Filmstar, Vol 1 No. 3, Thailand, August 1981

Posted on 9th November 2018 in "Times Square"
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Cover of movie magazine from Thailand with article about TIMES SQUARE (1980)

 

 

 

By August 1981, Robin might already have figured out that neither she nor Andy Gibb were going to get a call telling them when to report to the Grease 2 set. Most of the world had already forgotten about Times Square. But it wasn’t quite over yet.

 

Thailand’s Filmstar magazine devoted four pages and the back cover to the upcoming release of Times Square. I tried and failed to get a professional translation of the article. Google Translate makes nearly as bad a hash of Thai as it does Japanese, but from what I can make out, this is a purely promotional article summarizing the plot, like the articles in Sonido No. 56 and Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2.

 

The caption and drawing on page 63, the first page of the article, are from the European movie poster, and the photo of Pammy and Nicky is TS-72-8A/14, the most-used photo of the girls together.

The image from the poster also appears on page 64, above UK Press Kit photo #4 of Tim Curry. The large photo of Robin, as far as I know, made its first appearance here. As she’s looking directly into the camera, I suspect it was taken at the same time as this pre-take shot, but since the background is cut out there’s just as good a chance it was taken at Pier 56.

The large image of Trini on page 65 looks to be from the same origin as that photo of Robin. Based on what I can make out of the lighting, I tend to think it’s from the outside location. It’s the only photo I’ve seen of Trini in that costume where she isn’t holding the boom box. The inset of the cops pushing Nicky into the back seat is another previously, and as far as I know, otherwise unpublished publicity still. The only matching shots in the film are from the opposite side of the car, and the film camera’s setup from this reverse angle is several feet to the left.

The shot of Robin as Nicky as Aggie Doone singing “Damn Dog” in the Cleo Club is yet another photo making its first appearance. But not its last… there’s a slightly better version yet to come.

So, amazingly, the Times Square publicity campaign was nearing its end, yet the places it was being published were being furnished with new material, despite it being highly unlikely that the local audiences would have seen any of the already-used photos. Unless, perhaps, the EMI/AFD publicity departments had decided that what they’d been doing was failing, and if they could only find the right photos, they could turn Times Square into a hit in the next country…

The back cover of Filmstar was a reproduction of the collage first published in Screen International No. 246 in June 1980 and used in February 1981 as the Australian movie poster, with the addition of Robin’s name in English. If there’s one thing all the local contemporary film publicity outlets agreed on, it’s that Robin herself was the most marketable aspect of the movie.
 

TIMES SQUARE Robin Johnson poster on the back cover of a movie magazine from Thailand

Posts mentioned above but not linked to:

Times Square Press Material folder (post 4 of 5)
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
On Location
Times Square Program Book, Japan, June 1981, pages 20-24 (post 4 of 5)
Times Square Australian Daybill

 

 

Times Square (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
Filmstar Vol. 1 No. 3, 15 August 1981, pp. 63-66 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
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Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

JUKE, No. 302, February 7, 1981

Posted on 16th October 2018 in "Times Square"
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Cover of an Australian music newspaper weekly containing several stories relating to TIMES SQUARE (1980)  Text:  JUKE  FEBRUARY 7, 1981  Issue No. 302  70 CENTS  "Registered for posting as Publication Category B"  TIMES SQUARE TO  CITY SQUARE  PLUS ROXY MUSIC SPECIALS  WILLIE NELSON  XTC TAYLOR/MANNING  SURFING  RUTS WILLIE NILE  IN CONCERT  Australian Crawl, Flowers, Midnight Oil, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Mondo Rock

The soundtrack album cover image on the cover of Australia’s Juke no. 302 is the only Robin content in the issue, but it’s still a remarkable piece of Times Square history. In Melbourne at least, PolyGram Records promoted the heck out of the film’s premiere for an entire weekend, and the magazine gave away posters and copies of the soundtrack. If there’s anybody reading this who remembers any of this happening, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.

 
Photo of Tim Curry in an Australian music newspaper weekly containing several stories relating to TIMES SQUARE (1980).  Caption:  In the “Times Square” movie, Tim Curry plays an all night disc jockey who gives his listeners a  running account of the two runaway girls’ progress.

BIG PUSH ON ‘TIMES SQUARE’
By Brian Jones

To promote the opening of the Times Square movie in Melbourne this week, PolyGram Records have come up with a unique idea.

To take Time Square to the city square. Over the weekend they hired out the huge video screen at the Melbourne city square where excerpts of the movie were flashed with lots of plugs for the double soundtrack LP and other PolyGram product. If you caught the screening, you’d have noticed that JUKE Magazine got its whack of plugging as well.

To celebrate the release of the movie, not to mention Roxy Music coming into Melbourne (certainly a big plus in their promotion as Roxy are featured on the soundtrack as well!) JUKE is this week giving away 12 copies of the soundtrack LP. Write to “Times Square” competition, care of this magazine, and tell us three of the artists on the LP, with your name and address on the back of the envelope.

And for Melbourne readers, the first 20 to waltz up to the Juke offices during business hours and ask for it gets a special colour poster.

The movie, which premiers on Feb 5, is about two runaways who end up at Times Square in New York, and is produced by Robert Stigwood.

In the “Times Square” movie, Tim Curry plays an all night disc jockey who gives his listeners a running account of the two runaway girls’ progress.

Pages 6, 7, and 13 contained articles on three of the bands with songs on the soundtrack, one of whom (Roxy Music) was playing in Melbourne that week — although the interview with Phil Manzanera had been conducted a week previous, while the band was still in England. The articles are all branded with a big Times Square logo (unique to this magazine), but make absolutely no references to the movie. I’m reproducing the text below because they’re a bit of a window into the world the movie was being released into, but they have nothing to do with Times Square, and even less to do with Robin Johnson.

And note that one of the articles in the magazine was written by “Betty Page,” and another by “Brian Jones.” I don’t know what to make of that.

TIMES SQUARE
XTC in NEW YORK
Betty Page finds them slaving for the Yankee dollar

Once big in trousers, now big in the States? Five minutes into New York and the taxi driver (always good for copy, dese guys) wants to know in his best Brooklynese “are dey like da Beatles?”

Funny he should say that! Here’s the city mourning not only a death but the fact that any Beatles reunion of any sort is over, and you have XTC who have similar characters — Terry Chambers like Ringo (whacky/moody), Colin Moulding is a Paul (pretty bassist), Andy Patridge is a John with pebble specs and aggressive humour and Dave Gregory is George, the strong silent type with a schoolboy’s face.

Four individuals, churning out pop song after commercial pop song, yet experiencing the ultimate frustration of being denied enormous popular acclaim, after so much hard grafting.

Due to some particular warped business logic, XTC have been touring constantly for 20 weeks (although Andy reckons they haven’t stopped since 1977!) the last half of which has been spent in the USA. This tour’s had its peaks and troughs but, with the backing of the big guns at RSO, Black Sea has launched into the Top 100 and a prestigious support for the Cars at Madison Square Gardens.

I arrived to find the boys a bit ruffled (they’d just seen the sleeve of their next single ‘‘Sgt. Rock” botched by the art department into a variation of Corporal Clot) and homesick for home in Swindon. They’d just been to New Orleans and recounted the constant sun, desert and cacti of Arizona, “we’d only seen them drawn in the Beano (a British comic book — ed) and I made up some cactus jokes especially. What’s the difference between a Scotsman and a cactus? At least you can get a drink out of a cactus!”

The show on Long Island was lacklustre. Their superb soundman Steve Warren had quit after an argument with their manager, and it showed. So too did tour exhaustion. There was so much cussing that even the groupies held back! Groupies haven’t been a XTC forte but, for a band that virtually celebrates its ase-xuality, they now attract a particular brand of predatory females.

Andy: “It’s getting worse. Some of them are real elephant dogs! Others just want to show you their portfolios. I’d rather take to my bed with my plastic tanks”.

XTC are clearly very tired. Despite that, they had to fly back to Britain in a few days to start another tour, and they angrily knocked back offers to do a visit to Scandinavia.

“It’s just piled up since ’77” Andy explained. “I refuse to do anything for at least a couple of months. I want to work on some singles, concentrate on that before the next album.”

The next day was concentrated on doing interviews — and the American press still seem preoccupied with Barry Andrews, who left two years ago, and refer to Dave Gregory as “the newcomer”.

Dave takes it all in good humour. He talks about his dreams and nightmare. His nightmare is to come out on stage on day, plug in and “sound like Ted Nugent”. The dream is to own as many perfectly formed guitars as possible — maybe form his own guitar harem with all of them wearing veils! He tells of the time when they did a tour with Police, and manager Copeland ticked off XTC for not giving everything onstage. The talk made them think; now they gyrate onstage.

Andy was lambasted for “not wearing a decent shirt”. Couldn’t he afford one?

“To be frank, no!”

Not even Sting’s cast-offs?

“No! (recoils in horror) I’m living in that man’s shadow. Been in a bloody coach with him for eight weeks. He nicked all my ideas in the first place. All three of the Police used to come down the Fulham Greyhound (pub) and watch us. He said his favourite song was ‘All Along The Watchtower’ so you can see where they’re coming from!”

The Police spectre looms large. When Police travel the world and play exotic places like Bombay and Cairo, they’re huge. When XTC play the same places then they’re just working hard. Could XTC have such a superhero? Men in backrooms have toyed with the idea of making a sex symbol out of Colin Mulding, trundling him forward more often and pinching some limelight from Andy.

But isn’t Colin too passive, isn’t it too late for a change of image into some sort of double-fronted Cheap Trick style combo?

According to Andy, it’s already started to happen. “I think he’s got a lot more teen appeal than I’ll ever have. I always thought I looked like a tortoise who’d just had his shell ripped off! He comes forward already; he sings the singles, it’s him on Top Of The Pops, not me. I think people associate Colin with singing the singles. A lot of people think he’s our lead singer, those that know our singles. There’s a split identity.”

XTC are having a series of hit singles including “General And Majors”, “Living Through Another Cuba” and “Towers Of London” continually increasing their hit records. In England they have a passionate following but really no image except for Patridge’s cynical persona. In America, they can be easily manipulated; in fact, because all five have such strong personalities, a TV series of films could catapault them into the big time. As yet, America hasn’t decided if they’re clever, banal or intriguing; so they just love them!

First night at Madison Square Gardens. Patridge is nervous and limits his onstage patter. But they go down well. “The next band on is the Cars — don’t be too hard on them”. After a record company guy comes over and ticks them off, in case the Cars feel insulted. Wha-a-t! Come on, oh well, tough shit.

So the struggle goes on. They’re confident that they’ll break through, it takes a bit of time. But at the moment they’re all very tired and very homesick.

Andy: “I just want to re-evaluate our whole position. It may turn out that we may never tour again, hahaha, what a scoop! We’ve been whoring our arses up and down the world too much, it’s obviously, not the way to do it.

“We want to try and be a little bit more exclusive. We were rather lukewarmly received at home last time. We’ll be even more knackered this time. We do need to recharge our batteries, new ideas, new approaches, this really is the end-of-a-long-piece-of-knotted-string tour, the frayed end …”

I’VE GOT ROXY IN MY HEAD
TIMES SQUARE
Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera Speaks to Vince Lovegrove

“If it weren’t for the Beatles I wouldn’t be playing music”, Phil Manzanera told me by phone one week before Roxy Music arrived in Australia.

“They were a great influence on all of us. You know, when you’re a certain age you really get excited by certain groups. But it’s a bummer about Lennon. A great tragedy. We’ve started doing a tribute to him. Sometimes we do “Jealous Guy”.

Manzanera had just rushed back to his hotel after a sellout concert in Manchester, England. The reason for the rush from the concert hall wasn’t to take my pre-arranged phone call, but to order some food before the hotel kitchen closed.

“It’s the typical rock scenario. Most hotel kitchens close early and then you can only order sandwiches. We have to get back from the gig in a hurry so that we can have a decent meal.

“New York’s different, of course. It’s a twenty four hour city. It’s a bit dangerous, but exciting and stimulating-for a short time”.

Phil Manzanera is an articulate, quietly spoken man … on a Manchester to Sydney telephone call, at least. Although I’m not a diehard Roxyite, I quite like the band, and found myself locked into Manzanera. In fact, as Bert Newton once said to Mohommad Ali, “I like the boy!”

I found his casual thoughts on rock’n’roll and life in general very honest and realistic. Not at all like rock’n’rollers whose conversations begins and ends with the ‘virtues’ of rock music.

In fact, from his early 1970 experimental days in Quiet Sun to his 1976 ‘one off’ album band 801, Manzanera has always seemed to me to be the one who has taken Roxy Music into the provocative areas of rock music. Obviously, Brian Eno added his eccentricity, but he has never really stayed within the confines of Roxy Music like Manzanera.

And it was Manzanera’s honesty that first told us about dissatisfaction within the group after their fourth album, Country Life.

And while it was Ferry who announced in 1976, that Roxy Music were about to enjoy a trial separation, it was Phil Manzanera who immediately rushed headlong into producing 801, ensuring that the genius of Brian Eno would finally be recognised outside the confines of Roxy Music.

“Actually, that was an incredible period. It made me realise just how much the business side of rock’n’roll can ruin the very essence of the music itself.

“It was the business side of it that stopped Roxy moving for three years.

“You get caught on this incredible momentum, that just doesn’t stop. You have to deliver an album, then go on tour to promote it, and by the time you’ve finished you’ve go to deliver another album. Consequently, you don’t get time to write any material.

“You get locked into a cocoon, getting transported around in an unreal world and just don’t get time to develop as a human being.

“We just had to stop the merry-go-round, get off and become human beings again”.

It was during that re-kindling period that Johnny Rotten spearheaded the movement that saved rock’n’roll from a pathetic, self indulgent, financially bloated, slow agonising death. And one of its staunchest supporters was Phil Manzanera.

“I think Johnny Rotten is a very interesting character. He has a great sense of humour. I admire him greatly.

“The entire punk movement was fantastic. It gave rock music a much needed kick in the arse. It provided heaps of enthusiasm, inspired amateurs and showed that anyone could start a group”.

In total contrast, it was the pure jazz/classical influences of English contemporary band Sky that smashed the snob inspired anti rock music feeling that once existed amongst highly trained, technical musicians.

“Rock isn’t about technical prowess, it’s about feel, “Manzanera enthused.

“Sky are great musos, and they smashed that anti rock snobbery”.

Did he know two members of Sky, Kevin Peak and John Williams were Australian?

“No, I didn’t”.

Roxy Music, during their ‘rest periods’ are quite a sporting bunch of fellas, and super whizz kid guitarist Phil Manzanera is no exception. He plays a lot of golf, tennis, and water skis when he can. That is, when he’s not spending time with his two dogs, two cats, several horses, or simply lounging around home with his pregnant wife listening to music.

And what sort of music would Phil Manzanera listen to?

“Well, I love UB40’s. They have great feel, fantastic lyrics, and memorable melodies. Then there’s Steely Dan — I love their new album. Bowie I like, Dire Straits, a band called Black Uhuru, and of course Talking Heads.

“But I think their latest album is more of an Eno album that a Heads set. They seem to have lost some of themselves, and given way to more of Brian”.

Well, I don’t know who’s going to pay for this bloody phone call. Maybe I should finish off.

After all, the group will be in Australia by the time I get off my backside and get it into Juke. And you can bet your last pair of safety pins that Roxy’s record company won’t pay for it. And I just KNOW the promoter won’t pay for it. I better finish. I’ll probably end up footing the bill again.

One last question, Phil. Is there anything special in Roxy Music’s staging this time around?

“As a matter of fact, there is. We have a very interesting stage set… not like anything else around at the moment. It’s electric in a mechanial sort of way. I won’t give it away, let me say that I still like looking at it after six months”.

LONDON CALLING
with Jillian Hughes
TIMES SQUARE
NO RUTS ABOUT IT

Very few bands are willing to carry on when their focal point leaves. When that person dies suddenly in an accident — or a heroin overdose as in the case of Malcolm Owen the lead singer of the Ruts — then it takes awhile to get over the shock.

But the Ruts, one of the original punk bands, came up trumps. Renaming themselves Ruts DC (DC stands for Da Capo which is Latin for “a new beginning”) they went back to their original audiences, tore them apart, and are now off to America to try their luck there. Meantime there’s also a new LP of old material called Grin and Bear It.

“Last summer was probably the worst time for us” says bassist Vince Segs, who has stepped in as their main vocalist. ‘‘We’ve always known that Malcolm was doing heroin. He also had problems with his throat, which just went on him. It was very frustrating for us, because we couldn’t work a lot of the time, and it was very frustrating for Malcolm, which is probably why he went back on the hard stuff again.

“The pressure was on us — everyone was aware that the kids out there wanted to hear us, but we were being held up. We started to drift apart.”

Right after Owen died, the Ruts came up with one of their best singles yet, ‘‘West One (Shine On Me)”. But partly because it was such a change from their rock-reggae, and partly because they made no appearances to promote it, the disc died. Then the Damned stepped in and took the three — the other two are drummer Dave Ruffy and guitarist Paul Fox — on tour with them, just to give them a helping hand. The Ruts re-discovered their audience, and found enough confidence to write new songs.

Grin and Bear It is seen by some as a shoddy cashing in on Malcolm’s death by their record company Virgin, well known for Sid Vicious/-Pistols re-issues.

“It is an album we put together for Malcolm’s memory, that’s all. We wanted it out, not the record company. We didn’t have enough studio material with Malcolm to make up an LP so we put in some live things. Some people say it’s a con because Ruts fans would have all the tracks.

“That’s not so. Fans wouldn’t have the live version of ‘Babylon’s Burning’ or the John Peel (radio) session recording of ‘Demolition Dancing’ — the LP’s not intended to tear about the charts, it’s just there for anyone who wants it. The album we aim for the charts is the one we start work on soon. If anything, we wanted to bring ‘Love in Vein’ back — it was hidden on the b-side of ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ the first time.”

Ruts DC are touring and recording with a sessions sax/keyboards player called Garry Barnacle who was on their first LP The Crack as well as Grin and Bear It.

 

 

Juke No. 302, February 7, 1981 (weekly (publication) (AAT ID: 300312030))
44 x 28 cm.;
Brian Jones, Big push on ‘Times Square’; p. 5
Betty Page, XTC in New York; p. 6
Vince Lovegrove, I’ve got Roxy in my head; p. 7
Jillian Hughes, No Ruts about it; p. 13 (works);
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©1981 Newspress Pty. Ltd.

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

SONIDO – la revista musical, No. 56, June 1981

Posted on 12th July 2018 in "Times Square"
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Mexican pop music magazine featuring article on TIMES SQUARE.  Text:  NUMERO 56  $30 00  SONIDO 'a musical  ROD STEWART THREE SOULS BEATLES DANGEROUS RHYTHM  ¡¡¡LA NUEVA EXPLOSION DEL ROCK PESADO¡¡¡

 

 

 

 

The June 1981 issue of the Mexican pop music magazine Sonido contained on pages 38 and 39 an article credited to “Vicco,” but which seems to be exactly the same kind of AFD/RSO-written publicity published in English in similar magazines a year before.

The article calls the film Times Square. It wasn’t released under that title in Mexico, though, as we shall see.

The accompanying photos are the ubiquitous TS-72-8A/14, TS-66-28/9, and TS-82-30[/4], all three of which were part of the US Press Material pack.

POR: vicco

TIMES SQUARE es un drama contemporáneo,con música estelarizada por los talentos de Tim Curry, cantante y actor británico que se dio a conocer con El show de terror de Rocky; Trini Alvarado, quien tuvo un importante papel en la película de Robert Altman Rich kids, y Robin Johnson, una actriz proveniente de Brooklin, muy dinámica y que canta también en su debut cinematográfico.

La película fue filmada en diversas locaciones de Nueva York, incluyendo el infame Deuce y es resaltada por veinte canciones originales ejemplificando algo de lo mejor del rock contemporáneo interpretadas por los más importantes artistas del momento, así como por las dos estrellas de la cinta, Robin Johnson y Trini Alvarado.

Times square retrata las desventuras de dos chiquillas rebeldonas, una proveniente de un ambiente sofisticado y, la otra, producto de las calles. Juntas desde el cuarto de un hospital neurológico comienzan una serie de bizarras escapadas y su comportamiento es reportado por un disc-jockey que trabaja toda la noche en una estación de radio y que las anima a seguir con sus trucos y logra convertirlas en celebridades menores de los medios. Ellas pasan sobre todas las autoridades llegando al climax en una escena sobre la marquesina del teatro Times Square con cientos de seguidores rindiendo su tributo.

Dicha cinta es una presentación de Robert Stigwood y fue producida por Stigwood y Jacob Brackman, dirigida por Alan Moyle, basada en una historia de Moyle y Leanne Unger. Kevin McCormick y John Nicollela son los productores ejecutivos y Bill Oakes es productor asociado.

LA MUSICA
En un momento en que la música de películas se encuentra entre los discos más populares y cuando ha sido entendida como un vehículo muy importante para la aceptación de una cinta, aparece un nuevo álbum doble en discos RSO con la música de la película Times square, uno de los más excitantes que han sido lanzados, pues no sólo captura el espíritu de la película, sino que es además una antología única de canciones interpretadas por los mejores artistas de rock del momento, tanto de Inglaterra como de Estados Unidos, incluyendo a Suzi Qautro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Patti Smith Group, XTC, The Cure, Lou Reed,The Ramones, The Ruts, David Johansen y muchos otros. ¡Es un álbum espectacular!

v

BY: vicco

TIMES SQUARE is a contemporary drama, with music, starring the talents of Tim Curry, singer and British actor who became known in The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Trini Alvarado, who had an important role in Robert Altman’s movie Rich Kids, and Robin Johnson, an actress from Brooklyn, very dynamic and who also sings in her film début.

The movie was filmed in diverse locations of New York, including the infamous Deuce, and it is highlighted by twenty original songs exemplifying some of the best contemporary rock performed by today’s most important artists, as well as by both stars of the film, Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado.

Times Square portrays the misfortunes of two little girl rebels, one from a sophisticated environment and, the other one, a product of the streets. Together from the room of a neurological hospital they begin a series of bizarre escapades and their behavior is reported by a disc-jockey who works the overnight on a radio station and who encourages them to continue with their tricks and manages to turn them into minor media celebrities. They get past all the authorities, arriving at the climax in a scene on the marquee of the Times Square theatre with hundreds of followers paying tribute.

This film is a Robert Stigwood presentation and it was produced by Stigwood and Jacob Brackman, directed by Alan Moyle, based on a story by Moyle and Leanne Unger. Kevin McCormick and John Nicollela are the executive producers and Bill Oakes is the associate producer.

THE MUSIC

At a time when movie soundtracks are among the most popular records and when they have been understood as a very important vehicle for the acceptance of a film, a new double album appears on RSO Records with the music of the movie Times Square, one of the most exciting to be released, since it not only captures the spirit of the movie, but it is also a unique collection of songs performed by today’s greatest rock artists, from both England and the United States, including Suzi Qautro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Patti Smith Group, XTC, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The Ruts, David Johansen and many others. It is a spectacular album!

v

 

 

vicco, “Cine-rock : Times Square” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
SONIDO la revista musical, No. 56, June 1981, pp. 38-39 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
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SONIDO la revista musical ©1981 Corporación Editorial, S.A.

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981

Posted on 30th June 2018 in "Times Square"
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Cover (p. 1) of Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981

Contents entry from Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, contents page (p. 3)  text:  47 TIMES SQUARE Adventures of two teenage girls (Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado) and all-night disc jockey Tim Curry who gives a boost to their dream of rock stardom.

Times Square probably hadn’t had its January 15th opening yet when the February issue of Film Review came out. Unlike the article in the previous month’s issue, this isn’t a review at all, but a promotional summary of the film, with the exception of the backhanded compliment that most of the movie’s appeal is in the casting of Robin and Trini.

Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, p. 47  text:  HARD TIMES  Times Square is a movie about youth. New York and rebellion — with a prominent soundtrack of New Wave music. Two girls, from totally opposite backgrounds, find themselves thrown together in the same private ward undergoing psychiatric tests. In spite of their initial incongruity, the girls find a common link in that they have both been misunderstood for most of their young lives. In retaliation they escape their remedial surroundings and disappear into the heart of the Big Apple.  Nicky Marotta, the stronger, older and more street-wise of the two girls, instils a rebelliousness into the weaker, 12-year-old Pamela Pearl, and together they form a united attack against everything Pamela's father, and the bourgeois in general, stand for. Not before long the daring duo earn a certain infamy following a series of amusing and some rather more destructive pranks, including pilfering on the one hand and the levering of television sets off the top of New York apartment blocks on the other. With the assistance of a sympathetic DJ, the girls also gain air time and a wider notoriety, and are even allowed to sing their protest songs over the radio.  If it hadn't been for the casting of 15-year-old newcomer Robin Johnson as Nicky and Trini Alvarado (who played the lead in Robert Altman's Rich Kids) as Pamela, the film might well have lost a lot of the appeal it has. Tim Curry completes the billing as the DJ up against more than he can handle, with Peter Coffield as Pamela's short-sighted father.  Times Square is an EMI release and was directed by Alan Moyle, with songs by The Pretenders, Lou Reed, Suzi Quatro, Robin Johnson, and many others.  Times Square can also lay claim to being the first major release to present a look at New Wave music.  Tim Curry as the late-night DJ Robin Johnson as the rebellious Nicky Trini Alvarado as the introverted Pamela

HARD TIMES

Times Square is a movie about youth. New York and rebellion — with a prominent soundtrack of New Wave music. Two girls, from totally opposite backgrounds, find themselves thrown together in the same private ward undergoing psychiatric tests. In spite of their initial incongruity, the girls find a common link in that they have both been misunderstood for most of their young lives. In retaliation they escape their remedial surroundings and disappear into the heart of the Big Apple.

Nicky Marotta, the stronger, older and more street-wise of the two girls, instils a rebelliousness into the weaker, 12-year-old Pamela Pearl, and together they form a united attack against everything Pamela’s father, and the bourgeois in general, stand for. Not before long the daring duo earn a certain infamy following a series of amusing and some rather more destructive pranks, including pilfering on the one hand and the levering of television sets off the top of New York apartment blocks on the other. With the assistance of a sympathetic DJ, the girls also gain air time and a wider notoriety, and are even allowed to sing their protest songs over the radio.

If it hadn’t been for the casting of 15-year-old newcomer Robin Johnson as Nicky and Trini Alvarado (who played the lead in Robert Altman’s Rich Kids) as Pamela, the film might well have lost a lot of the appeal it has. Tim Curry completes the billing as the DJ up against more than he can handle, with Peter Coffield as Pamela’s short-sighted father.

Times Square is an EMI release and was directed by Alan Moyle, with songs by The Pretenders, Lou Reed, Suzi Quatro, Robin Johnson, and many others.

Times Square can also lay claim to being the first major release to present a look at New Wave music.

Tim Curry’s photo is UK Press Kit photo #4, which had been previously published in Mediascene Prevue Vol. 2 No. 2, Sept.-Oct. 1980, and The Aquarian, April 23-April 30 1980. Robin’s is TS-57-26/1 from the US Press Material folder, which was used for both the soundtrack album cover and the North American movie posters, and published, oh, lots of places previously. Seriously, I’m sure I’ve already listed them somewhere. Maybe next time it turns up I’ll do another reassessment, but not today.

The unusually sultry photo of Trini, however, hasn’t appeared anywhere else, as far as I know.

 

Why did I say earlier that the movie hadn’t opened yet? Because there was an ad announcing its opening on page 10.

TIMES SQUARE movie advertisement, from Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, p. 10

This is the exact same ad I posted on December 7, 2016. Yes, we now know that someone cut up a copy of this magazine and sold the pieces, and yep, I bought one. It’s a shame that these artifacts tend to be worth more sold by the half-page, but here we are.

 

(Yeah, this post should have gone up over a year ago, probably between Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113 and Movie 81 No. 2. I had everything ready to go, and somehow accidentally passed over it. Well, here it is now.)

 

The previous posts mentioned above (except for the many soundtrack and poster variants):

Film Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, January 1981
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
Times Square isn’t a punk picture”
“The Trend Settles in New York”
Times Square Press Material folder (post 1 of 5)
UK Movie Ad
Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113
Movie 81 No. 2

 

 

Hard times (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981, p. 47 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.6 x 21.2 cm. (work);
1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0002_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 771 px (W), 96 dpi, 520 kb
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(images)
 

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Record World, Vol. 37 No. 1729, September 13, 1980

Posted on 1st May 2018 in "Times Square"
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Back cover of Record World Vol. 37 No. 1729, September 13, 1980, p. 126.  Text:  JUST RELEASED The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture TIMES  SQUARE A Robert Stigwood Production A 2-RECORD SET Featuring Music by... SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC, GARY NUMAN, MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON, XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO, THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE, GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN RS-4-4203 INCLUDES THE FIRST SINGLE: "Rock Hard" by Suzi Quatro DL-104 RSO Records, Inc. ® ©1980 RSO Records, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the “new” items that turn up now are variations of things we’ve already seen. This Times Square soundtrack ad is identical to the ones shown here, but unlike those two it’s still attached to the magazine it was published in. It’s page 126, the back cover, of Record World Vol. 37 No. 1729 from September 13, 1980, a recording industry trade publication, which also has an announcement of the soundtrack on the front cover…

 

 

… and coverage of the soundtrack’s announcement at 1980’s RSO Convention, featuring an appearance by Suzi Quatro.

The most intriguing thing in the article, however, is this:

A forty-minute video presentation highlighting key scenes and music from the motion picture was shown.

There was a promotional video nearly half the length of the entire film!

This was published a month before the movie’s premiere, and only says the event happened “recently.” The five-and-a-half minute in-store soundtrack promo video contains many brief tantalizing clips of footage not in the movie… who knows what lost footage might have appeared in the RSO Convention promo video!

 

 

“Hits of the Week -Albums – “TIMES SQUARE” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).” (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
“‘Times Square,’ ‘Shogun’ Soundtracks Previewed at RSO National Convention” (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
[Just released – the original soundtrack from the motion picture Times Square] (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993)
Record World, Vol. 37, No. 1729, September 13, 1980, pp. 1, 9, 118, 126 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
32.4 x 24.3 cm., 126 pp (work);
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Record World Vol 37 No 1729 p118_1080px.jpg
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Record World ©1980 RECORD WORLD PUBLISHING CO., INC.
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Dolly No. 128, June 1981

Posted on 15th January 2018 in "Times Square"
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“I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter.”

The cover of Dolly No. 128, June 1981 teasing story "Robin Johnson - From High School to Hollywood"

 

 

 

Times Square was a distant memory in the US in June 1981, when Dolly No. 128 came out in Australia. Alison Gardner’s interview with Robin covers little new ground, repeating Robin’s discovery on the steps of Brooklyn Tech and her then-still upcoming movie projects, although it does add a few little terrific tidbits like the fact that her discoverer wasn’t part of the Times Square production staff; the date she was officially cast; and that the first thing she was asked to do was lose five pounds. And most tantalizing, that there were the beginnings of plans for her to record an album, to be made between Grease 2 and her third film.

 

 

 

 

 

An article about Robin in the Australian magazine Dolly (#128, June 1981).  This is pages 56 & 57, containing four color photographs not published elsewhere.  Text:  Robin Johnson - from high school to Hollywood  Seventeen-year-old Robin is every girl's dream come true ... She was "discovered" and turned into a star. One day Robin was watching films, the next day she was in them. How did it happen? Alison Gardner asked her  Bnow, 17-year-old Robin Johnson, star of the film Times Square, should need no introduction ... Even if you haven't seen the film yet, you can't possibly have missed all of the press coverage Robin received when she visited Australia a few months ago. Robin was big news in all of the papers, who were keen to tell her story and, on TV talk shows, where Robin was invited for a chat, interviewers couldn't get a word in edgeways as she recounted her rise to stardom. You see, it wasn't so much Robin's part in Times Square that everyone was interested in but how she got the part in the first place. Before Times Square, Robin had never acted in her life, not even in a school play. Now she has a three-film contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in America and her second film — due to start shooting later this year — is the follow-up to Grease. Robin has the female lead part opposite Andy Gibb. Stories of shy young girls being plucked from the streets and made into Hollywood stars have filled reels and reels of film but Robin's discovery — which would make a great film itself — isn't quite so saccharine-sweet. To begin with, Robin is not shy — as I soon found out when I met her. I am not the first journalist to comment on Robin's ability to talk ... and talk ... and talk, seemingly without ever pausing for breath. Robin herself knows she talks a lot but shrugs it off as if to say "So what? It's no crime". It certainly isn't a crime, not if you talk like Robin Johnson. Oh, her English isn't perfect but then, if you lived in Brooklyn (New YYork) yours wouldn't be, either. Her voice is deep and a bit hoarse and her hands fly everywhere as she speaks, which made it necessary for me to sit well away from her as we talked. But Robin is a rare species from the acting world because she is in¬teresting to talk to and totally unin¬hibited; she is witty, intelligent, cheeky, polite and great fun. She seemed to treat her sudden fame a bit like a new toy and she was having great fun playing with it ... Travelling around the world to promote Times Square gave Robin great joy and she was ready and willing to answer any questions I asked her. So, first off, how did she — a high school kid whose closest contact with showbiz was as part of the audience at the movies — get the part of the rough-and-ready Nicky Marotta? "Well, it's very conveniently Hollywood," Robin said, sounding almost disgusted with this fact. "I was literally discovered on the steps of my high school by a talent-scout. "I was standing outside the school with a friend and I heard this guy say to me: 'Would you be about 16?' I said: 'You talking to me?' I mean, what a way to approach someone! There are not too many things that are weird for New York but that's weird. "Anyway, he asked me again if I was about 16 and when I told him I was, he told me about this advertisement that was in a paper called The Village Voice for auditions for the film, Times Square. He said he thought I would be right for the part of Nicky Marotta. At first I thought the guy was a nut but he talked in detail about the film for an hour and I figured he couldn't be making it all up. "In the end, he gave me a card with a phone number on it and said if I was interested I was to phone the following Monday and ask to speak to Jake — who turned out to be the producer and screen-writer." Robin hasn't seen the guy who "discovered" her, since. She later found out that he wasn't connected with the casting for Times Square. "He hasn't even come asking for his 10 per cent fee and I'm surprised about that," Robin said. Anyway, Robin called the number that Monday and her life has never been the same since. "Before this I had never thought about acting as a career," Robin told me. "Maybe in a wild thought, like 'Gee, it would be nice to be an actress' but never seriously. Me? In a movie? You've got to be kidding. ►Dolly (incorporating Beaut) No.128, June 1981, p. 58 - 3rd page of an article about Robin Johnson - right column only (advertisements cropped out)  Text:  lose and everything to gain. I had the summer holidays stretching out in front of me and nothing to do so I was looking for ways to keep busy." Well, the auditions certainly kept Robin busy, not just for a day or a week, either . . . There was over 2000 girls auditioning for the part of Nicky Marotta but, by the end of the summer and after 20 different auditions, Robin was told she had the part. "On August 24, 1979," Robin announced, her voice taking on a very dramatic tone, "the casting agency called me and said: 'You've got the part. Now lose 4kg and we'll talk about it next week'. So, that was it — that's why I'm sitting here talking to you." The fact that Robin did get the part, that the film has been a huge success, that she — the gum-chewing, fast-talking kid from Brooklyn — has been marked as a talent to watch in the future has not knocked her off-balance one little bit. She is not, she says emphatically, impressed by Hollywood. She doesn't even like it there. "In Los Angeles the people are so laid-back, they're half dead!" Robin said. "I like the work I'm in now but I'm not overwhelmed by the people I meet and the places I get to visit. "Anyone who hasn't been involved in films thinks it's glamorous . . . But what's so glamorous about being in the Hudson River in the middle of winter? That's where I had to be for one of the scenes in Times Square! You can get typhoid and pneumonia from that! It was only 10 degrees — I thought I had frost-bite!" However, before Robin got involved in the film business, there was a lot she didn't know herself. "It's so complicated," she told me. "I didn't know that actors had to do scenes over and over again. It's a bit hard to do the same scene 15 times because it loses spontaneity. But I had a ball making the film. "I don't think I could settle in a nine till five job after this. It's so interesting. Before all of this I wanted to be a lawyer. I would have graduated from school and gone to college but now those plans have been pushed into the background." Robin's third film, which she will make after filming the sequel to Grease, has not been decided on yet. To keep her busy, though, there may be an album. "I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter," Robin said, smiling. Acting is another love of Robin's now and something that she says she didn't find very hard, despite her lack of practical experience. "I didn't think about what I was doing, I just did it," she told me. "That I didn't have to change my accent or mannerisms for the part helped, too," Robin added. Robin saw a few similarities between herself and Nicky Marotta, the main one being their rebelliousness. "All teen-agers are rebellious at some stage but I think I am permanently rebellious," Robin laughed. "I don't like authority. I can take it from my mother but no one else. "In the film, Nicky likes to do outrageous things and I have done some things like that — although not quite to Nicky's extreme. I'm more stable than Nicky is and more secure, too. I have a great family life." Unlike Nicky, too, Robin's future is definitely rosy. True, she isn't any Brooke Shields or Tatum O'Neal but then that's their problem, not Robin's . . . She has lots of talent and a style all her own and I think it's going to take her a long, long way.

Robin Johnson – from high school to Hollywood

Seventeen-year-old Robin is every girl’s dream come true … She was “discovered” and turned into a star. One day Robin was watching films, the next day she was in them. How did it happen? Alison Gardner asked her

 
By now, 17-year-old Robin Johnson, star of the film Times Square, should need no introduction … Even if you haven’t seen the film yet, you can’t possibly have missed all of the press coverage Robin received when she visited Australia a few months ago.

Robin was big news in all of the papers, who were keen to tell her story and, on TV talk shows, where Robin was invited for a chat, interviewers couldn’t get a word in edgeways as she recounted her rise to stardom.

You see, it wasn’t so much Robin’s part in Times Square that everyone was interested in but how she got the part in the first place. Before Times Square, Robin had never acted in her life, not even in a school play. Now she has a three-film contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in America and her second film — due to start shooting later this year — is the follow-up to Grease. Robin has the female lead part opposite Andy Gibb.

Stories of shy young girls being plucked from the streets and made into Hollywood stars have filled reels and reels of film but Robin’s discovery — which would make a great film itself — isn’t quite so saccharine-sweet.

To begin with, Robin is not shy — as I soon found out when I met her. I am not the first journalist to comment on Robin’s ability to talk … and talk … and talk, seemingly without ever pausing for breath. Robin herself knows she talks a lot but shrugs it off as if to say “So what? It’s no crime”.

It certainly isn’t a crime, not if you talk like Robin Johnson. Oh, her English isn’t perfect but then, if you lived in Brooklyn (New York) yours wouldn’t be, either. Her voice is deep and a bit hoarse and her hands fly everywhere as she speaks, which made it necessary for me to sit well away from her as we talked. But Robin is a rare species from the acting world because she is interesting to talk to and totally uninhibited; she is witty, intelligent, cheeky, polite and great fun.

She seemed to treat her sudden fame a bit like a new toy and she was having great fun playing with it … Travelling around the world to promote Times Square gave Robin great joy and she was ready and willing to answer any questions I asked her. So, first off, how did she — a high school kid whose closest contact with showbiz was as part of the audience at the movies — get the part of the rough-and-ready Nicky Marotta?

“Well, it’s very conveniently Hollywood,” Robin said, sounding almost disgusted with this fact. “I was literally discovered on the steps of my high school by a talent-scout.

“I was standing outside the school with a friend and I heard this guy say to me: ‘Would you be about 16?’ I said: ‘You talking to me?’ I mean, what a way to approach someone! There are not too many things that are weird for New York but that’s weird.

“Anyway, he asked me again if I was about 16 and when I told him I was, he told me about this advertisement that was in a paper called The Village Voice for auditions for the film, Times Square. He said he thought I would be right for the part of Nicky Marotta. At first I thought the guy was a nut but he talked in detail about the film for an hour and I figured he couldn’t be making it all up.

“In the end, he gave me a card with a phone number on it and said if I was interested I was to phone the following Monday and ask to speak to Jake — who turned out to be the producer and screen-writer.”

Robin hasn’t seen the guy who “discovered” her, since. She later found out that he wasn’t connected with the casting for Times Square. “He hasn’t even come asking for his 10 per cent fee and I’m surprised about that,” Robin said.

Anyway, Robin called the number that Monday and her life has never been the same since.

“Before this I had never thought about acting as a career,” Robin told me. “Maybe in a wild thought, like ‘Gee, it would be nice to be an actress’ but never seriously. Me? In a movie? You’ve got to be kidding.

“But when I thought about it I figured I might as well phone. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I had the summer holidays stretching out in front of me and nothing to do so I was looking for ways to keep busy.”

Well, the auditions certainly kept Robin busy, not just for a day or a week, either . . . There was over 2000 girls auditioning for the part of Nicky Marotta but, by the end of the summer and after 20 different auditions, Robin was told she had the part.

“On August 24, 1979,” Robin announced, her voice taking on a very dramatic tone, “the casting agency called me and said: ‘You’ve got the part. Now lose 4kg and we’ll talk about it next week’. So, that was it — that’s why I’m sitting here talking to you.”

The fact that Robin did get the part, that the film has been a huge success, that she — the gum-chewing, fast-talking kid from Brooklyn — has been marked as a talent to watch in the future has not knocked her off-balance one little bit. She is not, she says emphatically, impressed by Hollywood. She doesn’t even like it there.

“In Los Angeles the people are so laid-back, they’re half dead!” Robin said. “I like the work I’m in now but I’m not overwhelmed by the people I meet and the places I get to visit.

“Anyone who hasn’t been involved in films thinks it’s glamorous . . . But what’s so glamorous about being in the Hudson River in the middle of winter? That’s where I had to be for one of the scenes in Times Square! You can get typhoid and pneumonia from that! It was only 10 degrees — I thought I had frost-bite!”

However, before Robin got involved in the film business, there was a lot she didn’t know herself.

“It’s so complicated,” she told me. “I didn’t know that actors had to do scenes over and over again. It’s a bit hard to do the same scene 15 times because it loses spontaneity. But I had a ball making the film.

“I don’t think I could settle in a nine till five job after this. It’s so interesting. Before all of this I wanted to be a lawyer. I would have graduated from school and gone to college but now those plans have been pushed into the background.”

Robin’s third film, which she will make after filming the sequel to Grease, has not been decided on yet. To keep her busy, though, there may be an album.

“I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter,” Robin said, smiling.
Acting is another love of Robin’s now and something that she says she didn’t find very hard, despite her lack of practical experience.

“I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it,” she told me. “That I didn’t have to change my accent or mannerisms for the part helped, too,” Robin added.

Robin saw a few similarities between herself and Nicky Marotta, the main one being their rebelliousness.

“All teen-agers are rebellious at some stage but I think I am permanently rebellious,” Robin laughed. “I don’t like authority. I can take it from my mother but no one else.

“In the film, Nicky likes to do outrageous things and I have done some things like that — although not quite to Nicky’s extreme. I’m more stable than Nicky is and more secure, too. I have a great family life.”

Unlike Nicky, too, Robin’s future is definitely rosy. True, she isn’t any Brooke Shields or Tatum O’Neal but then that’s their problem, not Robin’s . . . She has lots of talent and a style all her own and I think it’s going to take her a long, long way.

Most of the articles in the magazine have a photographer credit. This one doesn’t, which is unfortunate, since the four photos of Robin accompanying the article never appeared anywhere else. At first I thought they might come from the same source as the Mirrorpix shots from March 1981, but on closer examination, I don’t think so. Her outfits are less baffling and more just 1980s in style, and most telling, the shape of her eyebrows is entirely different.

Alison Gardner has at least two other articles in this issue of Dolly, so it would seem she was one of the main staff writers, if not the main one. She vividly describes what it’s like to talk to Robin in person, but also mentions that Robin had been in Australia several months before. While it’s possible Dolly had a travel budget big enough to cover a round trip flight to New York for a story billed sixth on the cover, I think it’s more likely that the interview was actually a few months old.

But if there’s one big takeaway from this, it’s that Robin seems to have made a bigger splash in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

 

 

Alison Gardner, “Robin Johnson – from high school to Hollywood” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
Dolly (incorporating Beaut), No. 128, June 1981, pp. 56-58 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
20.2 (W) x 27.8 cm. (H), 100 pp (work);
Dolly_No_128_June_1981_p1_auto_crop_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 788 px (W), 96 dpi, 450 kb
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Dolly (incorporating Beaut) ©1981 Sungravure Pty Ltd

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

The Australian Women’s Weekly, Vol. 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981

Posted on 13th December 2017 in "Times Square"
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Australian entertainment magazine featuring article on Robin Johnson.

 

The April 15, 1981 Australian Women’s Weekly featured Larry Hagman on the cover, a pin-up poster of Adam and the Ants on the inside back cover, and an interview with Robin on page 119. The interview goes over much the same ground as most of the previous interviews she gave: her discovery on the steps of Brooklyn Tech, her working relationships with Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry, her outspoken behavior towards all and sundry while her mom waits in the next room… This interview is maybe most notable for mentioning a television appearance on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne. I don’t suppose anyone managed to record it, back in 1981…?

 

Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119 Text: Good times for Robin She’s brash, talks non-stop, chain-smokes and is the most unlikely 15-year-old movie star. Robin Johnson, who shot to stardom in the movie Times Square, is New York-born and lives not far from Times Square. Like most teenagers of the area, she’s worldly-wise and a little over-powering. “Discovered” on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, by a talent scout who gave her the usual line about looking for someone just like her for a movie, Robin wrinkled her nose in disgust. “He gave me a number to call and it led to a screen test. I really don’t know why I rang. At the time I’d thought he was such a jerk,” Robin says. But Robert Stigwood was impressed with Robin’s personality and signed her to star in a total of three movies during the next 18 months. “There is a sequel to Grease which I’ll be doing with Andy Gibb, but it definitely won’t be a Son Of Grease or anything. It’s a sequel, but with entirely new characters, and I won’t be an Olivia Newton-John clone,” she says. The third movie is “still being shopped for” but Robin is happy to sit back and wait for it. After all, promoting her first film has taken her all over the world and she contentedly talks and talks, with her mum tactfully sitting in the next room safely out of earshot. Raising a daughter as outgoing as Robin hasn’t been easy — her mother has no say over the cigarettes or the hours Robin keeps. When she appeared on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne, even Don sat stunned while Robin alternately flicked her hair back and made outrageous remarks about the film industry or her life in general. And then there was the time she had dinner with a group of business executives to promote her movie. Promote she did — Robin talked louder and faster than anyone else. “My sister is a lot quieter than I am,” she giggles. “She doesn’t hang around the streets as much as I and some of my friends do, but we get along really well. “The movie Times Square is a little unrealistic in that Trini Alvarado (who plays Pamela Purl in the movie) and I are never approached, assaulted or mugged in any of the scenes where we walk the streets,” Robin says. “But at home, we really have to protect ourselves. You’ve got to at least have a knife on you, to use if need be.” Tim Curry, one of Britain’s top actors, who recently starred in the ABC-TV series Will Shakespeare, played the crazed disc jockey Johnny La Guardia in Times Square. How did Robin enjoy working with the classically-trained actor? It seems an uncomfortable question, and Robin paused. “He was terrific you know. Tim’s a method actor and, whereas Trini and I would clown around between takes, he’d keep to himself. “I sometimes got the impression he thought we were real silly through the movie and he’d snap at us, but that was usually before a difficult scene. Afterwards, he’d be nice and friendly and we got on fine. “The kids at school were fascinated by him because he’s something of a cult figure because of his role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “But he’s a real straight guy, you know, and I consider him a real friend,” Robin says. Life for Robin will not really change even if she is recognized every time she gets a bus or catches the subway in New York. She is happy to work in films, but will finish her education because “it’s important. Our school is pretty rough — racism is a terrible problem — but I’ve always kept my head down and done my work. I’m conscientious and I like to do well.” - FIONA MANNING Above left: The reflection of a misunderstood rebel, Nicky Marotta (played by Robin Johnson) in Times Square. Above: Robin is almost as brash off-screen as she is on. THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY - TV WORLD - APRIL 15, 1981 119

Good times for Robin

She’s brash, talks non-stop, chain-smokes and is the most unlikely 15-year-old movie star. Robin Johnson, who shot to stardom in the movie Times Square, is New York-born and lives not far from Times Square. Like most teenagers of the area, she’s worldly-wise and a little over-powering.

“Discovered” on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, by a talent scout who gave her the usual line about looking for someone just like her for a movie, Robin wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“He gave me a number to call and it led to a screen test. I really don’t know why I rang. At the time I’d thought he was such a jerk,” Robin says.
But Robert Stigwood was impressed with Robin’s personality and signed her to star in a total of three movies during the next 18 months.

“There is a sequel to Grease which I’ll be doing with Andy Gibb, but it definitely won’t be a Son Of Grease or anything. It’s a sequel, but with entirely new characters, and I won’t be an Olivia Newton-John clone,” she says.

The third movie is “still being shopped for” but Robin is happy to sit back and wait for it.

After all, promoting her first film has taken her all over the world and she contentedly talks and talks, with her mum tactfully sitting in the next room safely out of earshot.

Raising a daughter as outgoing as Robin hasn’t been easy — her mother has no say over the cigarettes or the hours Robin keeps.

When she appeared on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne, even Don sat stunned while Robin alternately flicked her hair back and made outrageous remarks about the film industry or her life in general.

And then there was the time she had dinner with a group of business executives to promote her movie. Promote she did — Robin talked louder and faster than anyone else.

“My sister is a lot quieter than I am,” she giggles. “She doesn’t hang around the streets as much as I and some of my friends do, but we get along really well.

“The movie Times Square is a little unrealistic in that Trini Alvarado (who plays Pamela Purl in the movie) and I are never approached, assaulted or mugged in any of the scenes where we walk the streets,” Robin says.

“But at home, we really have to protect ourselves. You’ve got to at least have a knife on you, to use if need be.”

Tim Curry, one of Britain’s top actors, who recently starred in the ABC-TV series Will Shakespeare, played the crazed disc jockey Johnny La Guardia in Times Square. How did Robin enjoy working with the classically-trained actor? It seems an uncomfortable question, and Robin paused. “He was terrific you know. Tim’s a method actor and, whereas Trini and I would clown around between takes, he’d keep to himself.

“I sometimes got the impression he thought we were real silly through the movie and he’d snap at us, but that was usually before a difficult scene. Afterwards, he’d be nice and friendly and we got on fine.

“The kids at school were fascinated by him because he’s something of a cult figure because of his role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“But he’s a real straight guy, you know, and I consider him a real friend,” Robin says.

Life for Robin will not really change even if she is recognized every time she gets a bus or catches the subway in New York. She is happy to work in films, but will finish her education because “it’s important. Our school is pretty rough — racism is a terrible problem — but I’ve always kept my head down and done my work. I’m conscientious and I like to do well.”

– FIONA MANNING

Photo of Robin Johnson from Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119.  Caption:  Robin is almost as brash off-screen as she is on..

 

 

 

The other notable thing about this article are the accompanying photos. There are very few promo photos from Times Square where the subject is looking directly at the camera, but these are two of them. One is a close-up of Robin in costume for the chase-through-the-Adonis-Theatre scene, which as far as I know was never published anywhere else. (I would love to see it uncropped; it wouldn’t surprise me if Trini was standing right next to her.)

 

Photo of Robin Johnson from Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119, possibly from a deleted scene from TIMES SQUARE. Caption: The reflection of a misunderstood rebel, Nicky Marotta (played by Robin Johnson) in Times Square.

 

 

 

The other will appear later in the Japanese program book, cropped and in black and white. While it may simply be a publicity photo, I suspect it’s evidence of another sequence shot and cut from the film: the 1979 screenplay includes a scene of Nicky in a holding room, performing in front of an observation window that could easily have been redressed as a one-way mirror. Robin had described improvising a scene in front of a one-way mirror as being part of her audition, in an interview in Seventeen magazine.

I think the similarity in the titles between this and the Paul Wilson column segment in the April 1981 photoplay is a coincidence.

 

 

Fiona Manning, “Good times for Robin” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
Australian Women’s Weekly, Vol. 48 No. 45, April 15 1981, p. 119 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
28.3 cm (H) x 21.5 cm (W) (work);
1981-04-15 Australian Women’s Weekly Vol 48 No 45 cover_1080px.jpg (cover)
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1981-04-15 Australian Women’s Weekly Vol 48 No 45 p 119_1080px.jpg
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1981-04-15 Australian Women’s Weekly Vol 48 No 45 p 119_detail_2_800px.jpg (large photo)
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1981-04-15 Australian Women’s Weekly Vol 48 No 45 p 119_detail_1_800px.jpg (inset photo)
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The Australian Women’s Weekly ©1981 Australian Consolidated Press Ltd

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981

Posted on 2nd December 2017 in "Times Square"
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Cover of British movie magazine featuring brief article on Robin Johnson.

 

The Paul Wilson Column (“The man you want to read every month…”) in the April 1981 photoplay contained a brief bit of publicity that was typical of the coverage Robin and Times Square was getting by now in Great Britain (where the movie had long since closed) and Australia: it admitted the movie was “not particularly good,” but crowed about her “remarkable” performance, while retelling the legend of her discovery and pushing her three-picture deal and upcoming starring role in Grease 2.

Photoplay, Vol 32 No. 4, 4 April 1981, p. 62. Part of the multi-page column by (and titled) Paul Wilson.  Text:  Good Times For Robin Johnson  • ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.  “I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call... and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.  Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.  She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.  “I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.  Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”  Later this year she’ll be making the Crease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.  “I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.  “I don’t want to get locked into anything.”  Times Square star, Robin Johnson, says her husky voice is due to "a lot of shouting"

 

 

I don’t believe the quote that generated the photo caption appeared anywhere else, which implies that Wilson may have actually spoken with Robin. Other than that, however, there’s nothing new here: the publicity machine had abandoned Times Square and was focusing on Robin herself.

 

 

 

Photoplay, Vol 32 No. 4, 4 April 1981, p. 62. Part of the multi-page column by (and titled) Paul Wilson.  Text:  Good Times For Robin Johnson  • ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.  “I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call... and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.  Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.  She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.  “I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.  Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”  Later this year she’ll be making the Crease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.  “I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.  “I don’t want to get locked into anything.”  Times Square star, Robin Johnson, says her husky voice is due to "a lot of shouting"

Good Times For Robin Johnson

• ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.

“I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call… and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.

Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.

She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.

“I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.

Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”

Later this year she’ll be making the Grease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.

“I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.

“I don’t want to get locked into anything.”

 

 

Paul Wilson, “Good times for Robin Johnson” (excerpt from “The Paul Wilson column”) (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981, p. 62 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p1_layers_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 796 px (W), 96 dpi, 451 kb
Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p62_layers_1080px.jpg
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Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p62_detail_1080px_rev.jpg (arranged detail)
1080 px (W) x 596 px (H), 96 dpi, 366 kb (images)
 
photoplay ©1981 The Illustrated Publications Company Limited

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

Joepie, No. 365, March 15, 1981

Posted on 5th September 2017 in "Times Square"
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“Geef mij maar New Wave.”

Cover of a Belgian entertainment magazine featuring article on Robin Johnson and TIMES SQUARE.

I don’t know when Times Square opened in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the weekly entertainment magazine Joepie (which Google wants to translate for me as “Yay,” but I think is more properly “Whoopie!”), devoted two pages in its March 15, 1981 issue to an interview with Robin promoting the movie and her next role as the female lead in Grease 2.

Article from Joepie No. 365, 15 March 1981, pp. 36-37 Text (Dutch): Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in 'Grease 2' De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven. OPSTANDIG GEDRAG Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond». In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Scjuare. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op... Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson. SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij. Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!» ONGURE KNAAP Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen». Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2». «Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!» GEEN LIEF MONDJE In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

The article is accompanied by five photos. The second and fourth are familiar; the first, third, and fifth are similar but not identical to ones we’ve seen before.

An interesting thing happened as I tried to translate the article, using Google Translate to get the general sense of it, and then Reverso to try to get a more accurate, colloquial-in-context meaning out of it: it began to sound familiar. Here’s my translation; I invite any Dutch speakers to improve on it.

Natural talent from the film “Times Square”

Robin Johnson to follow Olivia in ‘Grease 2’

The dark-haired, delicate Robin Johnson is barely seventeen. Still, she is already the star of the much-discussed pop music film “Times Square.” But in person we hardly recognize the roguish bad-girl. Only her scratchy voice and street-wise lingo of New York’s Brooklyn district have remained the same as in the film.

REBELLIOUS BEHAVIOR

Robin sitting there next to her mom is an impeccably dressed princess. She notes our surprise. “Usually I’m not as dressed up like now,” she apologizes, “but I also don’t run around like in the movie.”

In the film she is “Nicky,” a punk girl, with what is usually called “anti-social behavior.” In a psychiatric hospital she is introduced to Pam (Trini Alvarado), a misunderstood rich kid. Together they decide to run away. They steal an ambulance and hide in a dilapidated warehouse near Times Square. A local deejay takes interest in their cause and under the name “The Sleaze Sisters” they cause a furor with their anti-social songs.

They are radio- and TV-stars, even organize a midnight rock concert in Times Square, but the police and Pam’s father are waiting for them there …

A fun film, something in the style of “Breaking Glass” and “Quadrophenia,” but in an American way, and with amazing music from The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan and Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL IN HOTEL ROOM

Robin Johnson is a nice young lady, very on her toes and yet seemingly unaffected by success. Her attitude and mannerisms are not rehearsed. She’s just like a 17-year-old girl at school.

Only the boarding school uniform is missing. “It actually wasn’t easy to get free from my school for the film and promotional tour,” says Robin. “My dad, now my manager, pleaded adamantly with the director. He let me go only on condition that I do a ton of schoolwork in the meantime. Me, I won’t get bored. Later, in my hotel room, I’ll have my hands full again with schoolwork!”

SLEAZY GUY

How Robin got the starring role in “Times Square” is another story. “I was hanging around with some school friends after school, on the street,” she says, “and suddenly I was hustled by a stranger who asked me if I was sixteen. He hardly introduced himself. I found it at first highly suspicious. He was looking for a girl for a movie. In New York, there are still lots of sleazy guys around. He assured me that everything was proper and gave me the phone number of the producer. I didn’t at first, but eventually called. I had nothing to lose, I thought. Summer vacation was coming and I had no plans at all.”

Only after that first phone call did Robin find out that she was in contact with the mighty Stigwood empire. Robin shone during the auditions and big boss Stigwood himself had her sign a contract for a starring role in three films! After “Times Square” Robin is co-starring with Andy Gibb in “Grease 2.”

“It’s crazy,” laughs Robin “that no one seems to know who the man is that spoke to me. He may well be an angel sent by Heaven!”

NOT A SWEET MOUTH

In the movie Robin stands out for her indecent language. Did she learn or is it “innate”? “I think it’s natural,” laughs Robin. “From childhood I was reprimanded because of my dirty mouth and my voice, posture and gestures are definitely those of a little brat. I’ve always been like that. In “Grease 2” I will have to watch out and act girlier, but my third film will be written completely for me. In fact, I’m not entirely happy with how “Times Square” turned out. It could have been better. The dialogue is sometimes terribly naive. Sixteen-year-old girls don’t talk like that, definitely not in New York! And what happened during editing is beyond me. The film was confusing to me. Certain scenes were not in the place where they should be. There were also some cuts in the final editing, making certain situations totally incomprehensible. Bit I’me very satisfied with my own performance. Also, everyone in America expected that the film would do much better than it did. Maybe the film was distributed at the wrong time and in the wrong places. Everyone likes the terrific soundtrack. Personally I am a fan of the masterpieces in the film by Talking Heads, the Ramones, Lou Reed and The Pretenders. That’s my kind of music. Give me just New Wave. In England I attended a Roxy Music concert and after the show went to see Bryan Ferry. Cool guy. I thanked him for his song ( ‘Same Old Scene “) on the soundtrack. A good song. That’s what I told him. If I hadn’t loved it, I would have been honest!” That is totally Robin Johnson, straightforward, without posturing or false conceit.

Now have a look back at the interview she gave in the January 31, 1981 Record Mirror.

It’s entirely possible that she gave essentially the same responses to the same questions she got over and over on the publicity tour, but even aside from her statements, I found that I could get a perfectly acceptable translation of most the Dutch article by simply copying whole passages from the Record Mirror article. I didn’t, just in case, so you can be the judge of what may have happened here.

One last piece of information: although there’s no writer’s credit for the article in Joepie, buried in the magazine’s masthead on page 58 is this:

Eksklusieve rechten van het Engelse popblad «Record Mirror». Overname (ook gedeeltelijk) verboden.

… which would seem to translate to “Exclusive rights to the English pop music magazine “Record Mirror”. Reproduction (in whole or in part) prohibited.”

So, it seems to me that Joepie ran a translation of Mike Nicholls’ interview from two months previous, and Robin’s publicity tour didn’t actually make it to Belgium.

Lastly, here for your further analysis is the original Dutch text. I’ve tried to correct any OCR-created typos, but I probably didn’t get them all.

Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square»

Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’

De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven.

OPSTANDIG GEDRAG

Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond».

In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Square. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op…

Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER

Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij.

Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!»

ONGURE KNAAP

Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen».

Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2».

«Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!»

GEEN LIEF MONDJE

In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

 

 


Joepie, No. 365, March 15 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 26.5 x 20 cm.; (contains:)
Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» – Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’
(article (document), AAT ID: 300048715), pp. 36-37 (work);
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©1981 N.V. Sparta te Deurne


 

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Films Illustrated Vol. 10 No. 114, March 1981

Posted on 25th August 2017 in "Times Square"
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UK film magazine with a three-page in-depth review of TIMES SQUARE

In the February 1981 Films Illustrated, David Quinlan took a paragraph to give Times Square a three-star review, saying essentially that it’s a decent popcorn movie in spite of its many flaws. In this next issue, Douglas Slater takes three full pages to give Times Square one of its best reviews ever, finding it to be a timeless coming-of-age story not merely in spite of, but because of those very same flaws.

He doesn’t touch on the continuity problems that Robin herself complained about loud and long in interviews, but acknowledges the unreality of portraying Times Square as a runaway’s playground, and finds it necessary for the film to tell its story, which he sees as indeed a fairy-tale. He also sees Times Square‘s intended audience as being intelligent enough to tell the difference between real-world dangers and a fictional film setting.

Mr. Slater examines Times Square through the lens of the oeuvre of Robert Stigwood, which is essentially and inescapably exploitative. The only reasons for his movies’ existences are as advertisements for ancillary merchandise: soundtracks, posters, t-shirts, and the like, and his greatest artistic successes occur when Stigwood assembles such a commercial package and stands out of the way of the filmmakers and lets them make the film they want.

Mr. Slater counts Times Square as an artistic success which balances its criticism of society against its audience’s attitude and attention span, but in hindsight we know that that’s not exactly what happened. Stigwood’s meddling in the movie’s production in order to maximize its commerciality caused director Allan Moyle to leave before the project’s completion… and this caused the toning-down of the dangers the runaways faced in the screenplay (fixing the problem Slater says the UK censors had with Saturday Night Fever) and created a great deal of the fairy-tale unreality Slater finds such value in (as do I, to be honest).

This review probably came out after Times Square had closed in the UK. It had bombed there and in the US, so whether it was a quality film was irrelevant. Stigwood had known this from the start, and had probably made a fortune off the soundtrack album, but the film’s rapid disappearance from theaters was probably a cue not to try to capitalize with any other merchandise. It also gave Times Square a reputation as a lousy movie, a reputation that took years to rehabilitate, which happened primarily thanks to a segment of its audience who found themselves spoken to by a particular aspect of the film that has so far not been mentioned by any reviewer (I think). (A no-prize to whoever first identifies what that is.)

And it also certainly contributed to the next phase of Robin’s career, but we’re not there yet. In March 1981 she was still looking forward to starring in Grease 2.

Unfortunately, the three-page article was billed as an overview of Stigwood’s films, and so instead of a collection of stills from Times Square, we get one, and two from Saturday Night Fever. The picture of Robin is another look at the first Times Square publicity still, which had been published exactly a year previously in Screen International No. 231.

PROFIT WITHOUT HONOUR

Douglas Slater looks back on the films of Robert Stigwood from the vantage point of ‘Times Square’

THE first screen credit in Times Square is that of Robert Stigwood. That is appropriate enough. Some films are defined by their stars, some by their directors, but a Stigwood production is defined by Stigwood. He is the producer as auteur.

It is tempting to allow suspicions about motive to colour one’s opinion of a Stigwood production. There’s nothing wrong with the profit motive of course and the commercial cinema certainly produces no higher proportion of bad films than the art cinema. But Stigwood’s films are so carefully and obviously geared to their market, so blatantly set on exploiting the goldmines of promotional material (the record, T-shirt, cut-out-dance-step of the movie) that one begins to suspect that their producer has no real love of movies mixed in with his profit motive, but only a cynical appreciation of the marketing powers of the medium.

Such suspicions are irrelevant, however partly because motive has little to do with producing interesting work, and partly because Robert Stigwood has produced one or two very interesting movies, most notably Saturday Night Fever. So it is good to report that, whatever his motive, Times Square does him no discredit.

The outline is simple. Two young girls are put into a neurological hospital for tests: one, Pamela (Trini Alvarado), by a caring but domineering and busy father, and the other, Nicky (Robin Johnson), by a caring but domineering and busy welfare system. What the two want is self-expression and so, in spite of their different backgrounds, they escape together and live a symbolically self-expressive life around Times Square, watched over by Johnny LaGuardia (Tim Curry), a pretentiously cynical disc-jockey left over from the 70s.

The obvious criticism to make of this plot turns on its sentimentality. It makes the corrupt heart of the most notorious city in the world into a playground for two young girls. Nothing nasty happens to them — no violence, no rape, no drugs. They are hardly even bothered by the police who are looking for them. In fact, the only person who gets violent is the caring liberal father. The sentimentality arises out of the lack of realism in an apparently realistic portrait of New York. Cinema tends more and more towards realism, and audiences take it ever more for granted, so that all the fictional and unrealistic aspects of films — all the things that make them art more than documentary — are ignored. The resulting false logic is that, if a film can be criticised as being in some way unrealistic, then it’s a bad film. Whereas in reality, of course, films are always falsifying things, and have a much more complicated relationship with real life than the audience is meant to realise. Films always have to falsify real life in some way in order to be true to it in others. The most apparently straightforward and realistic films are often the most dishonest.

Times Square is a good example of this. There is a complicated relationship between the movie and “real” New York, even though the end credits announce so proudly that the film was “shot entirely on location in New York City.”

For it is a mistake to see Times Square as simply a teenage version of the same old realistic movie about street-wise New York. It’s just as much a fable, as old as the hills, about Never-Never Land masquerading as New York. Children have always run away to live idealised existences: ever since Wendy jumped out of the window with Peter Pan, or Oliver Twist to London, or Dorothy was blown to the land of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Some of these fables have had children surviving pretty tough environments, too; like Oliver and the Artful Dodger or Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The idea has survived so long and been so successful because it is the great myth of growing up and leaving the nest. To make that an exciting prospect, the outside world has to be dangerous, but to make it possible the dangers have to be ones the fledglings can conquer, even if they terrify their parents in the process.

The bored Johnny LaGuardia is part of the fable, too, for all his obvious affinity to the blind DJ in Vanishing Point. He aspires to the role of the good fairy, although he is sometimes seen by the two runaways as more like the Wicked Witch of the West. Fables aren’t simple any more. No-one sees the world as black and white without being dishonest. So Johnny LaGuardia isn’t just a hero. He’s an exploiter as well. In the end Pamela, who started out by adoring him, hates him.

That type of ambiguity is part of the contemporary dress of Times Square. There are no simple goodies and baddies, and everyone — no matter how young — has personality problems which they explore and agonise over with the help of their friends and doctors.

A fable has to touch on the real world, otherwise it’s pointless. Good fables are relevant; bad ones are sugary and escapist. The closer the world of the fable is to the real one the better. And the strength of Times Square is that it has brought a very traditional story into contact with a number of modem issues.

It is how it has done that which is interesting; because, frankly, a film that set out to exploit the teenage market with a fable about runaways in New York could have been ghastly, just AA certificate Walt Disney with all the good bits left out. Robert Stigwood made a mistake with his audience with Saturday Night Fever. It tackled its issues too robustly, and the censor removed it from many of the age-group who were its natural audience. Stigwood was obviously determined not to make the same mistake with Times Square. That is presumably what determined the film’s stars, its attitude to New York, and its plot. What is surprising is that it manages to be relatively truthful.

That it can be so is largely the result of the fact that both its stars and its audience are older for their ages than people were even when Saturday Night Fever was made. That has made it possible to take the real nature of New York for granted. The audience knows it all. Thus, the dangers of Times Square are not romanticised out of existence so much as countered by the character of Nicky. She is actually one of the predators of New York rather than a victim.

Nicky is a development of the tough cookie persona pioneered by Tatum O’Neal and Jodie Foster. Tennis stars and gymnasts are not the only adults who are getting younger. Movie heroines are right up there with them. Nor is Nicky just an ordinary precocious child. Robin Johnson is a remarkable discovery, whose voice has a range Tallulah Bankhead would have envied.

And it isn’t just Nicky who is older. Even her ultra-sheltered and cosseted companion hardly blinks at places that would horrify a lot of adults. There is much talk in the film about “X-rated streets.” The two move through these streets, with their audience, preserving their characters (innocence is too cosy a word) not because they don’t see what the streets are like, but because they don’t care.

That is what has allowed Alan Moyle, who directed Stigwood’s picture, and is credited with the story, and Jacob Brackman, who wrote it and co-produced, to strike a brave balance with the censor, and show as much of the real Times Square as they do. Thus there are swift shots of stoned tramps, topless dancers and even a transvestite or two; all no more and no less than essential local colour, but nevertheless likely to upset middle-aged sensibilities.

In fact Times Square is just another film using New York as the paradigmatic city; the great theme of all those New York movies of the last ten years or so. What Times Square does that is a little original is to focus on that trendiest of issues, inner urban decay. It even makes Pamela’s politician father, (Peter Coffield), the Mayor’s Commissioner for the Campaign to Reclaim the Heart of the City.

Since this is such a vital issue — in America as much as Europe — it is rather cheeky that the movie reverses conventional wisdom on it. There is no truck with those who want to clean up the squalor of Times Square. Pamela taunts her father over the radio with his plans for making the area antiseptic. For Pamela and Nicky, Times Square provides warmth and vitality and a chance to be themselves; and presumably some of the wisdom that the father learns at his daughter’s hands is that vice has its virtues.

Certainly it is decent liberal parents and doctors who are the villains of the piece, in that there are any villains. Times Square is meant to appeal to the rebellious adolescent who has pocket money to stay out late and go to the movies and buy records and T-shirts. That is what makes adult respectability the enemy.

The question is whether the movie is merely exploiting its audience when it plays this card, or whether it is actually entertaining them with vital issues. After all, if it could be proved that Times Square had actually encouraged thirteen year-olds to run away in large numbers to the apparent warmth of areas like Times Square and Soho, then it would at best have been a place of pie-in-the-sky escapism of the nastiest sort, and at worst criminally irresponsible.

But the film isn’t like that. Its quality as a fable should be clear enough to anyone old enough to watch television. It won’t appeal to its audience because it shows little bits of naughty New York, but because it examines some things that may be more real to them than to their elders. What raises Times Square beyond a banal story of teenage revolt in the big city is that it tries to suggest some reasons for that revolt which are not unintelligent. (That was the good thing about Saturday Night Fever too).

The clearest sign of this attempt at intelligence is an entirely unexpected quotation from T S Eliot which is produced by Pamela to Nicky as they prepare their improvised home. The quotation makes no sense to Nicky, but we have been served warning from then on that the general intellectual angst of New York extends to these characters too.

The film makes a lot of references, in fact, and one or two of them are particularly telling. The soundtrack, for instance, contains many hits of the last few years that are precisely what one hears booming out of ubiquitous cassette players; precisely the music that has helped form the moods (more than the ideas) of the characters. These are moods which should be recognised by British audiences too. Like other Stigwood films, Times Square makes as much use of British music as it does of American.

Indeed, the most explicit references to any band in the movie are to the Rolling Stones, though they are not represented on the soundtrack. Brian Jones, the member of the Stones who committed suicide, is an important symbol to the violent and hopeless Nicky, who doesn’t expect to live beyond twenty-one anyway, and so is self- destructively cramming all her living in now.

What is more, Nicky is a Mick Jagger look- alike, and adopts many of Jagger’s mannerisms in her stage performance. The end of the film is extraordinary for the overall imitation of the Stones which is given by Nicky and her backing group (called the Blondels) who have been ridiculously cocktail-lounge and fake-ocelot up to then. One of the Blondels even looks like Brian Jones.

The relevance of the Rolling Stones to the film goes deeper, since the violence and alienation of Nicky (which is distinctly subpunk) is probably traceable to the Stones in the late ’60s, when they were matching the optimism of the Beatles with nihilism. Pamela was supposedly born in 1967, so that she and Nicky are, each in her different way, the post-Stones generation.

It may seem far-fetched to suggest that Times Square has any elements of such serious import as the urban alienation of the young, or the development of longterm cultural repercussions from the music and attitudes of a decade ago. But it is borne out by the most bizarre and outrageously symbolic of Pamela and Nicky’s actions: their gimmick of tipping television sets off high buildings.

Two things make this significant. First, it’s not a trick dreamed up by the moviemakers: kids have done it on British high-rise estates already. Secondly, it isn’t merely a random action that is the same as tipping anything large and expensive off a high building. It is underlined in the script by Johnny LaGuardia — “apathy, banality, boredom, television . . .”. In fact, the film goes out of its way to show a boring middle-class home with the father sitting reading the television schedule while his daughters tip the set out of the window.

What does it mean? Well, it has been a claim of Woody Allen’s for some while that television systematically degrades the quality of life. It represents middle-class respectability and inaction. That’s so far been an interesting idea for disgruntled intellectuals. It may be more arresting than it seems if someone now expects the audience of a popular youth-oriented film to react to it automatically. And it is certainly effective even when one knows what is coming — shots of television sets sailing elegantly through the air and smashing on to pavements are curiously exhilerating.

Detail of p. 233 of Films Illustrated Vol 10 No. 114, March 1981. Text: Times Square: Robin Johnson Robin Johnson is a remarkable discovery, whose voice has a range Tallulah Bankhead would have envied.There is no question, however, of Times Square being a serious study of these ideas. Why should it be? Its audience wouldn’t like it, and so neither would its producers. They are just thrown in to egg the pudding. These are ideas that are floating about, that may strike a chord with their audience. They make the movie more intersting, and even give it the negative advantage of not tying up any answers in a pretentious little package.

It is certainly these ideas that give Times Square its zest. Otherwise it might have been downright tedious as, in places, it unfortunately is. When it goes wrong, the movie is almost inept enough to make one wonder whether the good bits wandered in by accident. That is to go back to the blind alley of motive, though. As long as Robert Stigwood continues to encourage his directors and writers to sell his movies by throwing all the ideas they can come up with at their audience, his films will be worth checking out. The real exploitation of audiences is by formulaic nonsense that attempts to repeat the same old success. It hardly ever works, as Mr Stigwood realises. That’s what makes his blatant pursuit of successes so tolerable.

 

 


Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 114, March 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 29.7 x 20.9 cm; (contains:)
Profit without honour (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), pp. 233-235 (work);
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©1981 Illustrated Publications Limited