Perceptions vs Reality
Chaim Amalek writes: Since the rise of the mass media during the past century, however -- and especially since the rise of television during the past half-century -- what has been perceived has been increasingly artificial. What has been perceived has to a large degree not been the thinking and behavior of their flesh-and-blood peers that have evolved naturally over the course of generations, but rather the artificially contrived behavior and pretended thinking of actors and actresses and commentators on movie screens and TV screens and of models in magazine advertising. Scriptwriters and film directors and spin doctors and advertising executives have to a very large degree taken the place of parents and of other natural role models in shaping the thinking and behavior of the masses. And of course, perception gradually becomes reality. Eventually we observe among our peers behavior that is very similar to that we see on our television screens. But the mass media -- especially the mass media of entertainment -- continue to lead and to move and to shape public thinking and public behavior.
This is Much Better
Chaim Amalek writes: Isn't going out with a nice Christian woman better - a whole lot better - than pretending that you are someone you clearly are not just to impress some middle aged jewish spinster who thinks "forty is the new twenty-five"?
Luke, all of your problems in life seem to be centered on your unnatural attempt to become a jew. It had not taken and it will never take. The glove just does not fit, so you must quit. That does not make you a bad man, just one who is deluded and suffering from his delusions.
Every bone in your body (and I do mean every bone) is telling you that you do not belong in shul on saturday morning, shaking with the hairy-palmed, short, Niebelung-like bagel-eating lawyers/dentists/accountants of LA. On Saturday morning, you should be playing Australian football with other stout trusty men of the Southern Cross. Then get rid of the jewish "therapist" (and immediately save yourself some serious money), get rid of all the useless rabbis, too, and consider a return to being a journalist with an unusual beat (but this time do it as a real journalist, i.e., fact check before publishing). Stop being a spiritual transvestite, pretending to be that which you clearly are not, and live your life as it was meant to be lived.
Chaim Amalek, short, fat, hairy-palmed bagel eating hook nosed new york jew and miserable for it
What Happened To William Hurt?
Darrin writes on rec.arts.movies.current-films: A critic once remarked: "William Hurt is often overlooked by the Academy, because his acting is so effortless. You forget that he's acting." HURT has always been one of my personal favs. And how can we forget about his quirky vocal stylings?ehe In fact, KEVIN SPACEY does a mean impersonation of HURT!eheh Unfortunately, HURT seems to have lost his box office appeal. The audience that was once there for him during the '80s, seems to have vanished. A perfect example would be ELLIOT GOULD, GEORGE SEGAL & RICHARD BENJAMIN (all sweet Jews)!! During the '60s & '70s, they were all box office gold. Today, you'd be hard pressed to find any of them in starring film roles. The other reason stems from Hollywood's penchant for the almighty dollar! Instead of focusing on superb storylines and splendid acting, they would rather pay a $20 million dollar salary to ARNOLD SCHWARZENNEGER! Unfortunately, the bulk of today's movie audience is not interested in seeing WILLIAM HURT!! They would rather shell out $8 to say ARNOLD in some Godawful action flick.
Happy Birthday From JimmyD
Emmanuelle Richard snapped this photo at my birthday party.
James DiGiorgio writes: Lukey! Happy Birthday buddy! 36 and never been kissed-- WOW! Looks like the more things change for you, the more they remain, well, they remain the same. Your problems are the same, right? Juggling Judaism, Journalism, and Jewesses (Luke's three Big J's). Look at it this way, you're still here, pal. Lesser men toting around all your emotional baggage would have opted to end it years ago. Your a survivor Luke. Before you know it, 36 will be 76 and you'll still be here. Hopefully not in the same hovel. And hopefully not still writing this boring little column about Hollywood, Jews, and your personal problems. And hopefully not still pining for unattainable Hebrew women. And really, really hopefully not still seeing a shrink. And hopefully still not suffering from one imaginary malady after another....and also hopefully still not being rejected by the vast majority of the holy men of your faith. But you Luke, the essence of you, the Luke that is LUKE, will still be here and you'll be a better man for it. And so on this day that marks your 36th year on the planet, I say again, Happy Birthday Lukey!
The Thin Red Line
The New York Times reports 5/29/02 on the two producers Senator John McCain made a deal with to transform his autobiography (Faith of my Fathers) into a movie.
McCain hopes that Robert Duvall will play his father, a four-star admiral, and Edward Norton will play the young John McCain.
From the NY Times: The two producers, John Roberdeau, who has since died, and Robert Geisler, have been involved with one well-known movie, "The Thin Red Line," released in 1998. But they also have a history of financial entanglements that have ended up in court, and they have been repeatedly castigated by judges as frauds and cheats.
Mr. Roberdeau and Mr. Geisler were held in contempt of court on three occasions and filed for bankruptcy four times, individually and on behalf of two companies they owned. The papers also show that one of their companies pleaded guilty to a felony in Texas and that they were threatened with imprisonment for failing to turn over financial records.
In 1999 a New York judge ruled that in pulling off the sale of the movie rights to "The Thin Red Line," James Jones's classic World War II novel, they had "willfully and maliciously" cheated a former partner and ordered them to turn over to the partnership the $1.5 million they made, plus interest. That same year one of their companies, Stage Fright, pleaded no contest to a felony indictment in Texas and paid a $5,000 fine for stealing more than $20,000 from a travel agency by writing a check and then stopping payment.
Terrence Malick, director of "The Thin Red Line," banned them from the set in Australia. A 1997 news release, on the production's letterhead, described the two as "impostors and confidence men." And starting in 1996 The New York Observer, Vanity Fair, Variety and New York Magazine published accounts of earlier problems.
Luke's Googling Problem With Chicks
They keep using the search engine Google to check me out and then they won't date me.
Chaim writes: It is not the buzz, it is the widespread tendency of women in the class Luke is going after to "google" a man before dating him. lukeford.com is still out there.
Robert writes: And oh, how lukeford.com has changed! It sadly no longer features spirited Torah talk or lengthly biographical essays from its chronically depressed web master, but on the bright side it now commonly features photos of actual penetration. In short ... It Kicks Ass!!!!! Imagine looking up sweet Levi's name on google.com. Clicking on the link and ... up pops a full color pic of some chick with a fresh "chin omelette" dripping from her mug! Might shock a few Jewesses. Maybe?
Khunrum writes: I suspect Luke's disinterested Jewess' don't need anything as elaborate as a search engine to determine our boy is a low rent lothario.....A call to a friend from "Single and Still Searching" Jewish Mixers will do." ...."Becca a guy named Luke asked me..............."Oh! No, Francine, not him...Let me tell you about Luke........................."
Helpful writes: Honestly. Which do you think Luke's prospective Jewess brides would find more repellant: Luke's past career or his pauper-like existance?
Khunrum writes: Honestly I think it would be a two pronged repellent. Kinda like being hit with mustard and nerve gas all at once. A one two punch as it were...a package deal. But Nici thinks of him on his birthday....I believe this is a match made in heaven (maybe Hollywood). I believe she has a place for Luke in the organization. Then Luke could move out of the hovel, sell the bakery van to a Mexican gardner and drive by shul on Sat. in a new BMW. Think how envious those Jewesses are gonna be when they see the NEW improved ($$$) Luke ..."Luke, Oh! Luke, why haven't you called"????
Fred writes: Gentlemen, the cynicism in this group is reaching unhealthy levels. Tsk tsk.
American History X
I just watched this fascinating movie. I'm shocked it got made by the Hollywood system.
Disapointed writes: It revolves around Ed Norton's indoctrination into the skin head subculture. He eventually sees the error of his white supremecist ways only to find his younger brother falling into the same crowd. As a movie fan I found the ending utterly depressing and unsatisfying. Ed Norton's performance is masterful and his physical transformation for the role was phenominal. BTW the director whose name escapes me asked his name be removed from the project due to some studio interferance in the final cut. This movie is aprox. five years old so I'm guessing that Luke borrowed it from the library to save himself a 99 cent rental fee.
Chaim writes: Think about what happens at the very end - whose world view is validated, the racist's, or the multiculturalist's? I am not saying that I agree with that, but the action on the screen does cast the deciding vote. On the other hand, all the liberal commentators looked at it the other way.
Today is Luke Ford's Birthday
Dear Nici, ....yes it is, and he turns 36. Nobody has remembered him. I understand that you are his friend. It would be nice if you called him and maybe sent over a nice birthday cake (even better if with someone who could help him blow out all the candles). Right now, he is all alone in his hovel, just Luke, his occasionally malfunctioning toilet, the pills his doctors want him to take, and his small tv. A call from you, even without a cake to go with it, would surely help bring some cheer into his life. His telephone number is on his web site.
Chaim Amalek, doing a mitvah
It Must've Been Amalek's Letter
I got calls this afternoon from my sister, father and brother, in that order.
Paul, my 44-year old brother who lives in Tannum Sands, Australia: "Are you doing anything honest to earn a quid these days?"
Luke: "No, not really."
Paul: "No sweat, no toiling for a dollar."
Luke: "I've risen above that. I'm working on a book about movie and TV producers. I watch lots of movies. That's work."
Paul: "What do you pay the bills with?"
Luke: "My savings. I want to get work that I enjoy."
Paul: "What would that be?"
Luke: "Something in the movie or TV industry, or journalism."
Paul, a nurseryman: "I guess that cuts out potting up plants and unloading containers."
Luke: "That's a real job."
Paul: "A lot of American TV is made in Australia. There's a lot of controversy in the American acting union (SAG) because they're losing a lot of work to Australia. There's Fox studios in Sydney and another one in Brisbane. They do most of their work for the US market. They can get all the skills they need here for half the price of America. It's a lot cheaper to make anything here.
"The other way of looking at it is that the Australian industry has been completely rooted by the Americans. The era that they did Picnic at Hanging Rock, not that I think that was a particularly good movie, in the mid to late 1970s, Australia made many independent movies because they had generous tax incentives. They were original movies like the first [Road Warriors] that had no foreign influence. It wasn't funded by American studios.
"But once you make your studios Americanized, you take away what is unique about Australia. It is a bit like Paul Hogan. Paul was popular in Australia then he went to America and his career flopped. He's not popular here and he's not popular there. Because they [Americans] try to impose a certain culture that is different from the culture here and it just doesn't work. Though Australia's making lots of TV and movies, it's not Australian TV and movies. And it is not really creative. It is just following the same sick old cliches of Hollywood.
"All we are becoming is a branch office of Hollywood. We're a cheaper location. It's like making Nike shoes in Vietnam. We'll do our movies in Australia because it is cheaper. It is not that Australians are doing anything creative or cultural. They are just following their orders from where the money is coming from."
Luke: "You sound like one of those multi-national bashing Labor MPs [members of Parliament] from the 1970s."
Paul: "On culture, I am. On economics, I am for free market and globalization. I don't think globalization need to extend to culture.
"There are a long line of Australians who've gone to Hollywood and never made anything once they've adopted the American formula. To be good, they have to keep their own personality. Often that's what Americans like is the differentness of some of the Australians."
Luke: "Many of them have done all right, like Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman."
Paul: "But they're all doing American movies. They're not Australian movies. They only happen to be Australian actors. Russell Crowe has to even adapt an American accent for most of his movies.
"Are you keeping healthy, aside from your decrepit mind? You're not planning to visit the land of Oz?"
Luke: "No plans."
Paul: "Not unless someone funds it anyway."
Luke: "How are my darling nieces?"
Paul: "They still adore you for your generosity for that thing from the Cornflakes packet. It's memorable in their minds. They visit my sister and she will splurge. And their Aunty Gill will splurge. But they still remember Uncle Luke and how he bought them drinks and chips and a chocolate bar."
Luke: "I tell all the girls I date about what a doting uncle I am."
An Open Letter to the Friends of Luke Ford
Chaim Amalek writes: (Luke, publish the following at the top of your web site as is, and I promise your day will get better. You may want to append your telephone number [310-274-9723].)
Today is his 36th birthday, and nobody has thought to call him to wish him well or even to send a card. Nobody. Not his girlfriend (he hasn't got one), not his business partners or pals (ditto), and his Mommy is dead, so she cannot do what real mothers always do. I am sad for him. Instead of knowing the companionship of a woman this evening, the best Luke has to look forward to is to gloomily masturbate to the flickering images of some cheap disgusting pornography.
But it need not be that way! Jimmy D - Luke regards you as his friend, so why don't you take him out to a nice Italian restaurant this evening? And all you Madames in the LA area - WE know who you are - surely you could show Luke a bit of kindness and send over some nice girl to keep him company just this one evening? Luke (on account of his depression-induced impotence) will be the perfect gentleman. And you pornstarlets who had your careers aided by Luke, certainly at least YOU can call him to wish him well. Or would you rather he returned to writing about you out of bitterness at your avoidance of him in his hour of maximal social isolation?
A man sits alone in his tiny hovel, surrounded by wealthy jews who will have nothing to do with him. Won't you at least reach out to him now, on the sad occasion of this 36th birthday, to make him feel better about being alive?
Chaim Amalek, Friend to the Damned and the Dispossessed (but not those crazy bomb-detonating Palestinian fucks)
The Crack of Opportunity
XXX Files-Corner writes: First, happy birthday.
OK, enough empty sentiment. You are so freakin' lazy that even when you plagiarize the work of others you neglect to change the voice completely so that the words gramatically sound like they are coming from you. You just do not have the work ethic to make it in this town.
But not to end on an angry note, Happy 36th Birthday! You are closer to 50 than to 20. Increasingly, the young nubile women you should want come to regard you as too old for them (especially given your income). So do something fun today, like calling up ---- stars to ask for birthday favors, or having a special dinner with KJ at Denney's. If Dennis Praeger is on the radio, give him a call and ask for a job.
Note to the crews at AVN, Hustler, Dennis Praeger and the temples Luke goes to (or would go to if you had not kicked him out): Luke is at a low point in his life right now. You who rule the sewers of ---- or the citadels of Hollywood have the following choice. Take advantage of his moral weakness NOW and offer him a nice cushy job, doing more or less what he used to do (subject to your editorial vetting, of course), OR do not, and run the risk that Luke will rise from the depths of his depression, and attain such commanding heights that you will NEVER be able to control him again and wish you had when you had the chance. The drugs that he has been given may not be enough to keep him down forever.
Signed, Ten FBI Agents at Washington HQ Spending Their Days Looking at this Web Site Instead of Hunting Down Terrorists
The Drama of a Mentally Ill Man Running his own Website
I'm celebrating my 36th birthday today, May 28, by trying a new anti-depressant, Catapres. I need you to keep reading my website to monitor my progress.
Was I this depressed when I was the belle of my previous domain? Well, Im actually happier now. But why all the pills? I think I am in denial of your true nature and grieving over what I lost. Fame, money, chicks, RESPECT.
At least I feel closer to God. Hmm, I often evade hard issues through snarky remarks like that that clearly I do not believe.
I have been stripped of my livelihood; forced to spend what little money I have on the services of psychoanalysts and physicians, and still more money on psychotropic drugs.
I know it sounds funny, but it is really hard for me to find meaning and purpose in life apart from Orthodox Judaism. Perhaps that is because I do not get any sex.
Without Torah, life just seems pointless, its rituals, community fill my life with purpose, color, excitement.
Though sex provides ritual and a sense of social connectivity, and lots of color and excitement. Sex is better than listening to a rabbi drone on.
I should close the web site and get a job as a temp. I would make a good temp. I could get a job with some menstral monstress or gay bear as a temp. And then maybe parlay it into something bigger, if I am willing to go that last six inches. I would go for the gay bear if I were you. Maybe I would not have to do anything more than hang out by the pool. How buff am I? Try to get ripped. Take some steroids. Poppers, too. Testosterone. A bit of coke might help. Listen to disco music instead of torah tapes
I need a rabbi who's Gay-friendly? Are the transgendered welcome at the bima? What about those jews who have alternative relationships with their pets? Excuse me, "animal companions" - can they marry in his shul? He sounds pretty closed minded to me. What would happen if a mob of 1,000 Arab men began to pursue you, and the only thing standing in their way was 10,000 HollywoodJuden? What result, other than many many lawsuites?
Producer Alain Bernheim
I spoke by phone with producer and former literary agent Alain Bernheim May 21, 2002.
Luke: "How did you come to produce Billy Wilder's last movie Buddy Buddy?"
Alain: "I'd known Billy for many years. I came back to Los Angeles from France in 1980. Lorimar asked me to package movies. They were primarily a TV production company.
"Buddy Buddy was a remake of a 1973 French film L'Emerdeur (The Bore), written by Francis Veber. Walter Matthau was interested if I could get Wilder. I got Wilder and showed him the French movie. He signed on and MGM made the movie.
"It was fabulous and frustrating working with Billy Wilder. It was difficult for me, never having made a movie, to contradict him. I'd see where some jokes weren't working and I'd give him my thoughts. He'd say, 'Those are good thoughts. Let me think about it over the weekend.' Then he'd come back and say, 'Your ideas are good ones but my approach is better.' And I wasn't about to say no to Billy Wilder. His body of work (Seven Year Itch, Stalag 17) was much more impressive than mine.
"I was pleased with Buddy Buddy the movie but I was not pleased with the box office. Matthau was not right to play the killer.
"Producing wasn't what I thought it would be. Producing independently is not satisfying today. You have to go with your hat in your hand to get money for a script. Then you have to get a director and stars. It's a juggling act that gets tedious. I sometimes regret leaving the agency business because it was more direct and active. As a producer, you're waiting for the telephone to ring.
"I executive produced Yes Giorgio (1982). A young producer Peter Fetterman had this idea of doing a picture with Luciano Pavarotti and he needed help. I was at MGM. David Begelman liked opera. We got the script to Pavarotti and he said yes. I didn't have much to do with the creative part. The problem was that Pavarotti is not a leading man and he shouldn't have played the lover, which is what he wanted to do. We thought that at least the opera fans would come but they didn't.
"Racing With the Moon (1984) was an idea of mine. I found this young writer Steve Kloves, who wrote the Harry Potter films. My partner John Kohn, who just passed away, was the line producer.
From Imdb.com: "Henry and Nicky are small town pals from blue collar families with only a short time before they ship off to World War II. Henry begins romancing new-to-town Caddie Winger, believing her to be wealthy. Mischievious and irresponsible, Nicky gets into trouble which forces the other two to become involved, testing their relationship, as well as the friendship between the boys."
Alain: "Return to Paradise (1998) was a brutal remake of the French film Force Majeure."
Luke: "I've met many producers who are still going strong in their 70s."
Alain: "It is easier for producers [to work in Hollywood as they age] than writers, directors and actors, who, as soon as they get white hair, the studio executives get scared.
"I like romantic comedies. I don't like murder stories or whodunits or special effects things. I like to make things that I would want to see, things about people and relationships."
Political Agenda Of George Lucas
Marcelo Bruno writes on rec.arts.movies.current-film: I must say I was impressed with the unsually strong political content of the new Star War: Episode II movie. Lucas uses all available opportunities in the screenplay to warn the audience of the dangers of dictatorship and to praise the virtues of democratic government. That is indeed commendable, particularly in times like today when, pretty much like in Lucas' fictious "Old Republic", democracy has been discredited by increasing corruption among politicians. However, one point that bothers me is that all the "bad guys" in the movie who side with Count Dooku and his Confederacy of Independent Systems are actually representatives of intergalactic corporations like the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild, the Banking Clan, the Techno Union or the Corporate Alliance.
In fact, it struck me that Count Dooku tries to rally these corporate tycoons around his separatist cause precisely by promising them at the meeting on the planet Geonosis that his new order will be committed to business and free intergalactic trade. Is Lucas implicitly siding with radical anti-globalization movements who see free trade and multinational corporations as also a threat to democracy as they understand it ? Is Lucas himself, despite his multi-millionaire status, a left-wing radical with an anti-capitalist bias?
In addition, I was particularly interested in the way Lucas developed Chancellor Palpatine's plot to overthrow the Republic in the Star Wars saga. Apparently, as I understand it, Palpatine uses Count Dooku to trigger a separatist movement so that the Republic would be forced to go into war. Citing security threats, Palpatine (the Republic's chief Executive) then persuades the democratically elected Legislature (the Senate) to grant him special war-time powers and to approve a massive increase in military expenditure. Presumably, Palpatine will eventually hold on to his new "emergency powers" making them permanent as he moves from chancellor to emperor/dictator and uses the republic´s own new military power to curb any remaining political dissent. That may be far-fetched, but I wonder if Lucas is not implicitly trying to make a parallel here with what is going on today in the United States with the War on Terrorism, namely the Executive branch asking for restrictions in civil rights and a larger military budget in the name of national security. Of course, President Bush is not a "Dark Lord of the Sith", nor has he allowed September 11 to happen to pursue a hidden, dark political agenda, but, isn't George Lucas trying to send a message on the dangers of the argument that war times require stronger governments and a suppression of domestic dissent?
Giant Attitude writes on rec.arts.movies.current-film: Women have been portrayed as the victims of male violence in movies many times, so why shouldn't women get to inflict violence on men in movies?
The argument is so intellectually dishonest that the people who make it simply prove themselves to be either incredibly imbecilic or incredibly mendacious - maybe both. An intelligent and honest person can't make that argument.
In the "slasher" movies that they are referring to - Friday the 13th and all that - the male assailants are the "bad guys". Their attacks on women aren't portrayed as "empowering"; the women don't "deserve" to be attacked. The male assailants are the "bad guys". They aren't "heroes" behaving rationally; they are "depraved". The violence isn't depicted as glamorous. The climax comes when the male slasher is captured or killed or incapacitated in the end until the next sequel starts up again.
That's entirely different from all these TV shows and movies where female-on-male violence is portrayed as something that RIGHTEOUSLY takes place.
The "slasher" movies are designed for youthful audiences anyway. Adults don't see those things, and no "message" is intended to be delivered. The purpose of making those movies is specifically to frighten the kids who go to see it and there is no other purpose.
The slasher movies never win awards; they are never intended to win awards or to be regarded as works of art or critiques of society; they are low-budget flicks designed to draw maximum teen audiences at minimum cost. They are never to designed to catch the eyes of the critics or social arbiters. The "woman avenges herself upon man" pictures are entirely different. The fact that she inevitably IS avenging herself is the principal difference. It's actually still the same "good woman, bad man" formula in the slasher pictures. These "woman avenges herself" pictures are performed by big-name stars; they are HIGH-budget pictures that ARE intended to catch the eye of the critics and the awards ceremonies; and they are intended to deliver serious and politically correct "messages" about female empowerment.
When was the last time that ANY movie was made (high budget "message" picture or low budget fright picture) in which a male character RIGHTEOUSLY inflicted violence upon a female?
26 Things the Movies Taught Us
1. Large, loft style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people whether they are employed or not.
2. At least one of a pair of identical twins is born evil.
3. Should you decide to defuse a bomb, don't worry which wire to cut. You will always choose the right one.
4. Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communications system of any invading alien society.
5. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts; your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one dancing around in a threatening manner until you knocked out their predecessors.
6. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your bedroom will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.
7. If you are a blonde and pretty, it is possible to become a world expert on nuclear fission at the age of 22.
8. Honest and hardworking policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before their retirement.
9. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their archenemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gasses, lasers, and man eating sharks, which will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.
10. All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets that reach the armpit level on a woman, but only to the waist level on the man lying beside her.
11. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.
12. It's easy for anyone to land a plane, provided there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
13. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off even while scuba diving.
14. You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
15. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German or Russian officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German or Russian accent will do.
16. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
17. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
18. If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.
19. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noise in their most revealing underwear.
20. Word processors never display a cursor on the screen but will always say: "Enter password now."
21. Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.
22. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readout's so you know exactly when they're going to go off.
23. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
24. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you meet will know all the steps.
25. Police departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is the total opposite.
26. When they are alone, all foreign military officers prefer to speak to each other in English.
Dust Jacket Coming Together Nicely
JustMrT writes: What they're saying about Luke Ford's new book, "I Sat Down With . . ."
"I don't think your book is going to be too interesting based on these questions you're asking." -- Edgar J. Scherick
"To write a book about producers today is a sad story." --Chris Mankiewicz
Goddess writes: I, for one (apparently the ONLY one), am looking forward to your new book, and the thicker the better I say. Try to make the book about three inches thick, will ya, Luke? The left leg of my couch just broke off and I need something to even it out...
Producer Chris Mankiewicz
I knocked on the door of Chris Mankiewicz's home May 20, 2002, and it is opened by a beautiful young woman.
Luke: "Hi, my name is Luke Ford. I have an appointment with Chris Maniewicz."
Woman: "Hi, I'm Nancy Mankiewicz."
Luke: "Are you his daughter?"
Nancy: "No, I'm his wife."
Nancy had laughing eyes and I could tell immediately that she had a strong sense of humor. We schmoozed for 15 minutes until Chris (born 10/8/40), a big tall man, lumbered in.
Chris is one of three children of famed director Joe Mankiewicz. Chris's brother Tom is a director.
Chris: "Louis B. Mayer's MGM was known to be a producer's studio. In the old days, the producer was the assigned foreman of a movie, to see it from conception to completion. My experience was different. I worked at United Artists (UA) during the 1960s and 1970s. UA was the studio that wasn't a studio. It was meant to be a filmmaker's company. We didn't have a physical lot that had to be amortized. Filmmakers could shoot their movies any way they wanted to. We read and approved a script, financed it, and said to the director, go away and bring us back a movie. We didn't watch the dailies every night the way other studios do. We didn't micromanage the movie and try to see every draft of a script.
"Today studio interference is worse than ever. Everybody has an opinion. And the result is that..."
I try to turn my chair and knock it off the hidden bricks that support it.
Chris: "Nothing in Hollywood is at it appears to be. My father and I were seated at the home of well known director Jean Negulesco. And when there was nobody there, my father went over to one of the chairs, turned it upside down, and it said, 'Property of 20th Century Fox.' They used to loot the studios and bring a lot of the furniture home with them.
"There used to be one producer on a movie. Now there can be 10 producers on one movie. It's become a vanity credit. The role of the producer has been denigrated. Before, the studios put a producer in charge of a movie. Today studios are so filled with young would-be filmmakers [working as executives] that they find it irresistible not to produce the movie themselves though with all the films they're working on, they can't do it with the same dedication and time that an individual producer could. Yet they find it all so glamorous, and that's what they're in the business for anyway.
"We now have the rise of the line producer, formerly called the production manager. But by definition, he's for hire and he doesn't have anything to do with the creative end. The creative producer in the studio system is a dying breed. The big producers in the studio system are salesmen and dealmakers.
"I remember when I worked for producer Marty Ransohoff. We did a film up in northern California and Marty came up once. I asked him why he didn't come up more often. Marty said, 'Chris, what am I going to do? Stand around and watch the director?' He could not think of anything more boring. For these guys, their big climax is making the deal. Once they have to pass over control to the director, they lose interest. It's boring and intolerable for most producers to stay with a project day by day.
"When I developed A Perfect Murder , Arnold Kopelson was invited in on my project against my will by Warner Brothers. Arnold had a big deal with Warners and he didn't have many pictures [in production], so Warners brought him on to my movie. Arnold told me he didn't like the script. I asked him what he did like about it. He said, 'I love the title [based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Dial M For Murder].' I said, 'We can't use that original title. We're not making a remake.'
"I said to myself that this is insane. He looked around for something to find, and he looked for good titles. That's how deep it went. He never attended a single writers meeting during the entire development of the movie. As soon as the script was finished and we started looking for a director, it came time for him to strut his stuff. Suddenly he wanted to get involved. Suddenly his wife, Anne Kopelson, who I never even met, showed up in the credits as a producer. How bizarre! Gee, maybe I have a cousin that I could make a producer too."
Luke: "Has your wife ever shown up in the credits as a producer?"
Chris: "No. She has nothing to do with the film business thank God."
Luke: "Tell me more about A Perfect Murder ."
Chris: "It's not a happy subject. Arnold tried to package it with different combinations of mostly lowball talent.
"I've been a fan of Hitchcock material. I had a deal to develop projects at Warner Brothers. I thought that we should take one of his less successful movies, Dial M for Murder, which was shot as a 3-D stage play. It was made to get rid of a commitment [by Hitchcock] to Warner Brothers. Hitchock was anxious to move on to Universal where he had a good deal.
"Warners had bought the play, Dial M for Murder. Hitchcock made no bones of the fact that it wasn't one of his terrific movies. It was stagy and not cinematic. It was a one-set play. And because it was shot 3-D, you couldn't pan without strobe problems with the 3-D cameras.
"I'm against remaking masterpieces but I thought this was a good opportunity. So we tried with one writer and it didn't work. Kopelson came in. We found another writer, Pat Kelly, who became the writer of the final script. He came up with an interesting gimmick: The person who's supposed to commit the murder, is not a down and out acquaintance as in the original movie, but is the wife's lover.
"Kopelson's original idea when he came on to the project was to do a big action piece like The Fugitive [a terrific 1993 action film directed by Andy Davis]. Pat Kelly tried a couple of versions of that and it was just terrible."
From the Warner Brothers press release: "Warner Bros.' "A Perfect Murder" is an elegant psychological suspense thriller from the creative team behind "The Fugitive," including director ANDREW DAVIS and producers ARNOLD KOPELSON, ANNE KOPELSON and PETER MACGREGOR-SCOTT, as well as producer CHRIS MANKIEWICZ, who is new to the team."
Chris: "Warner Brothers doesn't make movies unless it has a star. We couldn't find anybody for our film. Arnold tried to cut me out of the packaging. I was happy to let him package it. That was something he should be able to do well. In fact, he didn't do it well. In fact, he didn't do it at all.
"Director Andy Davis has a commitment to do a film at Warners that fell out. His agent CAA sent him a stack of scripts, including Pat Kelly's script of A Perfect Murder. Andy read it and loved it. He lives in Santa Barbara, near Michael Douglas. Andy took the script to Michael Douglas and said, 'Here's a wonderful script. Why don't we do this together?'
"We'd always had Michael Douglas in mind for the lead. But we'd been told by a former employee of Kopelson's that Michael didn't want to play bad guys anymore and we shouldn't even consider him. But Michael read the script and wanted to do it. And thanks to the director, this movie happened."
Luke: "How did you get Gwyneth Paltrow?"
Chris: "My impression is that Michael Douglas suggested her. He wanted to make a movie with her, for whatever reason. You're not going to get me in front of a recording machine to say why he may have wanted to make a picture with her."
Douglas is a notorious womanizer who's been the driving force behind the selection of various beautiful young ladies to play opposite him in steamy movies.
Chris: "Paltrow was happy to finally have a payday and make some money. We paid her $3 million. She'd just made several independent movies.
"On this movie, I was aced out by Arnold. I was kept on the sidelines. I wasn't on the set. He said, don't worry. You'll get your credit. You'll get your money. But let Arnold take care of this. And the picture was pretty good and did fairly well.
"The only thing that pissed me off was that Arnold Kopelson moved in on my project and never once in the history of this picture ever asked me to lunch or dinner or to have a drink with me, much less send me a gift Mercedes. 'Here, this is a present from me to you. Thank you for not minding that I barged in on your picture. The guy has no class. I'm sure he's done this before. He has a famous saying around town. 'Movie projects are like subway cars. There's always another one coming down the track.' That says a lot about his attitude to individual movies. He's a salesman and he just wants the action. The condition of the subway car doesn't interest him much."
Luke: "Did you like how A Perfect Murder turned out?"
Chris: "I hoped for more. I think we could've done better with the casting of the artist. I think the directing could've been better. And we had a much better ending, which is on the DVD. The original ending was the Gwyneth Paltrow character blows [Michael Douglas character] away. But not in self defense, as in the Warners ending, where he hits her and she's knocked to the ground. It's more devious. She sets up the same trap for him that he set up for her.
"He's in the shower. He hears the phone. He goes into the kitchen and picks up the phone. There's nobody there. Then she steps out and shoots him in cold blood. Then she sets it up to look like they'd had a fight. So when the cop at the end of the movie says, 'I guess that's the way it was,' wink, wink... He realizes that she's gotten her own back.
"We had a preview of it and the other ending [Warners] scored better. Director Andy Davis didn't care one way or another, which is pathetic. A director doesn't care about the ending of his movie. The studios follow focus groups. We had one theater in a multiplex show one ending and another theater show the other ending. And the studio totaled up the cards, and because the other ending did a little better, they decided to go with it.
"Today movies are a big business, and a big business immediately. A film can debut on 3000 screens. I understand they spent $50 million to open Spiderman. The costs are so huge that testing and focus groups become essential. It's like saying to Picasso, oh, this angle tests better. These [studio] people are no longer artists. They no longer have a point of view. The studios take the point of view that it is their movie and they want it to be appealing to as large a population as possible. And directors responsive to that work more frequently that directors who don't.
"This picture Unfaithful was more than five weeks over schedule and over budget. Director Adrian Lyne's a taskmaster and a difficult man. Everyone got pissed off with him. Sometimes he did 40 or 50 takes, which typically drives a studio insane. Everything today is cost conscious, not quality conscious, because studios don't believe that the public cares about quality. But Adrian made a terrific movie.
"I could never see myself making a movie like Spiderman or Star Wars. Those are comic books.
"The budget on A Perfect Murder was about $55 million. It cost more than it should. If they would've let me produce the movie, it would've cost significantly less. But the moment you sign on a Michael Douglas, who gets about $22 million, and you take a producer like Arnold Kopelson who takes a couple of million for himself, and everything has to be grand, and money is no object, then the budget gets bigger and bigger. And it is a relatively small movie.
"The people who have the leverage are the people who run the show. The stars in particular and anyone attached to the stars. They set the tone for the kind of movie that is made.
"I'm trying to make this John Grisham movie with Will Smith. But Grisham, who has script approval and actor approval, will not approve Will Smith.
"Will Smith was going to get $20 million. And he came with an entourage of eight people. The stories are well known today about the actors who have their own trainers and their own chefs... In the old days, the producer was empowered to hire and fire people. He was responsible for the cost of a movie. Stars were on contracts and could be punished and suspended. A producer today could get on a set and say no and everybody would laugh at him.
"It's a little different for a producer in the independent world. But if your financing hinges upon a certain star, and the star knows it, then you can't replace the star. Over 20 years ago, a friend of mine did a tiny movie in France. And the star actress, in the middle of the movie, decided that she wanted her boyfriend to get half the profits or else she would leave the movie.
"Today Tom Cruise is in the producing business.
"And let's say you have a director like Adrian Lyne who won't say print and keeps shooting. Who are you going to replace him with? Once the movie is over, the studio gets involved. The only place a producer has power is in the development process. In the old days, when I was an executive at United Artists and Columbia, the amount of meetings were nominal. You expected the filmmakers to come up with a movie that reflected your discussions. You didn't demand notes from everybody. Now everybody shows up with notes and comments and rewrites and drafts and it can go on for years. I'm developing something at Warner Brothers now and the writer has just finished over three-and-a-half years and 12 drafts of a picture. And every time we're about to start, the studio says, 'Oh, we just need him for a few more weeks to do another polish.' Today there are so many cooks that it is amazing that the broth ever gets served.
"I remember hanging out with Marty Scorsese in New York in the 1960s. He'd made one short film and he was teaching film. And I said to him, 'You don't even know how to make a movie. How can you teach it?'
"There's a famous story from the British Academy of Film about Director Karel Reisz, who made Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. He wrote the British Film Academy's book on The Art of Film Editing. Marty gave me a copy of the book. Years later when I was going to direct a movie in England, an agent told me the back story. After WWII, the Academy didn't have any textbooks. So they sent people out to write texts on the art of film editing, the art of this and that... So Karel Reisz wrote this book long before he ever made a movie. Fade out. Fade in. Years later, he's making his first movie [1955's Momma Don't Allow] and he can't get it to cut together. He's got all kinds of editing problems. So he calls the dean of English editors for help. And the guy says to Karel, 'You want me? You, who wrote the definitive book on film editing, want little old me?'
"United Artists ended up doing a movie with Karel Reisz. I went to dinner with him and he told me that the story was accurate. he said that when he wrote the book he didn't mean to suggest that he was a great savant who knew everything about film editing. He was just compiling attitudes of other film editors but he was always stuck as the author of the book on film editing, which always amused the other film editors.
"The 1960s were a wonderful time in the sense that not knowing didn't stop anybody. Marty learned to make films pretty well. Everybody in the late 1960s wanted to make movies and it destroyed the old guard in Hollywood and turned the business into a director's world. To write a book about producers today is a sad story. Most companies would just as soon not have anything to do with a producer. Unless it is a line producer. On A Perfect Murder, they gave the line producer [Peter MacGregor-Scott] a producer credit. In the old days, he would've just been a production manager. He was a dreadful man.
"Today the director is king. Who knows who produces a Steven Spielberg movie."
Luke: "Walter Parks."
Chris: "Let me tell you a story about him. A friend of mine [David Scarpa] wrote a movie called The Last Castle. A terrific script [eventually directed in 2001 by Rod Lurie] bought by Dreamworks. The first thing they do is hire someone else to rewrite it several times. Then Walter Parks rewrites it. And the director Rod Lurie, a closet writer, can't resist rewriting it. And by the time they're finished, the movie is a piece of shit. It went into the toilet in about two weeks. It was a disaster.
"My father told me this story about Jack Benny, a consummate comedian who never really became a movie star. They (writers, director, studio executives) went out to Pasadena to preview a Jack Benny movie. The audience roared from beginning to end. They went back to the studio and sat around and they analyzed the reactions. They were convinced this was going to be a smash. And one person said, 'Yes, it was great. There was just this one little moment. If we cut it...' And another person said, 'Yeah, and there was this other moment.' And it snowballed. By the time they'd finished recutting the movie, it was a disaster.
"A friend of mine, Bob Downey, father of Robert Downey Jr, was an underground filmmaker. I got credit for playing a lunatic postman in Bob Downey's  movie Too Much Sun. We went to a screening of an early cut and it was too long. Things didn't work well but it was funny. They kept cutting it down and soon they cut out all the laughs in the movie. When I finally saw the final cut, it was terrible. I asked the editor what happened. He said, 'Instead of letting it breath, they kept trimming every scene. They compressed the movie down so much there was nothing left to laugh at.' And the movie died. And Bob, even though he was a pioneer of underground cinema, has had a hard time as a filmmaker eversince.
"I see the same kind of thing happen in script notes and the development of movies today.
"My bete noire [dark knight] Arnold Kopelson did this movie Outbreak . I know because I was developing another picture at Warner Brothers at that time with the same executive who was in charge of Outbreak. They had a two-guy writing team [Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool] do the basic script. And they brought on board Dustin Hoffman who said that he'd like Elaine May to rewrite the movie for a million dollars. They refused. But they said ok to Carrie Fisher for $750,000.
"She rewrote the script. The studio was not happy. They went off to Hawaii to make the movie. They brought back the original writers. Then the director, Wolfgang Petersen, thinks of himself as a writer. So he rewrote the script. And in the mornings, before shooting, they'd all get together and have a paste-up. And each person had been rewriting the night before... And they'd take a third of a page of this script and a line from that script and they'd put it together like a jigsaw puzzle. As a young man, I went through that on the 1963 movie Cleopatra, that my father directed. There the scenes were written the night before. And what was going on was an absolute template on how not to make a movie.
"And this confusion is mirrored in the studio's willingness to give producers credits to anyone. Instead of giving someone a half a million dollars, they give a credit. And writers feel defensive because their work is changed. Star actors will sign on to a project and say, 'Oh, my character would never say these lines.' And these practically illiterate actors will become the writers. And the producers who've spent years developing the dialogue, that all gets chucked out the window. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.
"There were different sets of writers working on The Fugitive while it was shooting in Chicago. One person said to me that Andy Davis is the luckiest director in history that it all worked out. That picture should've been a total mess yet it came together. A producer today can only be a referee and try to stop people from killing each other.
"Today's big producers are mini studio heads mainly interested in the deal. When there were fights on Outbreak, Kopelson was nowhere to be found. The last thing a producer wants to do is to say to Dustin Hoffman, 'You're wrong.' Because maybe next year he needs Dustin Hoffman for a movie. A producer doesn't want to be here when there's trouble. I just want to be here when the TV cameras are here and I can show them that I am in charge.
"I remember associate producing a movie that Brian Grazer produced - 1986's Armed and Dangerous. It was a real piece of caca doodoo. And Brian Grazer was never there except for when we had a really dirty sexy scene with a girl he was interested in taking a look at... And when they were doing a studio publicity thing about the making of the movie, suddenly he wanted to be there because he wanted to show everybody he was the producer.
[Brian Grazer did not respond to my interview request.]
"This line producer who just did Don't Say a Word, which Arnold Kopelson produced, said to me, 'What kind of producer are you? Are you like Kopelson? Do you only show up when the star is there? Or are you going to be there everyday.' His point is that Kopelson ain't there except when he can show off to the big star. Such producers like to ingratiate themselves with the power, which is the movie stars. At all cost, they must stay in good with the movie stars, because those are the people who will get movies made.
[Arnold Kopelson refused my interview request.]
"Sad to say, if I were that kind of producer, I'd probably be much happier with a much bigger track record of successful movies. I love to hang out with the crew. I love the process of making a movie. I grew up with my dad making movies. I hung out at the lot. It was summer camp for me. The actors have always intimidated me and made me nervous. With my mother being an actress and my father being a director, the battles that they waged with actors... I don't want to be involved with that. I want to with the normal people who do real work. People who are much less complicated. Actors can be cruel and mean and petty and self-centered. You can't relax with them.
"I remember when I was with Bernardo Bertolucci in England. The English censors wanted to edit Last Tango in Paris. And a group of us were sitting around smoking marijuana. But not Bernardo. He had to stay in control.
"My mother [Rose Stradner] (a famous stage actress in Vienna before WWI) was an alcoholic. My father's brother Herman, who wrote Citizen Kane, was a big alcoholic. They could let themselves go and be drunk but he never could because he had to be on top of the situation. My father loved out of control actors because he could be the psychiatrist to them. The role that Bette Davis played in All About Eve was classic. He loved that kind of temperament. I find it too much a strain. I like to be with people with whom I can kick back and be myself and say whatever I want without worrying that you could walk away permanently scarred because I said something nasty.
"I find writers easiest to get along with. Writers are neurotic for different reasons though usually for good reasons. Though I resent that they are the first ones to get good money on a project. Writers have to deal with people and their complexities. I'm developing something at Fox now with a young writer. We're starting the second draft. I spent hours talking with him about the characters. It's almost like psychoanalysis. For most producers, their attention span is too short. They want to build empires. They can't wait to show up at the big glamorous premieres. Being locked in rooms with grubby writers who have to work with their brains does not appeal to them.
"Most producers have to turn over so many projects to justify their existence. They have to be big hoovering operation to suck up every script and book they can and schmooze with the actors and create an aura for themselves.
"Look at the pictures at the end of the year that get nominated for Academy awards. Most of them are not big studio pictures. Most of them are not even financed by the big studios. Most producers are not in business to make Oscar winning movies. They're in business to make as much money as possible.
"I spoke to Peter Biskind about this at length. He's writing a book on independent film. I supervised Playing for Keeps (1986), the only movie Bob and Harvey Weinstein wrote and directed (aside from a couple of animation efforts). David Korda was with Film Finances Corporation [a completion bond company] at the time."
From Imdb.com: "This movie could only be interesting to someone who is conducting an anthropological study of 1980s pop culture. Bad hair, bad soundtrack, bad lipstick, gratuitous shots of women's legs, bad overacting, ludicrously tight pants, bad plot. It's just very bad."
Chris: "You know how flamboyant and obnoxious the Weinstein's personalities are... This was in extremis. The producers needed somebody to look out for their interests, so they hired me as their representative. They saw that the Weinsteins were wild guys who would not care at all about budgets. They asked me to be in effect the line producer. The Weinsteins looked at me as though I were the dreadful Nazi Herman Goerring. I was appalled by what they did. The Weinsteins were rockn'roll promoters then. They hired some guys from California on a nonunion basis to make this low-budget movie. The Weinsteins were paranoid and crazed and would scream and yell. And they made this dreadful movie.
"I would call the financiers in London and say, 'Look out. It's getting worse. It's getting worse.' If you see the producer as a traffic cop or enforcer, those days are past. If you see a producer as someone who can work with the different elements and try to make everything fit together, that can happen. The third alternative is the producer as financier who is not really involved in the filmmaking process. He just raises money for other people to make movies.
"And now the Weinsteins are the DeMedicis of independent filmmaking. It seems inconceivable that these are the same people I worked with on that movie.
"In the 1970s, I worked in Italy as the head of film production company called Peah, an Italian film corporation headed by Italian producer Alberto Grimaldi. I fell in love with Europe. That run finished [circa 1977], and it became difficult for an American to work in the European film business... The Treaty of Roman, a circa 1960 agreement that governs how movies are made in Europe, requires that the producing elements be European. And the only exceptions that are permitted are for cast. To qualify for the government subsidies, each producer had to be European. As is typical, the English refused to participate in this.
"There is a famous story about the head of the ACTT [leading British film industry union] shot down a movie because it would've required going along with the fiction that Sydney Lumet was French.
"The Europeans would often make French-Spanish-Italian co-productions. Each government would kick in subsidies. Often you'd have a totally fictitious film that was dubbed in every character because each actor would be speaking a different language. The Spanish would say we have to have at least one Spanish star. The Germans would say, fine, we have to have at least one German star. The French would require a French star. And you'd get these hybrid films put together as a result of the tax structure. There's a case of where being a producer means a lot. Even though you had all these auteur directors running around saying, I am Monsieur Cinema.
"I speak fluent Italian. I was married to an Italian woman [first marriage]. I worked with producer Alberto Grimaldi on the re-editing of the Serge Leone western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Alberto is a shy lawyer but with courage and great instincts. He saw in me somebody who'd be a good liaison between him and United Artists and various filmmakers including Director Bernardo Bertolucci.
"I joined forces with Grimaldi in 1971 while Last Tango in Paris  was being written in Paris. Director Bernardo Bertolucci didn't speak English. I worked with Bernardo and often translated for him. I went on the set of the film. We had an agreement with United Artists to make the film for US$1 million. President Nixon then devalued the dollar and we needed another US$200,000. United Artists refused to pay. I then offered the movie to every other studio in America and they all turned it down. Grimaldi then put up the additional money. And the picture made millions of dollars.
"When the movie was on the cover of Time and Newsweek, it was only playing in one theater in New York. Everybody in the country wanted to see it and there was no place but one theater in New York to see it, where it played on a reserve seat basis as if it was a play. They were afraid that people would think the movie was pornographic so the distributor [United Artists] wanted to do this classy thing of releasing it in a shy, timid way for the first six months.
"Frank Yablans at Paramount told Bertolucci he would've opened it in a thousand theaters around the country and would've made a gazillion dollars. David Picker [head of United Artists] got pissed off about the remark but it was an accurate remark."
Luke: "Which of your films are you most proud of?"
"My favorite film was one that was never made. It should've been [Director Federico] Fellini's last movie. He saw 8 1/2 as the first part of a trilogy. The final movie, The Voyage of Masturner, was about himself and how he would end up. And the final scene has God in the projection room. It was never made because Fellini and Dino DeLaurentiis had a big fight. Then Fellini begged us at United Artists to make the film and we didn't. Then later, Fellini became bugged about ever finishing the movie because it would be like the end of his life. He was superstitious.
"Being around such great Italian filmmakers as Fellini made up for my not staying in America and keep my career moving more positively so that I would be a multi-billionaire.
"I lived in Italy from 1970-74, and then I moved to England for two years. I returned to America in 1976."
Luke: "There were so many American producers in London in the late 1960s such as Si Litvinoff and Judd Bernard."
Chris: "I'm well known as an Anglo-phobe. I do prefer the continent to England. If English was spoken in France or Italy, there would've been few Americans sitting in England freezing their asses off. There's a snob appeal about England. A lot of Americans loved the class of European life. England was the most pompous yet had a similar language. It was a natural headquarters for studios to run their European operations. Others simply wanted to live the high life. I found the English chilly. As Lord Byron said, 'The chilly isle with chilly women.'
"I went bankrupt in England. I lived off the dole and in people's basements.
"Even though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I've spent most of my life in New York and Europe. My mother was Austrian. I'm reluctant to think of a particular place as home. I like to think of the world as my home. If you were to say that I was to live in Tahiti for the next year, I'd say, 'Great, let's leave tomorrow.' I can adapt to the lifestyle of different places. I have a facility with languages.
"I've spent much of my professional life as a film executive. I started at Columbia in 1963. I've also spent decades as an independent producer. So many pictures have not happened.
"I'm not a packager. I don't call packagers like Arnold Kopelson producers. They're almost in the agency business. I think of the producer as someone intimately involved in the creative process."
Nancy leaves for a walk.
Luke: "Your wife is adorable. I can tell she has a great sense of humor."
Chris: "She's the one really nice thing that has happened to my life. My previous wife just got married a couple of weeks ago."
Luke: "Your not a philanderer like your dad."
Chris: "No. My brother [Tom, a director] is like that. I've never been a star fucker. [Director Joe Mankiewitz would sleep with his leading ladies, such as Joan Crawford and Gene Tierney.] I find actresses impossible to deal with. There's no one more psycho, insecure and self-centered than an actress. There's something about constantly offering yourself up for acceptance in auditions and it just frazzles them.
"In the old days, people loved being movie stars. They were at home in their own skin. Joe E. Brown is the guy who says, 'Well, nobody's perfect,' at the end of Some Like it Hot. That guy used to have a yacht on wheels. He'd drive up and down Hollywood Boulevard at night looking for girls. And they'd just bring the girls on board and fuck them. There was a sense of devil may care, let's have fun.
"There's this wonderful expression that Hitchcock is alleged to have said: 'Ingrid, it's only a movie.' We are not fashioning the Taj Mahal here. This is fun. We're like sports figures who get paid obscene amounts of money to play a game. We're not contributing anything to civilization.
"Today's stars live in Wyoming and Idaho and have enormous bodyguards and people who handle publicity. Getting to them is an impossible task. Mel Gibson is an example. People I know who've worked with him say what a huge process it is. You call somebody else and then that person calls somebody... The culture is different. People used to get together and have fun. They enjoyed being writers, directors, producers, actors... I remember as a kid the great parties when stars came together... That joy seems to have gone. I don't know if it is drugs or if people are shy today... It ain't the same world. It ain't the same business. The movie making business has become tougher. Everybody second guesses everybody. There's a culture afoot now where a man's word is not his bond.
"I remember Mike Frankovich, then head of Columbia Pictures, who said to me, 'If you ever get a submission from Swifty Lazar, be sure to go out and find out who really represents the talent.' Because Swifty stole everything from everyone else. And while that is an amusing anecdote, today you almost don't have to say it. And actors... I don't want to say anything because we're casting right now... But it's amazing to me how many people who are available who are said not to be available... Then you find out that they signed to do something else when they said they were going to do it with you.
"Our director [Gary Fleder] on this John Grisham picture [Runaway Jury] has just met with two actors, one of them Jennifer Connelly who supposedly wanted to play the female lead in our film. And our director met with her to find out that she'd never even read the script and couldn't even talk about it. But she took the meeting and nodded about it..."
Daily Variety reports March 5, 2002: "Courtroom drama "Jury" will be produced by Christopher Mankiewicz and overseen by president of production Sanford Panitch and senior VP Peter Cramer. Fleder's attachment revives the costly project, which had been on track to go into production this month until Will Smith and Mike Newell lost interest (Daily Variety, Dec. 19).
"New Regency originally paid a whopping $8 million for rights to the novel, which revolves around a jury foreman steering a precedent-setting verdict in a tobacco liability case. The project was subsequently revised to substitute gun makers for cigarette makers, leaving the principal characters and the thrust of the story intact."
Chris: "I was fired from Columbia on my birthday, October 8, 1965. I went in to see about a raise and I was told to forget it. And I was fired. People said, 'Don't worry about it. You'll be back here sooner or later.' And 15 years later, I was rehired at Columbia as the head of East Coast Production. I oversaw Jon Peters first movie, Eyes of Laura Mars. Typically enough it was 100% over budget and Peters walked around like he brought it in on budget. It was an absolute mess. At the time I left, we were developing All That Jazz with Bob Fosse, Altered States, and Kramer vs Kramer.
"In 1978, I came to Los Angeles to work for Steven Bach and United Artists in the middle of the Heavens Gate fiasco. You'll read a lot about me in the Steven Bach book Final Cut. A lot of people have called me and said, 'I just want to speak to the person who was in this book.' He gives me a lot of juicy lines and he doesn't even tell the half of it. That was a rocky period of time.
"Then I got involved with Graham Chapman of Monty Python. I wanted to make a comic pirate movie [that became 1983's Yellowbeard]. We knocked out a treatment and I sold the project to Warner Brothers. Peter Cooke wrote a script. George Harrison's partner had a company called Handmade Films, which took over the picture. They wanted to make all the Monty Python films. We all went to England to do the picture. David Korda was hired as my line producer. Oh God, what a cold winter that was. But at a certain point, Handmade chickened out.
"Terry Gilliam had just finished Time Bandits and it had gone way over budget. I got a call saying to fire everyone on the picture. Then one of the great betrayals happened. Graham was in financial trouble. He made a deal (netting him $600,000) behind my back with Orion Pictures and got rid of me as the producer of the movie. And Orion dumped all of us and said, 'Sue us.' You can't sue on contingency [where the lawyer takes a percentage of the final judgment in lieu of a fee] like you can here and I would've had to put up a chunk of money. Orion went ahead and made the movie badly. It turned out to be a bomb. When it was over, Graham came back to Los Angeles to apologize to me about what had happened. And a year later he was dead of cancer."
Luke: "He was an alcoholic and a homosexual, right?"
Chris: "Yes. He was flamboyantly on the wagon when I knew him. He used to order cases of soda pop. I remember going out with him and there was a tiny bit of alcohol in something and he refused it. He used to have these two different lovers. One would fly in when the other flew out. It was a mess.
"Of all the Monty Pythons that I knew, John Cleese was the funniest. John Cleese gave me his house in London. He loves American blondes and he was off pursuing one [psychologist Alice Faye Eichelberger] in California, a woman he eventually married. Graham was more complex. It's difficult to be generous when someone has stabbed you in the back and fucked you out of three years of your life. We spent thousands of hours together. The two people you can not go out to dinner with and not have a real laugh are John Cleese and Eric Idle. Graham was more professorial. He thought of himself as a doctor [he was an M.D.]. He used to smoke a pipe. One of the reasons that he was as funny as he was was that he was drunk. The stories that he regaled me with about being under the table at banquets because he was smashed. He had no caution because he had no inhibitions. And when he stopped drinking, he was much more serious.
"I got a producing deal at Columbia when David Puttnam took over. A project I developed at Warner Brothers called Wounded Knee was a heartbreak. I spent five years trying to get that made. It was the first Indian project but by the end it seemed like everyone else had made an Indian movie except us.
"My favorite movie is Casablanca. [Actor] George Raft turned it down. Bogart got lucky and happened to be in it. Ingrid Bergman was in it because she was waiting to do another film and she had nothing else to do. It was considered just a programmer. They were rewriting while the movie was going on. There's the famous story where Ingrid went to Hal Wallace, the producer, and asked how she was supposed to play the love scenes. 'Who am I going to be with at the end of the picture?' And Hal said, 'We don't know yet. Just play it down the middle.'"