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Something Rotten In Denmark

Daniel Pipes writes for the New York Post: A Muslim group in Denmark announced a few days ago that a $30,000 bounty would be paid for the murder of several prominent Danish Jews, a threat that garnered wide international notice.

Less well known is that this is just one problem associated with Denmark's approximately 200,000 Muslim immigrants. The key issue is that many of them show little desire to fit into their adopted country. For years, Danes lauded multiculturalism and insisted they had no problem with the Muslim customs - until one day they found that they did. Some major issues:

* Living on the dole: Third-world immigrants - most of them Muslims from countries such as Turkey, Somalia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iraq - constitute 5 percent of the population but consume upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending.

* Engaging in crime: Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser, disproportions are found in other crimes.

Producer Lynda Obst

If you want to get a sense of Lynda Rosen Obst, don't bother reading her book, Hello, He Lied. It gives you little sense of one of Hollywood's most obscene and domineering bosses.

Her workaday credo is, "We'll do it my f---ing way!'

"She makes Attilla the Hun look humane," says a fellow producer. "I can't think of a more despised female producer by those who work with her. Mention Linda's name and you get a chorus of boos at Paramount."

Buzz magazine named her one of the ten biggest bullies in Hollywood.

Lynda, amusing in her self deception, writes: "Buzz was a few years late with its scoop about my temper. Since I had a major insight on location five years ago, I've prided myself on my newfound ability to find my "Zen" center, which keeps me grounded in the face of daily horror....[W]hen I began to release the illusion of my ability to control anything in my life, I have had no true reason to lose my temper. (Usually. People screwing up royally and lying about it still gets to me, big time.) Reaction and resistance are inevitable. I learned that anger is the reaction to a thwarted expectation of control - and I know there isn't any control, really." (Hello, pg. 134)

The future Lynda Obst was born April 14, 1950 in New York. Her name was Linda Rosen.

A fifth-grade teacher in the Westchester suburb of Harrison, N.Y., suggested the Rosen girl should spell her first name with a Y. She became Lynda. Until then, she had been Linda, but she has been Lynda ever since.

Lynda's mother, school teacher Claire Rosen, told the 7/6/97 Dallas Morning News that her eldest child and only daughter was "busy, always busy. She talked at 10 months and hasn' t stopped since."

Lynda's younger brothers, Rick and Michael, were "good little citizens, " their mother says. "Lynda was a rebel" in ripped jeans and midriff-baring tops.

Rick Rosen became a founding partner of the Endeavor Talent Agency in Los Angeles. Michael Rosen became a bureau chief for ABC News.

Lynda's father Bob was a garment-industry executive.

Lynda attended Pomona College, in Claremont, California. Then she became a doctoral candidate in psychology at Columbia University. She met literary agent David Obst who represented Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They had an affair and later married.

David got Jann Wenner to allow Lynda to put together an anthology called The Sixties for Rolling Stone Press. David next got the New York Times Magazine's editor Ed Klein to meet her and hire her.

Obst edited a cover story in the summer of 1977 called "The New Tycoons of Hollywood." She put Mike Medavoy on the cover at the urging of his father in law, Henry Rogers of the Rogers & Cowan publicity firm.

"I had a wonderful run as an editor of the New York Times Magazine," Obst writes. Too bad that those affected by her at the paper can't say the same thing. She was in over her head as the Magazine's error-ridden coverage of the David Begelman story showed. See McClintick's 1981 book Indecent Exposure. Obst avoids all mention of the Begelman debacle in her autobiography.

Obst heard about the Begelman case at a party just after Christmas at the home of literary lawyer Morton Janklow. Lynda overheard a conversation about trouble within the board of directors of Columbia over the Begelman affair. Obst hired eccentric and unreliable freelance Lucian K. Truscott, IV, to do the Begelman story under her supervision.

The article, published February 26, entitled "Hollywood's Wall Street Connection," said that Herbert Allen tried to "hush up" the Begelman scandal to stop the market value of Columbia stock from declining. Charles Allen was labeled "The Godfather of the New Hollywood." He was said to have been a "mystery power behind the Hollywood set ever since" the early fifties. Charles was said to have links to criminals such as Meyer Lansky. The article was filled with falsehoods. Herbert Allen threatened to sue the Times.

"Reports quickly began filtering into Herbert's office about Lucian Truscott's past (the drugs and the trouble with the Army) and about the background of the editor of the article, Lynda Obst. Herbert had never met Lynda Obst, but he objected to everything about Truscott: his manner, his assertive personality, his dress and hair style, not to mention his writing and research. Herbert sensed taht he might be the victim of something quite rare in the upper echelon of American journalism: a prominent investigative article which would be widely believed because of the good reputation of the newspaper in which it appeared, but which had been prepared so carelessly that it obviously was an aberration when measured by the standards of The New York Times. The article somehow had slipped through the editing process and into print with its major as well as its minor flaws intact.

"Three months later, after elaborate negotiations between lawyers for the two sides, The New York Times found it necessary to publish perhaps the most elaborate retraction, correction, and apology in the history of major American newspaper up to that time.

"Two clear mistakes were made: First, because of a zealous commitment to speed, mainly by Lynda Obst, normal fact-checking procedures were not observed as carefully as they normally are. Second, the higher editors failed to supervise Obst sufficiently closely to compensate for her relative inexperience with this type of article. In a broader sense, too, some Times people naturally questioned in retrospect whether Lucian Truscott should have been hired in the first place. Truscott was not asked to do any more complext business investigative articles. And the Columbia Pictures article led directly to Lynda Obst's departure from the magazine. Subsequently she became a Hollywood producer." (Indecent Exposure, pg. 402-403)

Peter Guber had been a valuable source for Obst while at the NYT. When David and Lynda moved to Los Angeles in 1979, Peter hired her.

No longer with the New York Times, and now just a D-girl (development girl), Lynda lost friends.

Obst writes in her book: "The first thing you notice about women in Hollywood, besides their low percentage of body fat, is how few are married. And the number of great-looking, successful single women without a social life is staggering." (pg. 175)

Joyce Saenz Harris wrote a staggeringly glowing and upbeat profile of Obst in the 7/6/97 Dallas Morning News. There's not a negative word about one of Hollywood's biggest bullies. I guess girls stick together.

Obst told the 4/1/02 People about balancing work with motherhood: "I never had the option of saying, 'I think I'll stop and do carpool and knit'."

An article in the January 1996 Los Angeles Times ("An Unusual Good-bye at a Usual Haunt") about a wake held for producer Don Simpson at Mortons said: "Like most of those in attendance, producer Lynda Obst was dry-eyed but emotional. 'Like Elvis, Don died in the bathroom for our sins,' she said."

Some people have Jesus Christ as their savior, Obst has Don Simpson.

In an article entitled 'Can you please hold for producer Satan?', Cathy Seip writes for the 7/3/97 Salon.com: "My peaceful reveries are interrupted by these Rolodex updating calls at least once a week. Actually, this one I rather enjoyed because of its weird new fillip of Hollywood pretension. Lynda Obst's assistant, a polite young man named Scott, informed me he was "updating Producer Obst's Rolodex." Producer Obst? God. Well, leave it to Lynda Obst, an industry character whose favorite phrase is "We'll do it my fucking way!" to transform producer into an honorific, like "professor" or "Reichspresident.""

From www.nobody-knows-anything.com: "Larry Wright told the funniest story about dealing with Lynda Obst. They were late to a meeting with Warners, so Obst drives like a madwoman down the freeway, smoking a joint and talking on the phone, and she says, "Tell me the story." Wright, taken aback, starts pitching it to her. In the middle of his pitch, her phone in her purse in the backseat rings; Obst opens her door, reaches around behind her to the backseat, gets the phone, and starts talking on that. Meanwhile, Wright is pitching this whole while, and Obst keeps saying, No, no, that's not working. So Wright starts rearranging the pitch in the car, and the one he came up while trying to get and keep Obst's attention is the one he pitched and sold at the studio at the meeting."

From NYmag.com: "Before he was married in 1995, [Stanley] Crouch was something of a ladies' man, linked to a long list of women including producer Lynda Obst."

Brian Anderson writes on misc.writing.screenplays: "That particular afternoon she [Obst] was very definitely lusting after the director and using her obsession to flagellate a room full of wannabe screenwriters. The tone of her comments more or less said the director is God and if you don't like it, go hang yourself. I think this was part of an effort on her part to burst some bubbles in the room, since she also made sure we all knew we would get screwed on our first deal, and not to think for even a minute that we wouldn't. Then she stuck around afterward for a book signing."

Plothaps writes on alt.books.carl-sagan: "...[D]espite her long frienship with the Sagan clan, Lynda Obst was a HORRIBLE choice for producer. She seems to shoe-horn cliched set-pieces into all her achingly mainstream productions (which include My Best Friend's Wedding and One Fine Day). The car chase sequence in Contact is a particularly grating example of a vacuous attempt to interject Hollywood-style action into what should be an intellectual drama. Whoever decided that this magnificent story about ideas could work as a Hollywood-ized action/adventure should be shot!"

Brent Bozell writes 2/12/99: "My guess is that baby boom liberals enjoyed "The '60s." One of those liberals is the project's forty-eight-year-old producer, Lynda Obst, a mover and shaker in the movie business ("Contact"; "Sleepless in Seattle"). In an essay posted on the NBC web site, Obst writes that she's been "waiting for the '60s to come back since December 31, 1969," and that "by reliving the '60s now, we can, like Graham Nash says, 'Teach Our Children' the joy of living undeadened, without diminished ideals or dulled expectations."

"But those to the left of, say, Paul Wellstone should have been appalled by the miniseries' depiction of radicals, exemplified by Kenny, a Columbia SDS firebrand who, proverbially, cares about "the people" but has little use for actual human beings. Kenny is killed when he accidentally sets off the bomb that he intended to use against God knows what bastion of the capitalist, imperialist Establishment."

David Futrelle writes for Salon.com: Producer Lynda Obst (Flashdance, Sleepless in Seattle) wants to keep eating lunch in Hollywood, which is perhaps why her new account of life in the Hollywood trenches is such a tiresome read. "Hello, He Lied" recounts Obst's own travels in our modern Babylon, from her beginnings as a journalist to her current position as big-time producer. It's a story, alas, much less interesting than it sounds.

In part, this is because Obst tries so hard to avoid being "mean" that she's left with almost nothing to say. She praises her Hollywood friends extravagantly, but when she stoops to criticize, she almost never names names. ("When you trash someone on the record," she notes, "you will pay.") Indeed, the only real people she has the guts to criticize are those she knows she'll never have to lunch with -- Phillips, for one, a "stoned" ex-producer who "trash[ed] her own Rolodex for cash."

Worse yet, for all of her Hollywood experience, Obst simply hasn't learned the basics of storytelling. Her anecdotes have neither beginning nor end; she'll plunge into the middle of a tale without first giving us the beginning, then drop it uncompleted to plunge into another equally pointless mass of details. Obst treats us several times to the details of her "rescue" of the film "Bad Girls" from a production meltdown -- without ever wondering if perhaps this was a film that deserved to die in childbirth.

Her breezy tone suggests that Obst is (at least sporadically) attempting to write in a humorous vein; in this attempt she does not succeed. At times, Obst seems to suffer from the delusion that she's writing some sort of self-help book, interrupting her narrative (such as it is) to treat us to numbered lists of Hollywood "truths," tired reflections on personal empowerment, dating hints and even little disquisitions advising what to wear on set. "Hello, He Lied" is as self-absorbed and sycophantic as Hollywood itself. It would make a terrible movie. It's already made a terrible book.

From the 3/26/01 Village Voice: "As the burden we must bear for hoping that a rampaging telekinetic surge would flatten producer Lynda Obst, Someone Like You is a particularly shallow dissection of single-woman blues. Obst empties her purse on the table—sassy girlfriends with dating strategies, song interludes, bubble baths with cuke slices, utterly sexless sex, even a broken heel on New Year's Eve—which may or may not be found in Laura Zigman's source novel but is all robbed from Nora Ephron anyway."

From the 3/13/92 Hollywood Reporter: Writer Lynda Obst, who penned the screenplay for the gal tale "This Is My Life," now in theaters, cites a shortage of female superheroes as proof of gender discrimination in the children's programming departments.

"There's a tyranny of male-constructed feminine ideals that have nothing to do with female ideals," Obst said, noting that in the feature film domain, an increase in women directors, like "Life's" Nora Ephron, could counter that.

Ted Ashley Dies

Ted Ashley was born Ted Assofsky. "Scrawny and unfortunate-looking, with a head too big for his five-foot-five frame, Ashley had grown up in a one-room cold-water flat in Brooklyn, sleeping on a cot on one side of a worn-out curtain while his tubercular father tried to make a living as a tailor on the other." (The Agency)

In 1938, Ashley entered the William Morris mailroom. In 1942, he became an agent. In 1945, he quit to become a manager to such Morris clients as comedian Henny Youngman.

Ted Ashley died 8/24/02 at age 80 of leukemia after a long illness.

The former talent agent turned studio executive helped shape Warner Brothers in the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, Warner had box office success with with franchise-launching pictures like "Dirty Harry" and "Superman."

Ashley founded the Ashley Famous talent agency. He was a high ranking executive at Warner Communications for two decades. Ashley chose John Calley, currently Sony Pictures chairman, to serve as Warners studio chief in 1968.

Ashley began as a William Morris agent at the age of 20. He then launced his own personal-management firm. His Ashley Famous agency packaged television series such as "Mission: Impossible" and represented a wide variety of clients from Tennessee Williams to Janis Joplin and Vanessa Redgrave.

Hard-working and reclusive, Ashley rarely schmoozed celebrities or granted interviews. or hanging out at industry eateries.

Kinney Corp. bought into his talent agency in 1967.

In 1969, Ashley helped Kinney head Steve Ross acquire Warner Bros. Ashley served as Warners CEO until 1981, when he named Robert Daly and Terry Semel as successors. For the next seven years, he was vice chairman of studio parent Warner Communications, where he helped merge The Movie Channel and Showtime.

Ashley was born in Brooklyn in 1922 as Theodore Assofsky. Graduating from high school at age 15, he studied business administration at City College at night, also working as an office boy at the William Morris agency where his uncle Nat was general manager. At age 20 he graduated to full-fledged agent -- changing his name in the process -- and began representing radio clients and photographers.

After nine years at William Morris, he launched Ted Ashley Associates. His clients included Gertrude Berg ("The Goldbergs"), Allen Funt and Henny Youngman.

Within three years he launched Ashley Famous Agency, which became known for packaging and selling network series. Such TV series included "The Danny Kaye Show," "Mission: Impossible," "Get Smart," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Medic," "Star Trek," "Dr. Kildare," "The Defenders," "Tarzan," "Name That Tune," "The Twilight Zone" and "The Doris Day Show."

Ashley Famous represented playwrights such as Williams and Arthur Miller, singers Perry Como and Trini Lopez, and rock acts including Joplin, The Doors, and Iron Butterfly. Motion-picture clients included Redgrave, Burt Lancaster, Rex Harrison, Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman.

Two years into his association with Kinney and Ross, Ashley was named chairman-CEO of Warner Bros., and Ashley Famous was spun off to avoid conflicts of interest. Ashley reportedly earned $2.7 million in Warners stock from the deal and collected a $200,000 annual salary plus six-figure bonuses through the mid-1970s. One of Ashley's first theatrical hits was the "Woodstock" music documentary, which grossed $13 million.

Ashley was a board member of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a member of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a founder of the American Film Institute. He was an active supporter of the Democratic Party.

Ashley is survived by his wife, Page Cuddy Ashley; four daughters, Fran Curtis Dubin, Diane Ashley, Kim Balin and Ba-Nhi Sinclair; a brother, Alfred Ashley; and two grandchildren. (Information from Daily Variety and Reuters)

Getting Ahead on the Job

Get this, half of women admit to having office affairs with a superior but only 20% of men.

You're not alone, Suzy Wetlaufer.

Like the dethroned Harvard Business Review editor, 62 percent of Americanshave had an office romance, a new survey says. Even more surprising, 41 percent had sex on the job - with half of themdoing it on a desk and 16 percent in the boss' office.

The survey, conducted by Elle magazine and MSNBC, analyzed the replies of31,000 people who answered an Internet questionnaire.

It found that of the 62 percent who had an office romance, 42 percent weremarried or in a relationship. Half the women and 20 percent of the men had a romance with a superior.

Chaim Amalek writes: There is NOTHING wrong with single people looking for sex partners on the job. Where else are they to look, in their dreams? In bars? Men don't f--- superiors because very few men are gay, and most superiors are male.

Khunrum writes: The usually socially astute and enlightened Chaim A. is somewhat off base here. I suggest avoiding workplace romances. If you court someone and eventually break up, you'll still have to work with them. One of you may be compelled to resign. Then there is the sexual harassment issue. I personally know a couple of workplace love affairs which went sour and later the guy was served papers for harassment. A woman scorned and all that..... Where to meet potential mates? The same place you met Luke Ford. On the computer of course. Match.com, Date.com, Yahoo Personals, Cupid Junction...there are myriad's to choose from.

Fred writes: In my entire career, I've only had one female boss (back when I was an engineer). She was married and not available. Had the opportunity arose, I probably would have gone for it. But shortly thereafter, I would have been stricken with feelings of guilt, and contacted our moral leader to discuss how I should expiate my sins.

I know one of my ex-girlfriends did her boss. There are a bunch of secretaries and paralegals I know who married their bosses, so obviously at one time they fell into the rubric of having done their bosses. Does the poll that you quote go into calculating who did their bosses for professional advancement vs. who did their bosses for other reasons?

Khunrum writes: A superior almost did me out of my job. It was my first year teaching in H-town. At a vocational high school. I was a young, bright, good looking lad of thirty. The principle was a tough, cancer stick smoking crone around late forties. Very neurotic. I had zero interest in her sexually. Anyway I was married at the time. She was doing the auto mechanic instructor. His wife found out and made him quit.

The biddy went through a grieving period of a few weeks then decided I was her next victim. She asked me to stay after school and help her out with certain chores or whatever. I let it be known I wasn't interested. After that I got terrible job reviews. She tried to get me fired. Said I was incompetent. These were the days when sexual harassment wasn't the issue it is today. The bitch put me through hell. However, a job came up at a local college and I took that. Everything worked out fine. Later I heard she was demoted.

I hate working for women. They are up and down like Yo Yo's. Have a disagreement with them and they take it as an act of betrayal. Then they have it in for you. Women are unreliable ally's. Give me a guy boss anytime. If he is a prick, he is always a prick and you can deal with it. A nice guy is usually a nice guy all the time. I can figure a man out pretty quick....women, rarely.

Let's take a look at the alternatives to the internet.

1. The Bar Scene..I can't imagine any members of The Advisory Committee masquerading as Lounge Lizards. This is a frightening thought but picture Fred Nek decked out in Luke Ford black threads, knit yarmulke on his dome, sidling up to a cutie with a pickup line like "Hi Babeeeeeee, You come here often"? Luke Ford people are way too stingy to purchase liquor for gals if we are not going to get any poontang.....and we know we are not going to get any at a bar so save the $$$.

2. The Workplace. As I have suggested I think this is the worst course of action. If it doesn't last, one of you will have to find a new job....if it does last you have to spend 20 or 30 years working along side your wife. And there is always the threat of a harassment case against you.

3. Shul (Heb Hops) or Church...Out of the question. Everything I know about religion I learned at Luke Ford.com (and net). I have nothing in common with any religious people of any denomination. Places of worship are spooky. The women are way to needy. They have put their fate in the hands of The Lord and you.. RUN for the exit. Better yet, don't show up.

4. Introductions..I don't know about you guys but my female friends stopped touting me to their buddies decades ago. They know I am not serious about anything but getting some nuevo god almighty clam. After a civilized interval it is time to move on and look for some more. This leaves the friend in a precarious position. "Why did you introduce me to that jerk"?

5. That leaves the number one way to meet women..The computer. You can even request exactly what you want, race, height, weight, color eyes, income.....I recently branched out from Asians only to Hispanics and Anglos. Might as well cover all bases. Instead of having to spring for that burger and fries right away, I suggest a meeting at Starbucks (you'll find nine out of ten are unacceptible anyway)

Here is a valuable Rum tip (which I learned from my pal Lance Hitler) Arrive five or ten minutes late and in many cases she will have already paid for her latte. You'll save four bucks. Hang back in the shadows until you see the wallet come out. After the transaction strut up and say "Hi, I'm Fred Nek, You're Molly I presume"? Then buy yourself something, sit down and check it the latest sad tale...

Chaim Amalek writes: 1. The bar scene. Luke can pull it off. And I know more guys who met their spouses in bars than have made the connection over the web. (Yes, they are happily married.) But you have to be in your twenties to pull this one off.

2. The Workplace. This can work if it's someone you don't have to see all day long. Or if you are sufficiently senior that the other party is the one who leaves when things head south.

3. Shul. Here's the deal with Houses of Worship. The good ones (and we all know what I mean by that) really do get taken pretty early. By the time they hit 32, you are talking dregs. (HEED MY WORDS, not-so-young anymore Marc W.!) That's true of houses of worship no less than every other place.

4. Introductions. These are the best. Sadly, I've never gotten one that worked. (An ex tried fixing me up with a series of women who were, in turn, obese, amazingly heavy drinkers/smokers etc.) Besides, once you cross 34, you get scratched off the list of possibilites for desireable women. (Luke, were he more self-aware, would confirm this. AGAIN, TAKE NOTE, NOT-SO-YOUNG ANYMORE MARC!)

5. That leaves the number one way to meet women. The computer. My experience is that you cannot, if what you want is a nice smart pretty (say a 6 or better) white woman who is mentally and physically healthy. Such women tend not to be trolling the net looking for men.

Go Down Under Young Man

From UPI: Sydney is an ideal place for making movies. For the director, there's a range of locations on the doorstep, from desert to jungle to cityscape. There's a film culture with highly rated crew and actors, good weather and a cosmopolitan culture not that different from 'back home.'

For the producer, there's a tax incentive and low Aussie dollar, which help make Australia a cheaper place to shoot than the United States.

And for the stars, there's the benefit of anonymity. Unlike in America, actors here are largely ignored.

It was a factor enjoyed by Tom Cruise when he was here doing Mission: Impossible 2. Before he arrived, Fox in the United States warned Harvey to bump up security to cope with the crowds that were bound to mob the star.

The adulation never eventuated, and Cruise was able to blend into the scene unnoticed, cheering on his son's soccer team at nearby Queens Park and taking his daughter to school without fear of frenzy.

Similarly, Keanu Reeves has been able to live an almost normal life while making the Matrix sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) at Fox over the past year.

Third Los Angeles Orthodox Rabbi In A Year Charged With Sexually Molesting A Child

I often discuss the spate of sex abuse charges against Roman Catholic priests with my Orthodox Jewish friends who say such a thing would not happen with a similar proportion in the Orthodox Jewish community. I disagree. I suspect the level of sexual molestation of children is equal throughout Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish denominations. For the latest charges against a putative Los Angeles Orthodox rabbi, see this.

Wendy J. Madnick writes for Jewishjournal.com: Michael Ozair is, by many accounts, charming, charismatic and an excellent teacher. He is also in jail.

The once-popular instructor at schools like Shalhevet High School on Fairfax Avenue and Sinai Akiba Academy on Wilshire Boulevard, who was an active participant in the Happy Minyan at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, was arrested earlier this month and charged Aug. 15 with the 1997 sexual molestation of a then-14-year-old girl. At press time, he was in custody at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, with bail set at $95,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 4.

Luke says: I've taken many classes from Rabbi Ozair and his teachings were a blessing.

Whatever Happened To Gary Oldman?

For more on Oldman's blow up with Dreamworks over The Contender, see this fascinating article in Premiere magazine and my interview with producer Marc Frydman.

David Poland writes 8/23/02 on The Hot Button: "Gary Oldman has disappeared. After imploding over The Contender, Oldman’s primary goal, as laid out by the man and his manager Doug Urbanski, was to become seriously famous again. Famous enough to get jobs like the one Russell Crowe got – and which Gary lost – in A Beautiful Mind. But since The Contender public relations fiasco, Oldman has not made a single studio film.

"Had he not gotten into a pissing match with DreamWorks, he would have likely won an Academy Award for his work in The Contender two years ago. But he did. And there are people –very powerful people - who now see him as anti-semitic and worse, willing to dump on their movie if he gets into a mood. There is some talent that can get away without doing a lot of press. There is some talent that can get away with being outrageously assholic in private. But you can’t piss on your own movie."

DAVID POLAND, TheHotButton.com, writes Jim Romenesko: Subject: New Times gag. The biggest problem with the Antoine Oman/Tony Ortega story was that it wasn't terribly funny. I suppose that there is honor to satire that is so close to the truth that it's hard to tell the difference. But if you are printing 1500 words of it, it better be brilliant. Worse, at this length, if you were reading the story in print, you had to turn the page before getting to the stuff that was broad enough to assure that it was supposed to be a joke. I was bored long before that. It takes a lot to top Anna Nicole Smith, literally and figuratively.

The story, its evolution and the response to it could have been a brilliantly telling media story in and of itself. But instead of bringing sweet perspective to all of this, we got 1000 smugly self-congratulatory and lamely facetious words about the response to the article, which were even less funny and insightful than the original piece.

From MIKE PETERSON, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY: Subject: When did satire start needing to be funny? If the biggest problem with the New Times satire on network exploitation is that "it wasn't terribly funny" then it must not have had any problems at all. Satire is not required to be funny.

Producer Al Burton

I interviewed Producer Al Burton at his light and airy French/English style Beverly Hills mansion June 11, 2002.

Ben is a spry elfish man in his seventies. He stands about 5'3" tall.

Ben Stein writes about Al and Sally Burton in his book Dreemz: "Sometimes when I think of my friend Al and his wife, Sally, tears come to my eyes. I met them when I was in Aspen, Colorado, at a conference about television. Al is a creative boss at my studio. All the other participants were academics and journalists, sneering at Al and drooling at how much money he made. Their envy became truly ugly. It was a vivid and frightening scene of those who teach venting their jealousy on those who do.

"I tried to be supportive to Al, even though I dislike most of his TV shows. I admire people who get things done. Sally, Al's wife, is perhaps the most intense woman I have ever met, but she was perfectly nice to me.

"By encouraging me about finding work here, they made it possible for me to move here. I do not think that there are better friends anywhere. Where, I wonder, have friends like them been all my life? They are almost completely unfrustrated people. If they want to do something, they simply do it. No agonizing, no whimpering, no brooding - they just do it." (pg. 97)

Luke: "Tell me about Ben Stein."

Al: "I worked for Norman Lear for ten years. I started as director of development and I became a close friend of Norman and an executive vice-president. During this time, he would call on me to go to events he couldn't make. In 1974, he asked me to make a speech for him at a conference in Aspen, Colorado. I was not welcomed warmly by some of the people.

"I did not know then that Ben [a Wall Street Journal TV critic] had written a bad review of the Jeffersons. And Norman wanted to know what this guy was like.

"The first day that Ben and I started talking to each other, it was clear that we were going to be close friends. I'd brought my wife with me to Aspen, Colorado. I invited Ben to lunch. He walks in and my wife had half-a-dozen anti-Nixon books. She was reading All The President's Men, The Final Days, etc. And Ben says, 'I'm sorry. I think you should know that I wrote speeches for Richard Nixon.'

"And we were knocked out by Ben. He was funny. And he was diametrically opposed to everything my wife stood for. I'm not much of an ideologue. But the severest word you could give against George W. Bush, my wife would probably subscribe to.

"I had a tape of the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman pilot with me. And I asked Ben if he'd like to see a show that had not sold. It'd been turned down by ABC and CBS. He said yes and we played it for him. Then he asked if Norman would mind him reviewing it.

"My guess was that Norman would welcome a review. I called Norman and he said of course he can review. So Ben wrote a five-column wide review atop the Wall Street Journal under the headline, 'A Dandy Show You Might Never See.' And we blew that up as a poster and that's how we sold the show.

"We invited 25 TV executives from around the country to dinner at Norman's home in Brentwood. And that's how we started syndicating the show. And it was a smash hit from the beginning.

"It turned out that Ben had only criticized The Jeffersons for one thing, and I agreed with him. That the show was the Amos & Andy of its time. It's black people being black people.

"I got a chance to put him on as a consultant to a show called All's Fair (1976). Richard Crenna plays a right-wing conservative and Bernadette Peters plays a left-wing liberal. And Ben contributed the far-right thought. He claims that he was hated by everybody [at Norman Lear's production company]. It's not true. They thought he was funny. But they hated his politics. They were 1935-style communists."

From Imdb.com: "This sitcom set in Washington, D.C. detailed the relationship between 49-year-old conservative political writer Richard Barrington and his liberal photographer girlfriend Charley. Despite frequent arguments concerning current events, topical concerns and the generation gap, Richard and Charley stayed together, much to the amusement of their friends and coworkers."

Al: "Ben's book Dreemz is about his move to California. I greeted him at the airport with a limo and five adorable cheerleaders [in short shorts] with T-shirts that read, 'I'm Benjy's.' And he had come from a cubicle at the Wall Street Journal. It was a terrific beginning for his stay in Hollywood.

"Ben was not an actor. He did appear in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He delivered an ad-lib drone in the background. And when he finished doing it, everybody laughed so hard that they aimed the camera at him. He was not supposed to be in the shot. I then put him as an actor in Charles in Charge. I made Ben the villain. He was Mr. Willard. He never had a steady job. He was the nemesis of Charles. He was the loan officer and the psychologist. Then he got Wonder Years. Win Ben Stein's Money catapulted him to the top.

"It was complicated to get him to do the show. At the time, it sounded like I wanted him to be a gameshow host, which was much lower than it would sound today. But I knew that it would make him. I knew he would get press. He's a journalist's star. And I knew that he's so smart that he can answer those questions. I devised a game that nobody else could play. He's now a sought-after speaker on college campuses. He's probably given more commencement addresses in the past three weeks than anybody but the president. In an airport, he's mobbed.

"On the Craig Kilbourn Show, he did 'The Steins' as a takeoff on the Osbournes. We taped his wife, son and dog. Ben did the father. Ben would even speak like Ozzy Osbourn. The plot was that his show didn't sell. He said, 'MTV loused me up. They f----- me, they f----- me... Each one got bleeped like Ozzy on MTV.

"I claim that I have just celebrated my 56th birthday. And I've celebrated it for a number of years already. I was born in Chicago but grew up in 14 different states because my father managed a dime store (Neisner Brothers out of Rochester, NY) like Woolworths. As I grew up, he became the supervisor who opened new stores. He had three kids and he moved every six months to open a new store.

"I went to Northwestern University in Illinois. I met Edgar Bergen, father of Candice Bergen. He's a ventriloquist. I knew Candice Bergen when she was three years old. Edgar got me a scholarship. He liked that I was commercially minded while most kids at Northwestern were in their ivory towers.

"At age 19, I graduated with a degree in Speech. I came to Hollywood. I sold a teenage television show (Tele-teen Report) on which I appeared. I was the editor of a mythical newspaper that covered 72 schools in the LA area. That led to other shows. At one point, I was doing five teenage television shows a week.

"That background gave me the impetus to invent the Miss Teenage America pageant in the early 1950s. I did not continue with it. I went to pick it up again in 1962 when MCA called me to say they're doing their own Miss Teenage America pageant. They offered to help me promote my pageant if I changed the name. So I did to Miss Teen USA. It became Miss Teen International. I ran these pageants until 1973.

"The first Miss Teen International was Ewa Aulin who baby-sat my daughter. Ewa starred in the [1968] movie Candy, based on the Terry Southern novel. It was a dirty movie. It embarrassed the hell out of me because I was going on with my clean wholesome teenage image. But she was adorable. Norman Lear put her in Start the Revolution Without Me, playing a Marie Antionette duplicate.

"After Candy, she moved to Italy and married Roberto Rosselini Jr, the love child of Ingrid Bergman conceived on the island of Scromboli. Ingrid had an affair with Roberto Rosselini, who she later married and divorced. Ewa Aulin was a superstar in Italy. She divorced Roberto and married John Sperrow. She starred in some big Italian movies.

"The girls in the pageant were aged 15-19. That age is adorable. A reviewer once wrote, 'The problem is that at this age they are all Juliets. And the became Lady MacBeths.' A telling line. If you stop to think, it is more true than it should be. All I dealt with ever were Juliets. I loved these young ladies.

"I met my wife in the middle of this career. When we went out socially and people asked her what her husband did for a living, she said, 'He exploits teenagers.' She put up with me somehow. She had to walk in all the time to see me with bikini-clad beauties."

Luke: "Did you ever date any of them?"

Al: "Oh sure, that's why I got into the business I'm in. Why does anyone become a producer?

"When I was at Northwestern, I was a little short guy. But I put on a show on [TV station] WEAW in Evanston, Illinois. And I dated beautiful blond girls and they liked me. They were all highschool girls.

"When I came to Los Angeles, I was going to housewarming parties that lasted 20 days. I had a nice life. I've always claimed that I was a wholesome person. I didn't do drugs. I barely drank liquor."

Luke: "Did you date any contestants from the Miss Teen USA?"

Al: "No. By that time, I was grown up. I married when I was 27 years old. My wife is also short. My daughter is tiny.

"One time we were driving in the car and listening to the radio. And a report said that dwarfs are 4'10 or less. And my daughter said, 'Oh my God, I'm a dwarf.' But at that time she was 12. We did take her to a doctor to check on her height. And he took one look at Sally and me and said, 'What do you expect?'

"But I used the plot for the Gary Coleman character in Diff'rent Strokes. I think I was helpful to Gary because I was a short guy who had obviously achieved something. And it gave him some confidence.

"My daughter (Jennifer Burton Worthy) is adorable. She stands about 5' high. She's successful. She's married with two kids and lives in Hillsborough in the San Francisco Bay Area. She's been a designer of upscale hotels. If you've been to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, she designed the beach resort. She designed Paris Disney. She designed the biggest hotel in San Francisco, the Hilton. Now she's the head of the architecture review board of Hillsborough.

"In 1962, I created the world's first exposition for teenagers, the Teenage World Fair. Tom Wolfe from Esquire magazine came to that fair and wrote about a car at the fair. His essay was called 'The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flaked Streamlined Baby.'

"We did the Teen Fair at the Hollywood Palladium. It went on to play at 50 cities around the US as well as Toronto and Tokyo.

"But during that time, I also met Norman [Lear] because I was doing a TV show called Hollywood A-Go-Go, which was syndicated worldwide. I had the Rolling Stones on, and Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher, and the Beatles... The Beatles were in love with Ewa Aulin so they came down to the fair when it was in Detroit. Dominick Dunne worked on the show.

"We did five television shows out of the ten-day Teen Fair. We produced the Miss Teen USA and Miss Teen International pageants. We did television fashion shows. It was the pinnacle of the babyboom and they were just the hottest thing in the world."

Luke: "Did the messes of the 1960s spill over to your Teen Fair, with the drugs and riots and crime."

Al: "Yes it did. And it may have been why I was ready to go join Norman Lear in 1972. In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Until that moment, the Teenage Fair was totally out of knowing anything about Vietnam and drugs. Of, if it were, it never crossed my threshold of knowledge. Then King was killed and LA turned bad and negative."

Luke: "When were the Watts riots?"

Al: "The first one was in 1965 but it never affected us. The Teenage Fair was like Orange County. It was just out of the mainstream of anything that was really hip. We never had gangs. The joke about me was that I was chickenhip [a play on 'chickensh-t']. It meant that I did a namby pamby bland event. In Detroit, we had a riot. Then in 1971, there was a murder and I stopped letting my kid go to the event."

Luke: "Did you ever have black contestants for your beauty pageants?"

Al: "Yes. But it was Orange County. They didn't have a following of anybody who would be racially profiled. It was a 'clean' event.

"Norman came to me in 1966. He asked to have lunch with me. His opening question was: 'Where do you get the girls for Hollywood A-Go-Go?' I said that I got them from Gazzarris [hip nightclub on the Sunset strip]. Gazzarris had the greatest looking girls. By then I was a total expert on great looking girls. When they are out on the floor dancing, I, or one of my associates, pick them and ask if they want to come on the show.

"I would send one of them, whose taste I could trust, to a place called Hole-in-the-Wall. I'd tell her to pick out outfits she liked that the girls could dance in. Norman thought they were just great. He said, 'I'm doing a special called Where It's At for ABC and I'd like you to be the casting director.' That was Dick Cavett's first hosting job.

"I took Bud Yorkin [Norman Lear's assistant] to meet a group in my office - the Mommas and the Poppas. They had never been on any show before. And he turned them down.

"Because Norman and I were friendly, I came in to see him in 1972. He said he wanted to do a soap opera that played on two levels. I want people who like soap operas to get addicted to it. But I want people to call their friends after they see it and say there's something here you've got to see. And out of that conversation came Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

"I brought back a Life magazine about a couple bored to death on the job. It was about blue collar assembly-line workers. I said we should do this story but with good looking people. Gail Perrin wrote 27-pages but I rewrote her 27-pages and that was the beginning of the series. And it was a smash. And that got me out of the teenage business. And I developed [such TV shows as] Diff'rent Strokes, Facts of Life, Square Pegs, Silver Spoons..."

Luke: "Tell me about Fernwood2Nite (1977)."

Al: "Norman invented that. He walked in one morning and said, 'Why don't we do a latenight talkshow in Fernwood?' So we concocted a show that had fictional guests who took themselves seriously. It was an ad-libbed show."

Mike writes on Imdb.com: "Barth Gimble and Jerry Hubbard are the host of a talk show produced in the fictitious town of Fernwood, Ohio (also the setting of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"). The show featured parodies of guests that might appear on real talk shows, only with the twisted small-town mentality of Fernwood. Music was provide by the sad-faced Happy Kyne and his Mirthmakers; Happy was also the proprietor of a fast-food restaurant called Bun 'n' Run."

Barahona writes on Imdb.com: "This hilarious spinoff of that show (a local talk show from the 'MH, MH' setting of Fernwood, Ohio) featured Martin Mull as smug host Barth Gimble and Fred Willard as his empty headed sidekick.The show rather mercilessly skewered small town America, its prejudices and foibles. One show for example featured a Jewish man whose car broke down in Fernwood and was featured as a guest in a segment called "Talk to a Jew".(One old lady: "Barth, I can't believe someone as sweet as this young man murdered Our Lord").It only lasted one season and for some bizarre reason the next year, the show moved its setting to Hollywood and became 'Hollywood 2Night" but without the small town setting the show's point was lost."

Al: "Fernwood is from my Ohio upbringing. I patterned Fernwood after Toledo, Ohio. We originally called it Lordstown until someone from Standards and Practices called. It was a tough show to do and we were busy at the time. So we dropped Mary Hartman and Fernwood2Nite. We could've kept them on for more years but we were making eight other shows a week and they were all better moneymakers (because they were network shows).

"Norman Lear is still lively to this day. We're putting together a comedy show. And it is with Martin Mull and Fred Willard."

Luke: "To what do you attribute your success?"

Al: "My serious answer is that I am an inveterate optimist. I can't get pessimistic or cynical. I can write cynical humor but I am not a cynic. I think the world is great.

"My others answers are that you should eat at Pinks a lot [hot dog stand on La Brea Blvd] and always stand to the right when they take your picture so your name will show up first in the caption. And write your own theme song for the shows you do.

"Alan Thicke introduced me to that thought. He and I wrote the themes to Diff'rent Strokes, Facts of Life. Then I did Charles in Charge and Hollywood A-Go-Go. My original ambition was to be a songwriter but then the world left me. In 1954, rock came in. Rock just killed the kind of songs that I wanted to write.

"I've developed a show called White People. Do you know the group called The Waitresses? They do the theme. They talk-sing. The theme goes, 'White people, white people. Pasty faced and pasty brained, should've had their gene pools drained. Scared your kid might date a Jew? Say hello to Abdul Abu.'

"The show is about three families in a cul-de-sac - Middle Eastern Arab, WASP and Jewish. And their kids intermix.

"The show Facts of Life (1979-86) was based on my girl's private school - the Westlake School for Girls. It was a spinoff... Do you want all this?"

Luke: "Yes."

Al: "I still can't figure out what the point of your book will be."

Luke: "I figure it out as I go along."

Al: "I apologize for interfering with your journalism.

"We did Diff'rent Strokes. It was a shocking instant hit. Within the cast we had the wonderful character actress Charlotte Ray. I went to school with her. Charlotte was so well received by the audience that NBC, in desperate need of programming, get us a show with Charlotte quick.

"I got to Charlotte and handed to Norman and two writers the idea for a show about a private girls school with uniformed girls, well to do, or charity cases... I changed the name of the school to Westland. And then Standards and Practices changed it to Eastland.

"We scouted the school. I take Charlotte to lunch with the girls. And in the hall of Westlake, they're all beauties like my teenage beauty pageant... They're all gorgeous. And Charlotte spots this stout little girl Mindy Cohn off to the side who was getting laughs at the table. We pull her over to our table. And Charlotte pitches her to be on the show.

"I met with her mother and of course she wanted her to do it. But I didn't want to louse the kid up and make her a Hollywood kid. I didn't want her to get a Hollywood education. I wanted her to get a Westlake education. So we got permission from the school board to make one exception for Mindy. We cut her hours down so she could continue to go to Westlake and get a decent education.

"Hollywood kids don't get a decent education. There aren't enough strictures."

Born May 20, 1966, Mindy got her degree in Sociology from Loyola Marymount in 1995.

Luke: "How did the Harvard school react to the show?"

Al: "They loved it. There was never a complaint."

Luke: "Tell me about Dana Plato and Diff'rent Strokes (1978-86)."

Al: "I discovered Dana Plato at a dance group. We were looking for a girl for the show Hello Larry.

"E!'s True Hollywood Story on Dana used tape from the show Diff'rent Strokes when we were all sitting together. And Dana at the time is under the influence of something and is fuzzy when she recounts her story of how I found her.

"I called Dana in and she was just fabulous. She was 13 years old. I didn't check her lineage well enough. Her mother was mentally ill.

"She was not that necessary to the show but she was adorable. When she was 16, it was clear that she was under the influence of something. We couldn't tell whether it was mother, manager or agent. We dropped her from the show in its last year because she got pregnant. She didn't know that it was wrong to get pregnant. That gives you an idea about the problems that that kid had.

"I bumped into her a few years later after she'd done a layout for Playboy. And she said, 'Can you imagine? Todd Bridges is in jail. Gary is suing his parents and I just posed for Playboy. Mr. Drummond is a terrible father.' It's a great line. It's a gag writer's line that came out of her mouth.

"I was not paying attention to her when she died. I helped Todd Bridges at one point when he was in jail. I tried to help her and she would have none of it. I said, 'Dana, come in. I'll find you something.' I got Todd a job on Lassie but she turned me down.

"Todd today is fine. He's financed by a church group. I've done some jokes with Gary Coleman. Gary gets sporadic work. He's self-destructive. Todd is not. He's just got a tough road to hoe.

"In my early days of Tele-Teen Reporter, I had a cute girl on the show who was an acrobat. She danced. And she's cartwheeling on live television and a falsie [makes breasts look bigger] falls out. And the camera goes to the falsie and just hangs there. I am so upset. I'm Mr. Clean and I don't want to upset anybody.

"The girl's name is Joy Vogelsang. I believe that she grew up to be a choreographer and a dancer. I've never talked to her since. And she's the mother of Nicholas Cage."

According to Imdb.com: "The son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (a brother of director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang, Cage changed his name early in his career to make his own reputation, succeeding brilliantly with a host of classic, quirky roles by the late 1980s."

Luke: "What do you think about what Hollywood does to teenage performers?"

Al: "If it keeps them from getting an education, I'm unhappy about it. The work and the fame stops many from learning. But if you are like actresses Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman who got a good education, they'll be all right. There's a lot in Hollywood that is the same as Kansas City. If you go where eleven people congregate in the mid-West, there are drugs."

Luke: "What do you think about beauty pageants for kids five years old?"

Al: "I'm against them. My consciousness was also raised in the 1970s when I went to work for Norman Lear. And Norman Lear's consciousness was raised beyond consciousness. I didn't do anything after 1973 that would've been supposedly exploitation.

"I did an episode of Charles in Charge where I extolled the virtues of being in a beauty pageant. I thought somebody should. The truth is that young women who get into beauty pageants, their self esteem is raised, even if they don't win. I have enough personal experience to tell you that if a girl in a highschool in Oklahoma gets into the Miss Teen USA pageant, and then gets sent home because she only came in 40th, she's referred to as Miss Teen USA in her home town. Time and time again they call girls who get into the pageant as Miss Teen USA in their home town.

"There were two daughters in Charles in Charge. The younger one enters the pageant. The older one, by far the greatest beauty on the show, was so against her little sister entering the pageant because it was exploitative, a meat market, etc... Somehow we got the message across that it did the younger one a world of good to be in the pageant. She got attention. She got recognized over her older sister.

"I don't think I'd operate a pageant in the same way. I'd score Olympic style and it would have to be on not just beauty but comeliness, presentation... In the days I did it, I blatantly went for beauty. We didn't give a scholarship. We gave money and a car. I didn't know there was anything wrong with that."

Luke: "Would you have allowed your own daughter to participate in a beauty pageant?"

Al: "Yes. Not when she was nine, but when she was 14... Yeah, because I saw the self esteem [it instilled in the girls]. It was a great confidence builder. The excellence of beauty pageants is that they have experts in extolling the virtues of being in good health, fit and looking great.

"I did a show two years ago with Norman [Lear]. It was called The Big Pitch. We sold it to 20th Century Fox. It was never aired."

Luke: "It sounds like Bob Kosberg."

Al: "I know him from so long ago. He's an operator. He's really an operator. I'm in awe of him. He was too high powered for me."

Luke: "Too intense."

Al: "Yeah. I like a calm life. I like to enjoy my life. I can't imagine his marriage situation."

Luke: "He's married."

Al: "For a long time?"

Luke: "Yes."

Al: "God love him. I may be wrong. But he was one of those who I thought was too peripatetic to have a family. I'm family oriented. And I would not let television or a deal interfere with my family. So sometimes I don't do something. I don't shoot in Vancouver, British Columbia [because Al does not want to be away from his family].

"I'm very impressed with him but I want to keep my belt fastened."

Luke: "How did working for Norman Lear change you?"

Al: "My consciousness was raised. I have a picture from a company picnic we went to with Norman. And my assistant, who was then called 'secretary,' came wearing my credit on a T-shirt on her chest. It said, 'Developed by Al Burton.' And when I show that picture today, I realize that I would not do that today.

"He made me understand that there was such a thing as sexual harassment, though we were all guilty, including Norman. In 1975, you didn't know it was wrong to pat a girl. You didn't know it was wrong to hold on to a girl in your office. And you certainly didn't know that there are some girls you don't hug and some girls you don't kiss. Because we were huggers, kissers, touchers all the time.

"Norman employed certain people who started telling us, 'I'm not comfortable with this.' In the old days, none of this touching was considered bad. Now it would be considered offensive sexual harassment."

Luke: "In many ways, you had more freedom 30 years ago."

Al: "Are you kidding? A man had more freedom. I wouldn't say a woman had more freedom."

Luke: "Why wouldn't a woman have more freedom too? She could object back then."

Al: "That's the nub of the argument. There are women who say, 'You think we could've spoken up. But if we said anything, we would've been regarded as troublemakers.' Political correctness has some basis in fact. And if you were black or Chinese... I am Jewish. Somehow Jews grow up knowing they are going to be harassed.

"Norman was an extremely civicly conscious man. I wasn't. I'm not an ideologue. But at least I understand that you're supposed to be supportive of certain causes... The one that I focus on because of Sally is animals. We're major animal-rights people. Norman was the most ethical businessman that I've ever worked with."

Luke: "Your overall experience with the television industry sounds like a positive one."

Al: "Totally positive. I'm sure I've been ripped off through the years many times. But I've lost an idea. And I can get another idea. So that's why I am not cynical. Producer Arnold Shapiro has a cartoon on his wall. One guy says, 'I see the glass half empty.' Another guy says, 'I see the glass half full.' And I'm saying, 'I see the glass overflowing all the time.'

"I've been married over 40 years. We have one kid. At the time we had our first baby, we didn't want to stop traveling. And we figured that the second baby would force Sally to stay home."

The Emmy-winning creator and Executive Producer of "Win Ben Stein's Money", Al Burton has seen his show win seven Emmys for Comedy Central. Early in his career as a producer, writer and director, Burton amassed dozens of credits for youthful entertainment, including Four Star's "Hollywood A Go Go," ABC-TV'S Annual PepsiCo Specials "Romp" and "Go!" as well as the ABC summer series "Malibu U." As Norman Lear's Director of Development, Burton co-developed the breakthrough series "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and was Creative Supervisor throughout its 325 episodes. Also with Lear, Burton developed, and was Creative Supervisor of "Fernwood 2Night" and "America 2Night." Additionally, he was developer and Creative Supervisor of "Facts of Life," "One Day At A Time," "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Jeffersons," "Silver Spoons," and "Square Pegs." At Universal Television, he developed and was Executive Producer for the 6 1/2 years of "Charles In Charge," the nation's most successful first-run syndicated comedy. Burton is Developer-Executive Producer of "The New Lassie" first-run series. An accomplished composer and lyricist, he co-wrote and composed themes for "Diff'rent Strokes," "Facts of Life," "Together We Stand," "Nothing Is Easy," "Charles In Charge," "The New Lassie," and "Turn Ben Stein On."

Al Burton is one of America's most honored producers of youthful television: He shared Emmy honors for "All In The Family". He was honored by the National Conference for Christians and Jews ("Diff'rent Strokes"). California Governor's Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped ("Facts Of Life" and "Charles in Charge"). The Entertainment Industries Council honored him with special commendations for his "The New Lassie" and "Charles In Charge," and he is the recipient of the Jackie Coogan Award given by Youth In Film for Outstanding Contribution to Youth Through Entertainment. Burton is winner of The Genesis Award for his portrayal of animal issues in "The New Lassie."

As Executive Producer and developer, Al Burton has brought to television (and literally started the careers of) scores of young stars. Michael J. Fox (whom Burton cast in the Norman Lear-Alex Haley series "Palmerstown"), Valerie Bertinelli (whom Burton cast in "One Day At A Time") plus Molly Ringwald ("The Facts Of Life") and Christina Applegate ("Charles In Charge"), Sarah Jessica Parker ("Square Pegs"), Meg Ryan ("Charles In Charge"), Gary Coleman ("Diff'rent Strokes"), Mark-Paul Gosselaar ("Charles In Charge"), Tiffini-Amber Thiessen ("Charles In Charge"), Jami Gertz ("Square Pegs"), Nicole Eggert ("Charles In Charge" & "Baywatch"), Kathy Ireland ("Charles In Charge"), Erika Eleniak ("Charles In Charge" & "Baywatch"), Pamela Lee ("Charles In Charge" & "Baywatch"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The New Lassie") and a long list of others.

Burton is a member of the Directors Guild, Writers Guild, AFTRA, NATAS and Academy of Magical Arts. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Pilgrim Group of Mutual Funds, is a member of the Chair's Council of the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors and serves on the advisory board of the Institute for Mental Health Initiatives as well as the Advisory Board of the Samantha Smith Center.

Norman Lear

Norman Lear was born 7/27/22 in New Haven, Connecticut.

He produced countless TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s, and a few TV shows and movies after that.

Ben Stein writes in his 1978 book Dreemz about Norman Lear: He produces and partly writes nine television shows. He develops new television shows constantly. He gives speeches and receives awards. He is constantly producing, creating, inventing, getting things done.

He recognizes no limits on human potential.

The studio head is strong because he is flexible. He does not establish himself to dominate or to overbear. He listens and he adapts. He is a willow, adjusting to the wind and blossoming year after year, in every kind of weather.

He could not possibly be less pompous.

He is always producing, gathering up material, digesting it, rearranging it in dramatic forms. He lives to create and to produce... In the land where everything depends on what you get done, he is king, because he can do the most.

He generates a way of life that is informed, cheerful and concerned. He acts good to me. He looks good. I have never heard him raise his voice to anyone an that example is followed throughout the studio. His life is his finest creation. (pg. 118-119)

Lear turned 80 years old in July, 2002.

"I think this is the golden age of television," Lear told columnist Tim Cuprisin in August, 2002. "A, because it's the moment we're alive. And, B, if you want something great in any category, it exists. You just have to work harder for it."

"The greatest bonding experience I have with my 14-year-old son is 'South Park.' It's comedy that is doing edgy, cause-oriented, problem-oriented cultural pieces. I think those kids are brilliant and gutsy as hell," he says of "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone."

His current favorites include Martin Short's "Primetime Glick" as well as HBO's "Six Feet Under" and Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

From Newsday, 8/27/02:

Lear occasionally tunes in to his shows. "I am one of those people who will turn on the TV at 3 in the morning for 20 minutes, and it will help me get to sleep better," he says. After all these years, the sitcoms still crack him up. "It's always the performers," he says. "They were all commedia dell'arte performers, and that transcends time."

Lear, who has grown children from a previous marriage and a 14-year-old son and 7-year-old twin daughters with his current wife, Lyn, has no plans for going anywhere. His legacy is for others to judge. "I will be satisfied," Lear says of his legacy, "if it is, 'He cared and felt he mattered, and therefore, he did.'"