Secrets of being Cindy Adams
Cindy Adams is not a newcomer. The venerable, 91 years old New York Post gossip columnist has written her essential daily column since 1979 and is the author of seven books, including My friend the dictator, a memoir on his fellowship with the late Indonesian strongman Sukarno.
For those who are used to hearing the stories of Adams – who has covered everything from red carpets to international incidents –Gossip, a four-part series airing August 22 on Showtime will feature something new: stories In regards to Adams. The series, directed by Jenny Carchman, is both a historical look at Adams’s singular life and work and a deep dive into how news is made; he follows her from her early years as a New York beauty queen until her marriage to comedian Joey Adams and her life as a writer and confidante of the rich, famous and infamous. There’s hardly any New York scandal from the past four decades that Adams hasn’t touched on, and the series touches on her relationships with Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, Rupert Murdoch, and Imelda Marcos, to name a few. some.
Here, Carchman takes CGV behind the scenes of the series.
How did you decide to do a series on Cindy Adams?
I’ve done The fourth power, which concerned the New York Times in Donald Trump’s first year as President, and I worked with Showtime and a producer who had since moved on to [the production company] To imagine. Imagine and the New York Post were looking to do a project together, but the To post didn’t want to let us into the newsroom like we were at Times. Still, they liked the idea of a series and said we were welcome to their archives. Sara Bernstein from Imagine knew Cindy and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to use this archive and make a movie about her? They asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, “Of course I want to do it, it’s a Cindy Adams movie!”
Therefore the To post was on board, but did you have to convince Cindy herself?
Ron Howard courted her. Imagine is his company, and he met Cindy and the editors of the To post. Then I met her, and she gave me the floor – I didn’t know if she approved, I was terrified – but I stuck it out. Then I met her again at her Blessing of the Animals 2019. I saw her in action and finally felt at ease; when I saw her do her thing, be funny and play the hostess role, I knew I could do it.
What did you want to do with it? Was the plan still to look at his work and the gossip story?
When we started this project, we were going to follow Cindy and watch her do her thing. Then Covid came along and we had to figure out what we were going to do because there was nothing to follow her to and no place to go. It was then that it became more of a historical documentary than a slice of life. I called her every week, sometimes twice a week, during Covid and spoke to her on the phone; we didn’t film, we just talked. It lasted about nine months and with each phone call she became more open. These conversations have helped me immensely to see a vulnerable side of her. She understood that no one wants a prepackaged Cindy Adams documentary; I hope she trusted us and knew we weren’t here to do a job or else she would get me killed.
The series covers much of his long career. What surprised you the most?
She’s just fearless. She’s not afraid to ask questions or say whatever she wants. We talk about it a lot; she went from her mother’s house to her husband Joey’s. She was isolated and had nothing to lose. Cindy always knew she would live in a nice apartment and be looked after for the rest of her life, so there was nothing to risk. Now it might be different, even if she still doesn’t really care. She has so much common sense and direction. The most interesting part is when she goes to these foreign countries on her 1961 tour and makes her way, she charms powerful men, she knows who to sit next to. It’s just instinctive; she was born with a gift for x-ray vision this way. For me the most interesting thing is to see this unfold throughout his life.
She has befriended some unexpected characters over the years, which in many ways has been the key to her success.
She believes in friendship more than anyone I have ever met. Despite what you think of Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, or Manuel Noriega, she feels like if someone fought for her, she’ll do the same. It is more important than anything.
What now makes the right time for this story? It feels like people are paying special attention to Cindy’s work in a new way these days.
His connection to Trump is what I think people were interested in; it is a connection to his past. I love that this series is almost a prequel to The fourth powerit’s about journalism in the 1970s and 1980s in New York City and how we landed where we did in 2016. You understand how this brand of journalism came into being and who all these characters are that are still relevant today. I learned a lot about journalism by doing the New York Times series, but I really learned how to make nuts and bolts Gossip. A gossip reporter is a great journalist.
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Did doing the series change the way you read the newspaper?
Now I read each story wondering where it came from, who contacted a reporter to somehow take advantage of their interests. This is how gossip works! I didn’t read the newspaper this way before.
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