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Lew Wasserman - quotes

Quotations relating to Lew Wasserman.

After ''Family Plot'', there was a discussion on his next project. He'd always have one in the wings, and there was a book that he liked called ''The Short Night''. And I got involved in that much more than I had in the last few pictures of his. He was all set to go on the project, and it was going to be a great project. But I was very disappointed that he couldn't go on.

I remember the day very vividly in my mind. I was up in my office and got a call from Sue, his secretary, saying that Mr. Hitchcock wanted to see me right away and it was very important. Well, of course, I dropped everything and went down to his office and went into his office, and it was just the two of us. And he was behind his desk, and he almost had tears in his eyes. And he said, "I can't go on." I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "I can't make this picture, and I would like for you to do a favor for me." And I said, "Well, of course, I'll do a favor, but why..." He says, "I'm just not up to it, and I'm not strong enough to go on location." I said, "But we'll do it for you. You're there. You tell us what to do, and we'll do it." And he said, "No. I'm never going to make a movie again." He said, "I want you to call Mr. Wasserman and let him know. I can't face him."

And I'll never forget that. I called Mr. Wasserman and went up and told him that Mr. Hitchcock was retiring. And it was a... It was a horrible, horrible moment for me. And it was really tough on Mr. Wasserman too.

I think with most of his pictures toward the end of his career, I believe your first reaction, "Gee, is he slipping?" Or "Is this not as good as his previous pictures?" You go back to the '50s of his classic ''To Catch a Thief'' and ''Vertigo'' and ''Rear Window'' and ''North by Northwest''. Those were something when you walked out and said, "Gee, great." And with the exception of ''Psycho'' and ''The Birds'', they weren't that well-received immediately. I think they grew on you.

And I think ''Family Plot'' was one of those pictures where you come out and, "Yeah, it's okay." And then you start thinking about it, saying, "Gee, it did have this." And then you go back and see it a second time, and you start getting the Hitchcock elements that didn't jump out at you the first time you saw it.

Hilton A. Green (2001)


I had been modelling in New York for a long time. It was about 11 years. And my career was sort of waning in that fashion business. I had done a number of commercials, and at one point I had about 12 of them going, and one of them ran on the "Today" show every morning for about a month. And apparently, a producer/director was watching the show and decided to find out who the girl was, where she was, and all of that. So I received a call on Friday, the 13th of October of 1961. It was, "Are you the girl in the Sego commercial?" — it was a diet product. And I said, "Yes." And they said, "Would you come over to Universal Studios?" I did, and I met with an executive there. I asked, who is the director, and he wouldn't tell me. And then he asked if I would leave my photographs and commercial film over the weekend. So I said, "Yes, but I will have to pick them up on Monday."

So Monday I was introduced to a number of other executives. Nobody would tell me who it was — who the producer/director was. They just said, "Would you go over to MCA tomorrow morning and meet with Herman Citron," who was an agent there. I went over and met with Mr. Citron, and I sat down and he said, "I suppose you're a little bit curious as to who this director is." I said, "Yes." He said, "Alfred Hitchcock wants to sign you to a contract if you will agree with the terms."

And I was stunned. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry or run up and down the halls or what to do. And he said, "If you are in agreeance to this, we will go over to Paramount Studios and meet with him." So Herman Citron and I went over to meet with Hitch, and we didn't talk about anything other than — Oh, we talked about food, we talked about travel, we talked about wines. We didn't mention movies at all. Not at all.

I heard that they were doing "The Birds", that Evan Hunter was working on the script and Hitch was working with him on it, and I thought, that's very interesting, this is very exciting and all that, but it never occurred to me that I would be involved in this movie at all. I thought I would do the television shows which he did every week. They talked about doing a screen test, and they chose three different roles for me to play in this screen test — one from "Rebecca", one from "Notorious" and one from "To Catch a Thief". Now, the se are three entirely different women. And Hitch was my drama coach, and I would go over to the Hitchcock home where Alma and Hitch would both go over the scenes with me, which was fantastic. Alma had a great deal to do with a lot of his work. So we eventually did the screen test. It took three days. And Robert Burks was the D.P. on it and Edith Head did all of the designs of the clothes and she did a personal wardrobe for me. It was an extraordinary time.

In order to do the screen test, we needed a leading man and Hitch flew Martin Balsam out from New York to be my leading man. He had just come out of Psycho.

The screen test was put together, and I guess everybody saw it, and Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock invited me to dinner at Chasens. Lew Wasserman was sitting to my left and Alma and Hitch were to my right, and — he placed — Hitch placed a very, very beautifully wrapped package from Gumps in San Francisco. It was one of his favorite shops. And I opened the box and there was this beautiful pin of three birds in flight, with the seed pearls and gold, and I looked over at Hitch, and he said, "We want you to play Melanie in The Birds."

Well, I started to cry. These big tears welled up, because I didn't expect that. I really didn't expect that. And I looked at Hitch, and he was a little watery, and Alma and even Lew Wasserman, this big movie mogul, he had one little tear coming down here. It was a very exciting evening. It was just incredible. And then the whole — all of the work really began.

We didn't actually do any pre-rehearsals. I didn't meet Rod Taylor till we were — you know, till we were really ready to film.

Tippi Hedren (2000)