Amongst the 500 half-hour segments I created for my (Interview) television series over the years, one of my favorites was the Clarence Conly segment with Clarence being played by actor Alan Doshna. Most, if not all, of the masters of my movies and TV shows, had been 'lost at sea' but over time, some copies have surfaced and were provided to me by those who had taken part in the various projects. Recently, I was in contact with Alan who, thankfully, had retained his VHS copy of 'Clarence' and kindly made it available for me to convert the episode to a digital file. It has the look of an old VHS tape because that is what it is.
I started the Clarence Conly (Interview) segment as I did all the others maintaining the serious and thoughtful tone of a top-level interviewer like Keith Berwick or Charlie Rose. However, as 'Clarence' began recounting the story I had created for him, I found myself unable to maintain my composure and began laughing at what he was saying. I was out of control. As we proceeded along with the Q&A, I kept telling myself that I was ruining the segment but determined to carry on to the end. I figured that we could tape the show again when I had gotten the laughter out of my system. Thankfully, Alan stayed with me and didn't break character.
Afterwards, when I looked at the tape, I concluded that anyone would have found the answers hysterical and for the interviewer not to find it funny would have made the performance less real and the viewer was supposed to receive it as real right up until the final credits rolled. I left it as we taped it. Later, when David Permut called me after watching it, he was still laughing at the performance. He wanted to run with the project as a feature film. I suggested Marshall Brickman (Woody Allen's co-writer on Sleeper, Annie Hall and Manhattan) as a potential writer/director and David agreed.
I called Marshall's agent in Century City and asked simply, "Do you know who David Permut is?" He did, indeed, came the immediate response. I told him that David and I had a project that we would like to propose to Marshall Brickman as a writer/director. The result was that Marshall liked it so much he wrote a treatment on spec. More of this story can be seen here.
In the second half of the 60s, I was constantly looking for reasons to
take road trips. This habit began when I acquired a 3.8-litre, Series 1
E-Type Jaguar coupe--probably one of the most beautiful cars ever
made--and carried on through my ownership of two other magnificent cars,
the Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso and the Ferrari GTO. On one particular
occasion, I drove the Lusso to Tuscon, Arizona where my friend and
mentor Paul Stanley was directing an episode of the television series The High Chaparral.
show was a western drama starring Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell
created by David Dortort, who had created the hit series Bonanza
also for NBC. It was filmed at Old Tucson Studios, a movie studio and
theme park that put on the sort of western shows one would see at
Knott's Berry Farm when production companies weren't filming.
say that getting there is half the fun and when the vehicle is a
Berlinetta Lusso, one could accept that claim as understatement. No
other engine sounds like a Ferrari V12 and the long stretches of road
between Los Angeles and Tuscon made for a wonderful opportunity to enjoy
the Ferrari's uninterrupted song at high revs for such prolonged periods of
time. I especially liked the way the tightly sprung suspension caused the fenders to bob as
the Lusso consumed the pavement in front of it traveling at twice the
speed of other cars on the road. When I would stop to fill the tank at a
service station, I had the same curious feeling I would get after
spending time on my sailboat--that of still traveling at speed the way I
could still feel the rocking of the boat long after I had come ashore.
I enjoyed watching Paul shoot as he was always well prepared ("Preparation, preparation, preparation!" Don Logan, Sexy Beast)
and knew what he wanted. He seemed to enjoy good relations with his
actors and crew though I noticed he was not averse to showing his
displeasure in a manner that brought things quickly back to how they
should be when it was merited.
One day on the set, I was having
lunch with Cameron Mitchell and Harry Dean Stanton (who was guest
starring on the episode) at a table set up by craft services on the
western street. They were both in their western costumes and the subject
turned to Zen. It seemed Cameron had become interested in the subject
and I had the impression that Harry Dean was familiar with the teachings
of Zen as well. In explaining Zen to me, Cameron picked up a pack of
cigarettes and threw it onto the table. "That's Zen," he said.
Cameron's was the most Zen-like explanation of Zen ever given or merely
a hint of what he understood Zen to be didn't matter. His explanation
stuck with me as a reference and how many things said to you can you
recall with vivid clarity after forty-seven years?
On the way home, I found my own Zen at 7,000 r.p.m.
I am having trouble downloading Skype on the hotel computer, which
rejects any and all attempts to import alien content onto the hard
drive. I tried getting in touch with Jean-Pierre Soutric, but he was off
to his apartment in the Marais and therefore unable to intervene on my
I need the Skype software
because my iPod coach is in Egypt giving a seminar that seems to have
been organized, indirectly and for motives that are sufficiently vague,
by Clive Davis and he won't talk to me on the phone for fear of
incurring punitive roaming charges. The problem is that I somehow
downloaded 60GB of electronica onto my iPod over-writing all the play
lists that he spent hundreds of hours orchestrating after several
comprehensive and exhaustive consulting sessions with me, which included
psychological and aptitude testing along with recommendations from no
less than three independent focus group specialists located in Los
Angeles, London and Caracas.
This mishap occurred after a fille
sympa discovered the Credence tracks I had covertly added to a play
list, knowing that my iPod coach would have decommissioned if he'd known
about it. She was down to her thong and escarpins when she asked if I'd
mind her listening to music whilst she submitted to my will. I had no
incentive to decline her request, but neither did I have cause to think
she'd stumble onto 'Run Through the Jungle' and suffer such an adverse
reaction. This horrible gaffe on my part not only ruined what promised
to be a perfectly historic evening with the top left-foot model in
Europe, but my reputation as well if she turns out to be half the gossip
I believe her to be.
“I was able to get a trace on that phone number,” Dornan informed Martin as he bit into his swordfish sandwich.
“What phone number is that?” Martin wanted to know. He also wanted to
know why they had to park themselves in the corner booth of one of
D.C.’s finer restaurants every time Dornan had something to tell him.
“The number in the ad for the ’59 Caddy.”
“I’ll have to ask you not to refer to it as a Caddy. It’s a Cadillac.”
Dornan looked at him, obviously not understanding the difference. “It’s
a pre-paid cell phone. I’ll get the owner’s name, but I’ll lay eight to
five it’s a phony.”
“Just so we find the guy. I want that car.”
Martin wondered to himself how many times this guy needed to be told
something before it sank in. “I don’t care what his name is or what he’s
done with his life to date. I want that car.”
“What’s so special
about it? I’d think you’d have had your fill of old Caddys by now.”
Martin ignored the detective’s impertinence and changed the subject.
“When are you going to deal with Rrina?”
“Whenever she shows up again at her place.” Dornan signaled the waiter for another sandwich.
“What are you talking about? She’s there all the time. The woman hasn’t got a friend in this world.”
“You don’t have to tell me.” Dornan shot back. “I’ve been a cop for
longer than I care to remember and I’ve never had anyone talk to me like
that bitch.” Martin wondered if he should take offense, though he
certainly couldn’t disagree with the detective’s assessment.
“How long has she been away?” Martin figured the answer would be counted in hours.
“About a week now. You didn’t kill her, too, did you?”
“To tell you the truth, I’ve thought about it. I think we’re all better off just giving her mind a retread.”
Dornan nodded his agreement.
“Soon as she shows up, we’ll grab her,” Dornan affirmed as he finished off his third single malt scotch.
Martin was glad to see that, finally, the detective seemed to have gotten with the program.
At nine o’clock that night (after having wrapped at Barbara’s at five
that morning)—the start of our second “day” of shooting—two things were
becoming “perfectly clear” to use the words of The Great Man from
Whittier. The first is that TD&H [Tall, Dark & Handsome] was not
a car guy. This I concluded from the fact that he set off the
windshield wipers and spray every time he got into the BMW that was
being used as his car in the movie. Each time this happened, one of the
crew had to rush over and explain to the
actor how to turn the wipers off again. Then, we would wait as the
spray was wiped from the windshield after which, TD&H would do it
again. From that night forward, I tried to avoid scenes where we
actually had to see him get into the car preferring to catch him once he
was already behind the wheel.
pleased to say that my article, The Inspirational Berlinetta Lusso, appears in
the latest edition of the Blackbird Automotive Journal. The following is an excerpt:
There always seemed to be something magical
about the name Berlinetta Lusso. It sounded like a name befitting the sleek,
sexy Italian touring car that it was and every aspect of the Lusso was in
perfect alignment with the whole of the car. The visual style of the car
matched the performance dynamics which were a perfect fit with the
extraordinary symphony of the legendary V12...
Automotive Journal, Volume 5 can be purchased here:
Recently, I strolled into Mullaney Brothers, a clothing shop that has a
traditional look offering Magee handwoven tweed jackets, trousers,
waistcoats, Barbour wax jackets shirts and knitwear, Bonner &
Kennedy of Ardara aran knitwear, Texier leather bags and Hourihan
wool/cashmere capes to give you a sense of the place. Macy's it is not.
the course of browsing and looking at a selection of scarves, a
pleasant gentleman approached me and we struck up a conversation. His
name is John Mullaney, grandson of Michael Mullaney the original owner
of the store which John now runs. Dressed immaculately in a blue
pinstriped suit, his old-world, soft spoken manner reminded me of my
good friend from times past Wilfred (W.J.D.) Clarke whom I got to know
in my teens when I was buying Bentleys in London.
John and I
spoke of many things and he was intrigued by my early visits to England.
His eyes lit up at the mention of Bentley automobiles. "I have a story
you might appreciated. Do you know what an Alvis is?"
I smiled and assured him I knew the Alvis brand of cars very well with their famous red triangle badge.
was a time I was looking to buy something special and I came upon an
advertisement for an Alvis drophead (convertible)." I knew the model he
spoke of which would have been a lovely alternative to what Wilfred used
to refer to as executive tin with its Mulliner Park Ward body, leather upholstery and 3-litre engine. "They were asking quite a bit for it and I
hesitated," he told me. "A few days later, I was still thinking about
the Alvis and came to the conclusion that I should go ahead and purchase
the car." Hoping for the best, I waited for the next part of the story.
"When I called, they told me it had been purchased by someone else soon
after I'd spoken to them." One that got away...
belongs at the wheel of an Alvis drophead, if I may say so. It is a car
that exudes the same gentlemanly qualities as the man himself. There is a
line of dialogue in the movie Twelve O'clock High spoken by Dean
Jagger as he comes out of an English hat shop which went something
like this: "I've bought a hat before but I never spent three hours
Like Dean Jagger's character in the movie, I found my time in John's shop rewarding and it was a pleasure meeting him.
"I found in my slides a picture that will interest you. In 1982, when the Ferrari 308 GT4 came out, Ferrari made a very limited number of "308 GT 4 Boxer configuration" cars with (red with lower part of the body black, ivory leather upholstery).
There was only one in the US. This car was in the St Louis Michigan's dealer showroom. My customer asked me to make a deal and with a certified check in my pocket, my wife and I flew on a Friday evening from Boston to St Louis. I remember the sales manager Bud Pessin picked us at the airport. We spent a night in a nearby motel and after carefully checking over the paper work title, we drove away Saturday morning.
There was a beautiful, practically new black 289 Shelby Cobra, that he offered for 13.000$! A bargain!
While driving in Pennsylvania I stopped for fuel in a hillside gas station, the attendant looked over the car and asked "Hey man is that one of these kits cars?"
We made it back safely to Waltham Mass.on Sunday morning; a great drive across the US at the wheel of this beautiful car.
Looking at the image above--which is a frame capture from the documentary I wrote and directed titled Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)--it is easy to see why the Carrera had the reputation for being the world' most dangerous road race. Cars hurtled past at over 100 miles per hour while crowds stood inches away from them at the side of the road. Often, they would reach out and touch the cars as they passed shouting "Olé!".
Ray Crawford described speeding along and seeing the crowd in the middle of the road in front of him moving away at the last moment to avoid being run over. The legendary John Fitch, who experienced the same crowd behavior when he raced the Carrera, told me that he could only hope that they would get out of the way in time.
John Fitch in his 300SL
The audacity of the men who drove and navigated the Carrera is unbelievable and it is unthinkable in today's world of safety precautions like seat belts and Armco barriers to imagine the dangers they faced.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
Click to view on Amazon
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
A review from my new student Louella
(Click on photo)
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!, Episode 1
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
Kindle or Paperback versions
Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
Click on poster to buy the poster and DVD
Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday TV
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
Simone Kussatz interviews Stephen Mitchell
(Click on photo)
(Interview) version française
Natasha Loizeau (Interview) version française
Stevie Williams (Interview)
David Gritten reviews (Interview)
At Cannes with Priscilla Lingenheim who taped a segment of (Interview) version française
Rebel, Rebel by Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 'Breadvan' trivia
Stephen interviews Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 250GTO by Stephen Mitchell
Ferraris on Mulholland
Ferrari GTOs at Willow Springs &...
Ferrari GTO in Paris
Kenny Lombino's 16M Scuderia
Stephen Mitchell talks with General Richard Wilmot (part 1)
In 1980, Stephen founded an entertainment industry think tank in the guise of a repertory company for film and
television labeled The New Hollywood Studio System. In 1985, Stephen pioneered a unique application of product integration in branded entertainment with his cable TV series (Interview). In 2006, Stephen authored a protocol for the management and marketing of business executives. He is currently producing a documentary on the Ferrari GTO, one of which he owned for several years.