Orson on Wonderland
In 2012, I called Bob Kensinger and asked if he'd tell me some of his amazing stories about the years he spent working as Orson Welles's personal assistant in the late '70s and early '80s. The director of "Citizen Kane" and other classic films was then in the twilight of his career. He lived in a drab A-frame house off Laurel Canyon on Wonderland Avenue and spent his days shooting doomed TV pilots, appearing on talk shows and holding court at Ma Maison.
Kensinger says Welles was as active and creative as ever, but frustrated by a Hollywood mindset that had relegated him to the past. Everyone wanted to give him awards but no one would give him what he really wanted: financing for his film projects. Yet Kensinger's memories of the great director are charming and funny, if tinged with melancholy as well.
Kristine McKenna co-produced this piece with me, and it took us quite a while to shape it and find a good home. It debuted on The Organist podcast, which is a co-production of KCRW and McSweeney's, in 2015.