credit © 2014 Francois Duhamel / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC.
One of the advantages of Nancy Meyers' "The Intern" is the opportunity it affords us to see Linda Lavin, an infrequent visitor to the big screen, in a movie - and, more to the point, in a Robert De Niro movie, no less.
There's an interesting little story here...
Back in 1975, when she and her first husband Ron Leibman were the toasts of Broadway (Sylvia Miles referred to them as "the young Lunt-Fontannes"), Lavin was signed by Mike Nichols and Warner Bros. to make her film debut in an original Neil Simon screenplay, "Bogart Slept Here," co-starring with De Niro, Marsha Mason and Tony Lo Bianco.
Shawn Levy in his 2014 book, "De Niro: A Life" (Crown Archetype).
In an interview with Bob Lardine of Chicago Tribune dated July15th, 1979, Lavin offered a remembrance of the incident: "Mike Nichols was the director and the cast was terrific - Robert DeNiro, Marsha Mason and Tony Lo Bianco. I rehearsed the first week, playing Lo Bianco's wife, and then all sorts of behind-the-scenes difficulties occured. The entire project was shelved during the second week. Naturally, I was heartbroken. It would have been terrific breaking into film with that kind of first-rated talent. The movie was later rewritten and called 'The Goodbye Girl.'" (Yes, "The Goodbye Girl," of course. It was released in 1977, with Mason still in the cast and Richard Dreyfuss in the role originally intended for De Niro.)
But Warners believed in Lavin, promptly casting her in the title role in "Alice," its 1976 sitcom adaptation of the 1974 Martin Scorsese film, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." The show was a hit, and a personal success for Lavin, running on CBS from August 31, 1976 to March 19, 1985.
It not only made Linda Lavin a household name but gave her a catchy, signature song to sing every week - "There's a New Girl in Town," written by David Shire and The Bergmans (Alan and Marilyn). And Lavin's eventual official film debut? Well, that wouldn't come until about 10 years later, in 1984, with a bit in "The Muppets Take Manhattan."
In-between, Lavin has appeared in a handful of other movies, an eclectic mix that includes "I Want to Go Home" (1989), an Alain Resnais film, written by Jules Feiffer and staring Gérard Depardieu, and David Wain's Jennifer Aniston-Paul Rudd romp, "Wunderlust" (2012).
More recently, Lavin has been touring in a cabaret act that started with her 2012 album, ”Possibilities,” (Ghostlight Records), the title referring to one of the songs on the album - her showstopping number, "You've Got Possibilites," from the 1966 Hal Prince musical, "It's a Bird...It's a Plan...It's.Superman." (The liner notes includes a note from Prince.)
By the way, the ”Superman” musical has a fascinating pedigree. It was written by Robert Benton and David Newman, a year before they penned "Bonnie and Clyde" for Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn, and the terrific songs were by Charles Strauss and Lee Adams of "Bye Bye Birdie."
Oh, yeah, and it was a great show (recently given a limited revival), unfairly forgotten.
When Lavin played the Rrazz Room in Bucks County, Pa. in 2014 with Billy Stritch accompanying her on the piano, her act was titled "Possibilities," but when she and Stritch play the Rrazz Room of Philadelphia's Prince Theater (Saturday, October 17th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 18th at 3:00 p.m.), her set will be called..."Starting Over." Just like "The Intern."
Note in Passing: The cuts on Lavin's album are "It Might As Well Be," "Hey, Look Me Over," " There's A Small Hotel," " In Love Again," "Corcovado (Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars)," "'Deed I Do," "It Amazes Me," " You've Got Possibilities," "Rhode Island Is Famous For You," "The Song Remembers When," "Walk Between Raindrops" and "Two For The Road."