Five Things We Learned From Participatory Journalist George Plimpton Five Things We Learned From Participatory Journalist George Plimpton

Five Things We Learned From Participatory Journalist George Plimpton

by Luke Poling Tom Bean

June 30, 2013

George Plimpton watches the America’s Cup races with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, 1962 (Photo courtesy of Laemmle Zeller Films)

Listen to Everyone: In the film, former intern and now writer David Michaelis remarks how open George was to ideas and suggestions from The Paris Review staff. He remarked that George gave everyone such status and authority, that they were all working as hard as they could to help make the magazine be as good as it could be.

George didn’t rule with an iron fist. He would publish pieces he wasn’t passionate about, because someone on the staff was. He knew it was this passion that would come across to readers. It was this openness to new ideas and approaches that keeps The Paris Review fresh and vital and alive—so many years after its creation. –Luke Poling

Enjoy It: “I have never been convinced there's anything inherently wrong in having fun.” This maxim, which is attributed to Plimpton, is a good lesson for anyone. George reveled in many things, often for no reason other than they were fun. He was named the official fireworks commissioner of New York City because of his love of the art. He was an avid birdwatcher. He threw himself into a variety of careers to learn more about them. He was a sponge, trying to soak up as much of life as he could. And it was this joy and fascination that came through loud-and-clear in his writing style. It was fun and quick and easy. (Not an easy balance to strike, as anyone who has ever put pen to paper can tell you). So many of his friends and family told us they loved spending time with George because when you were with him, you were part of the adventure.

Making our movie was an adventure, and a wonderful one at that. We often said that if you simply had to think about and study one person for years and years, George Plimpton was a pretty good guy to pick. We had the good fortune to spend a lot of time in the company of his friends and family and I’d like to think this outlook has rubbed off on us, if only just a little.

If you’d like to meet Plimpton the way we did, here are the next screening dates for our movie:

Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself is currently playing at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA, the West End Cinema in Washington DC, the Laemmle Theaters in Santa Monica, CA and in Claremont, CA.

Starting Friday, June 28th, it will also be screening at the West Newton Cinema in Newton, MA and at the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, ME.

On July 26th, the film will be opening at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco and at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence, RI.

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Five Things We Learned From Participatory Journalist George Plimpton