The above photo never ran in the New York Times, though it was made on assignment for the Arts & Leisure section as a back up image, to illustrate the vitality of Chorus Line’s Michael Bennett’s Manhattan studios at 890 Broadway, in case Michael Bennett wouldn’t allow me to photograph him at his East Hampton home. It was to be an Arts & Leisure front page about Michael Bennett.
At the time, Bennett was ill, with the public story he was about to have bypass surgery. He asked for a photographer he could trust, so I was tapped to fly out to photograph him in East Hampton where he was simply fabulous, plied me with champagne and copious amounts of caviar and other delicacies. Sadly, the bypass surgery was a ruse…..as we now know today…but Bennett allowed me to photograph him extensively, as we got along just fine and made a spectacular photo of him in his home, with his dog.
However, a few days before, Lauren Bacall, cranky from having undergone 4 hours of make-up criticized my direction in putting her in the photograph with the Sheriff, and “Chance” played by Timothy Bottoms, to my best recollection…(though Keith Carradine was rumored to be picked for the part). As actors need direction, I created the “bedroom” scene but altered to include for the Times photo needs, all three actors: Chance, the aging star and the Sheriff. Ms. Bacall feeling I wasn’t literal with the play, said to director Michael Blakemore: “Let the director set up the shot, that’s why we have a director.” To which Blakemore tartly said to Ms. Bacall, “Jonathan’s doing just fine, he read the play and its a photograph-not meant to show an actual stage scene.”
Ms. Bacall had no idea, that Blakemore and I had talked the night before in regards to my needs and issues Ms. Bacall might raise as this was “her play,” having revived it in London.
However, the story below obviously removed the need for the photo above as Michael Bennett obviously consented to Jonathan’s photography….eliminating the “back up” assignment with Ms. Bacall.