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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Day I told off Al Pacino (sort of)

Over the weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about The Sopranos controversial end; I now believe Tony was whacked at the end of the episode. The guy sidling up to the counter killed him. Tony's moment just before his death experience and the moment of was what we witnessed, very like what Bobby Bacala predicted death would be like some weeks before when Tony and Bobby were on the little boat in the river.

This conversation transformed into an analysis of the gangster genre on film, which brought us to my all time favorite movie The Godfather and the subject of Al Pacino.

"I told off Al Pacino once," I said to my friend.


I had to clarify this, of course. "Well, not to his face."

The story goes like this: one late morning in the early 1990s I was whizzing back and forth all over the place at the theater where I worked. I was an adminstrator/casting agent/script reader and sometimes I even fixed the copier. I was also in charge of the internship program at this Off-Broadway house renowned for its work in presenting full staged productions interesting plays and doing workshops and staged readings of hundreds more throughout the year. The workshops and staged readings is something that I did casting for in addition to push through incoming scripts I thought had potential for being staged.

The members of the theater consisted of performers and writers who are known by name and/or known by their face by the public; others have been quietly and productively working in the business for forty or fifty years. Our members could develop plays for production and rehearse in the mainstage theater area. It was in that environment an unknown person came into the main office late one morning to announce that he would be rehearsing with blah blah on blah blah along with Al Pacino, a friend of one of those involved in the rehearsal/production. That was fine; the rehearsal was scheduled.

But then I was told that "Mr. Pacino requested that NO ONE came into the main stage theater while he was rehearsing because he didn't like being watched."

I did Jackie Gleason bug eyes. "You've got to be kidding me!" I said incredously. The young man insisted he was not.

"Look, this is a professional theater and we have rehearsals or plays going on almost every day of the week, 7 days a week. We have more work to do than there are hours in the day. If I have business in the production office (which was located through the main stage door further down the corridor) I'm going to attend to it. I have no interest in what Mr. Pacino is doing. Besides, if he doesn't like being watched he needs to find a new day job."

The young man was now doing the Jackie Gleason eyes but said nothing and turned away. Nothing more was said about it. However, I learned a few years later from a camera crew working on Law and Order (where I was working as an extra) they had done a "The Making of" type of film for Godfather III and had been told that when not filming, they were not to stare or watch Mr. Pacino do anything.

Ugh. So much for my having been a fan of this man. Sheesh. I'm sure back in the day when Mr. Pacino was struggling to get work he never told the director or stage manager to ensure that no one watch him while he worked.

Maybe that's why the last scene of The Sopranos ended as it did: no one wanted to watch Tony get whacked.

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