RECENTLY HELD TO HONOR DECEASED PETER COOK
My mother kidnapped me from my alcoholic father and we left England in 1954 on the Queen Mary. In New York we stayed with my mom's childhood friend, Jessica Tandy and her husband Hume Cronyn. We soon moved on to California.
When I was in my early teens my mother bought a copy of the "Beyond The Fringe" comedy album. I soon knew every word by heart. As fate would have it, I met my hero, Peter Cook, on the film "Yellowbeard" and we quickly became best of friends.
An important event took place this week in which I was a key participant: "Bedazzling! A Celebration of Peter Cook." Although it took some time to organize, the event was finally held November 15th and 16th in Los Angeles. As you may know, Peter Cook died earlier this year at the age of 57. Peter was one of my best friends and without a doubt one of the most influential satirical comics of all time.
Peter's widow, Lin Chong-Cook arrived in the United States Monday and stayed at the Sunset Markee until Friday. The scheduled tribute began Wednesday night, November 15 at 7 pm, at the Improv in Los Angeles. Some of the notable guests were Eric Idle, Dudley Moore, Richard Benjiman, Lynn Redgrave, Wierd Al Yankovich, and Stephen Stills. Stephen played "Tree Top Flyer," a song that he wrote for my film "The Jungle Of Jules Levine." Stephen said that he played it for Peter when we were in Panama and mentioned that Peter "loved it" but that he also thought it was "terribly American".
British comic Martin Lewis and I devised the concept of a USA wake soon after Peter's death. Martin, who produced the "Secret Policeman's Other Ball," took the reins and made it happen. The day of the event, I arranged for the "Freedom Of Speech Mobile" to pick Lin Chong-Cook up. We renamed the art car "The Not Only, But Also...Mobile". At the Improv a tape of the voice of Rolling Stone Keith Richards echoed a stoney praise to Peter for saving the "Stones" from insanity on the road and said he would be seeing him "one dark day". Eric was very funny and credited Peter for saving his life as a young man and inspiring his comedy as well as that of the fellow Pythons. All the guests signed the "Not Only... But Also...Mobile" and we carreened back to the Sunset Marquis.
The next night we screened many of Peter's comedic films at the DGA including "Bedazzled" and the outrageous "Derek and Clive Get The Horn". Peter was in true form on the 1994 episode of the British TV hit "The Clive Anderson Show" as well. Peter played four incredible characters he devised for the program.
Dudley was being interviewed by Martin Lewis before and after the screenings and finally admitted that Peter wrote everything they did together. Peter Cook is now somewhat cannonized after his death and finally his talent may be recognized as the basis of modern British humor by American audiences as well.
By the way, my father hasn't had a drink in thirty years and we have become very close recently. A while back, Peter invited my wife and I to Forrest Mere, a "Fat Farm" in Liphook, England. We wrote a screenplay, "It Sucks", on my laptop and snuck treackle pies and gin into our rooms. I am currently looking for a financial partner on "It Sucks".