Paul Rudnick's Visit to Mousechwitz
If you haven't gotten around to it, read playwright (Jeffrey)/screenwriter (Addams Family Values) Paul Rudnick's screamer in the July 20 issue of the New Yorker. "Fun With Nuns" is a memoir about Rudnick's ill-fated attempt to get his original version of Sister Act
to the screen -- a script that began in the late 1980s as an idea for a
Bette Midler vehicle. The story is a classic fable about relatively
high-minded ideals rung through the cesspool of commerce. But it's also
an equally familiar tale about a New Yorker (resident, not magazine)
getting thrown into an amiable shark tank of Hollywood executives --
here, the Disney Corporation, which would eventually transform
Rudnick's material into a hit for Whoopi Goldberg. (This was the time, Rudnick notes, when Disney's rigid corporate culture "justified the studio's nickname, Mousechwitz.")
absurd moment is set in Disney's Burbank corporate complex, as Rudnick
and the Armanis discuss monastic Catholicism:
"Glancing around, I realized that I was analyzing papal dogma with a roomful of Jews."
There are, however, a few moments that might seem a little too good to
be true after we've read Rudnick claim he could see "the valley" from
his suite at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset
Boulevard, or that he apparently took meetings in Team Disney's Seven
Dwarves Building at a time when it wasn't yet completed.
In last Sunday's New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler
used the occasion of memoirist Frank McCourt's death to examine the
literary arena of contemporary autobiography, and how the
details of some childhoods have become, improbably, more vivid and
dramatic when retold decades later. Happily, it's part of the charm of
recollection that he seems to be telling both an artistic truth and a
more or less accurate account of his Hollywood ordeal -- we believe
"Fun With Nuns"
because it sounds honest, not because we wish it were true.
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