Jan News Bits: Alec Baldwin, John Turturro, Carl Sprague, Woody Harrelson, Diane Keaton

News Bits! Our round up of Woody Allen bits from around the web. This is the 99th edition!

Alec Baldwin just seems to do everything. As well as being a regular now on Saturday Night Live (and you know, a film star), Baldwin hosts the podcast Here’s The Thing. His latest guest is was John Turturro, and Allen came up in the discussion. Baldwin has worked with Allen three times – Alice, To Rome With Love and Blue Jasmine. Turturro has also worked with Allen three times, although only once was Allen the director (Hannah And Her Sisters). The other two involved Turturro directing – his own film starring Allen called Fading Gigolo, and the anthology play for Relatively Speaking, where Allen wrote a one act play.

Turturro discusses his whole career, with fascinating insights into films like Barton Fink and Do The Right Thing. Baldwin then talks about Blue Jasmine, and a great anecdote. The Allen stuff starts at 40:45. You can also get the podcast here.

Carl Sprague is a production designer who has worked on many films we love – such as The Grand Budapest Hotel. In a new interview, Sprague talked about working with Woody Allen. He first worked with Allen as a production assistant, but was fired on the first day due to Teamster issues (the film was Radio Days). 30 years later, he worked on Allen’s Amazon series Crisis In Six Scenes.

My idol was Woody Allen. He was making two movies a year in New York with an A-list crew. I was trying to find a way to crack into that circle. Who did I know who might know him? It turned out my little brother’s piano teacher was also Woody Allen’s producer’s kids’ piano teacher. She got me a phone number, and I called and said I wanted to be a production assistant. The producer, Bob Greenhut, ended up hiring me to work on the film Radio Days. My job was to drive Carol Joffe, the set decorator, around.

Well, anyway, I was a terrible driver. I was never late, but I was also never early. And I was always lost. This was before GPS, and I didn’t know my way around the outer boroughs. It’s hard to find the studio in Queens even if you do know your way around. So I was lost all the time, but I was having a great time, and I got to work a little bit at the edge of the art department. This was the first movie that Santo Loquasto designed for Woody. I thought the world of Santo, and he gave me a couple little projects to do. His art director at the time was Speed Hopkins who I admired to pieces. So I got to know those guys a little bit.

Anyway, on the first day of shooting, I was so excited just to be there. I’m on the set of a Woody Allen movie! I can’t believe it! Then the production manager comes up to me and says, “You know, Carl, the teamsters are complaining that you’re driving the set decorator around. It’s really supposed to be their job. So we’re going to have to let you go.” I went from being ecstatic to being completely crushed in about five seconds. That was the end of that. The funny thing is this year I’m designing Woody Allen’s Amazon series. Helen Robin, the one who handed me the keys to drive that set decorator around, called and asked if I’d be interested. I was in the middle of another job at the time, but I said yes immediately and quit what I was working on. No regrets.

Congrats to that other Woody, Woody Harrelson, who recently pulled off a crazy feat of a live film. Lost In London was a technical marvel and reviews were pretty good. In the film, Harrelson makes fun of how much he is mistaken for Woody Allen. The film also makes fun of Wes Anderson being an Allen wannabe (in a very silly scene – no haters please).

Magician David Copperfield gave the New York Times his list of essential books. He included Allen’s Without Feathers on his list.

Woody Allen is so funny and brilliant, I feel the astonishment I hope my audiences feel — I keep asking myself, “How does he do it?”

Director of Photography Sean McElwee recently spoke about Allen as an inspiration for work on his new film The Incredible Jessica James. McElwee spoke to Filmmaker Magazine.

Jim and I discussed the films of Woody Allen a lot during prep – how his aesthetic always allowed the actors and the script to shine – and the camera never felt the need to be in the forefront of any scene.

Planet Tyro are a couple of film fans who have been making great podcasts and videos for a while. They have set themselves an ambitious project of going through every Allen film and it’s worth checking out.

One of our favourite podcasts on the planet is The Slashfilmcast. In their episode covering Silence (11th Jan), they talk a little about Café Society.

Also a fan is Mark Millar. Millar is a superstar in the comic book superheroes world, and if you don’t know his work directly, you certainly know his characters – Kick Ass, Kingsmen, and his storylines from Marvel comics is widely used in the films.

Frame Rated reviewed The Purple Rose Of Cairo and Broadway Danny Rose, both new on blu-ray

And it’s January. And in January we wish Happy Birthday to Diane Keaton. Really, the only muse anyone could ever need. Lots of nice tributes from around the web.

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