Bill Murray is back to put a smile on your face. This time he’s doing it by chirping out a catchy tune with old pal Paul Shaffer.
“When he’s not busy having dinner with David Letterman,” writes Ryan Bort in Newsweek, “former Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer is making new music of his own. The late-night icon on March 17 is releasing an album called Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band that’s filled with guest appearances from some of Shaffer’s favorite musicians, and also Bill Murray.
Bort continues: “Rhino, the label behind the album, on Wednesday released an animated video for “Happy Street” that features Murray singing lead vocals. “When life is feeling sweet / It has a certain beat / Everything’s groovy when / You’re walking down happy street,” the song begins. The video feature a number of nods to Murray’s career, referencing films such as The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Scrooged and Stripes.”
“When things ain’t cool / Here’s my real simple rule / Why not just change / Your point of view,” the actor sings.
reprinted from nobelprize.org.
This is the text of the banquet speech by Bob Dylan, delivered by the United States Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji, at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2016:
“Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.
“I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.
“If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.
“I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”
“When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.
“Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time, now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures and I’m grateful for that.
“But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.
“But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. “Who are the best musicians for these songs?” “Am I recording in the right studio?” “Is this song in the right key?” Some things never change, even in 400 years.
“Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?”
“So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.
My best wishes to you all,
Reprinted from the Washington Post, here is a hilarious two part story by national arts reporter Geoff Edgers. Attempting to profile Bill Murray to coincide with the ceremony to award this year’s Mark Twain prize for Humor, the reporter pursues a phone interview with the elusive comic actor. Filled with fresh anecdotes, the article is a hoot. Having failed to land the interview, Edgers published the piece.
And then Bill called.
The greatest role of Bill Murray’s life has been playing Bill Murray.
by Geoff Edgers
Let’s start with one of those crazy Bill Murray stories.
A couple of years ago, a guy named Ted Melfi had a movie idea and desperately wanted Murray to star. Except Melfi had never made a movie before. In a normal universe, unknown first-timers can’t get scripts through managers to major stars.
Except that Murray doesn’t have a manager. Or a publicist. Or an assistant. He has an 800 number and voice mail. Melfi wrangled that number from a producer friend.
He left messages. Lots of messages. Then one day, Murray called. He asked Melfi to meet him at Los Angeles International Airport. They drove around and ate cheeseburgers, talked script, and then Murray told Melfi the news. He’d do the movie. “St. Vincent” came out in 2014, a critical and commercial success.
“I owe everything I have in my life to Bill Murray, outside of my general health,” Melfi says.
We are on the phone because I am pretending that Melfi’s story is my primary interest when, in fact, it’s just a decoy. I want the 800 number. I don’t have a script to pitch. I have a story to do. On Sunday, Murray will receive the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In July, my editor assigned a profile, and I’ve been trying to reach him ever since. Talking to other famous people about Murray has been easy. Over several weeks, I’ve interviewed David Letterman and Howard Stern, directors Ivan Reitman, Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola, former “Saturday Night Live” colleagues Dan Aykroyd and Laraine Newman, and legendary SNL writer Jim Downey. But no Billy.
I tell this to Melfi. I also explain that I’ve been told — through a message from the comedian’s attorney — that Murray might be mad at me, though I wasn’t sure why. I had responded by sending Murray a note, through that attorney, to clear the air. Still, nothing. Would Melfi be kind enough to pass me Murray’s number? He laughs.
“There’s an unwritten law with Bill, and everybody knows it,” he says. “You don’t give out his contact information ever. And no one will ever do it.”
There’s a moment of silence on the phone.
“You don’t need Bill Murray to make it a great story,” Melfi says. “ ‘Bill Murray was unavailable for this story.’ That’s the story of Bill Murray.”
Actually, there are many stories of Bill Murray.
Murray was a guest on the debut of “Late Night With David Letterman” in 1982. He began a hilarious, mock-harangue of Letterman followed by a lengthy mock-apology. (Nancy Kaye/AP)
Here’s one from David Letterman.
Friday, Jan. 29, 1982. Letterman is nervous. Back then, he’s not the retired king of late night. He’s a gaptoothed, former weatherman from Indiana fresh off a canceled morning show. “Late Night With David Letterman” is set to premiere Monday. The host leaves his office to film a remote. While he’s gone, Bill Murray, the guest scheduled for the debut, stops by to meet with his writers.
When Letterman returns, the “Late Night” offices are dark, the staff gone. The receptionist delivers a report.
“First, he took all the light bulbs out of the writers’ room because it was hard to concentrate with artificial light,” Letterman recounts. “Then he said, ‘You know what we really need to do?’ Then Bill takes the writers out for rum. They say there was drinking and they all got really drunk and had to go home. And I thought, ‘Oh, God, what’s happened here?’ ”
That Monday, Murray blasted onto the set and began a hilarious, mock harangue of Letterman followed by a lengthy mock apology. Hopping out of his chair, he spoofed the aerobics craze by performing Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.” It was a model for future Murray appearances.
“Somebody would always come up to me and say: ‘We have a problem. Bill is not here yet,’ ” Letterman says. “And each time that happened, I learned to not take it seriously. Bill was never late. Never missed a performance and was always well prepared and the best thing of the year on the show.”
Conflict can serve creativity
The Twain Prize is the most prestigious comedy award in the field, with past winners including Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and Tina Fey. You would think the latest recipient would want to talk about it.
Not Murray. As August turns to September, he remains elusive. His attorney won’t reply to my emails or calls. His friends — Melfi, Reitman, writer Mitch Glazer, producer Fred Roos — offer sympathy but decline my plea for help. They don’t want to annoy him by nagging.
I wait by the phone. What makes the Murray silence so frustrating is how easy it is to track him.
During the months he’s avoiding me, he’s spotted plucking fries off the plate of a random diner at an airport, tending bar in Brooklyn, leading an “America” cheer at the Ryder Cup golf tournament, and cheering on the Cubs.
Of course, there’s a big difference between sitting in the bleachers and sitting for an interview. True profiles of Murray are hard to find. Perhaps the most revealing piece about him dates to 1988 when the late Timothy White, in the New York Times Magazine, visited Murray and his first wife, Mickey, at their home by the Hudson.
Last year, Glazer persuaded Murray to participate in his Vanity Fair cover story, but “even that wasn’t easy, and I’ve known him since 1977.”
Occasionally, as a favor to a filmmaker, Murray will do those interviews pegged to a movie that’s coming out. But even those arrangements rarely go as planned. At the Toronto Film Festival for the premiere of “St. Vincent,” Melfi remembers Murray disappearing at one point. Instead of doing more press, he had gone to a friend’s house to make waffles.
This is the Everyman Murray, the crasher of kickball games and karaoke jams, who would rather borrow your 10-speed than preen on a red carpet. Friends have been describing his feelings about receiving the Twain as “ambivalent.” And don’t try to talk business with Bill.
“You just don’t do it,” Aykroyd says. “Talk about anything else and everything else and you start to bring up the business, like some kind of pitch, like you’re trying to angle him, you’ll turn around and there are those taillights. That’s the Maserati turning. Go chase him. You aren’t going to catch him.”
Howard Stern remembers the first time he noticed him. It was 1977, and Murray had been brought in to replace Chevy Chase, a huge star, on SNL.
“My first reaction was, who the f— is this guy to come on?” Stern says. “And then, like out of nowhere, he started doing that thing. The lounge singer. He wasn’t nervous. He wasn’t trying to win me over. But he won the audience over in minutes and didn’t even seem to be breaking a sweat.”
Murray’s “Saturday Night Live” lounge singer character Nick was “so happy and so unapologetic,” says Jim Downey, who was a writer for the show. “You don’t end up feeling sorry for him.” (Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
“Nick,” as the character went by, left his shirt open and wore a red neckerchief. His medleys could dart from Crystal Gayle to John Williams’s “Star Wars” theme, campy lyrics added with fluttering eyelashes. In another performer’s hands, the joke might have been a mockery of every Holiday Inn lounge lizard. With Murray, Nick became not just forgivable but lovable.
“The character is so happy and so unapologetic,” says Downey. “You don’t end up feeling sorry for him. It’s a strange, acquired taste, and typically most people don’t find the bad version of something funny.”
Bill Murray playing at the 2016 Ryder Cup Celebrity Matches in Chaska, Minn., in September. Early in his career, he worried that working on the movie “Meatballs” would cut into his time on the fairways. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Murray’s leap from SNL to movies may seem natural now. John Belushi and Chase had gone before, and many others would go later. But at a point when most young actors would just be grateful for a bit part, Murray haggled over his starring role in “Meatballs.” It wasn’t about the money. Reitman scheduled the shoot for the summer of 1978. Murray worried that making the summer-camp comedy would cut into his time playing golf and baseball during the SNL break. When Murray finally agreed, though, he came to work. The first day on the set Reitman noticed the actor holding a rumpled script.
“Up to that moment, I wasn’t really sure he had read it. The first thing that he said was, ‘This is crap,’ ” Reitman says. “The first scene is where he’s introduced to the CITs [counselors in training]. He did the script, but he changed every single line.”
Murray would largely improvise the film’s famous “It just doesn’t matter” speech, and at one point, Reitman got a closer look at the actor’s copy of the script. He had scribbled the letters “SOT” on almost every page. It stood for “Same Old Thing.”
“The first mistake people make is to think because he is so spontaneous and puts on an air of not caring that he doesn’t care. But the fact is, he really does care about the work and is very precise and professional about how he conducts himself,” Reitman says. “He hated guys who went for the most obvious. He’d say: ‘I’ve seen that before. I’ve seen some version of that before. It’s the easy joke.’ ”
There is a purpose to how Bill Murray lives his life.
Aykroyd, who co-starred in the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, talks of the failed attempt, over years, to persuade Murray to star in a third. The money was good, the studio was behind it and his co-stars wanted in. In the end, Murray refused. He did agree to a cameo for this year’s reboot with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.
Aykroyd brings up G.I. Gurdjieff as a way of explaining his friend. Murray admires the Russian mystic.
“Conflict in the Gurdjieffian philosophy can serve creativity,” Aykroyd says. “Billy believes you’ve got to stir things up. You don’t just put your marbles against the wall. You go in there and you either go through the wall or you knock a marble so it knocks another marble out. From friction comes heat and from heat comes creative power and a flame.”
Talking about his public improvisations two years ago, Murray seemed to reference Gurdjieff.
“My hope always,” Murray said in an interview scheduled to support “St. Vincent,” “is that it’s going to wake me up. And if I see someone that’s out cold on their feet, I go, okay, I’m going to try to wake that person up. It’s what I want someone to do for me: Wake me the hell up.”
Professionally, there have also been “wake-ups.” In 1984, he agreed to do “Ghostbusters” only if the studio paid for him to remake “The Razor’s Edge,” a drama set in World War I and based on W. Somerset Maugham’s book. Murray played World War I veteran Larry Darrell.
“Ghostbusters” came out in June, setting box-office records and bringing Murray praise for playing sweetly sarcastic Dr. Peter Venkman. “The Razor’s Edge” came out in October and bombed. Murray didn’t brush off the commercial failure and sign on for “Caddyshack II.” Instead, he moved to Paris. He read books. And he turned down lucrative movie roles. He would not return to star in a film for four years until 1988’s “Scrooged.”
Even if “The Razor’s Edge” failed to score at the box office, it did reach a teenager in suburban Texas.
Wes Anderson rode his bike to a local video store to rent the film on Betamax and watched it with his brothers in the family’s wood-paneled TV room. Larry Darrell stuck with him.
“He was sort of poetic and heroic and very sad,” Anderson writes in an email, “but I remember what we also thought: He’s still funny.”
Years later, Anderson would think of Darrell again when he was writing the role of boozy, broken businessman Herman Blume. Bill Murray agreed to be cast and Anderson made “Rushmore.”
So why won’t Murray talk to me?
For weeks, I blamed Laraine Newman.
I had spoken to the actress and comedian, an original SNL cast member, on Aug. 22. It had not gone particularly well. Newman has had some bad experiences with the media. With me, she was uneasy with questions I thought were straightforward. For example, what did she think of Murray’s willingness to take a risk like “The Razor’s Edge”?
“One can never know what another person is thinking,” Newman said. “I don’t think he would like anybody describing what his thoughts and motives are. He of all people would detest that. It’s unfair. Nothing could be more alienating than being misrepresented. Even if it’s something good.”
We talked about their friendship over the years. About how once he stopped by her house with a bag of avocados. About how Newman, years ago, had gone through a difficult breakup, and Billy had come by, in a convertible, and they’d gone for a long ride that helped her feel better.
But what she didn’t tell me, until confirming weeks later in a follow-up call, was that she had been uneasy enough about our interview to send Murray a warning.
Newman pulled up the exchange and read part of it to me over the phone.
Murray was already “horrified,” though we couldn’t determine if that was embarrassment about being singled out for the Twain.
Then he responded to her concerns about me.
“I’ll try to kill this,” he wrote.
The interview? The story? My career?
I mulled this over for weeks, imagining Newman’s exchange was why I couldn’t get the courtesy of a return call from Murray’s attorney, David Nochimson.
Then I talked with Joel Murray. He’s the youngest of the nine Murray kids and also an actor. He heard me out and then told me to let it go. It wasn’t my fault. He suspected his older brother never planned to meet with me.
“You can’t beat yourself up,” said Joel Murray. “It’s like dealing with a terrorist. They don’t care if they die. He doesn’t care about publicity at all.”
But maybe there’s still a way to end this on a high note. With another story.
This comes from Letterman.
Last spring, Murray wrote to tell Letterman he was in New York and would love to get together. Letterman looked at his schedule. It was tight. The only day he had at least partially open was a day when he would be getting immunization shots for a trip to India. He gave Murray the address.
“The following day, I’m in Dr. Hartman’s office and I’m in the examining room and I’m in my underpants,” Letterman says, “and there’s Dr. Hartman, a lovely fellow, and he’s got his lab coat on and he’s beginning to explain all of the different things he’s going to vaccinate me against. Suddenly, there’s a knock on the examining room door, and I think, ‘I bet this is an assistant or somebody wanting to take blood.’ ‘Hi, Bill,’ I say, in my underpants. And the doctor, of course, is stunned. Oh, Bill Murray. So Bill comes on in. We’re squeezed in there the three of us. He starts yakking to the doctor about this and what are you going to give him and that because Bill had been to India.”
Letterman offers one of his patented cackles and stops telling the story.
“It was so crazy I’m having trouble explaining it. I’m in my underpants. There’s Bill Murray, and I’m getting injected. That’s not right, is it? That’s a violation of the Hippocratic oath, isn’t it? So now he starts giving me all of the injections, so Bill looks at me in my underpants and says, ‘Have you been lifting?’ ”
I tried to reach Bill Murray for weeks. Here’s what happened when he finally called me back.
by Geoff Edgers
At 12:39 p.m., a couple hours after my giant story about Bill Murray not calling me is published, the phone rings.
It’s Bill Murray. He is in New York on the way to the airport.
“I’m sorry you’re not here in this taxi on the way to JFK,” he says. “I’ve got some Swiss chocolate.”
I tell him I’ve been trying to reach him for weeks. That I had given up. He tells me he had heard that but he didn’t know what to say. He finally dialed my cell after nudging from former “Saturday Night Live” writer Jim Downey, a close friend of his.
I mention that the story is actually done.
“I didn’t read the article,” he says. “I don’t even know where the article is or when it came out. I was calling you on the chance you hadn’t written it because they all said I would enjoy the experience of speaking with you.”
So we talk. We talk about the Chicago Cubs, who he believes are going to turn it around, and musician John Prine, who I mention first, for no particular reason other than that I’ve been listening to him recently, and Murray, as luck would have it, perks up. He tried to actually get the Kennedy Center to bring in Prine for Sunday’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony. It didn’t work out.
“I thought it would have been a nice deal because John Prine can make you laugh like no else can make you laugh,” he says.
It is clear that Murray, as I’ve heard from some of his friends, is truly conflicted about receiving this honor. But he’s going through with it. Letterman, Ivan Reitman, Jane Curtin, Emma Stone — they’ll all be there to fête him.
“I really thought if I don’t answer the phone for awhile, maybe they’ll just move on to someone else,” says Murray. “But all these people called from everywhere. This is so great. Ugh. If this [NLCS] goes to a Game 6 or 7, which it is going to, I’m not going to be there. I’m going to be there [at the Kennedy Center] having people say, ‘Oh, he’s a funny, funny man.’ I’d much rather be sitting there in a good box seat at Wrigley Field. The game the other night was so much fun. It was delirium. And I was looking forward to more of that. I just have to have faith that they have a TV backstage. It’s very hard to find a transistor radio anymore.”
We talk about the timing of his call. My story – which I worked on for months, and included more than a dozen attempts to interview him – was published a few hours earlier. I tell him that it was a struggle to profile somebody without talking to him, but that, in the end, I felt as if the piece worked. I get a hint of what it might be like to pick the brain of a creative master, the man who has never been satisfied with just doing things the way they’ve always been done.
“I find that if you’re put in a box, you have to find something that you never would have found,” Murray says. “I find that to be almost always the case. Actually, always the case. I will figure out how to do that.”
I tell him I appreciated the kind words from Downey and Norm Macdonald, who Murray says both spoke highly of me. But that at a certain point, I was almost glad he didn’t call.
“I did fear you would call at the last minute and then I’d have to rewrite the whole damn thing,” I say.
“And then I did,” says Murray. “Sorry.”
“No,” I tell him. “It’s published. I can’t go back on it.”
“Then you can relax and enjoy the weekend,” he says.
If only. We talk more about the Cubs, but I already know that he has gummed up the works a bit, but in a good way: I now have to figure a way out of the box, how to tell the story of a subject who won’t talk for his own story until he will, and how he does it when you’re least expecting it.
“It’ll be all right,” he says, really talking about the Twain ceremony this weekend. “We’ll get through this. I’ve got to go now. We’ve made it to the airport and I owe this driver another piece of chocolate.”
And then, for reasons unclear, I mention that if he’s ever in Concord, Mass., where I live, he shouldn’t hesitate to stop by. Maybe we could go to Walden Pond or visit Emerson’s grave.
“I would love to do that,” Murray says, sounding sincere. “I would really love to do that. I’ll take you up on that.”
Today Angela Lansbury celebrates her 91st birthday. In her 75 year career, she has won an Oscar, 5 Tony awards, 6 Golden Globes and the Olivier.
Is she slowing down? It doesn’t look that way: last month she appeared at Lincoln Center for the 25th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast. Accompanied by composer Alan Menken, she performed the title song.
She arrived in Hollywood in the early 40’s and at age 17 earned her first Academy Award nomination for GASLIGHT. Here are a few of her early publicity photos.
MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was a film career highlight in 1962, and led to another Academy Award nomination.
Great success continued on stage as well, beginning with MAME in 1966, for which she won her first Tony.
Oh, and there is this: she is a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Last week the Academy hosted a reunion of the cast and filmmakers of HEAT. Christopher Nolan moderated a post screening Q & A with director Michael Mann, and stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Above are six clips from the session, including discussions of the writing of the film; the main characters Vincent and Neil; the coffee shop scene; the characters of Eady, Justine and Drucker; the look of the film; and the sound and music.
De Niro and Pacino were joined by actors Amy Brenneman, Val Kilmer, Diane Venora and Mykelti Williamson, producers Pieter Jan Brugge and Art Linson, cinematographer Dante Spinotti, film editor William Goldenberg and sound re-recording mixer Andy Nelson.
Kristopher Tapley reported on the event in Variety :
As has been recounted before, Mann took his own inspiration from the real-life saga of criminal Neil McCauley, who was finally killed by Mann’s friend, Chicago police detective Charlie Adamson, in 1963. They were two men … who had a fondness for one another, despite being on opposite sides of the law. “They had the kind of intimacy only strangers can have,” Mann said.
That, and the idea of two characters the audience could invest in and pull for despite their goals being at such stark opposition to one another, was the germ of “Heat.”
Talking character specifics, De Niro spoke about visual cues. “At the onset, I thought there should be that difference in the characters in terms of how they come off, what colors they’re in,” he said.
He also found it instructive that while Hanna’s life is falling apart — he and his wife (played by Venora) are “passing each other on the down-slope of a marriage, my third, because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block,” the detective confides in his foe mid-film — McCauley’s is just getting started. The career criminal has dreams of moving to Fiji, perhaps settling down with Eady, a young woman who enters his life and nearly disrupts the entire credo he lives by: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
A new BIRTH OF THE DRAGON promo reel has been released in conjunction with the world premiere screening of the film at the Toronto Film Festival.
Director George Nolfi tells Deadline that he immediately loved the script, written by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, and that he instantly liked the way Bruce Lee was presented: “It was such a fun and unexpected portrayal of him, not the flow-like-water Buddhist-influenced philosopher martial artist. He was only 24. I liked the notion of Bruce Lee, different than I had seen him before. Still in a very favorable light but not the fully matured Bruce Lee with a clear desire to break the glass ceiling, become a star, and bring Kung Fu to the wider Western world … he had a self-confidence bordering on cockiness that I found really endearing and hysterical. It was obvious this guy was going to go through the transformation from what he was … to the Bruce Lee that I knew.”
“When Bill Murray went to Japan to film the indie classic Lost in Translation back in 2002, he brought along a little novelty book called Making Out in Japanese,” writes Paul Teetor in LA Weekly.
” It included colloquial phrases for lovers such as ‘You have a beautiful body’ and ‘I don’t want to get married yet.'”
For a guy with such a mischievous mind and sly wit, the comic possibilities were endless. Soon after he arrived in Tokyo, he told a startled Japanese crew member, ‘I really don’t love you anymore, so I’m going to change my phone number.’ ”
When he went out for sushi, he would ask the chefs — scowling men wielding big knives — questions such as “Do your parents know about me?” or “Do you have a curfew?” or “Can we get in the backseat?” On special occasions, he would even ask them “Do you mind if I use protection?”
It could have been perceived as yet another ugly American abusing the native language for his own twisted entertainment. But because it was Murray delivering these intimate lines with his typical wacky charm and offbeat sense of humor, there were no international incidents, just laughs all around.
It was just part of the Tao of Bill.
Fittingly, then, Edwards has written an equally quirky book. At first glance it looks like a standard biography, and it does include a 33-page introduction that outlines Murray’s life. It starts with his Sept. 21, 1950, birth in a Chicago suburb, details his showbiz start in Chicago’s Second City and his breakthrough performance on Saturday Night Live, and includes most of his film roles all the way through to September 2014, when Edwards interviewed him at the Toronto Film Festival.
The bio-introduction is bookended by a 106-page filmography, in which Edwards analyzes Murray’s role in every one of his 59 films, including classics Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Tootsie, Groundhog Day, Rushmore and the aforementioned Lost in Translation.
But the heart of the book is the middle 150 pages, in which Edwards breaks down the 10 Principles of Bill. Tao is Chinese for “the way,” and the 10 principles make the case that Murray has a unique way with people that has made him one of the most beloved — and enduring — actors in a business where sell-by dates come and go awfully quickly.
In an interview, Edwards admitted that even he isn’t sure exactly what literary category his book fits into. “A friend said, ‘I think you’ve invented a new form of biography,’ and it certainly is a different approach to biography,” he says. “But I think it also works as a guide to how to live your life. I think people would benefit from following the Tao of Bill. And as a simple bathroom reader, it has a whole lot of funny stories.”
Indeed it does. Like the day in 1987 when Murray, who loves baseball almost as much as he loves golf, had the privilege of sitting in for legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray during a Cubs-Montreal Expos game. Rather than try to replace Caray, Murray later said, he approached the job from the point of view of the rabid Cubs fan that he is. That led to a series of memorable quips during what he later described as “the peak of my performing career.”
On Montreal’s first batter: “Starting for the Expos in left field, Casey Candaele. He’s no good.” On fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers: “These are people who take bad falls down the stairs and don’t really know.” On fans yelling to him in the broadcast booth: “Nice to see the gang from Joliet maximum security prison here.” On cutting off beer sales after the eighth inning: “Anybody who can’t get drunk at the ball game before the eighth inning doesn’t belong here.” On why he was happy the Cubs’ Rick Sutcliffe was pitching so well during the 7-0 victory: “Frankly, he owes me money.”
Just for the record, here are the 10 Principles of Bill that Edwards came up with after interviewing more than 50 people who know Murray and reviewing hundreds of Murray anecdotes recounted in newspapers, magazines and books. (Keep in mind that these are something Edwards came up with, not principles that Murray claims to live by.) “When I was interviewing him in Toronto, I realized that my suspicions were right, that all Bill’s crazy behavior wasn’t just random wackiness,” Edwards says. “He had put a lot of thought into things like why he crashes parties and why he is so generous with his money.”
The 10 Principles:
1. Objects are opportunities.
2. Surprise is golden. Randomness is lobster.
3. Invite yourself to the party.
4. Make sure everybody else is invited to the party.
5. Music makes the people come together.
6. Drop coin on the world.
7. Be persistent, be persistent, be persistent.
8. Know your pleasures and their parameters.
9. Your spirit will follow your body.
10. While the earth spins, make yourself useful.
Most of them are self-explanatory. For those that aren’t, well, invite yourself to the party, put on some music, drop some coin and buy the book.
Indeed, the book sounds like it is a lot of fun, and perhaps it is enlightening too. Here’s what the publisher has to say about it:
This collection of the most epic, hilarious, and strange Bill Murray stories, many of which have never before been reported, spotlights the star’s extraordinary ability to infuse the everyday with surprise, absurdity, and wonder.
No one will ever believe you.
New York Times bestselling author Gavin Edwards, like the rest of us, has always been fascinated with Bill Murray—in particular the beloved actor’s adventures off-screen, which rival his filmography for sheer entertainment value. Edwards traveled to the places where Murray has lived, worked, and partied, in search of the most outrageous and hilarious Bill Murray stories from the past four decades, many of which have never before been reported. Bill once paid a child five dollars to ride his bike into a swimming pool. The star convinced Harvard’s JV women’s basketball team to play with him in a private game of hoops. Many of these surreal encounters ended with Bill whispering, “No one will ever believe you” into a stranger’s ear. But The Tao of Bill Murray is more than just a collection of wacky anecdotes. This volume puts the actor’s public clowning into a larger context, as Edwards distills Murray’s unique way of being into a set of guiding principles. A sideways mix of comedy and philosophy, full of photo bombs, late-night party crashes, and movie-set antics, this is the perfect book for anyone who calls themselves a Bill Murray fan—which is to say, everyone.
Kirkus Review points out, “The key to Murray’s philosophy is that it is not self-serving. Though he has become known for his carefree antics almost as much as for his acting roles, he does them out of earnest playfulness. “
“Last week, Anne Hathaway outed Robert De Niro, Hollywood legend and her co-star in The Intern, as being a fan of The Bachelor,” writes Miller.
.”And now, here’s an equally endearing anecdote from the Oscar-winning actress about Martin Scorsese’s go-to gruff—specifically that he has not yet adapted to those fancy-schmancy smart devices you kids call phones.
“While discussing their generation gap with People, Hathaway, ever the diplomat, says that the only difference she noticed between herself and the 72-year-old actor was his wisdom: ‘I just always think, My gosh, how much more have you seen!’
“De Niro, however, does not hesitate to pipe in with one key deviation he noticed, in terms of technology and social networking. ‘I have a computer,’ the actor says, ‘but I don’t do Facebook, don’t do Twitter, don’t do . . . what’s the other one?’
“When Hathaway comes to the actor’s rescue—’Instagram’—she drops the endearing bombshell about his phone.
“’Bob, can I out you about something?’ she asks before proceeding. ‘He has a flip phone. We talked about it [on set] when he wasn’t around. We all thought it was cute.’
“(In De Niro’s defense, a 2015 study shows that a third of Americans are not smartphone owners.)
“De Niro, refusing to be smartphone shamed, offers this explanation: ‘They’re easy to use!’”
De Niro isn’t the only one who loves flip phones.
Last year Vogue editor Anna Wintour was photographed by NewYork magazine using her flip phone at the US Open.
Rihanna uses a flip phone, making it seem like the most fashionable accessory available.
Warren Buffett, worth $67 billion, showed off his flip phone on CNN last year. “This is the one Alexander Graham Bell gave me,” he joked to Piers Morgan.
…and so does Scarlett Johannson.
Why are people returning to the old phones? Treehugger has some possible answers: ” The smaller, more pocket-friendly size, the battery that lasts one to two weeks, and, if you’re not picky, options that can still be bought for a small price.
“Also, remember how rugged those older phones were? How many times did you drop yours and have it survive with barely a scratch? Smartphones are notoriously fragileand many people are tired of worrying over cracked screens.
“But maybe most of all, people are switching as a direct response to the totally connected lives we now lead. If you already have a tablet or laptop or both, why have a smartphone too? A basic phone that lets you make calls and send texts may be preferable at that point.
“And just like people’s fondness for music on vinyl, an old cell phone has a vintage feel and people feel trendy and different from the masses by using one instead of a smartphone that looks everyone else’s smartphone.
“We have two types of profiles: the 25 to 35 year-olds attracted by the retro and offbeat side of a telephone that is a little different, and those who are nostalgic for the phone that they used when they were younger,” said Maxime Chanson, who founded Lekki, a cell phone reseller, in 2010.
“Some use it to complement their smartphone, but others are going for the vintage, tired of the technology race between the phone makers.”