A Choreographer Gives ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ a Makeover
I ran out of champagne and John Cusack ended up holding the bottle as we walked out to the theater.
“It’s funny, you’re better than me,” he said.
We were having a jam session after I finished my last rehearsal for the film John Cusack directed, starring and co-written with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
But this could be the highest compliment. John Cusack is a national treasure and anyone who makes movies knows how to get a reaction.
We were all excited to show the film to our friend and producer, Bob Yari, and his wife, Elaine. We could only imagine how cool it would be to leave the theater after opening night with a rave review from a magazine. Well, it doesn’t quite work that way.
The NY Post, the famed theater paper, didn’t have a review. “That’s just Hollywood,” Elaine Yari said, looking deep into the eyes of John.
“I can’t even be here with you when your ‘bawdy comedies’ are not reviewed,” John said. “When you’re making serious movies, critics roll their eyes. But when you’re making movies that no one has seen, they say, ‘What a rubbish piece of garbage!’”
He’s right! It all made me smile.
As we waited for our plane back to L.A., John whispered, “You and I have this thing in common, I’m from Rochester, you’re from Detroit, and we both grew up poor. That’s what made us so good.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“It’s that we both had hard lives, but we survived, and we ended up being world-class actors. And I’m saying it’s OK for you to be a brilliant actor, because I know what it’s like to be the stuff of gold dust.”
We both laughed, and he gave me a look that said I wasn’t going to get any more movie ideas from him for a very long time.
I live in Hollywood, and we’ve had a few high points. One of the best was becoming the choreographer for Brittany Murphy’s television show! Another was running away from New York City with Elaine on the first day of January of 1978. We even had our 1981 wedding with Roberto Cavalli as the honorary minister. And I’m going to be honest: If I’d only known I was going to grow older and greyer, I would have done a better job of working from home, being a doting father and making sure my significant other had enough love.