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Los Angeles Synagogue Guide

I'm hoping to win friends and influence people. I feel like I am doing a public service with this report. If not me, who? Where there is no critic, be a critic. If not now, when?

Putative Marc writes: GOOD. Maybe not for *you* but in general it's certainly warranted. I'd want to use it were I visiting LA.

Fred writes: This sort of stuff should only be published anonymously. Publishing on lukeford.net and saying "I didn't write it" doesn't constitute anonymity.

Dennis Prager Singles Shindig

Sunday morning I spoke to a friend.

Luke: "Why am I shelling out $30 to a singles function with 600 people when I could go to Friday Night Live where there will be 1800 singles my age?"

Friend: "Because at FNL, 95% of people will be liberal while at the Prager function you are more likely to find someone with common values."

So I drove 30 minutes up to the Glendale Hilton for the Dennis Prager KRLA 870 AM singles shindig from 1-5PM, September 1.

I kept my yarmulke in my pocket. I looked around when I arrived and saw no one else with a kipa. Dennis didn't have one. I estimate the crowd at about 500 people. The last event, a few months ago, sold out at 600.

I strolled around looking for attractive young women. There were fewer than a dozen under the age of 35. I talked to most of them. I don't believe that any of the young cuties were Jewish.

I saw about 15 people I knew from Jewish life and I estimate the crowd was about one-quarter Jewish.

I sat during Prager's lecture next to a 26 yo blonde Nurse Practicioner who lives in Santa Monica. She had a volleyball scholarship to the University of Michigan. Weighs 145 pounds on a 5'8" frame. We wrote notes, filling two sheets of paper, to each other throughout Prager's talk. She didn't want to date me or anyone else who can't lift her up and thrown her on his shoulder.

I asked her how long she'd been listening to Prager. She said she'd never heard of him. Her father made her attend today's program. Like dozens of young women I know, she described herself as "fiscally conservative and socially liberal."

Prager spoke for over an hour on eight reasons why people don't marry. Then he took about 60 minutes of questions. All of Prager's comments were familiar to me.

#1- We compare people to images of perfection, largely created through the media, so of course real people can't live up to these.

#2 - We are afraid of pain and all marriages entail pain and suffering.

[Fred writes: i.e. being trapped with someone. Forever. Even if they decide to put on 60 lbs, and lose all interest in you.]

Ten years ago, I would've been thrilled to attend a Dennis Prager singles function. Now I'm spoiled listening to Prager on the radio every day and I just cruise such a function looking for hotties, of which there were few Sunday. I estimate the average age at the event was 45.

Dennis said his wife Fran says he's worst driver in the world, and it is only because of divine protection that he doesn't get into accidents. Prager was last in a car accident at age 22.

Prager spoke out against men shaving their chests. He said it was effeminate. Dennis says he showers with his youngest son Aaron who's envious of all of Prager's body hair.

By staying single, men become more effeminate and women become more masculine.

Dennis said he didn't yell at his eldest son David when he crashed and totaled Prager's luxury car.

Khunrum writes: "What Him Worry? You schmucks who hang on his every word will buy him another."

Dennis says one should get excited about as much of life as possible. He says that 45 Sabbaths out of the year, he has friends, two couples, come to his home in the afternoon to schmooze. That gets Dennis excited.

Dennis says he didn't look back on his first marriage, which ended in divorce after four years, as a mistake. He got a beautiful son, David, out of it. Dennis says that he and his wife were simply wrong for each other. He didn't go around thinking what a jerk she was. He entered therapy to figure out why he'd make such a bad choice for him for a marriage partner. Then he married happily in 1988.

Dennis said he was always least interested in women who displayed themselves with overtly sexual clothing. Women who wore terribly short skirts etc repelled him.

Dennis said he almost fell off his chair when a widow told him that a man, on a second date, asked her if she enjoyed oral sex.

Khunrum writes: Did you get stale crackers and cheese for your 30 beanies?

Luke: There was popcorn and soda and ice and deep moral teachings.

Sunday's event, while billed as a singles program, was actually the actualization of Dennis Prager's long promised "Dinners with a Difference" Micah Center for Ethical Monotheism dinner program for blacks and whites to get to know each other better. This was dinner with a difference. It started at 1PM and the dinner was popcorn and soda.

On his radio show, 9/2/02, Dennis Prager frequently talked about what a "good looking group" it was Sunday at the Glendale Hilton. Did we go to different events?

Dennis keeps talking about all the attractive women he spoke to Sunday at the event. "It was an impressive looking group."

I thought about a third to a half of the people there were dressed way too casually, particularly the men - in jeans and hawaiin shirts.

Fred writes: I have an ex-partner who could have you an hour lecture on why not to get married that would at least have the virtue of being funny. He'd start out by asking you this. Suppose someone were to make the following offer to you:

1. For the rest of your life, you can't sleep with anyone else.

2. 1/2 of everything you own or obtain is mine.

3. You now have to work like a dog to buy me a house that I want to live in (but of course, I'll own 1/2 of).

Great deal, eh? His favorite movie is an old Burt Reynolds comedy called Paternity. In this film, Reynolds decides he wants to have a kid. One of his friends tells him "Are you crazy? Look at you life. No mortgage. No wife. No kids. You have everything!" Next time you're up here, I'll introduce you and have him set you straight.

Dennis Prager was unpleasantly surprised to find out that his event was covered by the Los Angeles Times. Dennis says he's instinctive reaction whenever he finds out he's in the paper is, 'Oh no.'

Why does Prager react that way? My guesses:

* He takes himself and his work teaching good values very seriously. He's devoted a lifetime to fighting evil and promoting goodness and he knows how easily his good name can be tarnished.

* Prager's a control freak. He hates being edited. He wants to get his values, and his presentation of himself and his life, out to the public without the mediating of journalists. Prager, like most people, wants to control his image.

* Prager instinctively dislikes and distrusts journalists as a group. He distrusts their tendencies to secular, liberal values.

Karen S. Kim wrote for the News Press in the Los Angeles Times:

The event kicked off with an icebreaker that involved participants responding to prompts like, "If you have been married less than three times, step forward." Women, who outnumbered their counterparts by a large margin, stood on opposite sides of the room from the men, stepping forward until a couple was able to touch one another.

Single women of all ages were dressed to the nines for the gathering, fixing their impeccably prepared hair and makeup from time to time. Men wore everything from Hawaiian shirts to jeans and T-shirts to suits and ties.

All eyes roamed the room, giving prospective mates the once-over. Some made their minds up quickly.

"The idea of actually meeting anyone didn't hit me until I came here and saw how many people were here," said Mike Stoker of Torrance. "But looking around the room, I don't think there's anyone here that's my type. I have high standards."

[Prager responded on air that Mike's comment was immature and that with such attitudes, Mike would never marry. I spotted a half a dozen attractive women under 35 and I believe that I spoke to every one. Not one was Jewish. Prager feels free to talk about the narcissism of singles. I've noticed that married men tend to be so randy that they're dying for almost any woman other than their wife. Married men tend to have much more generous standards for female attractiveness. I don't understand how Prager could keep talking on the air about the high number of attractive women. Prager said he wanted to take photos of the women at the event to post on his website but he didn't because it wasn't right.]

For some attendants, Prager, rather than the prospect of meeting an available mate, was the draw for the event. "I've loved him for over 20 years, and I'm going to marry him after I kill his wife," Lee Winters of Los Angeles said. "I'm not here to meet anyone but to be close to him."

Minstrel Show

Rod Dreher writes for NationalReview.com: What if a major television network sent out teams to search the Bronx, Compton, and the south side of Chicago looking for a large "multi-generational family" of poor black folks, who would move into a Beverly Hills mansion for a year? Cameras would follow the Negroes around, capturing their fish-out-of-water hijinks for the entertainment of millions of viewers, who will be invited to laugh as the urban rustics squirm and gawk in front of their social betters.

If that were true, there would be no end to the outrage over the racist exploitation and class denigration inherent in such a morally rancid enterprise. Jesse Jackson would be all over creation, raising hell about a media corporation sponsoring a minstrel show — and for once in my life, I'd have to agree with him.

In fact, this is a true story, but the hapless rubes CBS is searching out are not African Americans, but poor southern whites, the only ethnic group in the country that it is permissible to mock in polite company.

Luke Slides Into Paradise

I have an Orthodox Jewish friend who studies a lot of Talmud every day. I was talking to him this week.

Friend: "You're going to slide into paradise on my coattails."

He means that I accumulate great points for the world to come because I am friendly with a Torah sage. That sounds good to me.

Not Necessarily The News

I interview director-producer John Moffitt at his office at Sunset-Gower studios on August 27, 2002.

We talk about the comedy troup Monty Python and why they haven't done any movies together in 15 years. Moffitt directed a 1998 Python reunion.

John: "There's always been a schism there, a quiet kind of hostility between the factions. Nothing outwardly upsetting but all very British and under the skin.

"Not Necessarily The News ran for nine years. It was difficult to acquire news footage. We took the proposed show to Michael Fuchs at HBO and he ordered a pilot. As soon as they looked at it, they ordered six episodes. The next year they ordered eight episodes. They never found a slot for us. They put us all over the place. We won more ACE awards than any other show in the history of HBO. We got great reviews but nobody saw us. Now HBO nows how to block out programs.

"We got this wonderful tape of Jane Fonda and Ted Turner. We turned it into a sex interview. Ted saw it and we got cut off from using CNN footage."

From Catherine Seipp's Salon column 7/4/97: "Last week I heard from Hustler insiders that Larry Flynt is taking the high road about the highly entertaining home video the skinmag just received ... apparently from a disgruntled assistant, who sent the video to Hustler to get back at the boss. The video reportedly shows a major media mogul happily exclaiming, "My dick's as big as a house!" while being penetrated by his dildo-equipped wife. A feather boa and another woman also participate in the scene. The star of this sexual scenario called the head of the Hustler empire and asked him as a favor, media mogul to media mogul, not to feature it in the magazine. Flynt, who is full of surprises these days -- he recently had a cordial meeting of the minds with former nemesis Jerry Falwell -- agreed."

New Times LA: Most LA Times Staffers Believe Anita Busch's Claims of Mob Harassment Are BS

Rush & Molloy broke this story in the New York Daily News 7/11/02: "Los Angeles Times writer Anita Busch has been looking into the federal indictment of reputed Mafia captain Anthony (Sonny) Ciccone on charges of extortion and threatening to kill actor Steven Seagal. After digging into the story for a couple of weeks, Busch recently discovered that someone had come to her L.A. home and smashed her car's windshield, leaving a note that said, "Stop," sources tell us. She also found a metal box on the car. Bomb-squad cops found a dead fish in it. While police investigate the incident and other threats she has received, Busch has resigned from the story and is in hiding, say sources."

Many of Anita's peers immediately reacted with skepticism to this story, knowing her histrionic personality tendencies and willingness to believe in conspiracy theories. I believe David Poland and Jeffrey Wells were the first journalists to express their skepticism in their internet columns.

After talking to various sources, I piled on, believing that Busch was herself the source for the Rush & Molloy story. I've covered many Mafia stories and threats to journalists are not the Mafia way.

Now Rick Barrs writes in the New Times LA 8/29/02: The stuff [Busch] and [Paul] Lieberman were reporting was public record, part of a federal indictment and was also covered on June 5 by both the New York Daily News and the New York Times. The Busch-Lieberman team didn't break the story, nor any new ground.

...[T]his from a well-placed Times source: "Curiously, Paul Lieberman hasn't gotten any such threats, and he's in New York!"

Curiously, too, The Finger could find nobody in the New York press covering the Seagal story who'd been threatened.

LAPD spokesman John Pasquariello...said there were no suspects in the case and that the LAPD had not advised Busch to go into hiding. "Whatever she's doing, it's strictly on her own," he stressed.

Commented one former Times staffer familiar with the alleged threat: "Most people at the Times think it's bullshit. Both [Busch's boss and top features editor] John Montorio and [the Times' editor and chief] John Carroll really like this cloak-and-dagger stuff, so they encouraged her to go into hiding and let her choose her own hotels. L'Ermitage was one."

One current Times reporter whispered, "Talking about the Busch situation has kind of turned into a sport around here. She's a person who has a certain reputation in town, and the fact that this is going on has only added to her lore."

[Mob expert Jerry] Capeci: "It would seem that if she's gotten threats and they're real, that they've come from outside La Cosa Nostra. Mobsters do kill people, but there's a rule, and generally they adhere to it, against killing law enforcement or reporters. That is, as long as [cops or reporters] aren't in bed with them somehow. But, generally, the mob has a hands-off policy when it comes to the press as long as you're just doing your job. Not for any benevolent reasons, mind you, but just to avoid the heat."

[A]among Busch's colleagues from the trades, terms like "high-strung" and "quick to anger" came up. More than one scribe who worked with Busch at the Reporter or Variety said she had a "take no prisoners" attitude when it came to enemies.

One of The Finger's Times sources said, "Look, I'm just suggesting that it could be some kind of elaborate prank. From what I know of her time at the trades, she made plenty of enemies."

In reply to his phone calls and emails to Anita, Rick Barrs got a fax from her attorney Paul Suzuki warning: "assertion of allegations against my client is defamatory and places my client in a false light. [These] allegations are not only false, but obviously done maliciously, recklessly, and in wanton disregard of the truth."

While Barrs has received many threatening letters from lawyers, this was the first one from a lawyer representing a journalist.

Journalist Anita Busch is known around town for screaming obscenities, as in first thing in the morning to a source, "You fucked me!" (Salon 10/3/97)

Never married, with no children, Busch, a hot-tempered aggressive reporter, has covered Hollywood for the two trades (Variety and Hollywood Reporter) as well as the NY and LA Times and Entertainment Weekly.

Like the volatile and psychotic Nikki Finke, she seems unable to hold a job for long. In the fall of 2001, she lasted a week at Entertainment Weekly before getting fired.

According to people who've worked with her, Busch is mentally unbalanced, believes in conspiracy theories and likes to trash people in print who she doesn't like.

Busch has an erratic uneven temperament, bordering on the psychotic. She screams threats and obscenities at people yet is terribly thin-skinned about any criticisms directed at herself.

"She was nice and funny but strange," one of her former colleagues told Salon 10/3/97. "She'd think the latest Burger King promotional tie-in was a fascinating story. She was big on conspiracy theories. She probably believes in UFOs. I wish her well."

Like NYT's Bernie Weinraub and the LAT's Claudia Eller, Busch is known for playing favorites (writing positively about people she likes and ripping people she doesn't). Michael Ovitz told the 8/02 Vanity Fair: "Anita Busch plays pool with Ron Meyer [president of Universal] three nights a week."

David Shaw's four part ponderous series on entertainment journalism in the LA Times in February, 2001, "nearly deified then Hollywood Reporter editor and high end Bart-hater Anita Busch." (David Poland)

Busch grew up in Granite City, Illinois. She worked for advertising trade publications in Chicago before moving to Hollywood because of the moderate climate and the opening at the Hollywood Reporter covering marketing. She was lured over to Variety but later quit because of unethical behavior on the part of editor Peter Bart. She then went to the Hollywood Reporter where she quit over unethical behavior of its publisher Bob Dowling.

New Times columnist Rick Barrs writes 5/3/01: "A former top editor at one of the trades marveled at The Finger's naïveté about the Hollywood Reporter. "It's a fucking trade paper, and a trade paper's a whorehouse. What did David Robb expect? He knew he was working for whores.

""I like Anita Busch, and I think she wants to do the right thing, but the Hollywood Reporter ain't the goddamned New York Times. Whether she likes it or not, an industry ass-kisser like George Christy's more what the Reporter's about than David Robb. Hos are damn sure going to protect their own."" (New Times LA, 5/3/01)

When Lew Wasserman died, the New York Times mentioned prominently the definitive book on Wasserman by former LA Times journalist Dennis McDougal. The LA Times and Busch mentioned the book in passing, even though McDougal, who did not speak to the New York Times, spent close to an hour holding Anita Busch's hand, correcting her on everything from the 1952 SAG waiver to Lew’s support of Bill Clinton.


Reporter Anita Busch Hiding?

David Poland writes: Apparently, she turned over the wrong rock in her efforts to report on Steven Seagal’s former mob connections. Apparently, Anita has stopped, which, given her tenacious nature, had to be difficult for her. But a good death threat over a bunch of crappy movies will do it nine out of ten times. The tenth time is Mark Ebner [who wrote the definite article on the gay mafia for Spy magazine], who would eat the fish, write “Prensa” on his windshield and tell friends that he just got back from a trip to Central America with Ollie Stone, deliver his story and then disappear for eight months, except for appearances in AOL chat rooms under the member name FuckYou239.

Then again, there are some people who think the whole thing is a little fishy… after all, it was leaked to a gossip column and Busch’s journalistic integrity was just publicly questioned by the Vanity Fair article on Ovitz, her close relationship with Ron Meyer being one of the few things in the article that wasn’t pulled apart or denied.

LA Times: Movie Producer Charged With Mob Ties

From the 7/12/02 LA TIMES: During a partnership that lasted more than a decade, [Steven] Seagal starred in films that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, and [Julius R.] Nasso helped produce them.

Nasso is free on $1.5-million bail, preparing his defense against a federal indictment that depicts him as an associate of the Gambino crime family, ruled in recent years by John Gotti and his kin. Last month, prosecutors revealed that a microphone planted to get evidence of mob influence over New York-area docks had picked up a meeting in a restaurant between the 49-year-old Nasso and a local Mafia captain.

Their alleged topic of conversation? A scheme to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from "an individual [Steven Seagal] in the film industry" who was not named but whose identity was no secret: the don't-mess-with-me actor who broke noses and bones on screen.

Nasso also was a producer of "Narc," which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January. That film [also produced by Randall Emmett], starring Ray Liotta, goes into nationwide release this fall. Tom Cruise signed on as an executive producer.

Imdb.com gives this plot outline of Narc: "When the trail goes cold on a murder investigation of a policeman an undercover narcotics officer is lured back to the force to help solve the case."


Journalist Anita Busch has returned to work at the Los Angeles Times, after going into hiding over alleged mafia death threats for her reporting on shady producer Julius R. Nasso.

Busch is known for her histrionic personality and exaggerated claims. Most of her peers are highly skeptical of her claims of mafia death threats.

Like the volatile and psychotic Nikki Finke, she seems to never be able to hold a job for long. In the fall of 2001, she lasted less than a month at Entertainment Weekly before getting fired.


Cynthia Cotts writes 8/14/02 for the Village Voice: According to two people who have worked with her, [Anita] Busch is willing to trash people she doesn't like—and she hates Ovitz. (Once, when Ovitz was still at CAA, she wrote something that pissed him off. Knowing that Busch is allergic to monosodium glutamate, Ovitz sent her a bottle of the stuff in response, with the one-word note: "Enjoy.")

Ovitz's latest beef with Busch is that she is friends with Universal head Ron Meyer and supposedly plays pool with him three nights a week. As the head of a studio that was in partnership with AMG, Meyer was in a position to at least know about the AMG audit, Ovitz claimed in VF, insinuating that Meyer leaked the story to Busch.


David Poland writes on his site www.thehotbutton.com: Just a few years ago, Anita Busch left The Hollywood Reporter for Daily Variety, leaving her Reporter pals pissed in the wake. At that point, she became the second highest paid entertainment reporter at the trades. (Variety's Michael Fleming was and still is the top dog.) But things didn't work out at Variety, and Busch's exit was followed up by a series of unkind words from those who worked with her. Anita next took a desk at Entertainment Weekly, where conflicts about "who's beat is it anyway" led to a quick departure. Still loaded to the gills with industry contacts, Busch freelanced at the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time, Premiere and Advertising Age. And now, while former THR editor Alex Ben Block swings in the wind after his shockingly quick dismissal from Morgan Creek, the company he left the Reporter for (rumor has it that he was late for work and was summarily dismissed for that by the erratic Jim Robinson), Busch has taken the reins as editor of the smaller format industry trade. But will Ms. Busch be happy at last? Who knows? All we can know for sure is that sex-free incest is really Hollywood's favorite indoor activity.


David Poland writes: On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter [story by Anita Busch] joined the gossip pack with reports about how premiere audiences reacted to the violence in Fight Club. They actually printed this bon mot: "One woman leaving the theater cried, 'It's the most horrible movie I've ever seen! Why aren't the pickets here? Where is Cardinal (John) O'Connor when we need him?'" That's exactly who the film is for ... people who would like to see the church protesting movies for violence. Another thoughtful comment: "'It's loathsome to use the medium this way,' lamented one producer." I think all these people, who can't see the art for the violence should head to New York and protest the art exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art immediately. It's okay not to love Fight Club. No doubt it is a hard sell and a tough topic. But not to understand it at all is pathetic. And keep in mind that all these offended folks probably didn't bat an eye at 17-year-old Thora Birch's breasts in American Beauty. After all, that film made a hero of a man who lost his way in life and (this may be a spoiler to you, but it is given away in the first frames of the film) dies for his effort. That's a happy ending, apparently. Fight Club dares to suggest that you have to fight to stay self-aware and even after you wake-up, you can screw it all up. A more truthful ending, but one that actually requires thought. Darn.


After his column criticing Busch and the Hollywood Reporter, and his KABC radio show, David Poland "heard from Anita, who objected to the characterizations I had made of her actions and motivations in regard to the Friday piece, which she had co-written with an east coast correspondent. Specifically, she was concerned about factual issues regarding when she showed up for the Fight Club premiere screening and whether she had seen the entire movie herself before that piece ran, as indicated in my Monday column and on KABC. She tells me that she had seen the film before the premiere and that she even saw the whole thing that evening, catching it from the top at the overflow theater (the Bruin). I will happily bow to her word on that. As I said on Monday, it is a petty issue. She also felt that I misrepresented the type of story that it was and the amount of work that was put into developing it, another case of me assuming a negative motive. In our conversation, she also suggested that perhaps I had been spun by Fox.

"Well, the issue of what news is versus what gossip is and how they now intersect in the entertainment news business is a regular feature of this column. And here we are again. I wrote the weekend column around midnight on Thursday based exclusively on the portion of the Reporter story shown on the Reporter's Website. I had not spoken to anyone at Fox about it because everyone from Fox was at home, presumably asleep. I will concede this to her. I did not know that the article was under the column headline of THR E-mail because there is no such distinction on the Website. However, as with all things in this column, the proof is in the work itself. So even in reflection, the distinction that Editor Anita ran this attack on Fight Club in a column rather than as a simple news story carries little weight with me. Not because The Reporter doesn't have the right to editorialize, but because the article itself, in whatever context, reads like a news story."


David Poland writes: Well, minutes before my deadline for today's column, I got another call from Anita Busch. She was less cordial this time. Her anger continued to bubble over my reporting about her seeing Fight Club.


David Poland writes: When I heard that Anita Busch of The Hollywood Reporter was telling people that the MPAA people were pissed off at me over the ratings system ruckus at the Jack Valenti breakfast last week, I wasn't surprised. Nor was I surprised when she wrote a story about the argument and failed to mention me or any of the other three writers who were involved. Anita all but hissed at me every time we met at ShoWest. She is still clearly angry about a conflict we had over Fight Club that happened six-plus months ago. If she wants to stay angry over one story of hers that I disagreed with, albeit vehemently and very publicly, so be it. I don't need a shell to deal with her because her anger, however irrational, is honest.


David Poland knock down myths in David Shaw's series on entertainment journalism in the LA Times: "The new one is that Anita Busch took a brave stand when she attacked Fight Club in print. I do think that Anita has improved THR and I hold no animosity towards her. However, Anita came inches away from being fired on that story and was absolutely enraged by being called to task by me, in print and on the radio, for reaching beyond her appropriate place as a news editor. The reason it was such an issue was not the editorial that Anita wrote about the movie. By the time that ran, Fox's threatening stance had already passed. It was the supposed "news" story that suggested a level of unanimity of rage and anger about the picture on the evening of the premiere. There was certainly a large group of angry people, but there were a lot of supporters as well and they somehow never got quoted. Fox also stated at the time that Anita hadn't even seen the movie in its entirety, arriving late to the screening. To her credit, Anita told me that she went back and saw the picture again before writing her editorial... an editorial that was completely appropriate, however wrong-headed it might have been. I am a big John Horn fan, but what Anita got caught doing was not being fearless, but taking a cheap, personal shot inside what seemed to be a news story.

"Shaw completely misses a couple of issues regarding both Peter Bart and Anita. 1) Bart is well known to hate Inside.com, and the web in general, because so many of his reporters have been cherry picked by stock-option-waving dot-coms in the last two years. Two of his best, Andrew Hindes and Chris Petrikin, are now at Inside. This has a lot to do with his attitude about new media by the account of everyone who works for him. 2) Anita was, essentially, stolen by Variety at great expense and exited after various intense run-ins with Peter Bart. Then she was at Entertainment Weekly, which was not a good fit because of her hard-hitting style. And then, Bob Dowling took her back at THR after Alex Ben Block left for another job (before he started working for a now-deceased dot-com.) It seems that Anita has finally found the right job for her and her style."


David Poland writes: "Anita Busch made a much greater effort trying to get Jim Romanesko from linking to my comments on her than to stop me from writing them."

Producer Harry J. Ufland

I met with Producer Harry J. Ufland at his Santa Monica home June 11, 2002.

Harry: "I was born and raised in New York City. I attended PS (Public School) 187. I went to Columbia for two years.

"My brother was a publicist. My aunt worked for Shuberts theatre. She used to come to dinner Friday night with tons of movie star pictures. My father was in the textile business. I went into the army for two years, 1956-58. I then started in the William Morris mailroom at $35 a week. There were half a dozen Phi Betta Kappas [elite students] in the mailroom. That kind of training doesn't happen anymore.

"I remember bringing something over to an actress at her home and she offered me a dollar. I turned it down. She said, 'I know how much money you make. Take it.' So I did.

"Ever since I knew I couldn't play professional baseball, I've wanted to be a producer. I thought that would be the way to do it. Little did I know that I'd be an agent for 23 years first.

"I started an industrial films department, which no other agents had. I signed Director Marty Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro in New York. William Morris asked me to move to Los Angeles in 1972. It was much more corporate. They tried to get to wear ties. Marty Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973) was playing at Lincoln Center and William Morris wouldn't pay for me to go see it.

"I got a call from Freddie Fields and Guy McElwaine, asking me to join their agency CMA (which became ICM). They made me an offer that was considerably more than I was making. That was great until they sold the company to Marvin Josephson in 1974. I never liked Marvin. In 1976, I left and set up my own agency, The Ufland Agency. I represented Marty Scorsese, Bob De Niro, Adriane Lyne, Ridley and Tony Scott, Peter Bogdanovich, Harvey Keitel, Roger Donaldson. I burned out. I had a dozen employees. It was a large small agency.

"I helped a friend of mine, Joe Roth, get started in Los Angeles. I'd met him in New York. We had lunch at Le Dome one day on Sunset Blvd. I said I couldn't stand what I was doing. His suggestion was that we partner up on a production company. We couldn't get out of our own way at the beginning. They weren't wonderful movies [that Harry produced and Joe directed, such as Moving Violations, Off Beat, Where the River Runs Black and Streets of Gold]. We folded the agency into a management company and then phased out all the clients except Marty and Bob. Then I found myself reading their stuff before mine. And I thought that if I ever wanted to really do it [as a producer], I had to really do it. So I set Marty and Bob up at CAA. Marty and I have remained close. He's producing four projects with me.

"Mary Jane joined our company as vice-president. The minute she walked in, I thought we'd get married. And we did in 1985."

Luke: "What did you think of Peter Biskind's book about 1970s Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls?"

Harry: "I didn't read it. I heard about it from friends. He was silly not to call me. He would've gotten great stuff about Marty if he'd phoned me. I thought he was foolish not to. A lot of these things are not well researched. People write them with their opinions, which they had beforehand and they don't want to be deterred."

Luke: "How did you get hooked up with The Last Temptation of Christ."

Harry: "It'd been Marty's obsession since Boxcar Bertha days (1972) when Barbara Hershey told him about the book [novel by Nikos Kazantzakis]."

Luke: "You loved the novel?"

Harry: "Yes. We knew it was controversial. We didn't dream that this stuff would happen."

Luke: "I don't understand why you didn't understand that there would be that much fury."

Harry: "Now it is easy to look back and see how organized they were. They were so unbelievably organized. They were selling anti-Last Temptation kits. All the letters were the same. They were form letters. These people, not only had they not seen the movie but they hadn't read the book.

"When you think about it, Marty is so deeply religious..."

Luke: "He is?"

Harry: "Yes."

Ufland's big black dog knocks over my glass of water and Harry ushers him out of the room. We spend the next five minutes cleaning up.

Luke: "Didn't you realize this was a sensitive topic? You're dealing with a guy who is regarded as God by two billion people."

Harry: "We realized it was a sensitive topic. People didn't really know right-wing fundamentalism at that point. You'd be silly not to know that something like that could happen now. The orchestration of the campaign was just amazing. I remember driving out to Universal one day and they had Southern California kids in shorts who they paid to hand out leaflets and to demonstrate. Who dreamed that would happen?

"I had sold it to Tom Pollock [at Universal]. He had been our lawyer. They had the guts to buy and to make it and then at the end they chose to let it go. Wasserman's house was threatened. These people really went to town.

"Universal opened the movie without any fanfare. And unfortunately, the people who wanted to see it, went to see it in the first week or so. And the rest got afraid. They didn't want to go to the movies and risk getting blown up.

"During the time that Barry Diller [at Paramount] put it in turnaround, and we went around town trying to set it up, we felt that whatever move we made, something was ahead of us. We found out that Salah M. Hassanein, the head of UA Theaters who worked for [movie magnate] Marshal Naify, a Muslim. He told studios that if they did anything to get this movie made, their movies wouldn't play at his theaters.

"Sale hadn't read the book. He assumed this would be an anti-religious picture. The book is a deeply religious book. It is certainly not an anti-Christ book.

"Joe Roth is married to Sam Arkoff's daughter. And we knew that Sam knew Salah Hassanein. We couldn't get to him so Sam got to him for us.

"We were in New York. Salah Hassanein sent a van to pick us up. So Marty, Joe and I went out in this unmarked white van. He was charming. He admitted he hadn't read the book. He said something that I will never forget. 'You don't understand. You make the movies. They don't come to your theater and destroy the theater.'

"He was basing that on a movie called Messenger of God [about the Islam prophet Mohammed]. And they destroyed the theater.

"I said to Salah, 'I don't care if you hate the movie but let us get it made. Please don't follow us around and tell people not to do it. Then do what you want when the movie is made.' And he promised to back off."

Luke: "What was the key to getting the movie made?"

Harry: "Tom Pollock stood up for it. They [Universal] wanted to be in business with Marty. Whenever you get a controversial movie made at a studio, you have to have someone who will stand up and say, 'I want this movie.' The same thing happened when we did Not Without My Daughter. There was a lot of nonsense about that too.

"Marty never went over budget. I thought it was a good picture."

Luke: "How did Universal react to the firestorm of criticism?"

Harry: "Badly. That's easy for me to say. I didn't run the company."

Luke: "So what did they do? They just didn't put much into advertising? They just let it die?"

Harry: "Pretty much. They could make a case for saying that the business wasn't there. And I don't think the business was there. But I think it could've been.

"People thought they could get hurt by going to see it. And there were enough bomb threats to justify that fear. It's a lesser version of the aftermath of 9/11 when people didn't want to fly."

Luke: "What did you love about the film?"

Harry: "I'm prejudiced because I know how much it meant to Marty. For me, the idea of presenting Jesus as an ordinary person was an extraordinary thing to be able to do."

Luke: "Do you have a Christian background? Are you Jewish."

Harry: "I am Jewish. I was not raised religious."

Luke: "What was your role on the film?"

Harry: "We seem to be going far afield from producing. There are things about that that I just don't want to go into."

Luke: "Tell me about Not Without My Daughter (1991)."

Harry: "We were sent the manuscript of the book (by a book agent at William Morris) as it was being written. The book and the movie came out at the same time."

From Imdb.com: ""Moody" is an Iranian doctor living in America with his American wife Betty and their child Mahtob. Wanting to see his homeland again, he convinces his wife to take a short holiday there with him and Mahtob. Betty is reluctant, as Iran is not a pleasant place, especially if you are American and female. Upon arrival in Iran, it appears that her worst fears are realized: Moody declares that they will be living there from now on. Betty is determined to escape from Iran, but taking her daughter with her presents a larger problem."

Harry: "It was a big struggle to sell it. It was a big struggle to get it made. People were afraid of it."

Luke: "The death threat against Salmon Rushdie was made in 1989 in reaction to his book The Satanic Verses."

Harry: "Not Without My Daughter opened at the same time as the Persian Gulf war and we were accused of trying to exploit the war. Like we knew that the war was going to happen at that time.

"It's so tough to get a movie made. It wasn't nearly what I thought it might be. It's a flawed movie."

Luke: "What happened?"

Harry: "We had a bad director [Brian Gilbert]. Even though it was a flawed movie, we still run into people at parties who love that movie. Particularly women. Women see it and see it again."

Luke: "How did you get the movie greenlighted?"

Harry: "When Sally Fields signed on. Although I think [MGM studio executive] Alan Ladd would've made it without her. It was Ladd's suggestion that we go with Brian Gilbert as director. Brian rewrote the script and it was his version that got it made.

"We shot in Israel using the production services of Globus [owned then by Menahem Goland and Yoram Dohan]. That was something. We worked with a guy named Itzik Kol, who was a charming rogue. He was sharp and funny and fat. He wore jeans with suspenders. We lived in Israel for almost a year. There are people we met on that shoot who've remained lifelong friends.

"Living in Israel is different from going on one of those five-day junkets. When you go on a five-day trip, everything you see is wonderful. When you live there, you see what's wrong with it."

Luke: "Tell me about 1993's Freaked."

Harry: "Alex Winter and Tom Stern came to us with it. Mary Jane, Joe Roth and I thought it was their thing, their vision, it's not going to cost much, so let's back it. It is a flawed movie. Some of it is very funny. That was probably the nicest time we ever had on a movie. Everybody rolled up their sleeves. We funded it partially through Fox and partially through private funds. We had to make a speech before the crew that we didn't have the money now but we will work it out. And everybody stayed and worked for nothing.

"Movie crews are extraordinary. They want to help. I have never seen a crew that doesn't want to help. The only thing that turns them are foolish producers and directors who just won't acknowledge them. I've said to directors, 'Do you know the names of anybody? Why don't you just acknowledge them?' It's extraordinary that some directors get so into their own head, that they don't acknowledge anybody."

Luke: "Tell me about One True Thing (1998)."

Harry: "I was given the book [by Anna Quindlen] and I just loved it. My wife and I love true stories [this novel was based on Quindlen's life]. The movie disappointed me. You are happy to have gotten it made. But the process can you take you to a place you don't want to be. Everybody sees things differently. The movie that Karen [Croner, screenwriter] and I wanted to make is not the movie got made."

From Imdb.com: "When a tough New Yorker's (Renee Zellweger) mother (Meryl Streep) is stricken with a serious illness, she is forced to quit her job and her relationship with her boyfriend to take care of her, finding out a lot of things she didn't know about her mother and father (William Hurt) and her life along the way."

Luke: "You worked with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall on 1999's Snow Falling on Cedars. They are regarded as the top producing team in the business."

Harry rolls his eyes. "Good for them. And good for the people who regard them as such."

Luke: "Tell me about your 2001 movie Crazy/Beautiful."

From Imdb.com: "Crazy/Beautiful gives Kirsten Dunst the opportunity to portray a character who doesn't have it all figured out. Dunst is Nicole, a rich girl with emotional problems who falls for the straight-edged Carlos, played by Hernandez, who lives on the poor side of town. It follows their relationship and it's ups and downs, while in their final year of high school. This movie was different from Bring it On and Get Over It as Dunst was able to show off her darker side, a feat which she does beautifully. Dunst shows real depth as the vulnerable and untrusting Nicole and her tears, trials and tribulations appear genuine and allow the audience to see another side of Kirsten altogether."

Harry: "Oh God. Mary Jane and I went in to see [studio executive] Todd Garner. He said he didn't want to do another comedy. He wanted to do a melodrama about highschool kids. So we met with a bunch of writers and started thinking about what we wanted to do and we came up with the thought that it would be terrific to have a good latino kid and a bad white girl. We went with two young writers we liked a lot [Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi]. Then we went through the process of getting a director. [president of Disney's movie division] Nina Jacobson insisted on John Stockwell."

Harry's voice turns grim.

Luke: "Were you pleased with the final result?"

Harry: "No. I thought it was very flawed. It was not the movie we set out to make. The movie I wanted to make was about his dreams and it no longer is. The whole experience was a disappointing experience."

Luke: "That's common theme through our conversation. These movies are breaking your heart."

Harry laughs. "My little boy asked when I'm going to make a movie I like. I said, 'If you ever like them, they start getting worse.' People see things differently. Because of availabilities and everybody having different opinions, you get to make movies with people you'd probably prefer not to make them with."

Luke: "When did you sense the project getting away from you."

Harry: "When Nina insisted on John Stockwell."

Luke: "Have you agreed with the direction of any of your directors, aside from Scorsese?"

Harry: "That's part of the problem. When you grow up in this business with perhaps the best director in the world, it makes it hard to work with people who are significantly less. The reasons that these movies happen is so strange. Disney decided they wanted something and were willing to go with somebody they shouldn't have gone with. Nina liked him. She's entitled to like him but everybody does have different taste. I would always want to shoot higher. When you're working with Marty or people I used to represent like Ridley Scott, you are working with guys who are really talented."

Luke: "Are you pleased with the final result of any of your films?"

Harry: "No, I think they all could've been much better. There are so many people involved in the process that it has hurt the final result."

Luke: "I hear that in features the director is the king."

Harry: "I'll never forget the first day of shooting Not Without My Daughter. When Director Brian Gilbert said 'Action,' behind me Alan Ladd and Jay Kanter [MGM/Pathe studio executives] said, 'The ship has sailed.' It turned out to be true. The studio today does back the director unless he goes wildly over budget. It becomes hard once you start shooting to do anything."

Luke: "Do you sense that the producer today has less power than when you were an agent?"

Harry: "Much less power unless you are a Jerry Bruckheimer."

Luke: "How do you and your wife divide up your roles?"

Harry: "Mary Jane is extraordinary with writers. She has enormous focus and patience. She's the fastest reader I know. I'm a bird dog in getting the material and getting the deals made. I also have a good ability at picking new directors, which is what I did as an agent. We both have to like it to pursue a project and we work on it together.

"I can get along well with writers. I don't like an hour meeting taking six hours. I don't have the patience."

Luke: "Is it good for a marriage to work so closely together?"

Harry: "I think it is great. Dick Zanuck and Lili Zanuck are close friends of ours. They've done it and it's been great. Lauren Shuler and Dick Donner."

Luke: "Has being a father changed you as a movie producer?"

Harry: "Yes. I had five kids in my first marriage but it was a different time because I was on my way up. Mary Jane and I have a wonderful ten-year old boy who is one of the main reasons we work from home, so we can be around him. We're always talking about making movies that he can see. Not that I would ever want to come away from the tougher pieces we have done."

Luke: "Have you ever worked on a film that has changed you?"

Harry pauses. "That's a good question. Mary Jane, Luke has just asked me if we've ever worked on a film that has changed us, has changed me."

Mary Jane makes an inaudible comment and Harry gives a cynical laugh.

Harry: "Mary Jane says that each one leaves an imprint. My answer to that would have to be Last Temptation because it showed me that you never give up. That took 18 years. If you believe in it, you have to stay with it. The speed mentality of weekend grosses and then go on is not who we are. If there's a fault, it's probably that we work on them too long."

Luke: "Was it worth the trouble?"

Harry: "Oh yeah. It was worth it because it was something Marty had to do. And my devotion was to him and I would do anything to help him realize his desire to make that movie."

Luke: "Do you think that filmmakers have a moral responsibility to society, and if so, how have you exercised that?"

Harry: "I think this goes in phases where people blame movies for violence. I think it's like blaming schools for it. I think you have to blame parents. If a kid has a good upbringing, a movie is not going to make him a bad person.

"We're doing a complicated script now based on the Jerry Spence book Going For Justice. It's a case that Jerry had 25 years ago. A friend of his was blown up by a bomb set by a psychopathic maniac. Jerry took the case as a prosecutor. And he's vehemently against the death penalty. And this case became a death penalty case. It's the case in his life. I hope we get to make it. It gets tougher to talk these people [financiers aka studios] into something of value. And every time there's a Spiderman [smash hit], then it makes it worse. People don't realize it. They think it is good for the movie business. I think it is terrible for the movie business."

Luke: "You seem to be primarily a story-driven producer."

Harry: "Characters drive us. Even though we say, 'Gosh, we've got to get out of this true-story thing because it is so hard to do them,' we do like them."

Luke: "I find Martin Scorsese's films disturbing."

Harry: "That is the reason the numbers haven't been greater. But a lot of life is. Marty's movies are very real and you get an experience from those that you don't get from anybody else."

Luke: "Your least favorite parts of your job?"

Harry: "Shooting is not exciting. Going to studios. Driving to studios bothers me. And then having to sit with all those people. The process of selling a movie is extremely frustrating. It's out of both sides of the mouth all the time. 'We think this should open the third weekend in July.' Then, two minutes later, 'We think the best time would be the second weekend in February.' There's no rhyme or reason for any of it. I find the process of using testing insanity.

"I'll never forget the time I was representing Bob [Robert DeNiro] and we were out testing Deerhunter. In Detroit, the projection broke and the thing was a disaster. All the Universal people weren't talking to us. And the next night in Chicago, everybody loved the movie so we were all best friends again."

Jewish Men Setting Me Up With Their Ex-Wives

I've encountered something weird. Several divorced Jewish men I know have tried to set me up with their ex-wives. The latest example happened this weekend. I've never known a non-Jew trying to set me up with his ex. What are the Talmudic roots to this custom?

Eric writes: Hey Luke, Maybe there are 'alimonic' roots to this custom.

Chaim Amalek writes: Luke, you are getting in DEEP to the jewish communal psyche, as only an outsider can. There are two sets of reasons for this odd behavior. First, jewish men are trying to set you up because they feel a bit guilty over dumping their frumpy jewish wives (whom NOBODY wants) for younger, often Christian women. The other explanation is that they may feel that by palming these cast-offs on some other man, these women would no longer be any sort of burden or impediment to their happiness. (A residual jewish guilt thing.)

Do not take it as a complement. These men have concluded is that it is no threat to their masculinity to have you copulating the ex. They see you as something of a human vibrator or Midol tablet for getting their cast-offs to calm down.

Ask these men how they would feel about your dating their (legal) daughters.

What's next, "Hey Luke, I know you don't have much money, so feel free to take some of this food from my fridge. It's only a few days past the expiration date."

The Beverly Hillbillies

This sounds like a great idea. I almost never watch TV but I'd be tempted to take a look at this. From Daily Variety:

Come and listen to a story about a man named Ghen, a reality exec at CBS who's got to keep the pipeline fed. Then one day he was shootin' for the moon -- and up through his office door came three show-pitching dudes.

Reality producers, that is. With a big idea. To resurrect "The Beverly Hillbillies" as a reality skein.

Fast-forward a few weeks: CBS will begin casting shortly for a weekly half-hour series that will follow the adventures of a rural, lower-middle class family -- yes, there will be a granny -- as they are transplanted from their humble digs to an actual Beverly Hills mansion. During their one-year stay in California, they'll be afforded a wide variety of luxuries they'd normally be unable to afford, from maid service to personal assistants.

Producer Thom Mount

Thom Mount ran Universal Studios. He produced Bull Durham and Tequila Sunrise. He was Roman Polanski's best friend. He soaked a Japanese conglomerate for a lot of money and he dated beautiful women. (Killer Instinct, pg. 76)

Mount was fired as head of the Producers Guild, an essentially powerless organization.

XXX writes: Did you find out why he was booted from Producers Guild and Kathleen Kennedy, THE MOST successful producer in history, replaced him? Look into it. And look into his application and the validity of his credits.

He was born Thomas Henderson Mount on May 26, 1948 in Durham, North Carolina. In 1966, Thom Mount graduated from old Durham High School and left town to see America. He did a typical '60s multi-college tour.

In 1972, he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts. In 1973, he was hired at Universal Pictures as an assistant to Vice-President, Ned Tanen. Mount oversaw the development on numerous black exploitation films and such hits as CAR WASH, WHICH WAY IS UP and BUSTIN’ LOOSE.

In 1974, Mount became Head of Production. In 1976, at the age of 26, he became President of Universal Pictures. Time and New York Magazine labeled him as one of the “Baby Moguls”.

Mount created and managed the “Youth Unit”, a division of MCA/Universal devoted to low cost pictures using new writers, directors and actors. The unit produced such films as FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, CHEECH AND CHONG’S NEXT MOVIE, MONTY PYTHON’S MEANING OF LIFE, REPO MAN, and the like.

Mount produced low-budget films for MCA in the late 1970s. He ran Universal from 1976 to 1983, overseeing production on 140 films, mainly high concept comedies, action films and horror films. His adults dramas include "Car Wash" (1976), "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977), "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978), "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), "Missing" (1982) and "Psycho II" (1983).

Producer Thom Mount said he had to coax Al Pacino from his trailer when he got so caught up in his role as gangster Tony Montana in the 1983 movie "Scarface" that he became paranoid.

Mount also headed MCA's short-lived theatrical division which helped produce such Broadway shows as "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1979) and "Nuts" (1980).

Mount ran the motion picture division as President for an eight-year period. For six of those years, the motion picture division experienced record profits.

On his own since the end of 1983, Mount started the Mount Company. It developed such feature films as "Can't Buy Me Love" (1987), "Tequila Sunrise" (1988), "Bull Durham" (1989), "The Indian Runner" (1991) and Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1996).

The Mount Company made music videos for The Bangles, Los Lobos, Joe Cocker, and the 2-hour CBS movie “Open Admissions”, starring Jane Alexander. With ABC-TV, the company produced the 4-hour miniseries “Son of The Morning Star,” written by “E.T.” scribe Melissa Matheson.

Thom worked briefly for Roger Corman, producing 1990's Frankenstein Unbound. He also worked for Danny Selznick and Ned Tanen.

Mount helped produce three Roman Polanski films, "Pirates" (1986), "Frantic" (1988) and "Death and the Maiden" (1994).

Mount has been an adjunct professor at Columbia and taught at Duke University under a National endowment for the Humanities grant. He is also Co-Founder of The Los Angeles Film School.

Mount keeps a sign in his office to remind him about what makes a good screenplay. It reads: "Make me laugh, make me cry, make me come, make me think, or leave me alone."

"Hollywood regards the South as an ethnic backwater and a cultural backwater, and I think it is nonsense," Mount says. "I'd like to point out that anything from Bull Durham to Smokey and the Bandit to An Officer and a Gentleman has some sort of Southern setting, and there are lots of compelling commercial stories to be made there.

"The worst enemy of American education is the tenured faculty. Anybody who's ever been to college knows that. If the L.A. Film School is valuable in any way to the educational community, it's as a laboratory for finding out what the possibilities for the future of education are--not just for this school, but for every school." (Independent Online, Durham, 9/13/00)

Mount allegedly was the inspiration for the Michael Tolkin Hollywood novel The Player and the film version by director Robert Altman.

After Columbine, Mount said: "It is not that violent pictures create more violence, but the constant litany of gratuitous violence (emphasis added) is destructive of the fabric of the culture because it lowers our threshold for sensitivity to the issue."

Producer Lucy Fisher

Lucy Fisher was born October 2, 1949. Seh went to Radcliffe College and Harvard University where she majored in English and graduated cum laude.

Fisher was vice chair of Columbia and TriStar motion pictures group. She was associated with such films as "Chariots of Fire", which won the 1981 Academy Award as Best Picture, Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Quest for Fire" (also 1981) and "The Fugitive" (1993).

Fisher began her career as a script reader at United Artists before landing at Samuel Goldwyn Jr Productions as a story editor in the late 1970s. She subsequently moved to MGM where she became executive-in-charge of creative affairs then segued to 20th Century Fox where she rose to the position of vice president of production. From 1979 to 1981, Fisher served as head of worldwide production at Francis Ford Coppola's fledgling American Zoetrope, during which time the company produced "One From the Heart" (1982).

In 1981, Fisher posed in a fashion spread for Town and Country wearing an adolfo gown.

Fisher joined Warner Bros. in 1981, where she remained until 1995, rising through the ranks to the position of executive vice president, worldwide theatrical production. During this period, she worked with such directors as Steven Spielberg ("The Color Purple" 1985 and "Empire of the Sun" 1987), George Miller ("The Witches of Eastwick" 1987), Spike Lee ("Malcolm X" 1992) and Clint Eastwood ("The Bridges of Madison County" 1995).

Fisher married producer Douglas Wick in 1986. "Since I came to Sony, and Doug and I started working together for the first time, we figured we would either kill each other or renew our vows."

In 1995, Fisher became vice chair for Columbia TriStar, working with Sony Pictures Entertainment president John Calley and co-vice chair Gareth Wigan. Under the TriStar banner such hits as "My Best Friend's Wedding" and the blockbuster "Men in Black" (both 1997) were released.

Fisher plays a prominent role in the excellent 1991 book "The Devil's Candy" about the The Bonfire of the Vanities movie debacle (directed by Brian DePalma and a flop at the box office).

From the 1997 book Hit & Run: "The meeting [on Witches of Eastwick] hit a sour note with executive Lucy Fisher, who was expecting a baby at the time, told a complaining Cher, "You're lucky to have this job." Enraged, Cher balled her hand into a fist. "I almost hit her," Cher admits. "Because she was just so mean to us.... And Sue [Sarandon] grabbed my hand and said, 'She's pregnant.'" (pg. 140)

Lucy Fisher told PBS in September 2001: "I came out here after college with my college sweetheart. We went to Harvard together, and we got in our Volkswagen bus and we drove to California, and lived on people's couches in Berkeley and made our way to Los Angeles. He ended up doing scores for AFI movies. It was the very beginning of the AFI, and I tried to get a job at the L.A. County Museum....

"During that time, I ended up getting a job as a reader, the lowest-level entry job. I actually got a job working at KFWB in the newsroom from midnight to 8:00 a.m. ... between 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning, L.A. time, actually nothing would go on, and so I started to read scripts freelance. And at that point I had read... I had been to every French movie and I had read "Eraserhead," because my boyfriend was doing the score. So I had not read any regular scripts, and I got hired as a reader because I had written book jackets, so I knew how to write a little synopsis. That was my first job.

"I was heavily underqualified but a movie lover, and I found myself sort of moving up the ranks from there. Then I had every title and every job you can have, from reader, to story editor, to executive story editor, to executive of creative affairs, to director of creative, vice president, different forms of vice presidents at different studios. I worked at five or six studios. So I went a roundabout way, ended up working in the Thalberg Building three different times, at MGM, UA and for Sony, from a reader to the vice chairman in the same building. That was kind of fun.

"My first job was as a reader for United Artists and five guys ran that out of New York ... those five guys decided what movies to make, and they made them because they liked them. Period. And they didn't even watch dailies, because they bet on talent and thought, "If we respect you enough, we read the script. If we respect your work, go make a good movie, and we'll see you later." And from that point of view came "Rocky," "Annie Hall," "Cuckoo's Nest," one good movie after another, the time when I was a reader there.

"The managers now, a lot of times, are business people, and they need to be, because the amount of money changing hands is so much more extreme than it was 20, 30 years ago. There was also a camaraderie that existed that doesn't now, because the pressure of opening weekend is so strong now, that by Friday night at midnight, you already know whether the two years or the five years that you spent working on a movie were basically for naught, or whether you're going to make it through the weekend. And literally, by Friday night when the fax machine purrs and you have the numbers come through, you know whether your movie is over or not."

From the 1998 Crystal Awards: Jack Nicholson presented the Crystal Award to Columbia TriStar chairman, Lucy Fisher. Jack: "My time in Hollywood has been as muchmarked for me by the women I have known as the jobs I've had...I think with Lucy Fisher I have had the most intimate relationship of all. She has done for me what I'd unconsciously wished a woman would do for me, but despaired of ever happening. She made me a great deal of money."

Nicholson made the audience want to wish they had known Lucy Fisher better. Nicholson explained who Lucy Fisher is at her core. "This is a jazzy girl, this casually brilliant vice chairperson of Sony Pictures. The executive that no one flees at parties. The suit with legs... Lucy is the smartest, sweetest girl in class...The one who spends each Valentine's Day wondering whether everyone else in class got enough cards in their box."

Lucy Fisher quit Columbia in early 2000 to work with her husband, producer Douglas Wick. They have three daughters, including a diabetic daughter Tessa.

From Fortune magazine's 10/12/98 story on the 50 most powerful women in business: "For some of these women, finding balance comes down to trading professional power for peace of mind. Lucy Fisher (No. 35), who has three young daughters, joined Sony Pictures as vice chairman on her own terms: She works four days a week. The arrangement has caused her to pass up promotions, but it earns her praise from friends and colleagues. Says director Steven Spielberg, who has teamed with Fisher on several of his movies: "I love Lucy because she won't take my calls on Friday.""

Fisher helped establish the Warner Bros. on-site child care center.

``Once, when I was being yelled at by a psychotic director,'' Fisher said, ``I told him I was unfazed. After all, I had a real 2-year-old at home.'' (USA Today 1/9/98)

Schneider, Wolf and Troise, Pat. "The Hollywood 10 Step." Movieline Apr. 1998:76-81.
"Lucy Fisher." Online Magazine. Premiere 2 November 2000. http://www.premieremag.com/archives/women/html/fisher