The anniversary party and Greenwald’s up-beat break of silence in the LA Times’ Man & His Muse piece was amounting to the
starting gun for the other survivors to come out and slowly come to terms with the film’s stubborn legacy and fans.
Ever the professional performer, Olivia continues to sing material from Xanadu at her concerts and had recently remarked: “I can’t
believe the hairdos and the acting. I watch it and cringe. I love the music and the dancing, and the costumes are kind of camp but some
of the lines….I’m just so embarrassed about. They should do a DVD and cut out all the acting bits and put the music bits together. That
would be real cool.”
Distance and time seemingly mellowed Lynne’s more abrasive opinion of the whole experience. In 2000, ELO’s second box set,
Flashback, was released and it included, of all things, a brand new version of Xanadu. “I always liked the song,” remarked Lynne in his
sparse personal liner notes, “and fancied another go at it.” Though this version wasn’t as aggressively elaborate as the original (far
more guitars and 4/4 beats and far less cresindoes and keyboards), fans were nevertheless happy. Another Xanadu-related tune was
an unreleased and slightly reworked track believed to have been part of the Xanadu sessions called Love Changes All. (#10)
When Lynne was doing interviews for the new ELO record, Zoom, in 2001, he mentioned in many interviews that Xanadu has been
one of his favorite songs. “The song, I think the way it was constructed,” he told BBC2 for a radio special, “is one of me favorite songs I’
ve ever done, believe it or not. It’s a bit light, but it’s a nice tune.”
More bemusement was seen at the above mentioned 2003 Xanadu screening at the
American Cinematheque where both Ms. Kelly and Kemper expressed pleasure with a hint of
confoundment with the positively giddy responsive audience and Ms. Kelly remarked that if Kelly
himself were here, he too would be “gratified though slightly confused” that the film was still
entertaining people after all these years.
Another former silent survivor came forward, or at least, been nudged by time like Lynne,
and that was Michael Beck. After years of silence and his alledged remark that The Warriors
started his career and Xanadu ended it, Beck began to do public appearance and interviews
about his Xanadu experience.
The first ray of light from Beck was a personal appearance at a screening at the Alamo
Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas on October 9, 2003. Beck was first talked into wearing
roller skates for the event, but after a couple of loops he stopped and said “OK, I’ll answer
questions, but no more roller skates!” Then came the questions: What was it like to kiss Olivia?
“Well, I’d just gotten engaged to my wife.” Were the legwarmers to hide Olivia’s thin ankles? “I
plead the fifth”.
In January 2005, USA Today columnist Whitney Matheson (reported to be a Xanadu fan)
tracked down Beck for an interview. After catching up on Beck’s life and career that included
temporarily moving out of L. A. to safely raise his children, ‘The Warriors’ fandom, reading a
total of 12 to 15 John Grisham’ books for tapes and currently writing a book of his own, they got
down to the Xanadu question.
Beck said he made good long-term friends from it and thought it was a good experience
though he did address the script troubles and how that was difficult and frustrating from an
actor’s point of view. “But Olivia was just a wonderful person to work with. And the privilege of
working with a Hollywood legend like Gene Kelly, are you kidding? I would pinch myself on the
set and go, ‘I’m sitting here with Gene Kelly, what’s up with this?’”
“You know, when the picture opened, it got terrible reviews. I think it won the Golden Turkey
award that year or whatever. But I found through the years, people come up to you and they tell
you how much that movie meant to them, and how much they love it. And anytime people share
that with you, then you think, ‘Well, neat. I’m glad I had something to do with that.’”
When Matheson bought up the news about a Warriors remake, she speculated about the
possibility of a Xanadu remake, or her fear of it. “Well, I don’t know how they should do it,” Beck
answered back, “because one of the concepts was a kind of blending of the 40’s and the 80’
s…I imagine that’s pretty safe.”
In curtain respects, however, Xanadu was already being remade.
After years of infighting and neglect, the County Of Los Angeles finally rolled out a plan for the old Pan Pacific site. On July 27,
2000, ground was broken for the $5.5 million ‘Pan Pacific Recreation Center’ that was about to be built right next to the old auditorium
site. The new Pan Pacific includes an outdoor children’s play area, two outdoor basketball courts, two indoor courts/gym/multi-use
rooms, kitchen, offices, baseball diamond and a parking lot for 190 cars. Comparably, the building itself is much smaller than the
More notable here is the building’s design reflected the old Pan Pacific and LA’s lavish Art Deco history, though there’s only one of
the legendary flag polls used. There are photographic tiles of old LA art deco buildings spread through out the center’s lobby and
entrance. Architect Jeffery Kalban was mindful of not only the demands the County, its many agencies and community groups had
made for the center, but for the former occupant’s history.
LA Times reporter Hugh Hart went along with Kalban has his toured the just completed building in April 2002. While going
towards the entrance and the lobby with pictures of LA’s Art Deco past lined along it’s green, white and red walls like bricks, Kalban
remarked, “Look at this curve going one way, the other curve going back the other way, the [white] strips, the green walls, the straight
walls, the rhythm. And then you have the palm trees and the shadows working with the adulations of this sidewalk, so this walk
through here between the trees and undulating walls-it’s going to be a California experience. They built it! We drew it and they built it!”
I’m sure Sonny Malone couldn’t said it better himself, if he weren’t so fictional.
covers of ONJ: Gold and ELO's 2000
box set Flashback.
LEFT and RIGHT:
Michael Beck at the Alamo Drafthouse