BetteBack: Scenes From A Mall

Mazursky brings `Mall’ to Woody
Article from:Chicago Sun-Times Article date:February 24, 1991 Author: Candace Burke-Block

Things were off to a rocky start for director-writer Paul Mazursky on the eve of filming “Scenes From a Mall” with Woody Allen and Bette Midler.

The movie was supposed to be filmed in California, but the New York City-based Allen wouldn’t fly.

“Woody is a delightful fellow, but he’s kind of surprising in a way,” Mazursky said. “He has a lot of fears. He doesn’t like escalators or elevators. He doesn’t like to fly. And he had never before been in a shopping mall. So for him the shopping mall was like a science-fiction thing.

“Woody was very clear. He said, `I like the script, but if I do it, it has to be in New York. I want to sleep in my own apartment.’ ”

In the movie (which opened Friday nationwide), Midler plays a Los Angeles psychiatrist whose best-selling self-help book suggests “remarrying your spouse”; Allen is her husband, a hard-driving lawyer who negotiates endorsement contracts for sports figures.

Their lives are ideal. Then, before their 16th anniversary, they go to the Beverly Center Mall to pick up each other’s gifts. Suddenly, Allen drops a bomb: He has been having an affair. Midler is horrified and decides to leave him immediately. Then she confesses that she, too, has been having an affair.

Mazursky solved the problem of the California setting by filming most of the big shopping mall scenes in a mall in Stamford, Conn., and by building a two-story mall inside the Astoria Studios in New York.

Was it necessary to set almost the entire film in a shopping mall?

“We wanted to deal with the fact that private life has become very public,” Mazursky said. “That the mall has become a kind of scene. You’ll notice if you go to a mall with a friend and have a loud, intimate conversation that no one is listening to you.

“Everyone in the mall is either eating, shopping or standing in line. So we thought it would be kind of crazy to be caught up in this massive two-hour argument between a married couple.”

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