“I have way too frequently for my own moral comfort been asked if I was an only child.” – Fran Lebowitz
Wise, brilliant and funny, Fran Lebowitz hit the New York literary scene in the early ‘70s when Andy Warhol hired the unknown scribe to write a column for Interview magazine. Today, she’s an acclaimed author with legions of fans who adore her acerbic wit.
Directed by Oscar® winner Martin Scorsese and produced by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, an Emmy®- and Peabody-winning documentarian, and Margaret Bodde, the feature-length documentary PUBLIC SPEAKING spotlights Lebowitz’s experiences and sardonic world view. The film was recently nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award in the Best Documentary category.
Directed in the inimitable and energetic style of Scorsese’s early documentaries “Italian American” and “American Boy,” PUBLIC SPEAKING captures the author in conversation at New York’s Waverly Inn, in an onstage discussion with longtime friend and celebrated writer Toni Morrison and on the streets of New York City.
Lebowitz offers insights on timely issues such as gender, race and gay rights, as well as her pet peeves, including celebrity culture, smoking bans, tourists and strollers. Gender, she says, is “a very big piece of luck,” adding, ”Any white gentile straight male who is not President of the United States failed.” Reflecting on the election of Barack Obama, she calls racism a “fantasy of superiority,” adding, “a fantasy can end, you know. It probably won’t, but it can.” On the subject of aging, Lebowitz says, “At a certain point, the worst picture taken of you when you were 25 is better than the best picture taken of you when you’re 45.” Of her beloved city, she says, “New York was not better [in the ‘70s] because there was more crime. It was better because it was cheaper.”
Despite a legendary, decades-long bout of writer’s block, which she calls a “writer’s blockade,” Lebowitz’s eclectic career has included stints writing for Interview and Mademoiselle magazines and serving as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. She is also the author of two bestselling collections of essays, “Metropolitan Life” (1978) and “Social Studies” (1981), and the children’s book “Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas” (1994).
PUBLIC SPEAKING is an HBO Documentary Films and American Express Portraits presentation in association with Consolidated Documentaries and Sikelia Productions; directed by Martin Scorsese; produced by Graydon Carter, Fran Lebowitz and Martin Scorsese; producer, Margaret Bodde; executive producers, Ted Griffin and John Hayes; edited by Damian Rodriguez and David Tedeschi; director of photography, Ellen Kuras, ASC; supervising producer, Jenny Carchman; associate producers, Erin Edeiken and Chris Garrett.