Sunday, January 21, 2018

Auteur Watch - Louis Gossett Jr.

That's right, time for Sgt. Foley himself, and he's not in a van down by the river either!  Welp, as usual, a man's IMDb Top 4 doesn't tell the whole story... or does it?  I do know for a fact that one of the projects that Gossett Jr. was particularly fond of didn't make it into his IMDb Top 4, and that one's called Aces: Iron Eagle III.  I haven't seen many interviews with him, but I believe he went on Dennis Miller's first TV show.  This was the first show after Dennis got the idea that, hey!  People know me from "Saturday Night Live," why not make the move to replace Johnny Carson?  How hard could that be?  Long story short: harder than he thought.  And of course the cast and crew involved with Aces: Iron Eagle III took a long, hard look at the changing late-night landscape of post-Carson times, and said "Hmm!  Dennis Miller!  That's the show we should go for!  Not the ruthless Kushnick-fueled new guy taking over for Carson.  That won't last.  That's going nowhere."  I didn't do my research, I guess is what I'm trying to say.  But if you have some free time, this might be a good place to start!  YouTube's got everything.  Having a working server farm doesn't hurt, either.
But when you've been in the business of show as long as a Louis Gossett Jr. has, you're bound to look about the desolate landscape around you and think to yourself, "There's GOT to be a better way."  And sometimes you've just got to be your own Bill McKay.  No bus driving for Gossett Jr.!  No sir.  No, the director's chair is the chair to sit in.  Took a while to build up to it; took a few night courses and correspondence courses... the nosey noses out there keep track of such things, you know.  Who's taking what class, who's trying to better themselves.  They keep an eye out, and they don't like it, because they want things to stay the way they are, those Nosey Noses.  But Gossett Jr... I'll just stick with Gossett for short... Gossett hung in there, and the right opportunity came along.  A little show called "The Powers of Matthew Star," and... no?  No one?  Well, it was just before Steven E. de Souza struck gold by doing movies instead of bad television.  And Gossett got used to these Bagger Vance-type roles a long time ago; he could do them in his sleep, with the occasional An Officer and a Gentleman to put a little sadistic twist on them, so he figured, hey!  A 22 episode commitment... SOMEONE'S gotta direct this garbage!  And he was off and running... sure, it would become the lowest-rated episode in the Internet age, but STILL!  He could now add "Director" to his pile of hats.
Well, that first foray into directing was so rewarding, such a learning experience, so much to learn about dealing with cast and crew in that way, as well as the producers, those... those many, many levels of producers above everyone's heads.  They're like the choir of angels, they are, with their many powers and wings, and their specialized names and specialities... it was all a little too much, actually.  Most people, present company included, when trying to learn certain subjects, whether it's math, underwater basket weaving, or directing for film and television, need time to step back and let the mind stew and do its thing... IN PEACE.  Most of us don't have photographic memories that can be organized like closet space.  Weird, weird, weird.  But eventually that second opportunity to direct came.  Time had passed, it was the late 90s and millennium fever was at an all time high.  He wasn't recognized on the street as much as he used to be, and "Love Songs" came across his desk.  Most people had passed on it, and all of Gossett's agents advised him to pass as well... but, let's think a minute!  Maybe working with Robert Townsend wouldn't be so bad.  Sure, the rumors were true that he'd always fall behind schedule, spending too much time reminiscing about how much fun Hollywood Shuffle was to make, how none of the Wayans family would return his calls anymore, the usual stuff.  But Gossett was feeling lucky, and he would take control of this project by co-directing it.  A little less pressure than full-on directing by one's self.  Eventually, it all came together, and Andre Braugher also came on as a director.  Now, I know what you're thinking... the nerd from that Civil War movie?  Really?  Seriously?  Well, first of all.. stop that, for one.  Stop saying "really" and "seriously" together like that.  It's not powerful anymore.  It's supposed to disarm your opponent in conversation.  Second, this kid's got chops.  Sure, his actor friends still give him sh... grief about his work in... what's it called?  Striking Distance, that's it.  You know, crap like "What did you say when they offered you that part?  Did you say 'Oh, YES, Massa!  I act real good!'"  But I've said too much already.

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