When Spike Lee, Ed Burns, John Leguizamo and Jeffry Lyons discuss the best theatrical dramas set in the Big Apple tonight on MSG Network’s The Lineup: Best NY Movies, you can forgive series host Fran Healy for having a soft spot for On The Water Front.
The 1954 Marlon Brando-Eva Marie Saint classic is vying for category honors with Wall Street (1987), Network, 12 Angry Men and The Sweet Smell of Success, as part of the 10-part series that looks to determine what is the best film -- with New York at the center -- among gangster, comedies, sports, horror, romance and other genres.
Healy -- who has also hosted MSG’s prior incarnations of the 31-time Emmy Award-winning franchise encompassing The Lineup: New York’s All-Time Best Baseball Players, The Lineup: Hits & Errors – The Best and Worst Deals in New York Baseball and The Lineup: Best Sports Movies -- met On The Waterfront star Karl Malden in the early 1970s, when the former big-leaguer played for Giants and the actor was working on The Streets of San Francisco. Malden introduced Healy -- whose MLB career also included stops with the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees -- to On The Water Front director, Elia Kazan.
More than a decade later, Healy was walking in New York when he ran into Kazan, who invited him to attend a session where the director/producer was taping a voice-over for a Kennedy Center production honoring Tennessee Williams. As they made their way into the facility, Healy recalled Kazan stopping and engaging in “an uncomfortable conversation with a distinguished gentleman.”
That turned out to be Leonard Bernstein, who composed the soundtrack score for the film. The two had not spoken since the production cycle -- a tiff that lingered over Brando’s complaint, as relayed by Kazan, that Bernstein’s music "went over one of the actor’s grunts.” The conductor relented and the guttural sound was part of Brando's Oscar-winning turn as Terry Malloy.
"Elia was a big sports fan," said Healy of his late friend. "He loved baseball and boxing. He wanted to be a big league manager."
That cross-career passion also became evident to Healy, when MSG was filming the 2013 entry, The Lineup: Best Sports Movies. "[New York Knicks forward] Carmelo Anthony was very passionate about films and [Yankees shortstop] Derek Jeter talked about how he loved Denzell Washington in Spike's He Got Game,” said Healy, noting the push toward the franchise's wider film examination was borne shortly after the sports’ takes.
Healy said that working with the homegrown Lee, Burns and Leguizamo, “you get the final word on New York.” He said their perspectives are complemented by those of Lyons, who if we can ever get him to stop talking about the Red Sox, is incredibly knowledgeable and tells great stories."
Prior to the March 6 premiere at 10 p.m. of the drama film assessment, MSG has already premiered installments examining gangster, comedy and action films, with six more bows to come by the end of next week. Viewers will also have ample opportunity to check out encores of the segments in the months ahead.
Monday, March 3 @ 11:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Gangster
Tuesday, March 4 @ 10:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Comedy
Wednesday, March 5 @ 11:30 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Action
Thursday, March 6 @ 10:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Drama (Part 1)
Friday, March 7 @ 11:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Thriller
Monday, March 10 @ 11:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Sci-Fi
Tuesday, March 11 @ 10:30 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Drama (Part 2)
Wednesday, March 12 @ 11:00 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Sports
Thursday, March 13 @ 11:30 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Horror
Friday, March 14 @ 11:30 p.m. – “The Lineup: Best NY Movies” – Romance
Gangster: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, A Bronx Tale, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas
Comedy:When Harry Met Sally, Ghostbusters, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Coming to America
Action: The Seven-Ups, The French Connection, Shaft (Original), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Original), Serpico
Drama (Part 1):Wall Street (Original), On the Waterfront, Network, 12 Angry Men, The Sweet Smell of Success
Thriller:Taxi Driver, After Hours, Black Swann, Warriors, Inside Man, Marathon Man
Sci-Fi:King Kong (Original), Spiderman, Escape from New York, Independence Day, The Dark Knight
Drama (Part 2):Dog Day Afternoon, Do the Right Thing, Saturday Night Fever, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver
Sports:Cinderella Man, Pride of the Yankees, Bang the Drum Slowly, Raging Bull, He Got Game
Horror:Rosemary's Baby, The Devil's Advocate, American Psycho, Cloverfield, Wolfen
Romance:Breakfast at Tiffany's, An Affair to Remember, Manhattan, Moonstruck, West Side Story