Producer Si Litvinoff Monitors My Errors, Broken Promises
Producer Si Litvinoff writes: YOUR FOOLISH AND ERRONEOUS MENTION OF LEAFLETS INSTEAD OF T SHIRTS AND SEVERAL OTHER SLOPPY EDITS STILL APPEARS-ALTHOUGH YOU HAVE MADE SOME CORRECTIONS- YOU HAVE STILL NOT REPLACED YOUR EDITED VERSION WITH ALL OF ITS ERRORS AND OMISSIONS WITH MY ORIGINAL AS PROMISED!!!!PLEASE DO SO NOW!!!-SL
THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PROPERLY CORRECT THIS IS TO REPLACE YOUR EDITED VERSION WITH WHAT I SENT TO YOU-THAT IS WHAT YOU AGREED!!!! I CANNOT CONTINUE TO PROOF READ/INDEED LINE READ YOUR ERROR FULL VERSION-RIGHT NOW THERE EXIST AT LEAST 8 ERRORS THAT I SEE BY JUST GLEANING YOUR EDIT-THAT IS POOR JOURNALISM AND A BROKEN PROMISE TO BOOT-SL
we will monitor your now erroneous material on your website including the item where you tell your readers that i have just faxed you 6 pages as though you were army archerd and then repeat things i told you which had nothing to do with an interview for a book-all i consider to be ,to say the least,underhanded-and as bad as the broken promises-at least print is correctable-just replace yours with mine-sl
Luke's Final Break With Jewish Orthodoxy?
Amalek18: When is the final break from orthodoxy? Has it already occured?
In its first press release just hours after the murder, the Jewish organization fingered Toronto "neo-Nazis" as the perpetrators [of the murder of a Jew] and declared right off the top that this signified "open season on Canadian Jews."
But by Monday afternoon, when the homicide squad released photos of the lead suspect in the case, Christopher Steven McBride, and his black girlfriend, Mercedes Asante, they also told reporters there was no evidence that this was a hate-motivated crime. There was no indication that McBride was a neo-Nazi or that he uttered anything anti-Semitic prior to attacking Rosenzweig. Not about to let facts get in the way of a good press release, B'nai Brith on Tuesday stuck by its initial comments...
What's Up With the TV Academy?
Brian Lowry writes in the LA Times: ...[T]he [TV] academy has been without a president since December, when its "executive committee" opted not to renew the contract of the top full-time staff member, Jim Chabin. The decision came as a surprise, since the academy had just nimbly weathered last year's Emmys, which were twice postponed and shrouded in security concerns by the events of Sept. 11.
Academy insiders say various factors strained the relationship between Chabin and the elected chairman, Bryce Zabel, among them jockeying over who would act as the primary spokesman with outlets such as the "Today" show--an assertion Zabel has denied. Still, the academy has refused to discuss what prompted Chabin's release. Whatever the cause, some board members were upset enough by how the situation was handled they sought to challenge the board, only to be dismissed on procedural grounds.
As a result, the nonprofit group has been operating without a president for the past seven months, while Zabel--a writer-producer filling a volunteer role--tries to run the show. A spokeswoman said the academy hopes to select a replacement before this year's Emmy ceremony in September, after issuing a statement saying details of its search "have remained confidential to avoid compromising the positions of candidates who are currently employed with other organizations."
Luke Gets Mail
Ian writes: Hi Luke, Just thought I'd tell you that I bought a copy of your book and have been reading it with great interest and enjoyment. I was away from your site for 5-6 weeks, and when I returned it seemed to have quite changed. There were still interviews of Hollywood producers (a damn good idea - your site will become required reading for potential new entrants to the business), but now very little about Jewishness and the difficulties of gaining acceptance into orthodox synagogues by someone longing to join but unable to jettison independent thought. And good riddance, too. It was beneath you.
I see that Jeremy Steele is once again one of your correspondents. I had no particular sympathy with him then, but I confess I do sympathize with his anti-Sharon stance and his apparent understanding of the Palestinian case. You, on the other hand, have given Sharon and the Zionists unquestioning (and, in my opinion, unthinking) support, and appear to favour a 'Final Solution' to the problem of Palestine. Now why does that get up my nose?
Khunrum writes: Gentlemen, Are you falling asleep at your computer attempting to digest the latest Luke "producer interview." Not really into reading about Luke's Mom's harmone treatments? (although we wish her good health). Eyelids heavy from scanning three month old Hollywood gossip? Then click on over to fellow advisory committee member Marc Weissblott and select a cute incarcerated prison hottie for your very own. I am searching for a dainty, beauteous Asian murderess. Preferably one who may have poisoned her pimp...Good work Weiss Man.
Aghast writes: Shame on you Rum! Luke Ford is hot on the trail of that murderous Fatty Arbuckle! Justice will prevail!
Napoleon Bonaparte writes: This is one of the more interesting web sites I've seen. I'm surprised that Rum has passed this along, given the dearth of Asians featured. Is there a web site for Asian inmates? I note that this web site is prison inmates. Is there a similar site for lunatic asylum inmates? No reason to be stuck up about a minor issue like sanity.
The main problem with this site is that they don't tell you what the young lovely was convicted of. I think I could hang out with someone with a record of parking violations or overdue library books. I don't think that's what we're getting here.
Stephanie-3809WB Hi there! Welcome to my web page. I am a single young woman who is best described as genuine and open minded with a 34C-24-34 body. My hobbies include all activities in the great outdoors, photography, slow dancing, and NASCAR. What I desire most in life is to be loved and cherished by a sensitive and affectionate man who shares my same interest at heart. Age and race are unimportant - honesty is!Location: Georgia Race: White Birth Date: 6-4-71 Age: 30 Release Date: 10-6-2009 Maximum Height: 5'2" Religion: Jewish Do you have children: one 10 year old son Do you smoke: Sexual Preference: Bi-Sexual Do you want mail from both sexes: Yes Education: High School Grad., Cosmetologist Occupation before prison: Erotic Dancer Activities in prison: Work in sewing factory.
Khunrum writes: Did you catch imprisoned inmate Ms. Stephanie? I hate to see a good girl gone bad. But a "Nice Jewish Girl" is particularly gut wrenching. Luke, why not send Inmate Stephanie your address. I am sure you would be happy to counsel a Jewish Girl who is working hard to turn her life around.
What the Heck Was Mulholland Drive All About?
Nobody knows. It started out as a pilot for ABC. ABC shelved it. Sixteen months later, Director David Lynch decided to shoot extra scenes and release it as a feature. The movie is stunning to look at on occasion but does not have a coherent story. That's a weakness in Lynch's films - the lack of coherent story. People want their books and movies to have a beginning, middle and end. That's why Lynch's films don't make money. I don't think even David Lynch knows what Mulholland Drive was all about.
JMT writes: This movie was not *intended* to have "a coherent story." (If you want that, go rent the Lynch film in which Richard Farnsworth rides a lawn tractor 2,000 miles to visit his brother, or whatever the hell it was. I didn't see it, but by all accounts, it was an utterly traditional Hollywood movie with a beginning, middle and end.)
Read what Roger Ebert said about Mulholland Drive, as quoted on MrSkin.com:
“The movie is hypnotic; we're drawn along as if one thing leads to another--but nothing leads anywhere, and that's even before the characters start to fracture and recombine like flesh caught in a kaleidoscope. Mulholland Drive isn't like Memento where if you watch it closely enough, you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.
"There have been countless dream sequences in the movies, almost all of them conceived with Freudian literalism to show the characters having nightmares about the plot. Mulholland Drive is all dream. There is nothing that is intended to be a waking moment. Like real dreams, it does not explain, does not complete its sequences, lingers over what it finds fascinating, dismisses unpromising plotlines.
"If you want an explanation for the last half hour of the film, think of it as the dreamer rising slowly to consciousness, as threads from the dream fight for space with recent memories from real life, and with fragments of other dreams--old ones and those still in development. This works because Lynch is absolutely uncompromising. He takes what was frustrating in some of his earlier films, and instead of backing away from it, he charges right through.
"Mulholland Drive is said to have been assembled from scenes that he shot for a 1999 ABC television pilot, but no network would air (or understand) this material, and Lynch knew it. He takes his financing where he can find it and directs as fancy dictates. This movie doesn't feel incomplete because it could never be complete--closure is not a goal.
"If you require logic, see something else. Mulholland Drive works directly on the emotions, like music. Individual scenes play well by themselves, as they do in dreams, but they don't connect in a way that makes sense--again, like dreams. The way you know the movie is over is that it ends.”
I think Ebert has it pegged. Plus, the two broads are hot, and the character of the landlord is played by Ann Miller, who was the inspiration for the title of your forthcoming book, "Tonight, They Want You To Fuck Lassie."
Producer Hillard Elkins
I interviewed Producer Hillard Elkins at his Mediterranean-style Beverly Hills mansion June 25, 2002. His friends call him "Hilly."
Hilly is a short elegant American with a small carefully shaved beard, tuffs of white hair, and an occasional British accent. He has the manners of a British aristocrat. He's smart, energetic and tenacious, with a will of steel beneath the velvet glove.
Elkins works from an office/study at the front of his house. The walls are covered with posters, photos and memorabilia.
Luke: "You were the subject of the 1971 book The Producer by Christopher Davis."
Hilly: "Yes. Christopher followed me around for a couple of years during the 'Oh! Calcutta!' and 'The Rothschilds' period. He got his facts right. His opinions are his opinions. I'm fine with anything that's accurate."
Luke: "Where are you from?"
Hilly: "I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I went to public school, Erasmus Hall and and Midwood High School. I went to Brooklyn College. One of my drama professors was Skipper Davidson, the father of my dear friend and colleague Gordon Davidson who runs the Mark Taper Forum. We've recently made a deal to coproduce a slate of films for Showtime."
I checked out the Christopher Davis book on Hilly from the library and garnered this description: "[Hilly] is volatile, open, others-oriented, secret, disingenuous, candid, ethically metamorphic, honest, and sweet-tempered. He is also violent, energetic, unfailingly courteous, and notably charming. He is articulate and witty, generous, dedicated to work..." (The Producer, pg. 3)
Born 10/18/29 on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, Hilly ran with a gang as a kid. He "was knifed a couple of times." He went to Hebrew school. He was an A student in high school.
"I spent the entire summer of my fourteenth year stoned. Pete Hagan rye. It was very cheap. Once I got stoned on a bottle of kummel because we were bay-sitting...and I chugalugged it. It was then that I peed through an entire set of the Sunday Times edition being held up by my friends on a street corner of Avenue N in Brooklyn. That was the last time I was drunk." (The Procuer, pg. 130)
As a child in Brooklyn, Hilly remembers walking across Church Avenue. "I was crossing against the light of course, and out of the corner of my eye I caught this Department of Sanitation garbage truck bearing down - the colossal ego of the child - bearing down on me, and I kept walking into it. 'It's not gonna hit me...not gonna hit me...not gonna hit me.' Then it hit me. So I stopped believing in God. I threw down my tefillin and said, 'Fuck you!' The f-cking thing caught me by the coat, dragged me across the street, and I was in terrible pain, but I remember saying, 'Son of a bitch. The indignity...the f-cking indignity.'" (The Producer, pg. 7)
Elkins spent time in a reformatory holding institution called Youth House. "He had forged and cashed a check for $500, signing his father's name, and spent it at once like a lord, taking cabs to schoool, breaking bills of large denomination for his twelve-year-old boy's lunch. He told the cops he'd found the money in a handbag, the handbag on a subway... He was taken out of school...wearing his father's suit, had a hearing, and wound up in the holding institution. He stayed a week." (pg. 183)
At age 15, he was admitted to the All-City Radio Workshop. One summer he was a combination counselor and drama director at a Farband Labor Zionist Camp. He married at age 19 and got a job as an office boy at William Morris talent agency.
From page 11: "The man with the syringe [full of the urine of a pregnant woman] comes from California, is a good friend, and was once Elkins' analyst. Hilly's favorite color is brown, usually in combination with yellow. He is a compulsive eater of chocolate, and his analyst, when the producer was still int he agency business in Hollywood, tried to cure him of it by hypnosis."
"[Hilly's] telephone voice is deep and reassuring. He is an artist of telephones. The calls are the constant... Yet the tone of his telephone talk is usually one of sweet seduction: if it is persistent or bullying, it is also modest and attentive..." (pg. 17)
"Rarely now is this writer pressed by the staff with the history of the producer's former sex life and other adventures. The atmosphere is cooled... Hilly is married." (Pg. 171)
Luke: "How did you start in the business?"
Hilly: "As a teenager, I worked as a radio actor. Then, while attending law school, I went to work at William Morris as an office boy. I had what has been described as a meteoric rise. Within five months, I was working as an agent, and then as head of the theatrical department. Then I was drafted. I did my time in the Korean War by making various training films in Manhattan. I returned to the agency business. I didn't like it.
"I started my management company in the 1950s when most managers wore black pinky rings and fixed the lights in Las Vegas. At this time, actors, directors and writers didn't have managers. I started something unique. That was then and this is now when you can't walk out the door without tripping over managers, most of whom I wouldn't let do my laundry, let alone my career.
"I represented such actors as James Coburn and Robert Culp (who are still clients), Steve McQueen, Mel Brooks, Herb Ross, as well as Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, who ultimately wrote score to the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie. I subsequently hired him to write the score for 'Golden Boy'.
"Culp and McQueen worked in television in Los Angeles for Fourstar. I traveled back and forth from New York to California.
"For a few weeks, I became vice-President of GHC [talent agency] which became ICM.
"I became bored. I decided I wanted to produce theater. I ultimately produced a number of musicals and straight plays in New York and London. Goldenboy, The Rothschilds, Dolls House with my fourth wife Claire Bloom, and many other productions.
"I represented Sammy Davis Jr. when I was at the William Morris office. We were good friends. A few years later, I saw what was called a 'Midnight Matinee' at the Prince of Whales Theatre. Sammy kept the crowds going until two in the morning.
"Watching the performance, I had a vision, almost like a bad movie, of Sammy in Golden Boy. I thought the original story of the Clifford Odets play where a young Italian boy wants to get out of the ghetto during the depression had a resonance in what was happening in the sixties with a young black man trying to do the same thing. If you remember Golden Boy, it's the story of a choice between using his hands as a boxer or a musician.
"I told Sammy my idea. He liked it. I came back to New York and talked to Charles Strauss and and Lee Adams. They liked the idea. I called playwright] Clifford O'Dets."
Hilly gestures to a Leroy Nieman drawing on the wall of Clifford, Sammy, and Hilly.
"We discussed the idea and eventually Odets liked it and agreed that we could proceed.
"I then negotiated a deal with Lenny Hirshan. He'd been my assistant at William Morris and he was now the agent representing Sammy Davis Jr.
"I hired English Director Peter Coe who'd done a brilliant job with Oliver. I hired Donny McHale as choreographer. He was the first African-American choreographer to work on a Broadway show.
"We put the show in rehearsal. Clifford O'Dets unfortunately died. We had a serious problem but we were able to keep the show going based on our having Sammy.
"I brought in Paddy Chayefsky, a former client of mine at the William Morris office, and playwright Bill Gibson, an old friend of Odets. We were getting bad reviews.
"Chayefsky put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Close it. Forget it.'
"Bill just left. He called me a week later and asked if I wanted to hear the first act. I said yes please. He read it and it was marvelous. He asked if I wanted a second act. I said 'Yes, please.' We never made a deal. I never talked to his agent. Bill came down from Truro and read the first act to Sammy, Adams, Strouse, and myself. It was marvelous. He'd written it around the score.
"He asked if I wanted a second act. I said, 'Yes, please.' Bill went back to Truro and eventually returned with a second act. We loved it.
"I advised Peter Coe and flew him in from London. We all assembled. After the reading, Peter said, 'It's ok but nothing special. You can get any hack to do this.' I said, 'Ok, I'll get another hack. You're fired.'
"And I still had no deal. Bill came back with a second act. I loved it. I flew Peter Coe in from London. Peter said, in front of Mr. Gibson, 'It's OK but you can get any hack to do this.' I said, OK, I'll get another hack. You're fired.'
"Bill is 6'2", a black Irish, and his jaws were clenching as he left the room. I said, 'I'll call him.' We'd never talked about it before but he knew that I meant that I would call [Director] Arthur Penn.
"The show at that time was over-budget and fraught with problems. As a result, I threw my back out and used crutches, a wheelchair, and a massage table when necessary.
"These were the days when you could put a musical on for a million dollars.
"Arthur Penn came up to see the show. At the end of the performance, we all retired to my hotel room. Arthur, Sammy, Adams, and Strause sat on the couch. I lay on the massage table. We talked for hours.
"I didn't know Arthur Penn well but given the condition of the show and of my back, I grabbed him by the shirt, lifted him off the couch, and said, 'Are you going to direct this mother or not?' He said, 'Of course.' He was extraordinary. This was his first musical and he did a phenomenal job."
Clifford Davis writes: "Golden Boy was a heroic flop. It wrung, after an endless out-of-town tryout period, good reviews from reluctant reviewers in New York, but...it made no money." (pg. 132)
Hilly points to a framed collection of dollar bills.
"Every day that Sammy showed up for rehearsal, Bill Gibson gave me a dollar. Every time Sammy said 'shit' without blanching, Bill gave me $5. You must remember this was 1964.
"There was a scene where Sammy was alone with a girl - a bridge scene; they...finally ended up kissing, and it was called the assassination scene because so many threats were received. It seems silly today: the first time a black man and a white girl ever kissed on stage, where it was intimated that they went to bed together." (pg. 133)
"We broke our butts playing one show at night and revising it at a daytime rehearsal. We played out of town for 20 weeks. Because we had Sammy, we sold tickets despite our dreadful reviews. As we changed material, the reviews kept getting better. We came back to New York. We did 20 previews. My job was to keep the critics out until we were ready to open. When we did open, we were a hit.
"Shortly thereafter, Arthur Penn invited me to his house and he played an album for me. I thought it was terrific and I said that it would make a great movie. He asked me to produce it. I pointed out that I had never produced a movie. And he gave me a piece of career advice. 'Same shit.' And that's how I made my first movie with Arthur Penn. He directed and I produced."
The 1969 movie was Alice's Restaurant, based on a song by Arlo Guthrie.
From a review on Imdb.com: "Anyone know of a good movie that was based on a song? Boy, I sure don't. Recall "Ode to Billy Joe" and "The Gambler". No exception here. Don't look for a plot here either. The story that is told in the song Alice's Restaurant takes but a few minutes to tell in the movie. Surrounding it is a mishmash of scenes (it would be a stretch to call them subplots, especially considering that there is no main plot) that have very little to do with each other. If you want to see what the world looked liked in 1968 through the eyes of a young, mild-mannered folk singer, this is your movie."
Hilly: "Arthur had done Bonnie and Clyde, which opened weak. Then, because of Warren Beatty's persistence, Warner Brothers released it again and it became a major hit.
"Arlo had recorded that album, Alice's Restaurant, for Warner Brothers. So we offered the movie to them. They passed. We went to UA (United Artists), where David Picker ran the show. He asked, 'How much?' We said two million. He said, 'Make the movie.'
"In the sixties, you went away and made the movie. You didn't have the studio executives on your back. UA trusted Arthur. We shot the film in Stockbridge, where Arthur had a summer home, Arlo lived, and Alice had her restaurant."
Luke: "How did you meet Claire Bloom?"
Hilly: "I knew Claire and [her husband of the time] Rod [Steiger] for years. If you were in film or theater in New York, you hung out. I was on my third marriage at the time, which was breaking up. Rod invited me to have dinner with Claire and him. Rod was preparing to go to Europe to do a film. He said to me, 'Look after her.' I don't think that what resulted was what he had in mind. Claire and I became involved and fell in love and got married. The marriage lasted five years [1969-74]."
Luke: "Does she mention you in her book?"
Hilly: "Oh boy, does she!"
Hilly opens a drawer. "I will show you something. I won't give it to you but you won't find it anyplace else. I find it amusing. The London papers have a tendency to go over the top. This is one I've always..."
Hilly pulls out a photocopy of a newspaper article with this large headline: "Hilly stole me for a willing partner in his dark sexual games."
Hilly: "That was totally untrue, but the size of the headline would make you think it was World War III.
"Arthur was a close friend of Elaine May [actress, director]. I adored Elaine. She asked me to read a screenplay she had written. I read her script and liked it. She hadn't been able to get it on. I offered to produce it. With her help, I got Walter Matthau interested in starring. Eventually we got Paramount to finance it."
Here's a description from Imdb.com of Elaine May's 1971 film produced by Hilly, A New Leaf: "Henry Graham lives the life of a playboy. When his lawyer tells him one day that his lifestyle has consumed all his funds, he needs an idea to avoid climbing down the social ladder. So he intends to marry a rich woman and ... murder her."
Hilly: "It was Elaine's first film. Her first cut was long. With the help of Bob Evans, who was running Paramount, we reedited the film. It was released and got good reviews and good box office. Elaine wanted to sue for damages. I said, 'What damages?' You got good reviews and we're going to make a good deal of money."
Luke: "Edgar Scherick told me Elaine May was a handful."
Hilly: "He's right. She's brilliant and a handful."
Luke: "Oh! Calcutta!"
Hilly: "Ken Tynan [conceivor of Oh! Calcutta!] was a friend of mine. He'd wanted to put on the show in London but Lord Chamberlain, the censor, would not allow it to go on.
"I represented Director Jacques Levy, who Ken wanted to direct the show.
"Ken wasn't feeling well. I suggested he could stay at my house [in New York] until he was feeling better. I went to California to close a film deal on The Rothschilds.
"The trip was a short one. We didn't close the deal. When I returned to New York, I stayed at a hotel so I wouldn't disturb Tynan in my house.
"Tynan went to David Merrick to produce Oh! Calcutta! in New York. David wanted total control so the deal didn't happen. I said I'd be delighted to produce the play. It opened in May of 1969.
"I raised $200,000 to stage the play. I used some of my own money.
"While we were in rehearsal, I was able to get a list of the people who were going to be on the Johnny Carson Show, which then came out of New York. I invited them to see the show. Some of them said it was marvelous. Some of them said it was a terrible piece of sexual crap. And whatever they said, sold tickets.
"Once we opened the show, we got the worst set of reviews in the history of show business. I had a party at Sardis. I called Claire in London with the reviews. She started crying. I said, 'Don't cry. It will be fine.' I decided that if I were going to go out, I'd go out with a bang rather than a whimper. In those days, theater tickets were $10. I raised the price to $25 a seat. I expected we'd run three nights and then we'd go home.
"Then the limos started rolling in. And the people started coming. And it became the talk of the town. We were on the cover of Esquire and Time and Newsweek. Fortunately, the mayor [John Lindsey] was an ally because there were an awful lot of people who wanted to close it. The show ran 20 years."
Luke: "Did it always have so much nudity?"
Hilly: "Oh yes, we didn't change anything. The nudity was primarily in the dance. Nudity was an issue with Actors Equity. What [Director] Jacques Levy did when we auditioned people, was first audition them as singers and dancers. If they qualified, he'd give them an improvisation which required them to take their clothes off. The better the actor, the less inhibited they were.
"When it came time for rehearsals, it was Jacques' idea to give them lockers for their clothes and blue robes, with 'Oh! Calcutta!' on the back and their names on the front. They were terry robes, that as you know if you've worn one, untie as you move about. On the first day or two, a lot of tying went on. By the fourth day, they didn't bother tying their robes. By the fifth day, they took their robes off. They took great pride in being able to work without clothes and not be self conscious. The opening number of the play was called, 'Taking off the robe.'
"This was a show about sex. It was not a show about politics or a comedy."
Luke: "How did you feel about the film version ?"
Hilly: "There was no film version. Some folks offered a good deal of money to show the piece in a limited number of theaters. So we videotaped the show. I warned them about the censorship they faced. They ignored the warning and were closed down in a fair number of theaters.
"I found a lab that could convert that to 35mm. I made a deal with the company and it went out theatrically. It made a fair amount of money. Of course they screwed me. If you do a show about screwing, you expect to be screwed."
Luke: "Let's talk about The Rothschilds."
Hilly: "Everybody thought I was nuts to do a play about Jewish bankers. Hal Linden played Meyer Rothschild. Michael Kidd did the choreography and ultimately directed it. Jill Clayburgh had a small part. The show was a tremendous hit in LA and out of it Hal got [a role on the TV show] Barney Miller.
"I wanted to do some plays with Claire. We were both fond of Ibsen. We thought a double-bill of A Doll's House and Hedda Gabbler would be an adventure. We did that off-Broadway.
"It was a success and did well on the road. We did a film version with Claire, Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliot, and Dame Edith Evans."
Hilly points to a photo on the wall of four men.
"I think you will recognize the players. It's Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin Luther King and me."
Above the picture is a framed letter from Dr. Martin Luther King to Hilllard Elkins, thanking him for Golden Boy and for coming to Selma, Alabama to march.
"I closed the show and we all went to Selma and marched. When we came back, I wanted to do something for Dr. King. I put on a show 'Broadway Answers Selma', raising money for Dr. King. We had Walter Matthau, Sammy Davis Jr, Dennis O'Keefe, Carol Burnett, Ethel Merman, Lou Gossett Jr, Tom Bosely, Victor Borge, Alan Arkin, Alan Alda, Carol Channing, Martin Sheen, Sir John Gielgud, Martin Sheen, Buddy Hackett, Barbra Streisand, Maurice Chevelier. I even got the Nazis to work."
Luke: "You got who?"
Hilly: "I'm kidding. I even got a lot of right-wing people to support Dr. King's cause."
We look at a flier for a show called 'The Meeting.'
"In 1989, I produced a show for PBS about an apocryphal meeting between Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcom X.
"I did the first Athol Fugard play, the antiapatheid 'Sizwe Barnzi is Dead'. I also produced Athol's 'The Island.' That refers to the island that imprisoned Nelson Mandela and most of his followers. I saw Athol's two plays in London and I fell in love with them and I was determined to bring them over [to New York]. I did in partnership with several producers. The plays got brilliant reviews. Nobody at the time could pronounce 'apartheid', let alone know what it was. Nobody came. We kept the play open. We then won the first-ever double Tony [award] for the two South African performers, Winston Ntshona and John Kani. Then everybody came, for all the wrong reasons, and saw the play.
"I also did a play by my friend Gore Vidal, who's one of Claire's best friends. 'An Evening With Richard Nixon and his Friends.' We told the truth about Nixon and nobody believed us. It was three months before Watergate. We called him a thief and a liar. We closed in two weeks. It was Susan Sarandon's first play on Broadway."
Hilly points at another poster.
"I produced the first concert film - Richard Pryor: Live in Concert ."
Luke: "Are you married at the moment?"
Hilly: "No. I am living with the young lady I've been with for 18 years, Sandi Love, a former costume designer, who is much too smart to marry a five-time loser."
Luke: "I found this quote by author Kurt Vonnegut. 'I sold the rights to Cats Cradle for all eternity to Hilly Elkins. He's never done anything with it, never will, and won't sell it back.'"
Hilly: "Interesting you say that because I just closed a deal last week on Cat's Cradle.
"It was in the sixties and Kurt was broke. Strangely enough, I had some money, so I bought the rights for a good deal of money. He's quite right to be pissed off. It's one of my favorite pieces and I am going to get the bloody thing made."
Luke: "How long did you live in England?"
Hilly: "About four years."
Luke: "I don't hear many Americans using the word 'bloody.'"
Hilly: "I have this terrible habit, when I'm on the phone with someone from London, I get more and more British as the conversation goes on. Some of my best directors and wives have been British... Oh, never mind..."
Luke: "Who did you marry after Claire Bloom?"
Hilly: "A young lady named Juliette, who I'd known for years. We married a year after Claire and I parted."
Luke: "Was she another's producer's wife at the time?"
Hilly: "She was married to Andrzej Gutowski, who produced Roman Polanski's first film. My marriage to Juliette resulted in a son named Daniel, who's a chef living in France. My older boy is a song writer and a book writer. We are trying to produce his animated musical Romeo and Juliet."
Hilly refers to another poster on the wall.
"I did a concert in Israel for the Huberman Centenial. Huberman was a German violinist who started the Israeli Philharmonic. I learned about him while having a drink at the Hilton with Zuben Mehta, who was doing an extraordinary evening at the Mann Auditorium, with some of the world's best violinists - Yitzhok Pearlman, Pincus Zuckerman, Isaac Stern. The Jewish mafia. The concert lost a lot of money but I'm proud I did it."
At the end of the interview, Hilly shows me around his house. He shows me his collection of about 500 canes. I tell him it reminds me of Jay Bernstein's collection.
Hilly: "He copied that from me."
Hilly pretends to strike me with one cane. I grab it on his instruction. He pulls out a spike at the end and flourishes it like a sword.
I picked up Claire Bloom's book Leaving a Doll's House and read her sections on Hilly.
She describes him as shrewd, flamboyant, amusing, and unlike anyone she'd ever met. He exuded a threatening and intimidating sexuality. He also had an air of fearful anxiety, "the cornered look of a huckster waiting to be caught out." His extravagant lifestyle kept him just one step ahead of financial ruin.
When Claire's husband Rod Steiger, a father figure in her life, was preparing to leave for Russia to star in Sergei Bondarchuk's film Waterloo, he - in Claire's presence - called Hilly and asked him to take her out while he was away. Bloom was furious for being disposed of in this manner. She knew Hilly was a womanizer. Yet she felt strongly driven to Elkins' blatant sexuality.
Hilly and Claire went to dinner. Hilly was a buccaneer. He pursued her. Claire had never experienced a fulfilling sex life.
On their second date, they went back to his place and smoked marijuana. Her first time. She became turned on to the "neurotic turmoil that was Elkins' life."
Hilly demanded that Claire leave Steiger and marry him. She agreed.
The atmosphere in Hilly's office was like that of a bordello. Hilly was always coaxing investors over the phone. He was always on the hustle, short of funds. "He owned more shoes than Imelda Marcos and more suits than Liberace."
Hilly gave Claire a weekly allowance from her theater salary and used the rest of her income ostensibly to pay the rent and expenses. "This marriage had all the high living and dangerous excitement of a pulp novelette." Claire's daughter Anna was terribly unhappy.
"Elkins's entire being was centered on sexual gratification; his fantasies were alternately voyeuristic and sadistic. Inexperienced and sometimes apprehensive, I was a willing partner to his games stretching the boundaries of physical experience."
The rescue came from Hilly's success as a theatrical producer with two Ibsen plays starring Claire, A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler.
Claire bought a home in London. Hilly took great interest in its redecoration. He became friendly with the attractive owner of the local decorator's shop, Tricia Guild.
In her dressing room a few weeks later, Claire received a phone call from film producer Andrzej Gutowski. He said he had incontrovertible proof that Hilly and his wife Juliette were having an affair in Sardinia. Their affair had been arranged by Tricia Guild.
A week later, Hilly returned to New York with Juliette. Claire divorced Hilly. He married Juliette. They had a son Daniel. After three years of marriage, Juliette sought a divorce.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
My mother's life was saved by Hormone Replacement Therapy. She couldn't live without it. See her website at www.hormonesonline.com and her books on Amazon.com. So I asked her about this latest news. She writes:
This particular study was done using Premarin (horse estrogen) and Provera (synthetic progestin), and I have been speaking against both for over 20 years. This particular study was stopped because of the Provera not the Premarin. The arm of the study with only Premarin was continued in women who had hysterectomies (you only take progestin if you have a uterus).
This was not made clear by the media. The publicity and the way they stopped the study without talking to the country's experts and planning it (it was a bombshell for many doctors and patients) was irresponsible, I think. It's certainly a reversal for all who try to help women with hormonal problems.
Are natural hormones any better? We don't know because they aren't studying them. But we suspect they are. In a study some years back where there was an arm using natural progesterone, the cardiovascular events associated with the addition of the progestin part were halved compared to the Provera arm. I hope you can follow this. This action makes it much harder for the many women like me who need estrogen or they might as well be dead (for all sorts of reasons not just depression). Physicians will be reluctant to prescribe it because of suing possibilities.
They should do similar long-term trials with Prozac. I don't think it would come out too well.
Producer Edgar J. Scherick, 77 years old, was rushed by ambulance to Cedar Sinai hospital Saturday, July 6, suffering heart-attack-like symptoms. After numerous tests, the doctors concluded there had been no heart attack and he was released a week later.
I pay him a visit at home Monday afternoon, July 15. He seems sicker than usual. He's covered with black and blue splotches from all the blood tests he's endured.
I don't have any prepared questions for him for my book but I want to say hello. I remember how much I appreciated that when I was sick.
After a minute spent on his physical condition, Edgar cuts me off. "Do you want to talk about my health or do you want to about your book? How's it coming along?"
Edgar: "That's because you're not working hard enough. I think that you're in trouble with it. You have no focus."
I sit beside the bed.
Luke: "I need to find a narrative flow. What have you been doing?"
Edgar: "We have an idea for a movie, which I think I am going to sell. We've set up a series of appointments this week to sell it."
Luke: "You're going out to these appointments?"
Edgar: "Yes, all around town until I find a buyer."
Luke: "Which people in the industry know you best?"
Edgar: "Most people will give you superficial comments. Producer Dan Blatt knows me well. Bob Phillips. I could say Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg but they won't talk to you. Elaine May would be good.
Edgar's Phillipino maid Lynette brings me a class of water.
Luke: "If you were writing a book on producers, what questions would you ask them?"
Edgar: "What causes you to respond to a piece of material."
Luke: "What else would you want to know if you were going around talking to your peers?"
Edgar: "Are they getting laid."
Luke: "When producers turned to you for advice, what were their questions?"
Edgar: "What do you think I should do in this situation. I remember Marty Bregman was making Dog Day Afternoon. He was telling me stories about the [original] director. I said, 'Fire the sonofabitch!'
"We had a saying in our shop. 'Writers write, directors direct, actors act and producers produce.'"
Luke: "What were the most common problems producers turned to you for?"
Edgar: "Pictures were getting out of hand. There's nothing worse than a runaway picture."
Luke: "Did that ever happen to you?"
Edgar: "No. I went over budget but it was always controlled. Most people in Hollywood don't like to share their problems. They like to keep them quiet."
The conversation rambles.
Edgar: "Irwin Winkler and I didn't get along well. We were doing a picture once, 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?' I brought in Irwin and his partner Robert Chartoff. I have to give Irwin credit. He went to Europe and got Jane Fonda [to star]. There was a lot of internal warfare, firing of people."
Luke: "His doing or your doing?"
Edgar: "His doing. I wasn't strong enough to fire."
Luke: "You never had the desire to direct a movie?"
Edgar: "I directed in the middle of things. When they were making Heartbreak Kid, I went down to the set on a yacht club in Florida. [Director] Elaine May is f---ing around. I said, 'Elaine, let's get going.' She said, 'You direct it,' and walked off the set. So I directed the scene."
Luke: "So why do you think Hollywood is so afraid to tackle themes of organized religion in movies?"
Edgar: "I'm not sure people want to pay money to see pictures about organized religion."
The conversation rambles.
Edgar: "I wasn't crazy about that American Beauty picture. It was morbid, almost anti-American. It had no relief in it. It went one from one bad situation to another."
I'm fumbling for questions.
Luke: "What do you think your body of work says about you?"
Edgar: "That I'm interested in the human psyche, soul, morality. That I'm a man of taste."
Luke: "Have your attitudes to any of your movies changed over the years?"
Edgar: "Yes, For the Love of Ivy. I like that movie now more than when we finished it. It was racially forward.
"You better hurry up. I'm running out of gas."
Luke: "What were your weak points as a producer?"
Edgar: "Technical stuff. I didn't know about the different types of cameras..."
Luke: "What do you think of the Gay Mafia?"
Edgar: "Why are these people a mafia? Ridiculous."
Luke: "Has the Gay Mafia ever threatened you?"
Luke: "Threatened to break in and redecorate your apartment?"
Edgar's assistant Stephen: "They did, can't you see?"
Edgar: "I've had good relations with homosexuals."
Luke: "Because they find you attractive?"
Edgar: "No, because I respect their proclivities. I never tell a man who to do or how to live."
Luke: "If you had to wear a dress for an acting role, would you be willing to do it?"
Edgar: "Of course."
Luke: "What if you had to kiss another man in an acting role?"
Edgar: "It would depend on the script. There are men that I am attracted to but I don't kiss them.
"I worked on And the Band Played On [eventually produced by Aaron Spelling]. I was never comfortable with the material. The story just petered out at the end.
"I learned a lot about homosexual practices, fisting and things like that."
Luke: "Don't you think that's disgusting?"
Edgar: "No, it doesn't disgust me. It's not the most attractive thing I can think of."
Luke: "Do you think AIDS is God's punishment on homosexuals?"
Edgar was born Jewish but converted to Roman Catholicism in year 2000: "How's world Judaism?"
Luke: "Things have been better in Israel lately. We have Tishu'Bav Wednesday night, when we mourn the destruction of the two temples."
Edgar: "I may vacillate in my religion, but I've always been proud of my heritage. I have the blood of heroes in my veins."
Luke: "I've met this genius rabbi at shul who studies ten pages of Talmud a day. That's unheard of."
Edgar: "That's tricky stuff. It never says exactly what it means."
Luke: "It's the most difficult material I've ever studied."
Frank writes: Here are the things that I'd like to see told [about Edgar Scherick]:
1. The whole ABC-Wide World of Sports deal. How it came to be. What really was his relationship with Roon Arledge (sp?).
2. His experiences working with Betty Davis, Burt Lancaster, people of that caliber. He always had the best little anecdotes - such as talking to Jack Warner, or Katherine Hepburn. I remember once he showed me where she first met Spencer Tracey. Which she showed him once. Or like when they wanted Edgar to take over MGM, but he went off and did Palomar instead.
3. His involvement in the development of the made for TV movie. What did he think of it. Where does he think it's going. I guess, when I got the good stuff out of Edgar was when something had inspired him. Maybe we'd gone to a meeting somewhere or something. He could gush forth, but if you asked him about something directly you'd get nothing for your troubles.
You might also want to delve into his experiences in running ABC. That really was interesting, relationships with people like Michael Eisner, Scott Rudin. He's also very close with Marlo Thomas.
Luke Gets Mail
JMT writes: Luke, I no longer think the book should be titled "I Sat Down With . . . "
The hot title is right in the Jeff Wald Piece: "'Tonight, They Want You to Fuck Lassie' -- Hollywood Producers in their Own Words"
They can sell the book with a band of paper wrapped around it to cover up the word "fuck," and get a bunch of free publicity from it. You know, Walmarts in Alabama will refuse to stock it, whoever owns the rights to the Lassie name will threaten to sue, etc. etc. Plus, all the show business jerkoffs will have to actually *buy* a copy in order to look themselves up in the index, instead of just looking at it in Borders. The band of paper can have something like "The Explosive New Best-Seller by the Author of "A History of X" printed on it, for a little cross-promotion. Think about it. This could be big.
Chaim Amalek Travels Down Memory Lane
Chaim Amalek writes: Luke, back when I was a middle-aged man living on the Upper West Side, I spent a few years doing the Leftist thing. At first I was active in the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee", but had to quit that after one of our leafleteers ran into some trouble with the police down in Dallas. (He was murdered by a Chicago mobster WHILE in the custody of the police down there, if you can believe it!) Later on I joined the SDS, but had a falling out with them over the composition of the Port Huron Statement. That is about the time when I met Lyndon LaRouche and this woman who I think he married later on (memory is a bit fuzzy) - Helga, I think. Well to make a long story short, he and I cofounded The Caucus of Labor Committees, but had another falling out that would take these arthritic hands a bit too long to explain.
PS That Laura Fulani is a hottie, no?
Luke: Do you still support LaRouche?
Chaim: What can I say - in her day (which is to say, in my day), Helga Zep LaRouche had quite a rack on her.
Jeremy Steele Endorses Lyndon LaRouche
Actor Jeremy Steele writes: Hey Luke, how's Judaic life? Do you support Ariel Sharon?
Luke: "Yes, except I think he's too gentle with the Palestinians and the Islamic terrorists."
Jeremy replies: I think Sharon is a nazi terrorist and that the Palestinians are doing something out of mad desperation. I don't condone the suicide bombings, but Sharon has a war crimes history. He's got a final solution belief. We wrote an autobiography called "Warrior", and if you think he's not doing enough, I feel you're not aware of his true nature. I am not anti-semitist. I am pro-humanity. Even several hundred Israeli soldiers have refused to obey certain orders because they disagreed.
Rabin was assassinated by factions associated with Sharon because Rabin recognized peace is the only solution with Palestine and hard-line right wingers decided a coup d'tat was necessary. I already lost work for spouting out my political views to another guy named Ariel, who lived in Israel.
I do volunteer work for Lyndon La Rouche, Democrat for President. Check out www.larouchepub.com
Do you check out your old site, or are you through with it, entirely, even out of curiosity? I don't blame you if the latter is true. I'm still the black sheep they like to f--- with, but now that you're gone, it's even worse.
Luke: "Lyndon LaRouche? Now that's an interesting choice."
Jeremy: Oh. You know of him? What's your take?? Well, the latest turn of events is that I'm a bit fed up with some elements.. First of all, word has got around the local office that I'm in the biz.. and I'm starting to feel the way a big boobed secretary might feel, in a way.. like I'm the butt of some underground comedy. Plus, the latest news to me, which was first mentioned by Paul Fishburn when he quoted some La Rouche quotes as he was mocking him and my "worshipping" of him, is that The Beatles supposedly had no talent, and were part of a British conspiracy to put out anti-revolutionary music.. well the latter I can believe, but.. I think they have talent. Another guy said that Pink Floyd sucks too. All they want to do is sit around and listen to Bach and Mozart, which is nice, but...
I've also tried to share alternative info on the AIDS question, but that's the one thing that they seem to have in common with most entities, that there is no controversy about AIDS, when there, in fact, is (although it is suppressed). Also, I don't want to be a f--king martyr for a bunch of thankless mindless, masses, anyways. I still think La Rouche is the best candidate, and is on the ball, generally, regarding the global political scene, and hope against reality that he wins. But most of all, I got a beautiful opporunity to get in the music scene with someone who means much to me (Although the La Rouche campaign would say I'm wasting my time). I'm recording for two hours an acoustic song which I plan to have in my xxx Athena Rolando movie, "Roommate Crazy".
Jeremy Steele sings:
Wanna tell ya 'bout a job that's fun
And then the work is done
I'm dreaming of
I'm just a xxx star (3x)
I'm getting paid
Well, my ---- is happy it seems
I'm dreaming of
(Me and bar crowd singing:) LA- LA LA- LA LA- LA LA LA- LA LA LA
This is what I risk my life for
Does your heart bleed?
I'M JUST A XXX STAR! (3x)
I'm dreaming of a girl that I love
Jeremy Steele - The New Rosa Parks?
Jeremy Steele leaves this message on Luke's answer machine: "I'm pissed off because I did a job for the Playboy Channel - Sexy Urban Legends. And I just got told that I can't use the name Jeremy Steele because it has been copyrighted by SAG. Which is an absurdity. I've paid my dues [to SAG]. I've been in 150 movies. And they're suddenly saying that I can't have that name on the credits. I don't know if I have to change it to Jeremy F---ing Steele or take an "e" off... It's like Rosa Parks had to move to her own part of the bus... I wondered if you had any advice."
Mark writes: "I have some advice. Drive to Burbank and stop at Sleep and Save mattress warehouse. Pick up a twin size mattress. Then drive to Glendale and stop at Home Depot. Next proceed to drive to West Hollywood. Stand on Santa Monica Blvd, lay the mattress on the curb. Assume a prone position with your exposed butt in the air. Place a bottle of lube beside you and start yelling “Curb Service!! COME AND GET IT . . . Curb Service!! COME AND GET IT !!!” This is the best advice you will ever get Jeremy."
From QuasarmanRants.com: This is the saga of Jeremy Steele, sometime actor, full time brooding maniac. Now let me begin by saying that though I have nothing against this man personally, pretentious pseudonymns have always angered me. Be it spandex clad rock dudes from the eighties or creepy xxx actors from the nineties, the manufactured surname of "Steele" is the height of pomp and pretense.
Over the past few months the inane ramblings of Jeremy Steele have been appearing with great frequency on Luke Ford.com, himself a full time brooding maniac but at least one who keeps his toplofty commentary to a minimum. It began innocently enough with Steele simply posting solicitations for people to listen to his songwriting skills on MP3.com (www.mps.com/jeremysteele). Then he began dispensing advice to those wayward souls whose social interaction consists of thrice daily trips to LukeFord.com and the occasional anonymous conversation with a 58 year old man posing as an 18 year old girl in a chatroom somewhere. Still, I had no beef with him. I don't remember the exact moment when things got ugly but when they did it happened very quickly.
About an hour into the Luke & Jimmy Show show, we called Mike McCormick from QuasarmanRants.com. Mike attended the Royal Conservatory for music during high school. At least until he turned 16 and dyed his hair black.
Mike: "Have you had Jeremy Steele on your show?"
Luke: "Not today. He had to work at Babenet."
Mike: "When you hear talent like Jeremy Steele, it warms your soul and causes you to pick up the torch and go forth with your own dreams. So I sat down and penned a couple of ditties in honor of Jeremy Steele.
"The first song I would like to sing is to the tune of Elton Johns "Candle in the Wind." Unlike Jeremy Steele, I don't have repetoire of 1500 songs that I've written. So I had to steal someone else's song and come up with my own lyrics. I've entitled this "Psycho With A Grudge."
Mike: "Now I have to stop because there is someone at my door."
Jim: "Oh, I thought that was your dog harmonizing with you. To hear the rest of the song, you're going to have to call me back in five minutes."
We hang up on Jeremy and talk amongst ourselves for five minutes. I get this email from Mike: "I'm in the process of selling my home. My agent is here and will be for 20 minutes. I hope you'll let me finish my loving tribute to jeremy steele or you can call me back RIGHT NOW while she's in the car writing up paper work."
Luke: "What's the matter, you can't make the payments?"
Mike: "I can make the payments. We just want to move to a bigger house in Northridge."
Jim: "Mike can make the payments, it's just that he has this deal where Metro is supposed to cut the checks, and for some reason he suddenly finds himself being evicted."
Mike: "I resent those comments."
Luke: "Are you moving because your neighborhood has too many orthodox Jews in it?"
Mike: "No, they've actually driven up the property values... It's only because I live amongst the Jews that my house is so over-valued and I am able to sell it at a handsome profit and buy a much larger property in the Northridge area. God bless the Jews."
You crawled out of the woodwork,
And it seems to me that you lived your life
I wish that you'd stop singing
Songwriting is tough
Even when you die
And it seems to me that you lived your life
I wish that you'd stop singing
Jim: "Do you think the rest of the world knows what incredibly entertaining humor exists in this business?"
Mike: "I only hope that I have done justice to Jeremy Steele. I have another song, "The Ballad Of Jeremy Steele."
1996 I started a ---- movie
My name is Jeremy Steele
It's true my personality
I'm better than the Beatles
My name is Jeremy Steele
Mike: "I just want to dedicate that to the great artist who has given so much to all of us."
Jim: "We're never going to get another star to come on this show and sing because they're gonna think that Mike McCormick will turn around and write songs about them."
Mike: "This was a special occasion.
"Everybody [Nina Whett, Kendra Jade, etc] seems to have started a music career since that VH1 ---- To Rock special."
Jim: "I'd like to get some Matt Zane music on here."
Mike: "It wouldn't be quite as melancholic and soulfull as 'The Ballad of Jeremy Steele.'"
Jim: "Do you think Jeremy is listening? No, he's at Babenet. He can't."
Jim: "He'll listen later on, when he's tending to the callouses.... Late at night, when he's rubbing cornhusker's lotion on to his ...."
Mike: "But think about how many times Jimmy you and I have done that very same thing for free. He's earning a living.
"I remember shooting a scene at 2:30 in the morning at Jimmy's guesthouse and you [Jim] were snoring through it."
Jim: "Yes, it was with Christina Angel, who was also fast asleep."
Luke: "Mike, I am disappointed by the lack of output of late on QuasarmanRants.com."
Mike: "Initially I had a lot of stuff built up from years of being in this business, pent up, ready to explode, and I've let most of it out now. And I don't get a great deal of email and submissions from the general audience, so I usually don't feel like sitting down and doing something creative."
Luke: "Have you been writing more of your great scripts?"
Luke: "Have you been writing more of your crumby scripts?"
Mike: "No. I found a person who works for a mainstream employment company who gets a kick out of writing scripts for these movies. So I've been getting them from him. I couldn't write another script if my life depended on it."
Jeremy Steele Believes He's Been Screwed By Playboy Accountant
Jeremy Steele writes: Hey Luke, If you look at the word "Accountant", you'll find the words to describe Playboy t.V. Accountant Katherine Swanson... >AcCoUNTant<. I've been waiting for months now to have a doctored paperwork dispute resolved with Playboy Television. Here is the letter I sent Laurinda Cocchiaro regrarding their accountant:
I have an extremely serious complaint regarding Accountant Katherine Swanson. Having worked for Playboy Television three times now (I played defendant Jim Dart in Julie Strain's Sex Court, and in one episode of Sexy Urban Legends I played Marqui De Sade, and in another the first of two victims in episode; Organ Donor) winning three auditions, I have gone from regarding myself as being treated with respect and dignity analogous to any mainstream television or motion picture actor by all the participants in the projects, from producers and directors, on down, to the feeling of a black man after being hosed down by fire hoses during the days of civil disobediance, thanks to Katherine Swanson.
I've been working in film, television and modeling since 1990, and never, in my 32 years have I ever been so nastily and derogatorily treated, insulted, yelled at, put off, and threatened by any office professional before. There is noone who has remotely come to displaying such abusive behavior in my entire life experience, on a business level. I will give her credit for being offensive in a very efficient manner. She parlayed more insults and ultimatums upon me in a quick stint of time than I've ever witnessed, and being from New York, where people usually talk, think, and move faster and oftentimes with more sarcasm or even, at times wit or abrasion, I have to say, that, minus, the wit, she takes the cake.
I was transferred to Swanson regarding a couple of matters; mainly, of relevance to her, the question of a payroll discrepency I had. When I had first spoken with her, I had just finished speaking briefly with a nice gentlemen who had called me regarding a problem he told me of; specifically, being able to use my stage name, Jeremy Steele in the credits of the Sexy Urban Legends: Organ Donor episode.
Strangely enough, I was going to call Playboy the same morning I was called first, regarding my pay discrepency, but instead, got caught up in the stage name question. The gentlemen, who I believe was an assistant to Swanson, kindly told me that my name is registered with the Screen Actor's Guild, and that I, therefore can not use it. I kindly, in return, protested that, since this was a non-union project, that it was outside S.A.G. jurisdiction, and having used my stage name in a good number of non S.A.G. movies, I insisted I was entitled to keep my name.
The assistant said he would get back to me, regarding this matter. Then I mentioned, while I was still on line with him, that I also needed to discuss my payroll discrepency. I explained how I just worked two days on S.U.L: Organ Donor for $1000.00, but that my net check was just cents over $580.00, and that there was a mistake on the deductions, because I always claim 9 dependents (as I have on my previous two Playboy jobs) and my check had me listed with 1 dependent.
When I was transferred to Accountant Swanson, I was in a friendly but mature tone, as I was with the gentlemen I had just spoke with. I mentioned that I had a payroll dispcrepency, but firstly, since it was the most recent subject of conversation, and also, since the assistant suggested speaking to Accountant Swanson for further explanation of the stage name matter, I mentioned that I had just been called regarding it, as I was preparing to call accounting regarding my original concern.
She parlayed in a completely descending, yet authoritative tone that I have absolutely no choice about having to change my name for the credits. I kindly insisted otherwise, and noted that the gentlemen I just spoke with is going to get back to me regarding it. However, the main matter I needed to discuss had to do with my withholdings, which mistakingly had "1" on it, whereby I lost several hundred dollars I was depending on, at the time. She responded, that is what I put down, and she acknowleded that on my previous jobs for Playboy, I had stated nine dependents, but not this time.
I said that I'm certain I did not write "1". Swanson most angrily fired back at me, to paraphrase, that "How dare you insinuate that Playboy would doctor your paperwork?!" I responded by saying that we are all human, and that someone must have made a mistake, and then I asked her if she would kindly fax to me the paper that I allegedly filled out with one dependent. She said ok.
The fax I received confirmed that I was correct. The top portion of the page was filled out with my handwriting, but the bottom portion, which included the tax exemptions portion, was, except for my signature, in a completely different handwriting. This reminded me, in a flashback, of the day I was told that I had won the audition.
I was in the Playboy Television offices, right after the second audition, where I was told that I got the part. Producer Beth Polsky and Assistant Michael Lerner gave me call time and location information. One of them (I can't remember which; It might have been another assistant who I was talking to, as well) told me to fill out just the top portion of my paper work, with name and social security number, and sign the bottom, and that they will fill out the rest for me, based on my preexisting data. Assuming that it was ok to do what they told me, and being in a good and non-suspecting mood, I said, "Ok".
As soon as I received the fax, I called Swanson back. She was not there to answer, so I left a message that my paperwork shows, clear as night and day, two distinctly different handwritings on the top and bottom portions, and to please get back to me regarding this matter. She never did.
A couple of days later, I left another message. Then a few days later, another, asking her to please get back to me, and still, she never did. A day after leaving my last message, I received a phone call from the attorneys for Playboy, Anat Levy and Associates, by a very nice lady, saying that there is no problem with me maintaining my stage name, "Jeremy Steele", and all I have to do is fax and mail back a waiver they would send, basically stating that Playboy is free of resposibility in case S.A.G., or any union, has a problem with it. I took care of the matter, and thanked those I spoke with for their kindness and attention.
Following that, that same afternoon, I tried once more to reach Playboy Television Accountant Katherine Swanson, and finally, I got through to her. I said, "Hi, This is Jeremy Steele". From her end, was only silence. Then I said that I first of all, wanted to inform her, for her information, that I had just settled the matter regarding my stage name with the attorneys for Playboy and that I can keep my stage name, after all. She responded, angrily that the matter is not in her department and none of her business. So, I reminded her that she was the one who offered, in the first place, that I had no choice in the matter about having to change my name. Again, she was silent, so, I added, to keep the conversation rolling, that I had been leaving messages for her regarding the payroll problem and she said, "Too Bad. What's done is done. Nothing's going to change. And you better stop complaining and bothering me about it, because if you ever work for Playboy again, and want to see ever see a check again, you better Shut Up! "
And then she just hung up on me before I could even respond. That was the letter. It's been nearly two months since this incident, and every time I think about it, I still get seethingly angry. I am, by no, means, I psychopath, or unibomber type. Still, if it wasn't for the knowledge of law and it's consequences, who knows what I might have done by now. I was wanting to go into the office and raise hell. But, I am a civil person. I'm still waiting for my payroll discrepency to be properly addressed and corrected.
Also, honestly, I'd love to see this #*$%@*%#$!! get what she deserves. Certainly she does not represent the image Playboy has. And to top it all off, I actually have a subsciption to Playboy. I've spoken with a total of three people who know Swanson well, and have had experiences with her, and they have all used the word "Major Bitch" to describe her, as well as the "C---" word. One friend, who I met on the last set, said he was screwed on his paycheck two, and that the payroll dedcuted too much, but he doesn't want to expend his energy and time pursuing it.
I have two good friends who have been to the playboy mansion many times. They gave me Hugh Hefner's Secretary Jenny's number. I've thought about, if nothing gets resolved, standing outside Wishire Blvd with an angry sign in my hand, having my friend film it and send it in to TV news shows. These are not threats. Just my thoughts. I hope you understand how I feel, and I certainly hope the correct and fair steps are taken to resolve this matter, bring closure to this situation.
John Cleese Scorched
I spoke with an important figure behind the new movie Scorched.
XXX: "John Cleese says that people quote lines to him from Monty Python all the time. And people don't realize that he did that many years ago and he doesn't remember all the lines."
Luke: "I'm not star struck, but John Cleese..."
"Woody Harrelson doesn't like air conditioning because of the environmental hazard of the freon. He doesn't do anything against the environment, even when it comes down to his own comfort like air conditioning. Alicia Silverstone is heavily involved with environmental causes too. That's how she initially met Woody. Both are strict vegans. Alicia recycles paper. So when you get a fax from her, her contract has something else on the back page. She drives an electric car. Woody's bus is powered by alternative fuel.
"I think people can relate to the characters in Scorched, to the feeling of needing to break out of a rut. I hope they don't rob a bank like the characters in the movie.
"I don't think a lot of people got this about the movie, but the metaphor for the entire movie is that the cheese stands alone. It's a whole ladder of people eating people and cheese is at the bottom. Cheese is the last thing in the chain to get eaten. All these characters, before they take action, are the cheese. They are at the bottom of the pile.
"In the movie, the character Rick Becker, just as the third act is starting and all the other characters are taking action, has an epiphany and stands up on the rock and says, 'The cheese stands alone.' It's an intelligent screenplay."
Luke: "Were you troubled that all the lead characters get away with robbing the bank?"
XXX: "Yes. We had many discussions about that. We tried to justify it by the fact that nobody is getting hurt. One of the characters wins in Las Vegas and he puts the money back in the vault. Woody steals from John Cleese, who's not a nice guy and the money is unrecorded money (cheating on taxes). The only one who really steals the money is Alicia. She makes this comment, 'Whoever stops from doing something because it is illegal.' We had a lot of discussion about that. She embellished that line and we ended up taking it out because we felt that it crossed the line.
"It's a fine line. Like in Drowing Mona, they get away with murder. You justify it by saying that everybody hated her."
Soldiers of Allah - Top Islamic Rappers ... YES Rappers!
I been bumpin' to da funky fresh beats of the Soldiers of Allah. Check out their new MP3 "They Can't Stop Islam." Word!
Luke Sleeps in a Real Bed
For the first time in ten months, I did not sleep on my floor. Saturday night I slept in a real bed. And I couldn't fall asleep until 5AM.
I spent the non-shabbos part of the weekend in Long Beach.
Amalek18: What important lessons do you learn from this?
Daily Variety Announces High Budget Remake Of David Cronenberg's Scanners
Daily Variety says that Pierre David will produce a high budget theatrical remake of the 1981 David Cronenberg horror film Scanners for Artisan Entertainment.
Here's a review of the original on Imdb.com: "This has got to be one of the best horror films ever made. David Cronenberg knows how to make a good thought-provoking horror film, whilst entertaining us with gory special effects. Kevin Williamson could never match the powers of the darkside unlike Cronenberg. Whilst Kevin gives HIS audience cheap shocks, storylines, and downbeat endings, David gives a full assault on the senses, he was one of the main inspirations for all the Manga cartoons you see today."
From the 7/14/02 Daily Variety: In its first substantial fright foray since "The Blair Witch Project," Artisan Pictures will remake "Scanners," the 1981 David Cronenberg thriller best remembered for its exploding head finale. Artisan Pictures president of development and production Richard Saperstein made the deal with rights holders Pierre David and Rene Malo, who'll produce with Clark Peterson.
David ran a large indie production company in Canada that exploited tax shelter benefits to make that film along with the Cronenberg-directed "The Brood" and "Videodrome." Since Malo financed them, he held the rights, which explains why the writer-director wasn't involved in the transaction.
"We were approached by Artisan just as we were about to hire a showrunner to do a TV series based on 'Scanners,' " said David. "But they persuaded us the film could reach new audiences unfamiliar with the original," he explained.