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Premieres & Events

"Bizarre to Say the Least"

Crazy people: (L-R) Dan Klores, Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky on the carpet at Tuesday's premiere of Crazy Love (Photo: STV)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

Five months after its premiere at Sundance and quick acquisition by Magnolia Pictures, the only-in-New-York tabloid "romance" doc Crazy Love bowed Tuesday in New York. The story of Burt Pugach's courtship of, obsession with and eventual blinding of paramour Linda Riss dominated headlines in two generations -- first for Pugach's attack, then for their subsequent reconciliation -- before director Dan Klores immortalized it on film for a third. Publicity power broker that Klores is, it wasn't hard with pals like Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon, Mario Cuomo and Howard Stern floating around the theater.

"I thought it was bizarre to say the least," said Stern, who heard about Pugach and Riss while growing up in New York and had seen Crazy Love once already before the premiere. "The fact of the matter is I don't think they are a happy couple. I think she harbors a lot of resentment, but she needs someone to help her. So it's a sad kind of love -- if there's even love there. I don't know. It just seems like the most pathetic, sad story --

"Heartbreaking," added Stern's fiancée, Beth Ostrosky.

"-- to take someone's eyes away, to take someone's life away," Stern continued. "And then get her in the end."

Klores, who acknowledged an ambivalence about his subjects both before and during Crazy Love's Sundance run, said his mixed feelings haven't abated with time and distance. "I'm ambivalent about both of them and it changes at different times," he told The Reeler. "I feel for Linda greatly, and there are times I feel for Burt. Sometimes those feelings waver --especially with Burt."

I asked Stern if he knew Klores harbored directing ambitions over their years of friendship. "You can't even get him on the phone," he said, raising his voice toward Klores, who was doing another interview a few paces away. "Now he's Spielberg. Dan, remember when you were a publicist?"

"Nah, I wanted to be a shock jock," Klores said.

"I remember a trip to California," Stern said. "Dan and I were in a car together and..." He effortlessly lowered the bar. "I'll tell you a secret about Dan: He doesn't wear underwear. I always thought that was gross. Dan, do you wear underwear?"

"No," Klores replied.

"He doesn't," Stern said. "I'm telling you right now: The man's not wearing underwear. I used to say, 'Dan, your suit -- doesn't it get dirty?' His ass is on the suit! And he says, 'No, no, no. I get it dry cleaned.' I go, 'I don't know. It's a little weird.' "

A little while later, the Pugaches arrived in a stretch limousine. They posed for photos, did another blitz of interviews. They were well into the third act of their public lives together; I asked what's any better this time around.

Then again: Crazy Love subjects Burt and Linda Pugach arrive at Tuesday's premiere

"There was a young lady who stopped me on the way in (at Sundance)," Linda said. "And her wording was that she was so proud of me that I did something like this. But I really found it unusual. But this was her attitude -- she really congratulated me. She was so happy. That was it."

"This is a 10," Burt said. "The rest were a zero."

"This is the best," Linda added.

"This is really the only honest phase of our lives," Burt told me. "The rest were just the big words: 'monster,' and that kind of stuff. But as I've said before, I'm not a monster. And I'm not a movie star."

Posted at May 23, 2007 8:27 AM

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