JULY 1998 CABLE TCA PRESS TOUR
July 11, 1998
AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS
Senior Vice President of Foxstar Productions
Executive Producer, "Behind the Planet of the Apes"
"Taylor" in "Planet of the Apes" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes"
"Cornelius", Host, "Behind the Planet of the Apes"
"Nova" in "Planet of the Apes," "Beneath the Planet of the Apes"
FRANK CAPRA, JR.
Associate Producer for "Escape from the Planet of the Apes"
Producer, "Battle for the Planet of the Apes"
Associate Producer, "Planet of the Apes"
Writer, "Behind the Planet of the Apes"
Art Director, "Planet of the Apes," "Beneath the Planet of the Apes"
The Ritz-Canton Huntington Hotel
NOREEN O'LOUGHLIN: Welcome. I'm Noreen O'Loughlin, general manager of American Movie Classics and as you can see from the room, this summer, AMC is going absolutely ape. To mark the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the original "Planet of the Apes" film, we've produced a two-hour original special, "Behind the Planet of the Apes", which will air this summer in a festival with all five cult-classic "Apes" films.
This complete "Planet of the Apes" package underscores what AMC is really all about - broadening the movie experience for our viewers. You know, "classics" means different things to different people, and what we are looking for is a blend of great movies of all types, paired with related original programming that will help our viewers to define the classic movie experience for themselves.
Premiering in July, "The Sun, the Moon and the Stars" offers an impressive array of visual images that celebrate Hollywood's fascination with the heavens. Keir Dullea of "2001: A Space Odyssey" narrates this unusual special for us. AMC's acclaimed series, "Remember WENN," began its fourth season just recently and continues to attract for us great guest stars. This year among them will be Greg German of "Ally McBeal," John Henson of E! and just last night, John Ratzenberger of "Cheers" fame joined the "Remember WENN" crew.
We continue our tradition of high-quality, innovative original series with "The Lot," a half-hour ensemble drama based on Silver Pictures, a small-time movie studio with big-time dreams. Set in Hollywood in 1937, the show's cast features Jeffrey Tambor of "The Larry Sanders Show" and Rue McClanahan of "The Golden Girls." Historical entertainment news and gossip from the pages of Hollywood's hottest fan magazines will be woven throughout the show to make it uniquely AMC.
Now where "The Lot" may break with tradition, this summer we'll be saluting a Hollywood family that created many traditions - the DeMilles. Our upcoming special, "The DeMille Dynasty" is an epic tribute to the lives and careers of three truly exception DeMilles - Cecil, Agnes and William. Charlton Heston,, who is here with us today by satellite, narrates this special for us.
And as always, AMC will air great classic movies related to this stock, including "The Ten Commandments," "The Greatest Show on Earth," and "Oklahoma."
Then it's on to Halloween with our "Monsterfest." A celebration of boomer horror films that are favorites of the festival host, Tim Burton. This week-long festival culminates in a 24-hour Halloween marathon and should provide viewers of all ages with some creepy fun. We also have in the works a kind of spooky special that we'll announce shortly.
I'd like to thank those of you who have written over the years about AMC's film preservation efforts. Our continued commitment to film preservation has brought us closer to the great filmmakers and artists to whom this cause means so very much. Our Sixth Annual Festival has raised awareness and funds to restore our nation's film heritage and earned for us this year some of our highest ratings yet.
We were pleased this year also to bring along Planet Hollywood as a new partier with the Film Foundation to help us bring the message to an even wider audience. Thank you for your support with that campaign.
Now, I'd like to introduce our moderator for today's discussion, Kevin Burns. Kevin is Senior Vice President of Foxstar Productions and executive producer of our special "Behind the Planet of the Apes." Kevin and Foxstar have worked with AMC on many original specials including "Small Steps, Big Strides," "Cinema Combat," "Hidden
Hollywood," and "20th Century Fox: The First 50 Years." Kevin, we're happy to have you.
KEVIN BURNS: Don't get up. Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this ultimate ape event. I've been asked to, kind of, just say a few words and then move on. This is quite a tremendous treat for myself and the people who worked with me on the documentary special we did, "Behind the Planet of the Apes." You know, I grew up in upstate New York, as an "Apes" fan, and at the age of 12, 13 years old saw "The Planet of the Apes," and, like all of my friends, was a huge fan of the first movie, the next four movies, watched the television show, the animated cartoon, on and on and on.
In fact, when we started to do this program, and we were asked by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and American Movie Classics to produce something to commemorate the 30th anniversary, I had to guard myself from all of my friends in this business who were anxious to have to participate in this show. I mean, they all asked me, could they be involved? And I was able to pick some people that I'm very close to, personally and professionally, who all wanted to participate in this show. In fact, the director is here today - the director and the editor of the program, David Comtois, who I've known for 20 years. We were film students together. And I had the best researchers and writers, and associate producers, and people who worked with us on this program behind the scenes.
And all of us were "Apes" fans together. In fact, I joked with Dave in the car on the way over here - I said, "Dave, 15 years ago we were going through trash cans looking for 'Apes' posters to glom." And he said, "Well, we're still going through trash cans, but now we're looking for footage to put into shows like this." And I said, "Yes, but the pay is better now.
So, anyway, I wanted to introduce the panelists here. And the other point that I wanted to make before I introduced them to you is that not only did I encounter, when we started this project, incredible enthusiasm from the people who worked on the special behind the scenes, but then when we approached these people who are here on the panel, and those who appeared in the show, we got similar enthusiasm.
And never in the productions that I've done before have I encountered that. In other words, when you go back 30 years and ask people -- actors and creative people who worked on a motion picture, even a motion picture series as popular as "Planet of the Apes" -- many of them will say, "I'm not interested; I don't care anymore; that was 30 years ago; I don't have fond memories of that experience; please don't bother me." And I have to tell you that in this, it was an incredible exception. Everyone we approached was not only willing to participate but anxious and happy to contribute and participate.
Everyone we asked to be on this panel today was willing and anxious to participate, and I have never encountered that kind of enthusiasm or support for anything in the years I have been working at 20th Century Fox and the years I've been producing these kinds of programs. So, I want to thank all of you here for not only being here today but for being a part of our very special program. Thank you.
And again, let me just introduce those of you here, too. Mr. Mort Abrahams, the fellow who was, for the first two movies -- "Planet of the Apes" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" -- the associate producer with Arthur P. Jacobs, and worked with him very closely on the design and production of those movies. Linda Harrison, who was "Nova" in the first two "Planet of the Apes" movies. Many of you will recognize and remember her, and she was also affiliated with the senior management of 20th Century Fox, having been married to Mr. Richard Zanuck.
And Roddy McDowall who was "Cornelius" and then "Caesar" and then "Galen" in several of the "Planet of the Apes" projects which will remain you know, it's named but he wasn't in that one. But Roddy, who is also the host of "Behind the Planet of Apes" and did a quite excellent job and was quite, quite supportive. In fact, many, many of the behind-the-scenes shots that we got in the show, Mr. McDowall was smart enough and shrewd enough to not only photograph himself on the set but save over all these years and contribute to the show.
Frank Capra, Jr. who was the associate producer on the last three "Apes" films again working with Mr. Jacobs. And at the end over there, Mr. William Creber who is a very, very famous art director. He worked on all the "Planet of the Apes" movies, particularly the first movie. He worked with Irwin Allen on a lot of productions like "Poseidon Adventure" and "Towering Inferno" and really designed many of the things that made the "Apes" films so unique, including these chairs and these tables that you see in the room today. So, anyway, that is our panel. Thank you.
O'LOUGHLIN: Charlton Heston.
BURNS: I'm very sorry. I'm very sorry. And last but certainly not - certainly not least, Mr. Charlton Heston, ladies and gentlemen. [applause] I knew I would make a mistake somewhere. Thank you very much, Mr. Heston, for being part of this.
CHAKLTON HESTON: Delighted to be with you.
BURNS: Thank you. I've never done this before so it's very strange for me to have to work with a video screen here. Can you see us or can you just hear us?
HESTON: I can hear you. That counts.
BURNS: Okay, well, thank you. I just wanted to ask -
HESTON: I heard you blow my credit, too. [laughter]
BURNS: I'm sorry about that. Mr. Heston is an action figure, ladies and gentlemen, and a collectible that goes for a lot of money these days at "Planet of the Apes" conventions.
Let me ask all of you panelists, please, one question, which is -- and Mr. Heston, we'll start with your answer -- but why is "Apes," do you think, after 30 years, still so popular and what was it about this project when it was first, you know, made known to you folks - what attracted you to it? Why did you participate in it? And why do you love it to the extent that I have to believe you still do?
HESTON: I think the main reason it survives is that it's a very good picture. It sort of created a genre of the space operas, which still thrive, of course. You could call "Armageddon" a space opera, except it doesn't have any dialogue. [laughter] I was approached for it, first, by Arthur Jacobs. And he sent me the original novel by Pierre Boulle, "Le Planete de Singes." And I read it. And I just finished a film with Franklin Schaffner and had worked for him before and was - I thought, I've got to get Franklin to read this, too. So, then Arthur came over with some really very well-made paintings representing different scenes in the film, the as yet non-existent film. And Franklin was interested, too, whereupon Arthur started selling.
Now, you know there - as Mort will concur, I'm sure, there are essentially three different kinds of producers. There is a producer who is essentially a technocrat who understands the mechanics of making films, scheduling, all that kind of thing, sets, so on. Then there is the man who is essentially a creative producer who is very good on script, very good on casting, very good on editing.
But in the case of Arthur he was a superb salesman. He spent essentially two years going around talking to studio heads. The response was always the same. They would say, "Now wait a minute; what are you talking about here? Spaceships? This is Saturday afternoon serial TV. Talking monkeys? Go on, get out here. Ridiculous." But he never gave up.
After about a year I remember he said, "You know, I've got it at Warners again." And I said, "Arthur, they turned us down at Warners several months ago." He says, "Yeah, they've got different people there now though." And of course - eventually, thanks to Richard Zanuck -- Richard read the script - which by then was in rough -- and he said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. These monkeys, they're really going to be actors, right? They're not apes." And we said, "Well, sure, of course." He said, "What if the audience laughs at the apes - at the make-ups?" Long silence. And he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll put up $50,000" --that's about like a hundred - close to - more than half a million dollars today "-- to test the make-ups. And we'll do a real test, develop the make-ups, test them and then I'll take the film to New York and show it to the board, and if they don't laugh, I'll make the movie." And that's what happened.
BURNS: It's incredible that you were so interested in pushing this forward. Why did it appeal to you as a motion picture to get personally involved with it?
HESTON: In the first place, it was a very good part - and a very unusual part. Taylor is an interesting guy. He's a misanthrope, really. He's a man who has become so distressed by our civilization, by what mankind has done, that he quite literally leaves the planet and it was a part such as I've never played. I usually play formidable authority figures - prophets and kings, guys of that - presidents, cardinals, geniuses. [laughter] And this was a different line of count entirely. And I was delighted. Besides, as I said, I just finished working with Franklin Schaffner, and I knew he would be a superb director, and I was delighted to be on board, I promise you.
BURNS: Great. Roddy, can we hear from you, sir? How did you first come to know
RODDY McDOWALL: I first heard about it from Arthur. We knew each other. We were good friends, happily. And we were both on a plane, separately. I was coming back from London to New York, and he told me the story, which he was thrilled about, and so on and so forth, and pledged me to secrecy about the end of the it' and said that he wanted me to play "Cornelius," and how did it strike me? Well, I was, of course, thrilled because you don't get asked to play a chimp too often. [laughter] But then, we went through this - I lived in New York then, and it must have been, really, somewhere at the inception because it was a couple of years before it finally came to happen.
HESTON: Yeah, that's true.
McDOWALL: And I came from New York to the make-up tests. And as I - in those days, it was much more primitive. And so, when they put the mask on, it was much more difficult, especially if you're claustrophobic. And I laid there, having this done, and in my mind, was: "What can I do to get out of this movie?" I never thought I would be able to survive that. And I went back to New York, and sat down and had a long talk with myself, realizing that the content of the material was very phenomenal, and the role was just amazing.
McDOWALL: Yeah, it was really an acting - a tremendous acting challenge. And fortunately - primarily, I suppose, because of the incredible fervor and dedication of Arthur, who had the ability to gather around him, and interest people who were exceptional -- this incredible piece came off, because it defies the law of gravity in the sense that it could have.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Not an important question, but I just wondered when the film - in what season did you film? And - either one of you can tell me, you or Mr. Heston-- how about the weight and the heat of the costumes?
McDOWALL: Terrible, terrible. It was in the very - it was in August.
HESTON: It was terrible for the apes. Not for me, because I was half-naked most of the time. [laughter]
McDOWALL: But you had neo-pneumonia too.
HESTON: I was - took an awful beating in that picture. No, I had done a lot of pictures on horses, and driven chariots, and parted Red Seas, and a lot of charging around. But you usually get something to ride in. A horse or a chariot and you're an important person. Here, I was being chased by monkeys, for god sakes. And believe me, even rubber rocks hurt. [laughter]
BURNS: One question I wanted to ask you folks was - because this came up when we were doing the special. You know, "Apes" has become kind of a cult over the last 30 years. And there are books about it, studies about it, theses, you know, Ph.D. dissertations talking about the socio-political significance, the sociological importance of it, all the political overtones. And it was very interesting because Mr. Abrahams here spoke in our show quite eloquently about how that was very conscious and very deliberate on the part of Arthur Jacobs, and the filmmakers. And when I talked with Roddy, and Mr. Heston, and some of the people creatively associated with it, they said, "No, we just thought it was the next picture." And I'm interested in that. And Mort, if you could talk about that a little bit.
MORT ABRAHAMS: Well, when we started working on the screenplay, we had a sort of working draft from Rod Serling. The one thing that was terribly interesting was that he - Rod - with whom I had worked before, in my mind, broke the back of that script by finding the ending. The ending was so startling, that we really did a strange thing. We all worked backwards from the ending. Rod had done, oh, I think something like 18 drafts, and he finally called me one day. He said, "Mort, I'm written out. I've just - I've had it." And I understand that, of course. And so he went to Michael Wilson, very eminent screenplay writer. And Michael straightened the interior of the piece, keeping the basic story elements and character elements that Rod had developed. And then, although I don't think this has been mentioned, there was a touch-up of dialogue by a writer by the name of Kelly - V.J. Kelly. Unfortunately deceased. A splendid, splendid man.
Now, there had to be a conjunction of thinking among all of these people. And the conjunction of thinking centered around a premise. The premise was: this story has ideological, sociological, economic, philosophical implications. But we're making an entertainment film. So let's put that as our priority. Now, if we wish to make comments that work within the context of an entertainment film, fine. But I don't want anybody coming in to me with a speech, about anything -- any point of view - because that will stop the progress of the screenplay, absolutely.
HESTON: Well, that was certainly Dick Zanuck's and Franklin Schaffner's point of
view. I think it was in the later films, don't you Mort, that the intensely political commentary began to come to the fore more?
ABRAHAMS: I agree, absolutely, with you, Chuck. The - while all of the films the original and the sequels - were successful economically, creatively and artistically, and I must be very honest, I think there was a sort of downward slope. That is to cast dispersions at no one at all, only to say that there is a certain exhaustion that takes place after a time. You made your statements, not let's go on, and let's not repeat those statements. Let's keep the fundamental precept.
BURNS: And speaking of statements, let's hear from you folks here, with a question. Yes sir.
QUESTION: Will there be toys and games sold in conjunction with this?
BURNS: With the 30th anniversary? You know, we worked very closely, obviously, in doing this show with 20th Century Fox, Fox Home Video, and AMC. And we found that there is going to be some revival, some limited edition, collector's edition merchandising going on to commemorate the 30th anniversary. Yes.
QUESTION: I wondered how hard it was the keep the ending a secret, and how what painstaking things they did when they were doing the first film to keep it a secret?
BURNS: To keep the ending a secret?
BURNS: Was the ending a big secret on the set? Did they try to keep people away from that?
HESTON: I don't remember that. Of course, we shot it down on Zuma beach. It was more or less inaccessible. And, of course, the ending is one of the - probably the best ending of a movie I've ever seen in my life. And it was extraordinary. I remember that the studio, at one point, said, "Look, you can't say, 'God damn you all to hell."' And I said, "Look, I'm not swearing. I am literally asking God to damn the people who destroyed the Earth." And so Dick Zanuck said, "Okay, that'll work. That's fine." [laughter]
QUESTION: Mr. Creber, would you talk a little bit about the production design, in that you have a setting of all the homes and everything that's very primitive. And yet, this was a society that had developed guns. Was there discussion on what you could and couldn't do, as far as building the look of this - the first film?
BILL CREBER: Well, when I went on the picture, they - we were still working with Pierre Boulle's book. And it took place in an Earth-like setting. And when Rod Serling came up with the ending, we - you know, I was told, or it was generally agreed, that we had to do everything we could do to make it as unearthly as possibly. That we didn't want to give away the ending.
So, the challenge was to make up a style of life that these people might have developed because they would be strong, good with their hands. You know, we kind of invented an architecture that was as far from anything Earth-like that we could go. We were inspired by Gaudi, or I think the Gorim Valley in Turkey was one of the main things, and we - with all those pieces of research, I had an artist, Meutner Hubner who was a - still a very famous and fine motion picture illustrator. And we worked together, putting all those pieces together, to get a look, having no idea how we would ultimately build it.
BURNS: I always thought it was "The Flintstones" that was the biggest inspiration for this -
CREBER: No, we really worked to try and stay away from that. We were accused of that, but -
BURNS: We have another question back there please?
QUESTION: Yes. Sorry. Question for Linda, actually. You didn't get to talk in the movie, and now, they're not letting you talk now. [laughter] I'd like to hear your voice. Could you talk a little bit about taking a role like that, where everyone else gets the great costumes and the lines and whatnot, and you actually have to act on a different plane where you don't get the lines at all? Can you address that at all?
HARRISON: I think it fit well with me at the time. I was 20 years old and really hadn't done anything on film yet, so that lent itself to the character because she really didn't know, she wasn't intellectual or aware - sophisticated. So, we just kind of went day-by-day with Franklin and tried to uncover how Nova would react, and, of course, Chuck was very helpful. It's something that we were doing spontaneously each day. And I think this is a feature about the film that captivates us now is that we didn't know, as actors and even the director -- that it was new territory. So, every day, we were faced with something new and challenging. And so, it lent itself to being - created an excitement in something unusual which I think we sense in the film today. It was just the new territory that no one had walked before.
I just think the elements were wonderful. I think Franklin Schaffner was just terrific. Arthur - everybody associated with the picture. There was a spirit about it which, we all fell into that spirit -- that it was something unusual. So, I was really grateful to be a part of it, and I think I got the part because I was dating Richard Zanuck. [laughter] And also under contract, but I see it as my good karma.
QUESTION: Mr. McDowall, you and the many other distinguished actors that played in the "Apes" series were really given great praise for your performances, and I'm wondering, did you feel like you were working at a radio show or something, because you weren't able to show that much facial expression, you had limited range of facial expression. Tell us about the difficulty of getting that kind of performance out when you're that -
MCDOWALL: Well, in and Out of make-up, it's always good to have limited facial expressions. [laughter] The challenge, one of the major challenges that was delightful was to be able to register the intent through that much appliance. And, it was accomplished over a couple of weeks before we started production because I remember going into the - Kim Hunter, who was wonderful, and myself talked about these roles and went and looked at the zoo, but the monkeys weren't much help because they're evolved from that state. I remember putting on the costume, by now the classic costume, in the wardrobe department, I was standing there alone looking in the mirror, and it just seemed terrible, because you're standing up straight with this thing on. And, it didn't make me feel like anything. And I kept walking around with it and doing things. And actually, where the entire idea came from --I asked if Kim would come and see me, and then we both went to see Franklin -- because of Groucho Marx, actually -- the Apes - - because the practical things seemed to be ultimately - you know that thing when Groucho Marx with knees crouched and walking around saying "What sort of a hotel is this?" You know, with his cigar. But it seemed, if it was a crouched figure, it would be the center of the body being at the end of the spine and the waist being frigid, you know, moving this way. [demonstrates]
And if a hump was built, they built it with a T-shirt so there was no break here, [demonstrates] and that made one feel literally - and Frank and Kim and myself talked about it and decided that if we could do it that way, then everybody else would have to adhere to it, otherwise it would doubly ridiculous.
The make-up, which was extraordinary, couldn't function unless - remember it's 30 years ago and quite original, what John Chambers designed -- but it was dead on the face unless you did something bizarre underneath. So, Kim and I, the entire time were speaking - it was working on two tapes: one, was dedicated to the author's intent, and the other one was purely physical, which was - we kept doing this the entire time. [demonstrates] And when you did that the entire time, because the appliance was so severe, it gave a sort of life to coat the skin. So it was never dead. And that's how it evolved, and why it was so fascinating to do because it was a unique assignment.
QUESTION: This question is to the panel as a whole. For several years now, there's been discussion of a remake of "Planet of the Apes." James Cameron's name has been attached. It's been on-again, off-again at 20th Century Fox. What I wanted to know was, do you know the status of this film? Have any of you been asked to participate in it in any way, shape, or form? And would you participate? And do you even think such a thing is necessary?
HESTON: Well, I think the film is highly remakeable. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been talking about doing it for three or four years. And he would be good in the part. There was one or two tentative remarks about me playing Dr. Zaius. I said, "No, thank you very much." Not that make-up. It's a very good part, but I think both Kim and Roddy performed heroically, not just the depth of their performances and the skill with which they brought these chimpanzees to life. But, to do that in that make-up, it was stunning. They completely changed themselves and did that for whatever -- three months. I remember when they finally had the screening, after the film was all cut and put together. And I'd met Kim when she came on the set for the first time and was introduced, and then I came to know her as in her role. And I found a very attractive-looking woman standing near the door of the theater and she said, "Chuck, how are you?" I said, "I'm sorry. Help me out, will you?" She said, "It's Kim. Kim Hunter." I had no idea what she'd really look like. I had forgotten.
BURNS: One point I wanted to make too is one of the things we uncovered in doing the documentary was that we found the only surviving print of the original test film that was done to convince, I guess, Richard Zanuck and the Fox board of directors that "Planet of the Apes" was a makeable project. And, it originally featured Mr. Heston, Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Zaius, Linda Harrison was Zira in a very, very experimental make-up, and Cornelius was played by James Brolin. In a very short little test that they did. Mr. Heston and Ms. Harrison, if you could talk about - I'm sorry--
QUESTION: Could you tell me if any of you happen to be asked to participate in the remake and if you would?
ABRAHAMS: I, for one, have not been approached.
HARRISON: No, I have not.
McDOWALL: No, I have not. [laughter] I wish. [laughter]
BURNS: I can tell you one answer, I mean I do know, -- because I work at 20th Century Fox-- that there is discussion going on. I had heard that Mr. Cameron was working on a screenplay. That there was a draft expected from him - expected by the end of the year. In other words, it has been under serious consideration for Mr. Cameron as his next -
HESTON: I think it probably depends on whether Arnold wants to do it in the end.
BURNS: Very likely. Very likely. Yes, I'm sorry, there's a question over here.
QUESTION: This is for any one on the panel. When you filmed on Zuma Beach and you did the one movie down in Century City Shopping Center here in L.A., and you were running around - did something funny happen with them? They might have walked around seeing you, all of a sudden turn into a bunch of apes?
McDOWALL: We were highly concealed. One of the things that Arthur didn't want to have opened up was either ridicule of misuse of these images. And because it took so many hours to do the appliances - three-and-a-half-hours finally - one was continually we were not near the public at all. I can only remember when we did the third film and shot at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, that there were people around. Naturally, if anybody saw you, saw a walking ape, you know, they would stop for a second. But there was no obstreperous behavior. I remember one time when we were trying to think of ways to cut down on the make-up time in getting to the set, they employed helicopters at one point or we were driven from the Pico lot in limousines, that if people driving beside you saw that, they were -
HESTON: In the Zuma Beach location, we were geographically cut off from the beach, the real area. There was no way anyone could get down there.
QUESTION: Miss Harrison, what was the reason why your character did not speak in the two movies you were in?
HARRISON: The humans could not speak.
BURNS: Yeah, humans had lost the power of speech in their evolution. Bill Creber in the show told us a funny story about how a group of gorillas, in driving to the Zuma Beach location, took over the truck and hid the driver so that it looked like only gorillas were driving the truck. That got a lot of stares on Pacific Coast Highway.
QUESTION: Linda, what did Richard Zanuck tell you back then why 20th would go ahead and do "Planet of the Apes' after it had been turned down and was at Warner Bros. for a while? What, in your relationship with him -- how specific did he get why he was going to go ahead and do this for 20th Century Fox?
HARRISON: Being a motion picture producer, he saw it as entertainment, a great entertainment value. And it was a kind that either would really take off or could flop. And I think that risk factor is what, you know, motion picture producers revel in, because it paid off and it had the elements that could mean a very substantial hit.
QUESTION: What feedback did you get from your more experienced co-stars, Charlton Heston and James Franciscus since you were a novice to acting?
HARRISON: About the film?
BURNS: Did you get any acting tips? Any -
HARRISON: Oh, yes I did. Chuck was wonderful.
HESTON: She was very good in the part, believe me.
HARRISON: I just want to tell you now, Chuck, that --I think I told you on our first day of shooting -- but, I watched "Ben Hur" and you made a deep impact on me, really. Very spiritual picture -
HESTON: That's good to hear.
QUESTION: Mr. Heston, it's kind of amusing, a few minutes ago we were sitting here we were all kind of amused because you seemed to be making little faces. And I'm wondering if deep down it was your dream to be an ape? [laughter]
HESTON: It was not. [laughter] The thing actors always look for, I was in some pains to see that I had the best part, and that I didn't have to put on that make-up.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask him one quick question, because we talked a lot, especially in the special about the make-up and the heavy make-up and the hours of make-up, but, Mr. Heston, you were virtually unclothed for most of that movie. I don't know how you didn't end up with horrendous sunburn. How did you prevent from being boiled?
HESTON: Well, in the course of shooting, I build up a - and as we were preparing, I built up a pretty good tan, and I don't burn easily. What was - I remember one day we'd been working very hard, running around in the thickets and so on, jumping over bushes, and then I had to go back, I was president of the Screen Actors Guild then, and I had to leave early because I was going to do some negotiations. And I said to Joe Canot, who doubled me on all that stuff~ I said, "Joe, could you do these last two setups for me?" He said, "No." I said, "What do you mean, Joe? No, why no?" He said, "You've been working all day in poison ivy." I said, "No kidding?" He said, "You'll find out tomorrow." I did. [laughter]
QUESTION: Frank, you worked on two of the last three pictures. What do you think about the comment that the quality had diminished with succeeding episodes?
FRANK CAPRA, JR.: Well, I don't take that as a personal comment. I was on the three last ones and actually, for me, I came to Arthur to do a different project which we actually never did, called "Journey of the Oceanauts," which is sort of a precursor to James Cameron's "Abyss." And we ended up working on that and then they wanted to go another sequel, but Fox would only give him a small amount of money for the budget. So, he said to me, "How will we do that?" And we thought about that. We only had a small amount of money. We had to try to make a film that had not too many apes. We couldn't do in the future or in the past because of the cost associated with that. So we had a concept of bringing the apes to the present day. And do it more in terms of the comedy. Which is one of the things about the apes which is very interesting, because even in the genre it has run the gamut from a fairly comedic film, number three, to very hard, violent film, number four. Number five was quite a different film than all of the others. And then of course the first two, which really set the groundwork for us. We were lucky to be able to continue to do it, but we were charged with actually making a film with a very much smaller budget -
BURNS: I would only add to that, that one of the things that I think is interesting to note is that after the second motion picture, I think actually even during the production of the second movie, there was a huge upheaval at 20th Century Fox. Richard Zanuck, in a very dramatic moment, fired by his own father. The studio changed hands, and it was a very different studio during the production of those last movies and the budgets, as Mr. Abrahams and Mr. Capra point out, were severely cut. And they had to really do ingenious things to make those last three movies as powerful and interesting as they were. Yes?
HESTON: I had an interesting experience in that area. When the film was finished and came out and it really was an enormous hit, just enormous. And Dick called me and he said, "Chuck, we have to do a sequel, you know." I said, "Aw, no, that's like Andy Hardy goes to the movies. We made the movie, we've told the story. Anything else will be fuither adventures among the monkeys." He said, "Chuck, we're going to do the movie, and you have to be in it." And I said, "Okay, I tell you what, because I'm very grateful that you were willing to step up to the mark and make the picture in the first place, we couldn't have done it without you. And okay, I will be in the movie, but only if you kill me off in the first scene." And of course, this was very foolish on my part, because in a few years, Sly and Arnold and all those guys were demonstrating you can do "Rocky V" and "VI." But I was young and naive at the time and I didn't want to do that, but I did for Dick. And then in the end, as I got into the shooting, he said, "Chuck, how about if we have you disappear in the first scene, and we kill you in the last scene?" And I said, "Well, okay, that's all right. You pay me whatever you want and we'll give it to a school or something." So that's what they did. So I had what I thought was a great idea, I thought, "Okay, there's going to be no more sequels." And I persuaded the director that it would be a great idea if I pressed the atom bomb and blew up the whole world, and it was a great ending. But then they just moved the next story to another venue entirely.
QUESTION: Also, has anyone approached you to do a series on "Planet of the Apes." And if they did, what would your answer be?
HESTON: No, we spoke a moment ago about the remake. I wouldn't. There would be no reason for me to do it again. Although, I think there is a good reason to make the movie again, but not for me.
QUESTION: Why do you think there's a good reason to make the movie again?
HESTON: Because I think it would be popular. Good movies are remade. Look at "Ten Commandments." Look at "Ben Hur." Look at any number of films. "Mutiny on the Bounty," "Gone with the Wind" -- no, they haven't made "Gone with the Wind" yet. [laughter] Good movies are remade.
QUESTION: Frank, not taking away from anything you've done as a filmmaker, but you know your dad holds a very special spot in everyone's heart.
CAPRA, JR.: Mine, too. [laughter]
QUESTION: Did he ever tell you how much he enjoyed "Planet of the Apes?" What were his comments about it?
CAPRA, JR.: He enjoyed the picture I - we ran the picture for him at Arthur's house, which was number three. He'd seen the other two. I think he'd seen both of them. I know for sure he'd seen number one. And he was amused at what we were able to do for a small amount of money. And also to do it in a comedic way. I think he appreciated that quite a bit. But he loved the original. He thought that was a very unique and special film. Like all of us did.
QUESTION: Yes, this question is for Roddy. I didn't want to belabor sort of the talk of the declining quality of the movies as they were - as the series went on, but, I was wondering, as the actor who appeared in the most of them, was there ever a point when you just sort of looked around and said, "I don't know if this movie's turning out the way I hoped it would." Or was there ever a point when you were disappointed with the quality of the budget, or the quality of the print, or the way things were turning out?
McDOWALL: Well, as an actor, I think at a certain point one takes the project a little bit differently. It's so subjective, and for me, as all this conversation goes on about what was better or worse in it, I was very fortunate because in the span of the five films and the thirteen television segments, I played three different characters. So, that was a bonanza of - it's a great gymnasium to be in, and strangely enough, the television series was the most rewarding from the acting point of view because inside the character of Galen, I played a lot of different characters, so that was just terrific. And I thought - I loved playing Caesar in the fourth and fifth film. Caesar's a great, great character and really took an immense amount of imagination and stamina to play, because he grew to be such a monster. Sort of like Richard III, in a sense. They were wonderful characters so I never thought, "Oh, this is better or worse than the one before." I felt like more to the - as time goes on when you are - it's over a seven year - no, it's over a ten-year period, I guess, for me, you begin to flag.
Also, an unfortunate thing that goes along with gigantic success and repetition of that is that people get jaded about what has been done, and I don't mean the people inside it but the view of, "Well this won't be commercial, or That won't be -" I always thought it was a mistake that each of the subsequent films were so bound by restrictions of budget. The amount of money spent on the last two films, I mean, it was appalling by comparison. Not only with the amounts of money that had been spent on the first two, but with the level of monetary return, which was phenomenal.
HESTON: I really want to say that Roddy was superb in all the different interpretations. He did an extraordinary piece of creative acting in taking, as he said, the diminishing budgets with the feeling that people had seen much of it before, but he made his various characters, his four characters, extraordinarily different and extraordinarily believable.
McDOWALL: Thank you.
HESTON: Wonderful work.
BURNS: We have time for one last question. I believe it's back there. Thank you.
QUESTION: Yes, I wanted to say that seeing the Statue of Liberty at the end of the first film was probably the most scariest thing for moviegoers at the time to see. Could you tell me a bit more about why you decided to pick that particular icon?
BURNS: Bill or Mort, do you have an answer on that?
ABRAHAMS: Well, there is no more representative of symbols, instantly recognizable and instantly associational with the concept of free America. And it just symbolized that, by the destruction of that symbol -- was a powerfully emotional moment.
BURNS: One last thing. I just had a question for you, Mr. Heston, I just had a question for you. Since they certainly did not build a full-sized Statue of Liberty out there on Zuma Beach, what did you react to, in fact?
HESTON: Oh, they had an extraordinarily well-designed and, I don't know exactly how much was built and just the back, maybe, and front, but really from the breasts and shoulders and head, and of course above all, the crown, which is what you recognize first in the Statue of Liberty. No, I think it was very well done, it wasn't fixed at all, except there wasn't - and it was supposed to be the wreck of the Statue of Liberty, remember. As I said, I think it's the best ending for a movie I've ever seen.