A Spiritual Response To September 11
I went to an orthodox shul Saturday morning. Whenever I put myself in orthodox shuls these days, I feel under pressure and judgement. Perhaps I should stop walking up to the rabbis so quickly and saying, 'Hi, my name is Luke Ford dot net.' Or, 'Hi, I want to be Your Moral Leader dot com.'
I partied with the goyim Saturday night at the home of a secular Muslim. I'm vegetarian, so it is easy for me to keep kosher (though of course the dishes weren't kosher and a Jew did not participate in the cooking of the food, as required by Jewish Law, so I guess some could say I really wasn't keeping kosher).
We played table games such as Taboo and I left shortly after 11PM, after I ascertained that Gentiles are much less likely than Orthodox Jews to stop their car in the middle of a busy boulevard like Pico to dash into a store, leaving 30 cars piling up behind.
It is a great misconception that shiksas are easy.
Today I went to a day length SPIRITUAL RESPONSE TO 9/11 series of lectures by orthodox Jews that ran about two hours late. By coincidence, part of my advisory committee in New York today attended a rally against terrorism sponsored by Jewish groups at Dag Hammerskold Plaza.
At my program, the Orthodox response to September 11 was to cleave to God and his commandments and bring others Jew to the same. The presentations were well polished and practiced and caused numerous tears. The advice seems no different than the advice given to Jews upon the approach of the Third Reich or any of the other evil regimes we've dealt with in history. A lot of good that did us then.
The studied and practiced emotional appeals that filled the day of lectures reminded me of attending evangelical Christian camp meetings as a child. Similar types of emotional manipulation were used then by speakers totally sure that God had intervened in this or that event over the past 150 years. I distrust anyone who unambiguously declares that God definitely intervened at this modern point in history and that this means we should do X or Y.
Needing a break after a couple hours of lectures, I wandered outside and saw a late-arriving Jewish friend. And what was his first question? 'Are there any attractive single Jewish females inside?' What kind of a spiritual response to 9/11 is that?
Putative Jew writes: as you darned well know luke, there were no shortage of articles postulating on how the events of 9/11 prompted more eagerness among americans to have intimate relations. too bad it happened so soon after your banishment from the mainstream shul scene, otherwise plenty of these hebrew honeys would've been able to overlook your lack of gainful employment in exchange for a hearty romp on the floor. i suspect that type of fragile emotional irrationality has subsided by now...
The NJG: luke?, if you love being jewish so much how come your name is in spanish?
Khunrum writes: Luke, It is always great to hear from our very own Nice Jewish Girl. I disregarded her insult, referring to the Advisory Committee as a bunch of Putz's and checked out her site. It is great job and full of the usual cutsie poo, menopausal meanderings of the aging female spinster. Cats .....It is the beginning of the end when their social lives revolve around cats or dogs. When their focus in life is Kitty or Bowzer they have just about given up on any kind of traditional romantic human relationship.
But wait, a quick click on the Links section and I find: Per, the great Web Designer and my fiancee...........Fiancee? Websters defines that word as, "a man engaged to be married." Could NJG be holding out on us? Are nuptials in her immediate future? Has "Per the Great Designer" heard of this? Come now NJG...Inquiring Luke Ford. net advisory committee minds want to know. Did you land one? I for one, offer my congratulations....
The Mysogyny Of Phillip Roth, Saul Bellow
Amalek: Are you going on a date with a muslim chick? Cool. What sort of Muslim? How met?
Do Jews Cause Inflation?
Why do property values increase when Jews move into a neighborhood? Why are Santa Monica hotels so !@#$ expensive? Is that because the Jews take all the best rooms? Honestly, wherever you find Jews, stuff just costs more. Ergo, Jews cause inflation.
Germany with Jews experienced hyperinflation in the 20's; German sans Jews saw no such inflation in the late thirties. The historical evidence is compelling, and will go into my next email to Dr. Pierce. I am always looking for something new to write about on natvan.com.
Khunrum writes: Luke.. A friend of mine who lives in Miami recently had a life altering experience. This man is a retired Jew and lifetime supporter of liberal causes. To supplement his income he works as a courier who must at times deliver parcels into seedy African American neighborhoods. Yesterday, while on such a mission he pulled next to a Miami police officer to ask directions. The officer, a woman of Bantu decent, wrote him two traffic tickets. One for stopping on the wrong side of the road and the other for a minor infraction. My friend indicted the officer was impolite and surly. To make matters worse this elderly Jewish man was subjected to the jeers, sneers and insults of other passing Afros whilst being written up. He is shocked and angry at this treatment by people he supported his entire life. My question is this. Do you think I should suggest he talk this incident over with Dr. William Pierce? Is my friend potential National Alliance material?
Luke says: No way. At least this white man now gets to experience how blacks have suffered at the hands of whitey for many years.
I would hate to see me lose my life in a grandiose illusion
I would hate to see me lose my life in a grandiose illusion. My love of baiting people and humiliating them is the flip side of my grandiosity. I want to make people as miserable and ashamed as I am. Baiting people is doing gratuituous harm, the thing I entered therapy to work against. Because I want to grow in Torah and kindness, I'm going to not take the opportunity to bait people, at least not folks within my religious community.
When I am in therapy, and shelling out $100 an hour, I'm not going to give the grandiose explanation for my behavior anymore. Because if I was as grandiose as I often claim, I wouldn't lead such a screwed-up life.
Luzdedos1: Do you have tendencies to grandiosity or just me?
Why No Updates?
I could tell you about a dinner party I'm going to Saturday night with a shiksa. It's hosted by a Muslim. But I won't because my site is being monitored too closely by my religious community and that tends to depress my creativity and spontaneity.
I could write about the few single men I see at shul who seem eager to get married. There seems to be an awful lot of latent homosexual feelings wrapped in this--the entire routine of praying amongst men and attending study groups, etc. that are directed solely at males. But I won't...
I could wonder about how many orthodox women flipping through the new issue of Time magazine at the doctor's office, as they take their seven kids in for a check-up, will find ironic allusions between the recently liberated women of Kabul, allowed to lift their veils, and the hats and wigs they're wearing in North America as required by Jewish Law.
I could write about my invigorating run with Orthodox Judaism and how I've smashed into an immovable brick wall... Normally I'm at shul studying Torah on Tuesday night but now I'm banned.
Amalek18: You seem to be drifting away from normative Judaism. Is it because of the homophobia within you?
Amalek18: Yes, the Story of Luke is an old story indeed. You are on your way out to something else, something new for you. I would not be shocked if you ended up in Islam.
Chutney writes: I think that a community of any sort requires reciprocal communal feelings. These bigots will never let you in and will never accept you. Why do you require an external, contrived validation for your existence? Accepted members of the orthodox jewish community are not morally superior, they are just more strict in regards to their arbitrary rules. I'll bet the ones "monitoring" your site are hoping to find something about the adult entertainment industry more for their own tawdry desires than to catch you in the act.
The Surfing Rabbi
Khunrum writes: Gentlemen.. This year, again, I planned to attend the Jewish Book Fair at the center if only to hear this man speak, The Surfing Rabbi. As is wont to occur, indolence and lethargy kept me away. However a friend picked up his card. Nachum Shifren, www.surfingrabbi.com. He seems to have a sweet racket going. Inspirational Lectures, Seminars, Shabbatons, Private Surfing Lessons, Book Signings. I cannot believe that if there is a niche for The Surfing Rabbi in the bosom of Judaism there is not a spot somewhere for our own Luke Ford. Luke, could you in the future be extolling the masses with the Inspirational Lecture? And just how might you be inspiring others? Robert, you if no one else, must have a few ideas.
Robert writes: Sadly, Luke's only enviable skill is living in an extremely thrifty manner and this is hardly a rare skill amongst the "tribe." I fear he will soon be slinging lattes at Starbucks or worse. Is this fate for Luke more pleasing to God than his internet porn scribblings?
Why Publish Dr. William Pierce
Chaim Amalek writes: 1. If talking to a jew, tell him that it is important for jews to know that not everyone wishes them well.
2. If talking to a goy, because bad heretical ideas take on a life of their own if not challenged, and the only way to challenge them is to expose them to the cold analytical skills of the mainstream by publishing them. Pretending that they are not out there will NOT make them go away.
3. If talking to a white guy, 'cause it's fun. (Just kidding!)
I want you to take her to a basic, clean, kosher utilitarian place for lunch. Show up with fire in your eyes and Pierce in your heart. But REMEMBER - it is ESSENTIAL that you press her on the question of diversity. This is not a joke. I am not kidding on this point - you can see the somewhat hard edge of my emails to her. Take no guff from the Jewess, and maybe she will respect you. This is key. This question is the key that will open the lock to her heart and the much less well secured passage way to...
Luke, women are hormonal creatures. She wrote to you now because her hormones told her to. In a few weeks, they may well turn against you. Strike while the flesh is hot.
Luke Ford Is A Man Of Many Unexposed Talents
Chaim Amalek writes: Dear Miss Journalist:
You know, it just occured to me that you and Luke would make a pretty cute couple. Think of the children you would have together! He is a mature Jewish man who is looking for his beshert, and not the sort to squander the most prized fertile years of a woman's life on mere "dating". With Luke you will know if he is the one in very little time. You should give him a chance. (And do not worry, he is very discrete.) Be brave!
Miss Journalist replies: I think the Luke and Lara combo was tried on General Hospital. A lot of people tuned into the wedding but the marriage ended in divorce.
Chaim Amalek replies: Dear Miss Journalist:
As a Jewish intellectual, I do not watch these soap operas much. In fact, I have never seen one, but I understand that this is your way of avoiding serious discussion of what is a most serious and well intentioned suggestion.
Luke Ford is a man of many talents, even if most of them are as yet unexposed to the broader public. Like a flower that has not yet bloomed, Luke contains within him the seeds of greatness. He is an amazingly good writer and a deep thinker on many issues. And he has intimations of a heroic nature, in that he repeatedly has shown a willingness to sacrifice potential personal gain for his beliefs and for the benefit of others. (These are the real reasons he left the porn beat.)
You should also consider him from a genetic point of view. Luke is tall, healthy, fit, and bears the good genes that seem so common in Australia, but which are hard to come by in the genetically inbred world of Ashkenazic jewery that most American Jews inhabit. His children likely will be robust footballers, not dweebish accountants-in-the-making with thick glasses. A union of Journalist and Ford blood lines would produce the sort of hybrid vigor that the Jewish people are much in need of in these challenging times. And you would not be marrying outside of your faith to get it, but would be forming a match with a serious Jewish man.
I understand that you are living with a man at the moment. This itself calls into question his bonafides, for a man who would waste the most fertile years of a woman's life on mere cohabitation is not worthy of her love. Laugh at this all you want, but you (and, I hope, your mother and father) know that I am right. As soon as he tires of you, he will dump you. It is also my understanding that he is a lawyer. Even if he does marry you and is capable of siring children by you, they would be the carriers of lawyer genes are both sides. Talk about inbreeding!
Luke is destined to become a famous writer or media person, with interests that, while encompassing the law, extend far beyond it. The intellectual discussions you and he will have after making love (and jewish babies) as husband and wife will keep you young long after women who wasted their youth merely "living" with a guy have seen their charms turn to dust.
I know that you do not know me, and that you suspect my intentions because you do not like my name, but if you are half the thinker you must think you are, you will give this matter additional thought. Consider the arguments apart from the rotund old source that presented them, and look in the mirror. Youth and beauty fade. Always. Are you using yours now, while you have them, to get what you need to be happy and fruitful in life? Or are you living in the present only, and avoiding the future? Give Luke a chance. He is well worth it.
Best wishes for a happy thanksgiving, Chaim Amalek
Luke writes Chaim: That is so beautiful I could cry... Do you really believe that much in me?
Chaim replies: Luke, I am just a sappy romantic at heart. which is why I think you are wasting your time with the likes of Miss Journalist. Find yourself a nice Christian girl, not a jewish lawyer. Trust me, in ten years she will still be a lawyer.
Author of the 1985 unauthorized biographry of George Lucas, Skywalking, and producer of such films as Blaze and Set It off, Dale Pollock is the dean of the film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
From IMDB.com: "Dale Pollock was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated at the top of his class from Brandeis Univeristy, and eventually earned his masters in communications from San Jose State University. In 1977, he began his career writing for the Daily Variety. He became the head film critic for the paper, until he was hired by the Los Angeles Times to be their chief entertainment correspondent, where he formed the Calendar section. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in the early 1980's. He also wrote "Skywalking, " the biography of filmmaker George Lucas. In 1985, Pollock joined David Geffen's company as a development executive. He joined A&M films a year later, and was named president in 1990. He lead the company to financial and critical success, producing such films as "The Beast" and "A Home of Our Own." He is now the president of Peak Productions, lectures often at both the American Film Institute and the University of Southern California film school."
I interviewed Pollock by phone 11/21/01.
Dale's first credit as producer came for the 1988 film The Beast. According to the IMDB.com: "During the war in Afghanistan a Soviet tank crew commanded by a tyrannical officer find themselves lost and in a struggle against a band of Mujahadeen guerrillas in the mountains. A unique look at the Soviet 'Vietnam' experience sympathetically told for both sides."
Dale: "It was based on a play by William Mastrosimone. We had hoped to film it in Afghanistan or Pakhistan but the war was still going on between the Afghans and the Soviet Union so we shot it in Israel. I contacted Columbia Pictures to see if they would consider re-releasing the film because it is so timely right now and they laughed at me.
"When I went to work as a development executive for David Geffen Films in 1985, and I met director Kevin Reynolds and he took me to see the play at the L.A. Theater Group downtown. I thought it was an amazing play but it was definitely not the kind of movie David Geffen was interested in making.
"So when I went over to A&M Films when David Puttnam was running Columbia, I thought it was the kind of film I thought David Puttnam would make. And I was right. He loved it. Unfortunately, he wasn't there when we finished it so the film never got a decent theatrical release. Dawn Steel, who succeeded him, did not care for the film."
Luke: "What type of films does David Geffen like to make?"
Dale: "If you look at the list - from Risky Business to Beatlejuice to Little Shop Of Horrors. They tend to be commercial with movie stars."
Luke: "Does The Beast have implications for our current conflict in Afghanistan?"
Dale: "Absolutely. It shows that any attempt to get into a ground war in Afghanistan is an ill-fated decision and should be avoided at all costs. We have American actors playing Soviet soldiers so it is a very relevant film in terms of imagining Americans in the same situation as the Americans who were playing Soviets."
Luke: "Did you spend much time researching Afghanistan for the movie?"
Dale: "I spent two years researching Afghanistan. It's been odd for me seeing the headlines over the past two months. We visited Kandahar, Afghanistan, what is now the Taliban stronghold. The movie is set in Kandahar. I spent time in Pashalar, Pakhistan along with my director Kevin Reynolds.
"We showed the finished film to some Afghans and they thought we were in Afghanistan. The Israeli landscape doubled well for Afghanistan."
Luke: "Have you been surprised by the successes of the Northern Alliance over the past ten days?"
Dale: "No, but I feel the real Afghan story is just beginning. You see it now with the warlords trying to divy up power and try to form a real central government. The Afghans are great when they're united against a single enemy - the Russians, the Taliban, the United States. But once left to their own devices, there will be incredible tribal conflicts that will not be solved easily by anybody."
Luke: "Did you read Michael Medved's book Hollywood vs America?"
Dale: "I haven't read it but I'd like to."
Luke: "Medved says Hollywood's reluctant to show patriotism. And that's the reason there was no triumphant movie made about the Gulf War."
Dale: "Hollywood's always had a strange relationship with the military in the sense of wanting to make movies with Department of Defense cooperation but it's difficult to do in the wake of the Vietname films, be they Platoon, Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket. These films have so dominated the film mentality - which is that the only good film to make about a war is an anti-war film. You saw exceptions like Top Gun which was patriotic and pro-military. There's another one opening next week - Behind Enemy Lines, which has to do with the discovery of mass graves in Bosnia.
"What was unfashionable was to be pro-war or pro-military. That's changed now. Many films were patriotic - they dealt with what was good about America."
Luke: "Are there a bunch of people with flags on their cars in North Carolina?"
Dale: "Oh yeah. Every other car you see has a flag or decal."
Luke: "And you?"
Dale: "We have a small flag outside our house and I have a small flag outside my office door."
Luke: "What's your relationship like with George Lucas and how did he like your book?"
Dale laughs. "He didn't like my book after the fact. He liked it when he first read it but the reality of seeing his life on a page disturbed him. Mostly because he wants to control every aspect of his creative and personal life and he didn't control my book. He is not a fan of it and he has made that clear in his public statements. I won a number of awards for the book."
Luke: "Did the book cost you contacts in the industry?"
Dale: "No. I think people respected the fact that I researched the book thoroughly. I felt he came off well in the book. He's the only person who seems to think he didn't."
Luke: "Did you read Dennis McDougal's recent book on the LA Times?"
Dale: "No. Dennis was at the Times when I was there. I'd love to read that book because I knew the Chandler family well, Otis in particular."
Luke: "Did you read the Los Angeles magazine profile of Peter Bart?"
Dale: "No, but I certainly heard about it. I've known Peter Bart for a long time. Nothing that was said there and nothing that happened afterwards surprised me."
Luke: "What was it like working for Variety?"
Dale: "When I was there, in the late '70s, it was wonderful. We were still the old Variety. The paper hadn't been revamped. We still used the old lingo. It was a great introduction to Hollywood. The guy I replaced, Whitney Williams, started working for Variety in 1927."
Luke: "What was it like working for a trade publication where you had to pull your punches?"
Dale: "I never pulled any punches at Variety and I was never told to. Nobody asked me to change a review or to not write something because it would offend an advertiser. The only thing that I couldn't get used to was that we were supposed to encourage people to pay for our meals, our junkets. And the gifts that would come flowing in at Christmas were mindboggling - VCRs and TV sets."
Luke: "Cocaine and hookers?"
Luke: "Nobody tried to directly bribe you for reviews?"
Dale: "Never. But the gifts at Christmas were remarkable - bottles of wine, champage, food. I got a Betamax one year that must've weighed 150 pounds."
Luke: "The profile of Peter Bart was damning."
Dale: "The trades have always had a parasitic and sybaritic relationship with the entertainment industry. I came down as a reporter for a small town newspaper in Northern California. My salary when I started at Variety was $175 a week. And I'm covering people making over a million dollars a year. That's warped. But in my four years at Variety, I never saw anybody take a bribe. I never saw anybody offer drugs or sex to influence a review or a story. I certainly got yelled at by people and got told they were going to pull their ads. And they pulled them and the paper never told me to change anything.
"I worked under an editor named Tom Prior who was a journalist of the old school. And he didn't fuck around with anybody."
Luke: "I read a comment that the former Los Angeles Times reporter who did the LA magazine piece on Peter Bart, if she'd given the story to the Times on a plate, they wouldn't have published it because their entertainment coverage is so weak."
Dale: "I feel proud that I was at the Los Angeles Times during the time when their entertainment coverage was the strongest, 1980-85. I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a piece I did during that period on the Teamsters and the movie business. We did a lot of hard-hitting investigative work. We did a piece on creative accounting with Aliens. We did stories that hold up 20 years later. That may be true of the LA Times now but it wasn't true when I was there. We would've run that kind of story."
Luke: "How many of your peers, when you were an entertainment journalist wanted to work in the business they covered?"
Dale: "Fewer when I came but more now. Unfortunately, that may have been a trail I helped blaze. And I feel bad about it sometimes. Before Charles Schrager and I and a couple of other people left, the trades weren't considered a way in to the business. And we showed that they were. And we've seen a lot of people now make that transition."
Luke: "What was it like working for David Geffen?"
Dale: "An incredible learning experience. That was my film school. I learned more in one year than I had learned up to that point covering the entertainment industry for eight years. Watching him in action. Watching him work the phones. Watching him deal with creative people in the story meetings. I couldn't have worked for him much longer. He was a difficult person to work for."
Luke: "Did he scream at you?"
Dale: "He screamed at everybody. You didn't take it personally."
Luke: "What did you think of Tom King's bio of Geffen?"
Dale: "I wasn't too impressed by it. I thought he soft-pedalled some things and bore in too hard on others. Geffen is a complex guy and has achieved amazing things in multiple fields. He's had major success in three areas - music, film and legitimate stage."
Luke: "What was Tom too soft on?"
Dale: "I thought he was too soft on the issue of how much Geffen's sexuality influenced the decisions he made. Tom King never made any attempt to contact me or any of the people I knew. So I wasn't sure how he really did his research.
"Geffen's films had a sexual quality to them that a lot of films during that era didn't. And I thought that made them interesting. Risky Business is a very sexual movie. Geffen was able to embrace subject matter that a lot of other people weren't able to. And was willing to take chances. I found the script for Beetlejuice. I don't know if any other company would've been willing to make that film other than Geffen."
Luke: "Is there a Hollywood Gay Mafia?"
Dale: "It's like saying, is there a Jewish Mafia? Yes, there are a lot of Jews but do they act in concert to advance their Jewishness? There are a lot of people who are gay. Do they act in concert to advance a gay agenda? I don't think so. I've never regarded that as a gay mafia and I've never felt that it hurt me in my career that I wasn't gay."
Luke: "Are you Jewish?"
Dale: "Yes, and I never felt like that helped me."
Luke: "When did you find you wanted to produce movies?"
Dale: "That was at Geffen when I found two scripts, Beetlejuice and The Burbs (Tom Hanks). And I wanted to work on both of those films. And Geffen said to me, no, no, no. I produce the films, you go find more material. And I said, I want to work on these movies which I found. And he said no, that's not your job. That's when I said, I want to be a producer. And he said, that's not going to happen here. And so I was lucky enough to go to A&M Films."
Luke: "Why did you move to North Carolina in 1999?"
Dale: "Because the kind of films I was interested in producing were becoming more and more difficult to make. I was given films to produce and I did a good job on them but... My last film was Meet The Deedles. I walked off a picture called I'll Be Home For Christmas because those weren't the kind of movies I was interested in making and I was doing it for a paycheck. I was head of the producing program at the American Film Institute and teaching in the USC professional writing program. And I was getting more out of my teaching than out of the frustrating business of trying to produce good movies."
Luke: "Most journalists advise aspiring journalists to not major in journalism at college. Would that apply to film schools?"
Dale: "If I really believed that, I wouldn't be doing what I was doing. I never went to film school and I never took a film class. I never took a journalism class either. I was an Anthropology major as an undergradute and a Commucations Major with an emphasis in statistics for my Masters degree. Obviously you don't need to go to film school. I was lucky enough to work for David Geffen, that was my film school. The advantage we give our graduates is that we give them the same thing. What it would take them six to ten years to learn the hard way by making mistakes, picking yourself up and trying it again, we can shortcut some of those things. We can technique and discipline and professionalism and ways to achieve creative goals in four years.
"We're an arts conservatory. We have a specific and intense program. It's not like a film program within a university. Our mission is to train students for professional careers. We're part of a school that includes schools of dance, drama, music, and theatrical design."
Luke: "How did you go in 1985 from the LA Times to Geffen?"
Dale: "I had written my book on Lucas. I was burned out. The LA Times wouldn't give me a leave of absence to finish my book so I was pissed off at them. I left the Times and then got hired by Geffen. I never wrote a piece on Geffen in whole career.
"I was fortunate to produce twelve movies in ten years. I had a knack for getting movies made. Now, how good they were, how commercial they were? My budgets ranged from $4-32 million (Mrs Winterbourne). Columbia made us cast Rikki Lake for Mrs Winterbourne because they owned her TV show which was really hot when we cast the film. By the time the film came out, the TV show was not so hot. The audience didn't embrace her as a leading woman. I enjoyed working with her but she's not a leading lady. That's the bad side of synergy - when the studio owns two things and decides to combine them.
"Three films have had the most meaning to me - The Beast (1988), A Midnight Clear (1991), and Set It Off (1996).
"A Midnight Clear was the best film I produced. I went to everybody in town to raise the money and nobody wanted to make a little anti-war film. At that time, World War II was not a fashionable subject. Finally, we pre-sold the foreign and video rights and raised the money. That film fell apart five times before we got it made. At one point I was scouting locations in Yugoslavia when there was still a Yugoslavia. We ended up making it in Park City, Utah. A&M would not finance any production. On every movie, I had to raise the money. Either sell it to a studio or do a split-rights deal or raise it independantly.
"I would get calls, like with Set It Off, saying, 'This is material I can't sell anywhere. Are you interested?' I had a reputation for getting tough difficult movies made. I got the script for Set It Off which was incendiary. Everyone was afraid to touch it."
From IMDB.com: "Four Black women, all of whom have suffered for lack of money and at the hands of the majority, undertake to rob banks. While initially successful, a policeman who was involved in shooting one of the women's brothers is on their trail. As the women add to the loot, their tastes and interests begin to change and their suspicions of each other increase on the way to a climactic robbery."
Dale: "I spent a year meeting with every single black film director in the business. Then I met a young music video directed named Gary Gray... Just about every black person in America has seen that movie. I can't go anywhere and if I'm talking to an African-American person and I mention Set It Off, they've seen it."
Luke: "What are you working on these days?"
Dale: "I'm working on trying to make the best film program in the world. And I'm working with a documentary here in North Carolina called Grits, Tits and Burning Rubber: A History of the Southern Exploitation Film." I may get involved in some small projects but running my school is really a fulltime job.
"When I taught at AFI and USC, all the students cared about was getting an agent, a development deal and making a lot of money fast. And the students we have at North Carolina are more interested in artistic expression. We're an arts conservatory. We have a four-year undergraduate program. The North Carolina School of the Arts is one of the 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina. It's the only state-supported arts conservatory in the country. Such conservatories are common in Europe and uncommon in the United States.
"We pay for all of the student film work, which distinguishes us from most of the other student film programs, where students usually have to raise their own money. We fund 250 productions a year, from five-minute video to 15-minute 16mm films.
"I loved making films. I hated getting them made and I hated getting them released. I miss making films. I miss being the producer who's putting it all together and making it happen. And I miss my friends. But I don't miss the business which has changed in negative ways. There's a much bigger reliance on blockbusters and opening weekends and tent-pole movies. If it can't be sold in a 30-second spot, it's not going to get made. I was never going to make big commercial blockbusters. The marketplace for the arts film has become exceptionally crowded. You're competing with everybody's film who gets into Sundance, Cannes and Venice film festivals.
"You're trying to do these films in Hollywood when you have more currency if you're foreign, independent and in your 20s, than a producer who's almost 50."
Pollock appeared in this Time magazine article:
Not everyone in Hollywood was surprised by the Federal Trade Commission's report Monday on the entertainment industry's marketing practices.
Producer Dale Pollock says he was troubled by how his film Set it Off was marketed. The movie was rated R for strong graphic violence, language, some sex and drug use, but the film's distributor aimed for a young audience.
"We were buying some ads on children's programming because Queen Latifah, who was the movie's star, had a loyal young female audience," he says. "I protested, but they gave me the usual look: 'Are you crazy? Don't you want your movie to do as well as it can?' "
Luke: "Did you get heat from your peers?"
Dale: "No. I got people calling to say, 'Thanks for saying what I wish I could say.' I can say those things now because I'm not trying to get back into the business."
Luke: "You couldn't have said them when you worked in Hollywood?"
Dale: "No, that would've been a suicidal thing to do."
Luke: "There are many things you can't say when you're in the business."
Dale: "That's right. Because your words come back to haunt you."
Luke: "That neuters people."
Dale: "It neuters them publicly. As you know, everybody says everything privately."
Luke: "Which actors were the most difficult to work with?"
Dale laughs: "I shouldn't go into that. If you look over my credits, it shouldn't be that hard to identify who were the most difficult. I never worked with an actor who didn't try hard."
Luke: "Did the reviews on any of your movies upset you?"
Dale: "Yes, on Crooked Hearts, written and directed by Michael Bortman. I liked that film but it got some nasty reviews that upset me. The film still makes me cry every time I see it. And also House of Cards, which was also underappreciated.
"Crooked Hearts was about a dysfunctional family and I discovered that people are really sensitive about their own dysfunctional families. And that film touched a chord in people that they didn't like, which was probably why it wasn't successful at the box office. People went to it and thought, boy, I thought my family was dysfunctional. That's probably why the reviews were so bitter.
"I used to write those reviews. I know how nasty people can be because I used to be that nasty. I stopped reviewing because I got tired of finding new ways to say the same damn thing."
Read another interview with Dale Pollock here.
Will writes: I had an altogether different experience as a journalist. I travelled with a hockey team, and like Dale made less than 5% of the money the lowest paid player earned. I was told that I had to please the advertisers: In one case the General Manager of the team told me not to take shots at a player who sucked because the team did so much advertising with the paper. He said the advertising revenue was the only way the paper could afford to give me a job. In other words, it was his opinion that I should write the story as he saw fit or he would pull the plug.
I ignored the man, now president of the American Hockey League, and wrote as I saw fit until the pressure built and I left the job. Pollock certainly was able to do real journalism, despite covering an industry that advertised heavily in his trade paper. He was fortunate to have such an experience. I hope The Beast does get re-released. I have seen the film and it is not all that great but certainly is poignant to those who feel Afghanistan will become another Vietnam for America.
I sat down with David Permut at his Permut Presentations office in Beverly Hills on November, 14, 2001
Luke: "You were selling a sitcom based on your own story?"
David: "I decided to go for a bigger screen size. We're developing it as the feature film Promoter. In the truest sense of the word, my mentor Bill Sargent was a promoter.
"I've always wanted to be in the movie business. My family moved out here from New York when I was 13 years of age. My first job in the business was selling maps on Sunset Blvd to the stars' homes. I was 15. The prices for the maps were negotiable, from $1-3 depending on the appetite of the customer. Joe Hyams, who was married to Elke Summer, wrote a novel, The Pool, about a kid on the corner who sells maps to the stars homes. He spent hours on the corner talking to me and I was one of the people he dedicated the book to.
"Fred Aistaire used to come by and sign the map. Katherine Hepburn and Elvis Presley lived near me. I met a lot of people. And as I got their autograph, the price of the map went up. In the early '70s, I was known as the kid on the corner of Sunset Blvd and Holmby Hills. There was a lawyer across the street named Sam Zagong. He used to come over and encourage me. He used to sell newspapers in Chicago. He handled Stanley Kramer and every major director of that era.
"My business was Beverly Hills Map Company. I made my own maps and updated them every few months. I can't tell you how I got my own addresses. I had a license to sell the maps. I wanted to get cars to stop so I body painted my brother's girlfriend. "Movie Maps Here. Stop." And she was in a bikini dancing. The police didn't like that.
"A number of the neighbors in Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills wanted to get rid of me and two old ladies who sold maps. Francis's corner was Mapleton and Holmby Hills and the other woman Vivian sold in front of Gary Cooper's old house. They didn't want us around.
"We lived in the area. I came home from work one day and my mother showed me a letter that went out to all the people in the area explaining why they wanted to get rid of the maps. They're unsightly and they cause accidents.
"I found a personal injury lawyer willing to take our case because he saw publicity. I spoke at City Hall. I said I just wanted to make some money. These women could be on welfare, instead they're earning a living. Star Maps are a tradition in Hollywood. People come here by the millions. The Beverly Hills City Council made it illegal to sell the maps.
"The case went to the California State Supreme Court which ruled in our favor. The only reason you see any kids on Hollywood Blvd with signs is because of this court case.
"It was a different era then. There was an innocence. Now with surveillance and stalking and the problems of the world today. Those issues didn't exist in 1971.
"My dad comes home one night and he says he met a guy who's going to reunite the Beatles. I said, 'Give me a break. You met a guy in the bar and he said he was getting the Beatles together? And you believed him?" I was cynical. Then I turned on the TV that night to see a news flash that the Beatles were meeting in Hollywood for a proposed reunion. My eyes lit up like saucers and I ran to my dad. 'Where did you meet this guy? Who is this guy?' Dad gives me his business card with a Beverly Hills address. I thought, 'Wow, he's in Beverly Hills. He must be legitimate.'
"I tracked him down and this guy had an office on Little Santa Monica Blvd across from what is now the Peninsula Hotel. He was above a tailor shop working out of a utility room. There were no windows. He worked out of a closet with a card table and two folding chairs. He drove a Corvair Chevrolet that never started and he lived in Howard Weekly Apartments in the San Fernando Valley right next to the Ventura Freeway. He obviously had no money. And this fiery red-haired Irishman from Cato, Oklahoma, by the name of Horace William Sargent III was the guy who was going to get the Beatles together?
"He told me that he did Hamlet and made millions during the Burton/Taylor era of the '60s with a new video process called Electronovision. And he made one version of Harlow with Carole Lindley and he made millions. And he told me he made the first rock show with the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Jan Dean, Leslie Gore and every major rock star of the '60s. And he filmed it, the first filmed rock show. I go to the library and check him out and he did it all. Sargent was a promoter who was consistently erratic. He was either flying high or he was on the canvas and everybody said it was his last stand. That's when he had the resilience to pull rabbits out of the hat.
"I told Sargent about a play about the Harding Teapot Dome Scandal written by prominent writers Robert E. Lee and Jerry Lawrence who wrote Inherit the Wind and Maine. He optioned the play for one dollar. He and I joined forces to produce it. I'm 15-16 years old. I became his gopher. He's got no money. I'm loaning him money from my movie maps business. Meanwhile I'm telling my dad that I'm getting into the business. And he said, 'I don't know about this guy Sargent.' I said, 'This is how it works. You put the deal together and then you find the money. Don't worry about it. This guy knows what he's doing.'
"We got an all-star cast for the play - Lloyd Bridges, Beau Bridges, Lee Grant, Robert Culp, William Wyndham, Tom Bosley. It was going to be a limited-run stage show filmed on stage in San Francisco. This is one that Sargent couldn't pull off. He was screwing around trying to get the money. Ultimately, he disappears four weeks before the curtain was set to go up and the play never went on.
"About three years later, in 1974, I went to college. And Sargent called me at my job as a junior agent. They said, 'There's somebody on the phone who says you'll know him by his initials.' What are his initials? 'BS.' I pick up the phone and he says, 'Goddam, where are you, you little Jew?' He used to call me 'LJ.' I say, 'Where are you? You let me down...' He said, 'I'm sending my limo to pick you up.'
"He sends an angel-white phantom Rolls Royce to drive me three blocks to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He's in the penthouse suite. Warren Beatty had the other penthouse suite. This elderly guy in Sargent's apartment turns out to be John Tanent, the largest shareholder in Georgia Pacific and in the lumber business. Sargent bought a Mormon church in Salt Lake City with Tanent's money and converted it into a 32-track state-of-the-art soundstage studio.
"We go see a play, Give 'Em Hell, Harry. Sargent buys the one-man play and four weeks later, we videotape the film. It cost $230,000 including a lavish party we threw in Seattle. We transferred the tape to film. The quality was horrific. It looked grainy and terrible. But it didn't matter because the actor, James Whitmore, was brilliant. No studio wanted to distribute the film. Sargent said, 'We will distribute it ourselves.' How do we do that? He picked up the phone and called Sumner Redstone and Sal Halassee, chairman of United Artists, and he booked the theaters. You couldn't do that today but in 1975, there won't several major releases every week. There were openings in schedules.
"The picture opened on 300 screens that Sargent booked. Whitmore gets an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The picture does about $11.5 million. As Bill Sargent used to say, 'We're shitting in high cotton.'
"Sargent takes over 1888 Century Park East, in Century City, the entire seventh floor of the highrise. I'm president of the company and he's chairman of the board. We're on the map in a big way. The floor is decorated like a gothic castle. When the elevator doors open, the voice activated recording booms, 'Welcome to Bill Sargent's Theater Television Operation.' Flickering lights. My office is the size of a football field. I have a sunken wet bar and I don't drink. I had a library with vintage books. At the time, I wasn't an avid reader.
"His big dream was to reunite the Beatles. I wanted to capitalize on Give 'Em Hell, Harry and do other shows along that line. Other shows we could videotape and film.
"In 1975, Bill Sargent convinced the world that the Beatle were getting back together when he made them a $50 million offer. And Bill Sargent wound up on the cover of People magazine convincing the world that the Beatles were getting together. Lauren Michaels does a takeoff of Bill Sargent on Saturday Night Live, offering him $7 to get together again.
"We had $3 million in the bank. Where were we going to get the other $47 million? Sargent said, 'Don't worry about that. It's a technicality.' I'd set up a meeting with George Harrison's attorney David Braun. Sargent started by offering him $30 million then upped it to $50 million. It was a seven-and-a-half minute meeting then David threw us out. I'm depressed because the meeting went whacky. And Sargent says, 'We've got 'em.' And in five minutes, he went back to our offices, picked up the phone, called Western Union and sent four telegrams to the Beatles offering them $50 million.
"Then our offices are barricaded. You can't get near our offices. Security is called in. He convinced the world that the Beatles were getting together. The phone lines lit up like Christmas trees. I had friends of mine from high school who I didn't care for particularly, who said, 'Hey Permut, are you part of the Beatles now?'
"Sargent said, 'You're young. You talk to the media.' I'm doing interviews with the media. I'm living at home at the time. I'd come home for dinner and my dad would say, 'You were on the news tonight talking about the Beatles.'
"What made Sargent such a great promoter is that he believed himself that the Beatles were getting together. And the irony is, if they would've answered the telegram, he would've gotten the $50 million and we would've enjoyed a Beatles reunion.
"His next promotion was a fight between a man and an 18-foot Great White killer shark. "Death Match." Either the man or the shark would die, live under water. It was on the heels of the success of Jaws.
"Sargent used to be a boxing promoter. He promoted Cassius Clay aka Mohammed Ali.
"An 80-foot diameter ring was constructed with nine cameras under water. Universal threatens to sue us. The letter comes to the office and Sargent loves that. 'Oh God, we're being sued.' As though it is the greatest thing that's ever happened.
"David Binder, who directed Give 'Em Hell, Harry is now scouting locations for the shark fight. Our offices are now barricaded again. The International Humane Association holds a special session at the U.N. to ban the fight in U.S. waters. But our attorneys say that we come under the same provisions as bull fights. As long as we hold it outside of the US, we can promote it. Jimmy the Greek places odds on the shark in Las Vegas.
"Meanwhile, we're having problems because we can't catch a shark. So the project went south. And Sargent disappears again.
"I got started in the business at that time cultivating stories. I wanted to make movies not promote fights between a man and a shark. I realized that the power is in the material. I didn't have access to stars and directors but I did have access to writers. And I started working with a number of young writers. I started my own production company. Most of the writers were bartenders and stereo salesmen. I make my first development deal with Columbia Pictures.
"Then a phone call comes. 'Goddam you little Jew. Where are you?' It's Sargent and it is 1979. He's infectious and seductive and I love him for that. He's got a glint in his eye. He's like the Pied Piper. You get a magic carpet ride with him. We made history again when we shot Richard Pryor live in concert over two nights at the Long Beach Terrace Theater. Every studio turned the film down. And again we released it ourselves, about four weeks after it was shot. It grossed $32.5 million on a budget of less than one million.
"It was the most successful concert film ever and was turning point in the career of Richard Pryor.
"One night I was having dinner with a television executive who asked me how I got started in the business. So I regaled him with stories about Sargent. And he said, 'This is a series. We've got to talk to the network.'
"I always knew it would be a book or a movie. I tape-recorded, with Sargent's approval, hours of telephone conversations with him about the shark fight and the Beatles...
"When I went around to the networks, I was very prepared with a colorful show. Pictures and videos. All three networks wanted to do the show. We developed it at NBC before we realized that it is more of a movie. Eventually perhaps we can spin it off as a series.
"I started making conventional films after Richard Pryor. My first success was 1987's Dragnet, my idea. It was the first TV series to go over as a feature film. I was watching TV one night and it was an old rerun of Saturday Night Live starring Dan Akroyd. And two channels away, was a rerun of dragnet with Jack Webb. And it dawned on me that this is a great concept. To take over the Jack Webb persona and have Dan Akroyd play Joe Friday and sendup the straitlaced show.
"I went in to Universal and gave the shortest pitch in history. I hummed the theme from Dragnet with Dan Akroyd standing next to me. Eighteen months later, we were in production. Dragnet put me on the map.
"I'm attracted to conceptual movies. Blind Date evolved from Dale Launer. I knew him when he was selling stereos before he became a successful writer. It was a true story about a blind date. Bruce Willis made his film debut. I've made 20 odd films since."
Luke: "Where's Bill Sargent today?"
David: "Sargent's living in Cato, Oklahoma. He's not wealthy. But when he's on the canvas and counted out, that's when he has the resilience to bounce back. The last time I spoke to him, he told me, 'I'm building an indoor city. I have an 822 room hotel. You know what's the biggest waste in hotel space? Halls. I've got no halls. I'm talking to the Japanese.'
"I don't know what the hell he's talking about but you could read about him on the front page of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow. He's the same guy who offered to buy the Super Bowl and take it off free television and put in on pay cable.
From IMDB.com's description of Blind Date: "Walter Davis is a workaholic. His attention is all to his work and very little to his personal life or appearance. Now he needs a date to take to his company's business dinner with a new important Japanese client. His brother sets him up with his wife's cousin Nadia, who is new in town and wants to socialize, but when he was warned that if she gets drunk, she looses control and becomes wild. How will the date turn out - especially when they encounter Nadia's ex boyfriend David?"
Luke: "George Gallo directs many of your movies?"
David: "I loved Midnight Run. George and I first met when he was driving a Pepsi truck in New York. We cultivated a relationship that evolved into George directing his film 29th Street about Frank Pesce.
"Frank's a film historian. He brought me the idea for Double Take.
"Eddie Griffin, who starred in Double Take, stars in three major movies opening next year. He's the next Richard Pryor. I'm going to shoot him in concert in January."
Conversations With My Rabbi
Luke: "I know what I should answer to your question. That community is more important than fame. The higher part of me answers community. The wiser older smarter deeper finer kinder more mature part of me says community. My immediate gut instinct is fame. Yeah, more attention for me. Yummmm, hmmm, ummmm. More attention for me. Yeah!"
The egomaniac smiles, sits more erect in his chair, flexes his muscles and puffs out his chest. "Yeah, more attention for me."
Rabbi: "Which choice do you think is more likely to bring you happiness?"
Luke: "Community. But what good is it asking these questions? I'm already out of my two favorite shuls and neither are taking me back."
Rabbi: "Well, if you become clearer in your values, you could make choices in the future that will serve you and take you where you want to go."
Luke: "I read a great phrase the other day by a great 20th Century Jewish philosopher who said something that applies to my life. 'The people I pray with, I can't talk to. And the people I talk to, I can't pray with.' That's the conflict I face. I prefer to live within Orthodox Jewish community but as an artist, an intellectual, a writer, I need more moral wiggle room. And if I get more media attention, that bolsters my claim to be an artist, and therefore more deserving of moral wiggle room.
"Writers need more wriggle room than the average person because our task is to reveal life. To write the truth. And often the truth is not pretty and not halakhic and not blessed by the Torah. The truth is often ugly and obscene. And as writers we have to reveal that. If we don't, we're failing our one obligation as writers.
"And for me to live fully within Orthodox Judaism would stifle my creativity. I could not write honestly. That's why there are very few writers of any renown within Orthodoxy. Where's the Orthodox Phillip Roth or John Updike or I.B. Singer?"
Rabbi: "How convenient for you. I understand the appeal of such a perspective. But is it the only true one?"
Luke: "No, I guess not. I loved my year at Beth Hollywood. I loved the people there. Such a community would serve as a tremendous inspiration to create and be much more than I could be on my own. And I'm not convinced that writers necessarily deserve more wriggle room. The Torah doesn't say 'And you shall keep these commandments unless you're a writer, than you have more discretion.' Certainly the rabbis won't go for that. They're not easy folks to fake out.
"I would rather be spurned by the Orthodox than welcomed by the non-Orthodox. I would rather be a pariah within Orthodox community than a member in good standing at a non-Orthodox shul. I would rather be a tail to lions than the leader of rats.
"Since childhood, I've had these day dreams of growing up to be a matryr tortured and put to death by his religious community for heresy. I was raised on images of martyrs as the ultimate heroes. I read all these books on Martin Luther and saw films about him. And they all included his memorable line, when asked by the Church to recant - 'Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.'
"My father gave the same line when he was asked by the leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in 1980 to recant his views. 'Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.' That's how I was raised. My father lived that life - sacrificing everything, including his family, for his beliefs. And he was ejected from his religious community and exiled to a lonely and unhappy life. And I've instinctively come to regard martyrs as the ultimate heroes. The idea of sacrificing one's opinions for the sake of one's community was not a praiseworthy one in my home.
"I feel like I am recreating my father's life. Doesn't the Torah say, 'The sins of the fathers will be visited on the sons for several generations'?"
Rabbi: "Yes, but only if the sons follow in their fathers' sins. You don't have to do that. I wouldn't want your father's life for all the riches in the Church of England. Why would you want to recreate that?"
Luke: "I guess I've been acting the tortured martyr. I have been recreating my father's life. It makes for compelling art and media coverage but for a lousy unhappy painful life."
Rabbi: "Tragedy is always based on conflict and pain. And you seek that out."
Luke: "Yep. So long as I can squeeze some attention out of it. I create conflict and pain whereever I go. And that would be morally ok if I shouldered all of it myself. But I create waves of havoc around me. My independent writings published on far away reaches of the internet come back to bite members of my religious community.
"I went to this day of learning on Sunday at a local orthodox shul. My rabbi gave a talk on the power of repentance. And the crowd was composed of 60 yeshiva girls, two yeshiva guys, two older men and me. My rabbi must've been appalled to see me in such close proximity to so many innocent yeshiva kids. On the one hand, he didn't want to embarrass me publicly by asking me to leave. On the other hand, could he just leave me, a wolf, in the midsty of all these lambs? I put him in a tough spot. He left me alone and I repaid him by behaving myself."
Rabbi: "My 15-year old son got an email from my ex-wife. She saw the article about you in the Jerusalem Report and emailed my son, 'Is your dad still hanging out with that Luke Ford fellow?' And my son said, 'Yeah. And we've already seen the article and we think Luke is a cool guy.'
"Then my ten year old came into the room and asked what we were talking about. And my 15-year old had to say, 'Nothing.'"
Luke winces. "You see, that's one of the reasons I quit writing on porn. I couldn't keep making other people, particularly their children, pay the price for my explorations of the forbidden. It would've been fine to write on porn and it would've been fine to belong to the Orthodox community. But you cannot do both. I was fine until I tried to do both. And then I devastated those around me, who felt burned when they found out the truth about what I wrote on."
Rabbi: "For a year you behaved yourself at Beth Hollywood. There were no problems. You stayed mindful. You can do that."
Luke: "I can. That's part of me too. I'm not just a terroristic attention seeker. I guess I can reconsider my negative attention seeking behavior."
Rabbi: "You can seek attention for doing positive things."
Luke: "Yeah, I've just always found it easier to get people's attention by doing something shocking."
Rabbi: "You could do Jewish things and get honored at a community banquet."
Luke: "Yep. Six years I set myself the goal of making a name for myself. I've achieved that. Now I'm setting myself the goal of finding an honored place within the community."
Luke glances at the clock. There are five minutes left in the 90-minute session.
Luke: "I feel like these new profiles of me and my memoir could give me a chance to explain and defend myself. I liked 60% of that Jerusalem Report article. It explained who I was. But oy, that other 40%. It did me no good within the community."
Rabbi: "Explain yourself to who?"
Luke: "To my religious community primarily. Everybody else is secondary.
"I feel I've been defending myself all my life. That's why I write. I write beautiful words to exculpate myself from bad things I've done."
Rabbi: "That's interesting. You should write that down.
"Time's up for this week."