Garland Doc STAY ALL NIGHT Begins Pre-production 4/23
In advance of the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland's legendary performance at Carnegie Hall on April 23rd, 1961, director and co-writer Steven Lippman (aka FLIP), executive producers Rob Epstein (Howl, The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet) and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl, Common Threads) along with producer Mary Wharton (Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound) announce pre-production of the feature documentary Stay All Night. The film is told from the perspective of those who were in the audience at Carnegie Hall to create a picture of that day and evening in Manhattan and the experience of what is often described as "the greatest night in show business history." The landmark concert is a prism through which the film reflects upon the powerful bond between Garland and her audience, her lasting influence, life in New York City, and the promise of a new era. Though the performance was never filmed, the concert continues to command and inspire attention 50 years later as evidenced by James Kaplan's feature article "Over the Rainbow and Then Some!" in the May issue of Vanity Fair, in which Lippman is quoted. The documentary will make extensive use of the music from the best-selling, multiple Grammy Award®-winning recording of the concert, Judy at Carnegie Hall (Capitol Records), in addition to an original instrumental score by acclaimed musician and producer Joe Henry.
Stay All Night will not examine Garland's biography, but rather her artistry and will do so through the lens of a number of newly filmed first-hand accounts of the evening from diverse audience members, ranging from notable to lesser known attendees. Among the star-studded audience were many Broadway luminaries including Carol Channing, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Phyllis Newman, Harold Arlen and Kay Medford. Also there were Jerry Herman and Terrence McNally, both prior to making their respective imprints on theater history.
Lippman explains the project, "When you listen to the recording, you can't help but think, what must it have been like to be there? It's so alive and visceral. Garland is so connected to the people as a performer, and they to her. It feels so personal. By looking at this from the other side of the footlights, it allows the film to explore a mosaic of intimate tales and perspectives, not just of the experience of this legendary night, but also of a great city in a time of social change. These witnesses bring us closer to something we can only imagine being part of. Their memories are potent. Their own lives, compelling. In turn, we'll see something of ourselves in them, and how the times reflect back to us now. The connective threads all lead to Carnegie Hall and Judy Garland's heroic and legendary performance. Everything that night merged in a perfect unplanned combination - the artist, the audience, the concert hall, the city, and the era - and it still resonates today." The director has spent two years working with Emmy Award®-winning Garland historian, John Fricke, to research the project, and find the people who were there. Fricke will continue advising on the project throughout production. To evoke the city on the day and night of the performance, Stay All Night will make use of oral history and narration as well as archival, found, photographic, newly-shot environmental footage.
Marking his feature film debut, Steven Lippman (aka FLIP) will direct and co-write the film. His credits include a number of conceptual music films, videos and documentaries, including collaborations with David Bowie, Rosanne Cash, Laurie Anderson, Bette Midler and Carly Simon, and most recently Esperanza Spalding and UK sensation Rumer. His work has screened at film festivals worldwide, including Cannes, Berlin, London and Tribeca. Two-time Academy Award® winner Rob Epstein and Academy Award® winner Jeffrey Friedman of Telling Pictures, who most recently wrote, directed and produced Howl starring James Franco, will executive produce the project. Mary Wharton, who has directed and produced numerous music documentaries, including the Grammy Award® winning Sam Cooke: Legend and Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound for the PBS "American Masters" series, will produce the film.
A number of notable filmmakers, writers and musicians are currently attached to Stay All Night. Among his credits, Joe Henry has produced music for Todd Haynes' I'm Not There and scored Jesus' Son, Motherhood (starring Uma Thurman) and Judd Apatow's Knocked Up (in collaboration with Loudon Wainwright III). Additionally, Karen Bernstein (Body of War) is co-producing the project in association with Jaimie Mayer Phinney. David Teague (editor of Academy Award® nominee Sun Come Up, Academy Award® winner Freeheld) will cut the film; and three-time Obie Award winner Ain Gordon will co-write the film. Stay All Night is represented by Rosalind Lichter of The Law Firm of Rosalind Lichter.