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Kleiser, Randal (b. 1946)   
 
page: 1  2  

In 1996, Kleiser made his most personal film, It's My Party, which he wrote, directed, and co-produced. The film, about a man suffering from complications due to AIDS who chooses to end his life, is based, in part, on Kleiser's own experiences.

While filming Summer Lovers in Greece in 1982, Kleiser met Harry Stein (1954-1993), an on-location production assistant also working on the movie. The two men subsequently embarked on a relationship that lasted eight years.

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Although he had been HIV-positive for several years, in 1993 Stein learned that he had developed untreatable lesions on his brain that would leave him blind and without any motor control. Instead of waiting passively for the ravages of AIDS to overtake him, Stein decided to take control and end his life with dignity.

"Harry Stein . . . took charge of his death as he did his life," Kleiser explained. "He indeed threw a goodbye party. He was able to say things to his friends and family while he was lucid."

It's My Party stars Eric Roberts as an HIV-positive architect who assembles his family and friends for a final farewell gathering. As he explains, he wants to die "while I am still me." Gregory Harrison plays his ex-lover, a successful television director. The large ensemble cast also includes Olivia Newton-John, Marlee Matlin, Bruce Davison, Margaret Cho, Bronson Pinchot, Lee Grant, Nina Foch, and Roddy McDowall, among many others as the party guests.

The film, while admired by some critics, met with decidedly mixed reviews. The most negative critics dismissed it as "sentimental," and it failed to find the large audience it deserved. However, it has become a cult classic among many viewers who find it a deeply moving though painful portrayal of a gay man's complex relationship with his family, friends, and former lover.

Since then, Kleiser has directed the mystery-thriller Shadow of Doubt (1998), Love Wrecked (2005), a romantic comedy, and the family-friendly adventure Red Riding Hood (2005).

Kleiser also spent several years working with George Lucas, the noted filmmaker and Kleiser's former college roommate, to create The Nina Foch Project, an instructional video for aspiring actors, writers, and filmmakers.

Foch, the Dutch-born actress who starred in Hollywood productions throughout the 1940s and 1950s, taught classes on "Directing the Actor" at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for 40 years beginning in the 1960s. Her course was a requirement in the Master of Fine Arts program.

Kleiser was greatly influenced by Foch's teachings and maintained a close relationship with her until her death in 2008.

Kleiser currently resides in Los Angeles.

Craig Kaczorowski

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  AIDS Activism in the Arts

In response to the AIDS epidemic, a number of activist groups, including Gran Fury and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, have used art as a means to raise awareness about the epidemic.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Drama

American television has made significant strides in its portrayal of homosexuals in dramatic series and movies, but cable networks have been more daring than the "big three" broadcast networks.

arts >> Overview:  Documentary Film

The queer community has used documentary film to resurrect historical memory and to permit the marginalized to bear witness, as well as to build an image base that reflects our diversity and counters distorted representations.

arts >> Overview:  Film

Since cinema began, Hollywood has been fascinated with finding ways of representing homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Film Directors

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual film directors have been a vital creative presence in cinema since the medium's inception over one hundred years ago.

arts >> Overview:  Musical Theater and Film

The musical has been a significant aspect of American gay male culture, manifesting itself both in diva worship and, more recently, in the presentation of openly gay characters and shows written by gay writers primarily for gay audiences.

arts >> Overview:  Screenwriters

Although film may be a director's rather than a writer's medium, gay and lesbian screenwriters have made significant contributions to both mainstream and independent film.

arts >> Almendros, Néstor

Acclaimed cinematographer Néstor Almendros earned fame for the painterliness of his film work, but he also directed documentaries exposing the persecution of homosexuals in Castro's Cuba.

arts >> Black, Dustin Lance

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has quickly established himself as both an accomplished filmmaker and a committed activist.

arts >> Cho, Margaret

Korean-American bisexual actress turned stand-up comedian Margaret Cho has become one of the most prominent Asian Americans in show business and in glbtq culture.

arts >> Gielgud, Sir John

Sir John Gielgud has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest British actors of the twentieth century.

arts >> Gore, Lesley

One of the few successful female solo artists during the era of the "girl groups," singer Lesley Gore is also a successful songwriter; in 2003, she came out publicly and hosted an episode of In the Life.

arts >> McDowall, Roddy

British-born actor Roddy McDowall made a graceful transition from a juvenile star to a highly versatile character actor on both stage and screen.


    Bibliography
   

Hadleigh, Boze. The Lavender Screen: The Gay and Lesbian Films: Their Stars, Makers, Characters and Critics. New York: Citadel Press, 2001. 253-257.

Kallay, Bill. "Randal Kleiser: Director." The Backlot (April 2009). http://www.fromscripttodvd.com/grease_randal_kleiser.html

Klemm, Michael D. "Comfortably Numb." CinemaQueer.com (December 2009). http://www.randalkleiser.com/magazine-articles/comfortably-numb--randal.html

Parks, Tim. "FilmOut: Randal Kleiser Celebrates his 'Party.'" San Diego LGBT Weekly (August 18, 2011). http://lgbtweekly.com/2011/08/18/randal-kleiser-celebrates-his-party/

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Kleiser, Randal  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2014  
    Date Last Updated April 13, 2014  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/kleiser_randal.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2014 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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