Monday, 21 December 2015

Pearls of Wisdom with Barry Pearl - Part 2 - Tell me more... Tell me more...

Continued from part 1... 

Tell me more... Tell me more...

Now I didn't mind bad language, or a little sauciness, but I was very aware of the naughty lyrics in 'Greased Lightning' and I wondered did they ever consider taking it out? Because theyve got all these cutesy, nice songs and then this...
"NonoAnd you know the song was originally Kenickies songHe sings it in the playnot Zuko"

"But they didnt have any of us sing the songsDoody sings 'Magic Changes'now 'Magic Changes' and 'Mooning' are in the movie, but in the background during the dance sequence before the dance contest begins, so they were able to infuse those numbers without lyrics.

ut in the play, the character of Roger - which isn
t in the movie, but basically the person playing Sonny is playing Roger - sings 'Mooning' and 'All Choked Up', but they were never happy with the number 'All Choked Up' - which is the one that happens at the end where 'Youre the One That I Want' is in the movie. In the play there is no 'Youre The One That I Want' and again no 'Hopelessly Devoted', no 'Sandy'. Instead Danny sings 'Alone At The Drive-In Movie', where he laments - as he does in the movie - about Sandy leaving the drive-in, 
which again isnt in the movie either. So its different, theyre different animals, 
each and every incarnation of this has a great deal of difference."

But now I suppose most of the adaptations will use the songs from the movie?
"Yes, they probably will mostlyyeah. Ive seen productions where they use standards, popular standards that have nothing to do with 'Grease' the movie or the play. In fact after the movie there was a production done in Long Beach where they used a popular tune of the 50s that was not written for it, but they got the rights and they did it."

One of my songs was the one that goes‘When I Go Marching Down LifeHighway.., the Alma.
"The Alma Mater?"

Yes, I sang that originally to open the scene, and I realised its just in the background of the film.
"Thats rightin the play you hear the chorus singing as I go traveling
down lifes highway, whatever course my fortune may fortell, I shall not go along in my way' as Miss Lynch, Eugene and Patty Simcox enter - in front of the curtain because the curtain is down - theyre at the reunion for the 1959 class of Rydelland theyre talking about the fact that Eugene was Valedictorian and Patty Simcox has gone on to work for some company, and Eugene works for Sharp Shooters Anonymous or something like that.

nd Miss Lynch has a little speech, but at the end Eugene says something about 
...and we see all these wonderful faces here, just like we always remember them'. 

Then the curtain goes up, and behind them were now thrust back into 1959 and the Greasers come up and harass Eugene and Miss Lynch and Patty Simcox and now were off to the races if you will

Then they sing the parody of Alma Mater 'I saw a dead skunk on the highway, you know that partand that too is kind of racy if you think about ittalking about getting crabs and such and scratching and itching and you know! So its entirely different from the movie."

So you went for Doody? Did you ever question it?
"Well no, because Doody, as far as Im concerned, was the underling of Danny - again, John played role -  he was just full of wonder, and he was like Putzie in the moviePutzie from the movie, thats the way the Doody character is painted in the play…"

I think I get it...?
"So I went in, we all went in thinking that they were just doing the script [from the play] auditioned for Sonny, but I wound up pretty much playing not Sonny, but his character, they call him Doody

Putzie and Jan, they had that dynamic and with the other characters of Roger and Jan - although Roger is Sonny in the movie - and Sonny and Marty get together... But in the play it's Sonny and Marty... but not the Sonny thats embodied in the movie... My character would normally have gotten together with Marty... and my character of Sonny was a lot racier than what I did in the movie as Doody, so its all jumbled up!

But whatever it was it turned out to be a huge success!"

Didn't it just!!!

My burger finally arrived. I stared at it for a moment, it was greasier than I had expected, I was afraid it might repeat a bit later on, but I'd paid for it, so I had to give it a go... I was certain I heard one of the fellas in the next booth cheekily say something about it looking a bit old, but it looked fine to me...

You dont still have your T-birds

jacket do you?
"Actually I do.

I have the sneakers, the jacket and I had the squirt gun... But I think somebody might have stolen my squirt gun…"

When was the last time you put it on?
"Well, I cant put it on anymore, it doesnt fit! Its really tight in the sleeves but its preserved! I take it with me and the sneakers with me when I go to do autograph signing shows"


It's such a shame that the film was it was overlooked completely at the Oscars.

"Again, it was not an artistic success.they shunned it"

But it made a lot of money didnt it?
"Yes, yesthrough the years its made BILLIONS of dollars! and now it gets done with the follow the bouncing ball sing-a-long versions. They digitised it so the picture is gorgeous and then they had animation where you can sing along, not just simply a ball following written text below but actual cartoons that.

youve never seen the sing-a-long version?"

I havent seen it no.
"Its quite something!"

Yes, I must see it.
"There was one hosted in New York - I think Didi [Conn] does that one -  its become a tradition  to go and see the sing-a-long.18000 people watching the movie where the Beatles stood on the Hollywood Bowl stage, that's quite something...

And when was the last time you watched the film?
"I watched a portion of it recently because Michael Tucci and I (Michael plays Sonny) were asked to go down to San Diegoto do a fundraiser by screening Grease and having us answer questions and sign autographs... so Michael and I were limoed down there a couple of weeks ago and we sat and watched some of the film I guess that was the last time… but I dont watch it at home! 

It comes on television all the time, they will air it on TV and Ill get messages and emails saying ABC entertainment.your face has just come up!  I think maybe its happened once when Im channel surfing and there it is!"
Have you ever turned over and its your face on screen straight away? Because that would be freaky!
"Yeah! Boom! There I am! Ha!
I can liken it to rock artists that are sitting in their car or something and their tune comes on the radio, thats gotta be very cool. Thats happened a bunch [of times] when all of a sudden 'Youre The One That I Want' comes on.

Oh Oh Oh... Honey!
You know, we dont sing on Youre The One That I Want... When we first did the film we rehearsed for three weeks and still they never had the last song written... [in the play] It was 'All Choked Up', but they never cared for that song. It was similar to All Shook Up, a parody if you will on Elvis Presleys tune.  

So were out at the carnival sequence filming and the next thing you know were brought this tune that John and Olivia had recorded like the day, or the night before... And Pat Birch - who choreographed -  said "Were just going to put this on its feet like right now, Im going to choreograph it, were going to put it on the fly and where it goes youre the one, the one I want, ooh ooh ooh honey thats where you guys sing." So thats what we did...

In fact if you see me - you know the portion at the end where Ive got the ceramic dog?
Oh yes... Im over enunciating ‘The One, The One I Want because it wasnt really me singing! Thats a shot I wish they would change!"

You know Im going to look at that now!

So when you hear Summer Loving do you just stay silent until your bit?
"No, no! I know what my bit is, itDid you get very far? but Im singing in the whole thing...

Kelly [Putzie] tells me that was his line too but Ive never looked at him during that particular time... Im always looking at myself. 

So tell me about John Travolta... 
A lot of folks that had worked with him on the tour had a feeling this kid was going to skyrocket because he has such a great personality. 

Hes a great person as well as being an amazing talent. Sweet, lovely guy, everybody just falls in love with John. Working for the 15 weeks as we did on the film, we got even closer and hes not a diva, doesnt demand... 

He comes from a very loving and tight family, Im very close with his brother Joey - in fact Joey and I go out every summer and we teach film arts to special needs kids throughout the country - its a whole other aspect of my career - So Im close
with them, with the family, and his sister Annie, who also was in the show.

He is just beautiful!
"I mean I cant stop watching him when Im watching a moviehe just draws you in. Im a huge fan of his work, I go to see everything he does. You know, he is going to be playing Shapiro, OJ Simpsons attorney, in this OJ vs. Simpson thats going to be on HBO.

So we had an inkling that this guy was going to be happening and then it made perfect sense. Especially after Grease

While we were filming we went to the opening screening [of Saturday Night Fever] we thought oh, this guy is just.can do any wrong!’"

And he ishes so fluid in his movements, his dancing isyou know its such a shame he doesn’t dance so much anymore... He did Hairspray obviously, but dressed as a woman, but I had a MASSIVE crush on him.
"As did many!"

Now people keep on about him being gay... you know, everybody is ready to attack somebody its such a shame that they feel they have to...
"Part of it is envy, Im sure it's jealousy.I wonder if people feel it puts them in a higher tone, if they slam them in some way, if they tear them down... its horrible, whatever it is.  

I remember we all went out, it was John and Jeff - may he rest in peace - Kelly, Michael and I, John took us out to dinner in his limo and after we went to a strip club on Sunset Boulevard, it was a guy's night out... 

Then we went back to Johns apartment and he told us about his terrific love affair with Diana Hyland -who is his elder actually, it was a May/December relationship as they say - he was deeply in love with her and he was telling us about his first kisstheir first kiss I think she might have died in his arms, if Im not mistaken. She died of cancer... So thats the John I know, all this other garbage is garbage as far as Im concerned. He NEVER EVER displayed anything other than who he is, you know what Im saying. And let me tell you something, I am one of the most bent straights that youll ever meet, I am completely open.I am a heterosexual and KILLS me, it infuriates me that people dont get that ones preference, if you will, is born in and what an unfortunate thing for humankind that people are bigoted in that way..."

Oh exactly.
"Its unfortunate because its our undoing."

Two of the girls I'd shot a look at earlier walked passed snickering, one turned to the other and whispered something... The other one fell about laughing, I'll remember your faces, I thought to myself... Watch your back ladies....

So, on a lighter note, what was the lovely Stockard Channing like? 
"Stockard, she, pretty much, stays a bit apart from the GREASE phenomenon. Often, when there is business to be handled, we deal with her representatives. I love her and she got in well with all of us. Very gracious woman. Extraordinary actress!!"

What about Jeff Conaway?
He was kind of my Zuko growing up... 
We grew up together and he was kind of a bad boy, always the bad boy! We went to different schools but we were in each others company on occasion and I always kind of envied him because he was tall, good looking, he played the guitar… but we became fast and famous friends when we worked together.

So you were 27 when you played Doody? Is that right?
"I was 23, because we, Im sorry, we shot it in 77 so I was 27, youre correct..."
Ha ha! 

So I know a lot of films in which you have older actors who are playing teenagers, but did you ever look at each other and go you dont look 18!’ - Especially Kenickie!
"No, we never did, we never gave it a thought.all of our energy that we exuded was very young to begin with..Stockard was probably the more sophisticated of all of us. But even then it just didnt occur to us, and maybe thats a good thing because we were already kind of silly and goofy to begin with. Some of us had done the play, so, we never really gave it a second thought, we just were just grateful to have the work!"


So, alright then, be honest... What did you really think of Grease 2?
"Oh, I didnt care for it at all! I’ve forgotten the storyline quite honestly! 

Some of the songs were quite good
"I dont even remember any of the music from it!

I took one more bite of my burger, but it had defeated me... I hated to prove that snooty blond right, but when she said 'She's never gonna' manage all that!' she was! But as much as it pained me to quit, I really had to and maybe the oatmeal would have been a better choice after all... Anyway back to the chat...

Have you heard the story that Olivia Newton John was sewn into her suit? She couldnt go to the toilet or anything like that
"You know, I dont remember that she couldnt go to the bathroomit didnt occur to me... she wasnt hopping around like a kangaroo wanting to go to the bathroom! But I did know that she couldnt take the pants off!

So was there any flirting on set?
I was kind of oblivious to a lot, I had a girlfriend at the time and there were googoo eyes being made between people on set but I would take off to my own world afterwards.
So there were no sordid stories

We did see Jeff Conaways trailer rocking back and forth a couple of times, he had things going on with Susan Buckner [who played Patty Simcox]. 

But everybody else pretty much behaved themselves and we were all just good buddies. 

It was great because there wasnt any bad dynamics going on and as a result of that we could all just go to work and enjoy ourselves and have a good time."

What was Olivia like to work with?
"She was so great! And so humble, because you know shed not done anything like this before. She did one movie called 'Tomorrow' with David.he sang, you knowbah bah bahRock On or something like that.?"

David Essex?
"Yes, David Essex, exactly! 

So she was very humble, very willing to learn and we all made her feel at home. 

I used to hop around like a kangaroo and say Hey Liv, make you feel like youre in Australia? and she would laugh and we all just got along very well. There were no divas, we didnt go that way, there wasnt a rotten egg in the bunch."

Thats amazing, especially with a cast that big! 

I saw some boys mucking about outside the diner, pulling each other's hair and teasing one another, just like some of my favourite comics... Ooh yes, didn't Barry and the boys do a three stooges skit in the film?

I wondered how long it took to rehearse? It was so slick!
"Well, I have always been a Three Stooges fan, and I always say I cut my comedic teeth on the Three Stooges and I felt that Sonny, Doody and Putzie would have been as influenced [by them] as it was in the 50s. 

Couple that with the fact that Randal Kleiser, the director, was also a HUGE Three Stooges fan, so we talked about trying to infuse it. I remember one day he came to me and said Ive gotten some shorts from Columbia to show you guys’ - because Michael wasnt that familiar - and we sat and watched the shorts to get the flavour.

So then - the thing at the bonfire, the yip yip, brrrrrr, - we just put that together on the fly. We just came up with that ourselves."

Thats fantastic!! Oh, I love that little scene!

So whats your favourite musical? Whats a musical that you would have loved to be in?
"Well, one of my favourites is Guys and Dolls, which Ive actually done a bunch of times, playing Nathan Detroit. That is one. 

I really loved doing All Shook up, because that music is jukebox music. Hairspray was fun to do. 

I played Fagin in Oliver! a couple of times also. The second  time was particularly fabulous, [it was] at the Fulton Theatre, where I had my start back in 1959.

Id love to play Thenardier in Les MisIve not done that."

Oooh yes, I love that...  

Buuuurrrp... OOh that cheese burger was not sitting nicely... Oh no it wasn't... 

Suddenly all the kids got up and started filing out of the diner, I checked my watch... Oh my goodness, I only had 10 minutes to get to school! I needed to get a shimmy on... Just time for one last question and as a hopeless romantic there was only one... 

So finally... Do you think Doody and Frenchy would have stayed together? What do you think they would be doing now?
"Well its very interesting that you ask that! Because Didi, at many points through the years, was trying to get a Grease 3 made, which we would have called it The Real Grease 2 

About three or four weeks into the principal photography, Alan Carr, may he rest in peace, came to us and said We like what we see so much that Paramount wants to do a sequel. Were going to call it Summer School, where you guys go to Summer School. Youll see, if you watch the end of the film, as soon as we come down to the carnival sequence  in the last sequence of the film, we set up the conversation sequence and that notion. 

We were all set to do it, but something happened with John and Olivia, they pulled out and then it became what it became.

In the meantime Didi had tried for years to get something done, she had the ear of Sherry Landsing, who at the time was a big mucky muck at Paramount, and we put together a bible- what they call a bible, for any project theres always that list of stories and bios and such to basically tell the story, a treatment if you will...

What wound up happening is that Marty and Sonny get together and they open a pizza parlour. Doody and Paulette, from Grease 2, [played by Lorna Luff], get together and have kids and they all are going to school together. 

One incarnation - because it went through several writers - had Frenchy and Kenickie getting together.and Zuko dying in a car accident because he became a race car driverthis was because to get John to do a sequel of Grease wasnt going to happen.

But at the time there was a possibility but it swiftly went by. I didnt give it much thought after that. I always suspected everybody went their separate ways, as we do in life... 

Maybe Marty and Sonny getting together, I dont knowif any couple could make make it it would have been either been Doody and Frenchy or Jan and Putzie..'Cos Marty has this thing with Vince Fontaine which keeps Sonny out of the picture and you see Jan and Putzie wide eyed and gaga about each other. So, you know, I dont know."

Right, I really had to go now, I was so late, plus I really should have been in a great deal earlier than this, certainly before this lot... But atleast now I'd learnt who was who and who, I'd seen, first hand, the school pecking order and now knew exactly who the trouble makers were... And yes, those little madams in the corner were the first to be targetted... 

Now, maybe it was Barry... or maybe it was the cheeseburger, but my nerves had calmed considerably - even if my heartburn hadn't - and I was quite looking forward to my first day now... Yes, I think being the principle of this particular school was going to be fun... 

To find out more about the lovely Barry, try his website 
or his IMdb page or Wikipedia page