SPARKy Fundraiser: When Barry Meets Jeff, Rustico, 3/25!

SPARKy Fundraiser: When Barry Meets Jeff, Rustico, 3/25!

SPARKy Productions is a Telluride-based non-profit that focuses on local social issues through a creative performing lens in a variety of mediums: theater, film, music and dance. Founder Jennie Franks believes engaging audiences through the arts creates a stronger community.

On Wednesday, March 25, 5:30 – 6:15 p.m., SPARKy is hosting a fundraiser, a conversation with the director of GET SHORTY and MEN in BLACK, with a focus on Barry Sonnenfeld’s new memoir, “BARRY SONNENFELD, CALL YOUR MOTHER.” The Q & A features Sonnenfeld and screenwriter/author Jeff Price. Doors open at 5 p.m. for signed, complimentary book and pizza. Advance tickets are $60 at Telluride’s Between the Covers Bookstore or call 970 728 4505 or purchase here; $65 on event night at Rustico Restaurant, 114 E. Colorado Avenue. (Seating is limited.)

“If I went to prison and saw that Barry Sonnenfeld was going to be my cellmate, I would think ‘Oh this will be a breeze.’”Jerry Seinfeld.


For a period of 10 years SPARKy produced the Telluride Playwrights Festival, closing down that run in 2016 with an original production by Franks titled “The Hispanic Women’s Project.” The play was a vehicle to raise (and continue to raise) money to send local Latinas to college. SPARKy’s upcoming March fundraiser supports that project and other ventures, all with a social conscious.

Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld broke into his craft as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers. His unexpected career as director includes huge film franchises such as “The Addams Family” and “Men in Black,” and beloved works like “Get Shorty,” “Pushing Daisies” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Highlights of the strange and wonderful life we learn about in Sonnenfeeld’s outrageous and hilarious memoir include the following:

• Barry gets paged at Madison Square Garden. The announcement over the public address system is the title of the memoir. This is particularly embarrassing, since it interrupts Jimi Hendrix’s performance.

• Barry’s depressed mother, Kelly, and how he deals with her lack of cooking skills. Readers will also learn Kelly’s egg salad hack – which requires having to paint your kitchen ceiling.

• Barry, although not a physical specimen, beats everyone at leg wrestling, including Kelly Ripa, Neil Patrick Harris, Will Smith, Usher, Patrick Warburton, etc.

• Barry’s dad, Sonny, gives him a lesson about the birds and the bees – and gets everything wrong.

• Although he has had many, Barry writes about two of his most embarrassing kidney stone experiences—the first requires him to crawl up the steps of St. Vincent’s Hospital nude. The second, while filming “Raising Arizona,” forces him to beg a stripper not to take her clothes off in his recovery room, due to the catheter in his penis.

• In a chapter that might make you reconsider ever watching porn again, Barry describes his nine days filming nine feature length pornos. IN GREAT DETAIL. And the final shoot that goes horribly wrong.

• Barry has a great experience as the cameraman on Danny DeVito’s “Throw Momma from the Train,” which leads, years later, to the five-year odyssey of Danny producing and acting in, and Barry’s directing” Get Shorty.”


Goodreads, hands the book an unqualified rave:

“Barry Sonnenfeld’s philosophy is, ‘Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future.’ Told in his unmistakable voice, ‘Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother’ is a laugh-out-loud memoir about coming of age. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors.

Written with poignant insight and real-life irony, the book follows Sonnenfeld from childhood as a French horn player through graduate film school at NYU, where he developed his talent for cinematography. His first job after graduating was shooting nine feature-length pornos in nine days. From that humble entrée, he went on to form a friendship with the Coen Brothers, launching his career shooting their first three films.

Though Sonnenfeld had no ambition to direct, Scott Rudin convinced him to be the director of The Addams Family. It was a successful career move. He went on to direct many more films and television shows. Will Smith once joked that he wanted to take Sonnenfeld to Philadelphia public schools and say, “If this guy could end up as a successful film director on big budget films, anyone can.” This book is a fascinating and hilarious roadmap for anyone who thinks they can’t succeed in life because of a rough beginning.”

Publisher’s Weekly explains:

“…En route to becoming a respected cinematographer in the 1980s and then a hugely successful comedy director in the ’90s, Sonnenfeld’s difficult relationship with his parents is a recurring theme—the title comes from an incident when his mother had Madison Square Garden interrupt a Jimi Hendrix performance to page Sonnenfeld about missing his curfew. Sonnenfeld employs a deadpan narrative style, an effective choice when recounting his early work in the 1970s porn industry and, later on, dealings with Hollywood players such as Penny Marshall and Scott Rudin, but jarring when dealing with childhood trauma, including repeated molestations by his mother’s cousin and, as a five-year old, being asked by his father to convince his distraught mother not to commit suicide…”

“Barry’s memoir is amazingly honest and brazenly hilarious. Now excuse me, I need to take a shower and try to get some of those images out of my head.” –Cheryl Hines.

“The extraordinary thing about Barry is how many truly strange and amazing chapters he’s had in his life.” –Neil Patrick Harris.

“Barry Sonnenfeld’s memoir is not unlike many of his films. It’s an incredible story about an unlikely hero. There is action, adventure, comedy, horror—and just a little bit of porn.” –Kelly Ripa.

“Anyone who has encountered Barry, for any length of time, has wondered how he came to be the way he is. The answer is hilariously, poignantly, and forthrightly told through various stories that resulted in me feeling nauseous, laughing out loud, blushing, and repeatedly saying under my breath, ‘Oh my God, Barry.’ Sometimes all of those things at once.” – Allison Williams.

Barry Sonnenfeld, more (in the words of friend and professional colleague Jeff Price):

Jeff Price & Barry Sonnenfeld, image Jennie Franks.

Barry Sonnenfeld is a director, producer, and raconteur. Before he directed “The Adams Family,” “Get Shorty,” “Men in Black,” you probably remember his camera work with the Coen Brothers on “Blood Simple,” “Raising Arizona,” and “Miller’s Crossing.”

Or maybe you remember him from the critically acclaimed TV series “Pushing Daisies” or “Lemony Snicket.” If you were around in the ’80s you might recall his first time on “The David Letterman Show” – and the talk around every water cooler in America – when he said before the entire nation that his mother looked like the actor Vincent Gardena.

Or the next time Barry was on “The Letterman Show” when he said he wished his mother was dead. Barry’s mother has since died and he has turned his attention to trying to put all these remembrances into some kind of perspective with his memoir, “Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother.”

Jeff Price, more:

Jeffrey Price is a screenwriter best known for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Doc Hollywood,” “The Grinch,” “Shrek III.” He also directed and co-wrote “For Cryin’ Out Loud” and co-wrote “My Brother’s Keeper” for “Tales From the Crypt.”

Jeff’s debut novel, “Improbable Fortunes,” came out in 2016. It’s a tall tale about the West and is readily available at Between the Covers Bookstore and on Amazon. (Go here for my review of that book.)

Jeff and his wife, Jennie Franks, have lived in Telluride since 1993. Price is an avid outdoorsman and prevaricator of some renown.

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