Friday, April 12, 2024

Exclusive: Finally We Learn Tonight Why Elaine May Declined to Hire Cary Grant for Her Classic Film, “A New Leaf”


Yes, we’re going to learn the reason this happened TONIGHT– FRIDAY– on TCM during a special evening devoted to writer-director-actress-comic genius Elaine May, who is closing in on 92 years young. This is a gift, the kind cinemaniacs and film buffs are going to revel in.

Elaine’s long time friend, Julian Schlossberg, has recorded a rare interview with this living legend. May — recent recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Oscar and also a Tony Award — just does not do this kind of thing. But Schlossberg convinced her to sit down and do wrap arounds for four of her movies tonight beginning at 8pm.

The night begins with a 75 minute documentary called “Take Two: Nichols and May.” which chronicles Elaine’s early comic career with Mike Nichols. That’s followed by the great comedy, “A New Leaf,” which Elaine wrote, directed, and stars in with Walter Matthau and Jack Weston.

After “A New Leaf” comes “Mikey and Nicky,” written and directed by May with John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ned Beatty. At that point, I presume, we will have learned the answer to our headline question: why didn’t Elaine May cast Hollywood legend Cary Grant in her 1971 classic? (Answer: Grant wouldn’t get in the water at the end of the film.)

“Mikey and Nicky” starts at 11:15pm.

And then, you will DVR “Ishtar” starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, a movie that made the entire film world gossip for weeks on end because it was either The Worst Ever or a Hidden Gem. Parts of this movie are beyond hilarious and show these two monumental actors at the top of their respective games.

My only regret is that they didn’t have enough time to show my favorite film, “The Heartbreak Kid.” You’ll have to find that on your own. Elaine May and Mike Nichols are considered the platinum standard in sophisticated contemporary humor. They had to break up their act so that each one of them could be Stars with a capital S. In the 60s, eventually Woody Allen joined them in this oeuvre. This was a time when being funny didn’t mean being crude. It’s intellectual humor, and it resonates so much even now you could bathe in it. (But not the “Saltburn” way.)

PS This exclusive picture (c2024), Julian says, is what Elaine looked like before — apprehensive — and then after the interview. She had a good time. We will, too!

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.

Read more

In Other News