“‘I’d sung in a choir when I was 12,’ Robin chirps…”
Assuming that any periodical dated October probably hit the stands in September, here’s a British magazine devoting an entire page to Robin, a month before Times Square’s premiere, and four months before it would open in the UK.
The article is the second half of a two-page spread entitled “Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music.” The first arrival is Hazel O’Connor, whose film Breaking Glass opens on September 21st according to an ad on page 41 (another reason to think the magazine was out before then).
The photo of Robin that accompanies the article is this one, which I believe to have been taken by Mick Rock at the same session that produced the shot appearing on the back cover of the soundtrack album. The photo on the magazine’s contents page is also from that same session. This may have been the only time they saw print.
The article isn’t attributed to any author. I can’t speak to the Hazel O’Connor portion, but the Robin half was composed entirely through clever editing of the press materials we’ve already seen, to make it look like an original interview. Here’s the text as it appears in the article; compare it with Robin’s bio in the Press Kit. (Robin doesn’t “chirp” in the Press Kit.)
THE NEW WAVE OF MUSIC
America’s ROBIN JOHNSON in ‘Times Square’
R08IN JOHNSON also plays a rock star in a film bursting with New Wave sounds, this time an American film — the forthcoming Times Square — but unlike Hazel O’Connor (see opposite) Robin is still only in her mid-teens.
Director Allan Moyle, formerly an actor in films like Joe, Outrageous! and Montreal Main, searched high and low for his young star. With the assistance of an army of talent scouts, Moyle went to youth centres and punk clubs and even placed advertisements in newspapers in the hope of finding his leading lady.
A prospector finally spotted 15-year-old Robin smoking a sly cigarette on the steps of Brooklyn’s Technological High School. Despite the absence of any formal theatrical training — “I’d sung in a choir when I was 12” Robin chirps — Moyle signed her up immediately for the demanding role of Nicky Marotta, a 15-year-old street “delinquent” who dreams of becoming a rock star.
“We were looking for someone who was Nicky,” Allan Moyle explains, “but Robin’s definitely not that doomed child. Luckily for the picture she’s brought a lot more humour to the character than I had originally envisioned. Robin’s youthful innocence and energy buoy what might have been too much of a downer.”
Times Square, the first of four New York-based, multi-million dollar films to be produced by Robert Stigwood — already laughing all the way to the bank with Grease and Saturday Night Fever — is a contemporary drama about two very opposite youngsters yearning for the same dream: success at the top of the rock ‘n’ roll ladder. With a strong musical soundtrack performed by the likes of Patti Smith, Talking Heads and Tom Petty, Times Square takes over where Fame left off. and with a budget of $5½ million is the first New Wave-influenced film backed by a major studio.
“I was standing on the stoop at Brooklyn’s Technological High,” Robin recalls, “when a man gave me this card and said to call the number if I was interested in being in a movie. Well I just thought ‘Oh. another wise guy’, but gave it a shot.” The part of Nicky, a rebellious and spunky runaway, turned out to be a tougher role than young Miss Johnson had envisaged, calling for an intensive programme of voice lessons, singing tutorial and dance and movement classes, as well as performing on the roof of a 42nd Street theatre marquee, getting dumped in the polluted waters of the Hudson River (in December!) and having to chew a mouthfull of roses. “That was pretty disgusting. I’d never tasted flowers before,” Robin scowls.
Robin Johnson is a pretty girl displaying a keen sense of fun, as well as being both witty and talented. She also took to the rigours of film-making like a true professional.
But films aren’t the beginning and end-all of Robin’s life. “I hope Times Square does well, but it’s not the answer to my life, though I loved meeting and working with so many wonderful people. And I’d like to work with Allan again.” Let’s hope for our sakes that Times Square is the success Robin deserves.
Times Square is an EMI film co-starring Tim Curry as an all-night disc jockey and Trini Alvarado (from Robert Altman’s Rich Kids) as the timid 12-year-old whom Robin befriends.
I think that was the final mention of Tom Petty’s association with the movie.
Film Review was published by EMI Cinemas Ltd. Times Square was an EMI film in the UK, so perhaps it’s not surprising that their magazine would create an article from their own publicity materials. That’s what they’re for, after all.
Finally, here’s a better look at the photo from the contents page:
Karen (DefeatedandGifted) wrote about this article in October 2011.
UK EMI Cinemas Ltd.; 29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p1_1080px.jpg (cover)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p3_1080px.jpg (contents)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p3_detail2_1080px.jpg (detail of contents page)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p8_1080px.jpg (“Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music”)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p9_1080px.jpg (“Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music”)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p41_1080px.jpg (ad for Breaking Glass)
1080 px (H), 96 dpi (images)