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Quick Wit: Geo Hartley

The producer shares his wit and wisdom with Brian O'Day. logo
An independent producer and a notable figure in Los Angeles theater since the 1980s, Geo Hartley had to contend with the loss of his father at age 12. He first learned how to surmount life's challenges from his mother, who took on three jobs to support Geo and his 13 brothers and sisters.

Two years ago, his renowned theater company, Theatre Geo, faced extinction at the hands of his landlord (a Hollywood printing company). After garnering the contract for a recent and very popular film, the printer was in dire need of more room--and Theatre Geo's space, adjacent to the shop, was in the way. Par for the course, Hartley and his company finished their final season with style and dignity.

Despite the challenges of life and theater in Los Angeles, Hartley continues to produce. His current show--Ladies of the Corridor, starring Patty McCormack (Oscar nominee for The Bad Seed)--opens March 13 at the Tamarind Theatre in Hollywood. When asked what moral the play might provide for theatergoers, Geo replies, "Never give up." How appropriate. Who were your childhood heroes? My parents. My father was more of a friend and teacher. He was older than Mom and very wise. He would take us for walks and treat us to special things, but Mom was our rock. Who are your heroes today? Actors. They face so much adversity, coming from such a challenging emotional base. What was your first love? Theater. Apples or Oranges? Apples. Mountaintops or seashores? Seashores. Sounds or silence? Silence. Favorite performer? Vanessa Redgrave. Laurel Canyon or the 101? Laurel Canyon (he laughs). Rodeo Drive or the Swap Meet. Rodeo Drive, I guess. Boxers or briefs? Boxers. Actually, nothing. If I have to--boxers. Fences or bridges? Bridges. Butter or margarine? Butter. Coffee or tea? Coffee. Beginnings or endings? Beginnings. London or Paris? London. New York or L.A.? (emphatically) L.A. Essence or subtlety? (he pauses) Tough choice? I love them both. Subtlety. Why's that? It kind of goes back to Cleopatra. She wasn't necessarily the most beautiful woman in the world, but she had all that mystery, and you bought into that.
Dogs or cats? Dogs. Christmas or your birthday? My birthday. Any particularly fond birthday memories? My 50th birthday just happened, and all my friends got together and gave me a huge party. It was great fun. Most influential book? Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger. What did it teach you? Essence and subtlety! How do you define quality? Truth. Pet peeve? Eleventh hour flakiness. How would you like to be remembered? As a good friend. What would you most like to change about yourself? As a lawyer and a director, I've developed the ability to make quick decisions--sometimes too quick, especially when it comes to people. I'd like to enjoy the moment more, the journey. Chaos or order? Order. Post-it-notes or Palm Pilots? Oh. Palm Pilots! Handwritten letters or e-mail? Letters. Parties or intimate dinners? Intimate dinners. Regis or Kathie Lee? Kathie Lee. Is that your final answer? (he laughs)

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