How to make it in Hollywood: Oscar nominee in the house!

My brother in law Kevin Tent has been nominated for an Oscar for film editing the George Clooney picture “The Descendants.” Allow me to burst with pride.  His is a great story of making it in Hollywood. This is no Gwyneth Paltrow with an “uncle” Speilberg story.  This is the American Dream.

french laundry.jpg
Happy couples at French Laundry ’06”

Kevin hitchhiked to LA from Buffalo when he was 19.  He showed up to go to a film school that he realized was a racket.  He instead went to LA city college and took film courses there and worked at Pep boys.  It was at LACC that he met my sister Carole. No fancy film school for this guy, but he learned the basics of film making.  Then he got a job editing educational films.  Great titles like “VD: old bugs, new problems”.  He always did his best and says that it was at Al Higgins production he learned to edit.

From there he graduated to Roger Corman movies.  He also got me a PA job and and apprentice editing gig.  This is back when editing was done on moviola’s and you needed a razor to cut the film.  I decided the long hours of post production were not for me, but Kevin steamed along.

He edited Tracy Lords’ first non porn film, the campy “Not of this Earth”.   He edited “Frankenhooker“.  We loved all these B films and Kevin worked on all of them.

The first time he had a film in Sundance I went with he and Carole .  It was for “Homage“.  The glamour of Sundance is for those on the ‘hot’ films.  Once we were there we realized our film wasn’t catching fire.  We slogged through the slush on the main drag of Park City disappointed.  I remember running into a friend of Kevin’s who was with the young star of his new film.  A perky little blond name Reese Witherspoon.  Kevin congratulated his friend on his film.

We went back to Sundance the next year for the first film Kevin ever did with Alexander Payne, “Citizen Ruth” (rent it).  This partnership would become a deep friendship and significant professional collaboration.  Citizen Ruth was a quirky comedy dealing with abortion ( who tackles that anymore) and the Christian right and girl who sniffs glue.   This trip was worth getting new boots and a parka for.  The film was getting some buzz.  I met Laura Dern and Alexander at the screening in a small movie house.  Back at the condo we had rented I was woken up as Carole and Kevin came back from a party.  Carole told me excitedly about the stars who were there.  I think Travolta, but it’s been a while.

Ironically, Kevin and Alexander’s next film was “Election” starring Reese Witherspoon.  Another must rent.

Kevin edited  a ton a film’s, but always come back to collaborate with Alexander.  Who, btw, is a good family friend and I’m very happy for his success ( he won for best adapted screenplay for “Sideways”). Alexander says “Campanile is our generation’s Chasen’s.”  Love that.

kevin tent
with 4 day old Rex

So, my brother in law Kevin is the nicest guy you could ever meet.  A great dad,uncle and husband and was like a son to my dad.  He did a lot for my dad in his last years.  Following behind the ambulance that would take my dad to the hospital.  Visiting him in assisted living when my dad was doing very poorly and it was getting painful to see him.  Sometimes when his own daughters couldn’t handle it Kevin would go and sit with my dad.

kevin tent
at “Papa’s” memorial. Kevin was the first to speak

He had two dear parents, Cathy and Charlie ( who my nephew is named for) that were taken way too soon.  I’m so sorry they aren’t here to see Kevin attain this level of success.  But, I know they wouldn’t be surprised.  Kevin has a great picture of he and his dad, must be over 20 years ago it was taken, Charlie is holding a Variety magazine and they are laughing as if they are reading some good news.  I told Kevin today, “that was prescient.  Your dad was seeing this nomination back then.”

It’s great to dwell for a moment in the good moments of life.  The moments that make you cry with joy.  Knowing what went into all that he has done in his adult life.  At least in this case,  a nice guy did finish first.