a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where Are They Now?

I got to wondering about some 1980s/1990s writer/directors and actors, and wondering why I hadn't heard about them for a while, So I decided to muse about them here.

One wonders why people drop out of sight. Does there get to be a point where you just don't enjoy the business any more, and you have made enough money to walk away from it? Or have they just found something else they like to do more?

Some of my favorite missing artists:

WHIT STILLMAN. Wrote and directed three very good movies -- Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco -- and he even did an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets. But The Last Days of Disco was 7 years ago, and even imdb has nothing listed for him since.

PAUL BRICKMAN. Brickman wrote and directed only two movies, but they were very solid -- Risky Business, and Men Don't Leave; he also wrote Handle With Care. But other than a couple of writing credits (including Clint Eastwood's True Crime) he hasn't done much of anything in 15 years.

MEREDITH SALENGER. There was a whole bunch of young actresses who came and went without making much of a lasting splash; off the top of my head, there was Mia Sara, and Ione Skye, and Moira Kelly, and Kerri Green, and a long long list of others. But Meredith Salenger seemed to have a spark; she was great as the lead in The Journey of Natty Gann, adorable in Dream A Little Dream and A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon. And then... she seems to have spiralled down, to B movies, then C movies, and a bunch of movies I never heard of. Come back, Meredith, Come back.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ. Okay, his writing and directing career was nothing much, but as an actor he was very likable, and he was certainly more talented than Charlie. But Charlie is now on TV's highest-rated sitcom, while Emilio has almost completely dropped out of sight, though a check of imdb shows that he has directed a couple of TV episodes. Apparently he's also working on a movie called "Bobby", which he wrote, directed and appears in, set around the assassination of Robert Kennedy; on the plus side, Meryl Streep, Anthony Hopkins and William H. Macy appear in it. But Nick Cannon and Lindsey Lohan do too. So maybe he's coming back.

DANIEL WATERS. He got on the map by writing the classic "Heathers". And then he wrote the not-so-classic "Ford Fairlane" and "Hudson Hawk". "Batman Returns" was good, "Demolition Man" was memorable, but that was over a dozen years ago. Since then, his only credit is writing and directing the 2001 movie "Happy Campers", which sunk without a trace (I read the script, and was disappointed). Hopefully he'll get his mojo back.

JOHN HUGHES. In hindsight, Home Alone ruined him, because it got him writing kiddie movies, which just got worse and worse. But Hughes' teen films still hold up extremely well, and feel so effortless. Teen movies today could use a good blast of John Hughes, though if (as rumored) he is going to do a sequel to "Sixteen Candles", he'd better take it somewhere interesting. He hasn't directed a movie since 1991's Curly Sue, and only directed 8 overall, though at least half of the 8 (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, She's Having a Baby, Uncle Buck, and Curly Sue) are solid, very entertaining movies.

Anyone have some info on any of these people? And anyone you are wondering about?


At 5:18 PM, Anonymous fearless said...

Come back Meredith Salenger, indeed. Grrrrr.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger erik said...

What I've been wondering lately is what happened to Bruce Joel Rubin. He wrote one of my favorite movies, Jacob's Ladder, and won an Oscar for Ghost. His only IMDB listings for the last 10 years are Deep Impact (which is really good, for all I know) and... Stuart Little 2.

Huh? As an aspiring writer, I'd really like to believe he's simply choosing to spend his time doing other things. But it still scares me that someone that good can apparently disappear.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"WHIT STILLMAN. Wrote and directed three very good movies -- Metropolitan, Barcelona"

From what I can remember about "Barcelona":

1) A movie where you had to actual leads and in a sense, two protagonists. I had to look up who they were (Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman) because it seems they fell off the planet with Stillman. Still they deserved better than walk-on roles on TV shows and small films.

2) The Missus has to constantly remind me that Mira Sorvino was in this movie. I'm like the President of The Flat Earth Society when it comes to this, I simply refuse to believe the box cover, the IMDB and the wife that Mira was in this thing.

3) A friend at work was obsessing on Whit two years ago. Every time he sees a Wes Andersen film, he feels the looming influence of Stillman and he brings up Stillman's disappearance every other time I see him.

I would like to think that all of these writers are merely doing uncredited polishes. It begs the question that acquaintance brought up to me one time, "how many good films are in a filmmaker?"

He felt other than Hitch or Scorsese, everybody is capable of maybe three fantastic ones, two good and the rest would invariably be mediocre.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd have to guess Hughes is off somewhere on a private island made of hundred dollar bills, glad he's not dealing with the b.s. any more.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all respect, because I normally love your posts, but this post needs some basic fact checking with IMDB.

Just as one example, you mentioned Moira Kelly as one of the actors you felt as had gone missing.

Here is what she's been up to:

# Dirt Nap (2005) (post-production) .... Kate

# The Lion King 1½ (2004) (V) (voice) .... Nala
... aka Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata! (Europe: English title)
# A Woman Reported (2004) .... Woman
# "One Tree Hill" (2003) TV Series .... Karen Roe
# The Safety of Objects (2001) .... Susan Train

# "The West Wing" (1999) TV Series .... Mandy Hampton (1999-2000)
# Henry Hill (1999) .... Cynthia
... aka Play for Me (USA)
# "To Have & to Hold" (1998) TV Series .... Annie Cornell (1998)
# Hi-Life (1998) .... Susan
# Monday After the Miracle (1998) (TV) .... Helen Keller
# The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) (V) (voice) .... Nala
# Dangerous Beauty (1998) .... Beatrice Venier
... aka The Honest Courtesan (UK) (USA: working title)
... aka A Destiny of Her Own (Australia)
# The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Activity Center (1998) (VG) .... Nala
... aka Disney's the Lion King II: Simba's Pride Activity Center (USA: complete title)
# Drive, She Said (1997) .... Nadine Ship
# Changing Habits (1997) .... Susan 'Soosh' Teague
# Love Walked In (1997) .... Vera
... aka Ni el tiro del final (Argentina)
# Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996) .... Dorothy Day
... aka Entertaining Angels (USA: short title)
# Unhook the Stars (1996) .... Ann Mary Margaret 'Annie' Hawks
... aka Décroche les étoiles (France)
# The Tie That Binds (1995) .... Dana Clifton
# Little Odessa (1994) .... Alla Shustervich
# The Lion King (1994) (voice) .... Adult Nala
# With Honors (1994) .... Courtney Blumenthal
# Daybreak (1993) (TV) .... Blue
# Chaplin (1992) .... Hetty Kelly/Oona O'Neill
... aka Charlot (Italy)
# Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) .... Donna Hayward
... aka Twin Peaks (France)
# The Cutting Edge (1992) .... Kate Moseley
# Thirty Below Zero (1992) .... Lucy
# Billy Bathgate (1991) .... Becky
# The Boy Who Cried Bitch (1991) .... Jessica
# Love, Lies and Murder (1991) (TV) .... Cinnamon Brown

Yep - totally gone missing.

Here's the "missing" Mia Sara:

# Hoodlum & Son (2003) .... Ellen Heaven
# "Birds of Prey" (2002) TV Series .... Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
... aka BOP (USA: promotional abbreviation)
# "Lost in Oz" (2002) TV Series .... Loriellidere
# Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001) (TV) .... Ondine
# The Impossible Elephant (2001) .... Molly Connor
... aka The Incredible Elephant (Europe: English title) (UK)
# Turn of Faith (2001)
# Little Insects (2000) (voice) .... Princess Dayzie

# Dazzle (1999) .... Miss Martinet
# Hard Time (1998/I) (TV) .... Myler
# 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997/II) (TV) .... Mara
# The Pompatus of Love (1996) .... Cynthia
... aka The Pompatus of Love (France: TV title)
# Undertow (1996) .... Willie Yates
# Bullet to Beijing (1995) .... Natasha Gradetsky
... aka Beijing express (Canada: French title)
... aka Len Deighton's Bullet to Beijing (USA: complete title)
# Black Day Blue Night (1995) .... Hallie Schrag
# The Maddening (1995) .... Cassie Osborne
# The Set Up (1995) .... Gina Sands
# Timecop (1994) .... Melissa Walker
# Caroline at Midnight (1994) .... Victoria Dillon
... aka Someone's Watching
# Call of the Wild (1993) (TV) .... Jessie Gosselin
# Blindsided (1993) (TV) .... Chandler Strange
# A Stranger Among Us (1992) .... Leah
... aka Close to Eden (Australia) (UK: cable TV title)
# By the Sword (1991) .... Erin Clavelli
# A Climate for Killing (1991) .... Elise Shipp
... aka A Row of Crows
# Daughter of Darkness (1990) (TV) .... Katherine Thatcher

# "Till We Meet Again" (1989) (mini) TV Series .... Delphine de Lancel
... aka Judith Krantz's 'Till We Meet Again' (USA: complete title)
# Big Time (1989) (TV) .... Fran
# Apprentice to Murder (1988) .... Alice Spangler
# Any Man's Death (1988) .... Gerlind
# Shadows in the Storm (1988) .... Melanie
# Queenie (1987) (TV) .... Queenie Kelly/Dawn Avalon
# Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) .... Sloane Peterson
# Legend (1985) .... Princess Lily
... aka Legend: Ultimate Edition (USA: reissue title (video title))

Oh - and you were worried about Meredith Salenger. As you can CLEARLY see below, just like most of the other people you worried about, she's also < sarcasm > not been working at all < /sarcasm >.

Again, I'm normally a fan of your work, but this lack of simply fact checking IMDB isn't worthy of you.

1. The Work and the Glory: A House Divided (2006) (post-production) .... Caroline Mendenhall-Steed

2. Out of the Woods (2005) (TV) .... Linda
3. Quality Time (2004) .... Susan Stone
4. The Third Wheel (2002/I) .... Sara
5. My Best Friend's Wife (2001) .... Ami Meyer
... aka Grownups (USA: video title)
6. Good Advice (2001) .... Amy
7. H.U.D. (2000) (TV) .... Mason Noble

8. Lake Placid (1999) .... Deputy Sharon Gare
... aka Lac Placid (Canada: French title)
9. Matters of Consequence (1999) .... Reiko
10. Chicks (1999) (TV) .... Nic
11. The Oz Witch Project (1999) .... Dorothy Gale
12. No Code of Conduct (1998) (as Meredith Salinger) .... Rebecca Peterson
13. Sour Grapes (1998) .... Degan
14. Bug Buster (1998) .... Veronica Hart
... aka Some Things Never Die (UK: video title)
15. Sparkle and Charm (1997) .... Gwen
16. Happenstance (1997) .... Shannon
17. Glory Daze (1996) .... Comic Groupie
18. Pier 66 (1996) (TV) .... Kate
19. Legacy of Sin: The William Coit Story (1995) (TV) .... Robin Coit
20. Village of the Damned (1995) .... Melanie Roberts
... aka John Carpenter's Village of the Damned (USA: complete title)
21. Girl in the Cadillac (1995) .... Salesgirl
22. Venus Rising (1995) .... Maria
23. Dead Beat (1994) .... Donna
... aka The Phony Perfector
24. The Great O'Grady (1993) (TV)
25. Edge of Honor (1991) .... Alex

26. Dream a Little Dream (1989) .... Lainie Diamond
27. The Kiss (1988) .... Amy
28. April Morning (1988) (TV) .... Ruth Simmons
29. A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988) .... Lisa Bentwright
30. The Last Frontier (1986) (TV) .... Tina Adamson
31. My Town (1986) (TV) .... Amber Wheeler
32. The Journey of Natty Gann (1985) .... Natty Gann
33. Annie (1982) (uncredited) .... Bit part

Filmography as: Actress, Notable TV Guest Appearances

Notable TV Guest Appearances

1. "Cold Case" playing "Sloane Easton" in episode: "Ravaged" (episode # 2.18) 27 March 2005
2. "Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!" playing "Aurora Six" (voice) in episode: "The Sun Riders Return" (episode # 2.6) 19 March 2005
3. "Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!" playing "Aurora Six" (voice) in episode: "The Sun Riders" (episode # 1.5) 16 October 2004
4. "Dawson's Creek" playing "Amy Lloyd" in episode: "After Hours" (episode # 5.21) 1 May 2002
5. "Dawson's Creek" playing "Amy Lloyd" in episode: "Cigarette Burns" (episode # 5.18) 10 April 2002
6. "Resurrection Blvd." playing "Jane Ensler" in episode: "Con Cuidado" (episode # 2.7) 7 August 2001
7. "Resurrection Blvd." playing "Jane Ensler" in episode: "Los Guardias" (episode # 2.5) 24 July 2001
8. "Resurrection Blvd." playing "Jane Ensler" in episode: "Secretos, Mentiras, y Expectativas" (episode # 2.4) 17 July 2001
9. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" playing "Grace Newman" (as Meredith Salinger) in episode: "I Only Have Eyes for You" (episode # 2.19) 28 April 1998
10. "Poltergeist: The Legacy" playing "Emma Scott" in episode: "Dark Angel" (episode # 2.7) 11 April 1997
11. "The Sentinel" playing "Amber" in episode: "Ice Man" (episode # 2.7) 30 October 1996
12. "L.A. Firefighters" playing "Michelle Goldstein" in episode: "The Fire Down Below" (episode # 1.4) 24 June 1996
13. "L.A. Firefighters" playing "Michelle Goldstein" in episode: "It's a Family Affair" (episode # 1.3) 17 June 1996
14. "L.A. Firefighters" playing "Michelle Goldstein" in episode: "Till Death Do Us Part" (episode # 1.2) 10 June 1996
15. "Tales from the Crypt" playing "Mona" in episode: "House of Horror" (episode # 5.7) 27 October 1993

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Sloppiness? Not at all. Those kind of credits are, in general, exactly what I consider "missing".

These were actresses who each appeared in at least 3 major motion pictures, who are now relegated to largely doing voice-over work, obscure straight-to-video movies or one-shot appearances on TV series.


If you can find anyone who has seen any of those movies Meredith Salenger has done since Lake Placid, I'd be very surprised.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Scoopy said...

It's very rare that anyone both "breaks" and "sticks". Lots of actors break, and in the case of several of your examples, become part of an era in films. But to stick -- to last and surpass the era -- is quite rare.

It seems like there are so many stars abounding in entertainment, but there really are only so many who last decade after decade.

Moira Kelly cuts a strong figure, but I think she fell victim to her own "obstinate" type -- On WW she was shrewish and never got to show romantic vulnerability.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Wow, Mr. Anonomyous seems to be quite the asswipe. Oh, I'm sorry that these actresses were in dreck like LA Firefighters or doing voice-overs in straight-to-dvd animated adventures. Scott's freaking point is still, WHERE ARE THEY? Certainly not starring in Wedding Crashers or soemthing like that. It is good that they're still knocking around, for the most part.

A good example who has returned is Virginia Madsen. She was pretty much gone until recently. God, how I loved her with the Craig Sheffer (spelling, I know) in Fire with Fire!

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


That someone could IMBD Scott's query does not rebut the 'share of mind' he was questioning; really, how many hold (to such an anal extent) the data Scott was asking us to recall?

Scott's invite to recall - sans internet (which would be a fun rebuttal (how is the internet relevant?) - is still provoking; specifically, what did that time frame have to say about being human, that didn't pass away with the FLASHDANCE attire?

A great post, really.


At 4:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please, moria kelly was a regular on West Wing for a season, then a regular on One Tree Hill.

I've actually seen more of her - actual time on screen - than I have of Gwyneth Paltrow, in the last 5-6 years since West Wing started and Gwyneth won her Academy Award, simply because I happened to watch both WW and OTH.

These people haven't vanished - they just weren't in the stuff YOU didn't watch. And they all were as close as IMDB.

"If I haven't seen it, it must not exist." If it isn't a hot and happening show, then they must not have a career.


Total Hollywood elitism, hiding as informed comment.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm not sure why you are nit-picking. My comment was "there was a whole bunch of actresses who came and went without making much of a lasting splash". I'll stand by that.

If the best you can do on Moira Kelly is point out that she did an unsuccessful, don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-ass year on The West Wing, and then washed up on a WB show, then yeah, maybe she didn't vanish. But it's still a long fall.

I'm not an elitist. I think it sucks, particularly the lack of roles for actresses once they start hitting age 30.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Warren said...

Scott's right that these guys basically dropped off the face of the earth, at least in Hollywood terms. In other words, they went from leading roles, to supporting roles in pilots, movies of the week, cable shows. Kelly struggled through twenty years of that stuff, and though she did end up on West Wing (though barely in the eps by the end of the first season, after which she was let go) and One Tree Hill, ask 100 people on any non-L.A. street in America who Moira Kelly is, and you'll get 98 clueless shrugs. Mia Sara, who I adored as a teen, has had an even worse time. And remember, IMDB lists pilots that weren't even picked up, and is often just wrong about their listings.

I'm a big Whit Stillman fan, and there was an article recently in Variety, I believe, discussing how much trouble he's had getting financing for his latest project. It's taken many, many years, and it's still not a go. Chris Eigeman has popped up here and there (a t.v. series set in L.A. that failed quickly), but he's been on Malcolm in the Middle now for awhile.

And of course the legendary fall of John Hughes - Army Archered wrote on this within the last six months or so. Hughes did write the script for Maid in Manhattan, but that hasn't exactly revived his career. Maybe it's time for Forty-Two Candles.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous odocoileus said...

Most actors in this town would kill for the kind of work characterized here as "gone missing."

A successful actor is one who eats regularly and can keep his or her SAG medical. Everything else is gravy.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Sigh. I'm not talking about most actors.

The whole point of the post is that these are people who I like, who at one point were near the top of their profession, and who were unable to sustain that.

I'm just lamenting the fact that they aren't out there, doing that kind of high-profile work any more. It's an unforgiving business.

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to add Joe Pesci, last thing he did was Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998 but I see Scorcese roped him into another mobster role...he must have gotten blackballed or something (or was he back to B&Es and renting a room at Rikers?)

At 7:11 AM, Blogger The Gambino Crime Family said...

According to Phil's Unofficial Whit Stillman Page, Stillman's living in Paris and working on a Jane Austin adaption. So yeah - he's pretty much off the map but living the expat life in France is a pretty good consolation prize.

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to pile on here with my tremenddous love for all things Whit Stillman related. I Tivo'd Barcelona the other night and in rewatching it realized what a terrific film it is.

Last Days of Disco, too.

I didn't see that anyone mentioned this but Whit actually wrote a novelization of Last Days of Disco. It wasn't well-received but, ehh, you can't please everyone.

John Hughes. It's simply amazing to note all of the movies he actually wrote that were big or at least notable (Uncle Buck is still a classic in my book.)

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Dixon Steele said...

Amazing, I've wondered about Stillman, Brickman, Hughes lately myself. I guess it's true, great minds think alike.

As far as Moira Kelly goes, I believe she got married and moved to Texas, although is obviously still acting.

Here's a good one: Whatever happened to the lovely Allison Elliot? She broke through in Soderbergh's "Underneath" and starred in both the Sundance fave "Spitfire Girl" and the acclaimed "Wings of the Dove". She last had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it-role in "Birth". Too bad.

The answer to all these questions is these beautiful and talented women came down with AAD - Aging Actress Disease. Because, as you know, in this biz, once you start nearing the big 40, unless you've been in some solid commercial hits, or you're lucky enough to be a critics/dirctor's darling (i.e. Catherine Keener)'s over.

This happened to Virginia Madsen, one of the reasons people in the biz were happy with her comeback in "Sideways".

It almost happened to Jennifer Connelly, but she held out for quality and came up with "A Beautiful Mind"


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