January 31, 2023

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How David Crosby made an apocalyptic hippie movie circa 1971

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David Crosby, the legendary musician who died Thursday at age 81, grew up in the entertainment industry. His father, Floyd Crosby, was a prominent cinematographer with credits ranging from “High Noon” and “From Here to Eternity” to “Beach Blanket Bingo” and the TV series “Maverick.”

For years David Crosby had ambitions to make his own movies. One attempt came close to going in front of the cameras in 1971 – until United Artists gave Crosby an eleventh-hour ultimatum that didn’t sit well with his new manager at the time, David Geffen.

The working title of the movie was “Family”. Crosby signed a deal with UA to compose and write the score for the film, which was composed and directed by Crosby’s good friend Carl Gottlieb. Gottlieb made a splash as a screenwriter in 1975 when “Jaws” became a box office hit. At the beginning of my decade, Gottlieb and Crosby worked closely together on stories and screenplays that sounded period-appropriate.

“It was kind of a hippie idyll,” Gottlieb said diversity Vision for “Family”. “It was basically a dawn-to-dusk, group-eye view of a post-apocalyptic world where an extended family group is running. The group includes old people, young people, children and horses and all that stuff. It’s like a documentary about a world that doesn’t exist. was meant to be.”

Daily Variety, April 6, 1971

Reported in April 6, 1971, ed Daily variety, “The Family” was set to begin filming in May 1971 in Oregon. The greenlight for the production from UA was original, Gottlieb recalls, but then the hammer came down. UA asked Crosby to hold the publishing rights to his song as collateral against the movie budget. Geffen wisely advised his client to step aside.

“The studio wanted David to place his music for collateral. David Geffen, who had a real understanding of music publishing, said ‘No way we’re going to do it.’ So the movie was not made. We packed everything up and went on about our lives,” Gottlieb said.

Crosby and Gottlieb by then had an office in Los Angeles and were in pre-production, working on casting and costumes, etc. They never got to the stage of making offers to actors. Gottlieb still has the project’s script and other material in a drawer somewhere.

Gottlieb said Crosby “had a real vision of what he wanted the movie to be.” “We got paid for writing the script. We were all organizing ourselves for the production. But David wouldn’t mortgage his music.”

Gottlieb and Crosby first met in San Francisco in 1963, when Gottlieb was managing an improv comedy club and the Byrds were the street house band at a nightclub called the Peppermint Tree. They recorded “Mr. Tamborine Man,” a Bob Dylan tune destined to become the Byrds’ first hit, but it was never released.

Gottlieb and Crosby’s friendship lasted after the Byrds moved on to LA and stardom. Gottlieb worked with Crosby on two biopics, 1988’s “Long Time Gone” and 2006’s “Since.” Gottlieb interviewed dozens of people from Crosby’s past for the first book and credits the musician for being honest and introspective about his colorful life.

As a person, Crosby “was tough,” Gottlieb admitted. “He was always tough. Opinionated and firm in his opinions and defense of them. He was not easily compromised.”

The book “Long Time Gone” was an important project for Crosby after he was released from a Texas prison in 1986 after serving five months on drug and weapons charges. Gottlieb was one of the few people to see Crosby while he was in prison, which had a profound effect on the musician’s life.

“Crosby wanted to wait until he was sober for a year before writing about it,” Gottlieb said.

Crosby addressed the sober and portrayed him as someone who saw the negative side of drugs and alcohol in his cameo appearances on “The Simpsons” in 1993 and 1996. “He was easy to manage,” recalls “Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean. “He came in and hit his marks. We were all such big fans of (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). When we knew we needed someone to be a fun host at the Grammys (episode), we thought of him.”

In addition to collaborating on biopics, Crosby and Gottlieb also pitched ideas for other film projects over the years. But nothing quite got off the ground like “Family.”

“We have collaborated on a few other projects. We worked well together,” Gottlieb said. “We had a picture we wrote together about a World War II German submarine that had been hidden in South America since 1945. Greenpeace figured it out and used submarines to fight whales.”

Gottlieb and Crosby have remained in close contact over the years, most recently speaking about a month ago. Although Crosby was notoriously controversial, Gottlieb said he was A loyal and generous friend who becomes more comfortable in his own skin as his life goes on.

“He was self-effacing to a fault. He could make jokes about being fat and gray and old and getting old,” Gottlieb said. “But his voice was this miracle that never changed. His voice was the one constant in his life… I’d say he was the Pavarotti of rock ‘n’ roll. became because he had such a powerful tenor voice.”

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