WLM Spotlight Sunday – Tim John

 

Tim John

We are lucky to have hilarious WLM member Tim John in the hot seat today! He’s written stuff for Spitting Image, George Harrison’s HandMade Films, Schwarzenegger, Bill Murray and co-wrote The Max Headroom Show. His memoir, Adventures in La-La Land, is newly published! http://smarturl.it/La-la-land 

VICTORIA TWEAD Morning, Tim John! Thanks for being our Sunday Spotlight author today.

TIM JOHN “You’re welcome” as I used to hear so often. Fortunately, it’s a rare very sunny day in Bournemouth right now, so talking about Los Angeles today isn’t going to get me missing the place so much.

CHERRY Hi Tim! Great to have you in the Sunday Spotlight.

JO Bournemouth is a big change from Los Angeles! Apart from the weather. Just downloaded your book thank you

TIM JOHN Thanks, Cherry. Nice to be in front of a spotlight that doesn’t blind you

MICKI Hello Tim! I’ve just downloaded your book & look forward to reading it.

ANNE Good morning Tim – nice to meet you – looks like I am getting a bit of a reputation here for going to bed with authors – looks like you may be next

ALISON Morning Tim ( from a beautiful morning in Spain), when you are writing script material, do you have to put yourself in the characters head so to speak?

CHERRY Are you in Bournemouth all year now, or do you go back to L. A.?

TIM JOHN Thanks to everyone who’s downloaded it. I hope you enjoy it. And Anne, you have to be very careful who you get into bed with in Hollywood…

PAUL I did the audio mix for Max Headroom episode 13 at Sound Development Studios :o)

TIM JOHN Hi Alison, I think different people do it different ways, but yes, I certainly try to get into characters heads, which can make for pretty strange situations as I always speak the dialogue I’m writing to check it flows properly, so anyone listening outside the door must be thinking I’ve gone completely nuts, rather than my usual fairly nuts.

TIM JOHN Hi Paul – nice to connect with someone who also worked on Max headroom. I co-wrote the UK TV series that Rocky and Annabel Jankel directed. The best bit for me was getting to know Matt Frewer the actor so well. How about you?

JUDI Who is the funniest professional funny person you have worked with?

Dinner For One the original from 1963 Dinner For One das Original von 1963

TIM JOHN Probably the funniest people I saw regularly in Hollywood were the English writer Dick Clement and Ian Lafrenais, who I played tennis with most weeks. Whilst Dick was more the suave, old bloodhound of a chap who you felt wouldn’t want to run too fast in case he spilt his glass of Bordeaux, Ian was like a little terrier, whizzing all over the place and adding in quick comments that would baffle American opponents, such as “Yes, it’s another dream of a passing volley for the youngsters from Cheam”…

TIM JOHN Speaking of funny, I found a lot of Hollywood and America funny as in “bizarre”, especially some of the laws. For instance, In Palm Springs it is illegal for people to walk a camel down Palm Canyon Drive between the hours of four and six. In Portola, the law allegedly states that “No person is permitted to carry a fish into a bar”. What’s that about? I’ll have a beer and get me a gin and tonic for my carp..?

BETTY Just downloaded – having lived over 30 years in Southern Cal I’m looking forward to reading it

TIM JOHN Hi Anne, No I haven’t seen that. I’ll give it a go for sure.

TIM JOHN Hi Betty, where did you live, or still live, in Southern Cal?

ANNE Strange how it is so popular in Europe but not in the UK – not many people have heard of him/it.

TIM JOHN I have heard of him but just can’t recall seeing anything – mind you, that could apply to all sorts of people. I’m getting so bad remembering names, I feel I should take a casting agent around with me at all times

BETTY I lived in Pasadena until recently

TIM JOHN Oh wow, I love Pasadena. We were just up the road in La Canada Flintridge. I used to love the sound of the Casey Jones style train going through and that’s where my eldest daughter really got into ice-skating.

ANNE Pasadena is one place I have always fancied visiting since I listened to The Temperance Seven’s hit in 1961 – omg I feel old!

KATE Hi Tim. Thanks for being in the hotseat. Have you ever worked with / written for any Aussies?

BETTY La Canada Flintridge is beautiful

WOOFIE Ooooh! I nearly missed this cuz I was working on me homework! Tim John, how do you find the beaches around Bournemouth compared with the Pacific ones?

VICTORIA TWEAD How did your two girls adjust to going to school in the US after the UK? Was it very different?

WOOFIE How do you find the Hollywood folks? Are they generally as wacko as the media portrays them or are most of them normal? Err, well whatever equates to normal in this group here !!!

TIM JOHN Hi Woofie, well re the beaches, fortunately the one in Bournemouth has beautiful sand and none of the ubiquitous LA tourists doing their slow-motion impressions of Baywatch characters running up and down. But I still miss the constant blue skies and the sun. Plus bizarre stuff to see such as the juggling with chainsaws at Venice Beach in LA. Re Hollywood folks, I shouldn’t generalise, because some of my best friends are Californian and there are some wonderful characters out there. On the other hand, I think it’s accurate to say that plenty of folks in Hollywood are so obsessed with their image that it’s laughable, (unless you’re stuck with them all the time). The LA Times reported a Hollywood restaurant having a sign which said “Jackets not required. Breast implants preferred”

TIM JOHN Hi Kate – I’ve only worked with Aussies doing commercials and we’ve always got on well. I think they have the same UK sense of being prepared to laugh at themselves, which is so rare in Hollywood. Case in point, I once went with my old writing partner to a meeting at Disney in the hopes of getting a writing commission. The chief Disney exec welcomed us with “Hi guys, so glad you could come in. We’re looking for some funny writers”. To which I self-effacingly replied, “Then you must meet the guys I play tennis with – Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais. They’re hilarious”. The irony was not only completely missed by the executive , but, as we left the meeting later on, one of his juniors took me aside and discreetly whispered to me “If you continue having self-esteem problems, you should see my shrink. She’s really good”.

TIM JOHN Hi Victoria, Well schools in the US were certainly very different. My eldest’s Junior High was exactly like “Clueless”. This is where she won the coveted school prize for “Best Hair”. Having said that , the Elementary School they went too had fantastic teachers, NO bullying, and all ethnicities worked happily side by side. And it was great fun too. On Halloween the Principal took the entire school outside and got them to dance to “Ghostbusters”. One marked difference was that the kids were given serious talks about drugs and sex from a much earlier age than in the UK. I’ll never forget my eldest, then aged about 7, coming hoime from one of these talks and announcing to us, in no uncertain terms, that “If you want to have safe sex, then you have to use a condo”. She may well have been right…

WOOFIE Thanks TIM JOHN – much appreciated You did hoist me with me own petard, though, cuz I didn’t know that Bournemouth had sand – I thought it had those strange pebbles like on the coasts in the NE… and so I was doing some stirring *grin*. As to Aussie humour.. you are right – traditionally Australians have the same sense of humour, which is why we love Brit shows such as Mr Bean and the Last of the Summer Wine.

ANNE Living on the South Coast – do you sail at all?

ALAN PARKS Morning TIM, I’m sure many writers would love to see their books made in to films….personally I think all my animals are a perfect fit for an old fashioned Disney movie. Any tips for success for authors who want their book made in to a film?

JOE CAWLEY Hi Tim, which piece of writing, or which commission, gave you the most satisfaction?

TIM JOHN No, I’m not a sailor. Used to sail dinghies a bit when much younger, but no more. How about you?

TIM JOHN Hi Alan, Sorry for the slight delay in replying. My brother just phoned, returning from very boozie foodie ski trip and wanted to make sure I was well aware that cheese makes women giggle! Go figure, as they say.. Right, books into films. As with most things, it varies. Enormously. I recently had a producer keen to option a friend of mine’s book, but the sales agents/distributors were worried because it had only sold about a million copies. So, you get these types who want colossal sales to justify spending out making the movie. then , of course, you get the people who dread their favourite book being turned into a movie version, where there is rarely much left to the imagination. However, plenty of film people like working from a book because there is source material they can see before they commit to big budgets. they key thing is to know your audience, (as with most things). Hollywood isn’t about making moving nearly as much as it is about marketing movies. Does your audience go to the movies enough? If not, TV might be a better option. Films also require some very definite things, e.g. needing to tell the whole thing in about 90 – 100 minutes. Obviously, films dictate the speed at which the stories unveil, whereas book readers set their own pace. Films need to be visual, whereas books can be much more internal. I’m sure you know all this.I don’t want to be teaching anyone to be sucking eggs. But the key things people ask me for when I suggest a book I think would make a great film are: who’s the audience? What are the character arcs? Is anyone famous going to want to play that part? If Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks wanted to be in it, they’d make a movie of the phone book!

ALAN PARKS Thanks TIM I wasn’t really thinking anyone would ever turn my book in to a film but it is always a question when you do an interview for a blog. Who would play you in the film of your book?

ANNE Yes we used to have a boat – and sailed quite a bit – but sold it when we started our business – we have just retired and hubby is hoping to do a bit of sailing on Corfu next year – I prefer to sit on the beach reading these days.

ALAN PARKS And obviously Vin Diesel would be playing me!

TIM JOHN Hi Joe, without a doubt the commission that gave me the most satisfaction was a script called “Remote” which I sold off a pitch to Universal studios. Annoyingly, (apart from getting paid), as with the vast majority of screenplays, it never got made into a movie, despite the exec who bought it saying that “this would be a movie for which the nineties would be remembered”! As you may well know, only a tiny percentage of screenplays get made into films. Many get used as doorjams and worse… Seriously, because of the vast cost of film production, most of the business is research and development. I’ve worked on several films which did get made, but as a “script doctor”, (someone who tinkers with it rather than reinvents the whole script), you don’t get a credit on screen or on imdb. In this arena. my favourite was Bill Murray’s “The Man Who Knew Too Little”.

TIM JOHN Hi Alan, Who would play me in the film of my book? Hmmm, not me, that’s for sure. They’d need someone much better looking for a start. I suppose if you pitched it as a comedy/drama, maybe someone a bit quirky like Joseph Gordon Levitt (in his “500 days of Summer” mode?) Not sure who’d be me if they needed a British actor. the trouble is they only really want actors with guaranteed audiences, which only ever leaves a handful. I don’t see Judi Dench playing me… and I’d never be able to watch it if she did because she looks and sounds so incredibly like my mother…

BAMBI Hi Tim, happy you accepted the hot seat for today, thank you very much. Any chance either of your daughters will follow in your footsteps and become writers? And did they inherit your sense of humor?

ANNE Maybe James Nesbitt – I know he is Irish – but I do like him!

TIM JOHN No, I don’t see either of them wanting to be screenwriters. The eldest is a wonderful writer, but much more into advertising, (my other earlier career). But they both have a great sense of humour. I think I get a lot of mine from them rather than the other way round.

TIM JOHN Thanks, Anne – James Nesbitt is a great idea. or a younger Hugh Laurie

TIM JOHN Just wondering how to make Hugh Laurie younger. I’m sure one of the umpteen cosmetic surgeons in LA could make that happen. I was really pleased that Joan Rivers let me use one of her quotes in the book. She’s one of the few that openly admit to nips and tucks. She said she wished she’d had a twin, so she could see what she was supposed to have looked like at her age.

WOOFIE Tim.. there is this thing called Photoshop With a few tweaks you can turn Hugh Laurie into a new born baby

TIM JOHN Woofie asked me earlier what some of the Hollywood folk are really like. There are of course some truly wonderful, and every now and then genuine, people, but I think the great playwright David Mamet summed it up best when he said “Film is a collaborative business – bend over”

TIM JOHN One of the other things about people in Hollywood is that you often never really know what they are really thinking. Largely because you rarely hear back from them. As Woody Allen says “Show business is dog-eat-dog. It’s worse than dog-eat-dog, it’s dog-doesn’t-return-other-dog’s-phone-calls.”

MICKI Have you been to Brownsea Island or been involved with the Scouting movement?

BAMBI Do you still have Notorious Features, and if so, how is it coming along?

SUSAN I loved spitting image, why did they stop making it and where can I get some Dvd’s so I can laugh again?

SUSAN I also loved Max Headroom–how do you come up with this stuff–did you always have strange thoughts even as a child?

BAMBI Cut to the chase Susan, don’t beat around the bush! lol. Strange thoughts indeed. Although, Max Headroom was really, really strange, I think that was the appeal for all of us looking for something out of the ordinary. So, I guess the question is really appropriate and I shouldn’t poke fun.

TIM JOHN Sorry about the delay – mad rush to Waitrose to avoid starvation. Back now. Okay, Micki, yes we love Brownsea island. haven’t been involved with the Scouts though – not since the Cubs way back. Do they still dib and dob?

TIM JOHN Hi Bambi – yes, still working on Notorious Features. I have a couple of projects almost ready to go, but getting the production money is always the toughest part.

BAMBI I’ve got 20 bucks I can lend?

TIM JOHN Hi Susan, Glad you liked Max Headroom. I had plans for his sister Min Headroom, and noisy cousin Max Volume, but as usual, budgets got in the way.

TIM JOHN 20 bucks is a lot more than some people will part with. About 50 bucks more…

BAMBI Lol.

TIM JOHN Hi Susan, Yes, I do have a tendency towards strange thoughts. Not always. I’d like to think my horror comedy “Vampires in Rehab” was relatively normal…

TIM JOHN I’m sure there must be Spitting Image stuff online. Most of the tapes must have been transferred to DVD now. Or YouTube is always good.

SUE I was also a big fan of Max Headroom!

SUE My cousin, a film director, made a film set in Hollywood about the life and death of a talent agent. Ivansxtc. Ever seen it?

TIM JOHN No, I haven’t but I’d like to.

TIM JOHN Is your cousin Bernard Rose? If so, I thought he did a great job with “Mr Nice”

VICTORIA TWEAD *Hushed whisper* Tim, what do you think of sites like Piratebay? Do they damage the film industry?

SUE That’s him – Directed Candyman and Immortal Beloved too. I haven’t seen Mr Nice yet.

ALAN PARKS Wow, Sue you are a dark horse I sense Hollywood Elves on the horizon

SUE I think I tried to tell you once, but you didn’t believe me

SUE Bernard’s into Tolstoy and Beethoven, not elves!

ALAN PARKS And Candyman!

TIM JOHN Yes, I think so, and I’m sure they’re tempting but they do ultimately stop more films being made and actually stop higher quality films being made because the only way for the studios to stay in business is to release nothing but movies that are like computer games, things that demand being seen on a giant screen in 3D. Wow, what a serious note… Must stop ranting. Back to the fun side of being an English family in LA- trying to learn the language. Stephen Fry kindly allowed me to open my chapter “Lost in Translation” with his very funny, apt, observation about Dick Van Dyke “we know him as Penis Lorry Lesbian”.

SUE Yes, that was a very early film of his. He likes horror a lot! Did one or two other rather gruesome films. Anyway, let’s get back to Tim

TIM JOHN No worries, he directs some really good stuff.

SUE I think you’re right to rant though, Tim!
Have you ever met Stephen Fry?

FRANK Hiya Tim, sorry I’m late to the party! You say in your book that you always found films ‘a fantastic escape’. What is your fave film and why?

TIM JOHN Yes, I enjoy the occasional, tension-releasing rant. Not quite as bad as my father-in-law yet. He has a list of words and phrases which must never be mentioned in his house. Things such as “Planning ahead”, anything French in English like “Venue”, “Blue Sky thinking” and of course… “Camilla”.

TIM JOHN No, I haven’t met Stephen Fry. I did meet quite a few of the stars I quoted. Many others I contacted through their various agents, managers, lawyers, P.R. people, hairdressers, etc. That’s probably the hardest thing about making it in Hollywood, getting access to people. I’ve met several writers who’ve been told so-and-so isn’t interested in your script, then, fortunately, they’ve actually gained direct access to so-and-so and discovered they not only never saw the material but actually liked it. One was Kevin Kline. By the way, for all Brits who’ve ever been teased about being a Kevin in school, America is the place for you. No teasing whatsoever, thanks to messrs Costner, Kline and Spacey. Not sure about Kevin Bacon. Those EE phone ads have started to annoy me! Oops, ranting again…

TIM JOHN Hi Frank, I think my favourite films tend to vary, (especially when I find a new one), but I absolutely love Cinema Paradiso, Le Huitieme Jour, Amelie and also Groundhog Day. I’ve probably seen this next lot too many times, but I also loved Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense and Jerry Maguire. How about you?

ALAN PARKS Was there a moment when you thought you had made it?

TIM JOHN I forgot to say why I find film such a fantastic escape, didn’t I. Just because it can be so involving you don’t think about anything else. Unlike jogging, where I always managed to combine worry with getting exhausted, which became another worry. maybe I should add to the list, as a fellow Hypochondriac, any film by Woody Allen, because they always make me feel I’m not quite as strange as I feared.

SUE In that way, Tim, good films are rather like good books, aren’t they? They give you a means to escape to another world, another life or to see things from a new perspective.

TIM JOHN Exactly. And I love photography and music, so when the combination is right, it’s unbeatable. Going to live in California was quite an escape from reality even when we weren’t in the cinema. In fact, just about everywhere we went we got this strange sense of deja vu – because we had seen those places before – in movies.

FRANK Good calls, Tim. My wife and I love Cinema Paradiso. And Bullets over Broadway is our fave Woody film, hilarious! My personal best film of all time – one you may relate since it has lots of UK/US crossover gags – is Spinal Tap. Have you seen it?

VICTORIA TWEAD One of my favourite chapters in La-La Land is the list of ridiculous laws. Can you give us some examples?

FRANK p.s. I just bought your book, loved the sample. So your name in LA translates as Tim Toilet? Hahaha

CHERRY What sort of books do you like reading, Tim?

TIM JOHN Hi Frank, yes I love Spinal Tap. Also Best in Show, the one with the same gang going to dog grooming shows. Hilarious

TIM JOHN Hi Victoria, okay get ready for some more bizarre, but real, laws: In Fresno, the law dictates that no-one may annoy a lizard in a city park. In Pacific Grove, nobody is allowed to molest butterflies. In L.A. county “It is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale”! No wonder they once elected George Bush

TIM JOHN Yes, Frank, my name does translate to Tim Toilet, though I much prefer Mister Restroom

TIM JOHN By the way, I totally agree about Bullets over Broadway being great. I adore Crimes and Misdemeanors too

TIM JOHN Hi Cherry, My taste in books varies enormously and I tend to have a few on the go at the same time. I just re-read and actually optioned the film rights again to “On Mermaid Avenue” by Binnie Kirshenbaum. I’m also halfway into “Gypsy Boy” and “Heft”.

TIM JOHN And of course, regarding strange Californian laws, the good news is that, according to Lauren Bacall “In Hollywood, an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty percent of publicity”.

TIM JOHN Bizarrely, there’s a real traffic law which states that “No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour”. And this next law could cause all sorts of problems if disobeyed… “Bowling on the sidewalk is illegal”.

CHERRY Have to admit that I haven’t read any of those, Tim, but my reading choice is varied too, so perhaps I’ll look them up.

CHERRY Love those barmy laws!

TIM JOHN Not just barmy laws, but I swear that most of the population are lawyers. Including some pretty dubious ones. Rumour has it that a lawyer in LA died very unexpectedly and arrived at the Pearly Gates, where he asked Saint Peter “What the hell’s going on? There must be some kind of mistake. I’m only 28.” To which Saint Peter replied, “I don’t think so. According to the number of hours for which you’ve been billing, you’re 132.”

FRANK You say you lost your dad at four, Tim. Hope I’m not being too personal here but do you think this had anything to do with you becoming a writer? And taking such huge intercontinental risks? (I lost my dad at two and like you craved a safe and secure existence but also took a life-changing risk at 35)

TIM JOHN You may well be right. I think it could certainly explain why I’ve always been drawn to creating things, stories, pictures, etc. It’s a way of being able to control things when you can’t do that in real life. Photography’s always been especially appealing because you can literally only focus on what you want to see and blur away the things you don’t. One of the issues I had with the whole Hollywood thing is that the lines between reality and fantasy can get blurry too. It’s so easy to get tempted by the whole American Dream thing without realising that you can’t remain in a dream – part of it being a dream requires waking up at some point!

TIM JOHN Re Frank’s last comment, I think that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book – not simply to recall the many funny things that happened to me and the family in my attempts to make it in Hollywood, but to also chart what it’s like when someone in a family ,(in this case, me), wants to go chasing their dream. It wasn’t all laughs by any means. Having said that, when we discovered that one of our neighbours, (an ex-scientist), genuinely believed that aliens had been invading his home and photographing his belongings, we felt much more grounded about our own problems.

TIM JOHN To add to that, I’ve always defaulted to humour as a way of dealing with difficult things, (or maybe not fully dealing with them). Hence the appeal of Woody Allen et al

TIM JOHN Thanks, everyone, I’m really enjoying today. Pity we can’t all meet up in a bar at the end of it, Mojitos on me…

WOOFIE Which bar? We’ll be there!!!

FRANK Yes, big pity Tim. If you’re ever back down Surrey way…

SUE Mine’s a very large mojito, thanks, Tim

TIM JOHN Absolutely, it’d be great to meet up in person… much as I like typing

TIM JOHN Is there a WeLoveMojitos group forming..?

SUE I reckon

TIM JOHN I remember the temptation of shopping in LA, especially in giant cash and carry warehouses such as Price Club, where you could buy everything from tortilla chips to cars. And they always got you by saying they didn’t know if or when they’d have again what you saw in stock today. That explains why I came out with that synthesizer when I went in to buy orange juice…

CHERRY Got to go to my mad family party now, but thanks Tim for answering our questions so entertainingly. I’m not likely to ever get to L.A., so hearing/ reading about it is great fun.

VICTORIA TWEAD Not sure if anybody’s asked you this already, but do you find much difference between the Brit and US sense of humour/humor?

TIM JOHN Absolutely. The whole lack or irony thing is probably the biggest. I know it’s different in New York, but in LA a lot of people find it impossible to ever laugh at themselves, they’re so busy portraying what they think is the right image. “Positivity”, if there even is such a word, can dominate too. For instance, we had an Independence Day party one year, (which was in itself pretty odd for a British family to host). It was sunny. When wasn’t it? So all the Americans were outside by the pool and the barbecue having a laugh, all very upbeat. All the Brits, (well the men), were crowded round the bar indoors all enjoying having a rant. Different cultures…

TIM JOHN And regarding different senses of humour, I’ve never met any El-Laysians yet who find words they use such as “Mansionisation” as funny as we Brits do. the most recent I heard of was the “Starbuckification” of a part of town!

TIM JOHN On the other hand, you’ve got to hand it to some Americans for being ballsy. I can’t imagine anywhere in England where a woman would stick a sign up by the road at the end of her drive like the one I saw in Laurel Canyon, near Beverly Hills, which simply invited drivers to “Honk if you’ve had me”

TERRY I gotta say yes loudly to a difference in Brit and US humor…most of the movies mentioned earlier I wouldn’t enjoy. And I have a hard time understanding some Brit comedies…I used to have a roommate who loved a series ( can’t remember the title) and I tried to watch…she’d be rolling on the floor and I’d be shaking my head.

TERRY And, Tim, I’ve gotten your book to read, but I’d hope folks don’t think all Americans are like the ones in LA…we laugh at them too.

VICTORIA TWEAD, TERRY, I’m with you there. My other half loves the old Carry On movies and Benny Hill, nearly wets himself. I don’t find them funny in the slightest. Not a US/UK thing, just different tastes I guess. Yet some of the posts on WLM make me choke laughing.

TIM JOHN I would add that when some American movies are funny, I think they can be outstanding. For instance many Woody Allen movies, plus “Parenthood”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Way Way Back”. They can be extremely good at keeping it real, where too many UK comedians/actors, (TV ones especially), slip into Carry On mode far too easily. The best American TV programmes , such as “M.A.S.H.” and “Frazier” and “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” are fantastic in my view, with great humour, and also lots of humor. And of course, for dry wit in the music world, the Americans still have Tom Waits.

TIM JOHN Yes, Terry, I don’t mean to generalise about Americans – well, maybe most Studio executives… There’s a reason they call Disney Mauschwitz…

SUE TOM WAITS! My hero!

TERRY That’s the series my friend liked! But I don’t like the Marx Brothers either…

TIM JOHN Hi Sue, re Tom Waits, a friend just gave me a homemade CD which has Tom in concert swapping banter for over half an hour with hecklers and imparting his own bizarre street philosophy. Priceless

ANNE M.A.S.H was one of my all time favourites – I loved all the ‘Airport’ films too but I don’t find the Carry ons funny at all

TIM JOHN One of my all-time favourite American comedians… Bob Newhart with his wonderful monologues such as The Driving Instructor and Sir Walter Raleigh and the USS Codfish. Genius.

TIM JOHN Totally agree about Airplane, Anne

SUE Wonderful! I think I have all his CDs (obviously not the one you have!) and would love to see him live! The man’s a genius!

TIM JOHN I’ve only seen him twice, but he’s amazing. I didn’t love the movie “Seven Psychopaths” all the way through, but whenever Tom and Christopher Walken are on, you just don’t want it to end

SUE I’ve just posted Chocolate Jesus to my timeline

ANNE I had forgotten all about Bob Newhart – Driving Instructor is magic. Thanks for reminding me x

TIM JOHN “Chocolate Jesus”, now there’s a great title.

TIM JOHN Hi again Anne, yes The Driving Instructor is a brilliant piece of writing and performance. I used it in a recent creative writing class I teach as a towering example of how to create pictures in people’s minds. I saw him a few years ago at Drury Lane. He’s effortlessly charming

ANNE Must dig it out and re-watch it

TIM JOHN He told this story about the previous time he’d visited the UK. On the flight back they had to stop at Chicago airport, where everyone was told they could get off and wander around as the plane wouldn’t take off again for another two hours. Everyone got off, except for another famous passenger, Ray Charles, who was there with his guide dog for the blind, (“seeing eye dog”) , though the dog did need to go for a pee. Anyway, Bob related how he walked round the airport for a couple of hours then got back on the plane. He was initially surprised at finding he was the only passenger to have returned to the plane. Then he added, in his wonderful throwaway manner..”I guess if you see a pilot with a guide dog for the blind…”

TIM JOHN P.S. Sue, I love the way refers to a Chocolate Jesus as “An immaculate confection”…

SUSAN I love the Wild at Heart series with Stephen Tompkinson–of coursse i love anything with him in it, and about 50 other old British comedies.

ANNE lol Tim – he is just a natural!

TIM JOHN Isn’t he just. Amazing.

TIM JOHN Hi Susan, I don’t know “Wild at heart” as a TV series, just the Nick Cage film

TIM JOHN I’m in need of a new DVD boxed set. Any suggestions?

SUSAN Nope–British TV series, I think 7 DVD’s and it ended–it even had Haley Mills in it and the girl that married the hmmmmm the series about Scottland–the Laird of Glenbogle

SUSAN Kingdom with Stephen Fry is really good

TIM JOHN I’ll check that out. I like him. My favourite UK ones are still Fawlty Towers and Reggie Perrin

ANNE Flowery t*****s lol

SUSAN The two I listed are not comedies

TIM JOHN Bizarrely, I had the honour/embarrasment of introducing some German producers to Fawlty Towers last year. Still waiting to hear back from them. It’s only been a few months…

ANNE You should have mentioned Dinner for One – they would have got right back to you lol x

SUSAN Dad’s Army is great

TIM JOHN Well, if they do get in touch again, I’ll be sure to mention Dinner for One

TIM JOHN And Dad’s Army of course

VICTORIA TWEAD Who was the nicest celeb or film star that you met, Tim?

TIM JOHN The nicest star I met in Hollywood was Goldie Hawn. She was so enthusiastic, charming and funny and totally happy to chat about anything and everything. Absolutely magnetic with no ego problem at all – which is exceedingly rare in that town, I can assure you. Plenty of people think they’re God – in fact, that’s how a lot of people spell Director.

Here is quite a funny and accurate look at American directors http://www.viralviralvideos.com/…/if-christmas-morning…/

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