It actually would hurt me, John Wilson my beloved, if you ever believed I think of you the way MacFarlane thinks of you—as more or less part of the gig rather than as a person. Something I’d like to throttle him for but’ll probably go on watching (the pre-2013) Family Guy anyway. Nothing personal against your chum.
No, I lie, it’s personal.
About ten, no, eleven years ago the best friend of the son of my (now ex-) friend died unexpectedly in New York, and it was a shock to everyone. My own son, who was the same age, was a big, big fan of his—more than a fan, in fact, he practically worshipped this young actor—and was in tears that day. I texted my friend and we shared our shock and grief. Daniel Day-Lewis stopped an interview, sobbing, “I didn’t know him, I have a strong impression I would have liked him very much…and so looked forward to the work he would do in the future.” I’d so like to have witnessed this young man’s progress on screen and stage through the years myself. He was the new Brando—better than Brando, in fact, as he not only acted and directed but wrote as well. And he wasn’t even thirty. He was handsome and vigorous, he had a beautiful speaking voice. He was the most committed actor I’d seen on screen since De Niro in Mean Streets.
So there he was dead in NY. On the streets of Beverly Hills, some roving celebrity reporter from one of the gossip shows was out and about getting sound bits for his show, and came across Rob Lowe and MacFarlane. After some genial exchange of bullshit the rover blurted, Did you hear the news from New York? and without a pause went right into giving them the news. Lowe dropped his mask in a second, truly stunned. MacFarlane drawled almost offhandedly, “We-ell, this is disconcerting…” And at that moment I started to genuinely hate the little creep. That joke song he tried to pull off several years later at the 2013 Oscars, “We Saw Your Boobs”, didn’t help his case either. MacFarlane’s a great dealmaker and Stewie is an outrageous creation…but that just isn’t enough for my scorecard.
Anyway, I’m less ironical and more earnest than one would assume at first. And I tend to take things like that hard. Not exactly an asset in this town.
On another note:
Silk Stockings was the last movie my old boss Mamoulian, aka The Old Man, ever did (at 60—he died at 90), and “Stereophonic Sound” is one of the numbers on John Wilson + Orchestra’s 2014 Cole Porter album. But watch the clip instead. Janis Paige is the focus in this number but Fred Astaire at 58 is still a joy.