In memory of our pal Nick Coster who passed away this week at 89.
Conversation with Jennifer Shaffer, Nick Coster, Robert Towne and Richard Martini recorded on January 9th, 2020. Jennifer’s replies are in bold, Robert’s questions or comments are in italics. Nick and my questions are in “parentheses.”
Jennifer is Jennifer Shaffer, Robert is Robert Towne, Nick is Nick Coster, Richard is Richard Martini.
We are assembled in Jennifer’s office in Manhattan Beach.
(Note: Luana Anders is our friend who passed in 1996, who moderates our conversations with folks on the flipside. She was friends with both Edward Taylor on the flipside, and Robert Towne and Nick Coster on this side. )
Richard: Before we start, we should say hello to Luana first.
Jennifer: (by way of explanation) Luana has been helping me with my group meetings. And working with Rich, I find I don’t have fear.
Nick: What does one do all day on the other side, or is there no sense of time?
Jennifer: There is no sense of time – for me, past, present and future shows up in the same place for me. They’ll show me a photo in black and white for a memory – I get information about stuff in the future as well.
Robert: Let me ask you about Hira or Leo...
(Note: Robert was a skeptic about this process until during a session with Jennifer, she recalled a time on Catalina when Robert’s dog Hira challenged a buffalo. I didn’t know about it, nor could have Jennifer. It was the moment that allowed Robert to consider the possibility that his dog may still exist. Leo the cat has just crossed over recently. I would characterize Nick as “still a skeptic” at this point.)
Jennifer: Is there a birthday around March 2nd? An anniversary with either one?
Robert: I wouldn’t know. We met (the cat) Leo in the South Pacific – the girls found him. He was a scrawny cat.
Jennifer: But he turned into a bigger cat, later, didn’t he?
Robert: Yes, when he was older. He showed up at our bungalow on the beach and they wanted to take him home but I didn’t want to – but one day I was getting up one night... all I know is I walked into the bathroom and there he was sitting on a mat – I thought, “All right, if you’re that serious, you’re coming home with us.”
Jennifer: (Listens) He says, “You saved his life.”
Robert: I probably did.
Richard: She’s quoting him Robert, he’s observing “you saved his life.”
Jennifer: He says, “He apologizes for scratching your furniture... he had so much fun at your place, but then you moved.”
Robert: We did move.
|Our podcast HACKINGTHEAFTERLIFE.COM|
Jennifer: He said “That made things even worse... the new place couldn’t be touched.”
Robert: That was true. But he did it anyway.
Jennifer: He’s showing me that it was “Super fun... then they moved, but then they didn’t want me to scratch things. Then I got a little older and I realized couches were to be slept on instead of scratched.” He’s showing me the dining room table that he slid off of.
Robert: I don’t remember that.
Richard: (To Jennifer) I know we asked you before Leo, but who was there to greet you when you crossed over?
Jennifer: He says, “Hira.” He said it again. “Hira.”
Richard: What was that like?
Jennifer: He said “I was scared, then I was so happy. Because Hira took care of me even when he didn’t like me.”
Jennifer: He says, “I knew to allow Hira to be “the best” (favorite). “Even when Hira did something wrong, the cat was blamed. We knew Hira was the best... the favorite.” He says “We had an exchange; he made sure we were okay, and we made sure he was the best (favorite).”
Richard: Leo, when you crossed over, you mentioned in an earlier interview that you didn’t have any pain?
Jennifer: He said “During the last two months (there was pain) – he said “He wasn’t in pain until the two months before he died.” He says “It was only the last weeks or months he felt pain... and it wasn’t that bad.” (Jennifer aside) There are so many people up here who are laughing because we are talking to his pets.
Richard: She’s saying that the people in Luana’s group who are waiting to speak to you are upset that you’re not talking to your friends on the flipside.
Jennifer: I’m seeing a fellow with a checkered sports coat. He’s named Sydney. (to me) Who was was the guy we talked to named Sydney?
Richard: Sydney Pollack. Yes, we have spoken to Sydney a few times – he was a member of the group that Milton Wexler had with Blake Edwards, Sally Kellerman and others. We mentioned him earlier.
Robert: Sydney is here?
Jennifer: Yes, he says “He’s (been) waiting to talk to you Robert... and you’re talking to Leo!” I just saw a bunch of people who were waiting to talk to Robert and I saw Sydney behind them. (Jennifer laughs)
Richard: Sydney, what do you want to say to Robert or your friend Nick?
Jennifer: Did you know someone named Marilyn? Cause I just saw Marilyn Monroe - which could be as a name reference.
Robert: I never knew her.
Nick: I knew her. She was in my class; Lee Strasberg’s class.
Jennifer: She says “You helped her get over being nervous.”
Nick (chagrined): Well, I never talked to her in class.
Jennifer: But she’s saying that your work in class helped her with her nervousness.
(Note: This is an example of Jennifer describing literally “what she is getting.” She repeats what she hears whether it makes sense to the person hearing it or not. We’ve chatted with Marilyn before (about her youth, death).
|With Jennifer Shaffer|
Robert: How is Sydney?
Jennifer: He says, “He’s busy.” I don’t think he played golf here but he says he “plays it a lot over there.” He’s wearing an old golf cap.. what was the movie? Matt Damon was in it – he’s showing me that film. (“The Legend of Bagger Vance” 1995)
Richard: Sydney we’ve talked about creating a golf game with others but not with you. How do you create a golf course over there?
Jennifer: He says, “Any way you want to. There’s a lot of people who help create it from different places.. I’m seeing also the old fashioned version of playing golf with girls handing out drinks like in the olden days.
Richard: But how do you create it?
Jennifer: They want to feel the dirt, the grass... and the older (the course) it is, the more you can smell that – for some golfers. Just a second – I want to make sure this is right. Someone is here you both know who played golf. To answer your question, Robert, “He’s doing great.” Sydney says “He’s doing a lot of flying, doing something different.” Showed me flying a plane.
Robert: Yeah, he flew, was a pilot, yeah.
Jennifer: He’s showing me going super fast – what is that, Mach 5? That’s what he’s showing me.
(Note: We interviewed Sydney before, neither Jennifer nor I knew he was a pilot, had a pilot’s license. In our interview with Sydney, he said a number of things that I passed on to one of his family members, including the pack of cigarettes he tapped and smoked while I interviewed him. His family member said that “What he said and did” sounded “just like him.” By the way, Mach 1 is going faster than the speed of sound, 5280 feet per second.)
Robert: So Sydney’s having a good time?
Jennifer: He says, “A blast.”
Robert: Well that’s wonderful to hear.
Jennifer: He’s saying something about “being forgiven.” He says, “Forgive me for not telling you guys about the extent of my illness or how long I had it.” He’s saying that um ... “I knew it (death) was coming...” Did he write something before?
Richard: Sydney wrote a letter to Phillip Noyce just prior to his passing, perhaps that’s it?
Jennifer: He’s saying, “Yes, he did.” He said “Phillip was upset about his passing.”
Richard: Well, Phillip confirmed what Sydney told us in our interview with him. But Sydney, you knew Nick and Robert – is there anything you want to tell these guys?
Jennifer: (to Nick) He said, “We had the best boat ride.”
Nick: Maybe that was Ed Taylor.
(Note: Nick and Robert had recently scattered Ed Taylor’s ashes from his boat.)
Jennifer: (to Nick) Did you go out on a yacht with Sydney?
Jennifer: He’s showing me a yacht – in – what’s the place in the South of France? Cannes.
Nick: Never been to Cannes.
|Luana Anders holding Michael Gough's nose|
Richard: That could be me. But would you ask Luana to bring forward whoever needs to talk to Nick or Robert? Person wise, we’ll get to the animals in a minute.
Jennifer: (to Nick) I know you mentioned your son – we don’t have to talk about that or anything.
Nick: I’m open.
Jennifer: What’s his name?
Nick: His name is Ian.
Jennifer: Was there someone who got a tattoo because of him?
Nick: Yes. He had something.
Jennifer: Was it on his arm, do you know?
Nick: I don’t remember.
Jennifer: He’s showing me (the word) “dad” – I know you’re his dad because you told me that; but he got something in honor of you as far as a tattoo goes.
Nick: (realizes) Oh, I have a tattoo.
(Nick shows her his shamrock tattoo.)
Jennifer: Do you know if he had a tattoo? That’s what he’s showing me... something on his arm in honor of you and it might be a shamrock.
Nick: My grandson has a tattoo in honor of me.
Jennifer: Give me a second as he was very specific about it. (Listens) He keeps saying it’s him; he had a tattoo in honor of you. 12-21? Something about the date. Mean anything to you?
Nick: My birthday is 12-3, his mother is 12-7. Oh, he died on 12-20.
Jennifer: Okay, he showed me 12-21 – I was a day off. You didn’t say that to me, never told me, right?
Jennifer: If I hear something I want to give credit where it comes from. He’s really funny by the way, instead of flowers flung everywhere, he’s showing me shamrocks being thrown. I know he died too soon. Was there something going on in his head, with your son? When they show me this… did he have cancer?
Nick: No... he either accidentally or on purpose took his life.
Jennifer: I asked him did you have a crash or internal crash? He said “No.” He told me he wasn’t feeling well (there was) something going on mentally. (Jennifer listens) He says “He did not take his own life on purpose.”
Nick: I did not believe he did – his mother did – they were giving him some heavy drugs, he sent away for some phenobarbital, and I think he went to sleep.
Jennifer: He’s saying “No, he did plan on waking up.” He said “He was in a lot of physical pain; his back hurt - that’s not an excuse - but he’s trying to show me he took the other stuff in lieu of everything else. And that he was told that mixing the two would not kill him, that he would be able to wake up.” He still wants to talk about it. He said “He left no note, that there was no letter or note.” He said “I would have written the best story, I would have written everything; I would have gone out with a blast! Not that way, of going to sleep.” He says “He said he was pissed that he didn’t wake up.” He’s saying “That it’s easier for his mom to feel there had to be some reason for him to leave.” (She listens) Okay, I always ask “But were you toying with it, like playing Russian roulette?” He went like this (flips her hand back and forth) “Eh.”
Nick: In a different way. He had six bottles of the drug...
Jennifer: But he didn’t take them all, did he?
(Note: There’s no way for Jennifer to know this detail, except via Ian.)
Nick: Well, we don’t know over what period of time (he took them.)
Jennifer: He says “From October.”
Nick: They did an autopsy and they said he had enough of the drug to kill him or stop his heart beating.
Jennifer: He says, “He was taking them since October.”
Nick: I’m at peace with that.
Jennifer: He said “You saw him in a dream and he told you he was okay.” He says “He loves you,” said “You always got him, always met him wherever he was at, and he’s forever grateful.”
Nick: Tell him I’m grateful for knowing him and I’ll see him again.
Jennifer: He said, “Not too soon!” He said; “You have a Russian bride!”
Nick: It’s Robert’s turn...
Jennifer: (Holds her ear in pain) Someone just crashed this session... – I just heard a really high pitch. (Listens) It’s Hira again. Ouch! He said “He’s trying to get my attention with all these people (in the room). Is there anything around 4-16 – April 16th?”
Robert: Who wants to know?
Jennifer: Hira is relaying a message – 4-16. I’m looking at Hira but it could be anyone here trying to give you a message. Do you have anything to do with 4-16? Might have been when you got Leo – Go ahead Robert; who do you want to talk to?
|Not Hira, but looks like him. A Kommondor|
Robert: Is Luana there?
Jennifer: She says “Always.” She’s laughing, singing; they’re having a party up there. She doesn’t usually show me that – she has a list of people often that she shows me; she is not like this normally. I just saw a Malaysian kid – a beautiful boy, young boy – I don’t know... someone that was in Robert’s movies or a movie?
Robert: There were two kids that were...
Jennifer: “This is it, whatever you’re saying,” she says.
Robert: There were two kids in the movie we did in South Africa – “Ask the Dust.”
Jennifer: I’m feeling that one of them has (crossed over), maybe you didn’t know... let me see what he has to say. I’m getting immense gratitude. So grateful that you were able to do what you did in Africa.
Robert: I spent time with them on the film.
Jennifer: One is coming through, and he’s saying “Thank you so much.” He might have died.. um.. in a car crash or something. But you wouldn’t know this – he wants to say “Thank you, you meant so much to them.”
Robert: I really liked them.
Jennifer: He said “Thank you, thank you.” (Jennifer listens.) Your dad, Robert – did he live up in Palos Verdes?
(Note: Jennifer couldn’t know this, I didn’t know it either.)
Robert: Yes, Rolling Hills.
Jennifer: That’s him – what’s his first name?
He’s saying “I lived in Palos Verdes and I was a golfer.”
Robert: Yes, he was a golfer.
Jennifer: Ah, so he was trying to come forward (earlier) with Sydney; that’s the whole golfing aspect.
(Note: My phone rings. After a conversation with my wife, there’s a joke about wives thinking someone is with a mistress when visiting with a medium like Jennifer instead.)
Jennifer: So your father is laughing about that .Robert – he says “I wish I had thought of that (excuse – “I’m seeing a medium, honey!”).
(Robert laughs.) Well, I told him to try and lie; he wouldn’t listen. (Laughter)
Richard: Back to you Lu – what is it you want to say to your buddy?
Jennifer: She’s still laughing along with your dad. You’re saying “Lu” - and they’re both named Lou. And she has Hira in her lap. She says “It’s a frickin’ farm up here between her cat and your pets.” Okay, your dad just pulled up a chair. He says, “Everything is going to be okay, all right?” That’s what your dad says in-between a golf swing.
Robert: In-between a golf swing? (Robert laughs.)
Jennifer: I’m asking him and he shows me hitting, but the ball is going over the ocean and landing in Hawaii. That’s how they golf now – play however they want to play – their first hole might be one island and the next hole in another place. He showed me it twice – He said “Watch.” And he showed me me how he’s hitting and to get it over the ocean.
Richard: We’ve talked about this before with other people – they say “It’s math – the flight of the ball, the swing of the club – it’s like CGI.”
(Jennifer taps her nose to indicate “correct.”) Your father just tapped his nose over and over again.
Robert: Let me ask you this. Can he bark?
Jennifer: Hira or your dad? (Laughs). Absolutely – you might hear it and turn and no one’s there.
Robert: If he is, I can’t hear him.
Jennifer: He’s showing me that he can make you think you hear his bark. That’s him – he’s showing me – like being by the door trying to get outside. Scratching a door. I’m not getting that he did that – but there’s still a pattern of what he used to do, and he still does it.
Robert: Well, I’d love to hear him bark.
Jennifer: He says he’ll do that but you can’t discount it (later). But he will do it.
Richard: Hira put in Jennifer’s mind a place in Robert’s house where it’s best for him to communicate with you?
Jennifer: He says, “In your office.”
Robert: In my office? It’s right next to the kitchen.
Jennifer: He’s showing me that there’s one next to the kitchen but another on the other side of the house – that there is an empty office.
Robert nods. It’s upstairs. My wife doesn’t want me to use it because it’s harder to get up stairs.
Jennifer: He’s showing me that too. I’ve never been to your house, but he’s showing me where your offices are.
Robert: Hira is saying if you want to talk to him I need to go upstairs?
Jennifer: Let me rephrase it – you can talk to him anywhere. He was showing me your house – that office and the other office.
Robert: He’s right about that.
He prefers talking to you outside. He says there’s a nest in your backyard – a tree that has a nest, where a bird recently dropped.
Robert: I’m sure we’ve had that. What would he prefer? I can deal with wherever he liked.
Jennifer: Wherever your office would be. He says, “He likes being next to you.” (Listens) Do you have his collar? He’s showing me makes a ringing noise, like a tambourine – something that can make music?
Robert: I have a couple of his dog tags..
Jennifer: He says “You hid them.”
Robert: They’re in an inkwell with no ink.
Jennifer: He’s saying “No! He hid them.” So take them out whenever you want – if you can, put the inkwell... put it by your bed when you go to sleep, other than his portrait or the several you have.
Robert: I do have several.
Jennifer: He showed them all to me – his favorite is the photograph you took. You’re holding onto him?
Jennifer: He loves that photo.
Robert: I’ve got him..
Jennifer: Holding him.
Robert: He leaped up on his hind quarters and I held him.
Jennifer: He loves that because that’s how he wants to be remembered. He loved the weather when that was taken. He absolutely loves the cartoon or sketch...
Robert: Yes. That was done by a psychiatrist friend of mine. It’s on a wall.
Jennifer: He showed it to me – over and over again. I just didn’t know what it meant earlier. “It’s on the wall but crooked,” he said. He said “You should use a ruler to fix it.”
Robert: I was never able to have that level of communication with him when he was alive.
Jennifer: He says, “Dogs don’t need you to talk, they need you to feel – other than Richard, who talked to him in a car.”
Richard: How would you possibly know I talked to Hira in a car? Do you know what she’s talking about Robert? That’s the car I drove in 34 years ago, to join you on the set of “Personal Best.” I was in Patty Jenkin’s car – a white Mercedes and I was in the backseat with this giant creature. I would ask Hira to move over to give me room as we drove 8 hours to Oregon. I’ve never told anyone that.
Jennifer: Her voice put him to sleep though.
Robert: Oh Geeze.
Jennifer: One of the greatest gifts is that dogs don’t talk but communicate all the time – Hira knew when you were hung over, weren’t feeling well, when you were mad – he’d be on alert to figure out who you were mad at, as he would feel the pressure before your were mad. He loved your cologne... some kind of musk or something?
Richard: It was “Verbena.” I had to get it in Beverly Hills for Robert.
(Robert laughs.) I remember a day when my wife. Wait, no…
Jennifer: “The shorter one,” he said.
Richard: Did you hear that Robert? Hira called your first wife Julie, “the shorter one.”
Robert: Julie bought a house in Westwood near the Westwood Marquis. We were up the street in this house.
Jennifer: Hira says, “He loved that street.”
Robert: I left the house to go somewhere and was going to head back to the hotel later (the Westwood Marquis.)
Jennifer: Did he take off? He says it was like, “I’m fucking out of here.”
Robert: He did – he took off... went down the street. He went straight to the hotel, went up the front steps and the guy who was there, a doorman... Hira greeted him. The guy opened the door for him. Hira went into the lobby, went to the elevator, they opened the door and pushed the button but Hira got off on the wrong floor.
On the 3rd floor. Were you on the 7th?
(Note: Ding! While Robert was editing “Personal Best” he was using a hotel room as his office, and Richard Prince, his production manager and I were there every day. The 7th sounds correct, but Prince would remember.)
Robert: Something like that –
Jennifer: He showed me that the room was at the end of the hallway.
(Note: That is absolutely correct. Ding!)
Jennifer: Hira said “He was also hungry after walking all that way.”
Robert: So they finally let him into the room – I thought “How the fuck did you get here?” I had no idea how he got there.
Jennifer: Hira said that his front paw hurt and he slept for a long time. He’s also saying he was relieved to see you. Was there cherry pie involved? (to me) Something you brought for him; a good dessert that you got him to get you to like you more?
Richard: I don’t recall bringing him pie, but Hira did put up with me.
(Note: I seem to recall a birthday cake for his daughter Katherine. She might have been around 3 or 4, and the cake was in the main room, and I seem to recall coming in and seeing that Hira had consumed some of it.)
(to Richard) Hira loved you. (To Robert) I didn’t know any of this stuff.
|Robert Towne, Edward Taylor and Jack|
Richard: So Luana, can we bring Eddie Taylor in?
Jennifer: Edward is smoking – and saying “Well, if you have the time.”
Nick: It’s about time. Edward Milton Taylor.
Robert: Nick and I are eagerly waiting to talk to you Edward.
Jennifer: He says “You both have told him already what to bring through.”
Nick: I was sitting here resenting the fact Robert was talking to his dog and not Eddie.
Jennifer: Edward thinks it’s fascinating; he says, “Bitches and dogs communicate better.”
Nick: Eddie never talked like that. Eddie would have left it a little more cryptic.
Jennifer: Well, he did say “bitches” and I added the “dogs” part.
Richard: So what did the boys want to talk to you about?
Jennifer: (To Robert) Your dad says “That he just won the golf game apparently – he makes it so he wins every time. Is that fair?”
Richard: Is Edward appearing with beard or no beard?
Jennifer: I’m seeing him as clean shaven.
Richard: About how old does he appear?
Jennifer: Like he comes through as 33. But I’m getting the number 5 and 8?
Nick: Edward is year a younger than me ...
Jennifer: Hold on – 5 8 could mean May 8th or 1958. He also showed me 76.
Robert: That seems more like it..
(Jennifer laughs) I just didn’t want to believe you guys were that old.
Nick: I’m 85, Eddie would have been 86.
Jennifer holds up her clipboard where she had written “76.” I had it written down. He says, “You guys were like “The three amigos.” You guys did a lot of things together, like you helped each other through relationships, wives, ex wives... he thinks it’s funny, he says he finds me entertaining and he thinks “it’s amazing you both are here.” Did you guys have.. so you know, back in high school we had a journal, we’d pass between each other – he’s showing me something, it’s interpretation – he’s showing me something passed between you guys...
Richard: Like a screenplay Eddie?
Jennifer: Yes, he’s showing me Jack Nicholson.
(Note: When I met Edward it was on Personal Best. He was Robert's muse and they would go over each page of his screenplays together, and is likely the source of the mistaken rumor that Edward ghost wrote "Chinatown." When they worked together, Robert acted out all the parts in front of Eddie and he might taciturnly nod, or deign to puff on his pipe or cigar. That was their working relationship. So passing a journal back and forth would be a visual for their relationship. Edward was Robert's muse.)
Nick: I wrote a script with Eddie that he gave to Robert to read.
Jennifer: Was Jack involved? I got shown Jack –
Nick: He used to hang out at Robert’s house – I was living in Robert’s house when he did his first rewrite of “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Jennifer: (To Robert) You wrote that?
Nick: He did a rewrite of the script... and I was in his house. He’d come out and scratch his head and say “you want to read something?” You know who was driving a jaguar up there? Luana. She had a 1958 black Jaguar convertible.
Jennifer: I told my dad I wanted a black convertible Jaguar XGS with gold trim when I was 8 years old. He said “Honey you came to the Medlyns not the Marriotts.”
Nick: I can get you one for about 8 grand.
Robert: I used to ride around in my Porsche convertible with Hira.
Richard: Luana, what were you doing driving a Jaguar?
Jennifer. She says “It was given to her.” She says “I earned it.” Whatever that means and she got rid of it pretty fast too. A boyfriend before the hairdresser.
(Note: We’ve spoken to Luana’s old boyfriend Richard Alcala, who was partially the model for the hairdresser in Robert’s script “Shampoo.” After she broke up with Richard, she moved into Robert’s living room and didn’t emerge for a month. She also appeared in “Shampoo” as the receptionist. But for Jennifer to be so well versed in Luana’s boyfriends, including saying “before the hairdresser” is a bit uncanny.)
Jennifer: Eddie is saying “what about me?” He’s saying “He had the best life with you guys – so much fun, out of all three of you he says he was the responsible one – very pragmatic about time.”
Nick: I don’t remember him being insistent about anything; he was the most easy going guy about everything.
Jennifer: He says, “Well, you guys saw that, but in his mind he always had an objective.” He says “That’s how he did it seamlessly.” He’s also showing me.. like three gravesites – together.
Robert: Eddie’s not buried.
Jennifer: He showed me ashes –
Robert: We put his ashes in the water.
Jennifer: He’s showing me throwing ashes into the water. It’s a metaphor. He’s saying “You all three need to have your ashes mingled together.”
Nick: In the ocean? I’m going into a military cemetery.
Jennifer: He’s laughing at the notion. Hold on. (to Nick) He says “You’re going to have a spectacular send off via the military – but not any time soon.”
Nick: I wouldn’t mind.
Jennifer: He says “He knows that.” He says, “He hears your thoughts. Robert.” Says you can feel Hira here before you even go over there.” That “You just have to ask him to be around to show you signs, maybe a sign on a tv program.” Why am I being shown a tambourine again? Hira loved music he says.
Robert: He never told me!
He loved being around music – loved the loud... hold on.. the loud music.
Robert: Well I used to play Irish folk music loud.
Jennifer: Hira says “He loved it.” Who liked motorcycles?
Robert: Edward did.
Nick: I bought his motorcycle.
Jennifer: He said “You only rode it twice.”
Nick: I had other ones that were better.
(Note: Jennifer has no way of knowing that they both loved motorcycles or that Edward sold his to Nick. Funny that Nick's response to "you only rode it twice!" was to say "Yeah, I had other ones that were better." Their relationship continues on.)
Jennifer: Someone hurt their knee on the bike.
Robert: That’s right. Edward did.
Nick: He sold me the bike because he needed money.
Jennifer: That’s what he said; he said “You gave him over fair value and thanks you for that.”
Nick: I doubt it.
(Note: Jennifer has no clue who Eddie is or was. However in a previous discussion with Robert and Eddie, Robert asked Jennifer to get him to repeat what Edward had said to Robert. “It isn’t fair” in reference to his getting cancer.)
Richard: Edward, we were talking about a boat trip earlier…
Jennifer: Oh. I’m sorry. He’s the one who said he had the “best boat ride ever.” It was Edward who said that. Hold on a second. He’s showing me a compass… Do you have his old compass or something?
Nick: No. (a pause) Oh! Wait. I do! His widow gave me Eddie’s compass. Wow. He just got me totally.
Robert: Who’s widow?
Nick: Eddie’s widow. A little box compass that his widow gave to me. It was Edward’s.
Jennifer: He showed me the compass that Nick has. (to Nick) And he said “You have his compass” and I’m hearing that is correct.
Richard: Is there anything Robert has of Eddie’s?
Jennifer: Something with a ring – or something that meant something.
Robert: How many years ago?
Jennifer: I’m seeing 1956? It has writing on it.
Richard: A class ring?
Jennifer: That’s it.
Richard: They went to college together.
Nick: We graduated in 1955.
Jennifer: Okay. Well, I got 56. Maybe that was his way to say you went to school together – I saw a ring with writing on it. (In answer to the question “What does Robert have of yours? The answer being “Memories”). He said, “Robert you have one of his ugly sweaters.” I’m not sure what that means. That was his way of showing me that time period.
Richard: Any messages for his widow?
Jennifer: Edward said “Don’t be hard on Virgin... (her name is Virginia, something Jennifer couldn’t know). He said, “She always felt something was going to go awry, she was super needy – lived in total fear.” He says he appreciates her and is grateful for her, he felt like she raised him.
Nick: Can I tell my son one last thing?
Jennifer: Give me his name again.
Jennifer: (writes) Ian. What would you like to say?
Nick: I dedicated my autobiography to him.
Jennifer: He was just trying to show me that – a book title, I thought it was something you said – he is saying “He knows that, he knows...”
Nick: It’s the introduction.
Jennifer: He says, “He’s very grateful – you put him on a pedestal.” If you remember anything from today besides the compass – that if anyone thought he was going to do himself in, he showed me he would have written something about it that was spectacular. He says, “He would have written the best goodbye letter. He would have left a lot more than the way he died.”
Nick: He was the best writer I’d seen since Robert. Thank you.
Jennifer: Hira just came in and jumped on your lap, Robert.
Robert: On my lap?
Jennifer: I see both worlds the same way – both worlds are in the same room to me, I saw Hira saying “I’m not slow anymore, my front paw doesn’t hurt anymore” and jumped in your lap. That’s the way I see things. He says, “He wants to remind you to put the dog tags next to your bed. When you go to sleep you, you never have to say anything out loud to him.”
Robert: So all I have to do is take the tags out of the inkwell?
Jennifer: He says, “Or just put the inkwell near by – it’s like knowing they’re close by.” He said “You wrapped up his ashes and put them away.”
Robert: That’s right. I did.
Jennifer: Hira is… He’s just very sweet, showing me how you guys were the same – intermingling. You got him and he got you – you were the most communicative owner. You over thought everything, analyzed everything, were very articulate – you even didn’t like certain flooring, and were very careful with him about walking, how you used to carry him – did he have a diaper at some point?
Richard: Yes, he did, I was there, it was towards the last days. Robert would carry him outside.
(Note: Robert asked me to come back to work for him. I lasted three months while Hira was passing away. I was there for all the drama of his passing. There is no way for Jennifer to know this.)
Jennifer: He’s saying “I lost my dignity and you never made him feel bad. I couldn’t do normal things, I wanted to be the best (companion) and you never made me feel bad. You thought it was just what you were supposed to do.” And he says “Thank you.” He’s saying – “Even when you were thinking you were not communicating well; he didn’t feel that.” He always felt you were communicating constantly – with the dogs and cats... (laughs) and all those people over there who want to talk to you and can’t get through the door because Hira is there.
Robert: Who wants to talk to me?
Jennifer: Well, your dad – and your mom too. She loves you so much. Your mom – she showed me Hira, that she’s going to race Hira to get to you – she says she’s so proud of you. (Jennifer listens) Have you ever written music?
Jennifer: I see music – I see you and I see music coming out of you.
(Note: I was at his mom’s funeral. Both Robert and his brother Roger gave the most eloquent eulogies I’ve ever heard. I actually said “I wish these two could speak at my funeral.” When Jennifer said “I see music coming out, I instantly thought of those eloquent eulogies.)
Richard: If I may; I think what Helen is saying, is that Robert’s words are like music?
(Jennifer taps her nose) “Yes. They’re a symphony.”
Richard: At her funeral – his eulogy was amazing; I wish I had filmed it.
Jennifer: Your mother says “It was like Beethoven.”
Richard: Your brother Roger’s eulogy was also profound but your eulogy was the most eloquent I’ve heard. Is that what you mean, Helen?
Jennifer: She says “Yes.” She says (To Robert) “You wrote her letters and that you got her. How she was raised, all the decisions she made whether to come to California from either Boston or NY, whatever she did at a young age, you got the decisions she made... having a family and changing your name...”
(Note: Jennifer has no clue of the family name change from Schwartz to Towne. And Robert’s eulogy was about these details of her journey.)
Jennifer: She says “She knew how much you loved her and she knew how great you are, and how great you were going to be and how great you are now. And she says that she’s coming back as Hira!” She says, “Everyone wants to come back as Hira!”
Jennifer: Robert, do you know Bill Paxton? Or that other actor that Bill knows?
Richard: She means Harry Dean Stanton. They were both in “Big Love.” We’ve chatted with both of them, and they often appear together.
Robert: I knew Harry.
Richard: Harry what do you want to say to your pals about the afterlife?
Jennifer: He says “It’s not that bad. It’s amazing. It’s amazing once you know you’re up here. Once you realize you’re there.” He says, “He misses being here, misses the smells, lotion on women – it’s interesting how the smells can bring you back.” He showed me some female putting lotion on her legs. He says “I miss that – they can recreate it (over there) – but it’s not the same.”
(Note: We’ve interviewed Harry previously. He gave me accurate things to mention at his memorial service, and proved beyond any shadow of doubt I might have had.)
Richard: Harry was in the Linda Ronstadt doc shown on CNN recently; what did you think of that Harry?
Jennifer: He says “Eh, it was rough cut.” (Jennifer listens) Did he play the banjo?
Robert: He did play the banjo.
(Note: Not something I nor Jennifer knew.)
Jennifer: I’ll guess that’s the tambourine reference! I’m sorry I kept seeing the white thing.
Richard: In the documentary, Linda says she used to hear you singing those old Mexican songs, and she decided to make an album. The most successful album of Mexican music ever.)
(Jennifer laughs) He says “She ripped me off.”
Jennifer: He said “He was naked while he was doing that, singing those tunes.”
Richard: I believe it – but what else Harry?
Jennifer: He showed me something – that was wrapped. Like a flag, might have to do with Buddhism too. I know he was an atheist, but he’s showing me you Robert, with something purple, that’s wrapped, that’s stored.
Richard: In storage? Or a religious thing?
Jennifer: Great question thank you. He says it pertains to one of your movies, maybe “Chinatown?” Yes. It has to do with “Chinatown.”
(Note: I’m familiar with religious relics, and the Buddhists tend to wrap up their most sacred texts in purple cloth and put them away. What Harry seems to be saying, is to “not be too precious” with the memory of the film script of “Chinatown” – to just shake off the covers or purple cloth and make it accessible to a new audience that doesn’t remember the original.)
Richard: Does he mean the prequel to Chinatown that Robert is working on?
Jennifer: He says “You need to re-invent it – give it more life.” He says “You’re bored with it, and he wants you to give it more life, make it spectacular again for a newer audience... because they don’t know. He’s showing me glitter or sparkles... and that usually makes me think of strippers in Vegas.”
Robert: I have an odd question. About every dog I had. One was a St. Bernard mix – I called “Buddy” and the other was my very first dog who slept under my crib, named “Scrappy.” She’d been…
Jennifer: “Run over by a truck...” She had internal bleeding and she died.
Robert. That’s right. I loved them both.
Jennifer: They’re still here – all the dogs are still there and Hira is in charge of all the dogs you had in your life because he would have been like that here.
Robert: (laughs) He would be.
Jennifer: He said he was in charge of the cats, total agreement on what to do and not to do.
Robert: That was Hira.
Jennifer: I don’t know that, but that’s what the cats are saying. Hira was rather regal wasn’t he?
Richard: Ridiculously so - he deigned to let me walk him.
Jennifer: But Harry still wants to say something. He says “The Millennials need to see a new “Chinatown with sparkles.” He wants you to rethink or reinvent it to get the same impact.
(Note: Nothing funnier than getting script notes from an old friend on the flipside.)
Richard: Thank you Harry.
Jennifer: I’m sorry, I have to go; I have a client in one minute. But Eddie is showing me that compass; which is pretty cool.
Nick: I appreciate it more than I can express.
Afterwards, a very skeptical Nick didn’t seem so skeptical any more, and said “Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch” and thanked Jennifer for her time connecting him to his son Ian. Nick Coster passed away a few days ago, I’m sharing this in memory of him.
|Robert Towne, Richard Martini, Caleb Deschanel on |
set of Personal Best. Photo by Steven Vaughan
I post this in honor of Nick Coster. He lost his son Ian, something I wasn't aware of, and was able to connect to him during his session with Jennifer. Robert was able to connect with his dog Hira as well as his father and mother, Lou and Helen. I knew them both, as well as knowing Luana for 20 years. I'm sharing this because it's mind bending, it's pretty much what I've been filming for over ten years with people under hypnosis, using guided meditation (DivineCouncils.com) or with mediums. (See FLIPSIDEMYFILM.COM or HACKINGTHEAFTERLIFEFILM.COM on Gaia.)
I asked Robert about sharing this with the world, and whether or not someone might worry about him talking to those that others cannot. He doesn't mind.
Because the truth sets everyone free on both sides of the veil. I have the filmed version of this exchange, and this piece was edited for time and clarity.
Jennifer can be found at JenniferShaffer.com - she works pro bono with law enforcement agencies nationwide, and we've been doing these kinds of interviews weekly for 8 years. The past two years on our podcast HACKINGTHEAFTERLIFE.com - or the videos are at MartiniZone.com
Hope this helps someone.