Thursday, April 18, 2024

Elaine Stritch, 89, Gets the Last Laugh at A List Celebration for Documentary


Elaine Stritch, 89, fresh from making trouble on the Today show with Kathie Lee and Hoda– she dropped the F bomb before the network censors could catch it–was back last night at the Paley Center in New York. The legendary Broadway performer is the subject of a new doc called “Shoot Me,” to be released Friday by IFC in 30 cities across the country. She gets the last laugh, believe me, on a number of topics in this raw, unvarnished look at her remarkable life.

And Stritch was present last night, albeit in a wheelchair needed because of a healing leg infection. She was pretty overwhelmed, too, by the turnout. Lots of other great names and famous faces turned out including Alec Baldwin, who exec produced, “30 Rock” alum Jane Krakowski, Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Alan Cumming, who greeted each other warmly; as well as a murderer’s row of actresses including Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn, Lee Grant, Dianne Wiest; Tovah Feldshuh, Barbara Barrie, Ilene Kristen, plus a glowing and ever youthful Liz Smith, archeologist Iris Love, cinematographer Ellen Kuras, and Vanity Fair’s Beth Kseniak. Lifetime Oscar winner DA Pennebaker, friends with Stritch since before he shot her in her famous “Company” documentary, was there with award winning filmmaker wife Chris Hegedus.

Stritch did address the audience at the end of the screening. I asked her, for everyone, if she missed New York since moving to Detroit. The answer is, she sure does. There’s a video I’ll try and attach shortly.

Director Chiemi Karasawa really did a great job capturing Stritch’s feistiness– and the loneliness of being a long distance runner in show business. It’s a movie with a lot of laughs, though, and real lessons in survival.  Music for the doc was composed by Thelonious Monk award winner Chris Bowers.

Sad note: among the interviewees was James Gandolfini, in the year before he died.

PS No one ever mentions this but Carole Bayer Sager has a cameo walk on in this movie. I don’t even know if she knows it!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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