Dave Robb is a blunt cranky entertainment reporter. He's widely-disliked by his peers and widely respected for his tenacious journalism. He specializes in legal and union matters. Ideologically, he's still stuck in a 1950s anti-McCarthy time warp where he only sees enemies on the right.

Robb writes Luke 10/30/02: "Sir: You are a liar and an incompetent reporter. You should be ashamed of yourself. You obviously don't know anything about Anita Busch, whom you continue to libel and insult with your stupid little column. You should hope you never run into me at a party after I've had two beers."


Meeting Dave Robb At Writers Guild

I arrive at the Writers Guild building on Doheny Drive, just south of Wilshire Blvd, in Beverly Hills at 7:22PM.

At 7:25, I spot journalist Ross Johnson, who works at the Writers Guild, and walk over to say hello. He's talking to an unassuming old man dressed like a Vietnamese refugee.

Khunrum writes: "What does a Vietnamese refugee dress like? All Vietnamese I've met are dressed well. Even the refugees."

Luke says: "Vietnamese refugees who've just floated thousands of miles on boats made of milk cartons. Refugees tend to dress like journalists - wearing old clothes that look like hand-me-downs."

Ross Johnson booms: "Luke Ford!"

He shakes my hand. I turn and face Johnson's friend and extend my hand to him. His face curls up with disdain.

Ross: "You know Luke?"

The man waves off my hand: "I don't care for him."

The old man won't even address a word to me. He just backs away.

I realize I've just met Dave Robb. I've never seen a picture of him.

JMT writes:

Once again, you have learned nothing from your contacts with Spallone and that Australian guy who occasionally threatens to beat you to death.

As soon as the guy skulked away, you should have sent a waiter over to him with two beers and a note reading "come see me after you've finished these, sunshine," or a similar, vaguely menacing but non-indictable message.

Sure, there would be a very slight chance that he might come over and slug you, but you have to accept a certain degree of risk if you want to be the Alpha Male.

Dave Robb writes Luke 6/1/03: "You are a liar. As you well know, after our brief encounter at the Writers Guild Theater, when I hurt your feelings by refusing to shake your slimy little hand, I stood there in the aisle talking to Ross Johnson and watched you slink off to lick your wounds. There is a park in Beverly Hills called Roxbury Park. It's on Olympic Blvd. near Century City. You name the time and I will meet you there at the north/west corner and I will beat the shit out of you. Dave Robb"

Luke says: Baloney. You backed off after Ross introduced me. Ross then wanted to get rid of me so he could finish his conversation with you. So, out of courtesy to you and Ross, I left quickly and you resumed talking to Ross.

Gentle reader: Is it nobler for me to meet Dave Robb on a field of battle and vanquish him or should I plead Orthodox Judaism and take the spiritual way out? What would be more attractive to the fairer sex?

Dave Robb writes Luke at 3:01PM, 6/2/03: "I am waiting for your answer. Yes or no? If the answer is yes, name the time. If the answer is no, then take down every reference you have ever made in your libelous little column about me and Anita Busch today -- and refrain from writing about her or me in the future. If you do not do this today, I am going to come looking for you. And when I find you, I am going to put you in the hospital for a long time. I am going to beat you up so bad you will wish you were dead. You have lied about and insulted my friend, and you have called me a "coward." You are not going to get away with this any longer. And if you think I'm kidding, just put some more smart ass responses on your web site. That will be my answer. Dave Robb"

Cathy Seipp writes: "Oh honestly! A park? In Beverly Hills? How about a duel at dawn in the Hillcrest parking lot? OK, I'd say, the best thing is to challenge Dave Robb to a thumb war at Canter's. Now THAT'd be sexy."

JMT writes:

You apparently already have this cadre of LA blogger dopes conned into thinking of you as a "hard working journalist," solely on the basis of your ability to transcribe tape recordings. Imagine how they will swoon and idolize you if you now take advantage of this opportunity to administer a beat-down on an elderly man in a public place.

If you really want to screw with this guy, don't bother with his "meet me at the park at the intersection of . . . " bullshit. Go over to his office, right now, and call him out in front of everybody. He'll probably hide in his cubicle and have security escort you out of the building.

Khunrum writes: Luke, You are a man of many talents but pugilism is not one of them. Send an e if you must (silence would be better) telling this man you are not interested in assaulting a senior citizen. Hopefully the matter will be forgotten. This should teach you a lesson about taunting people in general and the wrong people specifically.

Advice columnist Amy Alkon suggests: "Decline the fight and challenge him to work his way up from knuckle-dragger conflict resolution to warring with the power of speech. Don't be too optimistic. Evolution is an extremely slow process."

Matt Welch writes: Dear Luke, As I see it, you have six options.

1) Show up on time, and kick his ass.

2) Show up on time, and get your ass kicked.

3) Show up on time, and engage in some awkward wrestling scuffle that proves utterly inconclusive, before bystanders (or the cops) break it up. This is the most likely outcome, should you meet on his terms.

4) Find out what car he drives, draft two co-conspirators with digital cameras (preferably ones with video capabilities) to come out an hour before he shows up, and discreetly film his every move. Make sure one of 'em's a hot girl, preferably Moxie, and have her walk up to him at the appointed minute and start asking him totally surrealist & confusing questions ("Are you David Robb? I saw you on television, talking about your penis! I've always admired your work, especially for the Dodgers. Will sign your autograph for my cat?" etc.). Make sure she has a tape recorder in her pocket, and that co-conspirator number two is filming every second. Then you show up in a bathrobe, lace-up boots, boxing gloves, a T-shirt that says "I heart the Torah," and a clown nose. Start yelling confident-sounding, incomprehensible taunts, ripped entirely from the pages of 1930s detective books. Dance around. Just as he gets set to attack you, have two dwarves come out with banana cream pies, and throw them at his face, laughing and clapping maniacally. Get it all on tape, then immediately sell it online for $4.95, under the title "Dave Robb is a Jackass!"

5) Alert the cops ahead of time, show up, and let him beat you silly without fighting back. He will be arrested for aggravated, premeditated assault, and go to jail. Unless he just cusses you out, in which case you'll probably feel like a real ass, though your pretty face will thank you.

6) Tell him you're a lover, not a fighter, and decline the invitation.

Helpful writes: Be sure to wear your yarmulke, prayer shawl and pink triangle t-shirt so we can get the jury to buy it as a hate crime.

Rob suggests: Luke's got connections with the bruthas. Get Mr. Marcus, Lexington Steele, Brian Pumper and Country on the phone. Luke's posse is gonna roll!

Khunrum writes: You'll want to be in some kind of shape for this match Luke. May I suggest jogging to and from shul for your morning prayers.

Dave Deutsch writes: Morally speaking, of course, you should try and mend fences. Did you lie about the guy? If so, that would, of course, be wrong, and necessitate an apology.

If that's not what you're going for, however, then avoid the fight, and make fun of the guy. Here's your situation: Here's a guy clearly upset by what you write--so if you don't want him to be upset, then, as noted above, apologize and offer to buy him a beer--you'll feel better come Yom Kippur. If you want him to be upset, then fighting him gets you nothing. If he wins, you give him satisfaction, and if you win, it won't bother him any more than if you keep writing about him (I had a situation like this in basic training--guy wanted to kick my ass, so I just made fun of him for 13 weeks because I knew he couldn't do anything about it). Here's a rule to live by: 98% of the time, when somebody tells you they're going to kick your ass, you have absolutely nothing to worry about, because those who does it won't tell you beforehand. On the other hand, be aware that for the other 2% of the time, you're in for the ass-kicking of your life.

Personally, I'd go with making peace (I'm older and frummer than I was back in boot camp).

Try this: "You know, I really have to give you credit. When I wrote ______, I thought you'd be angry. But now, you write telling me that not only aren't you angry, but you actually want eat the shit out of me. I appreciate the offer to toss my salad, and, quite frankly, your magnanimity shames me. What else can I do but apologize for ______________, and if you still want to eat the shit out of me, I'll buy you a drink and we can see where it goes from there."

If that's not a brilliant apology, I don't know what is.

On the other hand, that apology may drive him into a homicidal rage. You might want to try sincerity, feigned or otherwise.

And you know what would be a good olive branch? Why don't you see if he wants to get together draft a blogger's code to prevent these sorts of things from happening in the future. A Road Map of Principles to Guide Bloggers in their Online Treatment of One Another, or ARMOPTGBITOTOOA, as an easy to remember acronym.

I just read the offending piece. If, in fact, you did lie about the encounter, then I suppose you owe him. If you didn't then you owe him nothing.

Here's a lesson from basic training--this guy kept wanting to take me "to the woodline" (beyond the barracks--in BT mythos, a place where the rules don't apply) to kick my ass. I would tell him that if he wants to do it, then he should just do it where we were, in the barracks--I'll tell the drills sergeants, and he'll get busted--otherwise, he should shut up.

This went on for almost the entire 13 weeks, and he never learned to stop impotently threatening me. So while I, older and wiser, advocate peace, if you really didn't wrong the guy, simply find out where he's going to be, some function or another, and place yourself near him. Greet him, be civil, cordial, downright friendly. He will, in all likelihood, do absolutely nothing, and from that point on, any threats he levels at you can be met with "Hey, don't pull that tough guy act with me--you had your shot at the Rabinowitz bar mitzva, and you didn't take it when you had the chance." If he does slug you, then girls will be all over you, because you'll appear like this David Niven-like bon vivant who was willing to patch things up before this brute assaulted you.

And what the hell kind of lightweight brags about how he'll lose control of himself after "two beers?" If he'd be so out of control that he'd assault you after two, would he sexually assault you after four?

Luke's Life is a Michael Jackson Song - Just Beat it

Chaim Amalek writes: What I want to know is this:

1. Where do you stand on the issue raised by animal rights activists in the UK?

[LF says: I think Jews should be able to slaughter animals according to kosher laws. Religion trumps animal rights.]

2. Is your hand really slimy? What were you doing immediately before you last attempted to shake his hand?

[LF: I'd parked far away as my van did not fit in the Writers Guild parking structure. So I'd just run about a mile and I was sweaty and slimy.]

3. Who is David Robb and why does he dislike you?

[LF: Dave Robb is a great journalist, a friend of Anita Busch, and an upholder of journalistic standards. He's also prickly and difficult. He thinks I'm a lousy sloppy journalist who has hurt his friends like Anita Busch.]

4. Can he really beat you up?

[LF: Very likely.]

5. Are you going to let this pass? I mean, it is one thing to knuckle under to an Italo-American, but is this David Robb of the same calibre?

Luke, if you let this young buck get the better of you without even taking the field against him, word will get out and none of the young does (what is the plural for doe, a deer, a female deer?) will give you the time of day. You must be a man here or surrender your testicles to this Liebeskind-like Jew. Where's your sense of Aussie manhood, or did they cut that off when they circumcised you?

PS I don't know about that park, though. I would counter that the two of you meet somewhere in East LA where there are negroes and mexicans about.

PPS I know that the disputes amongst rappers can sometimes get out of hand - that "east coast" vs. "west coast" thing. Do bloggers have similar battles? Could this be the start of something big? Should the LA Gang Crimes Unit be tipped off to this rumble?

PPPS If all else fails, think like a Jew! If this guy beats you up, thereby reducing you to whimpering girlydom, is he at least rich so that you can hire a jewish lawyer and sue the pants off of him?

Khunrum writes: In every Hollywood movie that features a grudge encounter of this sort, both participants have seconds. Luke you need a second. A good friend who can step in and stop the match if you are taking a sound thrashing.

Rob writes: Don't go. I smell a set up. Steven Segal, Helen Reddy's husband and Si Litivinov might be hiding in the bushes.

Fred writes: L, you could tell this guy that you plan to meet him at a park at midnight in Compton, or some other crime-ridden horrible place, have him go there, and see what condition he comes back in.

If you really want to make it interesting, and you know the phone number of some gang-bangers in the neighborhood, tell them that some white supremacist will be on their turf at the park at midnight.

Dave Robb On The Warpath

Dave Robb writes at 3:01PM, 6/2/03: "I am waiting for your answer. Yes or no? If the answer is yes, name the time. If the answer is no, then take down every reference you have ever made in your libelous little column about me and Anita Busch today -- and refrain from writing about her or me in the future. If you do not do this today, I am going to come looking for you. And when I find you, I am going to put you in the hospital for a long time. I am going to beat you up so bad you will wish you were dead. You have lied about and insulted my friend, and you have called me a "coward." You are not going to get away with this any longer. And if you think I'm kidding, just put some more smart ass responses on your web site. That will be my answer. Dave Robb"

Luke says: It's interesting the affect Anita Busch has on people. Dave Robb and Jeff Wald threaten my life over her. Other people plead with me to remove negative quotes about her because they don't need some rageaholic threatening them. I'd like to think that none of my friends would ever threaten physical violence and death to someone who insulted or libeled me.

Dave Robb writes at 5:41PM: "You were warned."

Khunrum writes: "Not to worry Luke. I doubt if this man will attack you after announcing his intentions in advance to your many loyal readers. Sounds like a criminal offense to me. However, should he do so I believe you still have a fighting chance. Mr. Robb is in his fifties is he not? He is old and slow. You will easily be able to block his punches with your head until he tires. Then kick him in the gonads. Competition over. Good luck."

Rob writes: Not so fast, Rum! Remember Luke's CFS? To be fair Mr. Robb should allow Luke 15 minute rest periods between gonad kicks.

Sarettah writes: "Luke running his mouth without engaging his brain first it looks like to me. Well, Lukey, time to learn about playing with the big boys."

Luke, Dave Robb, Back Away From A Fight

Luke writes Dave at 7:22PM, 6/2: "No, I'm not going to fight you. No I am not going to stop writing about you or Anita Busch or anyone. If you have any corrections you'd like made vis a vis you or Anita or anyone, I'm happy to make corrections. Or if you want equal space and play for your own perspective on me or whatever, I'm happy to extend that to you. The use of "coward," which I have since removed, referred to your unwillingness to have civil discourse."

Dave Robb writes at 1:52AM, 6/3: "I apologize for threatening to beat you up. It was childish and unprofessional. But if you hate yourself half as much as I hate you -- and I have a hunch that you really do despise yourself -- you understand how I feel. I just wanted to shut your lying mouth -- something that you are obviously unable to do yourself. Surely you realize that you are one of the most evil people in town -- which is saying a lot for this town. Fortunately, you will never amount to anything more than what you are now -- a sociopathic liar and a pornographer. So fortunately you won't be able to do too much damage -- not that that will stop you from trying. But just a word of advice: Lying is not journalism. Pornography is not journalism. You are not a journalist. You are just a creepy little punk. But rest assured. If I ever see you in public, I will not punch you in the face -- as much as I'd like to. But I won't shake your hand, either. Oh, and just one last piece of advice: If you are ever considering suicide, and someone tries to talk you out of it -- don't listen to them. Dave Robb -- your enemy for life."


Cathy Seipp writes on her blog:

I see that former Hollywood Reporter and Variety staffer Dave Robb has thought better of his threats to beat up Luke Ford and retracted them, probably because someone pointed out that, what with all the people who want to beat up Luke, it's probably not the smartest idea to put such a notion in writing.

Why was Robb so upset? (Other than the fact that he's a big baby who's always either recovering from a tantrum or working himself up into the next one, that is.) Apparently because, among other things, he thinks Luke "lied about" his friend and former boss Anita Busch. Anita, the former editor of the H'wd Reporter, is not, for example, someone who screams and swears in the office.

Right. Well, maybe in bizarro world that's true -- a magical place where the strongest language Anita ever uses is "Golly gee hecky darn," George Christy is so priggishly ethical he won't even let a source buy him a cup of coffee, and Peter Bart is an Episcopalian.

I take the conventional wisdom that Robb and Busch are good reporters with several grains of salt, by the way. Because part of being a good reporter is having good judgment, and these two very often don't.

Dave Robb took umbrage at a Buzz story I wrote about the Hollywood Reporter when he was working there, apparently because he thought it was disrespectful of the Reporter. "I'm going to call your boss!" I remember him yelling -- i.e.: I'm telling! Personally, I think it's rather undignified for journalists to use that creaky old flack's threat to other journalists.



From Los Angeles magazine by Amy Wallace: "Bart, however, sees the Christy affair as an indictment not so much of a journalist allegedly on the take but of the editor and the reporter who fought to reveal it. Both [Dave] Robb and [Anita] Busch once worked at Variety. It's hard to tell whom he loathes more. "It's a fascinating implosion," Bart says gleefully. "It reminds me of when Robert Altman directed a picture--this was when he was drinking. At a certain point he would turn on his main characters and make them into hideous creatures. That's what Dave Robb and Anita Busch would have done here, too, but I wouldn't have it, and I fired them." Actually, he did no such thing. Variety's personnel department confirms Robb's and Busch's assertions that they both resigned."

Veritas Jones comments: "Oh, please. Wake up. Nobody's *fired* anymore. Anita M. Busch and David Robb were given the option to resign before they were axed, much like they did at the Reporter. And Bart couldn't be more correct on this one. Though it stands to reason that seeing that Army Archerd and his wife Selma are a pair of the worst kind of shnorrer (sic) in the industry, he wouldn't dare start agreeing with the embarassing debacle that took place at THR."


Luke asked an entertainment journalist in September 2002: "What did you think of Anita Busch and David Robb leaving the Hollywood Reporter [in 2001] in a dispute with Dowling over columnist George Christy?"

Journalist: "George Christy worked his ass off. He never purported to be anything other than a feel-good columnist. He didn't try to sell himself as Dan Rather or as an outstanding journalist. It was a personnel story. It wasn't a story about ethics. It was a fight between Bob Dowling and Anita Busch. George Christy was just the football that got kicked around.

"'I was in New York when the news broke. I heard: 'Party columnists in New York are hookers. That's why they're called party columnists. It isn't a man bites dog story. Don't you guys in Hollywood have anything to do than write about a party columnist?' I guess not because people are writing about it."

Luke: "Why did Anita Busch quit?"

Journalist: "You had two strong people - Busch and Dowling. For whatever reason, they got into it. Sides were taken. It was unfortunate because look at how many people lost their jobs because of it. I respect George Christy. I talked to him extensively throughout it. He knew he was the football getting kicked around. Now I couldn't sell a George Christy story but there was a period before 9/11 when if somebody cried in the newsroom, and somebody would put it in the New York Observer, and then it would go on the net, and get linked... News rooms are great little soap operas for gossip because of the internet. Ultimately it's a workplace issue. I don't know that the George Christy story would get as much play now. It was an internal issue.

"One problem the Hollywood Reporter had was the Dave Robb situation. He was the only one there who understood how to report a legal story. Everybody else threw their hands up on legal news and said, 'Talk to Dave Robb.' If he wasn't there to report legal issues, there could be trouble. Now he was personally involved in the story and they weren't sure how to handle it. Every lawyer I talked to said he had every right to investigate a fellow employee but a paper opens up all kinds of black holes running a story about an employee."

Robb quit the Hollywood Reporter in 1995 over a story the alleged mob background of Tommy Short, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees president. A version of Robb's article later appeared in the Weekly.

Eight months after his 1995 departure, Robb returned to the Hollywood Reporter. He wrote about Power Rangers co-creator Haim Saban claiming "music credits, and ASCAP royalties, for titles composed for his TV kiddie shows. And then there was California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk: Robb uncovered a police file concerning the then-politician’s dalliance with a prostitute. And former SAG official Ronald Reagan: Robb found Reagan’s secret grand-jury testimony from a U.S. Justice Department antitrust investigation into the then-actor’s superagent, Lew Wasserman.

"Robb’s finest hour may have been his lengthy investigation into the denial of film credits to blacklisted screenwriters. Robb’s work corrected the record for dozens of writers, including Michael Wilson, whose credit for the Oscar-winning film Lawrence of Arabia was finally restored." (LA Weekly, 5/4/01)

Dan E. Moldea, an independent journalist who's worked a lot with Larry Flynt digging up dirt on Republicans, writes in year 2000:

[Moldea's friend Vesna] Leamer shuffled through some papers on his desk and pulled out a large clipping from Daily Variety, "New Info on Reagan, MCA Waiver Probe," dated April 18, 1984. Written by staff reporter David Robb, the article explained previously untold details of Reagan's relationship with MCA, culminating with his testimony before a federal grand jury in February 1962 in which he was questioned about his relationship with the corporation.

The story was so remarkable that I had to sit down to read it. And, when I finished, I read it again.

"Does this Robb guy live in L.A.?" I asked Leamer.

"Just call Daily Variety and asked for him."

I looked up the telephone number in the phone book and called the paper. When the receptionist answered, I asked for Robb.

"Dave Robb," a stern voice answered.

"Is this the David Robb?" I asked.


"My name is Dan Moldea. I'm an independent journalist and author from Washington, and I'm interested in your fabulous story about Reagan and MCA last April. Do you have plans for dinner tonight?"

Reluctant, at first, to help someone he didn't know, Robb finally relented, telling me to meet him at Patty's, a popular diner in Tuluca Lake in the San Fernando Valley.

Tall and thin with green eyes and a round face, the 35-year-old Robb and I could have passed as brothers. However, Robb was extremely gruff and suspicious. When I first saw him and introduced myself, I gave him a copy of The Hoffa Wars, which had my name on the cover and picture on the back flap. Not good enough for Robb, he wanted to see some real identification and demanded my driver's license. Obliging him, I pulled out my wallet and showed him everything I had, including my student I. D. card from Kent State.

After a very pleasant dinner and a quick stop at a poker club in nearby Commerce, we went to Robb's apartment in Hollywood where he showed me a huge box, containing 6,000 pages of unsorted Department of Justice documents about Reagan, MCA, and the Screen Actors Guild that he had received through the Freedom of Information Act. It was an absolute gold mine.

Even though Robb invited me to sleep on his couch, I wound up spending the entire night skimming through this wonderful material, which included a complete transcript of Reagan's 1962 testimony before a grand jury.

The following day, Robb--who, despite his tough-guy exterior, turned out to be one of the finest people I have ever known--allowed me to photocopy anything I wanted; so I copied everything, most of which had not been published in Robb's only article about this subject.


Rick Barrs aka The Finger writes in the now defunct New Times LA 5/3/01:

When The Finger read L.A. Times media writer David Shaw's analysis of the Hollywood Reporter several months ago, it thought the publication must be a strange and wonderful place on the brink of a brave new journalistic era.

But bursting the Finger and Shaw's bubble has been the saga of the trade paper's veteran legal and labor reporter David Robb, who walked off the job recently after 11 years when publisher Robert Dowling balked at running a story about the Reporter's own George Christy, author of the mugshot-laden gossip column The Great Life.

"I really didn't want to do this to the Reporter," Robb told The Finger. "I really didn't want walk out on Robert Dowling. He's a great guy. He's just blind to Christy's [antics]. I couldn't just stand by and let this story be killed without a protest."

Robb said his story contends that there's an investigation under way by the Screen Actors Guild Producers Health and Pension Plan about several production companies giving Christy screen credit for film work. Because of the credits in more than 15 films and TV shows, Robb said, Christy has qualified for guild health- and pension-plan benefits.

The whole brouhaha between SAG and Christy started in 1993, when the guild filed suit against the gossip columnist and an entertainment company, contending he didn't have sufficient acting credits to qualify for the benefits. That action was settled out of court, but several companies recently received letters from SAG asking for evidence that the gossip columnist had really worked for the programs he lists as credits, Robb said.

So many people weren't returning calls about this story and about Robb's departure that The Finger doesn't have room to list them here, but among them were SAG officials, Christy, Dowling and Reporter editor Anita Busch, whom Shaw had championed in his piece.

Now, The Finger has nothing but respect for David Robb, who also worked at Variety for 10 years. He's been a definitive source for what's going on inside SAG, the Writers Guild of America, and other entertainment industry labor groups. But it seems strange that the Reporter would allow one of its scribes to investigate a colleague. This brand of selflessness by a publication probably should be encouraged (though this digit would certainly be shaking in its thimble if NT investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith turned her eagle eye on it), but The Finger has never worked at a place that would publish a scathing story about a current member of its own staff. If a staffer's offenses were egregious, most publications would sooner fire the scallywag.

Yet the story was approved by editor Busch and had been under way for several months, Robb said. In fact, Robb had been keeping an eye on Christy's alleged transgressions since the lawsuit was filed in 1993. So why would publisher Dowling order a story deep-sixed that everybody knew Robb was pursuing? Furthermore, what kind of freakin' newspaper lets the top business guy kill a piece by one of its best scribes? Business and editorial are supposed to be separate! Though clueless on that point himself, even Mark Willes -- the ousted Times Mirror CEO who helmed the Times' cozy profit-sharing deal with the Staples Center -- never got caught squelching a reporter's work.

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."


From LA Weekly, Dave's friend Gale Holland writes: Dave Robb, the investigative reporter at the center of the management upheaval at the Hollywood Reporter, is so old-school he doesn’t seem to realize how he stood out among the many toadies in the murky realm of Hollywood journalism.

Time and again during his 20 years at the trades — Variety as well as the Reporter — 51-year-old Robb dug into the seamy underside of Hollywood and surfaced with stories of mob corruption, presidential fancy footwork, and scamming. And he demanded the same ethical standards of his own profession that he did of the movie biz.


New York Observer:

The story, by former Los Angeles Times writer Amy Wallace, was a bombshell. But one wouldn’t exactly have gotten that idea from reading David Robb’s initial take on the matter on Inside.com. In his piece, Mr. Robb wrote how allegations of Mr. Bart’s script-selling first came to light in The Hollywood Reporter in March in an article "by this reporter."

Mr. Robb included an excerpt from a letter Mr. Bart had written The Hollywood Reporter concerning him. Mr. Robb also noted the conspicuous absence in leadership at Variety’s rival, The Hollywood Reporter, after its editor, Anita Busch, resigned when the paper refused to run a story written by–you guessed it–Mr. Robb. Mr. Robb also left out a few other things in the first version of the story that appeared on Inside, namely Mr. Bart’s quoted slurs and the fact that Mr. Robb had worked for Mr. Bart until 1992.

"It’s become his personal message board," said one source who knows Mr. Robb. "It just read like, ‘I’m right! I’m right! I’m right!’ I couldn’t believe they didn’t include the racial epithets in the first version.’"

It’s been a strange year for both Mr. Robb, a long-tooth on the Hollywood-unions beat, and those who color his copy. Two months after accusing Mr. Bart (whom he brutalized in a 1994 feature for the LA Weekly) of becoming a member of the Writers Guild of America by selling a script in March, Mr. Robb went after Hollywood Reporter colleague George Christy. The society columnist, Mr. Robb said, was being investigated by the Screen Actors Guild for parlaying fake movie credits into a guild pension. When the paper’s publisher, Robert Dowling, refused to run the piece, Mr. Robb resigned and moved on over to Inside.

"As it happens," said one Inside source, "he brought his Christy saga with him."

Inside, of course, ran Mr. Robb’s story, and Mr. Christy is sitting along with Mr. Bart in the barred-Hollywood-journalists club. Word has it, however, that Mr. Bart’s fully confident he’ll be back and running the Variety ship in no time. A Variety spokesperson said he was unavailable for comment.

Indeed, Inside.com editor in chief David Kuhn doesn’t see anything wrong with Mr. Robb’s continued reporting on Mr. Bart, or with last Friday’s story. Mr. Kuhn told Off the Record that the story was amended five times from 3 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., beginning with five basic paragraphs on the Cahners memo. He said that the tag line–"Editor’s Note: David Robb was a Variety reporter under Peter Bart and left the paper in 1992"–ran less than an hour after the bulk of Mr. Robb’s story first appeared. Given the vague language surrounding the reason for Mr. Bart’s suspension, Mr. Kuhn said, they decided to focus on the script-selling rather than the slurs–mention of which, like the tag line, was added later.

"He hasn’t worked for Variety in years," Mr. Kuhn said. "What he wrote for us is based on knowledge and instincts he’s developed as a reporter. It’s a very straightforward piece of reporting."

For his part, Mr. Robb said he feels no weirdness. He wrote about himself and his past work, he said, as a measure of full disclosure. Yes, the racial stuff "popped out" at him, but he felt "it wasn’t the most serious allegation, nor was it new. In my LA Weekly story from 1994, I’d exposed that. If I wanted to toot my own horn on that, I could have." And no, he’s not obsessed. Not with Mr. Christy. Not with Mr. Bart.

"People use that word all the time with me," Mr. Robb said. "Obsessed. I cover the unions, and Christy came onto my beat and Bart came onto my beat. You do your job and you do it better than anyone else, and people call you obsessed."


j.carter@sombell.net writes lionshare.net: "[Dave] Robb and [Anita] Busch are neither ethical or good reporters. Both rely on deceit, prejudice and the misguided belief that just beause they are underpaid hacks in a town of millionaires, they are entitled to try and tear their more successful subjects down."


Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies

Dave Robb has published his first book (Prometheus, the publisher of my first book). It's a shame nobody is buying it (based on the Amazon sales ranking of 1,065,572).

The notion that the Pentagon censors movies by not cooperating with ones it deems unfriendly to its aims is ludicrous. That is not censorship. It is simply a refusal to cooperate.

A friend writes me:

Not that I want to inspire anything that might get your pretty face threatened again, but (and you didn't hear this from me) some people (NOT me) think it's a bit dicey (and for the record, I don't) that Dave Robb's good friend, the ethically holier than thou Anita Busch, wrote a postive review on Amazon for Robb's new book. The way I see it, Amazon is just a store, not a journalistic enterprise, and it's no different than if Anita were in a store and told passersby that the book was a good one.

Anita Busch writes:

Operation Hollywood has come out at a time when the Pentagon's relationship with the American public is being evaluated -- at the height of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Operation Hollywood gives us all a rare glimpse at the Pentagon's stealth tactics in shaping the content of television shows and films. Using the Pentagon's own documents, Robb expertly delves into the behind-the-scenes machinations of Hollywood producers kowtowing to Pentagon censors. The result is suprising and disturbing changes to a slew of films that include the box office blockbusters "Independence Day," "Top Gun," and the Harrison Ford-starrer "Clear and Present Danger." Robb also reveals how the Pentagon wanted to change history in the Nicolas Cage-starrer "Windtalkers" to the detriment of the Navajo Indians whose unbreakable codes saved this country in World War II. But, as Robb points out, it doesn't stop there. Who knew that even "The Mickey Mouse Club" and "Lassie" were not immune from military tinkering? Or that the Pentagon objected to a military man taking shots at a target that looked too much like Osama Bin Laden in the popular television show "JAG?" Or that, in our recent history, the military objected to exposing racial and religious prejudices against Hispanics and Jews? It's no wonder, as Robb writes, that his "heroes" Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone have rebuffed the Pentagon's requests to change the content of their scripts. Robb is not only my friend, but he is also a great investigative journalist. This book serves as a wake-up call to anyone who loves the very backbone of this country: The First Amendment.

Dave Robb's friend Dan Moldea writes:

With his new book, Operation Hollywood, Dave Robb demonstrates why he continues to be Hollywood's best investigative journalist. Taking a subject that has never been addressed, Robb unveils the film industry's dirtiest secret--that movie producers have been allowing the Pentagon to censor movies while placing propaganda into films and television shows for more than fifty years. Congress needs to take a hard look at Robb's outstanding book and his overwhelming evidence.