EVENT: The Last Hurrah
VENUE: Big Mouth Upstairs
ADDRESS: 168 Acland St St Kilda
DATE: Sunday 30 September 2018
TIME: 1:15 pm – 2:30
THE LAST HURRAH
Film & theatre director, screenwriter, playwright, songwriter, producer, award winning poet and published author. Howson was born in Melbourne, Australia. He entered show-business at the age of 7 as a tap dancer, singer and child actor, and had starred in 21 major theatrical productions by his 21st birthday.
He began his writing career by writing 4 hugely successful theatre musicals for children, “The Faraway Land of Magical Frank,” “The Boy Who Dared To Dream,” “Aladdin,” and “Sinbad – The Last Adventure.” All four of them were recorded as albums and broke attendance records at their respective theatres, leading the Melbourne Age to call Howson, “…the leading writer of children’s musicals in Australia.” “Sinbad – The Last Adventure” was later made into the international successful movie “What The Moon Saw” which was distributed worldwide by Miramax, opened the London Film Festival and became a classic on the Disney Channel.
Ever restless, he became interested in writing his own songs and went on to enjoy great success in this field by having his compositions recorded by such acts as Little River Band, Richie Havens, Dan Hill, Marc Jordan, Eric Idle, Kate Ceberano, Venetta Fields, Guy Pearce, amongst others. He discovered and published the band Pseudo Echo who enjoyed much chart success internationally and scored a top 3 hit in the U.S. Howson recorded his own singles and enjoyed success in his homeland. He also headed a thriving music publishing and recording company.
His song “Time Can’t Keep Us Apart” won the Asia Pacific Song Contest and was performed by Kate Ceberano to an estimated televised audience of 200 million people.
He went on to write many hit theatre shows and gained a great deal of respect in Australia for his productions for children.
In 1987 he wrote and produced the movie Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1988) which was nominated for 7 AFI Awards including Best Film. It eventually won two. From there, Howson wrote and produced Heaven Tonight (1989) – the first Australian film ever sold to American Broadcasting Corporation, What the Moon Saw (1990) – the first Australian film sold to Miramax, Hunting (1991) (which he also directed) – sold to Paramount, Beyond My Reach (1990) – Warners, Flynn – (1996) (also directed) – Village Roadshow – and others. During that time he discovered Guy Pearce as a movie actor and starred him in his first 3 films. In 1989 he was presented with the Producer of the Year Award from Film Victoria.
His films have been sold to such companies as Miramax, Disney, Warner, Village Roadshow, Paramount, J&M Entertainment, Filmstar, ABC, Hoyts, Skouras, etc.
After a very prolonged and messy break-up with his business partner, Howson dissolved his beloved Boulevard Films in order to extracate himself from the situation. He purposely sat out of the industry for 3 years to win his freedom. He then moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and stayed for 9 years working in the entertaintment industry. During that time he was commissioned to write several screenplays for various producers and remained active. In 2000 Arthur Hiller optioned the rights to Howson’s screenplay “The Lonely Heart”. Hiller was quoted as saying, “After years of reading crap screenplays finally a great one comes along!” That same year he was commissioned by Joe Ezterhas to work on his movie “Burn Hollywood Burn”. His screenplay “El Paso” was described by Amy Ephron as “the best screenplay I’ve read in Hollywood in eight years”. During that time, Howson was asked by acclaimed English actor Steven Berkoff to direct the TV version of his hit off-Broadway play “Shakespeare’s Villains”. He was set to direct his screenplay “The Final Stage” starring Patricia Clarkson and Lou Reed but finance fell through 7 days before the start of filming.
His screenplay “Winter In America (The Les Darcy Story)” was placed on hold for three years because Heath Ledger loved it so much and wanted to play the lead role. The Age has described it as “the best unproduced screenplay in Australia.”
Between 1998 and 2001 Howson served on the board of the Los Angeles branch of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
In July 2001 Frank Howson married actress Terri Garber in Miami, Florida. During the time he spent with Garber he gave up his showbiz career but since the split has written new songs recorded by Little River Band on their 2004 album “Test of Time”.
Along with his business associate John Grimaldi, Howson conceived and devised the original idea for “G’Day L.A”, the annual weeklong event in Los Angeles that celebrates everything Australian. Howson & Grimaldi presented the idea to the Australian Consul, the Honourable John Olsen, and the rest is history. It remains the most successful Australian promotion ever. Upon returning to Australia, Howson was invited to be President of the Jury for the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2005 and is currently writing his memoirs on his life in the movie business. His award winning song “Andre” was premiered by Judith Durham during her U.K. tour. He also received the Short Poppy Award in his hometown of Melbourne and his screenplay “Winter in America” was performed in a rehearsed reading at the ACMI theatre, Federation Square.
In September 2005 he directed the Melbourne premiere of Caryl Churchill’s acclaimed play, “A Number” to rave reviews. It was revived for a return season due to public interest at Chapel Off Chapel in July 2006, this time starring the internationally acclaimed actor Alex Scott and Ross Ditcham.
In 2007 Frank Howson was invited to direct “The Replacement Son” for the Short & Sweet season at the Melbourne Arts Centre. March 2008 Howson was inducted into the Cinema Pioneers society. He was also Creative Director of the movie version of the hit stage musical “SHOUT! The Musical”.
Keith Potger’s album “Sunday” contains 6 songs co-written with Howson, and his new film as director/writer “Remembering Nigel” won the 2006 Best Film Award at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and Best Film Award at Paso Robles in California. It stars Oscar winners Martin Landau, Mark Rydell, Oscar nominees Michael J. Pollard, Sally Kirkland as well as Eric Burdon, John Savage, Thea Gill (star of Queer as Folk), Tyler Hilton (who played Elvis in Walk The Line), Steven Berkoff, Creed Bratton (from The Office), Bernard Fowler (from The Rolling Stones), P.F. Sloan, Bert Newton, Bud Tingwell (in his final screen performance) etc., etc. It was recently a hit at the Woods Hole Film Festival where it was screened on the final night as a special feature and as a result Howson has been approached by the Adler Company in L.A to handle worldwide sales. Universal Music are also eager to release the soundtrack album.
A feature length rough cut version won the Best Foreign Film Award and the Best Music Soundtrack Award at the Paso Robles Film Festival in California. In August 2009 Howson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and his film “The Nigel Diaries – The Making of Remembering Nigel” won the Best Documentary Award.
Howson is also completing his memoirs on his life in the film business which includes the story of his years working and living in Hollywood. He has also recently collaborated on a new song with Jack Tempchin (Eagles, Johny Rivers, Glenn Frey, etc., etc, as well as a new song with his boyhood songwriting hero, P. F. Sloan.
Howson also appears as an actor in the latest Richard Wolstencroft film “The Beautiful and Damned” (a modern version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel), and the lead role in the Jason Turley directed film “Crazy In The Night”. Rhonda Burchmore’s one-woman show “Cry Me A River – The World of Julie London” which opened to rave reviews and a sell-out season is based on an original treatment by Frank Howson, who also ghost-wrote Burchmore’s autobiography, the critically successful best seller “Legs 11”.
His song “Andre” (about Holocaust victim Georges Andre Kohn) is also featured on the new Andre Rieu album as well the new album by Judith Durham,”Epiphany.” Keith Potger’s new album “Smile Now” contains another 3 Howson songs, and a compilation album “I Used To Be An Outlaw – The Songs of Frank Howson” has been released by Aztec Music and features Eric Idle, Little River Band, Richie Havens, Renee Geyer and other performers singing Howson songs.
In 2012 Rhonda Burchnore toured the one-woman show, specially written for her by Frank Howson, entitled “Cry Me A River – The World of Julie London.” It was a smash hit Australia wide.
Frank Howson’s musical “Genesis To Broadway” (Howson wrote & directed) has enjoyed two sell-out seasons at Chapel off Chapel to rave reviews and standing ovations. The star of the show was nominated for a Green Room nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Broadway producers Howson is now negotiating an off-Broadway season.
He, most recently, was asked to direct the two music videos for the legendary Seekers 50th Anniversary CD release through EMI, and to promote their new international tour.
During the beginning of 2013 Howson spent 10 weeks in Hong Kong directing and casting a new musical entitled “Good Morning Hong Kong” starring internationally successful actress Celina Jade, star of the hit TV series “Arrow”.
He has just announced that he will be collaborating with Broadway and West End composer Warren Wills on a new musical about the life of Chopper Read, entitled CHOPPER – The Musical. It will open in Melbourne in 2018.
Howson has just finished directing the new music video “Hong Kong Lover” starring Kole Dysart & Whitney Huang, as well as a new music clip for singer/songwriter Harry Goles.
Howson is currently collaborating with Richard Wolstencroft on a new film production, “The Refugee”.
Frank Howson’s latest musical “Dream Lover” (the Bobby Darin story) which has been developed for some years by the internationally acclaimed theatrical producer John Frost premiered in Sydney, October 2016, directed by Simon Phillips, and is currently the hottest smash in town, receiving standing ovations at every performance and rave reviews. Dodd Darin (Bobby’s son) flew to Sydney to see it and emotionally thanked Howson for getting every detail right and giving his father the legacy he had always deserved.