Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sydney Pollack 1934 -2008

I don't believe it even though I knew he had cancer. My heart goes out to his family, friends and two of my colleagues who work at Mirage Productions the company he co-owned with Anthony Minghella who died suddenly only a few months ago.

I feel like an era is over. He and Anthony championed smart movies for adults. Writers and actors loved working with them because they had a love for the arts and life.

I've only met Mr. Pollack a few times. Once at the '92 democratic convention when he was helping my former boss with a speech and two years ago he sat down with me. I went to see him because I was beyond frustrated in my Hollywood career and was thinking about just quitting. He was gracious, kind, inspiring yet very blunt about the sad state of Hollywood and filmmaking. When I would meet with colleagues at the Mirage offices we used to look at the Oscars, set photos (look at how young Babs and Redford are!) etc. and were not jaded.

He directed less toward the end of his career but continued acting. He recently acted in Michael Clayton which his company also produced. He was hilarious on the Sopranos and Entourage.

This quote from the NYT obit jumped out at me:

In his later years, Mr. Pollack appeared to relish his role as elder statesman. At various times he was executive director of the Actors Studio West, chairman of American Cinematheque and an advocate for artists’ rights.

He increasingly sounded wistful notes about the disappearance of the Hollywood he knew in his prime. “The middle ground is now gone,” Mr. Pollack said in the fall 1998 issue of New Perspectives Quarterly. He added, with a nod to a fellow filmmaker: “It is not impossible to make mainstream films which are really good. Costa-Gavras once said that accidents can happen.”

Yes they can.

Here is a clip from Tootsie which he directed and starred in. He will be missed.


Linda said...

I too was saddened by the news this morning. "The Way We Were" "Out of Africa" and "Three Days of the Condor" are just some of great films he made that stand out for me. They sure don't make directors like that anymore. You were lucky to have known him.

bleeding espresso said...

I loved Sydney Pollack. He will be sorely missed :(

Anonymous said...

tracey k/Ohio: when I saw this on good morning america this a.m., you were the 1st person that popped into my head as I figured you probably had some type of contact w/him in your hollywood days. He was an outstanding talent & will be sorely missed.

glamah16 said...

I dont know much about Hollywood and the poilitics of it all, but I have always admired Mr. Pollack on and behind the screens work. Hollywood just doesnt seem to nurture true talent anymore. Hopefully the cycle will end and ther will be a new golden era in film.

Romerican said...

They just don't make 'em liked they used to.... =(

Texas Espresso said...

I too was sad when I read the news last night. I didn't know he had cancer =( Its wonderful that you have fond, personal memories of him - not only did I like his movies, he always seemed like a really good man to me. very sad =(

J.Doe said...

I love the line 'people don't want to pay money to see other people living next to chemical waste-they can go to New Jersey for that.' Hahaha (I'm from NJ)
He was a great talent and will be missed.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

He was one of my favorites. I was in shock and sorrow this morning.

I can easily see his being a wonderful guide to younger generations.

Such talent, too.

Clooney had a nice quote about him:

"He made the world a little better, he certainly made movies a lot better, and he even made dinner better." It was something like that...

staceywalkerking said...

A-LO! I know it's been a minute but I had to write about this. The depth of my sadness about Mr. Pollack's passing really surprised me this morning. (As you know, I'm a "bystander" in the industry; I have no formal place in it and most times I just stand around, withholding my withering judgment about all the wackiness.) I love all the classic movies he directed/starred in, and I was always amazed at how often he popped up in more recent flicks that I really loved. Definitely going to miss seeing him.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

linda - Three Days of the Condor is one of my favorite movies.

bleeding espresso - :(

tracey k - He was also so kind to his staff. People worked there for ages. That is very rare in Hollywood.

glamah16 - everything is so instant gratification these days. No one seems to have the patience to nurture talent. Movie are so expensive, it's harder to take risks.

romerican - I agree.

texas - he was. Very well rounded, gracious person.

j. doe - I cracked up too. I lived in Jersey (not near any chemical waste however). :)

jen - I like that quote.

swk - I know what you mean. It's not like I'm friends with the man but I was so upset when I heard the news. I loved seeing him act. Remember "Husbands and Wives"? Someone said he played pricks so well. ha.

You know there are many people in the biz who seems to have a great public face. Then you meet them or people who have to work for them and they are the biggest jerks, idiots or just crazy. He was really all the great things people are saying about him. He was a rare individual in a business that tends to attract or bring out the worst in people.

Alyson said...

I only watched "Michael Clayton" last week. What a great film! A good ending for a great film maker.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

alyson - I enjoyed that film as well.