Jim Morrison said it best: “No one gets out alive.”
My old friend Harlan Ellison said that the bad thing about getting old is losing your pals.
I just lost an acquaintance and a pal.
ROBIN WILLIAMS 1951–2014
The acquaintance was the talented Robin Williams, whom I’m sure needs no introduction here. I met Robin during the period he was on Mork & Mindy. I was visiting the set of The Blues Brothers while working with that film’s producer on a movie adaptation of Roger Zelazny‘s Chronicles of Amber books.
Robin was incredibly kind and sweet to me — yet I caught a haunted quality in his eyes when he thought no one was looking.
I chalked that up to the way I saw him being treated by the Blues Brothers people. Those nasty bastards shunned him and attempted to block him from visiting the set or associating with anyone on the film. They considered him to be a lesser talent and not worthy of acknowledgment. Why? Because he was doing TV and they were making a MOVIE. “Fucking Mork,” I heard one of them say, knowing they said it just loud enough for Robin to hear.
It made me feel very bad for Williams. I immediately began to detest the snotty (and lesser-talented) assholes associated with The Blues Brothers.
Knowing what we know now, did I catch more from Robin’s haunted glance? I don’t know. I never got to know Robin personally but from the moment I met him and from what he did and accomplished during his illustrious career, I got the feeling that he was a pretty decent but sad (yet brilliantly funny) guy.
RIP, amigo. You took the permanent solution to a temporary problem but now your personal demons are at long last silent.
JOHN FASANO 1961–2014
John Fasano was a friend of mine who was a real breath of fresh air in the movie business: he was honest.
I can’t recall where we first met but our friendship really began to solidify at one of Taylor White‘s events (Taylor owns the amazing Creature Features monster shop in Burbank). We shared mutual friends and colleagues, most notably John Milius, to whom Fasano was heartbreakingly loyal. John Fasano’s writing credits include Another 48 Hours, Universal Soldier: The Return and Mandy Patinkin‘s The Hunchback, as well as the first Jesse Stone TV movie. John loved horror movies and directed three: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, The Jitters and Black Roses. Oh, and he produced one of my favorite westerns of all time (and I suspect he doctored that film’s script): Tombstone.
John asked me if I would ever consider production designing one of his films. My enthusiastic “Yes!” seemed to catch him by surprise and delight him. When I last saw him a few months ago, he told me he had begun writing a film for us to make together. We both were thrilled at the prospect. We were determined to bring fun back to making movies.
John and I exhibited our art at Taylor’s themed shows. He loved that we were in art shows together. John was a very visual writer and director; he appreciated good picture-making. He was also one of the most loyal persons I ever met in Hollywood. I sensed that when John became your friend it was something deep and meaningful — the opposite of many of the shallow relationships one acquires in the film biz.
John was just 52 when his big heart gave out on July 19. I didn’t find out about it until this morning. I had my wife keep all of the issues of the Los Angeles Times that came out while I was down at Comic-Con. While reading some of them this morning, I was shocked to discover his obituary.
I love you, Big Guy. And I’ll miss you forever.