When you’re making a movie that recreates performances by beloved bands like the Talking Heads, Blondie, and the Police, getting the casting right is a top priority — or at least it was for Jody Savin ’82, writer and producer of the new film CBGB. “Most of the crew were really serious music fans, if not punk fans,” Savin said in a recent press event. “Even the extras — non-speaking roles — had to be able to play. They couldn’t fake it.”
Savin and her husband, director, writer, and producer Randall Miller, collaborated on CBGB, which provides a fictional but historical look at the early years of a nightclub on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that played a pivotal role in the rise of punk rock in New York. Alan Rickman stars as CBGB founder Hilly Kristal. Rickman also was in the last two films that Savin and Miller made, Bottle Shock, a 2008 release about California wine-making in the 1970s; and Nobel Son, a 2007 release that tells the story of a Ph.D. student whose father wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
CBGB closed in 2005, but parts of the venue resurfaced on the set of the film, including a 40-foot-long section of the bar that had been in storage in Brooklyn, according to Film.com’s interview with Miller and Savin. In more than 30 years, the club hosted an estimated 50,000 bands, so choosing the music featured in the film was a challenge — and the songs that made the cut don’t always sync with historical chronology. “For some of the religious punkers, it throws them off,” Savin said in the press session. “But it is a movie after all.”
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