New York native Jerry Schatzberg began his career as a fashion photographer, working as an assistant to Bill Helburn in the mid-1950s before branching out on his own in the late 50s and 60s. While wor...
Support is growing for Roman Polanski, and so is a backlash. Some French politicians are not siding so closely with the artistic community in their defense of the jailed filmmaker while other folks from all over are weighing in with indignation that Polanski should receive special treatment.
More names have been added to the petition started in France, which Wiretap was first to post on Monday morning while a similar one has now been floated. At least one big-name French filmmaker, however, has chosen to abstain from adding his support even though he says of Polanski "our daughters are friends."
Scores of prestigious filmmakers and industry players have now added their names to the petition, which began being circulated on Sunday, including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Patrice Chereau, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Buck Henry, Diane Kurys, Jean Labadie, Claude Lelouch, David Lynch, Richard Pena, Jacques Perrin, Jerry Schatzberg and Andre Techine.
Further, French sales, distribution and finance outfit Wild Bunch tells Wiretap it has pulled Jan Kounen's Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky from the Zurich Film Festival in a sign of protest. Coco & Igor was the closing night film at Cannes this year.
Further, another petition has now been started by Henri-Bernard Levy, which reads:
"Apprehended like a common terrorist Saturday evening, September 26 in Zurich, as he came to receive a prize for his entire body of work, Roman Polanski is now in prison. He risks extradition to the United States for a thirty-year-old affair whose principal plaintiff repeats with hue and cry that she has put the story behind her and abandoned any idea of legal proceedings. Seventy-six years old, a survivor of Nazism and of Stalinist persecution in Poland, Roman Polanski risks spending the rest of his life in jail for deeds which should normally be beyond the statute-of-limitations in Europe.
"We ask the Swiss federal justice system to free him immediately and not to turn this brilliant filmmaker into a martyr of a political-legal imbroglio that is unworthy of two democracies like Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as well as honor, demands it."
Signatories on that petition include Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Neil Jordan, Mike Nichols, Diane von Furstenberg and Paul Auster.
On the other side of the fence are some of France's politicians who have come out to accuse President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration of jumping too quickly to Polanski's defense. Included among them are Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a French deputy in the European Parliament from the Green Party and Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen - the father and daughter from the extreme right National Front party who said officials were supporting "a criminal pedophile in the name of the rights of the political-artistic class," The New York Times reports.
One person from the artistic class whose name has been absent from any petition is Luc Besson. "Our daughters are good friends," Besson told France's RTL radio. "But there is one justice, and that should be the same for everyone."
The Wrap reports that in Poland, the prime minister asked his Cabinet members to subdue their angry calls for the release of Polanski, noting that the case involved "punishment for having sex with a child."
Polanski's lawyers have asked that the director be released from Swiss custody where he now resides following his arrest on Saturday on a 31-year old warrant stemming from having pleaded guilty to sex with a minor.
"Our first concern, and principle concern, is that Mr. Polanski be set free" from jail while "remaining on Swiss territory," Polanski’s French attorney Herve Temime said, TW reports. "He has a chalet in Switzerland. He would naturally accept to be placed under house arrest during the follow-up of the extradition proceedings."
Meanwhile, the mood in blog comments both in the US and in France is for the most part against Polanski. Of the nearly 30,000 respondents to an online poll from French daily Le Figaro, more than 70% feel he should be judged (then again, Web site L'Internaute also has a poll wherein over 70% of respondents think he should be freed).
That 70% figure is an interesting one: On CNN, a poll asking whether he should be extradited to the US also shows 70% in favor.
And on blogs like Deadline.com and Hollywood-Elsewhere.com, the comments skew overwhelmingly against Polanski.
Now that Harvey Weinstein has weighed in via a piece in The Independent, will his comment that he is "not too shy to go and talk to the Governor of California" to ask him to look at the situation hold much sway?
It's unlikely given the stance of the LA District Attorney's office. Spokeswoman Jane Robison responded to questions from FoxNews.com thusly:
Q. Will the DA respond to pressure from Tinseltown's biggest bigwigs?
A. Will the DA consider their plea to give up on extradition?
Q. Does the DA have any plans to meet with the directors allying themselves with Polanski?
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Had minor career setback with the dreadful "Sweet Revenge"
Helmed the lovers on the run drama "Clinton and Nadine"; premiered at Cannes; shown on HBO in the USA
Returned to feature filmmaking as co-writer and director of "The Day the Ponies Come Back"; premiered at the Montreal Film Festival
Enjoyed critical success with "Panic in Needle Park", a searing study of drug addiction starring Al Pacino and Kitty Winn
Directorial debut with "Puzzle of a Downfall Child"; also provided story
Helmed "Honeysuckle Rose", a loose remake of "Intermezzo" set in the world of country music and starring Willie Nelson
Had exhibition of photographs at Beaubourg Center in Paris
Directed the intriguing if not wholly successful "Street Smart", about a journalist who fakes a story about NYC pimps and prostitutes only to have the district attorney conclude it profiled a murder suspect
Worked as assistant to photographer Bill Helburn
Was freelance still photographer and director of TV commercials
Reteamed with Pacino for "Scarecrow", a road movie co-starring Gene Hackman that won the Palm d'Or at Cannes
Again enjoyed critical praise for the political drama "The Seduction of Joe Tynan", written by and starring Alan Alda
Directed the touching drama "Reunion" (scripted by Harold Pinter), about an elderly Jewish man who returns to Germany to locate a childhood friend; last feature film for 11 years
Replaced an ill Martin Ritt as director of "No Small Affair", a love story about an older woman and younger man featuring Demi Moore and Jon Cryer (in roles originally intended for Sally Field and Matthew Broderick)
Contributed a segment to "Lumiere and Company" about a Manhattan bag lady and a trash collector
New York native Jerry Schatzberg began his career as a fashion photographer, working as an assistant to Bill Helburn in the mid-1950s before branching out on his own in the late 50s and 60s. While working freelance, he also began to helm TV commercials and gradually moved to the silver screen, debuting with 1970's "Puzzle of a Downfall Child". A confusing drama about a fashion model trying to come to terms with her life, "Puzzle" starred Faye Dunaway, with whom Schatzberg had been romantically linked. Critics were dismissive of the film and its confounding structure, but the director hit pay dirt with his sophomore effort, the gripping "Panic in Needle Park" (1971). Focusing on the downward spiral into drugs of a petty crook (Al Pacino) and his girlfriend (Kitty Winn), "Panic in Needle Park" received plaudits for its unsparing look at the effects of drug use (in this case heroin) and for its dynamic leading performances. (Winn received the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award.)<p>Schatzberg next enjoyed success with the well-received road picture "Scarecrow" which took top honors at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. Despite rumored clashes between its stars Gene Hackman and Al Pacino, there was no denying the duo's chemistry as a pair of drifters who set out from California to Pittsburgh. "Scarecrow" looked gorgeous (thanks in part to Schatzberg's photographic background and the expert cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond) and the performances (including those of Ann Wedgeworth, Eileen Brennan and Penelope Allen) demonstrated Schatzberg's skill with actors, but the episodic script and its maudlin ending undercut what could have been a great motion picture.<p>The director's career was nearly derailed completely by "Sweet Revenge" (1977), a lame romance about a public defender (Sam Waterston) who falls in love with a client (Stockard Channing). Schatzberg was back on track with 1979's politically-themed "The Seduction of Joe Tynan", a portrait of a liberal senator facing moral crises in his rise to power in Washington. Again, the helmer showed a flair for eliciting strong, well-crafted performances from his cast (including writer-star Alan Alda, Barbara Harris, Meryl Streep and Melvyn Douglas), but as with "Scarecrow", the inherent troubles of the screenplay (especially its trite and unbelievable ending) marred the final product.<p>"On the Road Again/Honeysuckle Rose" (1980) was a loose remake of "Intermezzo" (1939) set in the world of country music and starring Willie Nelson that proved surprisingly enjoyable. When Martin Ritt became too ill to direct it, "No Small Affair" was abandoned until Schatzberg agreed to helm it for a 1984 release. He recast the roles of an older singer and the virginal teen who develops a crush on her with Demi Moore and Jon Cryer (in parts originally intended for Sally Field and Matthew Broderick) but the final version proved uneven at best. "Street Smart" (1987) was a more intriguing project. Based somewhat on screenwriter David Freeman's own experiences, the film depicted a lazy, amoral journalist (Christopher Reeve) who concocts a fictional portrait of a pimp that bears a strong resemblance to a vicious, real-life procurer who is a suspect in a murder case. Marred by the miscasting of Reeve (who plays the role too passively) and Schatzberg's slick direction, "Street Smart" was redeemed by the strong supporting turns of Morgan Freeman as the pimp and Kathy Baker as a prostitute with whom Reeve's character begins a relationship.<p>Schatzberg next directed the erotically-charged lovers-on-the-run drama "Clinton and Nadine" (1988), which teamed Andy Garcia and Ellen Barkin as a smuggler and a prostitute who become embroiled in a gun-running scheme. Intended as a feature film (having debuted at Cannes), it instead debuted on HBO before being consigned to the video shelves. Schatzberg then helmed what is arguably his best feature, "Reunion" (1989), a Harold Pinter-scripted drama about an elderly Jewish man who returns to Germany to relocate a childhood friend. With the exception of a short segment contributed to the omnibus feature "Lumiere and Company" (1995), he did not direct for movies for more than a decade. At the 2000 Montreal Film Festival, he debuted "The Day the Ponies Come Back", which he also co-wrote. In the Variety (September 10, 2000), critic Derek Elley praised the "fluidly told story" about a young Frenchman's search for his father, cited its "believable, well-etched personalities" and noted it was "helmed with a freshness and inquisitiveness that belies the age of its director".