September 9, 2016 ED HELD STUDIO NEWS TAB HUNTER STILL ACTIVE AFTER HIS 1950S TEEN IDOL STATUS
September 1, 2016 was an interesting day for me as Tab Hunter called to discuss his latest Film Release “Tab Hunter Confidential” on Blu-ray.
Edward Held: Hi Tab, it’s an honor talking to a legend. You were a teen idol for so many way back in the 1950s era with your blond, tanned, surfer-boy good looks and the studio system groomed you to be known as “The Sigh Guy.” Tab, you were known as “The All-American Boy Next Door!” And my dear friend Annette Funicello was also known in the ‘50s as “The All-American Girl Next Door,” why didn’t the studios team you up to do a story or recording together?
Tab Hunter: Well Ed, I don’t know, but I sure did remember meeting lovely Annette once in Hollywood.
EH: Following the likes of Richard Chamberlain, you follow with your tell-all 2005 memoir revealing that you were gay, and now it is a fantastic film documentary. You mention that all your life you were shy, so how did you feel exposing and trusting yourself to director Jeffrey Schwarz (“I Am Divine-2013”)?
TH: Jeffrey was a remarkable director, he did a fantastic job getting the info out of me and onto film, I had complete trust in him, he did win two awards and had three other nominations. But it was my partner Allan Glaser who helped with the filming of “Tab Hunter Confidential and suggested I write the book first, because, as Allen said, do it yourself while you are alive, no telling what people would write and fabricate after your death.
EH: I found the Blu-ray edition such a wealth of info about you. You talk about surviving the Hollywood System. What was that like?
TH: After my German mother Gertrude Kelm was abused by my father, she moved to California with my older brother and she renamed us after her maiden name Gellen. I grew up a Catholic and at times was very shy, at age 15 (I lied about my age) and joined the Coast Guard. I was discharged after the age deception was revealed but found solace working at a horseback riding academy. There I met actress Ann Blyth- (“Mildred Pierce”) who was doing a photo shoot on the ranch and that eventually led me to famed Hollywood agent Henry Wilson and I signed on the dotted line to become Tab Hunter.
EH: The road to stardom was rocky at first, you got panned acting alongside Linda Darnell in “Island of Desire (1952).”
TH: Yes, then I was told to take acting lessons and dig into my career with confidence. I miss my mother even today, but way back then, I brought Gertrude to the Premiere of “Island” and she told me the truth, you were really lousy. Taking advice from my mom, I began to take acting seriously and that led to a Hollywood contract with Jack Warner, owner of one of the biggest and most successful studios then, Warner Brothers. It was there, when the old Hollywood System knew how to produce quality films, I gained recognition for my work in the WW II epic “Battle Cry” (1955) and worked with some of the most gifted talent in Hollywood. I worked with Dorothy Malone, Macdonald Carey, Sophia Loren, Gwen Verdon (Warner bought the Broadway play Damn Yankees! In which she was the lead) and the film version released in 1958 became a huge box office success for WB.
EH: I see in the documentary you were a big recording star for Dot Records when you recorded the hit “Young Love” (1957- knocking Elvis off the charts) among other top 40 hits but Jack told you he owned you lock, stock and barrel. Stop recording for Dot.
TH: Yes, but I also told Mr. Warner he didn’t have a record label and he started WB Records just for me as the first signee!
EH: Tab, you should ask your partner Allan to get you inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. You created a recording label for WB just as Annette Funicello did for Walt Disney. Annette, alone was the first recording star for Buena Vista Records and her 10 Top Hits not only saved the studio’s Music Business, but also saved Disneyland. The MS Institute is working on honoring Annette into the R n’ R Hall of Fame on her upcoming birthday this October 22nd.
TH: Ed, I didn’t know that, thanks for that info.
EH: Then as the tabloids like “Hollywood Confidential” began leaking rumors about your homosexuality, the studio sent you on dates with Natalie Wood. Was that a good idea then?
TH: I loved Natalie, we went everywhere together, parties, premieres and magazine layouts. We made two films together, “The Burning Hills” (1956) and “The Girl He Left Behind” (1956). I adored her so much, she once asked me how did she look on one of our dates? She had a wild hair do and wore long gloves. I told her, remove the gloves and go do something with your hair, I suggested she get a pixie cut, and Natalie looked adorable, and she started that trend way back then. I am also grateful Robert Wagner appeared in “THC”, as he was so kind talking about me and Natalie after all the terrible things the Press said about him after Natalie’s death.
EH: Natalie was a sweet and kind person just like you Tab. I worked with Natalie on the film “This Property Is Condemned” (1966) filmed in the French Quarter and remember talking to her and she willingly signed autographs for me. Glad you have fond memories of Miss Wood as I do.
EH: Tab, then you wanted out of your WB contract. Tell me about that blunder.
TH: I wanted to do Broadway and did several TV shows to broaden my horizons. I paid Jack $100 Million to get my release. Then I was forgotten in Hollywood, finally did some dreaded Dinner Show engagements (the stress gave me a heart attack in 1980 at age 49) , but it wasn’t until I was asked by John Waters to be in his film “Polyester” (1981) did my career start to rise again. John asked if I was willing to kiss a heavyset transvestite, namely Divine, in his film. I said, I’ve done worst things in my life, I have nothing to lose and the film was successful for all involved. That success then led me to try and produce the now famous classic Waters-like western spoof film “Lust in the Dust” (1985). I went to all major studios who turned me down but then I met my partner Allan Glaser, who worked for Fox. He quit his job and single handed helped me get funding for “Lust” and we’ve been very happy ever since.
EH: What else does Allan do for you?
TH: Allan is very much involved in producing more films and he keeps all my memorabilia intact, even my vast Recording Library and I’m most content living on my ranch in Costa Mesa, California located in Orange County where I raise and care for my beloved horses.
EH: Tab, “Confidential” dis so well in theatres and many Film Festivals, will it be entered in this year’s
Awards for “Best Documentary?”
TH: I wish it could but we don’t have that kind of funding to pursue that venue.
EH: Tab, it was a pleasure reminiscing about your fabulous career, I certainly hope everyone will want to know more about your “ Hollywood Secret” and watch or buy your sensational film, “Tab Hunter Confidential!” _____________
A special note, Tab’s film took seven years to film in its entirety, contains Tab’s on-screen presence among rare film clips and provocative interviews with friends and co-stars including John Waters, Clint Eastwood, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Portia de Rossi, Noah Wyle, Connie Stevens, and film Historian Robert Osborne. Available on FilmRise Blu-ray and all streaming services. ~~~~~~~
Interview by Ed Held Studio News. All rights reserved. 9/2016.
February 17, 2017 ED HELD STUDIO NEWS
WE ARE ST. BERNARD PROUD! - VAN ROBICHAUX III HITS HOLLYWOOD WITH FIRST SCREENPLAY Interviewed by Ed Held Studio~~~~~
It all happens so quickly, my attorney from Arabi, La. Called to inform me that his son Van Robichaux III was in Hollywood, had sold his first script to New Line Cinema and the comedy is called “Fist Fight.” Calling Van’s cell phone, here’s what this talented writer from St. Bernard had to say.
Van Robichaux III: I’m real busy writing a sequel for “Wedding Crashers 2” but very excited to tell you a little bit about “First Fight.” Ice Cube (“Barbershop: The Next Cut,” the “Ride Along” movies) and Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) star as high school teachers prepared to solve their differences the hard way in the comedy “Fist Fight,” directed by Richie Keen (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”). Keen directed my screenplay that was also co-authored by Evan Susser (Funny or Die’s “What’s Going On? With Mike Mitchell”), and the comedy was developed from our original story along with a third writer named Max Greenfield.
Edward Held: Tell me a little bit of your childhood and how this led you on a path to Hollywood. Your dad said your Wrestling coach at Jesuit had something to do with a character, give more details, how long you took to polish off your script, how it got into the hands of New Line Cinema!
VRIII: Back in 2015 we met (writing team) with the actor Max Greenfield who plays "Schmidt" on the sitcom New Girl on Fox. He had the idea of doing a movie about two teachers who have an epic physical altercation and had met with some producers about it. He and they were looking for writers to flesh out the concept and build it into a full movie. They were familiar with some of the unproduced work that my partner and I had done and approached us about partnering on the project. I brought my life experience as a Louisiana born prankster as well as some choice experiences from high school to the project as inspiration. Ice Cube's character in the film, the stern but fair Ron Strickland is named after my Jesuit High wrestling coach Mark Strickland who never challenged anybody from the English department to a fight, but maybe seemed like he sometimes wanted to!
EH: You met your writing partner at Upright Citizens Brigade- can you elaborate a bit?
VRIII: My writing partner Evan and I first met in St. Louis attending college at Washington University in St. Louis, but reconnected after both moving to L.A. and taking comedy classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in L.A. We ended up performing live comedy together and that led to us writing a movies together.
EH: Where was the film made, Louisiana or Atlanta?
VRIII: Atlanta. It was very exciting to have my first movie shoot it the south. Of course I wish it was shot even closer to home, but the (recently abandoned) school we ended up shooting at was such a perfect shooting location I'm glad we ended up exactly where we were.
EH: What was the feeling conquering Hollywood, what is your message for the kids attending Chalmette High- now with a full drama department and new stage with all the trimmings. Your work and input is Important to Hollywood South with so much filming going here, we are inspiration too!
VRIII: The south is not the most well represented contingency on Hollywood (though we do have the Duplass brothers, Tyler Perry, and some more film makers if you count Texas...) but there is always room for original voices. I set out to make the kind of movies that I like to see and I've been very happy that Fist Fight has fulfilled that obligation and become a movie I really would have loved.
EH: Did you have a casting choice or did the studio do it? Any other tidbits and maybe some production stories (humor, set-backs) etc.
VRIII: Charlie Day read the script soon after we had finished it and was the first actor to come on board. After he signed on, Ice Cube followed. Early on I remember advocating for Tracy Morgan for the role of Coach Rawlins and Jillian Bell's twisted guidance counselor character was originally written as a male role but once her name started being discussed we immediately rewrote the character as female.
EH: Fist Fight was made at the ending of October 2015 and finished by 2016. I’m amazed it’s just now getting a release date- elaborate and send any wishes or messages to all perusing a film career, etc.
VRIII: It's a long process. It might seem like this movie took a long time to produce and release, but believe it or not, this one is considered very "fast" by Hollywood standards. To all pursuing a career in film, my best advice would be to prepare for the long haul. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
EH: How do you feel that your first film will also open at the Chalmette Movies, and also your birthplace, Arabi, then you dad moved you to (I believe) New Orleans. Also, how did the round-table press junket go, any interesting "quotes?"
VRIII: Very excited to have the film play in all the different theaters I saw movies at as a kid. I'm coming out to the area later in February and plan to tour all the theaters showing it! The press junket was a fun time. It was great to see the cast again.
EH: Lastly, how did you get involved with "Wedding Crasher 2?"
VRIII: The studio who made Fist Fight was the same one behind the original Wedding Crashers and after we all had such a great experience on Fist Fight we decided to work together on realizing the long awaited sequel to what is maybe the greatest R-rated comedy of all time. I couldn't be more excited to be working on it and it's been a really fun time!
EH: Van, -many thanks and good luck with your film career.
VRIII: You are welcome Ed. _____________________Ed Held Studio News 2/ 2017 – All Rights Reserved.