FILMFAX, STEVE RUBIN, TWILIGHT ZONE, LEE MARVIN & ME

So, what do the Twilight Zone, Filmfax Magazine, author Steve Rubin, Lee Marvin and yours truly have in common? A simple phone call. Filmfax publisher/managing editor, Mike Stein, calls me up and asks if I’d be interested in doing an interview with Steve Rubin, author of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. It’s a trifecta in my mind since The Twilight Zone has always been one of my favorite shows, I’d get work in two issues in a row of the quarterly magazine and Steve Rubin is actually a friend of mine. How could I say no?

Filmfax #151 cover which includes my interview with author/friend Steve Rubin.

Turns out, Rubin is a wonderful person to interview as we are simpatico on several levels. He also has an impressive resume of other written work an is an independent producer of some quality films. Our talk drifted in many directions for that reason, but the core of the conversation, of course, was his wonderful new tome on The Twilight Zone. Do not let the term ‘encyclopedia’ leave you cold. It’s anything but a dry and uninteresting read like most encyclopedias. The format fits the word but the writing style certainly doesn’t. Its chock full of great, fun facts that is quite accessible and undeniably addictive.

The cover of Steve Rubin’s new book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

How does Lee Marvin play into this? Well, in Lee Marvin Point Blank I devoted an entire chapter to Marvin’s TV work, discovering some gems along the way. As most fans know, Marvin appeared on The Twilight Zone in two great episodes. I didn’t write much about them but Steve certainly did. One of Marvin’s best performances was in the Richard Matheson penned episode, “Steel,” and Rubin enviously interviewed co-star Chuck Hicks!

The Twilight Encyclopedia’s entry of “Steel.”

Part 2 of Rubin’s entry on “Steel.”

All told, both the interview and the book are worthy reads. Below is my introduction to the interview, but don’t simply take my word for it. Check out Filmfax #151 for yourself at your nearest bookstore or newsstand. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
-Dwayne Epstein

Steve Rubin Filmfax interview introduction.

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STARTING THE NEW YEAR OFF W/ A GIG: CLINT WALKER!

Happy new year faithful Lee Marvin Point Blank blog readers, and for yours truly, there’s no better way to start the new year than with a a new gig interviewing TV and movie legend Clint Walker! It proved to be another example of my Lee Marvin research turning into something more fortuitous.
The background story is rather interesting. I had interviewed the big fella back in the early days of my work on the book as he costarred with Marvin in The Dirty Dozen. Unfortunately, not all that great stories he related made the book, but hey, that’s where blogs come in handy.  I had then gotten back in touch with him fairly recently in hopes of getting his thoughts on working with Charles Bronson in The Dirty Dozen and then later in Bronson’s strange western/fantasy film, White Buffalo. As for the Bronson project, as Johnny Carson used to say, more to come.
Anyway, having done those two interviews with him, it occurred to me that the good folks who run Filmfax Magazine might be interested in a career-spanning interview with Walker. I contacted publisher Mike Stein about it and it was a go. I then contacted 90-year-old Clint Walker about it and he was slightly less enthusiastic about. He was retired in Northern California with his wife and really didn’t want to have anything to do with the business any more, aside from the occasional memorabilia show. On top of that he had recently suffered a fall and health-wise, he just wasn’t up to it. Well, it took no small amount of convincing by yours truly (as well as several schedule rearrangements!) and more than a little help from Facebook friend Deb Elsie, but eventually……

Filmfax cover for issue #150.

My interview with Clint Walker even made the cover. Seriously.
What’s that?
Don’t see it?
Well, look a little a closer in the top left corner there. Here, let me help…..

Top banner of FIlmfax, Dec.-Feb. 2018.

There, that’s better. Anyway, the interview indeed went well as Walker eventually opened up to talk about his many decades in the industry. I got him to tell great tales on such luminaries as Jack Warner, Cecil B. DeMille, Doris Day, The Bowery Boys, Kim Novak, Frank Sinatra, Arnold Schwarzenegger, even The Beatles! It’s the reason I love what I do.
I’m not going to post the article here, as it’s available in bookstores and newsstands everywhere. However, I can tease you a little to go out and buy a copy with this first page of the 8-page article….

Page 1 of my Filmfax interview with Clint Walker.

If  this teaser does want to make you go out and buy a copy of the magazine that publisher Mike Stein calls, “A five-ounce ton of intelligent fun,” then I humbly thank you.
By the way, if you like what you read, feel free to comment as the magazine really does print any and all letters to the editor. Honest! The contact info is:
FILMFAX MAGAZINE
Re: Edits 1320 Oakton St.
Evanston, IL 60202
Of course, if you didn’t care for the article, let’s just keep that to ourselves, shall we? I thank you and here’s to a happy and prosperous 2018!!
-Dwayne Epstein

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IN HONOR OF THE PASSING OF SHELLEY BERMAN

Shelley Berman died today after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He hung in there for quite some time but it is a horrendous illness that always wins in the end. I know having seen its effect on several family members.
I’m reposting the interview I did with Berman back in 2005 for Filmfax in his honor. Since he has passed, I’m also adding something else. When I first posted this on my blog I made mention of a subject that came up in the interview that angered Berman so much, he wanted to end the interview. Well, with his passing I have decided to mention it here. Keep in mind, I could have mentioned it earlier, or for that matter, even left it in the original interview, but the choice was mine to make and I left it out in respect to Berman. Now that he has passed, I’ll discuss it here. For the record, I’m not one of those writers who rubs his hands together and thinks, “Oh goody! Now that he’s gone I can bash him to my heart’s content.” Far from it. In fact, it is in homage to Berman that I mention it now, as  I feel it shows his humanity, his down-to-earth nature and his never-ending rebelliousness. So, with that said, I can now say what it was in two simple words:  Lenny Bruce.
What happened was this. If you look below at the 6th page of the interview we did indeed discuss Lenny Bruce as they were contemporaries of each other. However, as friendly as he sounds reminiscing about Lenny Bruce, there was an obvious air of rivalry when he Berman spoke of him. Small wonder as comedians as diverse as Alan King to Bill Cosby (ahem!) have gone on record in admiration of Bruce’s audacity on stage.
What happened n the interview was this: Berman had begun talking about Lenny Bruce in rather less than complimentary terms and, being a Lenny Bruce fan, I challenged him. Went something like this….
Berman: I was in a club one night watching Lenny perform when a group of high school prom dates came in all dressed up for the evening. He saw them and said into the mic, ‘Hey, are you kids gonna FUCK tonight?'” He didn’t have to embarrass those kids like that….
Filmfax: Didn’t anybody think to ask what a bunch of high schoolers were doing in an adult nightclub?
Berman (angrily): Okay, I never met Lenny Bruce! What I said never happened. Turn off the tape recorder. The interview is over!
And so it went. I did indeed turn off the recorder but then I proceeded to try to calm him down. After several minutes it worked and we went back to the interview. At no time after that did he ask me to edit the interview, read it before publication, or do or say anything that would censor what we discussed. I took it upon myself to not put it in as I felt it effected the great stuff he was telling me otherwise. I mention it now only to show, like all of us, how human the man was and the respect I had for his life and work. Rest in peace, Mr. Berman. Like Lenny Bruce, you life and influence will always live on.

[Original introduction when article was first posted followed by the interview]
Shelley Berman, interviewed by yours truly back ’05 for Filmfax magazine, was part of an idea I had while trying to get Lee Marvin Point Blank published. I figured I’d keep my writing chops up by interviewing subjects within a given theme, in this case it was pioneering comedians. It started with the rare opportunity afforded me to interview both Sid Caesar and Steve Allen. From there the plan was to write about the holy trinity of Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl and Shelley Berman. Well, I met Berman at a Hollywood Collector’s Show and he agreed on a day and time to be interviewed. When I found out he was good friends with Sahl, I thought the next step would be a breeze. It wasn’t. As for Bruce, I wanted to interview his daughter, Kitty, who was amenable over the phone but constant scheduling conflicts made the proposed piece prohibitive. Ahh well, maybe some day…
As for Berman, he remains one of the strangest interviews I have ever conducted. He invited me to his home and was very cordial but as our talk went on, he kept pressing me to ask him about certain subjects he wanted to expound on. I’m sure he wanted some specific comments on the record, but that was not why I was there. I maintained control of the interview and asked about subjects I knew the good folks at Filmfax wanted me to ask him about.
Then, at one point, a certain subject was brought up that so angered him, he said that I should turn off the tape recorder as the interview was officially over. I did turn off the recorder but it was to convince him to go back on the record. I won’t say what (or who) the subject was that angered him as I agreed not to go public with it. He calmed down and the interviewed continued to its conclusion. Later, when I told publisher Mike Stein about it, he laughed and said how cool he thought the whole thing was. That eased my worries a bit as I then turned in the article that you see below. Suffice to say, the subject that angered him is still present but only slightly altered. Can you tell what it is???
Oh, and one more thing. After the article, I posted the letter Berman wrote that stated a few of his objections and no, the subject that angered him was NOT in the letter. Go figure….
– Dwayne Epstein

Shelley Berman-1

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Shelley Berman’s letter to the editor after the interview was published. No, the angry subject is NOT in the letter.

-Dwayne Epstein

 

 

 

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