Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic

Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic  (photo)

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In 1966, after The Beach Boys masterwork, “Pet Sounds,” the band planned to follow up their success with an album called “Smile.” But as so often happens complications arose and somewhere during the many recording sessions between the spring of ’66 and the summer of ’67, the band fell apart. The master tapes were shelved, and the record was never released. Though the band was destined to release many more albums afterward, that album plagued by disputes and Brian Wilson’s breakdown in ’67, never saw a proper release. Wilson eventually released his own critically acclaimed solo version, but in the legendary songwriter’s own words, the original 1966-’67 “Smile Sessions” just finally released after 44 years is perhaps more “interesting.”

I talked with Wilson, whom I was told loved Broadway musicals more than anything, and though that proved not to be wholly accurate, he certainly loves Gershwin more than anything. We talked about his favorites, an upcoming Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic, and how the 1965 film “The Monkey’s Uncle” blew him out.

Was some of the material on “Smile” too cryptic for the rest of the band at the time, too complex?

Right, complex is the word, yeah.

How does this compare to the solo version you released a few years back?

Well, a little more interesting, I think. It’s the makings of “Smile.” Sort of like the background view of what we did back then [in the 60’s].

You were inspired by Gershwin, and did that great re-imagining of his songs last year, which I thought was pretty fantastic. How have Broadway musicals influenced your own writing?

You know what? There are hardly any, not really at all.

Really, you didn’t find them to be much of an influence, even back in the day?

No, Tony Hatch I liked a lot, but, you know. I didn’t really go to musicals, hardly at all.

But Gershwin certainly inspired your songwriting.

Well George Gershwin was my big hero. Of course, yeah. I first heard Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue when I was 3 years old. Our song “Heroes and Villains” [on “Smile”] had a lot of Gershwin in it. He was the greatest.

Have you ever thought of film composing?

No, I haven’t. I can write songs, I’ve had songs in movies, but I can’t compose film scores, you know?

Were you happy with how your Disney album came out?

Yeah, we just finished it up, songs “In the key of Disney.” It had 12 songs on it, and I produced it and sang the leads. My background band played the instruments and sang background. It took us about 2 months to make it, it’s a great album. “When you Wish Upon a Star,” “Stay, Stay Awake Baby of Mine.” There’s so many beautiful tunes on there.

So not even that, those were all really film songs, that hasn’t sparked your interest in composing music for film?

Well, no, not really [laughs].

What’s your usual reaction to hearing the Beach Boys in a movie?

Well in “The Monkey’s Uncle?” It blew me out! I was so proud to be part of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon too, you know? I never really met Frankie Avalon, well I might have, but I can’t remember [laughter].

I hear there’s a film about you coming out, is that true?

That’s true. We don’t know when. We don’t know when but it’s in the makings now. We’re trying to get the script so it’s accurate and doesn’t, you know, say things that I didn’t do, you know. You know what I mean?

So you’re involved, kind of approving things?

Yeah, we’ve been doing that off and on for a couple of months now. As soon as the script’s done they’ll go ahead with the movie.

Is it going to be a broad Brian Wilson biopic or focus in on a particular time of The Beach Boys?

Both, both.

If you could inhabit a Gershwin tune, which would it be?

Oh, well, “Love Is Here to Stay.” And “I Loves You, Porgy,” “Summertime”, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Those 5 are my favorite.

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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