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Posts Tagged ‘Gore Vidal’

That Time Gore Vidal Made Ben-Hur a Gay Movie

As a script doctor for the 1959 film Ben-Hur, Gore Vidal felt politics was an insufficient reason to explain a central plot point, the acrimonious falling out between dear boyhood friends, Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd). So Vidal created a back story, a teenage love affair between the two, one that Messala was keen to rekindle and Ben-Hur was not.

The film’s director, William Wyler, approved the story, and Boyd used the homosexual history to inform his acting, but it was agreed that Heston would not be told about any of it. That little bit of gay subtext wasn’t revealed till 1995, when Vidal was interviewed for the documentary The Celluloid Closet. In the clip below you can see parts of a scene written by Vidal that include the homosexual plot line. You can also see Portuguese subtitles, and we’re working on that.

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Writer Gore Vidal Dead at 86

The prolific novelist, playwright, and essayist passed away at his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday evening. According to his nephew, complications from pneumonia was the cause of death.

Gore Vidal made Los Angeles home in 2003, but his history with Hollywood is a long one. In 1948, the uproar over his homosexual coming-of-age novel The City and the Pillar saw Vidal blacklisted by the literary world.  For years Vidal was unable to get his work reviewed by critics, and to earn a living he began writing for film, television, and the stage.

The entertainment industry embraced what the literati had rejected, and Vidal enjoyed steady work. Two of his plays, “Visit to a Small Planet” — itself adapted from one of Vidal’s TV scripts — and “The Best Man,” enjoyed success on Broadway before being turned into films. His many screenwriting credits include Suddenly Last Summer with his friend Tennessee Williams, the sexually explicit commercial flop Caligula, and an uncredited stint as script doctor to Ben Hur.

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Scandalous Hollywood Sex Author Finally Does an Interview

If you haven’t yet heard of the Scotty Bowers Hollywood memoir Full Service, you soon will. Scheduled for publication on Valentine’s Day, it’s all about his experiences as a gigolo in post-World War II Hollywood with such Golden Age brand names as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

What’s somewhat unusual is that leading up to the February 14 publication date, and even before, Bowers had refused all interview requests. But he has finally connected with a reporter, The Guardian‘s Joanna Walters. Now 88 (and still living in LA), Bowers evidently decided that the book and interview needed to finally be put to paper, before he might no longer have the chance:

In the interview, Bowers said he’d kept quiet before because he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. He declared that he was talking now simply because “I’m not getting any younger and all my famous ‘tricks’ are dead. The truth can’t hurt them any more.”

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Best Ending Line of a Panel at FOB – Ever

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Gore Vidal was one of the speakers at LA Times Festival of Books (and yes we are still going through out notebooks for bits and pieces.)

Our man on the insides tell us, the last question that was asked of Mr. Vidal (mind you, from what we hear, the entire crowd, was beyond smitten – more entranced with the writer’s every word – as they should be) was broad in scope. The questioner asked,”Ayn Rand and Noam Chomsky – your thoughts?”

To which Vidal replied,”What are they dating?”

The audience then erupted in laughter and the panel was over.

Swoon.

Obituary For CityBeat

1citybeaten.jpgThe current issue of Pasadena Weekly includes a lovely farewell piece for their sister-paper, the recently deceased Los Angeles CityBeat. The story touches on the birth, life, and death of the paper, and gives a long list of some of the surviving relatives, the journalists that were part of the CityBeat family over the years. From Kevin Uhrich:

In its day, LA CityBeat came to be identified as one of the city’s top publications for news, with in-depth stories on terrorism, the environment, the drug trade and police abuse, interviews with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, comedian Lewis Black and author/historian/social critic Gore Vidal, and coverage of the arts, especially in its relentlessly comprehensive attention to LA’s burgeoning club and music scene.

FBLA Goes to the Party: Dana Vachon Merges, No Acquisitions

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Fair-haired wonderboy, Dana Vachon, met a few dozen of his admirers last night at Bar Marmont in honor of his novel, Mergers & Acquisitions. David Kuhn, that powerful gay man, and Anonymous Content were the hosts.

We were thrilled to see Mickey Kaus, who introduced us to Michael Lerner and told a funny story about being on Red Eye. Lerner’s busy with the new national tour of Camelot.

But before we could make intelligent conversation, Thairin Smothers and James St. James mobbed us, eyes all aglow. St. James has a book coming out in May–a sort of “For a Very Young Drag Queen” thing. We can’t wait.

And then we met the most amusing person–one half of mystery novelist P.J. Tracy. Traci has one of those faces that looks pretty and mischievous at the same time, and we could have talked to her all night. She got us to Dana.

He told us about meeting Gore Vidal–the high point of his life, thus far. We asked if Gore made a pass, but it was so noisy, everyone pretended not to hear. We had better luck by dropping the gossipy nugget of Vidal’s voice-over work for Sony on the DVD of Gattaca.

Vachon’s going to China to meet some young guy who’s buying up something or other, and then back to work on book deux. This one is set in Scarsdale/Westchester and explores a different set of themes. Swear to god, he said that, and he’s sincere. He’s the new Michael Lewis!

Then, Jennifer Ramos of Vroman’s appeared, and we clued Dana in on the preppiness of Pasadena. All agreed that Jonathan Adler’s hairy white ankles weren’t remotely top drawer.

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