Woodworking: Too bad it’s not ‘the rage’ unless it’s illegal or immoral“I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
“I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”
That’s what dramatist Lillian Hellman wrote to the House Un-American Activities Committee after it asked her to tell the committee if she knew that any of her friends were communists.
Folks, the media should follow in her footsteps when it comes to a broad range of fashion. I found that out last month.
I’ve spent much of this month’s verbiage complaining about the incivility of our mass media outlets, of politicians wrangling over everything but the real issues.
So now along comes another story that rankles my old bones right down to the sacroiliac.
Everyone I’ve talked to seems to know about this except me, until I read it in a recent issue of New York magazine. And so for those of you who also don’t know, I’ll recount it for you right now.
Be warned that it begins with a story that will rankle your young and your old bones, but will end on a cheery note, so bear with me.
The story begins about 40 years ago, soon after the death of Vince Lombardi, the iconic Green Bay Packer coach. Lombardi was hot news just then and so is his right guard, Jerry Kramer, who wrote his memoirs, “Instant Replay.”
Kramer tries to get a Lombardi film off the ground, but gets beaten out by a TV special with Ernest Borgnine in the leading role.
It’s a flop because — and get this — Lombardi’s life is scandal free.
Who would want to make a movie out of a guy just because he took the Packers to five NFL titles? Especially if he had led a lily-white life, with no sex texting, etc., etc.?
On to 1987, Michael O’Brien’s biography “Vince” appeared to a lukewarm audience. No texting please; forget it.
Then, 12 years later, Wisconsin native David Marannis publishes a new book, “When Pride Still Mattered.” Tom Browkaw’s book about the Greatest Generation is very hot in 1999 and Tony Ponturo, a marketing specialist for Budweiser, takes notice.
“MARKETING SPECIALIST:” Those are the key words.
So he goes to work and so does Harvey Weinstein, who gets a play written from Kramer’s book. But the director dies and he puts it on the shelf.
Meanwhile, Ponturo leaves Budweiser and goes to Broadway, taking the Marannis book along. Then he finds out a Wisconsin writer named Eric Simonson has already written a play based on the book.
It’s not very good, but marketer Ponturo knows that “the Greatest Generation” is hot stuff, just as Lombardi was 40 years ago, so tells Simonson to write it. He does, there’s a public reading and everyone goes ape.
“This is Lombardi,” says the audience.
And so it came to Broadway last month at Circle on the Square, starring Dan Lauria of TV’s “The Wonder Years.”
So all of a sudden that boring old Lombardi, who never did a foolish thing is all the rage. That’s good news for Jerry Kramer, for Green Bay and even for Robert DeNiro, who will star in a 2012 film version of the “Instant Replay” book.
When I told a friend about DeNiro’s casting, he replied he thought DeNiro was a little too small for the role and maybe too artsy.
I replied that the actor and the coach have lots in common. Lombardi was a New Yorker; DeNiro is a New Yorker. Both their last names end in voiced vowels (i.e. they’re Italian).
Both are beetle-browed.
As for size, I reminded him of “Raging Bull,” DeNiro’s movie about boxer Jake LaMotta. In that film DeNiro sat down and ate banana splits until he gained 50 pounds and went on to win awards for his performance.
So that’s the story. I suppose in another 10 years sex texting will be all the rage and porno star Harry Reems (“Deep Throat”) will be brought out of retirement to play a soon-to-retire quarterback.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.