One day I was having lunch in Art's delicatessen in Studio City. This was before the big earthquake and Art's still had its counter-space. Always a popular lunch spot, Art's seemed to attract a lot of celebrities from the area which included the nearby CBS Cinema Center where Steve McQueen's grey Porsche 911S was frequently seen in its chained-off parking spaces--Steve got two.
Like most delicatessen's I've known, Art's tended to be a noisy environment--good food, loud talk. As I was having lunch with my companion, a gentleman in the booth across the way caught my attention saying, "Excuse me, but aren't you a director?" I told him that I was, thinking he had assumed from my general appearance that I wasn't an accountant. Then he asked, "Aren't you the film director who does that interview series on cable TV--the one with the fictional authors?" Again, I confirmed his suspicion but now I was curious. "How did you know?" I asked him. "I recognized you," he said. I thought about this for a moment before an obvious question came to my mind.
"How could you recognize me," I asked, "since I'm never seen and my voice is heard off-camera posing the questions?" Without missing a beat, he answered, "I recognized your voice." I thought it extraordinary that a stranger would recognize my voice in a crowded and noisy deli. "How many of the shows have you seen?" I asked. "Lots of them," was the answer. I had a fan!
Of the 500 or so half-hour interviews I produced for the series, there was only one in which I appeared on camera as the author. I wasn't prepared for the recognition that came from the show. I would be stopped in the gym by people who had believed the interview was as real as Charlie Rose and wanted to comment about the book the fictional character had written. Walking along the sidewalk in Brentwood, I would hear people call out, "Sean Miles!" which was the name of the fictional character I played. At the L.A. Coliseum watching Raiders football games, I noticed people pointing me out and making comments to their friends. The character I played had been a homicide detective who, it was suspected, had been killing suspects of violent crimes instead of arresting them. It was a sign of public frustration, I think, that most of those who approached me were very supportive of Sean Miles. An unarmed public can but hope for the best, I suppose.
Recalling this, I am reminded of just how powerful is the medium of television. It also validated my decision to remain off camera--with the one exception--when doing the series as I don't know how people in the public eye cope with the recognition that occurs everywhere they go. I remember seeing A Face in the Crowd, the film directed by Elia Kazan starring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Anthony Franciosa which dealt admirably with this aspect of working in media.
I wonder why--in this era of reality shows--no one has thought to re-make this film.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see example clips from Stephen's movies
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
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."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
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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)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
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“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.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...