EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS The Good and The Bad: Connections # 72

     First,  The Good.  May was a very busy month.  I have been put under contract to produce two feature films.  Ironically both stories are set in Florida, one in 1874, the other in the decade of 1950s.  The aggregate budgets for the two films will be around  $40m-$50m.  But that’s a guess.  Right now I’m creating a detailed budget for each project.  It’s a lengthy process that  involves gathering lots of information and making thousands of decisions  based on what I’ve learned.  Each of these budgets will be about 100 pages in length.  So stay tuned.

     Now The Bad. Sadly two dear friends passed away.  Both men were screenwriters and i had the great privilege of collaborating with both.

     I  knew Stanford Whitmore the longest, having met him when we were under contract to Universal Studios.  He wrote the pilot episode of the TV Series “The Fugitive,” starring David Jansen.    Stanford has many credits in TV and Film, and I will put a link to his credits on IMDB.

     My other dear friend was Ralph Gaby Wilson.  I met Gaby through our mutual literary agent who gave me one of his screenplays.  I read the screenplay and told the agent “I have to meet this guy!”   Thus began a long and enduring friendship.

     I truly miss both of them.



EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS! Connections: #66

     It’s been a tough couple of months with the passing of two dear friends.    First, a while back, was Lew Weitzman who was my literary agent, on and off, for more years than I care to mention.  However, I will mention that Lew was one of the kindest, most mannered, honest, caring men I’ve ever known.  I attended his memorial at the Directors Guild Theatre in Hollywood, which was filled to capacity with family and friends.  He founded the Preferred Artists Agency, which is now being headed by his son Paul Weitzman.

     Just last Sunday Syd Field passed away.  We worked together back in the day at David L. Wolper Productions.   The show, which ran for 33 weeks, was Hollywood and the Stars on the NBC Television Network.  Syd then wrote a “how to” book  for screenwriters that sold over one million copies.  He went on to write several other best selling tutorials, and he is acknowledged by his peers as the most effective teacher of screenwriting — Ever!


EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS PBS Loses a Friend: Connections #63

     On July 10, James L. Loper, a founder and former president of  KCET Channel 28 who helped build the public broadcasting station into one of the nation’s leading noncommercial outlets, has died. He was 81.

     Loper, who went on to oversee the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, died Monday at his Pasadena home, his family said. No cause was announced.

     An Arizona transplant, Loper was a doctoral student at USC in the early 1960s when he joined a small group, the Committee for Educational Television, that was trying to establish a public broadcasting station in Los Angeles.

     When KCET went on the air in 1964, Loper was director of educational television. About two years later, he took charge of the station, first as vice president and general manager and then as president from 1971 to 1983.

     He “left an indelible mark on the history of KCET and public television,” Al Jerome, chief executive of KCETLink, as the former PBS outlet is now known, said in a statement. “Jim launched several national productions that aligned the Hollywood entertainment community with the newly emerging national program service PBS.”

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Clete Roberts, popular Los Angeles TV Reporter

Clete Roberts, popular Los Angeles TV Reporter

TV Reporter Clete Roberts was a close friend of James Loper and did many public affairs segments for KCET, and I was the 16mm newsreel cameraman.


EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSING Dale Robertson, Actor, Dies at 89: Connections #58

      I worked with Dale Robertson back when he formed the theatrical distribution company United Screen Arts (USA),  run by Harry Kopelan.

     One of the films The Man From Button Willow, which I recall being animated, was produced by Dale.  Another film A Swinging Summer  with Raquel Welsh doing the twist at Lake Arrowhead before she became a movie star.  And another film starred Tom Laughlin who delivered the 35mm film elements to me in his horse trailer.

     And so it goes, all things must end.  RIP


EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS Marvin Saul Dies at 82; Longtime Owner of Junior’s Deli in Westwood: Connections #47

Until I moved to Summerland, Ca last July one year ago, Junior’s Deli had been my go to place for breakfast almost every day of the  week, for so many years I can’t really remember.  The terrific tasting food got me off to a good start to face the work day.  The owner Marvin Saul would always stop by my table.  A warm hello, and if I was in a breakfast meeting,   followed by, “Hope I’m not interrupting you.”  “How’s the food?'” And “please say hello to Marcia” (my wife).

Marvin was from Atlantic City, NJ, and as a kid I had spent many wonderful summers there.  We could talk about  the Traymore Hotel, The Steel Pier, Captain Stearns Restaurant, Hackney’s Restaurant, Knife & Fork Restaurant,  Miss America Pageant, and The Boardwalk (a very different boardwalk than what’s portrayed in the wonderful HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”   (In the future, I will have lots more to say about these fabulous places, because Atlantic City played such an important part in my life while I was growing up.)

Some years ago, on Ebay I purchased an “official” large “gold”  key to Atlantic City, packaged in a red velvet display box.  Needless to say, Marvin was thrilled with my gift and displayed the “official key” in his home.

I found out about Marvin’s passing while working at Kinetic Post in Detroit, supervising the Final Edit of the feature film “Margarine Wars.”

My wife Marcia drove down to Los Angeles and delivered a sympathy card to the office in Junior’s Deli because  I wanted  his two sons, John and David, to know how much I cared about their father.  You could say “I loved this man, Marvin,” and I know I am not alone when I express this heart-felt feeling.

Junior’s was a hangout for many Hollywood notables, among then longtime patron and filmmaker Mel Brooks, who has frequented Junior’s for decades, and in a Los Angeles Times interview said ‘He was really an incredible host.  It’s a great big restaurant, but he’d treat it like his own dining room at home. He was so sweet and wonderful, albeit a little pushy on the soup. He’d always come to our table with a new soup, and we had to try it or we’d hurt his feelings’

Marvin Saul was a uranium miner who had gone bust when he flipped a coin in the late 1950s to decide where to strike out next from Utah. Heads meant Los Angeles; tails Dallas.

Heads, and generations of future deli-goers on the Westside, won out.

With 35 cents in his pocket, Saul arrived in Los Angeles, did odd jobs and by 1957 had cobbled together $300 to open a small sandwich shop. Two years later, he established Junior’s, an eight-table delicatessen that grew “into a sort of IBM of the bagel and blintz world,” the Wall Street Journal reported in 1990.

At the time, Saul explained the restaurant’s success by saying, “I try to give people great food and a little schmaltz.”

Saul, who had continued to work three days a week at the Westwood eatery, died of a heart attack Dec. 8 at his home in Encino, said his son David. He was 82.

In Detroit, for lunch today I”m having a lox and bagel sandwich — a Junior’s staple. So, in this absurd world, in an absurd way,  I am paying tribute to my dear friend  Marvin Saul.

Detroit Style: Lox & Cream Cheese on a Bagel.                         “But it doesn’t compare with a Junior’s sandwich.”


EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS Director Ken Russel, Age 84, R.I.P.: Connections #46

This past Sunday Director Ken Russel  passed away.  Although his career included making documentaries, he is mostly known for his movies, some great, some good, and some not so good.

In 1996, I was brought in by the U.S. distributor to fix Ken Russel’s “Mindbender,” inspired by Uri Geller.  It  involved;  Re-editing.  Wire removal. Providing establishing shots.  A new music score.  Narration.  And directing a sequence with Uri Geller, who placed his hand in front of our 35mm motion picture camera and asked the viewing audience to do the same, and their broken clock would be instantly fixed. Never tried it myself, but I have a silver-plate hotel spoon which Uri bent in front of my eyes and continued to bend after he gave it to me.

Sadly, through the long process of making “Mindbender” a better film, I never had the opportunity to personally meet Ken Russel.  Unfortunately, now I never will.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS Steve Jobs -The Man who Changed the World: Connections #45

Having worked at FotoKem in Burbank, Ca, today, supervising the creation of video deliverables for the feature film “Atlas Shrugged” for the downstream video release on Netflix and free TV, I am sitting in my motel room with tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart coping with the news on CNN that Steve Jobs, 56 years old,  died earlier today.

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney  were visionaries and  Steve Jobs embodied the qualities of these three  great men who changed the world.

My personal and professional life are intertwined with Apple’s products and I can’t begin to comprehend how my life would be without them.

When I drive back to the Santa Barbara area tomorrow afternoon, I will be glancing at the ocean and the sky knowing Apple’s iCloud debuting October 12th will be in good hands.