Features Garry Marshall’s still hitting ’em out of the park By Burl Burlingame Dec. 25, 2011 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COMDirector Garry Marshall spends Christmas in Hawaii, finding time in his busy year to relax. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. First the bad news: Garry Marshall’s "New Year’s Eve" is being savaged by critics, who seemed offended by well-spun fluff. Good news, for Marshall: "New Year’s Eve" is doing OK at the box office. Audiences are voting with their dollars. Better news: Marshall’s hitting into the outfield again. This is not a metaphor. "We’re 6-2 this season in the senior softball league in San Fernando Valley," enthuses Marshall, who pitches every weekend for the Pacemakers team of the Over the Hill division. "I got a cancer last year. I got chemo, I got radiation, my hitting went south, couldn’t get it out of the infield. I’m a spray hitter; never know where it’s gonna go. Now I’m hitting again into the outfield. Life is good! But maybe I need a new knee. … Waddaya think?" I think I would pay good money to hear Garry Marshall’s and Cyndi Lauper’s braying nasal accents in a Bronx-off. You can move the writer from New York to Hollywood, he could direct movies like "Pretty Woman" that make a zillion dollars, he can dream up TV shows like "Happy Days" that become part of the pop-culture landscape, and still he introduces himself as, "Hey, it’s me, Garry. Garry from the Bronx." The Marshall clan has been vacationing in Hawaii practically every Christmas since he worked on a short-lived Brian Keith vehicle here called "The Little People" in the 1970s. But let’s milk this baseball metaphor a little longer. Like filmmaking, it’s a team effort, right? "Yeah! You wanna be a producer? Then you’re the shortstop — ‘Hit to me! Hit to me!’ But writers, they’re in right field. They almost never get balls hit to them, but when they do it’s all on them," he said in an interview Wednesday at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. "Senior softball is great. Gets me away from show business. My drinking days were in the Army, so hanging out at a bar has no appeal. I like playing ball instead. We got a great buncha guys. Senior ball, you hit a double, you get to take a nap. Hit a homer, you get a Lipitor. I could do an hour on this! Baseball is comforting. You played it in 1910 the same way as you do today. Show business, though, it’s slippery." "New Year’s Eve," like his 2010 "Valentine’s Day," is a fizzy meringue of big stars such as Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker and Zac Efron doing small parts and having fun doing so. If it had been made with studio contract players in the ’40s and called something like "Stage Door Canteen," no one would be squawking. "If Preston Sturges had made it, everyone would love it," laughed Marshall, adding that he’ll forever be known as Garry "Happy Days" Marshall, and he’s fine with it. Marshall said "New Year’s Eve" was kicked into gear the weekend of "Valentine’s Day’s" opening — initial grosses proved there was a market for this type of family-friendly film. Show business is, after all, a business. "A lot of big actors, you can get them for five days, and they like the work because they don’t have to carry the whole movie, and besides, we were filming in New York. What’s not to like?" Any more holiday-themed movies in the works? "Nah, I’m writing a TV show for my sister (actress-director Penny Marshall) to do. Besides, holidays have to be real. Santa, he’s not real. The Easter bunny — kinda shaky. Arbor Day, that’s the last honest holiday. You plant a tree, you get a tree. I’m done with ensemble movies. I’m gonna call them ‘portmanteau’ movies; like French suitcases, they carry everything." Marshall is rudely reminded that he also created the sitcom "Me and the Chimp," named by TV Guide as one of the worst TV shows of all time, and that’s saying something. "Nah, it woulda worked but the chimp was miscast!" laughs Marshall. Read Burl Burlingame’s FilmSlashTV blog at honolulupulse.com. Previous Story Our readers share their family pictures Next Story Too mulch garden? Trim it back!