by Doug Sutton
Andy, Jeff, Larry, Anne & I were invited to attend the Paley Center’s (original Museum of Broadcast) presentation of the reading of “The Masks” by Lucie Arnaz, her husband, Laurence Luckinbill, their daughter Katharine (yes two ‘a’s), and Fritz Weaver from the original TZ episode “The Obsolete Man”.
Check out the following link: http://www.paleycenter.org/fall-2009-a-celebrity-staged-reading-of-the-twilight-zone-the-masks/ .
I have never attended a reading with actors of this caliber and all I can say is that it could easily compete with the actual episode. As the director, Antony Marsellis said to me before it started, ” Not only will you hear her father’s voice (there were two instances where they played excerpts) but, you will hear his words.” And hear his words we did!
When it began, Anne thought Lucie, whose face was twitching and hands were shaking, was trying to control her nerves. Turns out that ALL seven actors’ demeanors and facial expressions were transforming them into their respective characters and there was never a need for any props, including masks.
The audience (150 +/-) was transfixed by both the performance and the words which, with only the visuals of the actors’ expressions and limited body motions, made it so very clear how powerful they truly are.
Fritz Weaver is beyond eloquent and his attention to and enunciation of every word put him so far above the original portrayal that you would have thought that the part was written for him alone.
After the reading, they brought Anne and the director on stage and there was a Q&A session with one question allocated to each actor and the director. This was followed by Anne giving a 13 minute reading from her upcoming memoir. Again, the audience was transfixed and to use a well worn expression, you could have heard a pin drop.
At the risk of sounding like a boastful husband, I have to say the reception of her reading was unbelievable. I was sitting in the front row center and watched the reactions of the actors and director. To my knowledge not one of them once took their attention off of her. I have never witnessed the intensity of such concentration by a group of people, let alone those with such established reputations.
I saw heads nodding as they identified with her words, Lucie Arnaz visibly moved, and a director with eyes closed listening intently who would later say to her, “I saw everything you read.” and then asked her if she had written any plays as he would like to read them.
Responding that she had not, he encouraged her to do so. This was the end of the public presentation and as we prepared to leave Anne was detained by audience members wanting to meet her and comment on how they enjoyed her reading, the actors had managed to get away through a side door.
Following the presentation we had all been invited to a private dinner (PaleyAfterDark with about 50 people) where Andy gave a talk about the Foundation; Larry talked about the 5th Grade Program and his Video Festival; Fritz Weaver talked about working with Rod and thanked Anne for sharing her poignant writing & memories with all; and Anne shared her father’s quote about his writing being momentarily adequate and thanked the Paley Center and all the participants for so honoring her father.
When she said that she wished her father could have been there, the resounding response was that he was. As the evening came to an end and people were saying their good byes, Lucie left Anne hugging her and saying,” You have a gift.”
As her husband of more than a quarter of a century, I was impressed to see Anne, a traditionally quite shy and reserved individual, walk into the greenroom before the presentation to be greeted by Lucie Arnaz saying, “Isn’t this amazing, the next generation keeping alive the legacy of our parents.”
Even more impressive was her poise while reading and answering audience questions and mingling with the dinner guests. But what amazed me most was the way her reading transformed peoples opinion of her and how by the end of the evening she had transitioned from child of a celebrity to being accepted as a peer among such highly accredited people. It was nothing short of astounding.