Went to Hollywood On A Mission from God...Had Lunch
by Mark Rabinowitz
I made it to the Hollywood Canteen just about on time and lo
and behold, I was the first to arrive...set to lunch with Jon
Cryer (writer, producer, star) and Richard Schenkman (director,
writer, producer) of "Went to Coney Island on a Mission From
God...Be Back By Five" -- Jon had already warned me that we
only had an hour for lunch as he's rehearsing his new FOX
sitcom ("Getting Personal").
The Hollywood Canteen looks very unassuming, but inside it
harkens back to 1945. Sitting on the patio looking for Richard
we passed the time talking about his TV show (very funny) and
where he's living (none of your damn business!) and how he hates
being referred to in the press as an L.A. actor when he's very much
a New Yorker. He also hates it when journalists use the word "duck"
in the title of an article about him...
Jon talked up the "amazing Chinese chicken salad" but settled
on a chicken burger, and I opted for risotto with shrimp. Richard
showed and we moved into chatting about the new film. Apparently
while they were in post production, there was a mishap with one
of the companies that was doing work on the film. It went out of
business mid-job, and the filmmakers had to stage a daring
midnight raid to rescue their tapes. "We thought we saved the
tapes," remarked Jon, "We went in and got (them) and were feeling all Mission Impossible and everything -- we get
out...the tapes are blank!" So we had to reconstruct everything,
"continued Jon. Richard added, "Luckily, the people who are working
with me on this new film ("October 22") are really wonderful, and
they gave us a fair price."
Very few people had seen the film as of our lunch date, so the
pair were sufficiently anxious. A few months ago I saw an Avid
dump on a small TV in Jon's New York apartment, and Jon
reminded me of this, laughing, "You're it." He continued, "If we all
die in a horrible wreck and the thing is destroyed you have to
carry the greatness of this movie!" "You'll have to describe it to
people," Richard interjected, "The great movie that no one ever
saw. Like the Beach Boys' 'Smile' album."
The film is not what you'd expect if you've seen their previous
effort, "The Pompatus of Love." Not a lot of twenty-somethings
philosophizing about life and love, but rather an uncompromising
look at relationships and commitment, and how we each deal with
them. Much of the film takes place on a very stark winter day at a
virtually empty Coney Island, with a pair of old high school friends
looking for a third who is apparently homeless and living near the
After Saturday's world premiere screening at the DGA, the
filmmakers provided hot dogs (chicken and turkey), Yoo-Hoo,
and Dr. Brown's Cel-Rey soda, all of which are featured in the
film. (After all, what's Coney Island without hot dogs?) The
screening went well, with most of the audience sticking around
for the Q&A. A few left the theater towards the end of the session,
hoping to get a jump on the hot dog line. For a change, no one asked
for the film's budget. Now I've got to go wash this damn mustard
off of my hands.
Folks have been asking Richard if the hot dogs were really from
Coney Island. His response? "Emotionally."