Cathy Seipp Is A Great Cook
Cecil Du Bois writes: Cathy Seipp is perhaps one of the wittiest writers in America, yet she is not well known. She attacks the media under the guise of Margo Magee, yet she later took her guise and attacked the media with full flame. She harms no one and cracks the funny bones of all the educated people in america. She is a born New Yorker yet she stayed and built her nest in LA after ex-husband left her.
Jerry Journalist says she strengthened her exterior after the divorce. She did not grow colder, yet she grew more wary of the world, and did not let people scrutinize her. She wrote better, and was a "don't mess with me" type, yet she would show her soft sides when her friends were around her. She make numerous friends, yet few were true blue. I am a friend of a friend of Cathy, and have known her for almost 15 years.
With her "friends", the people who she was fond of, yet was not interested in, she would take them out to lunch or dinner for etiquette, and would survive 3-4 hours of them. She would later tell me and her other friends how they were not....interesting. I should not really say this, but she sometimes could be insensitive and not know it. Overall, she is a great friend to know.
Cathy has a cousin, who is close to her. Marion Rosenbaum is also a great friend to have. Sometimes I see her at parties, and she is always talking to someone. She is not as well-known as Cathy but she is also talented. She acts in improv plays, and does occasional comics for The La Times. Cathy loves her dearly and Mari comes over for dinner sometimes. She should be a fashion designer, with her vintage outfits and becoming shoes. I saw Mari in a movie about 15 years ago, she has this essence of an actress that is very enjoyable to watch. I wish I could see Mari again sometimes, but she always busy, acting in improv plays around Beverly Hills.
If you really get to know Cathy, or just meet her, she will change your life. With her blue eyes poring over your face, expecting an intelligible answer, she will begin reciting anecdotes that she has told at least 50 other people. I was her roomate for a while, when I got evicted from my apartment in Echo Park, and I would hear her always laughing hysterically until she had a coughing fit, and telling anecdotes about seeing a squirrel or a coyote, and I would laugh in the background, even if it were the umpteenth time. Its just nice hearing Cathy laugh and chat; its a very homey sound.
Her cooking is superb. I still remember the Egg Drop Soup she made on my birthday, and the turkey meatloaf on New Years. The spicy arugula on pasta, and the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice she concocted in the midsummer. I stayed with Cathy for six months, and celebrated special occasions with her. I may not be her closest friend, but I sure am fond of her.
Instapundit Didn't Expect Cathy To Be So Cute
Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit writes: "Based on Cathy's reputation and experience, my mental image was of a grizzled, fiftyish type. I was startled to meet her at a blog party (at Eugene Volokh's) and discover that she was young and good- looking. I think it was Ken Layne who explained that her experience was in "internet years," so that she could be professionally grizzled while remaining physically vivacious."
Ken Layne, part of the Laexaminer.com team with Matt Welch, writes: Besides being a terrific writer and one of the smartest, funniest people I know, Cathy is a fantastic schemer. She and Amy Alkon pretty much decided to elevate Welch and me from nobody Web writers to LA media fixtures.
Let me explain: We started LAExaminer.com long before anyone around town knew who we were. I mean, we had some friends at the LA Daily News and LA Business Journal and we knew Bob Scheer (his son worked with us in Prague), and Bob got us hired at USC's Online Journalism Review. (All three of us were eventually pushed out.) I had a bit of a cult readership from Tabloid.net (97-99) and had plenty of solid journalism experience, but nothing sexy. When you're a free-lancer in LA, you can go years without knowing people in your trade. You work at home, you don't necessarily hang out with media people. Everything's phone and e-mail.
Cathy and Amy pulled some sort of coup at the LA Press Club. They started these monthly parties a few years back, and I suppose the intent was to get free-lancers out of the house and get staffers to actually socialize instead of racing home to Thousand Oaks or wherever when the work day ended. I don't know how Cathy found us. Probably googling herself. Like most writers, she's likes to read about herself online. So we got invited to these things, LA Examiner got more notice, then Sept. 11 happened and Welch & I sort of stormed the market with our individual sites. (Andrew Sullivan called us "previous unknowns" or something in a Times of London piece. We're like, "Previous unknown to *you,* ya damned snob.")
Suddenly, we're semi-famous. James Wolcott of Vanity Fair wrote this crazy thing for Business 2.0 on Web logs, and half the piece was about me and Welch and how L.A. was a hotbed of blogging. Mark Steyn quotes us, John Leo mentions us, James Lileks and Virginia Postrel hype us on their sites, Nick Denton writes about us in the Guardian, I get a column on FoxNews.com, Welch gets a National Post column, and this sort of scene creates itself. (Glenn Reynolds is a huge factor here. Like Cathy, he knows everybody everywhere, and he's a very smart and generous guy.) It was great, because it finally felt like we were breaking down the Ivy League Curtain. You know, we work our asses off, and we're always broke and maybe we got a link on Romenesko every six months. It wears you down. So it was terrific fun to get some notice and be part of this gang of online troublemakers.
(Weirdly, when people finally noticed our work, they were mostly conservatives or libertarians. I always thought I was a liberal -- an old-school anti-communist pro-civil-rights liberal. Turns out most people consider me a neo-con or libertarian. Who woulda thunk it? I believe Cathy is somehow responsible for this, too.)
But in L.A., it's silent. Because of LAExaminer.com, the LAT wouldn't touch us, even though they're very aware of us. (Cathy would later prove this by interviewing LAT features editor John Montorio, who admitted he reads me, Welch and L.A. Examiner. And when the LAT finally did a blogging feature, a year after the important papers had covered it to death, not a single L.A. blog was featured. The story did, however, talk a lot about USC's Online Journalism Review, where we were the star writers before being dumped in September 2001. Incredible.) The rest of the L.A. media is just clueless.
She had already started inviting us to these press parties, and early last year she and Amy forced the issue by throwing a whole party for the L.A. blogging people. They even let me pick the place: Casita del Campo, two blocks from my house. (You were at that party, if I recall. I was drunk out of my skull.) And meanwhile she's writing this epic for the American Journalism Review on the blogging phenomenon ("Online Uprising"). It's still the best story on the subject.
L.A. Examiner was directly inspired by her LAT-bashing column in Buzz Magazine. A lot of people think we were inspired by Romenesko or SmarterTimes or whatever. I like those sites, but what I really wanted was a replacement for the Buzz media column.
In your interview with Cathy's ex, there is talk of her manipulation skills. In my experience, it is the most benevolent manipulation. I wouldn't want to be on her bad side, but I don't really think that's possible. We've never even discussed politics. If you're not a pompous fraud and your world view is flexible enough to accommodate reality, you won't get any trouble from Seipp.
The biggest crime is that she isn't writing a local column. I hope to fix that situation.
A Chat With Cathy Seipp's Ex-Husband
Editor's Note: The following exclusive story was written by two veteran reporters. It was commissioned by a special grant from the Ford Foundation to launch our coverage of the private lives of entertainment journalists.
This story reveals how new communications techniques can permeate a marriage with social and economic impacts both planned and unanticipated. It shows how access to information can empower a new elite of young journalists and editors.
Jerry Journalist. Cathy Seipp. They were the couple that summed up an era - the Richard Burton - Elizabeth Taylor of the eighties, the Los Angeles edition of Tina Brown - Harold Evans. Their faces appeared on magazine covers and television shows. Their romance embodied a nation's hopes. He was the young prince of Camelot. She was Queen Guineviere. They had a beautiful daughter, a dog and a cat. And then it went terribly wrong. Tonight on LF.net, the True Hollywood Story of Cathy and Jerry:
I speak by phone 12/31/02 with Cathy Seipp's ex-husband Jerry Journalist.
Luke: "Cathy writes about you frequently."
Jerry laughs: "And not always in a flattering light. Mainly, my attitude is live-and-let-live. But there was a point when she was writing stuff for Salon that was upsetting to our daughter, who would read it. So I had to get ahold of Salon.com editor David Talbott. I said, look, I'm a journalist myself. I don't want to be one of these crybabies. Cathy is writing a media column. If I do something in the media, that's fair game. But if she's taking gratuitous shots at me, and it's upsetting our daughter, that's not right. I appealed to him father to father and he ended up putting the clamp on Cathy and she didn't appreciate it. But I guess I bubble up other places, don't I?"
Luke: "Yes, yes. I read what she wrote in the New York Press where she went to testify for you in a dispute with your ex-wife #2."
Jerry: "That was a protracted custody battle. She wanted to relocate my son to the other side of the country. Cathy, to her credit, and to her enjoyment, performed well. As you know, she's a no-bull---- customer. I think the judge was taken aback. The opposing attorney tried to make the case that ex-wife #1 was motivated to appear because she was jealous of ex-wife #2. To that, Cathy gave a haughty retort. She just laid that lawyer low. You could tell the judge was amused. It was one of the few moments of levity in the whole thing."
Luke: "Where do you come from? What's your story?"
Jerry: "I was born in Philadelphia to a constellation Jewish family. The whole mishpacha (family) is right there. My Mom died when I was five. My Dad remarried. Searching for peace and quiet, bought a farm house in northern Connecticut and relocated us there when I was seven."
Luke: "My mother died of cancer when I was four-and-a-half."
Jerry: "Do you have memories of her?"
Luke: "Vague but some definite ones, like her feeding me scrambled eggs."
Jerry: "I have some specific images. It's something I think about. My son is about that age. I think, if something should happen to me, what would he remember? I'd like to think a lot.
"I had two younger sisters. I stayed in this little farm town in Connecticut through high school. My parents had four more children. I was the oldest of seven.
"I did a double major (English and Journalism) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, graduating in 1975. Then I got my Masters in Journalism at Columbia in 1976. Then I went to work at Esquire as chief of research. I'd read Esquire since I was a kid and I had this vision of these wise old-men there.
"My plan when I got out of college was to go to work for the Boston Globe for 30-40 years, and once I achieved true sagacity, then maybe some revered magazine would take me on. So imagine my shock when I went to Esquire and the editor-in-chief was 29 years old - Lee Eisenberg. It was a bunch of kids running the show. As we now know, that's the way it is with magazines. I soon realized that you don't have to be as old as Norman Mailer to write for Esquire.
"It was a small enough staff that I had the equivalent of an associate editor's job. I went to all the editorial meetings and all the assigning, generating, and writing stuff. After Lee Eisenberg as editor came Byron Dobell and then Clay Felker."
Luke: "Clay Felker, founder of New York Magazine? Wow."
Jerry: "He took over and he did the most boneheaded thing in the world - He made it a fortnightly magazine. It was probably the first and last fortnightly in American journalism. Clay famously bought the name "New York Magazine" from the defunct New York Herald Tribune [newspaper where it started as a Sunday supplement] and he brought along [famous writers] Gay Talese, Gail Sheehy, Andy Tobias, Aaron Lathem, Nora Ephron, Dick Reeves, and that whole stable of people to Esquire. Having come from a weekly, he was annoyed with having such long lead times for articles. He couldn't get the financing to make Esquire a weekly, so he made it a fortnightly. That lasted about a year.
"Then the Moffit-Whittle boys came in from Tennessee. Everyone laughed at them as southern hicks but they made a success out of the magazine. They weren't sure who Gay Talese was or Tom Wolfe was, but it turned out they were craftier than people were willing to admit.
"I left Esquire in 1978 and then I got recruited to edit a magazine (monthly Houston City Magazine) in Houston, Texas, for two years, which was great. When I was in New York, I knew I would always live in New York, but I didn't want to be like Woody Allen and never have seen anything else. I wanted to get out for a little while while I was young before I got settled. Houston was the last place I would've thought of. The publisher (billionaire Francois de Menil) was in town recruiting an editor. My agent said, 'Go have breakfast. At least it's a free meal.' One thing led to another.
"After two years, I was not ready to go back to New York and my cramped little apartment, which I had been subletting all this time. So I came to LA in 1981, for no other reason than failure of imagination.
"I met Cathy while I was editing one of those silly airline magazines (called Republic for the long-defunct Republic Airlines). I had been on a trip to Finland, on one of those free junket trips. I had a friend who was doing publicity for the government of Finland and she needed to fill some seats. On the trip, I met another journalist, Debbie Gendel (a View editor at the LA Times), who said, 'Have I got a girl for you.'
"When I was back in LA, we got together. We had a very pleasant lunch."
Luke: "Was she beautiful?"
Jerry: "Well, yeah."
Jerry laughs. "She's going to love reading me say that. And I'm conscious that my daughter is reading this."
Luke: "I hear she was quite beautiful. That letter by her college roommate [Nancy Lilienthal] was funny about her parading around their apartment naked."
Jerry: "That's a story she was eager to tell me on the first date. I'm sure you've gathered that Cathy revels in her eccentricity. I read her account: 'It was a good date so we got married.' There's some other stuff there. I assigned her an interesting piece to do. I see that she says I assigned it without reading anything she'd written. That's not true. She had not written for magazines before. All she had were her daily news columns. I could see that she had and still has a distinctive voice, which I thought would be appropriate for this particular topic.
"You're familiar with Mensa? Anyone in the top two percent of IQs qualifies for Mensa. Think about that. If you're standing in a supermarket line and you look around you, that suggests that two people that you see are geniuses. Now you and I both know that you can't walk into a supermarket and find two geniuses. So other more elite societies started springing up. One was for the upper one percent. That wasn't good enough. There was a genius society started for the top .1%. Then the top .01%.
"I turned Cathy loose on that and had her interview a woman named Marilyn vos Savant, who is in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the highest IQ in the United States. We ended up putting Marilyn on the cover and that was her stepping stone to fame. Up to that point, she was just an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records and she lived in St. Louis. Shortly after that, she moved to New York, married the guy who invented the artificial heart, and she's been a columnist in Parade Magazine every week for many years.
"Cathy interviewed the heads of each of these so-called genius societies. It's a good piece."
Luke: "Did you fall in love with Cathy on the first date?"
Jerry laughs. "Oh Lord, you have to remember this was a long time ago."
Luke: "What was the day?"
Jerry stumbles. "Ahh, umm, oh, the day of the date? I would have no idea. Let me make a blanket declaration that I am lousy with dates. I remember it was a weekday."
Luke: "What year was it?"
Jerry: "It was a Mexican restaurant on Flores, near Santa Monica Blvd, in West Hollywood."
Luke: "What year was this?"
Jerry: "Oh man, let me think. Oh, I've got to do the math here."
Five seconds go by. "Oh, this is terrible. Put me off the record for a second so you are not counting the seconds that it takes me."
Five seconds go by.
Luke: "What year did you get married?"
Jerry gives a sheepish laugh. "Luke, I've blocked a lot of this out for very good reasons. It was the mid-eighties."
Luke: "It was in 1985 that you met and you married in 1986."
Luke: "She'd quit the Daily News in 1985."
Jerry: "She was working at home [when they met]."
Luke: "So it was 1985-86."
Jerry: "Ok, thanks."
Luke: "So how long after the first date did you ask her to marry you, or did she ask you to marry her?"
Jerry: "There had been some discussion about moving in with her because I'd recently acquired this wonderful dog named Phoebe, who, Cathy being a pet person, was quite fond of as well. I was living in a pool house in Hancock Park and the elderly shrink who was the landlord agreed I could keep Phoebe there but after a month or so, she changed her mind. So here I was with this dog I was quite fond of, and so, because Cathy worked at home, she agreed to let Phoebe spend the days there. So that probably accelerated the whole process.
"I don't recall the specific conversation but I'm sure Cathy made clear that moving in together stipulated some at least vague plan for matrimony."
Luke: "So you moved in together before you got married?"
Luke: "How much more?"
Jerry exhales: "I'm going to say roughly a year. But she'll know. Her memory is much sharper than mine on this. To me, it was like the eighties. I can tell you the exact hour and date of my daughter's birth. So we got married some time before that."
Luke: "Cathy says 1986."
Jerry: "I won't argue."
This was Jerry and Cathy's first marriage each.
Luke: "How did you like being married?"
Jerry: "Umm, ahh, I liked being married fine. There's nothing about the institution... Oh boy, I'm conscious of who's reading this.
"Let me put it this way. In a city of head-nodders, Cathy had original opinions and attitudes. She's well-read. She's a real thinker. She's not easily persuaded. Some might go so far as to say she's contrarian in nature. That's obviously something that could be appealing and alluring. But it's often the thing that attracts you that sends you packing. It gets less amusing when the opinions she disagreed with were mine. As she takes potshots at people personally and professionally, it's great fun to look over her shoulder but it's less fun to be looking down the barrel. That's probably the best way of summarizing our dynamic."
Luke: "How many of those months and years did you enjoy being married to Cathy?"
Jerry struggles: "Well, let's see... That's a tough question. I'll pass."
Luke: "If those who Cathy has skewered in print, if they only knew X about Cathy, they would feel better. What would X be?"
Jerry: "I'm always an advocate of trying to understand someone you're at odds with, to keep your ears open and your mouth closed as much as possible. I would conjecture that those who fear chaos overcompensate by trying to hyper-control their environment. Now, in some cases, the environment they are trying to control includes the behavior of their friends and family, and, in extreme cases, all humans. Those around Cathy are quite accustomed to declarations beginning with the words, 'You should...'"
Luke got an email from Cathy 12/30: "I want to thank you again, by the way, for taking such an interest in what I have to say...and what people have to say about me. It's certainly gratifying to read all these things about fabulous ME ME ME! But again I say, you do such a good job interviewing Hw'd producers etc., that I really think you ought to make it your NYr's resolution to get a job as an entertainment writer at somewhere like the Times or EW. They'd be lucky to have you. Well, that's just my bossy two cents for now..."
Jerry: "That can range from room rearrangement suggestions to complete lifestyle overhauls."
Luke: "Yes, she's told me what I should be doing with my life."
Jerry chuckles: "Exactly. Now imagine being married to her. The epiphany for me was when I got up and went to pour myself a glass of juice from the refrigerator and Cathy came bounding across the house, through both rooms of the small bungalow that we had, to tell me that I shouldn't be drinking that juice, I should be drinking this juice. There was no logical reason other than control.
"At the time, I don't think I had the benefit of life experience to deal with that better. All I saw was handcuffs and chains and my wife putting me in a box and telling me what to do. I'd like to think I've always been resilient and flexible but this was getting ridiculous. I just remember the juice thing and this light bulb going off and my saying, 'I can't live like this.' She's strong-willed, opinionated, contentious, stubborn.
"To answer your question about those who were skewered by her, she often does it for the shock value and to grab attention. I've observed this a million times - she'll take an opposing point of view just to engage you. I can't tell you the number of times I've thought: 'She can't believe half the stuff that is coming out of her mouth.' She's a master quibbler."
Luke: "Did your appreciation of her writing change with the arc of your relationship?"
Jerry: "I've never disliked her writing. I just thought that I should be off-limits. It was gratuitous. It was Phyllis Diller and Fang. I was the whacky ex-husband. It didn't bother me until our daughter read one and was upset by it. Other than that, I'm as thick-skinned as they come. I laugh at some of them.
"I don't necessarily agree with her opinions. I can assure you of this - she was not conservative when I met her or married her. But I saw it gradually happen. When she saw the horrified looks she'd get when she'd espouse some nutty right-wing Republican conservative viewpoint, she became all the more entrenched in that position. When I met her, she had a couple of bon mots - 'All felons should be cut up and turned into dog food. At least they will serve some useful purpose.' But Cathy, don't you believe in rehabilitation? Oh no."
Luke: "Have people held her work against you?"
Jerry: "No. There were a couple of instances when I was introduced to someone who knew Cathy and then someone as an aside would say, 'That's Cathy's ex-husband.' And they would swivel around and say, 'Really?' They were either surprised that she had an ex-husband or they had heard about this ex-husband and here I was."
Luke: "Have you seen awe? As in, 'Wow, you were married to Cathy Seipp?' Aside from me."
Jerry laughs: "I think there are a lot of people out there who are amazed that anyone could've been married to Cathy Seipp. I could tell that the unspoken question was, 'How could you do that?'
"Even the people who appear to have the hardest shells have soft cores. Cathy's not exempt from that. When the marriage broke up, I think she got externally tougher. One, she's someone who fears chaos. A dissolution of a marriage, by definition, is something that has gone out of control. I think it made her even more resolute and entrenched in, 'From now on, things are going to be done Cathy's way. This is Cathy's world.' It made her even more impervious, some might say imperious.
"She embodies self-discipline. I admire the way she manages and controls her time and space and what she will do and won't do. Try to call her when she's on assignment. Most freelance writers welcome the intrusion but Cathy is like, "Can't talk now, bye.' As a freelance writer, that serves her well. She gets more done in a four-hour day than most people do in an eight-hour day at an office."
Luke: "Is Cathy cognizant of the amount of pain that her writing causes people and is she surprised at the anger and hatred that they have for her after it gets published?"
Jerry: "I don't want to say that she doesn't really care. It's been suggested to her that she show more tact and compassion. In a lot of cases, it's a preemptive strike. As long as she's striking out, it prevents people from striking back. Or if they strike back, she can claim, oh well, they are just being defensive.
"I've read what other people have said about her having a strong sense of ethics..."
Luke: "And she's outraged when people violate that."
Jerry: "That's not my style. I'd like to think the same results could be achieved in other ways but this is what makes Cathy Cathy. Not being a control person, I'm not about to tell her what to do. To her, that's a huge advantage. She does things her way, when and how she wants it. She doesn't take guff from anyone. She's not cowed by authority. These can be positive things. Where it gets annoying is where she dictates what she wants done, to friends and family, just commands them like servants. The downside is this - when you leave no room for others' opinions, attitudes, needs, desires, wishes, thoughts, when you're incapable of seeing the world through other people's eyes, she believes everyone should see the world through her eyes, then it becomes self-serving. But she's extremely well-read, though it wouldn't kill her to pick up a left-leaning publication from time to time."
Luke: "I take it that your political views are to the left of Cathy's?"
Jerry: "Aren't everyone's?"
Luke: "Were your political differences an issue in your relationship?"
Jerry: "No. She's argumentative but once she was able to pin that badge [of conservatism on after divorcing Jerry] on, she knew it would horrify, appall, shock, dismay, and cause hand-wringing among her friends but now it's Cathy's thing.
"You've got me reminiscing about Cathy the pet lover. She keeps quite a menagerie. She's got a cat and a dog. She's always buying these various things for the pond - turtles and fish and so on. My theory is that she loves pets because she has more control over them. They give her less grief than humans do. She only writes the nicest things about the most savage of beasts. They can't read it so why bother pissing them off?"
Luke: "It's a tension-free relationship."
Jerry: "Exactly. She gets to decide who gets what and when..."
Luke: "Is Cathy misanthropic?"
Luke: "A little bit?"
Jerry: "If it were a yes/no question, I'd have to lean towards yes. We all get misanthropic as the years go by. If she were answering it, she would probably say no, she's just selective about who she chooses to champion and who she chooses to trash. People who know me and know Cathy and then find out that we were together, part of the astonishment is that we are such divergent personalities. I tend to be too accepting of people and she tends to be completely unaccepting. It's just in our natures that I am more easy-going."
Luke: "Did you get mad at Cathy for wanting to castrate the neighbors' animals?"
Jerry: "True. She wanted to round up all the animals in the neighborhood and get them spayed and neutered. She had strong opinions about that. I said, 'If it is your animal, that's great but you're not going to round up others'..."
Luke: "How was your relationship with her animals?"
Jerry: "I love her animals. She has Felice, who I found on the sidewalk before we even married. I'm very fond of Linda the neurotic dog.
"On our first date, Cathy recited this to me, composed by her father. I offer it without commentary because I think it speaks volumes about Cathy's dynamic with men."
Please don't lick your wee-wee, dog,
Jerry: "Enough said. I think you can read between the lines on a lot."
Luke: "When Cathy went on a neutering rampage, did you feel personally threatened?"
Jerry laughs. "No. That she was going to neuter me? No."
Luke: "I wondered if a large dynamic in Cathy's writing is that she was a beautiful woman, and this gave her self-confidence."
Jerry: "I've worked with many female writers who are household names and who by almost nobody's measure would you think of as beautiful. I don't think Cathy ever flaunted her looks. Most of her work is done on the phone. She rarely ventures out. I learned from her in that. I was always the kind of writer, having gone to journalism school, I'd show up on a person's doorstep, no matter what the article. I would only do face-to-face interviews, which is insane. If you're trying to make a living as a freelancer, there aren't enough hours in the day to track people down to do that. I learned from her that you could just sit down and in one hour on the phone get your interviews done where it would take me days.
"A lot of that comes from working on a newspaper. Once you've acclimated to those deadline pressures, that becomes part of your protoplasm."
Luke: "Which medium do you most excel at? Daily, weekly or monthly writing?"
Jerry: "Definitely monthly. I was the last Lifestyle editor of the LA Herald Examiner. We had daily deadlines to meet and that drove me crazy. I always like to niggle with something a little bit longer if I can. I like the atmosphere of a monthly. I more enjoyed the thoughtfulness of magazines over the pressures of newspapers."
Luke: "What has been your relationship to Judaism?"
Jerry: "I grew up Jewish. When my Mom died, and my father remarried, my stepmother was a blue-blood WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). So my family was convinced we wouldn't get raised Jewish, so she overcompensated and sent me to Hebrew school at an Orthodox shul five days a week. I hated this. Jewish education then was different from now. Everything was done in Hebrew. It was all about memorization. There was a lot of knuckle-rapping with rulers. It was fear-based education. There was nothing taught about significance or the beauty and joy of Judaism. I got Bar Mitvahed. My mother made me go another year or two. I hated it.
"I became the twice-a-year Jew with the Passover seder and the High Holiday services and not much else. I remember when the rabbi was going to marry us, they have a little meeting with you. They wanted to make sure she knew how to light the shabbat candles. She says, no, no, no. He was going to practice with her and show her how to cover your eyes and all that. No, no, no, I don't need to know that. You can imagine her telling the rabbi, no, no, no. He said, 'Well, I can't marry you unless you....' No, no, no, that's fine."
Luke: "What type of rabbi?"
Jerry: "It was her mother's rabbi. It wasn't anything we paid much attention to. Our daughter, when she was like six or seven, had always had a fascination for languages. She begged me to take her to Hebrew School. And I said to her, 'Sweetie, trust me, it's horrible. You don't want to do this.' But she was so persistent, she's inherited that willfulness from her Mom, that I finally said, 'Look, let me call around.' I called a Reform temple. At least make it relatively painless. I thought if I took her to one class, it would knock it out of her system forever.
"I took her to this one class and it's changed. Thank goodness, Jewish education has changed. It was so well done. It was a three-hour class but there was singing and dancing and talking about significance, not just memorizing the months of the Jewish calendar and the books of the Jewish Bible, and, smart Jews that they are, they ran a concurrent Torah class for parents. So instead of dropping your kids off like so much dry cleaning, 'Make them a Jew, extra starch,' you can do something while you are there. And when it is over, you can compare notes.
"The really smart move was to get this hip, smart, young rabbi who was just a joy, people were pretending to be parents to get in his class, and they ran out of seats because it was so good. Going back to these ancient texts, he would find so much significance, humor and wonder in them. I credit our daughter for bringing me back into the fold. As a result of that, I continued with Torah study. I did Talmud study for a year. I equated it with the punchline of a Woody Allen joke up to that point. Last semester, now I have two kids in Sunday school, I took two classes - one on 20th Century Jewish composers and one on the State of Israel.
"My daughter has had a Bat Mitvah but has elected to stay on. Usually the eighth-grade class, has teen topics like self esteem and cooperation and sex ed and drugs and rockn'roll, just to get them back after the Bat Mitzvah. And she said, 'Dad, I learned that stuff in kindergarten. I want to do the Ninth grade class where they learn about Judaism and Torah and Israel.' It took some wrangling with the temple. I told them, 'Look, if your goal is to keep them coming back, this is what is going to do it for her.' They worked it out. She skipped a grade. She's really passionate about it. She's a Holocaust scholar. She probably knows more about WWII than people who have lived through it.
"Now, I think this might even be my daughter coming through the door, wouldn't that be funny? 'It's Cathy and -----. And I'm talking to Luke Ford.' Cathy's grimacing. You wouldn't believe the stories I just told him. Hi sweetie. [I think that was directed to the daughter, rather than the ex-wife.] My daughter wants to know when you are going to update your website?"
It prompts me to immediately look for some fresh material, to search deep within my soul for world-shaking revelations.
Jerry: "I'm sure as soon as he is off the phone... Help yourself to the refrigerator. There are four kinds of juice, milk, whatever you want... Low fat eggnog. You're getting this in real time. Well, I better sign off now. I enjoyed talking about Cathy. I wish you could see the grimace on her face right now. Oh well, all's fair..."
Later, I asked Jerry via email about his professional life since the divorce from Cathy. As you can see, he went into a tailspin, living on the street and drinking cheap wine to dull the pain of his broken heart.
Jerry writes: "In the early 90s, I hosted/produced a half-hour celebrity interview show for E! Entertainment TV -- "Extreme Close Up". Every "episode" was a one-on-one interview with an A-list star (Tom Cruise, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Catherine Deneuve, Kenneth Branaugh, Kevin Costner, etc -- tons of them). To keep it interesting and challenging, I expanded it to include musicians ( K.D. Lang , Dolly Parton, Ringo Starr, Ron Wood, Robert Palmer, Dan Fogelberg, David Byrne, Zubin Mehta, to name a few!), and even writers (Neil Simon, Eric Bogosian, Anne Rice, etc).
"After that I wrote/produced a couple more shows with the late great Brandon Tartikoff -- one for E! (coincidentally!) called "Q&E!" (hosted by Eleanor Mondale), and another (syndicated by Universal) called "Last Call" (late-nite gabfest).
"Then I stumbled upon this crazy thing called the internet, and produced the first professional arts/entertainment "webzine" (before there was even such a word) called The Gigaplex (gigaplex.com), which you would have appreciated since it was a forerunner of lukeford.net -- scores of celeb interviews (A-list actors, musicians, artists, writers, etc. -- yes, many appropriated from my E! transcripts ---shhhh!).
"Within The Gigaplex ("A billion pleasures await you!") were dozens of "plexes" -- the Artplex, TVplex, Filmplex, Bookplex, and even oddities such as the Foodplex, Yogaplex and Golfplex!. (And, yes, my first revenue stream came from the Sexplex!). Alas, it grew way beyond anything I could manage alone, and I ran out of money paying freelancers (and hosting fees -- with millions of "hits" per month), so regretfully I had to let it go... BUT not before I became known as "a guy who can build websites" (of course this was back in the dark ages when your dog could've built the best possible website).
"So I formed Lazar Productions, which conceives, designs, builds, maintains websites for companies and organizations. Early clients included Ticketmaster, Mitsubishi, Fredericks of Hollywood. Writers Guild (wga.org) is the best example of a longstanding client. There, probably more than you wanna know!"
Jerry Journalist pilots the Goodyear Blimp.
Howard Stern Launched The Raunch
Brian Lowry writes in the 1/1/03 LA Times: Given the excitement that customarily surrounds year-end awards like Time's annual person of the year, "On TV" begins its own tradition by naming a media person who best represented the state and tone of television in 2002.
So after careful consideration, and only partially influenced by a sugar rush from holiday cookies ... congratulations, Howard Stern.
The only aspect of Stern's act that hasn't been widely co-opted is the most distasteful -- namely, the not-so-subtle racism that peppers his show, from "Black Jeopardy" to the jibes directed at sidekick Robin Quivers during his recent "world's meanest listener" contest. Then again, to the extent such material reflects pandering to a sub-lowest-common-denominator segment of the audience, there are clearly plenty of indirect parallels elsewhere in the media.
Luke asks: Why is Stern's alleged racism the most distasteful part of his show? Because it is the most distasteful part of his show to secular liberals like Brian Lowry. I don't see any strong moral argument why the alleged racism is worse than mainstream pornography and regularly humiliating people. But to liberals like Lowry, the only "sins" are things like racism and sexism and damaging the environment. Polluting the moral environment with smut doesn't count.
Written by a Shakespearian Woman for Luke
And when you ask her her why she did it,
Fred writes: I must confess, I have never received a poem like this from a young lady. Here are the possibilities:
1. She put the wrong e-mail address in the "to" line before she clicked send.
I would send her back the following: A poem written by Christopher Marlow to a young woman.
Once upon an evening fair
The lady was pretty and filled with great wit,
The Horror, The Horror... I Am So Ashamed
I'm afraid that I did not get into journalism for the noblest of motives. Ever since I was a little kid, I've liked to root around in people's private lives, into their homes, unawares, and go through their stuff. I like to spy on people. I remember when I moved in with a woman nine years ago, I asked her if it was ok that I looked through all her stuff. And I did it with perverse feelings, with jealousy and rage close to the surface.
Oh, I am so ashamed. I am a pervert. I am not worthy of calling myself a journalist. I am not worthy of writing for such esteemed publications as the Los Angeles Times. Why can't I be driven like Anita Busch and Dave Robb and the honorable Alex Ben Block to be a humble servant of the truth, with no regard for my own ego but only wanting to serve the Constitution?
Why don't I seek out weighty issues, like Online Journalism Review (www.ojr.org), which has received a grant to write on entertainment, and produced such commendable examinations as this one ("Hollywood's Hidden Digital Ether" that I intend to finish reading) by the experienced and responsible Michael Cieply.
Why can't I just stick to the facts and thoughtful analysis like David Poland?
Why don't I use my column like he does, to express my love of movies and my undying support for the industry?
Dear New Line, if you are reading this, and I know you are, why don't you advertise with me like you do with David?
Why do I heap obloquey on Peter Bart?
Why don't I check my spelling, punctuation and facts before I publish?
Why must I get personal and catty? Why am I driven to interview the ex-spouses of my subjects, subjects who are far accomplished and reputable than I am? Why must I inject Torah, like some prophylactic, into my site on Hollywood?
Why do I go around like a talebearer among my people? No wonder Santa didn't bring me any gifts this Christmas.
Didn't I hear Rabbi Akiva Tatz say there is no Jewish word for 'adventure'? So why did I go to the latest James Bond film Die Another Day Tuesday night? Why do I seek 'excitement' when there is no Hebrew equivalent?
How long will I chase emptiness?
Why did I have so much fun interviewing Cathy Seipp's ex-husband? Is that journalism? Is it Torah? Is it ok? Is it legal and moral? Is it Jewish? Is it good for the Jews?
Why am I erotically attracted to non-Jewish women?
Why do I date women I can't marry?
Why can't I live up to my commitment to daily prayer, regular exercise, and shomer negilla? Why do I flee the mitzvah of marriage and children?
Why do I rub Grecian Plus Gradual Haircolor Foam into my hair each morning? Why can't I be secure in who I am, like David Poland, who happily eats big helpings of pie almost every time I see him, wiping bits of crust off his greying hair with blissful abandon? If David is not ashamed of his dark skin, why am I afraid of my shadow?
What kind of representative of Torah Judaism am I to wayward Jews like Poland when they regularly behave with far more ethic and compassion than do I?
What moral troubles have prevented Poland from uploading his column today on Hot Button?
David Poland writes: "Then decide what you believe and stick to it. It's that simple and that hard. Moral relativism is for the fearful - live in fear or rise above. I think Cathy is probably okay with what you are writing, but you are passing the point of the absurd, unless there is some purpose. What I want to know is, why orthodox Judaism? Why orthodox anything? Why don't you trust yourself?"
Oh, why don't I trust myself? What is the point? What is my purpose? Why orthodox anything?
Why do I squeeze my friends for content?
Anne Frank writes: "Dear Mr. Ford, You are certainly quite a character! Yes, spelling is essential to the job of a writer. It's good that you are writing a book. Recently, I took a guilt trip and wrote fifty-something unrealistic resolutions. Just write the practical ones. Eating healthy, being happy with your website and possibly writing a book are essential ones for you. If Orthodoxy is too rigid for you, become a conservative Jew. It is more flexible, and you can still study orthodoxism from a safer perch. Good luck, Happy New Year!"
Why do I keep insisting my friends treat me to gargantuan meals at the Souplantation? Why must I load up on starches and unhealthy fats? Why do I stuff myself with baked potatoes, loaded with sour cream and cheese? Why three pieces of pizza? Would not one be enough? Why two helpings on the chocolate frozen yoghurt? Must I heap with chocolate pieces and peanuts?
Don't I realize my body is the temple of God? What would Sister Ellen White (Founder of Adventism) say about such excess?
Why am I never happy unless I am rooting around in someone's private life, hoping to find misery? Would Ted Koppel call this journalism? Will it bring Brian Lowry to visit my site?
Why can't I use this holiday season like Jeffrey Wells, who has placed his column on hold to concentrate on prayer, meditation and book proposals?
Why can't I combine good journalism with good looks, like Sharon Waxman, with spunk, personality, the odd perjorative ethnic reference to Mexicans, unfounded accusations against Jeanette Walls and the great anti-Dreamworks conspiracy, and marriage to an elderly French scribe?
Why am I such a poor representative of the Chosen People?
Why do I desecrate G-d's name on my website?
Why do I crucify my father's savior anew each day in my unbelief?
Why do I mock Torah scholars?
How can I get right with God? What must I do to be saved?
Please Email Luke a list of recommended New Year's resolutions that will help him cast off his shame and take his rightful place as a productive member of his chosen community.
You know, the best format for explaining myself to a mass audience is neither a book with lots of words nor a movie nor a website. Its a graphic novel. A long comic book with better binding. I'll bet I could sell my story to Marvel or DC comics.
I grew up with no respect for comics or movies or TV and little for daily newspapers but perhaps the tawdry comic is the medium best suited for my smutty motivations.
Helpful writes: "The standard cape and tights uniform of a graphic novel hero would be unflattering to you physique Luke. Stick with the half hour sit-com format to tell your tale."
Why can't I come up with a new newspaper project like Ken Layne?
Why can't I marry a beautiful and intelligent French woman like Matt Welch did?
If Anita has helped and inspired journalists in L.A., and I include myself in that group, then is thatnot a good thing, not something to be turned into mean spirited gossip?
Why don't I remove information that is defamatory and inflammatory? Am I really interested in in good journalism?
Do I bring honor to myself, Israel and my fledgling web business?
Jan writes: Dear Luke, Some resolutions for the New Year...
1) If you think that Howard Stern is such a pig, then stop putting crude advice about dating, with "dump the bitch" types of rules, on your website. Set a higher standard and then go for it.
2) "Why don't I use my column like he does, to express my love of movies and my undying support for the industry?". Maybe you don't love movies and aren't interested in actually supporting anyone, kind of a "sour grapes" insecurity? [although yo have been very supportive of me. Maybe your assessment is wrong...] I can understand the bitterness, but what would make you feel better about yourself? Better that you be senselessly kind and randomly beautiful, ya know?
3) "Why do I keep insisting my friends treat me to gargantuan meals at the Souplantation? Why must I load up on starches and unhealthy fats? Why do I stuff myself with baked potatoes, loaded with sour cream and cheese? Why three pieces of pizza? Would not one be enough? Why two helpings on the chocolate frozen yoghurt? Must I heap with chocolate pieces and peanuts?" If you could imagine that there was already a Messiah who had suffered for the sins of us all, could you then release him out into the wilderness of your mind and stop flagelating yourself? Think of it as a mental exercise, see if it increases your peace of mind and generosity to others. It will be a cathartic experience in any case, and the goat won't mind, it's his job.
An Interview With Cathy Seipp's Ex-husband
Coming up - an interview with Cathy Seipp's ex-husband - Journalist Jerry (Masters degree in journalism from Columbia School of Journalism, which has yet to award Cathy an honorary doctorate for her contributions to the craft).
Our telephone interview came to an abrupt halt at 11AM 12/31 when Cathy Seipp and daughter came over to Jerry's place and Cathy ordered him where to take the girl for lunch. A rebellious sort, Jerry did not follow instructions and went elswhere with his daughter.
Cathy had lunch with British TV producer Peter Stewart, a regular reader of this site who is making a documentary on Islamic pornography.
A Joel Rice Story
Tim writes: Hi Luke; I just saw an interview on the Internet you did with someone I have been trying to find for years - JOEL S. RICE. He played RADDISH in FINAL EXAM in which I played the KILLER. I have been trying to locate Joel for a long time for a "reunion" of sorts between the actors.
Hi Luke; You asked about something interesting I remembered about Joel Rice (the actor) who played "Raddish" in FINAL EXAM. Well...I remember that Joel ran across the campus in several areas to get the right angles for the scene Jimmy Huston (the director) wanted. I can remember looking at Joel and saying to myself - "Man! That guy can run!" He was all "legs" -he reminded me of the "Road Runner" - body straight and "all legs" below! And fast!
Anyway - I'm not sure if Joel would approve of this story - since I haven't heard from him yet - though I imagine he's busy - but here's the story:
"When Raddish discovered the body of Wildman in the locker room - he runs across the campus to warn Courtney? Well - we did the scene several times. Raddish runs up to the door of the dorm and whips it open and runs inside. Well - as we were getting ready to do another take - Jimmy came over to me and asked me if I could do something to cheer people up - it was late and people were tired - cause a lot of the film was shot at night. I said "sure - have Joel do the scene again where he runs up to the door and whips it open without filming." So - they set up like they were going to do the scene again and Joel went around the side of the building to prepare for his scene - now remember - he had already done this several times - including running across the campus once. Well - Joel was ready - and Jimmy was ready. So I walked over to the door that Joel whips open and walked inside. I dropped down behind the door out of sight and grabbed a hold of the "emergency release bar" on the door and braced my feet up against the sides of the door. Jimmy yelled "ACTION" and Joel psyched himself up to do a great entrance. When he ran up to the door - and expecting it to open - he grabbed a hold of the door handle and pulled "hard!" So hard in fact that his hand slipped off the handle cause it wouldn't open and he went flying back several feet onto his backside! He didn't understand what happened until I stuck my head up in the window and smiled at him from inside. He broke up laughing as did the whole cast and crew. It was funny and I hope Joel doesn't hold it against me. :)
The Best Of Dennis Prager
DP regrets he never went to Times Square in NY on New Year's Eve. He feared he'd get robbed.
DP doesn't like going to parties. The only point was to pick up girls. Now he's married and can't do that.
DP regrets he's never kept a diary. He has a close friend who has (Rabbi Telushkin?).
Dennis castigated USC football players who invited double-murderer O.J. Simpson to practice recently and flocked around him and posed for pictures.
DP spoke Sunday at a small black church in South Central Los Angeles. DP praised the pastor for teaching people to be grateful.
DP say the situation in North Korea is serious. South Korea is so spooked by what the North is doing vis-a-vis nuclear weapons that it is taking the North's side against the US.
I found this article by Dennis Prager (who frequently speaks for Chabad and is honored by Chabad) in Moment magazine:
David Berger, a Modern Orthodox Jew who is a professor of history at Brooklyn College, published an attack on Chabad in a recent issue of Commentary magazine. The attack was based on Berger's new book, The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference. As a great admirer of Commentary for more than 30 years, I read the article with much anticipation. It was, however, the only article I ever read in that journal that was unworthy of it. Not because the subject is unworthy of exploration and certainly not because any Jewish group should be immune from sharp criticism, but because Professor Berger built his case largely by quoting unnamed Chabad sources.
Nevertheless, the attack, as irresponsible as it may have been, is an important one that needs to be addressed. Professor Berger argues that if we are to take Judaism's beliefs seriously, all Jews (especially Orthodox Jews, whom he accuses of sinful silence regarding Chabad beliefs) must confront Chabad for believing that the late Chabad leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, "the Rebbe," was the Messiah, and deeming him a divine being. In essence, he accuses Chabad of having beliefs as alien to Judaism as those of Jews for Jesus.
As I intend to defend Chabad, full personal disclosure is necessary. I am not a member of Chabad, I am not an Orthodox Jew, and my regular synagogue is Reform. I do, however, have extensive experience working with Chabad. I have lectured for Chabad in many communities around the world and I am on the board of directors of the Conejo Jewish Day School, a Chabad-run community school in Agoura, Calif.
In all my years dealing with Chabad rabbis, I have never heard a hint of the beliefs Professor Berger accuses Chabad of espousing
Producer Sheri Singer
I interviewed producer Sheri Singer by phone 11/7/02.
Born in Skokie, Illinois, Sheri got her degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Oklahoma. "I started out as a news producer at age 19. After graduation, I produced news in Chicago for WLS-TV, the ABC-owned station, and WMAQ, the NBC-owned station. I produced the Phil Donahue Show from 1975-82. Norman Lear moved me to Los Angeles, where I was a studio vice president and a producer at his company, Embassy Television. Norman sold the company to Columbia. Then I produced the soap opera Days of our Lives. After that, I went to Disney TV for four years, where I was senior vice-president of movies for television. Then I went to Lifetime [female-oriented cable TV channel] as the head of Original Movies. Following that, I went out on my own as an independent producer at the beginning of 1997.
"TV movies was one of the first areas to be friendly to women as TV movies have women as their primary audience. Most of my movies have been aimed at women and children."
Luke: "How's business?"
Sheri: "I've been lucky but [the downturn in the TV movie market] is effecting me. I feel the train slowing down."
Luke: "What have you been doing to survive in these difficult times?"
Sheri: "I'm pitching features. I will know more next year when I see what happens. I've cut my overhead. I'm selective about what projects I spend money on. I have a big background in reality programming and I'm looking at doing specials. A lot of TV movie producers in this town have not produced anything else. And I have and it is something I could do again. I'm looking at drama and comedy series ideas. I'm taking a big sequence of classes at UCLA in financial planning. I could foresee having a second career as a financial planner or investment manager.
"My company is still healthy. A year or two from now, I don't know where we will be. Nobody does anymore.
"The entire entertainment industry is ageist. When I hit 50 or 60 [years old], I'm not going to be ready to retire. I've got my eye open on a second career that I can work as long as I want in. That's not the case in this industry."
Luke: "How did you come to the Gary Kremen story?"
Sheri: "A woman who works for me, Ruth Fainberg, had a relationship with a writer who read a small article about the sex.com court case in the Los Angeles Times business section. He brought it in and we read it and I thought there was something there. Ruth started doing homework. She tracked down Gary."
Luke: "That Stephen Cohen is a slippery character."
Sheri: "When we do the movie, we will probably change all the names. In the general entertainment public, none of these are household names. There isn't any reason to use their names."
Luke: "Which parts of your job do you love the most and which parts do you hate?"
Sheri: "The part I love the most is the day somebody calls you and tells you they are making your film. I like bringing it to life. One of my favorite moments is on the first day of the first casting session and I hear the words read for the first time. I've done a lot of true stories and it is often a story I've been working on for years. And suddenly it is real. I like developing scripts. The part I like the least is selling."
Luke: "Do you finding producing TV movies the most fulfilling of your different jobs?"
Sheri: "No. Probably putting together the Lifetime movie franchise. I got to use every skill I have. I had to acquire a number of new skills as well and stretch. I got to use my producing skills, be an executive, learn about business and finance, and it was like running a small studio. Donahue was also a highlight.
"Lifetime started in the mid-eighties as a medical network. I joined at the beginning of 1994 before it began calling itself television for women. I went to the retreat where we decided to come out of the closet. It was seen as a service for women but it was never marketed directly as that."
Luke: "What do you view as your strong points?"
Sheri: "I have a great eye for a story. I can put talented people together."
Luke: "What was it like working with your husband Steve White at your own producing company?"
Sheri: "It was mostly an advantage. The disadvantage is that because you both do the same thing for a living, all the money goes into the same pot. If you are in the same business and the business isn't going well, that means you are both not doing well. I really like my husband. We have different skill sets. There are different people who like me than who like him, so there are different places to pitch. I felt like we were building a company for ourselves and we weren't doing it for a nebulous corporate giant. I liked having him around. I don't think we will work together again on the other end of Steve's NBC tour. Financially it doesn't make sense. We will share office space but we will be two separate companies.
"Steve is much more interested in physical production and special effects. Guy things. I am much more into telling a story. He likes commercial fare and I like things that are about an issue, that have some kind of larger socially redeeming value because of my background as a journalist and as a talkshow producer. I gravitate towards true stories. He doesn't like true stories."
Luke: "How do you know when you've done good with a film?"
Sheri: "It's an intangible feeling you get when you see it. You experience the right emotions. If it's a comedy, you are laughing. If it is supposed to be sad, you're crying. Watching something that keeps your interest and moves you in whatever direction..."
Luke: "Have you been surprised, while pitching projects, that there are certain themes people won't consider?"
Sheri: "Not anymore. This is such a niche universe. If you've got a good idea, you can find someone. There's an outlet for any idea I'd be willing to sign my name to. The one thing that has historically been difficult to sell to any outlet has been a period piece. I'm not surprised [because of the expense].
"That question would've been more relevant in the mid-eighties when I moved to LA. I was doing issues on the Donahue show that nobody would touch as TV movies. But gradually that changed. Daytime television was ahead of primetime television."
Luke: "What do you love and what do you hate about this industry?"
Sheri: "I hate the unstable nature and the insincerity of some of the people in it. I'm an adrenaline junkie and I love the highs of making television. I like that it is not repetitive and boring. After a certain number of years, you have some control over the people you work with, if you're not in a corporate environment. While there are some scary people, there are some interesting, vital and vibrant people."
Luke: "How long have you been married?"
Sheri: "This is my second marriage and I've been married for seven-and-a-half years. I have two children (16 and 14 years of age) and Steve has two."
Luke: "How has being a parent effected you as a producer?"
Sheri: "Until I started producing movies for the Disney channel, they didn't know my work existed. Since then, I've had them come to the set of almost everything I've produced for the Disney channel. They and their friends watch the movies over and over again. It was a much more congruent marriage of the two halves of my life."
Luke: "What's it going to be like for you to leave the industry? How much of you has been invested in making movies?"
Sheri: "A lot. In the end, it will be better to work in a profession I like than not to work in one that I love."
Luke: "How have you kept your moral compass on due north in this turbulent industry?"
Sheri: "I'm a Midwest girl. I don't have Hollywood values. I try hard to keep my kids from having them. I've never changed who I am."
Luke: "Would you encourage or discourage your children from getting into the industry?"
Sheri: "Totally discourage. It's an insecure unstable business and it is often not about your talent, but about who you know."
Luke: "Have you worked on any movies that have changed you?"
Sheri: "I think I've worked on more Donahue shows that have changed me than movies."
Luke: "Would you rather your children grew up to be addicted to cigarettes or to television?"
Sheri: "Television. My kids are not allowed to watch television during the week."
Luke: "Does it bother you the amount of television the average American watches?"
Sheri:: "No. I'm more bothered by violent video games and repetitive escapist computer games."
Luke: "What sort of things tick you off about TV programming?"
Sheri: "Jackass. Things that kids are susceptible to and give them ideas."
Luke: "What about the plethora of humiliating reality programming?"
Sheri: "I hate that too. I don't even like where some of the talkshows go."