Entertainment Royalty, Producer Julian Schlossberg has just unveiled his soon to be best-selling memoir “Try Not to Hold it Against Me: A Producer’s Life.” He has rubbed elbows with, partied with, worked with, or interviewed legends including: Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda, George Burns, Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hope, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Willie Mays, Sandra Day O’Connor, George Bush, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Peter Falk, Elaine May, Barbra Streisand, Burt Reynolds, Alfred Hitchcock, Twiggy, and a cascade of others. He has even testified against the Beatles.
Recognized as the founder of one of the biggest indie production and distribution companies on the planet, Castle Hill Productions, Julian was responsible for putting out over 60 films, TV and theater creations. His book gives the world a behind the scenes view of Cannes, Las Vegas, and the wild work of a producer.
One of the coolest men on the planet, I had the honor and joy of having an intimate conversation with Julian as he disclosed the portions of his life within his manuscript. He has spent a lifetime dancing on the rim of a volcano surrounded by neon lights of orange lava shattering the darkness. Julian doesn’t let his past steal his future as he is currently working on producing a barrage of Broadway productions…..
“What we find in life is based on where we put our attention. When we focus on the small worlds our thoughts create, we miss out on the beauty and the possibilities we are meant to enjoy.” …. Guy Finley.
Congratulations on your new book, can you tell me a little bit about it?
I can tell you it’s called, “Try Not to Hold it Against Me: A Producer’s Life.”
It’s a story of a young kid, me, that starts out wanting to be in Show Business and ends up producing over 60 movies and plays. It’s kind of a memoir.
And why would I want to read that book? Why would the world want to read that book?
Well, let’s start with you. Because I’m desperate. Now the world, I’m not sure the world is ready for this book. I’m trying to explain my life but also to entertain and also trying to educate a bit. There is a whole group of kids who have no idea of the world I grew up in. I think some will be interested. It’s a world that will never come back again. So, it is very hard to explain one aspect of it. I can say for example, I grew up where a movie, a big movie, would play downtown Manhattan in one theater only sometimes for a year or two. So, if you wanted to see that movie in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx you had to go to Manhattan or wait a year. Just to give you a small example. We all know what streaming has done. Before streaming it was cable and before cable it was regular free TV. There is so much that’s happened in my lifetime, and I try to work through it historically and I’m trying to tell stories that happened to me, but also what was happening in the business at the time.
So, thinking back what is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you in the business?
Meeting you. It would be really hard to say I’ve got so many of them. I’ve also interviewed literally a thousand people in my life, so meeting President George H. W. Bush or Sandra Day O’Connor or Clint Eastwood and people like that or working with great, great names like Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Elia Kazan, so many great people it’s hard to choose. I’ve never had children, but I know if I say to a friend with four kids tell me come on you’ve got to have a favorite, he would say I don’t. You like them for one thing or another but not a favorite. And I guess it would be the same for me.
Okay, I will disregard that question and instead ask is there a moment that has changed the entire trajectory of your life?
Well first of all, you are clearly relentless. I grew up with Elia Kazan being the god of theater and film. If you think about it there are really very few people in our world that conquered both Motion Pictures and theater. You’ve got Arthur Penn, Orson Welles, Mike Nichols and Elia Kazan. There aren’t many that are hugely successful in both areas. I decided to look Elia Kazan up in the phone book. I don’t know what possessed me. That was in the 1960s and there he was listed under office, and I got his address and I waited outside until he came out. I wanted to talk to him, so I followed him home 20 some odd blocks and I came back the next day and I did the same thing. On the third day, we were at 49th and Broadway. His offices were at 46th and Broadway. On the third day he turned around and said who are you? What do you want? Why are you following me? And in true Ralph Kramden Honeymooners style, I went blah blah blah blah blah. Come down he said. Come talk to me. I want to know more about you. We walked three blocks down to his office and we started talking and it began a relationship.
He said, tell me what do you want? I said I just want to be around you. I want to learn from you. I don’t want any money I’ll just work with you. He said, well, there are hundreds of actors that are willing to do that. I said, well, I’m not an actor. He said, well then who are you? So, I started telling him a little of my background. And it ended up that he gave me two movies that he had just gotten back from Warner Brothers. A Face in the Crowd, and Baby Doll. And that’s how my career began really. And he was the first important man in Show Business to believe in me.
So aside from your book, what projects are you working on?
Well, I’m doing a play about Norman Mailer. It is an incredible play, and F. Murray Abraham will play Norman Mailer. It is all his writings, but in a play form. Every word that F. Murray says is written by Norman Mailer. But it’s the story of Mailer and his son, and a reporter played by Laila Robbins, who comes to us to talk about Norman to his son and we hear the three of them. It’s quite a lovely play. That’s one. I’m also working with Elaine May on other plays. We are doing a play and David Cromer is going to do it, he is a wonderful director. It’s called Mr. Gogol and Mr. Preen. And I’m working with Susan Stroman on a wonderful musical about Lerner and Loewe. Written by John Lahr. A former New Yorker critic. So I’ve got a lot of projects. I’ve got 14 projects right now.
So now you’re promoting your book and you’ve got so many projects…. do you still do movies?
No not really. I don’t want to live in Los Angeles. Not that you can’t do movies in New York, but as an independent to get a movie made you have to be pretty much in Los Angeles. But I’m not doing movies at this point. I’m doing theater.
The official website for Julian Schlossberg may be found here: