Tell me more... Tell me more...
Now I didn't mind bad language, or a little sauciness, but I was very aware of the naughty lyrics in 'Greased Lightning' and I wondered did they ever consider taking it out? Because they’ve got all these cutesy, nice songs and then this...
But in the play, the character of Roger - which isn’t in the movie, but basically the person playing Sonny is playing Roger - sings 'Mooning' and 'All Choked Up', but they were never happy with the number 'All Choked Up' - which is the one that happens at the end where 'You’re the One That I Want' is in the movie. In the play there is no 'You’re The One That I Want' and again no 'Hopelessly Devoted', no 'Sandy'. Instead Danny sings 'Alone At The Drive-In Movie', where he laments - as he does in the movie - about Sandy leaving the drive-in, which again isn’t in the movie either. So it’s different, they’re different animals, each and every incarnation of this has a great deal of difference."
Yes, I sang that originally to open the scene, and I realised it’s just in the background of the film.
down life’s highway, whatever course my fortune may fortell, I shall not go along in my way' as Miss Lynch, Eugene and Patty Simcox enter - in front of the curtain because the curtain is down - they’re at the reunion for the 1959 class of Rydell, and they’re talking about the fact that Eugene was Valedictorian and Patty Simcox has gone on to work for some company, and Eugene works for Sharp Shooters Anonymous or something like that.
And Miss Lynch has a little speech, but at the end Eugene says something about ‘...and we see all these wonderful faces here, just like we always remember them'.
Then the curtain goes up, and behind them we’re now thrust back into 1959 and the Greasers come up and harass Eugene and Miss Lynch and Patty Simcox and now we’re off to the races if you will.
Then they sing the parody of Alma Mater 'I saw a dead skunk on the highway’, you know that part, and that too is kind of racy if you think about it, talking about getting crabs and such and scratching and itching and you know! So it’s entirely different from the movie."
I think I get it...?
"So I went in, we all went in thinking that they were just doing the script [from the play] auditioned for Sonny, but I wound up pretty much playing not Sonny, but his character, they call him Doody.
Putzie and Jan, they had that dynamic and with the other characters of Roger and Jan - although Roger is Sonny in the movie - and Sonny and Marty get together... But in the play it's Sonny and Marty... but not the Sonny that’s embodied in the movie... My character would normally have gotten together with Marty... and my character of Sonny was a lot racier than what I did in the movie as Doody, so it’s all jumbled up!
But whatever it was it turned out to be a huge success!"
Didn't it just!!!
My burger finally arrived. I stared at it for a moment, it was greasier than I had expected, I was afraid it might repeat a bit later on, but I'd paid for it, so I had to give it a go... I was certain I heard one of the fellas in the next booth cheekily say something about it looking a bit old, but it looked fine to me...
It's such a shame that the film was it was overlooked completely at the Oscars….
"Again, it was not an artistic success….they shunned it"
you’ve never seen the sing-a-long version?"
I haven’t seen it no….
Yes, I must see it….
It comes on television all the time, they will air it on TV and I’ll get messages and emails saying “ABC entertainment….your face has just come up!” I think maybe it’s happened once when I’m channel surfing and there it is!"
I can liken it to rock artists that are sitting in their car or something and their tune comes on the radio, that’s gotta be very cool. That’s happened a bunch [of times] when all of a sudden 'You’re The One That I Want' comes on….
Oh Oh Oh... Honey!
You know, we don’t sing on You’re The One That I Want... When we first did the film we rehearsed for three weeks and still they never had the last song written... [in the play] It was 'All Choked Up', but they never cared for that song. It was similar to All Shook Up, a parody if you will on Elvis Presley’s tune.
So we’re out at the carnival sequence filming and the next thing you know we’re brought this tune that John and Olivia had recorded like the day, or the night before... And Pat Birch - who choreographed - said "We’re just going to put this on it’s feet like right now, I’m going to choreograph it, we’re going to put it on the fly and where it goes ‘you’re the one, the one I want, ooh ooh ooh honey’ that’s where you guys sing." So that’s what we did...
In fact if you see me - you know the portion at the end where I’ve got the ceramic dog?
Oh yes... I’m over enunciating ‘The One, The One I Want’ because it wasn’t really me singing! That’s a shot I wish they would change!"
You know I’m going to look at that now!
Kelly [Putzie] tells me that was his line too but I’ve never looked at him during that particular time... I’m always looking at myself.
He’s a great person as well as being an amazing talent. Sweet, lovely guy, everybody just falls in love with John. Working for the 15 weeks as we did on the film, we got even closer and he’s not a diva, doesn’t demand...
He comes from a very loving and tight family, I’m very close with his brother Joey - in fact Joey and I go out every summer and we teach film arts to special needs kids throughout the country - it’s a whole other aspect of my career - So I’m close
with them, with the family, and his sister Annie, who also was in the show.
He is just beautiful!
So we had an inkling that this guy was going to be happening and then it made perfect sense. Especially after Grease….
While we were filming we went to the opening screening [of Saturday Night Fever] we thought ‘oh, this guy is just….can do any wrong!’"
I remember we all went out, it was John and Jeff - may he rest in peace - Kelly, Michael and I, John took us out to dinner in his limo and after we went to a strip club on Sunset Boulevard, it was a guy's night out...
Then we went back to John’s apartment and he told us about his terrific love affair with Diana Hyland -who is his elder actually, it was a May/December relationship as they say - he was deeply in love with her and he was telling us about his first kiss…their first kiss… I think she might have died in his arms, if I’m not mistaken. She died of cancer... So that’s the John I know, all this other garbage is garbage as far as I’m concerned. He NEVER EVER displayed anything other than who he is, you know what I’m saying. And let me tell you something, I am one of the most bent straights that you’ll ever meet, I am completely open….I am a heterosexual and KILLS me, it infuriates me that people don’t get that one’s preference, if you will, is born in and what an unfortunate thing for humankind that people are bigoted in that way..."
Two of the girls I'd shot a look at earlier walked passed snickering, one turned to the other and whispered something... The other one fell about laughing, I'll remember your faces, I thought to myself... Watch your back ladies....
"Stockard, she, pretty much, stays a bit apart from the GREASE phenomenon. Often, when there is business to be handled, we deal with her representatives. I love her and she got in well with all of us. Very gracious woman. Extraordinary actress!!"
What about Jeff Conaway?
He was kind of my Zuko growing up...
We grew up together and he was kind of a bad boy, always the bad boy! We went to different schools but we were in each other’s company on occasion and I always kind of envied him because he was tall, good looking, he played the guitar… but we became fast and famous friends when we worked together.
So I know a lot of films in which you have older actors who are playing teenagers, but did you ever look at each other and go ‘you don’t look 18!’ - Especially Kenickie!
I took one more bite of my burger, but it had defeated me... I hated to prove that snooty blond right, but when she said 'She's never gonna' manage all that!' she was! But as much as it pained me to quit, I really had to and maybe the oatmeal would have been a better choice after all... Anyway back to the chat...
Have you heard the story that Olivia Newton John was sewn into her suit? She couldn’t go to the toilet or anything like that…
So was there any flirting on set?
I was kind of oblivious to a lot, I had a girlfriend at the time and there were googoo eyes being made between people on set but I would take off to my own world afterwards.
So there were no sordid stories…
We did see Jeff Conaway’s trailer rocking back and forth a couple of times, he had things going on with Susan Buckner [who played Patty Simcox].
But everybody else pretty much behaved themselves and we were all just good buddies.
It was great because there wasn’t any bad dynamics going on and as a result of that we could all just go to work and enjoy ourselves and have a good time."
So she was very humble, very willing to learn and we all made her feel at home.
I used to hop around like a kangaroo and say ‘Hey Liv, make you feel like you’re in Australia?’ and she would laugh and we all just got along very well. There were no divas, we didn’t go that way, there wasn’t a rotten egg in the bunch."
I saw some boys mucking about outside the diner, pulling each other's hair and teasing one another, just like some of my favourite comics... Ooh yes, didn't Barry and the boys do a three stooges skit in the film?
I wondered how long it took to rehearse? It was so slick!
Couple that with the fact that Randal Kleiser, the director, was also a HUGE Three Stooges fan, so we talked about trying to infuse it. I remember one day he came to me and said ‘I’ve gotten some shorts from Columbia to show you guys’ - because Michael wasn’t that familiar - and we sat and watched the shorts to get the flavour.
So then - the thing at the bonfire, the yip yip, brrrrrr, - we just put that together on the fly. We just came up with that ourselves."
That’s fantastic!! Oh, I love that little scene!
I really loved doing All Shook up, because that music is jukebox music. Hairspray was fun to do.
I played Fagin in Oliver! a couple of times also. The second time was particularly fabulous, [it was] at the Fulton Theatre, where I had my start back in 1959.
I’d love to play Thenardier in Les Mis…I’ve not done that."
Oooh yes, I love that...
Buuuurrrp... OOh that cheese burger was not sitting nicely... Oh no it wasn't...
Suddenly all the kids got up and started filing out of the diner, I checked my watch... Oh my goodness, I only had 10 minutes to get to school! I needed to get a shimmy on... Just time for one last question and as a hopeless romantic there was only one...
About three or four weeks into the principal photography, Alan Carr, may he rest in peace, came to us and said ‘We like what we see so much that Paramount wants to do a sequel. We’re going to call it Summer School, where you guys go to Summer School’. You’ll see, if you watch the end of the film, as soon as we come down to the carnival sequence in the last sequence of the film, we set up the conversation sequence and that notion.
We were all set to do it, but something happened with John and Olivia, they pulled out and then it became what it became.
In the meantime Didi had tried for years to get something done, she had the ear of Sherry Landsing, who at the time was a big mucky muck at Paramount, and we put together a bible- what they call a bible, for any project there’s always that list of stories and bios and such to basically tell the story, a treatment if you will...
What wound up happening is that Marty and Sonny get together and they open a pizza parlour. Doody and Paulette, from Grease 2, [played by Lorna Luff], get together and have kids and they all are going to school together.
One incarnation - because it went through several writers - had Frenchy and Kenickie getting together….and Zuko dying in a car accident because he became a race car driver…this was because to get John to do a sequel of Grease wasn’t going to happen….
But at the time there was a possibility but it swiftly went by. I didn’t give it much thought after that. I always suspected everybody went their separate ways, as we do in life...
Maybe Marty and Sonny getting together, I don’t know…if any couple could make make it it would have been either been Doody and Frenchy or Jan and Putzie…..'Cos Marty has this thing with Vince Fontaine which keeps Sonny out of the picture and you see Jan and Putzie wide eyed and gaga about each other. So, you know, I don’t know…."
Right, I really had to go now, I was so late, plus I really should have been in a great deal earlier than this, certainly before this lot... But atleast now I'd learnt who was who and who, I'd seen, first hand, the school pecking order and now knew exactly who the trouble makers were... And yes, those little madams in the corner were the first to be targetted...
Now, maybe it was Barry... or maybe it was the cheeseburger, but my nerves had calmed considerably - even if my heartburn hadn't - and I was quite looking forward to my first day now... Yes, I think being the principle of this particular school was going to be fun...