About Dwayne Epstein

Dwayne Epstein is the author of a number of young adult biographies, covering such celebrity personalities as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Hilary Swank, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Denzel Washington for Lucent Books’ “People in the News” series. Epstein also contributed to Bill Krohn’s bestselling books “Hitchcock at Work” and “Joe Dante and the Gremlins of Hollywood.”Prior to writing biographies, Epstein contributed to film chronicles on a regular basis. He wrote for Filmfax Magazine on subjects such as Bobby Darin, the Rat Pack, television pioneer Steve Allen, film director Sam Fuller, comic book artist Neal Adams, “Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s” Kevin McCarthy, John Belushi and comedy legend Sid Caesar. Epstein later contributed to Cahiers Du Cinema’s “Serious Pleasures” which had a high profile in Europe. He wrote on American films chosen for rediscovery by directors Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood. Early in his career, Epstein earned his first professional writing credit reviewing films for Hearst Community Newspapers. Epstein was born in New York’s Coney Island in 1960, and moved West with his family at age 8, spending the rest of his childhood in Cerritos, Calif. He moved back east, attended Mercer Community College in New Jersey, and also served as an assistant editor for the five area newspapers of Cranbury Publications. Epstein made one more cross-country move and currently resides in Long Beach, Calif. When he is not writing, he enjoys watching and reading about movies and collecting soundtracks.

“HIS NAME IS SAVAGE!” RETURNS FROM OBSCURITY

“His Name is Savage!” is a 1968 graphic novel not remembered by many but it is indeed memorable and coming back to life in a new incarnation. Pioneering comic book legend Gil Kane put his body & soul into the project but it never really went beyond the first issue. Why is this even being mentioned in this blog?

The cover of Gil Kane’s “His Name is…SAVAGE!”

Title page explains it all.

The answer to that can be seen in the cover of the first and only issue painted by artist Robert Foster. I didn’t mention the project in Lee Marvin Point Blank simply because other than the likeness, there’s really no connection to Lee Marvin in the story at all. There is however many other references to Marvin’s plethora of cultural references in the book. Just saying.
Anyway, the return of “His Name is Savage!” is the subject of a recent online article I read in which a new media company has decided to resurrect the story (minus the Lee Marvin likeness) and attempt to possibly bring to the screen as well. The article tells the whole story here.

I wish them luck in their endeavors but it would have been nice had it been attempted when Gil Kane was still alive. Might have been nice to bring it back when Marvin was alive, too. It would have helped to dispel a long held rumor that the actor was the the reason the series stopped after one issue since he sued Kane for using his likeness. According to Kane in a 1996 interview, “We never had any trouble from Lee Marvin — obviously he never saw the goddamn thing. We never had any trouble from anybody”.

Gil Kane (1926-2000), legendary comic book artist responsible for “His Name Is…Savage!”

I grew up as a comic book fan and Gil Kane was always one of my favorites, especially his revamping of Green Lantern in the 1960s. Artist Neal Adams would later use that revamp to create an even greater series of stories! I was kind of disappointed to find out how much Kane had wanted the “His Name Is Savage!” project to succeed only to never see that happen. Naturally, I’m glad these young upstarts are remembering the project and are reviving and revamping it. Maybe even a movie in these days of comic book crazy cinema. Of course, if you want to make a movie inspired by the likeness of Lee Marvin, might I suggest another source? Seriously. I can be contacted right here.
– Dwayne Epstein

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WRITER/DIRECTOR RICHARD BROOKS: THE NIGHT WE MET

Writer/director Richard Brooks has not been as historically lauded as many other directors but he’s always been a personal favorite of mine. I’ve been an admirer of many of his films long before I began researching Lee Marvin Point Blank and unfortunately, he passed away before I really started that research. A shame really as I would have liked to have gotten his take on working with Marvin on one of the best films either of them ever made: The Professionals (1966).

(L-R) Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Richard Brooks and Woody Strode discuss a scene for THE PROFESSIONALS.

As an aside, I recently found out that one of Brooks last and highly underrated films, Bite The Bullet (1975), was originally going to be a prequel of sorts to The Professionals, with Gene Hackman and James Coburn playing the characters Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster played in The Professionals. By the way, if you haven’t seen Bite The Bullet, I highly recommend it.

Writer/director Richard Brooks pictured in Maureen Lambray’s photo book, AMERICAN FILM DIRECTORS and as he looked at the time I met him.

One night, back in the early 1980s, a friend and I went to the Nuart in Santa Monica to see a Brooks double feature of Elmer Gantry (1960) and The Professionals, in which Brooks did a Q&A following both films. Knowing that the Oscar-winning writer/director had a penchant for adapting successful books and plays, I asked him about that, which allowed for the following exchange in the crowded theater:

Me: Knowing that in the stage version of Sweet Bird of Youth Paul Newman’s character is castrated, what did you think of the criticism the film got when you changed it to Newman getting beat up?
Brooks: What do I think of the castration of Paul Newman? Oh, I’m all for it!

The crowded theater roared with laughter followed by applause. It didn’t bother me that he avoided answering my query. I was glad to be able to feed him such a well used straight line. A group of us followed him out to the parking lot to continue the discussion when a little red sports car convertible came screeching in front of him. The female driver emphatically asked Brooks, “How can I get in touch with Burt Lancaster? HE IS SO HOT!” Everyone laughed and Brooks chuckled, “Sorry, dear. I haven’t seen or heard from Burt in years.”

The program from the double feature retrospective honoring writer/director Richard Brooks that he graciously signed for me.

….And then there was the time I got Robert Altman mad at me….oy!
– Dwayne Epstein

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PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP

“PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP” is not a headline seen lately (at least I haven’t seen it) but with the way things are going in the news these days, it’s bound to happen sooner rather than later. I would add that if I were a betting man, and a real headline of PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP came up,  I would bet everything on Pelosi. My reasons have nothing to do with political agenda. It has to do with my knowledge of Pelosi’s history, life and work. How do I know? I wrote the book on Pelosi…literally!

Cover of my 2009 young adult biography for Lucent’s People in the News Seres.

Okay, maybe not ‘the’ book on Nancy Pelosi. More like ‘a’ book on Nancy Pelosi. While I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank (for almost 18 years!), I was fortunate enough to occasionally land a gig writing for Lucent Books’ People In The News series. Some were assigned, others were pitched, by yours truly. Naturally, the few I successfully pitched were the personal favorites and Nancy Pelosi was pitched, as retold on this blog previously.
However, with the recent events in the news these days, I’ve chosen to write about her again. Why? Well, as the subject line suggests, when PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP becomes a thing, as it eventually will, don’t think Trump’s slippery ways, manic base, or Republican allies will help him win the day. Oh no, not by a longshot. Here’s a few reasons why.
For all of his bluster and bullying, Trump is basically a political novice with a business degree.
Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, has a decades long history of successfully taking on both corruption and the ire of the GOP, oftentimes in the same battle. How? Her father was the long time mayor of Baltimore (Tommy D’Alesandro), her mother was his trusted advisor (Anunciata Lombardi D’Alesandro), and the political savvy Nancy learned at their knee stood her in good stead since she entered Congress….way back in 1987!

(L-R) A partially hidden Nancy Pelosi, Presidet John F. Kennedy, mother Anunciata Lombardi D’Alesandro and father Tommy D’Alesandro at the 1961 swearing-in of Tommy as a member of the White House’s Renegotiation Board.

She also had other political mentors, such as fellow Catholic Democrats, John F. Kennedy and Tip O’Neill. She got her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from D.C.’s Trinity College, raised five kids while being political active the entire time and then entered the political arena as a deathbed promise to good friend Sala Burton….

A page from my book in which I describe how Pelosi entered politics as a middle-aged Democratic activist.

Pelosi is shown being sworn-in by then Speaker Jim Wright in the presence of her aged father, daughter and Calif. Senator Alan Cranston. Her father would pass away a few months later.

Once in Congress, she quickly learned the ropes and became a rising star of the Party, climbing through the ranks to eventually become the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. History. She successfully fought President George W. Bush from privatizing both Medicare and Social Security. Earlier, she spearheaded the challenge of cleaning house of Republican corruption that found then GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (among others) guilty of money laundering.
There are of course many other great accomplishments in her resume but the ones mentioned were pointed out for a reason. She rarely if ever took on a fight or lost cause unless she knew she could ultimately win, and win for the right reasons.
Some Democrats complained when she didn’t pursue impeachment charges against Trump until now. They didn’t know what she knew, that the evidence was not yet there and now that it is, she’s ready for Pelosi vs. Trump. Pity is all that’s left for Trump and the Republicans.
Oh, and according to the U.S. Constitution, now that Vice-President Mike Pence has been implicated in the Ukranian phone call scandal which is on track to unseat both him and Trump, next in line for the presidency?
As the Master-at-Arms would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present Madame President……”


–  Dwayne Epstein

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