Producer Pierre David
I interviewed producer Pierre David July 12, 2002 at his Beverly Hills office.
Pierre: "I grew up in Montreal. My dad, Paul David, was a cardiologist. After his retirement, he became a senator. In Canada, senators are appointed, not elected. My mom was a writer under the name Anne-Marie. The eldest son, I was followed by four sisters and a brother. My eldest sister Francoise was the head of the women's federation of Quebec. My sister Therese helps run the Canadian TV network TQS. My sister AnneMarie teaches social work. My sister Helene is a psychologist. My brother Charles Phillip is a world authority on defense. He's a Fulbright scholar. He's published about six books.
"I spent almost three years in Rwanda, Africa. I was a high school teacher and then I worked with the government to help get them Canadian aid. I got my degree in teaching from the University of Montreal. I then went to Paris for a year to study public relations. I hung out with people from radio and became the Paris correspondent for a Montreal network. I worked for 15 years for the [French] Mutual Broadcasting Network based in Montreal.
"The owner decided to get into television. He decided to go to Cannes to buy movies for the network. We called our friends at Odeon Theaters, one of Canada's two large theater chains. We all went to Cannes in 1972. I knew nothing about movies. We came back with a couple of horrible Italian action movies with American stars who lived in Italy. It snowballed from there.
"I created Mutual Films. We were distributing up to 40 films a year, everything from Truffaut to Serge Leone's movies. Then French-Canadian filmmakers came to us to finance and distribute their movies. I started taking executive producer credits.
"I met Barbara Boyle and Bob Rehme who worked for Roger Corman. We started New World Mutual Films of Canada. Mutual Films being my company and New World being Roger Corman's company. We became the largest independent distributor in Canada. Tax shelters were flourishing in Canada. Hundreds of millions of dollars went into movies. There was more money than scripts.
"I made the David Cronenberg movies The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981) and Videodrome (1983). I also made some dogs. I should not touch comedy. Hog Wild, Gas. They are campy they are so bad.
"I was instrumental in Arnold Kopelson's career. When I first met him, around 1976, he was a lawyer in New York. He was doing tax deals. He brought in my 1981 movie Dirty Tricks.
"I was friendly with [Italian director] Sergio Leone. Sergio was upset at his American distributors. I told him that Arnold Kopelson would do well by him. I called Arnold."
Pierre: "Arnold, you know Sergio Leone?"
Pierre: "Sergio Leone. He makes spaghetti westerns."
Arnold: "Oh yeah, I've heard of him."
Pierre: "You can have his next movie."
Arnold: "Why would I want a movie by an Italian?"
Pierre: "You don't understand. These movies have a following."
Arnold: "Yeah, well, it'll be my standard deal. Tell him..."
Pierre: "No, no, no. This is an enormous name. You have to go to Rome to sell yourself."
Arnold: "What? Me have to go sell myself?"
Pierre: "You have to go sell yourself and trust me, you can make a lot of money."
Pierre: "So Arnold borrowed the money to fly first class because Arnold would never fly economy. He went to Rome. He was impressed by Leone. Saw his work. And Arnold came back with the movie My name is Nobody. Arnold made a deal with Universal Pictures for US distribution. I distributed it in Canada. Arnold made $300,000 and he used that money to buy his present house on Sunset Blvd.
"I moved to Los Angeles May 1, 1983. Arnold sponsored me for my greencard. He asked me to be president of his production company. I put at least 20 projects into development. I left as Platoon went into production.
"I remember when I called agent Jeff Berg at ICM, who represented Oliver Stone, and asked for an option on Platoon for a few months, he said, you can have any option you want. Nobody has been able to put it together and you won't be able to. It's a waste of time.
"It had gone to every producer.
"Platoon came to Arnold's desk. He read it. I read it. I found a domestic distribution deal. It was not easy as everybody had already passed on it.
"I went to Barbara Boyle (head of production under Mike Medavoy at Orion), who agreed to read it. She changed her mind about it because of her kids. They asked her what she was reading. She said a really good script about the Vietnam war, but who wants to see that? Her kids said, mom, we talk about Vietnam in school. We ask questions. We're interested. That was a revelation. She came back Monday morning and said, let's do this. Pierre, my kids want to know about the Vietnam War. What if other kids want to know about the Vietnam War? We will make the movie. We will give you the money for US rights.
"That immediately triggered the sale of the foreign rights and Arnold went to make the movie. We then parted company."
Luke: "What ended your relationship with Arnold Kopelson?"
Pierre: "Egos. We liked each other but we didn't see eye to eye and it became better that we didn't work together.
"I then became a partner with Larry Thompson, an important manager and maker of TV movies. He wanted to get into features.
"After a while, I decided I didn't want to be in a partnership anymore. I made a list of the things I wanted to do in life. I want to make decisions. I want to do things with Canada. I want to travel. I want to sell. I decided to create a sales company. I became the chairman and CEO of Image Organization. I opened my door in 1987. Over 12 years, I sold over $180 million worth of movies. I produced 30-40 movies, including martial arts movies and realistic thrillers. In 1997, I sold the company. It was a way to get out of the 18-hours a day, seven days a week work schedule I'd maintained all these years.
"I then went to WIN, where they asked me to keep making the same sort of thrillers, like The Perfect Tenant, The Perfect Nanny and The Perfect Wife. I like to make well-made low budget thrillers about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Over the past two years, I've had eight movie premieres on the Lifetime network.
"A couple of months ago, I asked myself again if I was going to retire. I decided no. I would start again. I revived my company Lance Entertainment. It's about my sixth reinvention of myself."
Luke: "Tell me about producer Denise Di Novi."
Pierre: "Denise DI Novi was introduced to me by Arnold Kopelson. They'd met on the movie Final Assignment. She was smart. She could read 15 scripts over a weekend and give succinct coverage. We were a good match. An interesting thing about this business is that there are times when it is good for two people to work together and it is good for you to split. Denise split and became a successful producer.
"The reason that David Cronenberg and I have not worked more together is that he became more esoteric. Because I come from distribution and marketing, when he wanted to make movies like Naked Lunch, I just didn't want to take the risk.
"I remember Bob Rehme from [Roger Corman's] New World Pictures. Who knew that this young wholesome guy would become president of the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences].
"LA is a tough town. I always feel that I am on location here. I am not going to die here. I will go back to Montreal at some point. It took me many years to not live my life according to Variety. I'd wake up and see that this guy has been promoted. Let's have lunch with him. Lunch, dinner and breakfasts, everything was business. And if somebody lost his job at a studio, somebody I was developing projects with, and there was a management change, I was crushed. My projects were put into turnaround.
"I lived through Bob Rehme leaving Universal and Frank Price coming in. I was in the room when Bob heard. I saw all the politics and what it does to people, who are always on edge and afraid of losing something. You are so insecure. There is such a rage to succeed. It's not normal. It's not like this in other cities. In Montreal, we had a life. I had friends who were not in the business. Here every conversation, morning to night, from my dentist to potential girlfriends, is what are you doing? What can you do for me? What can I do for you?"
Luke: "Why have you never married?"
Pierre: "My shrink would have a much more complex answer but I think that I am a workaholic. I had something to prove to my family. I've had a girlfriend for three years. By the time your book is published, I will either be married and divorced, or married and happy or I will not have committed. God only knows."
Luke: "What does your body of work say about you?"
Pierre: "A lot of people have asked me, 'Why are you not making more movies like Internal Affair, Platoon, Deep Cover? Why have you decided to make so many low-budget movies? Why didn't you stay in the big movie business?'
"I don't like to have my projects at the mercy of a studio. I've had control over my low-budget movies. I've made the movies I've wanted to make.
"Even my own girlfriend says, 'Pierre, make bigger movies.' When you're not Scott Rudin or Joel Silver, you can't get everything you want made. I don't want to be one of the guys who schlep around scripts or projects they are trying to sell. I am making movies. Everything in my smaller movies has my signature. Nobody can change a line in the script without asking me. I check every costume, every car, every location."
I interview Pierre 7/31/02.
Luke: "Tell me about a producer you admire."
Pierre: "Jake Eberts, who wrote My Indecision is Final, a big thick book that I couldn't put down. I admire him because: A. He did high quality projects like Chariots of Fire, The Mission and Gandhi. B. He made them independently, raising the money from everywhere. C. He was an active producer. D. He followed the release and made sure the movie got the optimal audience.
"Some people go the studio route, which is much easier. Some people do split rights with foreign and domestic. I admire people who take risks and jump through hoops to get it done. What I don't admire is people filming deals. You get the money from France and Luxembourg, now what can fit it? Let's devise something."
Luke: "I read an interesting article by Jeffrey Wells about Hollywood players like John Carpenter who've fallen apart after they split from their wife."
Pierre: "There are good teams that together are able to do good stuff and when they split, they can't get it together. Some people work better alone. Arnold and Anne Kopelson work together well. I'm in offices with two other producers, Tom Bery and Michael Levy. We are happy when one of us has something that happens. It gives us energy and motivation."
Luke: "Who are some of the most memorable personalities you've encountered in your career?"
Pierre: "[Italian director] Sergio Leone. I got to know him well because I was distributing his movies in Canada. First I had to convince him that I was the right person to acquire his movies. His spaghetti westerns were enormously popular in French Canada. I went to his house many times in Rome. He was a force of nature. He was a visionary. I saw him shooting a movie in the middle of a desert in Arizona. And he was totally at ease. He captured a certain feel for America. He had passion and enthusiasm that was contagious. He was eccentric, dictatorial, difficult, moody and brilliant.
"I remember taking him on his first trip to Canada. Everybody wanted to meet him, including Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. I went to dinner at Pierre's house with Sergio and Arnon Milchan. After dinner, Pierre, Serge and Arnon started a long conversation on film. Meanwhile, Margaret showed me the house and we ended smoking together and talking about her problems with the prime minister. They were about to separate.
"I admired Claude Lelouch [sentimental French director]. He built an empire with his own production and distribution company. He made the movies he wanted to make.
"Ned Tanen is the kind of executive I wish every studio had. Passionate, supportive and willing to risk. He told me once, 'Pierre, you are so passionate about this, go do it. I will give you a few dollars.' People who've worked with Ned Tanen will tell you that as complex and moody and eccentric as he was, he had a true passion for what he did.
"Yes, he passed on some movies he shouldn't have. He told me I was crazy to try to pursue Platoon. But at least he made decisions. He didn't go through committees.
"David Cronenberg. Talk about complex. This guy started as a maker of C movies but quickly made movies that people talked about and he achieved cult status. We parted ways because he wanted to take more risk than I was willing to take. Naked Lunch for example. I couldn't understand it. He makes movies that nobody else does. He found a way to be an original and stay in Toronto and not be contaminated by the system.
"I loved to work with him because it was never about ego. It was about what's right for the movie. If I could rationally convince him he was wrong, he'd change in a minute.
"Writer Henry Bean. I met him on Internal Affairs and then we did Deep Cover together. He's open to discussing points and he will never let it go until we come to an understanding. On our two movies, we wanted to go deep into our characters, and not just do action movies."
Luke: "Are there things you do just for appearances?"
Pierre: "When I came to LA, I thought the only way to succeed here was to spend my life wooing people. I almost never had a dinner where I did not invite an executive from a studio or a director or writer. I did this constantly for a couple of years. Then, I became frustrated. I was spending no time with my real friends.
"I have not found being social has made an enormous difference. I no longer feel I need to cultivate every agent. If I find the right project and acquire the right rights, the agents will call me. I now prefer to spend time developing a script than to go to party after party.
"Some people go to parties, meet people and develop projects. Look at Elie Samaha. He's the reverse of me. He's made a business out of socializing. He gets the stars and then the stars bring the financing for the projects."
Luke: "Which of your movies have been the most heartbreaking?"
Pierre: "Videodrome, just after Scanners. The production was well planned. Universal was our partner. My first studio partner. We had James Woods, Debbie Harry. I thought we had an exceptional movie. Then we tested it in Boston and it was a disaster. People walked out. People booed. In hindsight, we were probably ahead of our time. It became a cult classic on video. There's not a week that goes by without several people telling me, 'Oh my God, you made Videodrome, one of the best movies of its time.'
"Universal said, 'Good job Pierre. You delivered the movie you promised. The timing is wrong.'"
Luke: "The one project you are most disappointed not making?"
Pierre: "The Practice. A script I developed at Mutual in Canada about doctors influenced by drug companies. Universal bought it. It then went to Paramount. It ended up at Columbia. I had it all set to go. Tom Mankiewitz was going to direct. Ted Danson was going to star. Five weeks before shooting, Ted Danson pulled out. We could never get it back on track."
Luke: "What does your body of work says about you?"
Pierre: "Someone looking at the whole body of work, since my French-Canadian films to my bigger films to my smaller films, would be confused.
"I protect my independence. I've always done what I wanted to do. I've always been my own boss. I've always wanted to have control to make the movies I want to make. I am not going to wait and wait on a project, and put months and years of energy behind it, and then not see it happen. I'm a control freak. I'm dedicated to producing quality. Unless they talk to me, they would not understand why I haven't made more big movies. The reason is that I prefer to work hard in my office and make things happen in my own way."
Luke: "You don't like pitching?"
Pierre: "I hate to sell. I'm supposedly good at it. If I'm convinced of something, I hate having to convince somebody else."
I point to a picture on the wall.
Luke: "How did you get that picture with Ronald Reagan?"
Pierre: "My friend Clark Petersen was friendly with someone working on Reagan's staff. So one day, Clark asked me if I wanted to meet Ronald Reagan. I said absolutely. It was a year after he left office. It was wonderful. We spoke for about an hour about movies. He showed me stuff on the wall about all the movies he made. He told me anecdotes. He forgot some of them. He told, it was touching, 'I don't know what's happening to me these days. I keep forgetting stuff.' It was the early stages of Alzheimers. Politics was barely mentioned. I was talking to an actor who was happy to talk to a person in the business that he knew so well.
"His charisma was unbelievable. When he smiled and said hello, he made you feel like a million bucks. I understand why this guy was so popular."
Luke: "Have you ever worked on a film that's changed you?"
Luke: "Have you ever made films that have changed other people?"
Pierre: "Maybe more in my French Canadian art phase. Those films had more of a message. Panic was about water pollution. The movies I've made in the States are pure entertainment."
Luke: "Are there common themes that you like to explore in your movies?"
Pierre: "I've always been intrigued by obsession. I'm intrigued by the behavior of people who surprise me. I found out that five percent of nannies have a criminal record. I kept hearing from people, 'All nannies are weird.' I heard all these bizarre stories about nannies. That inspired my movie for Lifetime, The Perfect Nanny. I created the character of a woman who's obsessing with the man of the house, a widower. I directed Serial Killer. It dealt with the Catholic upbringing of Kim Delaney. I'm fascinated by serial killers. I read all of John Douglas's books [criminal profiler]. I like to present characters who are far out - psychopaths, sociopaths..."
Luke: "Have you noticed common ways that producers illegally line their pockets?"
Pierre: "There's this image of the producer with a Rolls Royce and a cigar. Like every other profession, producers are a mixed bag. You don't train to be a producer. You don't get a diploma to be a producer. It's like a manager. Anyone can be a manager or a producer. You have characters from all walks of life becoming producers. Some do it because they love film, because they want to make money, because they want to f--- the stars, because they want the high life, because they want to go to Cannes...
"If you want to be dishonest, you can. There are all sorts of ways. You can sell stuff to yourself. You can make a deal with the supplier of the camera for a percentage [kickback]. You can inflate certain costs. You can sell the rights to a movie for a certain price, make the movie for much less, and put all the money in your pocket. I think it's less possible [to do these things] as the industry becomes more structured, with all kinds of checks and controls, and more auditing, and more corporate and public companies.
"I see a lot of producers who cut their fees and invest part of their salary to get the movie made. I've done that.
"The image of all the big producers smoking cigars and eating at Ma Maison may have been true in the 1980s, but it isn't now. Sure, you may cheat on a few expense accounts and bill a few lunches and dinners to the production, sure, everybody does that. It's peanuts. I consider myself very honest. I've never stiffed anybody."
Luke: "The popular image is that producers are sleazeballs.
"What impact have the Weinsteins had on the independent scene?"
Pierre: "Enormous. It showed you could make money on independent films. Bob Shaye [CEO of New Line] proved it. Mark Amin [Lions Gate] proved it. The Weinsteins proved it. I remember paying for dinner for Bob Shaye's team in Cannes because they didn't have the money to go to a good restaurant. It was right before Nightmare on Elm Street, when the company almost went bankrupt."
Pierre's girlfriend Sophie walks in. They go to lunch.
You Need To Work On Your Listening Skills
Instead of confronting people, I've decided to just use my website to vent.
I enjoy talking to you. You know a lot of Torah. I understand you have no interest in listening to most Americans because they are stupid. But I really think it is important that you work on your listening skills. You talk all the time and other people get worn out.
I have a friend who has a yeshiva background and good knowledge of text, and he avoids getting into a conversation with you because you just don't listen.
My Hurt Feelings
Hi, Thanks for your help. I look forward to getting together again soon.
I thought a long time before writing this... But I think that it is best that I come out and say it. I could just store it away, as I usually do, and not say anything. Because, after all, I did ask for it. But I'm going to do something unusual and share my hurt feelings.
You were brutal. You were really brutal.
I asked you for help fashioning my story. I did not ask for your opinion on the validity of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and my Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the like. You have no idea about the validity of my illnesses and my problems and it is not your place to trash them or dismiss them as selfserving fabrications. I would never tell you your problems were your own fault, even if they were...
You are welcome to believe what you want about the validity of my health and psychological problems, and those of other people, but please do not ever trash anyone about their diseases like you did me today. Even if they solicit your views.
I want your help fashioning my story. When we're shooting the breeze, then let's talk about your various views on life, theology, Torah etc... But when I'm trying to craft a story, I'm not interested in learning why so many of my perceptions are wrong, dumb, stupid, inadequate, etc...
I welcome your criticisms of my story and structure, I don't welcome your criticisms of how I've led my life, choices I've made, opinions I hold, etc...
I'm not interested in settling any great or important questions about life or sex or Torah or God in my book, only in telling my story, explaining how I saw and felt about things.
When we next get together to work on my story, and I hope you will get together with me, I don't want to spend our time hearing you explain Judaism or Dennis Prager or Orthodox Jews, or Jewish sociology to me. You may be totally right but I am going to write my perceptions and beliefs, no matter how wrongheaded they seem to you.
Where I want your help is solely in the crafting of the story, the structuring of the story... Not in hearing you diagnose what I've done wrong and why I am screwed up and why I was thrown out of various religious communities and how I should feel...
Again, thanks for your help. I want to get together soon, even if it is only for lunch... I hope you won't just dismiss this as my ultra sensitivity, but instead think a second time about the way you speak to people who do solicit your opinions, as I did...
It was just so sad that it was only when you were walking to the car, after two hours of cutting apart my efforts, did you, for the first time, say "This could be a really good book."
Until then, it felt to me overwhelmingly harsh.
Of course, none of what we discussed is for public consumption. I know you know that. Levi
Chaim Amalek writes: The answer is obvious, and is telegraphed by the final word of your letter to him: "Levi". Luke Ford, Son of the Southern Cross, is a ball-busting man who would never write such a passive, PMS-y (how does one spell that?) letter about his hurt feelings. No, Luke is too busy hurting other people's feelings to bother with his own.
The jew "Levi" on the other hand, is an artificial construct engaged in utterly unnatural acts, like writing a whining sniveling letter the likes of which no real jewish man would ever write to another. "Levi" is a fag among fags. (Hell, even a real fag would not write such a thing.)
I suggest you try for a new image among the jews. Swastika tattoos would certainly help some. (Just don't go for the permanent ones yet.) Or, tell people that you are transgendered. Experiment.
PS I am speculating here, as I have no idea what you are writing, but in general NOBODY wants to hear a man talk about CFS or his "Personality Disorder" as though he were a woman. I mean, what next, a chapter on how tough it is for you when you are on the rag?
Rodger Jacobs writes: I don't know, Luke, you may have over-reacted to this guy a bit. Inviting someone to participate in something as highly personal as an autobiography is effectively inviting them to poke around in your life. After all, a writer has to believe in his subject. I know you and your work well enough to believe that when you say you are not interested in tackling "any great or important questions" about sex, theology, etc., in your book you are perhaps being disingenuous. If you wish to continue being a public figure in any way, shape, or form you have to be ready to accept harsh criticism, particularly when you dabble in moral and ethical issues, as you do. Have you ever seen on C-Span or anywhere else on TV or radio authors who have written an autobiography? That type of literary work is usually soundly attacked, as if the mere act of committing your life to paper is inviting public scrutiny and debate. Guess what? It does.
Fred writes: Boy, I'm glad I read this. I was about to send an e-mail to my friend Dostoyevsky, telling him that I thought that all that stuff about being epileptic was just to get attention. I don't think it would have gone over well. My experience is: When you ask a person for advice about a particular aspect of something (e.g. the writing style you use in a book), you will inevitably wind up hearing about 50 things you don't give a shit about. Such is the nature of asking advice.
Recommendation number 1: never send a letter like this until two days after it has been written. It will help you rethink things. Recommendation number 2: Ask yourself: why have I written this letter?
Here's a piece of advice. Instead of telling Mr. XX about your narcissistic personality disorder, tell him that you've started hearing voices that are telling you to become a serial killer. At the very least, you should get an interesting response from him.
Anyway, in answer to your question, it does sound like you're whining a bit about somebody hurthing your feelings. In modern western culture, I would not send a letter exactly like this. I might say, "listen, I know that you don't really like aspect X and Y of my book, but that's not really where I want insight. What do you think of aspect Z?
Luke has a compulsion to subject himself to abuse by wierdos. It is a repeating theme in the story of his life.
Producer Playboy Ted Field
Producer Ted Field was born 6/1/53 in Chicago, Illinois. He was named Frederick Woodruff Field.
The music mogul-turned-movie producer partied a lot with the late Don Simpson and Joel Silver.
The sequel to You'll Never Make Love in this Town Again (the recollections of hookers), Once More with Feeling describes interactions between prostitutes and producers Robert Evans, Ted Field, and actors Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Dennis Hopper and Charlie Sheen.
Ted likes to wear leather jackets and sunglasses. He's a big supporter of the Democratic Party and former President Bill Clinton.
From the Boston Globe 4/22/99: "Hollywood's contempt for public concern about the ceaseless stream of violent media was perfectly captured in a quote from Ted Field, the Marshall Field department store heir and co-founder of Interscope. "You can tell the people who want to stop us from releasing controversial rap music one thing," said Field: "Kiss my ass.""
From Los Angeles Times March, 1996: If the public's perception of Leary and LSD is irresponsible behavior for an irresponsible time, it couldn't be further from reality, says Ted Field, chairman and chief executive Interscope Films, which produced the recent box-office hits "Jumanji" and "Mr. Holland's Opus."
"The irony is, Tim, a brilliant Harvard psychologist, came to embody that slogan and that time. But the fact is, he began an experiment using drugs because he felt that psychotherapy had stalled," Field says. "In what became known as the Harvard experiment, he used prisoners to see if these mind-expanding drugs would alter their behavior positively and help cure the recidivism rate of prisoners slipping back into the system after release. When some divinity students learned of the drug and the experiment, they used it to see if they could come in contact with God.
"And that's the irony. It was this responsible project at Harvard, done under rigorous sanctions, that went awry. You have to ask yourself, `How did an institution like that ever allow this in the first place?' But Leary became the experiment's victim and wound up as a political vanguard."
"Considering the political climate of the moment, I'm sure this film will be vilified as a pro-drug piece from the people who brought you (gangsta rappers) Tupac Shakur and Snoop Doggy Dogg," Field adds. "I defend my rap group music unabashedly just as I will this film. But again, `Leary' (the working title) will have a neutral point of view about an experiment that went awry and how it changed a whole generation."
From Libertyhaven.com: "Bankrolled by Hollywood moguls such as Ted Field, Norman Lear's People for the American Way launched a massive propaganda campaign against [Professor Bernard] Siegan and flooded the land with a slick 39-page document opposing his nomination. The campaign rivaled the vicious slanders against Robert Bork. The radical National Lawyers Guild expressed "vehement opposition" to Siegan's appointment."
Dr. C. Delores Tucker, national chair of the national Political Council of Black Women, told Congress 6/16/97: "Gangsta music is drugs-driven, race-driven, sex-driven, greed-driven and violence-driven. The wealthy mavens of the record industry - for example, Ted Field, heir to the Marshall Field fortune and owner of Interscope Records, Edgar Brontman, millionaire owner of Seagrams, who recently bought an interest in Interscope Records from Field - prey on the hapless and desperately poor, young black artists to produce gangsta rap filth and will simply accept nothing else. These young artists, many of them highly talented, living as they do in communities where there are no jobs, families are ripped apart, surviving where everything is bottomed out, are easy prey. Self-hate is all consuming. The desperate need for money and the life status it brings, reigns."
Tom Muzlia tells martialartsmagazine.com: "I worked with Ted Field as his personal bodyguard. He was an heir to the Marshall Field Department Stores, and one of the biggest movie producers. I worked with him for 5 years. Field was a democratic supporter and had a lot of meetings with important people in his home. Clinton came to his house before he became president. I had the responsibility to cover that one. I traveled around the world with Ted on various six week excursions. The most complicated ones were at Aspen and all through Europe. I also had to protect his kids during this period. Mr. Field was very careful with his family and friends, because of the Patty Hurst kidnapping. Usually on these trips there would be ten or more bodyguards covering the operation and we would stay in the best hotels. One of my jobs in Europe was to carry cash. I did it in a brown paper bag to be inconspicious."
After university, producer Peter Samuelson teamed up with actor Donald Sutherland on several Canadian movies. On A Man, a Woman, and a Bank, the financing fell apart due to a change in Canadian tax-shelter laws. So Peter wrote to Ted Field, 25 years old at the time and the inheritor of sevearl hundred million dollars from Marshall Field. Ted ate lunch with Peter and agreed to put up the missing half of the budget. The experience of working with Peter turned out so well that Field proposed that the two of them go into business together. From 1980-84, Samuelson headed the film division of Field's company, Interscope Communications. In 1984, Peter helped Field's $40-million buyout of Panavision. Four years later, Field sold it for $100 million.
From the September, 2001, issue of Los Angeles magazine: "Near a buffet table piled with crab cakes and Peking duck, [Peter Bart] makes a lunch date with Ted Field, a music and film mogul to whom Bart gave his first break in the movie business. It was the early '80s, and Bart was senior vice president of production at MGM. "When I was at MGM I said to Ted, 'Why don't you get a picture going? Here's an idea. If you want it, it's yours,'" Bart says, explaining how he sold Field a treatment that he had written with his youngest daughter, Dilys. The treatment became the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds, and the sale helped pay Dilys's way through Stanford University."
Axel Madsen published in 2002 his book "The Marshall Fields: The Evolution of an American Business Dynasty." According to the publisher Wiley Europe: Like J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field was one of the overlords of triumphant capitalism in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. However, his phenomenal wealth and generous philanthropy masked a disastrous personal life. Deserted by his wife and alienated from his children, the founder of the Field dynasty left a legacy of immense wealth and misery to match.
The Marshall Fields recounts the classic tale of Field’s spectacular success as well as the tragic story of a man who, while making millions by knowing what women wanted, had no inkling of his own wife’s emotional needs. This revealing account follows the next five generations of the Field family, concentrating on the most important and controversial figures in each generation. What emerges is a startling saga of money, madness, and mystery.
From the son who may have been shot by a chorus girl to the great-great grandson who used his millions to create Hollywood fantasies, Field’s descendants have caromed wildly between rebellion and folly. Their story offers a new and penetrating take on wealth, success, and the nightmare that often accompanies the American dream.
From UK Megastar 7/16/99: Rod Stewart is said to have popped the question to a blonde pin-up he's dated just a few weeks. The 54-year-old superstar rocker with a passion for golden-haired babes half his age is said to be nuts about ex-Playboy model Tracy Tweed.
In 1988 the Canadian-born model was fined £200 after admitting going on a spree with a stolen chequebook. It belonged to her British lover James Golfar, who kicked her out after she fell pregnant. Tracy used some of the cash for an abortion.
The 34-year-old blonde is the younger sister of former Playmate of the Year Shannon Tweed - the one-time girlfriend of Playboy boss Hugh Heffner. Rod's new love, who has also posed for Playboy, has a baby girl by mogul Ted Field and now writes children's books. Rod started dating her just three days after splitting from blonde Kimberley Conrad - ex-wife of Hefner.
New York Post's Page Six 1/18/99: EVEN models have minds of their own. Entertainment mogul Ted Field found that out the hard way on his annual beauty-soaked pilgrimage to St. Barts over the New Year.
The Interscope chief rented real estate mogul Jeff Suffolk's Gulfstream II to fly half a dozen models and a few pals to the posh resort island to spend time on a $50 million, 180-ft. chartered yacht complete with casino. Field and pals had plenty of time to enjoy the girls' company. For one thing, the ship never actually docked in the port. And anyone wanting off had to wait for a tender that could only take one at a time, usually to go on Field-sponsored shopping expeditions escorted by a crew member. A couple of the girls couldn't handle the restrictions, however.
Another girl who went AWOL from the Field trip was escorted to the airport, but after going through security, she snuck back out and stayed on the island to play with some new pals. Sources say Field played it cool in spite of the defections, but his henchman David Rich, who arranged for the pretty cargo, was plenty.
Tom writes on rec.autos.sport.indy 11/12/97: "Did someone mention Ted Field, of the Marshall Field fortune, in the rich guy catagory? He provided cars for Danny Ongias many years. Not a bad driver himself, having won the Daytona 24 and racing IMSA and LeMans for many years. There's a sizable article about his record business in the Nov. 10th Time magazine. He's now bald, grey, and beardless. He bought Panavision after leaving racing and for years had his name in the credits of dozens of top movies. Now he is apparently a major music guy. The name of the business? Interscope, of course."
Producer Fred Weintraub
I interviewed Fred Weintraub at his office in Santa Monica, August 5, 2002.
Fred produced such movies as Enter the Dragon, Woodstock, Tom Horn, and is still going strong in his seventies. He's about to produce a miniseries for the Hallmark Channel. "He has great stories and is a big bull of a man," says a fellow producer.
Fred: "I was born in Fort Apache, in the Bronx, New York City. My father had a retail store in the East Bronx. I wanted to follow him into the baby carriage and toy business. I got thrown out of my publish high school for hitting a teacher. I was difficult. I probably had Attention Deficit Disorder. My parents sent me to this good private school, Fieldson, which changed my life. I got into a good college, the University of Pennsylvania at Wharton. I graduated with a degree in business in 1949 at age 20. I got married and I went into my father's business.
"During that time, you either had to marry when you graduated from college or go live with your mother.
"I've been married four times. I have four kids. I've been married now for about 15 years. You have to wait for a while to get a good marriage.
"I started a chain of stores with my father, the Darling Stores. By the time I was 26 years old, I had a big house in Scarsdale, 50 stores and I hated it. I left. I quit the business. I divorced. I disappeared and went to Europe. I wandered around. I opened a nightclub in Cuba. I got arrested by Batista's regime and I got deported.
"I was unwittingly helping Castro. I used to run guns on my boat for Castro. I was young and naive.
"In 1960, I started a nightclub called The Bitter Inn, which became the most famous club on the East Coast, located in Greenwich Valley. It started Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Allen... I managed Bill Cosby, Joanie Rivers, The Four Seasons, Neil Diamond... I owned the nightclub for ten years. I got arrested in 1964 because of Lenny Bruce. There's a book out called The Bitter Inn.
"Steve Ross [future CEO of Warner Brothers] and Ted Ashley [owner of the Ashley Famous Agency, later ran Warner Brothers] were friends of mine. They hung out at the club. Everybody did. David Geffen did.
"In 1970, Easy Rider came out. Steve Ross and Ted Ashley had just taken over Warner Brothers. They had a bunch of pictures but they were old-type pictures. They needed somebody hip. I had a ponytail to my waist."
I look at photos of Fred with Ross and other famous people.
Luke, incredulously: "You don't look much different."
Fred: "Steve and Ted asked me if I wanted to be in the movie business. I said sure."
I'm wandering around Fred's room looking at pictures and memorabilia.
Fred: "You can see I had a checkered career, huh? Not checkered, it's typical. Everybody's got the same stories, right?"
Fred: "They asked me what I wanted to do. I said I'd like to be their head of production in New York. They said, 'But you've never made a movie.' They were right. I didn't know anything about it. I said, 'Listen, I've never made a bad movie in my life. If you can find somebody else who's never made a bad movie, hire him.' They didn't. I became Vice President of Warner Brothers and on their board of directors. My first job in the movie industry.
"Warners was in terrible trouble. Luckily, I made their first hit, a documentary on Woodstock. They didn't want to do it. I threatened to leave if they didn't do it. Woodstock turned the studio around. We then released Klute and Cinema 42 and a lot of great movies in the early seventies.
"Movies usually follow trends, not lead them. I remember when I was doing Woodstock, and everybody was so surprised that all these people smoking pot were nice. And the people in the town were nice to them. We knew that but when it was on film, it changed people. Films solidify and change people."
Luke: "What did you think of Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls?"
Fred: "It was good. It was accurate. There was a lot of intrigue. My daughter Sandy could tell you a lot more because she lived with Marty Scorsese for four years. They all hung out at my house.
"That period was interesting. It was like the early sixties when my club changed the style of comedy from a Henny Youngman to a Woody Allen."
On 5/14/02, I interviewed Weintraub's ex-wife, producer Alex Rose, who told me: "I met Marty Scorsese [at Roger Corman's company] because Marty directed Boxcar Bertha [for Roger Corman]. Marty was then living with my husband of the time [Fred Weintraub]. Marty's girlfriend was Fred Weintraub's daughter Sandy.
"It was a wild and innocent time. A whole group of us ran around together - Paul Schrader, Marty Scorsese, Michael and Julia Phillips, Brian DePalma, John Millius. Julia Phillips was one of the strongest toughest most vulnerable people you'd ever meet."
Fred: "I was the worst executive whoever lived. I'd never worked for anybody before. I didn't understand that everything had to be done by consensus. I was not happy. I was there about two years. I worked on some of their most successful films.
"They brought me out to Los Angeles to work with John Calley and he was so much stronger and smarter than I was and he knew his way around. I didn't know you couldn't just go out and make a picture. You had to get everybody together and if one person says, 'This is a piece of shit,' everybody goes hysterical. I would say that.
"Warners gave me a seven year deal as an independent producer. Enter the Dragon, 1973, was a miracle. It was Bruce Lee's last film. When we finished it, nobody wanted to release it. They couldn't understand Bruce Lee saying, 'Welcome to our wilding.'"
Luke: "Did you know Andre Morgan?"
Fred: "Of course. He was [figuratively] the son of Raymond Chow [owner of Golden Harvest, the Hong Kong film production and distribution company]. Raymond treats people shi---."
Luke: "What was it like getting a movie greenlit in the early seventies?"
Fred: "It was a different time. The early seventies was a joyous period. We had pictures like Woodstock, Klute and Enter the Dragon that could never have been made before. There wasn't the blockbuster mentality. The newspapers weren't about the number one picture in gross. People talked about the films, not the grosses. 'Did you see that scene with Jane Fonda where she...?'
"I taught a course at UCLA called 'Full line producing.' A producer should know every facet of filmmaking. There's no producer who knows as much as I do about making a movie. I'm an executive producer, producer and line producer. I know it all. There isn't a camera package I don't know about. And that's helped me as I've made cost-conscious films. I've never made a low-budget film.
"There are producers who wouldn't even know what a budget is. And they get along fine. You have agents who become producers who wouldn't know their ass from a hole in the wall. There are sycophants who become producers.
"You get beat up a lot in this business. Don Simpson said, 'Just lie your way through it all.'
"Robert Evans real job at the beginning was not to make movies."
Fred laughs. "It was to take care of [Charles] Bluedorhn. [Robert] had some gorgeous girls."
Luke: "Many people have become producers, or achieved fame and riches and power, through procuring attractive young males and females for sex."
Fred: "I know everything that's gone on but I've never dropped in on it. I've never dropped in on the cocaine. If it happened at a party, I didn't even know it was there. I've been naive. I've never hit on girls. If we interview girls, we always have a woman in the room.
"Guys will come into my office and say, 'I've got $20 million. We want to make some movies.' I said, 'You're lucky you came to the right place because I am going to make you $20 million.' They say, 'How?' And I say, 'Go home. Don't make the movies.'
"Some of them get sucked in. If they have a little success, then they are really in trouble. Nobody knows what will make it."
Luke: "What motivated you to enter this business if it wasn't girls or drugs?"
Fred: "It's a fascinating business. You start with a piece of paper and then one day you walk in and there it is up on the screen. I'm still excited. All the films we do now [at Weintraub/Kuhn Productions in Santa Monica] are done from ideas and scripts that my partner and I generate. We don't solicit outside scripts. We put young writers on our ideas, writers just starting in the business. And we nurse them along.
"Each project is different. It's like a snake. It wiggles and squirms. You're never sure how it will turn out. One act will pop into your mind and you say to the director [on the set], let's rewrite something for tomorrow. The picture has its own life. The guy who plans every shot, I know that picture will lack spontaneity."
Luke: "Which of your projects have most broken your heart?"
Fred: "None of them."
Luke: "Tell me about your kids."
Fred: "Sandy writes scripts and volunteers at homeless shelters. My daughter Barbara is a TV producer. My son Zachary has directed two films and my other son Max saves the world working for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)."
Luke: "When was the last time you got really excited?"
Fred: "That's like asking a guy who was the most exciting woman he went to bed with. It's always the last woman he went to bed with. We're always working on several films at a time. We do about two a year.
"There are producers who simply want to score with two types of movies - studio movies and heart movies. Studio movies can take your heart out. If you get it going, you'll have nothing to do with it. Even the big producers who makes those movies, they become guys who go out to lunch with the stars. They don't have much control over a $100 million movie. They just know how to put the star together with the book with the studio. It's hard to get into studio producing.
"These are rollercoaster movies, big [tentpole] movies years in the making.
"Then you get people who want to say something. One out of 10,000 of those kinds of movies finds it way - My Life as a Dog, My Big Greek Wedding.
"We shoot everything overseas. We've learned how to use subsidies and tax shelters. We've shot in Lithuania, Croatia, Canada... Wherever we can find funding."
Luke: "What's your strong point as a producer?"
Fred: "I know the business. I've had a varied life."
Luke: "What does your body of work say about you?"
Fred: "I'm an entertainer. I never think of myself as someone who is going to leave a body of work.
"This business is so full of sh--, it's wonderful. To convince somebody else to fund your idea is magic. It's like finding Jack in the beanstalk.
"The worst part of our business is waiting. When I send out a thing, I say, 'A fast answer is gold. A fast no is silver.' It's just as good to me. I'd rather get that. I don't give a sh--. What I don't want to do is live in development heaven. The action is part of my life.
"My questions and answers are similar to everybody elses?"
Fred: "Most professionals feel the same way. If I guy tells you, this is my life, my work and my heart, you'll want to throw him out the window."
Luke: "Was this business hard on your marriages?"
Fred: "I made myself hard on my marriages. If people use you to climb up their own way, then I think the marriage is not successful.
"I always take my wife with me when I go on location."
Luke: "Do you ever get starstruck?"
Fred: "Never. I've liked some and hated others. Actors have a difficult time. They have their own unusual sphere that noone else can ever understand. Everybody warned me about Steve McQueen but it turned out he was just a terrific guy. The most difficult actors are the ones who are not stars."
Luke: "Who are the most difficult actors you've worked with?"
Fred: "Amy Irving."
Luke: "How are you adjusting to the new business climate?"
Fred: "I'm finding a great window of opportunity. The business is suffering enormously. I know of more people looking for jobs than I ever have since I've been in the business. The stupidity of the unions in this town have forced productions overseas. We would still be working here if the unions had adjusted. It's a very difficult market to get into. On top of that, it seems like every college in America is sending out kids who have studied the film business. I think this is an old man's business because the young people don't know how to make movies. I know exactly how to get a movie done at the price you want to get it done."
Luke: "Does the proliferation of producer credits devalue what you do?"
Fred: "I don't care. Nobody ever comes up to me and says, 'Oh, you made this movie.'"
Luke: "What gets you angry?"
Fred: "Stupidity, unprofessionalism, people who don't do their jobs right. But even there, I just let them go. I learned over the years that if you have a bad apple, let them go fast."
Editor C. Barillas writes on Datalounge.com: "Those tired publicity hacks are at it again, this time by trying to link the very lovely, approachable and surprisingly friendly Vin "XXX" Diesel to the equally lovely and approachable Nicole Kidman. Granted, we titter with delight at the apoplectic furies Nic could send ex-hubby Tom into with Aussie-accented toss offs like: "Finally! One hundred percent pure American beef!""
I've heard that a new action star is gay. And Hollywood players fear that gay action stars won't work at the box office.
One Hollywood journalist told me that he thinks outing someone's sexuality is bad journalism. But when used to make a political point, outing is valid.
Chaim Amalek writes: First of all, I begin with the assumption that anybody willing to stand in front of a camera and pretend to be somebody else must be a very flamboyant fellow. I.e. a friend of Dorothy. Real men shut up an keep to themselves.
Now, as far as action stars go, by definition these folks are on the outermost edge of fantasy (action flicks are even less believable than women's pictures), and so are assumed to be homosexual anyway. So no, I don't care at all. In fact, as I regard Sodomite tendencies as a flaw, it comforts me to know that a big action "hero" is not hetero. Less intimidating that way.
Fred writes: I've never seen any of his films. I assume that in the fight sequence, he isn't wearing a dress or making derogatory comments about the interior decorating at the headquarters of the evil villain, and insulting his tie and the fact that his socks don't match. That would be a bit disconcerting.
I remember several years ago there was a pro-wrestler on WWF who was a transvestite, Gold Dust. I thought it was an interesting experiment for the guy who runs WWF. (Of course, had he beaten Hulk Hogan, I would have been outraged.)
Dangerous Time to be a Mogul
I was talking to someone much wiser in the industry than I am today about when a broom was going to sweep through our industry and bring in some fresh blood as studio heads.
It's about eight years past time for Michael Eisner to go at Disney.
Amy Pascal and John Calley have failed at Sony. Won't their contracts expire in October?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura hasn't accomplished anything at Warner Brothers.
Khunrum writes: "OUR industry"?? Luke, have you slyly and unilaterally positioned yourself smack dab in the middle of THE industry? Are you by way of your producer interviews an insider now? Well done. BTW We have not heard much about .... lately. Is it still "Springtime in the Rockies" with you two? Come now Luke, update us.....