Mary Tyler Moore
This is not going to be a typical post for me. Not that I expect anyone to read this, though I never really write anything expecting anyone to read it. This is not a movie review. This is not a tribute to Mary Tyler Moore. This is just a document of what happened.
Recently I went to see Close Encounters Of The Third Kind at The Metrograph in NYC. I went because I have only seen the movie once, my girlfriend had never seen it, and one of the actors from the movie, Bob Balaban, was going to be there to do a Q&A after.
During the Q&A he mentions that Ken Russell's widow was in the audience. For those of you that don't know, Ken was a British director who directed many things, including commercials, TV shows, music videos, and some AMAZING movies, which include The Devils, Crimes Of Passion, Women In Love and many others. He is best know for the movie adaptation of The Who's rock opera Tommy.
After the movie I go over to take a few pics of Bob Balaban and ask for an autograph. He is a nice, pleasant, friendly guy, as are most of the celebrities I meet. I tend to say snap a few pics while they are talking to others, say hi, ask for an autograph and get the hell out of the way, especially if others are waiting to meet someone.
After I do all that as I am leaving, I see a few of my friends talking to Lisi, who is Ken Russell's widow. I stand there for a moment, enjoying the conversation they are having about Ken Russell, as he is one of the directors whose work I very much appreciate and admire. Somehow, after a couple minutes, I am drawn into the conversation as well, and we are talking about one of my favorite movies of Ken's, Crimes Of Passion.
A bit about Lisi. There is no way to describe her without sounding like I am kissing her ass, but this is not some piece I am getting paid to write, and like I said, I expect few to read this. She is an extraordinary person. She has a shine to her that draws people to her like the sun. She is friendly, personable, approachable, smart, sexy, and all around just a good person. The way she speaks about Ken is amazing, you can tell she truly loved him, no matter what, and that they were meant to be together. She talks about his work, his personality, his being, with such honesty and love it is pretty amazing to watch. She was an absolute joy to meet.
Just to make a point, I have met many a famous person and I am not easy to impress. I've probably met well over 1000 movie stars, actors, musicians, and other random famous people. I have only been star struck once or twice, the most being when I met Johnny Cash, but that's another story. I just wanted to point out that before this night I didn't even know who this person was, and she impressed me as a human being, not as a star.
So while we are talking, up walks a friend of mine who obviously knows her well. They hug and scream and he starts talking to her about me and some of the other people who are standing around, who happen to be the same motley crew of movie freaks I see at many of the same movies I go to. I am one of these freaks as well, so I mean that as a compliment. He then mentions that he lived with her and Ken for 6 weeks may years ago, which was a surprise to me!
At this point I realize I have left my girlfriend outside of the theater for an extended period, so I text her quick to let her know where I am and who I am with, so she comes over as well. The talk among all of us turns to The Devils, a movie I have only seen once but really loved and was impressed by. It stars Oliver Reed, who I have been getting more and more into, and it is a pretty fucked up movie, and a true story to boot. As we are leaving Lisi asks us if we are coming to see The Devils. We ask where and when, and although it is at a theater about 40 minutes away, we immediately agree.
A few days later we are in the car traveling up to the Yonkers, NY location of Alamo Drafthouse. We walk in and are standing around chatting with some people I know, and I look up and a few feet away is Randy Jones, better known as the cowboy in The Village People. Yes, YMCA, Macho Man, In The Navy, all those songs. I am wondering what the hell he is doing there, and I try (and fail) at taking some decent quality discreet pics.
We sit down to watch the movie and we are treated to a beautiful 35mm print of The Devils. After it is done Lisi goes up to do a Q&A, joined by of all people Randy Jones! She says he is one of her oldest friends, which is just such a funny, thinking of her being friends with one of The Village People. I can't help but to think of her in that moment as a real life Valerie Perrine in Can't Stop The Music.
The Q&A is amazing, they talk about all kinds of fun things, including the struggles with the movie, the company that released it, Oliver Reed, and all sorts of other Ken Russell information. After the movie we go up to say goodnight to Lisi, and tell her what a great time we had. We go to the lobby and Randy Jones is there taking pics with fans, which meant I actually got to take a couple decent shots of him. I run to the bathroom and when I come out I find my girlfriend chatting with Randy. I stop and tell him we got to see Can't Stop The Music recently and how it is such a fun film, and the most gay film ever made where none of the characters are confirmed as gay. We also talk about the person who directed it, Nancy Walker, the 4'11" actress and director who played Rhoda's mother in the Mary Tyler Moore show and Rhoda. Is this the connection to Mary Tyler Moore? Nope, not really, in fact I just realized this was an additional connection.
As I am leaving, I find out that the people Randy Jones were taking pics with were also actors. The guy, who I did not get a pic of, was the oldest brother in E.T. The girl, whose pic I will include, was in Bad Lieutenant, which is a Harvey Keitel film. So all in all a weird and wonderful night.
Now, if you have suffered through this overly long post I will tell you what any of this has to do with Mary Tyler Moore. Right at the end of the Q&A, Lisi asks Randy if he will sing a song. She suggests YMCA, but he laughs and instead does the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show. She sings along with him, and it is very sweet. It is sad that less than a month later Mary Tyler Moore dies, but she lived a long and productive life and touched the hearts of many.
Enjoy the pics and video below!