Harry Haun: Movie Quote Master and Veteran Entertainment Journalist

Harry Haun may not be a face you recognize but if you have followed entertainment journalism over the last 45 years you have certainly read his features. That is because Mr. Haun has built a prolific career as a writer covering stage and film for some of New York’s most prestigious publications including Playbill, The Daily News, Broadway World and many more. In addition, Mr. Haun is the author of two books “The Movie Quote Book” and “The Cinematic Century: An Intimate Diary of America’s Affair with the Movies,” both of which speak to the encyclopedic knowledge Mr. Haun holds for the arts. Currently, Mr.Haun is writing his own truly delightful column for Theater Pizzaz entitled Screen of Consciousness.  Over his illustrious career as a journalist, Mr. Haun has interviewed some of the greatest entertainers of our time. Now, Nectar News has the privilege of sitting down with Mr. Haun himself (over Skype) for an interview about his passion for film, theater and his journey as a writer. 

NN: When did your career in journalism begin?

HH: Well, I was born in Texas. I delivered newspapers for The Dallas Morning News. The first day that I delivered a paper, Fred Allen’s obituary was on the front page and that was the beginning of my career so I can put a date on it: 1956. I did that for 3 years. I think I actually won the “Carrier Of the Month” award but it was not a distinguished career. I also used to go to a Saturday morning matinee that my Methodist Church had where they showed Flash Gordon serials. I would go home and write up what happened in each particular episode. I still to this day cave in when I see Buster Crabbe or Ming the Magnificent.  

NN: So writing seems to have come to you naturally at a young age.

HH: Yes, I guess it did. I didn’t realize what I was doing when I was doing it but I was assembling information from what I saw and I guess that is journalism isn’t it? That’s actually being a critic too. I’m not so much interested in being a critic now as I am in interviewing people. I really love to do that.  

From there, I majored in journalism at SMU and then I went and got a job at The Tennessean. The day that I got a job there on the front page of the paper was the obituary for Jack Carson and Dick Powell, so I can put a date on that too: January 1963. I did 10 years there and then I decided to try my hand in New York. I haven’t regretted it at all. I’ve been here for 45 years and It’s been wonderful. 

NN: What was the first publication you wrought for in New York?

HH: In New York, I started at the Daily News on May 5, 1975. Right before that, I was doing freelance work for the LA Times. I had gone back to Nashville to clean up my desk and they were shooting the movie Nashville. So I got to report on that which was a lot of fun. It was a nice way to say goodbye to Nashville. 

Image of Harry Haun’s Column in the Daily News, 1987.

When I got to New York it was hard at first. My first job interview was at the New York Times for the architect editor which was not the right fit. It took me a long time to get my footing. I had a friend who was working at the Daily News and he got me a job there. I wrote there for 17 years. Around the same time, I had started writing for Playbill. I wrote for Playbill for 37 years. It was great to work there because it is the ‘Creme de la creme’ of theater journalism and I have great respect for them. It is the go-to place for getting information about the theater.

NN: Do you recall the first article you wrote in New York?

HH: Yes, actually I do. It was at the Daily News. They sent me to see Marlene Dietrich in her one-woman show. This image is still with me: a feather from her Boa came drifting down toward me in slow motion and I’ll never forget that. I got to meet her backstage because she wanted some press. She was quite elderly then. This was between two falls she had on stage. The second fall put her out of commission and she became a recluse. She lived in Paris at a hotel and would always pretend to be the maid when people would call her. 

NN: You have interviewed some of the best entertainers of our time. Who are some of your favorites and who is on your interview wishlist?

HH: All About Eve is one of the greatest screenplays ever written. One of my greatest thrills was interviewing Joseph Mankiewicz who wrote it. He really understood exactly what he was doing. I interviewed Billy Wilder and that was great. I enjoyed meeting Gregory Peck who I was able to meet several times throughout my career. I loved meeting Anthony Quinn who was very curious, sweet and very humble. I have had some wonderful encounters with people. Bette Davis was absolutely wonderful to me. I am so sorry that Katherine Hepburn got away from me. I would have loved to have interviewed her. I think I would have really liked her. I liked her values. She was a strong person that I had great admiration for and I loved her films. I interviewed Cate Blanchett who won an Oscar playing Katharine Hepburn and I enjoyed meeting her. Did you know that she was half Texan? She is. She has such a great range. Meryl Streep is another one with a tremendous range. I cannot believe she is doing what she does all the time. She sincerely turns into another person when she is performing.

NN: What makes a good journalist?

HH: A good journalist is somebody who is inquisitive and always trying to find answers to things. Someone trying to give exposure to a person by revealing their character. That is the kind of journalism that I like. 

NN: Why do you think journalistic coverage of theater and film is so important?

HH: Because it opens your soul. Entertainment defines who you are. What you respond to animates you and makes you a better person. It rounds you out and makes you whole. I love it and cannot get enough of it.  There is not a day that goes by that I am not seeing a show and if I’m not seeing a show it is because I am seeing a movie. I write down everything that I see. I keep a spreadsheet of all of the possible things I can go see on a given night or day and if I decide to do it I put an asterisk next to it and that way I know what I’ve seen it. 

Margaret Hennessy: Wellness Wisdom & Career Longevity with the Founder of SOLSTICE

If you’ve ever looked for a story about career longevity and resilience look no further than Margaret Hennessy. Each time Margaret met a roadblock, she pressed forward or paved a new road herself. She is the founder and publisher of The Solstice Green Directory (http://www.slosolstice.com/).

GH: What inspired you to create the Solstice Green Directory?

MH: Well, It’s kind of a circuitous route that I took. We bought a home here in California, almost 20 years ago and I was doing lots of volunteer work at that time. I met a lady while I was volunteering with the Women’s Community Center, and one day she asked, ‘Margaret, you have a publishing background. Can you help me put together a Green Directory for the California Central Coast?’ At the time I was semi-retired but the project sounded inviting. I did some research for her and came up with a plan. We launched the first edition in 2007. Businesses were eager to be a part of this new venture, and they became known as ‘members.’ Readers loved it and it began to flourish. Six months later, I was called by this same person, who co-founded the project, and was told she was leaving the area immediately for personal reasons, and could no longer participate. So, I took it forward myself. Although “semi-retired” I just didn’t want to let this wonderful project fail. And so, eleven years ago, I became the proud publisher of the Solstice Green Directory. And, I work on it from both Florida and California.

Cover of SOLSTICE green directory: Fall 2019.

GH: Who are the members of your team and what do they do?

MH: There are so many wonderful people that help make this publication possible. For the most part, they are volunteers (including me). Only the advertising salespeople receive a commission. Without these people, Solstice Green Directory wouldn’t be possible, so I can’t too much of the credit. I have to pass it along to the rest of the team. You can view them on page 3 of the online edition: www.slosolstice.com

GH: With your long career in publishing can you tell us about your past experiences that have led you to your work today?

MH: Okay, I was born in Brooklyn, New York, a long time ago. I attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City. After graduating, I worked at several ad agencies and retail art departments in Manhattan. I moved to South Florida in 1971 and worked at The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale as Assistant Promotion Director. Shortly after that, I started working independently for a company doing their advertising and design. They suddenly, with no warning to anyone, they decided to bring in a New York advertising agency, and subsequently let me, and the chief copywriter, and everyone else go. As we walked out the door, the copywriter looked at me and she said, “Why don’t we start our own advertising agency, Margaret?” I answered, “I don’t know anything about doing that, do you?’ She said, ‘No… but we can certainly learn!” She was a  graduate of Cornell and was very, bright, so the two of us put up $1,200 each and started our agency in Fort Lauderdale in 1975. It was created out of anger because we both felt we were let go so suddenly and unfairly. It was called Johnston and Calandra Advertising. One of my subsequent business partners took over the agency in 1985 and it’s called Zimmerman Partners now. 

I married my husband David, a year later, and we moved to Colorado in 1990, to enjoy a less crowded environment, and get back to appreciating nature. At this point I considered myself, again, to be semi-retired. Since all I know how to do is marketing, and public relations, I decided to volunteer with nonprofit organizations and help them in these areas. One day, I was in the parking lot of a local shopping center, when I saw the ad rep for the community newspaper. I handed him the press release I had with me for a local non-profit event. He said, ” Margaret, I am sick and tired of these press releases, and you expecting us to run them free.’ He threw it on the ground and walked away saying, ‘When you get a budget, call me.” Humiliated, I picked it up, drove home, and had a good cry.  At dinner that evening, my husband asked why I seemed so sad. I told him about the incident in the parking lot. He looked at me, smiled and said, “You’ll think of something.”  The following day, I called a friend, who was eight months pregnant and I asked, ‘How would you like to start a newspaper?’ She laughed. “What?” I can hardly walk!.’  Yes, I said, but you can talk. So, I drove to her home, picked her up, and that was also the “birth” of a new community newspaper. It’s called The Mountain Connection. It’s been in the Evergreen/Conifer area of Colorado for 25 years. Small footnote here: the newspaper and the man who threw the press release at me are both out of business.      

After 10 years in Colorado, David and I bought a home in California. I don’t know what else to say except,  “If you make me angry, I do creative things.” I’m a peaceful person and have come to understand that if we can keep ourselves from becoming frustrated, and vindictive because of anger, we can channel that valuable energy into positive and productive things.

Excerpt from the SOLSTICE green directory.

GH: What are some of the most important issues the health, wellness, and environmental community needs to be focusing on right now?

MH: “That’s a very good question. I think for your generation especially, environmental issues are paramount to me. Even though I’m older, I do have a granddaughter, and I don’t want to leave the world to her in shambles. I’m not sure my days in politics are over yet either. I’m appalled by what is happening right now in Washington, just appalled. Along with environmental issues, educating people on what’s in all of our processed food is also a priority to me. It would appear that food plays a major role in our health. Hippocrates said it best: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

GH: How do you balance work and life?

MH: My husband David would probably say, ‘Not very well!’ There never seems to be enough time. I have chickens (fresh eggs!), and a vegetable garden that I love. We have a son, and granddaughter, as well as other family members, in South Florida, and a son in California. I live and work in both states. I try my best to be a wife, mother, grandmother, gardener, and a chicken herder too! Sometimes it’s difficult. I feel strongly that it’s important to live life, so that each night when we go to bed, we are able to say, ‘Today I did what I needed to do to feel good about myself.’ And that’s what I try and do every single day.’ I don’t know how other people balance their life. I’m sure that they’re in the same boat as me.      

GH:  Would you be interested in syndicating your publication and/or helping people start their own local versions of the magazine? 

MH: Yes. I would love that. Please feel free to email me at solstice222@aol.com if anyone is interested in discussing it.  We need to spread the word on sustainability. It takes a planet. 

Tony Adler: Wisdom from a Lifelong Career in Film & Television

by Gracen Hansen (Originally published in Nectar News)

Tony Adler started his career in the entertainment industry from the bottom and worked his way to the top. From the first time he stepped on a set as a 21-year-old college graduate he knew he had found where he was meant to be. It was that moment that led him to working on some of our most iconic films and TV shows including American Beauty and The West Wing. However, breaking into the film industry is not an easy feat. Nectar News sat down with Adler (by Skype) to ask him some questions about his journey and what it really takes to sustain a life long career in the arts.

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