Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Drew Barrymore in GREY GARDENS

I don't know about you, but I'm more excited and thrilled about this than probably I should be. GREY GARDENS has gone from a cult documentary to a Broadway musical and is now making it's its way onto to big HDTV screen care-of HBO and Drew Barrymore.  

April 18th is the premiere of the narrative feature GREY GARDENS on HBO.  Oscar winner and Belle of the 1970's acting ball Jessica Lange costars with Barrymore as the nutjob mother/daughter team.

If you've never heard of GREY GARDENS, well, how dare you call yourself gay! You're off the hook if you're from a younger generation and lesbian or bi, I guess. Anyway, a documentary was made in 1975 by two brothers about some obscure relatives of Jackie O living in squalor in the Hampton's.

I know, you're wondering, what's so fascinating about that? How could that spawn a musical and a feature? Well, unless you've seen it, you don't know what you're missing.

The documentary is both shocking and celebratory. Big Edie and Little Edie Beales enthusiastically welcomed a film crew into their home to shoot their lives - living in a dilapidated mansion, amongst stacks of garbage, hundreds of cats, a few raccoons and no power. Squalor is putting it lightly. Yet, the two seem to have a language all their own, and truly live in their own little world, which is as engaging as it is shocking.

The doc was an instant hit with gay men, and suddenly famous fashion designers were trying to emulate Little Edie's style! I know, it's just mind blogging, since she dressed in bits and pieces of a mosh-posh of old things, in what seems to a lesbian eye to not go together AT ALL. Also, Little Edie's particular vernacular of Northeastern upper crust mixed with insanity, was on gay men's lips for decades. "This is the best outfit for today!"

The Beales had been part of high society, but decades later the documentary found them living in poverty and filth. The brother Mayles took their cameras out there after an article in the New York Times exposed the Beales' fight with city hall to avoid having their 20 room mansion marked as condemned. The doc first gained attention because of their relation to Jackie O (who even financially bailed them out once), but later got it's own legs just based on the raw compelling nature of these women and how they were living out their years.

Anyway, I can't wait to see if Barrymore nails Little Edie's accent and mannerisms!

Here's a trailer for the original film.

And here's a clip from the Broadway musical:

1 comment:


The HBO film, starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lang is certainly a perfect tribute to both the original documentary and these two wonderful woman.
I was told right after filming of the HBO film wrapped up in the fall of 2007, that I would be blown away at the last scene, where Edie sings Tea For Two at Reno Sweeny, and I was ! I had supplied the film company with the only recording in existence of Edie singing the tune, only this wasn't from her actual performance at the club, but rather her singing it just for me at one of my many visits to Grey Gardens, more than 30 years ago. Drew sang it exactly, phrase for phrase as I have it on tape. Edie and I actually met that night at Reno Sweeny, and my relationship with Grey Gardens has now spanned over 3 decades. For our complete review, check out our blog at (HBO film review by Robb Brawn & Lee Arboreen), and be sure to check our Youtube video uploaded 4/18/09 the same day as the HBO film release. Click
GREY GARDENS PROMO to view the video