|True to Hollywood
"THE NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY” was an “overnight
success” that took a “lifetime” to be born.
When writer/producer MARIA GRIMM and director
CONRAD JANIS decided to begin their own production
company in 1984, they searched for the right script, the right stars
and most of all, the filmmaker’s “holy grail”,
Hundreds of meetings later, several false starts, a few chips off
of their lovely dream, they zeroed in on the ideal vehicle and placed
all their faith in "THE NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY",
a script inspired by the psychological action/thriller “Three
Days of the Condor”. To Maria Grimm, “Condor”
had been a perfect film, the kind that lulls you into a sense of
normalcy, then twists your soul by the flick of a madman’s
switch. From the producers’ point of view, “The November
Conspiracy” was another such film. To them, “Conspiracy”
was intelligent, commercial and topical. So, in February of 1994,
they began production.
Hollywood is an industry that is built on friendships or at least
acquaintanceships, and who better to share their first project with
than some very talented friends. The first on board was veteran
actor George Segal whom Conrad had known since
the early 60’s. Conrad had taught his brother Carroll
Janis how to play the banjo and Carroll had in turn taught
George. Through their mutual love of jazz music, Conrad and George
stayed in touch over the years.
After appearing together in “THE
DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FOX” they decided to
form “THE BEVERLY HILLS UNLISTED JAZZ BAND”,
a very successful musical group which toured the country, appeared
in countless television shows including over 30 appearances on “The
Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson plus Letterman,The Tonight
Show, Dinah Shore, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, The Today Show, GOOD
MORNING L.A., and countless International T.V appearances, and Specials,
including the Don Lane Show via Satellite to Australia, and Europe,
and hundreds of National Theatre and Concert Appearances, Conrad,
George and the Band played Eight Sold-Out
Performances at Carnegie Hall.
Both George and Conrad often spoke of working on another film together,
but little did Conrad know that the next time they would be on a
set together would be for Conrad’s directorial debut.
Next came Elliott Gould. Ever since they appeared
in Robert Altman’s “California Split”, George
Segal and Elliott Gould, two very good friends, had also been looking
for a vehicle they could work in together.
Conrad had known Elliott since their days on Broadway and as teammates
playing baseball for the “Broadway Show League”. It
seemed very natural to cast these two talented actors asking them
to ”play against type” which both George and Elliott
relished, and quickly accepted.
George Segal’s committed and sensitive portrayal of presidential
hopeful Michael “Beau” Ashton and Elliott Gould’s
humorous yet menacing interpretation of Vice Presidential candidate
George H. Kahn added another dimension to their illustrious careers.
The search for the right leading lady to star in "THE
NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY" was extensive and exhaustive
with many name actresses vying for the coveted role of Jenny - a
role that required myriad talents including beauty, intelligence
and athletic ability.
After months of casting for Jenny (and with a few extra white hairs
from the strain) and just three days away from the start date of
production, the lovely and talented PAIGE TURCO
was introduced to Maria and Conrad. Introduced, that is, by telephone
for Ms. Turco was in New York at the time. Simultaneously, Conrad
was flipping through the television channels when he caught sight
of this elegantly gamin charmer on a Kellogg’s ‘Special
K’ ad - Bingo, this too was Ms. Turco - only she wore an unforgettable
sexy little black dress while giving the impression of a 90’s
version of the legendary Audrey Hepburn. She was immediately cast
in the role of Jenny.
CONRAD JANIS as Frank Donaldsonn will forever
change the image he’s carried as the benign father in “Mork
and Mindy”. Doing double duty as co-star and director on "THE
NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY" was both exhausting and exhilarating
- and one of the hardest challenges of his versatile life.
At one point during production, while talking to buddy Dudley
Moore, Conrad semi-jokingly admonished him “to give
me a call if the directing bug ever strikes you...and I’ll
talk you out of it”. But the bug must have stung him harder
than he thought for Conrad will be directing MiraCon’s next
film “Riches to Ragtime”.
Dirk Benedict, actor and musician, is an avid
jazz enthusiast and had followed Conrad’s band for many years,
occasionally “sitting in” on the sessions. When Maria
had the idea for the musical television special “THIS
JOINT IS JUMPIN’”, starring Jack
Lemmon, Dudley Moore, and Bea Arthur among others, she
naturally invited Dirk to participate. He was thrilled to be included
in such a stellar group of actor/musicians and had such a great
time filming, that he made Maria and Conrad promise to call him
on any future projects.
So, on a handshake, Dirk’s services for "THE
NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY" were sealed.
BO HOPKINS and Maria had known each other for
years so that when writing "THE NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY",
Maria tailored the role of the crusty, tenacious police detective
, Captain Brogan for her longtime friend and exceptional actor Bo
As luck would have it, Bo was available and eager to join “L’esprit
du corps” which Maria and Conrad seemed to have inspired throughout
the making "THE NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY".
While starring in the series “MORK
AND MINDY”, Conrad noticed an actress on the
set who looked very familiar to him. He was thrilled to discover
it was VIRGINIA CAPERS, a powerful Broadway performer
whom he had seen in her Tony Award winning role in “Raisin”.
Approaching Virginia, Conrad introduced himself and raved about
seeing her performance in “Raisin”. Right then and there,
Conrad promised that they would work together again -- and Virginia
pledged her acceptance whenever that opportunity would arise, and
that opportunity came with the colorful and demanding role of “Mama”,
the head of a top secret government agency.
Long time admirers of the lovely and versatile Broadway and film
actress LOIS NETTLETON, Conrad and Maria were thrilled
to have her accept the pivotal role of Marion (AKA Pigeon). Lois,
a consummate actress brought the role to life down to the minutest
detail and added class, dignity and intelligence to the portrayal.
Having been an artist herself for many years, actress MARIA
GRIMM fell naturally into the feisty, eccentric and charismatic
role of Maria De La Luz Schultz. It was sometimes difficult to let
go of her producer’s hat when time was running out on a scene
and ‘the actress’ Maria needed more camera time, yet
her love and passion for filmmaking seemed to always strike the
right balance to benefit the film.
WARREN BERLINGER, a veteran of countless films,
television and Broadway show, joined the cast of "THE
NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY" at the recommendation of Elliott
Gould. Gould told him that because Conrad and Maria’s unorthodox,
somewhat “maverick” approach to filmmaking, being part
of their project was “De Riguer”. Warren graciously
agreed to jump in, and brought stature to his cameo performance
as Senator Curtis Lowell.
RICHARD KLINE in the role of Stan Jacobs, leavens
the otherwise insistent and unrelenting tension that permeates this
taut political thriller. His sharp acerbic humor and insight as
the editor of “Profiles in Power” was a haven for our
heroine Paige Turco.