Monthly Archives: August 2020

The Luncheon Society/Academy Award winning actress Lee Grant/ Surviving the Hollywood Blacklist/ Author of “I said Yes to Everything” /Zoom/August 11, 2020

Born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal in New York City, actress Lee Grant spent her youth accumulating more experiences than most people have in a lifetime: from student at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse to member of the leg­endary Actors Studio; from celebrated Broadway star to Vogue “It Girl.” At age twenty-four, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Detective Story, and a year later found herself married and a mother for the first time, her career on the rise.

And then she lost it all.

Her name landed on the Hollywood black­list, her offers for film and television roles ground to a halt, and her marriage fell apart.

Finding reserves of strength she didn’t know she had, Grant took action against anti-Communist witch hunts in the arts. She threw herself into work, accepting every theater or teaching job that came her way. She met a man ten years her junior and began a wild, liberat­ing fling that she never expected would last a lifetime. And after twelve years of fighting the blacklist, she was finally exonerated. With cour­age and style, Grant rebuilt her life on her own terms: first stop, a starring role on Peyton Place, and then leads in Valley of the DollsIn the Heat of the Night, and Shampoo, for which she won her first Oscar.

Set amid the New York theater scene of the fifties and the star-studded parties of Malibu in the seventies, I Said Yes to Everything evokes a world of political passion and movie-star glamour. Grant tells endlessly delightful tales of costars and friends such as Warren Beatty, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Sidney Poitier, and writes with the verve and candor befitting such a seductive and beloved star.

The Luncheon Society/Joyce Carol Oates/ Her new novel, “Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.”/Zoom/July 30, 2020

The Luncheon Society/Sydney Ladensohn Stern/Author Of “The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood/Zoom/July 21, 2020

Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the 
Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association

Herman J. (1897–1953) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909–1993) wrote, produced, and directed over 150 pictures. With Orson Welles, Herman wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane and shared the picture’s only Academy Award. Joe earned the second pair of his four Oscars for writing and directing All About Eve, which also won Best Picture.

Despite triumphs as diverse as Monkey Business and Cleopatra, and Pride of the Yankees and Guys and Dolls, the witty, intellectual brothers spent their Hollywood years deeply discontented and yearning for what they did not have―a career in New York theater. Herman, formerly an Algonquin Round Table habitué, New York Times and New Yorker theater critic, and playwright-collaborator with George S. Kaufman, never reconciled himself to screenwriting. He gambled away his prodigious earnings, was fired from all the major studios, and drank himself to death at fifty-five. While Herman drifted downward, Joe rose to become a critical and financial success as a writer, producer, and director, though his constant philandering with prominent stars like Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Gene Tierney distressed his emotionally fragile wife who eventually committed suicide. He wrecked his own health using uppers and downers in order to direct Cleopatra by day and finish writing it at night, only to be very publicly fired by Darryl F. Zanuck, an experience from which Joe never fully recovered.

For this first dual portrait of the Mankiewicz brothers, Sydney Ladensohn Stern draws on interviews, letters, diaries, and other documents still in private hands to provide a uniquely intimate behind-the-scenes chronicle of the lives, loves, work, and relationship between these complex men.

The Luncheon Society/Fmr Senator Gary Hart/What happens if Donald Trump refuses to leave the White House?/Zoom/June 15, 2020

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This was the first Luncheon Society with former Senator and Presidential candidate Gary Hart in nearly a decade. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it was also our first attempt at using Zoom, since all of the restaurants are currently closed for in-person dining.  We hope that when our world reopens, there will still be some restaurants left standing in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

What has been quite startling about Hart is his ability to see the political future in a way that others often miss. In 1984, Hart “New Ideas” set the table for successful Democratic presidential campaigns like Clinton and Obama. He got that right.

His work on the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (known as the Hart-Rudman Committee) was the most exhaustive review of American foreign policy since 1947.  Released 9 months prior to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, the core findings of the Hart-Rudman Committee were that “America would become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland.” He got that right too.

Today’s conversation centered on the secretive powers of a President and what might happen if Donald Trump refused to leave.  These days, with Trump making noises about delaying an election or not respecting its result, these concerns about a seamless and peaceful transition of power are growing louder.

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Luncheon Society Flashback TBD