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Movie Actress Annabella Sciorra

Score co-stars in the new film "What Dreams May Come", opposite Robin Williams. She has also appeared in such films as "Cop Land," "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," "The Addiction," "Mr Jealousy," and "Jungle Fever."




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Other segments from the episode on October 15, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, October 15, 1998: Interview with Annabella Sciorra; Interview with Lenny Kaye.


Date: OCTOBER 15, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 101501np.217
Head: Annabella Sciorra
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR, I'm Terry Gross.

Actress Annabella Sciorra is best known for her starring roles in the comedy "True Love," the Spike Lee film, "Jungle Fever" and the hit thriller, "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle."

Earlier this year she starred opposite Eric Stolz in the romantic comedy, "Mr. Jealousy," in which she played an art historian. Here she is conducting a museum tour.


ANNABELLA SCIORRA, ACTRESS: This is just a very good example of his fascination, with not just the human body, but the terror and the loneliness of the human condition. The figure is almost faceless. All you can see are the eyes and mouth.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: She's the right. All I can see are the eyes and the mouth.

SCIORRA: The eyes and the mouth. Except that I personally think that that's an ear. But you know, I've been told it's not an ear. So, I guess everybody else is right. But I think -- it's looks like an ear. Does that look like an ear?

GROSS: Annabella Sciorra is now starring opposite Robin Williams in the film "What Dreams May Come." The movie is set in heaven and hell, as well as on Earth. Annabella Sciorra loses her children in a car accident, then loses her husband in another one.

Her husband and children go to heaven, leaving her to grieve alone on Earth. In fact, she's into tears for much of the film. I asked Sciorra if she had to summon up tears before the scenes, if she was ever able to rely on artificial ones.

SCIORRA: You know, I don't ever obligate myself to have tears or to have laughter or to have any of the final emotion or product that you see. It was a set where it was very open air. There were a lot of takes, that instead of crying I am laughing where, you know, or in shock or, you know, something else is going on and it was just a matter of the director deciding which way he wanted to go with all of that.

I think that -- there are times you can fake stuff, you know, you can fake, you know, stuff if the director wants something that's really not the way you naturally want to go. But on this movie, I think we had a lot of freedom to stay in the moment, and stay with what was going on.

GROSS: Annabella Sciorra, I know you were born in Connecticut, and I think you moved to New York when you were how old?

SCIORRA: Eleven.

GROSS: Eleven. Did you think of yourself as having a New York accent as you were growing up?

SCIORRA: I did have a slight accent at a certain period of my life, in order to fit in, I think, with the people I was going to school with.

GROSS: Is that something that you then had to try to lose for some roles and then play a up for other roles?

SCIORRA: Yeah, I was very fortunate to find a dialect coach when I was 16 or 17, I think. And her name was Deborah Ross Sullivan. And she was actually from the Bronx and she studied with a woman named Edith Skinner. And she taught me that having a New York accent wasn't the coolest thing in the world, and I could afford losing it. And if I wanted it back I could get it back.

GROSS: I have a question about your voice, how in your movies you've had many roles where you have had to use your voice very forcefully. I mean, from one of your earliest roles in "True Love," where you play a bride to -- or even in "Mr. Jealousy." I mean, you're very assertive in that. And you're speaking in a very small voice right now, which is different from the voice I'm used to on-screen.


GROSS: It seems much more tentative to me.

SCIORRA: I think that -- I think it's one of the reasons I thought acting so interesting is because I grew up very shy and very tentative. And I always felt like the roles I was playing and what came out of me while I was acting was always much more interesting than who I was. I felt like I had a much larger landscape of life in my acting than I did in my real life. And I tend not to be that louder, forceful in my real life.

GROSS: I think that the first role that a lot of people noticed you in was in "True Love," which was a Nancy Sovoga's (ph) first film, the first movie she directed. You play, you know, a bride, a woman getting married, you're from the neighborhood. And your husband to-be is acting a little dumb and reluctant about the whole thing. How did you get the part?

SCIORRA: There's two stories about how it happened, and I don't really remember which is true. But I'm pretty sure that I got a call from a casting director named Todd Thaler (ph), who had my picture and resume for one reason or another. And he was casting the movie, and I was supposed to go in and audition. And I couldn't make it because I was working as a bartender at the time.

I think I missed about three of those auditions, and then finally did make it in one afternoon. And I auditioned for Nancy, and her husband Rich, who was the producer, and they had co-wrote the film by doing a monologue that I had written.

GROSS: Do you remember the monologue, and would you do a few lines from it?

SCIORRA: I can remember the first line because I remember -- the first line was: "I'm Italian, right?" And I remember that because when I said it, Nancy said: yeah. And I said: no, no, no, no, I just started the monologue. And I remember the very first line.

Yeah, it was, like: "I'm Italian, right, so things are either good or they're bad. There's no in-between."

It started like that and she was trying to explain to somebody, she had been asked out on a date and her boyfriend just broke up with her and she was trying to explain who she was, and set this guy up about what he was in for.

GROSS: Now, was that voice similar to the voice that you had before losing your New York accent, or is that just something that you've got for the new movie? Because it's very convincing.

SCIORRA: I think it's not really what I had. I think it's much more Italian-American New York accent, which is much more down here, you know. It's more of that. You know, they use a lot of these, you know, in place of Ts. It wasn't exactly what I had, because I didn't grow up with that many Italian-Americans. But I think that's what I tried to get down, as well.

GROSS: And then you were in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever," in which you played opposite Wesley Snipes. He was an architect, and you're having a relationship that is frowned on my friends and family on both sides because it's interracial. I'm wondering if there was a lot of discussion about that on the set, about, you know, interracial relationships?

SCIORRA: I guess there was, yeah. I think it was talked about a lot. I think that there were people on that set who thought that it wasn't a good, it wasn't a good thing, that people should stay with "their own kind," were the words that were used.

I think even Spike, at the time, from what I remember, he did not think it was good for that to happen. And to me it wasn't anything that unusual from the world I grew up in. I really didn't find it that shocking or different. I think, also, I saw it as a love story.

I didn't really see it as much as this curiosity relationship about what is Black-White, what is White-White like, which I think is more of how Spike saw it. So at the time I think we disagreed a little bit about that, but they were many creative discussions, you know, that revolved around that.

GROSS: Now, what happens in a movie where the director feels that the character is having this relationship just to kind of try out a new flavor, so to speak? But, you, the actress thinks, no, this is more serious. She feels for the person. It's not a novelty. I mean, it's a real relationship.

Who wins? I mean, do you win because you're the actress and you're finally doing it, or does the director win because he insists on a certain performance and chooses the take that's closest to what he wants?

SCIORRA: Well, the director wins, because the director is the boss and, you know, it's an actor's job to fulfill his wishes, really. I mean, that's your job. If you really have such a huge disagreement about what's going on and what the story is then you really shouldn't be working in the movie. And you know, it should be recognized beforehand, so you don't really get into a bad situation working on a movie where you're trying to make two different movies.

I think that - unfortunately, I think with Spike, I don't think that we understood each other before the movie started. So I think that we did get into some situations where we disagreed about stuff.

But I think, ultimately, when I look at that movie, I think Spike really gave me my moments. I think that he understood what I was doing. And, you know, ultimately, he could have made it into something else. He could've cut a lot of it out, could have cropped a lot of those moments. And I think ultimately he gave me my moments, and everything I wanted that character to be is in that movie. So I think it worked out for both of us.

GROSS: My guest is Annabella Sciorra. She stars in the new film, "What Dreams May Come." We'll talk more after our break.

This it is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Annabella Sciorra. She stars in the new film, "What's Dreams May Come."

"The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" was a huge commercial success, and started this whole trend of movies there were trying to capitalize on the suspense theme in it. In that you play a young mother who hires the babysitter from hell, who takes over and totally tries to ruin the family.

Did you have any idea it would be such a big hit? Or did you think it would just be, you know, another thriller?

SCIORRA: No. I had no idea it would be a big hit. I think that there were days on the set that I laughed so hard because I thought it was just the stupidest thing I was ever going to be in. But, I think, too, to the director's credit, Curtis Hansen (ph), and John Link, who is the editor on the movie, and the producers, John Ladd (ph) and -- I think that they turned it into a really great movie of that genre.

And I came to appreciate that type of movie, I think.

GROSS: So it's possible to make a movie and not be aware of how good or bad it is as you're making it?

SCIORRA: I don't think you ever can. No, because I've been on movies that I thought were just going to be in so amazing and really turned out to me to be disappointing; not only disappointing, but different from the movie I thought I was in. So you really can't...

GROSS: Can you think of an example?

SCIORRA: Well, let's see. I did a movie and called "Whispers in the Dark," that I thought was a really, really interesting psychological thriller when I read it for the first time. And I did not like the movie at all.

I don't think I liked one moment of the movie. I thought it was trash. I think if I were the producer -- and he's a great producer; he's made great movies in his career -- but I just -- I would've done something else with it, I think.

GROSS: So -- now you've also done a couple of movies with Abel Ferrara (ph), who does a lot of -- speaking of perverse, I mean, he does a lot of strange independent films. I'm wondering what his approach to directing is.

SCIORRA: He's got a...

GROSS: He did "The Bad Lieutenant," "The Addiction" and "The Funeral."

SCIORRA: He did "The Addiction" and "The Funeral." He's done a lot of great movies. He's -- you know, you've got to like working with him to work with him, because the set is extremely creative but extremely chaotic.

But I'm very into it, I really like being on his sets. In fact, I've said this before and it's still true. There's nothing I wouldn't do with Abel. You know, he could ask me to stand on my head in a scene and I would do it.

GROSS: Why? What is it about him that you would follow him?

SCIORRA: I just -- I trust him. I trust his instincts, because he has a lot of respect for the people that he works with; which is why he has been working with the same cinematographer for 18 years. And you know, he works with the same production designer and costume designer, and the same actors over and over again.

Because there's a real respect, a real mutual respect for what's going on, and people's processes. And I look for to working with him again. We talk about it, and we might do something this winter together.

GROSS: Can you put your finger on what else differentiates a good director for actors from a bad or mediocre one?

SCIORRA: I think that the respect factor is important. You know that you sometimes take for granted that when a director hires actors he actually respects what they do and trusts their acting. But quite often that doesn't happen.

So they're not only telling you what they want in the scene, but they're also trying to tell you how to act, and they're trying to tell you how to get there which is very frustrating because you can't take an actor who knows the way that they work and try to change it.

And if there's no respect and if that's missing and if there's no trust, then you also aren't really free to talk about what you're doing, because it's -- you're not really important.

And again, you don't need to talk about what you're doing, but you know, you do need -- I mean, a director is there to direct and you need that guidance. You want that guidance as an actor, because you can't watch yourself and act at the same time.

GROSS: It sounds like what you want from a director is a sense of feedback, maybe, but not advice on how to get from here to there in a role, not advice on how to get to the point of embodying a character, because that's a very personal...

SCIORRA: Yeah, it's very personal. And a lot of times directors will do what I call "method directing." They like to push actors emotionally into situations.

GROSS: Like how?

SHEILA: Oh, they just do -- I've seen it so many times. I've seen directors yell at actors to get them to cry or to intimidate them. And people -- I've even heard stories of Elia Kazan (ph) doing it with "A Face in the Crowd." It's just infuriating to me. It's really disrespectful.

GROSS: As if like you didn't have the technique to get there through your own technique.

SCIORRA: Right. Yeah, and if you don't have the technique then why did you hire me? You know, why do you hire somebody if you don't respect or trust what they're going to do? So it starts off in a bad place, I think, when it starts off like that.

GROSS: Has anybody ever tried to do that to you on a set, try to humiliate you so you look humiliated on screen for a scene?


GROSS: Did you realize what was happening as it was happening?

SCIORRA: Yeah. It doesn't really work with me because I get really pissed of.

GROSS: So is that you did, you got angry?

SCIORRA: Yeah, because it takes you -- for me it takes me out of what I'm doing, you know. You may as well be talking about, you know, Chinese food while I'm trying to act if they start doing that, because it's annoying.

GROSS: So how was it resolved?

SCIORRA: How was it resolved? Well, it's a delicate situation, because if you come right out and tell them that what they're doing is annoying, then they're going to be hurt and insulted and realize that maybe they don't know how to direct. You have to be very delicate about it, and you know, politely tell them that it takes you -- if they're going behave like then you sort of have to pretend that you're in that same world with them and say maybe it takes you out of the moment if they talk while you're acting, or something like that.

GROSS: You're an actress who's come up pretty independently. Some actors and actresses start in a group of people who are associated with a certain period or era or type of film or repertory company or something, and they seem to, like, move together for the first three years of their career. You never had that, for better or worse.

SCIORRA: Oh, I see what you are saying. No, I didn't. I was never really a part of a group like that, which...

GROSS: Sounds like it's not a part of your nature to be part of a group like that.

SCIORRA: I think it is, too. It's something that I always found attractive, but from a distance. I think that it's -- I think that it was because I wish shy and because it was hard for me to be around that many people. And it was hard for me to be part of a group.

I was also always very secretive about my work, even. And it was always very hard for me to talk about my work. I didn't understand how people sat around and talked about their work. It just was so stupid to me.

GROSS: Let me ask you something. It does seem to be such a contrast between how who you are as yourself and who you are in character, and that you're much more withdrawn and just the observer as yourself.

Do you ever walk in for an audition or after you've gotten a part and find that the casting director or the film director thinks, like: well, no, they can't possibly do this. Look how quiet, look how small they seem in real life. They can't play this character. I've made a terrible mistake, or I can't possibly giver her the role in spite of what I've seen from other performances?

SCIORRA: I think it does happen. I mean, I feel like it's happened and I by also feel -- you know, starting, you would go into a situation and you would audition to get a role. And then as your work starts to get known you come in just to have a meeting with the director.

That was always very uncomfortable to me because -- or you would have a meeting and then audition. It would be different than it was before, because coming in to audition you can pretty much just give them what they want. And I think that it's more comfortable for everybody for them just to think that you possess those qualities naturally, rather than to come in and talk intellectually about a character and to talk as yourself.

It shows them a part of you that they, you know, maybe don't really want to see in the character. They're obviously going to see it. It's going to affect how they see you and how they see you as the character.

GROSS: How do you respond to those kinds of auditions where a lot of the audition is just speaking about the role with the director?

SCIORRA: It's tricky. I mean, it's very tricky. It's- I'm not very good at it. I don't feel very comfortable with it. I would still rather audition. I'd rather just come in -- if it's a situation where we don't know yet, like if it's not an offer, you know, it's in the talking stages of: do I want to do this? Do they want me to do this? -- it's easier for me to just come in and do it, and say, look, you know, this is kind of how I see the role right now.

You know, obviously there's a lot of changes and things, but there's a part of me that I think I would like to express in this role. And even that can be tricky, because sometimes you see it as certain way right now, but it's not necessarily how you would play it in two months or six months. So you're also trying to negotiate that. You know, altogether it would be just much better if -- I was in a theater company.


GROSS: Annabella Sciorra. She stars in the new film "What Dreams May Come."

I'm Terry Gross. And this is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Annabella Sciorra
High: Actress Annabella Sciorra co-stars in the new film "What Dreams May Come" opposite Robin Williams. She has also appeared in such films as "Cop Land," "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," "The Addiction," "Mr Jealousy" and "Jungle Fever."
Spec: Annabella Sciorra; Movie Industry; Entertainment; "What Dreams May Come"

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Annabella Sciorra

Date: OCTOBER 15, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 101502NP.217
Head: Nuggets Encore
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:32

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

In the mid-'60s, in between the start of the British Invasion and the domination of progressive rock, teenagers around America were starting bands, rehearsing in their parents' garages, imitating the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Bob Dylan and other hit makers of the day.

Some of those bands went into the studio and made one great record. In 1972, Lenny Kaye collected some of those one-hit wonders, and some other great but obscure singles of the period. His anthology, "Nuggets," is now considered one of the most important and influential documents of '60s garage rock.

Lenny Kaye went on to become Patti Smith's guitarist. Now he has co-produced an expanded version of "Nuggets" on Rhino Records. It's a four-CD boxed set featuring 118 songs, including the 27 from the original double album.

Lenny Kaye, welcome to FRESH AIR.

LENNY KAYE, MUSICIAN; PRODUCER: Pleasure to be here.

GROSS: I want to start by asking you to choose a record from the original "Nuggets" that pretty well defines what the project is all about, a record you still love.

KAYE: Well, when Joey Ramone had a birthday party at Coney Island High a couple of months ago, he strapped on "Pushin' too Hard" by the Seeds, and I realized it was the first time I played it, ever. And it is quite a rockin' song, and seems to me to be the very definition of what a garage band should be.

GROSS: The first time you played it? You mean, the first time you performed it?

KAYE: That's the first time I sang it from start to finish, and it's not as easy as it seems.

GROSS: Oh, why not?

KAYE: The guitar break has a certain elemental simplicity, but it kind of moves around in a nice way. And we also amped it up a little bit so it had a kind of '90s velocity to it. But it's a really great song. It's got to whole chords, and it's really got the kind of spit-out lyrics, that, you know, to me, really define what was happening in rock and roll in the mid-'60s here in America.

GROSS: OK, this is "Pushin' too Hard", the Seeds, from "Nuggets."


You're pushing too hard
You're pushing on me
You're pushing too hard
For what you want me to be

You're pushing too hard
About the things you sing
You're pushing too hard
Every night and day

You're pushing too hard
You're pushing too hard on me

All I want is to just be free
Live my life the way I want to be
All I want is (unintelligible)
Live my life like it just begun

But you're pushing too hard
Pushing too hard on me

GROSS: That's "Pushin too Hard," from 1966, one of the recordings included on the original anthology, "Nuggets," produced by my guest Lenny Kaye.

Lenny, what's the story behind how "Nuggets" was first produced?

KAYE: Well, I was introduced to Jack Holtzman (ph), who was the president of Electra Records around the end of 1970. I had been chosen for reasons that escape me to be one of the heavy hundred of rock and roll in "Esquire" magazine. I was their token rock critic. I think it was because I had written a favorable revue of the Stooges first album.

And Jack Holtzman called me up. He was very a literate record company president and liked the input of the press; and also did groups that had a certain intellectual edge, like the Doors, Love, the MC-5 and the Stooges. And he estimated the kind of (unintelligible) freelance scout at the time. In the end, none of the groups that I brought him he was really interested in, and vice versa.

But one of the projects he had, and I think it was because he just had gotten one of the first cassette machines, was he wanted to do an album called "Nuggets," which consisted of those tracks from albums that only had one good track.

I think that his idea was to clean out his record collection. And he passed it over to me, and I kind of spun it toward the kind of teen bands that I grew up listening to as a wild animal in New Jersey with my own teenage band. And over the course of the year, they gathered together these songs that I chose.

And the initial list was pretty broad, and they, because I didn't quite have an idea of what I was doing -- some of these songs were only four to five years old. And they got the rights to a bunch of them, and as more of these licenses came in, I started seeing just exactly what the shape of the arrow was about.

GROSS: What was it about?

KAYE: Well, it was about a sudden sense of possibility that came over American rock and roll at the time. You had a lot of inputs, a certain sense that you could borrow and steel freely from all kinds of music; that the time of the three-minute hit single was becoming obsolete, and that a rock band could move into areas of -- new areas of texture, of sound, of instrumental overkill, and the sense that nobody really knew what to do with all these new sounds and possibilities.

You had a lot of bands taking of the atmosphere of the '60s. And even though the decade is kind of clouded in complete cliche and stereotype now, there was a feeling of expanded horizons.

GROSS: So what qualified a record for inclusion on the original "Nuggets"?

KAYE: In the original "Nuggets" it was mostly if I liked it. And my thing for inclusion was that it had to be a really great song that was not quite a major hit nor a complete collector obscurity. I was very conscious of making a listening album. My models were, on the one hand, a more academic hand, the Yazu Blues (ph) collections, blues of Southwest Georgia 1928 to '32, you know, very scholarly.

And on the other hand, when I was a kid I used to get these Mr. Maestro, all these compilations. Twenty original hits, you know, a guy with a motorcycle and some wild date riding right next to him, and you know, just a bunch of great songs. And so my thought was that, you know, to make a record that was really fun to listen to of these records that were not that easy to get ahold of, or that you had to dig them off records that, you know, the group had vanished in the haze.

It was only the retrospect, you know, as the hindsight grew that I began to see just how much of a genre I was mining. I think as the years passed, the sense of what a garage band is, you know, that sense of punk rock as it's kind of born in, you know, became clearer, not only to me but to the people who heard "Nuggets," and kind of made it a touchstone for a type of music.

GROSS: Let's pause here to listen to another track from the original volume of "Nuggets." And this is from the group Count 5 (ph). It's called "Psychotic Reaction." This got some radio play. I think that people who listened to radio at the time will know this. Tell me what you think this song represents within the collection.

KAYE: I think one of the major influences on these bands was the British Invasion; possibly because before then most bands with guitars were kind of either surf bands, very instrumentally-oriented, or a little bit more like, say, Johnny and the Hurricanes. Again, very instrumental, and seeing a group like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones on Ed Sullivan inspired all of these bands to kind of want to be like them.

Of all the English bands, I think the most influential on the garage bands were the Yard Birds, because they seemed to push the envelope of sound, sonically so much further. They had incredible guitar players, Jeff Beck (ph), Eric Clapton early on. And that fuzz Tony (ph) sound that the Yard Birds had in a song like "Over Under Sideways Down" or "I'm a Man" really turned musicians on in America. You know, again, you are seeing a whole new ballet of sound.

The Count Five were from San Jose in California, and they really got that Yard Bird sound and had a fairly large hit on it. It might not have been in the top 10, but it grazed there. And you know, that's about all you need to become a rock star for your moment in time.

GROSS: OK. Here is the Count 5, "Psychotic Reaction."


I feel this (unintelligible)
Because you're the best girl that I've ever had
I can't your love, I can't get (unintelligible)
I always (unintelligible) psychotic reaction

GROSS: "Psychotic Reaction," the Count 5 from the original volume of "Nuggets," produced by my guest Lenny Kaye. There's three new volumes that have been added to that in the new Rhino "Nuggets" box set.

Now, just about all of the bands included in "Nuggets," and I think completely, all the bands in volume one were, you know, white male teenagers.

KAYE: Yes, and you know something, I only realized just how male this album was just as it was going to press. Because, you know, to me, the female's spirit in rock and roll is extremely important.

And as a matter of fact, on today's music scene there are incredible female garage rockers, I could say: the Pandoras, the Pristines from New York, the Donnas from San Francisco. And I really feel like that's a certain element that was missed.

There's not a lot of recorded -- recorded remains left. I only know of four or five actual female bands from that time. But I do think that is an oversight in the current "Nuggets" box.

GROSS: My guest is Lenny Kaye. He has co-produced a new expanded four-CD version of his 1972 garage rock anthology "Nuggets." We'll talk more after our break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith's guitarist. He's co-produced a new expanded four-CD version of his 1972 garage rock anthology, "Nuggets."

Your first volume of records came out in 1972, and now three more volumes have been added to it. Some of the records on those three volumes are records that you would have liked to include on volume one but you didn't have the rights to release them on your anthology.

I'd like you to choose one of those records you would have liked to include on the first edition of "Nuggets" that is now on volume two, three or four.

KAYE: Well, part of the list that was generated for the newer volumes came from my proposed second volume that never actually saw the light of day, or even the light of licensing. But there were definitely records that I thought would stand alongside anything on the first "Nuggets" and actually would flesh out the story.

One of them -- my favorites -- is a group from Los Angeles called the Lollipop Shop. They did a song called "You Must be a Witch." And it's a great slab of mid-'60s arcana.

GROSS: Anything else you want to say about it? I think it's going to be very unfamiliar to just about everyone.

KATE: Well, it's fairly unfamiliar to me, to be honest. I don't know too much about who the Lollipop Shop were, except this really is about their only stab at glory. And I know the area of the country -- they gave it a good shot.

GROSS: OK. This is the band Lollipop Shop.



GROSS: That was Lollipop Shop. That has a little element of "You're Pushin too Hard," don't you think?

KAYE: They all have a little element of each other in it.

GROSS: That's right.

KAYE: I mean, it was really like the sound of the time. And you can hear, you know, the fact that -- that feedback -- they had discovered the magic feedback. They discovered this kind of snarled vocal, which was probably delivered straight on from the Rolling Stones. They discovered the sense of their own kind of inner power.

And some of these records don't sound a million miles away from, you know, rock as it is today.

GROSS: Listening back to the "Nuggets" recording, what would you say were the most influential records on bands included in "Nuggets"?

KAYE: I would say, you know, things like the Shadows at Night, the Blues Project...

GROSS: ? and the Mysterians. Do you think that "96 Tears" and it's organ line is one of the most influential things?

KATE: Yes, but it's not on the current "Nuggets," because that song's just impossible to license.

GROSS: Don't you think "96 Tears" influenced a lot of the bands on "Nuggets"?

KAYE: I think that "96 Tears" influenced them. I think, in a sense, they influenced each other. It's hard to pick out one -- one track, because it was like a cauldron at the time. And it was spread out across America. I mean, you had, like, in every small town in America bands that were getting together and learning how to play their instruments, and suddenly seizing the tail of the tiger.

I think that all of them partook of the certain sound, and that their time was almost in a way limited, because the music was changing so quickly. It would, by the end of the '60s, have a whole different feel. Amplifier technology was moving so quickly that in a sense the "Nuggets" bands would sound, their textures would sound differently.

People would move from a Farfisa (ph) organ, this little toy organ almost, to the big sound of the Hammond. It was kind of -- they were caught -- I always think of it as around 1964 all these bands left one side of the river and then they're kind of in the middle of the river and they're being tossed by the currents and everything. And when they get to the other side, rock and roll has changed.

But I like that middle time when people were kind of a little bit not sure of where they were going, and what they're doing with that it, and they're just trying -- just experimented. It's very unpredictable music within it's kind of genre.

GROSS: My guest is Lenny Kaye. He has co-produced a new expanded four-CD version of his 1972 garage rock anthology, "Nuggets." We'll talk more after our break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith's guitarist. He's co-produced a new expanded before CD version of his 1972 garage rock anthology, "Nuggets."

The song "Hey, Joe" was included on the original edition of "Nuggets" which you produced. And then that song was also on Patti Smith's first 45.

KAYE: Yes, that's true. There is some...

GROSS: And I mentioned this, because, you know, as our listeners may know, you're Patti Smith's long-term guitarist. Make that connection for me between the "Hey, Joe" on "Nuggets" and Patti Smith's "Hey, Joe."

KAYE: Well, Patti always described what we did, especially in the pre-Horses time, was we were kind of like Paul Revere riding around saying: wake-up wake-up...

GROSS: But not like Paul Revere and the Raiders.

KAYE: Well, actually, you know, "Just like Me" is a great song. It was a sense where we wanted not to lose the spirit of the music that we loved. Obviously, you know, we tapped into a lot of '60s stuff. That was certainly a mythic time for rock and roll, for the rock and roll that created us. We did "Gloria," which is probably the classic quintessential garage classic.

"Hey, Joe" really seemed to tell a certain story about where we stood in relation to the music that gave us energy.

GROSS: And who did the original?

KAYE: The original was written by, actually, Dino Valenti (ph), under the name of Chester Powers, for reasons, I believe the Leaves might have one of the original. I know Love covered it. It was kind of in common currency at the time. I chose the Leaves' version just because it seemed the most exciting, the fastest.

GROSS: OK, this is from 1966.


Hey, Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand
Hey, Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand
I'm going out to find my woman
Caught her messin' with around with another man
I said I'm going out to find my woman
Caught her messin' with around with another man

Hey, Joe, what are you going to do
Hey, Joe, tell me what are you going to do
(unintelligible) before I'm through

GROSS: "Hey, Joe," The Leaves, recorded in 1966, included on the original version of "Nuggets," and also featured on the expanded box set.

Lenny Kaye was the producer of the original "Nuggets." He's also Patti Smith's long-time guitarist. And that was a song that you and Patti Smith did on your fist single together.

Patti Smith has started recording again in the past few years. There was a long period where she wasn't recording, and therefore, you weren't touring with her. What's it like to the back on the road together?

KAYE: It's rather wonderful. You know, Patti is perhaps the best performer I have ever seen in my life. And I had a really great position on the stage with her for most of this. I get to see all the subtleties. And it's really wonderful that she's taking her art out to the people again.

GROSS: Was it frustrating for you during that long period when she wasn't performing?

KAYE: No. To be honest, I never thought that we would perform again together. We had done our work in the '70s. There was a certain sense of completion to it. We had a great time beginning in front of, you know, 100 people at St. Mark's Church on the Lower East Side and ending in a soccer stadium in Florence in front of 70,000 people.

You can't write a better movie than that, and I had no hope for a sequel. I felt that Patti had gone off and followed her artistic muse and so had myself. But what I like most about the band at this moment and time is that there is a real sense of present to it.

This is, you know, we're not particularly nostalgic. We're certainly not into the sense of revival. We pay tribute to our history, but the work that we're doing at the present is, we feel, as valid as anything we did in the '70s.

And Patty, of course, is an artist who's here for a lifetime and her muse will take us wherever. But there's a sense that we're really working in this current moment on things that perhaps need to be said.

GROSS: (Unintelligible) some more music from "Nuggets." I was thinking, you know, when I was listening to the new collection, I had this -- the one moment when I experienced this, like: "wow, I haven't heard this in a really long time, this really sounds great," was "Nobody But Me."

KAYE: Great tune.

GROSS: Yeah, and it's like "the dance tune" on "Nuggets."

KAYE: Well, it's not so different than "Shout." And I remember playing "Shout" in New Jersey fraternity houses for 20 minutes while the brothers did their backstroke in the beer on the floor. But you know, it's those two chords, you know, and a great hit.

GROSS: Well, let's go out with that from the "Nuggets" collection on Rhino records. My guest is Lenny Kaye, who produced the original edition of "Nuggets" and is one of the producers on the expanded edition. Lenny Kaye is also Patti Smith's long-time guitarist.

Lenny Kaye, thanks again.

KAYE: Oh, it's my pleasure.

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Lenny Kaye
High: Patti Smith's guitarist Lenny Kaye talks about the new four-CD collection called "Nuggets." It showcases some of the most influential garage rock bands in the late 60's following the British Invasion. Kaye compiled the first volume which was released in 1972. He has collaborated with Gary Stewart to expand the collection to a box-set.
Spec: Music Industry; Entertainment; Great Britain; Lenny Kaye

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Nuggets Encore

Date: OCTOBER 15, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 101503NP.217
Head: "Beloved"
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:50

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Our film critic, John Powers, has a review of the new film adaptation of Toni Morrison's 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Beloved." The movie stars Oprah Winfrey, who also produced it.

JOHN POWERS, FILM CRITIC: It's an enduring cliche that Hollywood treats literature with vulgar disrespect. Yet the truth is often exactly the opposite. Our filmmakers approach literary classics with such hushed reverence that they often smother the movie with their fidelity.

That's what happens in "Beloved," a Gothic tale about the scars of slavery and the power to move beyond them. Set in 1873 Ohio, the movie stars Oprah Winfrey as Setha, a strong-willed, heavy-spirited ex-slave, who 18 years earlier escape the Sweet Home plantation, whose owners violated her and whipped her so badly that her back still shows the tracery.

Now Setha lives in a small, dingy, haunted house with her daughter Denver. One day she gets a surprise visit from the amiable Paul Dee -- that's Danny Glover -- a long-lost friend who is also a slave at Sweet Home. Although Paul Dee finds Setha's house creepy, they set about making a home, until their life is suddenly invaded by an otherworldly young woman, who croaks and simpers and has the herky-jerk motions of a puppets.

This mysterious creature is named Beloved. She's played by Tandy Newton (ph). And Setha believes her to be one of her dead children come back to life. Beloved's presence sets off a wild chain of events that eventually reveals the full horror of Setha's past, including a crime she herself committed in the name of love.

This dark secret is so dreadful that even the good-hearted Paul Dee is driven to confront Setha about it.


DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR: Love is two things, Setha.

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: Love is or it isn't, Paul Dee. Your love ain't no love at all. I stopped her. I put my babies where they'd be safe.

GLOVER: It didn't work though, did it? Boys gone, you don't know where. Little girl is dead. The other can't get any further then they are. It didn't work.

WINFREY: They ain't at Sweet Home. Schoolteacher ain't got him.

GLOVER: Maybe it's worse.

WINFREY: It's ain't my job to know what's worse, Paul Dee. It's my job to know what is and to keep my children away from it. Because I'd rather know they got peace in heaven than live in a hell here on Earth, so help me, Jesus.

GLOVER: What you did was wrong, Setha.

WINFREY: I shoulda' gone back there? Took my babies? Back to Sweet Home?

GLOVER: There could have been a way. Some other way.

WINFREY: What way, Paul Dee?

GLOVER: You got two feet Setha, not four.

POWERS: It's an act of courage to try to adapt Toni Morrison's original novel. And director Jonathan Demme remains resolutely faithful to the book's often obscure style: the magical realist flourishes, the constant skipping between time periods, and the long, slow, moody buildup to the story's lacerating climax.

What dances across the page can often lie dead on the screen. And for its opening 90 minutes -- the movie is nearly three hours long -- "Beloved" is punishing to watch. The colors are desaturated. The supernatural intrusions are badly done. The dramatic scenes are flat and uninvolving. It's as if Demme doesn't want to sully his story with anything that the audience might find pleasurable.

Here is serious filmmaking with a vengeance, and though it's far more artistically audacious then Demme's last film, "Philadelphia," it suffers from a similar self-importance. Every frame says, this is good for you. It's less good for the actors, whose performances are shockingly uneven.

While Glover is solid as Paul Dee, Tandy Newton's (ph) Beloved is wincingly misguided. Rather than making us feel Beloved's witchy power, her cooing, burbling, cutesy turn verges on parody.

She seems to belong in a different movie than little known Kimberly Elise (ph), who gives the film's strongest, loveliest performance as Setha's daughter Denver. She's the character who grows the most, and in the final hour which rises to moments of genuine emotional force, we realize that the movie is actually about Denver's liberation from the haunted house, her mother's thick love, and the psychic wounds of slavery that sets the (unintelligible) as her true stigmata.

Of course, everything revolves around the towering figure of Setha, who we see doing everything: working, making love, peeing, going mad, committing murder, and guttering like a spent candle. It's a great seething role for Oprah, who hits every emotion so smack on the nose that I expect to see her waving an Oscar next March.

Yet as I watched her performance, my mind kept drifting from the fictional Setha to the real-life Oprah, one of our country's genuinely amazing creations.

Born poor and Black, she has a gift for showing empathy so profound that it seems to transcend race. It has taken her to the point where she is powerful enough to make her own wildly contradictory fantasies come true.

In the very month that she can be found staring glamorously from the cover of "Vogue," she's also starring as a woman brutalized by slavery. In the abyss separating these two Oprah's lies an amazing story, a truly American story. And I hope you won't think me facetious when I say that I find this story far more fascinating than anything in the honorable but disappointing "Beloved."

GROSS: John Powers is FRESH AIR's film critic.

I'm Terry Gross.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: John Powers
High: Film Critic John Powers reviews "Beloved," the new film adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel. The film shot largely in the Philadelphia area, stars Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
Spec: "Beloved"; Movie Industry; Entertainment; Oprah Winfrey; Toni Morrison

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: "Beloved"
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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