By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Bogdanovich's idea of heaven, for a time, must have been the opulent estate on Copa de Oro, which we are just approaching. Every structural element -- from the window frames to the iron gatework to the glass doors that lead to a dining room where he once held fabled dinner parties -- inspires Bogdanovich to do a little life-at-the-top reminiscing. "See that over there?" he says, indicating a beige retaining wall covered with thick vines. "I built that. Somebody broke in once. Cybill and I were in bed, and we heard somebody coming up the stairs. And I was so angry, I opened the door, and the guy was there and he started running." Bogdanovich shakes a fist over his head and yells out the rest of his lines. "I said, 'Get the fuck out of here, you motherfucker!' and chased him out. I could have gotten killed!"
Shepherd moved out after two years and was subsequently replaced by Stratten and, eventually, Hoogstraten. "It was pretty tough to move," says Bogdanovich, who took a final stroll of shame through the empty house after being evicted for not making his mortgage payments.
IN 1997, HE QUIETLY CREPT BACK TO MANHATTAN, moved into a brownstone apartment on West 78th Street, roughly 10 blocks from where he grew up, and started piecing things back together. He hit the lecture circuit and provided dry, insightful commentaries on DVD reissues of classic films like The Lady From Shanghai. He's practically a regular on E! True Hollywood Story. Thanks to his old pal The Sopranos creator, David Chase, he ended up with a recurring role on the series as Dr. Elliott Kupferberg, the unforgiving supervising therapist of Dr. Melfi. It's the biggest hit he's been attached to since his 1973 Depression-set comedy Paper Moon. Back in the '80s, Bogdanovich hired Peter Kaplan to write a screenplay for him, and The New York Observereditor repaid the favor by giving Bogdanovich a TV column for a couple of years, which was long enough to spin his extended blurbs about vintage movies you can find on the tube into a book called Movie of the Week. Lying on the back seat of the car is a paperback edition of his 1997 book, Who the Devil Made It? "It got the best reviews I've ever had," he says of the collection of interviews he conducted with directing greats he met back in the '60s and early '70s. "It didn't get one bad review."
As we drive away from the Bel Air house, I broach the possibility of visiting Bogdanovich's old neighborhood. He doesn't refuse, he just corrects the question.
"My old neighborhood? I've had several old neighborhoods," he says. "I certainly don't like the first one, which was in the Valley. Saticoy Street, between Kester and Van Nuys Boulevard. We had a three-bedroom house there, paying $125 a week. With a yard. Then it went up to $145. We thought it was a tremendous amount of money." He runs a hand over his slicked-back brown hair and checks his watch.
On April 12, Bogdanovich's new film, The Cat's Meow, starring Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), will open. The plot of the period mystery is driven by a murder that is committed and covered up during a weekendlong party on the luxury yacht of curmudgeon millionaire William Randolph Hearst. But it's also about the terrible banality and insensitivity that comes with excess and privilege. Mostly, The Cat's Meow plays like Bogdanovich's indictment of the place he lived for 32 years.
"I'd just felt I'd had it out here. If you're not hot in Los Angeles, it's a very lonely town," says the director, whose gigs by the mid-'90s had dwindled down to TV movie of the week schlock like To Sir, With Love II. "It's a lonely town even if you are hot."
Of course, New York isn't easy on its celebrities either. Last March, New York gossip columnists had a field day with the news that he and Hoogstraten had split, saying that Bogdanovich didn't know until he read it in the newspapers that his 34-year-old L.A.-based missus was leaving him after 12 years. ("I'm focusing on Louise now" was the Women Are From Venus . . .statement she gave to the Daily News.) "Pfffft. I found out when I got the papers, which she warned me were coming," he says, correcting the record and using a dismissive wave of his hand as if to show that after all he's been through, this latest scandal doesn't even make it on the radar. "I don't take it personally at all. It's all about a problem she was going through."
Their holy vows may be history, but their screenwriting partnership isn't. If everything goes according to plan, Bogdanovich will soon be directing a sexy screwball comedy they wrote called Squirrels to the Nuts. That they both sound eager to work together won't be the most unconventional aspect to their relationship. After all, Bogdanovich wrote a book-length eulogy about Dorothy Stratten called The Killing of the Unicorn and has always been open about the fact that she was the love of his life.
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