The Official Peter Coyote Web Site

Coymoon Creations


SPRING 2007
NEWSLETTER

Update - 5/24/07:

''Hippies,'' the latest documentary film from Easton-based Lou Reda Productions, premiered this month on the History Channel. Among the 40-plus people they interviewed were singer-songwriter Country Joe McDonald, famous for his Woodstock cheer; Mountain Girl, the second wife of Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia; San Francisco police officers who patrolled during the 1960s; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers; Rick Brookiser, senior editor of ''National Review,'' and our own Coyote, a former Haight-Ashbury Digger who also serves as the film's narrator. Through archival footage, home movies, photos and interviews, ''Hippies'' is a look back at the youth of today's boomers and gives other generations a peek into the past.

Ed Vulliamy of the UK's Observer recently wrote an article on the Summer of Love on its 40th anniversary and discussed Peter's involvement - "The Digger movement, named after the English 17th-century revolutionaries, was, as Coyote writes in his memoir: 'an anarchistic experiment dedicated to creating and clarifying distinctions between society's business-as-usual and our own imaginings of what-it-might be.' Such an enterprise involved 'new forms of creative expression' charged with political content, and led to performances by the Mime Troupe - a 'Commedia Del'Arte of life-actors', as they called themselves - and spectacles and direct action in pursuit of a 'Free City'. There was free food, a free bakery, a 'Death of Money' parade with a dollar sign on the side of a coffin - 'things with a message that cannot be misunderstood,' Coyote says in conversation. 'The Diggers were a highly evolved art project. We never pretended to be a viable political ideology. You have a vision, and you make it real by doing it,' he says. 'I was and am still happy to be called an anarchist, so long as it is understood - which it usually is not - that anarchism does not mean anarchy. It is a method of devolved social organisation. And although none of our political aims were achieved - ending racism, imperialism, capitalism - almost all of the cultural and social agenda has become mainstream: environmentalism, women's rights, organic food ... well, if not mainstream, then sufficiently present to create tension where before there was no tension. A situation in which people like Dick Cheney have to stumble over their own lies.'"

Update - 5/08/07:

Friday was Magic Theatre Day in San Francisco by proclamation of Mayor Gavin Newsom in honor of the company's 40th anniversary. Magic staff, members of its board of trustees and assorted friends gathered at the Presidio's Golden Gate Club to celebrate. Peter, the evening's honorary co-chair with his wife, Stefanie, was seated at the "True West" table, fittingly enough. The 1980 world premiere of what has become one of Sam Shepard's most popular plays was the last of several shows Coyote performed in at the Magic, before moving on to film and TV. Asked, by more than one person, if he had any plans to return to the stage, he said he'd been seriously thinking about it but wouldn't be able to make the necessary time commitment for about five more years.

Nearly 6,000 bikers turned out to the second Legends of the Motorcycle show in San Francisco over the weekend to witness the great and the good of the two-wheeled world. Setting out to become the premier motorcycle show in the world, this yearís event demonstrated every facet of motorcycle sport and culture. Several awards were presented including the People's Choice Award given to our own biker! Peter has never lost interest in motorcycling since the sixties when he first began to hit the roads on his Harley. More than any other work, Peter's book, Sleeping Where I Fall, lends the best historical overview of Northern California 's contribution to the developing motorcycle scene in the sixties, and a chapter of it was reprinted in Gino Zanetti's immortal anthology "She's A Bad Motorcycle".

Congratulations are in order in celebrating Peter's lay ordination as a Buddhist priest. Though Peter comes from a Jewish heritage, he has been practicing Buddhism for over 32 years.The event took place on April 22 when Lew Richmond performed the ceremony. He was given the name Hosho Jishi - Dharma Voice, Compassionate Warrior. How appropriate!

Back on January 12, Peter participated in a fundraiser event called "Poetry for Water". Acclaimed writer Roger Housden gathererd celebrity presenters to help raise enough money to supply the village of Njagbema in Sierra Leone with a hand pump and rainwater collection tank.  The project sponsor was Wherever The Need and included a program of original music by Lewis Richmond, as well as an hour of poetry recited by several participants, which included Peter, Anne Lamont, Nina Wise, Shepherd Bliss, George Taylor, Claressa Morrow, Kim Rosen and Lewis Richmond. You can watch Peter's contribution at this link.

Update - 5/03/07:

It was a funny, often slightly raunchy, emotional and star-studded party on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, as Geena Davis received the annual USA Today Hollywood Hero Award for her work with See Jane, the program she founded that works to improve gender portrayal in children's media. Plenty of Geena's pals turned up to shout her praises including her "Commander in Chief" Vice President, Peter Coyote. Not only is Geena an Academy Award-winning actress, she is also a MENSA member, archer, linguist, activist, loving wife and mother of three small kids. Besides Peter, guests included Mimi Rogers, Adam Arkin, Polly Bergen, and Helen Slater, who all  waxed poetic on her accomplishments, especially in setting a standard for playing powerful women and helping change the vision of women shown in the media. Peter admitted that he wished the See Jane program had existed sooner. Though he joked, he hadnít done too badly since his daughter is now a PhD and has a daughter of her own.

Peter and wife Stefanie will be joining forces as co-chairs for the Magic Theatre's 40th anniversary celebration and fundraising gala tomorrow evening at the Presidio's Golden Gate Club. Two decades ago Peter appeared in some notable roles for the theatre, which is known for producing new plays and playwrights. This event, called Hot Cool New Party, will feature a performance by Broadway's Billy Porter, a silent auction, cocktails, dinner and a raffle.

On Sunday, April 29, the San Francisco International Film Festival hosted the world premiere of "Fog City Mavericks", a documentary about the San Francisco Bay Area's contributions to film from Chaplin to Pixar. Directed by Gary Leva, the two-hour film takes on nearly 130 years of San Francisco film history, with spotlights on names such as Clint Eastwood, Chris Columbus, Saul Zaentz, Philip Kaufman, Carroll Ballard, Francis and Sofia Coppola and George Lucas. Many of the filmmakers were present at the Castro Theatre along with celebrated names like Robin Williams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and naturally the narrator of the film - Peter! Journalist Craig Phillips, who took in the screening, writes, "Coyote, ubiquitous to San Francisco film narration and doc narration in general, certainly has the perfect, strong but soothing voice for it." The documentary will be aired on the Starz network later this year.

For a peek at the film and some footage from the evening, visit this link. The festival, now celebrating its 50th year, runs from April 26 thru May 10 and not only presents films, but also hosts an array of events. Peter also participated in a homage to Jack Kerouac with a program of readings, testimonials and images while his wife Stefanie, the SF Film Commission's Executive Director, was among the panelists in a discussion called Film Culture Confidential.

On Sunday, April 22, the Atlantic Film Festival hosted the premiere of "Soldiers of Conscience" narrated by Peter. This illuminating 85-minute documentary by Gary Weimberg and Catherine Ryan about conscientious objectors to the Iraq War shows the moral sacrifice we demand when we ask our fighting men and women to kill in our name. Despite the historical fact that large numbers of soldiers never fire their weapons during war, choosing at a decisive moment not to take another life, America suffers from the mass delusion that it is easy or justified to kill. Weimberg and Ryan focus on the soldiers: both recent recruits and gung-ho career military men who have a change of heart and endure the shaming, difficult process of speaking their minds. Made with official permission from the US Army, this film is a realistic yet optimistic documentary about war, peace, and the power of the human conscience.

Here are some great photos from some of Peter's scenes as college professor Mark August in the ABC TV drama, BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
 

The Sunday night series has no patients to save, no crimes to solve, no bodies to autopsy and no cryptic clues to decipher. What it does have is family and lots of it. Peter has been playing the love interest of Nora Walker, played by Saly Field. Nora is the matriarch of a multi-faceted family that has strong appeal. The show is one of the few successes of this year's television season, averaging more than 10 million viewers per new episode. It was recently picked up for a second season. Executive producer Greg Berlanti explains its success - "We all, as viewers, mark our lives by these characters. We watch them screw up and make mistakes and fall in love and fall out of love, and it reminds us of ourselves, and we grow up with these characters. The themes we deal with are very universal and the show transcends any social, economic or cultural boundaries."

The DVD for "Summer of Love" will be available on May 8th. Filmmakers Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco examine the social and cultural forces that sparked the largest migration of young people in America's history. In the summer of 1967, thousands of young people from across the country flocked to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district to join in the hippie experience, only to discover that what they had come for was already disappearing. By 1968 the celebration of free love, music and an alternative lifestyle had descended into a maelstrom of drug abuse, broken dreams and occasional violence. Through interviews with a broad range of individuals, including Peter and politician Willie Brown, as well as police officers, teenage, non-hippie residents and scholars, you'll see a complex portrait of the notorious event that many consider the peak of the 1960s counterculture movement. You can presently view the documentary at PBS, which aired it last month. Peter shares his thoughts - "Whatever we learned, we learned from making a complete commitment... The search for some kind of moral stance...  the search for justice and some kind of economic equity... trying to leave a smaller footprint on the planet... exploring alternative spiritual and medical practices... they were all valid searches and they've all been completely integrated into the culture today. They're so integrated that you don't even notice them. No, we didn't end imperialism. We didn't end capitalism. We didn't do a lot of things we wanted to do. But there's no place you can go today where you can't find organic food, where you can't find yoga lessons or a chiropractor or you can't find some kind of spiritual alternative or some kind of acupuncture or alternative medicine. We did that, our generation. I'm proud of that. I wish we'd been omniscient. You know, I wish we hadn't made any mistakes or been able to do everything we wanted to do. But that would have probably meant that the world would come to an end because there'd be nothing left for the next generation to do. So -- I did my part. I'm still doing it."

Update - 4/17/07:

Last week Peter kicked off the Literary Festival at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA. Embodying the festival's theme, "The Counterculture and the Arts: Then and Now",  he began his presentation on Thursday by discussing the nature of art and creative thinkers as well as his experience of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and '70s. He explained that the artist has an important role in today's money-driven society to encourage a new way of living - "In today's culture it is the pursuit of wealth that is psychotic. There needs to be a healthy, ordered and creative way of life in all aspects of society from politics to family. Artists should pay attention to sobriety and health and the healing influence of art." Peter also read from his memoir, "Sleeping Where I Fall" and the following day Mercyhurst creative writing students had the opportunity to attend a workshop where he further discussed the nature of creativity and the practice of writing. One of the students who attended said, "He was extremely encouraging of the group, and he told us to be unapologetic about the origins of our creativity. He stressed the idea that everyone has different writing habits, and that no particular style or starting point is necessarily any better than the rest." In an article called "Peter Coyote's Maelstrom" by Dave Richards of the Erie Times-News , Peter described himself as wiser, more seasoned. ""I don't feel like my values have changed at all. I've never taken a film that really offended my ethical standards or political standards. I've mutilated my aesthetic standards, but I'm just a migrant laborer. (Peter laughs noting he's never made even close to $1 million for a film) To me, it's not what the movie's about that's so important, it's the way I make the movie. I never lose my temper, I'm patient, I treat everyone the same way, from the star to lowest guy on the set. I try to be kind to everyone. I've been a Buddhist for 32 years."

Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Russian-born violinist and orchestra conductor of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina, has called on Peter, a longtime friend, for his help in celebrating the city's bicentennial celebration in 2008. After learning that O. Henry, the famous short story writer, was born in Greensboro in 1862, Sitkovetsky thought it would make perfect sense by honoring him for the bicentennial so the orchestra commissioned composer Jakov Jakoulov to write a work based on O. Henry's classic Christmas story, "The Gift of the Magi." Peter will narrate the work for its premiere May 1 and 3, 2008.