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April 28, 2011

Kevin Kline Owes Me


By Elaine Viets

I don’t know what you did in 1973, but I helped Kevin Kline.

Kevin was born and raised in St. Louis. In ’73, he toured the country with the City Center Acting Company, along with other Juilliard drama school graduates, including Patti LuPone. The troupe performed "Threepenny Opera" in St. Louis.

I was a 23-year-old feature writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, interviewing the up-and-coming actor with a hometown connection. Kevin was going far beyond St. Louis. He was one of John Houseman’s first students at Juilliard.

During the interview, I asked Kevin about his acting. We talked about Duke Ellington, too. Don and I heard Ellington play at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan. Ellington, in the twilight of his career, was magical.

So was Kevin Kline at the beginning of his career. His Macheath was intense and athletic.

After the show, Ellen, the theater’s public relations person, sent me a note dated Nov. 20, 1973.

"This thank-you note is a little late in coming, but I do want you to know I appreciated the nice publicity you gave us in the story about Kevin Kline," Ellen wrote. "Immediately after it appeared in the Post, we sold out. I talked to his parents at the play and they were just thrilled about it.

"Please don’t hesitate to give me a call if I can help you with anything in the future. I certainly owe you a favor."

I didn’t have the pull to pack the theater. I was a cub reporter. But newspapers had tremendous power then. A print story could fill a theater.

Kevin moved on, racking up Tony Awards on Broadway and then Golden Globes and Oscars for his movie roles in "Sophie’s Choice," "A Fish Called Wanda" and other major films.

A fish called Wanda 

"Wanda" has an in-joke. Kevin, trying to identify a caller, asks, "Was it Kevin Delaney?" Those are his first and middle names.

The New York Times called Kevin "America’s Olivier." In his hometown, Kevin has a star on the St.KKA-header-image  Louis Walk of Fame. The Professional Theatre Council of St. Louis gives out the Kevin Kline Awards. Not bad for a boy who went to St. Louis Priory School.

I’ve moved on, too. I write mysteries instead of newspaper stories. "Pumped for Murder," my tenth Dead-End Job novel, will be published May 3.

I need your help, Kevin. My Dead-End Job series is making a major change. Helen Hawthorne will still be working those low-paying jobs, but now she’s going undercover as a private eye. Helen and Phil have opened their own PI agency. In "Pumped for Murder," they investigate two cases. One is a Miami-Vice style murder from 1986. The other case explores extreme bodybuilding.

Pumped_for_Murder The reviews are good so far, but I’d like to pack the houses. I’ll be touring seven cities starting this week. Check the Events at www.elaineviets.com. You might be in St. Louis May 25 visiting your mom.

You wouldn’t even have to read my novel. Just carry it with you on an airplane. Do you still fly commercial?

"Pumped for Murder" would make a terrific movie. It has sweat, sex and nearly naked bodies. My new book trailer shows the visual possibilities. http://tinyurl.com/5wsr9en

Come on, Kevin. We Catholic school kids have to stick together.



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Elaine, I love Kevin Kline.
One of my favorite movies starred Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline was FRENCH KISS. It was near perfect.
Your new novel PUMPED FOR MURDER looks fabulous..cannot wait to read it.

Congrats on your upcoming release.

Can't wait to read this, Elaine!

For the record, Kevin Kline's best movie was SILVERADO. Which should have been a monster hit in the theaters. There's not a wrong step in the whole thing.

OH I am a fan of his----This just tickled me near to DEATH.

DOOOD! Kevin OWES you! He should pin your book to his lapel and go on Ellen.

Joshilyn, we live in hope.
William, Kevin was fabulous in "Silverado," but I've never seen a movie of his where he was bad. If you ever get a chance to see him on stage, don't miss it. The man is electrifying. (And he's a good actor.)
Elaine Viets

Who doesn't adore Kevin Kline? I'll punch that person in the nose! In & Out! Dave! His Pirates of Penzance must be the touchstone for every actor since. And I wish I'd seen his Hamlet. I can't stand to watch Sophie's Choice because the emotion is too much to bear. He's wonderful.

Here in Pittsburgh we have awards named after our theatrical native son, too: Gene Kelly. All the high schools compete, which just feels....patriotic somehow.

I loved this post! I agree with the previous poster that French Kiss was KK's best. :-)

Can't wait to read the new book & see you in StL in May, Elaine. I love the Helen Hawthorne series.

Hmmm, Kevin as Phil? . . . that might be a very good thing. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the new book!

I'm missing the days when newspapers had, and deserved, influence. I subscribe now because my father did . . . tradition, habit, but the paper itself is such a disappointment.
After the P-D review claimed that _The Deathly Hallows_ was a PLACE, our friend Al told me that many of the movie reviews are written without even seeing the movie.

De-Lovely was not much of a movie, but Kevin Kline sang his own songs, and he did a fabulous job. Cole Porter's songs are not easy to sing, but he did credit to them, and then some.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njBbT2r6MdU and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxNg5LSdW0c and

Like Steve Martin, Kevin Kline brings a good-natured, athletic enthusiasm to his roles. And also like Martin, he has truly comic timing and genius. Every movie he's been in has benefited from what he brought to the role.

Thanks for giving the kid a boost, Elaine. Returning the favor is the least he can do, really.

I've been lucky enough to see Kevin Kline on stage four times -- in Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Seagull (with Meryl Streep) and Henry IV (the production at Lincoln Center that combined both parts and in which he was a fabulous Falstaff). He was wonderful in all the roles, but I think my favorite was Much Ado About Nothing, in which he was Benedick to Blythe Danner's Beatrice.

I've been lurking here for a while, enjoying all the posts and comments. And this voracious reader thanks all of you for your wonderful books!

I love French Kiss too, For those of you who have not seen it, it is well worth the 2 hours.

"Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me."

Isn't that like doing a favor for a friend?

Karen, I love those song links..thank you!

Good luck Elaine...I eagerly await Helen's new adventure and more purple outfits from her landlady! And, I agree, Kevin would make a terrific Phil...although I had previously envisioned another Kevin...Kevin Costner.

I wouldn't turn down Kevin Costner, Tracy, but I'd love it if Phil was played by a hometown boy. Kevin has lovely silver hair, just like Phil.
I still remember Kevin's gleeful malice when he ate Wanda. That was brilliant.

Hope you hear from Kevin. I won't have Kevin's impact but if my pre-ordered copy of Pumped arrives before I go to DC next weekend I'll make sure it's visable as I sit in the battered airport in STL and I'll carry it on the plane.

Hope to see you on the 25th.
Your stalker,

Your book trailer looks great, Elaine. I can't wait to read.

I'm a big fan of Kevin Kline. I've loved him in everything, especially his stage work and The Big Chill.

I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. I love Kevin Kline. XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Elaine, I'm surprised at you. I would think that you would have sent him an advanced copy with a note reminding him of your connection. He would be more than happy to return the favor!

Hope to see you the 25th....will cross my fingers that I don't have to work.

Oh, and one of my favorites is In & Out. That kiss between Mr Kline and Tom Selleck is a classic. Dear Hubby & I laughed a long time over that one. That and Joan Cusak screaming outside the bar, "Is EVERYBODY gay?"

Cannot WAIT to see you at the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont!

Rumor has it that Nancy Martin is going to coordinate a TLC photo!

Kathy, I'm going to be there, too. So looking forward to meeting you!

Elaine, congrats on your new release. Your book sounds like something I'd love to read, I'll definitely buy it. Best wishes and hope you sell tons! Fingers crossed that Kevin Kline gives you a plug!

Be still my beating heart...you might mention to Mr. Kline that his latest role, that of Sec of State Edwin Stanton in Robert Redford's The Conspirator, is amazing. Not a surprise, but since I wasn't paying attention to any cast news, it was a pleasant surprise to see him as the by-the-book take no prisoners, what I sat goes because I AM Sec of State. Of course the rest of the cast was not shabby either :o) All I can say is, Dave and Luc would have had me at "hello". Drop him a note, Elaine...I bet he WOULD remember!

Kevin better carry your book for you!

I wrote nice reviews about his performances in "The Extra Man" and "The Conspirator!"

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