Woody Allen

Woody Allen has been a major cultural presence for more than half a century now, and though he got his start in stand-up (for more of which, see below), most of those 50 years have been spent making movies, beginning with 1965's “What's New Pussycat?”. In that time, the man has worked with an absurd array of actors, helping to forge and reforge careers and paying attention, to this day, to performers he thinks are undervalued by the rest of Hollywood: see for instance his recent praise for Louis CK, a fellow writer, comic, actor and source of quotable remarks on masturbation.

The Hollywood Reporter carries an interesting addition to Allen's advocacy for performers, in the form of an open letter calling for an Academy Award for casting directors. Allen credits his longtime collaborator Juliet Taylor for his work with a number of greats, and even points to her as the impetus behind Meryl Streep's career: it was Taylor who picked her for a small part in “Manhattan." It was also Taylor, apparently, who persuaded various non-acting famous faces in front of Allen's camera: we have her to thank for this utterly wonderful Annie Hall” moment. We at The Playlist, meanwhile, are positively salivating at the idea of another Oscar category about which we could write prediction pieces starting some time in mid-April.

Speaking of Allen and his early career, here's an enjoyable half-hour of it (via Open Culture), in the form of a stand-up show Allen recorded in 1965 in the U.K., filled with exotic tales of this place called New York City, where people are “hip” and jokes about sex are allowed. The level of energy evident in the way he leaps around the microphone maybe provides some clue as to why he still hasn't run out of steam, 50 years later...