Neil Meron remarked that the last time he and producing partner Craig Zadan were at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, it was to film Bette Midler performing Rose’s Turn for their 1993 television production of Gypsy.
They returned over the weekend (13 October) for the Legacy Awards, a gala benefiting the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT film preservation. Zadan and Meron received the Visionary Award for their work dealing with LGBT subject matter.
‘What is so interesting about being in this theater tonight is that we hadn’t been back here since that time we shot Rose’s Turn,’ Meron told the crowd. ‘To be here and to look at the (Gypsy film clip when they were) sitting out there and watching the rats go by our feet as we were filming the number.’
Meron remarked on how the Orpheum has been ‘beautifully restored’ since he and Zadan were there last and thanked Zadan for his faith in him.
‘He recognized something in me that made him want to work with me which is probably the greatest thing that ever happened to me,.’ he said.
This legendary team is producing the upcoming Academy Awards telecast and are responsible for such movie musicals as Chicago and Hairpray, television productions of Annie, A Raisin in the Sun, and Cinderella as well as the feature films The Bucket List and Footloose. Other TV movies include Brian’s Song, Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, Wedding Wars and Living Proof.
‘I deeply appreciate the encouragement and support Outfest as shown us by honoring our work.’ Zadan said as the pair accepted the award from Glee star Darren Criss who participated in the presentation along with openly gay Broadway and television stars Sean Hayes and Michael Urie.
‘They’re basically responsible for all gay people,’ Hayes joked. ‘They’re like genies, they make all our dreams come true. In fact, if you rub them just long enough, they’ll give you their own Broadway show.’
Hays has worked with the pair on the TV film Martin and Lewis, the feature film The Bucket List, the Broadway musical Promises, Promises and most recently the TV series Smash.
‘They’ve basically given me a career,’ Hayes said.
Hayes remembering auditioning, unsuccessfully, for the TV production of Gypsy that starred Midler.
‘When you’re a young actor feigning confidence and belief in yourself, it means everything in the world when you find two people as successful as Craig and Neil who enter your life and affirm your self-worth,’ Hayes said. ‘Because of them, I started to believe in myself and in more ways than one, because of them, I’m standing here today. The fearlessness they show with every project they produce actually helped me to come out and that same fearlessness continues to inspire me to accomplish all that I want. They are my heroes and I love them very, very much.’
Criss was also grateful to the pair.
‘They made it possible for me to take three weeks off from Glee to make my Broadway debut, fulfilling an extraordinary and very unexpected dream of mine,’ he said. ‘It was a pain in the ass but they did it nonetheless because they are just incredible like that.’
‘All their wonderful (work) is so touching and works because it comes from two hearts that are bigger than the sun and it has really helped all of us really accomplish a lot of things that we believe in,’ he added. ‘To know them is to love them.’