Lawrence Kasdan comes to Hebrew Center
Lawrence Kasdan - famed, Oscar-nominated, multi-talented Hollywood producer, writer, and director - will be providing the lowdown first-hand on the Baby Boomer generation tonight, Thursday, August 6, as part of the distinguished 2009 Summer Institute Speaker Series at the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center.
Mr. Kasdan, who has a long list of credits, is probably best known for his 1983 film, "The Big Chill," an immensely popular movie that explores the lives of seven Baby Boomers who get together for the funeral of one of their friends.
Mr. Kasdan, who is based in Los Angeles and Colorado, is coming to Martha's Vineyard to visit his Baby Boomer friend Jim Dale, a summer resident of Vineyard Haven. Although they did not know each other as students at the University of Michigan, they met after college and worked together at Doner Advertising outside Detroit.
"Jim Dale was my supervisor," Mr. Kasdan says. "We've been friends for 30 -- almost 40 years."
Mr. Kasdan left advertising and went to Hollywood, while Mr. Dale transferred to the Baltimore office of Doner. They have maintained their friendship over the years. Mr. Kasdan and his family first visited the Dales on-Island two years ago.
Mr. Kasdan refers to his talk, "What Can Reel Life Teach Us About Real Life? Lessons from the Movies," as "wide open." He will examine the way Baby Boomers, the part of the population born in the post World War II years1946-1964, have lived their lives. Coming of age when Vietnam, civil rights, women's rights, sexual liberation, and the environment were hot-button issues, Baby Boomers traditionally see themselves as idealists.
After examining how that generation became unique, what's happening in the culture, and what movies have to say about it, Mr. Kasdan will be joined by Mr. Dale talk about the issues.
With the two families already visiting and others arriving, the Kasdans and Dales will be holding their own reunion this week. Unlike the characters in "The Big Chill," however, Mr. Kasdan says most of their friends remain in their first marriages.
Mr. Kasdan sold his first script, "Body Guard," in the mid-1970s (the film wasn't made until 1992). By the end of the 1970s, he began writing scripts for George Lucas, including "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Return of the Jedi," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Mr. Kasdan achieved his dream of directing in 1981 with the smash hit, "Body Heat." "The Big Chill" followed, then "Silverado," "Grand Canyon," "The Accidental Tourist," and "Wyatt Earp." He has received four Oscar nominations. In recent years, he has done more screenwriting and producing than directing. Most recently he wrote, produced, and directed "Dreamcatcher," (2003), based on a Stephen King novel.
Mr. Dale describes his longtime friend as a good observer of life with a good sense of humor. "He doesn't need a supervisor any more," he jokes.
The Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute Lecture Series presents Lawrence Kasdan , tonight, Thursday, August 6, 7:30 pm at the Hebrew Center on Center Street in Vineyard Haven. Tickets, $15. Summer Institute donors are invited to attend a private brunch with Mr. Kasdan on Friday.
The final installment in the series will be Thursday, August 13, with violinist and conductor Yuval Waldman, presenting an evening of "Lost Jewish Music."
Brooks Robards reviews film, and theater for The Times.