Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

And a bit about Anne Stringfield



Even those not on trend speak to how the culture and its expectations have flipped. Anne Stringfield, 24, works at a New York City publishing house, lives in the trendy East Village and moonlights on the side, typing for Nobel laureate Derek Walcott. But as she sits in a New York restaurant, dressed in black and adjusting her tortoiseshell glasses, she says she often feels unchic around her friends. She is single, while most of them are in serious relationships. Her apartment is in the expected dishabille, while their cupboards are filled with martini and highball glasses, their furniture is well selected, and their culinary skills are often on display. "They have all the accoutrements of domesticity," says Stringfield, who spent half an hour at a recent soiree talking about piecrusts, her one hook into what she sees as the prevailing culture. "We kind of joke about how middle-aged we've become."


And one of the articles that first mentioned Patty Marx

Karen S. Schneider Julie Jordan, Kwala Mandel and Ruth Andrew Ellenson in Los Angeles, Shermakaye Bass in Austin and Rachel Feld, A Perfect Punchline Steve Martin's got a new girl, a hit movie and a second date with Oscar, People, 03-24-2003,Vol. 59 No. 11' pp 75+.

Steve Martin is a careful man. He keeps his collection of modern art meticulously catalogued in his laptop computer, and when playing craps with his longtime pal and gambling buddy Tony Andress, a Houston oilman, he arranged his money, says Andress, "in little stacks of ones and fives and tens and twenties." He is mindful to remember the birthdays of friends, to answer their e-mails promptly--and to keep his word. "If I call him on a bad day he'll just say, 'Let's talk Friday at noon,'" says Leigh Haber, editor on two of his three bestselling books (Cruel Shoes, Pure Drivel and Shopgirl). "And that's what happens. You talk Friday at noon."

Though comedian pal Rita Rudner calls him "by nature a disciplined, organized man," now and then he's compelled to take a break--as he did for a scene in the comedy Bringing Down the House, when he put on gold chains and busted moves at a hip-hop club. But once director Adam Shankman called "Cut!" Martin, 57, was back to his New York Times crossword puzzle and a world where Eminem is just a chocolate candy. The culture he got a taste of in House, he says with a laugh, is " foreign to me, and it shows."

But it also pays. The movie, featuring Martin as an uptight attorney whose life is upended by a foulmouthed, bighearted convict played by Queen Latifah, topped the box office with a $31.1 million opening weekend. Collecting Picassos and Seurats, writing for The New Yorker and hosting the Oscars (he'll do his second gig March 23) may make Martin happy, but so does falling funny into a pool. House gives him a chance to do the kind of physical comedy he enjoys as much as he did some 30 years ago, when he first wowed a Tonight Show audience by playing his banjo with a gag arrow stuck through his head. Says Shankman: "The first day of shooting he came up to me and said, 'I forgot how much fun this is.' He was like a kid; he was giddy."

A rare state for the native of Waco, Texas, who grew up in a house where, he's said, "there was not a lot of hugging and kissing. We were not vocal or loud." A lifetime later, ensconced in his Manhattan apartment or in what Shankman calls his "warm, homey" house in L.A., Martin is far more content--but hardly more vocal. Friends like Frank Oz, who directed him in Bowfinger, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Housesitter and Little Shop of Horrors, know better than to inquire about, say, the details of his dating life. In December he was stepping out with New Yorker staffer Anne Stringfield, 30; now he is seeing Manhattan humor writer Patty Marx, 49. A Pennsylvania native who was one of the first female writers for Saturday Night Live as well as for the Harvard Lampoon, Marx uses Martin's books to teach comedy writing at New York University. She will confirm that they have a more personal connection only with a "Yeah, sorta." As for Oz: "I don't ask him about personal stuff." But as his House daughter Kimberly J. Brown, 18, discovered, Martin himself knows no such bounds. "He asked a lot about how young people go on dates now, like 'Who pays? Do you meet the parents?' It was odd," she says, "but sweet."

Maybe it was just research. After all, the comic has been getting joke material from just about everyone else he knows. According to friend and former Monty Python member Eric Idle, Martin has been in a "panic" for the past few months, preparing to make 50 million or so viewers at the Academy Awards laugh. Whether over dinner with friends or in his frequent e-mail chats, "he'll try out material on us," says Idle. "We're like his test audience. It's a nightmare for Steve, a terrifying experience. The fact that he's done it before doesn't stop the angst."

What might? A night at home with his yellow Lab Roger and the new banjo Queen Latifah gave him. Says Shankman: "He gets this really relaxed look on his face when he plays." And in truth, not even a gold statue can compare with that.


Scoop on Steve girlfriends -- in this case, Patty Marx

okay, people of the compulsive type. you know who you are. it has recently been mentioned in print that Steve is dating Patty Marx, former or current writer for SNL. she's hard to find info on. so, take time out from your steve schedule and read these. they are strewn with little nuggets. not chicken nuggets. so instead, eat your heart out.

New Yorker Cartoonist Takes On Tougher Audience: Roz Chast, Patricia, Forward, 10-09-1998, pp 20.

New Yorker Cartoonist Takes On Tougher Audience: Roz Chast, Patricia Marx Aim for `No Messages, No Morals, No Meaning' in New Children' s Book
`My father used to read the Yiddish Forward," says New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, the very funny illustrator of the hot new children's book "Meet My Staff," written by Patricia Marx and recently published by HarperCollins. "He liked it when I put the word `kvell' in one of my cartoons."

Over lunch at the Cosmic Coffee Shop in midtown Manhattan, the well- known women's humorists discuss their third collaboration, "Meet My Staff." It tells the story of an 11-year-old child with attitude named Walter, who is feeling lazy. So he employs a "Thing Finder" to find his glasses and lucky pebble, a "Room Crew" to fix his broken toys, "Miss Peck," a woman in charge of "kissing Aunt Winnie" and "Monsieur Monsieur," the personal letter writer "who writes Aunt Winnie thank- you notes."

"The book started with the thought that I needed a maid to clean out my purse," Ms. Marx says.

"Next it was someone to order for her at restaurants and find her lost earring," Ms. Chast says. "It was a great story. We had the same worldview."

"Beleaguered," Ms. Marx explains. "The same spoiled upbringing."

Ms. Marx and Ms. Chast met by accident in 1982, when Ms. Marx's first magazine piece, which she calls "a comedy about Russia," ran in The Atlantic Monthly and was illustrated by Ms. Chast. "I loved the illustration. I was goaded into calling her," Ms. Marx says. "It was a mother-thing. You're both the same age. Play with her."

When asked their age, Ms. Marx says, "11."

"I'm 43," Ms. Chast offers.

"I remember 43," Ms. Marx says, laughing.

In 1993, along with co-writer Jane Read Martin, they came up with a project about a petulant little girl named Patty Jane. "She was us," Ms. Chast says. It was called "Now Everybody Really Hates Me."

"Could be about Clinton," Ms. Marx says. "It sold 30,000 copies, but I might have just made that up."

"Then we did another Patty Jane book called `Now I'll Never Leave the Dinner Table,'" Ms. Chast says.

"We could change `dinner table' to `White House," Ms. Marx adds.

The witty and unpretentious coauthors, who look and seem in their 20s, found they shared an artistic sensibility, which Ms. Marx sums up as "No messages. No morals. No meaning." Ms. Marx, the first woman to write for the Harvard Lampoon, was on the staff of "Saturday Night Live" for two years and is the author of 11 books, including "How To Regain Your Virginity" and "You Can Never Go Wrong By Lying." Ms. Chast was the first female cartoonist to get a contract at The New Yorker, 20 years ago, and she is one of the few to survive all four editors. So why do children's books?

"We think like they do," Ms. Marx says. "We knew kids. Roz had two of them running around her house. They'll talk for a candy bar."

Seriously, Ms. Marx says, she felt that in children's books, illustrations were central and she loved Ms. Chast's work. Ms. Chast loved Ms. Marx' s work and wanted to expand to books.

At first they seem like opposites. Ms. Chast has blond hair, wears glasses and seems shy. She could be one of her own fuzzy nerdball characters. An only child born in Brooklyn to two teachers, she now lives in Connecticut with her husband, the humor-writer Bill Franzen, and their two kids, 11-year-old Ian and 8-year-old Nina, who, she says, are funny and often give her inspiration.

Ms. Marx, a brunette, is the oldest of three children of a Philadelphia business couple. She now lives alone on the Upper East Side. She admits she did steal a line from her 3-year-old niece who, jumping on the bed, said, "I'm not jumping on the bed. I'm walking high."

Yet the more they talk, laugh and finish each other's sentences, the more Ms. Chast and Ms. Marx seem like two sides of the same sharp- edged coin. After careful interrogation, one learns that both petite women with hazel eyes are left-handed, both love to talk on the telephone and both grew up in Reform homes.

"We celebrated Chanukah," Ms. Marx says.

"My parents used to play the `Who's Jewish on T.V.' game," Ms. Chast says. "They'd point and say `She's half-Jewish,' and `His real name was Schwartz.'"

They both enjoy Jewish writers and think they have Jewish senses of humor, which they categorize as "verbal." "I wave my hands a lot," Ms. Chast says. They both loved subversive humor as kids.

"I adored Charles Addams," Ms. Chast says. "And Alice in Wonderland. And Eloise."

"Nothing schmaltzy," Ms. Marx says. "I'd read anything that wasn't moralistic. As long as it didn't tell me to share or love anyone."

The two are working on two other books and pitching "Meet My Staff" as a movie. "We haven't thought of any merchandising tieins yet," Ms. Chast says.

"But we will," Ms. Marx says.


LAUREL IVES, Features: The (dry) toast of Manhattan Skinny women are spilling their dieting secrets Laurel Ives reports. , The Daily Telegraph, 05-12-1999, pp 20.

HOW many calories do you consume licking a stamp or swallowing an aspirin? How can you counteract the effects of inadvertently drinking a Coke instead of a Diet Coke? What to do if you need to lose 5lb in a week?
It was finding the answers to important questions such as these that prompted New Yorkers Patricia Marx and Susan Sistrom to write The Skinny, a new diet book that shamelessly bypasses notions of health and nutrition to reveal how glamorous Manhattan women really stay thin.

"One night over dinner, we were contemplating the bread basket, trying to figure out which had more calories, the cornbread or the sourdough, " says Patricia. "We realised that large chunks of our brains are dedicated to knowing the calorie counts of every food item. We had forgotten the plots of movies, but we could remember if we had butter on our popcorn while we watched them."

The friends decided to write a book made up of wisdom drawn from the real experts: women who are obsessed with their weight. "We wanted to do for dieting what The Rules did for dating. It also gave us an excuse to ask skinny women we admired for their tips."

For research, they held a series of "skinny lunches", to which they invited 100 of their boniest friends. "The discussions were very lively. Here were accomplished, serious women who just couldn't get enough of this subject," says Patricia.

She attended Harvard and Cambridge, has written six books, four films and 14 television shows but - most important of all - still wears a size eight or ten, even though she is in her early forties.

Her co-author, Susan Sistrom, who writes serious articles for the New Yorker under her maiden name, Susan Orlean, is a tiny size six. "When I'm thin, it makes me feel powerful, strong and tough," she says.

Patricia maintains her skinny frame by skipping breakfast and lunch, eating Tasti D Lite - a diet ice cream - drinking Diet Coke and iced tea to make her feel full, eating only fish and vegetables for supper and never touching alcohol. She also rollerblades and swims.

These sound like the habits of a neurotic until you start to read The Skinny, which provides a telling insight into the dietary habits (and fridges) of upper-class New Yorkers. One chapter, entitled Naked Eating, was inspired by a woman who controls her weight by eating alone, in the nude, in front of a mirror. Another woman suggested the Chewing Gum Diet: lunch consists of unlimited amounts of chewing gum; normal meals are permitted for the rest of the day.

The Skinny also recommends sit-ups in the bath, and a complete ban on food before 3.30pm. According to Patricia, desperate models have even been known to eat cotton wool balls soaked in orange juice to help them feel full.

Bagels are a particular bete noire of the authors because, depending on their size, they can contain up to 600 calories. They recommend "scooping out the insides. This leaves the shape and the essential character . . . but a lot fewer calories".

They also consider misery a good way to lose weight. If you split up with your boyfriend, expect a loss of

6-8lb; divorce will shave off as much as 15-18lb, and a custody battle, 16-20lb. What about those women who eat more when they are stressed? "This is too sad for us to even contemplate, so we don't," say the authors.

Of course, by advocating brazenly unhealthy ways to lose weight, Patricia and Susan have set themselves up for criticism. Ever since The Skinny hit the shelves, they have been accused of encouraging eating disorders.

But, they say, their critics are not taking the book in the spirit in which it was written. "This is supposed to be good fun," says Patricia. "An anorexic is going to be an anorexic, whatever she reads. Besides, if you want to lose five pounds, you don't care what will make you healthier over the course of 30 years. You want to know right then what you can do."

In fact, The Skinny is an oddly reassuring book - even if you are not a size eight. It is soothing to discover that the kind of women whose figures turn you green with envy are always on barmy-sounding diets. Your next pizza will taste more delicious than ever.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Commentary: Trying to fix a broken telephone. , All Things Considered (NPR), 02-12-2002.
Host: ROBERT SIEGEL Time: 8:00-9:00 PM


Someone once wrote: `One is the loneliest number.' In fact, the late songwriter Harry Nilsson wrote that, and his word was carried far and wide on the 1969 hit record album by the group Three Dog Night. Well, now 32 years later times are more complicated. One is not the number that makes commentator Patricia Marx lonely, it is the digit next door.


It took me awhile to notice that the `2' on my telephone was broken, but finally I figured out that pushing a `2' meant getting a `4.' I tried pushing two `1s' instead of one `2.' I even tried pushing the `1' and the `3' down together and then taking my finger off the `1' to subtract.

Life without `2s' was not so terrible. I could order Chinese food and I could call most of my friends. Probably I could join a special interest group and meet people who do not have `2s' in their phone numbers. I changed my phone message: `If your phone number has a `2' in it, I cannot call you back.' A friend called and said, `I have three `2s' in my phone number, so I guess I'll never talk to you again.' `A true friend,' I thought, `would change his number.' Someone else suggested my `2' phobia was really a fear of intimacy.

I called the phone company. `It sure sounds like you're having trouble on the instrument itself,' the operator said. `If you cannot do anything with the instrument, I would recommend you calling telephone repairs.' I called repairs and got a computerized message: `If you're calling about trouble on the line, press "1." If you're calling about trouble with your instrument, press "2."'

SIEGEL: Patricia Marx deals with life's little problems in New York City.


Monday, April 28, 2003

Finally, an article on the Rock Bottom Remainders

for the record, the article is wrong on one point. the seattle appearances preceded both san fran and l.a.,0,4280315.story?coll=cl-home-more-channels
Los Angeles Times
LA Calendar
April 28, 2003

The book festival's all-star comedy band
Toes are tapping, hands clapping as authors bring music, hilarity to the event.
By Bettijane Levine, Times Staff Writer

A funny thing happened on the eve of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Actually, it was a hilarious thing called "Besides the Music: A Repartee." It featured Steve Martin as moderator and the Rock Bottom Remainders as the panel of guests who declined to be moderated.

The Remainders are a no-hit rock 'n' roll band composed mostly of hugely successful authors who get together for one week each year to raise money for charity. Their motto is: "We play as good as Metallica writes novels." That should tell you something.

The literary lineup on stage in a packed Royce Hall at UCLA on Friday night included Martin, who is not a member of the group, along with authors-band members Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Roger Iles and Matt Groening. Special guest performer on this year's tour -- which plays San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle -- is guitarist Roger McGuinn, co-founder of the Byrds, who said little but looked very cool in all black with cowboy hat to match.

What would this group talk about, if not books and music? Well, just about anything absurd that came to mind, it turned out. If there'd been a laugh meter in the house, it would have broken. But to simply transcribe the antic patter would destroy it. Timing and context were everything. The curl of Martin's lip, the archness in his voice, his retorts aimed precisely -- like unexpected arrows through the head -- kept the audience howling. Martin started the evening with: "How do you begin to interview a band you know nothing about?" He was fibbing. He obviously knew something about it, because he'd flown to L.A. from an undisclosed movie location just to participate this evening.

He may have been auditioning. He has the credentials to join the band: He writes books and plays and has big talent on banjo. What's more, he's rich -- an attribute band members said they value highly. For example, Stephen King, the horror maven and the group's usual rhythm guitarist, isn't participating this year because he's still recovering from his famous accident. But he was frequently and fondly referred to by bandmates. Not for his riffs but because he once paid to rent a plane for them to tour in so they didn't have to travel in their usual scruffy bus.

The tour bus was a big subject of panel conversation: sex on the bus; roadies waiting for the bus in backwater towns at 4 in the morning. Well-coiffed Pulitzer Prize winner Barry, author, syndicated humor columnist and the band's lead guitar player, discussed the horrors of bus hair, roadies and difficult chords.

Groening (author, creator of TV's "The Simpsons" and the band's vocalist and cowbell player) read to the audience a list of crawl lines he'd written to parody those on the Fox News Channel, ending with "Ashcroft declares breast of chicken obscene."

Martin peppered the panel with penetrating questions for which they had no answers, like: "When you're in the middle of playing a song, what are you thinking?"

Dead silence.

"I mean, are you thinking about the song? Or are you thinking, 'I am so rich?' "

Or this from Martin: "You're all fine writers. What goes through your mind when you have to sing a lyric like 'I ain't gonna love you no more....'?"

You had to be there.

Amy Tan (author of "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Bonesetter's Daughter" and a Remainderette) said she's the one "who brings family values" to the group. Turns out she wears tight black leather and metal spikes and wields a whip while gyrating and doing vocals. She told the audience how, on her way to join the tour one year, airport security opened her luggage, found all her dominatrix gear and held it up to show the public.

Attorney Turow (author of such legal thrillers as "Presumed Innocent" and "Reversible Errors") is brunet and balding but plays "the blond chick" in the band. He performs in wig, he said, when he does back-up vocals.

And Albom, the syndicated sports columnist and author of "Tuesdays With Morrie," told of the horrors of being interviewed by media types who haven't read his books. His favorite was a radio disc jockey who started an interview with the question, "Why Tuesdays, Mitch?"

The panelists asked Martin some questions too. Like, what really happened backstage at the Oscars when Michael Moore gave his famous antiwar tirade. Martin said he'd had a few tough moments, trying to quickly gauge what he should say when he returned to the stage. He thought of a great line, which he didn't use. "I was gonna say, 'Be sure to buy Michael Moore's book, "Stupid White Men," which is evidently an autobiography.' "

Martin opened the discussion to questions from the audience. One person asked what the writers think of editors.

"Editors are the enemy; they're evil; they're scum," said Barry.

With that, the Rock Bottom Remainders got down to business. Barry, Martin, McGuinn and Pearson (author of "No Witnesses") performed a stunning guitar and banjo set, with the rest of the group providing light vocal backup from their chairs.

Los Angeles is the second stop on their tour. The night before, in San Francisco, they'd raised $75,000 at a performance in which they were joined unexpectedly by Robin Williams. They expect to have raised more than $100,000 from their weekend appearance at the Festival of Books at UCLA and hope for about the same in Seattle, their next stop.

All money raised goes to America Scores, a nationwide after-school creative writing and athletics program for underserved children.
Sunday, April 27, 2003

The oldest version of Cruel Shoes

Steve's first book of short bits was called Cruel Shoes, but it was not the commercial version that most people are aware of. It is a small handbound book in a limited edition which Steve personally numbered in ink. Out in 1977, they're rare now. The following link is for someone who has one and has put the stories online. I don't know that these differ from the later commercial version, but you can read them anyway.

Why Steve appeared with the Rock Bottom Remainders -- really

The Daily News of Los Angeles
April 24, 2003 Thursday, Valley Edition
BY David Kronke, Staff Writer

'Everybody wants to be a rock star," muses former Byrd and current folk-rock legend Roger McGuinn. "Even actors like Peter Fonda, all those guys I used to hang out with. Actors want to be musicians; musicians want to be actors. So it didn't surprise me that they wanted to."

The "they" in question are the Rock Bottom Remainders, a loose aggregate of novelists and authors who banded together a decade back in the name of raising both a racket and some money for charity. McGuinn serves as the ringer, trying to keep the rest of the band in the general vicinity of the same chord. Scott Turow ("Reversible Errors"), Dave Barry ("Tricky Business"), Amy Tan ("The Bonesetter's Daughter") and Ridley Pearson ("The Art of Deception") are the Remainders, with Matt Groening, creator of "Life in Hell" and "The Simpsons," joining the band for its Los Angeles appearances. (Stephen King, an original member of the band, is actually working and is unable to participate this time around.)

McGuinn has made a second career of sitting in with amateur musicians. "I sat in with the astronauts' rock band ... the authors are better," he declares. "But I should watch it - the Rock Bottom Remainders spend a lot of time playing down how good they are."

The Remainders' (publishing lingo for unsellable books) 2003 "Fire in the Belly" tour benefits America Scores, a program that encourages children at both soccer and creative writing. They will appear at a discussion and impromptu acoustic jam session moderated by Steve Martin (an author in his own right, most recently of "Shopgirl," and whom Barry befriended while writing gags for this year's Oscar ceremony) at 8 p.m. Friday at UCLA's Royce Hall. Beforehand, those who shell out serious money can hang with the writers at a 6 p.m. reception. They'll also perform Saturday at the Festival of Books at UCLA.

We reached the Remainders in Seattle on Tuesday, before they had even gotten together to rehearse. "We're getting ready to face the facts," Turow said with a trace of resignation. "I'm completely tone deaf, so as far as I'm concerned, there's never any difference in our quality before or after rehearsal."

Q: How sorry a statement is it on our culture that our men and women of letters have to be reined in by a rock star?
TUROW: What can you do? We're all members of a dissolute generation. We need someone to keep us in line. Roger's our zoo keeper.
BARRY: It's even worse than that. We can't function after the shows, so we get volunteers for literacy to trash our hotel rooms for us.

Q: Roger, how did you fall in with these guys?
McGUINN: Carl Hiaasen wrote a book, "Sick Puppy," where the villain's dog is named McGuinn. So we met and hung out, and he mentioned the Rock Bottom Remainders were having a concert in Miami. I thought it sounded like fun, so he put me in touch with Dave Barry. We do three or four Byrds songs in the set - they're all three-chord songs, so I think they're safe enough. I think the band knows the A chord. When we get to 'So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star,' it gets a little complex on the la-la-la part. That's where they might run into trouble.

Q: Not to bad-mouth any charity, but won't America Scores just result in a lot of bad soccer fiction?
BARRY: We do run that risk, but that's one of the few remaining genres where there isn't a lot of bad writing, so we're helping to plug that hole in the literary landscape.

Q: Do Matt Groening's books of comics really qualify as books?
BARRY: He's one of the original founding members of the band. If you look through one of his 'Life in Hell' books, there are more words than in any novel I've written.

Q: With this Steve Martin event, don't you think he's just angling to get in the group so he can add that to his resume and finally be named Hollywood's renaissance man?
TUROW: I think that's his motive. He's just looking for acceptance. He thinks that's gonna buy him respect in New York. I have news for him - it hasn't done anything for me.

Q: So how good - or bad - are your shows, really?
BARRY: In the last few years, we've gotten better. We've actually learned some of the songs by heart. There were some awful shows in the beginning. But no one expects us to be any good.
PEARSON: It mystifies us, but people actually enjoy themselves. It must be something they put in the beer. Whenever we play, severe personality lubricants must be served - after nine beers, we sound a little like a '60s garage band; less than that, everyone heads for the exits. We downplay our abilities. We promise absolute trash and then give them garbage instead of absolute trash, so everyone's impressed.

What: Best-selling authors trying their hand at rock music discuss their sundry careers and joke around at a benefit, "Besides the Music," moderated by Steve Martin. They'll also play for free at UCLA at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: UCLA's Royce Hall.
When: 8 p.m. Friday. (A reception with the authors and Martin begins at 6 p.m.)
Tickets: $20 ($200 for the reception). Call (310) 825-2101.

An interesting oldie about Leap of Faith

Scotland on Sunday
January 3, 1993, Sunday
Philosophy gave me a sense of the absurd ... Disney,
of course, gave me a sense of fun'

'Comedy Is Sort Of Genetic, You Have To Have A Knack
Or Inclination In The First Place' Wild, Crazy And
Serious Guy The Main Drawback With Being Steve Martin
Is That Everybody Expects You To Be Funny All Of The
Time. But His Next Film, Leap Of Faith, He Is
Convinced, Should Sort Out Such Expectations. Martin
Has A Very, Very Serious Talk With Arts Editor Richard

THE trademark steel grey hair that stands out like a
beckoning universal beacon for celebrity hungry
crowds, has become strangely corncoloured.

Underneath there is no mistaking Steve Martin who,
unlike his usual manic movie personae, emerges as
polite, intelligent, articulate, and overburdened by
the demands of being required to be perpetually funny.

"The biggest problem is when you say a perfectly
straight line such as 'What time is it?' or 'Can I
have a glass of water' and the whole room falls about
in hysterics," he says.

And to prove the point his audience of selected
journalists titter on cue.

There is something about Martin that invites laughter
even when he is trying to restrain himself.

When he started out, he claims to have made
"intentionally very silly movies" (his Academy Award
nominated short, The Absent Minded Waiter, The Jerk
and the scifi wheeze, The Man with Two Brains among
them) but recently his roles have been more
characterbased, and dare he say it, "serious", such as
the cameo of a bullying producer in Lawrence Kasdan's
Grand Canyon and his selfpenned, LA Story.

"Early in a career, it is easy to surprise people
because they do not know what to expect. Then you
realise as you mature that it is still easy to
surprise and upset people precisely because they do
have expectations of you as a 'star'. So, you turn the
tables on yourself, which is what I hope the next film
will do."

In Leap of Faith, directed by Richard Pearce, he plays
an evangelistic preacher who tries to con the
inhabitants of a small Kansas town, assisted by his
business partner Debra Winger and a hot gospel choir,
Angels of Mercy.

He comes into conflict with Liam Neeson as the sheriff
who tries to protect the locals from parting with
their cash.

"It's a flashy part with a lot of Bible thumping
preaching, music, dance, and all kinds of things. My
hair was died blonde for the part usually in America
it is a dead giveaway, and I am always mobbed. And you
know who mobs me most? Michael Jackson's body guards,"
says Martin, slipping back into funny mode.

He believes audiences will be astonished by the new

"He is a bad guy, sexually dubious, and he heals
people with his hands. It's all about the hypocrisy of
religion, and similar in some ways to Elmer Gantry
from Sinclair Lewis's novel."

Gantry gave Burt Lancaster an Oscar as the salesman
with the gift of the gab from God.

Martin has no truck with awards which is just as well
as early reviews in the States have not been overly
enthusiastic about the film, although his performance
has its admirers.

"Usually the best actor award goes to someone who
played a handicapped person who cried, not that I'm
disparaging any of the performances. I have never been
nominated, that is why I am bitter," he says.

Leap of Faith was filmed in his home state Texas last

He was born in Waco, although he grew up in Orange
County, southern California.

His mother was a housewife, his father sold real
estate and the family were strict Baptists.

He recalls "always trying to be funny, even in grade
school", which may have helped to make up for what
friends describe as a fairly miserable childhood.

He declines to talk about it.

His inspirational spark came from American TV
comedians in the 1950s and from Laurel and Hardy and
Chaplin to John Cleese and the Pythons.

When he is not performing publicly or for the media,
he withdraws into a world of crossword puzzles, cats
and computers.

As a teenager his first job was at Disneyland.

"I performed magic tricks at Merlin's Magic Shop in
Fantasyland, and was self taught by practising in
front of a mirror. I got the job at 14, and by working
there over the next three years I beame pretty adept.
And I can still do a few tricks," he says.

At college he became interested in the writings of
Wittgenstein and Kant to the extent he thought about
becoming a philosophy professor.

"Philosophy affected me in a way that is hard to
describe but it gave me a sense of the absurd, a sense
of the relative value of things, and a sense that the
things we take so seriously maybe aren't. Disney, of
course, gave me a sense of fun and when you combine
the two, you might have something."

Instead he followed his natural comic bent ("it's sort
of genetic, you have to have a knack or inclination in
the first place").

By the late 1960s he was performing his own material
in the clubs and on television.

He recalls being on the circuit as "tough" but claims
he was young enough not to feel it.

"Going from town to town, it was kinda romantic," he

At the time he was at the cutting edge of comedy,
hosting the innovative Saturday Night Live while
winning Grammy awards for his first two comedy albums
Let's Get Small and Wild and Crazy Guy.

The series catapulted him from 500 seat halls to giant
20,000 seat concert arenas including a reputation
building series of concerts at the Universal
Amphitheatre in LA with the Blues Brothers and
attended by all the studio execs.

"When you are in your twenties you can do things you
cannot do in your forties," says the 46yearold.

"In your forties you are more aware of the kind of
damage you can do to people. You tend to target people
less, and think more about what you are saying,
whereas in your twenties you are out there to be
confrontational, and iconoclastic. That kind of comedy
is for young people; dramas that explode myths are
more for adults and that's what Leap of Faith is all

Comedy, he stresses, is harder because there are more
choices to distil down to one.

In a drama the story is told "in the most truthful way
you can."

He has stretched his talents on stage as Vladimir with
Robin Williams as the other tramp clown in Samuel
Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

"It must be performed with a sense of fun. If you play
it seriously and invest it with importance then it is
boring. It has to be played with lightness, speed and
freedom. That is what I learnt, to contrast the
seriousness of the words against the lightness of the
character. I came away from the experience thinking
that it must be one of the greatest plays ever
written," he says.

Martin believes that the secret to good comedy is to
play it like a drama and to let your mind go off in
any direction.

The more absurd an issue appears, the straighter and
more earnest it should be played.

When his comedies occasionally fail to hit home, he
takes it personally "because that is what I do."

"Some scenes we will shoot in two ways because we
never know exactly if it is going to be funny until we
see how an audience reacts. If it is a downer we can
substitute the other version and hope for the best."

He was deeply disappointed when Herbert Ross's film of
Dennis Potter's Pennies from Heaven failed to make the

"I felt an intense emotional involvement because I was
there to serve this brilliant script. Anyway I don't
consider it was a failure it was simply a box office
flop. Luckily, I haven't had any of those for a while
and fortunately I'm still bankable."

He has a coterie of directors with whom he likes to

One of them is a former standup, Carl Reiner (Dead Men
Don't Wear Plaid) who remains a close friend.

Martin recently was asked to do a crazy comedy, and he
turned him down.

"I felt I had moved on both emotionally and
physically. I'm now into characters where you think
this guy is a bad guy but there is something sort of
likeable there. I like playing characters that are all
mixed up, rather than all good or all bad."

He points to the progression from such nonsense as The
Man with Two Brains in 1983 to Roxanne, his version of
Cyrano, and Ron Howard's Parenthood in 1989, although
his most recent offering, Housesitter this year marked
a regression to screwball.

Before we part Martin proffers his card which he has
just taken to distributing instead of laboriously
signing his autograph.

"Well, it makes sense because they get the signature
and dash back to show it to their friends who always
ask: 'What was he like?' and invariably from the two
and a half seconds in my presence they have no idea.
The card gives the answer."

It says: This certifies that you have had a personal
encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite,
intelligent and funny."

Joking apart, that just about sums him up.

Richard Mowe interviewed Steve Martin at the Deauville
Film Festival.

Leap of Faith will be released in April.


One of Steve's old New Yorker pieces

The Ottawa Citizen
May 19, 1999, FINAL
News; A17
Lincoln's talking points for gettysburg
By Steve Martin

Don't open with a joke. There will be killjoys in the crowd.

Get their attention ... make them add?

Seven dozen and three years ago?

Eight nines and 15 years ago?

One sesquicentennial minus 63 years ago? LXXXVII?

On ''all men are created equal,'' consider ''all persons are equal people, '' or ''guys and gals are goers.'' (Alliteration too much for a battlefield dedication?)

Remember, the audience is moronic. Even though we're standing on a battlefield, mention the Civil War.

''Dedicate,'' ''consecrate,'' ''hallow:'' Use one but not all three!

Throw in a parrot joke?

Good idea to mention that no one will remember this speech. It will make them remember it.

MIDDLE SECTION: Don't lose them here... make big gestures. Perhaps vocalize cannon-fire sounds.

....shall not perish from the parish. (Love this! Too hip for the room?)

Steve Martin, ''Talking Points,'' New Yorker, May 17, 1999.

Friday, April 25, 2003

What Steve is doing tonight

dave barry tattles


We played last night in San Francisco at the Fillmore West, and the evening was excellent (except for the part where we played). The toilets at the Fillmore were every bit as good as Roger McGuinn said they would be.

Our opening act was a comedian: Robin Williams. (Really.) He was quite funny. We in the band think he has a real future in show business.

Today we're on our way to Los Angeles; tonight we're doing a mostly nonmusical event with Steve Martin (another "up-and-coming" comedy star). Saturday we play at the Los Angeles Times book festival. That's an outdoors concert, and it's free. We promise you'll get your money's worth.
posted by Dave 12:41 PM on

Wednesday, April 23, 2003


The San Francisco Chronicle
Misdeeds of the rich and famous
BY: Leah Garchik

FINALLY: The editors of Yoga Journal, who got a coupon for their grand new coffee table book, "Yoga," into the Oscar presenters' gift baskets, are rejoicing to have had a 20 percent response. (Many gifts offered in coupons in the basket go unclaimed.) The list of people who wanted to receive the book was plenty star-studded -- Julia Roberts, Diane Lane, Hillary Swank and Steve Martin -- but the most recent return was from the big kahuna: Barbra Streisand.


The Michael Moore joke at the Oscars

OC Weekly (Orange County, CA)
April 18, 2003, Friday
Film; Pg. 34
BY: Greg Stacy

Nobody was expecting what happened when Michael Moore gave his Oscar acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine. Oh, we all knew Moore was going to say something controversial about the war, but none of us--and this apparently includes Moore himself--expected the famously left-wing, famous folk filling the auditorium that night would greet his remarks with loud, long, ugly booing. It was a dizzyingly speedy turnaround; Moore approached the podium to an adoring standing ovation, but after the filmmaker left just a few moments later, Oscar host Steve Martin got a hearty laugh from the crowd by remarking that Teamsters were now helping Moore into the trunk of his car . . . a joke that becomes even less amusing when you learn that Moore was apparently having an actual shouting match with a bunch of irate, pro-war Teamsters backstage.


Steve in the San Francisco area filming Cheaper by the Dozen

The Associated Press
April 23, 2003, Wednesday, BC cycle
7:48 PM Eastern Time
News in brief from California's North Coast

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - Steve Martin took a dawn jog past restaurants and shops along a historic downtown street here while filming scenes for an upcoming comedy.

Martin's new film, "Cheaper by the Dozen," will transport millions of movie fans to Santa Rosa's Railroad Square. Martin took his morning run Tuesday, and the film's 150-member cast and crew is expected to spend a week filming in Sonoma County.

In the movie, Santa Rosa will double as Midland, a small Midwestern that Martin's character - Tom Baker- and his family leave when he accepts a big-city college coaching job. Martin, who co-stars with Bonnie Hunt, plays a football coach juggling his new job with parenthood.

The film is a remake of a 1950 film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. The story, based on the autobiographical tale by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and his sister Ernestine, is about a family with 12 children in turn-of-the-century America.

Filmmakers and photographers have converged on Railroad Square before. The 1904 depot, which now houses the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau, also served as a backdrop in Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 film, "Shadow of a Doubt."

Feature films, documentaries, commercials and still photography for magazines and catalogs infuse the county economy with roughly $3 million annually, according to Sonoma County Film Commissioner Catherine DePrima. She estimated "Cheaper by the Dozen" alone may yield $500,000 for local restaurants, hotels, city services and other studio expenses.
Friday, April 18, 2003

This is very entertaining

i just discovered you can go there and type in a name, no caps and no quotation marks, and it will tell you what google has on that person.

for steve, i've saved you time.

just put that in your address section on your browser and enjoy
Thursday, April 17, 2003

<b>The story behind Picasso at the Lapin Agile

East Bay Express (East San Francisco)
April 16, 2003 Wednesday
Martin in His Erudite Period
Nothing better demonstrates the comic's continuing maturity better than Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
By Lisa Drostova

Everyone who's seen Repo Man has something from that movie stuck indelibly in their heads, whether it's the way every consumer product is labeled "generic" or the fact that all repossessed cars sport pine-tree-shaped air fresheners. For me, it's LA punk band Burning Sensations singing "Some people like to pick up girls and get called 'asshole' ... this never happened to Pablo Picasso" -- a reworking of the 1976 Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers classic "Pablo Picasso." But it's hard to believe such a thing could be true, especially after seeing Steve Martin's audacious, delightful Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the California Conservatory Theatre of San Leandro, where it seems just about everyone would like to call Pablo Picasso an asshole, or at least an arrogant -- if charming -- little something-or-other.

Set in 1904 in the eponymous Parisian watering hole, Picasso at the Lapin Agile throws together some of the century's leading thinkers and artists. The Lapin Agile was a real place; Picasso held court there until about the end of his Rose Period, when he started making money from his work and moved into a swankier neighborhood. Whether Einstein ever dropped in for an absinthe -- or certain other luminaries beamed in from the future -- is highly unlikely. But Martin makes it happen in a fizzy, heady brew of sex, art, and physics that cheerfully relies on anachronisms, terrible puns, and a total disregard for the fourth wall. For Martin the fourth wall is porous, elastic; actors occasionally speak directly to the audience and drop their accents to refer to things that will happen when the play is over.

For some of us, Steve Martin was a major childhood cultural icon. While our parents might not have let us see his movies or listen to his records because he was cruel and crass (this was well before There's Something About Mary brought cruel and crass to new depths), his mark was nonetheless everywhere. Lots of my guy friends liked to shake their upper bodies in imitation and say, "I'm just a wild and kah-razee guy!" Then they'd usually launch into Martin's King Tut dance. Since the days of Saturday Night Live and The Jerk, Cruel Shoes and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Martin has explored other forms, revealing that alongside a killer wit lies a surprising amount of tenderness. He paints, he writes screenplays, he's got a couple of novels out. He's still ubiquitous, but he's traded the arrow-through-the-head high jinks for a style that is both funny and erudite. Picasso at the Lapin Agile, his breakthrough play, is a fine example.

The play's energy stems from a meeting of Picasso and Einstein, both young and on the verge of the discoveries that will make them famous. They drink, they argue, they chase skirts; all the things you might expect of the artist, but probably not the clerk-turned-physicist. Brian Herndon's Picasso is a coiled spring, pacing and snorting like the bulls of his beloved corridas, twitching his fingers sensuously. "The boy can paint," he acknowledges grudgingly of Matisse, who is twelve years his senior. Meanwhile, if the defining image of Einstein is of an old wild-haired man in a saggy cardigan, Edward Hightower's portrayal is sure to come as a shock. This young Einstein is dapper, precise, and nearly as arrogant as Picasso. He's also got great lines, or maybe Hightower's delivery is the reason -- why else would a sentence like "A triangle with four points is what Euclid rides into hell" be so funny? Hightower sometimes risks going over the top, but he does a hilarious job with a monologue about a cake shaped like the letter E that defies description. Perhaps because he takes something that is patently absurd and treats it with the utmost seriousness. Hightower and Herndon play off each other well as the sparring between the two men begins in the first act and builds steadily over the second.

Art critic Jean-Paul Crespelle insists in his 1967 book Picasso and His Women that it's impossible to understand Picasso's work without knowing about his complex love life. By Crespelle's accounting, there were seven important mistresses or wives in Picasso's life, and each can be directly linked with a phase in his artistic development. So the end of the Blue Period and the cheerful Rose Period relate to his affair with Fernande Olivier, his Cubism to his time with Eva, Guernica and the "dislocated" women were inspired by Dora Maar, and so on. As his own assistant Sabartes said of him, "Never did his creative power manifest itself so strongly as during the paroxysms of his amorous experiences. ... With each new amorous experience we see his art progressing, a new form appearing, another language, a particular method of expression to which you could give a woman's name."

Yet Picasso didn't seem to be capable of true love or respect for women; he told penultimate mistress Francoise Gilot that women were either "goddesses or doormats." He kept former mistresses in plain view of the current one. Gilot in her memoir Life with Picasso recounts that the artist continued to receive love letters from her predecessor, Marie-Therese. Picasso would read the "more ardent" bits to Gilot, accusing her of not loving him as much as Marie-Therese did.

Martin's Suzanne, a bouncy and impressionable nineteen-year-old, could be entirely fictional, but the way he has her meeting Picasso resembles the first encounter between the artist and his first mistress. Suzanne is played by Sylvia Burboeck, who was so graceful and restrained as Holga in Speakeasy's After the Fall. Here she's giddy and naive, sharing the details of her tryst with Picasso with the Lapin Agile's other patrons with all the fervor and embarrassing candor of youth.

More recognizable as one of Picasso's real-life acquaintances is the unsavory Sagot, one of the artist's first dealers. Sagot wasn't actually an art dealer per se; he sold paintings from his pharmacy, usually for much more than he'd paid. Martin's Sagot defines prospective buyers as people who say "Show us what you've got, taste is no object," and explains why pictures of Jesus don't sell (you can't hang them in the bedroom: "You want Jesus watching over you, but not while you're in the missionary position"). While Dennis Ratto is convincingly sleazy as Sagot, his articulation is occasionally muddy.

There also really was a Freddy, or to be exact Frede, the bar's owner, who in real life sang old drinking songs and played the guitar. This Freddy is more practical. He's not really prepared to argue art or relativity. But set him to the accounts and he's a fiend -- as witnessed by his testing Einstein's computational acumen with a convoluted story about a shipment of port. Jeff Wincek nails this breathtaking litany of discounts and percentages; it's very funny for a straight bit.

Freddy and girlfriend Germaine are the "straight men" of this piece, the two least wacky of all the characters. Germaine is an older, wiser woman than Suzanne, always trying to respond to the conversation with "a woman's perspective." Christine Rodgers is saddled with a second-act monologue that has to be the play's textual dead spot; Germaine's "men like you" rant has a whinier, meaner tone than the rest of the play, and seems out of place.

Everything else, however, is on target, even if strange -- such as the stream of increasingly odd visitors who liven up the second act. "What Picasso liked about the Lapin Agile was not the company of the loudmouthed, vulgar painters, but a certain warm atmosphere which reminded him of that of the taverns of Barcelona," Crespelle wrote. "The setting was picturesque: as well as painters, students, and deserters from the Chat Noir, the customers included some unusual characters."

Probably not as unusual as some of the ones Martin introduces a century later, or as funny; it's hard to imagine a stranger, more endearing batch than this one.
Monday, April 14, 2003

How is it possible that Steve has no star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Are those people insane? (yes)

i keep reading that some new person has gotten a star on the hollywood walk of fame. incredibly, steve is not one of them. this makes it the hollywood walk of shame.

for proof, go to
Sunday, April 13, 2003

An old but interesting bit about Shopgirl

10-06-2000, Final Edition, Style Column
The Washington Post
by Lloyd Grove With Beth Berselli

The Literary Steve Martin

In "Shopgirl," Steve Martin's novella about the male-female conundrum, one of the main characters is a wealthy aesthete who appreciates women but fears commitment. He might be confused with, um, Steve Martin.

"Some poor people might think that, but it's not me," the comic/movie star/writer assured us. "Every character, even though they're singular, is a pastiche of people that I have met or I have been or I have thought of or that I am. That is not to say that everything wasn't pulled out of my guts, because it was."

For a funnyman, the 55-year-old Martin is a serious guy, befitting a onetime philosophy student. He began his career as a TV variety show comedy writer, then performed his own stand-up routine and more recently has written and starred in movies and plays, including an idea-glutted play about Pablo Picasso. "Shopgirl" is his first sustained work of hardcover fiction.

"I started it about two years ago," he said. "Initially I knew what I wanted to write about, but I didn't know what I wanted to say about it. After 20 pages, I got seriously cowed and stopped. Then it would come back to haunt me so I kept going, got about halfway through and stopped again. Then one day I decided to keep going, and I believe those stopping periods were actually working periods."

Despite the dearth of murders, monsters, car chases and explosions, we found his slim book gripping. "I believe there's so much joy and pain in the everyday occurrences of life," Martin said. "It's the small things that hurt us. It's the simplest little things. As I wrote in the book, it's an upturned word at the end of a sentence."


Steve was the inspiration for the old record "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"

SPOTLIGHT; New Dirt From McEuen and Ibbotson
11-03-2000, Final edition, Weekend section
The Washington Post
By Richard Harrington Washington Post Staff Writer

"WHAT Jimmy and I are bringing to the Barns is something old Dirt Band fans will not want to miss," says string wizard John McEuen, getting to the nitty gritty about his upcoming show with longtime pal Jimmy Ibbotson. Both were crucial players in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 35-year history--only the Beach Boys claim a longer continuing recording history--and they'll undoubtedly be dipping into the band' s 25-album catalogue for old favorites like "Rippling Waters," "Dance Little Jean" and "Mr. Bojangles."

The last, of course, is the Jerry Jeff Walker song that catapulted the Dirt Band to national stature in 1969. Not surprisingly, when Richmond city leaders unveiled a statue of fabled tap dancer Bill Robinson in May, McEuen and Ibbotson were on hand to perform the song that paid homage to Robinson and sparked new interest in his career 20 years after his death.

McEuen and Ibbotson, who have toured as a duo since the early '80s, were also celebrating the release of "Stories & Songs (On a Rainy Night in Richmond)." Recorded at the In Your Ear Studio before a small coterie of appreciative fans, it evokes the genial acoustic spirit of the original Dirt Band.

"When Jimmy and I go out and play, it seems there's more people wanting to go back to a space where that stuff existed," McEuen says of Dirt Band loyalists. "It's not like a reunion for us; it's a reunion for the audience with songs and material that they like."

That would include Dirt Band classics from the '60s and '70s (including the seminal "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" project), as well as material from McEuen's "String Wizard" and "Acoustic Warrior" albums and from Ibbotson's solo efforts. What you're less likely to hear is the mainstream country music that the Dirt Band has focused on since the early '80s. Which explains why McEuen finally left the group in 1988 and why Ibbotson's been in and out several times over the years (right now, he's apparentlyout again).

"We had grown to a point where we were playing inside the box, not outside the box," McEuen says. "All of the band's original success was based on risk--going to Nashville [for 'Circle'] or in the middle of rock 'n' roll radio, doing a song about a dead dog and a dancer, a song in 3/4 whose title didn't show up until the middle ['Mr. Bojangles']. All these things were against the grain. Somewhere in the mid '80s, it became 'The record company says we should do this song'--it seemed like the music wasn't coming from the group. And for whatever reason, I wasn't allowed to record my music anymore: 'We don't need that instrumental music!' Ohhh!"

By then, the Dirt Band was already into its third decade, founding members Jeff Hannah and Jimmy Fadden having met as high schoolers at McCabe's Guitar shop in Long Beach. They started out in 1966 as the Illegitimate Jug Band, performing in pinstripe suits and cowboy boots. A year later, McEuen replaced a fellow named Jackson Browne, who thought he might have a solo career, and in 1969, Ibbotson signed on as that rare commodity, a singing drummer. They made a career of it with a canny mix of acousticand electric instruments, finding success first through "Mr. Bojangles," and particularly with 1971's all-acoustic triple-disc "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

For that tribute to the roots of the music they loved, the Dirt Band teamed up with legendary artists like Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and Jimmy Martin. Ironically, though now perceived as a landmark album, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" was at first scoffed at, with the country music media dubbing it "the long hairs meet the gray hairs," and the Nashville Tennessean wondering "What is the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band doing in town recording with a bunch of dinosaurs? We don't understand!"

Some of the musicians weren't sure, either, until Scruggs, always looking to expand the audience for country and bluegrass, signed on and provided a bridge between generations.

"I got to give Earl his first platinum record in Nashville a few weeks ago," McEuen says proudly, adding that 29 years on, "the record company finally admitted" it had sold a million copies of " Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

Ibbotson and McEuen were in town at the legendary Ryman Auditorium to record the classic title track with the Dirt Band and a new generation of country musicians like Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, Billy Gilman and Charlie Daniels. It's for an upcoming IMAX film, "The History of Country Music."

McEuen won't be scoring that one, but it's something he's been doing since the mid-'80s, starting with motorcycle movies, Steve Martin television specials, independent films and documentaries like National Geographic's Emmy-nominated "Braving Alaska" and PBS's 10-hour series "The Wild West." There are already three film scores on the schedule for next year.

"I hope to be in the audience some day to lose the Oscar," McEuen jokes. "I just want to get nominated!"

McEuen is known for his canny melding of folk instrumentation into orchestral settings, which he traces to the early '70s, when he started doing "The Mountain Whippoorwill." That compelling narrative about a furious fiddle contest actually started out as a monologue by the teenage Steve Martin: He and McEuen went to the same high school and worked at the Magic Shop at Disneyland before different careers beckoned.

"One day, I said to Steve 'Let me put this banjo part behind you while you're doing the poem,' " McEuen recalls. "The first time I did it, we were at some high school auditorium with 800 people. It ended and there was silence for about 15 seconds. We thought: everybody's left! Then they started clapping really hard and everyone stood up . . . it was a shock! Not only did we like it, but they did, too. It was the moment that hooked me into doing this."

The talking instrumental eventually wound up in McEuen's song bag and became a Dirt Band staple, but it's only recently that he' s been performing it again (a new version can be heard on "Stories & Songs"). "About 20 years ago, I made the mistake of playing an orchestrated version for Charlie Daniels up in Aspen. He didn't say anything for five minutes, then he said 'That's the finest song I' ve ever heard.' About four months later, 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' came out. So I quit doing it after that and just started doing it again the last few years."

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Steve and poker

April 7, 2003 - April 13, 2003
Pg. 20
Magnificent Obsession: The Inside Straight
By Steve Chagollan

In a town where studio execs will gamble on movies to the tune of eight and nine figures, gambling at the poker table is a relatively risk-free proposition. What's more, it's a field leveler. What other activity would allow a Barry Diller and a Steve Martin to vie on equal footing?

"Because you are playing with the same group of friends, there is no pretense," says veteran producer Dan Melnick. "No one has to worry about who's picture grossed what; it's just good friends having a good time and being able to be as silly as you want."

Melnick plays what he calls a "small stakes, big laugh game" as part of the Gourmet Poker Group, which includes Diller, Martin, Johnny Carson and Carl Reiner. The name stems from Melnick and Martin's decidedly epicurean tastes.

"Once many years ago when Barry Diller was head of Fox we all piled into his plane to Vegas and played in a suite there," recalls Melnick. "Then we realized we weren't as comfortable and the food wasn't as good as it was in one of our homes, so we never did that again."

The game has long been a tradition in showbiz circles dating back to when Bugsy Siegel was a model for Warner Bros. gangster heroes, and has become newly hip in the era of "The Sopranos."

The usual suspects have included producers like David Friendly and David Matalon, studio execs like Alan Horn, scribes like Larry Gelbart, agents and managers like the Firm's Jeff Kwatinetz and UTA's Marty Bowen, and actors Ed Norton, David Schwimmer, Don Cheadle and Norm MacDonald, to name a few.

"There's a little bit of the gangster to it," says Andy Bellin, author of "Poker Nation," about Bellin's experiences in New York's underground gambling dens chronicled in "Rounders." "It's a sexy pastime these days."

Once the exclusive domain of cigar-smoking, single-malt scotch drinking guys (Melnick's group demurred when Sherry Lansing and Dawn Steele asked to join), there are a number of women in town who enjoy winning as much as the guys do.

One is Carol Fenelon, producing partner to writer-director Curtis Hanson ("8 Mile," "Wonder Boys"). The name of their company, Deuce 3 Prods., is based on their mutual interest in poker. Fenelon plays regularly in two games, one of which involves Hanson as well as UTA's Bowen, Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman, showbiz attorney Alan Wertheimer and actor-filmmaker Hart Bochner.

"So much of poker is not about reading the cards, it's really about reading other people at the table," she says. "That's why writers and directors tend to be very good at it." She also says "lawyers tend to bluff less often than agents."

"Being able to engage with people and know when they are bullshitting you is a skill that translates into almost everything you do in life," Fenelon says.

Especially in this town.


On Steve's love life

two variations on the same thing

Winnipeg Sun (Manitoba, Canada)
April 10, 2003 Thursday Final Edition
ENTERTAINMENT; Pg. 23Stargazing


Steve Martin is up for ending his bachelor days by marrying again but there's one thing getting in the way -- his fame.

The silver-haired funnyman says, contrary to popular belief, being famous is a hindrance when trying to find a mate.

"All fame does is provide access to more people," Martin says. "It doesn't make anything better. It just means someone who might not go out with you normally will do because of who you are.

"I have even had dates with women who've said they had boyfriends. I said to one woman, 'What do you mean? Does he know you're out with me?' She said,'Yeah, he thinks it's cool, because it's Steve Martin!' "

Daily Star (British tabloid)
April 10, 2003

HOLLYWOOD funnyman Steve Martin blames fame for not being able to find love. The ageing actor reckons that despite having a sea of female fans, his popularity prevents him from pulling.

The Oscar host told us: "All fame does is provide access to more people."

He confessed: "I have even had dates with women who've said they had boyfriends. I said to one woman, 'What do you mean? Does he know you're out with me?' She said 'Yeah, he thinks it's cool, because it's Steve Martin!"

More from Dave Barry on the Oscars -- you'll love this

The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario)
April 12, 2003 Saturday Final Edition
ARTS; Pg. C6
Oscar folk like me . . . they really do like me

Recently I had the most surreal weekend of my life. It goes without saying that this happened in Los Angeles.

I was there for the Academy Awards. The host, Steve Martin, had asked me to be on the team of writers working with him; apparently he felt that what was needed, to lend just the right tone to Hollywood's most glamorous night, was booger jokes.

So I went to the Oscars but that wasn't all: I also stayed at Steve Martin's house, which is very tasteful, unless you count the giant arrow through it.

No, really, it's a beautiful house and it was the scene of my first surreal Oscars experience. Here's how it happened:

On the Friday before the show, I arrived in Los Angeles and the Oscars people, right off the bat, gave me a new car. Not to keep, just to drive around. But it was a Cadillac and it was larger than most Third World villages.

When they gave me the car, they told me there was a "gift basket" for me in the trunk. I assumed they meant a little basket with some fruit in it, maybe a bottle of wine. I was an idiot.

It turns out that the Academy Awards gift basket is a Hollywood legend. Film-industry people would kill for it. (I'm kidding, of course; they would have their agents kill for it.) Because this basket contains thousands of dollars' worth of cosmetics, jewellery, gift certificates and other loot donated by companies wishing to have their products used by movie stars.

But I didn't know this until I got to Steve Martin's house, where I opened the enormous Cadillac trunk and found a laundry hamper in there the height of Dustin Hoffman, bulging and overflowing with gifts, all of it wrapped in gauze and tied with a bow.

I tried to lift it out of the trunk but it was too heavy and, as I struggled with it, the gauze broke and designer-label cosmetics spilled out onto the street and started rolling down the hill, forcing me to scramble after them.

Steve Martin was watching this and, realizing his houseguest needed help, very graciously started laughing so hard I thought he would pee his pants, then ran to get his camera.

After photographing me trying to corral my gifts, Steve went to his garage and got a handcart and we managed to transport the gift basket inside.

I was relieved to get off the street because I was afraid some actual working people would see me -- a man who, in return for thinking up a few jokes, got a Cadillac and thousands worth of luxury items -- and they would have no choice but to stop and beat me up.

The Academy Awards show was also surreal because I was backstage, which meant that, every few seconds, a famous movie star would walk by. Julia Roberts walked by several times (I think she has a thing for me). There were so many stars that it started to seem routine; I'd be trying to get somewhere and I'd be thinking, "Man, John Travolta is ALWAYS in the way."

I spent most of the show in a little room just offstage, where Steve would confer with the writers between stints onstage. I'm biased, of course, but I thought he did a terrific job as host and, out of respect for our friendship, I will not reveal that when he came backstage after his monologue, he discovered that (I am not making this up) his fly had been down the whole time.

After the show, my wife and I went to the Governor's Ball, which is the official post-Oscars party. It was a glamorous affair but it ended with maybe the most surreal scene of the weekend, which was the limousine pick-up area outside the ballroom. There were hundreds of stretch limos, five abreast, moving slowly up the street, each with a number; next to the limos were uniformed men with bullhorns, shouting the numbers to the crowd.

The crowd was almost all film people; some were holding actual Oscars but they still had to mill around, hunting for their limos like everybody else because this was Hollywood, where EVERYBODY is important.

Off to the side, sitting on a folding chair, waiting like everybody else, was Olivia de Havilland. Ho-hum, another night in Planet Los Angeles.

I had a fine time but I was glad to go home to reality. (OK, not reality; Miami). To the Oscars people, I say: Thank you for the experience and especially the gift basket. To Julia, I say: You are an attractive woman but I am spoken for.
Friday, April 11, 2003 celebrities_kodak/6.html

After a long day of working with comedian and actor Steve Martin for a six-page spread in Life, both McNally and Martin had reached a point where they were both exhausted. At that point, McNally decided to try one more gambit and asked the actor to physicalize the success he was having in his career.

"He kind of like grimaced about it then he gave it to me," says McNally. "He just kind of rolled his head back, he closed his eyes and he looked up and in a funny way I think he gave it to me because he didn't think I was ready for it because I didn't have my camera to my eye. I knew I was focused and I had an assistant with a small bank light off here so I knew I was lit and I just hit a shutter and I got one frame. I wasn't looking through the camera."
"I tend to watch people in-between Polaroids when they are a little bit unguarded and they think you're not shooting; I keep my eye on them and if I see them do something...I will say 'Hold, please hold, stop! Have faith right now and don't move.' And maybe that's a telling moment. It can happen in any number of ways but you are a prisoner of that lead photograph. You need to get that one startling image."

- Joe McNally

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Steve responds in a letter to the editor

this post is possible only through the efforts of others who dug out the information i couldn't find.

April 1, 2003, Tuesday
Section A; Page 15, Column 1

Two letters respond to Michael Medved's March 26 (2003) Leisure-page article on Academy Awards presentations and war in Iraq, 'Oscar Night--Thanking Everyone But the Troops'

Regarding Michael Medved's commentary in your paper on the recent Oscar telecast, how perceptive of him to understand that I was not speaking to our troops when I mentioned" our young men and women overseas." He was, however, slightly off when he figured I was speakingto my show biz reps in Paris; I was of course, addressing adolescent surfers in Hawaii.

As a performer himself, I am sure Mr. Medved understands that not all sentiments expressed on live shows are crafted as by Socrates, but I'm sure that any member of our armed forces who viewed the show from Iraq, Kuwait or wherever else he or she might be stationed, did not doubt that I was speaking directly to them.

Steve Martin
Los Angeles


Did Michael Medved watch the same Oscars I did to reach his conclusion that Hollywood ignored the U.S. military in it\'s speeches ? ( In the Fray" Oscar Niight - Thanking Everyone But The Troops," Leisure and Arts, March 26. ) He did concede that Adrian Brody made "oblique references to our forces in the Gulf " while citing Mr. Brody's wish for "a peaceful and swift resolution," but dismissed his comments as "nothing that could contradict the most stubbornly anti-American sentiments in the Oscar auditorium."
What Mr. Brody went on to say was this: "I have a friend from Queens who\'s a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarabinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon. God bless you guys."
I guess Mr. Medved turned off his TV before Mr. Brody got to that part.

Alastair Paulin

Oakland, California

-------- and the article they responded to
The Little People
On Oscar night, Hollywood thanks everyone but the troops.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST

The most prominent personalities in the antiwar movement resist all efforts to classify their angry activism as anti-American. But Sunday night\'s Oscar extravaganza obliterated such defensive distinctions. For 3 1/2 hours, the entertainment elite indulged in the usual orgy of self-congratulation with only hostile or dismissive reference to epic Iraqi battles involving thousands of U.S. troops. They offered no hint of gratitude, affection, loyalty or connection to the superpower that sustains them.

The ceremony featured little patriotic imagery and among presenters and award winners, not one chose to wear the American flag lapel pins now ubiquitous elsewhere in American life. Instead, dozens of the biggest stars sported silver "Dove of Peace" pins to signal their opposition to the war.

Meanwhile, Bill Conti and the Oscar Orchestra avoided any remotely nationalistic music during the evening. Perhaps the experience of the Miramax Oscar Eve bash persuaded the responsible parties to shun such tunes. At that glittering occasion, entertainer Michael Feinstein tried to lead the assembled stars and swells in "God Bless America," only to find many members of the crowd ostentatiously refusing to participate.

Of course, the absence of themes and symbols celebrating the U.S. didn't mean that Oscar winners excluded tributes to other nations. In his tirade against George W. Bush and his "fictitious" election, presidency and war policy, documentary film maker Michael Moore pointed with pride to his "Bowling for Columbine" producer's Canadian citizenship. After receiving the Academy Award for his score to the movie "Frida," Elliot Goldenthal declared his passionate commitment to noble Mexican traditions of "political art" and, hoisting his gold statuette, solemnly said "this is for Mexico."
The only specific references to American identity came in relation to "Gangs of New York," introduced in scripted remarks as "about the conflicts that helped define what it means to be an American"--as if vicious street fights between nativist and Irish gangs in the 1850s somehow represent our national character.

At least British thespian Peter O\'Toole thought to express appreciation for America when he accepted his honorary Oscar. "I think of the United States and of the loves and friendships I've known here for more than half a century," he said, "of how much the nation has given to me both personally, privately and professionally. I am deeply thankful."

The surprise winner for best actor, Adrien Brody of "The Pianist," also displayed some emotional connection to the general public in his well-received acceptance speech, and even made oblique reference to our forces in the gulf. "Whether you believe in God or Allah," he said, "may he watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution." Of course, the desire for a "peaceful resolution" suggests some miraculous settlement that falls well short of victory, so Mr. Brody said nothing that could contradict the most stubbornly anti-American sentiments in the Oscar auditorium.

Similarly, Academy President Frank Pierson never wished our troops victory in their war, but merely hoped for their speedy return. He also sent a message to "the Iraqi people," saying, "let's have peace soon, and let you live without war," but never embracing the idea that they deserved to live in freedom.

Finally, host Steve Martin concluded the broadcast with an apparent message to our armed services: "And to our young men and women who are watching overseas, we are thinking of you, we hope you enjoy the show. It's for you. Good night." Even here, Hollywood shunned any explicit mention of the U.S. military, since "young men and women . . . overseas" could be movie company reps watching in Paris.

In the midst of war, even Democratic front-runner (and Bush critic) John Kerry observed that "for America now, the only exit strategy is victory. This is our common mission and the world's cause." If Barbra Streisand (who emphasized the importance of protest) and Susan Sarandon (who flashed a peace sign) had expressed similar sentiments, it hardly would have compromised their liberal credentials.

Their failure to do so underlines the gap between ordinary citizens and the entertainment establishment. The ratings for this year\'s show were appallingly low (with the weakest audience share in Academy history), and the mounting backlash to celebrity leftists raises the possibility of permanent damage to Hollywood\'s standing. Impassioned demonstrators outside the Oscar ceremony waved American flags and carried signs declaring "Support Our Troops" and "Impeach Sheen."

Beyond threats of boycotts and petitions (which scare no one), there is a pervasive sense of disillusionment and anger that ought to alarm the industry. For years, Hollywood has promoted messages that neither reflect nor respect the values of everyday Americans. On Oscar night, the contrast between our struggling troops in Iraq and the stars who wouldn't support their efforts proved too glaring to ignore--or forget.

Mr. Medved, author of "Hollywood vs. America," hosts a nationally syndicated radio show on politics and pop culture.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

You can see Steve's Underpants in L.A. in March, 2004

Daily Variety
March 31, 2003, Monday
NEWS; Pg. 13
Geffen dons Martin's 'Underpants' in '04

The West Coast premieres of Steve Martin's "The Underpants" and Stephen Jeffreys' "I Just Stopped by to See the Man" highlight the 2003-04 season at the Geffen Playhouse.

Jeffreys' play, about an aged blues singer and his daughter, opens the Geffen season Sept. 9 and will be directed by Geffen artistic director Randall Arney.

Up second is the Los Angeles premiere of Sandra Tsing Loh's one-woman comedy "Sugar Plum Fairy," running Nov. 11-Dec. 21. David Schweizer ("He Hunts") will direct. The third production (Jan. 13-Feb. 22) is Bryan Davidson's "War Music," based on dramatic events in the lives of composers Frank Bridge, Anton Webern and Olivier Messiaen, Jessica Kubzansky directs.

"Underpants," Martin's comic adaptation of Carl Sternheim's 1910 German farce "Die Hose," debuts March 9. A new play, directed by producing director Gil Cates, will be announced later.

Monday, March 31, Steve starts shooting Cheaper by the Dozen

what a busy bee
Perabo joining 'Dozen' brood for helmer Levy
Thu Mar 27, 3:01 AM ET Hollywood Reporter to My Yahoo!
By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- "Coyote Ugly" star Piper Perabo will star opposite Steve Martin in 20th Century Fox's "Cheaper by the Dozen" for director Shawn Levy and producer Robert Simonds. The project begins shooting Monday.

"Dozen" is a contemporary redo of the 1950 feature comedy about the Gilbreth family (led by Martin and Bonnie Hunt) and its often amusing struggle to keep it all together with a brood of 12 children. Perabo will play the oldest daughter, whose other siblings are played by Tom Welling and Hilary Duff, among others.

The original "Cheaper" is based on a book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey; Sam Harper has penned the update. In addition to Simonds, Michael Barnathan and the project's original rights holder, Ben Myron, are producing. Fox vp production Vanessa Morrison is overseeing for division topper Hutch Parker.

Perabo, repped by UTA and manager Tina Thor, recently wrapped shooting Dimension Films' "The I Inside" opposite Ryan Phillippe.

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