Email Luke Luke Ford Essays Profiles Archives Dennis Prager May 15

LA Times gushes over the most left-wing Reform rabbi - Alan Freehling of University Synagogue. Not a single critical word in Mary Rourke's shallow article.

Hollywood Sex Objects Object

From Tuesday's LA Times: ...Arquette's directorial debut--the earnestly searching documentary "Searching for Debra Winger," her highly idiosyncratic journey to find why actress Debra Winger, star of such films as "Terms of Endearment" and "Urban Cowboy," bailed on Hollywood for six years to raise her children.

Arquette interviewed a dream roster of celebrity actresses including Jane Fonda, Holly Hunter, Meg Ryan, Vanessa Redgrave and Gwyneth Paltrow, about how they balance life and work, how they cope with the voracious demands of the fame machine and an industry that jettisons its women as soon as the wrinkles appear.

Although her perfectly flat stomach peeks out from above her white hip-hugger jeans, and a frothy print blouse encases her upper frame, Arquette freely admits that she's at an age, 42, when Hollywood usually sends women out to pasture. According to the Screen Actors Guild, fewer than 10% of screen roles go to women older than 40. Arquette, who's best known for the '80s hit "Desperately Seeking Susan," says the age question first began to nag at her when she was ... 36.

Is George Lucas a Racist?

Patrick Goldstein, the voice of Hollywood conventional wisdom, writes in the LA Times: "It's telling that Lucas appeared shocked that people took offense to "Phantom Menace's" Jar Jar Binks, the bumbling animated character who sounds like a Jamaican resort pool boy. Lucas dismissed the charges of racial stereotyping as "ridiculous" and blamed them on newspaper stories, saying none of his black friends had taken offense."

Spacerook writes on rec.arts.movies.current-films: I saw the O'Reilly report too. Absolutely ridiculous. To his credit, O'Reilly was very skeptical of this wacko's claim that AOTC is racist. However, I think O'Reilly did a real disservice by giving this guy a forum. If there were millions of people across the country protesting the film, then yeah, have a news story about it. But reporting on one lone guy just to ride on the cottails of a popular movie is lame.

Tony writes: But that's what O'Reilley and Fox news are about. Glom onto anything sensational, and ride it until the morons who watch the show forget it, then move onto the next big "scandal". Calling this journalism would be a crime if it weren't so solidly in the tradition of Hearst, Pulitzer, and The National Weekly Star.

Mason writes on rec.arts.movies.current-films: I watched AOTC [latest Star Wars] and my jaw dropped. Palatine or whatever his name is, is so clearly and obviously modeled on a white Anglo-Saxon male. Typical stereotype: arrogant, manipulative, unconcerned with other. He even has an English accent (sort of).

Vince Yim writes: Not to mention, Anakin Skywalker has dark blond hair and blue eyes, making him the epitome of the red blooded californian All-American male (although he's played by a Canadian)! This kind of racial stereotyping will not be tolerated!

Nature Boy writes: What about his blatant slandering of short, green people?

Kevin writes: The hate doesn't stop there -- Lucas seems determined to prove that white guys can't direct. For the love of God, somebody stop that guy.

Richard writes: Star Wars is a parody of Christianity. Lucas is criticizing religion here. The Jedi Order is the Jews. The Sith are the Catholics who created an antithetical religion to the Jewish faith by hijacking a Jewish prophet-politician and using his name to persecute his own people. The Jedi order imposes rules on its members which are unrealistic - "no love" - so their members begin to leave (Count Dooku) and turn bad (Anakin) and eventually the Order is destroyed by its own failures. Or, you could relate some of this stuff to the current Muslim terrorism problem.

Shane replies: He isn't. There's a pretty long PBS interview (3-5 years old I think) where Lucas claims his religous belief is that all religions are "each part of the same elephant". There are elements of most religions in all his star wars movies. I thought your description was quite a stretch. In the Phantom Menace, we learn that Anakin has no father. His birth was an immaculate conception. That's an obvious reference to Christianity. Any theories about Lucas criticizing recent Catholic and Islamic events is ridiculous since Episode II was written years ago.

The Moral Threat Of All Nude Slumber Parties

Dennis Prager devoted the third hour of his nationally syndicated radio show to a letter to Ann Landers about all nude slumber parties. Somebody called up Prager's producer and said the letter was a hoax. Prager repeatedly said he did not believe it was a hoax because of the moral deterioration of America and that the letter writer came from Burlingame, in the San Francisco Bay Area, a center of moral decline.

Prager said that any woman who would host such a party would lose his trust. But he didn't mention anything about advice columnists and talkshow hosts who got suckered by such a letter would lose his trust.

It's hilarious listen to Prager say he didn't believe all the callers who point out the letter is a hoax (though Prager did not take any of their calls on the air while I listened to the show). Prager says he's ready to bet that the letter is authentic. Why? Because if it is a hoax, it is not funny. There's nothing funny or titillating about such a letter about nude slumber parties, it is only morally depraved.

Prager was concerned that 15 and 16-year old girls at such nude slumber parties would begin touching each other and experimenting with lesbian sex.

DP says: "I had no problem showering with other guys. The issue is not nudity. The issue is spending twelve hours together with no clothing on. It is not possible in the sexually bombarded era in which we live that this prolonged nudity would not lead to same sex experimentation. The concept of modesty is appropriate for same sex, not just opposite sex. The battle for civilization is just against Al Quada."

From Newhouse News Service: Relax, parents. Nude slumber parties full of 15-year-old girls are not "all the rage these days," as seen in the Ann Landers column of May 16.

Nor were they when the letter first appeared in print in 1995.

Landers is the latest of several prominent advisers to receive -- and answer -- the letter from a "Baffled Mom in Burlingame," troubled that her daughter wanted to attend one of the parties. Dear Abby received a very similar letter three weeks ago and didn't bite.

"I think it's a hoot. I dismissed it as a young boy's prepubescent fantasy," said Jeanne Phillips, who writes under the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren for the column founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. "If this is a trend, I certainly haven't seen an avalanche of mail about it."

A nearly identical letter, signed "P.M., Burlingame, Calif.," appeared in the Ebony Advisor column of Ebony magazine in September 1995. (``Oh, I don't think we'd want to make any comment on that," a spokeswoman for Ebony said with a laugh.)

Phillips' mother, the original Dear Abby, received and published the letter from "Perplexed Mom in California" in April 1996. Her answer: "Tell her that you were not raised in an atmosphere that condoned casual nudity and you are uncomfortable with the idea of her attending nude slumber parties. Period."

Child psychologist T. Berry Brazelton published it (name and address withheld) in his May 1996 newspaper column, answering, "The nudity sounds pretty stimulating; I don't know why the other mother would encourage that. Maybe all you mothers should get together to discuss it."

While nude slumber parties were not and never have been a trend, "Nude Slumber Party" is the name of an adult videotape that promises to show what happens when "the clothes come off and the intimacies begin."

"What would really happen," Jeanne Phillips said from her Los Angeles office, "is once the girls stopped giggling they'd get cold and want to put something on."

The whole thing sounds suspiciously like an urban legend, said Cylin Busby, author of the upcoming book, "Pajama Party Uncovered." Busby recalled rumors of nude all-girl slumber parties as early as 1993 -- the same year she wrote a thesis on the role of women in urban legends. Busby also was senior editor of the former Teen magazine. "Of all the letters we got, and we'd get hundreds a week, I never saw one from any girl that had been invited to a nude slumber party and was wondering how to respond," she said.

Neither was child psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger familiar with nude slumber parties. "No, I've not heard of naked girl parties," she said from her office in Elkins Park, Pa. "It's certainly not inappropriate for girls of 15 in the context of a hot summer day to jump into a lake," she added, but the emphasis there is on the lake, not on the nudity.

The subject intrigued Ann Landers. "We received a letter, it seemed legitimate," said Marcy Sugar, Landers' spokeswoman. The columnist "had not heard of anything like it before." In fact, Landers admitted as much in her answer to "Baffled in Burlingame."

"I'm as baffled as you are," she wrote, adding that "as long as you trust the mother of these girls to supervise for the duration of the party, I see no harm in it."

Coincidentally, Burlingame, Calif., is Jeanne Phillips' "old stomping ground." She graduated from Burlingame High. "And," she added, "I can assure you that nude slumber parties were not the trend back then."

Todd writes on the Prager List: As bright as he is, the fact is Dennis Prager is extremely naive on alot of matters. This is just another example.

Soggy writes: Actually the naivety is on your part.... Was not the substance of Prager's comments about the moral implications of the behavior not ascertaining fraud and hoaxes? Since virtually anything one can imagine about humans has been done there is little question that the supposed behavior could have or did happen sometime or someplace. Did anything he said actually depend on the exact "story" being true or otherwise? Were his generalizations entirely dependent upon the story or was it merely the stepping stone to a larger picture? The inability to actually deal with the substance of his comments (pro or con) is more your lack than his.

Mike writes on the Prager List: If this is all either of you find interesting/provocative in his remarks, then there is no point in my continuing to monitor this list. I'm listening to discuss thought provoking and challenging issues to help me both share my beliefs and clarify them. Perhaps you could start another group. I've got a few suggestions:


Dennis is not the only commentator that has been making comments on this issue lately. Also, hoax or not, it is an interesting topic that is not entirely implausible considering our society's current moral direction.

Luke says: The point is that Prager repeatedly said on air that he did not believe this letter was a hoax. The evidence is overwhelming that the letter is a hoax. With Prager's commitment to truth, one would expect him to apologize and clarify on the air. I have not heard him do this. Does anyone have any doubt that the evidence demands the verdict that the letter was a hoax? On what basis?

It points to a deeper issue. I often feel like I am wasting my time listening to Prager because he is not taking issues on their merits and thinking through things, but instead he just slots issues that come up into his predictable thinking. I often walk away after spending three hours listening to his show thinking I've wasted three hours because I've not heard him say one thing that is new.

Khunrum writes: Picture a nude slumber party at Luke's hovel (which would spill out onto the lawn if there were more than three participants). Nude slumbering guests would include the entire Advisory Committee plus Jimmy D, Rabbi ------, Sid "wanna see my gun" Bernstein, The Pepster, Brandy Alexandre, Pop Music critic J. D Considine, Al Aronowitz, Nice Jewish/Catholic Girl and her Intended (slumbering next to huge jugs a plus) Max Hardcore, Ariel Sharon, Luke's psycho Canadian groupies and their deranged mates, Dennis Prager, 50 or so Hollywood Non-Producers and Dr. William Pierce....The Horror! The Horror!

Helpful writes: Plus Luke's shrink as a chaperone @ $150 per hour. Make sure your HIV test is less than 30 days old and bring your own protein bars and soy milk.

Producer Frank von Zerneck

I spoke by phone with producer Frank von Zerneck May 13, 2002.

Luke: "Tell me about your childhood."

Frank: "I was born and raised in New York. My father [Peter von Zerneck] was an actor. I went to the High School of the Performing Arts, which was made famous by [the TV series] Fame. I studied acting. I went to Hofstra College in Hempsted, New York. On a Shakespeare scholarship, I majored in Drama, graduating in 1962.

"My father constantly worked in live television, as did I during high school. In those days, if you could be counted on to not freeze up when the red light went on, hit your marks, remember the words, you worked constantly. By the time I returned from college, live television had dried up and gone to LA as [shot on] film television. I worked in theater as a manager.

"In 1970, I moved to LA and went to work for Gordon Davidson, who ran the Center Theater Group. I produced plays for him for three years and then, in 1974, formed the television production company Moonlight Productions with my director-friend Robert Greenwald.

"Television was and is great because they're open to new people. If you have relationships with writers and are good at developing screenplays, TV doors are open to new people because TV has such a huge appetite for new material. We made our first film in 1975, The Desperate Miles. We've made 110 since."

Frank speaks dramatically, like an actor, with every word carefully pronounced.

Luke: "I thought Roger Gimbel and Edgar Scherick were prolific but you've produced many more movies."

Frank: "Those guys are friends. I'm younger. These people were icons when I entered the business. I've been nothing but a producer. I've never worked at a network or agency."

Luke: "Has anyone made more TV movies than you?"

Frank: "I don't know. I'm proud of my accomplishments but it is not a contest. I've made a lot of 'programmers' [productions just to meet a programming need] and mediocre movies as well as movies that I am proud of.

"When I started out, I was mentored by Leonard Goldberg. I remember when he and Aaron Spelling made their 75th television movie. And I thought, 'Ohmigod, what would that be like?'"

Luke: "How did you make all these movies with titles like Portrait of a Stripper, Portrait of a Centerfold, Portrait of a Mistress?"

Frank: "In those days [late 1970s to early 1980s], the networks each made two movies a week for 40 weeks. The networks relied upon high concept material to help them break through the clutter and attract an audience. Movies of the week stand and fall upon three things: One, the sentence that appears in TV Guide. The so-called logline. What it's about. Two, who's in it. And three, the 30-second trailer that starts playing one week before the movie airs. Movies of the week don't really rely on reviews because once they are on and someone reviews it, they're not on again for a year.

"So in those days, high concept movies were what we all did for a living. Some of them were wonderful movies and some of them weren't. There was a network executive who would say to me that he is personally going to stamp out child prostitution, no matter how many movies he has to make to do it.

"The business evolved. I broke up with Greenwald after ten years. I formed a partnership with a man who worked for me, Robert Sertner.

"I produced three one-act plays for CBS Cable. Their challenge was to be a cultural arts cable channel. They no longer exist. I then got into a deal with Ted Turner soon after he started TNT. The first one was 1989's Billy the Kid, based on Gore Vidal's play. Turner liked it because it was a Western.

"For Dress Gray, I had chased the rights to the book [by Lucian Truscott IV] for a while but it was snatched by Warners as a feature. They developed it. Gore wrote the screenplay. And it never got made. I went to Warners and asked them to try it as a television miniseries. They agreed. I set it up at NBC as a miniseries. Gore had to take his theatrical feature screenplay and turn it into a miniseries.

"Gore lives in Rovello, a little town on the Amsiri coast in Italy. And when you work with Gore Vidal, you go to him. He doesn't come to you.

"So I fly over there, shaking in my boots, because I am about to request changes from this worldclass writer. I'm this little television producer. I spent a week with him. It was a wonderful collaboration. He's from the old school. He too started in live television and the theater. He has respect for the role of the producer.

"Here I am, shaking in my pants that gee, I'd like to change this and build up this character. And he gets it. He says, 'Good idea. I'll do that.'

"Gore confessed to me, 'People approach me all the time. But nobody seems to know television like you. Here are some of my other things.' I read his adaptation of Billy the Kid. So when TNT started, and I knew that Ted [Turner] liked Westerns, I presented Turner with the idea and he liked it. I called Gore and told him we were going to be doing his Billy the Kid. And he said, 'Young man, you are unbelievable.' We flew Gore to Tucson, Arizona, to appear in the movie.

"Purely as a hobby, my wife, daughter and son operate an independent bookstore in LA - Portrait of a Bookstore on Tujunga in Studio City. Every time Gore has a book published, and he's in town, he makes sure to come by and do a book signing. He helped put us on the map."

Luke: "What is your daughter Danielle doing these days?"

Frank: "She's producing. Her last acting thing was [a 1995 independent movie] she did with [writer-director] Tom DiCillo called Living in Oblivion. We gave money to that. It's one of our two independent films.

"She's housed with us here. She and a woman named Mia Sara formed a production company to develop features and high-end cable.

"Danielle's married to James Firnley, the British rock musician. They live here and spend summer in the Cottswolds, north of London and south of Stratford."

Luke: "How did you feel about your daughter becoming an actress?"

Frank: "I was against it from the beginning. In California, you can get a driver's license at age 16. Until that age, she'd been begging me for help. She wanted to get an agent. I said no. Your life as an actress is not your own. It's a difficult business. It's full of rejection. I want you to have a normal life.

"So when she's 16, she gets a driver's license, drives around and gets an agent, and within three weeks, she's on the soap opera General Hospital. She was on for two years until she was murdered off. After that, she never stopped working."

Luke: "And she appeared in many of your movies?"

Frank: "Yes. Nepotism counts."

Luke: "And your son is a writer - director."

Frank: "We worked together on his first film, God's Lonely Man. But now he develops for other people. He'll never do television. He's developing Joyce Carol Oates' [dark] book Zombie.

"We produced a Joyce Carol Oates book recently, We Were the Mulvaneys. It was a walk in the park musical compared to Zombie."

Luke: "I can't get my mind off your portraits of strippers, centerfolds and mistresses. That wouldn't sell today."

Frank: "Well, in another form it sells. Networks are now into event movies. I'm sure six people will make a Robert Blake movie. Here's the thinking: Eighty percent of the decision to watch television is made by the woman. So the networks want to attract that female audience. So if you take accessible average female characters that the audience can relate to and understand, and at the end of act one in the seven act structure [acts are divided up by commercial breaks, it is essentially the same as the three act structure of features] and give her a dilemma that forces her to explore other options... Like Kim Basinger is living in a one stop light dusty small town. She desperately wants to get out. Someone approaches her about going to the Playboy mansion. That's the dilemma. An upwardly mobile hard working career woman who never dealt with self worth issues finds herself in relationship after relationship with married men. That was the thinking behind it. And those movies worked. They did very well."

Luke: "Of course. And they attracted primarily a female audience?"

Frank: "Of course. Men would look for the titillation value but this was network television so there wasn't any titillation.

"The emergence of pay cable has allowed the examination of themes on television that you couldn't do before."

Luke: "Have their been topics that you wanted to tackle but network executives didn't want to touch them because they were too hot?"

Frank: "I don't think so. Now anything is possible."

Luke: "Which of your movies have meant the most to you?"

Frank: "Remember they're all like children to me. But, To Heal a Nation, a true story about a foot soldier who gets the idea to build a memorial to Vietnam veterans.

"A high school graduate, Jan Scruggs, comes back to an angry nation. Soldiers are no good. And he wants to do something for the people killed. And he puts together this ragtag group. It took him eight years and he got the memorial built.

"I went to Washington to meet with him and he took me to the Vietnam veterans war memorial. It was a life experience. It's just a V cut in the ground with granite walls with 56,000 names on them. To stand there and watch the visitors come and try to touch the names and look for their loved ones... You can't help but be overwhelmed. And this was all this guy's doing.

"Too Young to Die. The story of the youngest person to ever be sentenced to death, in the South. It stars Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, two unknowns at the time.

"I like the five Native American films we did for Ted Turner. They were epic in scope. Wonderful stories that had never been told.

"I did a little movie with Mrs. Jackie Robinson as the co-producer called The Court Marshal of Jackie Robinson. It wasn't a biopic about Jackie Robinson. It was about an event in his life before baseball that told everyone what kind of character this man had. And apparently this incident was influential in the decision of Branch Rickey to bring him into the Dodgers."

From Imdb.com: "Jackie Robinson was a young college student and athlete who learned never to take racist attacks lying down. This eventually gets him into trouble when he is drafted in World War II and assigned to a Texas training camp deep in the racist south. The film climaxes when Jackie Robinson must face a court-martial for insubordination when he refused to go to the back of the bus when the white bus driver ordered him, knowing that he was in his rights to do so."

Luke: "I remember your 1981 film Miracle on Ice about the Gold medal winning US Olympic hockey team."

Frank: "I live in LA. The Olympics were in Lake Placid. The team was going to New York to accept an award. I got on an airplane to New York and managed to convince the captain [Mike Eruzione] of the US hockey team to give me the rights to do this story. He had to convince all 18 guys on the team. They were all staying at the Plaza Hotel as guests of the NHL. He got them together and said, 'I like this guy. Remember, it is all for one and one for all. We either do it with him or we don't.' And they all voted yes.

"I'm still friendly with Mike Eruzione to this day. He's a sports announcer on the Madison Square Garden network. He led this team to this incredible victory. The night before the Gold medal game, he said, 'If we win this, it never gets better than this. I promise I will never play hockey again.' And he kept his promise. All the other players went on to careers in hockey."

Luke: "How do you know when you've done a good job on a picture?"

Frank: "Purely personal satisfaction. I made a movie called Nowhere To Land, about an airliner in trouble over the Pacific Ocean. We made it in Australia. We built an airplane. It's a programmer. It's an airline disaster movie. I thought it was so well made. There were over 400 edits in the picture. The pace was unbelievable. Reviews mean nothing. Who are these people who review films? What do they know?"

Luke: "Have you had to fire a director in the middle of a shoot?"

Frank: "I don't think I've ever done that. I came close once."

Luke: "Have you ever had to sell your soul to get a movie finished?"

Frank: "Sure. I was in Australia making a movie about a family lost at sea. We were using an Australian director. We're doing a section inside the Barrier Reef where the water is calmer. And it's being shot in an ordinary way. We're not using the fancy camera equipment we have. All the things we've talked about in visuals, we could've done in a studio. I went to the director and expressed my concerns. 'Let's have fun here. Let's use these toys. Otherwise we should just move back to the studio.' And he looked at me and said, 'Why don't you direct the movie?'

"I'm 10,000 miles from Hollywood. What am I going to do now? So I ate crow. 'Oh no. It's your vision. I'm here to support you.' But I could've strangled the guy. I swallowed my pride just to get through it."

Luke: "How do you and [business partner] Bob Sertner divide up your roles?"

Frank: "We are the same person. I could interrupt this call and he could get on and finish it."

Producer Lori McCreary

I spoke by phone with producer Lori McCreary May 9, 2002.

Lori: "I grew up in the small town of Antioch in northern California. It was a blue-collar town with not a lot to do. My mother was a homemaker and an actress. She [Sharon Rich] gave up her career when she started having a family. She was in the women's version of Sea Hunt in the late 1950s. My father worked at DuPont for many years and then became a real estate broker.

"I have two younger siblings. My sister is not in the industry and my brother R. Dean McCreary is an aspiring actor and writer. We've just optioned one of his screenplays.

"When I was 14, Antioch got a large grant to build a state of the art theater. We had a computerized state of the art lighting board. I went back to Chicago to learn how to run it.

"Opening night, the computer didn't turn on and I had to run the show manually, which was not fun. I decided to study computers. I graduated from UCLA in 1984 with a degree in Computer Science. There were maybe four women in the program. And there was no one who was also in theater.

"I've always wanted to be in theater. I didn't have a connection to the movie world until 1985 when I saw the play Bopha, which I thought should be seen by more people.

"While in college, I co-founded a software company, Compulaw. We wrote software for lawyers. I was a programmer for years. I had a nice career going but I was bored. So I went to London to bring over a play with a lawyer friend of mine [Lawrence Taubman]. The play went into probate, so we ended up just seeing theater for days. And one of the plays was Bopha!.

"We came home and got a bunch of books on how to make movies. We learned how to option projects. We optioned Bopha!. A friend was a writers manager so she sent us over some writers. We got Morgan Freeman attached to direct and Danny Glover to star. We pitched the project around town and everyone said they loved the script but they turned us down.

"My partner happened to go on a blind date with Arsenio Hall's development person. She said we should send the script over. Arsenio was doing a big TV show for Paramount. They owed him a movie. This was right up his alley. Within the next couple of months, we were in South Africa scouting for the movie we shot in Zimbabwe.

"Even though my partner and I had not made a movie before, the studio left us alone to shoot our movie. This is the only movie that Morgan Freeman has directed. It takes a lot to direct a movie, particularly for someone who cares as much as Morgan. It's a year of his life. And he loves acting. That's his first love.

"We first called Morgan's agent to star in the movie. We sent over the script. His agent said he wanted to direct it if we could get Danny Glover to play the lead.

"I had a near-death experience in Zimbabwe during the last four weeks of pre-production. I had to come back to California and get fixed up. But I came back during the last week of prep and the experience put a good perspective on the whole thing.

"We brought together a diverse community of filmmakers. We had blacks and whites from England, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia and America all on one movie set.

"Zimbabwe was in a huge water crisis at the time. They generate their electricity through water. They gridded the country and depending on what grid you fell in, you had electricity two or three days a week. It wasn't always consistent with what they told us. We not only ran our set by generators but our production offices.

"I'd had an email account since the early 1980s. I came from the computer business. I was shocked to find that Paramount and other entities in the business did not have email and no way to electronically process production information. I ended up writing software to do our own production reports.

"We came in under budget. I'd wanted to make a deal so I could keep whatever we saved but studios don't make those kind of deals."

Luke: "How did you then come to form Revelations Entertainment with Morgan Freeman?"

Lori: "We hit it off. He became my mentor. We kept in touch. Back in 1993-94, I was a huge proponent of the internet when most people weren't sure what this thing was. I was talking to him about how I was going to the studios to talk about setting up websites. My belief is that the future of the entertainment industry is the intersection between TV and the Internet and feature films. It's going to be some kind of hybrid. We will not only be able to present movies digitally but we'll be able to use that product on different platforms. Morgan caught the vision. He said we should join up and do it together. We started the company in 1996."

Revelations first production was the 1999 TV movie Mutiny. "Fact-based story about 300 predominantly black sailors who were killed on July 17, 1944 while loading munitions on a ship in San Francisco. Three weeks later, 50 survivors were court-martialed for refusing to load another shipment. The men cited the Navy's lack of care for their safety." (Imdb.com)

Lori: "Mutiny came to us. NBC had been pitched a project and they came to us to executive produce it. I grew up near Concord, where this mutiny took place. I grew up with a lot of stories about what happened during this explosion.

"We sent the video to President Clinton and soon after Clinton, who said he watched the film, pardoned a guy (Freddie Meeks) involved in the mutiny. All the men were charged with mutiny and given dishonorable discharges.

"Under Suspicion was a passion project for Gene Hackman for many years. It got mired in a big rights problem. In France, rights are held by the creators, not only the producers. In America, if you want to do a remake of a movie, you just have to go to the original producer. But in France, you not only have to go to the producer but to the director and the writer. We had seven different entities we had to sign off to make the film."

Luke: "How has your vision for Revelations Entertainment changed over the years?"

Lori: "For many years, we tried to set up our own financing separate from the studios. And I found that I have a gem of a partner in Morgan Freeman who means a lot to people at the studios... And so we've weighted our projects more towards something that a studio will pick up.

"The primary reason that you don't do things with studios is that you lose control. But because Morgan is my partner, he comes with a certain amount of weight and control. We benefit from that.

"The climate has changed dramatically since 1996 when there were multiple players out there for independent film financing. Now there are three or four, slowly going down to one or two. And there's a question about payoff [going the independent route]. You can create a library and own a copyright but doesn't come back to you for 25 years, when the distribution contracts run out."

Luke: "What are you strengths as a producer?"

Lori: "I am most strong in technology. I have a vision on how to streamline production and capitalize on the digital front, which people will jump on as soon as Star Wars comes out. We're starting a big science fiction film this year with David Fincher that will be almost 100% digital. We'll build our sets digitally and motion capture our actors and shoot little real film footage."

Dramatic Power Of Nudity

Lamont writes on Usenet: The media made such a big deal of the sex and nudity in Unfaithful that I expected to see a lot of Lane. However, as it turned out, the nudity was much less than I anticipated. I think Lyne showed us just about the right amount of nudity. It was almost like a tease, just enough to keep me wanting more. Had Lane been naked more, I think the movie would have lost its edge for me. For me something happens when the movie I'm watching contains a lot of nudity. Utimately my interest wanes, and the energy of the movie wanes. Eyes Wide Shut is one example. Henry and June is another.

Another Exciting Producer Interview

Khunrum writes: Guys, How many of you, like me, are anxiously awaiting today's producer interview? I live for nothing else...

Helpful writes: I'm on pins and needles. "Well, I told Stan Laurel that he had potential, but needed a side kick ..." zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Khunrum adds: That was my last big film....1946. After that the powers that be would not fund my projects. So I formed an independent..zzzzzzzz

Chaim Amalek writes: I have tried discussing this with a number of people, with very interesting effect. In general, women simply do not want to hear of any of this. Sally Soccermom and Brenda Starfuckerstein WANT to live in ignorance of the world. To them, reality is whatever MTV/Sumner Redstone (real name: Murray Rothstein)/Dan Rather tells them it is. In fact, if you try to bring this up, they will just walk away, as though they were hearing heresy and this was the 14th century when just listening to heresy was a crime. A few europeans I know are willing to argue that all this diversity is good, but they aggressively cling to their own ignorance, and just do not want to hear what the numbers are. As expected, men are somewhat more willing to confront such hard truths.

Fred writes: Women are much less political than men. Politics are nowhere as interesting to them as the things that their natural instincts direct them to, e.g. children and mate-searching.

Nice Jewish Girl Gets Married Continued

Nice Jewish Girl writes: Interestingly, Rabbi Fishbein replied to my rather rude email as follows: I'm glad he wasn't angry, however, it seems that although they are a non-profit they do rather well. Why not charge the rabbis who want to be listed? Why charge the people who are looking for rabbis, since they will be the ones paying for a rabbi to officiate?

Rabbi Fishbein writes: Dear NJG, I can certainly understand your feelings but before you conclude that it's all a scam, please read about why there is a charge for the list on the FAQ page of our website, www.rcrconline.org.

Fred writes: I can't help but think that the $20 for the services of their web site is about what a porn web site goes for. I wonder if there is some connection there. Actually, I suppose web sites aren't free, and $20 isn't going to break anyone's bank. If I were NJG, I would not have complained. Tell NJG that Rabbi Fred is more than willing to officiate at her wedding. The vows may be a bit unorthodox, though.

Khunrum writes: Luke... How about your old pal Rabbi M-----? She can call up and say "Hi, Luke Sent Us."

For an extra $20 or $50 Luke will drive them to the services in the killer bread van.....with cans ties on the back bumper...

Director James DiGiorgio writes: I'm amused by NJG's naievete! Why is she so surprised at the commercialization of some Rabbi's website? When will people like NJG learn that organized religion is all about money. It's really quite simple. The worship of God is a powerful thing, and those that organize and lead in the worship have great influence on the flock and consequently, the flock digs into their wallets at the bidding of the church's or temple's or mosque's administrators and (sic) holy men. In fact, just about every human endeavor has money and power as its primary goal: religion, politics, business.

Come on people. This is what it's all about and what it's always been about. There's nothing that can be done to change that short of Godly intervention, so get used to it and cough up your twenty bucks, NJG, and forgetaboutit. jimmyD

P.S. I'm guessing NJG's Catholic fiance is a breast man. Just a guess.

PPS Congratz NJG! Hope you and hubby find the best of everything for yourselve's.

JRob writes: Advice for NJG:
Step one: Pick up Yellow Pages.
Step two: Look under synagogues.
Step three: Call first one listed. "Hello? Do you do interfaith weddings? No? Goodbye.
Step four: Call next one listed. "Hello? Do you do interfaith weddings? No? Goodbye.
Repeat as necessary.
Step #: "Hello? Do you do interfaith weddings? Yes? How much? WHAT? That's robbery!

Mike Medavoy Disgusted With Luke As A Human Being

Mike Medavoy writes: "Luke, You must be some great guy; you request an interview, my wife is ill, my time is limited and you re-print the only article that I know is a silly, personal attack. You disgust me as a human being. I hope you are happy. Print that."

Khunrum writes: "Luke...I have another take on this subject...We are your loyal readers, our time is limited, my goldfish died the other day, and you continue to bore us with these producer interviews. Give us some sleaze goddamnit. I am fed up. Print it."

Mike Medavoy's Book - Your Only As Good As Your Next One

Wall Street Journal assistant managing editor Laura Landro writes a provocative review of producer Mike Medavoy's memoir 'Your Only As Good As Your Next One' in the February 15, 2002 issue.

During the 1970s, Hollywood transformed a small business controlled by a few men to a large business controlled by multinational corporations.

Mike began in the mailroom around the same time as his more famous peers Barry Diller, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner.

The book's thesis is that the "corporatization of Hollywood has killed its creativity. But he is especially keen to let us know that he is just as important as those more famous guys. Everywhere he goes in the world, he tells us, "I can turn on the television and see a film being broadcast that I had some hand in getting made."

"Mr. Medavoy manages to insert himself, Zelig-like, into nearly every important creative and corporate event during the past three decades in the movie business.Mr. Medavoy's self-aggrandizing saga is as much as anything a plea for recognition and a settling of old scores."

Medavoy appeared on the cover of the New York Times Sunday magazine in 1977 under the headline "The New Tycoons of Hollywood." But from there it was largely downhill, writes Landro.

Mike doesn't say much about his personal life. He's been married four times. He never mentions his third wife "who shared his passion for Mr. Clinton, the notorious Democratic hostess Patricia Duff."

"While screenwriter William Goldman famously said that no one knows anything in Hollywood, Mr. Medavoy's book proves that some know even less than others do. As a talent agent, Mr. Medavoy tells us, he fired a young Steven Spielberg as his client because the fledgling director wouldn't abandon his loyalties to Universal Studios. Years later, he was thrilled to get Mr. Spielberg to direct a movie for TriStar -- but that movie, "Hook," ran disastrously over budget and helped seal Mr. Medavoy's fate at TriStar. Though Mr. Medavoy takes some credit for Arnold Schwarzenegger's success, he first suggested O.J. Simpson to star in "The Terminator," a tidbit he offers us without a trace of irony."

Medavoy relates how Madonna secured her part in "Desperately Seeking Susan" (she shows up at the office, sinks to her knees and purrs: "I'll do anything to get this role").

"Mr. Medavoy understands how the business works -- he just has never seemed able to make it work consistently for him. Among the movies he passed on: "The China Syndrome," "Good Morning Vietnam" and "All the President's Men.""

Medavoy blames others for most of his failures. He derides Hollywood practices such as the "high concept" film perfected by Disney and Paramount. Mike says he's never interfered with the director's vision.

Barry Diller's regime at Paramount began "movies-by-committee syndrome that pervades Hollywood to this day." In this approach, studio executives get in early with the script, hold story meetings and make their own suggestions to filmmakers. The men behind this system - Diller, Katzenberg and Eisner - "spread it like cancer across Hollywood over the course of the eighties and nineties until it became the accepted way to develop, make and market a film."

Laura writes: "Though the business of making movies remains as unpredictable as it ever was, someone has to at least try to treat it like a business. Mr. Medavoy, on the other hand, sticks to his "life-long philosophy of not tinkering," even as millions of dollars of other people's money go up in smoke."

Johnathan Last writes in the 3/10/02 Washington Times: Mostly though, Mr. Medavoy stays wrapped up in himself. He opens by announcing, "I have a library full of books about history, politics, and culture, and I've read them." As he considers leaving UA, he visits the New York City corporate apartment owned by Transamerica, the studio's parent company, and wonders aloud, "Why hadn't I ever been invited to stay here?" A few pages later he bemoans the fact that in his first year at Orion, he made only $500,000 (in 1978 dollars, not counting bonuses), which "wasn't bad," but wasn't what other studio chiefs were making. He picks fights with Mark Canton, James Cameron, and others, and somehow it's always the other party who has misremembered events or acted in bad faith.

Yes Mr. Medavoy's book is self-serving, but in a sense, that's like complaining that water is wet. The real problems are his errors and disputes with history. He complains about the 1996 Sony expose "Hit and Run," saying that the authors got many small facts (such as Mr. Medavoy's birthday) wrong. Yet his own book contains numerous factual mistakes. For example, he claims that "Hannibal" made $200 million domestically. It made $165. He writes that "Total Recall" made $200 million domestically and was the number one movie in 1990. It made $119 million and was the sixth highest-grossing movie that year. He dramatically overstates the importance of a film's opening weekend, saying, "If your film didn't have a big opening, it was basically dead." Wrong again. Six of the top 15 grossing movies of all time opened to $42 million or less, including "Forrest Gump" ($24 million in the first weekend), "The Sixth Sense" ($26 million), and "Home Alone" ($17 million).

In one aside, Mr. Medavoy attacks Peter Biskind's 1998 book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," saying that Mr. Biskind exaggerated the influence of drugs in Hollywood during the '70s. While refuting Mr. Biskind, Mr. Medavoy says triumphantly, "I was there . . . and drugs didn' t dominate the movie scene." He adds, "The American directors might have been movie brats, but they weren't movie druggies."

In "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," Martin Scorsese, one of Mr. Medavoy' s American directors, tells Mr. Biskind, "I did a lot of drugs because I wanted to do a lot, I wanted to push all the way to the very very end, and see if I could die. That was the key thing, to see what it would be like getting close to death." Readers can draw their own conclusions.

Also, Mr. Medavoy misuses the words "restraint" and "apocryphal."

But there is a deeper truth to this memoir. While we get an unreliable picture of Mr. Medavoy, we get a piercingly clear image of how he sees himself. And it explains a lot about Hollywood.

Kenneth Turan writes 3/10/02 in the LA Times: "You're Only as Good as Your Next One" is particularly vivid, however, when Medavoy takes off the gloves for a bit, when he abandons the avuncular for the acerbic. As the book makes clear, being treated with decency and respect is critical for Medavoy, and when he is not, he does not forget all about it.

Bob Rafelson, for instance, is referred to as someone who "gained a reputation as an abrasive know-it-all," and Michael Cimino, whose "Heaven's Gate" crippled UA after Medavoy left, is labeled "a director who could charitably be called a megalomaniac." Medavoy is especially dismissive of people he feels have tried to rewrite history. He is irked with Sylvester Stallone for claiming the studio tried to buy him off "Rocky" and with James Cameron for asserting that Medavoy had insisted that O.J. Simpson play the Terminator.

The people Medavoy is most angry with are the former Sony Pictures triumvirate of Peter Guber, Jon Peters and Mark Canton, who he claims made his life a living hell while he was running Tristar Pictures after leaving Orion. He describes Guber, among other things, as "a secretive meddler by nature," is acidic about a tennis bet he says Canton lost and never paid and pointedly calls the chapter on his Sony days "The Fish Stinks at the Head." What especially gripes Medavoy is having aided all three men earlier in their careers: "I helped load the gun," he says, "that later executed me in public."