Turner Classic Movies debuts The Plot Thickens podcast. Host Ben Mankiewicz sits with iconic, controversial director Peter Bogdanovich to talk hilarious yet shocking meteoric rise, tragic losses and bouncing back from becoming Hollywood’s pariah

Written by: Tami Goveia – May 14th, 2020 12:04pm pst

PTN Loves TCM’s The Plot Thickens Podcast

In season one of Turner Classic Movies debut podcast, The Plot Thickens, host Ben Mankiewicz sits down with Peter Bogdanovich, groundbreaking director of The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc? and Paper Moon. A raconteur, a non-conformist, and a Renaissance Man, Peter Bogdanovich’s story of success, triumph, failure and tragedy are echoed in his sharp and sometimes wistful career recollections of Hollywood from the late 1960’s into the 21st century.

Below are 3 Takeaways from Episode 3: Cybill 

# 1: Sometimes life has to knock you over the head before you get it

How did the idea of the greatest film in Peter Bogdanovich’s career come to pass? According to Ben Mankiewicz it was a random moment in a store while he was shopping for toothpaste.  Peter Bogdanovich says:  “I saw that paperback in a drugstore and it said The Last Picture Show and I picked it up and I thought ‘sounds like a movie I ought to direct’  I looked on the back and it said “Teenagers in Texas. I said ‘I don’t give a shit about teenagers in texas.’ I put it back.” A few weeks later, actor Sal Mineo (Rebel Without A Cause) comes over to his house with the paperback suggesting he should do the film version of it. Peter takes the book and tosses it into a corner.  Can you guess what happened next? Sometime later, a producer friend suggests he make a movie out of The Last Picture Show. FINALLY, Peter gives the book to his wife, Polly, to read. Peter says,  “she reads it and says ‘it’s a very good book. But I don’t know how you’d make it as a picture.’ That was the key line..” The gauntlet had been thrown down and Peter was out to make the impossible possible. 

# 2: Meeting a legend in your industry raises the bar in your work: Listen to their wisdom

Peter Bogdanovich made his first film, Targets (thanks to Roger Corman) in 1968. After the film was released he received a call from Orson Welles.  Orson had read the piece Peter had done on him for the Museum of Modern Art 7 years earlier. Now, he’d seen Targets and wanted to meet Peter. At the Beverly Hills Hotel, Polo Lounge, they talked about Peter’s writing which resulted in agreeing to write Orson’s memoir “that he hoped would set the record straight.” Over the years they would meet often (and lived together along with Cybill Shepherd) to work on the memoir.  Peter would call his mentor for film advice. When Peter was having trouble with the look of The Last Picture Show Orson told him he’d never get the feel he was after with color. The film should be shot in black and white. That changed everything. As did the final major decision to be made; Who should play the lead role of Jasey Farrow. That would be 20 year old model Cybill Shepherd.

Credit Glamour Magazine

# 3: The course of true love never did run smooth

Peter had seen Cybill Shepherd on the cover of Glamour magazine and decided to take a meeting with her. She’d never acted, wasn’t interested in acting but liked the story. Peter never officially auditioned her, just watched her and knew she WAS Jasey. Peter’s wife, Polly, agreed. Polly was quoted as saying about Cybill: “She also had what I called a sexual chip on her shoulder, as if she was daring you to try anything and I thought that was incredibly..what made her so perfect for the part. She just seemed perfect and that’s Jasey. And there is one in everybody’s life, I believe…she is that girl who seems to have it all.” The building tension and turmoil simmering in the script was boiling over in real life. Peter said: “I fell in love with Cybill Shepherd on Picture Show and Polly was there, it was a mess…my marriage broke up, my father died, I fell in love with Cybill, all that happened while we were shooting this picture in 10 weeks.” Ben Mankiewicz sat down with Cybill for this podcast and she makes it clear she’d had lovers before, however, Peter was the first great love of her life. The film would garnish 6 academy award nominations and 2 wins, one for Cloris Leachman for best supporting actress and one for Ben Johnson for best supporting actor. Exalted by News Week, “The Last Picture Show is not only the best film in a rather dreary season it’s also the best american film by a young director since Citizen Kane.” Peter had been compared to his mentor. Orson was thrilled for his prodigy. And as for the affair between Peter and Cybill?  While everyone knew about the affair, including Polly, everyone also thought it would blow over after the film wrapped, including Peter and Cybill. It didn’t.  And what follows would come terrific ecstasy and enormous pain. 


If you love Peter Bogdanovich, Turner Classic Movies, and podcasts share this article with a friend, add The Plot Thickens to your podcast list, and visit popcorntalknetwork.com for more articles, videos and podcasts on all things movie talk.

About The Author:

Tami Goveia is a producer, writer and entertainment host for AfterbuzzTV. Classic film and television are her passion, napping is her indulgence and saving all rescues is her mission.

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