GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Thursday, October 4, 2018

John Paul Getty III

                                                                                                                 Photo: AP Images.

I've been watching Trust on the BBC about the Getty family and it rekindled memories from the 70s.

In 1976, I had a girlfriend who managed comedians and was working at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. I seemed to be spending a lot of time there and someone had the idea that I might like to manage the main room--a 'Vegas-style showroom--where talent like Shelley Berman, Dick Gregory and Mort Sahl were appearing. It was not a very glamorous assignment and had as much to do with making certain the waitresses prepared the room before the crowds were allowed entrance as it did with coordinating back stage activities like curtain time and making sure that Shelley had his preferred Anchor Steam Beer and Mort Sahl his current copy of the L.A. Times from which he affected to find stories that were, in fact, his prepared material ("I find the apostle Paul appealing and the apostle Peale appalling" quoting Adlai Stevenson posthumously). 

At some point, people involved with making an A.F.I. film presented themselves and asked to shoot part of their film in the main room and were given permission. I was handed the job of riding herd on them, which I was happy to do. The unit manager/assistant director was John Paul Getty III. The producer was his mother Gail Harris as I recall and the director may have been Gail's boyfriend, if memory serves, and I believe his name was Gordon though I am not certain of this. 

They had a full crew and work proceeded in the main room and I gradually got a sense of the story line about a comedian. Paul was an affable fellow and we got along very well. He took his duties seriously and always seemed to be on top of things. Occasionally, Paul would talk to me about trouble they were having with dialogue or getting a performance out of an actor. I would make a suggestion that he would pass on to the director and, before you know it, I was writing one scene after another for the film (complete with notes for the actor). I remember sitting in the midst of all the film crew chaos in the main room writing as though I were at home in a quiet room.

Another problem surfaced as the lead actor and the director were having 'creative differences' and the actor refused to take direction from the director. Paul asked if I would act as their go-between, which I did and things moved along.

I was sorry to see them go when they had completed their scenes after several days. The next time I would see Paul Getty was on the screen in Wim Wenders' film The State of Things in which he played a role on the screen very much like the role he played in real life at the Comedy Store on the A.F.I. film. Geoffrey Carey, the actor son of Philip Carey, who I knew from Paris was also in the Wenders film.

Though my contact with Paul Getty was limited to working with him on the film, I was impressed with how accessible he was and easy he was to get along with. One would never have guessed his background nor his tragic future. I sense he loved filmmaking as much as I...

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