HOLLYWOOD—The man behind “Accidental Icon:The Real Gidget Story” is writer, director and producer Brian L. Gillogly. The Hollywood premiere for the film will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 14, as part of the “Feel Good Film Festival” at the Egyptian Theatre. The festival is dedicated to positive, uplifting films, which is a good match for the talented producer’s 60-minute documentary about the real “Gidget.” The film brings the evolution of the “Gidget” icon in film and on TV to the viewers. It also deals with the influence on surfing and pop culture.
An Emmy-winning producer of TV segments and sports documentaries, and a long time surfer, Brian found his own perfect fit in this project, as he’s had one foot in Hollywood and in entertainment as well as on the beach for most of his life. Festival organizers have nominated Gillogly for “Best Director” in addition to featuring his film.
Q- How did you come up with the documentary on “Gidget”?
A- “I met the real Gidget in 1980 when I began researching a feature for Surfer magazine about Hollywood’s long relationship with surfing. The thrust of the article was that many Hollywood figures, including Jackie Coogan, Peter Lawford and James Arness were wave riders. A footnote was that there was an actual Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the daughter of Frederick Kohner, who wrote the landmark 1957 novel ‘Gidget: The Little Girl With Big Ideas.’ We stayed in touch and in 1999, when I decided to produce a major film project on my own, it dawned on me that her story would be a great, inspiration documentary. My own daughter was 8 then, and I like the idea that, like Gidget, she could be whatever she wanted to be if she set her mind to it.”
Q- How did the project evolve over the year?
A- “My original thought was to center completely on Kathy. But as I got deeper into the project, I realized that the full story is bigger than one person, even if that person was the spark. She certainly is part of the icon, but so were the film and TV ‘Gidgets,’ particularly Sandra Dee of the original feature film in 1959. Also, Deborah Wally of ‘Gidget Goes Hawaiian,’ and of course, Sally Field of the ‘Gidget’ TV show from 1965. Each was different, but shared a wonderful sense of enthusiasm.”
Q- You showed your first cut in 2006 at a small festival in Malibu, but your final cut wasn’t ready until this year. Why the delay?
A- “Why indeed! We had a lot of copyrighted clips in the first edit and we thought we could buy or somehow clear them, but it was not meant to be. Believe me, I tried everything to push the project forward. I eventually went to Professor Jack Lerner’s Intellectual Property Clinic at USC, which agreed to take on the project pro bono. After an arduous year of re-working the project to very strict fair use standards, it’s done. I thought it would be a cake walk, but it turned out to be quite an epic endeavor. As a thank you for his help, I’m now teaching Professor Lerner how to surf.”
While interviewing Brian, his good friend veteran actor Cliff Robertson called to send his regrets for being unable to make the festival. Cliff had a fishing trip in Alaska planned for months. However, you can have the opportunity to meet Gillogly and Kohner at the festival.
For information on the festival go to: fgff.org
Photograph is Courtesy LeftPeak and original art of Kathy Kohner by Ernest Lenart
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