Tuesday, June 23, and Wednesday, June 24, Francis Ford Coppola will appear on PBS’ “Tavis Smiley” program in a two-part interview. The legendary filmmaker is coming out this month with new film, Tetro, his first original screenplay since The Conversation. Check local listings for show times. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/broadcast/.
On Tetro and The Godfather, Coppola tells Tavis:
“[Tetro] is sort of the second film of my second career. When I was younger, I wanted to write and direct films that were in the spirit and inspiration of the great filmmakers who inspired really all of my generation, they were from Europe, they were from Japan, they were from all over the world, and we wanted to be sort of like they were and do that. So when I started out, when I was in my twenties, I wrote several original screenplays, got to make one, but one that I wrote, I couldn’t get money no matter where I went, it was called The Conversation.”
“My young assistant at the time, George Lucas, was saying to me – I mean he wasn’t an assistant, he was like an associate - ‘Francis, we’ve got to make some money, we’re going broke here. You’re the only one who can get a job, so take a job and just do what they want and make some money.’ The job I was offered was The Godfather. So I did it and it changed my life, and I did get to make The Conversation, after The Godfather of course. “
On the Making of Apocalypse Now:
“Nobody would give me, even after all those Oscars, and having won many awards, and made two Godfather pictures, nobody would let me make Apocalypse Now. So I basically put up my home, which happened to be a beautiful Napa Valley estate, and everything else, by the way, not just my home, in order to make the film. And so not only was I frightened by what I had gotten myself into creatively, I also knew that the 200 days of shooting that was mounting up, I owed so it was going to wipe me out, and I was very frightened.”
The son of composer and musician Carmine Coppola, Francis was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up mostly in New York. After earning his B.A. in theater arts in 1959, he enrolled in UCLA for graduate work in film. He won the annual Samuel Goldwyn Award for the best screenplay (Pilma, Pilma) written by a UCLA student, Seven Arts hired Coppola to adapt the late Carson McCullers' novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, as a vehicle for Marlon Brando (who was to star for Coppola later, in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now). In 1969 Coppola and George Lucas established American Zoetrope, an independent film production company based in San Francisco. The establishment of American Zoetrope created opportunities for other filmmakers, including Lucas, John Milius, Carroll Ballard and John Korty. In 1971 Coppola's film, The Godfather, became one of the highest-grossing movies in history, and brought him an Oscar for writing the screenplay with Mario Puzo. Apocalypse Now, another signature Coppola film won a Golden Palm Award from the Cannes Film Festival and two Academy Awards. In 1983, Coppola was forced to sell his beloved Zoetrope Studio. While some in the film industry predicted the end of Coppola's career, he began his comeback immediately with a startling variety of films, many highly commercial, including Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Peggy Sue Got Married, Gardens of Stone, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Jack. With the release of The Godfather III in 1990, his professional vindication was complete. Today, Francis Ford Coppola continues to direct films and is also the proprietor of a highly successful winery in California's Napa Valley, and a mountain resort in Belize.
About TAVIS SMILEY on PBS
TAVIS SMILEY is a unique hybrid of news, issues and entertainment, featuring interviews with politicians, entertainers, athletes, authors and other newsmakers. Tavis Smiley was recently named to TIME’s list of 100 “Most Influential People in the World.”
TAVIS SMILEY is produced by The Smiley Group, Inc./TS Media, Inc. in association with KCET/Los Angeles. Major funding is provided by Wal-Mart and Nationwide Insurance. Additional support comes from PBS.
The 30-minute program airs weeknights on PBS. To get local listings and to watch past episodes, please visit: www.pbs.org/tavis