The great Paul Mazursky is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame December 13 (all together now: “Doesn’t he HAVE one already??!) and there’s a premature sense of the valedictory hanging over the occasion. OK, maybe the director of “Harry and Tonto,” “An Unmarried Woman,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills" and “Enemies: A Love Story” hasn’t been front and center recently. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been acting up.
Actually, the last movie Mazursky directed came out in 2006 -- “Yippee!” a documentary about the annual pilgrimage to Uman, a town in the Ukraine where the famous Hasidic leader Rabbi Nachman is buried. Nachman, who lived in the late 1700s and is associated with the more celebratory aspects of Hasidim, told his followers, “if you celebrate Rosh Hashanah at my grave, you'll have a year of joy.” So people return there year after year. “It’s quite the party,” said cinematographer Bill Megalos, “like a Sundance for Hasidim.”
Megalos, who shot “Yippee!” recently started working with the director on another project. “Every Friday for years,” Megalos said, “Paul has had lunch with a group of friends” -- including Mel Brooks (who always picks up the check), director Richard Donner, producer Alan Ladd Jr., agent Jay Cantor and producer Michael Gruskoff. Mazurksy’s idea was to create a show that would capture the intimacy and hilarity of those lunches. He asked Megalos to help put it together.
The result: “It’s All Crap!” an as-yet-unreleased podcast featuring Mazursky and his various pals -- the first of whom was Brooks, whose Adolf Hitler imitation can be seen here along with Megalos’ account of how the show came about and where it’s going. (Four episodes have been completed, featuring Brooks, Donner and Leonard Nimoy, which Megalos said is enough to start shopping the show). Mazursky’s “musings” can be found on his website, none of which should surprise anyone familiar with the work of a director who -- from “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” to “An Unmarried Woman” to “Scenes From a Mall” -- has been very much of his moment.