Here's what we do in entertainment news when we get word someone famous dies:
1) Put out calls and e-mails to confirm what we are hearing
2) Gather all the related video and information about how they died and their body of work
3) Put out calls and e-mails to the publicists of those also-famous folks who may have known or have worked with the person who has died, to sort of put the reporting in larger perspective.
Usually, the publicist will return our official request with a short "statement" from the celebrity they represent. We get the star's words as filtered through the media handler.
About an hour ago, the publicist for Steve Martin wanted to know if it would be alright if Steve called me personally to reply to my inquiry and share his recollections and thoughts. Now, I realize he wasn't calling ME - Rachel - he was calling CNN, but suddenly don't I feel special? "Steve Martin will be calling me himself!", I bragged to my colleagues. "See if he'll play the banjo for you," someone said.
Then, came the call (number was blocked from caller ID of course), and I realized I was talking to a guy, who was rather shocked and saddened to hear that someone he really personally respected had passed on. At CNN we're not only often the first to break the news on air, but sometimes we're breaking news to those you wish you didn't have to tell - famous and not.
I think Steve called personally because he wanted to know what I knew, or what CNN knew, about John Hughes' death.
Here's what he shared with me and what we're reporting:
“He was such a great writer who created so many enduring characters for film, both as a director and a writer. His real gift was in creating these identifiable characters.”
“The script for ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ was the best script I had ever read. When I asked John how long it took to write it, he said, ‘I wrote it over the weekend’. The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do.” (Martin says the script for “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” still holds as the best script he has ever read and only film on which they worked together)
“He was funny from the start. You know he began his career writing for ‘National Lampoon’…. A piece called ‘My Vagina’. Very funny. Right from the beginning. If you haven’t read it, you should find it.”
Thanks, Steve. I just read it. He's brilliant. Thanks for taking the time.
Thanks for sharing, Rachel. And glad Martin got in touch directly to share his feelings about Hughes. PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is a wonderful, hilarious and touching film. RIP John Hughes.
The fact that Steve Martin calls him a genius says a lot.
John Hughes has the skill to understand what teens went through while growing up. You could actually identify personally or see others in the characters that he created. I remember feelinf as Molly Ringwald did in Sixteen Candles. My birthday is the day before a holiday and feeling skipped over while the family was preparing for that holiday.
In Breakfast Club, recognizing most if not all of the characters. And in his films he didn't just present those characters, but explained their underlying feelings which might not have been obvious to the peers of these kids.
We got to know why the jock was such a jerk, the princess was so stuck up, the brain seemed to care more about grades, the misfit just can't seem to fit in, and the hood was such a bad boy. Thanks for being our teacher Mr. Hughes!!!
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a film I love to watch every Thanksgiving. John Hughes made excellent movies that are classics in their own time. It was a tragic, stunning surprise to hear of his death. Steve Martin is a gentleman to call CNN and make a statement on the passing of a legend of Hollywood. I hope Turner Classic Movies airs a full day of John Hughes movies in the near future, as they often do, when a great movie legend dies; i.e. Karl Malden.
Rest in peace John Hughes. You have earned it and will be remembered as long as people watch good films.
Yes ! @ National Lampoon is where i read this guy's, incredibly daring and unexpurgated, stuff first. Hilarious, challenging and daunting. Maybe it held a credence to the 80's highschool realm, (i was in highschool at that time myself, but i had been previously provoked by his wit and satire before that), however, it had been filtered through Hollywood's superficiality by that point. 'Not saying they were bad films or anything, just a little demure compared to his previous writing. you know, like when we're a little young, ignorant, and generally more daring in our endeavors. Our pinnacle. This guy will be missed by writers, and teenagers everywhere, even though he's been missing in action since the 70's. Just an opinion, but really, unless you've read him, instead of watching him at a drive in, (as if those even exist anymore), the only one that counts.
I lived in Naperville and Wheaton, Illinois during the 1980's and early 90's. I was so thrilled to see the portrayal of these characters living in the Chicago area as vulnerable, likeable people the nation could identify with. Chicago had been the site of many movies related to crime and political muck and mire. These films allowed the country to see the silver lining. Thank you, John Hughes
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