Dennis Prager On Opie & Anthony
Dennis Prager spoke out about this: NEW YORK –– In the almost-anything-goes world of radio, home to Howard Stern and Don Imus, a pair of New York shock jocks discovered what goes too far: sex inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Opie and Anthony, co-hosts of WNEW-FM's popular afternoon drive-time program, remained off the air for a second day Tuesday while a 350,000-member Roman Catholic group pushed for their station to get its license revoked. The pair allegedly broadcast a live, eyewitness account of a couple having sex in the landmark Manhattan church.
"Nothing would make us happier than for WNEW's license to be revoked," said William Donohue, head of the Catholic League, which has also demanded a hefty fine for WNEW's parent company. The station is one of 180 owned nationwide by Infinity Broadcasting.
Over the past decade, the standards for broadcasting have coarsened, led by the envelope-pushing antics of Stern, Imus and a legion of imitators.
But Opie and Anthony went beyond most. In 1998, they were fired from a Massachusetts station after announcing on April Fool's Day that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had died in a car crash.
Last year, ads for their program were yanked from 40 Westchester County buses after officials discovered that their "WOW" logo was a code encouraging women to doff their tops.
And two months ago, the FCC imposed a $21,000 fine on Infinity after citing three "indecent" bits that appeared on the show between November 2000 and January 2001, one involving incest.
DENNIS PRAGER spoke out against the Tom Leykis show. Leykis once called Prager around 1991 to argue with him about FCC fines against competitor's of Prager's then station KABC. Prager called Leykis a snotty guy. Leykis then spent an hour of his KFI show blasting Prager.
DP: Do you have to be a conservative to find this troubling? If this really is a liberal/conservative divide, we are in trouble.
Dennis Prager was once interviewing a New York Times science journalist and used the word 'clitoris.' And one station carrying Prager's show cancelled him after that. A conservative Sacramento station cancelled Prager because his views on pornography were too liberal.
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez Still Angry
Patrick T. Reardon writes for the 8/22/02 Chicago Tribune:
ALBUQUERQUE -- Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is irritated. "I hate this ghetto," she says, her brown eyes sharp and hard.
It's her name -- more specifically, the tendency of many Americans, as she perceives it, to categorize her on the basis of her Hispanic heritage.
"There's a part of me that wants to vomit to be called a Latina writer," she says. "Why am I identified as part of a Latino movement and not by my mother's Irish background?"
LUKE SAYS: It's Alisa who's always obsessed with race according to people who've worked with her. St. Martin's Press gave her a $475,000 advance on her new novel about six latina women as an attempt to fire up the hispanic book buying market, like Terry McMillen's Waiting to Exhale supposedly did for black book buyers.
Reardon writes: "What made it especially hot was the belief among publishers that Valdes-Rodriguez could be the long-sought "Latina Terry McMillan" -- a writer whose work would jump-start Hispanic book buying in the U.S. and create a new profitable publishing niche, the way McMillan's 1992 "Waiting to Exhale" did for African-Americans, selling more than two million copies."
LUKE SAYS: Sheesh, this makes it sound like book publishers think Hispanics and blacks are too dumb to buy ordinary books. Are Hispanics and black that under-represented among book buyers?
"Prior to Terry McMillan, people in book publishing didn't think black people read books," an editor (Marcella Landres, the daughter of Ecuadorian parents who went into publishing vowing to find the Latina Terry McMillan) in the trade paperback division of Simon & Schuster told Reardon.
Reardon writes: In an article that ran a few days before Christmas 1998 in the Boston Globe where she was then a feature writer, Valdes-Rodriguez contrasted the middle-class stolidity of her father with her mother's relatives -- a side she described as "white trash."
One cousin on her mother's side was in prison for stealing cars and checks. Two other cousins were in jail for murder. "My brother and his wife are crack addicts and high school dropouts. My mother, when money was tight, worked as a prostitute," she wrote.
Valdes-Rodriguez says she hung out so much of her family's dirty laundry to make a point: that, contrary to American cultural expectations, it was the "white" side of her family that had social problems, not her Latino side.
"I don't think it's a child's responsibility to protect a parent who hurts her," she says, steering her '99 Neon through Albuquerque traffic. "When she was doing that, I was 14. She'd say: `That's all they want anyway. They might as well pay for it.'"
Still, it was a long time ago, and her mother now works as a legal secretary and has a master's degree in creative writing. (Her brother and sister-in-law have also cleaned up themselves, she says.) "I was young," she says about writing the piece. "I have a little more respect for my mom's feelings now."
Valdes-Rodriguez was a volatile colleague. "She had a lot of anger and unresolved issues, particularly having to do with race and gender," [Globe features editor Nick King] says. "She would speak out in ways that would make you cringe,"
One of those moments came in August 1998 amid a controversy over misdeeds by two Globe columnists, one white, the other black. In a story the Globe ran on the mood of its newsroom, Valdes-Rodriguez was quoted as saying the white writer had been retained, unlike the black writer, "because of the color of his skin." She also said the Globe was "a racist institution" that paid only "lip service to diversity."
And, as a Latino and a woman, "she always felt she was being held back," [Los Angeles Times Daily Calendar feature section editor Oscar] Garza says. "I'm Latino, and I would counsel her about it. But the whole cycle would start again. She'd get something under her craw, and there'd be another hullabaloo."
Her goal in writing "Dirty Girls," Valdes-Rodriguez says, was to shatter what she believes are the stereotypes of Latinos -- that they're brown-skinned, poorly educated and Spanish-speaking.
"My mission in the book," she says, "is to prove that the [Latino] category does not exist."
Efforts to reach Latinos date back at least to the mid-1980s when Bantam brought out a string of mass-market paperbacks of best sellers translated into Spanish. ("Princess Daisy" by Judith Kranz, for example, became "Princesa Daisy.") [They did not sell well.]
But the publishing house [Siete Cuentos Editorial] is seeking non-profit status in order to be in line for foundation grants and to be in a better position to work in partnership with grass-roots organizations within the Hispanic community to provide books for specific needs.
FOLLOW MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Dumb Goyim
ArielS770: "Perhaps in your next career you can become the next Jewish Messiah that the goyim follow, freeing the dumb goyim from the clutches of the secular Jews. "FOLLOW MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!" "
"Chaim Amalek" makes a good point if you were to use your energy and considerable talents G-d gave you to promote for example 7 Laws of Noah i'm sure you'd have good results if you want to learn how important this project is see www.noahide.com/rebbe.htm :-)
Chaim Amalek writes Luke: It is very very unmanly - no, that's not right, infantile is a better word - for a 35 year old man to keep harping on early childhood traumas. Get over it or keep it locked up inside like everyone else.
And as far as your Dennis Praeger goes, well all I can say is "He's no William Pierce". Now THERE was a man who made a difference.
Women Reporters In Locker Rooms
As I’m trying to mentally “put it together,” I’m leaning against this blue table in the center of the room waiting for Shawn Green, No. 15, to appear from the showers that are just a few mad dashes away.
Then I discover that I’m in the way because Eric Karros — who is 15 times better looking in person — asked me to move so he could get by. Gulp!
Just then, Shawn Green emerges from the showers, rubbing a towel on his head and wearing only a towel. Three millimeters thick of terry cloth is separating Green’s goodies from my life’s most embarrassing moment. I really didn’t have that much time to think about it before Green whipped off the towel and began to get dressed. Holy &#$@!!!
I’m going to need to see a chiropractor for the whiplash I gave myself. I turned away to not see most of the goods, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I saw Greenie’s buns, le toosh, el booty. Catch my drift? I don’t know what took me off guard more: The way it happened or the fact that it was Shawn Green, who I think is just the cutest thing...
LUKE SAYS: Patti's column elicited a torrent of criticism on Jim Romenesko's media news site, much of it self righteous and pompous. Patti touched a nerve that secular journalists don't like to admit exists - there is something fundamentally morally wrong with sending female journalists into a room of naked men, just as there is something fundamentally morally wrong with sending male journalists into a room of naked women.
Women as sports writers has aberrant appeal, like poets as sports writers. But women are biologically limited from understanding and appreciating sports as men do because of the female's lack of testosterone. Sports are driven by testosterone. They are primarily a male affair. Women writing on sports is like women writing on porn.
Pornography is overwhelmingly purchased by males. It's appeal is understood in a visceral way by most males. Most women aren't going to get porn anymore than most women are going to get sports. That's why none of the top 20 sportswriters are women.
From SUSAN VINELLA, President, Association for Women in Sports Media, writes to Jim Romenesko's site: I don't know what is more disturbing: That Patti Shea decided to write a column about her unprofessional and childish visit to the Dodgers locker room or that her newspaper, The Signal in California, published it. Either way, it's appalling. They are both an embarrassment to the journalism profession. Female sports journalists enter locker rooms every day with the same goal as their male colleagues: To get the story. Period. Unfortunately, there are rare exceptions like Ms. Shea, who clearly have no place among professional journalists. I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt to Ms. Shea, who is young and obviously immature, ignorant and naive. But what is The Signal's excuse?
I'm pleased to hear the Dodgers have complained to The Signal about the column and are considering banning the paper's reporters from their press box. There is no place for such childish and pathetic observations such as Ms. Shea's. She does not represent the hardworking professional female sports journalists in this country. Do not judge us by this one foolish individual. Ms. Shea, we're waiting for an apology.
From KATHY KUDRAVI to Romenesko: Patti Shea's pathetic column on her trip (it can't be called work) to Dodger Stadium was terribly sad. It's unfortunate that she has no clue what it's like to be a woman sports journalist. She certainly has no idea what to do when she's on an assignment, as evidenced by her inability to conduct an interview surrounded by athletes/interview subjects. If Ms. Shea covers the City Council the way she covered her "assignment" at Dodger Stadium, I'd hate to see the quality of coverage readers of The Signal receive.
I'm also guessing that Ms. Shea has never experienced being denied access to locker rooms or assignments because of her gender. That's too bad because the women who came before her -- the women who were abused in the locker room, blocked from access to interviews, grabbed, laughed at and constantly questioned about their ability to do a job because of their gender - certainly paved the way for Ms. Shea's thrill trip in the Dodger locker room.
Thank you Ms. Shea, from every woman in this business -- print, radio and television -- who will face more questions because of your juvenile response to being in our work environment. Please, keep covering city council meetings and let the professionals enter the locker room. Locker room access is for the working journalist, not the fan who wants to gawk.
But what is probably as troubling as Ms. Shea's silly column is the fact that not one editor at The Signal stopped Ms. Shea from embarrassing herself and her publication. She should be asking herself what else they don't do to protect her from herself.
From JOANNA CHADWICK to Romenesko: Was including Patti Shea's column on her first visit covering the Dodgers meant to embarrass her or every female sportswriter? It did both. As a female sportswriter, as a journalist, I was horrifed to read her account of her time in the clubhouse. To talk about how good-looking an athlete is, talk about looking at their goodies, about booty and toosh... how does any self-respecting newspaper allow such drivel? That's what is disappointing to me. Women in the business long before me had to prove they deserved to be allowed in the clubhouse, prove they were there not to ogle athletes, but to do their jobs. These women made it easier for me to walk into a pro or college locker room and not have someone try to bar my way, for me to cover high school sports and not have a coach automatically question my knowledge just because I'm female.
Every time a woman writes such a story as Shea's, the credibility of women in sports is questioned. That's why I can't help wondering why her column was included in MediaNews. I'm frustrated that it was because she fits the stereotype many have of those who women who enter locker rooms, the same stereotype women have tried to destroy for years.
Patti Shea then sent this apology:
Hi Susan - I've spent most of the past two days dealing with the response from my column, which was published on Aug. 18, regarding an experience I had as a news reporter at Dodger Stadium. I had intended for my column to be a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating illustration of why I am a news reporter, not a sports reporter.
(I didn't specifically say so in my column, but the reason I was at Dodger Stadium that night was to cover pregame ceremonies that involved the surviving family members of slain law enforcement officers. That story appeared on page A1 about a week before my column appeared on the opinion page.)
I didn't think of the repurcussions of the column. Honestly, I didn't and I can't explain why. I only hope the damage can be repaired. My column wasn't intended to degrade the hundreds of women who are truly the pros. All I meant to say, rather poorly I gather now, was that I couldn't do the job they do. I sent a letter to the Dodger organization on Monday expressing my remorse.
Please accept my apology. I honestly didn't mean to make a mockery of the decades-long battles many great women have endured to get us where we are today. After sitting in the press box (which was my first, and now, probably last experience there) I truly appreciate the challenges sports writers -- men and women alike -- face on a daily basis. I know I couldn't do it.
Jon Defla writes: "As a gay journalist, admittedly, I have some trouble keeping my eyes in my notebook when I'm interviewing athletes in their jocks and small white towels. I've never put it in print how so-and-so looks soaking wet out of the shower, but believe me I do take notice. Ms. Shea's a human being in addition to being a journalist. So, for her to get a little flush was not a surprise--especially next to hunky Shawn Green, who I myself have a photo of in my bedroom. So, call off the dogs. There are plenty of sports journalists who ogle the naked athletes. It's one of my favorite perks of the job."
LUKE SAYS: Following the posting of all these letters on Medianews.org, Patti received 48 e-mails supporting her and one lashing out against her. Her managing editor got eight letters that will run in Thursday's paper raking Patti over the coals. Unfortunately, none of the positive e-mails will be printed.
JRob writes: Can you imagine the uproar if some male reporter were to be so vile as to actually demand access to a WNBA locker room? That would be the most terrible thing on earth. People would compare it to the holocaust! Yet, if female reporters were to be barred from male locker rooms, the accusations of sexism would run rampant.
Luke says: It's not like many of those WNBA players are hot looking anyway.
JRob responds: OK. How about the locker rooms used by female beach volleyball players? Would that be a more effective debating point?
Luke says: I'm writing a book about young hot looking female journalists and I feel that I need to see them coming out of the shower to get a good handle on my subject.
According to the letter to Romenesko by DAVID de la FUENTE, Copy editor, San Francisco Chronicle: Reporters of both sexes are allowed in WNBA locker rooms, but no players shower and dress until reporters have left (or they do so in a separate, off-limits area). Previously, players were brought out to an interview room and no reporters were allowed in the locker room. WUSA soccer I'm not sure about, but I'm sure it's of either the later-showers or interview-room variety.
Columbia Pictures President Amy Pascal
Born around 1958, and raised in Los Angeles, Amy Pascal got her first job while still in junior high school, wrapping books at a Los Angeles bookstore.
She worked as a bookkeeper at Crossroads school while geting her international relations degree at UCLA.
"Work is where I got my self-esteem," Pascal told the 8/18/02 Variety. "I learned that really early."
Pascal wanted to work in film. She answered a trade paper ad and went to work for BBC producer Tony Garnett's Kestrel Films as his secretary. She worked there for six years. Their company developed and produced "Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird" (1985). By the time it was released, Pascal had moved to 20th Century Fox as a vice president of production.
Working under Scott Rudin, Pascal developed such films as Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything" (1989).
While president of Columbia Pictures, Dawn Steel hired Amy Pascal as vice president of production. Amy was known to have good literary taste. "She was also a brunette with funky, whimsical taste in clothing. She was told to spiff up her wardrobe." (Hit & Run, p. 262)
After her boss Michael Nathanson did time at Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital's rehab unit in Marina Del Rey, Amy Pascal did a stint at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs.
Pascal served at Columbia from 1986 - 1993. She then wanted out of her contract to become president of production at Turner Pictures. Pascal quarreled bitterly with her longtime friend Lisa Henson, Columbia's new president of production. (Hit & Run, pg. 434)
In 1994, Pascal became president of Turner Pictures. After the 1996 merger between Turner and Time Warner, Pascal became president of Columbia.
Pascal boosted films with such female directors as Betty Thomas, Nora Ephron, Amy Heckerling, Diane Keaton and Nancy Meyers
In its 2001 power issue, Premiere magazine wrote: "Pascal presents herself as a victim as much as a player."
Amy is a skilled player of studio politics. One Hollywoodite ran into her at at a swank LA store in the early nineties. She was buying gifts for two competitors, one of whom would probably be her boss. She wanted to have all her bases covered.
The power to greenlight a picture at Pascal's studio still rests with Sony Pictures chairman John Calley.
Amy has a lisp and is a poor public speaker. It's not been unknown for journalists to quietly complain about her at a news conference or some lecture setting, and then find out later they were sitting beside her husband, New York Times Hollywood correspondent Bernard Weinraub.
Despite her literary reputation, Pascal's supported generally low brow high concept movies during her tenure at Columbia, movies not only lacking in taste but also in profitability for the studio.
Jess Cagle writes for the 7/29/02 issue of Time magazine: It has been said that you can gauge her mood by whether her hair is straight (foul) or curly (ebullient). These days her mane is growing wild, with good reason. She and her husband, New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub, have their first child, and with hits like Panic Room, Spider-Man and Men in Black II, the chairman of Sony’s Columbia Pictures has generated more than $1 billion at the box office this year. Some in Hollywood are skeptical about the profitability of films with such expensive stars and special effects, but her current slate of pictures has broken all records. “People want spectacle,” insists Pascal, 44, “and obviously the ancillary markets [like video and dvd] will be gigantic.”
Pascal, who cultivates a dizzy but likable persona, originally became known for “chick flicks”—with strong mainstream instincts—in the early 1990s. As a Columbia vice president, she championed such hits as Single White Female and A League of Their Own. She has always been a popular figure who relates easily to creative types. “Amy’s emotional,” says a male producer who has worked with her recently, “and that’s good and bad, but she can get down in the trenches and help you work out a story.” Her own ascent to power, however, hasn’t been easy. Though she was named chairman in 1999, she seemed to lack the golden gut of the most successful studio chiefs. She released a string of uninspired teen movies and such duds as the 2000 Sandra Bullock–goes-to-rehab drama 28 Days. Guessing when she would be fired by her Sony bosses became a favorite Hollywood pastime.
“I had to figure out how to run a company while being true to my own instincts,” says Pascal, who began her career as a secretary. “We did some real work. Every time a movie would come out and work or not work, our group would sit around and analyze all our decisions—when we made them and how they contributed. What we didn’t do was put our heads in the sand and pretend it was working. I had my staff tell people to write up what they didn’t like about me so I knew what they were honestly thinking. That was probably a female thing because it’s an egoless thing.”
“Everybody said I made ‘chick flicks’ when the movies didn’t work,” says Pascal. “When the movies work, nobody calls them that.”
Rachel Abramowitz writes in the 5/2/02 LA Times: In the Hollywood of the '80s and '90s, "chick flick" was a pejorative term denoting movies about women that were soft, low-concept character studies.
Worst of all in this bottom-line industry, most of them didn't make money. "What [angered me] is they just talked about films about women that didn't work," recalls Columbia Chairman Amy Pascal, who was involved with a range of female-driven projects from the commercial blockbuster "A League of Their Own" to the unsuccessful "28 Days." "I called them dramas, not female films."
Pascal points to last year's big Columbia hit "Charlie's Angels," the chop-socky, butt-wiggling yarn of fabulous girl crime-fighters, as the prototype for the kind of chick flick she's interested in making now: "I wanted to make a movie about girl empowerment. That's what I set out to do, but I put it in a genre where it's a piece of entertainment and where it can get the point across without hammering it over people's heads."
From the LA WEEKLY 11/3/00: In an interview with Columbia Pictures chairwoman Amy Pascal, the Los Angeles Times’ Claudia Eller wrote that “Pascal is ultra-sensitive about criticisms from her detractors that Charlie’s Angels is yet another ‘girl movie,’ after bombing with such female-driven films including 28 Days, Hanging Up and Girl, Interrupted.” “This is a movie about totally positive female energy,” Pascal was quoted as saying, “and I think it’s an important thing that girls can be great at everything they do. They can be in love, be tough, have jobs and not sacrifice anything and be able to fly through the air and look great and be brilliant.” It’s been a bad year for Pascal, an interesting executive whose choices have gotten dumber the worse her movies have done — from Little Women to Charlie’s Angels, from Clueless to Hanging Up. “I really want this one to work because it hasn’t been the world’s greatest year,” Pascal told Eller. “It would be great for this to be the beginning of the turnaround. And it’s my story.” If it’s startling to read that the chairwoman of a major movie studio believes Charlie’s Angels is her story, it’s even more so if you’ve seen the movie and witnessed Barrymore tongue a steering wheel. Think of it as progress, Hollywood-style: When stupid movies happen to smart women, it’s no longer just men who are to blame.
Variety, 8/18/02, named Amy Pascal "Showman of the Year" for its 97th Anniversary issue. Variety writes: "The publicity arena has been Pascal's Achilles' heel as a female executive. The press has often played up her disarming flightiness and feminine taste. Flops like the rehab dramas "28 Days" and "Girl, Interrupted," the strident sister comedy "Hanging Up" and Penny Marshall's "Riding in Cars With Boys" fueled the press's superficial perception of Pascal as queen of the chick pics."
Anne Thompson writes in Variety 8/18/02: Amy Pascal spends two hours every morning, 5:30-7:30 a.m., with her 3-year-old son, Anthony. She tries to get home every night to put him to bed, and spends weekends with her family. She loves to hang out at the San Vincente market and Whole Foods.
"It's very calming," she says. "I no longer exercise. Certain things I had to give up."
She doesn't cook, but she collects cook books, and loves watching the Food Network. When the nanny arrives, Pascal gets dressed (usually in her signature black and white) and drives her black Range Rover to the studio. Her office door stays open so that her staff of 10 executives and two assistants can roam in and out. "Your job as a boss is to get the best work out of everybody," she says. "You can catch more bees with honey. Women are good managers because they've learned the art of compromise. We can win secretly, have our own ideas and let them be someone else's. I'll take responsibility if things go bad."
TEN FAVORITE MOVIES (in alphabetical order)
FAVORITE TV SHOW
Producer Lisa Henson
Lisa Henson was born May 9, 1960. She's the eldest child of Muppets inventor Jim Henson,
Lisa Henson joined Warner Bros. as a production assistant in 1983. She played a role in such Warners fare as the "Lethal Weapon" series, "Batman" (1989), "Batman Returns" (1992), "New Jack City" (1991) and "Free Willy" (1993). Henson rose to the position of executive vice president.
Her appointment to president of Columbia Pictures was made August 9, 1993. It was a bad time for the studio with its Heidi Fleiss scandals and bad box office.
Aggressive, ambitious and forthright, Henson's appointment as head of production at Columbia made her the youngest such executive in Hollywood.
When Henson wouldn't let her longtime friend Amy Pascal break her contract to move to Turner Pictures, the two women quarreled. "Henson, whose hiring had seemed like an inspired, stabilizing move, was alienating many filmmakers with what was perceived as a chilly, contemptuous attitude." (Hit & Run, pg. 434-435)
"Young and smart, but not too smart to lead a studio," New York Times, Bernard Weinraub, April 4, 1994, p. B1.
There were many article about Lisa Henson after she was fired by Columbia in July of 1996. For the most part, the articles seemed to blame her bosses for the problems and suggested she was still respected. Summer 1996. Film Production, Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 25, 1997, p. 94.
Henson entered into a producing partnership with Janet Yang in Manifest Films Company.
"If I had read Primal Leadership ten years ago, I still might be President of Columbia Pictures today!" —Lisa Henson
Washington Post: Lisa Henson, a former Lampoon president who's fast becoming a Hollywood mogul, said Harvard threw a Los Angeles alumni event and "140 Lampoon alumni came, so the numbers are really huge." Aspiring writers compete to staff the Lampoon, said Henson. "They make them write volumes of little essays, or draw pictures, that are cruelly and vigorously critiqued by the staff," she said.
Luke Gets Mail
Chaim Amalek writes: Between lukeford.net, your dennis praeger fan site and now this, aren't you spreading yourself too thin, Luke?
Robert writes: We are talking about a man who has no job. He has all the time in the world.
Luke says: Hey pal, I work at least as many hours a week as you guys do... It is simply on research and interviews for my new book, working on my autobiography, etc... It's called laying the groundwork for a fabulous career... Why is Robert always harping on my so-called lack of a job? This is about the twentieth dig from him on this topic.
Khunrum writes: He takes you for granted Luke. You make it look easy. Robert doesn't realize that a fabulous career like yours is 99% hard work....Besides I understand he has been talking behind your back to Rabbi -----. Hey Robert, knock it off. I'd like to see you go to work in the same suit 365 days a year...
Fred writes: Robert, I think you're starting to get under his skin. Luke, you'll have to excuse him. He has nothing better to do (despite having a job).
Robert writes: I worry about your future, my friend. Beauty fades and then what will you have? I am curious. What does a day in the life of Luke look like? Enlighten us.
Los Angeles Times Writers Who've Graduated To The Industry
I've earlier mentioned Dale Pollock and David Friendly who moved from the Calendar to the industry they previously covered. There have been several others. I was just prompted with two more names - Morgan Gendel (Law & Order) and Michael Cieply (for a while with Ray Stark and now at the NY Times).
As David Poland puts it: "You learn to kiss ass well at the LA Times."
I met director-producer Roy Campanella Jr. at Jerry's Deli on Beverly Boulevard on June 18, 2002.
A film history buff, and the creator of the mini-studio Directors' Circle Filmworks, Campanella (son of baseball great Roy Campanella) seeks to emulate "the old studio operation. The buck stops here with one person.
"I made a longterm lease of 12,000 square feet at the Lacy Street [Production Center] north of downtown LA. There's production space, art department, wardrobe... We have a small construction mill. Lacy was really not a studio but a series of warehouses where you could shoot.
"I had a ten picture slate with BET (Black Entertainment Television cable channel). I decided that with that commitment I could create a studio in microcosm. We have the lowest cost studio you could imagine. The cost of our place per month doesn't run much more than a luxury apartment in Beverly Hills."
Luke: "I had a girlfriend who paid $2500 a month for her Beverly Hills apartment."
Roy: "That's about what I've got 12,000 square feet for."
Luke: "How many employees do you have?"
Roy: "It depends on when we're in production. I studied what [Francis Ford] Coppola had done with Hollywood General [Studios]. I studied the early filmmakers like Louis B. Mayer, Daryl Zanuck, Fox, Jess O'Lansky... When you're in the guerilla filmmaker mode, it makes much more sense to be modular and incremental."
I order an early lunch of a plain three-egg omelet and Roy gets a more exotic omelet with cinnamon toast.
Roy: "We did ten movies (for $850,000 each) over the course of a year-and-a-half. One of them, Masquerade, won an award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. We're in the Roger Corman AIP style of school but it was the largest slate ever done of African-American feature length films. It was focused on the contemporary African-American experience. I was disappointed that BET hasn't followed up with more original product."
Luke: "Tell me about your upbringing."
Roy: "I grew up in Manhattan, Long Island and Westchester. I have four sisters and three brothers. My dad was married three times. My mom died of a heart attack when I was 13. My parents were separated. So I went to live with my dad in Manhattan. I graduated from Woodlands High School in Hartsdale at the top of my class. I was the first student from Woodlands to go to Harvard. I majored in Anthropology. I graduated Cum Laude. I have an MBA from Columbia in 1979. I got it on a CBS scholarship in a company-wide competition. In between, I was at WGBH [public television station in Boston] as a director-camerman-editor. I went to CBS in New York as an editor.
"I'd always wanted to work in film. I was raised on Hollywood pictures but I wasn't enamored with them. I wrote MGM when I was ten years old, asking how many directors and producers they had under contract and things like that. They never answered my letter so I was never enamored of Hollywood. I'm an East Coast guy in mindset but so much of the industry is based out here. My fascination dates back to my earliest childhood when I didn't even know what the term 'film director' meant.
"After Columbia, I moved to Los Angeles. I worked for CBS for three years as a program executive in TV movies and miniseries. We went from conception to completion. It was an old Hollywood studio situation. People would come in and pitch. If we picked it up, we'd be there for the development of the script. We'd screen dailies. We'd screen the rough cut. We'd screen the final cut. As opposed to TV series, where you might have one exec work on a pilot and then you might have another exec following through.
"My real passion is directing. I produce because I have the requisite skills to do it. You can protect yourself more as a director by producer. I'm entrepreneurial. That's a drive you have to be born with. Producing satisfies that. I like the collaborative process that characterizes filmmaking. Producing is not lonely like writing. I enjoy screenwriting but it is so damn lonely. But with producing you're constantly dealing with people and events...
"One of the most influential primers on producing for me was David O. Selznick's essay from when he delivered a lecture at Columbia University around 1938. It's in the rear of the book 'Memo from David O. Selznick.' All of his memos are really instructional. It's a paperback that I would highly recommend. Selznick was such a creative producer. To many directors, of course, he was a pain in the ass, but you can learn a lot from his memos. His lecture on producing provides an overview which is excellent for someone starting out.
"I've directed about 100 primetime hours of TV including episodes of Lou Grant, Knots Landing, Simon & Simon, Knight Rider, Hotel, Wiseguy and Baywatch."
Luke: "What are your favorite and least favorite parts of Hollywood?"
Roy: "Least favorite first. The dealmaking. This is coming from someone who, by academic training, is a social anthropologist. The social pecking order, the system of rituals, the ceremonies of Hollywood work against the organic creative filmmaking process. It's a culture that breeds fear, loathing, contempt, envy, superficiality, backstabbing, overindulgence, corruption, greed... I could go on. There are some fine people in Hollywood. But it is so rampant in the culture that the finest person can end up tarnished."
Luke: "What rituals lead to those vices?"
Roy: "The perfunctory meeting. Your on the buyer's side. I was there. I worked with some fine people like Jane Rosenthal, who now runs Tribeca. You are there sometimes to simply have a courtesy meeting. An individual can come in with a good unique concept. Their creative vision can be distinctive. But you know that the powers that be will never make a movie with this person because he doesn't have the relationships. As a favor, you might, after a meeting like that, you might point that person in the direction of a more respected and senior supplier so that the person can get a shot. Meanwhile, the corporate culture subscribes to the view that it's development posture is story-related. And individuals throughout the executive structure will articulate the point of view that if you bring a good story to us, we're going to make it.
"The industry is more inclusive now but the concentration of ownership is greater and this works against the introduction of new talent and the free flow of fresh creative ideas.
"I've seen so many examples of where the inarticulate white guy has sold a story and an articulate non-white hasn't. If you're not white, you better have your stuff together. I'm not saying that anyone is running around being racist. I think a lot of this stuff is unconscious. The producer who's proven himself can come in and have a rapport with the individual he's pitching to that's going to be of a higher distinction than my rapport. Usually the nonwhite producer has to remind the executive he's pitching to what his credentials are... I've created a little studio downtown. I constantly have to remind people that it exists. That I did a slate of ten pictures. My white colleague would not have to remind people because it would become the common knowledge of the community.
"In Hollywood, perception can be everything. There's an obsession with the artifacts of success. The right car and the right home. Having the right agent. And the right agent having the right clients.
"A number of my African-American colleagues have expressed exactly the same thing that I just expressed. Meanwhile, we keep seeing the same stories over and over.
"I believe in good storytelling. I have a natural affinity for stories that come from the African-American experience."
Luke: "Who was the Los Angeles Dodger executive who got in trouble on Nightline? Al Campanis."
Roy: "I happened to see that. I couldn't believe it. I was in New York on a business trip. The program was just a tribute to Jackie Robinson. The questions were softball. And he starts making these inane unconsciously racist statements. He wasn't trying to be vicious. Black people can't swim. They don't have the faculties. I was so amused that I called my old man. 'You've got to watch Nightline. Al Campanis is making an absolute fool of himself.' My father was amazed too.
"My dad was a tolerant kind of guy but there was nothing he could to do. Afterwards, Campanis came to him. They share a little simpatico because they played in the minor leagues together. My dad was half Sicilian.
"I was close to my dad. He was the first person to encourage me to pursue this career. He told me to do what I loved most. We also bumped heads. He was the quintessential jock."
Luke: "Did you see your dad play pro ball?"
Roy: "Only for a couple of years. Then he had that auto accident which left him a quadriplegic."
Luke: "What's your favorite part of the job as a producer?"
Roy: "Selecting material. Working with a writer. Working with the director. The creative collaboration is a joy. It's like the joy of having a child.
"I produced and directed the 1988 TV movie Body of Evidence starring Barry Bostwick and Margot Kidder. It's about a small town in New England that's experiencing a wave of serial murders. At the center of it is a nurse, Margot Kidder, who recently married the town's forensic pathologist Barry Bostwick. It turns out that she's married to the killer. It's a spin on the Alfred Hitchcock film Suspicion."
Luke: "That was just a few years before Margot Kidder's breakdown. Was she ok then?"
Roy: "Not in my opinion. She had her good days and her bad days. Unfortunately she had some substance abuse problems. She always said her big problem was that the roles that she wanted, she felt she wasn't good enough for, and the roles that she got, she felt she was better than. I said to her, 'Margot, when you outline your life like that you paint yourself into a corner that it is almost impossible to get out of. It would be so much more healthy to look at the work that you have and find the joy in it. And find the redemption in it. And the path in it to transcend whatever problems you have to reach a level of performance and satisfaction within yourself to allow the other things that you want to do to come to you.' She half-listened."
Luke: "As a producer or director, do you find yourself having to play parent?"
Roy: "You have to be everything that you need to be - friend, advisor, parent, interpreter, guide..."
Luke: "What do you think about gangster rap, and the lyrics that advocate killing police?"
Roy: "I'm more concerned about the hatred of women in gangster rap. Gangster rap is a symptom of a bigger social ill. There is certainly a place for it as artistic observation but it seems to feed on itself because of its commercial success. This success heightens the appeal of this pathology. I'm less worried about the resistance to authority because certain authority elements within society have targeted those individuals singing about them. So there is some legitimate resistance going on."
Luke: "So when Ice T does a song called Cop Killer, you think that is a legitimate form of resistance?"
Roy: "I think singing about it is a lot better than going out and doing it. It's important to have that artistic safety valve that you can turn and let it out. The ability to vent has really helped us. Free expression has helped the American society release a lot of the pent-up frustrations."
Luke: "So if there was a white gangster rap group singing about killing Negroes, you'd feel the same way?"
Roy: "They've got a right to do it. But there's not an equivalency there. The cop killer thing was a resistance to a certain level of oppression that was occurring, regardless of whether the cop was white or black. You are at one level of society and you are being restricted by law enforcement.
"By the way, I don't encourage to kill cops. Nothing in my work has ever come close. But just as a student of society... I've seen what it is like to live in housing projects. There are only three degrees of separation in the African-American community between any one individual and other individuals encountering different experiences.
"Often the argument gets confused and we start making these equivalencies that don't translate.
"The cop killer piece [by Ice T] was very provocative. If I were producing his album, would I have advised him to do it? Probably not. But I'm not producing it. But at the time he made it, there had been a number of shootings of unarmed black men by police officers.
"I don't think there's any real connection between that song and any real acts of violence. It's not like there have been a wave of killings. I think his artistic expression gave vent to frustration. By coming out, this helped those individuals in much worse conditions feel vindicated, feel that there is someone on the artistic side who understands their pain and has given voice to it. I'm saying that it is important to give voice to that stuff and let it out as opposed to holding it in and say that the only answer is for me to go do this [kill a cop].
"Ice T now plays a cop on [the TV show] Law & Order every week. He's on the Special Victims Unit of Law & Order on Friday nights. That transcendence is one of the beauties of American life. I think he's taken along with him many of the people who listened to the other stuff.
"The skinhead, like their predecessors such as the Klu Klux Klan, are not talking about striking out against a group that is oppressing them, a legitimate armed group in authority in their neighborhood that's humiliating them, that's targeting them... The group you describe is engaging in a form of terrorism. I don't agree with that any more than an African-American rap group saying let's go out and kill whites."
Luke: "Do you like the work of Spike Lee?"
Roy: "I'm amazed by his ascendancy. He has a tremendous body of work. It's not the kind of filmmaking and storytelling that I would do. Stylistically, it's agit-prop. It's an approach to filmmaking that calls attention to its stylistic elements as much as to its substance. My approach leans towards allowing form and content to be integrated. This is traditional Hollywood filmmaking. You just have to think of the work of directors like John Ford, Howard Hawkes, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, Ernest Lubitsch, and Francis Ford Coppola. I like it when the audience forgets it's watching a movie. I like it when all of my camera angles and the way that it is cut feels so right to the audience that they drift into the center of the story.
"I always know that I am watching a Spike Lee movie. I always know that this is such-and-such an actor. I never get lost in it. But I respect it.
"I really like the movie Insomnia [directed by Christopher Nolan]. It uses sophisticated stylistic devices but they are appropriate to the times we live in. They are not jarring anymore because of the sophistication of the viewer."
Tabloid Baby Burt Kearns vs Gay Mafia
I've been reading an absorbing book published in 1999 - Tabloid Baby by Burt Kearns. He was manaing editor for such tabloid TV shows as A Current Affair and Hard Copy.
He writes about Jessica Savitch, my favorite news anchor babe: "...the luscious lisping blonde sex kitten... No other newswoman inspired such slack-jawed admiration among male viewers... I never would have guessed she was a coke-sniffing basketcase whose boyfriend, the previous WNBC news director, beat the sh-- out of her and turned her into a lesbian."
Kearns writes about the clash between his Australian tabloid buddies and Fox's head at the time, Barry Diller and his "Velvet Mafia."
To Diller, "the Aussies were unwashing homophobic ruffians... Hollywood was a place where untold secrets unfolded in the back of limousines and behind the walls of cloistered mansions, where rubber sheets covered priceless bedspreads...
"The manly men from Down Under had little reverence for the pampered poobahs of screenland and the secrets they held. They laughed at the Diller crowd and their fancy-pants airs. To be blunt, the Aussies regarded Barry Diller and many of his young male executives to be gay, and the Aussies referred to gays as "poofters." Diller...hated A Current Affair..."
A Current Affair planned to do a story claiming that homosexual Cary Grant was straight. Their ad, written by Greg Snead, read: "Cary Grant: No More Fairy Tales."
Diller phoned: "The...word...fairy...makes...my...BLOOD...BOIL!"
Diller cancelled the entire month of A Current Affair's TV Guide ads and demanded to see copies of every promotional item Greg Snead had written in the past two years. (Tabloid Baby, pg. 46)
Kearns hired homosexual Paul Nichols, to directed a pilot of FUNY, as in F--- You New York. Paul couldn't understand a heterosexual funny bit with a beautiful woman doing a US weather map while wearing a spandex miniskirt.
Gordon Elliott read his script as sportcaster Adrian L. Adrian in a lisping effeminate voice of the stereotypical Aussie "poof." Paul got mad and walked out of the control room. Everything stopped until Elliott agreed to read it "straight." (Tabloid Baby, pg. 112)
When Anthea Disney took over A Current Affair, Kearns and company left for Paramount's Hard Copy. Maureen Boyle replaced Maury Povich as host of A Current Affair. During an impasse in her marriage, Anthea moved in with Maureen. Rumors spread they were lesbian lovers. They had a huge fight in the office. Anthea forced Steve Dunleavy to phone New York Post editor Jerry Nachman to beg him not to run a story on the tiff. It never ran. (pg. 159)
"One reason Hard Copy almost sank in its first season was the flaunting of a hipper-than-thou image of pointy-headed liberals from El Lay. They tried to educate viewers on what to think..." (pg. 197)
David Poland Interview Part Two
Here's part two of my interview with David Poland, of www.TheHotButton.com. It was conducted Thursday, 8/15/02.
Luke: "Why did you leave Entertainment Weekly?"
David: "My father passed away in July of 1997. I started my daily internet column in August on RoughCut.com. I lost interest in Entertainment Weekly. I was working on story that weren't important to me. I realized that I was climbing a ladder that I didn't necessarily want to get to the top of.
"It's an editor-driven magazine with one voice. The more successful it became, it became more soft. When EW started, even as a Time-Warner publication, it struggled to get access. I didn't read EW when I worked for it. I don't read it now. It's information I've already heard. It's a magazine for consumers.
"It's a victim of its success. It was darker and smarter and funnier when it was young and struggling and trying to find a voice. The way to get attention when you're young is to say f--- you to everybody a lot. Then they say 'F--- you' back. And you say, well, I've got 100,000 readers. Oh ok, we'll do something with you anyway. Just don't do that again. And you do it again. And you say, we've got 1.2 million readers now. Now they say thank you when you say f--- you to them. A 'f--- you' in your magazine is nicer than 'I love you' in another magazine.
"Then the people who work for you start knowing everybody and you become part of the family. And you lose your edge. Same thing with Harry Knowles. It's one of the greatest challenges in my world to keep that in perspective. It's seductive.
"I wrote something about director Phil Kaufman and it helped me at the studio. He invited me to see him in San Francisco and to have dinner. I love Phil Kaufman's work. It was an attractive opportunity but I couldn't do it. It wasn't right. I may hate his next movie. I may compromise myself. It's lonely. I think you have to keep a distance from other journalists. The eternal gamesmanship of being in the entertainment journalism business is the worst thing about it.
"When you come out of a movie theater with a bunch of critics, and there are six of you in a circle, and you're all discussing a movie, that's not news. They shouldn't be changing your opinion of the movie. If you don't have the strength to have that conversation and walk away with your opinions still in tact, you shouldn't have that conversation. We start to quote each other. It's not right.
"Reuters wrote that XXX did great box office at $45 million. It was disappointing box office. Sony was expecting $65 million."
Luke: "Has anyone tried to bribe you with hookers or drugs?"
David: "No. I've never had oral sex from a publicist."
Former gossip columnist A.J. Benza, in his autobiography, wrote about how it easy it was to score with publicist assistants in return for not writing a particular story.
Luke: "Have you ever had sex with a famous actress?"
Luke: "Did it cloud your journalistic objectivity?"
David: "I never wrote anything about her so it worked out well. But it sure would. I think there are more people writing about the film business who are angry and want to get back at people then who want to do favors. People who write puffy want to write puffy and are sincere in their puffiness.
"Publicists are smart. They figure out who the players are and what the players need to get to where they want to go. The thing that publicists like the least is being surprised. Publicists figured out with me quickly that I was not a butter boy. I was not into being bribed.
"I'm not skimpy about being kind. But I do it because I believe it.
"I did junkets occasionally at Roughcut.com. You're not at a junket to kill a movie. Ever. I drew a line between my column and my work as editor of Roughtcut. A couple of times I wrote about the junket itself. They didn't like that. I almost never got in trouble with our owners, Turner, and then AOL Time Warner. Only two times. One when I wrote during the same week as the Time Warner stockholders meeting about New Line being independent of Time Warner. They were concerned that the stockholders would see it and use it against Time Warner. So I delayed the story for a few days.
"One time I sent a woman to cover the SAG awards, which played on TNT. She wrote an expletive-filled screed against the SAG awards. It was vicious and funny. The opening line was, 'A cow just shat on my plate.' And it got worse.
"I was out of the office the day that ran. I got a phone call. 'Are you out of your f---ing mind?' So I pulled that down because it was a direct attack by a TNT entity against something TNT was airing. We never wrote about TNT."
Luke: "What do you think of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation and its Golden Globes awards?"
David laughs. Most everyone in Hollywood laughs about the HFPA and the Golden Globes. An ex-studio publicist once told me about the Golden Globe Awards: "At the studio, we were told about the Hollywood foreign press, take them out to a nice hotel, order the best bottle of champagne, and you'll get whatever you want from them. I always laugh when I watch the Golden Globes [given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association]. Nobody understands out there in middle America what really goes on in Hollywood."
David: "Some of the people in HFPA are nice people. Some are smart people. They are smart enough to have so much cash from that stupid awards show that they can do whatever they want all year long. It's an outrageously silly situation. It's 89 people, most of who have never lived in this country, most of whom have no real influence over box office anywhere... God bless them one and all, but I am a little offended by it.
"The Academy Awards isn't much different though at least they have 6000 people voting. The best film of the year almost never wins. The Godfather was the last one. Usually it's one of the top 20 films. The whole awards thing concerns me. I'm a member of the BFCA (Broadcast Film Critics Association). We piggyback on the Golden Globe Awards. We're shown on E!.
"There are too many awards shows. The most offensive of all is the National Board of Review, which is a bunch of retired teachers and unknown people who live in New York who've become this important thing. They're shown movies early. Actors and directors fly to New York to present themselves. The Board has nothing to do with the film business. But they're the first awards show out so they're important.
"I find it deeply offensive that LA Film Critics and New York Film Critics means nothing in comparison to this group.
"The problem with moving the Oscars earlier is that people won't have time to see all the movies before they vote."
Luke: "Why are you so hard on Columbia Pictures?"
David: "I'm being honest about Columbia. It's been a shock. John Calley has been there over five years. He's considered one of the great minds in the history of show business. He came along and we had a year and a half of Mark Canton's lineup of big hits, after Mark had failed miserably for a few years. Then we it came along to Calley time, they had almost nothing. At first they had only teen movies, which financially made sense because they could be made so cheaply with young stars and young directors. Even if the movies were terrible, they were cash cows.
"Then they went into this middle period where Columbia president Amy Pascal made women's movies. None of them made money.
"Charlie's Angels was the beginning of the next generation of Sony films. Charlie's Angels was greenlit at $80 million and ended costing $120 million. It was promoted so much that Sony's other two movies at Christmas time suffered. Angels did a $40 million opening weekend and not well foreign and finally made some money in video.
"We've had Sony's summer cycle. The Adam Sandler movie Mr. Deeds cost $80 million. Then they had three picture which cost over $120 million each. Stuart Little 2, which cost $130 million, was a disaster. Men in Black 2 did well, but had an enormous backend [stars and director got a large percentage of the gross]. Spiderman was the big cash cow. Charlie's Angels 2 has been greenlit at over $100 million. I don't know how they will make money.
"Michael Eisner figured out after Pearl Harbor, that it was a mistake. Armageddon grossed about $500 million worldwide and about broke even. The big budget movie business is dangerous. We thought everybody had learned their lesson about making $100 million movies. Few are worth making."
Luke: "It's not as though any of these films are prestigious or great films. Amy Pascal is supposed to have this literary taste."
David: "Sony has been all over the place since they [Calley and Pascal] have been there. Sony has tried many different configurations of what they are. Now they've decided they are a blockbuster studio. I don't know why Calley doesn't have a clearer vision for the studio.
"It used to be that studios had a style. You could tell a Columbia movie, a Warner Brothers movie... But now there's no such thing."
Luke: "Do you think Calley and Pascal will be let go?"
David: "I think Calley has already deciding he's leaving. My guess is that Joe Roth will move in."
Luke: "How many of your peers are secretly longing to switch over to the other side?"
David: "Every one of them. They want to be screenwriters."
Luke: "I've already interviewed two LA Times journalists turned producers - Dale Pollock and David Friendly."
David: "You learn to kiss ass well at the LA Times."
Weekly Variety, in its 97th Anniversary issue, named Amy Pascal "Showman of the Year," and wrote a gushing article.
Surfing: Is It Good for the Jews?
Chaim Amalek writes: Here is another field in which jewish women, especially those on the East Coast (but I expect this holds true on the West Coast too) are deficient: as surfers. I just saw "Blue Crush" - a beautiful movie about yet another skill that blonde shiksa Goddesses have in spades but which would appear to be alien to the jewess: surfing. If more jewesses learned to surf instead of becoming lawyeresses or bankers, there would be less intermarriage. And hence more inbreeding, and the jewish genetic diseases that go with inbreeding. (Just see The Forward for more on this. EIGHTEEN PAGES worth.) On second thought, ALL jewish women should go to law or business school. Forget the surfing idea.
Bill Todman Jr Stands Me Up
I spoke by phone to producer Bill Todman Jr (Wild Wild West) at 11AM and arranged to meet for lunch at 1PM at The Coffee Cafe on Sunset Blvd, next to the Director's Guild building.
I left home at 12:30PM, arrived at 12:50PM and stood around like a schmuck, calling Bill's cell phone number for the next 35 minutes, until leaving in frustration at 1:25PM. I got stood up. My calls weren't returned. No explanation was given nor apology offered. I hate it when people steal my time.
Todman has an office at Elie Samaha's Franchise Picture, where, I gather, I am not a favorite.
Bill is the son of game show producer, Bill Todman. Bill Jr. was a producer for Les Moonves, chairman of CBS, for 14 years and produced many hours of network television.
Bill Jr is the former head of production for Morgan Creek Productions.