Thursday, 31 December 2020

Be More John

Well, what was that?! 2020 was a rollercoaster, a couple of highs and a few more lows, but do you know what? We made it, and for that I am thankful. If you lost a loved one this year please accept my sincere condolences, I know how that feels and my heart is with you.  

I'm not making resolutions going into 2021, I'm just glad I'm still here, I'm glad you're still here, the world is still turning and at some stage, all this crazy pandemic will pass (it may pass like a kidney stone, but with vaccination in sight, it will pass). Well, I'm not doing resolutions, apart from one... Be More John. 

Be more John. 

I encourage us all to have a go at this one. Not just 'be more John' but be more like his characters too.

Be as sweet and respectful as John was to everyone, he would treat the CEO the same way as the janitor and rightly so. Towards the end of this year I needed some extra cash so I started cleaning schools - holy moly, I've seen some things, and some stuff... I wouldn't recommend it. It's hard work,  really hard, ball-breaking work and the money is low. Cleaners are presently trying to keep people safe, so never dismiss the work that they are doing and never think of them as 'just a cleaner', for they most certainly are not. They are students, parents, ex-managers, people who got out of the rat race, or people who need the money (like struggling authors). Treat them with respect. Be more John. 

Go with the flow. Just like Del Griffith (Gawd bless him), advising Neal Page that he simply 'goes with the flow', because life is easier like that. That odd couple met many of the same situations with different attitudes, Del went with the flow and his life was more full of love and laughs, he was like Dickens' three ghosts of past, present and future, he haunted Neal until Neal saw the light. On top of that, like yourself. Be more Del. 

Dance and sing, it's free and you can do it at home. Uncle Buck sure knew how to cook (or not) and had a lot of fun doing it, singing and dancing around the kitchen whilst he was cooking up garbage, it's a hell of a way to wake up in the morning and it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Be more Buck. 

Just like Barf in Spaceballs, half man half dog, he was his own best friend, in these unprecedented times we all need to look after ourselves like we are our own best friend. Be more Barf. 

I could carry on, we could be here all night, but I think you get the picture. 

However shitty 2020 was I bet there are some diamonds in the dust, even if it was that you just got through. For me, one of my highlights was releasing Those Aren't Pillows in November, a Fan's Guide to Planes, Trains and Automobiles that I'm really proud of. If you fancy cheering yourself up, you may like to check it out, you'll find plenty of cast stories, cut scenes and trivia. 

So bring on 2021, let's rejoice in what we can. I really appreciate your support this year and I'm sending you a lot of love as always, 

Happy New Year!

Be More John, 

Tracey xx

PS Maybe another resolution of mine should be to blog more? 



Saturday, 31 October 2020

Happy 70th Birthday Mr Candy - You Should Have Seen the Toast...

Happy 70th Birthday dear John, and Happy Halloween to all! (Let's face it, it just isn't Halloween without Candy). 

This year the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has also declared it's John Candy Day, which is the most fantastic news and so well deserved. #JohnCandyDay   
I mentioned last year, but I think it's worth repeating, that John loved Halloween more than he did his birthday, he could focus on others instead of himself and do what he loved, make people happy.  

I'm not sure what John would make of 2020, there is so much crazy stuff going on in the world at the moment, I think he would have worried about it but would have focused on those he could help. John once said, "As long as you can savour the humorous aspect of misery and misfortune, you can overcome anything" and in the main, I think that's true. For anyone struggling at the moment, please focus on yourselves and your loved ones. Focus on what you can control - not what you can't, remember that this too shall pass and look for the light because there will always be some, even if it's just a pinprick. 

John's films make for a great distraction, so it's worth locking the world out for a while and putting on one of your favourites. My goto movies are Only The Lonely, Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Great Outdoors and Cool Runnings, all these movies have a beautiful theme, it's okay to be flawed as long as you are kind, act with love,  life will find a way. I think that's a great ideology, especially when we increasingly seem to live our lives on social media, just remember you don't need to compare your life to other people's, what they show you are probably the edited highlights anyway, we can all win, we don't need to be in competition with each other, look at how much we love John for being himself on and off the screen. That's enough, and you are too. 

Please go and remember John today, make sure you go and watch that Candy movie, share that meme, reminisce about your favourite movie of his, send some love in his direction and I guarantee you, you will make others smile in the process.

John, I feel like this world needs you now more than ever. Luckily for us, we have a plethora of your work to keep you present. 

I'll be raising a rum and coke to you later, 

With love and thanks as always, 

Tracey x

Friday, 17 July 2020

Hercules may have been in New York, but John was in Toronto

There is an aged old debate that will crop up every now and then...

Someone on social media will state what they think is a 'rare John Candy fact' that goes something like this... "John Candy's first film role was in Hercules in New York".


I hate to give it to you straight, but usually, if I reply with "I'm so sorry you are wrong, it looks possibly like an older John, but it isn't" I get a barrage of abuse.

It's not John.

John was only twenty years of age when Hercules in New York came out in 1970. He was fresh-faced and apart from travelling to Buffalo in 1969 with his friend Jonathan O'Mara to apply for the Marines, John never left Canada until 1973 when he was accepted into Second City and went to train in Chicago. And I presume, if the title 'Hercules in New York' is anything to go by, the film was shot in New York? Just a guess.

John's first film appearance was actually The Class of '44 released in 1973, he played Pauly, only had a few seconds of screen time, but was thrilled to be involved.

So John may not have been in New York to film Hercules, however, he certainly was many times later on in his career, including filming the taxi scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Which links me nicely into my next story...

I was in New York at the end of last year. It was a complete whirlwind of a trip, I flew on a Sunday and was back in Blighty by the Tuesday! I've never been to the States before, the people were lovely, the sandwichs expensive, the pizza cheap. It was nearly Christmas, there were outdoor ice skating rings and Central Park is as lovely as you think it is.

In November I'd received an email from producer, Gideon Evans. Gideon was making a new documentary about John and wanted to pick my brains. He even asked at one stage if I would be up for an interview. I have been asked to take part in documentaries before, I turned those down, for me, I have to feel like the intention is right and I liked Gideon and where he was coming from an awful lot. So, of course, I'd be delighted to be interviewed, but seeing as he worked for NBC and was based in New York I really didn't think it would happen, just kind of a nice gesture from his side.

Days, weeks went by, I'd tried to not get my hopes up but I was still disappointed that it might not happen. Then I got the email, it arrived on a Wednesday I think, asking me to fly over that Sunday! Holy shit balls! Well, I'm not a good traveller, but I'm not passing up on that, I took Rhys as my Dumbo's Magic Feather.

Honestly, Gideon, his colleagues and NBC could not have treated us better - we had cars from the airport to a very fancy hotel, the day to look around, saw the streets where Steve Martin raced Kevin Bacon for a cab in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (before tripping over Del's trunk and losing another cab).

The following day we were chauffered to The Delamar Hotel, West Hartford, where filming would take place.  I even got to meet Valri Bromfield who I'd interviewed for Searching For Candy but never actually met previously, as she was just leaving the makeshift studio as I arrived.

Many other people I interviewed for the book are included in this new doc, including Juul Haalmeyer, Rob Salem, Dave Thomas, Rawle D Lewis and Jonathan O'Mara. It finally airs Sunday 26th July 2020 at 9pm ET on Reelz, John Candy: Behind Closed Doors. Apparently, I made the cut, so fingers crossed I've not made a fool of myself!

 As I'm in the UK I'm not sure when I'll actually get to watch it, so if you see it before me, please do drop me a line and let me know what you think. One thing is for sure, it will be filled with love and you'll probably need to get a tissue ready.

Much love to you all!

Stay safe and well,

Tracey xxxx

Monday, 6 July 2020

RIP Mr Reiner

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

A week today we lost a comedy legend, Mr Carl Reiner.

I was sad, I still am. I'm not sure I have the right to be, but I am, so there you go. I only interviewed Mr Reiner once, it was over the phone, he was lovely and his memory perfect. His hearing was the only thing that gave any clue that he was in his elder years, either that or it was my mousey voice, a bad line, or all three, but we muddled through.

Of course, I interviewed Mr Reiner about John Candy, they had worked together on Summer Rental in 1985. Candy, in his first real lead role, directed by Reiner, was a perfect combination. Believe it or not, the film was done and dusted in just three months with budget to spare - totally unheard of in Hollywood.

Reiner inspired Candy so much, not only was he working with a genius - the man behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, director of classics such as The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, he was also working with a true mensch and World War ll veteran. Reiner showed Candy the ropes of directing, so much so it was the first time Candy thought about directing for the screen himself (and he would, much later on with his directing debut, Hostage for a Day).
John Candy and Carl Reiner on the set of Summer Rental

When I spoke to Reiner, he said the first thing that struck him about Candy was how in love he was with his family. Then he commented, "When I heard he had died I couldn't believe it, he was so full of life, how could he be dead?" Well, I know Reiner was 98 years old, but I could hear myself saying that exact same phrase, I actually thought he was going to last forever. I guess the secret to a fulfilling life is happiness, love and laughter, Reiner had that in spades.

When I first tried to contact Mr Reiner for an interview I got nowhere, I tried every contact I could find, the only thing I didn't do was tweet him (he wasn't actually on twitter when I started my search - yes I looked on and off for two years). Then, just as I was about to give up I noticed he had joined Twitter and I sent him a tweet, "I'm writing a book about John Candy, please can I interview you?", no chance I thought, but at least I had exhausted all routes. Within five minutes I had a DM from Reiner himself, telling me to contact his assistant to arrange an interview. Holy shit!

Carl Reiner 
A tweet, a simple cheeky one-off tweet and I was going to be chatting to comedy royalty! Not only that, but Reiner's office also helped me get an interview with Reiner's best friend, Mr Mel Brooks! I hit the jackpot. By these two guys giving me a chance I was suddenly being taken more seriously, they didn't know me, and yet they helped me, I will be eternally grateful.

Just like John Candy, Carl Reiner will live forever.

My heart is with his family and his dear friend Mr Brooks.

RIP Carl and thanks, John will be thrilled to see you.

To you all,

I hope you are safe and well. These are some crazy times we are living through at the moment, be good to yourselves and each other.

With much love as always,
Tracey xx

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

26 Years and Counting

I'm always sad when the 4th March comes round again, it means another year without John on this planet, that clocks up to 26 so far. However, last weekend, Home Alone, Uncle Buck and Planes Trains and Automobiles were on TV and he seemed as present as ever.

John is still bringing love and laughter.

Sadly, over the last 12 months, we have also lost two wonderful people that I interviewed for the book. Caroll Spinney (aka Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) spread his yellow wings and flew off in December 2019, and my dear friend Patty Ferraro, who I interviewed about working on Only the Lonely passed away literally a month ago. Both, like John, leave a lasting legacy.

My hour with Caroll was pretty magical, aside from his John stories, he was so wise and sweet, he spoke to me in Big Bird's voice at one stage and I felt like I was five years old again. I told him of my disappointment that I had heard Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog were getting a divorce, without missing a beat he told me not to worry - "It was just a storyline"!

I found Patty and her sister, Marie, completely by chance, on an old Facebook thread where they were talking about working on Only the Lonely - I thought I would chance my luck and send them a message. It paid off. They gave me some great stories as well as their friendship. Patty was hilarious and would message me late at night (my time), give me commentary on the world, old stories from her time as a Chicago cop (those sisters really kicked some ass, true heroes) and counselled me many times. My heart is with her beloved sister Marie and daughter Ally. I will really miss Patty, she was a one-off, RIP my friend and thanks.

With regards to John, I hope he's caught up with both of them, I hope he doesn't mind me being so curious about him,  I'm pretty sure Patty will vouch for me.

So I guess on a sad day like today, we need to remember the love of those we have lost, be grateful that we had them and realise that living on and telling stories about them is part of their legacy, and ours.

Big love to you all
Orange Whip?

Tracey x