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Jay Weston
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For forty years Jay Weston has been producing motion pictures and TV, starting in 1968 with “For Love of Ivy,” starring Sidney Poitier and Abbey Lincoln, the first studio film to star two black leads. He went on to produce the much-acclaimed Billie Holiday biofilm, “Lady Sings The Blues,” starring Diana Ross, which received five Academy nominations. Following the biofilm on the life of W.C. Fields, “W.C. Fields & Me,” starring Rod Steiger, he produced an Alan Arkin-Carol Burnett comedy, “Chu Chu and The Philly Flash,”and was responsible for Clint Eastwood’s “Heartbreak Ridge.” Mr. Weston is most proud of the fact that he produced director Billy Wilder’s last comedy, “Buddy, Buddy,” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Over the years he has produced scores of other features and TV movies, including the first film about beach volleyball, “Sideout,” and an HBO film, “Laguna Heat,” with Harry Hamlin and Jason Robards. Currently, he is preparing to film a remake of the venerable Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak romantic comedy, “Bell, Book & Candle,” for Disney. His Hemingway biofilm screenplay, Ernest and Mary, is currently being polished, and he is in pre-production on a snowboarding film. Recently, a cable television film which he exec produced, Invisible Child, appeared on Lifetime; it starred Tom Hank’s wife, Rita Wilson, and was written by Academy-Award winner Ron Bass. He is also celebrated for writing and publishing the nation’s most successful restaurant newsletter, “Jay Weston’s Restaurant Newsletter,” which is read each month by thousands of entertainment executives and “foodies” throughout the world. “Food and film are my life,” says the producer, with a laugh.

Entries by Jay Weston

Disney's "Tomorrowland" -- For Kids of all Ages!

(0) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 2:13 PM

poster all photos from Disney

When I was a young man (yes, I really was one once) in the '50s and '60s, I was the public relations guy for a wide-screen film process called Cinerama. We began making these sweeping...

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LACMA Exhibit Takes Flight. Soar With It Now!

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 6:55 PM

circling the space
The Burden sculpture circling the space. all photos by Jay

It is rather ironic that David McCullough's fascinating biography of the Wright Brothers has come out the same time as our midtown LACMA (Los...

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Pistachios, Pistachios...I'm Just Nuts About Those NUTS!

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2015 | 3:08 PM

poster all photos by Jay or the associaition

thenuts

Every night before I go to sleep, I reach over to my night table and grab a handful of pistachio nuts,...

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"Le Petit Four" - My Favorite!

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 1:05 PM

le peyyifur exterior

logo all photos by Jay

As a restaurant critic, the second most frequent question I'm asked (after "How do you stay so thin?," to which...

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Do You Have a Fear of Public Speaking? Here's Help!

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 10:15 AM

antoinette critiques a presentation photo by Jay

The New York Times
had a story recently about famed author Henry Alford, who has just published a new book and was getting ready for a book...

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"Satchmo at the Waldorf" Coming to Wallis Theatre!

(2) Comments | Posted May 7, 2015 | 10:38 PM


all photos by Wallis

I had the pleasure of meeting Louis Armstrong once, spending an evening with him on his 75th birthday on July 4th, 1956 at the Newport Jazz Festival. I was the publicist for the festival from its founding in 1954 by Boston pianist Geoge Wein until the riots of '61, when it was cancelled for several years. Louis performed that night and we filmed him for a spectacular sequence in a movie called "Jazz on a Summer Day" which I was making with director Bert Stern. Imagine, this icon of American jazz was actually a July 4th baby!

I was reminded of this when I received an invitation to attend the opening of a drama which is coming to my favorite new theatre, The Wallis, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, in Beverly Hills. The show is entitled SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF, and it is a production of the Long Wharf Theatre and Shakespeare & Company. It was written by Terry Teachout, the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote a wonderful biography of Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong called Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong. The play coming to The Wallis' Lovelace Studio Theatre will run from May 26th to June 7th, so I suggest that you go to their website or boxoffice and pick up a few seats now. Directed by Gordon Edelstein, it stars a wonderful actor named John Douglas Thompson, an Obie winner who was described by the New York Times as "one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation."

The press info tells me that it is a tour-de-force multiple-character solo performance. Its setting is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in March 1971 and Louis Armstrong has just played one of the final performances of his extraordinary career. Unwinding backstage he recounts events that transformed him into the world-famous "Satchmo." The playwright noted that there were aspects of the musician's life which evoked many questions, especially his career-long dealings with his mob-connected manager, Joe Glaser, also played by Thompson.

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John Douglas Thompson plays Louis Armstrong.

Now it just so happens that I was also well-acquainted with Mr. Glaser, since he is the man whom I had to deal with for 13 years while I worked assiduously to get the life of Billie Holiday onto the screen, finally succeeding with Academy-nominated "Lady Sings the Blues" in 1971. Glaser not only managed Louis, he also managed Billie...and when I met her backstage at Newport and she gave me a draft copy of her semi-autobiography, she told me to go see Joe Glaser if I wanted to get the film rights. I went to meet him at his shabby office on 57th Street in midtown Manhattan and he said he would give me a year's option to her forthcoming book (written with William Dufty) for $5,000. I asked for 18 months, he agreed, and then I struggled to borrow the money for the option,...which I then kept renewing each year for more than a decade. (It was Diana Ross' manager, Berry Gordy, who said to me, "Who would want to see a movie about a black junkie singer?" when I first suggested she star in it. Berry's life story, Motown, opened at the Pantages this week.)

Armstrong's legacy is a very rich one. He changed the sound of jazz, creating the language of jazz that we all know and recognize today. He was one of the most influential, important jazz artists and for many white people in America he was very likely the first black person they loved. (Followed, of course, by Sidney Poitier, who starred in my movie, "For Love of Ivy," with singer Abbey Lincoln, the first studio movie to star two black actors.) Louis was someone that every American saw in movies, on television, and before that heard on radio....someone who came into their homes and that was such an important thing for a black man to have done. As the playwright said, "He was the joyous entertainer who sang 'Hello Dolly' and 'What a Wonderful World" and made millions of people feel warm inside. But make no mistake, Satchmo is also about the private Armstrong, who swore like a trooper and knew how to hold a grudge. The fact that he had two sides to his personality doesn't mean the public man was somehow less real than the private one. Like all geniuses, Armstrong was complicated and that complexity was part of what made his music so beautiful and profound."

Because I personally had to deal with Joe Glaser for over a decade on Billie Holiday I was particularly interested in how the play portrays Armstrong's manager of 40 years, the white, hard-talking Chicago pitchman who left Louis little when he died. In its review of a prior production, The New York Times said: "Glaser acknowledged Armstrong's gifts while blithely exploiting him but like Bing Crosby, who brought Armstrong to radio and movies, he never once invited him into his øwn home. Thompson offers dazzling arias, at one point toggling between Armstrong and Glaser in a pyrotechnical display."

The New Yorker said: "Teachout, Thompson and the director, Gordon Edelstein, together create an extraordinary rich and complex characterization. The show centers on the trumpeter's relationship with his mob-connected Jewish manager of more than 35 years.....and Thompson forcefully inhabits both men - and alos throws a chilling Miles Davis - delivering an altogether riveting performance."

After the Wallis, the show travels to Chicago's Court Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, and San Francisco's Americn Conservatory Theatre. Tickets for $30 to $50 are available at www.the wallis.org., by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at the Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills 90210. SEE YOU THERE!

To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at...

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HNINA - Healthy, Organic Chocolates That Are Delicious!

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 11:57 AM

IMGHNINA boxof chocolates_4122 all photos by Jay

vanesssa withher chocolates
Vanessa holding a box of their chocolates.

I'm nuts about chocolate. Especially dark chocolate, which...

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Hutchinson - A Fabulous Indonesian Steak House on La Cienega!

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 9:03 AM

sign all photos by Jay or Hutchinson

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It's all booths inside this exotic steak emporium

One of my new favorite Los Angeles restaurant, a...

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LACMA Celebrating "50 For 50" With Extraordinary Show!

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2015 | 11:29 AM

logo all photos by Jay or from LACMA

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David Hockney's video exhibit, "The Jugglers," in the lobby of the Resnick Pavilion

Last...

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The Inside Story How Foie Gras Returned to California!

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 10:27 AM

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All photos by Jay.
seared foie gras

Seared foie gras!

It was a celebratory dinner with some of the prime movers in the return of foie gras...

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Heritage - Stunning French Wine Bar Comes to Beverly Hills

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2015 | 11:40 AM

logo all photos by Jay

Today's Los Angeles Times has an op-ed headlined "L.A.'s Parched Bar Scene," which opines that the city of Los Angeles makes it very difficult for a neighborhood bar to even get opened. It proclaims that...

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Billie Holiday Would Be 100 Today!

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2015 | 6:29 PM

IMG_3926 all photos by Jay

Last night on Tavis Smiley's PBS TV show, a singer named Cassandra Wilson was talking about her new album in which she 'interpreted' some of the songs familiarized by the legendary Billie Holiday. She noted...

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"Woman in Gold" Film Originated in Los Angeles!

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 12:25 PM

IMG_3848 all photos from Weinstein Co. and by Jay

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Paula Miller in front of the Klimt reproduction given them by the Altmanns.

Last night I went to a...

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Hungary Goes to the Dogs - WHITE GOD - an Astonishing Movie!

(2) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 4:52 PM

IMG_3812 all photos from Magnolia Films

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May I suggest that you mark your calendar for April 3rd, because that's when a foreign film which I love will be opening here..... for just one week, although I suspect it will be renewed if enough people express interest in seeing it after the word-of-mouth spreads. As I know it will. Visionary film distributor Magnolia is opening the 2014 Hungarian film Oscar entry, WHITE GOD, at the friendly little Nuart Theatre on that day. That's the Landmark movie house in West L.A. at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. (319-473-8530) just a block west of the 405 Freeway, with plenty of street parking 'round the corner. It is one of the most engaging, interesting movies I have EVER seen and I have been watching and making films for more than 50 years. After I saw a screening of WHITE GOD several months ago, I told my Huffington readers about this film....but could not review it until it had been scheduled for a Los Angeles release. Now that it's coming here this week, I can unburden myself of a movie which remained vividly implanted in my brain ever since the night I encountered it. Animal lovers, film enthusiasts, anyone who seeks out the unusual, the unique, the human experience, will relish the picture....but with a caveat which I will detail shortly. The film premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival , where it astonished audiences and won the Prize Un Certain Regard. It was also an official selection for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The woman whom I consider the best film critic in America, the New York Times' Manohla Dargis, wrote: "A fierce and beautiful Hungarian parable about a girl, her dog, and the uprising that's sparked after they are separated. When the dogs break free and run through the streets in 'White God,' demolishing barriers and biting the hands that have hit them, the movie takes a leap into bold political metaphor, offering up a memorable image of the great unwashed gone (literally) barking mad."

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Never fear, it is not a political movie.....yes, it is a movie about animals, specifically dogs. And a little girl who is searching for her missing animal. The political parable comes about, I suppose, because the Budapest city government passes a law imposing a severe tax upon mixed breed dogs in apartments (they are considered 'unfit' by the state, preferring pedigree and pure-bred dogs) ....reflecting the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe. It's a cautionary tale of the indignities visited upon animals by their supposed 'human superiors.' As Indiewire said: "We share the earth with everything that's alive. And we are absolutely in the middle of a moral crisis."

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Lili and Hagen.

Our little girl and her dog have been dumped on her divorced father, Daniel (Sandor Zsoterr) by a mother who is leaving the country for three months. He works in an abbatoir, and at the opening we see him dismembering a cow carcass. A crass neighbor reports that their mutt "has to be reported to the Hungarian police." When 13-year old Lili (Zsofia Psotta) discovers her father, in a fit of rage, won't pay the tax and has loosed her beloved dog, Hagen, onto the street, she begins a dangerous journey to get him back. What makes the movie so unique is that at the same time all of the unwanted and so-called 'unfit' mongrel dogs - whose owners have placed them in overcrowded shelters - rise up under a new leader...Hagen, who has learned all too well on his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hand that beats him. Wandering the streets searching for Lili, he is exposed to many dangerous situations. He has to flee dog-catchers, he is hurt by a nasty beggar, he even becomes a prisoner of a Turkish restaurant owner who is a dog-fighting trainer. After the dogs seize an opportunity to escape and revolt against mankind, courageous Lili is about the only person who can halt the unexpected war between man and dog. (Some of these scenes are so graphic that I question whether this film is appropriate for younger viewers.....or adult viewers who may be queasy about the violence.) Weeks go by and Lili, still bitter at her father, must prepare for her orchestra's annual concert, in which she plays the trumpet.

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Teresa Ann Miller and Hagen

The director, Kornel Mndruczo, has stunningly choreographed scenes featuring a cast of over 250 canines! The opening shot of the movie is of a hooded Lili bicycling through the deserted streets of Budapest....and while the music slowly builds, we see some dogs begin to follow her. Then not just some dogs, a lot of dogs.....more and more joining the pack that is following her until we realize with a shock that they number in the hundreds! In a New York Times interview with the director, they describe it thusly: "The scene is devoid of digital imagery. These dogs are real. Large, small, furry or short-haired, and all very determined, racing towards the camera en masse. It is an astonishing sequence revisited in greater detail later, and it sets up a moment when subjugated animals rise up against their oppressors, fighting back, taking over and leaving audiences in awe." Indeed. The director comments that the dogs taught him "curiosity, patience, and to change my perspective."

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Teresa and the Director in Budapest

I had a chance to meet and interview the California woman, Teresa Ann Miller, the animal trainer who worked with him and his Hungarian staff to prepare the dogs for the film. "I was known in Europe for my work on a popular Austrian television series, 'Kommissar Rex'," about a German shepherd police dog," she told me. "So when he contacted me, and told me that we had to use a lot of real dogs of mixed breeds doing some impossible things, I was so intrigued I said yes." Ms. Miller was entrusted with the task of finding the dog to play the lead, Hagen, whom I also met that night. "Actually," she told me, "I insisted that we get two Hagens, so they could split the work. Spent weeks searching for the right dog......he had to look friendly yet could be fierce. Finally I found a listing in Arizona for two brothers up for adoption, Luke and Bodie, mixes of Labrador, Shar-Pei and hound. They were young but the moment I saw them, I knew we had our Hagen." She told me how she had adopted them and spent long weeks working with them to get used to unusual situations....noise and other dogs and threatening people. "Then I brought them to Budapest to begin the serious training." I asked her about a sequence in the movie where Hagen has a violent fight with a Rottweiler and she laughed and said, "It was all in the editing. They were friends....we just filmed lots of play." One reviewer at Cannes said the dog was "the Al Pacino of dog actors." About the title, I quickly realized that it was a subtle take on Sam Fuller's 1982 race-relations allegory, White Dog, about a German shepherd who is taught to hate. Myself, I kept thinking of its strange similarity to another film which I loved, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

I asked about the amazing scenes of the packs of dogs....how did they achieve that miracle of working with so many animals. She explained that she and the Hungarian trainer, Arpad Halasz, had many trainers working with small packs of mixed breeds which they found in shelters all over Hungary, then little by little incorporated them into the large group. "It was five or six months of intense work to get them fit for the challenging scenes. The director had enormous patience," she said admiringly. I was thrilled to learn that, after the film, all of the dogs were adopted.

Yes, this is a dark twist on an underdog story. Be courageous and see it; you will be rewarded by some incredible imagery which will remain with you for a long, long while.

To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at...

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Al Pacino Plays Aging Rock Star in "Danny Collins"

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2015 | 3:10 PM

christoher plummer andpacino all phootos from Bleeker Street

Last night, Friday, at the AMC 15 Theatre in Century City I attended a showing of Al Pacino's new film, DANNY COLLINS, from Bleeker Street Media. Pictures, which is getting...

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Sister Sam of St. Vincent's 'Meals on Wheels' -- My Idea of a Saint!

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 3:01 PM

sister
Sister Sam with LL Cool J, his wife Simone Smith, and Wolfgang Puck photo from Meals on Wheels

It's no secret to my Huffington readers that I'm not a great fan of organized religions. Over the course of...

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Food Scene in L.A. is Booming!

(2) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 2:21 PM

pink's hotdogs attebds every event
Pink's Hot Dogs Honors Planned Parenthood Event all photos by Jay

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"Switzerland" At the Geffen Stars a Wondrous Laura Linney!

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 2:56 PM

program all photos by Michael Lamont for the Geffen

I have visited Switzerland a half-dozen times in my life, mainly to ski and socialize in St. Moritz and to dine at what was once considered the finest restaurant in Europe,...

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Kevin Spacey Should Host the Oscars!

(2) Comments | Posted March 14, 2015 | 5:24 PM

academy logo all photos from the Academy

Those of us who are streaming new episodes of Netflix' House of Cards are all seeing the brilliance of Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood. And last night he did an hour...

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A Human Slave Trade in Young Chinese Girls... in San Francisco!

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2015 | 3:47 PM

The story was so astonishing that I skeptically questioned the three screenwriters before even agreeing to read their script. But after looking at all of the background material and researching the period, I reluctantly agreed that it was probably true. Unbelievable, but true.

One of my long-time screenplay writers, Robert...

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