Wed., Feb. 19, 2003, 6:38pm PT
Army Archerd - senior columnist, Just for Variety, on 20.2.2003
"THE PIANIST'S" ( WLADYSLAW SZPILMAN'S) music lives on -- with lyrics in English. I spoke with his son Andrzej (46) by phone from Germany where he is readying the publication of his father's songbook in three weeks. He had written more than 500 songs -- some of which Andrzej says he discovered written "on little bits of paper in coffee bars." Wladyslaw died July 6, 2000, when Roman Polanski was preparing to film "The Pianist." The songbook, published by Boosey and Hawkes will include English lyrics by Larry John McNally, David Batteau and Arthur Schlosser and Oscar-nominated (theme from "Rocky") Carol Connors. Her songs are titled, "Handle With Care" and "Lost Inside My Dream." Connors has something in common with the Szpilman family -- her Polish grandmother's entire family was murdered in Treblinka. Carol met with Andrzej in Hollywood last month and he returns in March to discuss names to record his father's songs with the English lyrics. I asked Andrzej his opinion of the film. "I am very grateful to Roman Polanski. It (the film) is a monument to all victims of the holocaust." As for his opinion on Adrien Brody, who portrays his father, "It was a great performance of a character so familiar to me. He was warm, great and I was very moved by him." Andrzej was present during the filming, his 10-year-old son played a role. He says Polanski avoided any personal publicity -- did not even have photographers around during his pre-filming meetings with Wladyslaw … And now for those who want to confuse and confound Polanski's history with his filmmaking, I would like to recall the April 1997 "Polanski" article by Jill Robinson in Vanity Fair. She wrote "Early in February (1978) Howard W. Koch was in the bathroom at Hillcrest Country Club, when he overheard (Judge Laurence J.) Rittenband 'grandstand' about how he was going to put Polanski away 'for a hundred years … for the rest of his life'." Koch who was a well-respected member of the community, producer of many films, head of Paramount Studios, president of the Academy and a producer of Oscar shows, "called Polanski and told him to get out of town as fast as possible. Not long after, L.A. police reportedly found Polanski's Mercedes abandoned at LAX." I phoned Robinson (daughter of Dore Schary, mother of Jeremy Zimmer and author of eight books including "Star Country") in London to confirm the above. She did so emphatically, saying "That's exactly what Koch told me." Both Jill and I agreed if there was a guilty person in this case, it was the girl's mother … It is sad that justice was predisposed to be so harsh to someone who had already suffered so much and who continues to have so much to give.
Date in print: Thurs., Feb. 20, 2003