Writers on Film

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Sam Wasson gives Chinatown The Big Goodbye

Season 1, Ep. 22

L.A. native Sam Wasson studied Film at Wesleyan University and at the USC School of Cinematic Arts before publishing his first book, A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards, which film critic Andrew Sarris deemed “the critical resurrection of Blake Edwards."

In 2010, Wasson's Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman became a New York and Los Angeles Times Best Seller. The book has been translated into over a dozen languages, and was named by Entertainment Weekly one of the best pop-culture books of all time. 

Paul on Mazursky, Wasson’s 2011 book of conversations with the legendary writer-director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, moved director Quentin Tarantino to declare Paul Mazursky "one of the great writer-directors of cinema.”

Fosse, Wasson’s award-winning 2013 biography of the legendary director-choreographer, appeared on over a half-dozen Best of the Year lists and was called “one of the most eloquent showbiz accounts in years” by the Chicago Tribune. In conjunction with the Paley Center for Media, Wasson unearthed "Seasons of Youth," a lost 1961 Fosse television special, now publicly available at the Paley Center's archives in New York and Los Angeles. 

In addition to his work as an author, Wasson has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. He’s served as a consultant for The National Comedy Center in New York and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, was a Visiting Professor of Film at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Emerson College in Los Angeles. As panelist and lecturer Wasson has appeared all over the world, from the 92nd Street Y in New York to The Second City in Chicago and the Rome International Film Festival, and has been a featured guest on CNN, BBC, Fox, ABC, NPR, and for The Criterion Collection.

In 2017, The New York Times called Wasson's latest book, Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art, "one of the most important stories in American popular culture."

His latest book, The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, was a New York Times Best Seller. “Sam Wasson’s deep dig into the making of the film,” Janet Maslin wrote, “is a work of exquisite precision. It’s about much more than a movie. It’s about the glorious lost Hollywood in which that 1974 movie was born.”

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11/28/2021

Ian Nathan talks Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle Earth

Season 1, Ep. 31
John Bleasdale talks to Ian Nathan about Peter Jackson and his book Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle Earth. The definitive history of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth saga, Anything You Can Imagine takes us on a cinematic journey across all six films, featuring brand-new interviews with Peter, his cast & crew. From the early days of daring to dream it could be done, through the highs and lows of making the films, to fan adoration and, finally, Oscar glory.LightsA nine-year-old boy in New Zealand's Pukerua Bay stays up late and is spellbound by a sixty-year-old vision of a giant ape on an island full of dinosaurs. This is true magic. And the boy knows that he wants to be a magician.CameraFast-forward twenty years and the boy has begun to cast a spell over the film-going audience, conjuring gore-splattered romps with bravura skill that will lead to Academy recognition with an Oscar nomination for Heavenly Creatures. The boy from Pukerua Bay with monsters reflected in his eyes has arrived, and Hollywood comes calling. What would he like to do next? 'How about a fantasy film, something like The Lord of the Rings...?'ActionThe greatest work of fantasy in modern literature, and the biggest, with rights ownership so complex it will baffle a wizard. Vast. Complex. Unfilmable. One does not simply walk into Mordor - unless you are Peter Jackson.Anything You Can Imagine tells the full, dramatic story of how Jackson and his trusty fellowship of Kiwi filmmakers dared take on a quest every bit as daunting as Frodo's, and transformed JRR Tolkien's epic tale of adventure into cinematic magic, and then did it again with The Hobbit. Enriched with brand-new interviews with Jackson, his fellow filmmakers and many of the films' stars, Ian Nathan's mesmerising narrative whisks us to Middle-earth, to gaze over the shoulder of the director as he creates the impossible, the unforgettable, and proves that film-making really is 'anything you can imagine'.