Teen's interview with John Lennon yields Oscar nod

Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:03pm EST
 
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - A 1969 encounter between a 14 year-old Beatles fan and John Lennon has inspired "I Met the Walrus," a five-minute Canadian film contending for an Oscar for best animated short.

Think "Almost Famous" with the Beatles. Except this portrait of a young boy in a dream landscape is told from his lips. The voice track for "I Met the Walrus" is based on an interview Jerry Levitan did 39 years ago with a surprisingly accommodating John Lennon.

Levitan, now a lawyer in Toronto, recalls doorstepping as a fake photographer to get into Lennon and Yoko Ono's room at the city's King Edward Hotel.

"My heart was beating so fast. I was like Al Pacino in 'The Godfather,' where he's in the restaurant with the planted gun and about to kill the cop," he says, remembering how he summoned the courage to knock at Lennon's door.

When Levitan did knock, the door opened a crack, he uttered "Canadian News," and was led in.

Levitan recalls Lennon throwing him a broad smile as he entered the crowded room. He fumbled with a Super 8 camera and an old Kodak Brownie around his neck to maintain his ruse.

After Levitan got Lennon to sign his copy of the "Two Virgins" album, he summoned yet more chutzpah.

"I just said to John, 'Can I come back later and bring a tape recorder and do an interview on peace so I can let kids listen to it?"' he recalls.   Continued...

 
<p>A pair of sunglasses worn by John Lennon can be seen with a photo of the famous singer as part of the "Icons of Music" collection of music memorabilia to be auctioned off for the "Music Rising" benefit for Gulf Coast musicians, in New York April 16, 2007. A 1969 encounter between a 14 year-old Beatles fan and Lennon has inspired "I Met the Walrus," a five-minute Canadian film contending for an Oscar for best animated short. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>