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Mark Dawidziak <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 27 Mar 2008 18:25:46 -0400
text/plain (92 lines)
    The PBS angle is a good one, although the request probably would 
need to come from a station with some special Twain interest. Leading 
candidates would be a station in a city or state that's home to a Twain 
research center: say, KQED in San Francisco, Connecticut Public 
Television (which runs WEDH in Hartford) and (yes, Hal) KCET in St. 
Louis. Not every station in the Public Broadcast Service system produces 
much or acquires much in the way of original programming, but these 
three have and do. PBS isn't a network in the true sense. Its structure 
is somewhat byzantine, with power wielded by the national offices in 
Washington, D.C., the heavyweight stations (WNET in New York, WGBH in 
Boston and WETA in Washington being three of the heaviest) and those 
corporate sponsors. So this kind of effort works best when it starts at 
a local level, driven by some compelling local interest. Then, if and 
when it works there, it's offered to the entire PBS system. Another way 
to approach this is through a university that's affiliated in some way, 
perhaps on a consortium basis, with a PBS station. Documentaries 
developed at a university, for instance, often find an initial home at a 
PBS station affiliated with the university. Just thinking out loud here, 
but, if KCET ever plans to rerun the Ken Burns documentary on Twain, 
this would make a dandy acquisition for them. . . favorite son of 
Missouri and all. . . with a little original introductory material on 
either side. . . "and now, ladies and gentlemen, your host for the 
evening, Hal Bush." Or it would be a good local effort around the time 
each year that PBS airs the awarding of the Mark Twain Prize.
    I don't know how many conferences are in my future (I'm certainly 
planning on attending the 2009 Elmira bash), but, wherever I go, it's a 
pretty safe bet that a copy of "The Shape of the River" will go with me. 
I may have even left behind a copy of it somewhere in Elmira (clumsy of 
me), where I might have been found by the good people at the Center for 
Mark Twain Studies. And it might be available there for screening by 
Twain scholars, researchers and academics. It's possible.

And, Hal,
    I hate to shoot down anyone's dream, but Holbrook has turned down 
every effort by every producer to draft him into a Mark Twain film or 
television drama (including "The Shape of the River"). He always wants 
to be responsible for the word choices he makes as Twain, and he'd 
surrender that power to a producer or screenwriter if he signed on to 
play Twain in someone else's concept. You can be sure that behind any 
depiction of Twain on a movie or TV screen is a script with Hal's 
fingerprints on it.  As Jason Robards said when he played Twain in the 
Disney Channel's "Mark Twain and Me": "I'm glad Hal has that rule. He 
has made a lot of work for the rest of us." Then again, maybe he'd make 
an exception for Horton Foote and for this play. So, OK, go ahead and 
fire up the dream again.

Arianne wrote:
>  Hal and Mark, I saw Hal Holbrook back in the 60s in SF.  Pondering that
> video in the
> CBS archives, I wondered if PBS could talk them into letting it go.  Until
> Hal'
> s production comes to pass, maye we could look forward to Mark bringing it
> to other
> conferences where we could see it.
> Hoping,
> Arianne Laidlaw
> On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Hal Bush <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> One dream I have is to help put together a feature film of SHAPE OF THE
>> RIVER, with Holbrook as the lead.  Get a big-time director, and since this
>> is all just a dream anyway, I would of course handle the revision of the
>> screenplay, using Foote's original (fantasy time).
>> I just saw INTO THE WILD the other day and was mesmerized by Holbrook's
>> performance, which was a highlight of this haunting film.
>> Any big-time Hollywood honchos out there listening??
>> Dr. Harold K. Bush, Jr., Associate Professor
>> Dept. of English
>> Saint Louis University
>> St. Louis, MO  63108
>> [log in to unmask]
>> 314-977-3616 (w);  314-771-6795 (h)  314-495-4094 (cell)
>> <>
>> Memorable Quote Until Further Notice:
>> "Educating is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness."
>>    --   bell hooks