Henry Jaglom fan (TrustMovies sure is) you won't want to miss his latest attempt to turn today's Hollywood into the glitter capital of yore -- even if QUEEN OF THE LOT is not up to the level of Hollywood Dreams (to which it is somewhat of a sequel) or to last year's lovely Irene in Time (which also starred Jaglom's latest leading lady, the unconven-tional but gifted (she grows on you!) Tanna Frederick. Queen is still entertaining enough and has its fine, funny and tender mo-ments, attenuated as some of these -- & the film itself -- often are.
Christopher Rydell, above, right) and his family: brother (Noah Wyle, above, left) the pater familias (a very good Jack Heller, whose early scenes are enough to have you quaking in your sneakers), mother (Kathryn Grant), daughter (Mary Crosby), and various underlings and hangers-on (Peter Bogdonovich (below, right), Paul Sand and Dennis Christopher, among them.
Zak Norman (below, left) and David Proval (below, right) as a gay couple (Proval has the most surprising scene in the film) and you've got quite a cast. Now, where is the movie that ought to surround it?
Quad Cinema, after a premier Wednesday evening, Dec. 1, at FIAF's Florence Gould Hall. You can find all the currently-scheduled playdates at this link. Click, go to the right side of the screen and then click on Showtimes.
We talked with Tanna Frederick a couple of weeks ago via phone, and the actress could not have been more gracious, charming and clear-headed (What? Were we expecting oodles of vulvernability? That's why they're called "actresses," TM!) In the following Q&A, TrustMovies' questions appear in boldface and Ms Frederick's answers in standard type.
Yep: that's pretty much what he says.
And then, in the faux-dead body scene, we see this exhibited in spades. It reminded me somewhat of how Naomi Watts handled that wonderful scene in Mulholland Drive. It’s a side of you we haven’t seen before (I haven’t anyway). How was that scene to play for you?
Wow—Naomi Watts and Mulholland Drive: Thank you!
Well, I know, Queen of the Lot and that scene are not up to David Lynch-level, but there is a resemblance -- and a good one.
You know, growing up in Iowa, I did a lot of drama. I didn’t do much comedy. I didn’t discover I was funny until Henry. I was used to playing in things like Jean Genet’s The Maids -- and the like.
You grew up in Iowa? Is that why there was a film festival there at which Queen of the Lot was recently shown?
That's great! Will there be more of these characters in yet another Jaglom movie – because the characters all seem to be quite similar from Hollywood Dreams to Queen of the Lot.
Yes. Henry calls Queen a kind of sequel to Hollywood Dreams. We are getting ready now to start on the third part of this trilogy.
We shot another film called Just 45 Minutes from Broadway- based on Henry’s play that ran out here for one year. You New Yorkers are used to long runs of plays, but not here in L.A. This was so unusual, to run this long. And, you might know that Henry does not allow understudies. He says if any of the actor can’t be in the show, we close it down. If someone gets sick, we don’t do that performance. But we all just stuck it out and performed through sickness and crises, and we kept getting full houses and standing ovations. The title is from the George C. Cohan song. We did a nine-day shoot for the movie, and Judd Nelson replaced one of the actors. Otherwise, the whole original cast is in it.
It took only nine days in total to film?
Can we talk about another project of yours, Katie Q?
Yes, that is a film that Ron Vignone has directed. We filmed with Paul Sand Karen Black, David Proval and Zak Norman. We got a great ensemble. It’s a very twisted black comedy. We have a bit left to shoot, and that is our 2011 goal -- to get this out in film festivals and maybe theatrically in 2011. It’s a dark comedic mystery which should be a lot of fun.
I am thinking there will be certian similarities to Henry’s work, since Ron has worked a lot with Henry.
Is Tanna Frederick your real name?
Yep – it’s my real Iowa name. I’m Czech and Irish and Danish, and it is thanks to my great, great aunt in Iowa that I have it. She was an au pair, who saved two children of a local dentist from a fire when she was 16. Unfortunately, in the process of saving them, she died in the fire, but she did save the children. When my mother was pregnant, my great grandfatehr asked my mom before she even knew if she was having a girl, to please name her after this great aunt.
I think Katie Q will maybe be a little like Henry’s films.
Anything new in the offing that does not include Henry/Ron?
I would like to work with other directors, and Henry wants me to work with other directors, as much as I want to, too. Henry has been basically my Selznick, fostering and creating my career. It’s just the matter of the right property coming along at the right time. I’ve been offered some other films with other directors, but at this point I have not felt the need to do other work that I am not really passionate about. There are a lot of things that I am looking at and that are in devlopement with other directors..When I feel the time is right, I will make a film with someone else. I’m sure that time will come very soon. Henry’s movies are becoming more mainstream, and I think we are both getting noticed more. I am asked this question a lot: Do you work exclusively with Henry? And no. But it is what I want to do now. Go after the quality versus the quantity.
What was it like working in India (on Rising Shores)?
(She laughs and laughs and laughs at this question.) I had this friend who was a DP on that movie, and he called me up to say "I have five lines for you, if you can play a real estate agent." This was actually the first movie I really had a part in. But I never met any of the other actors, I don’t even think I met the director. I get credited for this movie and it’s kind of funny. I guess this was like doing a Bollywood movie, but my part was all filmed in Santa Monica back in... 2001 or 2002. The 2nd unit director shot it, I think, and I don’t remember much about it at all.
Any thoughts about your first films: Inescapable or First Impressions?
Barton Caplan, filmed it, and he was so sweet. It’s a sweet male dating story, abou this young man who goes through a series of dates that don’t work out. Then he meets the women of his dreams – who then suddenly lets out a big fart. I know it sounds awful, but it is kind of charming. I was also appearing in the legitimate theater version of A Safe Place, the play made from Henry's movie, and Henry came to see me in that --- and together with the footage from First Impressions he wanted to cast me in Hollywood Dreams.
Inescapable was my first big role in a movie. But it was not a great film or a great representation of my work. It was one of those films I was really excited about because it was the first film I got paid for. I made $2,000 making that movie, and it was most I had ever been offered. But it did not turn out to be a great film.
While I have you, Tanna, is there anything else you’d like to say: something that you’ve always wanted to talk about but journalists never seem to ask?
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or anything with Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant with all that very jaunty, back-and-forth, witty banter. And I feel that with Queen of the Lot is like this – and, oh -- to work with Noah, who is an exceptionally gallant and accommodating actor and partner to work with. I think this will be fun for audiences, too, becasue he and I found a really special connection – with our 40s-type banter and relationship. That is something that I think is hard to find nowawadys in most films. In the 40s they captured this a lot -- in dialog and relationship. But not so much now. Henry was really smart in the casting of this because Noah is amazing. He is an incredibly intelligent guy -- with such a sharp wit!