Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Academy Library: An American Monastery and an Amazing Institution

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills is in the part that's not really Bevery Hills, not the Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills. It's more like imagining what Beverly Hills might have been without all that glamour. Impossible, but the Margaret Herrick Library is across from La Cienega Park, where you'll find joggers during the day, and soccer games and dog walkers at night. Immediately across from the library are two lanes of traffic going opposite ways, separated by a long, car-level wrought iron fence.

Open one of the two big nearly all-glass doors, and you find total silence and tile flooring. To your left, the security guard's desk where you sign in and get tokens for the lockers across the way in a small room. I had a cloth Albertsons bag with me containing three legal pads, two legal notepads, a collection of pencils in a black-and-purple zippered pouch (the two zippers on opposite sides and connected by a small strap. Pull it down and both zippers come down), a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of Arrowhead water, a fruit and nut oatmeal from McDonalds (We ate at McDonalds in Valencia before we went to Beverly Hills, and the woman that put together the order at the counter accidentally gave us an extra oatmeal), and the hardcover edition of Scorpions: The Battle and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman (to read while waiting to be picked up later on). All of this had to go into a locker, along with my cell phone, because they don't allow cell phones in the reading rooms. I wasn't comfortable with leaving my cell phone in a locker, but at least I was able to keep my wallet. They allow that in case you need to pay for photocopying.

Behind the security guard's desk is a large framed poster for King Kong as well as a poster for either Grand Hotel or another movie I can't think of that starts with a "G". Not Gunga Din, but it was a movie from the 1930s, and it may very well have been Grand Hotel.

One security guard was going to lunch, and I chatted with him briefly, about the welcome arrival of lunchtime. Extremely nice guy. I can't understand people that turn up their noses at security guards or janitors or anyone else that they believe to be beneath their station in life. Most of the time, the security guards and janitors and others are far more interesting than the stuffy people. This guy was.

The stairs to walk up to the library are carpeted and even if you rush up the stairs, which would be quite unbecoming in this setting, there's very little sound. Just what you hear behind you from rushing up there, that brief clomp, but that's it. At the desk right when you get up there, you give your driver's license to the person at the desk, fill out a form to get a temporary library card, sign the back of the library card, and they take your driver's license and you take the library card. At this point, I didn't even notice the shelves and shelves of movie books.

Walk across the room from that desk and you reach another room, where you'll find the Special Collections desk in the middle, and to your left, the desk where you request photographic prints, and to your right, where you request scripts that they pull from the undoubtedly large back room. I called the Special Collections desk on Monday to have them pull a large number of files for me for Tuesday, including Charlton Heston's copy of the Airport 1975 script, scripts of the trailers for Airport, Airport 1975, and Airport '77, and....

I'm stopping the story for a minute because with the revelation of those titles, I will no longer be vague about what my second book is about. It's tentatively titled "Mayday! Mayday!: The Making of the Airport Movies," owing to my obsession with the four movies in my teens, when I was an aviation enthusiast, and they made me really consider a career in aviation, mostly because of George Kennedy's Joe Patroni and the passion he clearly had for aviation. I thought about it for many years, but decided last year that I'd be happiest reading and writing books.

George Kennedy is the reason I'm writing this book. His memoir, Trust Me, was published at the beginning of October, and I only found out in November that he had a memoir, and quickly ordered it, hoping he had a lot to say about the movies, being that he was in all of them.

What he wrote barely amounted to half a page, and I wasn't disappointed, because he said that he got his pilot's license while shooting the movies, Universal rented the Concorde for $40,000 an hour, and he was allowed to taxi it. The latter two details stuck in my mind. At the time, I was thinking about writing a book about the inner workings of the studios that weren't MGM in the 1930s, writing not only about the studio heads, stars, directors, and screenwriters, but also those who worked in the commissary, those who were teachers to child stars, janitors, not just what was considered the top because without those people, I don't think the studios would have been able to function. But I'm sure the hierarchies didn't allow for the top-tier to express appreciation to the lower rungs. I wanted to express that appreciation in a way, but even though I ordered a few books about the studio system, I hadn't cracked them open since I first looked at them, a few weeks having elapsed. Clearly, this wasn't the project for me.

Then about a week before the final week that led into winter break at Dad's school, I was subbing for one of the campus supervisors, and walked around a lot, thinking, thinking, thinking. I liked my aim for that 1930s Hollywood project, but I wasn't doing anything with it. I wasn't as interested in it as I was when I thought of it. I needed something else. I didn't want What If They Lived? to be my only book, and I knew I wanted to write more. I thought about what George Kennedy had said about the Concorde, about taxiing it, and an idea started to form quickly. The Concorde's rental fee belonged in a book. But also, the DVD set of the movies contained only the trailers. No featurettes. No audio commentaries. No reminiscing from significantly older actors. Bare bones. I started watching these movies on videotape. I remember buying a four-tape set of them from BJ's Wholesale Club in South Florida. I nearly wore them out. Then my parents got me the aforementioned DVD set, called the Airport Terminal Pack, for my birthday in 2005. I wanted to know more about these movies, how they were made, the technical tasks involved in filming it, what the actors themselves had gone through, who the directors were and how they wanted to film these movies, who executive producer Jennings Lang was and what made him create these sequels after Ross Hunter had produced Airport to such great success that it single-handedly pulled Universal from the brink of bankruptcy in 1970.

Mayday! Mayday! will be a straightforward history of all four movies. I'm searching for all the actors, including the ones in small roles, as well as producers, screenwriters (Eric Roth, an Oscar winner for Forrest Gump, wrote The Concorde: Airport '79 early in his career), stuntmen, prop masters, set decorators, directors of photography, composers, costumers, makeup artists, hair stylists, unit production managers, 2nd unit directors, everyone. And for those who are long gone, I'm searching for their families. Such is the case with Alec Smight, the son of the late Jack Smight, who directed Airport 1975. It wouldn't be easy to reach Alec right now because he's a director on CSI and they're back in production, now with Elisabeth Shue having replaced Marg Helgenberger. But once the show finishes production for the season (I have an idea of when that it is, based on what I know about the TV industry), I'm going to try to get in touch with him because I want to know from him his father's experiences of directing '75. (In further paragraphs, Airport will remain that, but the three sequels are '75, '77, and '79, as shorthand.)

Getting back to the Special Collections desk at the library, they had all my requested files in one box, including photocopied storyboards from '79, records from Tallmantz Aviation which used its B-25 cameraship to shoot footage for '77 and '79, a press kit detailing Universal's plans to sell a 20-piece clothing line inspired by Edith Head's costume designs for Airport, scripts for trailers and featurettes for Airport (hosted by Arthur Hailey, who wrote the novel) and '77.

I will not write about my findings in great detail because I'd like some curious readers. I'm greedy that way. But I will say that this was the pivotal day of my research, making me even more excited than I already was about this book. The scripts for the two featurettes gave me terrific new starting points on what paths to take, and even more people and companies to contact.

When you go to Special Collections, they give you a form to fill out, describing why you're there, what you're researching, what you're looking to do with it, what credentials you have, and then you sign it. I liked being able to say that I was doing research for my second book, and I wrote down the title you read. Then once you give back the form, they give you a blue sheet of paper in front of the first file or set of files you're going to pore over that details what those files are, you sign it, and then they hand over the first folder.

I went in whatever order they had put the files in the box. The Tallmantz Aviation records, which came after the Edith Head press kit, took up the most time. I opened that folder and freaked out silently. What details did I need to pull from these records? Well, I needed the tail number of the aircraft. That was a good start. I needed the number of hours flown to get a sense of filming time. I needed to know what the B25 cameraship was shooting (On Monday, August 30, 1976, they were shooting a nighttime takeoff shot for '77, to become the perspective from the private Stevens 747). At the beginning of these records, I found details of the shooting of the exterior shots for the opening credits sequence of '77.

I'm trying to remember when I took my first bathroom break, and I think it might have been after the Edith Head press kit and before these records. I didn't even know these records were coming up before I took the elevator down to the lobby, But it was a lot to go through.

Now, about photocopying, there's a horizontal grid form that you fill out, writing under the labels of the boxes the file name, the file number, the name of the file (For example, Airport - Featurette, even though I didn't request anything from that), a description of the file (One line, very short), and how many pages it is.

At the end of the Tallmantz records, my heart nearly stopped. I found a call sheet for '79 from January 30, 1979 (The movie was released on August 17) detailing what actors were required on the Concorde cabin set, what time they were expected (8:45 a.m. for the majority of them), as well as what scenes would be filmed in the future. There was also an announcement on the page about cold weather gear being handed out for the shoot in Utah (If you've seen the movie, remember the Concorde landing in the snow and being buried under it? Utah, standing in for Patscherkofel in Austria). Even though I could have probably gotten another photocopying form if I asked, I'm lucky I didn't accidentally rip the first one in excitement while writing down the details for the call sheet. As I do further research for this book, and eventually writing it, I'm keeping that call sheet in front of me. From videotape to DVD to seeing all these papers at the library. I'm sitting here a little over a day after and I'm still amazed that I did all this.

But that wasn't the only thing that stunned me. After finishing with the Tallmantz Aviation records, the next file handed to me was thick, with "Charlton Heston papers" written on the tab. I opened it up, and it was Charlton Heston's copy of the '75 script, exactly what I had been anticipating. He used this script. He thumbed through it. He crossed out lines that weren't being used and replaced them with what he was told were the new lines. There were two huge coffee stains on pages 13 and 14, the one on 13 nearly dominating it. Through it, I confirmed the start date of filming on '75, and I also wrote down some of the lines that were crossed out. There is no fanfare in research, no Glory, Glory Hallelujah raining down from hidden speakers. Charlton Heston is long gone, and this is part of what remains of his legacy. The bent pages of his script. His handwriting. The coffee stains. I'll never know at what point he accidentally spilled coffee or when those new lines were given to him, and I don't expect to know. The book is partly about him, and it's also partly about Karen Black, and Dean Martin, and Jack Lemmon, and Christopher Lee, and Darren McGavin, and Monica Lewis, and George Kennedy, and Lee Grant, and Helen Reddy, and Linda Blair, and Jacqueline Bisset, and producers Ross Hunter and Jennings Lang, and directors George Seaton, Jack Smight, Jerry Jameson, and David Lowell Rich, and directors of photography Ernest Laszlo and Philip Lathrop (Lathrop shot the three sequels), and composers Elmer Bernstein, John Cacavas ('75 and '77), and Lalo Schifrin, and screenwriters George Seaton, Don Ingalls, Michael Scheff & David Spector, and Eric Roth, and so many others you wouldn't know right now if I told you, but I hope you will know them through what I intend to write.

It was just me and Heston's script, and the woman sitting across from me tapping out notes on her laptop was involved in whatever her research entailed and it was the same with the two people at the table next to me (Including a woman with very nice legs wearing a slightly above-the-knee skirt, and it was very hard not to take a quick peek when I was waiting behind her at the Special Collections desk to get my next folder). This is what research is. It's the love of movies, of wanting to know what happened in their history. One researcher in the room was working on something about Hitchcock, another was researching Cedric Gibbons, the famous MGM art director. You can't shout to the world your find, not only because the library knew about it before you did, but because you'd be making a ruckus that would probably get you kicked out, and there's more research to be done. How else can a book be written?

After giving back Heston's '75 script, I got the next related folder, which showed that he had a good sense of humor. He clipped the cover of a July 1975 issue of Mad Magazine, which turned '75 into "Airplot '75." Nancy, the flight attendant (Karen Black), became Naggy, Heston's Alan Murdock became Mudrock; Sister Beatrice was Sister Beardless; Helen Reddy's Sister Ruth was Sister Cooth; Gloria Swanson was Swansong; Mrs. Patroni was Mrs. Baloney; Linda Blair's Janis was Janecch; Glenn Purcell was Purehell; and Erik Estrada's Julio was Jigolo.

I wrote down in my notes my two favorite exchanges from the section that Heston had also clipped:

Naggy says to Mudrock, "Engine three is acting badly." Mudrock replies, "So?!? Why should engine three be different from anyone else in this movie?!?"

Salt Lake Control says, "Okay, Columbia 904! Hey, Captain, can I ask a question? If we're all in a Universal picture, how come you're a Columbia airliner?" The captain replies, "It's our sneaky way of putting the blame for this bomb on someone else."

The cover of the issue was pure genius. All the major actors in the movie are asleep on one side of the plane, and it looks like Henry Kissinger is in the back row, also asleep. Alfred E. Newman is sitting next to a sleeping Gloria Swanson, very much awake, holding an inflated air sickness bag in one hand, about to pop it with his fist.

Also in Heston's folder was a Spanish lobby card for '75. I'm curious to know where he got that or if it was sent to him, but that'll never be known.

After the Heston papers came set decorator Jack Moore's bound faux leather copy of the Airport script. Airport was his final movie, and this was the first time I saw a script for Airport, important to me because so far I can't find very much about George Seaton and I wanted some insight into him, through his writing.

Moore underlined all the locations of the scenes, needing to know them to get started on thinking of how to decorate the sets, based on what producer Ross Hunter and writer/director George Seaton wanted, and likely contributing his own ideas. For example, Moore's mind is already at work when Bakersfeld is paged for the white phone outside a section of a building at the airport. Moore circled the words "white phone" in the paging line and in the wide margin, wrote "White phone black one?" (No question mark after "phone." Getting the work done matters most.)

By this time, it was a little past 3 p.m., I had gotten to the library a little after 11 a.m., and had my bathroom break at 1 p.m. I was getting sluggish, a little frustrated (Not by the research, but it's that feeling when you've been sitting for hours, staring and concentrating), and I needed a longer break. Before I had signed for the Jack Moore script, I remembered the transcript from the Academy's 2006 screening of Airport as part of its "Great to be Nominated" series, which featured Jacqueline Bisset, Burt Lancaster's widow Susie, and a few other actors from the movie, and that it was one of the reasons I was at the library. I requested it from the woman at the counter at the time, and as I was nearing the end of Heston's script, she came over to me with the request form, making sure she got it right on there (I had her change "1976" to "2006"), and then she went in the back to get it. When I went up to the counter to hand over Jack Moore's script (You can't leave research materials on the table when you're leaving for a break) and have them keep it near my box for me, I saw that the transcript was waiting on the cart. That would come after my break, after I was done with the Jack Moore script.

I took the elevator down to the lobby, saw the security guard at the counter that I talked to briefly when I came in, asked for a locker token, went to my locker and pulled out my bag, putting it on a small table that was filled with ads for the Aero Theatre, which shows classic movies, and pulling out the paper bag with my peanut butter sandwich, bottled water, as well as the McDonald's bag that had the oatmeal in it.

I put the bag back in the locker, put the coin in the slot, closed the locker, turned the key and pulled it out, and heard the coin drop to wherever the coin drops to. Maybe to the bottom in some kind of compartment, maybe to the floor where it's swept out from under there. Most likely an unseen compartment, I think.

I went outside, but the only bench in front of the library was taken, so I sat on a curb in front of a bush and ate. Relief. I felt a lot better. Sandwich gone, oatmeal nearly gone, water three-quarters gone. I watched the security guard run to the FedEx truck parked outside to give a package to the driver.

I went back inside, got another token, put the key in the locker, opened it, and put the paper bag with only my water bottle and the McDonald's bag with the rest of my oatmeal inside the locker, in front of my cloth bag. Put the coin in the slot, closed the locker door, took out the key, coin drop.

I didn't feel like going back upstairs yet, so I went to talk to the security guard for a little while. I told him that I noticed him running to the FedEx truck and he said that while he was at lunch, the security guard manning the desk for him forgot to give a package to the previous FedEx driver that had come by and he didn't want to miss it this time. He told me that he and others call that particular FedEx driver Bitterman because he's bitter about everything. He complains about his job, he complained that there were so many packages at Christmas. The security guard laughed when he got to that part of the story and said to me, "What did he expect?" He then told me that he lives an attitude of gratitude and didn't see what the driver had to complain about. The driver a job, good benefits, good pay, yet he said to him that he's lucky because he gets to sit in air conditioning all day.

As we were talking, a few employees came by to pick up a few of the packages stacked against the wall, making a bit of small talk with the security guard, and then they left. I liked this guy. He was clearly appreciative of what he had, seemed to enjoy his life, and was good-natured. That's everything I like in anyone.

I asked him when his shift was over and he said at 6. I told him I'd be down later before he left for the night and headed back upstairs, back to Jack Moore's copy of the Airport script.

I liked that Seaton's script didn't have overly long character descriptions and motivations and descriptions of various actions, how an actor is supposed to react. He clearly had respect for actors because he gave them just enough of what they should know about a character, presenting it more as guidelines than edicts. That's the impression I got anyway. He seemed to trust the actor to figure out how to play a scene after reading what he described.

The transcript came next and the hits just kept on coming. I filled a few pages with notes, learning a great deal about the 707 cabin and flight deck sets on stage 12 at Universal, exactly what I had hoped to find when I started this project. After that came another script I was anticipating: The first draft of Airport 1976 by H.A.L. Craig, delivered in March 1974, two months before '75 began shooting. Jennings Lang must have been hoping to have another sequel to shoot right after '75 was finished, but this wasn't the one.

The action returned to Lincoln International from Airport, where George Kennedy's Joe Patroni was now the manager after Burt Lancaster's Mel Bakersfeld became head of the FAA. After I read that Patroni was now the manager, I wanted to see how he did in the position. The main plot involved the hijacking of the private 747 of one of the richest men in the world, which is likely why Craig got a "story by" credit for '77. Helen Hayes' Ada Quonsett was in this one too, but admittedly, the new characters were awful, nothing remotely interesting about any of them. It was a 180-page script, and counting each page of at least one minute of screen time, a little unwieldy in light of there being so much clunkiness about, but then Craig may have been operating under executive producer Jennings Lang's idea of having enough written in case this was the script so that an extra hour could be filmed for television broadcast. You see, '75, '77 and '79 each had an extra hour or so of footage filmed in the way of extended scenes or entirely new scenes, all during the same production. Lang sold these versions to networks, which made entire evenings out of them. NBC aired '75 as its "Saturday Night at the Movies" in 1978. In the '90s, TNT took the sequels and aired them as part of a "Super '70s Week." Scenes from '79 that were filmed for that purpose can be found on YouTube, and there's a bit from '77 there too, but that's it. One of the personal mysteries I want to solve is what all the footage is from each sequel. I know nearly nothing of what was filmed for '75's eventual television broadcasts. I know a bit about '77 from what I saw on YouTube (I may have seen all those extra scenes when TNT aired it, but I've long forgotten), and I remember only the alternate Kevin Harrison suicide scene in front of the media in '79 from that TNT broadcast.

I was relieved that Lang decided not to produce Airport 1976. It could have been that he didn't want to bring the movies back to Lincoln International. Maybe he didn't want to go where another producer had been. He wanted to create his own movies. But it's clear that the hijacked 747 angle stuck in his mind, though something different to incapacitate the passengers then some kind of pellets being dropped into the air conditioning system on the plane to apparently knock out the passengers. I get the impression that Lang wanted more detail. And considering that he had gotten the cooperation of the U.S. Air Force for '75, well, why not go bigger? He wouldn't have gotten that with the '76 script. The opening credits for '77 say "Story by H.A.L. Craig and Charles Kuenstle." Now I have to find out who Kunestle is and if he contributed a script too.

After this came correspondence between special effects artist Linwood G. Dunn and various high-ranking members of the Airport production team. Not a whole lot to write down. It took some time to get through Dunn's special effects papers, just skimming mostly since special effects are part of what makes a movie, not the whole thing, so I wasn't going to go that detailed about the special effects, just enough to be well-informed so it reads well in my book.

With the Linwood G. Dunn papers done, I was finished with my box. I had gone through everything and I thought I might not have, considering the folders that kept coming out of there. I got my library card back and went to the right to the scripts desk and requested Airport, '75, '77, '79 and Poseidon from 2006, in the hope that it was a draft that touched upon what I thought the movie should have been, what would have made it a smarter disaster movie.

While the scripts were being retrieved, I took the elevator to the lobby to see the security guard before he left. I thanked him for his kindness and asked for his name for the acknowledgements page. He said I didn't have to do that, but I told him that he did a lot for me (It's especially nice to see someone who's actually living an attitude of gratitude) and wanted to. I also wrote down my name and What If They Lived? so he could look it up on Amazon. And that was it. I thanked him again profusely, we shook hands, and I went back upstairs to the scripts that were waiting for me.

I started with Airport, which was bound in a tan cover with the title printed in black on the spine and was gifted to the library by director of photography Ernest Laszlo. It was the same script I had read as Jack Moore's, but without all the writings. I forgot to mention before that Moore's folder also included long sheets of legal paper with many lists of locations and tasks. I looked at those, but couldn't find much of anything to use.

'75 was the same way. It was the final shooting script dated April 26, 1974, exactly what Heston had, just without lines crossed out, new lines written in, and huge coffee stains. There was nothing in it that I hadn't already seen.

The script for '77 was a "second revised final draft screenplay" dated August 4, 1976. This was one I needed, and I took lots of notes, mostly asking myself if certain scenes had been filmed for TV broadcast and if other ones had been extended scenes that were filmed for broadcast. I intend to find out about all this.

I then went into the '79 script by Eric Roth, which had the alternate titles of Airport '79: The Concorde (Instead of The Concorde: Airport '79), and Airport '79: Supersonic. I like the last one, but Lang was smart, considering that the plane cost Universal $40,000 an hour. For that price, the plane had better be in the title. There was also a page detailing character name changes, such as David Harrison now being Kevin Harrison and Celeste now being Isabelle, Sylvia Kristel's character, and Coach Spassky now being Coach Markov, who was played by Avery Schreiber. I hope to find out from Roth how he was hired for this, how long it took him to write the first draft, and what research he did for it. For example, was it Roth's idea to give Markov a deaf daughter or a suggestion by Lang expanded?

And that was it. My Airport research was over. I filled all but 19 pages of one legal pad, using only the first page of a legal notepad to copy down the names of two people in Special Collections to help me, as well as the name of the security guard so I can put them in my acknowledgements page. I also used only one pencil throughout the entire 8 hours, a Crayola twist pencil. But better to be overprepared for this.

Now it was time for the Poseidon screenplay. I returned '77 and '79 to the scripts desk (I returned Airport and '75 to the desk after I was finished in order to get '77 and '79) and took Poseidon from the person behind the desk.

This was a "Final white draft" dated June 17, 2005, and future revisions were listed with the color pages they would be. A further revision came on June 27, 2005 and was in blue, July 5 in pink, July 25 in yellow, August 11 in green, and September 12 in gold. The page also listed previous revisions that had been done by 10 other screenwriters, with the current script by Mark Protosevich and current revision by Akiva Goldsman. The movie that was barely seen in theaters was exactly that way in the script, but the only consolation was that some of it read better on the page. Maybe because there's more hope on the page before it becomes a movie. After 10 writers taking a crack at it, director Wolfgang Petersen couldn't very well do much else.

I returned Poseidon, got my library card back, turned the photocopying sheet in to the Special Collections desk, paid $5.75 for 10 pages and told the guy at the counter that they should be mailed to me since this was the only time I would be at the library (The only day when the library's open until 8 p.m. and I needed that time cushion, and the only day it was possible after the holidays were over, and Dad's going back to work next week). I asked the guy if I could look around the library and he said yes, and I made sure I got the spelling of his last name correct for my acknowledgements page, collected everything of mine at my table, made sure I had everything, then went to look at the books.

This is paradise for any movie buff. Any book you can imagine about an actor, about a certain genre, about movies from another country (They've got many books on Mexican cinema, for example), about the making of certain movies, about anything you could want to know, they have it. I went into each tight space in awe to look at the shelves around me, to note the books I've read and the books I have here at home. After circling the entire library, I went to the desk near the stairs and asked the woman there if the library would consider stocking my book, and was told I'd have to talk to the person in charge of book acquisitions. I will.

She then took my legal pads and notepads and flipped through them to make sure I wasn't smuggling anything out of the library, saw that everything was clean, and I handed over my library card and got my driver's license back, then went down the stairs. I went to my locker, got out my cloth bag, stuffed the paper bag with my bottled water and the McDonald's bag into the cloth bag, put the pencils and technical eraser into the black-and-purple zippered pouch and zipped it back up, made sure I had everything and left that little room. I said good night to the new security guard on duty, went outside to the bench near the driveway where Mom, Dad and Meridith had dropped me off, and sat down to wait for them to come from Universal CityWalk, where they had been all day, and had gotten me a magnet that said "Turn off the TV and read a book. Think outside the box," and a laminated card that said "Bowler's License," with the stats and photo being that of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. I spoke to them before I put my cell phone in the locker and outside before I ate.

From that bench, I watched a soccer game going on at the park, joggers, a guy walking his dog, and enjoyed that peace. My research ultimately doesn't matter on this planet. I don't mean it in a low self-esteem kind of way. I'm fine and well-adjusted on that end. I just mean that there I was on that bench, the traffic was passing by, and only my parents and Meridith knew that I had been reading Charlton Heston's copy of the '75 script, learning more than I had ever expected to find about the Airport series, being introduced to new paths to take with my book, getting even more excited about the great possibilities ahead for what I'm doing with this book. The world keeps going on. It doesn't stop for every parade. And I like it that way. My research at the Margaret Herrick Library ended quietly, and I like quiet. I'd rather it be this way, enough quiet to do what I want. I don't need hype. I believe it's overused for many things. If you believe your work is worth something, can be beneficial to some audience, then just do the work. Have something tangible to present to the world. Don't be like those people who audition on American Idol saying that they're the best that anyone will ever know and then they begin to sing and you wish they had decided to go to work that day or do anything else but sing.

All I will say here at the end of this entry is that this research day has pushed me into being serious about this project. I was in a preliminary stage before this, buying books I needed of actors who were in these movies, buying making-of books like one about The Wizard of Oz and another about Blade Runner for guidance and inspiration, and I knew that I wanted to do this, but to what extent? Now I know. I'm going all the way on this. Finding a publisher, writing book proposals, and pitching this book to publishers and agents is all on me now. Only me. I will do it. I want people to read my book when the time comes. When I'm finished writing it, or at least the first two chapters since a lot of publishers seem to prefer that when considering manuscripts, the first draft will be for me. The second, third, fourth and whatever drafts will gradually be for potential readers. I will do my best to make this project what I want it to be, what I hope to gain from it, namely, in a way, getting the audio commentaries I never got from the DVD set. I will only be satisfied once I know as much as possible about the Airport movies, which I prefer to be everything there is to know, but we'll see how this plays out. I'm very happy to be doing this. Most importantly, I'm having so much fun doing it.

(Yet another thing I forgot to mention: The Special Collections area with the tables reserved only for Special Collections researchers is called the Katharine Hepburn Reading Room and has a blown-up photo of Hepburn in one corner of the room. Also in this room, behind glass and under glass was an exhibit about the public reception Hitchcock's Psycho received, with articles and letters and photos. The many bookcases and long tables across from the Katharine Hepburn Reading Room is the Cecil B. DeMille Reading Room.)

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