Slouching towards Hollywood Babylon
Hollywood, Interrupted: First Book Interview For Mark Ebner, Andrew Breitbart
Here's a great new book: Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon -- The Case Against CelebrityFrom Publishers Weekly: Not since Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons have two journalists (Breitbart feeds stories to Internet scandalmonger Matt Drudge and Ebner wrote for Spy) gathered more mean-spirited gossip about celebrities they condemn as sick and depraved. This diatribe is so unrelentingly negative that it loses all power to persuade. Breitbart and Ebner cover a variety of subjects they stand against, among them celebrities voicing their political views, a woman's right to choose, single motherhood and celebrities adopting children. In a chapter devoted to anonymous nannies discussing disrespectful kids of anonymous movie stars, the authors suggest mandatory Norplant and vasectomies for Hollywood parents. Hugh Hefner can't win for being wild or conservative; the authors blast the "fossilized relic embalmed in nostalgia and Viagra" for watching a bestiality video 30 years ago, and then condemn him for his intolerance of illegal drugs. Peculiarly, the authors adore gay porn director Paul Barresi, who paid off the "she-males of the night" that Eddie Murphy frequented so they'd change their stories. But when Murphy's lawyers didn't compensate Barresi, he turned all his records over to the authors. Barresi went on to warn Michael Jackson that his latest videographer was also a gay porn director. But when Jackson wouldn't pay for the information, Barresi leaked the story to the tabloids. Instead of calling Barresi a blackmailer, the authors announce that "he has a code of ethics emphasizing loyalty and respect." Most of the gossip isn't new (e.g., Greg Allman was an uninterested father; Whitney Houston, Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jr. have had drug problems), and without any illuminating backstories, this is a sour and joyless read. From the Inside Flap
“Fearless. Vicious. Hilarious. Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner prove conclusively that radical family values + infinite financial resources + cultural idol worship = moral chaos.
Celebrity is the modern American version of aristocracy. Hollywood, Interrupted shows that our celebrities are every bit as mad, corrupt, and unaccountable as their Medieval European counterparts (albeit with better teeth). And like the old aristocracy, they really are one big, incestuous family.
What you don’t understand—what you could not possibly understand—is that not only are these people nuts: They’re nuts who all know each other. Hollywood is the most dysfunctional family in the history of the world and Hollywood, Interrupted reads like a transcript of their therapy session. It’s cheeky, sophisticated, and authoritative.”
—Jonathan Last, Weekly Standard
“Hollywood hypocrites are going to simmer with fury at the painful barbs, backed up by plenty of facts, that these two sleuthing authors toss at some of the i ndustry’s most beloved stars and wags. If you love Larry King and Oprah, you’d better get ready to defend their honor, because this book deftly melts the shine off their armor.”
“‘The rich are not like you and me,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald said. Hollywood, Interrupted demonstrates that the rich and famous are not like anybody—at least anybody you’d want to be, or even shake hands with. In the deliriously scandalous tradition of Hollywood Babylon, Breitbart and Ebner’s juicy dispatch from the spiritual capital of the Porn Belt reveals Tinseltown to be a glorified cathouse populated by collagened sociopaths. These also happen to be the people who drive American popular culture. Be afraid, be very afraid.”
“In Hollywood, Interrupted Breitbart and Ebner dig deeply into the very heart of our greatest export—pop culture—as produced by Hollywood, the movie industry and the people who affect and infect America. You cannot take a more fascinating or terrifying trip. There are tales of the fabulously famous here you would never know if not for their work. Hollywood, Interrupted is a book you have to put down frequently in order to catch your breath. Absolutely riveting.”
“This book blew me away. It’s more than I wanted to know, but I couldn’t stop reading it.”
“Reading Hollywood, Interrupted is like sitting on a stakeout and having a telescopic view into the darkest reaches of the corruption and perversity of today’s celebrity culture.
"This is a great book to read and a dangerous book to write. Breitbart and Ebner can hide in my basement when the Powers that Be in Hollywood put out a contract on them." —Jonah Goldberg, National Review
"Half Hollywood Babylon III, half Book of Virtues Breitbart and Ebner's juicy polemic does for Hollywood celebrities what Liar's Poker did for Wall Street Investment bankers. This basic critique rings true to me , and I live here (well, nearby, anyway). Their book will . . . rip the lid off the decadent culture of the showbiz rich. . . but who would have suspected that Barbara Streisand was actually a good mother?" —Mickey Kaus, Slate magazine columnist
"Hollywood is worse than you ever imagined, and Hollywood, Interrupted pulls no punches. It would be depressing, if it weren't so hilarious." —Prof. Glenn Reynolds, InstaPundit.com, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee
"Hollywood, Interrupted is a raucous, though often sobering, reflection on today's celebrity industry, which can often seduce and repulse in equal measure. Breitbart and Ebner's book is a comprehensive, funny, and sharp examination of the people and institutions angling to shape the country's politics, culture, and morality. And few of these tinseltown pillars are spared the searing scrutiny, from Kabbalah devotees to the 'heterosexual Tom Cruise." The book reverberates with salesmen of every stripe: hustlers peddling sex, drugs, information, ideology, dreams, hokum, and even nonstick frying pans. And since Hollywood is controlled by some very warped and unprincipled souls, the buyer ought to beware." —William Bastone, Editor and co-founder, TheSmokingGun.com
Mark Ebner is an award-winning investigative journalist who has covered all aspects of celebrity culture for Spy, Rolling Stone, Details, Los Angeles magazine, Premiere, Salon, Spin, and New Times among others. He has repeatedly positioned himself in h way, conducting over 50 in-depth investigations into such subjects as Scientology, pit bull fighting in South Central Los Angeles, the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, celebrity stalkers, sports groupies, college suicides, and Hepatitus C in Hollywood. Ebner has produced for and/or appeared as a journalist-commentator on NBC, MSNBC, A&E, FX, E!, Entertainment television. He hosted the nationally syndicated radio program, Drastic Radio in 2000 and is Editor at Large for LA Innuendo magazine. Ebner lives in Venice, California, with his two dogs, Roxie and Poorboy.
In this entertainment industry exposé, Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner pull back the curtain to reveal the twisted culture of Hollywood and the preposterous penchants of today's high-profile celebrities. From John T, Tom Cruise, and Ann Heche to Eddie Murphy, Oliver Stone, and Courtney Love, Hollywood, Interrupted presents the mind-altered behavior of the most reality-challenged celebrities from all walks of life and every genre.
Hollywood, Interrupted explores how the pathological behavior of celebrities has destroyed comedy, snuffed relationships, and demeaned family values. Each chapter delivers a meticulously researched, interview-infused, attitude-heavy dispatch—which analyzes and deconstructs the myths created by celebrities and their way-too-protective handlers.
You'll enter a world where:
Frequently hysterical and occasionally frightening, Hollywood, Interrupted digs deep to uncover how in Hollywood cults rule, Dr. Feelgood stands ready to fill your prescription, celebrity kids shoot speedballs, and your neighbor runs a brothel.
Both entertaining and engaging, Hollywood, Interrupted reveals the real Hollywood and mocks the movie mavens, sitcom screwballs, and musical misfits who view being on medication, under house arrest, in rehab, or on deathwatch as just part of the job.
Friday afternoon, February 20, 2004, I speak by phone with Mark Ebner (an acquaintance for about five years) and Andrew Breitbart (who I met last night).
Luke: "I had a great time at the party last night."
Mark: "Everybody did. The best thing that could've happened was the valet parking snafu. You know all those looky-loos who'd run in and steal your books and run out? They didn't bother to stop. Only those people we wanted there only made the effort to get in."
Luke: "Anything catch your attention at the party?"
Andrew: "No napkins."
Mark: "We had catering difficulties."
Andrew: "Somebody observed that the waiting staff was on Ecstasy. By the end of the evening, they were serving rave-like green beverages."
Luke: "Did that disturb you?"
Andrew: "What disturbed me beyond that was that they were coming up to me with this gleeful look in their eye asking me to sign their book. It was so profoundly unprofessional, I was so galled that it was hysterically funny. It transcended bad form."
Mark: "Given that our book is such a labor of contempt, I was moved that the party turned into such a lovefest."
Andrew: "My big fear was that the majority of the people in the LA press are so left of center, there would be some hostility to me remarks. I didn't feel that. I think everybody got the humor of it without it having to become a big political thing."
Luke: "How are you guys perceived and received by your peers in journalism?"
Mark: "I get the quiet pats on the back for doing the heavy investigative stuff over the years, however, those same people change the venue and put me in a situation at a dinner party or any circle where Hollywood wheels are in motion, and these people don't want to know me. On the one hand, it's, 'Oh Mark, tell me everything about Scientology. You're my hero. That story you did. You're the greatest.' It was ten years ago. But try to bring it up face to face with John Travolta and you've got a publicist shutting you down. You can't ask those questions. It's a double standard.
"I've copped a few awards. I'm happy with my body of investigative work. Leading up to this book, I'm just happy I found Andrew on the wires of the Internet. We're sticking to that story. We met on the Internet."
Andrew: "I didn't even know I had peers. I work from home. I'm sort of Drudge's drudge. I read AP copy and AP wire all day. I read about 50 newspapers a day. Every now and again, I will write a piece for the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. Something will start bubbling up inside of me and I will have to get it out. I don't feel like I am part of any crowd. I don't even see Matt but every three years. He's the closest thing I have to a peer."
Luke: "You don't mix with other Los Angeles journalists?"
Andrew: "No. I just showed up because I had to be there. I just don't feel comfortable in that crowd."
Luke: "You both seemed pretty comfortable last night."
Andrew: "Both of us were drawn to each other because we think of ourselves as outsiders. We have similar personality traits. We don't suffer fools gladly. We just wanted to get the truth out. Somebody should've written this book a long time ago. We kept waiting for somebody to blow the lid on the joke that is Hollywood. We thought somebody would write it while we were writing it because it was such an obvious story that is being covered so incredibly superficially. We thought we'd delve deeper and use his investigative skills."
Mark: "How does a journalist going on two decades wind up reduced to writing for Hustler? You run out of outlets willing to publish the truth. Why did we do a book? It's the logical progression. I'm not crying poverty. I needed an outlet to get these stories told. Where else can you tell the truth on celebrities and have license to mock them? That would be the Internet, talk radio."
Andrew: "We're picking up on something that has been out there for a long time -- a percolating contempt for the Hollywood class for their misbehavior and the way they misrepresent America abroad. I think people are disappointed with the product that is out there. Because the entertainment press is so glowing, except the adversarial National Enquirer, which goes after their private lives, there isn't any adversarial media pointing out these obvious trends.
"If you turn on talk radio, it is overflowing with these topics, be it the Super Bowl breast exposure thing. That was the perfect media storm that had been brewing. It wasn't just about one simple naked breast. This pressure of Hollywood constantly pushing the envelope for what reason? Janet Jackson was not trying to make some statement about American Puritanism. This was a choreographed date rape. The entire Super Bowl [halftime] show was symbolic of how removed Hollywood is from what people are really thinking."
Mark: "This was an attempt at branding, but how are you going to brand something [Janet Jackson] that is not going to sell.
"We're talking in this book about serious stuff. We're talking about insanity. We were ready to call in the experts on this but instead we let the people tell their stories -- such as the nannies. We crossed a lot of lines that we don't find crossed in Hollywood journalism. 'Don't go after their kids.' Hell, yes. We're finding the nannies. Then we're going to chart them through high school. These are the seeds of the people who wind up making decisions in Hollywood. If it is any shock about how this product is so bad, consider how these people are bred. It's incestuous. They're born into this. They go to this [Crossroads] school with these new-agey date rape scenarios with their teachers. Then it infiltrates into the mailrooms and the agencies and right up the ladder. I want to know how many of these people have actually read a book. I hope they read this one."
Luke: "How did you guys divvy up the work of this book?"
Andrew: "He does the investigative stuff and I do the grand philosophical stuff."
Mark: "I frame a story. We did this on the wires [IM conversations]. I'd go interview the nannies and give him the raw material. We'd then go back and forth, making points on each other's work."
Andrew: "I don't think it would be possible to recreate how we did it. It was just a very organic experience."
Mark: "It was a lot of copying and pasting."
Andrew: "Mark and I come from such different points of view. I'm much more conservative. I have a family. I don't go out much. Mark is out there on the town. He knows a lot of people. I don't. We disagree on a lot of things but what is in the book is what both of us fundamentally agree upon."
Luke: "Did you guys have to fight..."
Luke: "...the desire to be loved?"
Andrew: "No. There is a part of me that is petrified of being hated. This book is my literary coming out. I wanted to tell the truth about how I feel about my hometown Los Angeles. I'm 35 years old and I've lived here all of my life except for four years in college. I know a lot of people will have a hard time swallowing this because this is a go-along-to-get-along town."
Mark: "I live for being hated. I live for late night phonecalls from Heidi Fleiss, screaming at me that she's contacting her lawyers and I can't use those transcripts. There's an obscure chapter in there called 'Hollywood Pan Men' about B actors who sells pans. I live for getting calls from the company saying, 'This is a $10 million company. What are you trying to do, you cunt! You asshole, you're trying to bring down our company. We're going to sue you.' Dude, a call from Scientology in the morning is my morning coffee.
"As much as I know people in Hollywood, I can count my true friends on two hands. And eight of those ten people were at that party last night. They're not going to hate me [over this book]. I'm sure you feel the same way."
Luke: "Yes. You're talking to someone who knows what you are saying."
Mark: "We keep our friends close and we laugh at our enemies."
Andrew: "The news media likes to put certain people through an investigative scope. They'll use a hidden-camera into the meatpacking industry or the sanitation at a market or overpricing. We've become accustomed to that in the news media and in films such as Erin Brokovich and The Insider. These movies are praised and win awards and the Hollywood crowd gives standing ovations to these people because they are considered consumer advocates. These people are the biggest hypocrites. They live in a shell. They are protected not only by their PR flacks, by an industry where the companies own each other and protect each other, by magazine beholden to the stars, to this dirty industry of people trying to protect the stars from themselves."
Mark: "I'm a veteran of Sundance. Can you imagine being with all the Hollywood folk who've traipsed out in their designer winterwear every year to give Michael Moore a standing ovation for his piece of s--- that was Bowling for Columbine where his bravest move was to shanghai an aging, presumably Alzheimers-ridden alterkaker like Charleton Heston. It was such a weak cheap shot. Oliver Stone, the next year, comes out with that awful movie [about Cuba] with his arm around Fidel Castro, a murderous dictator."
Luke: "Do we really need this book when we have such a hard-hitting hometown newspaper like The Los Angeles Times on this beat?"
Andrew: "Mark's evil, can you quote me on that?"
Mark: "The LA Times chooses to print only part of the story. They had the Heidi Fleiss story (Shawn Huber and ... who broke the scandal). They refused to follow up on who was really playing with Heidi. Oh really? Billy Idol and Charlie Sheen were engaging with prostitutes? Big shocker. That's not the point.
"I wrote for New Times Los Angeles for their whole duration (1995-2001). That was my answer to the LA Times. Where else could you find a local paper that would allow you to write and report 10,000 word think pieces."
Andrew: "I think we expose him in the Heidi Fleiss transcripts that the scandal was not just another case of the oldest profession intersecting with Hollywood. That's not culturally significant. Had that transcript come out and played up front and center, where the implication is that they were ordering up under-aged girls. You have an exploitation racket of the people who come up here for fame and fortune and Heidi was bringing them in... What are they talking about when they order over a 17 year old girl to a movie producer who is in his sixties? What does it say about this industry that so many people were on that black book. I doubt that Robert Evans was the only one taking advantage of that scenario.
"If there were any kind of decent news media in this town, it would've exposed the dark side that is so often covered up."
Mark: "The LA Times refuses to break these myths to show the dirty side. People always say to me, 'Ebner, what are you doing with [gay porn director] Paul Barresi? What are you doing with those backstreet detective clowns?' Those are the guys that work the streets. Those are the guys that come up with the documents. Those are the guys who end up being my most solid sources. If you want to find out where the dirty DNA of celebrities is spilled, it's in the gutter. But who's working the gutter?
"Luke, you and I know that the reporters at these trade papers and daily papers are not going to call in these stories. You have to go hang out in transvestite bars. You have to look in the gutter. The people you find are working that same gutter. What they're doing, call it blackmail, call it working angles, they're surviving. Whether what they do is legal or not means nothing to me as long as the stuff comes up correct. We get to publish things that people say, 'Oh, that was ill gotten to begin with.' I don't ask those questions. Show me the goods. The law protects us. If we run something, whether it was gotten by illegal means such as illegal wiretappings, or somebody was using it as a way to get a lawyer or a tabloid to pay him, that's of no interest to me. It makes for a great character study. If you've got the goods, hand it over. My desk has been filled with that stuff over the years. It takes a book to lay that stuff out. I can't wait to start Hollywood, Interrupted II. The book writes itself. We couldn't keep up with it. At the end of the book, he's flashing me news reports. Courtney, Michael Jackson. Here we go again.
"Luke, can you imagine what the feds are listening to in those millions of pages of Pellicano documents now? You've got these lawyers Bert Fields and Marty Singer. Because they're buffered. Because they say they didn't know any wire tappings were going on. It was all done with a gesture, a wink and a nod, with people they employ to do the damage control. I've come up with signed checks from Marty Singer to Paul Barresi. You know he's looking at Paul Barresi and paying him and making that Fagin-like gesture, 'Go out and get the truth,' while he's rubbing his fingers together. You know what he's saying. In Hollywood, lawyers can operate on that fringe level above the law. Once those Pellicano files become public domain, they're going to bust out large."
Andrew: "It will be like Heidi Fleiss, ten years after the fact. Nobody's pouring over them. Nobody wants to know what is going on. Nobody wants to know how the sausage is made here. I almost wrote a piece predicting the Pellicano story will be underplayed. Sure, Linda Deutch at the AP will cover it. But they are not going to cover this on the front page of the LA Times above the fold with a blaring headline that it deserves. This guy was the investigator for the celebrity class in Hollywood. That's a massive story because this is a company town. This is going to expose the dark secrets of how this lovely philanthropic politically correct town really works. It's a dark town and the LA Times does not want the world to see that."
Luke: "What are your challenges in promoting this book? What is the media obstacle course you're going to have to run?"
Mark: "We're getting tremendous interest via talk radio. We're going to have to go to the Bernie Goldberg (Bias) route. We have a full tour. We're in New York all next week. Andrew's going to Baltimore. We're doing Fox and MSNBC. We've been invited to Toronto. The UK has put in inquiries about serializing the book. There's heat out there but it comes from places that need to sell this book like a virus.
"Last night, the one guy I wanted to corner was the guy Cathy showed up with -- the guy from the Omaha paper. Dude, I am so glad you are here. We wrote this book for your readership. Wiley [publisher] sent us 25 books. We've been giving them out to friends and loved ones. People like my sister who is a school teacher in middle America. They don't know this stuff. They only know what they see on entertainment television. They read the book. The call comes in. 'Ohmigod, I finished your book. I turned on E!. My whole perspective has changed. Yeech, what am I watching here?'"
Andrew: "After giving me a blurb, Glenn Reynolds said, 'I laughed throughout the book. The next day, I woke up and felt sick to my stomach.' Now, when people turn on the garbage entertainment they used to like, they will see it from a different perspective."
Mark: "So when these so-called opinion leaders are telling us who to vote for and who to pray to, maybe you'll think again before you take a cue from an idiot like the heterosexual Tom Cruise. He's mind-controlled by the cult. He has the gall to say that psychiatry is a junk science and should be outlawed? Andrew tries to shut me down when I get hyped on this. If a kid gets off his meds because Tom Cruise said psychiatry is wrong, and dies, I would love to see that family file a civil action against Cruise. I don't even know that Tom Cruise graduated from high school, let alone six years of medical school."
Andrew: "How can people who can not govern their own lives seek to tell us how we should be governed? I don't think your average leftist wants the help of these people. Hollywood holds middle America in contempt in the way they speak to them and in the type of material they feed them.
"Hollywood's made a couple of movies about what happened to Mathew Shepherd. It's obviously a horrible story about what happened to him [a homosexual who was beaten to death] but Hollywood immediately creates these after-school special type movies that send the message to middle America 'Don't string up gay boys. We're here to teach you out there not to be hostile to gay people.' Wyoming handled that properly. These guys are in jail and I think they are going to be put to death. Everybody in America thought that was a horrible crime yet Hollywood thinks that if they didn't teach us these PC moral tales, moral chaos would happen. That blacks and gays would be persecuted and we'd go back to 19th Century America.
"I juxtapose the type of movies they put out there to teach us life lessons with... It's 2004. Fifteen years after the fall of the Eastern Bloc. There hasn't been one movie made about the grandest story of that time."
Mark: "How dare you try to protect us from moral chaos when you are the source of it? I'd point you to a book written by 20-year old Marty Beckerman, Generation Slut. He self-published his first book at 16. He addresses sexuality in America and how kids his age respond to the media. He has a whole section called, 'Sexual Perversity in Los Angeles.' His book is coming out in days and I am so honored to be on the same slate as this kid. Generation Slut takes you on a frightening tour of how kids today base their sexual behavior on what comes out of Hollywood. It's killing them, right down to their souls. I'm not moralizing here, the statistics speak to it."
Andrew: "Yes, you are moralizing. That's a good thing."
Mark: "The statistics speak to it. Look at how many kids have tried anal sex before 14 years old. His book is beautiful because he takes his narrative and punches in all the statistics."
Andrew: "One of the great hypocrisies of Hollywood is the mantra, 'Thou shalt not judge.' They're saying that anyone who judges them is wrong. It's wrong to hold them responsible for the power they hold over our culture. With their art, that's all they do -- judge. That's the one power they hold above us -- the right to judge us. American Beauty was the height of a worthy artsy film that was so indicative of how Hollywood thinks of its audience. It looks at the middle class experience as a hollow shallow totally commercially based experience. They can't look in the mirror and realize they are the ones who are morally bankrupt."
Mark: "I was laughing at Nancy Rommelman who juggled both parties (LA Weekly and LA Press Club). Johnathan Gold at the LA Weekly said that our party was where the libertarians were. Come on. You saw who was there [few libertarians, a politically mixed crowd]. We had a melting pot soup better than anything served up at Kate Mantilini afterward. Everybody was there and it was awesome. That little sniping from the LA Weekly. Come on guys, look out the window. There's a billboard overlooking your office. We don't care if you hype our book but you might like to read it."
Andrew: "I don't think our publisher, Wiley, understood how the Hollywood entertainment press worked."
Mark: "Luke, Wiley is where you are doing your book."
Andrew: "I knew that it would be an uphill battle to do the book the way we wanted to. Everybody wants gossip and everybody wants to distill this book down to gossip. If a person finishes this book and thinks that it is about gossip, their reading comprehension skills are not high. For all of its famed journalistic integrity, [Hollywood entertainment journalists] don't want to put this book out there for wide consumption because they are going to look bad. The LA Weekly crowd can be bitchy about Hollywood, but it is go along to get along."
Mark: "They've got Nikki Finke on board. There's a plus."
Mark: "When we were selling this book, we had offers that could've been richer coming to the table. After my first experience with Warner Books, we were not going to go with some conglomerate-owned publisher. Who's the woman doing the books with the porn stars? Judith Regan. There was interest there that would've been a helluva lot more than Wiley would've been willing to shell out. But look at what Judith Regan is doing. She's doing Jenna Jameson's books. Traci Lords' book. That's all well and good. You and I have been around the same circles for ages now. I have no problem getting into the mix with porn people. I think they're at least bare-boned honest about what they do.
"What Judith Regan succeeded in doing is branding pornography like MTV is. Jenna Jameson is a pundit now. Those books aren't even selling."
Andrew: "People who have a problem [with the gossipy nature] of our book have no problem with the Jenna Jameson books or putting Heidi Fleiss on CNN's Crossfire. They have no problem helping to redeem Heidi and allowing her to spew her nonsense. She said on that show that 99% of men are unfaithful, from my experience. Yes, in your industry, it is close to 100%."
Mark: "Coming out of the mouth of a whore... Of course.
"Kelly Preston, without rebutt, can get away with that soundbyte, 'Scientology rocks.' Our big news people are sitting there and not saying, "What rocks about it? What about that dead girl in Florida?'"
Andrew: "Scientology now goes before Congress and gets a lot of publicity about their anti-psychiatric medication campaign. They constantly frame this as the benevolent works of these celebrities. Scientology has positioned itself in a war against psychiatry and it uses celebrities as its pawns. The media will not tell you that part of the story. It's an insidious part of celebrity in news. The news world is not giving you the full picture."
Mark: "What would you rather do? Be on the couch of a psychiatrist or be hooked up to an E-meter? Americans need to know where the bodies are buried. One of them was strapped to a bed in a Clearwater hotel and starved and dehydrated to death."
Andrew: "The media held Kathy Lee Gifford accountable for her connection to a sweatshop in Central America. When something creepy goes on in Scientology, such as suing the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy, then Scientology takes over the Network. Now when somebody calls up the Cult Awareness Network, and says, 'My kid's in Scientology, what should I do?', and there's a Scientology person on the other end of the phone... That is worthy of a Prime Time Live hour-long investigation. But they will put on Anne Heche selling her book Call Me Crazy.
"Scientology has a place called the Celebrity Center. They admit they treat celebrities as a higher class."
Mark: "They are operating on the doctrine of a fat, college-dropout, adulterer, black-magic-practicioner, plagiarist, fat, balding, dreck named L. Ron Hubbard."
Andrew: "Is he overweight, Mark?"
Mark: "Kirsty Alley. Quote her. There's no such thing as a fat cell."
Andrew: "I swear to God, Mark, that you are setting your hefty coworker and you up for a killing if he uses this fat stuff. I don't want Luke making fun of my belly."
Mark: "I think he gets it that two fat Jews are sitting here railing against fat people. You know who would do that? Jeff Wells."
Luke: "How did you come to choose primarily political blurbs for your back cover?"
Andrew: "The last thing I wanted to do was to put this book out there and say, 'Please do me a favor and write the blurb.' I just sent this book out to people and said, 'I don't want you to give me a blurb because I know you. I only want you to do this if you are absolutely behind this book. The people who are most clued in to this situation are people who see it from a sociopolitical vantage. The people in Hollywood are not removed enough to have a perspective. I just knew that [the blurb writers on the back cover, including Mickey Kaus, Ann Coulter, Glenn Reynolds] in the light of the success of Bernard Goldberg's Bias, would say that we've taken on bias in media, let's take on the problems we have in Hollywood."
Mark: "This is the least log rolling you'll see. When this book was sent out, that's how they responded. There was no pleading. We sent it to 13 people and 12 weighed in. The 13th is a Hollywood producer. She didn't get past the first chapter. 'Ohmigod, what these guys are saying about abortion. F--- them. I'm not going to say anything.' One Hollywood lefty. Jane Hamsher."
Luke: "She wrote that one book about her producing that ended her career as a producer."
Mark: "She did get legs. She's still in From Hell (2001)."
Andrew: "We made fun of From Hell in the book. She was hit from a few different angles, but the very idea that we broached the subject of abortion in Hollywood. We didn't write from a pro-life vantage. Angelina Jolie's comment that she was pro-choice because her mother couldn't get an abortion when she was pregnant with me."
Luke: "You guys resemble the old Spy magazine. How come we've moved from a Spy magazine to a Vanity Fair [that sucks up to powerful celebrities]?"
Mark: "Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen [former editors of Spy] are the guys I started with. Graydon Carter has become the person he used to love to mock. Witness his annual bash at Mortons. I have to do Mapquest to stay out of the traffic on that night."
Andrew: "It's shocking to me the degree to which Graydon Carter became a star f-----. When I graduated from college, I saw no greater calling than Spy magazine. When I met Mark and found out he was writing a Spy magazine cover stories, and the most controversial ones such as infiltrating Scientology... I hope we move towards that ideal. Because of Graydon Carter's getting to the place where he apparently always wanted to get... He used Spy as a means to get to the top. When you get to the top, you start acquiescing."
Mark: "Remember when Kurt Andersen launched Inside.com? I wanted to his launch party in the middle of the tech boom. He gave this press conference. I got up in the back row. Keep in mind that I inherited the Celia Brady [notorious Spy magazine column dishing the dirt on Hollywood]. I wrote Usual Suspects and the industry column. Celia, whoever that may be, started something great, and I put my own stamp on it.
"I said, 'Hey Kurt, are you going to bring back Celia Brady?' And he started waffling. I realized, Inside? Inside my asshole. I knew it right then he was going to play ball with the inside. It wasn't going to be inside outside. It was going to be inside, you rub my back, I'll rub yours. He failed and he should've failed. He writes good books."
Andrew: "The problem with this book is that people are going to begin to ask, what is the solution? And that is so far above our pay grade, I can't begin to answer. The problem is bigger than we are describing it. The best analogy I can give you is that there isn't a checks and balances. In Hollywood, it is all about going along to get along. That includes the press, the movie studios, the record studios, the TV studios, the synergy... In Washington, you have journalists who are adversarial. They have two daily papers with distinct editorial positions, the Washington Post and the Washington Times. Could you describe to me the difference in the editorial position between the Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The Los Angeles Times? They are just just playing up what could be advertisements - so-and-so got promoted. There's nothing that remotely resembles adversarial journalism.
"In the old days in Hollywood, the adults were in charge. If there was a celebrity with issues, the studio knew that it was in the best interest of the star and the studio and society at large not to promote said celebrity's excesses. Now studio brass don't care about how celebrities behave. They're promoting reality television shows that highlight the worst of human behavior. With fewer places to do three-act plays, the celebrities are now competing with the reality stars to show how low they can go."
Mark: "Look at the myth recreation. Graydon Carter produced 'The Kid Stays in the Picture.' [A documentary on producer Robert Evans.] It's a myth recreation. Oliver Stone did his Fidel Castro thing and allowed Fidel final cut."
Andrew: "Rich powerful people are promoting the absolute worst of human nature, including communism."
Mark: "Luke, if you were a Premiere magazine editor who was interviewing me now, you'd probably say, 'Mark, America loves its myths. Why do you guys want to rain on the party? Do you think people really want to see these myths shattered?' Whether they want to see it or not, here it is. Do you know what a relief it is to finally tell these stories? One day we will sit down and I will show you my kill file. I'll show you everything that never got published for one reason or another. It's all back channeled. You've got some jerkoff named Peter Herbst at the helm of Premiere magazine. He came over from Family Circle. He doesn't know Hollywood. The milquetoast, Jim Meigs, lived in Scarsdale or Westchester County [outside New York]. He wasn't working the beat of Hollywood. Why don't you just buy a billboard and fold your advertorial magazine?
"Thanks to Wiley, we were able to get this book out the way we wanted. You know what would've happened if this had been a Simon & Schuster imprint or Warner imprint."
Andrew: "The same thing as happened with Deborah Norville. Or like The New York Times did with us today. Wow, this book isn't light and fluffy gossip. Even the NY Times has become accustomed to that. It's so dark that nobody wants to look at the elephant in the middle of the room. Every one of these outlets is compromised."
Mark: "We assail the media for their very complicity. Are we frustrated? Not really. We're having a ball. That party last night was witness to that."
Andrew: "We could've done this book and taken out the media complicity stuff. We could've just done a laundry list of the celebrity misbehavior. But the real story here is how the media plays into it. They like dishing the dirt on the stars... We think there's an alternative media out there, the Internet and talk radio, who will force the subject to percolate into the mainstream media."
Luke: "I can't find anything in the New York Times about your book."
Mark: "You will find a blurb over the weekend [nope]. They were going to do a big thing on it but they deemed it too political.
"Luke, remember the publisher of New Times Los Angeles? Mike Lacey. He came to LA and started New Times with the edict, 'I don't want any stories about sex or religion.' He moved to the Hollywood Hills, got a house, lived here for two months, and he started ordering up sex and religion stories. That's where you've been, Luke, the entire time. He realized what you get. You have the freedom to do it on whatever shoestring you're pulling. Look what happened to New Times. Poof, in a backdoor agreement with the LA Weekly.
"Andrew has been drilling me to come to the Internet. I'm still on AOL."
Andrew: "It's embarrassing, isn't it?"
Luke: "You didn't take on the gay mafia in this book."
Mark, who wrote a famous 1995 piece for Spy magazine on that topic: "After what happened... It wasn't substantial enough. The reason I've been so cagey about that this whole time (I've asked Mark a dozen times over the years for a couple of that original article and he's never come through)... The editors at Spy magazine lopped off my last thousand words, which were my thesis: Wouldn't it be great if everybody were out of the closet? There would be no gay Mafia There would be no glass ceilings in Hollywood. Spy's edict was -- we're taking it out because we are not an apologist magazine. So I felt, this comes off like a homophobic rant and that's not who I am. I took it to Michelangelo Signorile (famous gay activist and columnist who has led the way in outing closeted homosexuals as part of his agenda to normalize homosexuality) and I issued an apology for what was printed. My point was obscured.
"We didn't need to take on the gay Mafia We needed to take on the people who had been paying my rent for the last 20 years. Media complicity."
Andrew: "My only regret with the book is that we didn't cover the executives, the Sumner Redstones of the world. This is the world they've created and not many people hold them accountable.
"Susan Sarandon claimed in 1991 that she did not get nominated for an Oscar for her opposition to the first Gulf War. Her movie was White Palace, that piece-of-s--- with James Spader where she played a waitress. The media didn't hold her accountable then. There's a difference between 1991 and Internet talk radio America 2004. Celebrities are now hearing some feedback for their outlandish points of view."
Mark: "They think we're all asshole. No, we're just working journalists in search of an outlet."
Andrew: "Challenging the entertainment class is just as important as challenging the political class."