Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Bobby" Movie Opens in London to much Fanfare

Weirdly, the same piece by Roger Friedman noting the happy event of Studio 60's crash-and-burn also has a supposed hit about the last hours of Bobby Kennedy.
Emilio Estevez’s terrific movie, "Bobby," got a standing ovation last night at its premiere sponsored by the Times of London for the London Film Festival.

Estevez looked mildly shocked on stage as a full Odeon theatre, with guests including likely future prime minister of England Gordon Brown, honored him for his work on this outstanding film.

"Bobby," as I told you some weeks ago, is a Robert Altman-like story of many different characters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, as Kennedy makes his way there to celebrate winning the California primary.

Last night, a few of the cast members including Christian Slater, Joy Bryant, Svetlana Metkina and Freddy Rodriguez (of "Six Feet Under" fame) came with Estevez and his new fianc?e to accept the kudos.

The screening — and following swellicious party at Claridge’s — was such a hot ticket that Estevez’s other guests included Oscar-winning directors Anthony Minghella and Hugh Hudson; actors Jason Isaacs, Eric Bana, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as well as Americans Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who came over from shooting “Fred Claus” nearby with Judi Dench, Vince Vaughn and Kevin Spacey.

I say weirdly, because I had been working on Gene McCarthy's National Staff in his Presidential bid and the evening of the California Primary, where I had worked for weeks for Gene, I had been invited to the Ambassador Hotel by a senior McCarthy Staffer preparing to defect to Bobby that evening. Bobby himself had run across me in Watts/Compton a couple of weeks before and asked me, with my McCarthy paraphrenalia all over me, to cross over to his campaign. Since he was on the back of a pick-up truck with Herb Addington and other Green Bay Packers, my personal team, I was sorely tempted. His thumb on his right hand had a huge indentation in its flesh---something so weird that I wonder whether Bobby was foredoomed----as I learned in the Far East from my FSO days, the Chinese regard the thumb and not the hand as the chief indicator for reading one's future.

The California primary remains one of the high points of my life, and I got for a short time exposure to the glamour and glitz---talked to Jill St. John for a half-hour, Eva-Marie Saint and a whole raft of Mission Impossible stars all in the tank for Eugene McCarthy.

However, the Chicago Convention a couple of months later was to be the absolute weirdest time in my whole existence, one that got written up by T.H. White in The Making of the President, 1968. As T.H. recounts it on pp. 309-309,
Police and National Guard insisted that what was being thrown [from the Hilton onto the cops] was from the fifteenth floor, Corner Suite 1505A and 1506A. The first verbal and immediate charge was that fish were thrown---sardines or herrings, but unspecified whether in the can or not.....

For the record, it was smoked whitefish, with only the head and tail connected by a classic rib and backbone. I had not eaten in the excitement from being tear-gassed much of the day, bought the fish, ravenously consumed it in the McCarthy Commo Center on the fifteenth floor, then looked out the window to see two lines of six cops per line with robin's-egg blue helmets. No one was in the room when I delicately tossed the fish onto the blue helmets below.

I was drinking Scotch in the cast party for the staff [I was billeted on the fifteenth floor] and I remember getting completely hammered and talking about pitching the ash-trays onto the street. Unlike the smoke-fish, I have no clear memory of doing it. I staggered off to bed alone as I was totally fagged out and for the only time I can remember, double-locked the hotel room door and sank into dreamless stupor---until pounding on my door around 3AM started, along with huge ruckus and door-slams up and down the corridor. Someone yelled out that the room was empty and the cops moved on. T.H. White was obviously a bit biased toward the "We Are The Movement" Clean for Gene Corps, and said:
Checking and re-checking, I could find no witnesses who had seen or known of anything being thrown from that floor.

I seem to vaguely recall that Phil Ochs, the singer/performer of the Ochs/Sulzberger family that had a vague holding called The New York Times, was one of the participants in the Scotch party where I know we discussed tossing ash-trays! Guess T.H. couldn't get Phil for an interview? Or maybe I'm mis-remembering another bacchanalian party-evening in the Hilton where I met Ochs.

Anyway, if you want to read some very interesting historical stuff, White speculates that the incident on the fifteenth floor led to an estrangement between Humphrey and McCarthy so deep that McCarthy sat out the election campaign in southern France, Richard Nixon won the presidency by little more than a whisker, and the Dems began their long Odyssey into second-class B-List political status.

As Claudius, the Roman Emperor says in Robert Graves' great works:
"Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud HATCH OUT....."

I went to the "Counter-Inauguration" Jan 20th, 1969 and took one of the special No Parking from Midnight January 19 to Midnight January 20, 1969, Presidential Inauguration parking signs. It still hangs in my bedroom, to remind me of those not-so-halcyon days of yore.

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