Saturday, June 15, 2024

Remembering “Wall Street” Producer Ed Pressman, a Beloved New York Institution

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The marquee at the legendary Paris Theater said it all about how you celebrate the life of beloved movie producer Ed Pressman who died last month. A program featuring clips from his astounding film resume plus homages from stars, colleagues, friends and family was both heartfelt and hilarious. His wife, Annie Pressman, and son, Sam, acted as emcees to the entertaining memorial, that featured Jeremy Irons, Willem Dafoe, Christian Bale, Martin Sheen, John Lithgow, David Hare, and Sir Ben Kingsley, and others videoed in.

David Byrne was auditioning actors for his upcoming “Here Lies Love” on Broadway and could not make it, but the Paris was packed with everyone from famed filmmaker Barbara Kopple to critic David Denby to producer/casting director Bonnie Timmerman to the legendary PR flack, Peggy Siegal. Director Abel Ferrara came in videoed from Rome, and thereafter many marveled that he was still around. That became a running joke.

Ed’s brother, Jim, talked about his inheriting the family toy business and their upbringing at the Majestic playing stickball on West 70 Street. As you would imagine, the funniest testimonials came from childhood friends, classmates at Fieldston, for example, and his lawyer, Jim Janowitz, who accompanied him to Cannes only to be airlifted by helicopter to an estate in Italy to meet with a potential backer. Balking at the price, the deep-pocketed Italian responded, “I knew I was dealing with the producer of “American Psycho,” but I did not realize I was meeting with two American psychos.”

The director of that landmark film, Mary Harran, was often called out for her brilliance. Just in case you needed to be refreshed on this image: clips of a beautifully buffed Bale working out and competing for best business card were screened.

Actor and writer Eric Bogosian spoke about how they succeeded in making ‘Talk Radio.” That movie’s director, Oliver Stone, talked about the making of the two “Wall Street” movies, with Kelly McKee of Pressman films reminding everyone later on at dinner at the Harmonie Club that the memorable line, “Greed is good,” was intended to be loathed. Surprisingly, audiences ate it up, embracing the chilling speech. Will Janowitz, a young actor from “The Sopranos” and son of Jim, recounted Ed’s encouragement at the idea of making the movie “Bad Lieutenant” into a television series. On a night of impersonations, his of the director Abel Ferrara was most “godfather”-like.

 

Many in the film community talked about how unusual “Eddie” was, soft spoken and not your usual producer-brash and pushy, a star quarterback in high school, host of the best “Superbowl” party, often seen with a skinny rolled joint in his breast pocket. Gee, having known him mostly at his premieres, I missed that part of him. The memorial left me pondering, Why is death so final? But Ed Pressman’s legacy will live on his family, friends, and films.

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