Are Female Brains Different?
In all Orthodox schools in Los Angeles, except for the Modern Orthodox Shalhevet, girls receive an identical secular education to boys but a different type of Torah education. The boys mainly study Talmud, which in most forms of Orthodox Judaism, is forbidden to females.
In almost all Orthodox shuls, women rarely teach Torah to men, and rarely take positions of religious leadership over men.
I must confess that I feel more secure walking into an Orthodox shul because I know there are certain rituals set aside exclusively for men. I've learned good Torah from many female Torah teachers but I must admit that it jars me a tad to learn from a woman. She has to be an extra special teacher to overcome that.
Despite all the kidding I give female journalists, I'd much rather, in most instances, be interviewed by a cute female journalist than any other type. All things being equal, I'd rather go to lunch with a cute female than anyone else.
Cyber Walking With Chaim
Dear friend, let us pass censure on ourselves, as well as Orthodox Judaism. Is not the contemplative life we lead the result of our indolence, which we try to defend by reflections on the vanity of all things? We are content spending our evenings chatting on the net. Why? Because we cannot alter our circumstances without fighting against our inclination to idleness. With all our pretence of contempt for everything outside of us, we cannot avoid the secret wish to enjoy better food, clothing and women.
In conversations of this kind, Chaim and I spend our pleasantest hours, while we make merry at the expense of the Jewish world, and sometimes at our own.
I am paraphrasing a frightening book, the autobiography of Solomon Maimon, a 18th Century Jewish loser who led an unhappy self-centered life constantly believing himself far smarter than others.
As a certain thinker LL remarked, "books are for losers." But I find more people with circumstances like my own, with thinking like my own, in books than in life. Folks like Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Wolfe, Maimon experience life as I do.
Since my ejection from my shul last June, I've been reading more books and watching more movies, in part as a substitute for human contact. But now that I've found an Orthodox shul that takes me, and I am praying there every day, I'm building real live human relationships. Baruch Hashem! Theology, schmology, I got friends. I think you should pray where you have the most friends. Publicly conform to whatever beliefs you must profess, perform the rituals the group demands, but choose your place of religious worship on the basis of friends.
For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling free again to write freely, without worrying that I could be kicked out of my shul for the wrong opinions.
"If you want to send a message," movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn advised filmmakers, "call Western Union."
Though most movie producers and directors deny that they like to send messages in their productions, they do it all the time, writes Tim Cavanaugh in the 5/02 issue of Reason magazine.
Recent message movies, Cavanaugh writes, include Erin Brokovich (corporate pollution), Traffic (war against drugs), The Insider (big tobacco), The Siege (rounding up of Arab), and John Q (need for socialized medicine).
Cavanaugh traces the birth of the modern message movie to Elia Kazan's 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement, which lectured on the dangers of hatred of Jews. Soon after came such didactic movies as Home of the Brace (racism in the armed forces) and Boomerang! (judgmentalism).
Cavanaugh writes that producer/director Stanley Kramer served up more homilies than Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, including The Defiant One (we're all brothers), On the Beach (against nuclear war) and Home of the Brave (we're all brothers).
Sidney Lumet directed Twelve Angry Men (social justice), Serpico (corrupt cops) and Network (kill your television).
Despite occasional efforts like Norma Rae, moralistic entertainment switched to television during the 1970s. Movies of the week preached about racism, AIDS, gays, deadbeat dads, bulimia, etc... Now we have a resurgence of Hollywood message films on liberal themes.
"Ed Zwick, the producer/director who alternates short-lived TV entertainments (Thirtysomething, My So-Called Life) with solmen celluloid encyclicals on race (Glory), civil liberties (The Siege), and mentally retarded parenting (I Am Sam), is a dead ringer for Stanley Kramer. Denzel Washington is our Sidney Poitier, the handsome everyman who nobly serves as conscience of the nation. Steven Soderbergh, the technically proficient director of Erin Brockovich and Traffic, could be the second coming of Sidney Lumet, or...Kazan...
"Hollywood dilettantes are a particularly ill-chosen group of spokespeople for uninsured families, oppressed minorities, and other huddled masses; the reliance on statistics and abstracts, rather than drama, to deliver messages may be an indication of just how far...Tinseltown is from the people for whom it speaks."
Fischel Teitelbaum Wears A Streimel
FischelTeitelbaum: The rabbis asked me to check on your sabbath observance. When does the sun set over LA today?
FischelTeitelbaum: I saw a great, interesting, and very hot movie on video this shabbas that you might like: "The Marriage of Maria Braun", starring Hanna Schugyla, one of the most beautiful women ever to be on screen
Luzdedos1: I'm going to an israel festival (IsraelFestival.com) Sunday with 50k jews
FischelTeitelbaum: Luke, do you ever have . . . "Priestly" thoughts? you know.....
The Second Coming Of Luke Ford
I've heard half a dozen reports of hangovers (including Emmanuelle Richard, Matt Welch, Tony Pierce) from Thursday night's festa...
Tony Pierce writes on TonyPierce.com: When i was a Catholic i used to hate going to church but once i was in the church i felt sooooo much better. thats how i feel about socializing here in tinsel town.
last night i went to Casita del Campo - an amazingly fun family-owned family styled Mexican restaurant in Silverlake that has a wide assortment of free gay weeklies that welcome you as you climb the stairs en route to some powerful margueritas.
That's when I met Luke Ford and we all started talking about porn and religion, sufficite to say I was feeling quite comfortable in that conversation. Ford is an interesting person in that he was the superstar of adult video reporting.
He says that his old site lukeford.com got over 8,000 unique visitors a day, but when he, an Austrailian, started to get serious about his Judiasm, he sold his site and renounced his career. His new homepage is at lukeford.net
Despite all the strange things that I have seen with my limited experience around the adult industry, there is nothing weirder than to see a guy with an Austrailian accent sporting a yamulke who has an striking resemblance to my long lost GS Warrior pal, Chris Scheer, propose that most girls who get into porn are closet "whores" who make their real money by marrying rich men who they meet because of their videos.
Khunrum writes: Gee it makes me feel important to know "the former superstar of porn reporting" .. Even visited The Hovel. Do me a great favor Young W.. Please don't let the other fellows know I asked this question (it's embarrassing) Can you give me the definition of Blog? We get the news last out here on the frontier.....thanks
should i be proud?...Absolutely....How else would we have met without Blog and Blogging or whatever. That makes my buddy Al Aronowitz a blogger too. Incidently the guy who blogs Rock Crotics (your pal Scott) asked me to interview Al for his column. I have been after Scott to do something on Al for a while. He said he didn't have time and asked me to do it. I am gonna be in New York next month and will try and see Al. Of course I could do it over the Internet but I'd rather catch him in person. Wonder if Amalek is going to meet me this time?. That would be a great piece. Amalek and I interview Al Aronowitz....
>he's not commenting on current events per se, not relating his thoughts to those of others.. >You mean his recent remembrance of George Harrison and pieces on Dylan and Joni Mitchell aren't blogging? I have a lot to learn about blogging it appears. We can only interview Al together if Amalek will consent to it. So far he has been impossible to flush out. He tells me he doesn't exist.
Producer Frank Konigsberg - The Joy Of Sex
Frank Konigsberg launched The Konigsberg Company in 1975 after a decade as West Coast head of International Famous Agency - predecessor to ICM. The Konigsberg Company, with Frank as executive producer, was responsible for such television miniseries as the Emmy nominated Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones which won Powers Boothe an Emmy for his starring role, and the seven hour miniseries Pearl with Brian Dennehy, Leslie Ann Warren and Angie Dickenson, written by Sterling Silliphant. Konigsberg's movies for television include the Humanitas Award winner Divorce Wars starring Tom Selleck and Jane Curtin, Dummy with Levar Burton and Paul Sorvino, which won a Peabody Award, and the Christopher Award winner The Pride of Jesse Hallam starring Johnny Cash.
In 1983, his company became Telepictures Productions, where he acted as President. Some of the projects Mr. Konigsberg executive produced for Telepictures include the miniseries Ellis Island, starring Richard Burton and Faye Dunaway which received five Emmy nominations, Right to Kill?, starring Justine Bateman and Frederic Forest, Surviving, with Molly Ringwald, River Phoenix, and Ellen Burstyn, nominated for a Humanitas Award. For HBO Frank produced Act of Vengeance, with Charles Bronson, Ellen Barkin and Keanu Reeves and As Summers Die, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Scott Glenn and Bette Davis. Both of those films were awarded numerous Ace Award nominations.
Frank Konigsberg left Telepictures/Lorimar in 1986 to start the Konigsberg/Sanitsky Company with Larry Sanitsky. Among their diverse slate of successful productions were two top-rated mini-series, Stephen King's IT and the miniseries Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. Their production of Paris Trout, starring Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey and Ed Harris garnered the prestigious Director's Guild Award, five Ace Award nominations and five Emmy nominations. Other Konigsberg/Sanitsky projects include the television movies In Sickness and In Health with Leslie Ann Warren, Tom Skerritt and Marg Helgenberger, Casanova, with Faye Dunaway and Richard Chamberlain, the miniseries Onassis, with Raul Julia, Anthony Quinn and Jane Seymour in her Emmy-winning portrayal of Maria Callas, and the ABC Theater Presentation, The Yarn Princess with Jean Smart and Robert Pastorelli. cont.
Their Emmy nominated production of Alan Gurganus' best selling novel The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All was a four-hour CBS miniseries, starring Donald Sutherland, Diane Lane, Anne Bancroft, and Cicely Tyson who won an Emmy for her role in this drama.
The Konigsberg Company, produced Shadows of Desire, starring Nicollette Sheridan, Joe Lando and Adrian Pasdar, the Emmy, Ace and NAACP Image Award nominated four-hour miniseries, Children of the Dust, starring Sidney Poitier, Regina Taylor, and Farrah Fawcett. Children of the Dust was also recognized by the New York Festival - winning a silver medal. Frank subsequently released four television movies: Deadly Pursuits, starring Tori Spelling and Patrick Muldoon and Blessed Assurance (also known as The Price of Heaven), directed by Peter Bogdonavich and starring Grant Show, Cicely Tyson, Lori Loughlin and George Wendt, A Face to Die For, starring Yasmine Bleeth, James Wilder and Robin Givens and Sweet Temptation starring Beverly D' Angelo and Rob Estes.
In the last few years, Mr. Konigsberg with Mr. Sanitsky produced the CBS mini-series Titanic, starring George C. Scott, Catherine Zeta Jones, Tim Curry, Marilu Henner and Peter Gallagher; The Last Don, a six-hour mini-series for CBS, based upon Mario Puzo's last novel. The all-star cast included, Danny Aiello, Joe Montegna, Daryl Hannah, Jason Gedrick, Penelope Ann Miller, Kirstie Alley and k.d. lang, and four-hour sequel The Last Don II a sequel to their highly rated miniseries.
Frank Konigsberg produced the miniseries for CBS Bella Mafia, written by Lynda Laplante, and starred Vanessa Redgrave (Golden Globe nominated for Bella Mafia), Dennis Farina, Nastassja Kinski, Jennifer Tilly, Illeana Douglas and James Marsden. The two parts of Bella Mafia were the 13th and 22nd highest rated movies, including theatrical films, of the 1997-98 season.
Most recently Frank produced Deep in my Heart, a two hour film starring Anne Bancroft, Lynn Whitfield and Gloria Reuben for CBS, for which Anne Bancroft received an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series; and Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes with new partner Drew Smith, a two hour film starring Mary Tyler Moore, Jean Stapleton, and Robert Forster for CBS, due to air May 20 for Sweeps.
I sat down with Frank at his office on Sunset Blvd April 2, 2002.
Frank: "I grew up in Queens and in Manhattan, New York. My father was an engineer and he owned a metals fabricating plant. My old brother William is a professor and scientist at Yale in bio-chemistry. We went to private schools. I've always liked the theater, movies, and books.
"I went to Yale where I majored in English. I graduated in 1953. Then I went to Yale Law School. I graduated in 1956. Six months later, I went to work at CBS, and then transferred to NBC after a couple of years where I negotiated deals for talent and programs. I met two guys who were selling shows to NBC. They wanted me to come to California to work for them in their business affairs division of their company - Artists Agency Corporation. Marvin Josephson repurchased the agency and shortly afterwards acquired Ashley Famous company. It became the International Famous Agency (IFA) which later became ICM. I ran the West Coast office for about ten years. Then I became a producer.
"Bing Crosby was a client and I produced his Christmas specials. I knew all of the people running the networks from my days as an agent. My partner Sterling Silliphant and I sold a mini-series [Pearl, 1978] on Pearl Harbor to ABC. We got the rights to use footage from Tora! Tora! Tora! and went to Hawaii and made it."
Frank speaks so softly that I have a helluva time picking up his words as I transcribe my tape. He seems bemused to be the subject of an interview.
Luke: "The golden era of TV movies seems over."
Frank: "Probably because of the change in tax regulations [around 1986]. We used to have the investment tax credit where a portion of the money you spent on a film could be deducted directly from your income tax. For a long time, people turned out the same kind of movie over and over again. We got to be formula. We got to be uninteresting."
Luke: "Your first feature was National Lampoon's The Joy of Sex (1984)."
Frank: "Paramount was running out on their option on Alex Comfort's book. They had four months to start principle photography. They came to me and asked me to do it. They knew that in television you do things quickly. We threw together a script. They wanted me to use director Martha Coolidge, who'd just made Valley Girls. It was a job. We just had to get it done. I didn't think it was a successful movie at all. It was awful. Martha hated it. I hated it."
Luke: "Nine 1/2 Weeks ."
Frank: "I held the rights to the book for about eight years. I had a number of scripts written. I tried for years to get it set up with Zalman King directing. He tried to get the rights to the book out from under me. Finally, I washed my hands of it and sold it to Keith Barish. I didn't like the final movie. In the book, the guy's tight, controlled, and precise. They cast Mickey Rourke who's interesting but hardly a Wall Street commodities trader. And the woman is repressed. But Kim Bassinger is just sexy from the get go. It was awful. I hated the movie.
"It was supposed to be an interesting psychological study of carrying things to the limit. Like the Stockholm Syndrome, where the woman became increasingly attracted to this man who was abusive. It explored why people stay in abusive relationships."
Luke: "Is one of the joys of producing movies getting to vicariously explore things you would never touch in your ordinary life?"
Frank: "Yes. Like an actor, you get to play out different scenarios. Though you have to remain grounded in the reality of your own life or things can spiral out of control."
Luke: "Have you seen that happen to many of your peers?"
Frank: "No. In the television business, you can spiral downward but you don't spiral out of control. The feature business is much more excessive. In television, you're working with tiny budgets and tight schedules. It's more of a mass production factory. If you get a chance to do something really good, like some of my early films, it's because there's a lucky combination of a good executive who leaves you alone and subjects that are intriguing and fresh."
Luke: "Post production is a favorite of yours."
Frank: "I am a good editor. It's a complicated and intricate process and I like that best of all the aspects of making a film. You have the most control. It's more of a puzzle. You have all the pieces and you have to put them together. When you're on the set, it can rain or snow or a truck can go by. And you're dealing with actors."
Luke: "Do you like pitching?"
Frank: "No. Does anybody?"
Luke: "Yes. Jerry Leider."
Frank: "Jerry's much more of a salesman than I am. He's probably much better at it than I am. I don't like it at all. I think the merits of my project are obvious and I shouldn't have to pitch it."
Luke: "Do you get frustrated dealing with idiots?"
Frank: "I don't think they buyer are idiots. We just come from different places. Most of them I like. They're bright people and their hearts are in the right places. There are just more corporate layers than when I was making films [in the 1970s]. Then, there was one guy at CBS who had a division called 'CBS Specials.' And he had a mandate to make, say, six a year. And he'd say, 'Go ahead. Develop it.' He didn't have to clear it with five other people. And there was an appetite to do programs with some social value. I don't think they do that much anymore. The networks are much more into, I can't say exploitative, but they're trying to get an audience without being challenging. They still do the wife-beaters [stories]."
Luke: "Do you ever get frustrated with the medium? For instance, when you make a movie from a book, the book is always far more intellectually complex than the movie."
Frank: "It doesn't have to be. If you take Guyana Tragedy, the book just lays out all the facts. We picked the scenes that we thought were the most illuminating... If you read the book and you saw the movie, you'd probably like the movie better."
Luke: "How much artistic freedom to you feel to fictionalize movies like Guyana Tragedy?"
Frank: "Not much."
Luke: "Have you ever made a movie that you've looked back on as socially irresponsible?"
Frank laughs: "The Joy of Sex. I don't make violent movies or horror movies or things that will harm the youth of America. Those subjects don't appeal to me."
Luke: "Do you ever put messages in your films?"
Frank: "There are social messages in my films but I don't think they're inserted apart from the inherent nature of the subject."
Luke: "You don't feel that you are part of the anointed with a moral imperative to wake up the somnolent masses?"
Frank: "No. I have made some do-gooder films like The Pride of Jesse Hallam about illiteracy. But I think that the personal story of that man is what makes it compelling, not the statistics or the message at the end about calling the Illiteracy Council."
Luke: "Do you struggle between the conflicting aims of artistry and commerce?"
Frank: "No. I'm happy to do anything. I like to work."
Luke: "Tell me about Traci Lords."
Frank: "I worked with her on her life story. It was never made into a movie."
Frank: "A sudden degree of Puritanism was in the air when we delivered the script and nobody wanted to make the movie."
Luke: "Talent manager Bernie Brillstein says that the primary reason men get into the entertainment industry is to have sex with beautiful women."
Frank: "I don't think so. Do you?"
Luke: "I'm not sure."
Frank: "If you're successful or rich or powerful in any field, you can attract the opposite sex."
Luke: "You've never had an actress throw herself at you to get a part?"
Frank: "Never. You make me feel like I've missed out. I guess it says something about me."
Luke: "Which of your productions that we haven't mentioned have had the most meaning to you."
Frank laughs again. "I don't know."
Luke: "Tell me about your 1996 movie Titanic."
Frank: "As we were making it [for CBS], was looming behind us James Cameron, who's working with $120 million. And we have $12 million. We had tried to get Fox to give us a million dollars not to make it [as soon as Cameron's project started]. But CBS wanted it and Fox didn't want to give us the money. I think our movie is good.
"We shot the movie in Vancouver in the middle of summer. We had a small tank at the University of British Columbia. And everyone's wearing fur coats. It's meant to be in the North Atlantic in the middle of winter. My partner says, 'Why isn't there breath showing? Why are they sweating? It's supposed to be cold.' You can't show people's frozen breath, and people shivering, when it is 110 degrees and you are shooting in a confined space with no air conditioning."
Luke: "Have you ever burned out?"
Frank: "No, I like this. Where else can you get well paid and meet interesting people and go places?"
Luke: "How could you a Jew make the 1999 movie Jesus?"
Frank: "I think it's a terrific story."
Luke: "Didn't you want to say, 'Hey, he was just a carpenter.'?"
Frank: "He may have been a carpenter but he was a lot more than that as well."
Luke: "Do you believe Jesus was part of a triune godhead?"
Frank: "It is important for a lot of people to believe in that. It's certainly a story that's had sway over people for 2000 years."
Luke: "What would you parents have thought of you?"
Frank: "They weren't religious as Jews and they were tolerant of other religions.
"Have I exhausted you?"
Frank: "Mary Tyler Moore stars in [the 2001 TV movie] Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes. She plays a mother who has an incestuous relationship with her son. And they kill this New York socialite [Irene Silverman].
"We got the greenlight from CBS to do the project in November, 2000, and they wanted to air it in May. So we couldn't shoot it anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. The story takes place over the July 4th weekend in New York City. The city was deserted and they had this big mansion to themselves. They lived in Las Vegas and Hawaii, which are warm weather, blue sky places.
"At one point we wanted to show the mother and son outside the home of a man (business associate of the late husband, Mr. Kimes) that they have been accused of murdering. They are now standing trial in Los Angeles for that crime. But at the time we were shooting, they had been accused but not indicted. And CBS didn't want us to show them park outside the man's nondescript house.
While we were shooting, the Kimes were indicted for the murder. Then CBS wanted us to change all the dialogue, identify the house, and put in everything that they had initially insisted we take out.
"We shot in Melbourne, Australia. We were able to find a couple of streets that we made resemble New York City. Hawaii was easy. Down the coast, we found a house with a Hawaiin name, built in Hawaiin style, overlooking the sea. When we surveyed it, it was a bright sunny day. When we shot there, after about two hours, the storm clouds came in. And it started to rain and you couldn't see the sea. I was in Australia for six months. We left in mid-December, 2000, to find a crew, not realizing that everybody took a vacation in Australia from mid-December to mid-January.
"We met every possible crew member who wasn't in France or Italy. We got a crew together and started on the movie at the end of January. We did the post-production in Australia. It was difficult because CBS was back here. Every time we sent a cut back, it would take us two days to get a response. That slowed the process down."
Luke: "You weren't able to email it?"
Frank: "They didn't have the technology then. This was a year ago. Now I think you can get an optical line for $8000 a week, but they have to have the capacity to receive it."
Luke: "How was your Australian crew compared to an American one?"
Frank: "Our crew was a little slower. For all I know, there are probably great crews there."
Luke: "Are you married? Did you take your wife [Susanne]?"
Frank: "Yes I am, 40 years. No I didn't take her. I think she was in Burma. She travels a lot on her own. Her trips didn't coincide with this and I didn't know when I'd be back.
"When I'm working, it's not much fun for her because I'm on the job 12-14 hours a day. I shot a miniseries (The Tommyknockers) in New Zealand. She spent a couple of days waiting around for me. Then she got a car and drove all around New Zealand by herself and then she left."
Luke: "What was your wife doing in Burma?"
Frank: "She just travels around. She likes to see exotic countries. She's an amateur archaeologist. She almost got her PhD in archaeology."
Luke: "About a third of the producers I've interviewed have been lawyers."
Frank: "It helps to have a business background as a producer because you're constantly up against legal, contractual and economic issues. At the same time, you can't have your mind constricted by those things. You have to be able to break out and have a creative vision. That's a hard combination."
Luke: "Do people team up to maximize their strengths?"
Frank: "Sometimes but it is rare to find a producer who doesn't have both skills. It's hard to find a producer who's solely business or solely creative. If they're solely creative, they go way over budget and don't get jobs again."
It hits me that I could never make it as a movie producer because you have to get along with so many people and make so many compromises.
Luke: "It would be nigh impossible for anyone to succeed as a producer who is anti-social because you have to deal with so many constraints and collaborate with so many people."
Frank: "It's important to maintain good relations with the network people, their legal department, standards and practices, the buying side and the creative side, the promotion and publicity department. It is sometimes difficult because they occasionally take positions that are wrongheaded."
Luke: "You have to suffer fools gladly."
Frank: "You have to hold yourself back. It's their money and you have to do what they say if you want to work again. You have to have your convictions though and fight for things you believe in with well-reasoned arguments."
Luke: "But you lose a lot of those arguments."
Frank: "You do. "
Luke: "The type of kid who wants to play with his toys by himself is not going to make a good producer."
Frank: "He'd be a better writer. Producers have to get people working together as a cohesive team and that's often difficult because there are disagreements amongst the crew. The costume designer wants to have everybody in red and the DP (director of photography) feels that red will spoil his color scheme. There are usually a lot of personality conflicts, often between the producer and the director and the production manager. The director will want to shoot longer hours and not stop for a meal break. The production manager has to point out the costs and the producer has to arbitrate."
Luke: "Often individuals, such as a director, will want to do things to impress their peers that don't add value to the final product for viewers."
Frank: "Directors, for instance, will often want to make a production as showy as possible."
Luke: "A narcissist wouldn't make a good producer."
Frank: "He'd be looking in the mirror all the time instead of at the monitor. You have to be more self-effacing. And you don't get the credit as a producer. If the movie is good, the director gets the credit.
"When you start a project, you pick these people and they become your intimate family for months. Then you never see them again."
Luke: "This must be why so many producers I interview seem bland. They can't afford to flaunt their egos."
Frank: "Even when you read the biographies of moguls like Samuel Goldwyn. They gave a lot of leeway to the directors and the writers who were talented."
Luke: "Do you own your negatives?"
Luke: "I hear that is harder to do."
Frank: "It is probably impossible now. Eversince the [revoking of] financial interest rule [which limited the networks from owning their shows and movies], the broadcasters have insisted on owning more and more."
Luke: "Are you feeling increasingly squeezed as an independent producer?"
Frank: "Yes. I'm making fewer [TV] movies. I'm trying to make features. It's difficult. While television welcomes with open arms people with feature experience, it doesn't work the other way round. It's a different set of people and a different set of ideas about how they think about projects. In television, they want pre-sold stories - stories with a built-in audience and recognition value. Because they have a hard time getting attention, getting critics... Examples would be Judy Garland, Anne Frank, Gulliver's Travels, the Helen Keller Story, the LA Law reunion. Both features and television are doing all these revivals of old television shows [a trend started by producer David Permut].
"It's rare to find a big book these days that has enough name value. NBC bought the Tom Wolfe book A MAN IN FULL. But it is not well known enough for them and so they're not doing it. USA is doing Helen of Troy and did Attilla the Hun. Everyone has heard of them though I would defy most people to tell the story of Attilla the Hun.
"Features are willing to do a subject that is more complex and less easily defined, aside from the action and the high concept films. But features are willing to tackle subjects, like In the Bedroom. A few years ago, that would've made a nice television movie. Now it wouldn't be made [as a TV movie] because it doesn't have a pre-sold audience. Dead Man Walking could've been a television movie from one of the cable companies.
"Features is much more concerned with who the director is. In television, it doesn't matter who the director is. You sell the project and then you hire the director. In features, you don't get financing until you have a director.
"A lot of it is a snobbery amongst the talent agents who don't like to expose their top writers and directors and agents to people who aren't currently hot in the feature field. In television, you get the project set up and then you go cast it. TV agents are eager. They want to get offers if not the actual job for their clients. But in features, the talent drives the project, be it the star cast or the star director. Their agents are much more protective. They don't like to send them out on things that may not get made."
Luke: "Why would they care if you already have the money?"
Frank: "If you already have the money, then they don't care. But if you are looking to set up a project, and to use their clients to move it forward, then they are much less eager to help."
Luke: "I sense that many film people despise television as an inferior medium."
Frank: "They think that. Though many feature people are crossing over because there's more money and the work is steadier. And they're received like the Messiah. If a feature producer or director produces a TV show, even though they're not going to do anything on the project, just by attaching their name, they can get a lot of press for the project. Barbra Streisand's company did that TV movie on the lesbian army woman played by Glenn Close. Barbra Streisand didn't write it. She didn't direct it. She didn't star in it. But she put her name behind it and she got a lot of publicity for it. Networks are eager for that because it gives them that extra edge getting magazine covers, talkshows, etc... They don't have the budgets to pursue publicity so they have to get it through other means, such as attaching somebody."
Luke: "When you're trying to get a project set up, do you ever have to say who you are?"
Frank: "All the time. I used to know many of the people running the studios, but I can't call them to pitch an idea. So I am often meeting with people in their 20s and early 30s. I can't expect them to know me. It means selling myself again, which I really love (sarcastic).
"The ratios of movies that get made is much worse for feature producers than television. You stand about a one in three chance with a TV movie development deal. With features, your odds are about one in twenty.
"I'm not encountering age discrimination. If I were trying to do a TV series for Nicklelodeon, I suppose I'd have a hard time."
Luke: "Do you get pushed to aim for a young audience?"
Frank: "I don't get pushed to do it but that's what they want, so you try to develop something that will hit that narrow target. Often you will try to find a lead in that age range and a subject that will appeal to them. You tend to stay away from things like The Golden Girls [TV series about old women] and the Walter Matthau movies Grumpy Old Men.
"If you're pitching to Lifetime, you pick a movie that has a female lead and a subject that appeals to women. To USA, it's better to have
a male lead and more testosterone action."
Luke: "Robert Kosberg says you have to be careful about pitching stories to studios that are too intelligent."
Frank: "Well, you can pitch them in a dumb way. If you were pitching Albert Einstein, or the Niels Bohr Story, you'd have a hard time. But they were able to dumb down A Beautiful Mind, so I guess you could dumb down the Albert Einstein Story."
Luke: "Are there topics that are too controversial?"
Frank: "Absolutely. I've been trying to sell a story about the recent priest-sex-scandal controversy. I have a particular way of doing it. It's not just watching priests diddle boys and girls. And it was too controversial."
Luke: "But Hollywood loves to make movies bashing Catholics."
Frank: "This was for television. They were afraid it would offend their more conservative viewers. But their decision baffled me. I don't think anyone believes that priests should be able to molest kids but anything that criticizes an established institution like the Catholic church will create controversy and controversy is bad."
Luke: "I thought controversy would create hype."
Frank: "There's a fine line between controversy and hype. They don't want to be criticized. Even the cable companies don't want to be criticized. They want to be talked about but not criticized. I think in that story you have to take a position. Obviously not all priests are bad and the entire church hierarchy isn't bad, but obviously there's something rotten there to allow this to go on for so many years. And that's what needs to be dramatized."
Luke: "Other things you've found too hot for TV?"
Frank: "Female genital mutilation in Africa. In many tribes and country, it is a common practice. It was not well received. All the female executives were fascinated by it but they thought they couldn't get advertising for it.
"I had a good story on an adolescent girls physically abused, beaten by their boyfriends. That's common. According to a survey, about 30% of teenage girls in relationships are beaten by their boyfriends. And the networks do wife abuse stories all the time. And they rate well. But the advertisers hate it and they have a hard time selling the time. Even though they force one through every year or two, it is a big problem."
Luke: "Traci Lords."
Frank: "That wasn't about advertisers. It was more this whole southern conservative Jerry Falwell grassroots revolt against sex on television.
"I've tried to sell Mormon projects and they won't touch them. I had a wonderful script about Brigham Young's 27th wife. She was a young girl. He was in his 60s. She was engaged to someone else and he went ape over her. Because of his power and charisma, she married him under the condition that he would not have sex with anyone else. She had her own house and everything went great for a while. She got along with the other wives. Then after a few months, one of the other wives became pregnant. She objected. So he had her work in the fields. Then she led the wives on a revolt. They went shopping and refused to do what he wanted.
"She ended up speaking out against polygamy. She spoke before Congress, helping to pass the law against polygamy, which had him jailed. They felt that they'd get a lot of flack for it. That it was disrespectful to the Mormons. But it was the truth.
"I was going to do another Mormon story based on a news report from a couple of years ago. A young girl was forced to marry her uncle. Her father had six wives. She was 15, and her uncle was about 35, and he'd had several other wives. She ran away. Her father took her to this home where she was beaten severely. She crawled out to the highway, where she was picked up and taken to the hospital. She told her story. Her father and her husband were brought to trial and convicted. It was the first polygamy trial in many years."
Luke: "I can't think of any Mormon movie."
Frank: "Seven Brides for One Brother?"
Frank: "Is that a Mormon movie?"
Luke: "It's about these two Mormon missionairies who go door to door and one (Trey Parker) accidentally becomes a porn star.
"I bet it's hard to get a movie made that puts Jews in a bad light."
Frank: "Although they did The Believer, about a Jew who becomes a skinhead."
Luke: "But no movie about the Jews in the Wall Street insider trading scandals."
Frank: "I don't think so. They prefer Anne Frank or Holocaust stories."
Hungover Matt Says Luke Most Handsome Man At Blogger Party
Emma writes: Talking about Luke, hungover Matt thinks he was the most handsome man at the party. Girls asked him repeatedly about his orange tan (carot pills? Sun salon?) He claims he just spends hours reading in his garden (his tiny flat is so small and dark, that it's a very plausible explanation).
Khunrum writes: Is hungover Matt a swisher??? Check out MattWelch.com and decide for yourself.
Chaim Amalek writes: I just don't see what all the fuss over blogging is. So you can post your musings on the web with little investment in learning HTML. Is that a big deal? One you you $%@% better get famous and quick. All around, congrats to Luke for being able to suck up to a better class of folk than I ever meet.
Marc writes: the blog phenomenon involves nothing but right place, right time semantics: dot-com crash + events of 9/11 + lots of hunger for info online = cast of characters eager to sort it all out and obviously a culture emerged from there; people wanted to read these people's comments on anything ... it's still a relatively small scene, not mainstream but now established enough to have a mag owned by AOL time warner write about it and sponsor a party.
Amalek18: And why do YOU get to have all this fun? Here I am in New York City, staying here JUST to deny the terrorists the keen satisfaction that driving AMALEK from New York would bring them, and there you are in LA having all the fun, and being picked as the handsomest boy in the room (even if by the husband of the hottest chick in the room).
Amalek18: Is not your every triumph proof of the non-existence of a just God?
Does Extreme Associates Have A Deathwish?
Patrick Riley writes on RAME (newsgroup rec.arts.movies.erotica): Has Extreme a death wish? All the girls are ID-ed by name on the front [in Extreme Teen 25]. For those who don't know Rod Fontana is about 50 and Don Hollywood can't be far from that age. If the prosecutor presented this movie, especially scenes #3 and #4 to any jury, Mr Ferrara and Robert Black would be languishing behind bars that night. Not because of any violation of the Children's Protection Act or whatever it's called but because of obscenity. No parent (and probably most non-parents) would see the display of these scenes as being part of their community standards. If I were advising one of the anti-porn pressure groups I'd suggest that they buy a whole lot of copies and send one to each politician with the invitation to watch these two scenes. There's no way the porn industry can defend this.
Don Hollywood replies to RAME: Patrick, Money, believe it or not, is not everything. As Luke Ford published my real name and my the fact that I am an attorney in good standing with the California State Bar I have no problem in providing you, or anyone else, with my State Bar Number and real name, Ronald S. Miller, S.B. # 66870, admitted December, 1975. My practice was criminal defense and I still remain active in that area. With regard to "Miller" I respectfully disagree with you and suggest you read the comments on AVN.com posted today. Yesterday's ruling by the high Court is directly opposed to a "Miller" finding. If the scenes and/or movie is offensive to you then you have the 1st amendment right to state that, as you did but, remember it's those that take chances and challenge the system that protect your right to state your opinions. As for turning down a part I have, for various reasons much the same as I have turned down cases during my practice. However the scene in question was shoot very "tongue in cheek" and the girl is 26 years old with 2 children of her own. Pushing the limits is an important part of protecting all our rights, perhaps you disagree with the outcome of Peo. vs. Simpson but, the system worked, which is far more important than the individual. I only suggested that you might better express your opinions by reviewing the movies rather than projecting the law.
Larry writes: Don Hollywood is the creepiest guy currently in porn. Compared to him, Herschel Savage seems like an upstanding and productive member of society.
Pat Riley writes: You can suggest all you like. When you decide to get out of the portrayal-of-a-pedophile business, let me know. Actually don't bother. Since physically you rank right up there with some of the more repulsive males in the industry, only your retirement would interest me.
Don Hollywood writes: Patrick, Those of us who can, do and then there's the ones like you who only citizen. Don't hold your breath for my retirement from the law or porn. Like it or not a lot more people view my work than read, much less care, about yours. How many movie reviews have you been nominated for awards for? Might want to check the movies I have been nominated for. Remember there many more men watching porn that look like me than look like most of the young studs in porn, perhaps that explains my success.
Pat Riley writes on RAME: In my view the subject movie easily meets the requirements of Miller--prurient interest, patently offensive to community standards, and no redeeming social attributes--and I'll go even further. Unlike the Seymore fisting scene (and movie) where one could argue that the portrayal of the activity was acceptable to the community (particularly as it is clearly consensual), ET #25 is so offensive that any jury, even one in LosA, would be horrified, leading to an easy conclusion of obscenity.
Many Hollywood (real movie) actors/actresses refuse parts because they have a moral objection to the things portrayed or the sense of the movie (such as degrading animals) thereby giving up the opportunity to earn far more that the measly few hundred dollars you receive for your part in movies such as ET #25. If you had a strong moral objection to the content, you would do the same. Since you didn't I can only presume you agree with the child molestation theme of the movie.
We've had plenty of porn performers posing as nurses, international banking experts, and other such high level occupations. You're probably the first lawyer. What's wrong with these assertions is the trivial income and considerable disgrace associated with performing in porn in contrast to the generally good remuneration and high status of the claimed occupation. You'll forgive us if we're (still) highly skeptical.
I'm upset about the fact that this piece of sleaze would attempt, admittedly obliquely, to defend the abhorrent pedophilic scenes in the subject movie. Even his very appearance in the subject movie sanctions the activities portrayed in just the same way as Mr. Marcus, Mickey G., Jon Dough etc were to blame for the brutality of Rough Sex.
Marc W. of www.W..com writes: Why am I not surprised ... to see the morning after Luke goes to a party with online journalists whose recognition all post-dated his own, that the first words on LF.net are "patrick riley writes on RAME" and names like "mr. marcus" suddenly returning to the fore? Because creative, educated, enlightened people LOVE this stuff, that's why. And they won't kick you out of their parties for posting about it. AMALEK, how far do you think I can get with my new campaign for aish hatorah: "the talmud--the original blog"
Luke Goes To Blogville
Conquering my agoraphobia, I drove an hour to the Silver Lake restaurant Casita Del Campo at 1920 Hyperion Thursday night. I arrived at the time the LA Press Club party was set to begin - 7PM. I wanted to be on time so I could suck up to Matt Welch and Ken Layne who may start a LA newspaper with Richard Riordan, former LA mayor.
I walk in and see a group around the table. I spot Emmanuelle Richard. She explains that the meeting with Riordan is still going on. And I look around and see Mr. Riordan enjoying a margarita or two and discussing with great vitality starting up a paper. He's 71 years of age and looking to have fun.
I introduce myself to Riordan. The other guests arrived. Several of the blogger stars - Matt Welch, Ken Layne - have beautiful wives. Virginia Postrel arrives wearing a leather dress. Her husband is a professor in the SMU business school. They now live in Dallas. Virginia signs her book "The Future and its Enemies." About 20 libertarians are at the party, folks who've worked at either the Cato Institute or Reason magazine.
Virginia's husband says the films of the 1970s are overrated. He's just read the book, The Genius of the System, which was assigned to me Thursday by Douglas Urbanski, along with Peggy Noonan's new book on Ronald Reagen, When Character Mattered.
It's confusing for me that married goyim women don't cover their hair. I started to pick up on one beauty and then suddenly realize she is married. That little ring on the left hand is too subtle for someone as oblivious and self-centered as me.
It's interesting that a certain look, a certain brunette soft femininity, just slays me.
I complained to Emmanuelle Richard about my relationship with Chaim Amalek. We're stuck in the same conversation night after night. And yet we repeat it endlessly, getting and spending on IM, the internet is too much with us. We have given away our lives for a sordid boon.
I meet Mickey Kaus, of Kausfiles. I've been reading him in the New Republic since 1985. We agree that TNR's literary editor Leon Wiseltier is generally unreadable and badly in need of editing. Former TNR editor Michael Kinsley once edited Leon, who then did an end-around to the publisher and succeeded in having his piece run as is.
I asked Kaus if he was still an atheist. He said he was an agnostic, and following in Robert Wright's direction towards seeing design in the universe.
Few people are more shy and scared stepping into a new environment than I am, a bad trait for a journalist. But this was my second appearance at Cathy Seipp and Amy Alkon's shindig, so I came out of my shelf and talked about myself endlessly to anyone who'd listen. I ran into a drunk Dr. Susan Block, and her assistant Robert, from the former Konformist.com. It seemed that about every other guest at the party had a blog (and most of them lived in Silverlake). But I was the only Orthodox Jew.
I left at 11:30PM.
Chaim Amalek writes: Luke, if you were half the man you wish you were, you would begin work now to worm your way onto the staff of the new paper Riordan is trying to launch. I am sure you can think of a plausible role to play.
Khunrum writes: Gentlemen, It looks as though our boy has "Gone Hollywood" on us........ "with producer and manager Douglas Urbanski, ........friend of Peggy Noonan, Christopher Hitchens." The names are being dropped like bombs over Afghanistan. Last but not least: "Here's the swanky party I'm going to tonight......" and, Luke is now writer, editor and movie critic of LukeFord.net. I believe the best we can hope for is looking back on those golden years at .com and E mailing each other ,"We knew him when"...
Luke, did you bring Freakboy with you? Was this a networking opportunity that didn't pan out? I too have noticed that your IM conversations with Mr. Amalek are only slightly more boring than your producer interviews. So bad, that when I want to read something stimulating I click on Weisblogg.com......
Helpful writes: Wake up, Rum. Our Luke a Hollywood big shot? Doubtful. His invitations to swanky Hollywood swarees will quickly dry up when the word gets out that Luke Ford is nothing but a tease. His fey manner and queer head shot mislead many producers into believing that he is a prize twink ripe for the plucking, but they will soon discover that he is, in fact, a closeted heterosexual.
Khunrum replies: ...Is that a forced laugh? Is Luke chuckling uproariously at a producer's dumb joke? I'll bet he is hoping to be invited to another power dinner.
Helpful writes: That ridiculous photo was snapped the moment Jay Bernstein offered to show Luke his "gun."
Robert Pena writes: Luke, Why are you interviewing all these Hollywood producer types? Are you writing your next book about the underbelly of Hollywood moviemaking? These guys are no better, than the pornographers you used to hang out with. I thought you wanted to do so called real journalism by covering the war in the Middle East. Don't take that the wrong way. I'm just trying to figure out the direction of your new website. Are you trying to get the dirt on Hollywood? Or just having fun hanging out with Hollywood's mover and shakers.
Marc W. writes: Blogging is such a pure cultural movement. all these people just having in common a desire to express themselves, with no job, boss or money, dictating that common bond. obviously an insular society to some degree, but where else do the ideas come from? what was the talmud if not a big collective blog?
Luke Hangs Out In Fancy Restaurants With Hollywood Big Shots
I had lunch for two hours at a swanky BH restaurant, the famous Mortons, of the Vanity Fair Oscar party fame...with producer and manager Douglas Urbanski, famous Hollywood conservative, friend of Peggy Noonan, Christopher Hitchens...
Being that Urbanski was paying, I had a chicken tostada without the chicken ($17), two lemonades, one mint herb tea, and a lemon tart ($8).