Wednesday, November 9, 2011

(today's zomby) PLUS EDDIE MURPHY, JOE PISCOPO, AND MOZART


This is basically a reference to Zombieland. Those who have seen that movie will know why Doodads 'n' Such is making that promise.

And speaking of cultural references...

Not long ago, I read Doug Hill and Jeffrey Weingrad's fascinating 1985 book about the backstage history of Saturday Night Live, and it inspired to me to read another book on that very same topic. I'm currently about halfway through Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller. The Shales/Miller book came out in 2002, about 17 years after the Hill/Weingrad book, and is therefore able to cover about 17 more seasons of SNL history. The first book ends just as producer/creator Lorne Michaels was returning to the show after a five-year absence. Lorne's been running the show ever since, of course. Of the two books, though, I'd say that Backstage History is actually a better, more compelling read than Uncensored History even though the latter covers more ground. The first book takes a tougher, more journalistic approach to the subject matter, while the Shales/Miller book is -- in the author's own words -- a "tribute" to SNL and Lorne Michaels, warts and all. Even so, both books contain a lot of dirt about the venerable late-night show, and in the latter book I found this great quote by SNL writer Bernie Blaustein describing the relationship between Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Piscopo and Murphy were the only two cast members who survived the show's disastrous 1980 season, and they became friends in real life and frequent comedic partners on the show until Eddie Murphy's ascent into superstardom changed their dynamic.
I think it was hard for Joe. It was hard for both of them. I think when Joe saw Eddie eclipsing him tremendously, it was hard. The relationship changes. They're no longer equals. Joe was a really good impressionist. He worked really hard on mannerisms, to get an impression down. And Eddie would then just be able to do that same impression -- boom -- like that.
That quote really struck me, because it reminded me so much of one of my very favorite movies, Milos Forman's 1984 Oscar winner Amadeus, which coincidentally was made right around the time that Eddie Murphy was becoming a Hollywood superstar. Amadeus is probably the best movie ever made about the creative process and professional jealousy. Please, please go read Roger Ebert's 2002 essay about it. (Wow, Ebert's essay came out the same year as that second SNL book. Freaky.) Anyway, I'd like to show you my very favorite scene from Forman's film, one which perfectly captures the relationship between Salieri and Mozart. As Ebert points out, Salieri makes composing look so difficult, while Mozart makes it look like a game:



PLEASE NOTE: I am well aware that Amadeus is mostly fictional. Its truths about the creative process are universal nevertheless. One might say that the movie fictionalizes in the interest of a greater truth.



2 comments:

  1. Hm. I haven't read the book, but my understanding was how it was primarily about Chevy Chase being an asshole. Then I knew that Jay Mohr wrote his own SNL biography about how nobody loved him. DIdn't know about the Murphy/Piscopo reltationship. Tragically interesting.

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  2. The press really seized on the anti-Chevy angle when the book came out, but to me he comes off (at worst) as merely one of MANY monsters on SNL. Both books actually cover the writers, producers, and network people as well as the stars, so there's a huge "cast of characters" to deal with. Chevy's just a piece of the puzzle. For the newer book, Chevy did an extensive interview in which he tries to seem contrite but to me still seems a little pompous.

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