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The Second Lives Club

In an industry famous for bowing to youth, how have these guys hung in there for decades?

November 24, 1996|Glenn Lovell | Glenn Lovell is a Bay Area writer who specializes in film

Sidney Lumet, still going strong at 72, steals a catnap when cast and crew break for lunch. "In the Army," he says, "I learned how to conk out wherever I was."

Alan J. Pakula, 68 and now fine-tuning "The Devil's Own," with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, is careful not to repeat himself. "I start each film as if it's the first," he explains. "Otherwise, you become a pallid imitation of yourself."

James Ivory, also 68, learned long ago to forestall confrontations. His advice: "Never show an actor a rough cut--no matter what."

Arthur Hiller, 72, lights out for the Big Apple. "The people, the traffic--all those problems--keep me on my toes," says Hiller, whose career spans "Love Story" and the now-in-production "An Alan Smithee Film," with Sylvester Stallone and Whoopi Goldberg.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Sunday December 1, 1996 Home Edition Calendar Page 95 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
Emmy miscount--The number of Emmys won by director John Frankenheimer was reported incorrectly in last Sunday's Calendar. He has won three times.

Norman Jewison, who celebrated his 70th birthday with the release of his 22nd film ("Bogus"), keeps plenty of Chap Stick on hand for those marathon kissing sequences.

Tricks of the trade? Egocentric quirks? A Hollywood paradox that has more to do with luck, good genes and keeping an accountant's eye on the bottom line? All of the above, answers Lumet. "Who cares--as long as the films keep coming?" grumbles the ever-contrary Robert Altman, who, at 71, has half a dozen projects going and is mapping out "my next decade of mogulism."

However you want to lump such stratagems, they help Hollywood directors of a certain age conserve energy and stay in the game well past what the rest of us consider retirement age.

"We are all living longer, which means we get to yell 'Action!' and 'Cut!' longer," says Paul Mazursky, who, after directing "Faithful" with Cher, acting in "2 Days in the Valley" and undergoing a triple bypass, is planning his first HBO movie (on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) and a sequel to "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Mazursky, best known for the Oscar-nominated "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "An Unmarried Woman," describes himself as "still sharp" at 66.

"I've got more stuff going on today--more projects, more travel, more balls in the air--than I ever did before," brags Altman, who, besides prepping his next feature, is juggling an anthology series for ABC ("Gun") and producer chores on the Alan Rudolph-Nick Nolte picture "Afterglow."

When young assistants urge the boss to take time off, Altman snaps, "What'll I do?"

Pakula ("All the President's Men") and Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon") also keep schedules that would break men half their age. Besides "The Devil's Own" (due in March), Pakula is adapting the nonfiction bestseller "No Ordinary Time," collaborating with cartoonist Garry Trudeau on a black comedy, producing two films and writing his first novel. Lumet has "Night Falls on Manhattan" with Andy Garcia opening Dec. 20 and is now shooting the low-budget black comedy "Critical Care," with James Spader and Albert Brooks.

Pakula and Lumet, both dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, credit the insane pace with keeping them in the game. "It sure keeps you glad to get up in the mornings," Pakula says.

In an apparent contradiction for an industry said to be run by and for people under 30, trade-paper production charts are crammed with the names of filmmakers finding their third and fourth winds. How do they do it? By staying healthy, keeping focused and seldom going over budget. What they lack in energy, they more than make up for in common sense and people skills--what Jewison calls "wisdom and observation."

Along with those mentioned above, the list includes: Woody Allen, who, at 60, is awaiting the release of "Everyone Says I Love You" and shooting the comedy "Deconstructing Harry" with Demi Moore and Robin Williams; John Frankenheimer, who, at 66, just won his first Emmy for TNT's "Andersonville" and directed a deliriously mannered Marlon Brando in "The Island of Dr. Moreau"; and Milos Forman, who, at 64, is back with "The People vs. Larry Flynt," due out Dec. 27, starring Woody Harrelson.

Costa-Gavras, 63, is in Northern California shooting "Mad City" with John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman; and Clint Eastwood, 66, is out scouting Savannah locations for "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." The reclusive Stanley Kubrick, 68, also is back at work--on his 13th feature, "Eyes Wide Shut," with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Mike Nichols (64) and John Schlesinger (70) seem more active now than in their '60s heydays; and Garry Marshall (61), Mel Brooks (70) and Carl Reiner (73) are still plying their distinctive brands of lunacy. (Where are women and minority directors? They weren't allowed entry when this old boys' club opened in the early '60s.)

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