July 1998


Subject: A Christmas Carol

I know it's a little late, but the interview was so interesting I just had to share it. The URL is http://www.nydailynews.com/archive/97_11/111697/new_york/39303.htm


Turn of the Scrooge
How Hal & Roddy give twist to 'Carol'
by Dennis Hamill

Marley might be dead, to begin with. But Scrooge is very much alive. Both of them. There is no doubt whatever about that.

I should know since I was spirited to the Play by Play restaurant in Madison Square Garden last week where I lunched with Hal Linden and Roddy McDowall. The two are alternating in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," which has become a perennial centerpiece of Christmas in New York.

The show runs from Nov. 18 through Jan. 4.

So as the holiday season begins, throw another lump of coal on the fire, pull up a chair, and join us at the table.

Why do you both think that Dickens has survived this long?

HAL LINDEN - (mocking my Brooklyn accent) "Ya know, I bin woikin' all week long tryin' to tawk like Roddy McDowall and you come in heuh and blow da whole ting . . . where you from anyways? Me, I'm from da Bronx, so I guess you can't help me say 'pahst' and 'dahnce' . . . "

RODDY McDOWALL - "Maybe you can teach me how to say 'paist' and 'daince' . . . "

HL - "I was just re-reading 'A Christmas Carol,' and one of the reasons Dickens still makes it today is because first of all the man is a damned good writer."

RM - " . . . and because of his ability to create characters that are still pertinent, extraordinary, timeless . . . plus he gave them pretty good names."

HL - "Yes, he loved names. But the quality of the writing is just there forever."

Then, the waitress comes to take orders. It will be a salad and fries for the 69-year-old McDowall, who was born in London and has appeared in more than 130 feature films from "The White Cliffs of Dover" to "Planet of the Apes." McDowall is also an Emmy-winning star of 300 TV productions, has appeared in many Broadway shows, and has established a successful career as a professional photographer.

Linden, who orders a cobb salad and decides to share the fries with his fellow Scrooge, has won three Emmys and a Tony. He was brought up in a musical family, joined the Army band and, after his discharge from the service, wound up on Broadway with Judy Holliday in "Bells are Ringing." "Barney Miller," in which he starred, was one of the most popular sitcoms in TV history. Linden was last seen on Broadway in "I'm Not Rappaport" and tours in his own musical revue.

HL - "Anyway, I was taken by Dickens' wordsmanship, just wonderful words. You don't remember until you re-read him just how good a writer he was."

RM - "He was also so prolific, with fantastic quality to match the quantity."

The two of you have been rehearsing "Christmas Carol" for the past week. Do you still find it fresh in 1997 New York?

HL - "Yes, because the good social commentators of the ages have always managed to make their work universal and not attached to one time and place. The verities of Dickens are as true today as they were when he wrote them. It's why we still do 'All My Sons' - it's about something that happened 40 years ago but it's still relevant."

RM - "Like Shakespeare."

What do you think Dickens would have thought about a musical version of "Christmas Carol"?

RM - "If it brought in money, he would be very happy. Dickens always needed money."

HL - (laughing) "Excuse me, he doesn't have a piece of this? Actually, the point is, I think this particular musical version of it enhances Dickens. It doesn't get in the way of it. It's about what Dickens wrote. One of the reasons I love this production is because it doesn't just have songs or numbers thrown in. The music and the songs are the engine of pushing Dickens' message."

Why is the role of Scrooge so attractive to actors?

RM - "He's so complex inside his simplicity."

HL - "It has that single arc - that's obvious in the whole play - but within that, there's so much you can play."

RM - "The first time I saw Scrooge performed was in an archaic film with an actor named Seymour Hicks."

HL - "Alastair Sim was the one I remember seeing first."

RM - "It's been made so many times, but Alastair Sim is the one that hits you over the head. Fantastic actor."

Did you guys know each other before this?

HL - "We'd met . . . "

RM - " . . . but never worked together."

How do the two of you, with such different backgrounds, rehearse for the same part at the same time for the same production?

HL - "It's been very helpful, quite honestly."

RM - "Actually, I've never heard of it being done before. Before the fact, I thought, what would that be like? It's very interesting."

HL - "And helpful because of the immense physicality of the part. If I had to do it myself, it would be doubly exhausting. During rehearsals, I can sit down and watch Roddy and make notes about what I want to do. By sitting in my chair, it's like doing as much of a rehearsal as if I were up there - but it saves you energy."

RM - "There's a tremendous amount of information to store because it's 90 minutes."

HL - "Nonstop."

RM - "That's right, and very wonderfully complex patterns that you have to remember or otherwise . . . "

HL - " . . . you get run over."

Do you find yourselves competing?

RM - "No."

HL - "The point is, there's so much to do you have to be totally self-centered and you have to keep your mind on what you have to do and what you have to learn. So anything I can learn by watching Roddy rehearse is a bonus."

RM - "And vice versa. Mike Ockrent, the director, has not demanded that we play the role the same way, but by necessity we must fill the same physical pattern of the production. But we're not playing the role the same way. Which is wonderful because that would have been a tremendous burden."

HL - "There's room for individual moments of interpretation so long as you get the hell out of there because of the traffic patterns on stage. Yet, the internal role of the character is entirely up to us."

RM - "I haven't found it to be an intrusion at all, and I would have thought it might not work. But it works fine. I was never apprehensive, just curious. It was how we were approached from the beginning. There was no way I would have done all 96 performances myself. Couldn't have. And the thing is that the show is just so full of talent that it's mind-boggling."

HL - "I haven't done a Broadway musical since 1973. This is the most energizing experience I can remember because you're surrounded by so many talented people. You can't just walk into this show and star in it. You become involved in the dynamism of the entire ensemble."

RM - "That's true, and you feel that it would be shameful not to try and meet what they invite you to do. The level of excellence matches the Dickens material. It's like a shot of oxygen."

How does it feel to be centerstage of Christmas in New York?

RM - "What excites me is that this show attracts an audience that is not ordinarily theatergoing. It brings theater into the lives of many people for the very first time. Especially young people. I cherish that."

HL - "People who have never seen a stage play will see this show. And all of us in the business can probably turn to one show that we saw that started the whole thing for us. I was a musician. In high school, we had a great theater department. I never went near it. In college, same thing. I was a musician, period. I sang, too. Never thought about acting. In the Army, I was in a band and one night we all went to a road company show of 'Guys and Dolls,' and I remember specifically saying to myself, 'I can do that.' That's what started my life as an actor. And I'm sure there's gonna be some kid in the audience this year at 'Christmas Carol' who is gonna remember 25 years from now that this was the show that got him or her interested in being an actor or a performer. That excites me."

RM - "In England, there's a tradition of children going to pantomime and this has an element of that. That was an early theatrical experience for me and still is for lots of children. But the last time I did a Broadway musical was 'Camelot,' back in . . . oh, before the Boer War."

HL - "There aren't that many parts written for people our age in musicals. I had just about given up the ghost for ever doing a new musical again. So this is a gift, thrilling."

RM - "I was ready to play Tiny Tim and you could carry me on your shoulder."

Are you both enjoying staying in New York?

RM - "I adore the energy of this city, but I've been too busy with the show to see much of it."

HL - "I live in Los Angeles now, so it's great to be back for a while, especially this time of year. My family is coming in at Christmas, they'll all come to see the show, then we'll do the whole Christmas thing - the tree, store windows, Rockefeller Center."

Hal, do you still get stopped by New Yorkers who loved "Barney Miller"?

HL - "Half the people call me Barney, half call me Hal. But better than that, my driver, coming here today, went through a blinking light by the Plaza and the siren sounded behind us and a cop car pulled him over. The driver put his head in his hand, saying, 'God, no, my insurance!' He was so upset. I got out of the car, went over to the cop, told him I had told the driver I was in a rush. The cop looked at me and said, 'Okay, Captain, we'll let him go.' Cops loved that show. I think it was the most realistic depiction of a police squad room as was ever presented. Even Joseph Wambaugh said that."

Roddy, has any one role followed you the same way?

RM - "No, some people have no identification with my adult career and just remember 'Lassie Come Home.' Some people remember 'Planet of the Apes.' Others theater work. So no, no one role."

HL - "After this show, maybe they'll remember us as the old farts."

RM - "On that note, I'm going for my nap."

Hey, wait a minute, which one of you Scrooges is paying for lunch?

HL - (laughing) "Not me!"

RM - "Humbug!"

God bless them, every one!

Original Story Date: 111697
Original Story Section: Theater


Subject: RM Mailing List


I'm interested in joining your mailing list. Can you tell me what I need to do? I E-Mailed another address last week, but I guess I sent it to the wrong place. My address is: HamiltonPM@aol.com

Thank you for your time.

Paige-Marie Hamilton


Subject: RM in the News

By PAT NASON United Press International

Actor and photographer Roddy McDowall has rejoined the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. McDowall, the star of "National Velvet," "Planet of the Apes" and "Overboard," joins Karl Malden and Gregory Peck in the actors branch of the board.

by Richard Huff

PASADENA There's been talk that "Titanic" director James Cameron wants to remake the cult classic "Planet of The Apes," and Charlton Heston, a star in the original, is all for the idea.

"I think the film is highly remarkable," Heston told writers attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour here.

Heston said he thought a remake of the 1968 film would be popular. Heston starred in the first as the leader of American astronauts who found a world in which apes were the master race and humans were non-speaking slaves. It also starred Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Linda Harrison.

The original spawned four other "Apes" films, all of which will air on cable's AMC in September along with a two-hour behind-the-scenes special airing on Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m.

"Good movies are remade," Heston said.

Kevin Burns, the executive producer of AMC's special, "Behind the Planet of the Apes," told writers he's heard about remake discussions within the halls of 20th Century Fox, which produced the originals.

"I had heard that Mr. Cameron was working on a screenplay," he said. "That there was a draft expected from him, expected by the end of the year. But, I've also heard rumors to the contrary. But I do know that it's as real as what I just told you. In other words, it has been under serious consideration as his next [project]."



Subject: Verify credit

Has anyone else seen Roddy host a special or documentary on horror or suspense films? It featured The Legend of Hell House, among others. Actually, it's the only one I remember. I think I saw the documentary in the late '70s or early '80s, post-Hell House, pre-Fright Night.



Subject: AMPAS Elections


CONTACT: John Pavlik (310) 247-3000
July 10, 1998

Academy Elects 13 Governors; All Have Previously Served

Beverly Hills, CA - Six incumbent members of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were returned by their branches for another three year term and seven new governors will join their ranks. All seven, however, have previously served on the Academy's board.

It is the first time in the Academy's history that everyone elected has previously served as a governor.

Returning to the board are Roddy McDowall, actors branch; Marvin March, art directors; Robert Rehme, executives; Richard D. Zanuck, producers; Sid Ganis, public relations; and William C. Littlejohn, short films and feature animation.

Returning to the board after absences ranging from one to ten years are Conrad Hall, cinematographers branch, whose most recent term expired in 1996; Robert E. Wise, directors, 1988; Tom Rolf, film editors,1995; Arthur Hamilton, music, 1997; Donald C. Rogers, sound, 1995; Jonathan Erland, visual effects, 1995; and Hal Kanter, writers, 1997.

Three governors represent each of the Academy's 13 branches and are elected for staggered terms, so that each branch elects or re-elects one governor each year.

Governors whose positions were not up for re-election and who continue on the board are: actors branch, Karl Malden and Gregory Peck; art directors, Charles Rosen and Albert Wolsky; cinematographers, John Bailey and Haskell Wexler; directors, John Frankenheimer and Paul Mazursky; executives, Roger L. Mayer and Lew R. Wasserman; film editors, Dede Allen and Donn Cambern; music, Alan Bergman and Bruce Broughton; producers, Howard W. Koch and Saul Zaentz; public relations, Marvin Levy and Buffy Shutt; short films and feature animation, Carl Bell and June Foray; sound, Douglas Greenfield and Don Hall; writers, Daniel Petrie Jr. and Frank R. Pierson and visual effects, Richard Edlund and Bill Taylor.



Subject: More on POTA special


AMC's fall lineup is also heavy on programming stunts, the first of which actually occurs during summer. The network will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic sci-fi film Planet of the Apes on Sept. 6-7 by presenting all five Apes movies and a two-hour original special, Behind The Planet of the Apes.

Hosted by Roddy McDowall, who appeared in all of the films, the special features behind-the-scenes footage, screen tests, photos and home movies, as well as interviews with stars Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, Ricardo Montalban and Natalie Trundy, plus the key players involved in creating the Apes' saga.



Subject: Celebrity Portrait Charity Auctions & Events

One of a kind Roddy McDowall Photo-Realistic Pencil Portrait which Roddy posed for and he will personalize to the person who purchases the work.

I am Anthony P. Lilly, Celebrity Portrait Artist,and I do an annual event centered around many different celebrities who actually sit for a portrait.

Once I have completed the work the star who poses will actually personalize the work to the person who purchases it. Half of the profits from the sale of this portrait will go to the charity of Roddy's choice.

If you know of anyone who is interested in purchasing this ONE of a kind life size bust personalized to YOU please feel free to e-mail me or call my buisness office in Seattle at 206-938-1821

Thanks a million

Anthony P. Lilly


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