Back to Eden
Bottoms is up and at ‘em at Salinas East of Eden mini-series screening.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Timothy Bottoms, who has appeared in more than 60 feature films including The Last Picture Show and The Paper Chase, lives nowhere near Hollywood. He lives on a ranch near Yosemite, and also owns a place in Big Sur, with an adobe built in 1779, in the heart of the Santa Lucia mountains.
Bottoms rarely leaves his tranquil surroundings, but this weekend he’s attending the annual Steinbeck Festival in Salinas and participating in a panel discussion, “The Making of a Legend: the Making of the Golden Globe Award Winning Television Mini-Series East of Eden.” The mini-series, in which Bottoms played Adam Trask, aired nearly 30 years ago but has not been available in its entirety until recently, when it was first released on DVD. The full version will be shown in three parts at the Maya Cinemas this weekend.
Actor Wendell Burton, who played Tom Hamilton, and producer Ken Wales will join Bottoms on the panel.
Wales has been a Hollywood producer for 40 years and was filmmaker Blake Edwards’ creative partner for 16 years on works including The Pink Panther. In 1981, Wales co-produced the six-hour East of Eden TV mini-series starring Bottoms, Jane Seymour, Lloyd Bridges and Karen Allen.
“I love telling classic stories and East of Eden has been a longtime favorite of mine,” Wales says. “Though I like the original 1950’s version, it’s really only the last hundred pages of the book; I’ve always wanted to remake it in its entirety.”
Since a lot of the mini-series was shot on location, around and nearby Monterey County, Wales feels nostalgic about returning to the area.
“It will be a wonderful reunion,” says Wales, who found an 18th-century church owned by Gavilan College in Gilroy while scouting locations for Eden.
“When I saw [the church] I immediately went to the president of Gavilan College and asked him if we could use it,” he explains. “It was the perfect place to shoot Sam Hamilton’s funeral.”
Wales learned the art of storytelling from someone as legendary as Steinbeck: Walt Disney. Wales was given the opportunity to spend a week with Disney when he was in high school.
“Walt told me that every great story needs some jeopardy,” Wales says. “Then [he] asked me if I understood what he meant.”
When Wales told Disney that the death of the young deer’s mother in Bambi was essential to the narrative, Disney was impressed enough to pay Wales’ tuition to USC film school.
Wales, who now teaches film at USC himself, tells his students that the most important part of writing a story is: “choosing the right story to tell in the first place.” In East of Eden, he clearly found a story he loved telling.
The East of Eden mini-series DVD can be purchased at the screenings.
EAST OF EDEN, Maya Cinemas, 153 Main St., Salinas. Free with museum admission and to passport holders to National Steinbeck Center events. Part 1 screens 5pm Friday, Aug. 7; Part 2, 3:30pm, Saturday, Aug. 8; Part 3, 1pm, Sunday, Aug. 9. Maya Cinemas, 153 Main St., Salinas. Free with museum admission and to passport holders. 775-4724, www.steinbeck.org..