Email Luke Luke Ford Essays Profiles Archives Dennis Prager Oct 16

Modern Sex

From the Wall Street Journal:

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh recently found that during sexual intimacy, a woman's brain releases a chemical "love potion" that alters her brain's hormonal reactions. Not only does the release of this chemical, oxytocin, create for her a bond with her mate but it appears that the more sex the couple has, the deeper her sense of commitment and love will become. Men's brains -- surprise! -- do not work the same way. Which suggests that if you wanted to devise a prescription for sexual misery and social wreckage, 30 years of frantic, indiscriminate coupling would pretty much be it.

And if the Scottish research doesn't persuade you, "Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents" (Ivan R. Dee, 221 pages, $28.50) surely must. This slim volume, containing essays from The Manhattan Institute's quarterly City Journal, brilliantly catalogs the still-unfurling consequences of the sexual revolution. Along with the delights of unbridled eroticism, these consequences include rampant illegitimacy, adolescent motherhood, mass divorce and sexual sophistication among the very young. "The sexual revolution has been above all a change in moral sensibility, in the direction of a thorough coarsening of feeling, thought, and behaviour," writes contributor Theodore Dalrymple.

Berthe Braunstein writes: I've done many researchs with prostaglandins, both in rats and humans (female). Oxytocin is produced in male brains at orgasm also. Oxytocin promotes lutenizing, lactation, uterine contraction in females. Richest source of natural/biological source of prostaglandin is male semen. Prostaglandin elicits oxytocin response in female for ovulating. Oxytocin response in male drives desire to copulate (to reproduce). Not love or bonding for male/female, but in female for child. More sex, more desire for child.

Please forgive my english. Too bad you don't do American porn now. You are smart writer. Human sexual response is always interesting, and Americans are obsessed.

Your Moral Leader Tires Of Modern Orthodoxy

I don't know who's getting more irritated with who - me with Modern Orthodox Judaism, which dominates my neighborhood, or my neighborhood with me.

Modern Orthodoxy is neither modern nor orthodox.

Not modern - they don't wrestle with the challenges that modernity poses to Orthodoxy, and the Orthodox interpretations of history and the sacred texts. They just ignore these challenges.

Not orthodox - they're too busy with their professions to study Torah, they're not strictly observant. They watch too much TV and go to movies and live lives largely indistinguishable from secular Jews, except for the basics of Jewish Law. They listen to Howard Stern and dress like goyim.

Who is the Jewish Martin Luther? That is what is needed. Perhaps Dennis Prager.

Jon Brown Profile

Jon Brown Producer manager Jon Brown of Ensemble Entertainment

I walked into Ensemble Entertainment, a three-year old management firm at 10474 Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles, at 4PM October 22nd and sat down with manager-producer Jon Brown in his office.

Brown keeps his two duties separate. He produces movies and guides talent with Ensemble's three other managers (Jeff Thal, Barbara Lawrence, Chris Black), all former employees at APA (Agency for the Performing Arts).

Jon has the affable manner, ready smile and rapid fire delivery of your typical high-powered Hollywood agent. Born May 21, 1956, he grew up in the entertainment industry. His father Ned Brown ran MCA's Literary division until it was divested by government order in 1963. Then Ned started up his own literary agency and was one of the leading literary agents along with Swifty Lazar, Harold Swanson (Swanny) and Evarts Zigler.

"My dad had a stellar novelist's list with the best writers in the world. He represented Frank Herbert, Carlos Castaneda, William Bradford Huie, John Barth, Jackie Collins, Paul Gallico, John Michael Hayes, Leigh Brackett. I was pretty friendly with Carlos, let's just put it that way. I was a senior in college and he was a bestselling author of a series of books that dealt with hallucinogenics. The guy was eating peyote and getting loaded. I hung with him a bit. We talked about our similar experiences. I believe everything that he wrote."

Simon & Schuster editor Michael Korda wrote about Ned Brown and Carlos Castaneda in his memoir Another Life:

"Brown was a diminutive man with a choleric red complexion and a white mustache who had modeled himself somewhat on Irving Lazar. No spring chicken himself, Brown had been an agent for decades and was one of the few in Los Angeles who handled book writers... He was Jackie Collins's agent at the time, and the fact that Castaneda had somehow found his way to Ned Brown seemed an indication that he was not as unworldy as his book made him out to be."

"I disagree with that assessment," says Jon. "My father molded himself on nobody."

Jon's mom Myra Berry Brown wrote childrens books.

A phone rings in the background.

"Melissa will you get that?" Jon yells to his assistant.

Melissa: "I sure will."

Jon: "Is that my ex-wife? Oh fuck. I'll call her back."

Jon turns to me: "I just got through an ugly divorce."

Luke: "I talk to men all the time now who say when I call, 'Oh, I'm so glad to talk to you. Gives me an excuse to get off the phone with my ex-wife.'"

It turns out that I was born on the same day (May 28) as Jon's ex-wife. "I should introduce you two," laughs Jon.

Jon: "I learned from my father. I knew what I wanted to do when I was at Beverly Hills high school. When I graduated from college (U.C. Santa Barbara), I spent the next two years sitting on a couch in front of my dad's desk, listening to him talk on the phone and make deals. Then he gave me contracts to read and learn. Then turned me loose to run the office while he returned to his beach house and relaxed and read.

"There isn't a lot of work to do when it comes down to authors. When you're talking about the stature of the authors he represented, he didn't have to make many phone calls. People would just call and if the book was available, he'd send it out. It's not like they were writing scripts and going from job to job.

"I used my dad's license and worked out of my garage for years. I had a thriving TV business from 1981-88 when I went to work for APA through 1992. Then I produced the 1995 movie "The Ties That Bind" for Interscope. I missed agenting and decided I wanted to do both.

"I believe there's a big conflict of interest that managers find themselves in when they want to produce their client's material. None of my movies are with clients.

"Now I represent (for their film rights only) screenwriters, directors, estates of famous authors (Paul Gallico, Cornell Woolridge, Daman Runyon and Shirley Jackson, Leigh Brackett, Ed Hamilton), and a couple of living authors (South African novelist Wilbur Smith, Irish author Julie Parsons). I represent hundreds of short stories and novels."

Luke: "The IMDB.com credits you with the 1999 film Solo?"

Jon: "I developed that with Working Title Films. Harold Becker was attached to direct it. We were getting ready to start a rewrite on it and the writer of it, Gary DeVore, disappeared and was tragically killed. He was found dead a year later."

Gary disappeared June 28, 1997. His body was discovered July 9, 1998 in the Mojave Deset Canal. His car apparently slid off Highway 14 into the California Aquaduct.

Jon: "They claim he had an accident. It's still very suspicious. I think he was killed. After he disappeared, the project died."

Luke: "You were executive producer on The Ties That Bind, meaning what?"

Jon: "I sold the script when I was an agent. Then I left the agenting business. The script had gone into turnaround. So I was able to get it and I knew just where to take it and how to get it made and within seven months we were in production. I found the material, helped package it, and helped find the financing, which wasn't much work as Interscope's deal was through Disney. I was not on set every day. I had a couple of partners, one of whom didn't have a job, so she was on the set every day.

"I had an office for about five years (1992-97) with Al Ruddy, an old family friend. He's like my surrogate father. He's known me since I was a baby. We're making a remake of The Poseidon Adventure. We're doing a film for Showtime called The Cola Wars, about the war between Pepsi and Coke. We also have a project that could be construed as the sequel to the Wizard of Oz.

"There are few movies with sole producers anymore. Everyone brings a little something. What do I bring? I have a good eye for material and I help get it to the next step in the studios. I've got a dozen projects around town in development. I'm not a nuts and bolts guy, I'm a creative guy. Al's the same. He's a salesman.

"It's so hard to get a movie made. It's a crap shoot. I have big talent attached to all of my movies and none of them have been made. Thankfully it's not my only job. The life of an independent producer is a lonely life. There are just a handful of guys that have lots of movies being made. Today 65% of my job is managing and 35% is producing and developing projects.

"The reason this manager-producer thing has gotten so ugly is that certain managers attach themselves to the material or actors and demand that the studio take on the manager as a producer. In return, the manager says to the client, you don't have to pay me my commission because we're getting a fee from the studio. I think that's unethical and sleazy and it is something that I don't do.

"I did it once early in my career. A screenwriter client of mine, probably my hottest client, wrote a movie. He asked me to produce the movie. I sold it immediately to Showtime. I kept him on for three drafts. Showtime wanted to fire him after the second draft because they didn't think it was funny enough. I thought it was hilarious but they didn't have a sense of humor. And then I had to fire him and the client said, 'But you promised to keep me on this movie until we got it made together. That's why I brought it to you.' I said, 'I know, but I'm not paying the bills and ultimately all I can do is recommend. I can not say yes.'

"And it was at that point that I realized that I shouldn't do this because I can't put on a producer hat if I'm trying to produce a movie that my client wrote. Because I might say something that he doesn't want to hear. And I'd rather have the client as a client, making money from their services, than me taking a shot of becoming a producer and attaching myself to a project of their's and hoping it gets made and getting my fee that way."

Luke: "Did you keep him as a client?"

Jon: "Yes. It almost got ugly."

Luke: "It's such a collaborative enterprise making a film. Where do you stake your ego and where do you submerge it?"

Jon: "I check my ego in at the door. A lot of the major talent around town, the big writers and the big directors, they're 850-pound gorillas and they just walk all over you. Sometimes I don't even get involved. I just let them fight with the studios directly. Because I want to see the movie get made. Sometimes talent doesn't give a shit what you think. They're more concerned what the director has to think because he's the captain of the ship. And I'm ok with that. If I have something worth bringing up, I will say what it is on my mind. And they either say, 'Good idea' or 'It sucks.'"

Luke: "Do you make stands?"

Jon: "Rarely. I made stands on that other movie I was telling you about that I did for Showtime. I pushed the relationship as far as I could push it. I will take a stand if I feel adamantly opposed to something thrust upon me."

Luke: "How much say do you want in casting?"

Jon: "I want a say in casting. I want to be involved in everything up and through pre-production. The actual making of the movie, I leave to someone else. I don't pretend to know a lot about it. I don't know labor laws or union laws. I've never prepared a budget. There are people who do that and as a producer, you bring them all together to reach that common goal of getting the movie made."

Luke: "There are few laws that pertain to managers and producers."

Jon: "Very few. The law about managers is that you're not allowed to negotiate deals or procure employment for the services of a client. In my case, that would mean writers and directors. I can sell short stories, books or screenplays by clients who've passed away. Anybody can do it. Your maid can do it. Some of my clients don't have agents [who are legally authorized to make deals for employment]. I am allowed to negotiate a deal if the agent or attorney is aware that I'm doing it or is on the phone call with me."

Luke: "So you can make deals."

Jon: "Sure, I can still make deals. And the only recourse that a client can have (with a five-year statute of limitations) is to sue you for commissions paid if they can prove you procured employment for them. It happens all the time. It's a lousy thing for a client to do to someone who has given their heart and soul to their career. All of a sudden, you're not working and you need money and you've already fired this person. So you go to court, and you end up settling out of court. Thankfully, I've never had a client do that to me. It happens more often with actors than with writers and directors."

Luke: "What are you good at?"

Jon: "I'm good at spotting commercial material. Perhaps I'm better at resurrecting careers. I would much rather find a writer or a director who had a bad run, but has made some terrific stuff in the past, whose stock has gone down, but who has a high fee, and turn their career around. As opposed to finding a hot snotnosed kid out of USC with an interesting screenplay. There's not enough money in that for me. I'd rather work for $50,000 commissions than $5,000 commissions."

Luke: "Who are some of your best resurrections?"

Jon: "Gary DeVore until he died. Alan McElroy, Stuart Gallard, Bob Resnikoff."

Luke: "How do you resurrect careers?"

Jon: "It's not rocket science. It's hard grunt work. You find out who their enemies are. You find out who their big fans are. And then you meet with producers and try to find interesting projects for them. I've found that every producer has a pet project that he or she loves and could never get off the ground. And I've been lucky on a few occasions and say to a producer, 'What's your pet project you can't figure figure out?' And they'll tell me and I'll say, 'That might be right for Bob Resnikoff.' Then they say, 'Well, let him read it...' That happens all the time.

"I oversee people's lives. I make sure they're getting their money when they're supposed to. Making sure they're taking the meetings that they're supposed to take and the lawyers and agents are following through on paperwork."

Luke: "And do you also get them in and out of rehab?"

Jon: "No. None of my clients are junkie alcoholics."

Luke: "Does that stuff go in phases?"

Jon: "It's still prevalent just that people don't talk about it too much. People just aren't as open. People still use mind-altering substances. I don't condone it and I don't condemn it either. If you can do your job effectively, what you do with your free time is up to you. As long as it doesn't affect your family and your business. I think that the same people who partied in the '70s, party now. So long as they're still alive."

Luke: "What's your typical day look like?"

Jon: "I get up, read the paper, work out and roll into work around 9AM. I do my European calls. Then I'm in the office, emailing. A lot of the time it's easy for me to email executives. They can give me yes or no answers and I don't have to go through a phone conversation to do it. I read in the office. I get a lot of submissions. I have my assistant do coverage for me as well. I'm not so interested in his opinion of the material as his synopsis of what it is about. If it looks interesting, I'll read it.

"I usually have one to three lunch meetings a day. I purposefully double and triple book my lunches because this is a business of cancellations constantly. At one time, I'd only have one lunch a day and I was getting cancelled constantly. So now I double book all my lunch so I always have a lunch. I'm invariably cancelled by one person a day. If I'm not cancelled, then I do the cancelling. My lunches are usually booked up two months in advance. I rarely have breakfast and dinner meetings. I do a lot of business in my out of office meetings."

Luke: "And this is your life."

Jon: "Yeah. I wouldn't know what else to do. It's the most exciting business in the world. It certainly is the last business to feel the hit of a recession. When everything else has turned to crap, people will always find a way to come up with $7:50 to escape to see a movie.

"I'm affected by the terrorist thing. Development has slowed way down. Movies are being put in turnaround that had anything to do with terrorism, buildings bombed, biochemical warfare. I had two movies that clients wrote that were in pre-production at a network and both went into turnaround. One was the JFK Jr story and he died in a plane crash. So they said, 'Well, we can't do that.'"

Luke: "Why can't you do a movie that has some of those elements?"

Jon: "Because people think it is in poor taste. People think you might offend someone directly involved. Perhaps the advertisers are skittish because they don't want to advertise in a movie that promotes terrorism or even glorifies it. I think you will see PG family films make a big comeback. I've got a couple in development. I'm going to be right there to take advantage of that."

Luke: "What do you read every day?"

Jon: "The trades (Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter). The newspaper (LA Times) is the only thing I read religiously. I don't have time to read books, except when I'm on vacation. I read 5-10 scripts a week."

Luke: "Do you read any internet web sites every day?"

Jon: "No. But people contact me every day through the internet. I've optioned scripts through the internet."

Luke: "What do you do in your spare time?"

Jon: "I play golf every Thursday morning and whenever I have a lunch cancellation I play tennis. I have a kid at home. I go out with my girlfriend. I'm not an all-nighter guy anymore. I used to be. I like to go home and relax and tinker with my cars. I think I'm the only Jew in Hollywood who gets dirt under his fingernails."

Playmate Sheds Her Clothes But Not Her Jewish Identity

Joe writes: Just last week I interviewed, for the first time, a Playboy Playmate of the month (may 2000), Brooke Berry, who's a big fan of Phish and thinks Jon Lovitz is the funniest celebrity she's met but wouldn't date him. well, maybe the centerfold in the current issue would, Lindsey Vuolo of Philadelphia. All interviews with Playmates are pretty much cliche-ridden affairs ("I think the human body is beautiful ... the photographer was very professional ... respect what I'm doing ...") but this one has a few different angles:

In high school, Lindsey Vuolo was an “Ambassador for Unity,” traveling from Philadelphia to Netivot to build ties between the Diaspora and Israel. These days, the 20-year-old Yardley native is one of Hugh Hefner’s ambassadors of beauty, shedding her clothes — but not her Jewish identity — for Playboy magazine as Miss November 2001.

She was a little nervous last month, however, when she attended Yom Kippur services with them at Shir Ami. “Nobody said anything at services. I felt like everyone knew. You know how people watch you,” she said.

Levi Porks Up

I've been gaining weight over the past two months.

Luke in Vancouver in early September

Luke interviews movie producers 10/22/01

Luke in Vancouver


Luke with Vancouver Kendra, a sneak peak

Luke with Vancouver Kendra

Luke in Vancouver

Producers Lorena David and Mark Roberts of Kingsize Entertainment, 10/22/01

Lorena and Mark

Producer manager Jon Brown of Ensemble Entertainment

Levi demonstrates his patented anti-terrorism technique

Chaim Amalek writes: You aspire to weigh less than 160 pounds?????? And you are a vegetarian? No wonder you are always feeling weak. Damn, you are worse than I am in that regard. You should start eating BEEF and put on a solid twenty pounds at a minimun. Veganism is simply not what we were designed in mind with at all. Our teeth and digestive tracts were made for ripping apart animal flesh. The torah itself is replete with references to the consumption of animal flesh. Veganism is for homosexuals who Arabs can and will sexually dominate. Jewish women do NOT want to be with men who do not eat meat.

Helpful writes: The hovel looks much tidier than when I visited in '99. I think the chronic shower drain back ups actually flooded most of the vermin out. BTW Khunrum, did Luke slip into a short kimono style robe and offer to give you a back rub? That freaked me out!

Fat Frum Orthodox Jew Accepted For Who He Is

MANHATTAN: In a world too often filled with hatred and intolerance toward those who are different, 48-year-old 275-pound Chaim Amalek is accepted for who he is at his Orthodox synagogue on Broadway: a father of twelve and insurance broker.

"I don't know how to describe it, but Chaim has this special, magnetic quality," said Yaakov Burg, the rabbi at Beth Torah. "Chaim's prayed at our shul since he was three years old and his family has donated over $300,000."

Chaim has been able to overcome numerous setbacks since joining Beth Torah, including his proclivity to fall asleep and snore in Daf Yomi Talmud class every morning.

"Chaim tends to snore loudly, and talk a lot during prayer," says fellow congregant Avraham Weiss. "But he wears his Judaism on his sleeve, or to be more precise, he wears his tzitzit (fringes) out. He has a big thick beard, sidelocks and we treat him as one of the gang. Sure, his last name disturbs many, but we don't discriminate against people just because of a fact of birth."

Conversion To Judaism

Most Jews I talk to don't understand why anyone would convert to Judaism. I've heard Orthodox Jews say they don't understand why anyone who was single would be an Orthodox Jew. Many Orthodox Jews in my community believe that I am only around to write an expose, that I don't have a genuine commitment to Orthodox Judaism.

I think most Jews don't appreciate their heritage. It's not like life is supercharged with meaning, purpose and community elsewhere.

I find myself spending less time with my religious community of late because of the controversies I've created. I'm a little afraid to venture out. So I'm directing my energy and abilities in other directions.

The effect of my conversion has now entered on that second stage, vividly described in temperance hand-books, when the momentary illusion of well-being and exhilaration gives place to melancholy, indigestion and moral decay.

James DiGiorgio Feeling Great

JimmyD writes: feeling great.... today is 5 weeks since I quit smoking...not even a puff in 5 weeks... now if i could only quit eating... that's the problem, lukey, i"m eating like a pig...and really bad stuff that i never used to eat...candy, pastries... oh well... that's next. the diet.

Is Luke The Next L. Ron Hubbard?

Khunrum writes: Buddy. After visiting the hovel, chatting with you in person and checking out the LA scene I believe there are bigger and better things for you in the future if you follow my advice. I see you as the next L. Ron Hubbard. I shant articulate right now because I picked up a head cold during my visit and I'm feeling quite miserable. I'll get back to you and the advisory committee with the outline of my plan tomorrow. The producers will be coming to you if you follow my advice.

Goddess writes: Does that post say you're the next L. Ron Hubbard or the next Barney Rubble? I can't find my glasses anywhere....

Helpful writes: Beware of any "religion" founded by a bad science fiction writer.

Levi Ben Avraham - Decline And Fall

By Evelyn Levi Ben Waugh

You see, I'm a Daf Yomi (page of Talmud a day) man. There's a blessed equity in our educational system that insures the Daf Yomi man against starvation. One goes through years of perfect hell at a time in the morning when life is bound to be hell anyway, and after that the community never lets you down.

I got the push soon after my sixteen birthday when I was arrested for indecent exposure of my soul. My rebbe was a Daf Yomi man. He knew the system. "Levi," he said, "I can't keep you in the House after what has happened. I have the other boys to consider. But I don't want to be too hard on you again. I want you to start again." So he sat down there and then and wrote me a corking good letter of recommendation to any future employer or rabbi. I've got it still. It's been very useful time and time again. That's the Orthodox system all over. They may kick you out but they never let you down.

I joined a new shul but less than a year later, I got in the soup again. The rabbis found out about the indecent exposure of my internet publishings. The rabbis said, "Now Levi, we want you to behave like a Daf Yomi gentleman. We don't want to expell you from this shul. We don't want a scandal. We're going to leave you alone for half an hour. There's the revolver. You know what to do. Good bye old chap," they said affectionately and left the room.

Well, I sat there for some time looking at that revolver. I put it up to my head twice, but each time I brought it down again. "Daf Yomi men don't end like this," I said to myself. It was a long half hour but luckily they had left a decanter of whiskey in there with me. They'd all had a few, I think. That's what made them so solemn. There wasn't much whisky left when they came back, and, what with that and the strain of the situation, I could only laugh when they came in. Silly thing to do, I know, but they looked so surprised, seeing me there alive and drunk.

"The man's a cad," they said and called a psychologist.

I visited the shrink in Beverly Hills and thank God he was a Daf Yomi man. We'd studied Tractate Sotah (Adultery) together three years before. He said that if I sold www.lukeford.com, he could get me a pretty cushy job as a Moral Leader.

I sold lukeford.com. I garnered a last burst of publicity for stepping away from a wicked industry in pursuit of high ideals. I arranged with Network Solutions to transfer MoralLeader.com and YourMoralLeader.com to my new home site www.lukeford.net.

I took a job teaching morals at a yeshiva. When all else fails, you can always get a job teaching. It was such an attractive yeshiva, not old, but very beautifully decorated, six candles on the bima, no graveyeard, just a hedge of golden privet between the Beit Midrash (House of Study) and the Beit Knesset (House of Meeting).

A dentist's wife gave me a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for my study. It was all very pleasant until my Doubts began.

I think about it all the time. It happened like this, quite suddenly. I'd made some great friends and I was enjoying a pleasant Friday evening Shabbos meal with the Bronsteins. I had preached two sermons that day besides taking the children's BIble class in the afternoon, and I had rather dropped out of the conversation. They were all talking away quite happily about the prepartions they were making for Passover, when suddenly, for no reason at all, my Doubts began.

I've not known an hour of happiness since. It wasn't the ordinary sort of Doubt about Cain's wife or the historicity of the Exodus or the consecration of Rabbi Parker. No, it was something deeper than that. I couldn't understand why God had chosen the Jews.

Once granted the first step, I can see that everything else follows - Redemption from Egypt, conquest of Canaan, Babylonian captivity, the Talmud, the Shulchan Aruch...

So I thought I could think my way through my Doubts by writing about them on lukeford.net. Big mistake. I got in the soup again with my community.

Old friends, you see a man standing face to face with retribution. Respect him if you cannot understand. Those that live by the word shall perish by the word. I am a very sinful man, and I am past my first youth. Who shall pity me in that declivity to which my steps inevitably seem to tend? I have boasted in my youth and held my head high and gone on my way careless of consequence, but ever behind me, unseen, stood stark Justice with his two-edged sword.

James DiGiorgio writes: Lukey, I just read your site as part of my new Sunday morning religious ritual. My son, you're more confused and pathetic than ever. When are you going to get over your obsessive quest to be a real Jew? Can't you see that (especially) Orthodox Judaism is an intransient, medieval religion with no room for a 21st Century intellectual like yourself? Give it up, buddy. Focus your passion where it might be appreciated. God could care less whether you live your life as a Jew, a Christian, or a Moslem, as long as you live it right.

The Moral Leader's Moral Leader

Levi Meets Holy Rebbe

Levi received a last minute invitation to a Melaveh Malkeh (extending the Sabbath party). And he happened to take a seat which would be right in front of a very holy rebbe and his entourage. The rebbe led us in a yiddish song which he had Levi stand up and translate loudly: "God grant comfort to the Yiddish soul, Give light to the Jew."

Untroubled that the song might not be rational and universalistic, Levi sat down and felt good particularly good.

The rebbe talked about the power of the Evil Inclination - how it can make a man think he's doing good when he's doing bad. For instance, one can get all righteous about kicking someone out of a shul.

Last Chance For Levi In Los Angeles Orthodoxy?

I picked up the phone Friday afternoon.

"Hello, Levi? This is Osama Bin Laden. I've found the truth. I want to convert to Orthodox Judaism."

Levi: "But that's ridiculous. You're an evil man."

Osama: "But so are you?"

Levi: "Not as evil. And I'm mending my ways."

The voice on the phone chuckled. It was Khunrum, calling from a hotel by LAX. He's in Los Angeles for the weekend for a Friday night Bob Dylan concert.

Friday night, Levi prayed the Sabbath prayers and enjoyed dinner at the home of friends. Then he walked home alone in the dark.

A phrase that his therapist told him that morning repeated in his mind.

"You destroy the things you love."

He looked around the homes as he walked by. He loved this community and its Jews and synagogues. Why had he made things so difficult for himself? Was had he caused so many good people so much pain? Why couldn't he apply his wit and sarcasm to any other topic aside from Jews and that which is forbidden to talk about?

Levi walked to shul shabbos morning and felt the eyes of the community upon him. He'd earned their displeasure through his outrageous internet postings. Now he had to buck up, be a man, take the blowback he'd created. If only those who hated him would talk to him, yell at him, spit in his face, do anything but ignore him. Ignoring him felt the worst. Do anything to me, scream at me and punch but please don't ignore me. And please don't exile me.

He worried this was his last chance in Los Angeles orthodoxy.

And then at kiddish (lunch), the key question: "Did you pass an Orthodox Beit Din [Law Court]? Are you really a Jew?"

Levi walked home with a friend and unburdened his heart.

"I want to place a half page ad in the Jewish Journal," said Levi's friend, "telling Orthodox rabbis that the Torah commands them to love the stranger and the convert."

At 2:15PM, Levi met Khunrum and his buddy Tex on the corner and walked the streets of his sacred neighborhood with two loud goys. Levi kept shushing them.

They wanted to know what he saw in Orthodox Judaism.

Levi: "It makes life so much more intense and vivid. There's a saying that Jews are like everyone else, only more so. Whatever Jews do, they do it more intensely. Jewish gymnasiums are expensive and have more equipment and are more plush than their Gentile equivalents. Jewish weddings and Bar Mitvahs are more lavish. Jewish parents pour more love and expectation upon their kids and push to secure more education. Jews live life more intensely. Jewish practices give a meaning and rhyme to each day and the changing seasons. Judaism infuses all life with more meaning so that it is more sacred and precious, and hence there is greater room to fall and to cause pain and hurt and scandal.

"If you sit back and drink beer and watch TV then nothing I've done is that scandalous. But when you push to elevate yourself, to live at a high level, then my writings are horrible. I want to live on a high plane but my writings keep descending into the gutter."

Khunrum: "Why do you deliberately antagonize your community? Why do you poke fun at Jews and their practices? Why would you publish William Pierce? You're so self destructive."

Why did he destroy the things he loved?

Levi wanted to be a writer read by millions of Jews and Gentiles. He wanted to apply his piercing perceptions to all of life around him, to be evenhanded and rational and universalistic in his outlook and not parochial and bigoted. Levi did not fear or hate the goyim, or in fact value them any less than Jews. All people, Jew and Gentile, were made in God's image. The universe's physical and moral law operates on both identically. Levi felt uncomfortable with those Jewish teachings that said that Jews had special souls, different and more spiritually attuned than Gentile's souls.

Levi believes that Jews do not need to fear discussing their religion and their practices and their flaws and their challenges in public.

"A Jew should never criticize another Jew infront of goyim," is not a phrase that speaks to Levi. He hates to always side with his team just because it's his team. Levi prefers to side with what he believes is right and rational and true. If Gentiles or Reform Jews or secular Jews are right in a particular instance, than he must side with them. Levi wants freedom of conscience, to choose right and wrong for himself.

But Torah Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, says that the halacah (Jewish Law) is the guide to right and wrong, not the individual conscience. And in practice, you should follow the religious community.

Levi reluctantly agrees because he knows that he can't know as much about life and about morality as 3000 years of the Jewish tradition. Yet Levi's western education makes him fear surrendering his moral and intellectual autonomy to his religious peer group, Orthodox Jews.

Fears, schmears, he will swallow his fears to do whatever he needs to do to claim his rightful place within the Orthodox community. Levi will fight any foe, pay any price, deleting any offending text, withhold any controversial humor, to stay within the community.

Levi lay down on the ground and spread his arms. The community could walk on him, step on his back and spit on him for his sins.

Let every blow be an atonement for his sins.

Lord, he prayed, make me a doormat so that others can walk on me.

Chaim Amalek says: Ugg, it's a horrible thing to watch a grown man grovel.

Rob Spallone, James DiGiorgio Update

I spoke to producer Rob Spallone (Jewish mother, Italian father) at 4:30PM Friday.

Luke: "I've organized half a dozen interviews with Hollywood producers."

Rob: "Can I go with you?"

Luke: "No."

Rob: "Jesus loves you. I'm a Jesus freak now. I see Jesus. And I want to kill Bin Laden."

Luke: "When did you become a Jesus freak?"

Rob: "After I kicked the ---- out of two scumbags in our business last week. Chaim and Bill from VIP. Jew bastards. Bill screwed me over. I'm in his face yelling at him. I said, 'You little Jew bastard.' He said, 'You called me a dirty Jew?' And he pushed me. I gave him the beating of a lifetime. I'm giving him another one in January at the show in front of everybody. Bill used to work out of the trunk of his car now he's got one of these Israelis backing him. And he's opened his own company. He tells me yesterday, 'What do you think, I'm a little nobody in this business?'

"When are you going to do my book? I will come talk to you for four hours a week."

Luke: "How's JimmyD?"

Rob: "He had an infection and was coughing bad and blew out both his eyes. They were black for a month. Then a month ago he had a coughing attack driving to work and he blacked out, went off the road, crossed three lanes, up a driveway into a building. He wrecked his car. Nothing happened to him. He quit smoking that day.

"My dad's in New York at Ground Zero. My wife and I are on our way to Cal Tech. I'm doing research there. I'm going to work with Einstein.

"Luke, I'm going to the other side. By next year, I'll be on the other side."

Luke: "Good, I'll be able to write about you."

Anonymous writes… Years ago I went to a Messianic synagogue with my pararabinic group. They were absolutely beguiled. Outside there was a big banner saying Save Soviet Jews. Inside there were melo.

Peggy Noonan On Racial Profiling

No one likes "racial profiling," "ethnic profiling," "religious profiling." But I see it this way: If groups of terrorists took out two huge buildings and part of the Pentagon and killed 5,000 people and then decided to unleash anthrax and it emerged that those terrorists were all middle-aged American blond women who tend to dress in blue jeans and T-shirts and like to go by Catholic churches and light candles, I would be deeply upset not only because the terrorists had done what they'd done. I would also be upset because they were just like me! I fit their profile! I look like them! I act like them! Everywhere I went people would notice me and give me hard looks and watch what I was doing. I would feel terrible about this. But you know what else I'd do? I'd suck it up. I'd understand. I wouldn't like it, but I'd get it, and I'd accept it.

Luke's Bets

Jason Stoner writes: Luke, You truly ARE a moral leader. Well if you won't remind them, I will. Feel free to post the following on your website:

**************************************************************************** ****

An open letter from Jason Stoner: To all those who bet Luke cash money that he would return to porn by the deadline of October 1, 2001. That date has come and gone. It's time to pay up! Stand up and honour your bets. Send cash to Luke Ford now. Thank you, Jason Stoner


I really think you should collect on those debts Luke. This is quite an accomplishment and you deserve to be rewarded by the unbelievers! You did it! If this was a Narcotics Anonymous meeting you'd receive a key chain or a cake or something!

Uplifting Literature

Many of the authors I enjoy are depressing and cumulatively immoral - Phillip Roth, John Updike, Ernest Hemingway. But some are uplifting, Tom Wolfe (sometimes), Mark Helprin, Jane Austen.

If you put down a book or leave a movie or a piece of music feeling that life is less worth living, than that art is immoral. Art that increases one's enthusiasm for life is supremely moral.

For Immediate Release – Your Moral Leader Is Lazy

Los Angeles, Calif- Your Moral Leader (YML) announced to a stunned press gallery this morning that he is an extremely lazy person. This announcement comes on the heels of almost ten days of relative inactivity from the industry stalwart and Brad Pitt lookalike.

YML is the sometimes-witty persona behind the industry website "lukeford.net". His daily commentaries on the foibles and follies of overpriced actresses and their respective suitcase pimp counterparts has made him a celebrity among at least nine people who dwell in remote areas of the world where cable television is not available.

"YML" as he is known to his audience, called the press conference to discuss the almost-complete absence of humor and/or personality at his internet address over the past few weeks. Speculation has been running rampant among both the press and the public regarding YML’s whereabouts, his frame of mind and his tranquilizer dependency.

"When I started the YourMoralLeader.com website, it was a daily website. I now update it on a sesquicentennial basis. When I first started this site I wanted to offer something to the viewer that he wasn’t getting anywhere else; a website with a light blue background and large, easily readable print."

At this point several members of the press switched off their tape recorders and stared at each other. Pushed further for comment by bolder members of the press pool, YML continued, "I dropped out of school at an early age because I was too lazy to get up and walk to class. I was sick for years because I was too lazy to get a real job. I got married at a young age because I was too lazy to date but I started my website with a diligence and dedication not previously seen in my life. It appears to have been an aberration. I have since resumed a sloth-like existence and spend most days staring pensively out of my window at an old oak tree that stands as a monument to inactivity. It has stood there for probably a hundred years and hasn’t moved an inch. I want to be that oak tree".

With that, YML abruptly called the press conference to a halt and muttered something about being afraid of spiders before leaving the podium. (Credit to Mike McCormick)

YML writes QuasarmanRants: As I read your website this PM, I never felt closer to you... You iterated what has long been in my heart but I've never had the courage to publish.

Q replies: I'm just glad that I still publish material that you are able to easily cut and paste within the confines of your new format.

YML writes Q: I just did something really immoral and I feel quite sick about it, but I can't link to your site in return because it has pornographic pictures. And I am against all that.

Q replies: Stealing to feed ones starving child is not immoral. I feel that your website is the technological equivalent of a starving child. My website is the technological equivalent of an entire starving family however and you may have crossed a moral line by cutting and pasting from it. Not to worry though. I think no less of you.

Luke Voted Off Survivor?

Oh please... oh please... I'll be a good boy and eat all my vegetables... I promise never to do it again (whatever "it" is).... And I'll clean up my room, and do all my chores.

Khunrum writes: Luke being voted off Survivor.........."Luke you must extinguish your torch and leave the Island immediately"

I don't think I've done harm to anyone. Why did you guys vote me off? You will be hard pressed to find anyone who is more sincere than me. Sure I didn't do any work but I was sick most of the time. Was it my site? is that why you don't like me? I sold lukeford.com in early August and have had nothing to do with the site since. Was it the protein bar I sneaked when you were all getting water. Hey, I apologized for that. I said I was sorry. Oh! Come on, give me another chance, please If I have done anything wrong to anyone, I will do what I can to make it right. I am human and I will err. Please don't throw me away. People, just give me one more chance. One more week, I promise......................

Chaim Amalek writes: It Is Time for You to Stop All of Your Sobbing, Yes it's time, for you to stop all of your crying. There's one thing you gotta do, to make Judaism accept you... In case you have not realized it yet, we jews are pretty damn picky about who we let in. And to be honest, you do not make the grade, Luke. You are too damn wimpy, too much the sniveling sissified neuresthenic (sorry about the spelling) tear boy. Again, get yourself some old 80's music and listen to "It is time for you to stop all of your sobbing"

Luke Gets Mail

Khunrum writes: I ask myself why the hell is Luke wasting time writing a book, the theme of which has been done several times before, and probably better? Ahhhh! of course, that wily convert. Just as he attempted to crack the society he so dearly wants to be a part of by dating upper echelon Jewesses, he is now attempting to ingratiate himself with producers. Make a connection and land a job. Alas!! The wealthy Yiddisha honey's are looking for richer guys. The successful producers won't talk to a nobody. And the "has beens" will be glad to talk to anyone. Good luck buddy.

Am I the only one who would rather read Luke interviewing some twenty year old Asian sweetie who is doing her first scene with Mr. Marcus? Let's have some background. Ma and Pa Yo brought her to California when she was two. They were boat people who braved Thai pirates in the Sea of Siam to give their daughter the chance for freedom and a good education. College and a career as a symphony flute player was their dream for Sing Yo. However, her academics were dismal and she had no talent for the flute. She hung around with a dodgey crowd, loved rap music and frequently skipped class. Sing Yo dropped out of high school in her senior year and was looking for work when a friend told her about....

Chaim Amalek writes: A smart man knows his strengths, and yours Luke, lie in sucking up to "Dads", right? You are in search of a powerful Mighty Hollywood Dad to your callow Lad. Just remember to wear a rubber during the interviews, and insist that they do the same.

Producer Joel Freeman

I spoke by phone October 17 to Hollywood producer Joel Freeman, who's in his sixth decade in the entertainment industry.

With over 100 credits in major productions, Freeman produced such films as Shaft, Love at First Bite, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Octagon with Chuck Norris, and Soapdish.

Joel's been married for 33 years to actress Betty Freeman. Joel has two sons (Josh, a graphics designer and Jeff, film editor) from a previous marriage and Betty has a son (a Teamster) and a daughter.

"I started in 1941 at MGM as a messenger," says Joel. "Then I became a script supervisor on a multitude of shorts subjects and worked in the production planning office.

"I was drafted into the Air Force in November 1942 and made training films for two years of the three years. I was in limited service because of my vision. I was discharged in January of 1946."

Luke: "Do you remember any of the training films you made in the Air Force?"

Joel: "We made a whole series of Land and Live... Land and Live in the Desert, in the Jungle, whatever... There was a miniature of Tokyo and surrounding areas that was photographed by our special effects department from the top of the stage, as though it were the viewpoint of the bombardier. We went back to Grand Island, Nebrasks, where we followed the formation of a B29 group which we followed to the West Coast, then the overseas unit took over. That was the [B29] group that eventually dropped the atomic bomb. We made films on the various types of airplanes such as the P38. We made films about physical health and interrogations. And all of us did everything. I worked as a grip, an electrician, a script supervisor, an actor."

Luke: "Did you know Ronald Reagan?"

Joel: "I worked with Ronald Reagan. He was the adjutant at the First Motion Picture unit of the Army - Air Force. In the early '50s, we worked on a film together at MGM called P.O.W.. I also worked with Nancy on [1950's] The Next Voice You Hear. So when there was a reunion of the Army - Air Force unit, we were all there together."

Luke: "Did you have any other relationship with Reagan?"

"In 1990, I started the Producer's Guild's Golden Laurel Awards. And the first person I got to host was Ronald Reagan."

Luke: "What was your impression of Ronald Reagen?"

Joel: "Just a good guy. Bright, funny and pleasant."

Luke: "Have you only worked in feature films?"

Joel: "Most of my work over the years has been in feature films but I also did some movies for TV and some TV series."

Luke: "How's Shaft director Gordon Parks?"

"Gordon doesn't stop. He's a poet, composer, photographer, director, writer. I just got off the phone with Gordon. Someone else is doing another documentary on Gordon Parks and they want to interview me on camera for it.

"Gordon Parks and I met in the 1950s when he was still a Life [magazine] photographer. It was a brief meeting but a pleasant one. In 1967, Gordon was brought to Warner Brothers by Ken Hyman who was then running the studio. And Gordon became the first black director of a studio movie. He wrote, directed and composed the music for 1969's The Learning Tree.

"I was on the lot under contract [as a Warner Brothers producer]. I ran into Gordon walking along the street. I said, 'Gordon, I hear you're on the lot to do a feature film. If there's any way I can help, please don't hesitate to call.' Because I knew the lot and everybody on the lot and I knew where to go to get the answers and get things done.

"He never forgot that. In 1970, I got a phone call from Gordon. 'Would you be interested in producing a film called Shaft which I am going to direct?' I was getting ready to do a picture called Dirty Harry which was about to be postponed and reconceived. So I said yes to Gordon.

"Parks and I began shooting Shaft the day after New Years [1971] in New York City. We were in the theaters June 16th. To get a picture out of post-production that early was unheard of. The director's cut was our cut. We worked together. As opposed to the auteur having final cut. My philosophy is that no one man can do it alone. Motion picture making is a collaborative effort.

"Shaft was a marvelous experience. The picture only cost $1.24 million and it was an all-union shoot in New York City. It's totally different from the interpretation of the new Shaft [released last year starring Samuel Jackson]. The word 'cool' covered Richard Roundtree [star of the original Shaft] in attitude. In the new Shaft, Jackson is a mean sonofabitch. They spent $40 million in the new film. I didn't like it. It deviated too drastically from the original cool Shaft."

Luke: "What made the 1971 Shaft so successful?"

Joel: "The experience that Gordon Parks had when he was a Life photographer with the kind of characters that were interpreted in the film. We shot it in the city and the interiors were done in an abandoned hospital on Roosevelt Island. We captured the grit of the street. It was the first black hero image. And with the music and the theme, it became a winner. One theater in Chicago took in a million dollars at the box office."

Luke: "Did you feel any tension being a white guy in a black movie?"

Joel: "None whatsoever. Let me tell you a funny story about Gordon and me. Our office was on the East Side. We needed to catch a taxi to go to a publicity meeting at Sardi's on the West Side. Gordon said he would take care of getting a cab. He stepped into the street and tried hailing three empty cabs going north and none of them would stop, thinking he wanted to go to Harlem. I said, 'Gordon, I'll take care of this.' And three empty cabs went by me and I called out, 'You anti-Semitic sons of bitches.' The cashier at the MGM commissary saw us together so often that she said, 'Are you two brothers?'"

Luke: "How did you get brought on to the [1979 film] Love At First Bite?"

Joel: "I got calls from Bob Relyea who headed physical production at Melvin Simon's company and from Bob Kaufman the writer and from the actor George Hamilton. Relyea said that the Simon company was having trouble making a deal withKaufman and Hamilton and if I came on to produce the picture, perhaps we'd be able to close the deal.

"I came on and the first thing I suggested was that all four of us have lunch together. And by the time the lunch was over, the deal was done.

"The picture was initially called Dracula Sucks Again. I said that was a terrible title. And I came up with Love At First Bite.

"We made the picture for $3.3 million and it did $75 million worldwide at the box office. George Hamilton and I tried to get Love At Second Bite off the ground in the early '90s but it didn't happen."

Luke: "What genre do you prefer to work in?"

Joel: "I prefer to work in any genre that will make a good commercial acceptable movie and I don't mean X-rated films. A film with substance. It's a matter of what will sell and what will get financed. I've only made one film in the horror genre (The Kindred). It's not my niche."

Luke: "Why did you shoot 'The New Adventures of Robin Hood' in Lithuania?"

Joel: "Fred Weintraub's company selected it. They had an entire setup in Vilnias, Lithuania and they made the episodes for little money. The country just got its freedom in 1991, and this was 1997. So changes in the Lithuanians attitudes and demeanor were wonderful to observe. We (Joel with actress-wife Betty Freeman) were there for five-and-a-half months. We took a week afterwards to visit with Ken Hyman and his wife outside of London before leaving for home."

Luke: "Producer can be such a nebulous term."

Joel: "I'm going to straighten you out. Among other things, I'm an officer with the Producers Guild of America. And one of the things we're forging ahead with is [prevention of] proliferation of credits. Unless someone deserves the credit, he's not going to get it. There are all kinds of requirements and stipulations before allowing someone to take the credit of producer. We already have an arbitration board for our own awards and so does the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Everybody seems to want a producer credit but eventually they are not going to get it unless they have performed the functions.

"A 'true producer,' which thank goodness I think am, crosses over between the creative and the economic. You are involved in a project from its inception to its completion to its distribution. Everyone works under the producer's aegis. When it's working right, the producer and the director are on the same wavelength of the overall conception. It's up to the director to then interpret the screenplay to film guided by that conception.

Luke: "How do you know a film's commercial?"

Joel: "That's a most difficult question to answer. Given any week of any year, what works in that given week? I don't know. Sometimes you make a picture 18-months before it's released. I try to make something with ingredients that will be accepted by the entire family covering the broad spectrum of the audience's age groups.

"Did anybody know that Titanic was going to burst through the ceiling like it did? I don't think so. A lot of pictures that you think are good just don't do well at the box office. If a studio releases 50 pictures a year, do you think every one is successful? No. But if you had one out of eight that was hugely successful, you have covered your butt in most instances.

"Take [1967's] Camelot for example. It was initially released as a hard-ticket movie (reserved seats). The picture ran over three hours. I told Jack Warner that was a terrible mistake. You should pare it down to two hours and release it normally. Eventually, that's exactly what happened.

"I don't think a movie should be longer than an hour and forty five minutes, though there are always exceptions like Schindler's List."

Luke: "Tell me about 1991's Soapdish."

"I worked as co-producer and production manager on Soapdish. I did something on that picture which had not been done at a major studio in a long time. I had the company work French Hours, ten hour days. No break for lunch. Meals were served all day long. It worked magnificently. I had a 51% approval vote from SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and other unions."

Luke: "Why French Hours?"

Joel: "There were so many women in the film that I knew that if we broke for lunch, it would take so much time to freshen their makeup and hair. So I thought, let's just go all day long, and people can go home at night and be with their families and have a decent meal and get some rest. I do not believe in working the long hours as they do on so many television shows where they work 14 plus hours a day.

Luke: "How come you're still going in your sixth decade while so many people burn out?"

Joel: "I attribute a lot of it to genes. I thank God for good health. I haven't used white sugar is 30 years. And I love what I do.

"I can't tell you how much I enjoy what I do as a producer. I find it difficult to find words to explain my feelings. It's fascinating, rewarding, creative. It's all the good things. You find yourself as a producer, being an uncle, a father, a mother, a psychologist. I don't produce from an office. I am on the set every single minute because that's where the problems arise and need solutions."

Luke: "Where did you grow up?"

Joel: "I was born in Newark, New Jersey and lived in Irvington, New Jersey. My mother died when I was four years old. The Freeman side of the family took me in when I was five years old and I lived with my grandparents until I went to college (Upsala) at age 17. I was a confused fellow. I majored in Economics and minored in Biology because I didn't know what I wanted to do.

"I came into this business because I had an uncle (Dore Schary who ran RKO, MGM), my mother's brother, who was a very important fellow in the business and I admired him. I left college after two years because I felt I wasn't going in any specific direction. And I was enthralled with the motion picture industry.

"Dore was like my second father. He was always conscious of nepotism. And in turn I would never allow anybody to point a finger at me and say I was there because I was Dore's nephew. I was there because I worked my ass off. And I was good at what I did. At one point in the late 1940s, I was one of the two youngest assistant directors in the business."

Luke: "You seem to genuinely like people?"

Joel: "I do, I really do. And I hope they like me too."

Levi's Choice Of Shuls

Chaim writes: I checked out out their web site, and none of these rabbis looks orthodox to me. No beards. No sidelocks. Modern dress. Pretty snazzy website though. I can see why you have chosen them for infiltration.

Luke asks: What do you mean "infiltration"? I go there to pray, study and get closer to HaShem.

Have Liberals Lost Their Resonance?

Marc Cooper writes in the LA Times: "It called itself a peace rally. But if you watched the first major post-Sept. 11 anti-war demonstration on C-SPAN two weekends ago, it was really more a self-caricature of an American left that has struggled unsuccessfully since the attacks to find its proper national voice and posture."

Fred Nek writes: I saw some of the "rally" on CSPAN.

Only the fringe elements of the loony left could possibly think that a military response was inappropriate.

What was really interesting was an NPR report yesterday morning that the Berkely City Counsel was planning a debate on a resolution to condemn the war. They interviewed two members of the city counsel. One was a fairly reasonable woman who said that the City Counsel spent its time chasing foreign policy issues far beyond the Counsel's charter like a dog chasing a fire engine, and it was ridiculous.

They then interviewed what sounded like a middle-aged, achingly sincere-sounding but unbelievably dumb woman on the City Counsel who advocated that we not bomb the Taliban but instead arrest Bin Laden.

I think that the only components of the left that could oppose military intervention in Afghanistan are either a) amazingly committed pacificists who wouldn't fight anybody under any circumstances, e.g. Quakers or Jehovah's Witnesses (a small portion of the anti-war coalition in my opinion); b) amazingly dumb people; and c) people who are so "committed" to a political agenda that they're willing to leave reason and logic at the door (the majority of the anti-war coalition).

I think the majority of folks who characterize themselves as liberal support the American military intervention. I think the folks protesting the war are the looney left.

It should be noted that Bin Laden's war effort is certainly not against poverty. He has never suggested that he is fighting on behalf of the poor or the working man. He has never suggested that he is interested in a more equitable distribution of wealth. That has absolutely nothing to do with the fight in Afghanistan. In fact, in many ways, the Taliban has created situations of more dire poverty.

The normal socialist prism through which most liberals view these sorts of things has no place in analysis of the current war, although I agree that after exterminating Bin Laden and the Taliban, some foreign aid to Afghanistan is in order, and perhaps some effort to put a stable, sane government in place there (although I don't think this is something that the U.S. can impose by itself).

Your Moral Leader Goes To Hollywood

As I start my new book on Hollywood producers, I've detected these trends:

* Producers almost always get their assistants or PR agents to call me back to screen my interview requests.

* Producers always want to know which other producers I've spoken to. I detect under the question a tremendous anxiety about where they stack up in the Hollywood status heap.

* Most producers of pop entertainment take themselves and their work with great seriousness.

Will writes: My suggestion to you regarding your book is to be aware that you are writing a book, not preparing a PR kit. Tell the assistants and agents this:

If their employer/client wishes to decline interviews then you will note this in the preface of your book. Pre-arranged, agreed upon interviews are boring and trite. I trust you want the REAL story of producers in Hollywood and you are likely better off with a book about one of them who will spread the real shit vs. a group of press-release type interview transcripts posing as a book. What little I know about movie production suggests there are many interesting stories hidden behind the veil of "who else are you talking to?"

Rodger Jacobs writes: The idea of a "book about Hollywood producers" sounds about as enticing as "a book about sod". You need to find a narrative thread to carry the book. In other words, tell a story. I highly recommend that you read -- if you haven't already -- Neal Gabler's book "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood" and Peter Biskind's look at how maverick producers and directors of the 70's changed Hollywood in "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls". Both books are riveting because of the narrative that carries the subject and keeps it moving forward. Also pick up Fitzgerald's "The Last Tycoon" and Budd Schulberg's novel "What Makes Sammy Run". If nothing else, these books will help you understand your subject much better and with deeper clarity.

Once again I reiterate: TELL A STORY. I've often found that in the process of interviewing subjects for an article the story will sometimes evolve by itself. You might find a common thread, for instance, in what motivates people to become producers instead of more "creative" careers in Hollywood. Are they money motivated? Better yet: what the hell is a producer exactly? There are many different interpretations on that one.