Koepp
said. "It's like a heightened state of
concentration. Unless you're part of
the eight percent, you don't black
"It's not like you don't remember.
You're always there and you're
always in control, unless you're one
of those whose subconsciousness
leaps right out. I'm from the
Midwest. My subconscious is
waaaay down in the basement.
This experience was not a cine-
matic experience, he confessed.
So he had to "fudge the scene for
entertainment pleasure" by literally
conveying Bacon's state of mind.
"I want you to pretend you're in a
theater," said Illeana Douglas (who
plays the hypnotist) in the movie to
As Bacon imagines, Koepp
shows us a movie screen with audi-
ence heads in the foreground.
Instead of showing the actor pre-
tending to be in a trance, said
Koepp, we see what Bacon sees.
And we feel as if we're being hyp-
Koepp is better known in
Hollywood as a scriptwriter whose
credits include "Apartment Zero,"
"Bad Influence," both "Jurassic
Film's success does not
Still, the film
The year starts with your movie winning the Special Jury that a document
Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. By midsummer, the film, Which is acknov
borne by intense word-of-mouth support, begins slipping into Ropes" directing
theaters. "It's funny" M
Critics, even those with hearts of stone, become enthusias- not far from the1
tic acolytes of your movie's cause. And - big drum roll here "If we'd made
- the box-office take is a pleasant surprise. a par with thev
So the phones should be ringing off the hook, right? Big would be inunda
stars should be making desperate "can-we-talk" phone calls at "The only thi
odd hours, right? in, "is that, ever
Well, no, say Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen, producer- ings with people
directors of "On the Ropes," the acclaimed boxing documen- the way things a
tary. you to develop a
The film's absorbing 90-minute narrative tracks a year in ideas yourself."
the lives of those who work and train at Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy If the abovet
Boxing Center, situated in one of the city's most forbidding experience of m
neighborhoods. mitted both thes
The focus is on four magnetic people: Harry Keitt, an ex- the documentar
convict and recovering drug addict who built the center and first drawn to f
dedicates himself to helping neighborhood kids avoid his mis- everyone else kn
takes; Noel Santiago, one of Keitt's teen-age pupils, whose (Burstein mad
ingratiating bravado shields a potentially crippling streak of John Ford and B
self-doubt; George Walton, Keitt's prized prodigy, whose Yet it's their p
move to the professional ranks leaves his mentor abandoned defines their aes
and depressed. stories," Burstein
And, most poignantly, there's Tyrene Manson, a bright-eyed, to find a real-li
ebullient young woman whose clear shot at a Golden Gloves story. We havee
championship is threatened when she's implicated in a drug from them ..."
bust. Morgen, as e
Manson's subsequent travails moved New York magazine ner's thoughts.
film critic Peter Rainer to write, "It's one thing to read about know from drai
the injustice of the criminal-justice system ... But hearing tion film."
Tyrene's harrowing defense of herself, of her life in an atmos- Burstein takes
phere of such stark indifference is almost unbearable." social document
Rainer's reaction reflects the near-unanimous acclaim tem. But that wa
received by "On the Ropes." Audiences have likewise been ing place with tf
roused by the film despite its departure from the customary had their own dr
ascending (or descending) arc of boxing films. "Sort of what f
You know how it usually is in those ring epics: Either "'In Cold Blood
Sylvester Stallone wins or Robert Ryan loses in the end. In tion novel) was a
"On the Ropes," the conflict within the ring is subordinated to Several docur
the process and caprice of life itself; the stone being rolled pair, including t
uphill and rolling back down; dreams born, dying and looking about a Texas hig
for more fertile ground in which to take root. real-life private i
is a documentary. And there's only so m*
tary can do to boost a filmmaker's profile.
wledged - and accepted - by the "On the
lorgen, 30, said at a Park Avenue coffee house
pair's Manhattan distributor's office.
a fiction film that got the kind of reaction on
way our film has been received, I think we
ted with offers."
ig this film has done;' Burstein, 29, chimed
since Sundance, we're able to go into meet-
who can green-light our projects. But th
always are with documentaries. No one p
documentary. You have to come up with the
reads like sour grapes, it's misleading. The
aking "On the Ropes" has, if anything, com-
e New York University film school alums to
y genre, even though both claim they were
ilmmaking by the same Hollywood product
nows and loves.
e fictional shorts in her apprenticeship, while
ernardo Bertolucci are Morgen's heroes.)
predeliction for traditional movie genres t
thetic for non-fiction film. "We wanted to tell
n said. "And the challenge for both of us was
fe situation and fashion it into a compelling
our favorite documentaries and learned a lot
ach of them often do, completes his part-
"But really we tried to take everything we
rmatic filmmakers and apply it to non-fic-
the ball. "I know people see our movie as a
and an indictment of the criminal-justice s*
sn't our intention. We just found this interest-
hese very interesting people with stories that
ama to bring out."
people call the new journalism," Morgen said.
' (Truman Capote's 1966 true-crime nonfic-
as much an influence on us as any movie."
mentary projects are on the horizon for the
two potential TV series, "American High,"
gh school, and "The Searchers," which tracks
Coutesy of Artisan~ Entertainment
David Koepp directs on the set of "Stir of Echoes."
"Carlito's Way ,"
As the director on "Stir of
Echoes," he enjoyed a luxury rarely
experienced by writers in
"Screenwriting is half an art
form," explained Koepp, a bearded
36-year-old with an easy, witty
"You write it, then someone else
always directs it.
And no matter whether the movie
ends up worse or better than what
you wrote, it's always different"
from the scriptwriter's original
Even when you're included in dis-
cussions about the movie, Ko
continued, "you lose the argumen
with the big stars, the producersa
"After a certain point, you see
director's eyes glaze over.
"No matter what you say, h
going to do it (his way) anywaya
you can type what he wants or
can have someone else type it...
"The only way to be comple
happy," said Koepp, semi-facetio
ly, "is to give up your soul."
But this time, Koepp not o
typed, he won the arguments --
in consultation with Bacon, a
was a producer.
With his soul intact, he confess
"I was very happy on this movie
Clayson jomns Gumbel's new show
The Washington Post
tely Jane Clayson doesn't want to talk about whether she
us- drinks caffeinated beverages and she dislikes telling
reporters her shoe size, but she can't wait to meet the "ordi-
nly nary people" who think that hanging around a streetside TV
uh, studio is a great place to be at 7 in the morning, and wants
who to learn everything about their lives.
Clayson, 32, a Los Angeles-based correspondent for ABC
sed, News, on Wednesday was officially named Bryant
." Gumbel's new sidekick.
She and Gumbel will host CBS's morning news program,
"The Early Show," which debuts Nov. I from a storefront
studio that the network is building at the southeast corner of
Meeting Gumbel, she told reporters Wednesday, was
"like seeing an old friend - we just clicked."
Eighteen years Gumbel's junior, Clayson says she
watched him while she was in high school. "Everybody
watched Bryant and Jane. That's how you started your day
- he's an institution," she said.
And if she's half as successful as Gumbel's other Jane -
Pauley that is, with whom he hosted NBC's "Today" show
from 1982 to 1990 -"I will be pleased and very grateful,"
Reporters were eager to learn something about Clayson,
about whom little has been said by CBS except that she's
been with ABC News since 1996 and earlier worked in local
news in the Salt Lake City market.
Clayson clammed up on personal questions. Which isn't
good, because the morning news audience likes to feel
close and personal with its stars -- or it doesn't watch.
CBS brass have been scouting for a female co-anchor
since May. Friedman says they looked at 300 tapes and
spoke with 100 candidates before making their only offer to
Though Clayson's background is in hard news, she said
she's looking forward to meeting "ordinary people:"
"I love to hear about their lives and interests and what
motivates them," she said.
And the meet-and-greet aspect of the show is very imp e
tant, Friedman said. After people glad-hand with GumW
and Clayson, they'll go home and watch, and so will their
"It's almost like retail television," he said. "You win fans
one at a time."
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