Legendary film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie are the ultimate movie fans. They love talking about movies, especially with people who share their enthusiasm—from living legends like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Quincy Jones to such contemporary artists as Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Laura Dern, and Bryan Cranston. You’ll meet all kinds of interesting people and hear their recommendations of unsung movies you ought to know.
A onetime piano prodigy is now an Oscar nominee. Having won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011, Kris Bowers has spread his wings and achieved his goal of becoming a composer for film and television. Among his credits: Green Book, Bridgerton, When They See Us, and the upcoming Space Jam: A New Legacy. What’s more, his charming short subject, A Concerto is a Conversation, which he directed with Ben Proudfoot, is an Academy Award nominee. (watch it at www.concertodoc.com) As you will hear, Kris is engaging, articulate, and equally comfortable talking about Bach and Bugs Bunny.
He’s enjoying the success and acclaim he rightly deserves for The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries), but Scott Frank is not just a flavor of the month. He’s written movies like Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Minority Report, Logan, and our favorite sleeper The Lookout, which marked his directing debut. Scott has a wealth of observations about screenwriting and moviemaking which he shares with Leonard and Jessie, who have belatedly discovered Godless, the exceptional Western miniseries he made for Netflix in 2017. It’s another must-see.
His new biography Mike Nichols: A Life is garnering rave reviews, but that’s no surprise. Mark Harris’s other two books, Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back are required reading for anyone who loves films. A native New Yorker, Mark spent many years writing for Entertainment Weekly, which put him on the front lines of pop culture. He continues to cover the film scene for New York magazine. A diligent researcher as well as a fan, Mark has much to say about digging deep in order to tell a good (and accurate) story, as you will hear.
Revisiting Quincy Jones
Listen up! When Quincy Jones speaks he may be imparting Yoda-like wisdom or talking about his collaborations with Steven Spielberg, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, or Hal Ashby, to name just a few. His film credits range from The Pawnbroker and In Cold Blood to The Color Purpleand the must-see documentary Keep on Keepin’ On. As a musician, arranger, film composer, and entrepreneur he is without peer, and arguably the coolest guy on the planet. It’s been four years since Leonard and Jessie spent a lively hour with him and they still marvel at the experience. Keep On Keepin’ On, is now streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other platforms.
If you’re in your 30s like Jessie, you grew up with Thomas Nicholas onscreen. He starred in Rookie of the Year and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, then—a little older—he appeared the hugely popular American Pie series. He’s led a band for many years and has never forsaken acting, but with the release of Adverse on VOD he officially joins the ranks of producers. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed meeting him and recalling some of the highlights of an enduring career.
Revisiting Norman Lear
Whatever you may think of the Golden Globes, their voters hit a bull’s-eye when they gave a special award to Norman Lear, the youngest 98-year-old in Hollywood. He could easily coast along on his many accomplishments as a writer, producer, director, and political activist; instead he is engaged in new projects on a daily basis. He also penned a candid, entertaining autobiography called Even This I Get to Experience.
Jessie and I were privileged to spend an hour with him as he was just settling into his new office suite on the Sony Pictures lot two and a half years ago. He gave birth to such TV series as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons and was then busily involved in a reboot of One Day at a Time. He’s worked in television since 1950, but no one seems to talk to him about the movies he wrote, produced, and/or directed, like Cold Turkey, or those for which he was a midwife (like The Princess Bride). We relished spending time with this highly amusing, soft-spoken giant—even when he fielded a cell phone call from a political fundraiser in the midst of our interview!