Fringes In = Selling Out
Jackie writes: "Aren't you pleased to see so many of your ladyfriends being all domestic and womanly over at my new food blog? Cathy, Nancy and I all delight in baking. Does this warm your heart, even though we're not doing it to serve the men in our lives?"
Luke says: "If there's anything I can do to help, like put a log in the fire, or snack on a muffin, let me know."
Jackie writes: "Thanks for the link, but you messed it up (it needs the http://) when you coded it. See, where would you men be without women to sort you out? I shudder to think."
My New Business Plan
Chaim Amalek writes: I want you to distribute thousands of pushkas (small cans with slots in the top to receive coins) marked "Money for Amalek." I want every jew to have at least two. One at work, one at home.
Frum Eye For The Frei Guy
My friend is pitching this new TV show. Four Orthodox guys take a secular Jew and make him Orthodox over the course of the show. Frum equals observant of Jewish Law. Frei equals "free" in yiddish.
The Power Of Marriage
I couldn't have said it any better myself than David Brooks: "Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide. He or she is ripping the veil from all that is private and delicate in oneself, and pulverizing it in an assembly line of selfish sensations."
For a fleeting few hours, I hoped the 60 Minutes special would get me my very own groupies to play with. And then I read David Brooks in the NYT, and I realized that I could no longer commit spiritual suicide. Sex outside of marriage would be "ripping the veil from all that is private and delicate in" myself.
From Library Journal:
Times Bashing Fatigue
Luke Ford Watching Himself on "60 Minutes"
Cathy Seipp writes on her blog (including an amusing picture of me):
Marcus Wolf writes Cathy: "How can you discuss Luke Ford without also extolling the primary moral guides in his life?"
Nancy writes: "Luke looks like someone's uncle Giuseppe in this photo."
Skippy McButter writes Cathy:
Cathy replies: "That's a lady cat! The lovely and elegant Felice, who I met 16 years ago when she was giving birth to a litter of kittens on a pederast's lawn."
Cecile du Bois writes on her blog:
Moose writes: "Thing that struck me the most was what a snob & creep Luke Ford is...To paraphrase him: "It's not like the people trying out for adult films would go to medical or law school anyway"....He basically insinuated that porn stars are losers blah, blah, blah..."
Justin writes: "Could Luke Ford get into law or medical school?"
Luke says: "No. I do not have my BA."
Rick writes: "I thought Luke Ford was trying too hard to look legit and business like dressed in a suit and acting like he's above it all like you say. The guy makes his living off industry gossip. Who does he think he is all of a sudden."
Sandy writes: "Saw Luke on 60 Minutes. He looked strong and fit, handsome. Very articulate. I missed intro of him, something about he has a talk show. Does he still? He seemed to be panning the porn industry even as he knows all about it. Said most women only participate once and then no more, it's so demeaning, degrading, humiliting, etc. What is Luke doing these days?"
Cathy's Seipp's UPI Column On Moi
What Was That?
Amalek Speaks To 60 Minutes
Khunrum writes: "It is already too late for a second act (unless you change your name to Morry Lipshitz and become a mail carrier). My suggestion is to go into the landscaping business. You're already halfway there with the van. All you need now is a couple of lawnmowers, some rakes and a few Mexicans. I'd call it, "Let Us Blow Your Leaves." Maybe hire some chicks to rake leaves. I think it will fly."
Praise God, I don't believe I did anything on 60 Minutes that should get me thrown out of any more synagogues. I was happy with it. You never know which soundbites they are going to use. When I was walking around that backyard, I had nothing to say and just improvised some pop culture silliness. I would've bet 60 Minutes (and VH1 last month) would've used some of my more fire-breathing lines.
It would be cool to appear cool about all this, but I feel like I tasted eternity. I have transcended death. If I die tomorrow, I will always be there on tape. I've gotten to have my say. I've lived. There's proof, right on your TV. Now I get to hear from people who haven't been around for years. It's a shout-out to the thousands of people who've passed through my life.
I thought the 60 Minutes piece were dull but fair. I didn't learn anything. I thought they were way too gullible about the numbers the industry claimed for itself.
From the book, The Writer's Journey (and forgive me for trying to use some of the patterns in the book for my memoir):
The phone calls started coming in at 5:14PM California time, as soon as the pieces finish airing on the East Coast.
A movie producer I interviewed almost two years ago calls me: "A two-parter. That's rare. You looked good. You were on a lot. They didn't cut you out. You were wearing a [black] suit. This should help you sell your books. You're featured as an expert. You made a little history tonight. I'm proud of you."
Mike phones from Atlanta: "I just saw you on TV a little while ago. You didn't look too bad but I was in Hooters and I couldn't hear a word you said. You looked like those old pictures of you. You were wearing a coat and tie and you had that dishevelled reporter look going on. So people who don't really know you, you look respectable. If it was me, I'd be recording it and [engaging in an act of self-debasement]. I know how it is when you have an ego."
Luke: "I'm just sorry that I don't have someone special to celebrate it with. I will watch it alone."
Mike: "If you weren't so picky, you'd have a house full of them. You're a nice looking guy. You need to learn some manners but you'll be all right. You've got this Jewish girl fetish going on. You don't want anything to do with ---- girls. They're not good enough. You want a girl over there. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush [or shul]. You should keep a few ---- friends for when you want companionship while you search for that long lost soulmate. And soon you'll find out, there's no such thing. So you'll start appreciating your friends more. That's how it works with me.
"I just like you because you're offbeat like me. I like anyone who speaks his mind, no matter how bizarre he is."
Chaim Amalek writes:
Amy Alkon writes: "Articulate and handsome on 60 Minutes. I raced home just to watch you -- and was very happy that they put your seg on first. Very nice choice of wardrobe. I was surprised to see your work environment, since the way you'd characterized it, I thought your apartment/"hovel" was something just this side of a cardboard refrigerator box!"
JMT writes: "Is Brylcreem coming back?"
Yitzhok says: "Fred Lane comes off much cleaner than you."
Heather MacDonald writes: "Darling, you were gorgeous. The only classy guy in the whole joint!"
Bruce writes: "Was that you making your national TV debut? You looked so ruggedly handsome, you almost fooled me."
WWW says: "Compared the the usual schnooks they filmed at the AVN trade show, I think you looked ok."
Rob writes: "Sadly most 60 Minutes viewers will accidentally go to lukeford.COM and be repulsed. Few will stumble upon lukeford.NET, the home of Our Moral Leader."
Fred writes: "I thought you came off better than Rob Black."
My mom writes: "I read the tributes. You have loads of friends. You must be pleased."
Sandy writes: "I thought you looked great, sounded professional, and made your case. Good for you!
"Now for a joke: How do you know when you've arrived at Neverland? When the big hand is on the small hand."
Cecile du Bois writes:
JackieD writes Cecile: "I believe in my moral leader, and will put my money where my mouth is. Cecile, I bet you one silver dollar that Luke will not use his blog to get attention for himself until the New Year."
Hebcal writes Cecile: "Considering it's not even Kislev yet, Luke has 10+ months to go. He's lucky that's it's not a leap year, otherwise it's be 11."
A friend from shul tells Luke AKA Levi: "You looked terrific. We were all watching. Shuvua Tov and I'll see you on Shabbos."
Author David Rensin writes: "You clean up well. Congrats."
Jack says: "You give a great soundbyte. It was very authoritative and definitive. It wasn't like you were mincing any words. I'm shocked that Steve Hirsch and Christian Mann didn't get any face time. You had a lot. It's funny that Bill Lyon got so much time and he's no longer with the Free Speech Coalition. I've never seen them do a two-parter. I know how slanted you can get. I know where you took these guys. And they didn't slant it."
Jack turns to his girl friend: "Yeah, I'm talking to the guy with the sexy accent. It's my friend Lyra."
Luke: "How do you spell her name?"
Jack: "Why? Are you going to put it in your column?"
Jack: "Then why are you asking me how to spell her name?"
Luke: "I'm just curious."
Jack: "You're such a knucklehead. L-y-r-a. You'd go crazy over her."
Jack turns to Lyra: "He don't like Italians. He's Jewish."
Luke: "Is she an Orthodox Jew?"
Lyra: "I'll be Orthodox for him."
Worst Films Of The Year
Jeffrey Wells writes: I'm going out with my annual Worst of the Year list either later this week or next week (all of the year's significantly shitty films have already been released), and there are 17 I've come up with.
1. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
If you have a moment, please reply with an argument AGAINST one or more of these films being on a Worst of the Year list.
Go AwayWe recently received the following letter from a prospective Luke Ford PA contest applicant from Norway.
Hello, my name is Ingrid Lebowitz. Let me tell you something about myself before I explain my predicament.We responded thusly after looking very carefully at the enclosed picture:
We can assure you Mr Ford has no interest in meeting you. Mr Ford is a moral man and disapproves of the naturist lifestyle. Your email has been deleted. Please do not contact us again. We have kept your picture for further examination.
"60 Minutes" is a current affairs program that consists of three segments. Mr Ford says that He will appear during segment two. For details go to LukeFord.net. We don't know what He will be lecturing us on, but in all likelihood it will be the moral principles upon which He bases His life. If only we had the supernatural insight and self-discipline that Our Moral Leader has then we too might appear one day on a quality television show like "60 Minutes" or "Ricki Lake" hectoring the great unwashed. Alas we come far sort of His moral perfection. But we try to approximate His example as best we can.
Segment one is probably going to be a retrospective on great moral leaders of the past, such as Moses, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Martin Luther, Confucius, and Jimmy Swaggart who have now been superseded by Mr Ford. In segment two Our Moral Leader will appear nattily attired in black. We can't wait to see what the Great One's office looks like. This is where He does His thinking and writing, and what thoughts and words they are! We are bursting with anticipation. Don't disappoint us Mr Ford! (Yeah, like you've every disappointed anyone before! Hey, somtimes we kid. Not often though -- this is a very serious website about a very serious "man.")
Segment three is most likely going to cover the many millions of disciples whose lives have been redeemed by reading His website. Funny, CBS didn't contact us asking for our opinions. It's like they think Mr Ford has no followers at all. How wrong they are! And they will be even more wrong after Our Moral Leader's commanding performance tonight on "60 Minutes." Did we tell you how we're just bursting with anticipation!
Luke Ford On 60 Minutes
I spent the day before and the day after Yom Kippur with 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft and his producing crew. On Yom Kippur, I was sick and stayed in bed all day.
The day after, I sat down with Kroft. I was dressed in my one good black suit.
"Do you always go around in a suit and tie?" he asked. He and his crew were dressed casually.
"Only when I'm speaking to 25 million people," I answered.
Unfortunately, a scarlet red bed was selected by the crew for the backdrop.
The 60 Mins. crew also took B-roll of my hovel, which horrified the two producers. Sianne says it's the primary reason I'm not married. Unfortunately, in the editing bay, the roll of my hovel looks completely normal.
One producer, Jamie, dared the other one, Sianne, to look into the garage next to my hovel. She did and to her surprise, found nothing horrifying.
I tried to no avail to get them to shoot me in my van driving around town singing Air Supply songs.
In honor of my appearance on TV, I'm going lay off any racism for the next few days. It will be hard for me, but I will try.
Living On Gilligan's Island
Going to shul is like living the 1960s TV show Gilligan's Island but without icky girls like Maryanne and Ginger.
I have the professor sitting in front of me, always ready to dispense wise counsel and to explain arcane Jewish rituals.
There's the skipper - the affable administrator of the shul.
And there's me, Gilligan, who runs around like a doofus.
Who said "Being around Michael Jackson makes me into a better father"?
Stopping By A Sheila On A Winter's Evening
I tuck my fringes into my black suit and set off for shul at 4PM Friday. It's freezing outside, the temperatures dipping into the low 50s.
I carry with me an excellent new book, The Israelis by Donna Rosenthal. As I walk, I read, filled with perfect faith in the Rambam's 13 essential principles (Yigdal).
Looking up, I stare at female flesh. Lots of it. It's a young woman walking towards me, wearing nothing but a tank top and shorts, lugging a heavy bag. She has meaty thighs, more than I like, but I'm feeling vulnerable in anticipation of the Sabbath Bride.
Suddenly I'm overcome with questions and doubts:
* Will God send a Messiah?
* Did God give the Torah?
* Is Jewish Law eternal?
* Will there be a bodily resurrection?
* Must I keep the Sabbath?
As the woman turns to take a side street, my body and soul take off in different directions. My body follows its instincts towards the woman while my soul yearns for shul.
Mustering a moral strength unknown to mere mortals, I grab my body and command it to walk on to shul.
Producer Michael Jaffe Interview
I met with producer Michael Jaffe at his office on Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, June 10, 2002.
Michael: "I grew up in New York. Then I went to a small school in South Dakota called Yankton College, which is now a prison. I did a double major in Theater and Religion. Then I went to the University of Chicago divinity school for a year and studied the history of religions.
"I taught highschool for a year in a nationally designated poverty district in northern Minnesota. I was accepted to law school at the University of South Dakota but I would've been drafted. I got a Ford Foundation fellowship to Cornell's theater school and got a Master's Degree. Then I came out to Los Angeles and went into business with my dad making movies.
"My father, Henry Jaffe, and his best friend, George Heller, started AFTRA (American Federation of Television & Radio Artists) around 1934. My father became chief national counsel of AFTRA, a post he held for 20 years. He was instrumental in establishing many of the standard union contract issues like wardrobe allowances, residuals, overtime, pension, health and welfare... As chief counsel for AFRA [American Federation of Radio Artists], he fought off an attempt by the IATSE (International Alliance Of Theatrical & Stage Employees) to take over AFRA in 1941.
"He tells what may be an apocryphal story of sitting in negotiation with the AFTRA board, which was inclined to go ahead with the takeover... They were fighting this out with the IATSE present. The phone rang. My dad picked it up. It was December 7. And his secretary Rose said to him, 'Pearl Harbor has been bombed. We've just declared war on Japan.' And he said, 'Oh, ok, thanks Rose.' And he hung up the phone as if nothing had happened because he knew that if he announced that in this meeting that his ATRA board would capitulate immediately so they could all get home to their families.
"He produced Producer's Showcase for NBC when it was run by one of his best friends, Manny Sacks.
"My mother, Jean Muir, was a contract actress for Warner Brothers during the 1930s and 1940s. I stopped this morning as we came through Hollywood and Vine and showed my 13-year old son his grandmother's star [in the Hollywood Walk of Fame]. She made about 30 movies. She was set to star in an NBC series in the early 1950s and she was blacklisted. She was accused of being a communist."
Luke: "Was she?"
Michael: "She was clearly a socialist. A communist would be taking it too far. That would imply militancy. What was silly about it was that my mother was so politically naive that under any circumstance, no matter what she was - Republican, Democrat, independent, socialist - she'd be completely ineffective.
"My father defended her before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee but the damage was done.
"My dad was very liberal early on when he was fighting for the union cause. But then he became more conservative as he became a producer. He produced about 800 hours of primetime programming. He had two huge hit shows - The Bell Telephone Hour and the Dinah Shore Show."
Jean Muir stated at the time of her blacklisting: "I am not a Communist, have never been one, and believe that the Communists represent a vicious and destructive force, and I am opposed to them."
Intermittently through our interview, Jaffe tears tape off a roll and fiddles with it.
Luke: "Were you looking to get into television during all your years of studying theater?"
Michael: "No. I think I would've been a good constitutional attorney. I should've been working for the ACLU. That didn't work out and here I am. This is fine. I love good drama. Mostly I love great writing and great performances.
"My first production was Emily, Emily. We shot it in Canada in 1973. I then worked on an ABC After School special starring Jodie Foster called Alexander. But The Death of Richie was the first mainstream two-hour movie I sold."
From Imdb.com: "A sensitive but confused teenager feels pressure on him from all directions and turns to drugs, which causes problems for him in school and at home."
Brennan writes on Imdb.com: "Death of Richie could be the greatest drug movie ever made. Robbie Benson turns in an Oscar caliber performance as Richie and the scene where his trip-out room gets busted is destined to go down in movie history as one of the finest film sequences ever."
Michael: "Rod Steiger was set to do his television premiere. He had a heart attack on Friday afternoon. We were scheduled to start shooting Monday morning. Ben Gazzara replaced him over the weekend."
Luke: "How did you and your father divide up your roles?"
Michael: "That was simple. He said, 'I hope you know what you're doing because I'm not working on this.' He was not in the movie business. He was into TV talkshows. He didn't pay any attention. He was from the school of 'Throw them in and let them sink or swim.'
"I learned by watching my father operate. One of the critical things about producing is not being embarrassed to ask questions. And to acknowledge that somebody else knows more than you do. I relied on competent agents who recommended people who had great credits.
"The first thing I did was to hire somebody who did know what to do, Charlie Fitzsimons. His sister Maureen O'Sullivan was Director John Ford's favorite actress. Charlie's was John Ford's associate producer for many years.
"There was a wonderful moment when we screened the finished movie, The Death of Richie, for NBC. Now you just send a tape over there. In those days, you screened it with them. We screened it at Warner Brothers. Eileen Brennan was in the movie and one of her best friend's was Henry Fonda's wife. And unbeknownst to Henry, Charlie invited his sister, who just happened to be in town.
"We're all sitting there watching the movie and Henry and Maureen walk in. They haven't seen each other in 15 years. They're hugging and kissing and carrying on. Nobody watched the movie. Everybody watched them."
Luke: "A Woman Called Moses, 1978."
Michael: "We shot for two weeks in Sonora, because that was the only place that had a train. The final scene takes place at the end of the train where there's a fight between her and the guy chasing her. Part of the scene had been shot in the sunshine. And from the day we arrived, it rained every day. We couldn't match it.
"Every night we'd draw up a schedule for the next day and it would always have the final scene of the movie first. And we'd always go to the location. And then we'd have a rain coverset.
"About the tenth day of our shoot, the sun came out for about five hours and we were able to finish the shot. With a lot of movies, you call audibles from the line of scrimmage. On that movie, we never shot one single day as scheduled because of the weather.
"We shot in Louisianna for a week and five weeks in LA.
"Someone came into our office last week who'd sold a new version of Harriet Tubman's story to CBS. They wanted us to become the deficit financier.
"Any producer who said that he was happy with his films without qualification would have to be lying. For me, nothing is ever good enough."
We look around the conference room at various movie posters of Jaffe's films.
Michael: "This film Deliberate Intent (2000) is intellectually strong. And to be able to present those issues was rewarding. But did I agree on some of the notes and direction that the network took us on with the movie? No.
"South Pacific was a wonderful experience, getting to work with Glenn Close and Rade Sherbedgia and [Director] Richard Pearce... If we would've had five more days, it would've been more perfect.
"There are elements of Gilda Radner (2002) that are wonderful. Do I think that the movie worked overall? No because we spent too much time on Gilda as a child and not enough time on Gilda the grownup successful comedian.
"...First Do No Harm [starring Meryl Streep] is a sweet picture but at the end of the day it is what we call a programmer. A programmer is high concept [you can summarize the plot of the movie in a sentence]. You know exactly what the movie is immediately.
"One of the best movies we made is Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story (2000). It got a huge review in the New York Times. It's bizarre where these things come from.
"The one I enjoy the most is Nero Wolfe (on A&E), hands down. It's been the love of my life. I read those books all the time. I've been trying to make this TV series since 1975."
Luke: "Why do those books speak to you so much?"
Michael: "They don't speak to me. They just entertain me. When I was young, I wanted a message. Now I just want to have a good time.
"Sometimes you say, 'I can't believe the network can make that f--king film. That script is the most atrocious thing I've ever read.' But mine is not to reason why.
"TV movies is a producers medium. The executive producer is the boss while in features, the producer is supposedly the boss. Important directors in features do what they want."
Luke: "How did you come to make your first feature, 1985's ...Better Off Dead?"
Michael: "I was at CBS reading scripts. I convinced them to make it as a small feature. Directed by Savage Steve Holland who's now directing children's programming for Fox. I love Savage. But like Gibbons, he had one thing to do. Gibbons had his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Savage had ...Better Off Dead. To this day, it makes me laugh like crazy and my kids love it too.
"I've never worked on any distinguished features. They are mainly comedies. We have decided not to be in the feature film business. It takes forever. You don't make any money unless it gets made. I can make twice as much money in three months time making TV films. I'm in and out and done with it and nobody is telling me what to do.
"Feature people tend to take themselves so seriously. For us, it is a source of humor. We've been involved recently in a couple of high profile feature deals. We've been in the catbird seat. We own the rights to a book that some important people want. And to get it, they had to come to us."
Luke: "What's so amusing about the feature business?"
Michael: "That the people take it so seriously. Not so much the artists. They ought to take it seriously. But the business people that surround it. We had a great time watching the process."
Luke: "What's your favorite part of your job?"
Michael: "Being my own boss. My biggest fulfillment over the past ten years has been the strategic planning of our business. Howard Braunstein has so much day-to-day operational stuff getting the movies made. I love thinking about what's next. What's a good business for us to get into? We've made some great strategic decisions over the past ten years that has stood us in great stead."
Michael: "Part of that is certain strategic commitments we made five years ago. Part of it is that my partner is an enormously talented sales guy.
"Of the group of people who were in the business when I started, there are few of them left. Frank Konigsberg does a picture every now and then. Frank von Zerneck is still around. But nobody else. We could walk through the list of guys who can't get pictures made. Many of them are friends of mine. I know how their minds work. Many of them don't make movies today because they didn't stay flexible. They didn't ask themselves, 'If I'm a buyer, what am I looking for? What do I need to accomplish?' If they asked themselves that question and then tried to accomplish those things for the buyer, you can adjust.
"Instead of waiting for networks to come to us with alternative deal frameworks, we go to them with partnership proposals, employment proposals, an announced willingness to be flexible in any way they like. We'll make any economic model that they propose, within reason, work."
We continued our conversation by phone June 18, 2002.
Luke: "Have you ever worked on a movie that's changed you?"
Michael pauses for ten seconds. "Philosophically, I don't think so. Creatively, yes. I wrote and directed a two-hour installment of Nero Wolfe. The directing experience will make me a better producer."
Luke: "What was your experience like working with Director Sidney Lumet on the TV show 100 Centre Street?"
Michael: "As expected. You would think that a guy with Sidney Lumet's credentials would be talented, smart, convincing, good story-teller. And all of that is true. What you can't anticipate is your personal reaction to these people. And in Sidney's case, it turned out that I liked him. He's a good solid human being and citizen."
Luke: "Do you have to cede more power to a directer when you're dealing with a Sidney Lumet?"
Michael: "That's the negative way of viewing. That presumes you are asking the right question. The right question is, 'Don't you want to cede more power because he's got the talent?' Of course you do. You want him to take the power because he knows what to do with it. You don't. If you did, you'd be him."
Luke: "Has being a father (two kids, 11 and 13 years of age) changed you as a producer?"
Michael: "That's an excellent question. I wouldn't expect anybody to ask that question, to perceive that there might be a correlation between them. I think it did. Some changes were inadvertant. You want to spend more time at the home and the only way to do that is to trust the people you've hired to do the job that you used to do. Some changes result from a higher level of nurturing consciousness."
Luke: "So you spend less time on the road?"
Michael: "I spend less time period."
Luke: "Does it open you up to material you would not have otherwise thought of?"
Michael: "I don't think so. It turns me off certain material. I have no interest in making movies where children get sick and die or injured or abused. I've made those movies in the past but now I try to steer away from them because the mere thought is more than I want to bear."
Luke: "Have you ever made a movie you would not want your kids to see?"
Michael: "I have a great deal of faith in my kids, so I don't think so. Even the rough ones were made with a social consciousness. I think my kids are more emotionally mature than I am and are better capable of dealing with complex emotional issues."
Luke: "Do you love all your movies?"
Michael: "Do you love all your books?"
Michael: "No, I don't love all my movies. Some of them have been pretty goddamn awful. I've got some current titles on that list but I can't indict myself with current buyers. Incident at Crestridge (1981) was a pretty goofy film."
Luke: "When do you know you've done a good job on a movie? Reviews? Comments of peers?"
Michael: "I don't talk to my peers about my movies. I don't have screenings. I don't invite them to screenings. I don't do any of that crap. I don't have any idea what my peers think and frankly I really don't care. I believe that you shouldn't read good reviews because inevitably you'll believe them and then when you read bad ones, you'll believe them. I think most reviewers are an inappropriate part of what I wish could be an artistic process. Reviews are marketing opportunities for the company.
"Reviewers today are more excited about their opportunities to make glib and usually negative puns and comments and wordplays about the movie as opposed to helping us understand what the moviemaker is trying to say. There are no George G. Nathans [1950s critic] around today. There aren't even any Brooks Atkinsons [1950s reviewer] around today.
[Nathan once said: "The drama critic who is without prejudice is on the plane with the general who does not believe in taking human life."]
"The job of a reviewer is to help us understand what art is about. What is the goal of the artist and did he achieve that goal? It's not to be critical. We hear the word 'critic' and we think that is a license to say yes or no. Historically, a critic is someone who helps you understand. He's an apologist. He's an exegete. He interprets for you because he has greater insight into the symbolism and meaning of art. An aesthetician. But nobody currently does any of that. Everybody now takes the word 'critic' literally and thinks that is a license to say that the movie stinks or the movie is great.
"If I like a movie, I'm convinced that it is good. If I don't like a movie, I'm convinced that it is not good. I can't be swayed."
Luke: "What part of your job is most meaningful?"
Michael: "Cashing the check."
Luke: "How significant is your work?"
Michael: "As compared to what?"
Luke: "As compared to what your friends do. I suspect that some are stockbrokers, some are doctors, some are professors..."
Michael pauses for ten seconds. "I keep thinking of, 'Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' I don't think much of what we do is significant. I'm sorry to be so pedantic but I agree with Oliver Goldsmith. If you want to do good in the world, do it in minute particulars. I think the good things I've done in the world are to help my gardener buy a house so his family would have a place to live. Buying Christmas gifts for our housekeeper's kids, who never had them because they had no money, those are good things to do. Giving a couple of thousand bucks to cancer research, forget that. That's an ok thing. Helping somebody in need is a good thing. Everything else is just a job. And your job is to do the best job you can and take pride in your craft. And I do all that. I'm sorry to wax philosophic but I don't think that anything I do is important."
Luke: "Do you feel when you're making a movie, 'This is going to influence the culture.'"
Michael: "No. There have been times when I've made movies that I hoped would help some particular individual... And I know that to be the case with some of the movies we've made, like The Death of Richie."
Luke: "You must be amused with some of the pretensions of your peers."
Michael: "Yes. Amused is a mild description. The earth has been here 15 billion years. Do you think anybody cares what we say and do here? Forget it. I think the general good is the plea of the flatterer and the sychophant."
Luke: "Did you have illusions about the industry?"
Michael: "I think the only illusion I had was that producers were paid for their vision. Certainly in the feature film world, and at the executive producing show-running part of the television world, that's still true. But at my level, it's not true. At my level, we're paid to see that the money gets on the screen and the elements are as the network wants them, and people are given the tools and time to deliver the film the network wants. It's really about managing the execution of a production plan."
Luke: "How have you changed as a producer over the years?"
Michael: "I let people do their jobs more now. I don't interfere as much."
Luke: "What's the most desperate thing you've ever done to get a movie finished?"
Michael: "We post-produced one (Gregory K) in nine days to beat a competitor on the air. I've placed false ads. I've been part of intentional disinformation. On the Amy Fisher Story (there were three TV movies made about Amy Fisher), we wanted to make sure that people aired their film after ours. But everybody did that and every Amy Fisher story did well.
"Now I'm going fishing with my son in Saskatchewan. Now that's important. Was it Lindsay Krause who said, 'Remember the Sabbath and go fishing.'"
Luke: "My rabbi doesn't have that interpretation."
Michael: "Of course not. He's a rabbi. What would you expect? They are mono-maniacal. You should tell him that every day spent fishing is a day added to your life, is an extra day in heaven. Tell him that it comes directly from Moses Maimonidies. My favorite quote from Maimonidies was when he quoted an old Syrian proverb, 'Your guarantee is the guarantee.' I use that all the time with the networks. They say, 'I promise you.' And I say, 'Great. Who's going to guarantee your promise?'"
Your Moral Leader Starves Himself Of Attention
Inspired by an item on TheOnion.com, I will forego all forms of attention until the new year. No matter how many attractive women email me provocative photos of themselves and comment on my blog, no matter how many fan sites spring up, I am, from here until January 1, 2004, starving myself of attention. Don't even think you can walk up to my door and break me of this commitment. For the next six weeks, nothing but poverty, humility and chastity for me.
LF.net Centerfold Drinks With George Will
To All The Girls I've Loved Before
I'm glad you wandered in and out my door.
When I first came to Los Angeles (Spring of 1994), the sap was still rising in my trunk. I was aggressive with women and as a result, enjoyed many but annoyed others (particularly those I wasn't aggressive with).
Still, as the years rolled by, I realized this was not the Torah's way.
I'd like to say to the citizens of California that I am hiring a private investigator from a prestigious firm to look into allegations that have arisen about me. And I'm sorry if I ever touched you inappropriately.
Now, in the past few years, as I aged and mellowed, I enjoyed dating Gentile girls because we could go to dinner and a movie and start making out right there on the first date. There would be no repercussions in my shul.
I'm no longer into public displays of affection unless the woman is totally hot and there are no Torah police around.
When I date girls from the Jewish community, I tell them I'm shomer negilla (don't touch opposite sex before marriage). Unfortunately, some of them interpret that holy custom as "I'm gay." Others throw me to the floor, climb on top of me, and force me to kiss them. I then do it only to be courteous, not because I enjoy it.
When I return home on those dark stormy nights, covered with lipstick and perfume, I feel drenched in shame and guilt, that somehow I've given in to my baser instincts, when it was all the fault of my dates who forced me to do those disgusting things by wearing provocative clothing like short skirts and plunging necklines with lacy creamy lingerie underneath and smiling at me when I talked to them and licking their lips and applying fresh lipstick and running their fingers through their hair and other demonstrations of wantoness. And I worry about all the 16 years olds at Shalhevet who look up to me as a moral beacon and I say, "Levi Ben Avraham, what have you become? You're not a man. You're a beast."
Now the night has gone. We hardly have two words to say. Hold me in your arms for just another day. I promise this one will go slow. We have the right you know.
These are brief interruptions from Air Supply.
Love is everywhere. It's all up to you. Here I am, the one that you love, asking for another day.
On a walk Thursday afternoon to buy some herbal tea, I reflected on my new determination towards chastity and how I encountered temptation at a kosher restaurant. And I read these sentences:
So there's no sense pretending, my heart is not mending.
I've got something in my wallet that impresses my dates and it's not a ribbed rubber. It's a Platinum Master Card with "www.lukeford.net" emblazoned across the top (through Advanta.com). Trust me, chicks love it. They ask me, when we're alone, to tickle them with it. It's a surrogate for their Moral Leader's forbidden touch.
Rugby Finals Offer Dream Match
Host Australia won the last World Cup final between the two nations, in 1991, and England hasn't won any World Cup since the 1966 soccer tournament. But British bookmakers have England as favorites. Their hopes rest mostly on the left foot of superstar Jonny Wilkinson, who hasn't scored a try (that's like a touchdown; see the BBC's invaluable guide to rugby union rules) in the tournament, yet has booted for 98 points. But Mr. Wilkinson is fragile, writes Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph. Like soccer's David Beckham, the rugby star needs minders to handle intense pressure on and off the pitch.
Australia, too, has its holes. Once-critical reporters made an abrupt about-face after the Wallabies beat New Zealand's All Blacks in the semifinals, which troubles the Sydney Morning Herald's Richard Hinds. He writes that "clearly a sceptical, even abusive media was a powerful motivational tool for coach [Eddie] Jones." To ensure the state of affairs returns to familiar Wallabie-bashing, Mr. Hinds provides 15 reasons why the team still stinks.
The suddenly pro-Aussie papers down under have trained their guns on England's style, which they've labeled "boring." The Guardian's Richard Williams ridicules that stance, defending England's tactics and writing that "the one thing this final will not be is boring."
Underlying the on-pitch contest are two off-pitch rivalries. The first, of course, pits England's Poms (short for Prisoners of Mother England) against the denizens of its former colony, with all the stereotypes gleefully trotted out. "This is Poms v Aussies: toffee-nosed arrogance pitted against cockney-mafia bloodlines, and the battle will be fought as much off the pitch as on it," Georgina Turner writes in the Guardian.
E!'s Anderson Jones Stands Me Up Again
We were scheduled for lunch two weeks ago in Beverly Hills. He never showed.
Andy was contrite and so we rescheduled for today in my neighborhood. Just to be sure, I sent him a reminder email and called him at noon, an hour before our lunch.
I show up to the restaurant at 1PM, wait 15 minutes, and with no sign of Andy, I walk home.
Please remind me to never plan anything with Andy Jones ever again.
I had lunch with a friend yesterday. She arrived two minutes late and she apologized. Now that's good manners.
1:26PM. Andy calls from the restaurant. I let it go through to the machine and eat my oatmeal alone.
Capitol Hill Is Where The Babes Are
An undercover report says: "The salaries on Capitol Hill stink compared to the bureaucracy, but the perks, including unbelievably good looking women, are much better. Maybe before I get sent back to salt mines I'll get up the courage to talk to one of them."
I remember touring the state capitol in Sacramento and it was filled with babes. Hot-looking female staffers and secretaries. If I'd been a morally weaker man, it might've swayed me from the one true path.
XXXXXX writes: You know I respect you, Luke, because you're the last man in America who wakes up each morning unfiltered. You can't be bought, and that makes you a dangerous man. You're like the script reader making 30k a year working out of some closet on the Paramount lot. You're the guy who tells the truth through back channels to Sherry Lansing about what a piece of drek script they really got. You never know if that script reader will make it to studio president or get run over like the Cynthia Stevenson d-girl character in "The Player."
It's time for me to end my relationship with Lukeford.net. But happy endings don't last forever, so I may be back. You were the first one to be exposed to the elaborate double-cross of Steven Seagal, and when the Gambino crime family thugs burn down the hovel, slash your wrists, put you in the Alta Cienaga Motel in the Jim Morrision room with an empty bottle of downers and two empty bottles of Jack Daniels, I'll be sure to get your bio to Russell Crowe. Via con dios, amigo. You were one of the greats.
Why Isn't Liz Taylor My Close Friend?
Rolly-Polly Greasy and Oily Skippy McButter writes Luke: Check out the write-up on suspected pederast (and this time, allegedly with a cancer victim from the Make-A-Wish Foundation!) Michael Jackson in today's NY Post. There is a picture of Jackson standing next to his two closest buds in the world, Israeli psychic huckster Uri Geller, and self-avowed Torah Jew Samuel Boteach. Do you Jews really need to see this pederast flanked by two high-profile jews? I think not. I further think that both Geller and Boteach, although they doubtlessly continue to be welcome in every shul in your community, have done far more harm to the public image of International Jewry than anything Luke Ford has ever even been accused of having done. Such is the corruption of our age.
By the way, why isn't Liz Taylor your friend?
Playboy As Bar Mitzvah Present?
I learned yesterday that Playboy magazine is a traditional Bar Mitzvah present along with a jar of vasoline. I never knew this. I've been scanning the Talmud like crazy and I can find no reference to this custom.
Joel writes: "I didn't get a Playboy for my bar-mitzvah, but every few months we'd get a "lox box" on Sunday mornings. I think they were a fundraiser for the synagogue (reconstructionist). In the box, one would find bagels, lox, cream cheese, and a Playboy. I don't ever remember the inclusion of a Playboy being discussed. I was old enough to read and note the bunny logo on the cover, and this was Skokie (just north of Chicago) in the late 60s, so Playboy culture was definitely in the air. Sadly, I wasn't old enough to feel inclined to look inside, not that my parents would have let me. I'm guessing it "wasn't discussed" and ended up in my dad's sock drawer."
From LATimes.com: Federal agents have gathered significant evidence linking private investigator Anthony Pellicano to a threat against a Los Angeles Times reporter who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal's alleged ties to the mob, according to law enforcement records and sources.
When FBI agents searched Pellicano's office last year, they found a folder labeled "Seagal" and other documents with the actor's name lying on a desk. They also found a "call list" with the name Alex Proctor — the man charged with placing a dead fish, a rose and a one-word note reading "stop" on the vandalized car windshield of reporter Anita Busch.
In addition to the evidence recovered during the search of Pellicano's office, authorities have obtained telephone records that appear to show calls between Pellicano and Proctor, according to a source. And, according to law enforcement sources, a recently retired LAPD officer is suspected of providing Pellicano with information from Busch's driver's license shortly before her car was vandalized and the threat was made.
Be Luke Ford's PA For a Day
Luke Ford Fan Blog and LukeFord.net have come up with an exciting contest that could see you spending a day as Mr. Ford's personal assistant!
All you have to do is write us an email (200 words or less) explaining which single moral principle that you have learned from reading Luke Ford's website has had the biggest positive influence on your life. Okay, we know this is not a very elegant way of putting it, but you get the idea. (Our Moral Leader drafted the question and we don't question him even when he expresses himself awkwardly.)
The best entry as judged by us here at Luke Ford Fan Blog headquarters will win six thrilling hours as Luke Ford's trusted personal assistant. Mr. Ford will meet you outside his office in the Westwood area of Los Angeles at 9am on December 16, 2003. Until 3pm you will help Luke brainstorm, research, write, and publish his blog. Mr. Ford will also take you out for lunch, but you will have to pay for your own meal. The contest is open to both Luke Ford Fan Blog members and non-members. Entries must be received by 5pm December 9, 2003. You may submit multiply entries. Although we have hired five new staff members to handle the expected avalanche of emails, please understand only the winner will be contacted by us. We simply cannot acknowledge all non-winning (i.e., losing) entries. Sorry.
The contest is open to American and foreign residents. But you will have to get yourself to Los Angeles if you live elsewhere. Unfortunately neither we nor Luke Ford can afford to fly the winner to Los Angeles if s/he is coming from out of town. In fact, no money will exchange hands at any point during the day. If you are under the age of 18 you will need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
Luke Ford reserves the right to cancel the contest at any time, including after meeting the winner on the morning of December 16, 2003. Mr. Ford has expressed some concern for this physical safety, explaining that a disproportionate number of his fans have psychological problems. We explained to Mr. Ford that we would weed out the entries from those who are clearly unwell, but he said that even the most disturbed individuals can achieve lucidity for the short amount time necessary to construct a 200 word email. We agree. Nonetheless, Mr. Ford assures us that it's highly unlikely that he will back out of the contest at the last minute and we, of course, trust him. Our Moral Leader doesn't lie.
If you have any questions, please contact us at our email address. In the meantime get busy writing. Good Luck.
Career Advice From Khunrum
Pick up an application form at the Post office. Study hard for the test. Remember, you'll have to do real well because preference is given to ex-servicemen, minorities and other unemployables.
As you walk your route pay attention. If you see Mr. Marcus leaving Kevin Spacey's house at three in the afternoon you can bet these is some action going on. Get the goods on all the famous people on your route. If it isn't juicy enough resort to your standard tactic, make it up. In a few short years you are ready to publish your second book. The one that will propel you to the top. The Kinky Kike? No..."Beverly Hills Postman". A tell-all juicy tome on Hollywood's elite. Get busy.
Cecile du Bois writes Luke's number one fan blog: "Hey, this is le protege! I'm very much amused by your new blog--very erm obsessive yet funny! How do you have all that time on your hands? I'm impressed! You say that you have expanding headquarters--who are your members? I can keep a secret!"
El Shaddai (email@example.com) replies: "Thank you; It doesn't take us much time to cut and paste. Our membership list is highly confidential, but suffice to say it's very large indeed."
Cecile writes: "What does one have to do become a member?"
El Shaddai replies: "Our fan base is so large that, unfortunately, we cannot accept new members at this time. Sorry."
Cathy Seipp writes Cecile: "I don't think it's a woman [writing the LF fan blog]. Women don't have time for these things.... Cecile says "El Shaddai" which means the God Almighty is the email for the Luke Ford fanblog, which means it would have to be someone who knows Hebrew.... And only men think they are the God almighty....even if they're just joking."
Nicholas writes: "I see you have been outed re Luke Ford's fan blog. You had me fooled for awhile!"
Jackie writes: "No, it's not me. I'm too busy praying for an improvement in Luke's musical tastes to write a blog about him."
Making Love Out Of Nothing At All
Playing Air Supply's greatest hits:
Everything I do is nothing until I give it to you
On Sunday, after the Jewish Policy Forum, Cathy Seipp (who's getting littler every day) and her 14 yo daughter Cecile climbed into my van's front passenger seat. Cecile sat on Cathy's lap as I drove. Cathy's pain turned into agony when Cecile stepped on her foot trying to get out. Cecile didn't get off it for about ten seconds by which point Cathy was howling. She still wasn't over it three hours later.
While Cathy looked precociously mature (you know what I mean) as a teen, Cecile looks younger than her years.
Cecile writes on her blog:
Torah vs Lord of the Rings
Skippy McButter writes: "Which has more meaning to the average Jew: the Torah, or the Lord of the Rings movies? I have much more of a visceral spiritual experience watching these movies than I ever had in shul. Long after Judaism has passed on to the dustbin of history, millions will be viewing LOTR with great pleasure."