First Look: Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock
BY Corey Scholibo
April 16 2009 12:00 AM ET
And one day he hears
that a neighboring town has thrown out some hippie music
festival. So he picks up the phone, he calls Woodstock
ventures, and goes, "Well, I've got a permit." And
half an hour later they land in a helicopter, look at the dump
of a motel and the swamp behind it, forget it. So then Elliot
is like, "Three miles up the road is our friend who's got
a farm, let's check it out." And three weeks later, half a
million people are there. It's this crazy story of this guy
who's kind of a bit of a schmuck, but a lovable one who happens
to pick up the phone and make one call, and one of the greatest
moments in the history of human culture ever happens. And in
the midst of all this, he's also finding himself, and really
coming to accept who he is as a gay man, and as somebody who
can finally come out from the under shadow of his parents. And
he literally, the last day of the concert, gets in his car and
drives to San Francisco. And that's the end of the story.
It's really lovely
to have a movie which, you know again, we always say this,
, you know, the floodgates of gay cinema in Hollywood were
supposed to open. And you know, it's like, "OK, let's
do it again with
." I think what's great about this is that you have a gay
hero, and it's just not really a problem. There was
something tragic in
, and you have the issue in
, but it is great to work on a movie in which it's like,
"What's the big problem?" He's going to be himself.
It's very sweet. His gay identity is part of the story, but at
the same time, so what!
Is that really the central focus of Elliot's book?
The thing is, his book is a memoir from when he's a baby to
basically the end of Woodstock. The movie, we're not filming
the life of one guy, we're doing Woodstock. In this case, it's
really the story of how one phone call from one guy sitting in
a motel in one little town in the Catskills triggered this
whole unexpected tsunami in the culture. And he's just this guy
who just happens to be at this place, and it's a wonderful
story of how it really does change his life. How Woodstock
helps him, and transforms him, and frees him from the situation
How did you get connected with the material and with
It's a hilarious story and not one that any writer should
necessarily take as an example. Ang [Lee] and I were in San
, and Ang was doing an early TV morning show, and the guy who
had done the interview before, promoting his book,
, was Elliot Tiber. And Elliot said, "Hey, you got to read
my book -- it'll make a great movie." And Ang took the
book and started reading it, and handed it to me, and I was
like, "This is the way to tell the Woodstock story, from
Elliot's perspective." Literally somebody was like,
"Read my book," and it worked. Elliot is a hoot. He's
a truly great character.
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