Monthly Archives: September 2018

The Luncheon Society—New York/Future of the Automobile with Levi Tilleman/2018 congressional candidate /June 14, 2017/NY Yankees Steakhouse

Flashback/ The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/Peter Magowan, President and Managing Partner of The San Francisco Giants/July 9, 2003/Momo’s

The Luncheon Society—Los Angeles/Producer Lawrence Turman on the 50th anniversary of his film, “The Graduate.” /May 16, 2017/ Napa Valley Grille

Graduateposter67 (1)It could only be Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate.”

Film classics find their own running room to blossom–often through a series of happy accidents–but it was the chemistry between producer Larry Turman and director Mike Nichols and the casting choices they made which propelled  “The Graduate” to one of the top movies of all time, according to the American Film Institute.

As The Luncheon Society celebrates the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking film, producer Lawrence Turman joined The Luncheon Society again—but this time to really focus on what “The Graduate” means as a film but how the creation of the film became a classic.

Robert Redford as Benjamin Braddock would have been too prep, too good looking, and simply too unbelievable. Nobody would believe that Redford would need to crash a wedding in Santa Barbara to get the girl—because he was Robert Redford after all—the girls would eagerly flock to him.

Mrs. Robinson could never be Doris Day either, even it if she played against “type” from the characters she portrayed over the last 15 years, opposite either Rock Hudson or James Garner.  The mere thought of Doris Day sleeping the son of her husband’s business partner would have been just too much for The Catholic League.  Rumor had it that Day’s husband at the time simply threw the script away. Even wilder, Ronald Reagan was briefly considered for the role of Benjamin’s father, but elective office had called him away to other pursuits.

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The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/Annabelle Gurwitch/Thurber Prize of American Humor Finalist, new book/”Wherever You Go, There They Are”/April 21, 2018/Fior d’italia

Flashback/The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/Lunch and subsequent pub crawl with Christopher Hitchens/ SF—May 22, 2004/Rubicon/ SF- December 28, 2004/ Evvia

Christopher_Hitchens_2008-04-24_001This was the second gathering that The Luncheon Society had with Christopher Hitchens, the first taking place earlier in the year with a memorable gathering at Rubicon in San Francisco followed by a drunken pub crawl that ended up at Belden Place, which is known as “French Quarter of San Francisco.

This was the Luncheon Society everybody wanted to attend but because it was only three days after Christmas, there were a number of painful regrets. However, we thought that we would be able to get him again, since he would often spend his summers on the property of his father -in-law who lived in the Peninsula, but it was not to be.  Our Hitchens Luncheon Society gatherings scheduled in 2010 were postponed because of the cancer diagnosis; he would die less than a year later.  He did not ask for prayers or pity.

We started the luncheon with our glasses raised to the recent passing of Susan Sontag, whose death was announced that morning of Acute Myeloid leukemia.  Sontag, who had been fighting the disease for some time, succumbed but according to Hitchens, near gave up her zest for life.

Hitchens gave an impassioned opening speech that eulogized her memory as somebody with incredible courage. Hitch spoke to her courage when she moved to Sarajevo during the midst of the genocide to produce “Waiting for Godot,” using three actors for each of the two characters, one Christian, one Muslin, and one Jew. He said that “Susan Sontag was a faint candle among the great arena of darkness and hate.” The regard for Sontag is universal regardless of how you feel about her politics

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The Luncheon Society–Los Angeles/Randol Scheonberg and the Recovery of the Klimt masterpieces as portrayed in the Film “Woman in Gold”/April 20, 2017/Napa Valley Grille

woman-in-gold-movie-posterThis is the second Luncheon Society gathering that addresses the iconic history behind the Gustav Klimt masterpiece, “The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer,” commonly known at the “Woman in Gold.”  Several year ago, Anne-Marie O’Connor offered an overarching history behind the painting, along the backdrop of the Viennese culture prior to the first World War until its descent into the hell of Nazism.

Until the Anschluss, the painting remained in the private hands, as part of the family art collection.  However, in 1941, the Nazis seized the painting and it ended up in the Belvedere, on where it stood as the “Mona Lisa of Austria.”

The Bloch-Bauer family, scattered and ravaged by the Holocaust, soon discovered that any attempts to regain private possession of their family’s masterpiece was met with a cold shoulder the Austrian government.

By now, Maria Altman was living in Los Angeles in the autumn of a very long life.  However, she decided that she would make one last chance to get her family’s paintings back. In a court case that began as Altmann v. Republic of Austria in 2000, it slowly weaved it’s through the American legal system, when it ended up at the US Supreme Court in 2004 (Republic of Austria v. Altmann) on appeal,

A young attorney, E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg, the grandson of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg and who socialized with Maria Altmann, took the case.  Among long odds, Schoenberg was able to prevail at the US Supreme Court as well as an arbitration in Austria, where they decided that 5 of the 6 paintings would be returned to the descendants of the Bloch-Bauer family. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society—Los Angeles/ Dr Turi King–Solving the 500 year old mystery of Richard III, who was found buried in a English Parking Lot/ March 20. 2017/Napa Valley Grille

Flashback/The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta on the challenges of operating a modern White House/Friday June 20, 2003/The Sardine Factory

The Luncheon Society—Boston/ Erik Vance and the brain’s power of suggestion “Suggestible You”/ February 21, 2017/ En Boca

The Luncheon Society—Los Angeles and San Francisco/ Michael Dukakis Three Time Governor of Massachusetts 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee/ Why the Democrats stumbled in 2016 after doing so well in 2012 and 2008. SF– Fior d’Italia/February 10, 2017