Israeli Rabbi Warns Jews of Christmas
By LAURIE COPANS Dec 24,
JERUSALEM (AP) - Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau on Tuesday urged Jews in Israel not to celebrate Christmas or New Year's Day, warning that such observances threaten the identity of the Jewish state.
Lau encouraged Christian Israeli Arabs, foreign workers and immigrants to mark the holidays. But he said Jewish families should not "be swept into keeping a way of life that is not their own, while obliterating and losing their self-respect."
In recent years, small numbers of Israeli Jews have begun celebrating Christmas, putting up lights in shops and even trees in homes. The trend began with the influx of thousands of Christians - many of them married to Jews - in the early 1990s as part of a wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union.
At the same time, New Year's Eve has become a major party night at Tel Aviv hotels, despite threats by local rabbis to punish the establishments by removing their approval to serve kosher food.
Interest in Christmas has grown since fighting with the Palestinians broke out two years ago and Christian foreign workers replaced their Palestinian counterparts in jobs. Israel has also undergone a type of cultural globalization - expressed in a desire among many Israelis to take part in what they view as a world holiday.
Such expressions grate on the nerves of many Israeli Jews, particularly Lau. "Why should we have anything to do with Christmas or New Year's Eve, in the shade of the Christmas tree?" Lau asked in a statement issued on Christmas Eve. "We never imagined that even in our independent country of the Jewish nation, foreign cultures would threaten our identity as a people and a nation."
Tel Aviv, a more secular city than Jerusalem, demonstrates much more Christmas cheer. The Tel Aviv branch of Mike's Place goes all out for the holiday, with a big party and Turkey dinner. Both bars expect to be packed for New Year's Eve. T
his week Israeli radio stations have occasionally played Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Israel's national radio station even played "Silent Night," a carol about the birth of the baby Jesus.
Lau warned that such habits could bring about assimilation between Jews and Christians. Quoting from Psalms 106:35, Lau said; "They mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshipped their idols, which became a snare to them."
Mutt writes: Serge you're supposed to wrap yourself in tefillin not tinsel! Oy vey! Seriously though, what do the Jewish webmasters think about this? I was raised in a small city with not many Jews so Christmas was a big deal, I celebrated it with neighbors and did the Christmas plays and choirs etc in school BUT my parents didn't have a tree or lights or anything like that.
Serge writes: Mutt, there is an old Russian expression: when you live with the wolves, you "auuuuuuuuuuuu" like a wolf. We celebrate Xmass and incorporate ALL heritages in it. We had Italian Christmas dinner yesterday (Christian) had no gifts today (Jewish) got congrats call from in laws (Christian) I worked today in the garden (Jewish) Almost made it to the mass yesterday (Chrisitian) got fershtukken and went to bed instead (Russian) we are having Israelies today for Xmass day dinner (Christian, Jewish, Russian). I think we covered all basis and guaranteed a good place in one of the Heavens.
Rob writes: Can't Jews celebrate the day as Sir Issac Newton's birthday(12-25-1642)? Can't you all gather around a Newton tree and exchange Newton gifts while singing Newton Carolls?
BTW is Christmas as inconvenient to you Jews as I suspect it is? The whole freakin' country shuts down. On NPR they said that in New York, Christmas Day means one thing to Jews ... Chinese Food.
A Christmas Message From Chaim Amalek
Chaim Amalek writes: We would all be better off with a bit less sarcasm, and a lot less ironic detachment in our lives. May each of you resolve to live your lives in the coming year with less of each and more involvement with your fellow Christian (you too, Marc).
Luke, may the twin poisons that have gripped your soul for lo these many years finally so repel you that you break free of them and return to the goodness from which you sprung.
FredNek or NekFred, may you finally find the courage to be more than a patent scrivener, and move to some place where there are REAL LIVE WOMEN and not just smelly engineers, lawyers, and MBA types. Do it before it is too late.
Marc W, may you finally get a job and stop caring about these singers of pop tunes. Enough already! Neither the "artists" nor their public give a rat's ass about pop-music commentary, and there is no money in it for you anyway. Make of yourself a Gen-X cultural commentator before Gen-X must give way to Gen-Y. And don't be so picky when it comes to women. Move to LA to be near all those hot blogger chicks you seem to know who want to set you up with their hot friends, and don't say no on narrow tribalist grounds that are going to seem increasingly silly in the years to come. (And shame on you for not trying to nail that cute Moxeleh when you had the chance!)
Rum, you need to be careful out there. I hear al Qaida is slipping condoms coated with thermally activated explosives into the brothels of the old French Indochina.
Robert, you seem to actually have a life, so there isn't much I can add to it with my counsel.
As for me, I resolve to lose a hundred pounds, get some liposuction done, save up for one of those professionally done hair cuts, and join the civil service.
Chaim Amalek (who lives in, but is not of, the Upper West Side)
Steven Seagal might get arrested. I hear that Steven Seagal had calls placed to the brother of John Gotti, Peter Gotti, to help him with his former producing partner Julius Nasso.
Journalist Alex Constantine writes: "Pellicano has more mob connections than J. Edgar Hoover."
More of Pellicano's guys are going to get arrested. Pellicano is friendly with various people suspected of belonging to the Mafia like Ronald "Ronnie" Lorenzo, who owns a pizza place in Brentwood and the restaurant Splash in Malibu. Ronnie, who's spent ten years in prison, is suspected to be the main Los Angeles player in the Bonnano family. Ronnie is best friends with actor James Caan and actor Frank Sivero. Sivero is a real hood. He used to collect money for Joe Isgro.
There are videotapes of Sivero with Ronnie Lorenzo and porn star Tabitha Stevens.
James Caan offered his home as collateral toward the $2-million bail for Lorenzo and appeared as a character witness for his dear friend.
From nlpc.org: In 1993, reputed mobster Ronnie Lorenzo was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison in Los Angeles for drug trafficking. A federal jury convicted Lorenzo of conspiracy and distribution of cocaine in two 1990 deals with FBI informant Robert Franchi. Lorenzo reportedly trusted Franchi due to their mutual friends in Raymond L.S. Patriarca’s organized-crime family in New England. Authorities believe Lorenzo is a member of the Bonnano crime family. See: Paul Lieberman, “Inside Hollywood Mike’s Crew,” L.A. Times Apr. 14, 1996. According to DOJ’s draft RICO complaint against LIUNA, “The Bonnano family...is headquartered in New York City and operates in various other locations in the United States. The Bonnano family is [a] New York City LCN family...” [Robert D.] Luskin represented Lorenzo on an appeal that Lorenzo lost on Oct. 8, 1998.
From Konformist.com: During the trial of [Joey] Ippolito and [Ronald] Lorenzo (the two were tried together), the Los Angeles Times had reporters covering the entire thing, and yet, strangely, the news reports only mentioned Lorenzo by name. In a Spy magazine article titled "Cafe Nostra", by John Connolly (who had the best early investigative coverage of Danny Casolaro's death and what is now known as The Octopus), Ippolito was mentioned by name. The story, about the strong connections between the Mafia and major players in Hollywood, was listed as "Part I in a series of articles." The issue, from March 1994, was the last issue before the sudden unexpected shut-down of Spy, which happened almost immediately after the publication of the issue. The official reason was money, but there was no warning signs of financial problems, and the magazine was as popular as ever. Spy returned a few months later under new ownership, a pathetic shell of what it once was, providing glib satire without bite. The other parts of the series of articles by Connolly were, unsurprisingly, absent from the new Spy.
Luke says: Tabitha Stevens is from College park, Long Island and other places on the Island. Her Family lives in Las Vegas. She came to wiseguy meetings. She would be in the restaurants or places but not included. She knows lots of mobsters on a first name basis. She is friends with one of Sonny Franzese guys.
Tabitha was at San Gennero's in Culver City, Ca, when there was a meeting at which Mike Esposito, Kenny Gallo, mobster Fat Stevie Cino, John Bronco, Tony Angeoletti, and Vince Lupo met. Mike was chummy with Mob Rat John Bronco and the whole thing was caught on tape thanks to John Bronco, Tony Angeoletti who were both working for the FBI. The FBI not only taped this meeting, it was outside taking pictures. Steve Cino is in the Las Vegas Black Book [meaning, he is banned from all the casinos].
Here's a photo of Tabitha with mobster Jimmy Caci and mob associate Kenji.
Has Cathy Seipp Been Blackballed?
Cathy replies: Am I blackballed? Gosh, that's kind of strong term. Perhaps not from the Times at this point, because they've had such a big turnover in management, but maybe I'm being naive. I know Peter Bart at Variety was just hugely furious because of some mildly -- and I mean VERY mildly -- needling comments I made about him in an old Buzz piece. And Robert Dowling at the Hollywood Reporter was also upset, although he had more of a reason to be. So I suppose you could say I'm blackballed at the trades. I guess that's just a cross I'll have to bear.
Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers is ANTISEMITIC
Winter Blackstone writes: The key figure in this movie is a sniveling, cowering little beast who cares only about a gold ring. He has two names: as a troll, he is known as "Golum", and his prior name, which was "Smegal". Golum you know about; and likely every "Smegal" around in Hollywood is a Jew. Ergo the movie is ANTISEMITIC.
The Hollywood Juden are lucky to have someone like me around to tell that what is really going on in the world.
Sumner Redstone Has Good News
SumnerRedstone: I've got some GOOD NEWS for you! Are you ready for some good news or are you ready for some good news!
Cathy Has Her Convictions
Freelance journalist Nancy Rommelmann writes: Cathy Seipp has convictions about everything, convictions that can startle you, even if you think they’re total hooey. Example: In 1997, we were at a Buzz contributors’ lunch, and I mentioned I was set to write a piece about how Vegas was becoming kid-friendly, and that a friend and I were going to take our kids there for the weekend. “But that’s a sin,” boomed Cathy from across the table, Moses decreeing over tuna tartar at Maple Drive. I thought this was hilarious—I actually thought she was kidding—but she was seriously indignant, and repeated, “It’s a sin.” Why? Who the hell knows why? I thought she was a fundamentalist, or had something personally against me, but no, she was simply having a conviction; if it weren’t kids and Vegas, it would have been the rye bread, or Tom Christie’s [the Culture columnist as Buzz, and is now Arts Editor/Senior Editor at the LA Weekly] shirt. I think Cathy is sort of like that friend of your parents’ who intimidates you when you’re little, but who, once you realize she simply doesn’t varnish things, you want to hang around with, because she makes the other grown-ups seem sort of mushy.
I also think Cathy is true blue, and seriously has her friends’ best interests at heart. At lunch recently, when Cathy asked me about my health insurance status, and I admitted I hadn’t gotten around to it, she put down her fork and fixed the laser-beam blue eyes on me. “You need to promise me you will do this today” she said. I did.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Samuel Freedman writes in the New York Times: As for Rabbi Boteach (pronounced bo-TAY-ach), 36, he moved from the United States to Oxford in 1988 as an emissary of the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement. In 12 years in England, he built a thriving Jewish student group called the L'Chaim Society, brought onto campus speakers ranging from Mikhail Gorbachev to Boy George and won a national prize for preaching.
He ultimately broke with his religious leadership, however, over issues ranging from his outreach to non-Jews to his authorship of "Kosher Sex," a celebration of the carnal pleasures of monogamy. Returning to America in 1999 as a self-promotional force of nature, he proceeded to befriend Michael Jackson, sell book excerpts to Playboy magazine and appear in several hundred newspaper articles a year.
Roger Friedman writes for Foxnews.com: To this day there has no been no accounting for the money Boteach and [Michael] Jackson raised for their Time for Kids/Heal the World Foundation. Indeed, the event they held on Feb. 14, 2001, at Carnegie Hall — a symposium on children — has never turned up in tax returns.
London newspapers reported that Boteach was ousted from the L'Chaim Society of Oxford University for mismanagement of funds. (He allegedly used money from the charity to maintain a lavish home. Boteach insisted it was his right to do so.) He was also reportedly banned from having a pulpit in the U.K., although during our conversation last year he denied that.
The New York Times also didn't bother to look into the infamous L'Chaim Society, Boteach's New York charity. The most recent tax return available, which covers all of 2000, states that the New York edition of L'Chaim Society took in $203,185 in donations but paid out $240,164 "for administration." There are no funds listed for "Program Services."
In May 2001, this column discovered quite a lot about the so-called Oxford L'Chaim Society of New York, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Oxford University in Great Britain. I wrote: "In 1999, the British government criticized (Boteach's) L'Chaim Society of Oxford, London and Cambridge — an organization that was supposed to support and promote Jewish thinking and life on the Oxford campus — when they discovered that Shmuley (his name is Shmuel but he loves the nickname) had been dipping into the funds.
In an e-mail to the Oxford Union, Sonia Tugwell of the Charity Commission wrote on January 8, 2001: "In August 1999, the Charity Commission opened an inquiry under section 8 of the Charities Act 1993 into the L'Chaim Independent Charitable Trust as a result of concerns that the charity's funds were being misapplied.
"The inquiry established that a number of apparent inappropriate payments were regularly being made by the founder of the charity, Rabbi Boteach and his wife. Fundraising costs and administrative expenses were high in relation to relatively low charitable expenditure.
"As a result of the inquiry, in March last year, the trustees of the charity, after taking appropriate legal advice, reached an agreement with the Boteaches. The result of this was that a sum was paid by them to the charity. The trustees of the charity decided to wind up the charity and the London and Oxford offices were closed last year with our approval. It was agreed that the assets of the Cambridge Society would be transferred to another trust. If there are any funds remaining after outstanding liabilities have been paid, these will be given to other charitable causes similar to those supported by the L'Chaim Independent Charitable Trust."
An article dated June 1, 1998, in the London Daily Telegraph clearly states: "Ah Shmuley. The shame, the disgrace. (He's been) publicly reproached by Elkin Levy, president of the United Synagogues; forced to resign from the synagogue in Willesden where he preaches, accused of conduct unbecoming, bringing the rabbinate into disrepute."
The resignation was apparently in response to the publication of Boteach's controversial book, "Kosher Sex," which has been a bestseller and was excerpted in Playboy. "It seems funny to me," said a source at the Oxford Union, "that the headquarters for the L'Chaim Society of Oxford is in New York."
Frustrated by the lack of information from Boteach's office, I subsequently wrote another story on Feb. 18, 2002, stating that Boteach's tax-free foundation in the United States is alled Oxford L'Chaim Society, implying a tie to the prestigious British university. I also wrote that the L'Chaim Society's 1999 public tax filing shows that the charity took in $300,000. Of that amount, $160,000 went to "management" and $122,000 was sent as a lump-sum donation to the L'Chaim Society of Cambridge, the other top British university.
But, of course, representatives of the Cambridge Society swore to me last year that they hadn't heard from Boteach in a long time. Certainly they didn't mention a huge donation, and neither did Boteach. Even so, more than half the money collected by Boteach in 1999 went to salaries. Less than half was donated to charity. Just in case you were wondering.
David "Hot Button" Poland writes: After all the spring discussion about progress on the racial front, with mixed race stars like The Rock in The Scorpion King and Vin Diesel in XXX, neither film performed up to expectations. But you have to wonder about the status of films that have black leads. Only eight films of the fifty-four that grossed over $40 million had central characters who were black.
Why Does David Poland Have A Broken Heart?
Why is movie columnist David Poland without Christmas joy? One, he's Jewish. Two, his favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins, may miss the playoffs.
David Poland writes: The Dolphins are a team that can't throw deep very effectively, even when the defense dictates it. And until it is fixed, there will be no Super Bowl championship. The QB can be mediocre, but he needs to have a deep arm. Jeff George could win a Super Bowl with this team. It's heartbreaking. They still have a shot, but losing to Minnesota means they will have to play on the road and will probably lose in the 2nd round or the AFC championship... I have never seen this team so ready... They have top talent at receiver, running back and are incredibly deep on defense. But Fiedler just can't go deep.
Don Banks of CNNSI.com writes: Dolphins are better than their record. Here's a prime indication of just how bizarre a season it has been, especially in the AFC. This is the best, most complete Dolphins team the NFL has seen in many years. Miami has the league's leading rusher, leading sacker and six Pro Bowl selections overall. The Dolphins finally have balance on offense, and their young, aggressive defense remains among the league's top three or four units.
Despite that, if the Dolphins don't pull that hefty upset next Sunday at New England, it'll be their worst season since 1996, when they finished 8-8 and last missed the playoffs. That's crazy given that I'd take this Miami team to beat any Dolphins squad all the way back to 1992, the last time the Fish reached the AFC title game. After two squishy-soft 11-5 marks and quick playoff exits to begin his Dolphins tenure, Wannstedt has to be scratching his head about how his strongest team yet is on the brink of finishing 9-7 and out of the money.
Odd Man Out
I've been working on a memoir about my years in Los Angeles (1994-2002). I keep seeking out a dominant theme for my memoir. Loneliness or Odd Man Out may win out. My need to independently think things through and not be boxed in by my group identity.
I guess it is a deep human need to put people in boxes. Orthodox Jew in that box. Hollywood screenwriter in that box. Republican lawyer in that box, etc. As I've gone through many different identities over my life, I'm keenly aware of how I change depending on the identity I take on (Marxist, Ortho Jew et al) and how people then want to be put me in a box.
Whatever group I join wants to fence me and force me to conform, and then kicks me out if I don't. It's next to impossible to be an independent thinker and truly have a thoughtful take on something and yet have a strong group identity.
If you decide to identify as an Orthodox Jew for instance, there are so many positions you must take, so many you may not take, as well as vast swathes of life which you may not publicly participate in or even write about.
I want to be religious, belong to an orthodox shul, yet be free to examine Biblical scholarship independently, wrestle with the historicity of the Exodus, and independently examine every tenet of my beliefs to compare them to reality and to my own notions of what is good and just. This is virtually impossible. I find few who pull it off.
Because I often write journalism, I constantly encounter people who push me to be an orthodox journalist, a good journalist. A good boy. A good Jew. An orthodox Jew. A respectable fellow. A 19th Century Victorian gentlemen.
They want me to establish my credentials as a credible journalist. They don't want me to write goofy things or do silly things that diminish my credibility. But I've got to be me! My journalism will sink or fall on its own merits. I will not try to establish my credentials or build my credibility. I will write and let the chips fall where they may. That's why I primarily write on my own website. I hate being edited and bossed around and told how to write and how to behave.
So I'm working on my memoir. And I'm struck by the hostile reactions it engenders from people who only hear about it, or even people who read some of it. The dominant fierce reaction is - why do you think anyone is interested in hearing about your life?
The message is - your life is no more interesting than my life. To write a memoir is to claim that you are more interesting than me, who has never written a memoir.
I don't like defending myself so I never answer the question - why would anyone be interested in reading about my life. The fact is a literary agent approached me to write the book in August of 2001.
I'm struck by the similarity of reactions from people who read my memoir - that I should remove the religious element. But an essential part of who I am is the religious element. Including it makes many people really uncomfortable, I guess. It won't be going.
People who read my memoir keep wanting me to turn it into a titillating tell-all book, with less about me and my psychology and religiosity and quirks. I'm struck by the uniformity of this response. I will be ignoring it. I've had enough success with my first-person writing to feel confident that I can get a readership with a book that reflects me.
I'm also struck by how people want me to present myself as a good guy, not the messy wicked flawed person that I am. They seem to believe that if I describe something I did in my life, that must mean that I am proud of it. That if I explain something I've done, I'm trying to justify or rationalize it.
They seize on those parts of my aspirations that they share and then demand that I live up to them 100%. They don't want me to compromise my religious or political beliefs with competing good values. They want orthodoxy. They want consistency. They're increasingly disturbed by the more I am different from them.
Update on my life - calm. I had a horrible flu last week. Am better now. I'm so broke now I can't really afford to date. I've spent $2400 on my $500 van in the past month. I will probably go to a big Jewish singles event Tuesday night, Christmas Eve.
Helpful writes: Here you must walk the delicate line between art and commerce. Realistically sex is the hook for 99% of your potential audience, however, I always found the religious conflict the most compelling part of your story. I disagree that you must jettison all the Jewish turmoil from your memoir.
Chaim Amalek writes: Your life is like a violin string (cue the Eli Wiesel music here), kept in tension between the cold, desicated demands of torah and the opposing moist pull of xxx. Lose one and the wire goes limp, and what good is a limp wire? You're just another lose wire. Keep them both in the proper tension in your book, and maybe you can make some music.
My thinking is that it is ONLY this tension between worlds in opposition (how is that for a pompous title : "Worlds in Opposition" or "The Scroll and the Video Loop: My Life as a Violin String") that makes the whole thing interesting. Yeah, you will lose all the nervous nellies who fear open discussions of religion, especially the Jewish religion, but who cares about them, they are a vanishing minority anyway whose prayers go unheard by God. The rest of the world is interested in this sort of thing and might be interested in your book. (I see BIG sales in al-Islam for you!)
Having said that, you tend to spend too much time yacking about yourself. Your life, your bowel movements, your pneumatic situation, etc. Keep the focus on .... and Torah, with the personal stuff mainly to highlight how the two tug at you. And give some thought to turning this into multiple media, including a graphic novel. You need to get in touch with Robert Crumb. (I once met someone who used to screw the guy, so if you are interested, maybe I can get in touch with her.)
Finally, have a very Merry Christmas, and never forget that no matter how much the Rabbis hate you, Jesus loves you and only wants you to love him back. Chaim Amalek, Reborn in Christ
David writes: How did *I* get mixed up in all of this?
Khunrum writes: Luke is such a lovable creature everyone wants to help him. Well not everyone. There are some orthodox Rabbis who would like to see him burned at the stake for Christmas. Don't fight it. Dig in and lend the boy a hand. Hopefully you can pump some excitement into what could be a rather dull topic.
Danny writes Luke: Having stumbled on to your web site and reading much of what you have written, I feel the need to write to you about a couple of things.
I can understand your desire to earn a living, but many people worse off financially than you, would not dream of writing...gossip, which as you know involves Lashon Hara (yes, I am a modern orthodox Jew).
Furthermore, you seem to suggest on your site that you only ever covered [sin] as an outsider, and emerged relatively unscathed from the experience. And you can't seem to understand why synagogues do not want anything to do with you. But then I read about your exploits...
I am ashamed that on one hand you call yourself an orthodox Jew and on the other, you commit such acts of Chilul Hashem (profaning G-d's name). You do not seem to acknowledge what you are doing is wrong. Sexual impropriety and promiscuity are VERY serious transgressions. Publishing it on your web site is even worse. And lashon hara can preclude you from going to olam haba (the World to Come).
So the way I see it, you have to make a choice - are you going to act like an orthodox Jew or are you going to continue to profane Hashem's name in public? Rubbishing the attitudes of your ex-congregant's or synagogue's is just adding to your list of "sins".
Don't get me wrong - I am no "fire and brimstone" preacher. I am a regular guy, with a normal job. I just happen to be an orthodox Jew and it pains me to see what you are doing, especially to your own soul.
I have read about why you converted and you seem genuine. Operating under this assumption, I feel the need to tell you that it will count for naught unless you start living a proper Jewish life. Putting on tefillin every day is not sufficient - you have to act like part of the Jewish people - the chosen people whose mission is to act in accordance with the Torah so as to be a "light unto the nations".
If you do not think you can control your urges, better that you go back to your former religion and keep the 7 noachide laws.
We all need to make a living but I am sure you can find work which will not involve you acting contrary to Torah. Perhaps writing for a Jewish publication is an option.
Luke replies: I've never claimed to be an orthodox Jew. I have only claimed to aspire towards it. I have never made the slightest suggestion that I do not understand why synagogues booted me. I have never for a second suggested that by ejecting me they were doing something immoral or unJewish. I've never complained about any injustice in them booting me. I've accepted all my ejections without the slightest complaint or negative word about those who ejected me. I'm curious where you think I suggested otherwise?
Danny replies: Dear Luke, I cannot point to a particular article on your website but I got the feeling you felt hostile towards the synagogues that booted you. I acknowledge that my wording was not accurate.
I disagree that you do not claim to be an Orthodox Jew. As an outsider reading your articles, it seems clear to me that you hold yourself out as an orthodox or atleast observant, Jew. For instance:
Under the Luke Ford link it says "...That's why after four years of covering.... And after his site became more popular and talked about in the press, he decided to just walk away from it and live as a good Orthodox Jew.."
In your biography (March 2001) you write: "Six months ago, I swore I could never be an Orthodox Jew. But aside from my work, I've largely lived the life of an Orthodox Jew the past six months."
"Eventually I found the conflict between my Orthodox community and my deviations too painful and I resolved in August to bring my deviations more in line with the community."
These are just a few examples. Out of curiosity, why do you only ASPIRE to be an orthodox Jew and not go through with it? You seem to have thought about your life and why you should be Jewish, in a thoughtful and logical way. What is stopping you from taking the final step?
Please do not take my comments as being hateful nor condescending. My motivating factors are 1) to stop chilul hashem and 2) if you sincerely want to live as an Orthodox Jew, I wanted to point out that you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Luke replies: I felt and still feel emotionally hostile to the synagogues and persons who ejected and rejected me but I do not have a moral or Jewish objection to their decision. It would be grand if I could just face it all as one big spiritual challenge, but I feel the way I feel. I wish I didn't feel this way but I do. But I've always made it clear that the shuls/people were within their rights to reject me.
The reason I avoid calling myself an Orthodox Jew is the reason I avoid calling myself an orthodox journalist or an orthodox anything or making any claims about myself... Because you are just setting yourself up to get knocked down... I try to only claim to aspire to certain values...
I've been profiled so much by various journalists, I know how journalists think. If I claim anything, they will try to knock it down, people try to knock you down. I do the best I can. I'm moving forward in a new direction with Lukeford.net and a new book.
I read the examples and they do not contradict what I said. The first example was not written by me. I have no control over other journalists.
Danny replies: It is not so relevant whether you hold yourself out to be an orthodox Jew or aspiring to be one. Because you mention your observance, like wearing tzitzit and davening in a minyan, the logical conclusion is that you are shomer mitzvot to a large degree. Hence the chilul Hashem argument.
I understand that you sold your old website and have moved in a new direction but your new direction involves alot of lashon hara! I read your article on Jeff Wald and it is completely inappropriate for a Jew to speak such lashon hara. Even if this guy is a jerk and everything you write about is true (and I have no doubt that it is), you still should rise above writing about other people like that.
I am only telling you all this because I get the impression that you really are genuinely striving to be a better person and Jew (not that these two things are mutually exclusive!). I know it is hard but I think you can get there in the end.
Luke says: I should rise above writing about people like Jeff Wald? In other words, I should rise above writing about much of the planet? Most people are wicked. I should rise about writing about wickedness? In other words, an Orthodox Jew who's a journalist should cease practicing journalism? Most of news reporting is about bad people. Without bad people, there's no news.
Ask Rabbi Gadol
Lukeford.net introduces what's sure to be a popular new feature of this website wherein Hollywood Jews can write in to one of the great sages of our generation and receive answers to their most pressing questions.
Confused in Brentwood writes: "What is the Torah outlook on those lax Orthodox shuls that engage in social activities with Conservative and Reform temples? Lately, they have even been doing this with homosexual temples. Isn't this degrading?"
Rabbi Gadol writes: Let us examine the controversy over the new book "One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them," an exchange of emails between Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch and Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Reinman. Rabbi Reinman recently broke his contract to tour with Rabbi Hirsch to promote the book when a council of Torah sages forbade him from doing so.
The best way to appreciate the terrible damage caused by the book is by the gleeful reviews to it in Conservative and Reform circles and amonst the secular in Israel. The newspaper Ha'aretz gloated over "a breakthrough in the uncompromising wall of Orthodoxy towards Reform."
Even the anti-religious David Ben Gurion, first prime minister of the modern state of Israel, and his followers recognized that religious matters are the exclusive province of Orthodoxy, the genuine carrier of tradition. Ammiel Hirsch is at the forefront of the battle to spread Reform Judaism in Israel.
Hirsch is unquestionably a heretic. His tone throughout the book is strident, defiant and unapologetic. He endlessly quotes pet sections of the Talmud to supposedly prove that the Talmud agrees that its authority is zero. Most honest atheist intellectuals in Irsarel, not to mention all the Sephardim, have contempt for the transparent and self-demeaning phoniness of the Reform and Conservative movements. Friendship and association of an Orthodox Jew with anyone engaged in such work as Hirsch's is absolutely forbidden.
When in Jewish history has a book been co-authored by a Jewish heretic and an Orthodox rabbi? Which great sages could assume the authority to permit such a thing?
What gain was expected from the book's publication? To win the minds of a few Reform Jews at the risk of sowing doubts in weak Orthodox minds?
Because of natural desires, lusts and the quest for freedom from authority, it is obvious to the honest mind that contemplation of heretical ideas soon leads to dispensing with G-d's commandments.
As the great sage Maimonidies wrote in tractate Avodah Zarah 2:2: "Many books were written by the idolaters... Hashem has commanded us not to read those books at all, and not to think about idolatry, or even a single one of its details. Any thought that causes one to uproot one of the principles of the Torah we are warned not to think."
This book is a fraud. Some were led to believe that the idol of Reform had been decisively vanquished before any objective reader. This is not true.
Although Rabbi Reinman is a learned person, his speciality is not the Jewish outlook. He reveals a lack of experience in relating to the irreligious world. These liabilities render him inadequate for th task he undertook. He let himself be used as a tool for Hirsch's own purposes.
Jerry Bruckheimer - A Gift For The Obvious
Jerry Bruckheimer was born 9/21/45 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated with a degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona.
He made commercials in Detroit. One, a parody of Bonnie and Clyde he created for Pontiac, was noted for its brilliance in Time Magazine. It also brought the 23-year-old producer to the attention of ad agency BBD&O, which lured him to New York. After four years on Madison Avenue, he moved to Hollywood.
He produced 1972's The Culpepper Cattle Company. He joined with George Pappas to reammke Farewell My Lovely (1975). He produced 1980's American Gigolo.
In 1983, Simpson and Bruckheimer announced their partnership. Their first movie was the hit Flashdance.
"Bruckheimer is the one to really watch out for," says a veteran industry observer to Charles Fleming. "He'll stab you in the back. Simpson at least will stab you in the chest." (High Concept, pg. 6)
Jerry lived with former magazine editor Linda Balahoutis until marrying her in 1993. She was a driving force behind Jerry's 1995 split from Don Simpson.
After Don's death, Jerry grew tired of questions about Don. He didn't like people assuming he was Don Simpson's double. At the same time, in some interviews (6/25/97 interview with Rick Lyman of NY Times), Jerry couldn't stop talking about Simpson.
Dale Pollock writes in the Los Angeles Times, 11/18/84
Said one executive who pleaded for anonymity, "Don and Jerry tend to be credit-grabbers, and the idea that they don't need anyone but themselves may come back to haunt them."
Simpson: "Ask us why we are not of the old school, and not of the new school, but of our own school, the school of film making, not producing. We're not producers, we're film makers."
"We put together all the elements," said the soft-spoken Bruckheimer, who usually only speaks when Simpson has paused to catch his breath. "We decide what aesthetic is right for a picture.
"I've worked with other directors and seen how they operate, and in my mind, we operate totally differently. We are as much a part of the process as the director. We don't just step back and let the director come in and say, 'I want to hire so and so.' A lot of producers say, "Fine, go ahead and do it.' We'll say no."
From the 7/8/91 Newsweek:
Their act [BBC series Naked Hollywood] seems to have appalled blockbuster producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, the "stars" of the segment on producers. They were so upset they succeeded in preventing that episode from being aired by A&E. Vivisectionists of la-la land like Nathanael West and S. J. Perelman would drop their scalpels could they see Simpson and Bruckheimer, sitting side by side, their legs crossed at precisely parallel angles, speak of themselves as the "right brain, left brain" team. Don says: "Jerry has, like Scott Fitzgerald said, the ability to hold the entire equation of movemaking in his mind." Jerry responds: "Don's a real big picture guy." The dynamic duo are referred to as "auteur-producers," and we see them on the set of "Days of Thunder" auteuring the hell out of poor director Tony Scott. In their petulant rage at how they come off, Simpson and Bruckheimer...have lost their sense of humor. They are actually rather engaging chaps, in a Doonesbury kind of way, as they swagger through a world where you either swagger or grovel.
Bernard Weinraub writes for the New York Times 3/11/94:
Once known as bad boys with a taste for sleek black cars, parties, high living and the kind of rat-a-tat patter usually heard in David Mamet plays about Hollywood, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bruckheimer are certainly more subdued (if just as vain) than they were in the old days.
The two men give conflicting accoutns of their ages but are in their late 40s.
"Don's strength is the story and script; he has the ability to recognize a great idea," said Ms. [Dawn] Steel, a friend of the team's. "Jerry has the eye for detail, for the physical side of the film, for the set and what's going on there."
What happened to Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bruckheimer was, in some ways, predictable. They were rich and excessive, and not at all shy about it. So many people here, in both the movie business and the press, were waiting for them to fail, hoping they would fail.
They were not disappointed.
The team's style is secretive, relentless and very tough. Also vain. For the photograph for this article, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bruckheimer negotiated firmly with the photographer over the various lenses that would be most flattering.
"We took a lot of lumps, we made mistakes, we did things I would never do again," said Mr. Bruckheimer, sipping a soda. "There's a lot of viciousness in this town. People hear things and embellish it. Most of the things people say about us are untrue. Just lies. We're just two average guys."
Claudia Eller writes in the Los Angeles Times 8/29/95:
Calls to Bruckheimer's office were referred to Anthony Pellicano, a private detective who has been an associate of Simpson's at least since 1989. Pellicano was one of the first people called by Simpson after [44-year old doctor Stephen W.] Ammerman's body was found on his property on the morning of Aug. 15.
Pellicano, who explained that he was speaking on behalf of Simpson and Bruckheimer in his role as handling "crisis PR" for a number of Hollywood figures...said rumors of a possible split between the producers were unfounded.
The hype [over Simpson and Bruckheimer's 1988 deal with Paramount] backfried when their first movie under the deal, "Days of Thunder," which cost more than $50 million and under-performed domestically, received a ton of bad press. Their "alliance" with Paramount ended in a bitter split, and they were branded in the national media as egomaniacal overspenders who personified the excess of the '80s.
Rick Lyman writes in the New York Times 6/25/97:
Jerry Bruckheimer: "The first thing we did when we went into business together was to hire a publicist. We didn't want somebody else to get credit for what we did. It created a lot of animosity in the press. And you know, Hollywood can be a very backbiting place.
"I was the opposite of my partner. I'm not flamboyant or outgoing like that. But you're painted with the same brush."
Most screenwriters and some directors are lagging behind the technology, he said. And a recurring disappointment, he added, is that movie theaters are not as technologically equipped as they need to be, and no one seems interested in bringing them up to speed.
"In one sequence of 'Con Air,' there are 482 separate tracks of sound," Mr. Bruckheimer said. "The separation and definition, it's incredible, when you listen to it in the post-production studio. You're actually inside the movie rather than watching it. But you lose 60 to 70 percent when you play it in a movie theater."
Kenneth Turan writes in the 6/10/01 Los Angeles Times:
If memory serves, my files contain a letter from both the present and the former Mrs. Bruckheimer (or maybe it's two letters from one of them) strenuously suggesting I cease and desist from reviewing his films.
...Bruckheimer's works, both during and after his partnership with the late Don Simpson, have as much of an inmistakable personality as any director's. For another, the success they've had is unparalleled. As his reverential official bio puts it, "WIth worldwide revenues of over $11 billion in box office, video and recording receipts, Jerry Bruckheimer continues to find and develop the films that will take him into the new millenium." All of which leads the man to take himself quite seriously: According to Premiere magazine, all radio spots for his films are mandated to mention his name at least twice, and that official bio, taking up three full pages, is the longest one for a producer I have ever seen.
...Bruckheimer, more or less epitomizes Hollywood today.
If Bruckheimer has a genius for anything, it's for the obvious. What almost all his pictures...have in common is a gift for the expected, for the unoriginal, the predictable. The key to his success is the relentless familiarity of his work, its eagerness to go where everyone else has gone.
Jewish Studies Conference
I've heard that the best received panel from last week's conference was by hack-bully Leon Wieseltier. His book Kaddish, like most of his stuff, is unreadable. For some reason, he's trendy and many people bought a book they couldn't finish. Wieseltier refuses to be edited, to the detriment of his readers.
Michael Tolkin's Sunday night comments (Tales of a Hollywood Jew) were impenetrable. He tried to put on a big display of his Jewish knowledge with a post-modern spin.
Why were there so many pointless papers delivered the conference? The profs had to deliver papers to get their universities to pay for their trips. The main point of the conference was for scholars to get together, not to give papers that nobody cared about.
There was no coverage of the conference in the Jewish Journal. Too many big words.
Naked Before The Beit Din
Toronto freelance writes Jennifer M. Paquette writes in this week's Jewish Journal: I feel naked before the three rabbis of the beit din (Jewish court of law), heretical hairs straying from beneath my slapped-on linen hat. They sit across from us in black suits and black hats, black notebooks concealed, perhaps for noting my progress — and Ted’s — along this black path.
By now, Ted knows more — and practices more — than most Jews. But practice, it seems, does not perfection make. Like dentists, the rabbis drill deeper with questions...
Now, meeting with the beit din for the third time in two years, we are rebuffed again for too little knowledge, too little faith. Words have power, and the beit din’s words sting rather than heal. I feel us growing closer to our true place, but sometimes, it seems they are the only thing in the way.
I am so much in awe of these black-hatted gatekeepers, wielding power with gentle finality. They send Ted out of the room and tell me they only want what’s best for me and my children. The words blur, and on the way home, tears of self-pity come: I’m doing my best, but what they expect is too much for my bruised soul.
An Interview With Ray Richmond About Cathy Seipp
I speak by phone 12/20/02 with longtime entertainment journalist and current Hollywood Reporter TV critic Ray Richmond of Hollywood Pulse.
Ray: "I worked at the Los Angeles Daily News from 1978-85 (I wrote features and in my last year was a TV critic, then had a second go-round from 1992-96), where I first met Cathy Seipp. She wrote a column called Hot Tips. She was a breath of fresh air. I thought, Wow, she's as cynical and nasty as I am in her writing. I was impressed. We've had a mutual admiration thing the past 20 years.
"She's completely fearless as a journalist. When you meet her, you expect to get something different - this old cynical cigar-chomping bitch and she's completely not that way at all. She's very feminine in her way and gentle and dainty. It's like this whole other creature comes out in her writing.
"She has journalistic integrity. She knows that if you get too cozy with someone so that you can't write something negative about them when it is true, then you shouldn't be a journalist.
"I remember one time when I wrote a radio column in the Los Angeles Daily News. I said something nice about KIIS-FM in 1983 and the general manager Wally Clark sent me a case of Dom Perignon champagne. I'm in my early twenties, and suddenly this $800 gift arrives on my doorstep. I had to accept it but I felt so guilty I gave every bottle away and took to writing nasty things about them as often as possible to prove that I wasn't bought."
Luke: "How would you gauge the reactions to Cathy's columns among your media friends?"
Ray: "There's a mix of awe and confusion and hostility in equal measure. I don't know that many people now who read her UPI column. I'm on her email list. It's a shame that column doesn't go out to more people. UPI has been dying for 25 years. She gets paid so little compared to how good she is. She's the smartest and snappiest column-writer I've ever met. I've never met anybody whose prose so perfectly matches their conversational ability. She'd rather make less money and write the way she wants, even though she's a home-owner and mother."
Luke: "She turns out a lot of copy?"
Ray: "Yeah. She'll tell you too that it is never easy. It's not like she just whacks it out. She still feels it's like pulling teeth."
Luke: "Are there types of journalists who react to her differently?"
Ray: "The people who are hostile to her work have either been the recipient of her poison pen or they are uncomfortable with her brutal honesty. There are a lot of people in journalism who like to tiptoe around the minefields. She doesn't tiptoe. She stomps. She doesn't carry on a double-life. I respect someone who is the same way to your face as they are in print."
Luke: "What distinguishes her from the typical mealy-mouthed media criticism?"
Ray: "She isn't afraid to say what she feels in her head. She doesn't have a self-censor button. She takes pride in ruffling feathers. I have more fears in my writing than she does. I know that I sometimes tread carefully. Cathy says what is in her heart and then lets the chips fall where they may."
Luke: "Do you think this has come back to hurt her career?"
Ray: "I'm sure it has hurt her. I'm sure she can't get hired to do much at the LA Times because of that. I think there's something so wonderful about being able to speak your mind even if you are laying in the gutter with a bottle of Ripple because no one will hire you anymore but you know did the job as honestly as you could. That would be a career well-served and a life well-lived. There are few persons like her who will be able to look back and say, I followed what was in my heart and in my head.
"There are few people who I think are my equal in being able to write and she's unfortunately much better than me. I aspire to be as good as Cathy."
Luke: "Normally the way to play the game is to kowtow to those who can help you."
Ray: "Yes, and shift over to writing scripts. Entertainment writers are humping the leg of people they talk to."
Luke: "Doesn't (New York Times correspondent) Bernie Weinraub have scripts floating around? Peter Bart."
Ray: "Bill Carter at the New York Times. He wrote The Late Shift on HBO and Monday Night Mayhem on TNT. And he's the chief TV reporter for the NY Times writing about the institutions he has written movies for. It's mind-boggling.
"There are no sacred cows for Cathy. If she did have sacred cows, she couldn't be nearly as free and lively as she is. I have had sacred cows. I'm not proud of that. There have been forces I have kowtowed to.
"I have a column called "The Pulse" in the Hollywood Reporter every Tuesday. I was able to trash the sh-- out of Jennifer Lopez three weeks ago. I wrote what a media whore she was, what a marketing-created nothing she was. It was a trade saying she was a phoney, a Julia Roberts wannabe. I just thought, goddamn that's good. Cathy has those victories regularly.
Luke: "You have different constraints. You write for a trade. You're in-house."
Ray: "If there's anything you can do to not toe the company line of Hollywood promotion, you're a success. I throw the bodies around when I'm writing reviews. You're supposed to use kid gloves because the people who did the thing are reading it.
"Cathy likes me because I'm semi-fearless. She would've been like [gossip columnists] Dorothy Kilgallen of 50 years ago. Cathy's got this way about her that you want to tell her things."
Ray and I talk about the parties Cathy throws with Amy Alkon.
Ray: "I've never gone. I hear they are good parties. I've got three kids. I'm a big family guy so it's hard for me to get out to parties. It's also probably held back my career a little bit. I don't really do the meet and greet thing that much but I admire people who are good at it."
Gay-Friendly Flicks Clean Up At Awards
Jeffrey Wells writes: Let's be frank and admit that FAR FROM HEAVEN and especially THE HOURS are essentially rarified chick flicks that also have a strong appeal for, among others, gays and lesbians. It's obviously not a stretch to say that CHICAGO -- songs, dancing, a pair of lead female characters -- could also be seen as gay- and women-friendly. And two of these are low in nutrition and the third makes you want to jump out a seventh-floor window.
Producer Erica Huggins - What Dreams May Come
I interviewed producer Erica Huggins at her Radar Pictures office in Westwood September 27, 2002.
Erica grew up in Los Angeles and Michigan. She attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts.
Erica: "I made a film in school. I lived in asia. I decided that the only way I could make documentaries was to get into editing. [In 1987] I had a highschool friend who worked at Cannon Films. I got off the plane from college and my friend said Cannon was looking for apprentice editors. They hired me for $300 a week non-union. My first movie was Firewalker with Chuck Norris. I worked for an editor who was a drunk. Instead of giving us apprentice work, he'd just give us scenes to cut.
"I worked on Michael Cimino's The Sicilian. He fired me and hired me and fired me."
Luke: "What did you think of Nancy Griffin's recent article on Cimino?"
Erica: "It's probably all true."
Luke: "He's a bizarre character."
Erica: "He was turning into a bizarre character on The Sicilian. I always respected him because he was so smart about filmmaking. I didn't work on any good movies with him but he was so smart. He was challenging. He'd go through assistants like chewing gum. We connected. The editor I worked with, Françoise Bonnot, was a well-known French editor. She just needed somebody who would take care of Michael. He always wanted to come in to work with her. She wanted to be left alone to cut the movie. 'You play around in there.'
"I was then hired as an assistant editor on John Waters' Hairspray. My husband, my then boyfriend, was a huge fan of John Waters from the Polyester days. He knew all the characters in John's movies. I was more naive. I read Hairspray. I went off to Baltimore for six months [in 1988]. I met Janice Hampton, the film's editor. We worked together exclusively for the next six years. I went from being her assistant to being an editor. She took me under her wing and she became my mentor. She needed somebody and I was looking for somebody.
"We worked on this  movie, The Gun In Betty Lou's Handbag, starring Penelope Ann Miller in an Allan Moyle movie for Disney. It was produced by the guys from Interscope - Scott Kroopf, Robert Cort and Ted Field. Janice had done some fixes for New Line on Allan Moyle's Pump Up The Volume, which was a big success. So Allan hired Janice and she hired me to be the second editor.
"Allan was not cut out for The Gun In Betty Lou's Handbag. He hated the script. He didn't get along with the leading lady. It was a bad situation. We were in Oxford, Mississippi. The producers Scott and Robert were really smart. They understood what it was to edit a movie. They understood post-production. On all the movie I'd worked on, I'd never worked with a producer who understood that.
"Allan lost his mind on the movie. He would never come into the editing room. He was down the hall playing X-rated video games. Janice went off to cut another movie and I finished the movie with the producers. I formed a relationship wtih Scott and Robert. Interscope had just had a big hit with The Hand Rocks The Cradle . Interscope was closing a deal with Polygram and Robert needed to hire some people. He called me up one night [in 1992] and asked if I wanted to be a producer. I said 'Yeah!'
"We struck a deal. I was not going to be anybody's assistant. I wanted to make a lateral move if I was going to make a move at all. And he kept his word. The deal was that after three months, if it wasn't working, no harm, no foul [Erica could leave]. For the first three months, he'd give me half my salary, and an office and he would introduce me to everybody that he knew. And he would let me be in every meeting he was and go to every lunch he went to and be at every breakfast and be at every phone call, and he kept his word."
In 1997, Robert Cort left to form a company at Paramount. "I think it was time for us to move apart. At a certain point with a mentor, it's hard when you want to movie on. With Janice it wasn't easy, we didn't talk for ten years. We talked but it wasn't friendly. For the last five years, it was very unfriendly. She's working for me on a movie I just made this summer [How To Deal]. It's funny how it comes back around.
"Robert handed me a script called Boys [in 1994]. I worked with him to Winona Ryder and all of a suddenly we had a movie. He let me go off and produce it. I'd been on so many movies that he trusted that I knew how to tell a story. He believed that I was a storyteller from the back part of the movie, and that if I could tell it from that side, that I would be good at doing it from the beginning. It was horrible.
"The first few years were just miserable because I didn't have any contacts. I'd call agents and they had no idea who I was. I was so naive about how things worked. But I had Robert and he backed me up. Cut to I've been here ten years. Interscope became Radar and I'm partners with Scott [Kroopf] and Ted [Field].
"Gridlock'd  was the second movie I produced. It was Tupac Shakur's last movie. He and Tim Roth had a fantastic relationship. It was one of those movies where everyone had a great time making the movie, which is rare. Tupac was a total pro. Then you wake up the next morning and read about what he did the night before, after you wrapped, and he was out gangbanging with his friends and you think, who is this guy? How can he be such different people? He couldn't get out of the other life, even if he wanted to. [Tupac was murdered soon after.]
"What Dreams May Come was the biggest movie I've ever made. Director Vincent Ward had made Map of the Human Heart, a $17 million movie. Now all of a sudden he's making this $80 million movie. We won an Academy Award for it, the first that Interscope had ever won but it was just such a hard movie to make.
"Vincent was so insecure about the largesse of this movie and the actors that he had, like Robin Williams, it intimidated him. He shut down. Instead of dealing with all the people on the movie, he'd ask people questions in areas that weren't their specialty. He ended up getting half the information and it hurt the movie.
"I made that movie before I had kids. The movie's about two kids dying in the first ten minutes. I now wonder, what was I thinking? The movie should've been made for women in their 30s who had children but I don't think it was an easy movie for women to see. I wasn't experienced enough to know. I hadn't had the life lesson of knowing what it was like to have children.
"Then, the wife in the movie committed suicide. Then the hero of the movie went to heaven, and instead of looking for his children, he looked for his wife. It just doesn't make any sense.
"I can never forgive [fellow producer] Stephen Simon for the way he treated everybody. He's very metaphysical. Robert used to call him the mooney. They'd [Stephen Simon and his producing partner at the time, Barnet Bain] always had a cosmic explanation for why something wasn't working the way it should. Stephen had this horrible temper and he was just so nasty to people. He didn't live the life he espoused. It was an awkward relationship. He despised me. He just didn't think he needed me. Why can't we just go off and make our own movie? They were making an $80 million movie and I was there to produce the movie creatively for our company [Interscope] and watch the money for [distributor] Polygram."
Luke: "I was interviewing TV producer Rob Long last week and he said, I don't know why executives ever come on a set. There's nothing they can contribute."
Erica: "You can't. When you're put in that position, it's complicated. No matter what choice you make, it's going to hurt. If you make the financially sound choice, creatively you're in trouble. If you make the creative choice, it always ends up costing you. You can't be true to the movie. That was the one movie where I played both roles and it was not fun. It did not work. I was an executive at a studio, because Polygram was financing the movie, while I was creatively producing the movie for our company Interscope. Those two roles don't work together. They never have. Since then, we've just been producers on movies."
Luke: "Did you realize all along that you were in trouble with this movie?"
Erica: "From the first day of the scout, I knew there was a problem. We were in Montana in East Glacier National Park, the most beautiful location in the world. We were creating heaven. We had these amazing locations. We needed helicopters to get out... We had to build trees on cliffs. We painted flowers on hillsides.
"Vincent couldn't find a location for the first day of shooting - Robin wakes up in heaven and finds the dog. We're in the middle of this fabulous location and Vincent decides we're going to use the hill behind the hotel. You had to keep the camera down so you didn't see the hotel. He shot and shot and he didn't shoot any dialogue the first day. I remember Robin called me into his trailer and said, 'This is a debacle. What are we doing here?'
"I remember having a meeting with Vincent and he said, 'I am the director.' When you get a person who is so terrified that they have to shut everybody out... He didn't really have a producer. I was Interscope. Stephen and Barnett were keepers of the script, the book and the metaphysical angle. He didn't have anybody he could call at 2AM, when he was freaking out, that he could trust. I think that's the most important relationship you can have with your director. They can call you and be completely panicked and you are not going to panic. He didn't have anybody to confide in. Maybe he's not capable of trusting people. I didn't even know what he was thinking so I couldn't help him get what he wanted.
"Vincent stopped talking to Robin about his performance once we got to San Francisco. So Robin had nobody to talk to about his performance. After dailies, Robin would call me at 1AM to find out how it was. He needed some feedback.
"About a month ago, Robin had a good interview on NPR about One Hour Photo. He said being a [stand-up] performer and being an actor are two different things. Being a performer, you put yourself in front of the audience and it flows. Being an actor, you have to come up with a personality you're willing to become. It's harder to be an actor than a performer. When you're an actor, there's so much more you don't know.
"We hoped this movie would have the two things Robin was good at - humor and compassion. You couldn't get through the movie to even see if that was there.
"My colleague Scott Kroopf was close with Marsha, Robin's wife. The bonding against Vincent was unfortunate but we didn't want to lose our actor too. We couldn't get to Vincent. He wouldn't let us in.
"I haven't seen the movie since it came out. I have no idea about how I feel about it now. I just couldn't watch it anymore. It was such a disappointment. It deserved to win the Academy Award for digital effects. At the end of the day, I think that's what Vincent is most interested in - the artistic effects. It was an $80-million art movie."
Vincent Ward hasn't shot a movie since What Dreams May Come.
Luke: "I keep hearing from producers that once a director says action on a set, he's running the ship."
Erica: "That first night in Robin's trailer, there was an unspoken understanding that he would be ok with making a change. He felt insecure about the way Vincent was directing. But Michael Coon, who was head of Polygram at the time, wouldn't make a change. Nobody wanted to make a mutiny against Vincent. He just wouldn't let anybody in. It took me years to get over it.
"Then Polygram fell apart. We had just made Pitch Black, a big success, but not for Polygram because the company couldn't last. We didn't have a good run with Polygram. They expected us to do international movies and we were a company that historically done female-driven comedies. Robert [Cort] had a way of doing things that Michael Coon didn't understand.
"Now it's fun. Ted [Field] is our sugar daddy. We have a big library of material. We have a good track record. We are a family of people who have worked together for more than ten years. We made seven movies this year."
Lukeford.net - A Masterpiece of Vanity
Diacritica Cali writes: If you don't know who Luke Ford is... Jesus, where to begin? Luke is the son of an evangelical minister from Australia. At some point, the thought occured to him to write a book...
While interviewing subjects, Luke launched a website. He included his interviews and some background material. Soon he was talking to people still working in the industry. Ex-boyfriends, suitcase pimps and janitors-cum-directors began emailing him anonymous tips. The virginal scribe had been turned into the Matt Drudge.... To this day, they still hate him, but are trapped in some kind of co-dependency. They see the microphone and ignore the muck-raking Aussie attached to it.
He had a niche carved out for himself (and a hell of a niche it was). Problem was, Luke had found religion. He wasn't following in the footsteps of his father and casting out demons from mulletheads with Iron Maiden shirts and smelly leather jackets; the Ugly Gentile had found Judaism. Orthodox Judaism.
He directed some of that inner turmoil onto his subjects, becoming slightly more vicious than he used to be while taking every opportunity to denounce the industry he covered (and continued to cover!) as a travesty.
Then, about a year ago, it all became too much. Not for Luke - he probably would have gone on living the Double Life of Diabolique indefinitely. But two of his rabbis exiled him from their synagogues after finding out what that nice Gentile with the chipmunk cheeks did for a living. He sold his site to a group of internet...entrepreneurs for a lump of cash. They still run it under his name. It's... interesting... kind of like a website done by that kid you knew in school who ate his own boogers.
Luke then tried to take on the mainstream. He's still trying, and has made nice with a group of Hollywood gadflies out on the fringes of the journo business. He started his new project - a book of interviews with the silent men behind the motion picture industry, the producers.
Contrary to his intention, though, he's created a masterpiece of vanity, an absolute totem pole of gigantic heads belonging to the washed up and obscure maestros in their own minds that populate the West Coast - you know, the kind of people who had subscriptions to George.
Have A Happy Morally Relativist Christmas
Jeffrey Wells writes: I am a moral relativist, and proud of it. Except in matters of art, that is.
One can be a moral relativist and, of course, still be moral, which feel I am and always have been. Moral relativism simply allows for a little wiggle room in terms of moral behavior, or in judging the moral behavior of others. Life without moral principles is a barren, meaningless thing, and unless these moral principles are adhered to in some earnest and consistent fashion sloth, chaos and degradation will surely follow. Moral standards must be recognized and strived for. But you have to do a little sidestep every now and then in order to navigate the ethical flaws, frailties and fallbacks that are unfortunately woven into our genes.
No one believes less in turning a blind eye to cruelty, selfishness, ignorance and all the other major vices, but on the other hand you have to try and cut people -- and yourself, especially -- a little slack in this world. Moral relativists are people who despise evil and do whatever they can to light a candle in the dark corners, but they also believe there's a place for forgiveness and compassion in life. I believe that Trent Lott, racist dog that he probably is at heart, should keep his Senate seat so that he may more fully learn the error of his ways. I suspect that Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, who is only a producer after all, may have good things he might yet bring to the movies. I believe that Bill Clinton's pathetic excuse for an extramarital sex life behind the closed curtains of the Oval Office was his own regrettable affair. Live and let live, I say.
On the other hand, I believe George Lucas is the devil -- a congenial, pot-bellied Beelzebub who loves his children and whose breath smells like sulphur. Never, ever forget that when Lucas visited Dante Ferretti's set of Gangs of New York at Rome's Cinecitta Studios, he allegedly said, "I don't get it. You could create this whole thing in a computer."
Without moral relativism the world would be a much harsher, more severe place. Many -- most? -- of history's horrors have spewed forth from the minds of moral hard-liners, absolutists, and religious and philosophical purists. The Spanish Inquisiton was driven by religious hard-liners. The Crusaders in the Holy Lands were purists. The people who prosecuted the Scopes "monkey trial" in Tennessee were purists. Anti-abortionist nut balls who ignite bombs at medical clinics are following, in their view, a moral absolutist line. The Weathermen, who split off from SDS to follow a course of violent insurrection in the late '60, were socio-political purists. The guys who flew the jets into the World Trade Center were moral absolutists. The Polish Brothers were being aesthetic absolutists in refusing to back off from their view that Kyle MacLachlan is the only guy who could play George Reeves in Truth, Justice and the American Way...and they lost the movie as a result.
Without moral accomodation, the world would be in a constant state of vitriol, agitation and acrimony. I admire the courage of the Israeli zealots who stood up against the armies of Rome, but out of their ardor came the destruction of Jerusalem and the mass suicide at Masada. I don't know that I would have thrown my lot in with those brave fellows if I'd been around back then. Jesus Christ said, more or less, "Let the Romans collect the taxes and enjoy their perks and power trips and the things that are Rome's," or words to that effect. Sometimes, depending on the situation, it is better to live on your knees than die standing tall and proud. Paddy Chaefsky once wrote that "life is transitory, factual, sensual." Hemingway called it "a movable feast."
There's always the next day and a better idea, and perhaps a transcendent one. Whenever possible find a way, make a deal, talk things out. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Unless, that is, you're involved in a creative act of some kind, in which case accomodation -- not the political kind, which we all have to negotiate every day of our lives, but compromising your basic vision as an artist -- is death. A morally relative attitude on the part of a filmmaker usually leads to the career of an Arthur Hiller or a George P. Cosmatos or a Michael Bay. And yet, having written this, I'm struck by the odd fact that it was Hiller who directed The Americanization of Emily, in which Chayefksy's line about the "transitory, factual, sensual" nature of life was spoken by James Garner.
What to do? Where to go? My gut says put on those dancing shoes and follow that rhythm.
David Poland replies: There are exceptions to every rule. That said, moral relativism is an excuse for people who don't want to be tied down to such challenging things as a doctrine or system of moral conduct.
And before you try to box me into being an absolutist, I do not believe that your morals have to be my morals. I respect the right of people to believe what they believe. If cannibalism is what you really believe in, I feel that I must respect your truth. Likewise, if you believe that there is a moral imperative to being a vegan, so be it. (For the record, I subscribe to neither ideology.)
Where moral relativism goes off the tracks and become no morality at all is when one shifts to convenience. If you really believe that killing animals for food is immoral, don't be showing me your Prada pumps and explaining why they are "different." And unfortunately, I believe that if anti-abortion maniacs really believed that abortion was mass murder, killing doctors would be an inevitable moral result. I emphasize that I do not believe that either the state or any human has the moral right to take the life of a human. But if you believe that someone else is going to kill many real human beings, there would seem to be a moral imperative to stop that form happening, however much I disagree with the belief.
You see, Jeffrey, morality is a stern master. But if you equivocate, there is no standard that cannot be moved. Yes, I do not believe that you will convince yourself that murder is okay one afternoon because you believe that it is okay to attack an artist's work without seeing it in its entirety. But let's take smaller steps... infidelity, sex with a woman too drunk to really consent, not returning an excess of change at the store, parking in a handicapped spot when not handicapped... where is your line? Doe sparking in the handicapped spot become less immoral if you are just picking up some milk and you are really in a rush? Is infidelity more moral if the marriage is rocky? Is beating someone up for no reason okay if they are a "bad" person? Is stealing from a rich person better morally than stealing from a poor person?
Perspective is everything... and perspective changes.
People who wish to legitimize this lazy, selfish behavior always point to Bill Clinton's crotch. But it wasn't his crotch that got him in trouble. (And if you want to talk about the evil of moral relativism, we can discuss how feminist support of Clinton killed off the last vestiges of the feminist movement. They have to be thanking God that Bush won so they can use abortion as a rallying cry, because under Blowjob Bill they threw away all of the principles for which they spent 30 years fighting.) What got Clinton in real trouble was his aggressive lying to America about it and his unwillingness to accept responsibility. Bill Clinton was no moral relativist. He was (and is) a low-rent, white trash genius who mastered politics as Elvis mastered rock-n-roll and will probably end up frying banana and peanut butter sandwiches before too long. That's why he was elected... it's charming. But is it moral?
The Best Of Jeff Wald
Lake Tahoe, Jan. 5 - Singer Helen Reddy and husband-manager Jeff Wald are seeking damages totaling $5,000,000 in two lawsuits against a South Lake Tahoe City Councilman and the city's daily newspaper.
Oakland attorney Barry Morris filed th suits in the couple's behalf in Superior Court in Placerville, California, charging South Lake Tahoe Councilman Norman Woods with slander and invasion of privacy and the Tahoe Daily Tribune and unnamed staff members with trespassing and invasion of privacy.
The suit against Woods asks a total of $4,000,000 in damages... The suit against the Tribune asks a total of $1,000,000...
The legal action stems from publicity surrounding improvements Reddy and her husband plan to make on their $180,000 beachfront home in South Lake Tahoe. The California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (CTRPA) - on whose governing board Woods sits - was asked last month to remeasure the singer's driveway following criticism she received special treatment in obtaining a permit for the building additions.
The suit against Woods charges he slandered Wald and Reddy at a CTRPA board meeting by saying they used "improper influence" through California Gov. Jerry Brown to persuade the CTRPA to give them permits.
The suit against Woods also charges he intentionally tried to harm the couple with the statements and invaded their privacy "by portraying in a false light" their actions.
The suit against the Tribune charges unnamed staff members trespassed on the Reddy-Wald property in early September and took news photos, invading their privacy.
STATELINE, Nev. - Jeff Wald, manager/husband of Helen Reddy, will appear in court here Friday on charges of threatening pickets with a shotgun at the Sahara-Tahoe Casino Hotel.
Redyd, who's been appearing at the hotel for about four years, was near the end of her one-week engagement June 30 when the confrontation occurred, sources claim.
Two strikers claim Wald pointed a 12-gauge weapon at them and tried to run them down with his car in the hotel's parking lot. Wald, 36, reportedly admitted displaying the gun but denied he pointed it at anyone, and charged the pickets harassed his family and taunted his wife.
L.A. Herald-Examiner 9/8/80
Sure, Jeff Wald told us yesterday, "there are occasions when I choose to throw my wieght around, but this isn't one of them." This was the Huge SAG Do at the Bowl Tuesday night, and The Whole Thing swings around the nasty talk circulating about by Those Who Tend To Know. The Talk? That when Wald was assured there was no room on the bill for wife Helen Reddy - understand, she was Not Alone: Folk like Willie Nelson and Neil Diamond also volunteered bravely, but a shoehorn couldn't have squeezed them in either - he mustered up and bellowed, "She will be on the program!"
L.A. Herald Examiner, 9/24/80
[Wald]..was humming along to the speed limit westbound on Sunset Boulevard at about 8:45 Monday night. Suddenly, the way Wald tells it, a Terrible Thing. A million-year-old Caddie knocked the stuffings out of an Oldsmobile sneaking off the San Diego Freeway. The Caddie pulled over, so did the Olds, and Wald - no stranger to tight turns - hung a U-ey right in the midst of the boulevard and reconnoitered the scene. A few other Samaritan types joined him. The Olds, and its 17-year-old driver, they found, were Not In Great Shape. The Caddie and its pilot fared a lot better. Wald dropped a few flares, returned to his Rolls, snatched the phone and rang up the cops for an ambulance. In a flash, the Caddie revved up and shot off again. Wald dropped the phone and followed.
"It was ridiculous," Wald told us yesterday, "a Rolls convertible isn't exactly a chase car." But chase he did - at 80mph, with flashers flashing and his brights burning up the night - down Sunset, through Holmby Hills and into Bel-Air. "I started getting nervous as we got into the hills," Wald offered. "I wanted to get his license, but I didn't want him to corner me."
Anyway, six red lights later, a couple of motorcycle cops took off after The Chase. Wald pulled over and gave them the info. Two squad cars appeared. A police helicopter drifted in, too. And three miles later, The Kid - 16 years old - was nipped, on Bellagio Road in Bel-Air.
"I did it," Wald said, "because I didn't realize what was happening. And the nerve of that (fill in the blank). How dare someone do what that kid did?"
L.A. Herald-Examiner 1/16/81:
In a rather remarkable report on drugs and their effect on Hollywood, Rona Barrett this morning revealed on "Tomorrow Coast to Coast" that Jeff Wald's heavy use of cocaine contributed largely to his separation last week from his wife of 14 years, singer Helen Reddy. Before the show aired, Rona yesterday told us that Wald is now undergoing daily treatment for the problem, and, so far as the marriage goes, there's always the chance for reconciliation.
His daily use of cocaine, he told us, "didn't lead to the separation, but it certainly was a factor." How much coke did he use? "I don't know. I can't count that high."
Wald, now out of their Brentwood home and in residence at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, has sought treatment from "a pharmacological therapist," he told us, "a doctor who specializes in drug withdrawal."
"I'm getting treatment for a problem that a lot of other people in this town have, to say the least. Outside of maybe Lima, Peru, this is the cocaine capital of the world. Understand," he added, "I'm dealing with it. It hasn't debilitated me." And, he adds, "I've been clean now for 12 days - since a week ago Sunday."
People magazine, 3/16/81
Helen Reddy's recent short-lived petition for divorce from husband-manager Jeff Wald was just the latest in a series of blows. Two of Wald's star clients, Donna Summer and Sly Stallone, deserted him some time ago. Last July Wald was arrested for brandishing a 12-gauge shotgun in the parking lot of the Sahara Tahoe, and in September he reportedly threatened to beat up comedian Pat Cooper. Later Wald annunced he had a serious cocaine habit. The reason Helen withdrew her petition the day after she filed was that she decided, "After 13 years of marriage, a separation of one month is too short to make a decision." In any case, Wald has continued to represent her. Though he movd out on January 2, Jeff continues to show up at Helen's Bel Air, Claif. mansion every day for breakfast.
L.A. Herald Examiner, 3/23/81, by Nicole Szulc:
Australian-born singer [Helen] Reddy and her manager-rcord producer husband, Jeff Wald, - are filing suit against the National Enquirer...
Wald claims an Enquirer story published March 3, 1981, under the title "Helen Reddy Gives Hubby Heave-Ho" was "filled with innuendos, falsehoods, untruths, lies, malicious gossip, slander."
"And, in general, I didn't like it," Wald added wryly.
Wald said his attorney, Russ Frackman of the Los Angeles firm of Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, wrote the Enquirer a three-page letter before publication of the article warning the magazine the contents were not true "because we knew it was coming."
"They chose not to listen and printed it anyway," Wald said.
The article, under the byline of Dan Schwartz, began by describing Reddy as a "fading singing star," and went on to call Wald a "madman" who is "aggressive, uncontrollable and prone to wild acts."
The Enquirer story, which claimed Reddy was looking for a new manager to replace her husband, stated that Wald once went to a radio station and took his arm and swept everything off the table because they weren't playing a Reddy song. It also alleged that on another occasion Wald beat up a Capitol Records executive in an elevator.
Finally, the Enquirer story quoted Reddy as saying to Wald: "What poor mangled corpse did you tread on today to get me to the top?"
Wald denied the "corpse" quote and the rest of the story point by point. Reddy and Wald, who, while "working on a reconciliation," are again living together with their two children in their Brentwood home, both denied she is looking for a new manager.
Reddy said the article shocked and distressed her. "It was devastating - very demoralizing and insulting. It particularly bothers me because of my children who have to go to school and face their friends who may have read the article."
Wald, who is active in Democratic politics, said he would have sued the Enquirer over this story even had it not been for the Burnett suit.
"In my opinion, it's a rag," Wald said. "They've been getting away with this kind of thing for too long.
"They wrote nasty things, and things that weren't true over the years."
Wald cited an article in the Star, another supermarket newswrack weekly, a one which was "tough" but accurate. The article, headlined "My eight years on cocaine split us up, Helen Reddy's husband confesses," described Wald's decision to stop using cocaine.
L.A. Herald Examiner 5/14/81:
Of course Jeff Wald didn't show in Nevada yesterday for the start of his trial. How could he? He and wife Helen Reddy were busy in Bophuthatswana - that's all the way around the globe in South Africa - prepping for her million-buck, 18-day concert stint. (Don't worry, there'll be no South African hanky-panky involved at all, Helen's contract puts it in black and white that she'll only warble to racially mixed audiences.) Anyway, somebody forgot to let Round Hill, Nev., Justice of the Peace Glen Anderson in on that. Because he issued a no-bail warrant for Jeff's arrest yesterday when Jeff failed to materialize. (Wald, you'll recall, was charged with a misdemeanor for brandishing a shotgun at a striking Sahara-Tahoe hotel-casino employee last July. The employee also accused Wald of trying to lay tire tracks all over him with a jeep. The case has already been dismissed twice by a previous magistrate. Still, it keeps coming up. Tuesday, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a motion to stop the action on Wald's contention that he was denied a speedy trial and that he'd encountered misconduct by the prosecutor.)
L.A. Herald Examiner 3/24/83:
That feuding uncouple, Helen Reddy and Jeff Wald, are at it again. The other day Page 2 chronicled Jeff's side of how he rescued his 10-year-old son, Jordan, from the clutches of Helen's fiance, drummer Milton Ruth, who allegedly slapped the boy.
In papers filed in an L.A. Superior Court, Helen has another view of the Brentwood brouhaha. Every time Jordan returns from a vsit with Papa Jeff, Helen claims, he is "uncontrollable and totally hostile towards me and my fiance."
Reddy, just back from a tour of Europe, was tired and suffering from a cold and did not have the patience to deal with her son, who she says was "shouting obscenities," "kicking" and "striking" her live-in fiance. She gave Papa Jeff a buzz and asked him to pick up the boy. Upon Wald's arrival, the boy slipped out the back door and jumped into his father's car.
Inside Helen's house, the battle began. Wald suddenly "burst through the back door and began shouting obscenities," the singer claims, and "pushed me around with his bodyguard standing behind him." Upon seeing Ruth at the top of the a stairway, Wald shouted obscenities at the drummer as well. "Hey... come down here," Reddy quoted Wald as saying. Ruth obliged, whereupon Wald shouted more obscenities into his face and taunted him, "Come on, hit me, coward, come on hit me." Ruth declined and claims the singer, Wald "lost total control" and began shoving and striking her fiance.
Ruth, in self-defense, claims Reddy, grabbed Wald. The bodyguard, "who had been pushing me and shoving me...forcibly pushed me aside, grabbed Mr. Ruth and hit him in the right eye with his fist," says Reddy. The drummer went down for a count.
Wald and his "goon," as Reddy calls the associate, retreated to the car. Ruth and Reddy followed, whereupon, the documents say, Wald "tried to run down Mr. Ruth with his automobile." Unsuccessful, Wald "yelled for help from his bodyguard," who replied, "Jeff, there's a .45 on the floor of the car." Wald, his son and his associate drove off. Father and son are now vacationing in Hawaii.
Ruth, in a separate affidavit, denied strking the child. He also alleges that Wald has made several threats against his life.
Jeff Wald...filed a $5,000,000 slander suit Friday in L.A. Superior Court against Gary Olsen, Reddy's attorney. He claims he was damaged by the statement, "Hell hath no fury like a husband who lost his meal ticket," attributed to Olsen in a May 16 People magazine story.
2/1/86 LA Herald Examiner
Jeff Wald is living proof that drugs can kill - years later. The Hollywood agent...is in an L.A. hospital suffering the latest effects of the cocaine habit he kicked several years ago, the one that came close to killing him last Saturday. Here's the sobering story he told Marilyn Beck: "I went to the Malibu emergency hospital with terrible shooting pains in my head. Doctors told me I had something called Orvital Sellis and said fluid from an infectionwas leaking to my brain. I was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, my face all swollen, my left eye the size of a grapefruit; they operated on me and drained the fluid, and said a few hours later and I would have been dead."
He says he may be hospitalized at least two more weeks. And "there could be a relapse; the infection is still there. The drugs I used ate away my nasal and sinus tissues. There are just spaces where bone was, and there's nothing to stop an infection from going from my nose to the brain."
He adds, "Please, tell people not to do drugs. It doesn't make any difference when they stop. It can kill them."
Candy Clark and Jeff Wald were married at sunset, New Year's Day at the Oahu home of Sweetie and Tom Moffatt (concert promoter). The Hollywood group at the Kahala who came over for the ceremony included: the Jeff Katzenbergs, Cyndi Garvey and Ron Meyer, David Geffen, Ava Ostern and Chuck Fries, Norman Pattiz, Nancy and Michael Lippman, etc. Pat Caddell gave the bride away and Jeff's son, Jordan, was best man. "This was a great start for the new year," reminds Wald. "Last year, I was going into the Betty Ford Center. I am grateful to her and to Norman Brokaw."
JEFF WALD writes in the Los Angeles Times 3/23/92:
With articles like ["On The Ropes: Columbia Execs Under Fire Over Costly Flops" 3/17/92], the press helps create an atmosphere of fear where people are loath to take chances and make hard decisions.
We cannot allow the press to intimidate our business and our political leaders. We cannot have people create and communicate and prosper in a climate of fear, afraid to make mistakes.
The press has a responsibility to be balanced and fair and not fan an atmosphere of instant success or failure, providing more instability and insecurity in an already unstable economy.
We are all part of the same community and need to encourage each other to prosper.