By Sheryl Aronson
Henry Jaglom’s latest film Ovation premiered Wednesday night, July 6th, at the Director’s Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard. The Hollywood 360 covered the red carpet and interviewed the cast members, as well as the guests that attended the performance.
Since Ovation’s tag line reads, “Backstage…Where the real drama happens,” I asked the guests to not only comment on the film, but to share any amusing experiences they have gone through backstage.
Tanna Frederick walked down the red carpet draped in a shimmering gold lame gown. Her copper hair was pulled back in a bun on top of her head. She shared her thoughts about opening night. “The premiere night is always the most exciting. This movie was so very close to our hearts and it was a joy to film. The most fun was to be reunited with the cast to make the movie, because we had worked together on the play, The Rainmaker, a year before, and we all love one another.” She took a brief pause… “And we hate each other at the same time.” Tanna laughed. She continued, “I think how Henry captured the goings- on backstage while also showing what goes on onstage, is genius. I am hoping the audience tonight will enjoy Henry’s take on a movie about actors’ lives backstage. Ovation completes a trilogy. It’s Maggie going back to the dilemma, art versus commerce. Isn’t that what this town is all about? As an actor, are we doing a 99 seat theater, or a thirty-million-dollar film? Ovation is an actor’s film and has Henry’s stamp on it.
Sheryl Aronson: What else can you tell us about filming Ovation?
Tanna Frederick: This was so fun. Simon and Sabrina…Henry’s children… were amazing in it. The whole cast was amazing. There was a ghost in the theater…” pauses…”isn’t there always a ghost in all theaters? “
We filmed it in 2 ½ weeks. Most of the scenes were scripted, but the ones that were gems were unscripted. Henry told me to come out with the green mask and I said, ‘No way.’ But that ends up being so funny in the scene between James Denton and I.
Henry Jaglom then snuck over and added,” For anyone who is listening, come out and see the movie,” then ran off to talk with more guests.
Three of the cast members strolled down the red carpet together, Cathy Arden, Zack Norman and Stephen Howard. Zack Norman quipped, “Behind the scenes is what our lives are all about, therefore this movie is about our lives. That’s why we love it.” Cathy Arden piped in, “My character is trying to get the money and trying to avoid this one (Zack Norman’s character) but I can’t…it’s impossible.” Zack Norman reminisced, “I did my first picture for Henry Jaglom forty-three years ago. I’ve gotten to not only like him, but to love him.” Stephen Howard then spoke up and said, “Henry Jaglom is a stickler for dialogue, I can tell you that.” Cathy Arden finished saying, “The movie is funny, innovative and entertaining.” They all agreed that working for Henry Jaglom is fun, but he also yells…
Norman concluded by saying, “But when he yells at you, you actually feel good because you’ve gotten his attention. That’s an actor’s life.”
Randal Kleiser, director/producer of the virtual reality movie, Defrost, voiced his opinion about Henry Jaglom as a director. “This was such an interesting project because while he was directing the play, The Rainmaker, Henry came up with this great idea to film a story of what happens backstage. I thought it was brilliant to use the same cast for the movie…very clever. He always astounds me how much he can get done in a year. He keeps putting things out over and over again.
Switching subjects, he talked about the recent trip to Europe with Tanna Frederick to promote the virtual reality movie, Defrost. “ We had a great time in Cannes and I took it to Turkey. “
Sheryl Aronson: Any news about the movie, Defrost?
Randal Kleiser: We’re getting close to getting a distribution deal. Can’t talk about it.
Sheryl Arosnon: Talk about the old fashioned flavor of the movie Ovation. You really don’t see that any more in films.
Randal Kleiser: Right. Anybody who loves the old 40’s movies would love this backstage story. It has the whole let’s go on with the show attitude, but also talks about what is going on in today’s television world -the whole idea of stars and their power in television. It’s well handled and you really get to see what the industry is like today.
Henry Jaglom’s two children, Simon and Sabrina play a brother and sister in the movie. They walked over together and discussed what it was like working for their father.
Simon Jaglom: It doesn’t even feel like working.
Sabrina Jaglom: At home we were always playing improvisation games together so…
Simon: We usually play brother and sister in movies, so we really had to use our acting chops for that. (He said sarcastically.)
Sheryl Aronson: Go into more detail about working for your father as actors.
Simon: It’s always a really individual singular experience. There’s nothing quite like it…not just working with one’s father, but as an actor working with a director, it’s very creatively fulfilling. People think that he improvises everybody, but he does have a script and he wants you to have the essence of that core script. However, he also wants you to bring out what you can bring to the character, that he didn’t even think about when he wrote the role. Just watching him from the sidelines directing other people, it’s the most fun for me.
Sabrina: He has a very good understanding of human nature and he brings out their strengths.
Sheryl Aronson: Did anything happen behind the scenes, as you were filming behind the scenes?
Sabrina: At one location, we were there every day and it felt like we were living in the theater…
Simon: It was like a dream in a dream, we visit that in a linear type of way.
I grabbed the actress Diane Salinger, who played Hildi, the Executive Producer of a television series in Ovation. Her character is trying to lure Maggie away from the play so she can star in a television series with the James Denton’s character, Stewart.
Diane Salinger said, It’s my fifth or sixth movie with Henry Jaglom. He never ceases to amaze me.
Sheryl Aronson: Tell me why.
Diane: Working with him, I experience this incredible freedom and yet at the same time you never know when the ax is going to fall. It’s breath taking. I think I’ve done some of my best work with Henry.
Don Franklin is now co-starring in a play called Two Rooms in North Hollywood. He is also a film and television actor. Don commented: “One of the things I love about Henry Jaglom is that he redefines the genre. He does his own thing. He’s a maverick and because of that, greatly contributes to the art form. Tanna is an amazing actress. I’m looking forward to seeing her in this movie. She just keeps getting better and better as an actress.
Andrea Marcovicci, who has acted in two of Henry Jaglom’s films, shared her thoughts about Ovation and Henry Jaglom as a Director. “I’ve been in two of Henry’s films, Someone to Love and Irene in Time. I’m expecting Henry’s movie to be something out of the ordinary as usual. I am used to Henry’s movies being quite original and special…completely different than most films. I am interested in seeing James Denton in his role, because I know his work. And I love the idea of him co-starring with Tanna.”
Erin Gavin just ended her Beverly Hills theater run playing the role of Marilyn Monroe in the production, Marilyn and Sinatra. The actress is soon heading to New York City and opening the show there.
Sheryl Aronson: So what crazy things have happened to you with your show?
Erin Gavin: Oh God. Crazy things go on all the time. The last show that we did, the dresser just totally forgot that she was supposed to be dressing me. So she was sitting in my dressing room and I was standing at the other end of the stage and couldn’t get to my dressing room. I was waiting for my clothes and I was butt naked. I was saying, ‘Hey, where are you?’ So they had to put my old clothes back on and I had to go back on stage in them. Erin Gavin commenting on Ovation: I know Tanna Frederick. She’s a wonderful actress. I heard that the movie is fantastic.
The last actor I talked with that night was Robert Standley, who plays the actor who plays the role of the rain maker, in The Rainmaker. Robert just got through doing the play Jack and Jill with Tanna Frederick at the Santa Monica playhouse.
Sheryl Aronson: You’re very funny in this film. You’re part of the male acting troupe which is sort of like the Greek chorus.
Robert Standley: I’ve done four projects with Henry Jaglom up to now, and I’ll do as many as he wants me to.
In the movie, Ovation, Henry’s real motto was “Backstage… where the real drama happens.” It’s like the intrigues and the loves and the squabbles that go on behind the scenes and there’s a mystery in it too. I don’t get to do comedy very often, so it was enjoyable.
Sheryl Aronson: Did anything funny happen behind the scenes, while you were filming what happens behind the scenes?
Robert Standley: There’s a scene where one of the characters gets clobbered and we’re supposed to try to be resuscitating him. Henry’s daughter, who plays the love interest of the actor who has been hit, is screaming at the top of her lungs. As that’s happening we hear a woman in the alley, who doesn’t know we’re shooting a movie, say, ‘Hold on darling, I’m getting the police. Where are you?’ And there’s this long pause and Henry goes, ‘Mam, we’re shooting a film.’ There’s this long pause and she says, ‘Okay.’ We wait and Henry says action. We start filming again and Sabrina starts screaming again and the lady says the same thing, ‘Hold on darling, I’m calling the police.’ We all yell, ‘We’re shooting a movie lady.’
At that point the lights in the DGA flicker and it’s time for everyone to go inside. Time to see Ovation…Backstage…where the real drama begins.
Ovation is now playing at the Laemmle Theatre in Los Angeles and will be opening July 22 in NYC.
Photo Credit: Sheryl Aronson (Unless otherwise noted)