Carrie Fisher made a wildly entertaining show about her story of growing up the child of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher: Wishful Drinking also became a popular HBO film. A casualty of her parents' divorce with a sharply bracing sense of humor, Carrie Fisher now stars with her mother in a new documentary, aptly named Bright Lights. This week, the movie, to air on HBO, premiered at the New York Film Festival. Now 84 and living in Beverly Hills in a house next to Carrie's, Debbie Reynolds missed this swell night. But she announced on the phone for the Alice Tully Hall audience: "I adore my children, and I'm not going to give up acting." And then, because she loves to, she sang "I've Got You Under My Skin."
Fans of Debbie as Tammy or her hoofing it in Singin' in the Rain, or Carrie as Star Wars' Princess Leia, or those eager for details of Eddie Fisher's leaving sweet Debbie for flamboyant Elizabeth Taylor when her husband Mike Todd was killed in a crash, will be dazzled by the intimate access of this film, even though the ironies of life as performance are always present. Carrie had not yet seen the final cut till the premiere, and was most moved to see her largely absentee dad, a hugely handsome and successful singer in his day, in his dotage before his death. Amazing too is the décor of their homes, more so than their life choices which in the end seem almost normal. Well, almost, for Hollywood.
As Fisher's brother Todd, a producer of the film said at the Top of the Standard after party, it started out with tons of footage they had, taken by Debbie Reynolds with her Bell & Howell in 16 mm. Debbie Reynolds and her legacy would be the focus. They got Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom involved and the film morphed into a larger story involving mother-daughter themes, bipolar disorder, celebrity culture especially as Debbie Reynolds amassed movie memorabilia--Dorothy's ruby slippers, Marilyn's billowy dress, the Rat Pack's spiffy suits--for a museum that went bust.
Less damaged by his parents' divorce, Todd said as a producer he had to fight to leave in the footage of his sister's song and dance at the Great Wall of China; her mood swings are an issue, and Debbie had to deal. Todd, whose wife carries around a pet chicken in Bright Lights, thinks the reason it resonates is because everyone has a movie like this in their life.
At the Standard, abuzz with admirers, Carrie huddled with ç returned from the Hamptons International Film Festival to support his pal Fisher Stevens on this achievement. Salman Rushdie sat with Carrie for a while; they appeared together on a British talk show 25 years ago, and stayed in touch. Well, they are both writers. Carrie Fisher's new autobiography will be out later this fall.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.