The World Premiere screening of “the boys: the sherman brothers’ story” took place Saturday, April 25, at the Premier Theater in the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, San Francisco. The screening was part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, and co-sponsored by The Walt Disney Family Museum, opening in the Presidio this fall. A reception following the screening took place in the museum’s reception hall, the first event to be held in the newly renovated space.
Aside: I like how the all lowercase title is an homage to one of the Sherman Brothers’ most famous songs “it’s a small world (after all)” – properly titled in the lower case. -ed.
If you live in Southern California you can catch the film tonight at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Otherwise, I hear it’s only scheduled to play in New York City at the moment. Sounds like the rest of us will have to wait for the DVD. Good news. Turns out the doc will screen in four cities beginning May 22nd. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palm Desert get the nod (addresses below the cut).
Born and raised at the epicenter of the entertainment business, Gregory V. Sherman and Jeffrey C. Sherman, the producers and directors of “the boys: the sherman brothers’ story” grew up within blocks of each other in Beverly Hills. Even though their fathers are brothers and partners in a legendary musical collaboration, they never knew each other.
“There was a ‘keep out’ sign posted over that part of our lives,” says Gregg, an Emmy Award-winning producer and feature film writer who is the son of Richard M. Sherman. “My family would see his family at a Sherman Brothers event, but we would never be seated at the same table or near them in the theater. We would acknowledge that they existed, but we had no relationship with them.”
Gregory V. Sherman and Jeffrey C. Sherman with Richard B. Sherman.
“It’s uncomfortable to go to a premiere and smile for the camera, and then walk to separate sides of the theater,” says Jeff, a writer, producer, director and composer for film and television and son of Robert B. Sherman. “I got dribs and drabs of the story as time went on, but we were all told ‘they have their life, we have our life and they shouldn’t cross.’ As adults, Gregg and I decided to break that tradition.”
The two finally connected in 2002 at the London premiere of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” the stage adaptation of one of their fathers’ most successful films. “It was the first time we ever really spoke,” says Jeff, “We talked for hours at the after-party. As we caught up with each other, we realized that most of what we had been told about our family was very different. It was like we were looking through two separate halves of a pair of binoculars focused on the same thing.”
Perhaps it was inevitable that the Hollywood-bred Sherman cousins would realize the enormous dramatic potential in the story of two brothers who created an unmatched musical legacy but destroyed their personal relationship in the process. “We both thought we could do a wonderful tribute to our fathers if we worked together,” says Gregg.
For both Jeff and Gregg, the first priority was to create a film that would connect their fathers to their vast body of work in the eyes of the public. “A lot of people outside the film industry don’t know who the Sherman Brothers are,” says Gregg. “They were never self-promoters; always behind-the-scenes guys. They never worked to connect their names to the music because they didn’t care about being famous.
“It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I realized that this was an unparalleled body of work that was part not only of my childhood but also everybody else’s,” he says.
“the boys: the sherman brothers’ story” is an intimate journey through the lives of Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, the astoundingly prolific, Academy Award-winning songwriting team that defined family musical entertainment for five decades. The feature-length documentary, conceived, produced and directed by two of the songwriters’ sons, takes audiences behind the scenes of the Hollywood magic factory and offers a rare glimpse of a unique creative process at work. It also explores a deep and longstanding rift that has kept the brothers personally estranged throughout much of their unparalleled professional partnership.
“the boys: the sherman brothers’ story” is produced and directed by Gregory V. Sherman and Jeffrey C. Sherman. Executive producers are Stephen Buchsbaum, David Permut, Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld. The film is edited by Rich Evirs. Director of photography is Richard Numeroff. Associate producers are Toni and Kenneth Liebman, and Randy and Valerie Lewis.
With such unforgettable songs as “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from “Mary Poppins,” “I Wanna Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book,” the score to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and the most translated song ever written, “It’s a Small World (After All)” from the popular Disneyland attraction, to name just a few, brothers Bob Sherman and Dick Sherman celebrated family values and happy endings for generations of moviegoers. Outside the public eye, however, the boys’ personal relationship with each other was less than harmonious.
Filmmakers Gregory V. Sherman and Jeffrey C. Sherman explore the brothers’ peripatetic childhoods, marriages, early careers and close personal and professional relationship with pioneering filmmaker and studio chief Walt Disney to create a unique portrait of these two extremely gifted but very different artists.
“the boys: the sherman brothers’ story” includes all-new interviews with such Hollywood luminaries as Julie Andrews, Roy E. Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., John Landis, Angela Lansbury, John Lasseter, Kenny Loggins, Alan Menken, Hayley Mills, Randy Newman, Robert Osborne, Debbie Reynolds, Stephen Schwartz, Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke and John Williams as well as a rare archival interview with Annette Funicello.
THE SHERMAN BROTHERS
Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman have been making the music that makes families happy for over 50 years. Their collaboration is one of the most prolific and honored musical partnerships in history, encompassing 50 motion pictures and resulting in a catalog of more than a thousand songs for television, records, theme parks and stage.
The sons of renowned songwriter Al Sherman, they bridged the gap between Tin Pan Alley and Top-Ten, reflecting the benchmarks of the music of their lifetime as they went, from their first hit song, “Tall Paul,” to their recent Broadway successes, “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
As the only songwriters ever to be put under contract by Walt Disney Studios, the Sherman Brothers created a unique sound that became synonymous with the Disney musical. Just some of their numerous film credits include “Mary Poppins,” “The Aristocats,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” and “The Parent Trap,” as well as such non-Disney titles as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Snoopy Come Home.” They also wrote the hit song “You’re Sixteen,” which twice hit Billboard’s Top 10; first in 1960 with Johnny Burnette, then in 1974 with Ringo Starr, when it went all the way to No. 1. Their song “It’s a Small World (After All)” debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair and is the most translated song on earth.
Among their many honors are two Academy Awards® (plus seven additional Oscar® nominations), the BMI Lifetime Achievement Award, a Grammy® and five Golden Globe® nominations. They are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a 2008 ceremony at the White House, the Sherman Brothers were awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the United States government bestows on artists.
Richard M. Sherman currently resides in Beverly Hills where he continues performing his music and writing new songs. Robert B. Sherman lives in London, where in addition to his ongoing collaboration with his brother, he has completed an autobiography and continues his life commitment to painting.
Opens May 22, 2009
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St
New York, NY 10002
Landmark’s Regent Theatre
1045 Broxton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
101 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Cinemas Palme D’Or
72-840 Highway 111, #C104
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Even more at the film’s official website. But be warned, it auto-opens with a flash presentation and music.