Veteran industry journalist David Poland is back. I'd stopped reading his site www.thehotbutton.com when he took a sabbatical. Now he takes on Mike Ovitz and his 'Gay Mafia' comments.
It's a relief to read an industry journalist take a non-hysterical non-aghast approach. There's little wringing of hands about Ovitz being off his rocker. There's little consternation about the term 'gay mafia,' which as Poland points out, is used commonly in Hollywood in private.
David Poland writes: "But gay men dominate the television business in Hollywood. ...[P]articularly the sitcom world, starts and ends with gay men. Until Roseanne, those gay men (and women) were much like the Jews of early Hollywood, keeping to themselves that which might turn Middle America off. Mr. Mooney, Uncle Arthur, everyone on H.R. Pufnstuff, Phyllis’ unseen husband, Lars, Speed Racer, Mr. French, even real-life variety performer Alan Sues, etc, etc, etc were all kept in the closet, however clear the subtext.
"Around that same time as Roseanne, outing was all the rage. It wasn’t happening to movie stars… macho lead actors being outed is seen as so bad for business that even in the most aggressive outlets, it just isn’t done, then or now.
"Long lasting industry writers have a clear history of building relationships that often lead to excessive generosity and/or excessive negativity. You could see the attitude pendulum swing back and forth repeatedly at the L.A. Times during the Disney/Katzenberg separation process. The trades show reverence for some and disdain for others, even though they aren’t supposed to be editorializing. And do you think that Tom King’s solicitous attitude towards DreamWorks has nothing to do with making up for The Operator, his hatchet job on David Geffen?"
Chaim Amalek writes: "Please remove all references to any so-called "gay mafia" from your web site. There is no such thing. Such references will queer things for us with the Hollywood gedolim."
Producer Steve Bing
From today's LA Times: Steve Bing? Until eight months ago, few in the audience, save for friends like director Rob Reiner or Warner Bros. President Alan Horn, would have recognized Bing's name. Now, almost everyone in Hollywood knows him.
Bing, an heir to an estimated $600-million real estate fortune, had become involved in two highly publicized paternity cases. In one, he sued British actress Elizabeth Hurley to force a DNA test after she said he was the father of her baby. In the other, he sued Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy after the billionaire's private eye took Bing's dental floss out of his trash can. Kerkorian, embroiled in a child support lawsuit with his ex-wife, wanted to collect DNA to prove that Bing was the father of his wife's daughter.
Twice a week, he rents a Beverly Hills screening room and projects old films for his range of pals, who include Dominic "Donny Shacks" Montemarano, a felon and onetime capo in the Mafia; shopping mall magnate Ron Burkle; such Hollywood fixtures as Reiner, Warren Beatty and William Goldman; and Dodger Chairman Bob Daly. He has an almost filial relationship with actor James Caan.
He dates prodigiously. Playboy playmates. Movie stars. "He's an equal-opportunity employer," one friend says with a laugh. "Girls are all over him."
Bing, who inherited his fortune on his 18th birthday, dropped out of Stanford in his junior year to pursue filmmaking. He directed an erotic thriller titled "Every Breath," starring Judd Nelson, which went straight to video. Over the next decade, Bing sold a number of pitches to studios, almost all of which wound up in development hell.
From an Imdb.com review of Every Breath: "Dodgy plot, dodgy script, dodgy almost everything in fact. The most compelling performance is that of Joanna Pacula as Lauren, but even that does not rescue this pointless and nasty film."
Still, even his friends don't expect to hear Bing wedding bells any time soon. "Obviously, he has a little trouble with commitment," Rosenberg says with a laugh. "There's nothing more spectacularly noncommittal than living in a hotel."
Indeed, what appears to be a prime importance to Bing these days is his script for "Why Men Shouldn't Marry." The philanthropist-political activist-writer-producer plans to direct this tale about a man who's been through a horrible divorce and becomes an anti-marriage guru.
LUKE SAYS: I was disappointed in the profile. It didn't really add much to what was already widely known about Bing. It just seemed to follow in the footsteps of the tabloids and quote a lot of figures about his donations. When was the last time the LA TIMES broke a story?
Jeff Wald vs Michael Ovitz
Luke: "What's your view on Michael Ovitz?"
Jeff Wald (former husband of singer Helen Reddy): "I've never liked him. I always thought he was bad for business. He was always the antithesis of everything that this business is about for me. I like being involved in music, television, movies and records. I think it is a privilege to be able to make a living doing this stuff. The people that I started in this business with, the Geffens of the world, had a passion for this business. This guy was about killing people. He was about leveraging. He was not collegial. He took a lot of the fun out of the business. It was always competitive but there were always gentlemen running the business. You didn't always judge your success by other people's failure. But to him, it was all about that.
"I started attacking him in 1990 when they were calling him the most powerful man in the business. I called him a jerk. And for him to be so disingenous to blame a gay mafia, please. Blame yourself and your f---ing hubris."
Luke: "Are you afraid of the gay mafia?"
Jeff: "No. They're my friends. I love David Geffen. I think he's an incredibly talented guy. And the rest of these guys [Ovitz] names are friends of mine. I grew up with them. They're sexual orientation has nothing to do with me."
Luke: "Is there a secret gay mafia running Hollywood?"
Jeff: "F--- no. There's a generation running Hollywood, all of whom come from the same backgrounds, from the William Morris mailroom and places like that. [Ovitz] is a f---ing asshole. He's not talented at the end of the day. He was all about the wrong things and he's getting it in the ass like he deserves. He's done nothing right since he left CAA. He f---ed his partners at CAA. He f---ed them all. He lied to them. He did everything wrong for them and his clients. Then he did a sh--ty job at Disney. Then he invested in a internet business that tanked. Then he f---ed around with the NFL and cost LA from having a team. He started this AMG (Artists Management Group) which was a f---ing joke. It's all about his incompetence, stupidity and venality."
Luke Doesn't Get The Rapture
Screenwriter and journalist Rodger Jacobs aka Martin Brimmer phoned me Tuesday night.
Rodger: "You just don't get it [The Rapture (1991)], do you? Now, I've read all of Michael Tolkin's books... It's about the inability to feel beyond superficiality."
Rodger: "It's about the inability of modern humans to even comprehend things that are transcendent such as God and stuff."
Luke thinks: Usually when people write about the inability of humanity to do X and Y, it is because they can't do X and Y. So maybe Tolkin is unable to comprehend the transcendent.
Rodger: "It's no mistake allegorically that her job is as a telephone operator. You need to put all your theology aside and give the film another look and pay attention to the characters and some of the symbolism going on there.
"Because of technology, we are so different from humans 2000 years ago. We're hopeless. Let's say the rapture would happen. So few of us would even make the cut. She spends so much of her life in oblivion and giving in to material desires, so by the time she turns around... And when she does turn around, she does it from a self-centered place. It's not real. It's not pure.
"My favorite book of Tolkin's is Among the Dead, a take on Herman Melville's short story, Bartleby the Scrivener. I admire him greatly. Paul Schrader is another screenwriter who injects a lot of moralism into movies."
A direct descendant of the notorious Dalton family of Old West banditry fame, Jacobs parlayed his knowledge of the Daltons and, more appropriately, their distant cousins Jesse and Frank James, into a stint as research consultant on the 1979 western "The Long Riders" for producer Stacy Keach and director Walter Hill. Throughout the 1980's Jacobs toiled as a screenwriter for various independent producers including actor Randy Quaid, for whom Jacobs developed a screenplay from the darkly comedic William Hjortsberg novel, "Alp". He also served as a development executive for the late Warren Stein ("Under the Gun") in 1992. As a journalist, his work has appeared in Eye Magazine, Hustler, Panik, Mind Kites, and E Commerce Business Magazine. Jacobs is divorced and the father of one daughter, Carole Ann Jacobs.
As a stage manager for Hollywood Center Studios from 1985 through 1991, Jacobs worked on such films as "Scrooged", "Misery", "Wired", "The Running Man", "Exorcist 3", "8 Million Ways To Die", "Throw Mama From The Train", and "When Harry Met Sally".
In a Star Search, Brits Keep Wits but Yanks Whimper
From the Wall Street Journal: It is standard for "reality" television programs to have a counselor on staff. This makes sense if we're talking about "Survivor," where people are malnourished, sleep-deprived, sun-stroked and psyched out by their fellow players, or even on "Fear Factor," where contestants have to eat and do yucky stuff. But "American Idol?" Come on. Can we Americans really not take a bit of criticism without our world falling apart?
Judge Simon Cowell has been pilloried on the show's Web site message boards for being "cruel" to the contestants when he dismisses them. But unlike another British baddie, Anne Robinson of NBC's "Weakest Link," whose Nosferatu costume and icy headmistress shtick got old quickly, Mr. Cowell isn't playing for laughs. He's simply being honest.
Mr. Cowell has had the audacity to tell some prospective pop idols the truth: that they are awful. But many of these young Americans, having been "empowered" their whole lives by doting parents, don't like hearing that they can't do something and have no capacity to handle criticism. They have wept, pouted and spewed streams of vitriol. British contestants were left to their own devices to heal their bruised egos and managed, with their traditional stiff upper lips, to carry on with their lives.
Boy, is this Gay Mafia topic going to be fun to work with
Ralph W. Tetta writes on alt.comedy.standup:
"It's Rosie O"Donnell's blazer."
"What's it mean?"
"It's a Sicilian message....Michael Ovitz sleeps with the fishes."
"I know the restaurant...they've got an old-fashioned flush-toilet....the kind with the chain. We could tape the gun behind it."
"OK, but put one of your best guys on it. I don't want my brother comin' out of that bathroom with nothin' but another guy's dick in his hand."
"Trust me, you don't wanna mess with the gay mafia. They broke my friggin' legs and painted my friggin' nails."
Michael Ovitz Apologizes For Gay Mafia Remarks
From the 7/3/02 LA Times: Onetime superagent Michael Ovitz apologized Tuesday for his comments in a Vanity Fair magazine article, due to hit the newsstands today, in which he blames his downfall on a group he calls Hollywood's "gay mafia."
"I made some statements that were inappropriate during an open and frank discussion with Vanity Fair," Ovitz said in a statement. "In particular the term 'gay mafia' does not reflect my true feelings or attitudes. It is regrettable and I am truly sorry."
Ovitz's comments in the Vanity Fair story, which were furiously faxed and e-mailed around Hollywood starting early Monday, stunned even the town's most blase insiders. Some questioned Ovitz's sanity and others said he was homophobic.
Nikki Finke writes in the leftist LA Weekly: "If Ovitz had ranted about the Jewish Mafia,Vanity Fair would never have floated his allegations without weighting them down with at least a little context for ballast. But since it’s the Gay Mafia, the article just lets Ovitz hang himself (giggle, giggle). In response to the L.A.Weekly’s query, Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak released this statement: “The primary value of the article was in getting Michael Ovitz’s viewpoint. If his views clash with those of others,that’s hardly surprising. Various principals of the story were contacted. Several declined to respond to Ovitz ’s comments. The story was thoroughly fact checked.” Actually, the article con- tains more than 22 non–Gay Mafia factual assertions coming from Ovitz ’s mouth that, if investigated, could have been exposed as false.
"According to sources who talked with Burrough, there also were accusations from Ovitz that VF deemed too offensive to run, targeting any tough journalist as being either in the pay of or in bed with (literally) Hollywood’s powers that be. But those were heterosexual sex charges. Somehow it was okay to print Ovitz ’s repeated claims of how Geffen had spread rumors about Ovitz’s family and “went after” Ovitz ’s kids, and, get this one from Ovitz, if Geffen’s cabal “could have taken my wife and kids, they would have.” It’s not inconceivable to see an alarming subtext that homosexuals are predators or,worse, pederasts or priests (Ovitz does draw that direct connection, saying Geffen “is totally immoral,and he paints himself like this priest”)."
Luke says: I wouldn't be surprised that many journalists covering Hollywood are in bed with the industry. Bernie Weinraub at the New York Times, for instance, is married to a powerful movie executive (Amy Pascal, president of Sony). It's pretty amusing to see Finke accusing Ovitz of "personal dementia" when she's a pretty nutty chick herself.
Finke (who inherited a bunch of money, fired a few months ago from the New York Post and is currently suing them and Disney for wrongful termination) writes that Ovitz is famous for his lack of comfort around homosexuals. In 1993, the then-HBO chairman Michael Fuchs reproved Ovitz for not helping cast the film of Randy Shilts’ AIDS best-seller, And the Band Played On. Ovitz reportedly replied, "We don't have any gay agents."
Once, according to Finke, Ovitz was on a Geffen-chartered yacht in the Mediterranean with Terry Semel, Ron Meyer, Irwin Winkler and company. When Michael found out David had brought along a male lover, he became anxious to get off the boat.
Finke writes that when Ovitz would tire of hearing about Meyer going to lunch or dinner with Geffen, he'd say, 'What, Ron, are you gay?' Ovitz would use the word 'fag' as the biggest epithet he could call someone.
By the late 1980s, writes Finke, CAA employed, without Ovitz's knowledge, several closeted homosexual agents. Alan Hergott, an out of the closet homosexual lawyer, told CAA that they needed to hire more openly gay agents.
According to this report: Other than a contribution to former Senator Rudy Boschwitz, a GOP moderate, Ovitz donated only to Democrats, a review of FCC records since 1987 by TV, etc. discovered.
Dennis Prager: Tom Cruise Wants To Be An Uncle To His Kids
Dennis Prager says: I consider Tom Cruise such a fool. He has contempt for that which I hold dear. It will be hard for me to see his movies anymore. I can't watch Jane Fonda because I can no longer see her as an actress because she has so given her life over to radical politics.
From Foxnews.com: NEW YORK — He's an all-American movie star, but Tom Cruise said his children will be making All the Right Moves — by moving out of America. "I think the U.S. is terrifying and it saddens me," he told the British paper the Daily Express. "You only have to look at the state of affairs in America."
At the Minority Report premiere Cruise, who is known for his role in the Mission Impossible flicks as a slick superagent for Truth, Justice and the American way, said his adopted children Isabella, 9, and Connor, 7, will grow up outside the United States. They will probably be raised in Australia, his ex-wife Nicole Kidman's homeland.
Cruise, whose character became similarly disillusioned with America in Born on the Fourth of July, said raising children in the U.S. is a risky business. He said he could no longer keep his 'eyes wide shut' to America's terrorism threat, crime, faltering financial status and corporate corruption.
"I do worry about my children. As a parent you are always concerned," he told the paper. "I just want them to be in a place where they are going to be strong enough to make the right choices. Unfortunately, we're in a position where people are so irresponsible that human life holds such little value to them."
Dennis Prager says: It will now be tougher for me to see a Tom Cruise movie. To speak of America as terrifying and a bad place to raise children is about as condemnatory a statement as one can make about one's country.
Here is a twice divorced man. A single father. Once you divorce, you better make it your business to take care of your children. You've chosen to divide or destroy your children's family. Tom Cruise has essentially he doesn't want to be a dad. He wants to become an uncle to his kids. If Cruise allows his kids to be raised in Australia, he obviously doesn't want to be a father. Raising kids isn't important to him.
Cruise has decided to deflect attention away from his irresponsible fathering by crapping on the US. If the US is so bad, shouldn't Cruise do something about the industry contributing to its demise? Like Hollywood.
DP says there are radio shows that contribute to the decline of America. I suspect he's thinking of the Tom Leykis show. DP says he is not thinking of Howard Stern, who's praised Prager on a couple of occasions.
DP: America is a laid back, relaxed people who don't get upset easily. But eventually there will be a blowback.
These Hollywood types know they don't merit the money and honor they receive. They feel empty inside. They feel that any society that can give them so much must be sick.
Only people who worship money think that people poorer than them are unhappy.
Dennis Prager has wondered in the past if women over 30 years of age find Tom Cruise sexy. DP has noted with sadness that today's leading male actors, like Cruise, seem to be more boys than men.
Rob Jackson writes: If Dennis Prager wants to get on Tom Cruise for his comments about America being "terrifying" or whatever fine. But how in the devil does he twist it into Cruise "not wanting to be a Dad"? Cruise's ex-wife probably spends much of her time when not working in Australia. Kids being with their Mom wherever that is...What a strange concept. Is Cruise not allowed to be a Dad in Australia? I'm sure he can afford to get a place in the land down under. Does Prager know the complexities of Cruise's family situation? Is he privy to some inside personal family information? Does he know the inner thoughts of Cruise's mind? Does Prager use a crystal ball? How anyone can take Prager seriously about much of anything is a mystery to me.
Michael Ovitz Blames Gay Mafia For His Demise
From Tuesday's LA Times: In a town where corporate brutality is suavely masked behind a smile, onetime mogul Michael Ovitz has shattered protocol and stunned hard-to-shock Hollywood by lashing out at what he calls the industry's "gay mafia" in a forthcoming Vanity Fair article.
Ovitz told the magazine he was convinced he was the victim of a well-orchestrated strategy led, in part, by DreamWorks SKG founder David Geffen and Ovitz's founding partner at Creative Artists Agency, Ron Meyer, who now runs Universal Studios.
Among others Ovitz blames for his downfall are Barry Diller, chairman of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, as well as L.A.-based New York Times correspondent Bernard Weinraub and Ovitz's former boss, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner. He also took swipes at other former colleagues at CAA, who now run the agency. Most of the people Ovitz blames for his demise happen not to be gay.
Ovitz accused New York Times reporter Weinraub of "parroting" the spin that Geffen created, and he says he lost all but one asset in AMG because potential clients heard rumors about him.
From Daily Variety: The piece, written by VF special correspondent Bryan Burrough, also focuses on Jeff Kwatinetz and his stewardship of the Firm. In particular, the article alleges a history of drug abuse on the part of Kwatinetz, raising questions about that outfit's ability to become a dealmaking entity of Ovitzian proportions.
Aaron Ray, a former manager at the Firm, asserts that Kwatinetz has been a regular cocaine user.
"I mean, when you come in at 7 a.m. and find a guy standing on his desk screaming at people ... this is not 'Bright Lights, Big City,' " Ray said in the VF story.
Ovitz's statements about a "gay mafia" left even the battle-hardened players named in the piece speechless.
"You're not serious," Barry Diller told Burrough. "Wow. He said that on the record? Wow ... Wow. I'm stunned. I'm stunned."
Reactions around town to the VF story Monday ran the gamut from the predictable schadenfreude to utter disbelief. "It's as if he has no self-knowledge, no realization about the last six years. The gay mafia? It's remarkable," said the head of a major agency.
"It really reeks of the homophobia we saw in the '70s and '80s when a lot of gay execs were closeted," GLAAD's entertainment media director Scott Seomin said. "This is really surprising and comes off as a bit paranoid, a bit schizophrenic and very homophobic."
FROM New York Post: "Although several of the "members" of the "gay Mafia" aren't gay, Ovitz said they include Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner and Ron Meyer - Ovitz's onetime business partner and currently the COO of Universal Studios. Others in the cabal, Ovitz said, are former Ovitz protégés Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett, as well as talent manager Bernie Brillstein. Ovitz says the group is still after him. "And they still hate me. Everyone. "David [Geffen] has always hated me. He got Ronnie [Meyer] to turn on me, and then Bryan Lourd and everyone else," said Ovitz."
Luke says: I've also noticed that Bernie Weinraub seems exceptionally Geffen-friendly. When he first came to Hollywood, Bernie wrote a fawning profile of Geffen. And it is well known that Geffen is one of Weinraub's best, and best-protected, sources.
Hollywood's "gay mafia" or "velvet mafia" or "lavender mob" has long been the subject of gossip, with occasional blips into the mainstream press.
Terms such as "Gay mafia" refer to a group of powerful homosexuals who purportedly exercise extraordinary influence in the entertainment industry.
Hollywoodites certainly believe in a "gay mafia" in their industry but won't admit to it on the record anymore than players in industries long mob-controlled would admit to Mafia influence in their sphere.
"Gay mafia" is not a term used publicly or within polite company. It's not something we're supposed to talk about it. To do so, according to conventional wisdom, is to engage in homophobia or paranoia. It is the moral equivalent of antiSemitism.
GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) says: "The labeling of rich and powerful gay people as a "mafia" plays into the paranoid delusions of homophobes who see gay men and lesbians (just as anti-Semites perceive Jewish people) as an underground conspiracy, a demimonde that holds great power through secret manipulations of society. By calling the movement... a "mafia," the headline dismisses the struggle lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people have faced just to get a footholds in our society, and how it has been fought by our government and cultural institutions. It denies us our legitimate struggle to free ourselves from oppression and makes our fight for civil rights sound like a criminal, even immoral, activity."
The arts community has long had a disproportionate number of homosexuals and Jews. More than half of the leading power brokers in Hollywood are Jewish, and about a third of the powerful are homosexual, including David Geffen, Ray Stark, Calvin Klein, Aaron Spelling, Steve Tisch, Barry Diller and agent Sandy Gallin. This creates an atmosphere conducive to pushing "gay rights" and inimical to "gay bashing."
In his 1999 book "Tabloid Baby," Burt Kearns describes how in 1985, Fox TV head Barry Diller forbade the show "A Current Affair" making fag and fairy jokes. (pg. 46) Diller said that the word "fairy made his blood boil."
Diller was responding to ads placed by "A Current Affair" about a coming show on the late homo Cary Grant. The ads read, "Cary Grant: No More Fairy Tales."
Spy magazine published Mark Ebner's controversial essay on the gay mafia in its June 1995 issue. For years afterwards, Ebner was blackballed in Hollywood. It was not until about 1999 that he started selling scripts again.
From Taki's column in the 3/7/00 NYPress.com: I’m not at all surprised to read that Hollywood is dominated by a Velvet Mafia of rich homosexuals who demand sexual favors in return for work in the movies. In fact I would have been surprised if it were the other way round. Those old Mittel-Europa Jews who ran Tinseltown in its heyday established the casting-couch practice long ago; but, as they say, at least they did it with style and with the opposite sex.
The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood is the title of an upcoming book by Tom King, a respected Wall Street Journal reporter who it seems has hit pay dirt–and it’s dirt, all right–with his exposé of the unspeakable Geffen. Actually it’s poetic justice. Geffen invited King to write a book about his amazing rise to the top, and allegedly named dozens of former boyfriends, many of them now famous stars. Indiscretion aside, Geffen is a lowlife sans pareil. I haven’t read the book, but I am sure that some of the so-called boyfriends did it with His Grotesqueness out of burning ambition and despite their heterosexuality.
I do not exactly hang out with scum like the Velvet Mafia, but about 10 years ago I got some firsthand information about how they operate. Libel laws do not permit me to name names. One of Europe’s greatest directors of opera, stage and screen gave a letter of introduction to an ex-assistant (and boyfriend) addressed to a very rich and particularly well-known tycoon, a member of the VM. I know both the director and his younger ex-assistant and they are gentlemen of the old school. Both are gay. As the assistant presented himself to the tycoon, he offered his CV and gave the director’s regards. "Screw the regards and the CV, let’s see if you know how to..." came the answer. My friend fled in disgust.
But what bothers me is not the bestiality and arrogance of the Velvet Mafiosi. It is the message they send out through their movies. American Beauty, for example, is said to be a well-made film–I haven’t seen it–that will probably win many Oscars, but carries a subliminal message against the family. (Geffen, as rumor has it, is supposed to have been thrilled that in the movie a homophobe father beats up his son when he suspects him to have had a gay affair with Kevin Spacey’s character, and even more thrilled when it is later revealed that the homophobe was actually a repressed gay.) Geffen, of course, denies there is such a thing as a homosexual cabal, and, typically, charges anti-Semitism.
According to King’s book, friends like Barry Diller, Sandy Gallin and Calvin Klein, among many others, keep a lower profile but apparently indulge in the sexual bacchanals that go with the territory. Alleged weekend-long orgies fueled by drugs at which Geffen and his powerful buddies run a " meat market" selecting young men for sex are apparently described in detail in King’s opus. Here is one of Bill Clinton’s close supporters, one who had a free run of the Lincoln bedroom, and was, I believe, once even called an adviser to the Draft Dodger, pushing a gay agenda of promoting stars and directors who make movies and records sympathetic to the gay lifestyle. Geffen is a natural for the Clinton White House. Sleaze is the operative word. Just think what Sid (the scumbag) Blumenthal would have done to Geffen if the tycoon were straight and a Republican. Has anyone in the Clinton administration–and that includes Al (the Liar) Gore–bothered to ask whether the Geffen agenda undermines our most important values? If anyone has, I’m Monica Lewinsky.
Which brings me to the point I wish to make. Political correctness is the best way the left has to stamp out thought it doesn’t agree with. As the Spectator of London wrote recently, "If it’s impossible to say or write certain things, then it becomes impossible to think them and conformity is guaranteed for ever and ever." George Orwell’s 1984 is alive and thriving with p.c., except that this time it’s for real.
What the left and its p.c. adherents have managed to do is to turn everyone who is not mainstream into a persecuted racial minority. As Paul Craig Roberts (the best columnist by far) pointed out in the John Rocker case, "Bud Selig thinks that kids with purple hair, repeat felons, welfare moms and homosexuals with AIDS are ‘ethnicities.’" Selig, in his haste to please the politically correct, misinterpreted Rocker’s remarks. Most kids with purple hair are white, not black, and repeat felons are criminals, not a racial classification. There are many white immigrants who don’t speak English–as in Russians–but try to explain this to p.c. commissars. Geffen and his ilk know all this. Ergo the anti-Semitism defense.
Hollywood has never exactly been a moral place, far from it, but until the 60s and 70s it preached a hell of a moral lesson. God, the family, patriotism, even Mom were sacrosanct. Now it’s the exact opposite. Criminals are sympathetically portrayed, cops always negatively; people who think same-gender sex is wrong are fascists; businessmen are all crooks, while crooks are nice and quaint; drug-takers are cool, drinkers are fascist bullies. Well, you get the point. AIDS ribbons are in, while battle decorations are a real no-no. HIV, like lung cancer, is a lifestyle disease, but HIV carriers are celebrated in the manner winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor used to be.
It is a topsy-turvy world, Hollywood, and I can’t wait to read Tom King’s book. In the meantime, don’t hold your breath before the Geffen spin machine, in cahoots with such Clinton flacks as the grotesque Geraldo Rivera, go to work on the author. After all, if a phony like Jeffrey Toobin can demonize Starr and acquit Bill Clinton, think what his kind can do in defense of the ghastly Geffen.
The word "outing" refers to the publicizing of a person's homosexuality. "Outing" as in "out of the closet." "Outing" became widely used during the 1990s.
Michelangelo Signorile, author of "Queer in America: Sex, the Media and the Closets of Power," is one of the leading advocates of "outing." But the outing pioneer is San Francisco Chronicle homosexual columnist Armistead Maupin who "outed" actor Rock Hudson.
"When I came out of the closet (in 1973), I came to the revolutionary conclusion that there was nothing wrong with being gay and that included everyone else as well," Maupin told the LA Times. "It became clear to me that the only way to lift the onus was being as matter of fact about it as I possibly could. I've never accused anyone of being gay because I don't think it's worthy of an accusation."
After Hudson, the next celebrity revealed to be homosexual was publisher Malcolm Forbes. A month after Forbes' death in February, 1990, Signorile wrote a cover story for the now-defunct magazine Outweek, "The Secret Gay Life of Malcolm Forbes."
Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner was written up in early 1995 for taking up with a male companion, following Wenner's divorce.
5/14/95 Toronto Sun
MINNIE KNOWS: Is there a corporation anywhere on our corrupt planet more obsessed with fostering and maintaining a straight-arrow, family-values image than Disney? Of course not. But Buzz, a lively monthly out of Los Angeles - it's sort of like Toronto Life but more fun - says in its cover story that a lot of people who push the squeaky-clean, mom-dad-two-kids-plus-dog, relentlessly upbeat Disney image are more than just cheerful, gang: they're gladly, joyously gay. Yes, kiddies, as many as 40 per cent of Disney's 63,000 troops are gay. Yeah? Who says so, I can hear you asking. Well, how about Disney chairman Michael Eisner, who gave this estimate to a gay-rights activist. Working for the far-flung Disney kingdom is "magic," says one gay employee. Recently, a gay and lesbian pride day was held at Walt Disney World and 12,000 showed up, walking down the streets of the Magic Kingdom "holding hands, embracing, and kissing." And in yet another example of synchronicity, Spy has a story on Hollywood's 'Gay Mafia,' a group that packs a tremendous punch in the movie industry's boardrooms.
The big piece on "The Gay Mafia" in the June issue, for example, is ridiculous. Writer Mark Ebner mixes rumor with nasty, unattributed quotes about people like David Geffen, Sandy Gallin and Barry Diller, presenting it all as the final truth. Says "an actor with 20 pictures to his credit" about Geffen: "He probably wouldn't remember me because he's slept with so many people. . . . He had matchbooks with guys' phone numbers on them, and when he got home, he listened to messages filled with guys." This gay mafia makes and breaks careers, you see, and of course it's all sexually motivated. And are we supposed to think Neil Jordan is gay simply because he has directed movies with gay, lesbian and bisexual characters?! Maybe Spy should merge with the National Enquirer and call it a day.
"Forrest Gump" producer Steve Tisch, a married father with children, isn't put out by his inclusion in a Spy magazine photo titled "The Gay Mafia." (Also in the picture: David Geffen, Calvin Klein and Sandy Gallin.) Last year, Tisch was named "Hetero Hero" by the gay magazine Advocate for his anti-AIDS action. "The only thing is," said Tisch, "I was 65 pounds heavier when that picture was taken."
San Francisco Chronicle
1/28/96 No one denies there's still a closet on-screen in Hollywood films -- certainly for leading men. Off-screen, though, gay movie industry executives agree that the closet is indeed in many ways dead. Hollywood has always been accepting of homosexuals. Everyone in town who was even the teeniest bit hip probably knew Rock Hudson's secret, just as today everyone knows, or thinks they know, who paid whom how many millions to marry him and be his ''beard'' and not say anything about the boyfriend ensconced in the guest house.
''The closet exists for actors, absolutely, but I don't believe it exists for writers, directors and producers,'' says Rick Leed, president of Wind Dancer Production Group. ''If you're talented and you can deliver to a studio a quality movie -- and, hopefully, a quality movie that makes money -- nobody cares.''
Homosexuality can also be a common bond in an industry where contacts and information are everything. Everyone knows Hollywood is a ''boy's club,'' meaning straight men run it, but even if the straight boys don't accept someone, there are plenty of gays and lesbians to bond with, and there has even arisen, in the media, a phrase, ''the gay Mafia.'' It's a term one reads in the press but one seldom hears it in the business. It's a sneaky, double- edged coinage.
On one level, ''gay Mafia'' pays homage to the supposed ''gay power'' in Hollywood, but on the other it makes that power seem sinister. One of the unspoken implications of ''gay Ma fia'' is that gay actors are sleeping their way to the top with gay executives. ''I don't know if it's to the top, but there are many who have slept their way to the middle,'' Leed says.
It's nothing new. Gore Vidal's recently published memoirs report that way back during the making of ''Rebel Without a Cause,'' Sal Mineo was fooling around with the director Nicholas Ray. Ray had been married to Gloria Grahame, an actress who specialized in dangerous allure and played the town tramp in ''It's a Wonderful Life.'' She also turns up in ''The Celluloid Closet,'' getting a massage from a big, mannish masseuse in a scene from ''In a Lonely Place,'' also directed by Ray.
I found this article by Daniel Jeffreys in the 4/1/00 Daily Mail.
AT THE start of the film American Beauty, Kevin Spacey's character, Lester Burnham, says: 'In a year, I will be dead' - and by the movie's end, he is, killed by his repressed homosexual next- door neighbour. In the meantime, his middle-class life implodes as he falls in love with his teenage daughter's best friend and his wife finds comfort in the arms of a reptilian estate agent. We are left feeling that suburbia is a hellish place where happiness will for ever be absent.
Everyone in the film is explosively dysfunctional, except for the Burnhams' other set of neighbours, an affluent gay couple who float through the mayhem with disarming serenity.
To some, the film is a thought-provoking lesson in the importance of not taking stereotypes at face value and of seeking out the joy and wonder we otherwise take for granted in modern life.
To the more sceptical, its main mesage seems clear: if only we could all be gay and out of the closet, we would be happy. The flip side to that message is that, as heterosexuals, we are doomed to unhappiness and strife. If we are lucky, the best we can achieve is manic depression. At worst, we will be murdered by some causality of heterosexual deviancy.
The film that dominated the Oscars is a triumph of dark cynicism with some wonderful acting and direction, but I believe that it was only made because of what I call its 'heterophobia' - the systematic denigration of heterosexual lifestyles - that has become part of the Hollywood mainstream.
American Beauty is heterophobia's propaganda masterpiece.
Its sweep of the Academy Awards' top categories thrilled Hollywood's gay community, who have been trying to prove for a long time that heterosexuality is a sad form of sexual dysfunction.
American Beauty is now regarded as a classic in the same mould as The Graduate, but far more interesting are the characters behind the movie and the agenda they hope to promote.
In the Seventies, homosexuals had legitimate grievances. They were persecuted for their sexuality and discriminated in ways that were repellent.
THE GAY rights movement that became increasingly vocal in the Eighties won deserved new freedoms for homosexuals.
Nobody should be persecuted for their sexuality, except those who prey on young children.
Yet at some time in the past ten years, a new theory gained currency among gays, especially in the entertainment business. This held that heterosexuality was a curse to be denigrated and mocked wherever possible, and that gays could never win the power they craved in society without undermining heterosexuals whenever possible.
At the same time, gays who held this view began agitating for homosexuality to be accepted as a form of behaviour on a par with heterosexual activity.
This was to be done in two ways.
On the positive front, these radical gays argued that homosexuals should be entitled to get married in the same way as heterosexual couples, and that schools should teach about gay sex as if it were no more normal or abnormal than male-female intercourse.
Academics began writing papers arguing for gay parenting, using statistics to suggest that children of gay couples had no more emotional problems that the average child of a 'straight' family.
On the negative end, gays began countering undesirable images of homosexuality - such as the spread of Aids - with a bleak picture of what they derisively called 'straight sex'. Lesbians began affirming that any woman who had a sexual relationship with a man must, at some point, submit to rape.
Workplace behaviour, such as mild flirting, once regarded as innocent, was lumped together with flagrantly intrusive and unacceptable advances, and all of it labelled 'sexual harassment'.
The point of this exercise was to demonise normal heterosexual behaviour, and to make the ordinary rituals of attraction and relationships seem aberrant, so that gays could advance their own cause by claiming 'straights' led lives that were much worse than theirs.
Along the way, sexual harassment law, and the industry which has developed around it, distorted from a sensible set of safeguards into something which could be used to attack heterosexuality at its roots, effectively conveying the idea that a heterosexual male was inherently dangerous and needed to be constrained by Draconian laws just as bars might hold back a rabid tiger.
Into this picture enter the men responsible for American Beauty, who must be stunned that their insidious attack on heterosexuality has not only become an Oscar-winner but has broken box office records.
The screenwriter, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, is Alan Ball. He grew up in the American South, in Georgia.
Ball's family life was, by his own admission, dysfunctional. He compares his childhood to American Beauty's Ricky, the son of Lester Burnham's mad neighbour and eventual nemesis.
Ball's home included a father who was remote and distant, plus a mother who suffered severe depression after Ball's sister died in a car accident.
Ball says he did not even know he was homosexual until he went to university, but claims to have suffered enough persecution at the hands of heterosexuality to believe it is inherently evil.
At school, he was weedy and bespectacled. He played in the school band and was bullied by members of the school football team, who always dated the prettiest girls. He recalled recently that it was a time when homosexuality was so taboo he could not even acknowledge to himself that he was gay.
Once Ball arrived in Hollywood, he became successful writing scripts for TV comedies and it was here his contempt for heterosexuality hardened.
He wrote American Beauty while working for Cybill Shepherd on her show Cybill. It was a relationship forged in hell. Shepherd, a vivacious blonde, is an aggressive heterosexual.
If her new autobiography is to be believed, she once had group sex with her personal trainer and his best friend because she wanted all her pleasure points stimulated simultaneously.
She is also the kind of girl who would have spent time with football players at school - the kind of guys who used to slap Ball around.
BALL has made no secret of his hatred for Shepherd, and sources say much of the shrillness in Lester Burnham's wife - played by Annette Bening - is based on Ball's antipathy towards a woman who made no secret of her unalloyed enjoyment of the kind of macho hunk Ball has never been.
American Beauty provided Ball with another opportunity to promote his agenda. Last year, he wrote and produced a TV series called Oh, Grow Up, which featured two straight men sharing a house with a gay man, who, predictably, has much the better life.
The series did not do well but in his film Ball was able to make his anti-heterosexual themes work with more power. In American Beauty, Ball's central characters, Lester and his wife, by focusing their sex drives on a teenage girl and a married man, are ciphers for the idea that heterosexuality must always mutate and become something damaging or perverse.
The Fitts, who live next door to Lester, have different problems. Mr Fitt is a violent ex-Marine who persecutes his wife - making the point that heterosexuality always tends to become abusive - and beats his son.
Mr Fitt's problems, of course, stem from the fact that he is gay but cannot accept it. When Fitt mistakenly decides Lester Burnham is also gay, he makes a pass. Spurned, he shoots Burnham in the head.
The only battle Ball lost with his English director, Sam Mendes, and star, Spacey, as the script was filmed, tells much about Ball's motivations.
In the final cut, Burnham stops just short of consummating his desires for his daughter's Lolita-like friend. Ball wanted the consummation to happen so that, according to sources, Burnham, the dark soul of heterosexuality revealed, could be seen as completely irredeemable.
But Burnham is allowed to show a sudden emotional maturity, rejects this chance of a seedy seduction and dies gazing lovingly at a picture of his wife and child. The revised ending weakens Ball's attack on heterosexuality, but by then the main damage has been done.
Were Ball the only prosletysing gay character in this off- screen drama, the case against American Beauty could not be made, but that is far from the truth.
LONG before it became an Oscar hit, Ball's script was picked up by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, who eventually produced the film and were on stage last Sunday to collect the Oscar for Best Picture.
These two men got to know each other in 1995 when Cohen invited Jinks to be on the steering committee of Out There, an activist group of gay entertainment executives that he had co-founded.
Sources say that one of Out There's key objectives is to promote the gay lifestyle within films and members talk openly among themselves about how best to mock heterosexuality.
Members of Out There have been actively involved in films like American Pie, which makes adolescent heterosexuality seem like a monstrous affliction, and the U.S. TV series Will And Grace, whose two leading gay men always seem to get the best lines, usually at the expense of a hapless heterosexual.
Given their Out There affiliation, Jinks and Cohen knew just where to take the American Beauty script to get it made - to fellow Out There sympathiser David Geffen, Steven Spielberg's partner in Dreamworks.
As, The Operator, a new biography of Geffen makes clear, Geffen is a predatory homosexual who has devoted considerable energy to projects that target heterosexuality.
He is allegedly the main force in the Velvet Mafia, a loose association of powerful gay men who use their influence in Hollywood to advance gay issues.
Sources say Geffen has frequently changed scripts if they seem to be too sympathetic towards heterosexual love or if they show any hint of antipathy towards gays.
In 20 years of filmmaking, Geffen has become infamous for making or breaking careers based on whether the people involved are gay and willing to be part of his extremely active sex life.
His summer parties at Fire Island, a gay resort 30 miles outside Manhattan, are legendary as the place the Velvet Mafia meet to indulge in extraordinary bacchanals.
HIS GUEST list begins with designer Calvin Klein and includes other Velvet Mafia members such as Barry Diller (who helped create The Simpsons), George Michael and Sandy Gallin, the super-powerful talent agent who discovered Madonna, Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts.
In recent years, several guests at Geffen's Fire Island house have described weekend-long orgies, fuelled by drugs, at which Geffen and his powerful friends ran a 'meat market', selecting young men for either sex or stardom.
'If you weren't incredibly handsome and well-built, there was no way you would get in,' says a New York movie agent who has been to several Geffen parties. 'Dress was minimal or nonexistent, and Geffen would prowl with his friends, squeezing men like they were cattle.'
When Jinks and Cohen took American Beauty to Geffen, the billionaire producer was ecstatic.
He rushed the script through the approval process - virtually unheard of for a screenplay by a writer with no previous movie hits - and maintained a close personal interest in casting.
Geffen, Jinks, Cohen and Ball all attended half a dozen Oscar parties after the triumph of American Beauty. One producer who is close to Ball said they had good reason to be happy.
After all, he said, they have created a film that is both a masterpiece and the most corrosive satire of heterosexual life that has ever made $100 million from the very people it vilifies.
And that is the hard truth about American Beauty. It exists and triumphed because, for some gays, it is not enough to win civil rights and equality of opportunity.
They want more: a society in which heterosexuality is so condemned that homosexuals can win any increases in power they might choose.
Camille Paglia writes 5/26/99 in Salon.com: Would an admission of gayness hurt a young male singer's career? Of course it would: This junior Adonis type requires the electric charge produced by the mass projection of adolescent girls in erotic hysteria. Elton John, after his sham marriage, could afford to be openly gay because he caricatured himself as a sad-sack clown, crying through his sequins. Pretty boys, with their androgynous glow, have a more direct and dangerous sensual appeal. If Ricky Martin turned out to be just another buff gay clone, he'd cut himself off at the knees as an international artist. Current gay male culture is too shallow to provide the kind of psychological development that a performer needs.
Ary writes: If Geffen is the "Don" of this gay mafia, where does his hetero-partners in Dream Works (Spielberg & Katzenberg)fit in? While rumors have swirled around Barry Diller for years, he did marry Diane von Furstenberg after dating her for nearly an eternity (is she the beard?). This Ovitz theory is plausible, but I think this calamity of selling his firm for peanuts is his just desert for his work at CAA and Disney (as well as pissing off the Bronfmans so much for his demands, that they handed the Universal job to his protege, Ron Meyer).
'Gay Mafia' Takes Over Control of Hollywood
by Paul Richert (from the May/June 1995 issue of The Nationalist Times)
If you're wondering why homosexuals have skyrocketed in recent years to join blacks and feminists at the top of liberalism's hallowed list of "minority groups" entitled to special rights and privileges, look no further than Hollywood --- Tinseltown is controlled these days by the "Gay Mafia." The Gay Mafia is dominated by three individuals --- Sandy Geffen, Barry Diller, and Sandy Gallin. Geffen is a billionaire mogul who has recently joined forces with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg to start "Dreamworks," a new studio which may well come to surpass all the other studios, given the resources and clout of its partners.
An expose of the Gay Mafia in the May/June issue of Spy magazine by Mark Ebner states that Geffen "can end a career with a phone call." Geffen "married" Bob Brassle, a Warner Bros. vice president, at an est outing, in a ceremony replete with wedding bands. But Geffen is known for sleeping with countless male Hollywood executives and actors.
Diller is another superrich Hollywood executive. Ebner calls Diller the "smartest don in the Mob," noting that he has made "gods" out of those loyal to him --- people like Michael Eisner, Katzenberg, Peter Chernin, Sherry Lansing, and Dawn Steel, among many others. Although Diller still refuses to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, according to Ebner he was known for cruising the dorms at UCLA and holding homosexual parties.
Gallin is a 54-year-old agent, manager and TV producer. According to Ebner, Gallin has had more plastic surgery than Michael Jackson, in an effort to perpetually look like a 30-year- old.
Beyond the three "dons" of the Gay Mafia, there are of course many film executives, agents, and actors --- and the mafia acts in concert to protect each other and their images. Agent Steve Dontanville was sued by a man for sexual harassment, but the mafia has kept the story hushed up. Another agent, Scott Zimmerman, was caught having sex with his male personal trainer in his office at the same time he was divorcing his wife. Zimmerman did not receive so much as a reprimand.
The Spy article notes that "straight agents, or any mid-level industry powers for that matter, would have --- and have been --- fired, blasted in the trade press, and sued for such indiscretions." A very powerful agent was Stan Kamen, employed by the William Morris agency, who died of AIDS a few years ago. His clients included Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford and Goldie Hawn. About his homosexuality, "[T]he straight guys who came off his desk idolized him, and wouldn't mention [his sexuality], or even [kid] around about it. It was just not spoken about --- ever. It's fear, and a reverence built out of fear . . . It's not based on intellect, but based on what will happen to you," according to a former employee of Kamen's.
Jann Wenner, the founder and publisher of Rolling Stone, the far- left, pro-corporate music magazine, recently left his wife for a man. Every single U.S. publication blacked out the story, until it was finally printed by The Mail, a British paper with a circulation of over 2 million. Geffen made sure the movie "Interview With a Vampire," directed by the homosexual Neil Jordan (who also directed the perverted movie "The Crying Game") had its homoerotic undertones removed. This was also insisted upon by lead actor Tom Cruise, who has been the subject of much speculation about his sexual orientation. Cruise "squirmed around" that subject area when interviewed by Vanity Fair last year.
The Disney studio, once an icon of American wholesomeness when it was run by Walt Disney, has five top executives who are homosexual.
Even the Los Angeles Police Department has decided to leave the super-powerful Geffen alone. The LAPD recently busted David Forest, the head of a male prostitution ring on a par with the one run by Heidi Fleiss. According to Spy, Geffen's name was at the top of Forest's client list. But the LAPD refuses to use Geffen's name as evidence during the trial, a detective being quoted as saying, "We don't wanna touch Geffen."
Ebner also writes about the "Circle of Fire," a group of young, good-looking guys who are flown around the country to the "big orgy parties" held by homosexual power brokers. Even the existence of the Lavender Mafia is denied by most of the principles involved. The incessant need to not only advance their fellow homosexuals but to zealously protect each other from public scrutiny is because the "need to maintain America's wholesome image of them is something that connects Hollywood gays at all levels --- whether one is a struggling (or a mega- star) actor, writer, agent, or producer," Ebner writes.
Gene Kotlarchuk writes for Lawrenceville.org: In 1992, SPY Magazine identified movie mogul David Geffen as "Hollywood's powerful gay tong." SPY Magazine also wrote that "gay individuals have found the industry an extraordinary contradiction: an opportunity to reap extravagant rewards, while, at the same time, being forced to deny their cultural identities." How do homosexuals in the entertainment business "reap rewards" while denying who they are? By forming a powerful clique--often referred to as the Hollywood Gay Mafia. David Geffen is, of course, an upper class mafioso. Geffen is worth over one billion dollars and the amount of power held in his hands is so great that it is almost dangerous. He and the Mafia represent the decline of homophobia in America.
The Hollywood Gay Mafia is not a group of bandits or minstrels; it is a clique of gay and witty executives whose success in the entertainment business is incredible. Because of David Geffen and his powerful gay entourage, the entertainment industry has become open to homosexuality. An insider of the entertainment industry says, "Look, there is no homophobia in the industry... It's a very liberal industry and people are much more tolerant than anywhere else." Even David Geffen has "come out of the closet" and is accepted as a homosexual in the entertainment industry. In fact, Geffen denies ever trying to hide his sexuality. One of Geffen's executives says, "nobody ever talked about it [homosexuality] until he was out of the closet himself. The Gay Mafia was never referred to openly." In 1991, in Vanity Fair, Geffen claimed that he was bisexual and that he went from "being in love with Cher to being in love with Marlo Thomas to being in love with a guy from Studio 54." Though Geffen openly admits that he is bisexual, he does not want people to think that he is "too gay." For example, Geffen recently sued a portrait artist after the artist made a portrait that looked "too homosexual." The artist was petrified when Geffen turned against him. However, Geffen ultimately loosened his menacing grip and decided not to press charges.
Today Everyone is Gay
Amalek18: Today [Sunday, June 30th] is Gay Pride Day Parade in the Gayest city in America - New York City. Today, EVERYONE is Gay!
Breaking New Ground
I broke new ground with my interview today with blonde Producer Diane Sillan Isaacs at her office in Green Mountain Productions in Santa Monica. She's president of the company owned by Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas.
Diane's the skinniest producer I've interviewed yet. And in fantastic shape. She competes in triathlons. In a couple of months, she'll do the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii which consists of 2.5 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a marathon (run of 26.2 miles). She finished this race last time in eleven hours, about two hours behind the winning female, and about four hours behind the winning male.
In addition to her training and work, Diane is a wife and mother. She has two boys.
It was enough to make me eat a lunch of a protein bar, a big bowl of oatmeal, some cottage cheese and an apple. And to watch the dark wicked 1998 movie Happiness. And take a nap. I'm getting a headache from an anti-depressant I'm trying out - Guanfacine, generic for tenex.
From the Imdb.com: "Todd Solondz, writer and director of "Happiness," describes his perplexing film as "a series of intertwining love stories, stories of connections missed and made between people, how people always struggle to make a connection, and to what degree they succeed or don't." It's about relationships, obsessions, and stunning discoveries both private and social. It contains some very graphic material-enough that the filmmakers released it without an MPAA rating. Even as the film exploits extreme adult themes and graphic content, it does not glamorize or stylize its subjects. Rather, it uses them to paint a disturbing picture of the dark side of human nature."
Mixed Feelings About Michael Tolkin
I just watched The Rapture (1991), the first directing effort of my co-religionist Michael Tolkin. The movie certainly kept my attention but it seemed like a vicious smear of Christianity.
Matt writes on Imdb.com: "Try to see this film with someone whose religious conviction is different from you own. You should be in for hours of debate over the meaning of the film and the motivation for Rogers' actions."
I didn't find it thought provoking at all. I come from a Seventh Day Adventist background. That's a form of Protestant Christianity. It has more than its share of apocalyptic eschatological wackos but this film didn't provoke a scintilla of thought in me. Neither did Last Temptation of Christ for that matter. Only people who are not actively involved in an organized religion could believe that either film was thought provoking, spiritual or a serious examination of religious themes.
What kills me is that in an interview with the Jewish Journal, Tolkin says it is his background in making religous-themed movies like The Rapture that snagged him a prized Wexner fellowship to study Judaism. Oy ve! Talk about making Judaism look stupid in front of the goyim.
Here's an excerpt from the 7/17/98 Jewish Journal: "In Hollywood terms, Michael Tolkin would be deemed a "player." In fact, he was Oscar-nominated for writing "The Player," the trenchant Hollywood satire that director Robert Altman turned into a tour-de-force film back in 1992. But Tolkin believes that his near-celebrity status had no special impact on the Wexner selection team. He feels he was chosen because of his years of Torah study with Rabbi Daniel Landes, and because two films he both wrote and directed, "The Rapture" and "The New Age," revealed that he is "theologically inclined." (He also has a screenplay credit on the current science-fiction hit, "Deep Impact.")
"Tolkin stresses that he is not a community leader in a conventional sense: "I have the least connection to any Jewish infrastructure, but I guess they thought it was a good idea to have one artist in the group." He jokes that his involvement with Wexner has not convinced him to run for a Federation office. Still, "Wexner goaded me into being more directly active in my own community." The result: he funded a new program that brought Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B'nai David-Judea onto the campus of Temple Emanuel Community Day School, where Tolkin's children are enrolled. Kanefsky's mandate was to introduce the Emanuel faculty and staff to Orthodox perspectives on lashon hara, the rules of civil speech. In this way, Tolkin feels he has contributed to Jewish survival by taking modest steps toward fostering interdenominational study."
I agree with this review on Imdb.com by Sanatan Rai (firstname.lastname@example.org): "After watching the movie, one is faced with a dichotomy. One must either conclude that the film is utter garbage or that there is some subtle allegory that has evaded one's perhaps inadequate sensibilities. Which view one takes, depends of course on one's evaluation of one's abilities. If one regards oneself as not being a complete imbecile, one is apt to come to the former conclusion.
"There are however two things for which this film may be watched. The first is Ms. Rogers' acting. Ms. Rogers is a consummate actress, and her performance is very good. One is sorry to see it thus wasted. The other thing is that the naked flesh in the movie, including Ms. Rogers' is, rather nice. The latter may be contrasted with the American filmmaker's tendency of displaying underfed women with minimal charms in the buff. Remember Ms. Paltrow in `Shakespeare in Love'? Three women are shown partially or completely nude, and they do not disappoint. What the movie is trying to say is difficult to determine. It certainly is not a simple story, told straight. This is primarily because there is not much by way of a story. It fails to make any interesting points about God or faith. Granted, saying something new about the gent upstairs is difficult. This should not however, have prevented the director from trying."
What supports my view that the film is utter garbage is this essay by Tolkin in the Jewish Journal which reached the heights of absurdity. Here's an excerpt from the 3/22/02 publication:
"The Kurdish father living in Sweden kills his daughter because she dishonored the family when she refused the marriage he arranged for her; Andrea Yates kills her children to spare them from her fundamentalist vision of Hell; a Hindu pogrom against Muslims in India kills hundreds, including children; a mother and father in Upland, Calif., members of a fake Amish cult, refuse medical care for their son and pray over him until he dies of meningitis; in the last 20 years the Catholic Church has paid out almost $1.3 billion as hush money to settle pedophilia lawsuits; Jews and Muslims are killing each other’s children in a battle partly ignited over claims to the Temple Mount and the competition for its control, challenging each other’s title to their shrines as a lie or a fantasy.
"The lonely man of some faith hides from this torment at the cost of sleep and conscience, or he sleeps and maintains the fiction of conscience at the cost of his span of attention. But if he slows down and listens, his instinct tells him that no one with a conscience can still offer religion as a haven from the chaos of the world when religion moves deeper into fundamentalism, in retreat from responsibility for the chaos. He doesn’t believe that God is dead, not at all. He believes in God and a created universe, but he’s ready to walk away from religion and let them all kill each other. Except that he really doesn’t want this sentiment of disgust heard by God as a petition that God might grant, so he tries to keep it muffled."
The Jewish Journal published this response a week later by Chaim Sisman: "I was quite impressed with Michael Tolkin ("Faith and Proof," March 22). It takes considerable literary imagination to equate the Kurdish daughter being killed by her father, the wacko nurse drowning her five children, and Jews bringing babies to where they live on the West Bank (so they can be killed by their religion-of-peace Semitic cousins)."
Aristocat writes this review on Imdb.com: I am a born-again Christian and saw this movie [The Rapture] last night on broadcast TV -- though I missed the first part of it. I can see a certain amount of positive value in the movie, but also some overwhelming limitations.
The key problem with the film is that it presents a profound misunderstanding of the Christian faith. This is most clearly revealed in three direct statements, all of which occur near the end of the film. Being careful not to reveal anything about the plot, the daughter utters a direct contradiction of a most basic tenet of Christian faith. She says, "God loves us because we love him." (I think that is an exact quote.) But if you read 1 John chapter 4 (among many other passages in the Bible), you see that this is exactly reversed from the truth. 1 John 4, verse 19 states it most directly, "We love, because He [God] first loved us." [Now, to be true to the passage, the "We love" refers to our love for other people as well as for God -- but the point still stands.]
The second revealing comment comes from the main character (Mimi Rogers). She states that God has "too many rules" -- and that is true, for her confused understanding of God. But then the film fails to present any corrective to that confusion. [The actual corrective is that when we see that God truly loves us, then we can trust him and we *want* to please him, and his "rules" become our desires... albeit imperfectly, in this life. Not to mention that she had a bunch of rules that didn't come from God.]
The third failure is that the movie portrays entrance into heaven as the result of a magical incantation. If you just *say* "I love God" then, BAM, you're in! Now, certainly the Church itself often presents this fallacy, so it is no surprise to find it in a film such as this. But nevertheless, it is a gross misunderstanding.
There are other theological problems with the film script. All the supposed Christian characters are attached to what is clearly a pseudo-Christian cult -- complete with a divine oracle who utters prophecies that contradict Scripture. None of the Christian characters have any problems (except for Rogers, who obviously needs psychological counseling as well as spiritual healing). All of the Christian characters exude an other-worldly serenity -- except perhaps Rogers' boss. And the "pearl dream" thing is just plain bizarre [OK, maybe having missed the first part of the movie hurt me on that count...but I doubt it.] But at the same time, the film's writer(s) clearly know a lot of the terminology of Christianity, and even have some insights into some of the perplexing issues that arise in Christian theology. This, I suspect, is what makes the film disturbing to many people.
LUKE SAYS: For a true understanding of Christianity, visit my father's web site, www.goodnewsunlimited.org
Michael Tolkin's brother Stephen is also a screenwriter. Here's an excerpt from a 3/9/01 Jewish Journal article that says Stephen modeled his leading male character in the TV show ‘Kate Brasher’ on Gateways Beit T’Shuvah leader Rabbi Mark Borovitz.
"About six years ago, [Stephen Tolkin] met Borovitz, then about to enter rabbinical school, at the Shabbat dinner table in the L.A. home of his brother, writer-director Michael Tolkin ("The Player," "The Rapture"). He was immediately taken with the charismatic spiritual leader of Gateways Beit T’Shuvah, a residential treatment center for Jews in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. A few years later, he turned to Borovitz for counseling after a friend descended into substance abuse. "He was like a sage, a tzaddik," Tolkin recalled. "But his advice was very practical."
"When the writer-director created "Kate Brasher," about a struggling single mother (Mary Stuart Masterson) who goes to work for a community advocacy center, he used Borovitz as the model for the center’s founder, Joe Almeida (Hector Elizondo). In the series, we learn that Almeida created the organization while rebuilding his life after his teenaged daughter was killed in gang crossfire. Borovitz, an ex-convict and recovering alcoholic, also vanquished his demons and co-founded a center to help others conquer overwhelming odds in their lives. "Both Joe and Mark founded a tabernacle," said Tolkin, 47, who now attends High Holy Days services at Beit T’Shuvah. "They made a temple of light in the darkness. And they both did it out of their own suffering."
Michael Tolkin's wife recently published a book about raising kids based on Jewish teachings. Here's an excerpt from a 3/23/01 Jewish Journal article:
"Wendy Mogel, author of a bold and refreshing new Jewish parenting book, recently gave a lecture at the Skirball Cultural Center to the volunteer docents, most of them Jewish grandparents. By the time she finished her presentation on the hazards and remedies of expecting too much from our overindulged, overprotected, over-scheduled children, she could almost see the senior citizens pumping their arms in a victorious "yes!"
""I think many of them feel their children are spoiling their grandchildren, and they’re so happy to hear someone justify what they, through experience, believe children need," Mogel said in a recent interview with The Jewish Journal, talking about her new book "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children" (Scribner, $25)."
ON THE OTHER HAND, Tolkin wrote the brilliant Robert Altman movie The Player (1992), one of those rare movies that is better than the book (in this case the novel by Tolkin).
Amalek18: What did you think of The Rapture?
Amalek18: Now that we are at war, what we need is love. As in "won't you wuv me Mister Muslim so that I am not an object of your hatred?"
Amalek18: I am still sore
My Struggle With Judaism
I used to love Torah so much that it tasted like honey in mouth. Now it tastes like chalk. I still pray every morning and I still study Torah, largely on my own, and I still keep shabbos and kashrut but the joy is gone.
I poured out my frustrations with Jewish life over kiddish on shabbos to an orthodox rabbi. He said I could emulate Avraham Avinu, who felt like he was separated from the rest of the world by a chasm.
When I made kiddish at shul on shabbos, I said, 'Thank you Jesus for giving us this grape juice.' People went nuts.
Chaim Amalek writes: "What is shul like? Does everyone hug everyone else at the end of services, as they do in a proper Christian church? Or do they just skulk away, sneering at everyone else? Inquiring minds want to know.
"The thing that nobody has the balls to say is that orthodox Judaism, the Judaism of the Talmud, came to be out of the very same culture, place, and (within a century or so) time as Islam. The Talmud often reads like the Koran. Just consider the muslim word for yeshiva. I think it is Madrassa, or something. It cannot be an accident that the word is so close to "Midrash". "
Over the past few months, I've read two disturbing books (Jewish History, Jewish Religion and Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel) by Israel Shahak, the late Holocaust survivor turned Israeli human rights activist.
Here are some excerpts of prayers I've said daily (I'm supposed to say them three times a day) that disturb me. First of all, from the Aleinu prayer: "We must praise the Lord of all...for not making us like the nations of [all] lands...for they bow down to vanity and nothingness and pray to a god that does not help."
How do we know that Gentiles pray to a false god? How do we know that they aren't praying to the true God, the one we Jews purport to serve? How do we know that this God helps not?
And then I'm disturbed by the curse against Christians in the Amidah: "And may the apostates have no hope, and all the Christians perish instantly."
Now, just because I'm disturbed by these prayers doesn't mean that I stop saying them. I keep saying them and I look for alternate ways of understanding them aside from the plain level of meaning.
Chaim Amalek writes: "You sound like one of those gay priests, struggling with church teachings against buggery. Here is how you can work it through: the oral law is the work of men of a certain time and place that also produced the Koran."
Ary writes: Luke--- I noticed your dismay about some of the prayers actually being anti-Christian. It sort of reminds me of the prayer (which the Conservatives and Reform got rid of) which is "Thank G-d for not making me a woman." Torah is supposed to be orally written by G-d, while the prayers we have now were written by Rabbis (or other pious people) to fill a void caused by the end of sacrifices upon the destruction of the Temple back in 70 C.E.. Unlike G-d, Rabbis are flawed and they certainly let their beliefs seep into prayers. We also may not know the context as to when these prayers were created, as Jews were persecuted on and off by Christians since the very beginning of the Diaspora. I am not offering any excuses, just trying to ofer an explanation.
A Christian Minister Asks Luke For Help Interpreting The Bible
Dear Luke, This is a request for your help. I expect to be addressing 1000 people shortly in ---- and I need some information that perhaps you could get for me. I know the cabbalistic interpetations of the gemetria of Gen 1:1 but what I need to know is how sound are these conclusions that the 37 uses of 7 and its multiples could only have a likelihood of about one in 30 trillion. Do you have Sarnas commentary or access to any other that deals with this argument? Can I safely argue from gemetria the inspiration of Gen 1:1?