I'm Spiritual, Dammit

John Hughes was a genius

For anyone who was a teen in the 80's- you can't deny the impact of a John Hughes movie.  He knew how to verbalize the thoughts and desires of a teenager better than most. And now, I am shocked to be grieving the loss of his untimely death.36th AFI Life Achievement Award - Audience

I know John Hughes' films will never be on the same level of say...an Apocalyspe Now, but there's no denying that he captured teenage angst with complete accuracy.  Hughes shot many of his movies in my hometown of Evanston, so because of that fact alone, I felt like I knew him.  The Uncle Buck house is around the corner from where I grew up.  I walk my dog past Samantha Baker's house every day.  And I am proud and somewhat embarrassed to admit that I know every line to the movie Sixteen Candles.  (Yes- EVERY line.... Jenny Bassak and I watched it over 100 times the summer after it came out...to the annoyance of our family and friends.) 

I dated a Jake Ryan (although he drove a yellow Fiat instead of a Porsche and dumped me a month before his senior Prom, but I digress...) And who hasn't been to a party where some geek gets to take home a popular chick just because that Prom queen downed too much booze?  (Note to self- every single bad decision that is made in high school can be tied to the over-consumption of alcohol.  Can I get an A-men??)  So needless to say, I felt connected to the writings of John Hughes way before I actually got to meet him..

First there was the time I ALMOST met John Hughes.  This took place my sophomore year in high school.  Every morning, I'd get a ride to school with my best friend Carolyn Frazier.  But on one particular morning, Carolyn was running late, so I got a lift from someone else.  Little did I know, Hughes was filming She's Having a Baby in the Evanston neighborhood of Williamsburg Village- which was a stones throw away from my house.  Turns out- Carolyn's car had gotten a flat tire, and the folks from the production crew saw them struggling- so they came and helped Carolyn's Mom change the tire to her Chevy Citation.  

After they changed the tire, John Hughes introduced himself, and then asked if they would all look into one of his cameras, and give suggestions for names of a baby boy for his next movie.  To this day, Carolyn, her mother Emily, and our friend Katy all have lines in the credits at the end of She's Having a Baby.  I could have been there too- but I had to get to school to see a boy...

Stupid hormones!!

Cut to: The early 1990's- my agent called me in to audition for the re-make of Miracle on 34th Street, produced by the one and only.  My role was for a woman wrangling kids for Santa.  They cast a blonde instead- but alas- it was fun to say I "auditioned" for a John Hughes movie.

Smash cut to:  the year 2000- my agent called me in to audition for a movie called Newport South.  I'm told it's being Executive Produced by John Hughes, and written by his son James.  My role is for an anchor woman.  At the time, I was anchoring and reporting for WBBM television

When I walked into the audition- I was so nervous, you'd have thought I was about to go live on the morning news.  I looked across the table, and there he was- my puberty idol.  I was shocked at how young he looked in person.  

"This is Jenniffer Weigel," the casting agent said.

They all glanced at my headshot and resume- and Mr. Hughes looked up and said,

"I saw you making pierogies this morning on the news."

Yes- it was true.  My duties when employed by WBBM television ranged from anchoring the news, to flipping potato pancakes with a home chef during Passover. (It all depended on my boss at the time.)

"Those looked really good," he said with a smile.

His grace put me at ease, and to my surprise, I booked the gig.  

Unfortunately, the movie totally sucked.  I think it was in the theaters for about a week.  I never saw it until my husband bought it for me on dvd and gave it to me last Christmas.  My role was small- but every few months, I get a residual check for about 94 cents from the dvd rentals.  And it was especially fun to say that I was IN a John Hughes movie- even if it wasn't The Breakfast Club.

So now it's 9 years later, and we're talking about a guy who shouldn't be dead.  John Hughes was only 59 for God's sake!!  My Dad was 56 when he died.  Totally sucks to see someone go in their prime.  You find yourself wanting to call them on the phone, but you can't.  How do you cope??

Many who read my blog know that I spent several years trying to talk to my dead Dad through mediums and psychics, (hey- we all grieve differently- right?)  Now, strangers come up to me and seem to think I'm the "Medium Whisperer.."  I get about 5 emails a day of folks wanting to know whom they should contact to talk to their dead loved ones.  

So if you're out there James Hughes- or anyone from John's family.....give me a call so I can give you the cliff notes and spare you the seven year quest.  

In the meantime- the rest of you should go rent one of his movies and have a good laugh.  You'll be glad you did.  (Unless you choose Only the Lonely, or Curley Sue.   Then you'll be asking for your money back...)

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7 Comments

hairbo said:

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John Hughes told me once he was going to cut the third floor off of my parents house.

hairbo said:

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Okay, to expand on my previous comment...

The summer I graduated college, John Hughes decided to use my parents' house as Mr. Wilson's house for the tragically-bad-but-still-awesome-to-be-a-part-of movie Dennis the Menace. Hughes produced and wrote the script (it was directed by Nick Castle, who was a hell of a nice guy), and one day while Hughes and his fellow producers were considering how to convert my parents backyard into Mr. Wilson's award winning garden, he looked over at me (I'm sure my mouth was gaping open at the time), drew an imaginary line across the middle of my parents' house, and said "we're just going to cut the third floor off your house." I think I managed to muster out something like "okay, cool!"

This was also the same film shoot where Walter Matthau told me that he hoped he died before his bookie caught up with him.

One of the strangest things about the movie was the effect it had on the neighborhood. The movie trucks and personnel descended like a whole new city on our block, and camped out there for an entire summer. People had a love/hate relationship with the movie crew (loved the free breakfasts from the meal truck, hated the congestion and noise), but what was especially odd was the status to which even peons like me were elevated. To wit: one morning, I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and went downstairs to get an omelette from the aforementioned meal truck. I had to walk a half block from the house to the truck. There was a woman across the street--less than 100 feet away--sitting on a lawn chair, training a pair of binoculars on me as I walked down the sidewalk. Bizarre.

Greg Morelli said:

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Thank God for stupid hormones. And 80's hair.

Pierce said:

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I think it's great that John Hughes was a family man that knew when it was time to leave Hollywood. He and his wife were in the marriage Hall of Fame as they were married for 40 years! My favorite movie of his is Ferris Bueller's Day Off. My wife hasn't seen it so we are making it our Weekend Challenge to watch that along with some other John Hughes movies. He Said She Said blog - http://HSSSblog.com

workingonit said:

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I didn't know there was anyone who had NOT seen Ferris Beueller! You must've missed the 24 hour F.B. marathon that some cable channels run every year, usually over the holidays. Still funny no matter how many times i watch it...your wife is in for a good laugh. Enjoy:)

Sri said:

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Not doubt he was genius. My Condolences to his family. For all his fans I have collected some good sites and articles (more than 250 sites ) related to his latest news coverage, biography, Movies, Movie Quotes and Interviews. If you are interested take a look at the below link
http://markthispage.blogspot.com/2009/08/all-you-want-to-know-about-john-hughes.html

Jen Weigel said:

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i think you should include my blog in your list, Sri...

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