FIRM Discussions

May 15, 1998 - May 15, 1998
Part A

Your Hyper-anti-Semitic-sensitive POV
Joe Goldenberg
2:38 pm Friday May 15, 1998

:I cannot post MY email address because I have made
:assumptions that John Cones is anti-Semitic here, and based on
:his very open legal threat of law suit against someone else in
:this discussion site for doing the same thing, I cannot risk
:being sued for defamation. Therefore, in this discussion forum, I
:must remain "anonymous."


Horseshit. If you actually read Cones' open letter, there is NO
threat of any law suit. You (and others) only interpret it that
way because of your guilty conscience.

Joe Goldenberg

Holocaust Spelling
Joe Goldenberg
2:51 pm Friday May 15, 1998

My assistant's secretary must have been out to lunch that day.

Joe Goldenberg

Errors in LA Weekly Article
John Cones
4:10 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Law Office of
1324 Marinette Road
Pacific Palisades, California 90272

May 15, 1998

L. A. Weekly

Re: Charles Fleming Article on Hollywood
Dear Editor:

I read Charles Fleming's article entitled "Naked Hollywood", but I cannot say I
enjoyed it. Please allow me to point out a number of factual errors and misstatements.

The description of the article provided on your contents page was false on two
counts, one quite serious. The more minor mistake relates to the fact that I have never
held myself out as a "financier". I am a securities/entertainment attorney who works in
the area of film finance. There is a difference. I have no idea why anyone would choose
to refer to me as a "financier" or where that came from or why your fact checker did not
perceive this as a fact that should have been checked.

Also, in the content page description, someone (and I understand Charles Fleming
may not have been responsible for this language and that of the headlines) made the
judgment and chose to describe my agenda as "anti-Semitic". This is absolutely false.
My stated goal is to help bring about film industry reform, for the further purpose of
creating a more level playing field in the film industry and creating fair and equal
opportunities for persons of all backgrounds to participate at a meaningful level in the
U.S. film industry. Where's the anti-Semitism in that?

Now, to the headline of the article itself. No where in my writings or speeches do I
say "It's the Jews". No where in my writings or speeches do I state anything that could
be fairly interpreted to mean "It's the Jews". You need to inquire as to the
professionalism and intellectual honesty of the person who came up with this
sub-heading, because they are clearly acting in reckless disregard for the truth.

The secondary sub-head is also inaccurate. No where in my works do I contend
that the situation in Hollywood is the result of any form of conspiracy. In fact, I have a
section in one of my books that clearly states that I am only concerned with behavior and
results. I could care less whether anyone is discussing their behavior and results with
each other. That's not my issue, never has been and never will be. I have no idea who
decided that I am offering some sort of conspiracy theory. I am not.

Since conspiracy is not my issue and has never been suggested as such, whoever
wrote this secondary headline about "A Hollywood Conspiracy Theory Resurfaces"
simply missed the point of the entire article. That's pretty sad for an editor responsible
for coming up with headlines. To suggest that my work constitutes a resurfacing of old
Hollywood conspiracy theories is to admit that your staff did not understand the direction
in which I hope to nudge this nation's ongoing movie industry debate.

In the 2nd paragraph of the text of the article, it is not accurate to state that Film
Threat's "readers E-mailed editors there to tell them what was really going on with Cones
and his Film Industry Reform Movement". What those Film Threat readers did was to
mislead Film Threat Weekly about the contents of the FIRM web site and falsely portray
my views. Film Threat editors, in turn, failed to adequately check out the site, and their
unneeded apology to their readers resulted. Both of the letters to the Film Threat

editors, I saw and the apology to readers carried by Film Threat contained false
statements regarding my writings and the content of the FIRM site.

Also, in the 2nd paragraph Charles Fleming does some heavy word-twisting by
saying that one of my Web-site essays states "connections or relationships with
Hollywood Jews" are the key to success in the motion-picture industry". The more
complete actual statement is part of an analysis of who the top studio executives have
been over the years and it really states: " . . . even for some of the non-Jewish studio
executives, it appears that their connections or relationships with Hollywood Jews help
make it possible for them to rise up through the ranks." There's nothing like Charles
Fleming's language: "key to success in the motion-picture industry" in my words. The
phrase "Hollywood Jews" is borrowed from Neal Gabler's book "An Empire of Their
Own--How the Jews Invented Hollywood". It is not a phrase that I commonly use
because my definition of the Hollywood control group is even more narrow and precise
than that.

I am not aware that I have ever written that the Hollywood studio executives are "all-
powerful, unaccountable and irresponsible to all but themselves." That sounds more like
Pierce O'Donnell. Where did Charles Fleming come up with this language? Is it a quote
or is he just misstating my position again?

Again, Charles Fleming misstates my position in paragraph #4, and I can now see
where the headline editor got the phrase "It's the Jews!" He or she got it from Charles
Fleming, not me. I've never said "It's the Jews!" Such a phrase implies that the person
speaking is talking about Jews generally. Nothing in my writings or speeches can fairly
be interpreted to refer to Jews generally. That is a very important point. I made it
perfectly clear to Charles Fleming. It is difficult to believe that he would not understand
the distinction between a generalization about Jews that might be offensive, and a factual
report about the business-related behavior a small group of men who happen to be
Jewish. The former is always potentially offensive, certainly if hostile in any way, but the
latter is mere criticism which, the last time I checked, was protected speech in this

Charles Fleming suggests in paragraph #5 that by looking at my writings questions
can be fairly raised about whether they contain any anti-Semitism. A number of people
have made that false accusation, but thus far, even though I have asked them repeatedly
to tell me what authoritative definition of anti-Semitism they are using and exactly what
specific language in my writings or speeches could be deemed anti-Semitic, not a single
one of my detractors have been able to come up with any such language that falls within
the parameters of such a definition. After a while of experiencing this phenomenon, you
begin to realize that my critics are not the slightest bit interested in demonstrating whether
anti-Semitism exists in my writings or not. They just want to keep repeating the false
accusation, because that's all it takes to convince a lot of people and do great harm to
my reputation for honesty.

It is not accurate for Charles Fleming to state that "basically, everyone else" in my
chart of Hollywood studio executives whose background is not otherwise identified is
Jewish. In addition, reliance on the expertise of an L.A. native of Jewish heritage,
familiar with the entertainment community was only resorted to for a small portion of the
executive backgrounds (i.e., "Jewish names" means this person had never known of an
individual with that name who was not Jewish and that was confirmed by listings in the
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia). This form of background identification was used
for people whose backgrounds were not otherwise reported elsewhere. After
confirming that nearly 60%, and possibly as many as 80% of these studio
executives shared a similar background (i.e., politically liberal, not very religious,
Jewish males of European heritage) I did not continue the research on the other
executives since it was no longer necessary to establish who had control of the
Hollywood-based U.S. film industry. Majority rules.

I also wonder if author Neal Gabler knew that his quote was going to be used the
way it was. Gabler does not accurately describe my arguments, thus he must be talking
about someone else's argument. Why suggest that someone else's argument is mine?
That's not accurate reporting. For example, even though I agree that "movies are a
powerful cultural tool" (although I've used other language to state this concept), I've

never said that "it's too important to be left in the hands of these people who don't
understand our culture". Further, Gabler makes the same mistake as Charles Fleming by
stating that I'm "talking about the Jews". Once again, I'm not talking "about the Jews"
and I would encourage Mr. Gabler to get his facts straight before entering this discussion.

In paragraph #7, Charles again makes the false statement that I have theories about
the "impact of Jews in Hollywood". Once again, I have never said anything about Jews
generally, and until Charles Fleming understands that important point, he cannot be
counted on to accurately report my views. Charles Fleming either simply does not
understand this point, or he's uninformed, or he's intellectually incapable of making the
distinction or he's just downright dishonest.

In paragraph #8, it is inaccurate to say that Mensa is "embarrassed". Mensa is an
organization made up of a large number of people. An interview conducted by Charles
Fleming with one or two members of Mensa does not accurately reflect the views of the
group. On the whole, the speech seemed to be well received by the group. After the
speech, several people came up and discussed certain points with me. Some were quite
enthusiastic about the presentation. One very nice, elderly Jewish woman said, during
part of the speech, she felt a bit defensive, but that she saw I was sincere and by the end
of the speech, she understood and appreciated the precise language I used and my
position. She did not indicate that she thought anything in the speech was anti-Semitic.

Finally, some questions about that symbol placed in the center of the article: Who
decided that it was appropriate to put that symbol in this article? What does that graphic
symbolize? And, what on earth does that symbol have to do with me and my writings?

I am disappointed in Charles Fleming's careless approach to reporting. I hope this
Charles Fleming article is not an example of L.A. Weekly's best journalism. Maybe
Charles Fleming's next article and the associated headlines will be more accurate. I
would appreciate your publishing this letter in your "Letters to the Editor" column. A
retraction of some of the inaccurate reports would also be appropriate, as would an
apology from Charles Fleming, the headline editors and Neal Gabler.

Best wishes,

John W. Cones


Letter to Carlos de Abreau
John Cones
4:18 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Law Office



1324 Marinette Road
Pacific Palisades, California 90272

May 15, 1998

Carlos de Abreau
Hollywood Network

Re: Abrupt Cancellation of Q&A Site
Dear Carlos:

I understand you are not going to tell me the real reasons why you so abruptly
cancelled the Investor Financing Q&A site, you and I both know what those reasons
are. At this point, I am merely trying to determine whether it is your intent to do
significant harm to my law practice. I specifically request that you provide me with hard
and soft copy versions of the accumulated contents of the Investor Financing Q&A, or in
the alternative cooperate with me in transferring the contents without the
hollywoodnetwork-related language to another site so that this valuable Investor
Financing Q&A service to independent filmmakers throughout the country can continue.
I am not certain whether you have breached your contract with me regarding
maintaining the site, but I am pretty certain that if you cannot provide me with the
contents in one of the above- suggested formats you have effectively destroyed my
property and interfered without sufficient justification with my ongoing professional
relationships and damaged my ability to continue to attract law clients through this
vehicle, which is clearly one of the known, foreseeable and promised benefits of
providing this service.

I hope to hear from you as soon as possible on this matter, and hope you have not
acted any more irresponsibly than you already have by not only cancelling the site
without justification, but also destroying my valuable work product.

Sincerely yours,

John W. Cones


The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf
John Cones
4:21 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Since some of the Hollywood apologists who are now on the attack have persisted in
stating and repeating their "big lie" that my writings are in some way vaguely
"anti-Semitic", it is necessary to point out here that a serious danger may be lurking in the
background of this situation for the broader Jewish community. It seems to me that if a
significant number of individuals who hold themselves out as being members of a
particular religious/cultural group within our society, spend a substantial amount of time,
energy and resources using the mass media to effectively disseminate information for the
purpose of convincing us of the horrors of the specific form of prejudice and
discrimination known as "anti-Semitism", then all members of that particular
religious/cultural group must be especially careful not to falsely accuse anyone of
anti-Semitism because the potential harm to the reputation and professional career of the
person falsely accused is magnified tremendously. In fact, the overall effect of this
combination of activities, whether intended or not, is to carve out a privileged class of
people in our society, whose members are above criticism. In other words, few, if any,
in our society (and certainly not in the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry) would be
willing to criticize the behavior of anyone who happens to be Jewish, because such
persons would not be willing to risk the harm associated with a persistent but false
allegation of anti-Semitism. Our nation must be able to make a clear distinction between
(1) criticism of the behavior of one or more persons who happen to be Jewish, and (2)
hostility directed towards Jews generally, or (3) hostility directed toward one or more
Jews because they are Jewish. The former is and should be considered protected
speech in this country and the latter should rightfully be condemned. All of my speeches
and writings fall in the first category. Unfortunately, the Hollywood lynch mob's rush to
judgment has failed to recognize this fact.

In addition, if a sufficiently large enough segment of our U.S. population learns of this
injustice in Hollywood (i.e., the destruction of someone' career due to this lynch mob
mentality represented by the current wave of false accusations of anti- Semitism directed
toward me and my writings, it is possible that the next time someone of Jewish heritage
points a finger at someone who could be accurately labeled anti-Semitic, such
accusations may be ignored as not credible, or simply as another rush to judgment based
on inadequate facts and faulty analysis. Do you remember the story about the little boy
who cried wolf?

If someone does not know the difference and falsely labels someone else as an anti-
Semite, in reckless disregard of the truth and readily available facts, then this false
accuser may well have engaged in defamation of the most serious kind, since the
cumulative effect of the many dire warnings about anti-Semitism over the years has
succeeded in convincing us that it is in fact one of the most serious of all forms of
prejudice and discrimination.

Reading Between the Lines
John Cones
4:24 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Someone called "Robert" claims that he can spot an anti-Semite by reading "between the
lines". What a dangerous concept? What if the situation was reversed and Robert was
being falsely accused of wrongdoing? Wouldn't he want to be able to determine with
some reasonable level of objectivity what the exact charge was and whether the evidence
that was being presented against him measured up under the due process and fairness
standards upon which this country is based? I think so, and I would defend his right to
those fundamental protections from injustice. But, somehow, these panic-stricken
Hollywood apologist/accusers have completely abandoned all pretense of civilized
behavior and systematically set about to destroy my carefully developed career of 11
years in the field of advising independent feature film producers regarding film finance, all
because my detractors do not understand the falseness of their charges, the seriousness
of their accusations and the concept of fundamental fairness that should be afforded to all
citizens. Maybe I missed something along the way, but I somehow got the impression
that this was exactly the sort of injustice that we were opposed to in this country, if for no
other reason, because if it could happen to me it could happen to any of you.

It doesn't just seem to me that anti-Semitism is such a vague concept, that people like
Robert would have to resort to "reading between the lines" in order to see it. What if our
society used the same vague standard for judging rapists, murderers, embezzlers, thieves,
racists or drug dealers. Is Robert suggesting that it would be satisfactory to judge them
by reading between the lines? Surely not. Why would reading between the lines be
allowed in this instance? Is Robert promoting the concept of a protected class of

Here's the best definition of anti-Semitism that I have been able to come up with and it's
based on the definitions of the term found in The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
(7th Edition) and Leonard Dinnestein's book Anti-Semitism in America. Anti-Semitism
is hostility directed toward Jews generally, or hostility directed toward one or more
persons of Jewish heritage because they are Jewish. Since my writing is nothing more
than honest criticism of the behavior of a small group of men who happen to be Jewish,
and I state up front that I do not believe their behavior is typical of Jews generally, and I
state up front that I do not believe any of these men behave the way they do because
they are Jewish, there is clearly no anti-Semitism in my writings.

It is ok to say you disagree with my criticism (and hopefully, someday, someone will step
forward with actual evidence that might refute one or more of my statements), but it is
totally inaccurate and irresponsible to claim there is anti- Semitism in my writings, where
there clearly is none. Unfortunately, an emotional fog seems to exist in the minds of some
of those who read my work, and their ability to clearly analyze the material on its face,
must somehow be supplemented by reading between the lines.

Christian Fundamentalist, He Speculates
John Cones
4:26 pm Friday May 15, 1998

"Robert" goes out to say that he also suspects that I'm lying when I claim not to be a
religious person. He suspects that I have a Christian Fundamentalist background,
because in his mind that would "explain some of [my] agenda". Of course, Robert does
not offer us any insight into his background either, but in any case, Robert's reading of
my work is much too narrow. My concern about the consistent negative and
stereotypical portrayals of certain populations in our society through Hollywood films is
much broader than the specific population of Christians, which clearly has been
portrayed in this manner since the mid-60s. My concern about the portrayals of
Christians is much broader than the more narrow group of Christian Fundamentalists. I
have also noted and written about similar patterns of bias relating to Hollywood film
portrayals of Italian-Americans, Asians and Asian- Americans, Arabs and
Arab-Americans, Muslims, Mormons, Latinos, Germans, political conservatives and
Whites from the South. If "Robert" is reading between the lines again, I wonder if he
thinks because of my expressed concern for the consistent negative and stereotypical
portrayal of these populations, that I must be a little bit of each of these too?

Further, my studies have also shown that until very recently other groups had been
consistently portrayed in a negative and stereotypical manner in Hollywood films,
including Blacks, women, gays, and lesbians, as well as the elderly. Where does that
leave us Robert. If I were a Christian Fundamentalist, don't you think I would have
trouble expressing concern for the long-term unfair treatment of gays and lesbians in
Hollywood films? Maybe reading between the lines is not a very good substitute for
clear thinking after all, Robert.

By the way, Robert, in answer to your original false speculation, I grew up in a loving,
middle-class home, with parents who taught tolerance and respect for others of all
backgrounds, in a small town in East Texas, where I attended a moderate Southern
Baptist church, only to decide after a year or so of college that organized religion did not
appeal to me, so for the last thirty years or more, I've considered myself a "not very
religious" individual and am quite comfortable with that. In fact, that's something I have in
common with the Hollywood control group. By the way, Baptists are known for their
"universal toleration, extending also to Jews" (see New Standard Jewish Encylopedia,
7th Edition, page 112) What is your religious background?

For an answer to your question about the relevance of the backgrounds of studio
executives, see my other responses to the same question already asked by others.

Mark Litwak Joins Lynch Mob
John Cones
4:28 pm Friday May 15, 1998

I had a phone conversation with entertainment attorney Mark Litwak this week. He and
I have known each other for ten years. We have lectured together about the film
industry on many occasions. We both have written more books about the film industry
than any other contemporary film industry observers. And, we have both referred clients
back and forth between us for years, depending on the specific needs of the client.
Mark informs me that his law firm Berton and Donaldson has been receiving phone calls
telling them to disassociate with me because of my anti- Semitic views. Mark has
buckled under to the Hollywood pressure and jettisoned our long professional
relationship because of a false accusation and his own inability to see through the smear
campaign. Best of luck to you Mark.

Hollywood Network Goes Down
John Cones
4:29 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Here's a couple of questions for you lawyers out there. For several years now, I have
been hosting a Q&A site on the Web site devoted to questions
relating to investor financing of independent film (the specialized area of my law practice).
From all indications, the site has been quite active and well received. Based on the
comments of many visitors, the information dispensed there was considered helpful. For
unexplained reasons, the site owner Carlos de Abreau notified me this week that he has
decided not to continue the service. He abruptly took the Investor Financing Q&A off
the Internet. Carlos had originally proposed my hosting the site some years ago when he
was first starting up the site. He felt my participation would add
substance to the site and attract visitors that he might then be able to interest in his own
books and other services. Again, it appears that, in fact, did happen.

Carlos made a promise to me that he would put up the site and allow me to answer the
questions. I made a promise to him that I would monitor the questions regularly and
provide informed answers to the best of my ability. We both performed on our mutual
promises for several years. Coincidental with the flareup of this controversy surrounding my views about the need for film industry reform and the false allegation of anti-Semitism
in my writings, Carlos, abruptly pulls the plug and offers not explanation of substance.
Has he breached our contract?

Further, I also stated to Carlos after a period that I might someday want to write a book
based on the collected questions and answers at this site. I had been advised by an
intellectual property attorney that my own writings were my own copyrighted property.
If Carlos does not provide me with both hard and soft copy versions of my accumulated
writings posted on this site over the years, has he deprived me of a valuable property

Also, are the needs of the thousands of independent filmmakers who have benefited from
the information provided through this site of any concern to Carlos de Abreau? Was
Carlos pressured into dropping the Investor Financing Q&A as part of a Hollywood
smear campaign? Stay tuned!

Corporations Don't Control Hollywood
John Cones
4:32 pm Friday May 15, 1998

Corporations Don't Control Hollywood--People Do

Sara writes: "If the film industry is controlled by an inner circle in the studio/distributors,
why don't the stockholders of these entities, which I believe are all public corporations,
just change the management team?"

Corporations, including publicly held corporations, have three levels of governance. The
shareholder/owners generally only meet once a year and typically only vote on who gets
to be on the corporate board of directors. This board of directors, in turns makes the
important decisions for the corporation relating to policy and direction, including the
hiring of officers. The officers, in turn, run the corporation on a day to day basis under
the supervision of the board of directors. Most of the Hollywood-based major film

studios have evolved from closely-held, family-owned companies to the
vertically-integrated, international corporate conglomerates of today. In earlier times, the
roles of owners and managers were merged. Today, those roles are much more
separate. In order to maintain control of the important decisions relating to which movies
are produced and released, who gets to work in the key positions on those movies and
who gets to approve of the actual content of the scripts that serve as the basis for those
movies, several strategies have evolved. First, and obviously, if a particular interest
group owns a majority of the corporate shares, it has the power to install a majority of
the board of directors, who in turn can determine who the officers will be. On the other
hand, even without a majority of shares, if traditional Hollywood management can
convince the shareholders that only certain people (friendly to traditional Hollywood
management or recruited directly from those ranks) are suitable to serve as members of
the corporate board of directors, then a board of directors inclined to support this
traditional Hollywood management will be in place. Even when Hollywood outsiders
have controlled both a majority of shareholders and a majority of seats on the board of
these major studio/distributors, traditional Hollywood management has often been able to
threaten a mass exodus of studio management, along with some creative talent, whenever
the corporate owners and boards did not allow management a relative free hand in
running the company. The most recent example of that occurred when Matsushista was
threatened with the mass exodus of top management and producers if the Japanese did
not relinquish certain authority and control back to management. This struggle resulted in
the sale of MCA/Universal to Seagrams. Finally, any comprehensive study of the history
of Hollywood reveals that even when Hollywood outsiders control all three levels of
corporate governance of an established major studio/distributor, the rest of Hollywood
circles the wagons and bombards such persons and entities with consistent, wholesale,
public criticism, discourages talent from taking their services to such a studio, engages in
smear campaigns, and so forth (see "The Hollywood Outsiders" an excerpt from "How
the Movie Wars Were Won".

So, Sara, it's not quite as easy as you might think. Hollywood is a very sophisticated
place in this area of corporate governance. Traditional Hollywood management has had
90 years to refine its techniques for maintaining control of the important decisions, and
the corporate structure has principally evolved into a mere vehicle for attracting and using
other people's money to produce and release the films chosen by Hollywood
management and to subsequently keep most of the money earned by such films within
that Hollywood inner circle.

Why Most Don't Complain
John Cones
4:37 pm Friday May 15, 1998

This discussion forum and my experience in providing honest criticism of the way
business is conducted in Hollywood provides some of the best evidence to explain why
most people who are involved with the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry in any way
do not complain. Such persons are very likely to be subjected to the kind of
irresponsible name-calling and profanities seen on this discussion forum. Such persons
are likely to be subjected to increased telephone hangups and crank calls, as I have.
Such persons are likely to receive hate mail or E-mail, as I have. Such persons are
likely to be shunned by professional associates, as I have. Such persons may loose
opportunities to lecture to professional audiences, as I have. Such persons may loose
the opportunity to answer questions on the Internet about their area of expertise, as I
have. Such person's position is likely to be distorted, misinterpreted and dishonestly
portrayed on the Internet and in the press by people who are so emotionally caught up in
defending their own self-interest that they do not even realize that they have turned into
the monsters they have fought, for so many years. Because of this severe form of
intimidation and lack of meaningful criticism Hollywood pretty much gets a free ride. No
one in a position to do anything about Hollywood's abuse and exploitation of millions is
moved to act, thus the abuse and exploitation continues.

Free Speech is Dead in
John Cones
4:39 pm Friday May 15, 1998

For a community that fights so hard to preserve it's own freedom of speech in movies,
and to fight censorship of any kind, you would think that the Hollywood community
would also be willing to allow those whose views differ from theirs to express their views
freely without threats and actual conduct designed to destroy the professional career of
the critic. This experience gives us a clear picture of what we are dealing with in
Hollywood, a group of people who preach tolerance through a powerful communications
medium (feature film), but who have an extremely low level of tolerance for diversity of
views when it comes to how business is conducted in Hollywood.

Selling Out in Hollywood
John Cones
4:41 pm Friday May 15, 1998

My experience in Hollywood suggests to me that everyone who works in Hollywood for
any period of time without speaking out about Hollywood's inequities has, in fact, sold
out to the Hollywood establishment to some extent. Everyone who stands idly by while
someone who has the courage to speak the truth is being wrongfully labeled and accused
by the Hollywood apologists to the detriment of their career is contributing to the
continued growth of the illegitimate power that spawns that abuse.

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