Phone Message Transcript: February 9, 1999
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]

"Hello Readers,

Let me thank you again for all your marvelous calls and encouragement. The weather is sublimely mild here, the camellias are in bloom, the bushes filled with large multi petaled dark red flowers. Mardi Gras has begun, though I have not been able to go to any parades yet. The season will heat up this week.

During this long illness I've had, I plunged myself into television watching because for a while, it was the only thing I could do. Also, I am not finished with TV. Though our series, RAG AND BONE did not make it to the air, I have other ideas.

The shows I've loved the most have been first and foremost the X-FILES, then NYPD BLUE, and THE SOPRANOS on HBO. The X-FILES is far and away the best supernatural series I've ever seen. What do you all think of it? I wonder if many of you watch it. The leads Molder and Scully are irresistible, and the cigarette man is one of the finest actors on the show. I was thrilled to see, last night, that the cigarette man is still with us, and now revealing more of his soul. To see this man of mystery speaking with apparent feeling is overwhelming.

THE SOPRANOS has nothing to do with the supernatural but it is truly original for television. It's a powerful show, blending realism with humor in a delicate and always surprising balance. I can't recommend this show enough. It's full of strong language and violence, but it's worth it. The acting is marvelous. In a way, it's the darkest thing on TV as far as I know, but it's enthralling. I think it must have taken great nerve for HBO to do this show, and I admire them. It's going to influence all of television.

Let me take this time to recommend some films I've seen on TV. First and foremost, a western made for television called PURGATORY. This film was a marvelous blending of action with supernatural themes. Sam Shepherd and Eric Roberts were among the outstanding cast. I watched it twice with fascination. Very high production values, wonderful acting all around, great suspense, and lots of darkness. It's worth catching when you can, and maybe it will make it to video and disk.

Speaking of Eric Roberts, who is one of the greatest actors we have today, he's been doing a lot of work on TV, which thrills me because I get to see him very often. I have caught EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT(?) starring Roberts and Dannion Brinkley. Several of you called about this film when I was praising Brinkley for his vivid description of his near death experiences. The film was marvelous. Eric Roberts will also be in an up and coming TV film called LANSKY, based, of course, on the life of the strange Meyer Lansky, who was the Jewish brain behind many a Mafia enterprise. I believe this is on HBO, but check if you mean to watch it.

Anything with Eric Roberts is worth it. Twenty years ago, I was blown away by his performance in KING OF THE GYPSIES. The producer, at that time, was hot for Roberts playing Louis in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, which of course did not come to pass. I doubt Roberts ever knew about it.

Eric Roberts is not only powerfully skilled, he is a magnificent presence. I can't get enough of Eric Roberts.

Speaking of magnificent actors, I crave anything with Kenneth Branagh! You guys know that because I've praised his Shakespeare films, HENRY V, OTHELLO, and the full length HAMLET. This guy saves my soul. I ought to watch his films over and over as I write. But to get to the immediate point, I just saw his FRANKENSTEIN on TV. (I own the laser disk of this.) And what a great film this was. If you haven't seen it, get the tape or disk or watch for it on TV.

The images, the inventiveness, the marvelous fidelity to Mary Shelley's great themes, all of this amounts to genius. It should have been a great box office success. I pray Kenneth Branagh is working on some new things. I felt he is the only true successor we have right now to Lawrence Olivier. And he must give us more Shakespeare and more classics.

Small note: When I saw HAMLET, I was so thrilled that I sent Branagh lots of flowers, and he sent a very nice note back. I have it up on my wall, this note. By the way, Branagh's HAMLET is the only full length version ever made on film.

Regarding our President, whom I still support and love and thank for our immense prosperity right now, the three ring circus in Congress is still going on. I'm so disgusted by seeing our Congress obsess over this trivial nonsense with Monica Lewinsky, that I only periodically and briefly check the tube for the news. What fools our Congressmen were to ever let themselves be lured into this trap by Linda Tripp and Lucy Ann Goldberg. The Republicans are destroying themselves as a party; this shame will be on them for decades. I cannot understand how men as old and venerable as Henry Hyde and Senator Byrd can actually think the President's behavior constitutes High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Are these men really searching their consciences and their hearts? I'm confident history will judge them harshly if not mercilessly. Clinton continues to be one of the finest Presidents we've ever had. And how the Republicans hate that fact. They hate Clinton for his brilliance, his vigor, and the fact that the American people love him. It's appalling to watch all this. The Republicans are losing all credibility. And now Senator Byrd joins them. What shame for all of the young Congressmen coming up, that their elders have made such a mess of all this.

My writing on the new book continues. Lestat and I are dancing together.

My heart is broken for the death of ten year old Bill Norton, whose family read VITTORIO to him two times. He died of cancer on the 29th of January at his home. I'm so glad that we were able to send him an early copy of the book. My love goes out to his folks.

I'll be back next Monday with another message.

Love to all,