Thursday, December 3, 2009

John, we hardly knew ya.

See below for an e-mail we received from someone who worked with John:

"I first met John
when, a few weeks before filming, he decided to replace his long time Production Designer on Uncle Buck. His producer, Ray Hartwick, brought me to Chicago for a meeting. After a walk through of the standing sets with John, and his listening to my suggestions, he asked me to stay and complete the project.

The next year I designed Curly Sue for him. Although that was his last directorial stand, he invited me back numerous times over the next decade for projects that either he had written and handed off to other directors, or that he would indicate he was planning to direct, and then would, once again, hand off. These were, Baby's Day out, Miracle on 34th. Street, Dennis the Menace (again to replace another designer), and The Bee (never produced). Our final collaboration was on a script he had written called "Chambermaid". (This script was eventually produced as Maid in Manhattan and directed by Wayne Wang.) Over the course of a summer, I traveled to Chicago several times to draw sets and discuss ideas with John
either at the house in Lake Forest or at the farm in Wisconsin. We even shot summer background plates and translights.

On my last visit, upon arrival at O'Hare, I received a call from Billy Higgins, John'
s producer at the time, saying that John needed space to work on the script, and that I would be asked to return in a couple of weeks. In fact, John's participation in the film was over, and I was never called back to Chicago. Nor did I hear, personally, from John.

Four years later I was scouting in New Mexico when my cell phone rang. It was John
. No assistants placing the call - just John. He talked with me for over an hour about old projects, new things he was interested in, and just ideas about film making in general. He asked me to read a couple of books that he had optioned. They arrived the next day with a handwritten note expressing the kindest thoughts about my work and ideas. I read the books, and e-mailed my thoughts to John. I never heard back.

That was about six years ago.

John was, as I am sure you have learned, one of the most complex individuals ever. He was a mass of contradictions. Kind, mercurial, generous, and utterly brilliant. I do miss him."

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