Tracy Reiner – Hollywood’s Intellectual Rebel

An Exclusive interview by Bruce Edwin

I am speaking here today with the legendary Tracy Reiner; writer, producer, actress, and member of one of the most lauded families in Hollywood. Daughter of the iconic producer and actress Penny Marshall (actress from Laverne and Shirley fame, and a major female film director), niece of the iconic writer, producer, director Gary Marshall (creator of Happy Days), and stepdaughter of the iconic writer, producer and director Rob Reiner (creator of the masterful Stand By Me).

Tracy Reiner is a talent in her own right, having appeared in over fifty film and television shows including Valentine’s Day, The Princess Diaries, The Princess Diaries 2- Royal Engagement, Riding in Cars with Boys, Apollo 13, Pretty Woman, Frankie and Johnny, When Harry Met Sally, Beaches, Die Hard, Big, The Sure Thing, The Flamingo Kid, and her most known role in the T.V. show and film of ‘A League of Their Own’ as Betty (Spaghetti) Horn among many more. If there was ever Hollywood royalty, Tracy Reiner would be it.

interview with tracy reiner. Image by Hollywood Sentinel
Interview with Tracy Reiner. Image by Hollywood Sentinel

But Tracy Reiner the gifted actress is not even half as fascinating as Tracy Reiner the human being and intellectual. If her family broke records (and they did), Tracy Reiner shattered further stereotypes and advanced consciousness.

Fiercely confident, fast, fascinating, and brilliant, this incredible woman is not merely a kid raised by the Hollywood great’s, she is greatness in her own right. Her knowledge about Hollywood, politics, religion, and things often hidden is quite mind blowing.

Talking with Tracy Reiner is not merely a conversation, it is an experience. She is a quite rare, gifted, brilliant and amazing human being, and it is an honor to bring you here part two of my interview with this extraordinary woman.

Exclusive Interview with Tracy Reiner Part 2

Read Part 1 here:

Tracy Reiner: New Mexico right now…

Tracy Reiner: I don’t know why, but I’ve said some of the elements of how much revenue it brings to another state, like when we went to Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, and we brought millions and millions of dollars to shoot there.

I mean just our laundry for our crew for three hundred was a lot, and we brought money into those towns, and I think this thing of ‘why not in California,’ I don’t know of all that politically, but usually its areas that are very poor (that give bigger tax breaks), like New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mississippi for the last few years, and it’s been so instrumentally positive to their economy.

And all what artists will do to go in somewhere and touch that (is very interesting). A film can go in and simulate their life pretty much, and bring more money, and make them millions of dollars and tell the truth about stuff, so interesting things like that happen.

Countries have been doing that for centuries – making things somewhere else, so I don’t know that a different hierarchical order of it would work. I think that its important, I know that they’re happy to be able to go shoot the big action movie in New Mexico, the one with Robert Downey Jr., ‘The Avengers,’ and I get all these updates on my twitter and everything, and everyone in New Mexico is excited about it, whereas if ‘The Avengers’ was going on in town, it might not be such a big deal … but when it starts to happen in another community (other than Hollywood) it’s a big deal.

So I think the possibility of generating more income for a community and a stronger buzz is a good thing. And there are so many screeners out right now from the Academy and new films, I haven’t even seen them all yet there are so many. My platform that I am really excited about right now is the affect of special effects on physiology.

Tracy Reiner: Well that’s an interesting story that parallels me coming out here … so my grandmother worked for the Department of Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission. My grandmother was a really great woman who worked at all these different labs when I don’t think very many women did (at the time).

I had come and saw her and I said – one of my uncles works for NASA, and we just did this movie ‘Apollo 13’ … and she discussed with me a lot of the special effects technologies that came out of the lab and were going to be used in movies (…) years ago.

So it’s something I was brought up in and hi definition at the time, for about twenty years or so … I was a teenager (around nineteen) and working with Zoetrope Studios for Francis Ford Coppola and his son Gian at the time, where we were allowed to do a lot of testing on the beta cameras and all the Sony stock, early high definition.

And I got to meet a lot of the heads of that division including Mr. Morita who was running Sony at the time (Mr. Morita founded Sony along with Mr. Ibuka).

A nice part about being young and a girl who could play the part is that I was allowed to not just be treated as an actress, I was allowed to learn, and I learned writing, and got to spend a monthly retreat on the private club with Wayne Goldman (one of the first developers of the electric car) and more.

Francis was very nice to me and said, “Do you want to be some lackey, or do you want to learn what filmmaking is really about?” And of course I was up for the challenge, and I said, “Fine! OK, I want to learn what it’s really about!”

I had an amazing time, and I was thirteen or fourteen at the time and my uncle was filming ‘A Flamingo Kid.’

Tracy Reiner with Penny Marshall. Image c/o The Hollywood Sentinel
Tracy Reiner with Penny Marshall. Image c/o The Hollywood Sentinel

Tracy Reiner: …And it was the first time I worked on two movies at once, production and acting, and going back and forth from set to set, exhausting myself, and I was in Heaven.

So I did get an extraordinary experience from all of these amazing people and sort of learned why it is a tag team effort, it’s not just the writer, and it’s not just the producer, and it’s not just the director. It really is a team sport, and it’s the most expensive hobby on the planet, and it’s a really amazing job, filled with very interesting people.

But like I said, now with some of the technology that is being used I find (some of) it be dangerous. And I’ve spoke with quite a few people in 3d and HD, and we need to make sure that there is not just film preservation, but also preservation of integrity doing this job.

And the stories that we make and the effects they have on other people, and now that they are using all of these other things besides our bodies, like now they are trying to map the actors…

Tracy Reiner: You know how you can map a body? It’s in (the film) Tron, like people wear those outfits, you can map the body and therefore they can do all those things that the computer can do.

And like when they digitize someone who is no longer living, in a new commercial, I remember there was a big uproar about that. But I do want to put out there that I have issue with that because I understand sure they want to be the first persons to do it, but at the same time, I have tremendous concern for the effects of special effects on the physiology. I’ll just keep it at that phrase because that’s the best phrase.

Bruce Edwin: Regarding the physiology, can you explain that to readers what you mean, because that’s not an everyday word for most people.

(Physiology 1. The biological study of the functions of living organisms and their parts. 2. All the functions of a living organism or any of its parts.; source; The Free Dictionary)

Tracy Reiner: well, remember when they were using special effects and they come out and used a strobe … OK, well, here’s where it started … about fifteen years ago I got asked to speak at the California Lawyers for the Arts, and a (high profile) lawyer, and the producer of ‘Pretty Woman,’ and some other industry people (were there).

We were all asked to speak about our concerns for the future. And one of my concerns was the effects of special effects, and even though it was only 1993, I told people they would probably see (news) pages on this come up in the future. And I remember they kept playing this on the news, more kids were having grand mal seizures.

(“A grand mal seizure – also known as a tonic-clonic seizure – features a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. It’s the type of seizure most people picture when they think about seizures in general. A grand mal seizure is reportedly caused by abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain. In some cases, this type of seizure is triggered by other health problems. However, most of the time grand mal seizure is caused by epilepsy.” Source; CNN Health)

Tracy Reiner: Some of it has to do with the effects of light, strobe (light) and things like that, and so it’s getting like in an IMax, that it becomes increasingly more dangerous. Years ago the technology of an Imax and HD used to have a plaque outside the door that said ‘do not watch this if you have any instruments in your body, or it will diffuse your binocular vision.’

And so we’ve come a long way from there, but I was sort of concerned to put ‘Apollo 13’ in to 3D, and Imax- not because they wouldn’t pay us, because it was a really new format- but because they said it was O.K. if you did not watch (it) longer than twenty minutes!

Now I know people like James Cameron came up with the new camera, and new things from Panasonic, and I shot a film years ago, and we shot it on 24P, so it’s not something I’m unfamiliar with, there’s been many advances, there are different cameras now, they have been trying to deal with this, but the fact is that we are dealing with 3D instead of 4D or 5D (and I think 3D has more dangers).

So I called (George Lucas special effects production company) ‘Industrial Light and Magic’ and these places, and I said … “Are there some guidelines that says don’t go over six, with the atomic energy commission (and light emissions) with these changes that are rendering (light)? Do we have any guidelines?”

And the sort of answer was “not really.” There were some general ones, like here’s your safety kit, but not really.

There was still a generally accepted amount of disproportionance (of speed of light emissions) to the viewer. And so a lot of that has not really been attended to. There are people who have had seizures from special effects, that’s the bottom line. It’s from the strobing … (Tracy then later references to me what happened regarding Pokemon).

According to Wikipedia, “Strobe lighting can trigger seizures in photosensitive epilepsy. An infamous event took place in 1997 in Japan when an episode of the Pokemon anime, DennA Senshi Porygon, featured a scene that depicted a huge explosion using flashing red and blue lights, causing about 685 of the viewing children to be sent to hospitals. These flashes were extremely bright strobe lights. Most strobe lights on sale to the public are factory-limited to about 10-12 flashes per second in their internal oscillators, although externally triggered strobe lights will often flash as frequently as possible.”

Tracy Reiner: They even found that in old police cars, the lights had to be tempered, because people getting too close to the flashing lights were having seizures.

Bruce Edwin: Does this just affect people who have a pre-disposition to this type of thing?

Tracy Reiner: No, that’s the thing, it’s not just people with autism or things like that, it can happen to anyone. The strobing can weaken a person’s system and make anyone susceptible. This isn’t just with film and light, it’s with sound – with music too. You know that, how they layer different things in sound and this can occur (…)

Bruce Edwin: Right.

Tracy Reiner: So, I worked alongside (many of these people) and I’ve always voiced my concerns to the people that are running things, and they say oh, here’s Tracy and her crazy ideas! (laughs) But it’s something I’m very, very aware of, and so should other people…

The first part was Tracy Reiner a Hollywood Royalty.

To be continued…

Tracy Reiner – An Exclusive Interview With ‘Betty Spaghetti’