Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway, Produced by East of Doheny, to Have Its Broadcast Premiere on the PBS Series Independent Lens Tuesday, December 23, 2008
(San Francisco, CA)—Captured in the landmark 1975 Maysles’ Brothers film Grey Gardens, the indomitable Edith Beale and her daughter, Edie, aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, respectively, were revealed to have a most unique and engaging mother-daughter relationship, built upon powerful interdependence, quirky eccentricity, courage, devotion and love. Living in squalor in a rundown Hamptons mansion, their indomitable spirit soon catapulted them to a cult icon status of a sort that was an ironic counterpoint to Mrs. Onassis’s own such status. Three decades later, the Beales received the ultimate homage: being portrayed on the Broadway stage. Combining a backstage look at the creative process behind the show, lavish clips from the original film, and insightful interviews with Albert Maysles, a host of Beale authorities, devotees and cultural commentators, and the Broadway show’s creators and cast, GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton To Broadway reminds of us of the power of the Beales’ story to arouse a multitude of emotions even decades later. The film will have its broadcast premiere on the Emmy® Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, December 23, 2008, at 10 PM (check local listings).
Released in 1975, Albert Maysles’ Grey Gardens depicted the everyday lives of two women who lived at Grey Gardens, a decrepit 28-room mansion in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton, New York. Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, lived together in almost total isolation. Intimate, shocking and utterly fascinating, the film quickly became a cult classic, and Little Edie, dressed in her trademark headscarves, became an unlikely, but perfect fashion icon for the times. Their story had a personal resonance for composer Scott Frankel, who conceived the Broadway production. Frankel’s previous work had never gone as far as he’d hoped, and he identified with the Beales’ story of unrealized, unfulfilled promise. Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie and dramatist Doug Wright tackled the difficult task of bringing the complex story alive on stage.
GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton To Broadway follows the creators as they prepare the show for Broadway and records their joy at the response from audiences and critics alike—the show earned three Tony Awards and, just as important, introduced the unforgettable Beales to a new generation.
To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the companion website for GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton To Broadway at pbs.org/independentlens/greygardens. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions.
About the Participants
Anastasia Barzee has performed in many Broadway productions, including Urinetown and Jekyll and Hyde, and was on the producing team of GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton To Broadway.
Matt Cavenaugh played the parts of Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. and Jerry Torre in the Broadway production of Grey Gardens.
Erin Davie played the young Edith Bouvier Beale in the Broadway production of Grey Gardens, for which she won a Theatre World Award.
Scott Frankel graduated from Yale in 1985, which was where he met Doug Wright, with whom he would later collaborate on the Broadway production of Grey Gardens.
Kelly Gonda is the founder of East of Doheny, production company for GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton To Broadway. East of Doheny has produced countless other Broadway shows, produced the film A Time for Dancing and is in the process of producing the upcoming Ephron sisters screenplay Flipped.
Lou Gonda founded Lexington Commercial Entertainment, following his passion for producing after a career in aircraft leasing.
Michael Greif, formerly the artistic director for La Jolla Playhouse, is renowned for directing such hits as Rent and the Broadway production of Grey Gardens.
Wendall Harrington was the projection designer for the Broadway production of Grey Gardens.
Michael Korie is a lyricist whose work includes Grey Gardens (Broadway), The Grapes of Wrath (opera) and the upcoming musical adaptation of Finding Neverland.
William Ivey Long is the venerated, Tony Award–Winning costume designer of such musicals as The Producers, Hairspray and Grey Gardens.
Albert Maysles is the “dean of documentary filmmakers” (The New York Times) and has worked, with his brother David, on such landmark documentaries as Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1975).
Allen Moyer was the scenic designer for the Broadway production of Grey Gardens.
Michael Musto is a celebrity gossip columnist for The Village Voice.
Rosie O’Donnell, winner of 11 Emmy® Awards, is a blogger, an LGBT civil rights activist, a television producer, a comedian, a talk show host, an author and an actress.
Todd Oldham is a fashion designer and was the host of Top Design on Bravo in 2007.
Andre Leon Talley has been the Vogue editor-at-large for more than 25 years.
Jerry Torre appeared as himself in the Maysles’ Grey Gardens 1975 documentary; as a young man, he befriended and lived with the Beales.
Mary Louise Wilson won a Tony Award for her performance in Grey Gardens.
Doug Wright earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale and wrote the Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Little Mermaid, Grey Gardens and Quills, among others.
Lawrence Yurman was musical director of Grey Gardens.
About the Filmmakers
Albert Maysles, Cinematographer Albert Maysles is a pioneer of direct cinema and, along with his brother, David, was the first to make nonfiction feature films, including Salesman (1968), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1975), in which the drama of life unfolds as is, without scripts, sets, interviews or narration. With his first film, Psychiatry in Russia (1955), he made the transition from psychologist to documentary filmmaker. In 1960, he served as co-filmmaker of Primary. Among his many other films are What’s Happening! The Beatles in the USA (1964); Meet Marlon Brando (1965); six films for Christo and Jeanne-Claude, including, most recently, The Gates (2007); and four documentaries for HBO. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Peabody, an Emmy® and five Lifetime Achievement Awards. He won the award for Best Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival (2002) for Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton, which was also nominated in 2001 for an Academy Award. Albert received the Columbia duPont Award in 2004. Eastman Kodak has saluted him as one of the world’s 100 finest cinematographers.
East of Doheny, Producer East of Doheny (EOD) is an independent theatrical and film production company headed by Kelly Gonda, with offices in New York and Los Angeles. EOD’s upcoming projects presently in advanced development for the stage are My Man Godfrey, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Film projects in development are Flipped, Stuffed, Julie and Romeo and Secret Letters.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about unique individuals, communities and moments in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens
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