The photo of me seen here was taken as I was shooting The French Chef, a television pilot I created starring French movie star Philippe Léotard. It was our second day of shooting and we are in La Mère Catherine restaurant on the Place du Tertre in Montmarte. Shortly, we would be filming Philippe's entrance where he will be joining a showgirl from the Crazy Horse Saloon provided for the occasion by the nightclub's owner Alain Bernardin. As this photo was taken, the Crazy Horse girl was transforming from a Topanga Canyon girl in jeans and a Pendleton (no make-up) into everyone's fantasy of what a Parisian showgirl should look like--nothing short of a magical metamorphosis!
What is unusual about the situation is that I am actually writing the dialogue we are about to shoot. This was very early days in my filmmaking journey and, in those first few projects, I would go off by myself and write the text for the actors as the crew was setting up for the shot--never did I write a script in advance of production except for Montmartre, my first project. Instead, I would write the dialogue and then hand it off to my actors to rehearse. When they were ready, they would run it for me and I'd make any adjustments I thought necessary. Then we would film it. With Philippe, however, there was an intermediate step. Because he didn't speak English, I would give the pages to my assistant who would then rehearse Philippe's lines with him phonetically until he was perfect. Afterwards, he would run it for me and we would shoot the scene. On later projects, I would dictate the dialogue to the actors who would write it down, rehearse and come to me when they were ready--a practice that continues to this day.
I am wearing a T-shirt (extraordinary!!)--a UCLA item sent to me from home--at least the lettering was blue as was the sweater thrown over my shoulders. A dark blue (what else?) Renault R18 is parked just outside courtesy of the manufacturer. The 18 karat gold Rolex Day-Date I am wearing came courtesy of the Rolex offices on the Avenue de la Grande Armée.
In the month or so leading up to the shooting of The French Chef, some of the finest chefs in Paris auditioned for the show by inviting my partner and me to dinner at their restaurants. They would not appear on screen but their name and recipe would be credited. It was an incredible parade of culinary skills--all gratis. A month earlier, I'd been reduced to eating dinners at 'Mac Do' owing to a temporary shortage of funds. La vie est belle, non ?
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