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Monday, August 19, 2019

The Fans' Love Story: Encore -- Part 1

I recently published a series of articles -- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 -- about the book The Fan's Love Story, which was written by Sue Tabashnik and was published in 2010.

Now I beginning another series of articles about Tabashnik's sequel book, titled The Fans' Love Story: Encore, which was published in 2013. In this series of articles, I will call this book simply Encore.

Cover of The Fans' Love Story -- Encore
The first chapter of Encore is the same as the first chapter of the previous book. This chapter tells how she fell in love with the movie in 1987, joined the Official Patrick Swayze International Fan Club in 2000 and subsequently attended the Club's events, became acquainted with fellow fans, and wrote articles for the Club's publications.

The second chapter of Encore tells the developments between the publication of her first book in 2010 and the publication of her second book in 2013. This second chapter of Encore is divided into the following sections:
Screenings, Festivals and Events

Dirty Dancing Stage Show

Jennifer Grey and Dancing with the Stars

The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

The Dirty Dancing Remake

The Patrick Swayze Statue at Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Dirty Dancing in Popular Culture

The Dirty Dancing Legacy
I will not dwell on this chapter.


The third chapter is a 13-page transcript of Tabashnik's interview of the movie's producer Linda Gottlieb. This interview was very interesting, and so I will summarize it.

Linda Gottlieb, producer of the movie Dirty Dancing
Bergstein met Gottlieb "many years ago" when they happened to be dating two men who were roommates. In 1985, when Bergstein was beginning to develop her screenplay for the movie that became Dirty Dancing, she learned that Gottlieb was working as a producer at the MGM movie company. Bergstein called Gottlieb out of the blue, reminded her that they were acquainted, and asked for help in developing her screenplay.

Gottlieb invited Bergstein to lunch at a sandwich restaurant called Between the Bread. Bergstein explained that her screenplay was about two sisters, one of whom is a natural dancer. The story took place in a Catskills resort. The dancing in the proposed movie would be Latin dancing.

Gottlieb was attracted by the idea that the proposed movie would feature Latin dancing. In the Tabashnik interview, Gottlieb explains:
Tango Argentino had just become a big success as a theatrical show in New York, and I thought, "Well, maybe there is something out there in the zeitgeist that says there's time for Latin music."
According to Wikipedia's article about Tango Argentino, this show premiered in New York in October 1985. Therefore, I figure that this lunch conversation between Bergstein and Gottlieb took place in the last months of 1985.

During that lunch conversation, Bergstein still (according to Gottlieb) did not have much of a story for her screenplay. Rather, Bergstein had merely an idea that included the two sisters, the Latin dancing and the Catskills resort.

Since Bergstein still did not have much of a screenplay story, Gottlieb asked Bergstein to tell about her own life.
She [Bergstein] said, "I grew up in Brooklyn. My father was a doctor. You know, I was a natural dancer. I was one of those girls who used to go dirty dancing with the guys from the wrong side of the tracks."

And I [Gottlieb] literally dropped my spoon and said, "That is a million-dollar title!"

She said, "What is?"

I said, Dirty Dancing.

She said, "But that has nothing to do with the story I want to tell."

I said, "Eleanor, that's the title, and now we're going to get the story."

So at lunch that day, we invented the character of Johnny over this lunch at Between the Bread. In other words, it was not ever in her original thinking, but it came from the title of Dirty Dancing.
Gottlieb asked Bergstein to define her expression "dirty dancing". Their discussion led to an understanding that the expression encompassed both dancing and music.
I said, "You know, if there's dirty dancing, what's the other kind of music?

She said, "You know, it's clean teen music."

And we realized there was a musical clash between the clean teen music (which begins the movie) and the dirty-dancing music.
Gottlieb claims in her interview that the Johnny Castle character was "born" at that lunch discussion.


Afterwards, Gottlieb pitched the screenplay concept to MGM producer Frank Yablans.  He approved MGM's payment for a screenplay. Gottlieb claims in her Tabashnik interview that she collaborated with Berstein to write the script.
They [MGM] funded the cost of the script -- you know, the first draft, the second draft of the script -- which Eleanor developed with me. I was totally involved in the development of the script.
By the time Bergstein and Gottlieb completed the script's second draft, however, Yablans had been fired from MGM. This unexpected firing gave Gottlieb the opportunity, according to the MGM contract, to buy the script's rights for herself.

Since Yablans was gone, no MGM producer intended to develop the script further into an MGM movie. If Gottlieb could convince another producer to take over the script and give her enough money to reimburse MGM (within one year) for its payment to write the script, then Gottlieb would free herself and Bergstein from all her obligations to MGM in relation to the script.
I [Gottlieb] then took it [the script] and shopped it around to every major studio -- all who turned it down I think I had something like 43 rejections. I mean, I looked everywhere. Nobody wanted to make that movie.

I was trying to raise independent money to do it. A little company, called Vestron, called [in February 1986] through my agent. .... Vestron said they were interested in meeting with me about producing it. There were two people there -- Mitchell Cannold and Steve Reuther. Mitchell himself had grown up in the Catskills, and so the story resonated for him .... They took the title of executive producers on the movie and basically came up with the financing, provided that I could figure out a way to do the movie ... for about $4.5 million.
Unfortunately, Tabashnik did not ask Gottlieb to elaborate about the ownership of the movie's rights, but I speculate that Gottlieb ended up with essentially the entire ownership.

Keep in mind that Gottlieb was an experienced movie producer, whereas relatively Bergstein and Vestron were just novices in the movie business. Perhaps Gottlieb arranged for Bergstein to earn just a flat fee for the script writing and arranged for Vestron to earn a guaranteed but limited return on its investment. (I am just speculating; I do not know.)


When Gottlieb was shopping the script around to various producers, she still had not established the participation of any specific actors. After Vestron provided the $4.5 million, Gottlieb began to hire the cast.

The Gottlieb family and the Grey family were acquainted, because their children had attended the same high school. Jennifer Grey was the first actress who auditioned for the Baby Houseman character. Jennifer came to the audition with her father, the actor Joel Grey.
He [Joel] sort of pushed her [Jennifer] forward. She was stammering and scared.

The first audition was just dancing. All we wanted to do was just turn on some music and see how you move. She clearly moved well. She's a good dancer.

And then she stopped dancing, and she turned to us -- the director, myself and Eleanor. And she said:
I just have to say something. I know I shouldn't, but I have to say something. I'm just like this girl, Baby. I talk too much. I care too much about everything I do. I so understand this girl. I'm exactly like her.

Oh, I shouldn't have said it. Forget I said that.
Of course, we fell in love with her.

Then we saw 150 other girls, and we cast Jennifer. She was the first person we saw.
Years earlier, Gottlieb had considered casting Patrick Swayze in a movie about ballet. She never made that ballet movie, but she kept him in mind. When she began casting the Johnny Castle character for Dirty Dancing, she auditioned him and watched the previous movies that had featured him.

Gottlieb worried that Swayze was too old for Dirty Dancing. He was 37, and Grey was 27. Despite their ages, however, they eventually were selected, because "they both looked much younger".

Gottlieb told Tabashnik that the alternate selections for the leading roles were Billy Zane and Kyra Sedgwick.


The above summary covers the first five pages of the 13-page transcript of Tabashnik's interview of Gottlieb. The remaining pages include the following tidbits:
* A stunt-double performed part of the log scene for Jennifer Grey.

* The "Love is Strange" scene was improvised by the director Emile Ardolino.

* Gottlieb considered casting Swayze's wife Lisa to play Penny, but ultimately decided that she was not as "strong" an actress as Cythia Rhodes.

* Gottlieb had to assign several people to get Swayze out of bed in the morning.

* A scene was shot with Jennifer bare-breasted, and Vestron intended to include it in the movie. Eventually, though, Vestron changed its mind and removed the scene.

* Part of the requirements to get a PG-rating was to remove the word shit, which had been said twice in the dialogue.

* Gottlieb, her children and her sister appeared as extras in the movie, because the local population did not have enough people who looked Jewish.
Jewish-looking Linda Gottlieb unloading her car trunk in an early scene

Previous articles in this blog that discuss Linda Gottlieb:
Re-Watching Eleanor Bergstein's Earlier Movie It's My Turn

The Re-Writing of Eleanor Bergstein's Script

Patrick Swayze: One Last Dance

Linda Gottlieb's Article About Producing Dirty Dancing

The Blockbuster Film That Almost Wasn't Made
For some more articles, click on the Linda Gottlieb tag in the right margin.


The book can be ordered from various booksellers, including directly from its publisher, Passion Spirit Dreams Press.


I will continue my review of Encore in Part 2.

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