Andy Kaufman alive? Or Andy Kaufman death hoax?
New York City-born comedian Andy Kaufman, little known outside the United States but well-remembered in the U.S. by those who watched the late 1970s/early 1980s television series Taxi, is alive, married, and has a (previously unknown) grown daughter who goes by the name of McCoy. Well, if – and that’s a big if (or perhaps a small one, considering people’s willful gullibility and/or downright stupidity) – you believe the story reported in numerous outlets in the last couple of days: Andy Kaufman may have faked his own death of lung cancer at age 35 in 1984 so he could escape the limelight. (Image: Andy Kaufman)
At the New York-based Andy Kaufman Awards on Nov. 11, a woman claiming to be Kaufman’s daughter – calling herself “McCoy” (reportedly the name Kaufman used when checking himself into hospitals) – appeared on stage with Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother. Michael explained that years ago he had found an essay in which his brother detailed plans to fake his own death.
“I don’t know how much longer he can keep everything away,” the McCoy Woman told the audience. So, could Andy Kaufman really be alive? Could the McCoy Woman really be his daughter? Could Corinne Griffith really be her younger sister? WTF? (More on that below.)
Andy Kaufman ‘life hoax’
Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Justin Bieber, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, Rudolph Valentino (dead since 1926), and others have all passed on recently according to death hoaxes found online and duly reported by trolls and the braindead via social media and “news” outlets. A while back, in fact, Adam Sandler seemed to be dying every other week.
In the case of Andy Kaufman, instead of a “death hoax” we got a “life hoax.” Alexandra Tatarsky, a New York actress “inspired by Russian absurdism,” seems to be The Fake McCoy.
But how could Michael Kaufman fall for this type of nonsense? Well, perhaps he didn’t. Although Kaufman claims he is the victim of a hoax, according to The Smoking Gun he recruited Tatarsky to play the daughter of his long-deceased brother. The site explains that “Tatarsky met Michael Kaufman earlier this year while working at a Manhattan gallery exhibiting a collection of Kaufman ‘ephemera and artifact’s from the comedian’s personal and professional life.” The reasons for the Andy Kaufman hoax remain unclear.
Andy Kaufman’s actual daughter, Maria Colonna, lives in Upstate New York. According to reports, she was not in any way involved in this story.
Andy Kaufman ‘Taxi’ and movies
Co-created by future Best Director Oscar winner James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment), the multiple Emmy-winning Taxi ran from 1978-1983. Besides Andy Kaufman, the Taxi cast included Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, and Jeff Conaway, and later on Christopher Lloyd and Carol Kane.
As per the IMDb, Andy Kaufman was featured in only three movies:
- Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To (1976), a horror thriller with Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, and veteran Sylvia Sidney.
- Actor-director Marty Feldman’s dreadful comedy In God We Tru$t (1980), featuring Feldman, Peter Boyle, Richard Pryor (as G.O.D.), and Andy Kaufman as a character named Armageddon T. Thunderbird.
- Allan Arkush’s box office flop Heartbeeps (1981), in which Kaufman and Bernadette Peters are household servant robots in love.
Jim Carrey played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon; Michael Kelly played Michael Kaufman while their father, Stanley Kaufman (no connection to film critic Stanley Kauffmann), was played by Gerry Becker. Directed by two-time Best Director Oscar winner Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus), the Andy Kaufman biopic – a box office bomb – was released in 1999.
Also worth mentioning is Christopher Maloney’s 2008 documentary The Death of Andy Kaufman. According to the IMDb, its tagline was: “Was It the Greatest Hoax of All Time?”
Long before the Andy Kaufman hoax: Corinne Griffith, Ann Savage, Anastasia Romanov
The Andy Kaufman hoax – his being alive, not his death – is only the latest bizarre story involving dead-or-alive celebrities. Apart from Elvis Presley, who keeps being spotted just about everywhere in the United States, there’s the curious story of silent movie star Corinne Griffith (The Garden of Eden, The Divine Lady). While testifying in divorce court in the mid-’60s – Griffith was parting ways with her husband of a few days, Broadway actor Danny Scholl – the multimillionaire former actress claimed she was actually her (two decades) younger sister, asserting that the Real Corinne Griffith had died years earlier. Griffith’s testimony was contradicted by those of fellow silent film actresses Claire Windsor and Betty Blythe. Her story, however, remained unchanged.
A few decades ago, a woman in Florida claimed to have been second-rank silent film actress Vera Reynolds (Cecil B. DeMille’s Feet of Clay, The Road to Yesterday), who had died at age 62 in 1962. In the mid-’80s, a woman claiming to be actress Ann Savage showed up at a screening of the cult noir Detour at a Los Angeles revival house – only to be denounced as an impostor at the same theater the next day by another woman claiming to be the real Ann Savage.
Perhaps even more interesting is the case of actress Eva von Berne, who played opposite MGM superstar John Gilbert in Masks of the Devil. Von Berne reportedly died in 1930 – only to die again (for real) at age 100 in November 2010.
And let’s not forget Anastasia Romanov, whose impersonator was played by Best Actress Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman in Anatole Litvak’s 1956 movie. “Russian absurdism” at work indeed.
Robert Pattinson & David Cronenberg ‘Maps to the Star’s gets German distribution & Toronto screening
Starring Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore, John Cusack, and Mia Wasikowska, Maps to the Stars has found a German distributor. Screen Daily reports that Christian Meinke’s MFA+ has acquired the rights to the David Cronenberg-directed Hollywood satire at the American Film Market, recently held in Santa Monica. MFA+ also picked up Vincent Grashaw’s feature debut Coldwater and Tobias Lindholm’s Danish thriller A Hijacking / Kapringen, which has a similar premise to that of the Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks hit Captain Phillips.
In Map to the Stars, John Cusack (replacing Viggo Mortensen) plays a Los Angeles analyst and self-help guru whose wife (Olivia Williams) is immersed in the career of their teen star son (Evan Bird), fresh off of rehab. Their daughter (Mia Wasikowska) is a recovering pyromaniac – a dangerous passtime in Kalahari-arid Southern California.
One of Cusack’s clients is an actress (Rachel Weisz replacement Julianne Moore), who has visions of her dead mother (Sarah Gadon) and whose chief goal in life is to remake the movie that made Mom a star in the ’60s. And finally, Robert Pattinson plays Jerome Fontana, a limo driver with aspirations of movie stardom who befriends the young pyromaniac.
Bruce Wagner (Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hill) wrote the Maps to the Stars screenplay, which has been a prospective David Cronenberg film project since at least 2006. Back then, the film was described as a “dark Hollywood thriller,” which, if correct, indicates that the screenplay has undergone some radical changes.
Note: Maps to the Stars is totally unrelated to Miguel Arteta’s Star Maps, a 1997 drama about a young and handsome seller of star maps and sex worker (Douglas Spain), who suffers at the hands of his abusive father (Efrain Figueroa).
‘Maps to the Stars’: Cannes 2014 as possibility?
Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell tweeted that Maps to the Stars, “with plot of life crisis & rehab, had industry sneak Monday in T.O. – perfect choice!” Whether or not this second David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson collaboration will have a Cannes Film Festival 2014 premiere remains to be seen.
There’s certainly a chance, as Cosmopolis had its official debut at the festival two years ago. In fact, in the last 18 years, four David Cronenberg movies have vied for the Palme d’Or. Besides Cosmopolis, there were Crash, Spider, and A History of Violence.
‘Maps to the Star’s cast
Besides Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, and the other aforementioned performers, also in the Maps to the Stars cast are the following: Niamh Wilson, Emilia McCarthy, Jayne Heitmeyer, Amanda Brugel, Kiara Glasco, Joe Pingue, Justin Kelly, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Gibson, Chris Anton, Jonathan Watton, Donald Burda, Clara Pasieka, Gord Rand, Byron Lane, and Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher as herself.
Carrie Fisher, of course, wrote her own bit of Hollywood (semi-)fiction, Postcards from the Edge, which became a 1990 movie directed by Mike Nichols. Meryl Streep starred as a sort of Carrie Fisher while Shirley MacLaine played a sort of Debbie Reynolds.
Hollywood satires have been around for as long as Hollywood has been around. Some have been lighthearted – e.g., Rupert Hughes’ Souls for Sale, starring Eleanor Boardman as a film-star to be – others have been scathing – e.g., Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd., starring Gloria Swanson as what might have become of Eleanor Boardman three decades later. (Actually, Norma Desmond was inspired by Barbara La Marr and other movie vamps of the period. Boardman played Good Girls.) Anyhow, chances are Maps to the Stars will fall into to the latter category.
Robert Pattinson movies
After leaving Edward Cullen behind following the release of Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 nearly one year ago, Robert Pattinson has kept himself busy. Although there have been no 2013 releases – unless one counts his Dior commercial – Pattinson has several projects that, if they all come to fruition, will have his name plastered on movie billboards about half a dozen times in the next two years.
Those include David Michôd’s Australian-set futuristic thriller The Rover, co-starring Guy Pearce; Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, with Nicole Kidman (replacing Naomi Watts) in the title role (as Gertrude Bell) and Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia); Jesper Ganslandt’s Mission: Blacklist, with Robert Pattinson as U.S. interrogator Eric Maddox; and James Marsh’s thriller Hold on to Me, with Carey Mulligan.
Recently, Robert Pattinson’s name has found its way into James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, to star Benedict Cumberbatch as British explorer Lt. Col. Percival Fawcett, who nine decades ago disappeared in the Amazon while in search of a mythical civilization. It’s unclear which role Pattinson would have in the film.
And as a commenter reminded me below, Robert Pattinson should also be playing photographer Dennis Stock opposite Dane DeHaan’s James Dean in Life. According to online reports, the Anton Corbijn-directed movie is supposed to begin production in February 2014. One more: the IMDb lists Hate Mail as another Pattinson movie project; Scarlett Johansson was at one point mentioned as the film’s leading lady-to-be.
Besides David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and the Twilight movies co-starring Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson’s previous features include Mike Newell’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (as Cedric Diggory), supporting Daniel Radcliffe; Paul Morrison’s Little Ashes as a troubled Salvador Dalí in love with Javier Beltrán’s Federico García Lorca (much to the dismay of Matthew McNulty’s Luis Buñuel); Allen Coulter’s romantic drama Remember Me, opposite Emilie de Ravin; Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, co-starring Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz; and Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s underrated Bel Ami, with Robert Pattinson excellent in the title role opposite Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, and Uma Thurman.
Info about Maps to the Stars acquisition by German distributor via mapstothestarsfilm.com. Image of Robert Pattinson on the set of Maps to the Stars via justjared.com, which offers about a dozen other photos on the film’s set.
Ashley Greene & Anton Yelchin starring for Joe Dante in ‘Burying the Ex’
Ashley Greene and Anton Yelchin are slated to star in Burying the Ex, to be directed by veteran Joe Dante (Gremlins). As per various online reports, the indie horror comedy is to start shooting on Monday, Nov. 18, in Los Angeles.
In Burying the Ex, Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene play lovers – he’s really nice; she’s really overbearing – whose relationship go fast downhill once they move in together. How to find a way out? Luckily, the girlfriend suffers a freak accident and dies; unluckily, she rises from the grave.
Besides Ashley Greene and Anton Yelchin, Burying the Ex also features Alexandra Daddario and Oliver Cooper. Nicolas Chartier’s Voltage Pictures is involved in the film’s production.
Among Chartier’s other recent producing credits (in various capacities) are Robert Redford’s little-seen The Company You Keep, the Matthew McConaughey star vehicle Dallas Buyers Club, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s sex romantic comedy Don Jon. Chartier was also one of the producers of Best Picture Academy Award winner The Hurt Locker; his notorious Oscar campaign – pitting Kathryn Bigelow’s war drama The Hurt Locker against James Cameron’s fantasy Avatar – eventually got him barred from the ceremony.
Ashley Greene movies
Ashley Greene is best known as the vampire Alice Cullen in the wildly popular Twilight movie franchise starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. The final Twilight entry, Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 was released in late 2012.
Since then, according to the IMDb Ashley Greene has been featured in only one film: Randall Miller’s musical drama CBGB, starring Alan Rickman. Additionally, Greene has three movies (possibly) to come out in 2014:
- Oliver Blackburn’s horror thriller Random, featuring Lucas Till and Haley Bennett – and in which Greene’s look is reminiscent of Noomi Rapace’s and Rooney Mara’s in the two The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies;
- Zach Braff’s comedy-drama Wish I Was Here, with Jim Parsons, Kate Hudson, and Mandy Patinkin;
- Rhys Thoma’s coming-of-age tale Staten Island Summer, with Graham Phillips and Zack Pearlman.
Honestly, who cares? Why so much hype over this annoying stand up comic that’s entirely overpraised. He was never that funny. It’s a shame the poor man died but there’s been an obsession with acting like he was Lenny Bruce or something.
@didi Thank you for the reminder.
Thank you for completing the list.
With all respect but you’ve forgotten an important project: Rob is also gonna play Dennis Stock in the movie Life with Dane Dehaan, starring James Dean. Shooting to start February 14