Why Won't White People Go To Black Movies?
From a recent conversation with a white movie producer.
Luke: "Did white people go to see movies like Love & Basketball [about middle class blacks]?"
XXX: "I think it did some crossover. There are [urban] movies that do $35 million box office and almost no crossover [into a white or asian audience]. I'm guessing that Barbershop had an 80-90% urban audience.
"I think we could've gotten more blacks into Love & Basketball too. I think black males shied away from it because of the love side of it and black females shied away from it because of the basketball side. In the trailer and the commercials, there was a scene where he said, 'What are we playing for?' And she said, 'Your heart.' And I think that young black males stayed away from the movie because of it.
"Money Talks did about $40 million box office to an audience that was 75% urban. Chris Tucker was not that known a quantity. People weren't rushing to see Charlie Sheen. When there's a big urban turnout to a movie, it scares whites away. Ten years ago, when there were some fatalities in theaters, there were black people who hesitated to go to a theater house packed with an urban audience. They think there's going to be trouble. For the same reason they're not going to a street fair with an overwhelmingly urban crowd. They fear there's going to be trouble. And white people are terrified to go to a movie theater where the audience will be half black.
"Theater owners love Eddie Murphy and Will Smith but if they don't know the black person in the movie, they're hesitant to pick up the movie. Booking the theater can be the biggest problem for black movies, particularly in white suburbs."
When will we start judging people, not on the color of their skin, but on the contents of their wallets?
Luke Fool - The New St Augustine?
I just watched the brilliant Hal Hartley movie Henry Fool and I feel compelled to write in the following vein:
Yes, I was caught once en flagrante delecto...but I am not a wicked man. I admit that my weaknesses are deep and many. I know I have fallen because I know who I am.
Socrates himself was killed for corrupting the youth of Athens. I know there's a conspiracy against me.
I'm sorry but I cannot work under these conditions. My soul is too great and wide to be fenced in by the minute prescriptions of the Oral Torah. I am a poet. I think too widely and feel too deeply to ever make it within my religious community. Yet they'll name a synagogue after me when I'm dead.
A prophet is seldom heeded in his own land.
I won't take a regular job. I must serve my muse. I work when she commands. I am working on my magnum opus titled My Confessions. Or, My Struggle.
I must follow my genius whereever it leads.
My musings are too profound to be hemmed in by the requirements of today's job market.
I won't allow my website to be soiled by tawdry banner ads.
Forgive me, I've not been well. But I did buy my lulav and etrog today for $55. Happy Succoth!
Robert writes: Luke did you take your meds today? This email is truly troublesome.
Luke defiantly replies: My soul will not be caged!
Fred writes: I think we have a new St. Augustine on our hands. (I think he wrote something called "Confessions", in which he voices regret from some not-to-well-described disolute past. Perhaps LF can improve on that tome. More description of the disolute past, less regret.
Ya know, one of my ex-partners is a lapsed catholic (lapsed in the extreme). His epiphany came, he says, when some catholic cleric made the mistake of telling him that masturbation was wrong. From that moment on, he was convinced that the catholic church was wone gigantic mass of error. I wonder what kind of epiphany LF can write about?
Rob writes: I thunk we have Luke's new title, From Here To Epiphany.
MDP Worldwide Sits On Top Of Independent World
Mark Damon's MDP Worldwide production, distribution and sales company, based in Century City, sits on top of the independent world. They are one of the few companies with the cash today to finance independent films.
Its owner Mark Damon is finishing up a book about his life as the godfather of the independent film industry. He started and ran, with John Hyde, the Producers Sales Organization until its bankruptcy in 1986.
At age 69, Damon looks about 45 years of age. He says he has no hobbies and has no plans to retire.
Damon kept a lot of correspondence from certain periods in my life that he's been able to return to in the process of writing his book.
Mark Damon talks regularly with actor Kevin Spacey, who's headed to South Africa with ex-President Bill Clinton to raise money for some worthy cause.
In 1986, PSO formed a union with Lou Corman, who was running the film fund Delphi. It became PSO-Delphi. Lou Corman took PSO to Allen & Company to raise funds. They raised $25 million for us in private placement. Part of PSO's business plan called for PSO to invest money not just in film production but with producers, giving them overhead deals so that PSO would have a flow of product. The plan was to produce a certain number of pictures per year.
Meantime, PSO finally closed a credit line for $140 million with the First National Bank of Boston and the Chemical Bank of New York. The $25 million raised through private placement and put into escrow was contingent on the $140 million line of credit closing.
Mike Spiegler, who negotiated the deal with PSO, was let go from the First National Bank. PSO was operating on a handshake basis. Then PSO found out there was an internal fight going on between Chemical and First National. First National was concerned that PSO's line of credit would be too highly leveraged. When Spiegler tried to fund PSO, they let him go and brought in people who were not entertainment industry bankers. They looked at the credit line and concluded it was to highly leveraged. So instead of giving PSO a $140 million line of credit, they would give PSO an $80 line of credit.
At that time, PSO had made deals with producers and was shooting five pictures (Short Circuit, Nine and a Half Weeks, Flight of the Navigator, Eight Million Ways to Die, Clan of the Cave Bear) and executing PSO's business plan based on a $140 million line of credit.
PSO made money on all the pictures except Eight Million Ways, which was Hal Ashby's last picture. Ashby at that time, his mind was blown. He'd had too much cocaine. It's a flawed picture with moments of brilliance. It was from a script by Oliver Stone and rewritten by Robert Towne, two of the best writers we had. Ashby threw the script out and had the writers improvise every day. It was mind boggling.
Once PSO's credit line was changed, their $25 million was blown because it was contingent on a $140 million line of credit. PSO out of business at that point. They'd spent $11 million of the $25 million. PSO'd depended on a handshake while the documents were drawn up.
Since then, John Miller of Chase and Franz Zoffman of Credit Lyonaisse said that the stupidest thing the bank could've done was pull the plug on PSO because PSO had been so highly successful.
About nine months later, Mark Damon revived myself and began a company with Peter Guber and Jon Peters called Vision. They sold the company to Credit Lyonaisse in 1993 and started MDP Worldwide [a production, sales and distribution company] on about $10,000. By 1998, MDP had made about $12 million on lower budget pictures. MDP became a public company. MDP is now worth about $50 million. Because it is one of the few independents with cash, all these projects are coming to them. Kevin Spacey has been wanting to do this Bobby Darren picture for the past five years.
MDP has four pictures about to come out with budgets all over $35 million. They have four pictures in the under $10 million range. MDP claims to have every important project available thrown at them now because most of the other independent companies are just out of money. MDP crawled back up.
You won't see more movies for MDP from producer Moshe Diamant. Moshe is a smart guy. He's also an Israeli. He's an egomaniac. He's a control freak. He knows how to produce pictures. People say he has no taste. The last two pictures of his MDP handled got about the worst reviews I've ever seen - The Musketeer and FearDotcom. MDP has one more coming out - Extreme Ops, which will also get a wide-release.
Moshe and Mark go back a long way. It's been a harrowing experience at times. Moshe gets pictures made and MDP makes money off them.
MDP will have three pictures in Sundance including The United States of Leyland with Kevin Spacey. If MDP does pictures under $10 million, they're looking for reviews, for cutting edge pictures, for original pictures. We'll rarely do anything between $10 - $35 million. Anything above $35 will be mainstream commercial pictures.
Bob Evans and Mark Damon started out as actors who hated having other people decide our destiny. Bob became the head of a studio and Mark became the head of the independent world. Mark was one of the first founders of AFMA (American Film Marketing Association) - it represents the union of independent producers and sales people. Mark will probably end up the chairman of AFMA. Their worlds came together on Cotton Club.
Bob's was a bigger brassier life. Mark's was also fun and big in its own way, but not as far as the public is concerned.
Variety 8/15/02: "11:14" has received a greenlight from Mark Damon's MDP Worldwide, cinching together an ensemble cast under the helm of scribe and helmer Greg Marcks. Marcks, 26, had won the bronze medal at the 2001 Student Academy Awards for his short film "Lector." His spec "11:14" had attracted much attention and was quickly snapped up by Firm Films, the production division of management concern the Firm. "11:14" will star Hilary Swank, Colin Hanks, Rachael Leigh Cook, Henry Thomas and Clark Gregg, along with newcomers Blake Heron, Ben Foster, Rick Gomez, Jason Segel and Stark Sands.
Variety 7/29/02: Alexandre Dumas, author of the 19th-century French classic of intrigue and adventure "The Three Musketeers," would no doubt be honored to know that the financing plot behind "The Musketeer," MDP Worldwide's recent pic based on his novel, was also a classic of intrigue and adventure. In a six-month period, Los Angeles-based MDP raised roughly $36 million to make the film, but getting there required a high-stakes juggling act of international deals and structures.
At one time, MDP had 22 lawyers in six countries working on the various financing contracts. Damon flew on some 24 separate flights to all the cities involved, collecting legal papers that stacked up over two feet high. "It was a very complicated piece of clockwork," says Damon.
The Dark Side Of Hollywood
I just watched a depressing 50-minute documentary called "The Dark Side of Hollywood." A similar version was released in the United States in 1998 called Some Nudity Required.
This film truly broke my heart. It seems that many men like to look at naked women, particularly young attractive women with big breasts. To fill this need, B-grade moviemakers like Roger Corman and his operation make movies filled with beautiful naked women. And it just all becomes so tawdry and sad that I can barely keep writing on this depressing topic.
I've garnered that young attractive women come to Hollywood to be actresses but there's not enough work for them in legitimate films. So they do B-films where they are frequently required to take off their clothes, scream and participate in simulated sex and violence.
Brinke Stevens, actress: "I do think sex and violence together is like a drug. It's double your pleasure. You're getting two stimulations at once."
Actress: "In a B film, they will try to sell sex. There's a lot of T&A in Hollywood. It's something that comes cheaply."
Assistant Director Dan Katzman: "I think there are people who want to see junk. They want to check out. These are check-out movies.
Maria Ford: "I want to be the best actress I can be. I try to show the most naked, raw parts of myself. That's my job."
Julie Strain, former Penthouse Pet of the Year: "You are not going to make that big of a name for yourself on just your acting skills alone."
Narrator: "These are the back streets of the business. This is the Hollywood of the cheap movie, the exploitation movie. This is the world of the B movie. These low paid workers turn out three or four times the number of films as mainstream Hollywood. Some say the industry just churns out cheap sex and violence. B movie makers prefer to think of it as pretty girls and action."
There's a scene with a guy with an electric drill hovering over a helpless pretty woman in lingerie.
Woman: "I know you don't want to hurt me. I know you just want me to do what you say. I will. You can touch me if that's what you want."
He strokes her shoulder.
Man: "I can do whatever I want?"
They struggle. He rips off her clothes and drills her.
Julie: "This must be my 35th film. It's such a fun area to work, being a scream queen. If I were ultra wealthy, I'd still work in these films, just for fun. I get to be over the top and bigger than life. I'm 6'1" as it is. You're the witch or the vampire or the double agent or the killer. I get to spit on people, kick them...
"I always snuck under my mom's bed and there were always Playboys and Penthouses under there and I would open those books and go, 'Look at these beautiful women. I just wish I could be one of these beautiful women when I grow up.' It was just a dream eversince I was little to be a glamorous beautiful nude woman. I groomed myself in that direction but being a housewife at 28, I thought my chances were over. But there was still something inside that said, 'You are a piece of art and you need to get out there and share it with this world.' That drive was much stronger than my better sense."
Narrator: "Julie Strain has made films that required her to wear little, scream a lot and do just a bit of acting.
"Many actresses who have to perform nude on camera don't like to have more than the immediate crew watch them shoot the scene. Not Julie Strain. She's just written a book called, '6'1" and worth the climb.'"
Julie Strain was so uninhibited before the documentary crew that one member remembers her standing naked, with just a tampax string coming out of her vagina.
Nancy Zala, director: "Everybody's out to make a buck and you can make a lot of money at it. And it's fun to make movies."
Narrator: "The average Hollywood film will cost around $55 million. This B film will cost more like $1 million."
Actor Edward Albert: "I am the only guy [in the film] not involved in grotesque sexual practices. I have the remains of a human heart."
Narrator: "In Hollywood B movies, everyone is either on their way up or down the ladder."
Arlene Sidaris, producer: "I got into it because of Andy."
Andy Sidaris, director: "I want you to start again."
Andy talks to the cameraman. "You're just on her, right?"
Cameraman: "I'm in a two-shot."
Andy: "Then you are going to go into a single, right?"
Cameraman: "I could."
Andy: "She's going to do most of the talking, so let's do it that way."
Arelene: "He directs my telephone conversations, so don't feel badly."
Andy: "Don't take it personally."
Arelene: "I got into producing these movies through Andy. I had been producing on my own and Andy had been working on his own independent films.When he was going to do the first of this series, Hard Ticket To Hawaii... He was going to be putting up our house as collateral. I said, 'Well, honey, if you are going to be putting up our house as collateral, I think I better be writing the checks.' That's how our partnership began."
Andy: "We don't take ourselves that seriously. We don't use profanity. We don't do anything mean spirited. And our women are the heroes."
Samuel Arkoff: "There's nothing wrong with exploitation. When I was a kid, and a circus parade came down the street of Ford Dodge, Iowa, that was exploitation. It's an evil word but...you exploit what you've got."
Narrator: "Samuel Arkoff is known as the king of the B movies. He made more than 500 films from 1954 to 1980. He launched the careers of stars like Woody Allen and Robert DeNiro."
Sam: "We recognized that more than 50% of our audience was young males. So we made pictures like The She-Creature. The Hayes Office would send back a warning memo - be careful of the cleavage."
Narrator: "Sam Arkoff may have been a pioneer, but now everyone is making movies for the teenage male, or for those with teenage male tastes. This is the American Film Market and this is where the modern B-movie gets sold. People come from all over the world to fill their theaters, video stores and cable stations with cheap, sexy and violent films."
Kevin Reidy: "I call it the festival of flesh and gold..."
Producer: "Sex always sells foreignwise. It doesn't have to be translated. It's just visual."
Sales rep: "If there's a complex storyline, then the buyers don't always understand what they're buying. And that makes them anxious."
Another rep: "First they want to know is if there's action. Next thing they want to know is if there's sex. I don't have a problem with it. As long as it sells, that's my game."
Question from Odette Springer to aging blonde: "What happens when you get older in Hollywood?"
Blonde: "You die."
Question to beautiful young woman: "Do you find as a young actress you have to do a lot of nudity to get started?"
Beauty: "I like doing nudity."
Narrarator: "Maria Ford came to Hollywood from a small town in Colorado. Like many a pretty young woman, she wanted to make it in show business and in a way she did."
Camera shows her buying lingerie.
Maria: "The g-string doesn't match the bra."
Narrarator: "She's made more than 40 movies but they weren't the movies she thought she'd be making."
Maria: "A lot of why I fell into this whole sexy thing, and went along with a lot of it... Anybody that has tried as hard as I have, in as many movies as I have, to be sexy, you'd have to realize that maybe they were doing that because they didn't feel all that sexy and they were trying to prove something.
"I was just not a pretty girl. I was thin with stringy dishwater hair and I felt awkward. I was so near-sighted that there was nothing to do but put these big glasses on me. I had to have big dark frames because they were the only things that could hold them because I was so near-sighted.
"My mom looked exactly like Marilyn Monroe. I've always been a big fan of Marilyn's because she was like the Mom that I lost.
"There was a definite level of insecurity about my sexuality because of those elements so that people could get to me and say, well, we're not going to let you do the movie if you won't do the nudity."
Roger Corman, president of Concorde Pictures: "When she first started for us in Stripped to Kill 2, she was chosen for the lead because she was good looking, she was a dancer and she had a good figure and she was an adaquate actress. I wasn't certain about her acting ability but she has continued to study and work and gotten consistently better. Maria Ford may be in the situation Jack Nicholson was a number of year ago [when he made many films for Corman in the sixties before he became a big star]."
Dan Golden, director: "She is one of the better actress out there and she's willing to get naked. Most of the films she's done require nudity. Not that always that the story and film requires, but the producer, i.e. Roger Corman, requires it."
Roger: "It's not necessary that an actress do nude scenes to get started. For the majority, however, it would probably help many actresses to do that. It's the decision of the actress. We never urge or push nudity on the actress."
Maria: "When I said, 'Can I do the role but not do the nudity?' They were like, are you kidding? What do you think? They made me feel stupid for even asking. They made me feel ridiculous."
Johnathan Winfrey, director: "Roger's never told me that he's got a formula for nudity. It's just this myth that's permeated throughout the office. They wanted nudity here. They wanted nudity here. They wanted nudity here."
Jan Glaser, casting director: "I've sat in a lot of casting sessions, sitting in a room with men and women, when an actress leaves the room, they size people up. It makes me self conscious. They talk about: 'She's got a big rear end. She's got a big nose. She looks old. She's fat.' That's the part of my job that I don't like."
Producer: "It was funny when I negotiated this one contract. The agent knew right away the type of movie it was. She told me over the phone, 'She's got beautiful tits but she has an ugly mugg. You can show her tits but you can't show her muff.' So I wrote that down verbatim in the contract. 'Tits yes, muff no.'"
Catherine Cyran, director: "Every day that I walk into a room, and out of a room, and I get a call from someone, 'Hey, that producer really liked you. He likes girls with big hair.' I'm a f---ing director but he likes girls with big hair. So guess what? I might get the job."
Fred Olen Ray, producer and director: "I've never used my position to get anything in life. I've never considered it to be an important enough position. Besides, who would want the kind of girl who would put out for a movie part? Not me."
Maria Ford: "I was told by a manager who was well connected, 'I can help you get into A films.' He basically told me that his girls are his prostitutes. He sends them out with these producers, they have sex and they get the roles. That's ridiculous. I'm not going to do that.
"There are roles that come along that I don't agree with and I don't like a lot of the stuff that is going on. And it may not make me look like a strong person to admit that I've compromised but that's how much I've wanted to act. There are definitely things that I've been asked to do in films that I did not like and I did not understand.
"The strip scene [in the movie Final Judgement] with the guy sweating and it's supposed to be all sexy, him looking at me, and he's a killer. He's looking at me and he's dreaming of killing me while I'm dancing. That's not sexy to me. I didn't even understand it when I did it. I wanted to do the part for all the other scenes in the movie.
"In most of the movies I've worked for, it's like they're doing you this huge favor by allowing you to act in their project. Not you doing something wonderful for us but we will let you do this. So of course you have to do nudity if they're going to let you do that. You have to do something for them."
Catherine Cyran: "The first movie I did as a producer was also the first movie as a writer. It was the first movie in which I sold my soul - Slumber Party Massacre 3. It was a slasher. Roger Corman knew that I wanted to write and produce. He said, 'I've got a project for you.' Hahahah. He's like the devil. 'How would you like to do Slumber Party Massacre 3?' I said, 'I can't think of anything I'd like to do less.' He said, 'I'll let you produce it but you have to let me know in the next hour. So, in the next hour I decided that it was good experience.
"I also have a chip on my shoulder. I don't want to be prissy about doing something. I'm obviously not out to exploit women. But if someone says, 'I want you to direct this sex scene and I want lots of nudity.' There's a thing that you should not hire a woman because she'll be prissy about it and you won't get a good hard sex scene.
"I want to be able to do it just as well as them. I just don't want to do it at all. But if I am going to do it, I want to do it just as good as the boys do it."
Johnathan Winfrey, director: "When I first came to LA, I said to myself, I don't want to make a schlock film. I don't want to make a horror film. I don't want to make a film where guys are being dismembered. I don't want to make a film where women are being mutilated. And who do I end up working for? Roger Corman. This is not what I want to do but it's getting me where I want to go."
Narrator: "Roger Corman is the reigning giant of B movies. He's produced and directed more than 300 films over the past 40 years. At age 71, he's truly a respect figure in Hollywood."
Roger: "I am not certain that I have made any particular contribution to society or to film. I've done enough films however that I will probably be a minor entry in the history of 20th Century filmmaking. The films are entertaining and have a liberal humanitarian viewpoint buried beneath some wild exploitation subjects."
Corman started the careers of directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Johnathan Demme, and Ron Howard.
Chuck Moore, director: "I so badly wanted to make movies, I'd make anything. To the actresses doing that work, a lot of them are thinking the same thing."
Julie Strain: "I think actresses do have to compromise themselves more than men because are asked to do nude scenes more often. The guy can get away with keeping his underwear on but the woman has to be totally nude for the love scene. I feel like I am exploiting this film to get to where I want to be. I exploited Penthouse. I had a master plan to become a Pet, become Pet of the Year, to use that title to get my films, to progress in films and move up the ladder to where I am an A star in three to five years."
Roger Corman: "I see more violence and more sex in major A-rated films than ever before, to the point where I and most independents believe that the motion picture rating code is letting the big pictures off easier and clamping down on sex and violence in lower budget films. The Motion Picture Association is financed by the major studios."
Jim Wynorski, director: "I am happy doing what I do. I have no desire to make an art fart film."
Narrator: "One of the hardest working directors in Hollywood today is Jim Wynorski. He's made more than 40 B movies in the last ten years, none of them opening in regular movie theaters. Wynorski seems so much like what you'd imagine a B movie director to be, that he's actually had offers to be in movies playing himself."
Toni Naples, actress, producer: "Rob Reiner wanted to hire Jim to play the part of a B movie director because Jim is so fascinating to watch while he's on the set."
Questioner Odette Springer: "Why did you want to become a filmmaker?"
Jim: "To get laid. You make a lot of money.
"You have to edit this properly. I did it basically for the money and the chicks."
Narrarator: "Wynorski says breasts are the cheapest special effects in his business."
Odette Springer: "A woman has to have big breasts to appear in one of your movies?"
Wynorski: "That's absolutely correct. Nobody wants to see a woman without big breasts. No offense to anyone in this room."
Woman Questioner: "Not all guys like big boobs."
Wynorski: "How many stars have flat chests?"
Questioner: "A lot of them. Jacqueline Bisset."
Wynorski: "Jacqueline Bisset is loaded. She has a huge set of lungs."
Johnnie Fiori: "It's men's fascination with them, is it not? Men are a controlling factor in the power base in this country. They like titties. They love them. They suckled them from the time they were children. And some people don't want to stop that suckling. They just want to suckle, suckle, suckle."
Brinke Stevens, actress: "Everybody told me you'll get more work if you get your breasts enlarged. I just didn't buy into it because what kind of work do you want to get? Now the trend is having your breasts done bigger than your head."
Maria Ford: "I haven't gotten jobs because I haven't have big enough breasts. I started thinking, if they're causing me not to get jobs, there must be something wrong them. I would stand in front of the mirror and look at them and try to figure out what was wrong with them. Maybe they're not high enough? Maybe they're too low? Maybe they need to be lifted up? Maybe the nipples are wrong? That's what this business has done to me."
Lisa Boyle: "I had silicone implants. I had them removed and replaced with saline. Who knows what the effects are? I don't think about it."
Chuck Moore, director: "The women in these films have to have big breasts because that's who's watching it - guys who want women to be more than they are. It lets men look at women in a safe way because the women aren't real."
Melissa Ann Moore: "I do a lot of horror conventions where I meet a lot of my fans. I love them dearly. They really love this chainsaw and blood and women in sexy lingerie covered with blood, and I don't get it. I don't know why it is erotic to them. Thank God they do because it sells movies."
Fred Olen Ray, producer and director: "Scream queens, their celebrity comes easy. After doing six or eight little exploitation movies, they can become well known. They have fans. They're exploiting themselves to the max. They sell nude 8 x 10 [photos] of themselves to 14 year olds and sign them. They sell trading cards and videos of themselves half naked. We're just making a motion pictures. We see them as actresses."
Maria Ford: "I definitely worry about women who have their sexuality exploited. I don't want to expoit my sexuality because if you exploit anything, it becomes ragged and old and unattractive and it loses its beauty and it loses its preciousness and pristine quality. I don't want that ever to happen to me."
Dan Golden, director: "There's nothing worse in a film that a completely gratuitous sex scene. I would only have a sex scene in a film if it were a story point."
Lisa Boyle: "The way women are portrayed in these movies has been going on since the beginning of time. It sells. I have danced as a stripper and it's like a sense of control over the guys. You can look but you can't touch me. It's bad but it's also powerful."
Dan Golden, director: "Certainly the sex act is not driven by love. Supposedly it's different for women. Sex is a primal urge. It's an instinct that we all have that allows the species to continue. That's all it is. It has nothing to do with love."
Nancy Zala, director: "Women are different sexually than men. Women like the spoken word. They liked to be caressed. Men like to come and go."
Julie Strain: "I enjoy experimenting on film and camera because you do what you want to somebody, slap them in the face, cut, and you can walk off and leave. You don't have to buy them breakfast."
Maria Ford: "Yes I love nasty sex and yes, I love God and yes, I love little children. And yes I love science. There are so many different aspects to my personality and what I have a problem is that people try to make me into one thing."
Chuck Moore, director: "In our Calvinist Judeo-Christian society, people don't want to let people watch particular things. They think they will destroy society. I don't think these movies will destroy society. Are these movies taking us down some dark irredeemable path? I don't think so. These movies reflect the dark side of our human nature. Nobody wants to see that in themselves."
Roger Corman: "We're trying to exploit the women's beauty and at the same time portray them in a positive way."
Catherine Cyran: "Certain producers...perceive these films are about empowering women because usually they end up killing the bad guys.
"I was interviewed by a professor at U.C. Berkeley about slasher films. She'd done a lot of research. If a woman has had sex in a slasher film, she's definitely going to get killed. The girls who survive has never had sex, is uptight, a tomboy and almost always has a male name."
Chuck Moore, director: "I love to watch cinematic violence. I think it's cathartic. The psychology of serial murderers is that they are always acting out some kind of need, the shadow need for love that everybody has."
Lisa Boyle, actress: "Deep down, does it affect me? I don't know. I guess I don't want to delve that deeply down to know. Almost every stripper I know has come from a difficult childhood. I have a lot of issues of that in my own childhood."
Catherine Cyran: "It's no joke that men get a hardon from seeing women in jeopardy."
Maria Ford: "I'm a stripper in Naked Obsession [directed by Dan Golden] that goes home with this married guy. She likes really violent sex so she wants him to strangle her while they're having sex.
"Nobody believed me that I had never heard of this before. I had never heard of having sex while you're being strangled. I was actually choked [during the scene] and it really hurt. The director didn't think it looked real unless there was some amount of strangulation involved."
Questioner: "Why does Maria's character need to be strangled while she's having sex?"
Dan Golden, director: "Because it's a huge story point. It was that very scene that the film was based around. That was the first idea that occurred to me. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a straitlaced character get involved with a woman into this kinky and dangerous sex? She later turns up strangled and it would like he did it. The woman is incidental to that situation. I needed that female character to put the man in peril. The woman is just casually tossed aside as a victim."
Maria: "If people in Hollywood say you're difficult, that's the worst thing you can possibly be called. At my level, I can't afford that. People won't work with me again. So what the f--- am I supposed to do? So I go in and I do the nudity and I do exactly what I'm told and I look at the movie and I want to throw up when it's done. All that's left in there is my f---ing nudity. My acting's not even there. And these very same people are going to walk around and say she's nothing but a sleazy bimbo. She's good for nothing but her body. She's not an actress.
"I want to act. And I am hurting myself by trying to make this dream come true. I don't know what to do about it. I don't mean to make you [Odette Springer] cry, I'm sorry. It's so hard. My dream comes from a good place and I really do have good intentions. And no one's going to know that when they see this stuff and see me dancing around like some naked idiot."
Catherine: "I believe that all movies affect people. That's why it's betraying yourself to make movies like that. It's the idea of working from the inside. You get to where you can make differences."
Dan Katzman, assistant director: "Responsible to society? Screw society. I'm responsible for feeding myself. I've got to eat. I've got to buy a home. I've got to buy a car. I've got to get married and have kids. I want to have dogs. What the hell does society have to do with me making money? I know how to make movies."
Questioner Odette Springer to director Jim Wynorski: "What do you look for in a woman when you hire her?"
Jim Wynorski: "I hate this interview. I hate this interview. Stop this interview. I hate it. It's so boring. You're asking me boring questions. I'm trying to answer them and be nice but I can't. I'm sorry."
Narrarator: "It turns out the fellow Julie Strain met at the scream queen convention was one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They've just gotten married."
Maria Ford got a part in a regular film. Then she got breast implants.
Frank writes: Why is this subject so "heartbreaking" to you? BFD, so some women have silly dreams about being movie stars, and a few of the many who have no success in legit films stoop to doing nudie/slasher flics (or porn). Is it any more depressing than the fact that some male would-be sports stars choose to spend their youth playing for minor league teams, or overseas, and never make the big time?
Luke writes: I once auditioned for one of the Emmanuelle movies (in 1994) and I had to strip to my boxers. I did not get the role. Must have been the boxers.
Michael writes: Mr. Ford, I read your sad tale of watching the documentary "The Dark Side of Hollywood" and through out it one question kept running through my mind - where are the Feminists? Where are the so-called, self-appointed protectors of women? Where are those who claim to be out to stop the exploitation of women? Why are they silent in the face of this BLANTANT exploitation? Could it possibly be due to all the "donations" they take from the Hollywood movers&shakers?
Luke says: Dear Michael, Do not worry. I am crafting a literature of protest that will blow this industry to high heaven.
New Yorker Piece On Publicists
Jeffrey Wells praises Tad Friend's piece about Hollywood publicists in the 9.23 issue of THE NEW YORKER. "It's primarily a portrait of publicist Bumble Ward, who is one of my favorite flacks, partly because she has a team of sharp cookies working for her (Kristin Borella, Bebe Lerner, Sylvia Deroschers) and partly because she's smart enough to grasp the Don Corleone aesthetic (keep your friends close, but your enemies closer), but mainly because she's a mensch.
"I put this last attribute down to the fact that she handles directors -- Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, John Stockwell, Bobby and Peter Farrelly -- and not celebrities. If she were to suddenly switch hats and start flacking for Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts, sooner or later she'd be come a Conniving Attitude Queen with a Samurai Sword, like several personal publicists I could mention without breaking stride.
"Lying goes with being a publicist. Extremely skilled lying, of course -- artful, shrewd, seductive, Marlon Brando-level. For years I've been waiting for an opportunity to describe publicists in print with words that say it straight and plain -- paid liars..."
Tad Friend writes: "A journalist who calls a publicist hoping for five minutes of a star's time quickly learns that 'she's spending time with her family / shooting in Europe / scouting in Japan,'" the 22nd paragraph of Friend's piece reads. "They all mean the same thing: [the star] was just chatting on the cell phone for an hour with me, but she sure doesn't want to talk to you. 'He's transitioning' means he got fired, and 'He's suffering from exhaustion' means he was found wandering naked in the street, waving a gun.
"Likewise, 'It's in turnaround' means a project is dead; 'It's a work in progress' or 'They're doing a few pickup shots' or 'The print isn't finished yet' means the movie is a disaster. And 'The film is not for everybody' means it's not for anybody. Outright lies have their place, too. One well-known publicist told me, 'If a newspaper calls to check a negative story about my client and it's true, my first response is flat-out denial. Then I have the attorneys send a 'we'll sue' letter.'"
Director John Stockwell (BLUE CRUSH, CRAZY/ BEAUTIFUL) says: "It's terrifying that if a journalist writes something negative the top three or four publicists will blacklist him. Publicists are the death of interesting journalism about entertainment."
"More people in hiring positions saw the [NEW YORK] TIMES piece about me than saw the movie," he says. "In a strange way, that kind of exposure allows you to express yourself almost more than the actual movie does." He pauses and adds, "You just have to avoid turning into Michael Bay," another client of Ward's who was described at one point in an ESQUIRE magazine profile as having parked his Ferrari in a handicapped spot.
Cathy Seipp Interviews Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
A favorite journalist of mine, the spunky Cathy Seipp, interviewed former LA Times writer Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez last week by phone for a profile in American Journalism Review.
Alisa and Cathy had a big spat on Jim Romenesko's site last year. This time around Alisa was actually very nice...quite girlish and polite, I've heard. Alisa even offered to send Cathy a transcript of the taped phone interview (she tapes them all now for her own protection) because Cathy's tape recorder made too much noise.
Producer Anthony Unger
I visit producer Anthony Unger at his home in Los Angeles August 28, 2002.
His enthusiastic little dog jumps all over me and then nestles on my lap. Tony's friend Mickey Rourke, the actor, rescued the dog from the Malibu pound, kept it for a few months, and then, about a year ago, gave it to Unger.
Anthony Unger was born 10/19/40 in New York City.
Lawyer Peter Dekom of the law firm Pollock, Bloom and Dekom. Brother is Steve Unger. Son David Unger is an ICM agent. Tony's father Oliver A. Unger, born 8/28/14 in Chicago, Illinois, and died 3/26/81.
Tony: "In the sixties, a mid-Atlantic film was a film without a nationality that could play in Europe and the United States and the rest of the world. Funds were raised through presales to independent distributors around the world and then a sale in the United States, either for television or theatrical release or both. That business has evaporated because the numbers today aren't manageable. You can't package a picture without putting up a massive amount of holding money for the talent... Then you can't hold on to them long enough to get the picture financed. There may be a couple of guys left who can do that - Dino DeLaurentiis, and Patrick Wachsberger's foreign sales company Summit Entertainment. If Patrick knows you're going to get a deal for US distribution, and he likes the foreign revenue potential, he'll take the rest of the world.
"Mark Damon's PSO (Producers Sales Organization) did the same thing. I briefly partnered up with a guy who did a smaller version of that, Howard Goldfarb, who did deals for Dino De Laurentiis and Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest out of Hong Kong. Today, unless you have a tremendous line of credit at a bank or other financing, you can't hold these deals together long enough to get them made. You used to be able to set up a picture with seven or eight deals. Today it's so complicated with DVD rights, cable rights, satellite rights, music rights...
"My father, Oliver A. Unger, was in the business 46 years. He started in the film distribution business in the 1930s importing foreign films. He was one of the first guys in television syndication. He founded National Telefilm Associates with Ely Landau. They bought libraries of films from such producers as Stanley Kramer, Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick for television syndication. NTA also bought the pre-1948 Fox library. They syndicated these libraries to television at a time when most of the major studios were not making their product available to television. The studios didn't recognize television until they almost collapsed in the 1960s. Paramount owned the ABC network and then sold it.
"A friend of mine says about studio executives: 'Permanent decisions made by temporary help.'
"I started in the business in 1961 working on the TV series The Third Man, based on the character, Harry Lime, created by Graham Green. I was an assistant to the producer Vernon Burns. It was a coproduction between the BBC and Budweiser Beer. Budweiser owned the American rights and the BBC had the rest of the world. It was James Bond before James Bond. A glamorous urbane character goes throughout Europe with a gorgeous starlet in every episode.
"I grew up in New York. I went to Bronx High School of Science, then known as the top high school in the country. I went to Duke University for two years and then I transferred to USC, and graduated in 1961 with a BS in Business Administration. My parents had moved to Los Angeles. National Telefilm Associates merged with National Theaters, the old Fox West Coast group of theaters now known as Mann Theaters. They changed the name of the company to NT&T - National Theaters and Television. My Dad became Vice-Chairman of the company and the chairman was B. Gerald Cantor of Cantor-Fitzgerald [whose main offices years later were destroyed in World Trade Center attack of 9/11/2001].
"After the Third Man series, I went in the Army. In those days, we had compulsory military service. On August 10, 1962, I was discharged from Fort Ord and I drove to 20th Century Fox. I was still wearing my Army uniform. I drove up to the gate and found it locked. The guard came over. I said, 'I was promised a job.'
"Spyros Skouras was chairman then. He was a good friend of the family. I didn't realize that he had been ousted. The Directors Guild at this time was a closed shop. The only way you could get into the DGA was being related to somebody who was a director or, each of the studios had the right to appoint one person a year into the DGA's apprentice program. I wanted to get into the guild.
"The guard said the studio was closed. 'Didn't you read about Marilyn Monroe and Something's Got To Give and Cleopatra?' I'd only read Stars & Stripes, the Army newspaper. I asked to see Doc Merman, the head of the studio's physical plant. Doc said, 'Kid, we're not hiring people. We're firing people. If we were hiring, I wouldn't hire you. I'd hire someone with a family to support, not some guy who's father lives in Beverly Hills.'
"Through various connections, I visited every studio in town. I was turned down everywhere. There was a massive recession. The impact of television had hit collectively the film studios. I was offered a job in the mailroom at MCA. I was a college graduate, out of the Army, no thanks. I turned it down. I picked up a newspaper and saw an ad for a company in financial services, Dunn & Bradstreet, a large credit reporting agency. I was out of the [entertainment] business for two years.
"My father Oliver Unger was one of the pioneers in television. He was asked to produce a closed-circuit broadcast commemorating the tenth anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision of Brown vs the Board of Education [which desegregated public schools, holding that separate schools for blacks were inherently unequal]. The idea was to raise $10 million for the scholarship fund for the NAACP. It would be broadcast into 60 major sports arenas around the nation including Madison Square Garden in New York. The talent would appear without pay.
"There was a discussion between my father and the NAACP about how the tickets should be marketed. My father thought they should be marketed through traditional ticket agencies. Roy Wilkins was the head of the NAACP, and Thurgood Marshal was their attorney. They wanted to sell the tickets through the various chapters of the NAACP. My Dad thought that was unprofessional and would be difficult to monitor but Roy Wilkins prevailed.
"It turned out to be a financial catastrophe for the NAACP and for my father, because he was on the hook for leasing all the long lines hooking up the cable around the country. What happened was, they'd give 20 tickets ($10 each) to this guy and 20 tickets to that guy... When the show was over, the local branches would call you in and ask how many tickets did you sell. People would say they could sell few if any.
"I went into the LA Sports Arena. It was about 85% full. It held about 12,000 people at full capacity. But only 2000 tickets were sold. Many of the members of the NAACP were poor. They'd get $200 in their hands for their 20 tickets and they kept it. It was a major embarrassment to the NAACP. We all agreed to keep it hush-hush. It never made it to the papers. Nobody said anything. I remember being with Roy Wilkinson. He had tears running down his face. He was feeling that humiliated by his own members."
Luke: "It doesn't say much about his members."
Tony: "The Civil Rights movement had a lot of poor people. There was great temptation there...
"When that finished, a friend of my Dad's was producing these low-budget mid-Atlantic pictures... A controversial producer named Harry Alan Towers. I worked as an assistant director on several of Harry's pictures including 24 Hours to Kill , The Face of Fu Manchu , and Ten Little Indians . I line-produced 1969's The Madwoman of Chaillot, Bryan Forbes and starring Katharine Hepburn. We sold our company, the Landau-Unger company, to a conglomerate, Commonwealth United, and I stayed in Europe for the next 14 years to oversee production. I lived in London, Paris and Madrid before returning to LA in 1982. In the US, I learned about development hell. I spent years on projects that were never made. I developed projects with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon. I got paid but they were never made.
"I'm an avid golfer. In 1991 I founded the Sceptre Golf Company, and I was chairman and CEO of this golf club manufacturing business. It turned out not to be profitable."
"In 1995, I was approached by Odette Springer who wanted to do a documentary about what it's like for women breaking into low-budget films and where it leads. She'd worked for Roger Corman."
Luke: "That sounds a lot like that documentary Some Nudity Required."
Tony: "That was Some Nudity Required. Let me tell you what happened. Halfway through the film, there was a disagreement over the direction the film was taking, as opposed to the original presentation. I had made a foreign distribution deal for the film.
"The foreign distributor was alarmed as well about the new direction. It was finally decided that we would split the rights. Odette would keep the U.S. rights [under the title Some Nudity Required] and she edited it the way she wanted. And we would cut our own foreign version, it would be called The Dark Side of Hollywood.
"As far as I know, her version, Some Nudity Required, was never released in America. It was shown at Sundance and got a lot of publicity... She was good at self promotion. She turned it into a woman's issue film. The film was financed personally by me and the foreign distributor.
"The original concept was that we were going to focus on the careers of two actresses working in Roger Corman type films - Julie Strain and Maria Ford. Julie Strain thought it [exploitation films] were the greatest thing to ever happen to her. She was a Penthouse Pet. She was totally uninhibited. She married the guy who created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She has a nice house in Coldwater Canyon. The other actress, Maria Ford, felt like she was going insane. She felt that she would never be taken seriously. She felt like her career was destroyed.
"So one actress thought it was great and one thought it was terrible. And they were doing the same thing. It made for an interesting story. Odette had access to the Corman library. I arranged for her to get other interviews and footage. The film showed that men can survive starting in B pictures as actors and directors. For instance, Jack Nicholson worked for Roger Corman for five years doing 18 pictures (also Sylvester Stallone, Ron Howard, Michael Landon, etc). While for women, it was a dead-end. No actress who worked in a Corman picture was ever heard of again.
"I arranged for Odette to film an interview with Samuel Z. Arkoff (former Chairman of AIP - American International Pictures) and gets clips of his films. In the course of the documentary, Springer decided that the making of the film had triggered memories of the sexual abuse she'd suffered at the hands of her uncle. She shot footage of herself and her own story and tried to bookend it. I felt that this was not of great commercial interest. We reached loggerheads on it and we decided to go our separate ways. I made my money back. Our foreign distributor probably wished he'd never met us.
"Odette was on her way to making a brilliant film. She had this wonderful way with the actresses. She was a good interviewer. Then when she decided the movie was about her, and that her uncle molested her... She went to all these feminists groups and showed it to anybody who'd sit still long enough to watch it."
From the Associated Press: After terrific film-fest and media buzz over her documentary on Hollywood's B-movie industry, Odette Springer still had to be her own best cheerleader when the film hit the theater. "Some Nudity Required" opened for a one-week run last fall at a single theater in Santa Monica, Calif., with Springer standing in the street and handing out fliers to encourage passers-by to come see her movie.
A classically trained musician, Springer wound up as music supervisor for dozens of sex-soaked, blood-spattered movies by B-movie czar Roger Corman. Springer turned her insider's knowledge to good use, creating an insightful, personal and humorous look at this underbelly of Hollywood's output.
"We're all voyeurs. We want to see inside other people's lives, and because it's real life, it's actually more exciting. A real-life 'Boogie Nights' is far more exciting because it is real. You just can't make up people like that," Springer said.
Despite the provocative material, good press and warm receptions at Sundance and other film festivals, "Some Nudity Required" landed only a small distribution deal. After its week in Santa Monica, it played one more week in downtown Los Angeles. "Some Nudity Required" had a fair run at the Laemmle theater in Santa Monica, but documentaries rarely draw big crowds, said assistant manager Aron Knight.
After the documentary came out, Roger Corman filed a lawsuit: Director/producer Roger Corman – The King of the B-movies -- has filed an $8 million suit against the producers of a documentary called "Some Nudity Required" for allegedly defaming him and using clips and music without permission. The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that Odette Springer, the producer and director of the documentary, "deceived and tricked Corman into granting an interview" by telling him she was making a feature on "women in film."
Instead, the suit claimed, Springer's was out "to make a documentary for exploitation purposes intended to appeal to the prurient interest of certain viewers." Corman’s more than 270 credits as a producer and/or director include "Night Call Nurses," "The Wasp Woman," "Queen of Blood," "Alien Avengers," "Club Vampire," "Teenage Doll," "Naked Paradise," "Attack of the Crab Monsters," and "Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent."
Filmthreat.com comments on Some Nudity Required: "This confused personal documentary by Odette Springer, a former Roger Corman employee, explores the world of scream queens and the actresses who would bare more than their soul to be maimed in schlock Corman flicks. The film follows the scream queens on their quest for respect as well as revealing Odette Springer's personal journey while working for Corman as a music composer for these B-movies. Springer learns that she was molested as a child. Sequences of the film are intercut with 8mm films of Springer as a three year-old doing her own brand of nude dancing. The frequent use of herself as an innocent naked child borders on exploitation itself. Neither story is successfully told -- the scream queens' or Springer's alleged molestation leaving a less than satisfying experience for viewers. (And that's really hard to do in a film that features so many bare breasts!)."
Jonathan Delacour writes on his weblog: Odette Springer's documentary about the B movie industry is, for the most part, little more than a series of talking heads intercut with scenes of sex and violence from the schlock movies they've made. Producer or director, male or female, bartender wannabee-actors or Penthouse pets, they offer an ingenious array of justifications for participating in the creation of meretricious junk. With a few exceptions, they delude themselves that the B industry is a necessary (though admittedly evil) step on their journey to mainstream Hollywood.
Only the relaxed and urbane Roger Corman (Attack of the Giant Leeches, Swamp Women, Little Shop of Horrors) seems completely comfortable about his "minor part in the history of the film industry" (his words). Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Sorority House Massacre 2, The Bare Wench Project) candidly admits that he got into the industry to make money and get laid, points out that large breasts are the B movie's most important special effect, then goes ballistic at the "boring questions" Springer is asking him.
But it's Maria Ford (Strip for Action, Strip to Kill 2, Stripteaser) who makes Some Nudity Required worth watching. In a series of heartbreaking interviews she articulates her desperate desire to be an actress within a production system that only allows her to "act" in exchange for appearing nude. At one point she says: "I asked them if I could do the part without doing the nudity and they looked at me as though I was crazy." She talks about the pressure to have breast implants and how she would look at herself in the mirror, wondering what was wrong with her breasts -- too small, not high enough on her chest?
Finally, there's a masterful cut from Dan Golden's throwaway remark about the disposable nature of the character Ford plays in his movie Naked Obsession to Ford herself, telling of her fears of getting a reputation for being "difficult" then bewailing the Faustian pact she has made:
"What the fuck am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? I don't want to be difficult. And I don't want a rumor going around town saying I'm difficult so I go in and I do the nudity and I do exactly what I'm told. And I look at the movie and I want to throw up when it's done because all that's left in there is my fucking nudity and my acting's not even there. And they're the same people that are going to walk around and say she's nothing but a sleazy bimbo, you know, who's good for nothing but her body and she's not an actress. What am I supposed to do? What is the answer for me?"
Unfortunately, Springer couldn't come up with an answer. According to her unofficial fan site, Maria Ford went ahead with breast implants as well as collagen injections for her lips.
Bazdol writes on Imdb.com about the 1998 documentary Some Nudity Required: The Dark Side of Hollywood: Ms. Springer obviously has a bone to pick with the industry and she has her right to do so, of course. However, not all B erotic movies are filled with sex coupled with violence to the extreme, as she seems to suggest. Some are well done with fairly high production values for the genre, excellent acting, and even decent plots; for example, "Secrets of a Chambermaid," "Testing the limits," "Lolita 2000," "Virtual Encounters," and many more. I believe some actresses, such as Nikki Fritz, take their roles with a professional attitude and are to be admired; there are others, such as Kira Reed, Amber Newman, Brandy Davis, Jacqueline Lovell, Samantha Phillips, and Regina Russell, who also do quite well and need not be ashamed of their work. These women, after all, have not gone into hardcore, although I'm sure many of them could have. I notice that Stephanee LaFleur. one of the better actresses in this category who either voluntarily or under pressure has her breasts grossly augmented through surgery, provides a negative comment below though.
Ufotds writes: The interesting and highly entertaining part of this doc is to hear about everybody in the business say that this is only on the way up to the A-movies. At the same time all the actresses are extremely unhappy, feel abused and discriminated, feel that they are treated in the most sexist way possible(yes, they DO realise that, you know). In the doc, the directors also openly admit that they choose the actresses on their tit-size and nothing else ("and of course, we assume that you are prepared to do the nudity, don't you love?"). Therefore half of hollywood is filled with actresses who had boob-jobs done, only because they saw that as their only option to ever make it in hollywood, and now regret it. What a wonderfull world! It is no secret that there are quite some men out there trying to get horny on big boobs, but that the industries apply the theory of low level sexism to the letter, was a suprise for me. Check out this one quote, from I think a producer: "On one hand, you have snuff-movies, which are extremely violent. On the other hand you've got X-rated movies, which are completely sexual. The best way to make that acceptable and combine that for the broad public is an "Erotic thriller," cause that's what every hollywood B-movie is called.
Libra writes: When i saw this documentary some time ago, i found it really irritating. It is in many parts Odette Springer's annoying tribute to Odette Springer with it's to many "i'm-a-extremely-fantastic-and-talented-person-but-nobody-understands-it" scenes. What makes it more annoying is that Springer looks down on the people she wants to depict (Except Maria Ford who is "a-extremely-fantastic-and-talented-person-but-nobody-understands-it".) and sometimes steps on them. It is also filled with faked documentary scenes like the ridiculous scene where Springer looks at a violent video and gets "excited" what leads us to the scene that gave me a bade taste in my mouth- in the end of the movie tries Odette Springer to find a reason to why she got "excited" when she saw the violent video and from the clear blue sky the truth falls over her (and the poor audience)- all of a sudden she remembers that she was subjected to sexual abuse by her grand parents. What makes me feel bad about that scene is that she don't presents any real evidence and that the grand parents both are dead so they don't have any chance to defend themselves from the accusation.
A-chriw writes: Director's look at the B-Movie industry is thought-provoking, at its best, but spends a good deal more time with her own interpretations of her experience than really trying to show us what the industry is like. Odette Springer is in many ways embarrassed about her involvement in the industry, and attempts to explain both her attraction to such work and the involvement of people in the industry in terms of personal weakness. A great deal of time is spent making the argument that women are 1) discriminated against based on looks 2) intentionally kept out of good roles and 3) only like the industry if they are mentally disturbed. This documentary (which watches like a TV movie for Lifetime TV) really, really begs some questions, such as: Did any of the "exploited" women portrayed take any acting classes? Did any of these women explore other, more "tasteful" options like dinner theater? The underlying, unquestioned premise here is that "Any woman should be able to get tasteful roles which do not require nudity in 'A' grade films." Had the director worked on questioning this a bit (by interviewing women with acting ability or in live theater), this would be a 7. Without ever explaining or questioning that, it is a 5.
Big Guy writes: Being a fan of typical "bad" movies I was very interested to see this documentary. I have seen numerous of the movies that were featured (I have to admit) but never really thought about the people making the movies. One thing that amazed me was how good the at acting the actors became outside of the movies. Julie Strain displayed more emotion and feelings in the few minutes she was featured than in all of her other movies combined. Of course in those few minutes she showed what a shallow person she is. As most of the directors and producers seem to be. They all seemed very paranoid about their movies being called exploitative. Overall the movie was quite good. I could have done without the home video of the little girl naked (flashback to molestation of Odette as a child). Also it seemed that the footage of Maria Ford (one of the main interviewees) was overdone. I am a fan of hers but it seems that she was exploited for this film to make it more gritty. Many of the others interviewed didn't see a problem (being more concerned about making money).
Oliver's brother Steve appears in a 1/7/02 article in Fortune about the decline of the Disney company. "Disney has not done enough to retain its key executives," says Steve Unger, director of the media and entertainment practice at the Heidrick & Struggles search firm. "There was a certain arrogance and hubris attendant to the success. Now it's compounded by a certain defensiveness."
Magpie writes on RAME: I've just watched "I Like to Play Games Too" starring Maria Ford, and although it's only softcore I was surprised to find that Maria Ford's performance was more erotic that just about any hardcore stuff I've seen in a long time! The last time I saw her was in the doco "Some Nudity Required" where she was insecure about her looks, feeling that she had to make movies with nudity in order to be an actress, and awaiting her big break into the mainstream. She was very upset about how audiences might misunderstand her due to the roles she plays, and scared that this was taking her further away from her dream of being a hollywood actress. However, she's now had implants (and they look good!) and making movies that are just short of being hardcore. I was surprised to discover that she has almost no prescence on the internet; I've done several searches, using different engines and have found no fan sites, galleries etc. Nearly all the other actresses who appear in these films have got their own sites, merchandising, pictorials for Penthouse and or Playboy, but not Maria Ford? Am I the only person who finds her attractive? Is the fact that unlike the other performers in these films she can actually act unappealing to people?
Luke: "Which of your movies are your favorites?"
Tony: "The Magic Christian  starring Peter Sellars. It's now of an era satirized by Austin Powers Goldmember. Don't Look Now  starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. The Madwoman of Chaillot . It wasn't of its time. There was a complete change in the film business in the late 1960s. You had The Graduate and 2001. Madwoman is timeless. It's a fantasy.
"Four weeks ago, the American Cinematheque ran The Magic Christian and asked me to do a Q&A. There were some serious questions. I said: 'Listen. I made that picture when I was 28 years old. If I'd thought that 34 years later, I'd be seriously discussing this film with anybody...' The film was made in the vortex of a cyclone. We worked with the Beatles. Ringo was in the picture. John [Lennon] and George [Harrison] hung around the set every day. Paul [McCartney] wrote some of the music. Terry Southern wrote the script. There's John Cleese [and Graham Chapman, the film has a Monty Python echo]. We shot it over 12 weeks for $1.3 million.
"There are some producers who've been able to keep up with the business. I can't name one song in the Top 100. I don't watch network television. I'm not a big candidate to go talk to a 27-year old creative affairs executive at a studio. My frames of reference are not what's happening today. In any career, you may have your moment, but it never lasts forever."
Luke: "What are the smartest things you've done?"
Tony: "I can tell you about the worst choice I made. In 1970, I was contacted by a friend who said that ABC was going to start to make movies for television. And there's a guy named Barry Diller who will be running it. They're looking for somebody to head up production on the West Coast. Would I be interested? I said, 'Movies for television? I make feature films.' And I blew it off. Who knows if I would've survived Barry Diller for more than five minutes.
"I stayed too long in Europe. I had businesses that kept me there. I owned a chain of restaurants in Madrid. It's still the largest casual dining chain in the country - Fosters Hollywood. The guys who own the chain now also own Spain's Burger King, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. My wife is French. We didn't have a compelling reason to come back to America. My parents lived in Paris for a while. My major film contacts were in England and on the continent. There were more major films made in Pinewood [London], Rome and Madrid during the sixties, seventies and eighties than in Hollywood with James Bond, 2001, Lawrence of Arabia, Ryan's Daughter, Star Wars, Superman...
"In the 50's, 60's and into the '70's , many American writers like Larry Gelbart, John Kohn and Carl Foreman (lived in London), and along with numerous American directors and producers living in England or the continent... Then they returned to America in the 1970s.
Producers I've interviewed who lived in England and Europe for years during the 1960s and 1970s include Si Litvinoff, Judd Bernard, Chris Mankiewitz, Anthony Unger...
Tony: "I didn't jump on the wave home. By the time I moved back in 1978, I was about six years behind the curve.
"When we were trying to put together Don't Look Now, I went to Rome to find an Italian partner. Alberto Grimaldi was producing The Man of La Mancha starring Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren. It was directed by Arthur Hiller. It was based on a Broadway show. It was going to be the big picture of the year for United Artists. At the same time, Grimaldi wanted to make a small picture with an unknown director. It was so miniscule, he slipped it into the budget for La Mancha.
"Chris Mankiewitz, the producer's assistant, said Alberto didn't want to get involved with Don't Look Now. I saw him again months later at the Lancaster Hotel in Paris and he had the cans of Man of La Mancha and this other film. He was taking them back to show the executives at United Artists. He said that the other picture was probably unreleasable but they should be so happy with Man of La Mancha, they'd be forgiven.
"Man of La Mancha is released and it is a catastrophe. The other film was Last Tango in Paris and was a success. Rocky was made as an afterthought to Marty Scorsese's New York, New York musical starring Liza Minelli and Robert DeNiro. New York, New York tanked and Rocky saved United Artists."
Luke: "Did you read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind?"
Tony: "I read parts of it. It was all very familiar to me. I never got into it."
Luke: "What's your theory on Nic Roeg? He was such a brilliant cinematographer. I thought he'd be huge as a director."
Tony: "Nic is idiosyncratic. People who have great talent don't think the same way as business people think. It gives them a different field of vision. I've come to respect it even if I don't always agree with it. Nic was able to supplement his income for years as a highly paid director of commercials. He'd do things his way or not at all. He had ideas that some people thought were out there. Why do some artists paint landscapes? I don't know. Picasso was a brilliant painter of realism and then went into his surrealistic period.
"I don't socialize that much in the industry. Business was always one thing and the rest of my life was something else."
Cat Stevens to Luke Ford
Luke, what you are experiencing on the individual level is the Western history of Judaism on a multi-generational scale, accelerated to fit your life. In short, you are living proof of Haekel's Hypothesis extended to fit the Jews: Ontology recapitulating phylogeny (sorry about the bad spelling of these terms). Just as the Jewish people generally are condemned to repeat the Hajira (again sorry for the spelling - if you publish this, why don't you pretend you are an editor and fix it?) of orthodoxy to conservatism to reform to secularism to the quest for a spiritual life that takes them to a new faith, so to are you as an individual traversing this path in your lifetime.
Your existence as an orthodox jew, which was always something of a joke, is simply not tenable and you know it. Yet the other branches of judaism do not appeal to you either, for other reasons, even if they are more intellectually suitable.
I predict that in the end, you will wind up a Roman Catholic. ONLY THEN will you leave your hovel.
Fred, you would do better in life to get some religion. Chicks don't dig atheistic patent lawyer engineers who live in Silicon Valley. You know this. So I suggest that you do the following:
1. Move to Los Angeles and move in with Luke;
LA Times' Rachel Abramowitz
I've long found the articles by LA Times Hollywood correspondent Rachel Abramowitz, the not-quite-up-to-it replacement for Amy Wallace, tame and lame. What matters most in the Abramowitz worldview is vagina. Those who have one are inherently righteous because of their suffering at the hands of the powerful possessors of penis.
Abramowitz wrote the 2000 book: "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood."
From the 7/5/02 SF Chronicle: "It is incredibly discouraging that you have three female studio heads but the studios are still unwilling to entrust a $50m movie into the hands of a woman," said Ms Abramowitz, who added that even in the independent sector the situation was not much different. She said that although there was near parity between men and women in film schools, this was not translating itself into directors' jobs for women. Many of the young men who were making it as first-time directors were hired on the basis of their video work, said Ms Abramowitz, but this did not seem to be an avenue open to women. "I think there is still more pleasure in hiring a boy genius than a girl genius."
Why doesn't Abramowitz find it discouraging that there are no conservatives or evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews entrusted to direct $50 million movies?
Tom writes on Soc.men: The below article is from the LA times Saturday [by Rachel Abramowitz]. You can believe there is a "gay mafia" in Hollywood, and the rest of the country for that matter, but it's more effective in Hollywood because of the greater numbers of them there. The reaction to this story is an object lesson in how the gay mafia has gained and maintained their power. It's all on the up and up and has to do with PC and their powerful coalition with the feminists. It's an informal kind of brow beating and a ganging up by harpies and gays agaisnt the offender which ultimately leads to social isolation and career losses. Even the McCarthyites of the Fifties pale in comparison to the "gay mafia" and their allies the feminists.
To sophisticates out there, notice how this journalist spins things to shame Ovitz and portray him as an outcast in the Hollywood community. She will truly be a darling of the gay community and her career furthered. I know, it's just the way things work and it could be worse if we had family and men's advocates doing the same. Great day when that happens!!
Writers are making more of this obvious force behind the speech control of PC, the gays and lesbo-feminists, who in turn control vast segments of the population and politics in doing so. The suckers need to be called on this bullshit that's running the country and all we have doing it are some poor and oppressed musicians like Eminem or the Offspring. Yeah, I know, they have money now, and rightfully so, but most of us get the boot by society when we challenge it. Outbursts of anger have been going on dramatically in social events for ten full years and it's obvious, yet do you see any media commentary on it other than dismiss it as "homophobes", "racists", "sexists" or "crazed malcontents and terrorists"? I mean really, what do I say to my kids about this society when this bullshit is going on?
Rachel Abramowitz writes: Ovitz's self-immolation in the pages of the August issue of Vanity Fair, in which he claims a "gay mafia" engineered his downfall, has flared up higher than any Westside barbecue. It's just the kind of delicious gossip that passes for communal bonding here; despite what Ovitz might say, hatred of Mike Ovitz crosses all class and clique lines. It's an enmity that links all the warring social groups that make up Hollywood. Indeed, those truly in the know are already talking about what author Bryan Burrough cut out of the piece, allegedly vile and incendiary remarks by the onetime super agent that never would get by any libel lawyer. "That's the Holy Grail. The unedited tapes," one top executive says with a sigh.
"Seriously, the man's ego has just taken over," says another top producer. "If he actually thinks there's a cabal formed with the sole intention of destroying him, that's an ego at work."
"It's one of the most pathetic throwings of blame I've ever read. It was so weird and homophobic. What kookiness," says another top player. "I think people are just fascinated by this incredible fall from grace, that no matter how powerful you are it can all be gone in a blink of an eye. It's also the reminder that maybe karma really does matter."
To most, Ovitz's "gay mafia" comment was just more evidence of how out of step he was with the times, at least in Hollywood. "Public homophobia is out of style," notes one top executive. "It's in very bad taste. It's like going around making racist comments."
MAERAS writes on alt.tv.xena: "There's a good book of interviews with female Hollywood power players, like Dawn Steel- the only woman who's ever been CEO of a major movie studio, called "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?: Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood," by Rachel Abramowitz. It's pretty funny - very irreverent towards the prima donnas and divas, like La Streisand, etc. There are very real problems in Hollywood, which make even the most powerful women frustrated as hell, and it talks about them without pulling the punches. And it talks about how it's tied up in why men in Hollywood feel just as frustrated, or end up completely self-destructing, and why so many potentially good movies end up being crap."
From Rush & Molloy in the New York Daily News June, 2000: Don't try to flatter Barbra Streisand. It may only make her mad.
Rachel Abramowitz' new book "Is that a Gun In Your Pocket?" hails her for battling the male Hollywood establishment. But we hear Babs didn't appreciate the description of her as "a funny-looking, fatherless, Jewish girl from New York, who deemed herself pretty and triumphed through chutzpah."
Streisand had no sooner put the book down than she got hold of Abramowitz' home number and blasted her. "Rachel was stunned to hear Barbra on the other end of the receiver," a friend says. "Streisand said to her: 'Are you one of those women who are jealous of other women? How could you have written such a book?'"
"Rachel tried to calm Barbra down and tell her to look at the book as a whole," says our source.
"But Barbra said, 'Well it's hard to look at the big picture at this moment.'"
Streisand's rep confirms Streisand's call. "Rachel submitted questions to Barbra," says Streisand rep Dick Guttman, "and quoted her accurately. But she also used a number of stories from books that were salacious and fallacious. Barbra said, 'You were talking to me! Why didn't you check those stories?' "Abramowitz declined to comment.
RUSH AND MALLOY write 5/31/00 in the Toronto Star about these anecdotes from Abramowitz's book:
- In 1969, when Charles Manson was on his murder spree, agent Sue Mengers took a terrified Streisand to Steve McQueen's house in Malibu, where he kept a stash of loaded guns. ``Don't worry, honey,'' Mengers reassured Streisand, ``stars aren't being murdered, only feature players.' '
- Before Thelma & Louise was a hit film, Streisand and Goldie Hawn were in negotiations to play the leads in a similar film called Sisters. ``Barbra thought Goldie's part was better and Goldie thought Barbra' s part was better,'' screenwriter Patricia Resnick is quoted as saying. Eventually they both dropped out.
- Jodie Foster learned to live with John Hinckley's having shot Ronald Reagan to impress her, according to Foster's Hotel New Hampshire co- star Rob Lowe. She had a huge blowup photo of the assassination attempt. It was ``an ironic thumbing of your nose at the absurdity of life in the public eye,'' Lowe says.
- Jane Fonda, just after winning a Best Actress Oscar in 1979 for Coming Home, railed at director Michael Cimino backstage, telling him how much she hated his Vietnam epic, The Deer Hunter, even though she was friendly with its star, Meryl Streep.
- The late movie executive Dawn Steel was described by one insider as ``a woman who'd become a man in high heels.''
Scott Yates writes in the 6/4/00 Rocky Mountain News: "If the interesting topic is women and Hollywood, you're in luck, because every word that could ever be written has been crammed into the encyclopedic - and therefore somewhat tedious - Is That a Gun in your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood by Rachel Abramowitz. It's not that this book is not well written. It's just that there is too much here. While reading, I circled this line from page 146: ``Heckerling's experience was almost directly paralleled by that of Martha Coolidge.'' Even at that relatively early point in the book, I was getting burned out on all the new characters with strikingly similar stories. Now, having finished the book, I can hardly remember either of those two or their contributions to Hollywood, if any. Indeed I'm having trouble remembering the differences between any of the main characters, who all, it seems, had dysfunctional fathers. They were nearly all Jewish and they all spent tons of time in therapy. By my rough estimate, Abramowitz has one therapist-mention every five pages. And even when the author doesn't mention it directly, she becomes the psychoanalyst, writing about her subjects' dysfunctions, need for approval or ``lack of personal boundaries.'' I love movies and stories about the making of movies. I think women in executive studio positions make for better movies. I had a dysfunctional father. I think therapy is great. And I'm Jewish. In short, I fit the model of someone who should love this book. But instead of feeling that I read it, I feel as though I've been bludgeoned with it. Luckily for you, the casual reader, you may enjoy it more than a reviewer forced to read every word. Unlike me, if you enjoy the stories of, say, Sherry Lansing, the first woman to rise to production head at a major studio, you can read that and skip the bawdy-but-tired stories about Gracie film exec Polly Platt, her alcohol and drug abuse, her occasional lover Peter Bogdanovich and his tabloid involvement with a porn queen's death. If you want another version of Barbra Striesand's well chronicled idiosyncrasies, that's here, too. So is the woman who comes closest to occupying the role of the book's central character: Dawn Steel, the Paramount powerhouse whose funeral opens the book and whose death closes it. In total, the book makes the point that women in power have helped Hollywood break out of the mold of testosterone-driven films, even if it did so with Flashdance and Fast Times at Ridgemont High as much as with Postcards from the Edge and Big. What the book needed was a Dawn Steel-strength editor who could persuade Abramowitz that a book half as long would have been twice as powerful."
Stephanie Zacharek writes in the 8/16/00 Washington Post: For a book that follows the arduous, snail-trickle trail of women's ascent to power in Hollywood, Rachel Abramowitz's "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?" is remarkably free of pat ideology and cant, never descending into carping about gender issues. It's carefully detailed and meticulously researched, admirable for dozens of reasons.
Without succumbing to whining or petulant foot-stomping, Abramowitz has rendered a suitably sympathetic picture of the tough time women have had in Hollywood. But she comes off more like a scholar assessing ancient history from a distance than a young writer chronicling social change.
Ms. RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ (Los Angeles Times) told NPR 6/13/02: "When it pushes a psychosexual button and it's still a movie that everyone can talk about because it's just sort of about their experience but just a little bit more so, they don't like controversy when a movie is just, like, aggressively, in your face sexual or, I mean, sort of something like "The Believer" where you're sort of dealing with subject matter in a provocative thought-provoking way. I mean, there's no one who's going to watch "The Believer" and not feel discombobulated by it in a certain way."
Newsweek 3/13/00: High-ranking female executives "don't want their achievements to be considered women's achievements," says Abramowitz. "They think too much attention has been paid to this. To them, saying Hollywood is sexist is like saying the ocean is blue. Let's just get on with life." But for a writer or director struggling to get her next job, that' s exactly the problem. She can't.
A graduate of Yale, Abramowitz began covering Hollywood around 1990. She worked mainly for Premiere, but also contributed to Mirabella and The New York Times Magazine. She's married with a son and lives in Los Angeles.
The dust jacket for her book reads: "Eight years ago, a remarkably talented reporter named Rachel Abramowitz began interviewing the women of Hollywood to, in her words, "puncture the mythology and to circumvent the silence" of this rarefied world."
Silence about women in Hollywood? What world does Abramowitz live in? There's constant whining on this topic, much of it coming from Rachel's pen.
And what stories has this "remarkably talented reporter" ever broken?
Rachel Abramowitz writes on page 7 of her book: "When I began reporting this book, almost every woman I met came with a kind of urban legend attached, usually a pejorative back story that purported to be the secret key to her identity or success. Most of the stories were about sx, or sexual attractiveness. The Fatal Attraction producer Sherry Lansing, more than a few people assured me, had slept her way to the top. Penny Marshall hadn't gotten over the fact that she wasn't as pretty as the starlets who stocked Hollywood. Steel, of course, had simply become a man."
By contrast, Rachel's approach to the book is to initiate a discussion on gender and sexism and sexual harassment. She exchanges her obligations as a reporter to that of a transcriber. She gives "primary importance to these women's interpretations of events. I wanted to know how they felt. For this is not only a history of facts but a history of consciousness, of these women's - elite, well-educated, deeply psychotherapized - changing consciousness." (pg. 15)
In other words, Abramowitz is most interested in how these women see and feel about themselves. Does Rachel the journalist not realize that the connection between how people are and how they see themselves is frequently gigantic?
And this is the type of writing that Stephanie Zacharek in the Washington Post claims is "remarkably free of pat ideology and cant, never descending into carping about gender issues"?
In her book and other writings, Abramowitz, when it comes to women in Hollywood, plays the cheerleader, accepting what her female subjects (mostly powerful women) tell her as truth. She does not point out a single untruth.
Abramowitz, by contrast, is quick to brand men, such as director Howard Hawks, anti-Semitic, racist, sexist and misogynistic. (pg. 22)
Abramowitz writes that women are selfless creatures, who's only fault is that they doubt themselves, and give too much, constantly sacrificing themselves for their men:
* Polly Platt's mother Vivian "gave up her career" for her husband, who betrayed her. (pg. 13)
* Polly "invested her energy and brilliance into making men brilliant." (pg. 11)
* Poor Polly's humility "led to a twenty-year battle simply to grant her ambition and talent its due." (pg. 12)
* Polly "raised four kids, buried two husbands, and watched Boganovich, the love of her life, betray her and then self-destruct in horrifying Grand Guignol fashion." (pg. 11)
* Poor Polly had to listen to Howard Hawks tell Peter Bogdanovich that beautiful Sherry Lansing was "the kind of girl that you should be with." (pg. 21)
* "Platt never worried about credit." (pg. 25)
* Peter Bogdanovich refused to drive Polly to the hospital for the birth of her second child because he was too tired. (pg. 27)
* Paula Weinstein's mother Hannah "entrusted the business details to [her husband John] Fisher" who betrayed her. (pg. 18)
This dreary litany of faithless men and wonderful women pervades Rachel's 446 page book.
What's the Story With Bob Greene's Firing?
Nancy Nall writes: [T]here are three things everyone tells you about Bob Greene. Number one: He's a hack. Number two: He's a horndog. I don't think I'm even into the penumbra of libel saying that, because I am telling you, everybody in Chicago journalism has a story about Bob chatting up a sweet young thing with a gleam in his eye, and there was that incident with trying to pick up my friend who worked at Esquire, while he was on tour promoting his "Good Morning, Merry Sunshine" book, about what a great dad he is.
Did I say three things? I was wrong. The third thing you learn with your own eyes: This man wears the second-most preposterous toupee in the history of hairpieces, bowing only to Jim Traficant's. They all tie together, in my mind. The horndog requires the hairpiece, which is sort of a metaphor for his hack-ness, his false, treacly, icky prose that only fools the willfully blind.
It started with the Baby Richard case, one of those awful adoptive/bio parent tug-of-wars we witnessed some years back. I wanted someone to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the adoptive parents? Who knew they had a contested adoption on their hands within a couple weeks after taking Baby Richard home? And knew the law wasn't on their side, but chose to drag the case out for years, appealing and appealing in the hopes of finding a judge who would rewrite the law? I wanted someone to wonder whether those people, who only gave up the kid after calling all the media to witness the transfer of this poor child, might bear, oh, a teensy bit of blame for how terrible it all turned out.
From BOB LAURENCE, TV Critic, San Diego Union-Tribune to Jim Romenesko: Greene gets sacked for having an affair with a young woman of legal age more than 10 years ago? Something about this story doesn't ring true. Either the Trib is the most puritanical, self-righteous, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou workplace this side of Dr. Laura's broadcast booth, or there's more happening here than either side is admitting. I suspect it's the latter, which is the really disturbing part. What we have here, it appears, is two entities -- Greene and his bosses -- who are in the business of distributing truth quietly agreeing to tell something less.
Manda writes: He wasn't fired because he had an affair, he was fired because he abused a mentor/student relationship that was set up by the Tribune. She was part of a high school journalism program and came to meet with him. Her parents sent her there as part of her education, not to have sex with Bob Greene. It makes the Trib look bad when they invite high school kids in and their reporters have sex with them. It's a parallel situation to a high school girl sleeping with her math teacher.
XXX: If he had sex with a man instead of a young woman of legal age, nobody would have dared to challenge him.
Producer Michael Z. Gordon
I spoke by phone to producer Michael Z. Gordon August 16, 2002.
Michael: "I've been in the music business almost my entire [adult] life. I was working on a couple of projects such as Pulp Fiction. Through Pulp Fiction, I made some contacts that led me to [producer] David Glasser. He was raising money for the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster. I represent an investment group and we decided to put some money into the movie. It became a two-picture deal with Narc. We were mainly in it for The Devil and Daniel Webster but it turns out that Narc may be the one that saves us on this thing. We've had many problems on Devil but with Narc, you couldn't ask for more.
"We've completed principle photography on Devil. We've finished a producer's cut. Alec Baldwin was the director. His first film. He had taken on much more than he could handle. It was nothing but problem after problem. He walked off the set in the middle of shooting to take his family to Hawaii for two weeks. Then he filed a lawsuit against David Glasser to get some director's money supposedly owed him. Meanwhile, Alec had invested a sizable amount of money in the film. It was like cutting off your nose to spite your face. There were some other sordid details that held up the film.
"Now we're looking for a domestic distributor."
Luke: "You've got many big stars. Alec Baldwin, Dan Akroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewett, Kim Cattrall."
Michael: "It's a $30 million independent production. It really isn't a bad movie."
Luke: "What was your role on the project?"
Michael: "Anybody who put in money got to be a producer. We came in during principle photography to salvage the thing when it looked like it would go over to the bonding company. I knew somebody who put a million dollars into the film. It still wasn't enough. The film was like a big black hole that kept eating everything up that we put into it. It took a year to edit the thing. It took Baldwin months to finish his cut. Then it took months for us to do a producer's cut."
Luke: "The director's cut wasn't commercial?"
Michael: "It had a lot of problems."
Luke: "And Narc?"
Michael: "Whoever puts in money gets to be a producer. There are 17 producers on Narc. He who puts in the most money wins. David Glasser did everything he could to get these pictures done. I didn't give much credence to Narc at first. Devil was such a big film with such big names. Narc didn't seem to be in the same league.
"Tom Cruise saw the film Narc and liked it so much he went to Paramount, who bought the domestic rights on his behalf. He became the executive producer."
Luke: "You've been in the music business most of your life."
Michael: "I've written and produced music for movies, TV and commercials. I wrote my first song when I was 20 and it was a hit called, "Surfer's Stomp". I wrote many hits including, "Outer Limits". I toured as leader of the Marketts and The Routers. My first movie was with the Routers in "Surf Party" and second was with the Marketts in, "The Name of The Game is Kill". I have produced music for movies such as "Pulp Fiction", "Angels In the Endzone", "From The Earth To The Moon" and for such commercials as The National Car Rental Commercial "Let's Go!" and more."
Luke: "And what has been your principle contribution to Devil and Narc?"
Michael: "Financial. Keeping these projects afloat."
Luke: "Have you put your own money into them?"
Michael: "Yes, unfortunately. Well, I shouldn't say that. At first it looked bleak but now it looks better."
Luke: "And you are credited as a producer on the movie Angels in the Endzone. What was your role?"
Michael: "I did the music."
Luke: "And you're credited as a producer on From the Earth to the Moon. You did music as well?"
Luke: "What do you envision for your movie producing career from here?"
Michael: "To be honest, I'm thinking about just getting out of the business soon when I have all my commitments fulfilled. I went to the doctor after a year and a half of this and my blood pressure was through the roof. And my cholesterol was sky high. He said, 'What happened to you?' I said, 'I'm in the movie business. That will do it every time.' A lot of sleepless nights, like you can't believe. You can't believe what people tell you. They'll say anything and it doesn't come through when you're counting on it.
"We were involved with a picture called Northfork, with a great cast including Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Wood, Peter Coyote. They were filming in Montana. I'm waiting for a wire to go through so they can continue the principle photography. And the wire never came through. I don't know if this sort of things happens just to me."
Luke: "Other people have told me similar stories."
Michael: "That's comforting. I have to tell you that it is an exciting business."
Luke: "Exciting like cancer."
Michael: "I wanted to graduate into films from music. I thought this would be a great opportunity. In a sense it has been. I've gotten a lot of offers and a lot of projects sent my way.
"I'm not 20 anymore. I've got a family. I just discussed this last night with my wife. They want me to go to Europe for six weeks for another film. I said I didn't know if I could do that. I have two boys, aged six and nine. This is my second marriage. On my first one, I was a raving lunatic for 20 years. This time round, I'm much more settled. I enjoy being home and working around the house.
"I've sold two scripts but neither have been made."
Luke: "Did you visit the set of Daniel Webster?"
Michael: "One time. It was trying to plug holes to keep the ship from sinking. It wasn't a question of whether the shoot was going well..."
Luke: "I've always wondered why people invest in movies."
Michael: "It's a terrible investment. Terrible. The difference between me and 99% of investors is that the money I put in personally was in the form of a loan backed up by personal guarantees and collateral. My wife is a conservative person and she wouldn't talk to me for the first six weeks after I first loaned the money..."
Luke: "Yet you still couldn't sleep and your blood pressure went way up."
Michael: "After we did more due diligence, it was frightening to look at the whole situation. I had to do some measures to make sure that I got my money back."
Luke: "I thought the music business was a rough business."
Michael: "This is terrible. I come from a conservative background, despite being in the music business. It just blows my mind that people get away with this. But I'm taking it easier now. I'm on blood pressure medication and at least my blood pressure is normal now."
Luke: "Didn't you know about Alec Baldwin's reputation as a troublemaker?"
Michael: "I didn't. To be a director, you have to be a people person to get the most out of your cast and crew. He is the most anti-social person I've met in my life."