Whit Stillman,

Whit Stillman,

A weeklong electronic journal.
June 9 1998 3:30 AM

Whit Stillman,

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       I owe this assignment to Michael Kinsley, who, every 26 1/2 years or so, throws me a juicy bone of this kind. In January 1972, "Kinsley" (as he was then known, at 21 already a brand name) tapped me to co-write two of the Harvard Crimson's annual "funny" pieces, and the next year I got to follow in the master's footsteps (Kinsley was a great comedy writer but already displayed the lamentable serious side that led to a career in polemics and "important" journalism--after the law didn't work out, that is).
       My alibi for the quality of this first entry will be that I didn't get an Internet-ready computer until 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon (at the South Shore Mall in Bay Shore; it was definitely like being in the United States, polite and very efficient) and have spent most of the time since then trying to figure it out. It is now 11 a.m. ET and an hour away from the Slate deadline. Wha-oh. I'm not a fast writer. To do five days of "Diary" entries properly would normally take me at least 12 weeks, or more, and there just isn't that much time.
       I'll confess I have a naked agenda in writing these entries: Our film, The Last Days of Disco--four years and a lifetime in preparation--is opening nationwide, and I want to persuade as many people as possible to see it. Now the film's in about 20 cities and on Friday, June 12, it opens on many more screens.
       Tonight, The Charlie Rose Show is supposed to air a segment on the film that was taped on May 28, right after the premiere and before the opening. It was late in the day, hours before we would find out about the New York Times and Los Angeles Times reviews. I was pretty panicked and, though my Rose interview four years ago was about the best one I had ever had, this time I kept spacing. At one point he asked me what I had learned from all the film books and director biographies I've read, and I just stared back at him blankly before mustering, "Well, nothing I can think of." I guess I'll find out what editing capabilities the show has. "At least the clips should look good," as we say when we otherwise completely mess up.
       After the show we met up with the actors at Joe Allen's on West 46th Street for the traditional pre-review séance and cocktails. Now with color printing the Times is not available until midnight (in times past, we'd loiter in the Times building lobby around 9 p.m. to get the first copies), but Sam Fusco at Castle Rock pulled the Janet Maslin review off the Internet and called: "It's not good, it's great!" he said. Chris Eigeman, David Thornton, Michael Weatherly, Matt Keeslar, Tara Subkoff, and I were reading the faxed copy when Jennifer Beals, a great supporter of the film, showed up too. In the early a.m. Kenneth Turan came through with a wonderful piece in the L.A. Times. I love you Janet Maslin, Kenneth Turan, Roger Ebert, Jay Carr, Stephen Hunter, Dave Kehr, Karen Durbin, John Anderson, Lisa Schwarzbaum, John Hartl, and the rest of your happy, talented, generous breed ... Meanwhile, before tomorrow, please see the movie. It's really good, really fun. Take a flier. Live dangerously. Dare to struggle. Dare to win.