Friday, December 30, 2016
Kevin Spacey and a Twist of Lemmon
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and I have something in common. Hollywood great Jack Lemmon, who was also a two-time Oscar winner, had a major influence on our career choices. For me, I was new in my first professional TV job. I booked the opportunity to interview Jack Lemmon in Chicago where he was promoting his film, TRIBUTE. During the interview, he was so impressed with a particular piece of research that I'd done that he said, "How did you know that?" He told me to stick around after the interview. Back then, it was rare to see black folks conducting entertainment interviews for TV. Jack Lemmon pulled me aside, complimented on my research and told me to consider doing more entertainment interviews in my TV work. Also, he felt that TV needed to see diversity in that area. I cherish the photo we took together and I am still grateful for Jack Lemmon's advice. I took it, by the way. Kevin Spacey also took Jack Lemmon's advice with sensational results. He got to work with Jack Lemmon on stage. Spacey's first Oscar win was in the Best Supporting Actor category for 1995's THE USUAL SUSPECTS. His next Oscar came in the Best Actor category for 1999's AMERICAN BEAUTY.
During the summer, I interviewed the two actors about this feature. I also got to talk to Kevin Spacey about his mentor, Jack Lemmon. He told me how a classic Lemmon performance was a huge inspiration when Spacey got one of his best screen roles.