Meeting Richard Dreyfuss. My lanyard reads “Celebrity” but we know the truth.
I’ve been attending fan conventions since I was 16-years-old. In those 40 years I’ve had the chance to meet so many of my favorite celebrities, from the cast of the original “Star Trek” series to such esteemed filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, John Avildsen, Ron Howard and Brian DePalma. This past weekend I had the experience of seeing a convention from “the other side of the table” when I was a celebrity guest of the Hollywood Show in Los Angeles.
Being a guest at a show like the Hollywood Show is a surreal moment. Instead of standing in line and talking to people about who you are going to meet (favorite roles, etc) there are people standing in line to talk to YOU. The show was very “Jaws”-centric, which means had I lived in LA I would have been the first one in line. Among the guests from my favorite film were Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb, Roy Arbogast, Ted Grossman and the show’s headliner, Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss. As the co-author of the definitive book on “Jaws 2,” I was placed in the same row as a group of “Amity Kids” from the film: Donna Wilkes, Gigi Vorgan, Tom Dunlop, Ben Marley, Billy Van Zandt and Martha Swatek. Both Ann Dusenberry and Gary Springer were hoping to attend but cancelled, Gary having to work and Ann’s father, Bruce, having sadly passed away recently. Another “Jaws” highlight was the amazing sculpture of Robert Shaw as Quint in the fighting chair, which was created by Nick Marra. Mr. Marra also created the amazing sculpture of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss at the back of the ORCA that was featured at the 2012 JAWSFest.Nick Marra’s amazing Quint sculpture.
But if you weren’t a “Jaws” fan there was someone there for everyone. Fans of classic television had the opportunity to meet Wally and the Beaver (Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), Barney Miller and Stan Wojciehowicz (Hal Linden and Max Gail) as well as several “Star Trek” stars, including Nichelle Nichols, Fred Williamson and Mariette Hartley. Besides Richard Dreyfuss, film fans got to spend time with such stars as Bruce Dern and Paul Sorvino. Current television was also represented, with many soap opera stars attending on Saturday. I was pleased to find that sitting directly behind me was the cast of “Mike and Molly,” with Billy Gardell’s back often ending up in the photos taken of me.
Not only were the celebrity guests friendly and generous with their time, they weren’t charging an arm and a leg. I’ve been to shows where celebrities charge a minimum of $50 just for an autograph. If you want a photo with them, it’s more. The highest priced signature here was Mr. Dreyfuss’, who was charging $40. But with that signature you could take a photo with him and, of course, chat for a few moments. Most of the guests were signing for $25 or less, meaning you had more celebrity opportunities for your dollar.Me and the JAWS 2 kids (l-r): Ben Marley, Tom Dunlop, Martha Swatek, yours truly and Billy Van Zandt.
To me, the best part was when a representative of the show came to my table and escorted me to the “Celebrity Lounge,” where Goody Bags were prepared for the guests. I was taken around the room and offered everything from jewelry to bath salts, from wine glasses to hand painted chocolates. I was amused that a few of the gift representatives told me how much they enjoyed my last project and a couple even asked what I had coming up next. “Another book,” I’d reply. They would write down my name and ask to take a photo of me with their product, which I found to be an incredible boost for me ego. And I can’t help but think that somewhere is an advertisement featuring me holding up a bag of snack crackers reading, “Michael Smith LOVES ‘Rice Crisps'” (and I must admit, I did. Especially the pizza flavored ones). The next Hollywood Show in Los Angeles is coming up in October and it’s early guest list looks like it’s filled by the stars of “Hill Street Blues” and the film “The Warriors.” For information please go HERE.
All an all, the entire weekend was an amazing time for me, both as a fan and as a “celebrity.” I’ll be doing the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Baltimore in September. I hope the people with the Pizza Rice Crisps are there!
Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt and Matthew Modine
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Running time: 1 hr 29 mins
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
If you’ve EVER read any of my work over a short period of time you probably know that my favorite film of all time, bar none, is “Jaws.” A great film with so many different layers that people often look past everything but the shark. So when I see in a television commercial that a film critic has called “47 Meters Down” “…the best shark movie since JAWS,” I have to shake my head. First off, if all “Jaws” is to you is a SHARK movie…you shouldn’t be reviewing films. The shark is only part of the film. That would be like me calling the last “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, “…the best movie about people on a boat since JAWS.” That being said, “47 Meters Down” is not too bad.
We meet Lisa (Moore) and her sister, Kate (Holt) as they arrive in beautiful, sunny Mexico for a planned vacation. While Kate is bubbly and ready for adventure, Lisa is just the opposite. She finally confesses that her boyfriend has left her and she’s unsure how to handle the rejection. Unfazed, Kate convinces Lisa to head out to the clubs, where they meet two young men. Soon the foursome agree to meet up at the local dock to go out in the ocean and observe sharks while protected by a steel cage. Though she has never scuba dived before, Lisa fakes her way past the boat’s captain (Modine) and soon the two find themselves dangling over the side. As they are lowered into the water they find themselves surrounded by a couple of good sized Great White Sharks. Luckily the cable holding the cage has been checked and inspected for quality and strength. Right?
A Nyctophobian Thriller (let’s see them use THAT in an ad…it means “fear of the dark”), “47 Meters Down is blessed with mostly solid performances and very impressive CGI effects that gives the viewer a pretty good idea what it must be like to be 150 feet underwater surrounded by sharks. Big ones, though, sadly, not the 21 to 28 footers that Skipper Modine swears he constantly sees on his adventures. Which is pretty damn good, considering the largest one ever on record has been right along 20 feet long. By comparison, the shark in JAWS was 25 feet long.
The performances are pretty strong, especially from the two actresses. They help build the tension long after the audience should have been bored. One complaint is with New England-born actor Chris Johnson, who plays Modine’s assistant, Javier. Mr. Johnson must have watched a lot of “Chico and the Man” growing up because, like the late, great Freddie Prinze, he pronounces certain words with a hard CH sound, i.e. “Here comes a CHark!”
Shark wise the film is well done. The computer sharks move smoothly and there is no “super-shark” that shows up like in last summer’s disappointing “The Shallows.” Credit director Roberts for keeping the action going, making up for an almost disappointing ending.
This past Friday, the first official teaser image and title of the upcoming book detailing the making of the 1978 film “Jaws 2” was released.
“Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel” will not only be an in depth look at the making of one of the first successful sequels in Hollywood history but will also examine the effects that sequels have had on the industry.
The book will be written by Louis R. Pisano and Michael A. Smith, two long time “Jaws” fans who still have vivid memories about the first time they saw “Jaws 2.” Pisano is the producer/director of a successful series of “JawsFEST” themed fan films which have been recognized internationally. Smith is a long time film critic and co-founder of the popular entertainment web site Media Mikes.com.
After three years of extensive research the pair have managed to speak with almost every living major contributor to the film, among them directors John Hancock and Jeannot Szwarc, screenwriters Dorothy Tristan and Carl Gottlieb, Production Designer/Associate Producer Joe Alves, Universal Studios former chairman Sidney Sheinberg and cast members Lorraine Gary, Jeffrey Kramer, Joseph Mascolo and all (17) of the young actors who played what the authors collectively call “the Amity Kids!” The book will also talk to crew members, extras and will even have conversations with several of the young actors who were originally cast in the film then replaced, including a seven-year-old Ricky Schroder.
The book will feature many of the over 300 never-before-seen photos the authors have collected from cast, crew and observers.
The book will be published by Bear Manor Media.
Follow the book’s progress on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jaws2book
Long time readers of MediaMikes.com know that the Mike’s love the movie “Jaws.” So when an opportunity came up in Kansas City to host a 35mm presentation of the Steven Spielberg classic, the people at the Alamo Drafthouse knew where to turn.
Mike Smith will host the special “late show” screening of “Jaws” on Saturday, July 5, at the Alamo Drafthouse Kansas City. The show will start at 10:30 p.m. Prior to the screening Smith will have on display some of his extensive collection of “Jaws” memorabilia. MovieMike and Loaf will also be interviewing fans of the film for an upcoming BEHIND THE MIKES Podcast, which is recorded live each week at the Alamo.
For tickets and more information, go to: http://drafthouse.com/movies/the_late_show_jaws/kansas_city
Fourth of July is right around the corner! You know what that means? Time to hit the beaches! Nearly 40 years ago, fans flooded the theaters to be forever scarred by the film “Jaws”. Media Mikes is teaming up with Factory Entertainment and are very excited to giveaway a limited edition Jaws – Bruce Shark Shakem to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite “Jaws” quote. This giveaway will remain open until July 4th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.
“This shark, swallow you whole! This Limited Edition Premium Motion format statue is designed to match the ‘Bruce’ filming models seen on screen using the original construction plans as reference. Crafted from heavyweight polyresin and hand painted the integrated, non-electronic motion feature brings the piece to life and creates the illusion of the shark swimming. Each statue is 7.5” long and comes packaged in a full color presentation box.
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!
With almost six decades in the film business, it would be hard for Joe Alves to pick his favorite project. Alves, an Oscar nominated and BAFTA award winning production designer, is responsible for the look of such classic films as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Escape From New York” and many others. Recently Alves decided to offer to fans the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of some of his story boards from “Jaws” at his new site – www.joealvesmovieart.com
Alves is also offering an exclusive autographed compilation of some of his conceptions for “Close Encounters” as well as a composite of his visions of the ID from “Forbidden Planet,” one of the first Hollywood features Mr. Alves worked on.
With this year marking the 35th Anniversary of “Close Encounters” please take a moment to revisit my interview with Mr. Alves in which he discusses his amazing career.
Mr. Alves has graciously provided Media Mikes readers a chance to win an autographed “Jaws” illustration of their choice. All you have to do is let us know your favorite scene from “Jaws.” One random winner will be picked from all comments and that winner will be notified by email. Contest ends at Midnight EST on December 16.
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Are you a “Jaws” fan? Are you looking for a great coffee table book? Then look no further “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”, is the ultimate coffee table book. This book is no joke and is guaranteed to satisfy every fan of the film. This 312 page book, takes you into the making of “Jaws”, which was shot on Martha’s Vineyard in Summer/Fall of 1974. This has to be one of the best behind-the-scenes experiences that have been published in book form to date. I was aware of this book coming years before it was released and during its early conceptual stages. Since then it has really expanded well beyond what it was originally suppose to be and this expanded 2nd edition only makes this book even better. Be sure to check the “Thank You” section on the last page to see a few names from the Media Mikes family, as well!
Synopsis: The filming of the blockbuster film Jaws is regarded as a landmark event in both the history of motion pictures and the quaint New England island of Martha’s Vineyard, where the geographic isolation necessitated the hiring of hundreds of locals to work as actors and laborers. Among this virtual army of hometown participants were numerous professional and amateur photographers, each with full access to the production’s inner workings—for the first time ever this compiles their behind-the-scenes photographs and stories into a treasure trove of Jaws rarities. Included are a foreword by director Steven Spielberg, interviews with production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, location casting director Shari Rhodes, and more, providing an unprecedented all-access pass to the creation of some of the most memorable and terrifying scenes in film history. This unique compendium is the first to focus on the production’s local participants, telling their stories at last.
The first edition of this great book was originally released in October of 2011. Titan Books is behind re-releasing this expanded second edition and did a great job (as usual!). I have to say I was skeptical about the expansion but this is actually quite decent consisting of an additional 16 pages of newly uncovered family photos and excerpts from the community that participated in the making of Jaws whether they were extras, stage hands or just watching bystanders. After the initial release for this book, I am surprised that their isn’t more of a push for this edition, especially since there is a bunch of new pages and Universal’s just released ” Jaws” on Blu-ray this summer. As a killer “Jaws” fan myself, I have to say that this is must even if you have the first edition of “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard”. You will not regard your purchase for sure, I mean especially if you have more than one coffee table to fill.
A couple of years ago, on my 50th birthday, one of my best “Jaws” buddies presented me with a photograph from “Jaws 2” autographed by one of the film’s then-teenage stars, Tom Dunlop. Less then a year later I had the great opportunity to meet Mr. Dunlop while on a visit to Martha’s Vineyard, where he lives. In our brief conversation I learned that he had followed his love for writing into adulthood and had written a couple of books related to the Vineyard and was finishing up a third. This summer I visited the island again and picked up his latest book, an in depth and entertaining look at the Chappy Ferry, the barge/boat combination that takes pretty much anything you could imagine the short distance from Edgartown to the small island of Chappaquiddick. While celebrating the release of the book Mr. Dunlop took the time to chat with Media Mikes about acting (he’s Julliard trained), the island he loves and how piloting the Ferry isn’t as easy as it looks.
Mike Smith: You originally began a career as an actor — what made you pursue writing?
Tom Dunlop: In a way, I began doing both at about the same time, but writing actually came first.
As a summer kid on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1970s, I took an interest in the Vineyard Gazette, the weekly paper not far from my home in Edgartown, and when I was fourteen I got my first summer job cleaning up the back shop after printing days. I made five bucks a week! I told Dick and Jody Reston, the publishers, that I liked reading newspapers – the Gazette especially – and wanted to learn how to write for it. They started giving me press releases to re-write and actual stories to cover. I got my first front page by-line in the Gazette when I was fifteen. It was a story about the Edgartown Regatta. Never in my life had I known a thrill like holding a paper with my story on the front page, and my name at the start!
Though I wanted to act very much, I only started performing in plays during my sophomore year in high school, because the schools I went to before that had almost nothing in the way of drama programs. My father was an English teacher at a boarding school in northern Virginia, and every six weeks or so the whole student body would travel by bus into Washington, D.C. to see plays at Arena Stage and what is now known as the Shakespeare Theater. My mom, dad, and I went on these theater trips too, and I fell in love with those great city theaters. Everything I did in school after that – and I was fortunate to go to some very good schools: Taft, Brown, the Juilliard Drama Division – was meant to prepare me to be a member of an acting company like Arena’s.
“JAWS 2” was something of a detour. I just lucked into that part. Though I was at Taft, my home was now Edgartown, and as school was coming to an end that spring, the “JAWS 2” company was looking for a kid who could sail an old-fashioned sailboat called a Herreshoff 12½. My stepfather owned the first H-12½ in the harbor. So I’d had some practice sailing it, and convinced Shari Rhodes (the casting director) and Dorothy Tristan (the screenwriter at that point) that I was the only kid in town who knew the boat well enough to do the job. It wasn’t true, but I was a good enough actor to convince them! As much of an adventure as shooting that movie was, it didn’t dissuade me from wanting to act full time on stage. So that’s what I studied and trained for, and those were the sorts of acting jobs I pursued for about twelve years after graduating from Juilliard in 1988. I loved the theater work when I landed it. But while I was preparing for a life in a repertory company, going from play to play to play within one theater, the theaters themselves were disbanding their companies, hiring actors only on an as-needed bases. Under those circumstances, I never worked as consistently as I wanted or needed to.
So it was a really lucky break that I never lost my love for journalism, because when I decided to close out my acting career in 2000, all sorts of new opportunities were waiting for me on the Vineyard: the managing editorship – and briefly the editorship – of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, feature stories to write for the paper and the magazine – and now, incredibly, books about the most amazing businesses on Martha’s Vineyard!
MS: What was it about the Chappy ferry that made you want to write about it?
TD: I fell for the Chappy ferry when I was four years old. On a stormy June day, my parents took me down to see it, and I remember rounding the corner on Dock Street and seeing this matchbox sized ferry – the original ON TIME – shoveling its way across the harbor entrance, white water spraying over its deck. (NOTE: Fans of the film “Jaws” will recognize the ON TIME as the ferry on which Brody is browbeaten into keeping the beaches open for the Fourth of July) You know how some people fixate on rockets when they first see them? Or muscle cars? Or thrillers about a shark menacing an island off the coast of southern New England? Right there and then, I fixated on the Chappy ferry pretty much like that.
To me, it’s an utterly unique enterprise – more than two hundred years old as a service, yet doing pretty much exactly the same thing it was doing the first time a guy rowed some other guy across the harbor for a penny or two. That sense of a history living on into my own time thrills me completely. I also admire the seamanship of the captains and deckhands, who drive these things at right angles to all the traffic they encounter at one of the narrowest, busiest, and most tide swept places in the whole harbor. You just can’t believe some of the weather they sail through, especially in the winter. Imagine a blizzard. And imagine that ferry sailing through it all day or all night. Because that’s what it does, almost no matter the weather. It takes a huge, truly dangerous storm to stop the ferry from running.
Most of all, though, I wanted to write about it because I knew from a very young age, exploring the files at the Vineyard Gazette and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, that no one had ever told the whole story before. The fact that I’d get to be the very first guy to do that for a ferry I adore simply blew me away. I often say I’m the luckiest writer on Martha’s Vineyard for the stories I’ve gotten to tell. But sometimes I think I’m the luckiest writer anywhere.
MS: This is your third book centered around/on Martha’s Vineyard. What is it about the island that inspires you?
TD: A wonderful question!
Some of it is obvious. If you watch “JAWS,” and if you’ve visited it before, you know that nothing else looks quite like it. Not even Nantucket or Cape Cod, which are both right next door. There’s a powdery quality to the light that softens and deepens everything it touches on the Vineyard, a phenomenon I notice every day. Even when it’s stormy, or brisk and cold, there’s something about the light over the Island that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
I love the history of the Vineyard. Outside of a city like Boston or New York, you’d be very hard to find anyplace else in the continental United States with an older or better-documented history than Martha’s Vineyard. The white men and women who settled this place in 1642 were compulsive record keepers and historians; they wrote down everything — in letters, journals, whaling logs, deeds, wills, club minutes, store ledgers, diaries, weather records, newspapers. You get to see the history of this place from all these parallax views, so that it feels as alive and present-day as any history can possibly be.
Finally the answer comes down to the stories I’ve gotten to tell. If you look at the book I wrote with photographer Alison Shaw about Morning Glory Farm, or the one about the building of the schooner REBECCA at the Gannon and Benjamin wooden-boat building yard in Vineyard Haven, or the new ferry book, you come to the very quick and certain conclusion that there’s no place on earth quite like this one. There’s no other place with a collection of businesses quite like these, which – to the people who run them – amount to causes. These are callings that most people would never feel, let alone dream up, establish, invest in and run with everything they’ve got, unless they realized that they were already fortunate enough to live in the only place on earth that could welcome and support them all.
MS: Have you ever had the opportunity to pilot the Ferry?
TD: Another great question!
Yes. Three or four times with an increasingly cocky belief that nothing could be easier. And then, just once, with such incompetence and fright that I vowed never to try it again. Some years ago, I wrote a feature story about the ferry for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine…in fact, the idea to write a book came from reporting and writing that story in 2007. The editor of the magazine, Nicki Miller, and the art director, Alley Moore, challenged me to try skippering the ferry myself, and we ran that story as a sidebar headlined “How Hard Could It Be?”
The captains were very kind to let me try it. It was winter, so we held off until those crossings when there were no other passengers or cars aboard and no other boats sailing into or out of the harbor. I stood up on the platform at the helm, the console right in front of me, looked left and right, saw no traffic, and pushed the throttle down. The ferry left the Chappy slip smoothly and growled her way reliably across the channel toward Edgartown. The only trick to it, really, is that there is a toggle rather than a steering wheel. You goose it left or right to turn the boat. And though the toggle snaps back to an upright position when you let it go, the rudder below you stays where you angled it. So the ferry keeps turning until you toggle the rudder back to center.
I confess this took a little getting used to. The first time, approaching the Edgartown slip, I noticed the bow swinging off to one side at the last minute, and though I reversed hard, I pretty much T-boned the end of the bulkhead on the right side as you face the ramp. But even though the slip appears to get narrower and narrower as you glide toward it, I began to get a feel for it. As I say, on my third or fourth crossing, I was sure I had the whole thing down. Really… How Hard Could It Be?
Until. . . .
Until one windy night at the end of April of that year, after a storm tore through South Beach at the far end of the harbor, opening it to the Atlantic. It was the first time I tried driving the ferry at night, and the first time I’d attempted to drive it in the ferocious, tsunami-like currents that had begun rolling through the harbor entrance as a result of the second, new opening to the ocean.
The captain let me take her out of the Chappy slip and the second we got into the channel, I felt the tide bang into the hull, almost like we’d hit a wall. Leaving the slip, I had a good sense of what the lights looked like over on the Edgartown side, and thus what to aim for. But as I gunned the engine and looked ahead, I realized that those weren’t the lights I was seeing, because the tide had pushed the bow of the ferry almost 45 degrees to the right, toward the Harbor View Hotel.
Further off to my right, I caught a glimpse of the flashing Edgartown lighthouse – that couldn’t possibly be right! The ferry never pointed in that direction except in “JAWS: THE REVENGE,” and we know how that turned out. I felt a wave of fear rise up – where were we exactly? What was I pointing at? I had millions of dollars of ferryboat beneath my feet. Was I about to hit something? I’d lost my bearings, and in my confusion, I pushed the toggle in the wrong direction. Instead of swinging back in the right direction, we kept turning . To make a very long story short, had you been standing on the upper deck of Memorial Wharf that windy night, looking across to Chappy, what you would have seen was the ferry leaving the Chappy slip, sailing properly toward you for perhaps three seconds, and then veering away toward the lighthouse. And then continuing to turn. Inexplicably, you’d have seen the ferry make a complete circle in the middle of the harbor entrance before finally putting her nose back in the general direction of the Edgartown slip. And finding her way there, against all odds.
I say with the deepest gratitude imaginable that Maddie LeCoq, the captain at the time, took over and put the ferry in the slip for me. Had she not assumed command, the headline would have read something like this: AMITY KID WRECKS CHAPPY FERRY / WELDON BOY “NOT GOOD ENOUGH” RIGHT TO THE VERY END. (NOTE: while some of you are reading this headline and scratching your head, fans of “Jaws 2” are giggling uncontrollably. “Weldon” was Dunlop’s character’s last name in the film).
MS: What are you working on now?
TD: Peter Wells, co-owner of the ferry with his wife Sally Snipes, wants to build a third ferry so that he always has at least two in the water, ready to work at a moment’s notice, all year-round. Peter is a far-sighted, environmentally conscious guy, and it’s his ambition to build and run the third ferry on an electric motor only. This would be a huge development in the world of commercial boating – very few operators have dared to make that leap. If Peter does this, John Wilson, who produced “THE CHAPPY FERRY MOVIE,” a wonderful short film of the ferry that comes with the book on DVD, wants to make a documentary about the building and launching and operation of this new ferry. And I want to help him do it. We think such a film would go a long way to showing how far electric motors have come, and how reliably clean, efficient, and durable they can be, even when put to the test that the ferry would surely give them.
Also, for the Vineyard Gazette, John and I are working on another project, whereby we’re finding old movies of the Vineyard – mostly home movies, but some commercial ones too – and converting them to digital files. We’re going to tell the stories of what these movies show of the old Vineyard, show clips from them on the new Gazette web site, and begin to create an archive so that these irreplaceable films are not lost to neglect or ignorance.
If the above interview has whetted your appetite for the magic of Martha’s Vineyard, Media Mikes recommends the following books written by Tom Dunlp and featuring illustrative photographs by Alison Shaw:
· MORNING GLORY FARM AND THE FAMILY THAT FEEDS AN ISLAND (Vineyard Stories, 2009)
· SCHOONER: BUILDING A WOODEN BOAT ON MARTHA’S VINEYARD (Vineyard Stories, 2010)
· THE CHAPPY FERRY BOOK: BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN TWO WORLDS – 527 FEET APART (VineyardStories, 2012)
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
One of the most influential books ever written about the daily ins and outs of making a movie, Carl Gottlieb’s “The Jaws Log” is a behind the screen account of the creation of one of the most popular, both critically and at the box office, films of all time: Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Jaws.”
A friend of Spielberg, Gottlieb was hired by the director to work on the script of the film during filming. As Gottlieb was also an actor, with appearances in such films as “M*A*S*H” and the Barbra Streisand comedy “Up the Sandbox,” he was also assigned the role of Amity’s newspaper editor Harry Meadows, a role that was quite sizeable in Peter Benchley’s source novel. The book begins with the conception of the film and ends with the successful sneak previews that “Jaws” enjoyed prior to opening on June 20, 1975. As Gottlieb says in his introduction, “This is how I saw it.”
Having sold over 2 million copies since it was first published (and by the stack of copies on my bookshelf I can honestly say I’m a proud part of those 2 million), “The Jaws Log” has influenced whole generations of filmmakers since its release. Among the directors that have sung it’s praises: Rob Reiner, John Landis, Rod Lurie and Bryan Singer. As someone that was on the set daily, Gottlieb is well equipped to recount and share the inside tales that have captivated fans for almost four decades.
As this is “the Expanded Edition,” originally published shortly after the 25th Anniversary of “Jaws” was celebrated in 2000, the book contains an introduction by Peter Benchley and an additional 25 page “Afterward” by Gottlieb updating many of the stories in the book. If you’ve never read “The Jaws Log” before, you are missing one of the best documents EVER published on the creation of a film. If you’ve only read the 1975 original, prepare to take a trip down memory lane while collecting a whole new array of memories to treasure forever.
Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars
As someone that considers “Jaws” his favorite film of all time it would be easy for me to review it like this:
“The greatest film ever made!”
But that would not do justice to why I have loved this movie since the first time I saw it on September 21, 1975.
During a night time beach party a young woman and her beau run off towards the surf. Her intention is to go skinny dipping but his over indulgence leaves him passed out at the water’s edge. While swimming she is suddenly attacked by something and pulled, screaming beneath the waves. Thus begins one of the best stories ever to be brought to the screen. Featuring a trio of heroes, “Jaws” allows the audience to identify with each of them as the film progresses. There is police chief Martin Brody, newly arrived to the town of Amity via the streets of New York City. Oceanographer Matt Hooper, a wealthy wise ass with a love for sharks. And Quint (just Quint), the crusty fisherman whose chosen profession came about in part by a horrible tragedy in his past. Due to the often repeated story that “the shark was not working, director Spielberg had to improvise on the set, shooting the film without the shark visible. This decision makes the tension genuine as the audience is lulled into believing every time it hears the ominous notes of John William’s Oscar winning score that the shark is going to appear. However, after a few false alarms, you’re never sure when or where the shark is or will be. The cast delivers award winning performances, most notably Shaw. His lone soliloquy in describing the harrowing tale of the sinking of his ship during World War II is an acting tour de force. Spielberg’s direction is flawless. By placing his camera at the waterline the audience gets to imagine what it would be like to be in an unfamiliar situation. The film earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won three Oscars (Best Musical Score, Best Film Editing and Best Achievement in Sound).
On the technical side, the transfer of “Jaws” is outstanding. I own a 16mm copy of the film and it isn’t as clean and bright as the picture here. Scenes that may have appeared overcast or murky are now vivid and bright. The audio transfer is equally well done. “Jaws” won an Oscar for its soundtrack and all of the original elements are heightened here. When you look at the 1080p transfer for the film, it is completely amazing. Universal’s complete restoration is one of the best Blu-ray transfers that I have ever seen. The DTS-HD 7.1 surround track is absolutely pristine. It includes sounds incredible and include complete clarity and the film sounds better than it ever has. Besides the Blu-ray disc, this film also includes a DVD copy of the film and a Ultraviolet streaming digital copy.
When it comes to the special features the spotlight of them is the documentary “The Shark Is Still Working”. With an original running time of over three hours, “The Shark is Still Working” is a labor of love created by a quartet of “Jaws” fans. It includes interviews with cast and crew, including the last interviews with the book’s author, Peter Benchley, and co-star Roy Scheider, who also narrates. Edited down to a smooth 100 minutes, the film is a worthy companion to the brilliant Laurent Bouzereau documentary that appeared on the “Jaws” laser disc boxed set. An added plus: both of Media Mikes “Mikes”appear in it, making this disc well worth purchasing. Other new features include The Restoration of “Jaws”, which is a short piece on the restoration of the film. For more on this process, see our interview with the man who directed the restoration, Peter Schade, here. ”The Making of ‘Jaws’” is a very condensed portion of the Bouzereau film. The original documentary ran a minute longer then “Jaws” and it’s a shame Universal didn’t include it here in its entirety. Outtakes including different footage from the estuary attack is included. There is a collection of various deleted scenes, none featuring the shark, most of which were included during the first television showing on ABC in November 1979. There are only a couple of outtakes included, the most recognizable one being where Scheider’s pistol constantly refuses to fire. Other outtakes are included in the various other extras. “From the Set” is a a short but enjoyable visit to the set on the second day of filming. Includes an on-set interview with Steven Spielberg and the original discovery of Ben Gardner’s boat scene, scrapped when Carl Gottlieb, whose character was along for the ride, accidentally fell overboard. “Jaws” Archives is a collection of storyboards and production photos, as well as marketing items and bits on the phenomenon of the film. Lastly there is the theatrical trailer included for the film. There are other trailers, including a great teaser, featured in the full version of the Bouzereau documentary. Overall a great collection of extras but they lose ½ a star for not featuring the entire “Making of ‘Jaws’” doc.
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Media Mikes is happy to be giving away ONE Blu-ray to celebrate 100 years of Universal for “Jaws”. If you would like to enter this great prizes leave us a comment below or send us an email telling us your favorite quote from “Jaws”. The giveaway will be open until Friday, August 24th at Noon Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends Media Mikes will randomly select one of the winners and notify them via email.
Premise: Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your-seat suspense quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon and forever changing the movie industry. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.
Special Features on this fantastic release include:
- Digitally remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35MM original film elements to get the most from your HDTV
- Digital Copy of Jaws (download by 12/31/2013)
- UltraViolet Copy of Jaws (download/redeem by 12/31/2013)
- The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws – All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider
- The Making of Jaws: A feature-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew
- Jaws: The Restoration – An all-new in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie
- Deleted Scenes and Outtakes From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of Jaws, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg Storyboards Production Photos
- Marketing Jaws
- Jaws Phenomenon
- Original Theatrical Trailer
pocket BLU: App for smartphones and tablets – take content on the go! BD-Live: Internet-connected features
- My Scenes: Bookmark your favorite scenes
Richard D. Zanuck, who rose from out of his famous father’s shadow to become one of the most successful film producers in history, died yesterday in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack. He was 77.
Born of Hollywood royalty (his father was legendary studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, his mother actress Virginia Fox), Mr. Zanuck began working for his father, then head of 20th Century Fox, as a producer, finally elevated to President of the studio. It was while at Fox that he met fellow producer David Brown. In 1967, after the failure of such films as “Dr. Doolittle,” Zanuck was fired by his father. In 1972 he teamed up with Brown, forming the Zanuck/Brown company. Their 16 year partnership produced such films as “The Sting,” “The Sugarland Express,” “Jaws,” “The Verdict” and “Cocoon.” In 1989, with his new wife, Lili Fini Zanuck producing alongside him, he produced “Driving Miss Daisy.” The film would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Later films include: “Rules of Engagement,” “Road to Perdition” and six films with director Tim Burton, including this years’ “Dark Shadows.”
In the 1960s Zanuck married actress Linda Harrison. They raised two sons, Harrison and Dean, both now producers in their own right. One of my favorite stories of Mr. Zanuck concerns the production of “Jaws.” He had assured his wife, Linda, that she would play Mrs. Brody in the film. Unbeknownst to Zanuck, the head of Universal Studios, Sid Sheinberg, had promised the role to HIS wife, actress Lorraine Gary. To keep peace in the Universal family, Sheinberg called producer William Frye, who was currently making “Airport ’75.” “Bill,” he said to Frye, “you’ve got another passenger on your airplane!”