Author Archives: Cameron

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Sep 21, 2018

Leon Russell: 1942 – 2016

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The Master of Space and Time

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Nov 13, 2016

The Last Load-Out

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Thanks to Showtime and J.J. Abrams for the opportunity to make the one and only season of “Roadies.” My mind is still spinning from the giddy highs of working with this epic cast and crew. Though we could tell a thousand more stories, this run ends with a complete ten-hour tale of music and love. Like a song that slips under your skin, or a lyric that keeps speaking to you, we hope the spell of “Roadies” lingers. It was life-changing experience for all of us.

So much appreciation goes out to the sensational actors and crew who lived and breathed these stories and characters with their whole hearts. We became a family, our own music-loving troupe. Thanks also to the musicians who lived so comfortably in the world of acting. And thanks to all at Bad Robot, and Winnie Holzman, great collaborators all. Big thanks to our fans for watching and cheering us on. We’ll see you soon with a new project… and many of the same actors, I’m sure. Here’s a little glimpse of the last night of filming. This is what every day felt like.

Love,

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Special Thanks to our directors and magic-makers like (get ready for some names!)… Irving Azoff, David Nevins, Robin Gurney, Gary Levine, Gail Levin, Thomas Yatzko, Kathy Lingg, “Mighty” Clay Griffith, Kelly Curtis, Ben “Socks” Stephenson, Peter Roth, Joel Schwartz, Tom Schnaidt, Mike DeGrazzio, Tamara Isaac, David Bilow, Elliott Eisman, Neal Preston, Jon Kasdan, Sam Jones, Allison Liddi-Brown,  Jeffrey Reiner, Julie Anne Robinson, Gavin “Hai” Kleintop, Janell Sammelman, Greg Mariotti, Andy Fischer, Cara McKeown, Joel Sinensky, Nicola Marsh, David Spade(!), Rainn Wilson, Marc Maron, Peter Schindler, Len Goldstein, Katie McGrath, Tom “100%” Mackay, Michele Anthony, Eric “We Gave Up European Dates with Neil Young!” Johnson, and of course huge thanks to the real bright-light Roadie who loaned us her name and her indominable spirit – Kellianne Murphy.

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Sep 16, 2016

David Bowie: Self Portrait ’76

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“Self Portrait ’76” — a treasured keepsake from David Bowie as he worked on Station To Station.

To a young journalist in the mid-70s, David Bowie was the ungettable interview.  He did not speak to the press.  Still, through some cajoling from Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, both of whom I’d previously profiled, David Bowie called me from a cross-country train trip.  “I’ve left my manager,” he said, “I’m traveling to LA.  I’ll call you when I arrive and we can do an interview.”   I followed him, with tape rolling, for 6 months as he transitioned from Young Americans to his next phase, The Thin White Duke/Station to Station period.  It was somewhat of a primal scream phase for him.  Careening through the Los Angeles underground, from studios to home galleries, he afforded me a front-row seat.  “Let me show you how I write a song now,” he told me one day, and then carefully demonstrated the cut-out method he’d adopted for that period.  He was on his knees on his floor, moving clipped single pieces of papers containing lines he’d just written.  Like a 3 card-monty street-corner magician, he shuffled together the words of a new song until it made just enough sense… and no more.  The rest would be left to the listener.

Bowie was the most generous and entertaining interview subject I’d ever met.  Nothing was off-limits.  When he asked to meet you, it was rarely casual.  You would be ushered into the room where he was waiting, and the artist would be perfectly positioned, his head cocked at the perfect angle to catch the light.  It was not an affectation.  He naturally staged himself, only to break out of such an iconic pose with a crackling smile and jaunty warmth.  He loved Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s “What’s the Worst Job You’ve Ever Had” routine, and knew it by heart, the same way he cherished a bootleg copy of the Jeff Beck Group at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom… Bowie’s creative process was both ferocious and meticulous, his love of music ran from Kraftwerk to The Spinners to hard jazz and classical, to a young fan, a songwriter who’d just finished his first album when he made a pilgrimage to Philadelphia just to meet him – Bruce Springsteen.  We saw each other a number of times since, and he always made a reference to those wild years in LA.  I was always tugging on his sleeve to act in something I’d written, too.  A hugely underrated presence in film, I’d even been crafting a part for him as recently as this weekend.

In our last conversation, I read him back some of his quotes from the “wild years in LA”  period.  Looking back was not his game, but he listened patiently.  Some of the quotes were spectacularly profound, but Bowie took no ownership. “It really represents the morbid and misdirected enthusiasm of a young man with too much time on his hands and too many grams of PCP, amphetamine or cocaine or maybe all three in my system, really.”  He explained he was happy he left Los Angeles, went to Germany for his next phase, and slowly saved his own life.  “That whole time is a blur topped with chronic anxiety… I could have easily died.”   He once doodled the accompanying drawing on a paper while I interviewed him.  He left the paper behind and I asked him to sign it.  “It’s a self-portrait,” he said, and applied his signature.  Over the years I’ve come to interpret the drawing as a tiny cry for help… a cry he answered himself with the subsequent trip to Berlin and an entire lifestyle change.  Bowie turned that dark period on it’s head, and went on to supply many more generations of fans with music and art and soul and inspiration.  He careened beautifully into the future… where he will always be.

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Jan 11, 2016

A Comment on Allison Ng

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From the very beginning of its appearance in the Sony Hack, “Aloha” has felt like a misunderstood movie. One that people felt they knew a lot about, but in fact they knew very little. It was a small movie, made by passionate actors who wanted to join me in making a film about Hawaii, and the lives of these characters who live and work in and around the island of Oahu.

Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng. I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice. As far back as 2007, Captain Allison Ng was written to be a super-proud ¼ Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one.  A half-Chinese father was meant to show the surprising mix of cultures often prevalent in Hawaii.  Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets. The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that.

Whether that story point felt hurtful or humorous has been, of course, the topic of much discussion. However I am so proud that in the same movie, we employed many Asian-American, Native-Hawaiian and Pacific-Islanders, both before and behind the camera… including Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, and his village, and many other locals who worked closely in our crew and with our script to help ensure authenticity.

We were extremely proud to present the island, the locals and the film community with many jobs for over four months. Emma Stone was chief among those who did tireless research, and if any part of her fine characterization has caused consternation and controversy, I am the one to blame.

I am grateful for the dialogue. And from the many voices, loud and small, I have learned something very inspiring. So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation, and I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.

Thanks again

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Jun 2, 2015

Say Anything… Turns 25!

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Going through boxes recently, we found the very first draft of “Say Anything….”  It began as a story about a golden girl, Diane Court, who also worked in her father’s nursing home, helping the residents through their “Golden Years.”  Over time, and many more drafts, the story also became about the lovelorn kick-boxing suitor — Lloyd Dobler — who identified himself and his mission in the very first scene.  Lloyd was so much fun to write as a character, and the collaboration to come with actor John Cusack remains a crackling reminder of what happens when the right people come together.

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Apr 14, 2014

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My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs.  A call to arms.  In Phil’s hands it became something different.  A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late.  It became the soul of the movie.  In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one.  He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself.  (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick.  He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met.  Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.

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Feb 3, 2014

Gilcrest & Ng – Day 22 – Kalaeloa Hangar, Barbers Point, HI

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Nov 7, 2013

David Crosby: Remember My Name Coming Soon!


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