Michael Keaton on Charlie Rose

Hey, y’all.

A little off subject, but then again “not”. Because this is Michael Keaton on a recent appearance of Charlie Rose when he was asked to explain what went into the making of his Beetlejuice character.

Here’s a challenge– try describing the look and feel of “Beetlejuice” in a log-line, or a single sentence– or the kind of brief description you’d read in “T.V. Guide”. Bet you can’t do it– and the only thing you would have is the idea of the recently-deceased couple and a basic “gist” of hiring a bio-exorcist to chase out the living “house-guests”.

That’s all Michael Keaton had to work with– as there was talk of hiring Sammy Davis Jr. to play the role– kind of a debonair, evil middle-easterner holding a martini and bargaining like the devil, himself. In fact, the original script was so different than the final product as it came out of left-field like a kind of surreal “horror cartoon”. The technology back then “barely existed” or would have been prohibitively-expensive to have fully-realized to the original author’s vision– a kind of milieu of small-town East-Coast farmhouses.

It’s interesting how lots of films shoot on either side of the American coasts, but rarely in the middle of the country, what is known as “the fly-over zone”. But when it comes to “Beetlejuice”. So much of it was flying off-the-cuff, and kind of half-mulled and then improvised as no one had ever seen anything like it.

Writing a sequel in my own image, I would see lots of it actually happening around St. Louis and the surrounding area. “Write what you know”, after-all as a big challenge is finding “the voice” and tapping into the antic-madness.

Quick: come-up with random set-pieces and crazy ideas for “the ghost with the most”.

Lots of planning goes into it, and hammering-out ideas takes some work. And how in the beginning, Michael Keaton and the rest of the actors were drifting-along, otherwise having just about “no idea” of what they would be filming.Only when the special-FX were completed and the loose-ends tied-up would the movie “make any sense”.

That’s the gift of the screenwriter– the ability “to explain” in so many words and to keep the story going. I’m not going to give-away all of my secrets, but this blog will broadly hint at some themes and motifs– maybe some feasible directions for our ghoulish, off-beat comedy.

And thanks to the legion of devoted fans who showed-up at the midnight special showing of the original film, that ran Friday and tonight on Saturday. Could you imagine Lydia Deetz (– Winona Ryder’s character) standing in line, for another night of “The Rocky Horror Picture-Show”? There’s more St. Louis in her, than you know and I can see my name in lights. . . . . .

Just get St. Louis to revamp its local film-commission and get those tax-breaks flowin’ for local incentives to work and film here. You’ve been a wonderful crowd and let’s keep the dream alive for another great movie.

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Michael Keaton on Charlie Rose

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