Mark Frechette, movie actor and bank robber, believed in astrology. His interest in it started before he joined an astrology-obsessed commune, based in the Fort Hill district of Boston, that called itself the Fort Hill Community and eventually answered to “the Lyman Family.” Like all cults, they denied being a cult, despite being led by a despot who proclaimed himself the Second Coming and was tagged the “East Coast Charles Manson” by Rolling Stone magazine in a 60,000-word exposé that appalled his apostles. Here’s how they characterized themselves in a pamphlet published in 1973, the same year Mark Frechette botched a bank heist and feathered a reputation already tarred by Rolling Stone: “We are a group of people between the ages of 16 and 30 who have been experimenting with communal living for seven years now and have come up with some amazing results which we would like to share with you.” The pamphlet advertised the courses they offered to the heathen, including two in astrology: “By studying your own chart, you will learn to make astrology work for you in your relationships with other people by a greater understanding of them, an understanding to which there are no limits.” Mark Frechette would certainly have studied his own chart, but whatever understanding he gained from it, he was captured and died cryptically in prison. His FBI file includes a photocopy of the Lyman Family pamphlet.

frankenstein behind the scenes

Last Halloween, I’d asked a few Nervous Breakdown contributors to share their favorite terrifying movie scenes, and D. R. Haney was among them with his contribution from Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I, on the other hand, had picked the tunnel scene from Willy Wonka, which I explain so you understand why I like collaborating with Duke. My brain grows three sizes bigger by association. He’s like a cinematic moral compass for which true north is James Dean. And this year for Halloween, Duke and I decided to discuss the classic tale that produced another old-school Hollywood icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Dick Cavett onstage at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, CA this past December, at an event sponsored by Writers Bloc. Cavett’s special interview guest was Mel Brooks.)

 

 

 

 

By Terry Keefe

During the varied runs of his television talk show, Dick Cavett arguably conducted in-depth interviews better than anyone in the media before or since.

From 1968 to 1975 on ABC, and then later from 1977 to 1982 on PBS, “The Dick Cavett Show” hosted a literal who’s who of both America and the world. The guest list included Marlon Brando, Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Noel Coward, Salvador Dali, Mel Brooks, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingmar Bergman, to name just a few.

The show was unique in its time, but even more so today, in that the host and guest rarely engaged in stuffy Q&As designed to promote the latest project, nor was the format a non-stop quip fest. Cavett had conversations with his guests, real conversations which sometimes lasted an hour or more. If you want to see what, for example, David Bowie would have been like to speak with during the early 70s, watch his sometimes manic, often rambling, but always 100 percent authentic dialogue with Cavett.