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LA Times' Rachel Abramowitz

I've long found the articles by LA Times Hollywood correspondent Rachel Abramowitz, the not-quite-up-to-it replacement for Amy Wallace, tame and lame. What matters most in the Abramowitz worldview is vagina. Those who have one are inherently righteous because of their suffering at the hands of the powerful possessors of penis.

Abramowitz wrote the 2000 book: "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood."

From the 7/5/02 SF Chronicle: "It is incredibly discouraging that you have three female studio heads but the studios are still unwilling to entrust a $50m movie into the hands of a woman," said Ms Abramowitz, who added that even in the independent sector the situation was not much different. She said that although there was near parity between men and women in film schools, this was not translating itself into directors' jobs for women. Many of the young men who were making it as first-time directors were hired on the basis of their video work, said Ms Abramowitz, but this did not seem to be an avenue open to women. "I think there is still more pleasure in hiring a boy genius than a girl genius."

Why doesn't Abramowitz find it discouraging that there are no conservatives or evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews entrusted to direct $50 million movies?

Tom writes on Soc.men: The below article is from the LA times Saturday [by Rachel Abramowitz]. You can believe there is a "gay mafia" in Hollywood, and the rest of the country for that matter, but it's more effective in Hollywood because of the greater numbers of them there. The reaction to this story is an object lesson in how the gay mafia has gained and maintained their power. It's all on the up and up and has to do with PC and their powerful coalition with the feminists. It's an informal kind of brow beating and a ganging up by harpies and gays agaisnt the offender which ultimately leads to social isolation and career losses. Even the McCarthyites of the Fifties pale in comparison to the "gay mafia" and their allies the feminists.

To sophisticates out there, notice how this journalist spins things to shame Ovitz and portray him as an outcast in the Hollywood community. She will truly be a darling of the gay community and her career furthered. I know, it's just the way things work and it could be worse if we had family and men's advocates doing the same. Great day when that happens!!

Writers are making more of this obvious force behind the speech control of PC, the gays and lesbo-feminists, who in turn control vast segments of the population and politics in doing so. The suckers need to be called on this bullshit that's running the country and all we have doing it are some poor and oppressed musicians like Eminem or the Offspring. Yeah, I know, they have money now, and rightfully so, but most of us get the boot by society when we challenge it. Outbursts of anger have been going on dramatically in social events for ten full years and it's obvious, yet do you see any media commentary on it other than dismiss it as "homophobes", "racists", "sexists" or "crazed malcontents and terrorists"? I mean really, what do I say to my kids about this society when this bullshit is going on?

Rachel Abramowitz writes: Ovitz's self-immolation in the pages of the August issue of Vanity Fair, in which he claims a "gay mafia" engineered his downfall, has flared up higher than any Westside barbecue. It's just the kind of delicious gossip that passes for communal bonding here; despite what Ovitz might say, hatred of Mike Ovitz crosses all class and clique lines. It's an enmity that links all the warring social groups that make up Hollywood. Indeed, those truly in the know are already talking about what author Bryan Burrough cut out of the piece, allegedly vile and incendiary remarks by the onetime super agent that never would get by any libel lawyer. "That's the Holy Grail. The unedited tapes," one top executive says with a sigh.

"Seriously, the man's ego has just taken over," says another top producer. "If he actually thinks there's a cabal formed with the sole intention of destroying him, that's an ego at work."

"It's one of the most pathetic throwings of blame I've ever read. It was so weird and homophobic. What kookiness," says another top player. "I think people are just fascinated by this incredible fall from grace, that no matter how powerful you are it can all be gone in a blink of an eye. It's also the reminder that maybe karma really does matter."

To most, Ovitz's "gay mafia" comment was just more evidence of how out of step he was with the times, at least in Hollywood. "Public homophobia is out of style," notes one top executive. "It's in very bad taste. It's like going around making racist comments."

MAERAS writes on alt.tv.xena: "There's a good book of interviews with female Hollywood power players, like Dawn Steel- the only woman who's ever been CEO of a major movie studio, called "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?: Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood," by Rachel Abramowitz. It's pretty funny - very irreverent towards the prima donnas and divas, like La Streisand, etc. There are very real problems in Hollywood, which make even the most powerful women frustrated as hell, and it talks about them without pulling the punches. And it talks about how it's tied up in why men in Hollywood feel just as frustrated, or end up completely self-destructing, and why so many potentially good movies end up being crap."

From Rush & Molloy in the New York Daily News June, 2000: Don't try to flatter Barbra Streisand. It may only make her mad.

Rachel Abramowitz' new book "Is that a Gun In Your Pocket?" hails her for battling the male Hollywood establishment. But we hear Babs didn't appreciate the description of her as "a funny-looking, fatherless, Jewish girl from New York, who deemed herself pretty and triumphed through chutzpah."

Streisand had no sooner put the book down than she got hold of Abramowitz' home number and blasted her. "Rachel was stunned to hear Barbra on the other end of the receiver," a friend says. "Streisand said to her: 'Are you one of those women who are jealous of other women? How could you have written such a book?'"

"Rachel tried to calm Barbra down and tell her to look at the book as a whole," says our source.

"But Barbra said, 'Well it's hard to look at the big picture at this moment.'"

Streisand's rep confirms Streisand's call. "Rachel submitted questions to Barbra," says Streisand rep Dick Guttman, "and quoted her accurately. But she also used a number of stories from books that were salacious and fallacious. Barbra said, 'You were talking to me! Why didn't you check those stories?' "Abramowitz declined to comment.

RUSH AND MALLOY write 5/31/00 in the Toronto Star about these anecdotes from Abramowitz's book:

- In 1969, when Charles Manson was on his murder spree, agent Sue Mengers took a terrified Streisand to Steve McQueen's house in Malibu, where he kept a stash of loaded guns. ``Don't worry, honey,'' Mengers reassured Streisand, ``stars aren't being murdered, only feature players.' '

- Before Thelma & Louise was a hit film, Streisand and Goldie Hawn were in negotiations to play the leads in a similar film called Sisters. ``Barbra thought Goldie's part was better and Goldie thought Barbra' s part was better,'' screenwriter Patricia Resnick is quoted as saying. Eventually they both dropped out.

- Jodie Foster learned to live with John Hinckley's having shot Ronald Reagan to impress her, according to Foster's Hotel New Hampshire co- star Rob Lowe. She had a huge blowup photo of the assassination attempt. It was ``an ironic thumbing of your nose at the absurdity of life in the public eye,'' Lowe says.

- Jane Fonda, just after winning a Best Actress Oscar in 1979 for Coming Home, railed at director Michael Cimino backstage, telling him how much she hated his Vietnam epic, The Deer Hunter, even though she was friendly with its star, Meryl Streep.

- The late movie executive Dawn Steel was described by one insider as ``a woman who'd become a man in high heels.''

Scott Yates writes in the 6/4/00 Rocky Mountain News: "If the interesting topic is women and Hollywood, you're in luck, because every word that could ever be written has been crammed into the encyclopedic - and therefore somewhat tedious - Is That a Gun in your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood by Rachel Abramowitz. It's not that this book is not well written. It's just that there is too much here. While reading, I circled this line from page 146: ``Heckerling's experience was almost directly paralleled by that of Martha Coolidge.'' Even at that relatively early point in the book, I was getting burned out on all the new characters with strikingly similar stories. Now, having finished the book, I can hardly remember either of those two or their contributions to Hollywood, if any. Indeed I'm having trouble remembering the differences between any of the main characters, who all, it seems, had dysfunctional fathers. They were nearly all Jewish and they all spent tons of time in therapy. By my rough estimate, Abramowitz has one therapist-mention every five pages. And even when the author doesn't mention it directly, she becomes the psychoanalyst, writing about her subjects' dysfunctions, need for approval or ``lack of personal boundaries.'' I love movies and stories about the making of movies. I think women in executive studio positions make for better movies. I had a dysfunctional father. I think therapy is great. And I'm Jewish. In short, I fit the model of someone who should love this book. But instead of feeling that I read it, I feel as though I've been bludgeoned with it. Luckily for you, the casual reader, you may enjoy it more than a reviewer forced to read every word. Unlike me, if you enjoy the stories of, say, Sherry Lansing, the first woman to rise to production head at a major studio, you can read that and skip the bawdy-but-tired stories about Gracie film exec Polly Platt, her alcohol and drug abuse, her occasional lover Peter Bogdanovich and his tabloid involvement with a porn queen's death. If you want another version of Barbra Striesand's well chronicled idiosyncrasies, that's here, too. So is the woman who comes closest to occupying the role of the book's central character: Dawn Steel, the Paramount powerhouse whose funeral opens the book and whose death closes it. In total, the book makes the point that women in power have helped Hollywood break out of the mold of testosterone-driven films, even if it did so with Flashdance and Fast Times at Ridgemont High as much as with Postcards from the Edge and Big. What the book needed was a Dawn Steel-strength editor who could persuade Abramowitz that a book half as long would have been twice as powerful."

Stephanie Zacharek writes in the 8/16/00 Washington Post: For a book that follows the arduous, snail-trickle trail of women's ascent to power in Hollywood, Rachel Abramowitz's "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?" is remarkably free of pat ideology and cant, never descending into carping about gender issues. It's carefully detailed and meticulously researched, admirable for dozens of reasons.

Without succumbing to whining or petulant foot-stomping, Abramowitz has rendered a suitably sympathetic picture of the tough time women have had in Hollywood. But she comes off more like a scholar assessing ancient history from a distance than a young writer chronicling social change.

Ms. RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ (Los Angeles Times) told NPR 6/13/02: "When it pushes a psychosexual button and it's still a movie that everyone can talk about because it's just sort of about their experience but just a little bit more so, they don't like controversy when a movie is just, like, aggressively, in your face sexual or, I mean, sort of something like "The Believer" where you're sort of dealing with subject matter in a provocative thought-provoking way. I mean, there's no one who's going to watch "The Believer" and not feel discombobulated by it in a certain way."

Newsweek 3/13/00: High-ranking female executives "don't want their achievements to be considered women's achievements," says Abramowitz. "They think too much attention has been paid to this. To them, saying Hollywood is sexist is like saying the ocean is blue. Let's just get on with life." But for a writer or director struggling to get her next job, that' s exactly the problem. She can't.

...........

A graduate of Yale, Abramowitz began covering Hollywood around 1990. She worked mainly for Premiere, but also contributed to Mirabella and The New York Times Magazine. She's married with a son and lives in Los Angeles.

The dust jacket for her book reads: "Eight years ago, a remarkably talented reporter named Rachel Abramowitz began interviewing the women of Hollywood to, in her words, "puncture the mythology and to circumvent the silence" of this rarefied world."

Silence about women in Hollywood? What world does Abramowitz live in? There's constant whining on this topic, much of it coming from Rachel's pen.

And what stories has this "remarkably talented reporter" ever broken?

Rachel Abramowitz writes on page 7 of her book: "When I began reporting this book, almost every woman I met came with a kind of urban legend attached, usually a pejorative back story that purported to be the secret key to her identity or success. Most of the stories were about sx, or sexual attractiveness. The Fatal Attraction producer Sherry Lansing, more than a few people assured me, had slept her way to the top. Penny Marshall hadn't gotten over the fact that she wasn't as pretty as the starlets who stocked Hollywood. Steel, of course, had simply become a man."

By contrast, Rachel's approach to the book is to initiate a discussion on gender and sexism and sexual harassment. She exchanges her obligations as a reporter to that of a transcriber. She gives "primary importance to these women's interpretations of events. I wanted to know how they felt. For this is not only a history of facts but a history of consciousness, of these women's - elite, well-educated, deeply psychotherapized - changing consciousness." (pg. 15)

In other words, Abramowitz is most interested in how these women see and feel about themselves. Does Rachel the journalist not realize that the connection between how people are and how they see themselves is frequently gigantic?

And this is the type of writing that Stephanie Zacharek in the Washington Post claims is "remarkably free of pat ideology and cant, never descending into carping about gender issues"?

In her book and other writings, Abramowitz, when it comes to women in Hollywood, plays the cheerleader, accepting what her female subjects (mostly powerful women) tell her as truth. She does not point out a single untruth.

Abramowitz, by contrast, is quick to brand men, such as director Howard Hawks, anti-Semitic, racist, sexist and misogynistic. (pg. 22)

Abramowitz writes that women are selfless creatures, who's only fault is that they doubt themselves, and give too much, constantly sacrificing themselves for their men:

* Polly Platt's mother Vivian "gave up her career" for her husband, who betrayed her. (pg. 13)

* Polly "invested her energy and brilliance into making men brilliant." (pg. 11)

* Poor Polly's humility "led to a twenty-year battle simply to grant her ambition and talent its due." (pg. 12)

* Polly "raised four kids, buried two husbands, and watched Boganovich, the love of her life, betray her and then self-destruct in horrifying Grand Guignol fashion." (pg. 11)

* Poor Polly had to listen to Howard Hawks tell Peter Bogdanovich that beautiful Sherry Lansing was "the kind of girl that you should be with." (pg. 21)

* "Platt never worried about credit." (pg. 25)

* Peter Bogdanovich refused to drive Polly to the hospital for the birth of her second child because he was too tired. (pg. 27)

* Paula Weinstein's mother Hannah "entrusted the business details to [her husband John] Fisher" who betrayed her. (pg. 18)

This dreary litany of faithless men and wonderful women pervades Rachel's 446 page book.