Before starting this article, let me first say that, if you recall the recent article under Satire & Editorial titled "Golden Globe Winners By Sam", I made predictions of most of the nominations. I made predictions of 19 nominations and the result was 13 INCORRECT and 6 CORRECT.
Also - as to one of the few categories that I didn't make a prediction on, Best Animated Film, if I were to have guessed I might have gone with Happy Feet although I didn't see any of the nominees, but when I watched the Globes show, I noticed that the other two nominees looked stronger than I would have imagined and from the quick few seconds of each nominee, I said to myself that this "Cars" looked damned good. The other one,"Monster House" , also looked respectable. This is probably the last year for which I'll make Oscar predictions and all, done it for 15 years and got nowhere other than doing it on a national cable show out of Vegas for no pay and usually for no pay for rag newspapers. Even saw about 200 movies a year on certain years. Anyway, let's get to Gene Hackman.
I did celebrity interviews for many years, and again didn't get far with it, but sometimes it was enjoyable. My favorite would be Dick Wilson who did the "Charmin" commericals. He was like talking to my own grandfather.
Anyway, I knew what it was like to be the only one getting an interview with a big name and the only one not to get an interview. I usually tried to get interviews with those I admired even if they weren't big anymore, while some of course were, like my interview with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" for my cable tv show in New Orleans known as "Confessions Of A Chronic Complainer".
Anyway, I want to focus on one of my worst experiences doing interviews, or shall I saying trying to get an interview, Gene Hackman.
First off is why I wanted to interview Gene Hackman. Well, simply put, I don't think he's the greatest actor, however I find it very possible that he gave the greatest performance by an actor in a leading role for 1972's The Poseidon Adventure, which did get him the British Academy Award but no Oscar nomination. Oddly he won the year before for his lead in The French Connection although he was much better in his non-nominated performance in 1974's The French Connection II. Still, when he gave that brilliant performance in Poseidon, I wanted the interview, and to briefly say, the film talked about the most important and common factor of the world today, everyone knows that the ship is upside down and they MUST go upwards but still argue against it much like everyone says "United We Stand" and stab one another in the back. I have brought law suits against people and businesses, and so far have never lost, but in most cases they REFUSED to talk it out FOR FREE and spent time and money to fight to the nth degree and would end up losing; and worst off is they fought when they had no arguement left. So in many ways, The Poseidon was important. I'll end this concept by saying that one of many great lines that says a lot about people is Hackman's line to Ernest Borgnine, "Maybe we're just two of a kind Mr. Rogo, and you don't like looking at yourself.".
By the way, my second favorite movie of all times is also from 1972 titled "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes" and the star Roddy McDowell told me in an interview that it was his favorite of all the ape movies. For those who think I have no taste, than I'll tell you my third favorite is 1984's Amadeus which won the Best Picture Oscar.
Going back to Hackman, I started trying to get interviews mainly by speaking with his agent Fred Specktor, or as I call him "spectacle". He was cool to talk to some half-dozen times in a fifteen year period although he may have given me the runaround he did it a bit more polite than other agents and PR types. Well, I was in New Orleans when they filmed Runaway Jury. I was filming stuff on my camcorder near what turned out to be a Runaway Jury locations, and I even signed on and filmed one of the movies security guards. The guard PROMISED me an interview with Hackman; and I knew that was a real long shot because usually a security guard has no pull, but I came by for three days, ON A HALF TWISTED ANKLE, and was given the runaround. Eventually I got some PR type who gave me a month long runaround and eventually said that he should have told me that Hackman doesn't do interviews or small interviews ( like a non-People Magazine interview ). This goes to enjoying the power of not saying no right away so that one gets that feeling of power, in other words, if I tell the guy no he won't ask again, but if I say maybe he'll keep persisting till I get tired of the attention and feeling so important by giving someone the runaround. So, I decided to call Fred Specktor and see if after telling him what all happened that maybe he'd give me a break and give me the interview or at least an autographed photo.
So I called Creative Artists Agency an before I could finish a sentance they said to hold, and suddenly SPECTACLE comes to the phone screaming "WHO IS THIS" and barely let me get a word in edge-wise. Eventually he heard me say that we spoke numerous times in the past but he just was freaking for no reason and got threatening. I emailed him an on the record set of questions including to ask if he was on prescription medication or illegal drugs when he was screaming on the phone like a nut.
A nice lady, although gutless lady, with the New Orleans film community by the name of Stephanie Dupray, admitted that I was probably right about Fred Specktor's behavior but still sees it as a situation where they had to give in and not do anything about spectacle's rude behavior. What is worse is that police in New Orleans and Specktor's area didn't much care of my reports that Specktor's attitude was dangerous because if he tries that with some nutcase, the nutcase might take it out on one of his clients.
Naturally Specktor refused to answer on the record questions, and didn't even care that I've met and/or interviewed some of his clients in the past, like Robert DeNiro on the set of Casino, one of the few projects I was an extra in.
It is funny that Hackman could write a book titled, I think, "And Justice For No One" when he has some weasel millionaire agent like Fred Specktor; and considering Hackman is supposedly a quiet and shy guy, although he isn't as quiet during driving time on the freeway, he is often reported by fans as very nice. So how does someone like spectacle wind up representing him ????
One nice thing to say about Gene Hackman is one of his PR people, Dick Guttman, who isn't high on himself. He is a very busy person who won't just drop everything but will talk to you with respect. The nice thing about throwing in the towel to a Hackman interview is a kind few words saying "no" from Mr. Guttman that told me that I did all that I could, within reason, and can walk away from one very wanted interview, and live with it. If Guttman ran Hollywood, or had even more power, maybe the movies would be better and the little guys would be treated as people and not just fans who are only important for their theatre ticket dollars.