On the Set of “Scrooge & Marley”
I’ve always enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a movie location set and visiting the set of “Scrooge & Marley” was certainly an early Christmas present. Upon entering the Chicago location in May of this year, there was a familiar smell coming from the craft service area and yes, I could indeed ascertain the distinct aroma of Chicago’s own signature Ann Sather cinnamon rolls. This was going to be a sweet morning!
Tracey Baim, the producer, was my navigator for the visit. First up was an interview with two-time Emmy award winning writer/actor, and a cultural icon in his own right (signature red glasses, shoulder length blonde curly hair, a T-shirt with a written declaration), Bruce Vilanch, who plays Fezziwig. Next, Chicago’s own Tim Kazurinsky, a former cast member of Saturday Night Live and currently a stage performer, who plays Marley’s Ghost. Topped off with a visit to the Fezziwig Discotheque set to view live action filming and chat with co-directors Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville.
My interview with Vilanch, of course, started with a few laughs. He’s wonderful to meet and hysterical to interview as he’s constantly cracking jokes. He told me that he’d recently lost 100 pounds via lap-band surgery and the craft service table was driving him mad. He confirmed that he’d written 23 Academy Awards shows and totally enjoyed his time working on a live show.
We talked about his time on the Hollywood Squares television show in which he declared, “I was to the left of Whoopi, if such a thing is possible!”
When asked to describe his character, Fezziwig, his face lit up and he gushed exuberantly about the part. “Well he’s like Rosalind Russell in “Auntie Mame,” he’s the life of the party, and of course, there’s always a party when he’s around!”
What does he enjoy most about acting? “Oh it’s the childhood thing of loosing yourself in somebody else. I think that most actors are driven to get away from themselves and I’m no exception.”
Lastly, is there anything else he’d like to say about “Scrooge & Marley?” “It’s a fabulous piece. It’s the ‘Christmas Carol’ you’ve never seen before. Even if you think you’ve seen every version possible, people should give this one a try as it has a very human, gay take on the story.”
Tim Kazurinsky was also delightful as he, too, was very comical to chat with. He’s had a wonderful acting career and is often recognized as being part of the “Police Academy” movies.
When asked about what drew him to the role, Kazurinsky immediately spoke of his friend. “Richard Knight, the author and director, and I are old pals and we’ve worked together before. He asked me if I’d come on board and we’ve always had a great time. I’m prone to working with friends. So, I read the script and said I’d love to do this.”
Which Saturday Night Live cast members did he enjoy working with? “It was so much fun watching Eddie Murphy become a megastar on the show. It was like he could mimic anyone, from Mohammad Ali to Stevie Wonder to James Brown. At the time, he was young and reckless.”
What does he think of the film “Scrooge & Marley?” “Well, it’s that the message of Dickens is timeless and that’s why it plays time and time again and that’s why it’s so important. This rendition gives it a new spin and a fresh take.”
My last stop, the Fezziwig Discotheque, did not disappoint. The set was brightly colored with lots of glitter and, of course, the infamous disco ball. As this was a working day, I only spoke briefly to co-directors Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville. Both were delighted to be working on the film and that they complimented each other when it came to the task of directing.
And what about those Ann Sather cinnamon rolls? In the interest of full disclosure, my brother Richard Knight Jr. and I shared one. It was a surreal morning for me in every way, as I viewed first hand, my little brother realizing his life-long dream of writing and directing a film. Needless to say, I’m very proud of him and wish he and the film all the best.
Sarah Knight Adamson ©December 17, 2012