Larry Vaughn with Mentora Vaughn Gratrix

Archive for the ‘Directors’ Category

“At Least You Could Have Put Some Clothes On”- Meeting Frank Yablans

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Photo: Frank Yablans (right) on the set of The Fury with director Brian de Palma.

“In her memoir, Joan Didion said this about grief,
‘A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.'”
—Meryl Streep

This year at the Oscars, Meryl Streep honored those who passed away: “As we reflect tonight on the loss of so many talented people this year, it’s hard not to feel that emptiness because in the time they had they filled our lives with so much. Whatever role they played in moviemaking, the films that they were a part of made us laugh, and think, and cry, and consider life with fresh eyes: they tickled us, raised our spirits when we needed it, challenged our minds, and shocked our complacencies. Through their work, they shared a piece of their soul, and so we will miss them with the same sadness as we miss an old friend. But their work will stand and will remind us how lucky we were to have them with us for a while. There will never be anyone like them, each and every one.”

So many names honored that evening brought back fond memories. However, when I saw Frank Yablans, I smiled as I recalled my first meeting with him. . .

We planned a trip to California to introduce the studios to Ideas, Inc. Everyone seemed impressed with our work, but expressed concern about how their marketing departments would fit in with a so-called “joint marketing venture.” That had been my greatest concern all along.
On that trip I learned, once again, that one should never underestimate Heyward Morgan. One evening we were down at the hotel lounge around midnight. I was worn out from a long day of tooting my own horn to the Hollywood elite. I told Mr. Morgan, “I’ve had it. I’m going to bed.” He said good night and that he would be up later.
I went to my room, got in bed, and was half asleep when Mr. Morgan started banging on the door. “Larry, Larry, you in there?” In undershorts and T-shirt I stumbled to the door. I opened the door to find him standing there with another man. They walked into my room.
Mr. Morgan said, “Larry, do you know who this is?”
I looked at the man, extended my hand, and said, “No, sir.”
The man introduced himself. “Hello, Larry, I am Frank Yablans.”
I said, “Mr. Yablans, would you excuse me while I put some clothes on? I had just turned in for the night.”
Mr. Morgan spoke up. “Phooey with clothes, Larry, I told Frank all about your work. Where is your briefcase?”
Frank Yablans was not only one of the most respected producers in Hollywood, he was one of the most respected producers in the entire world. His movies were household names around the world. Besides being a celebrated producer and director, he was currently the President of Paramount Pictures. And there I was, undressed, hair messed up, sitting on the side of my wrinkled bed telling Frank Yablans how great I was.
He listened, asked questions, and made several positive comments about my campaigns. Then he said, “Fellows, I’m sold! Your work is very good, but you have to sell my marketing guys. Here, write this name and number down. Call Jackson’s secretary tomorrow and make an appointment to see him. Be sure to tell her I told you to call.”
We chatted a few more minutes before Mr. Yablans said good night and left the room. After Mr. Yablans had gone, I looked at Mr. Morgan and said, “Boss, if you ever pull a stunt like that on me again, I’ll shoot you!”
He laughed and said, “At least you could have put some clothes on.”
I slammed the door as he whisked out of the room. Needless to say, I was so wound up from the last hour’s events that I slept very little that night.
(Excerpt from Hollywood’s Chosen, available on Amazon)

Honestly, this story always reminds me of what a remarkable man I worked for—Heyward Morgan. Most movie stars of that day would have had a hard time getting Frank Yablans to visit their hotel room. That unexpected meeting showed me that Frank Yablans and I had something in common: we both had a hard time saying no to Heyward Morgan.

Happy 65th Birthday—Mom’s Clint Eastwood story!

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They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.
– Clint Eastwood

Yesterday, August 20th, was my mom’s 65th birthday! My mom is one of the most giving and loving people I know: she is my mentor, my inspiration, and my friend. In honor of her special day, here’s one of my favorite stories: the evening she met Clint Eastwood at a VIP party.

Excerpts from Hollywood’s Chosen:

While talking with Mr. DeVito, I looked across the room and saw Doneata standing beside Clint Eastwood. From his demeanor, it was obvious Mr. Eastwood was enjoying his conversation with Doneata. I couldn’t help but notice his body language as he leaned in and whispered something in her ear. Doneata looked surprised as she turned and glanced up at him. She said something to him and then pointed toward me. He looked at me and nodded his head, as though he were agreeing with her.

I thought to myself, “I wonder what they are talking about? I’d best mosey on over to them and find out.” It took me a minute to get there, but I finally made my way over.

Clint Eastwood extended his hand and said, “Hello, Larry Vaughn. Doneata and I have been talking about you. She tells me that you have been faithful in playing all my films.”

“Mr. Eastwood, I believe that to be correct. I have done a lot of business with Warner Brothers down through the years, and I don’t think I’ve missed playing many of your films.”

After a most enjoyable conversation, Doneata and I stepped aside to let some other folks have a chance to speak with Mr. Eastwood. At this point, I simply had to find out what Doneata and Clint Eastwood had been talking about. I began, “What did Clint Eastwood whisper in your ear earlier?”

Doneata put her hands on her sides and gave me a very serious look. “Larry Vaughn, do you know what he asked me?”

“No, what?”

“He wanted to know what I was doing later this evening!”

My mouth dropped, and I stammered, “You’re kidding?”

“No, I’m not!”

“And what did you say?”

“I pointed toward you and said, ‘I’ll be with my husband—that tall man right over there.’ That’s when I had the opportunity to tell him that you were the buyer for Wometco.”

“Then what did he say?”

“He said, ‘Have I met him?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’ll call Larry over.’”

At this point, I thought to myself, “Humph! Clint Eastwood’s trying to come on to my wife.”

The most interesting event came later in the evening when Clint saw Doneata for the second time—he put his words into action, Hollywood style! Read the rest of this unbelievable story in Hollywood’s Chosen, available September 5th at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Movie Trivia:

In the early sixties, Clint Eastwood had played the cowboy Rowdy Yates on the TV series Rawhide. From there, the Italian director Sergio Leone had asked Eastwood to be in a low-budget, Italian “spaghetti” western (as they were called by their critics). When Sergio Leone cast the young American actor to play the lead role in the film, little did he know that decision would launch Eastwood’s career. The Dollars trilogy made Clint Eastwood a household name and, well, the rest is history! Clint Eastwood went off to Italy as a young TV actor, but he returned to America as a full-blown Hollywood star.

This Man Makes Hollywood a Better Place…

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If I had to choose between a great acting job and a good directing job, I’d choose the directing job.
Ron Howard

Ron Howard—better known as Opie or Richard J. Cunningham—was a household name growing up, as my brother’s and I loved watching the classic TV shows Andy Griffith and Happy Days. Years ago my dad came home from a business trip and mentioned (rather nonchalantly) that he had met several actors while in L.A. My dad said that out of all the actors he met on  his trip, he really enjoyed talking to Ron Howard, as he was very humble and gracious—which is rare in Hollywood.

While Ron Howard is often remembered as an adorable redheaded actor, he made his claim to fame as a gifted director and  producer. He directed his first movie Grand Theft Auto in 1977 at the age of twenty-three. During his successful career, he directed box office hits such as Cocoon, Apollo 13, Grinch Stole Christmas, Ransom, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons. In 2001, Ron Howard received an Academy Award for Best Director for the biographical drama film, A Beautiful Mind.

Soon after having my two daughters, a cute little monkey became a star in our home. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that Ron Howard was one of the producers of Curious George. In my opinion, Curious George is one of the best children’s shows on television. Very few children’s shows cause me to stop what I’m doing and watch the show—but Curious George gets me every time!

Ron Howard recently celebrated his 39th wedding anniversary. He married his high school sweetheart. I loved seeing the beautiful pictures he shared on Twitter @RealRonHoward of his wife, Cheryl, on their anniversary trip to Africa.

So whether he prefers being an actor, producer, or director, I really don’t care. . . .He’ll always be Opie to me!

To read more about Larry’s trip to L.A. and the actors he met, pick up a copy of Hollywood’s Chosen, available September 5th.

Movie Trivia:
Who is the godfather of Bryce Dallas Howard, Ronnie’s firstborn daughter?

The American Film Institute’s 100 most inspiring movies of all time has two films Ronnie directed. Do you know which ones they are?

How much did Forbes Magazine estimate Ronnie earned in 2007?

Answers: Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz; Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind; $35,000,000