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As for Buffalo '66, Gallo said that originally, Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop)was set to direct, "but I realized my hero had become miserable, stubborn, and out of touch. He thought the cinematography should be invisible. We parted ways." Even after Hellman became invisible, Gallo wasn't too thrilled with his partners in cinema crime. "They should have stopped Hitler in Austria when they had a chance," he said. "When I had the chance, I stopped the 10 Hitlers on my set. I was very strict, especially with Ben Gazzara."
He actually ended up loving Gazzara, who plays his dad, but mom, Anjelica Huston, makes Gallo feel less than filial. "She fucked me so bad," he claimed, "with the conniving manipulation of her agent. It's not enough that she's getting a quarter of a million dollars for three days--the great Anjelica Huston! Suddenly, she has to have her own hair person and a $20,000 wig, which basically came out of my money. And God forbid she should have a job where she works." He said that Huston refused to shoot on Easter, but then that very day she had her people ask if Gallo would rehearse with her. "I said, 'You tell that vicious cunt to get the fuck off my set,' " he related, triumphantly. "She looked at me and started bawling--because that's how the girls get you. Then, of course, she became an angel--'What can I do for you?' " What Huston ultimately did for him, Gallo added, was say she loved Buffalo '66 until it left the parents' house--in other words, until the end of pretty much her last scene, long before the movie's over. "You throw these monkeys a bone," winced Gallo, "and they come back and attack you!"
To toss the Oscar-winning primate something more substantial to chew on, I asked Toni Howard, Anjelica's agent at ICM, for a response to Gallo's cantankerous claims. She told me, "Vincent was kissing the ground she walked on the day Anjelica said yes. Afterwards, he said stuff to me like, 'It was the greatest experience I ever had. I wish you were my agent.' Anjelica couldn't have been more cooperative." Buffalo's producer, Chris Hanley, then called in to say that Anjelica's name and rep are what got the film green-lighted, "plus the wig actually cost $5000 and I paid for it--and I'm not complaining." Well, the esteemed Ms. Huston is certainly worth flipping over a wig--and flipping a wig--for. But I'll stay out of this or there'll have to be more interventions than in Lorna Luft's book (albeit of a presumably less toxic sort).
While all the above were clawing each other's eyebrows out, I wrapped a festive turban around my wig ($20, and I paid for it) and opted for a serene spirituality far from the mundanities of Buffalo or indie filmmaking. Looking quite fierce, I contacted the guy who contacted Sonny Bono after Cher contacted him--I'm talking about medium to the stars James Van Praagh, who's apparently better at, um, contacting the dead than Gallo is at contracting the living. In a phone interview, Van Praagh insisted to me that he's no gypsy, tramp, or thief--he's for real, so contact this! Cher learned of Van Praagh when her mother gave her his book, Talking to Heaven,though the singer-actress later told the psychic, "I don't read that much." That's not surprising since she once thought Mount Rushmore was carved by nature, but, hey, we love the lady and all her heavy headwear.
Cher met with the guy anyway, and the beat went on when he reached Sonny--collect. "There was such a strong love bond," said Van Praagh. "You felt the connection." And what did that gnomelike Svengali have to say for himself? "He was surprised about what happened to him [the skiing accident, not the Cher TV special]. It was like a blank, a dream. But he's going to be around, helping everyone. He still loves Cher and is very proud of her." I.e., she's got him, babe.