Excerpt from
Who Really Controls Hollywood
by John W. Cones

Individual Attributes of the Hollywood Insiders

Men vs Women

Women have long been recognized as one of the disenfranchised minorities in Hollywood. For example, in his book An Empire of Their Own, author Neal Gabler noted the scarcity of women in the studio's higher echelons during the industry's early years. David McClintick, writing about the Hollywood of the 1970s confirms it was dominated by men in that period, also. He said, " . . . Hollywood . . . was much like the Hollywood of old. It remained a highly oligarchical institution run by a handful of entrepreneurial businessmen . . . ." In fact, it took the industry nearly 75 years to permit the first woman president of production at a major studio. "Sherry Lansing (became) . . . the first woman president of production at Twentieth Century-Fox . . . or anywhere . . . (in) 1980." Then "Sherry Lansing (became), the first woman to run a studio (and), lasted just three years as president of Twentieth Century Fox."

Subsequently, the " . . . first half of 1989 was the season of Dawn Steel. Suddenly the first woman executive star since Sherry Lansing . . . (Dawn Steel was the) first female president of a studio (October 1987--Columbia)." She had previously served as the head of production at Paramount. She was " . . . only the third woman to have a chance at (being head of production at a major studio). She was " . . . preceded by Sherry Lansing at Fox and Paula Weinstein at United Artists." Then Dawn Steel became the " . . . first woman to head an entire motion picture corporation . . . (she became) president of Columbia Pictures, October 28, 1987 . . . "

Although Dawn Steel and Sherry Lansing represent the highest level of achievement in the executive suites of the major studio/distributors, and two high level women executives in the nearly 100 year existence of the industry is not a good record at all, women have not fared much better in other segments of the film industry. Daily Variety reported in 1991 that " . . . only 11 of . . . 207 feature-film directing jobs (surveyed) went to females." In addition, Howard Rodman reported in 1989, that of " . . . the 170 members of the American Society of Cinematographers, exactly one is a women."

One or two brief success stories for women studio executives, are not sufficient to indicate a trend, even a trend that comes much too late. The highest level female who has truly been substantially involved in producing and directing a feature film to appear on the 1992 Entertainment Weekly annual list of the 101 most powerful people in entertainment was Barbara Streisand. But, she was only 48th on the list and actually comes from a singer/actress background. The two women who precede her on the list (Madonna at #10) is primarily a singer/dancer and Oprah Winfrey (at #11) has been a television talk show hostess).

The Christopher Reynold's four-year combined report on the Premiere Magazine annual entertainment industry power lists reveal that the highest ranking female studio executive was Sherry Lansing, who ranked 11th in '93, 83rd in '92, 73rd in '91 and 42nd in '90. No other female studio executive even appears on the list which covers four years and includes 153 names in all. Only 16 women are on this combined list and twelve of those are creative people (directors or performers). The other four include one agent, two independent producers and the madam of a Hollywood prostitution ring, which says quite a bit about the value placed on women in an industry dominated by men.

Thus, it appears clear that women have not fared well amongst the Hollywood "good ole' boys" when it comes to competing at the highest levels among the studio executives and in the top talent agencies, not because they cannot compete, but because they are simply not allowed to compete. Keep in mind that the top-level studio positions are where the power lies with respect to which movies get made, who gets to work on those movies and the content of those movies.

On the agency side, in late 1992, a half-dozen well paid female agents departed en masse from the well-known talent agency CAA. Premiere's Corrie Brown wrote that in " . . . a town rife with appalling sexism, where women are judged the way the USDA grades lamb chops, the departure [of these women] . . . may seem relatively insignificant. But CAA stands as one of Hollywood's most influential institutions. This gender gap won't be solved overnight . . . " Brown wrote " . . . then again, neither will the just-us-guys attitude that keeps women on the periphery of power."

To further illustrate one of the subtle ways in which women and others are excluded from the inner circle of Hollywood, early in 1992, " . . . CAA encouraged its young male agents to join Peter Guber and his fellow power brokers on one of Guber's 'fishing' (read 'networking') trips to Cabo San Lucas. No women were invited." In other words, women executives in the film industry were arbitrarily excluded from an important industry networking opportunity. A similar "all-boys" excursion for studio and industry players, this time a rafting adventure down the Colorado River, was held in September of 1993. Meanwhile for the record, CAA's Michael Ovitz stated that the " . . . problem of not enough women in leadership positions in the entertainment industry is an industry-wide problem that has existed for too many years . . . "

Former studio executive Dawn Steel also ran up against the all-male recreational outing. She reports that " . . . Jeffrey (Katzenberg) organized a raft trip every year. It was all men; actors, writers and agents and directors--and these were always the most interesting men. One year Tom Cruise went. I was desperate. Forget the fact that enormous amounts of business got done on that trip, these guys had a ball! I kept saying, 'I want to go,' and Jeffrey would say, ' No girls. Noooo girls.' They never did let me go."

Variety's Peter Bart reported in his September 1992 article "Rules of the Club" on a seminar which " . . . brought together high-achievers among women in showbiz . . . [for a discussion] on how to deal with the 'boys' club in Hollywood." He reported in a true understated fashion that an " . . . overall impatience [exists] among women with their status in the entertainment community." (Also see the discussion relating to "Unequal Employment Opportunities" in this book's companion volume Legacy of the Hollywood Empire.)

There are several sides to the opportunities for women question in Hollywood. The opportunities for women in the upper echelons of the major studios is just one, and clearly with respect to that one gauge of the progress of women, Hollywood has not performed well. (For a discussion of how women have fared in Hollywood on the creative side, again, see "Unequal Employment Opportunities" in Legacy of the Hollywood Empire.)

Even so, if we recognize, as discussed earlier, that most of the power in Hollywood to effect the kinds of movies that are made, who works on those movies and the content of those movies, rests in the hands of the top studio executives, and in some instances with a few of the more powerful talent agencies, and very few of the top studio executives and top agents are women, then it must be safe to conclude that women are generally outsiders to the Hollywood insiders' group. Otherwise, such discrepancies would not exist. It is also then clear that the Hollywood insider's group is predominantly made up of men.

Political Leanings

Both David Prindle and Ronald Brownstein confirm that the vast majority of people involved in Hollywood filmmaking at all levels are politically liberal. Brownstein writes in his book The Power and the Glitter --The Hollywood-Washington Connection, that in " . . . Hollywood, liberal politics began with the word. The coming of sound to motion pictures brought to California actors and especially screenwriters trained in the theater and immersed in the radical traditions of New York leftist politics . . . " Brownstein also points out that in Hollywood, there is a " . . . lack of stars willing to publicly embrace conservative causes . . . " a situation that not only reflects caution " . . . but also the community's political imbalance." The most visible Hollywood spokesman for conservative causes, Charlton Heston, admits that the " . . . Hollywood Community is probably as liberal as any community outside the university faculty . . . "

This general tendency toward political liberalism does not mean that there is no political support for conservative candidates among the studios or their executives. On the other hand, that support appears to be more politically expedient than an expression of personal political orientation. As Milton Sperling recalled, "[e]ven the Warner brothers hedged their bets . . . " Sperling states: " . . . I think Jack went the other way [and supported the GOP] in 1940 . . . It was a family decision: they wanted to have one foot in each camp." Nat Perrin also reports that " . . . [e]ven at Louis Mayer's MGM, the most conservative of studios, '[t]he writers were naturally more liberal . . . "

Brownstein further reports that back in more contemporary times (in the 1980s) no " . . . group on the right sought to recruit the young stars; in fact, with the exception of Heston and the handful of other conservatives defending Reagan, the right was virtually invisible in Hollywood as the Brat Pack awakened to politics . . . almost all of the activist role models in the community were liberals--not only Fonda, but figures such as Mike Farrell, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, and Ed Asner. The liberal attitudes of the young stars reflected, above all, the extent to which liberalism dominated the Hollywood artistic community."

As David Prindle reported in his 1993 book Risky Business-The Political Economy of Hollywood, "Hollywood's liberal political slant influences the sorts of stories its citizens want to tell and colors the way they interpret objections to those stories." Prindle goes on to say that " . . . it is not Hollywood's willingness to embrace national problems in movies and on television that is disturbing. It is the relentless one-dimensional viewpoint that dominates the films and television that come out of the industry." Thus, the available evidence supports the conclusion that the small group of men at the top in Hollywood, and others associated with them, are politically liberal (also see the discussion under the heading "Liberal Political Slant" in another of this series of books on Hollywood, entitled Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content).

Racial, Ethnic, Cultural and Religious Considerations

Secular vs Religious Community

Most of the sources of information on Hollywood listed in the bibliography for this book do not even discuss whether the community's studio executives and others are very active in church's or synagogues. According to Medved, however, the men who run Hollywood, do not appear to be very religious. Since Medved also holds himself out as a very religious person of Jewish faith, it is quite likely that he would be aware of the religious tendencies of much of the close-knit Hollywood community. In addition, however, Medved points out that the " . . . best available study of the industry establishment (for 'Public Opinion', 1983) shows that 93 percent of (the entertainment community) . . . attend no religious services of any kind . . . " Further, the patterns of bias exhibited in Hollywood motion pictures also support the thesis that Hollywood filmmakers, as a general rule, are not actively involved in organized religion (see this book's companion volume Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content. Thus, without conflicting evidence to the contrary, it is safe to conclude that as a general rule, the men who control Hollywood are not very religious.

Dominance of White Males

As recently as the summer of 1992, Los Angeles litigating attorney Pierce O'Donnell raised the question of the racial characteristics of the men who control Hollywood when he described the contemporary management of the U.S. film industry, in his Beverly Hills Bar Journal article "Killing the Golden Goose: Hollywood's Death Wish" (without consideration of religious or cultural affinities) by stating that "[a]n elite clique of two dozen white males manage the major studios and control virtually all of the movies distributed in the United States."

Prindle reports similar observations relating to the racial characteristics of those who control the U.S. film industry saying " . . . Hollywood is largely peopled by young white males. Surveys conducted by various organizations in the late 1980s documented that the industry's work force barely begins to reflect the ethnic and gender composition of American society."

Lawyer and former Universal Pictures business affairs executive Rudy Petersdorf echoed these observations in Fatal Subtraction saying: "[s]tudios are like a secret club. Their whole raison d'etre is to perpetuate the privileged, luxurious lifestyle of a select few white males . . . They don't care about the stockholders . . . They don't care about the talent. And they don't care about the quality of the movies. They want to perpetuate their power and huge incomes. So when a studio head falls from grace, he never falls far from the trough. He gets an independent production deal or gets hired by another studio. He is still a member of The Club."

O'Donnell and McDougal later reiterated in the same article cited above that "[f]or the most part, ultimate power in Hollywood rests with an exclusive group--The Club-of two dozen white males, too many of whom have little or no taste, are not intellectually curious or well read, do not see many movies, and seldom watch plays. Almost none have been filmmakers, writers or directors; instead, Club members are self-selected from the ranks of law firms, talent agencies, television networks, and other studios." Without raising the more specific issues of religious or cultural heritage, and notwithstanding the arbitrariness and irrelevance of placing a precise number on the size of Hollywood's inner circle, O'Donnell is clearly critical of the way the U.S. film industry is run and places the primary blame directly on that a small group of "white males".

O'Donnell and McDougal further observe in their 1992 book Fatal Atraction that " . . . a fired studio boss usually lands on his feet--either at another studio, his own production company or a talent agency. It is one big happy Club . . . " they say, again making reference to the fact that membership in that club is " . . . reserved almost exclusively for white males." The O'Donnell/McDougal writing team go on to say that "[b]y their bad taste, lack of creativity, biases, and anti-competitive business practices, many studio executives have abused the public trust . . . "

In another variation on the same statement by McDougal and O'Donnell, the pair report that a " . . . handful of greedy men with often questionable talent ran the movie business like aprivate emirate . . . They were members of a loosely knit club who moved in and out of studio hierarchies, made mega-bomb movies and still bounced back, never seeming to lose a paycheck in the process. They held all the power, scratched each other's backs and operated the industry at the expense of others, hiding their lucrative dealings behind a cloak of accounting and contractual secrecy that rarely saw the antiseptic light of a public trial." The reference to "others" in the phrase "at the expense of others", refers to the corporate shareholders of the major studios, all net profit participants including actors, actresses, writers, producers, directors and outside investors, and even gross profit participants considering the prospects for thievery inherent in the aforementioned settlement transaction (see the related discussion in How the Movie Wars Were Won).

O'Donnell and McDougal continued by saying that this " . . . Hollywood executives club surfaced as a group from time to time: during Hollywood charity dinners, labor negotiations with the guilds, Beverly Hills bar mitzvahs, (which is as close as the McDougal/O'Donnell team come to suggesting a religious/cultural heritage for the group) Motion Picture Association of America meetings and celebrity funerals. Most of the time, however, the studio cabal remained an informal network with one overriding credo: Don't rock the boat. All of that was popular knowledge in the film business, but no writer or producer or actor or director had been able to break the system's grip for almost a century because everyone who made movies was genuinely afraid of the old Hollywood adage: if you buck the system, you'll never work in this town again."

In addition, director Spike Lee actually had to "shame" Oscar-winning director Norman Jewison " . . . into backing out . . . " as the director for Malcolm X " . . . on the grounds that this crucial biography should be directed by an African-American . . . " The film subsequently " . . . went $5 million over budget . . . (and the) [c]ompletion bond company took control of the production . . . " Lee said that's when he learned " . . . how little power African Americans have in Hollywood." Lee then solicited "[c]ontributions from black celebrities (which) helped (him) . . . carry on until the studio reluctantly let him finish the film his way."

Thus, it appears that McDougal, O'Donnell, Petersdorf, Prindle and Lee are all correct in asserting that Hollywood is dominated by a small group of white males. And it also appears to be true (as reported by Prindle, Brownstein, Heston and Medved) that the individuals who make up this group of white males are politically liberal. In addition, as Medved observes, the members of the Hollywood insiders' club are not very religious. Unfortunately, that is not the whole story with respect to the specific characteristics of the Hollywood insiders' club, and to limit the analysis of such characteristics to gender, race, political orientation and level of interest or involvement with religion is to engage in what is referred to in the securities field as a material omission. In other words, anyone who limits their analysis to only these factors have either negligently or maliciously engaged in a twisting of the truth, by leaving out important information, that is relevant to a true understanding of who controls Hollywood and why.

Hollywood's Religious/Cultural Heritage--Throughout the entire nearly 100 year history of the American film industry, there has been an ongoing economic, philosophical, cultural and religious battle raging over the film industry. As Neal Gabler reports:

"In 1908 the (Edison) Trust (the original equipment manufacturers and producers) had a virtual monopoly on the movies. By 1912 the Independents had gobbled half the market and were closing in on a monopoly of their own . . . (members of Edison's Trust) . . . misinterpreted what was at stake. They never seemed to understand that they were engaged in much more than an economic battle to determine who would control the profits of the . . . film industry; their battle was also generational, cultural, philosophical, even, in some ways, religious. The Trust's members were primarily older white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who had entered the film industry in its infancy by inventing, bankrolling, or tinkering with movie hardware: cameras and projectors . . . The Independents (of that time) . . . were largely ethnics, Jews and Catholics who had entered the industry by opening and operating theaters."

Paul Johnson also writes in his 1987 book, A History of the Jews:

"At first the Jews were not involved on the inventive and creative side. They owned the nickelodeons, the arcades, the theatres. Most of the processes and early shorts were made by American-born Protestants. An exception was Sigmun Lublin, operating from . . . Philadelphia . . . when the theatre-owners began to go into production, to make the shorts their immigrant patrons wanted, Lublin joined with the other patent-owners to form the giant Patent Company, and extract full dues out of the movie-makers. It was then that the Jews led the industry on a new Exodus, from the 'Egypt' of the Wasp-dominated north-east, to the promised land of California. Los Angeles had sun, easy laws, and a quick escape into Mexico from the Patent Company lawyers . . . There were more than one hundred small production firms in 1912. They were quickly amalgamated into eight big ones. Of these, Universal, Twentieth-Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia were essentially Jewish creations, and Jews played a major role in the other two, United Artists and RKO Radio Pictures."

Clayton Koppes and Gregory Black express a similar view in their book Hollywood Goes to War:

"Most of the early film makers were American Protestants, and their production facilities were located in the East and Midwest. From the early 1910s to early 1920s a geographic, economic, and ethnic shift was underway . . . Within a few years the industry expanded and reorganized, and the 'Big Eight' companies came to dominate the industry, these dominant corporations created a vertically- integrated industry--in this case, they controlled the entire process from casting and production through distribution (wholesaling) and exhibition (retailing). The Big Eight reaped 95 percent of all motion picture rentals in the U.S. in the late 1930s. Their control over theater chains, particularly the all-important first-run urban houses which determined a picture's future, was critical. Although the Big Eight owned only 2,800 of the 17,000 theaters in the country, that figure included 80 percent of the metropolitan first-run houses, and all exhibition in cities of more than 1,000,000 population . . . Independent exhibitors had to book the majors' pictures on a virtual take-it-or-leave-it basis, and independent producers could be frozen out if they did not cooperate with the majors . . . The men who guided the industry in its transition to big business were mostly Jewish theater owners . . . "

Koppes and Black also support the thesis that the kind of movies produced and released by these film organizations dominated by Jewish males of European heritage were different than what might have been expected from their Protestant predecessors. Once established in Hollywood, these authors say, the movie moguls created and legitimated " . . . a blend of conspicuous consumption, new morals, and personal gratification that helped undermine the Eastern-dominated, WASP Victorian culture." Jill Robin goes so far as to say that Hollywood--the American Dream--is a Jewish idea. In a sense, (she observes) it's a Jewish revenge on America."

As Gabler points out, " . . . one of the reasons Jews . . . were able to gain a foothold (in the movie business was because) Big money (in America at the time), gentile money, viewed the movies suspiciously--economically, as a fad; morally, as potential embarrassments . . . (as early as) February 1906 . . . reformers had already begun castigating the movies for their deleterious effects, particularly on children. The contents of the movies supposedly undermined moral values (though the real complaint may have been that the movies existed outside the sphere of middle- and upper-class control) . . . "

Gabler also reports that the " . . . original Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America . . . was founded and for more than thirty years operated by Eastern European Jews . . . The much-vaunted 'studio system,' which provided a prodigious supply of films during the movies' heyday, was supervised by a second generation of Jews . . . the storefront theaters of the late teens were transformed into the movie palaces of the twenties by Jewish exhibitors . . . The most powerful talent agencies were run by Jews. Jewish lawyers transacted most of the industry's business . . . Above all, Jews produced the movies."

Carl Laemmle " . . . who had failed to scale even the lower reaches of American industry . . . presided over a considerable domain (of theatres in the early 1900s)--one built on outsiders and on the culturally disenfranchised like himself. And these would be his troops in the war that followed when the Jews would take over the movie industry for good." In the early teens a struggle for power at Universal developed between Laemmle and a " . . . producer named Pat Powers . . . when one faction came to examine the corporate ledgers, the other faction had them tossed out the window to an accomplice below. At one point Laemmle even dispatched a group of thugs to seize the studio of a member of the rival faction. The ensuing battle was so brutal that the police had to be summoned to stop it. But when the dust settled in 1915, Laemmle was firmly in control of Universal . . . From this point, (according to Gabler) the Jews would control the movies."

Joel Kotkin, author of the 1993 book Tribes--How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy, also provides an analysis of the early U.S. film industry which is similar to Gabler's. "By the 1930s . . . " Kotkin reports, " . . . Jewish domination of the movie business was palpable. They controlled six of the eight largest studios and according to a 1936 study, accounted for almost two thirds of all the major producers. Jews also accounted for a large portion of the agents, and, often working under Anglicized names, many of the actors as well."

Has Control Shifted?

Gabler also seems to suggest, however, that in the '50s a shift in who controls Hollywood occurred. He points out, for example, that in " . . . 1927, when Paramount was riding high and (the Jewish film mogul Adolph Zukor) . . . was in control, twelve of the nineteen directors on the company's board were Jewish. In 1953 two of ten were, and virtually none of the board members were movie men. The financiers and industrialists--the genteel to which the movie Jews had always aspired--had moved in." Gabler seems to suggest that a shift in who controls Hollywood occurred, at least for this one major studio/distributor, in the '50s. Kotkin also seems to suggest that there has been some kind of a change with respect to the issue of "control" in the contemporary U.S. motion picture industry but he fails to quantify that change and only states that "[t]oday . . . Jewish direct control of the studios [is] greatly reduced . . . "

On the other hand, Patricia Erens, states that during the period of the Motion Picture Project (1947-1967) " . . . most production heads were Jewish . . . " In addition, Lester Friedman, writing about the U.S. film industry in the '70s, did not agree that a significant shift in control of the movies had occurred at that time. He asserted that, "Jews had ruled the movie industry during the heyday of the vast studio empires . . . " and then goes on to point out that " . . . they maintained their positions of authority throughout the seventies." Friedman continued by reporting that "[o]ne of the most significant trends in movie-making during the seventies was that the impetus to make pictures came from a variety of sources, not just from the large companies that now owned the studios. Agents, for example, became powerful figures in Hollywood . . . Six of the decade's top production chiefs were ex-agents: David Begelman (Columbia), Mike Medavoy (Orion), Alan Ladd, Jr. (Fox), Ned Tanen (Universal), Martin Elfand (Warners), and Richard Shepard (MGM). Another three--Daniel Melnick (Columbia), Mike Eisner (Paramount), Barry Diller (Paramount)--came from television production. Of these nine executives . . . " Friedman reports, " . . . six were Jewish (Tanen, Begelman, Elfand, Melnick, Eisner, Diller), continuing the tradition of highly placed Jews within the industry."

Also looking at the Hollywood of the '70s, we can report that Alan Ladd, Jr., who was the son of Alan Ladd, the actor, and had been a talent agent and independent producer before joining " . . . 20th Century-Fox in 1973 . . . was put in charge of the studio's feature production the following year." That was such a significant event in Hollywood that it prompted Peter Bart to reveal that Alan Ladd, Jr " . . . was one of the few non-Jews ever to become a head of production." Interestingly enough, Stephen Farber and Marc Green write that the " . . . strongest influence on Laddie's (Alan Ladd, Jr.'s) career was probably neither of his natural parents, but rather his stepmother, Alan Ladd's second wife, a former starlet and agent named Sue Carol." Sue Carol's real name was Evelyn Lederer. And, Evelyn Lederer was the daughter of a Jewish merchant. Thus, 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. Also, it is revealing to note that Ladd's appointment occurred in 1973, some 60 years after the original small group of Jewish males of European heritage came to dominate Hollywood.

David McClintick, also writing about Hollywood of the '70s reports that in a conversation with Alan Hirschfield regarding the possibility of finding someone to buy out or dilute Board Chairman Herbert Alan's controlling interest in Columbia during the Begelman affair (1977), Alan Adler (a Columbia staff attorney) said:

"It would have to be somebody big--somebody willing and able to spend two hundred fifty million or three hundred million, which is what this company is worth on the open market. It would have to be somebody outside the business; the Justice Department won't let anybody in the business buy us. It would have to be somebody willing to be in business with a bunch of Jews; that eliminates a lot of Waspy companies. It would take somebody with the nerve and sophistication and stomach to fight the Allens. A big pocketbook and a strong stomach, that's what it would take. There aren't that many candidates around."

Thus, even though Columbia staff attorney Alan Adler tended to over-generalize a bit about who controls Hollywood (assuming he is accurately quoted by McClintick), at the very least, he seems to be providing additional support for the contention, (or, at minimum, he was not stating anything inconsistent with the premise) that the U.S. film industry was still controlled in the 1970s by a small group of Jewish males of European heritage. On the other hand, Adler did not go on to make the important distinction between the so-called Hollywood Jews and the many other Jews in the U.S. and around the world, most of whom are not affiliated with the U.S. film industry in any way.

Moving into the '80s, David McClintick wrote in 1983 that " . . . the men who vie for power in Hollywood today are the direct cultural and psychological descendants of the men who founded and ran Hollywood from the early 1900s until the fifties, men whom Irving Howe has called 'the dozen or so Yiddish-speaking (individuals) . . . who built enormous movie studios [and] satisfied the world's hunger for fantasy, [men who were] bored with sitting in classrooms, too lively for routine jobs, and clever in the ways of the world." As recent as 1984, Patricia Erens reported that "[a]s in the old Hollywood, today's producers and writers are predominantly of Jewish backgrounds whether or not they are practicing Jews."

Thus, what seemed to Gabler to be a shift in control, was in reality, merely a method for those who control Hollywood to obtain additional financing from outside sources. In other words, the corporate structure, allows strong management to bring in additional corporate funding from shareholders, who do not actually control the operation of the corporation, unless they have both a majority of the votes on the board of directors of the corporation and the desire to assert their will over that of present management. When Gabler talks about the fact that the non-Jewish board members, were not "movie men", that also means those board members are not likely to be taking a very active role in running the company. Management is thus left to the so- called traditional Hollywood management, who still, by and large were Jewish males of European heritage (see discussion in How the Movie Wars Were Won relating to "The Ever Present Threat of the Studio Executive Mass Exodus".) Thus, Gabler's perceived shift in control has turned out to be illusory.

Control of Hollywood Today

In a more contemporary setting, as the '90s were underway, University of Texas at Austin professor David Prindle conducted a study and wrote a paper on Hollywood Liberalism (1991). Although ancillary to his main theme, the Prindle paper confirmed that " . . . a large proportion of the people [in the film industry are] of Jewish background."

Also, writing about a more contemporary Hollywood (in 1992), Paul Rosenfield gets rather specific in describing the type of people who are members of the contemporary Hollywood insiders club that controls Hollywood. He states that " . . . club members are more alike than they are unalike: Most of them are white males, forty or older, Jewish for the most part, heterosexual for the most part, usually fathers, of shorter-than-average height--and they tend to go to bed early. (Usually in Pacific Palisades, north of Sunset, or in the Beverly Hills blocks of Maple or Elm, south of Sunset.)" Later in the same book, Rosenfield states that the Hollywood insiders ' club is really " . . . a small Jewish community . . . "

Joel Kotkin, also writing in 1992, said that "[w]hile movies are no longer, strictly speaking, a 'Jewish' industry, the role of Jews within Hollywood and the related entertainment field remains pervasive. Although virtually all the studios have been bought out by public corporations, foreign investors and individual financiers, most of them non-Jewish, complaints about strong Jewish influence in the industry still crop up, from as diverse sources as Italian film mogul Giancarlo Parretti to black film director Spike Lee and elements of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Although not in control of the media and the arts, as some anti-Semites suggest, Jews clearly possess a disproportionate influence in movies . . . " Kotkin then goes on to point out that "[b]y 1990 the Jewish population in Los Angeles . . . had expanded . . . to some 600,000 . . . " and in " . . . this environment, Jewish performers, producers and other artists are part of a larger community, whose professional base extends well beyond Hollywood."

Additional clues to the control of Hollywood in the contemporary period, come from Los Angeles Times reporter Terry Pristin, who, writing in 1993, adds that "[things haven't changed since the days of Selznick . . . " (one of the original Jewish movie moguls) in that "[i]t helps to have an uncle--or a father, brother or aunt--in the business." Thus, it is logical to assume (as these many observations attest and without convincing evidence to the contrary) that a specific sub-set of Jewish males still controls and dominates the American motion picture industry today. In fact, reporter Pristin states in the Times article that " . . . people in the movie business have always given preference to their relatives or the relatives of their friends. In an industry built by Jews from Eastern Europe . . . " Pristin states " . . . this kind of favoritism has always seemed natural."

Furthermore, in a book published in 1993, which incorporates the 1991 paper referred to above, Prindle again reports that "Hollywood contains a much higher percentage of Jews than does American society as a whole. Hollywood was virtually founded by Jews . . . and its important decision making positions have been dominated by them ever since." Also, according to Prindle, "[a]ll of today's studio heads (this was in the early '90s) are Jewish."

Thus, the writings of Neal Gabler, Joel Kotkin, Terry Pristin, Peter Bart, David McClintick, Paul Rosenfield and David Prindle all provide cumulative and convincing evidence that the Hollywood-based American motion picture industry has from the very beginning been controlled and dominated by Jewish males of European heritage. When the writings of Medved and Brownstein are added, we also discover that these Jewish males are typically not very religious and for the most part, politically liberal. Taken together, we can conclude that the industry is still controlled and/or dominated by that same Jewish sub-group. Such persons are sometimes collectively referred to in this book as "traditional Hollywood management" or the Hollywood control group. As that phrase is used in this book, however, it cannot be accurately translated to mean "Jews" generally, or that "Jews" control Hollywood, as some might carelessly surmise. Traditional Hollywood management means "white males of European-Jewish heritage who are mostly political liberals and not very religious". As any reader should be able to tell, there is a significant difference in those two interpretations of the phrase "traditional Hollywood management". One is an ambiguous over-generalization and therefore potentially offensive, the other, in all fairness, could not reasonably be considered offensive, merely more specific and accurate.

Michael Medved, on the other hand, was somewhat less straightforward in his observations regarding the extent to which Hollywood was still under the control of any particular sub-group of Jewish males. Writing in 1992, he states:

"By all accounts, Jewish influence in the entertainment industry reached its high- water mark in the 1930s and early 1940s--during the period often described as Hollywood's Golden Age. At that time, seven of the eight major studios were owned and operated by Jewish families who managed to create what Hollywood historian Neal Gabler aptly describes as An Empire of Their Own . . . Today . . . no clear-sighted or responsible observer could possibly view Hollywood as a Jewish empire. None of the major studios are Jewish family businesses in the way they once were: two have been purchased by enormous Japanese corporations (Columbia and Universal), one by Australian interests (Twentieth Century Fox), and one (MGM) has been passed back and forth among a flamboyant Armenian- American entrepreneur, a cable TV king from Atlanta, and a shadowy Italian tycoon. The other studios have all been gobbled up by gigantic and decidedly non- Jewish conglomerates including Gulf and Western (Paramount) and the notoriously WASPy Time, Inc."

Medved appears here to be offering his own version of the Jack Valenti patented "straw man" debating tactic by exaggerating the position of contemporary movie industry critics. Few, if any, responsible contemporary film industry critics are claiming Hollywood is a "Jewish empire" today and we can all agree with the rather safe Medved statement that the major studio/distributors are no longer "Jewish family businesses in the way they once were . . . " But we also should resist being mislead by Michael Medved's sly and careful choice of words into thinking that control of the film business (i.e., control as to which films are made, who gets to work on movies and what is the content of those films) actually follows ownership of the vast corporate conglomerates who own the studios. On this one issue, Medved has raised a multi-layered smokescreen designed to obscure discussion of the more important issues relating to "Who controls Hollywood?" (i.e., what single racial, ethnic, cultural and/or religious group is the most powerful in the American film industry today and how much greater is their power than any of the other groups who seek to exercise power in the film industry?) The answer, as stated above and notwithstanding Medved's extraordinary efforts to confuse the issue is: a small group of white males of European Jewish heritage who are politically liberal (generally) and not very religious. This Jewish sub-group gained its control over the U.S. film industry in and around 1915 (as Gabler states) and has not relinquished that control through the writing of this book in 1995. This group still has far greater control over the film industry than any other readily identifiable group. Medved made another similarly misleading statement when he wrote that:

" . . . Jewish 'control' of American entertainment now stands at an all-time low. This means that the period in which Hollywood's values turned sour happened to coincide with the period in which Jewish power decisively declined."

Again, Medved is exaggerating the decline in Jewish power in Hollywood, desperately trying to avoid laying the blame for the kind of movies Hollywood turns out on his fellow Jewish males, even though they are not very religious, as he is. In other words, since one of the main themes of Medved's book is that Hollywood has been turning out a lot of "trash" of late and Medved is a self-described very religious Jewish man (an Orthodox Jew), it is quite understandable that he would want to sidestep the question of any sort of Jewish responsibility for the movies being released, if at all possible. But, no matter how much we respect Medved for the positions he takes in most of his important book, there is no excuse for allowing him to get away with this slight of hand relating to who controls Hollywood and therefore who is really responsible for the movies about which he writes with such disdain.

If Medved had been completely honest in his appraisal of Hollywood he would have first stopped using the phrase "Jewish control" and tried to be more specific as in this book, (i.e., distinguishing between Jews or Jewish control generally from the sub-group that actually controls Hollywood) and gone on to complete his statement in a revised form, for example " . . . control of American entertainment (by Jewish males of European heritage, who are politically liberal and not very religious) now stands at an all time low . . . " however, this sub-groups' control, dominance and/or influence in the motion picture and many other so-called "entertainment" industries is still higher than another other readily identifiable racial, ethnic, religious or cultural group.

It is thus important to note that neither Medved nor Kotkin nor any other writer/observer of the Hollywood scene reviewed in this survey of the literature of the industry, affirmatively stated that any other racial, ethnic, religious or cultural group actually controls or dominates Hollywood today. Medved merely stated that "Jewish control . . . [is] at an all-time low." Kotkin merely stated that " . . . Jewish direct control of the studios . . . [is] greatly reduced . . . " Medved continues with the smokescreen stating:

"Though Jews are still prominent in many areas in the Hollywood creative community, talk of Jewish 'domination' is increasingly ludicrous. For instance, of all the fifteen Oscars handed out by the Motion Picture Academy for acting and directing since 1989, not one has gone to a Jewish performer or filmmaker."

Again, here, Medved is being disingenuous with his argument about who controls Hollywood. When talk about Hollywood concerns "control" or "dominance" it is not referring to the creative side of the film community, but the business side, and they don't give Oscars for outstanding business achievement or dominance. Thus, the fact that few Oscars have gone to persons of a Jewish heritage is irrelevant to the issue of "Who controls Hollywood?" Michael Medved is smart enough to know that. Thus, again, this series of his arguments appear to be a line of "straw men" primarily designed to distract people's attention from the truth about who controls Hollywood, and therefore who is to be properly blamed for the movies Hollywood turns out.

Finally, Medved claims that the " . . . overall lack of religious identification . . . " of the people who run Hollywood, " . . . points out the incomparable insanity in suggesting that Hollywood's Jews are following some supersecret script for world domination laid out for them in the Talmud some fifteen hundred years ago." The first part of this Medved statement (i.e., that a high percentage of the people who control Hollywood are not very religious) has been confirmed by other observers of the Hollywood community, and is consistent with my own experience in the industry. It is also consistent with the anti-religious bias observed in so many Hollywood films (noted by Medved and others; for further discussion of the bias issue see Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content). Also, as Medved points out, the Hollywood control group's lack of support for mainstream religious beliefs is reflected in the kinds of movies they make. However, the rest of his statement appears to be just another Medved straw man argument. Notice that he does not identify who has actually made this rather extreme "ancient religious conspiracy" argument. That is not to say that someone in the history of man has not made such an argument, but it is not really fair for Medved to pull such an absurd argument out of thin air and place into the center of a contemporary debate about the control of Hollywood. This Medved statement again is merely another attempt to divert attention from other more moderate and plausible positions, that is, it is not necessary for a conspiracy to be involved for reasonable people to conclude that there is something amiss in Hollywood (see "The Conspiracy Dodge" in How the Movie Wars Were Won).

Medved also seems to be confusing the religious versus the cultural aspects of being Jewish, adding still another layer of his many faceted smokescreen by putting forth some unknown proponent's extreme hypothetical religious conspiracy argument. The fact that the small group of Jewish males of European heritage who are politically liberal and not very religious controls and dominates Hollywood has nothing to do with the reality of the extensive system of reciprocal preferences engaged in by such persons on each other's behalf, to the competitive detriment of the vast majority of other persons striving to participate at a meaningful level in the film industry who do not fit within the characteristics of this insider's group. Whoever made the argument that " . . . Hollywood's Jews are following some supersecret script for world domination laid out for them in the Talmud some fifteen hundred years ago . . . " is not supported by this book. That is not an argument put forth in these pages nor is it an argument I have heard in the ten years I have worked in the Los Angeles entertainment community or seen in any of the published materials reviewed in the preparation of this book (see bibliography). That is the kind of fringe argument that people like Michael Medved will trot out for the sole purpose of distracting attention from the more reasonable and truthful position, (i.e., that Hollywood is and has long been controlled and dominated by a small group of Jewish males, of European heritage, who are politically liberal and not very religious), regardless of whether they talk to each other about it or not and regardless of whether their control of Hollywood has anything whatsoever to do with the Jewish religion.

Pierce O'Donnell and Dennis McDougal also offer a Medved style misleading argument through the use of a half-truth in their explanation regarding who controls Hollywood. By making their " . . . two dozen white males . . . " statement (reported above), O'Donnell and McDougal are, on the one hand, making a statement that is true on its face, but appears to be avoiding the more controversial statement which would be a more complete expression of the truth. By doing so, the first statement is misleading and to some degree racist, and therefore offensive to all of the capable, hard-working white men in the film industry who are consistently treated as outsiders in an industry that O'Donnell and McDougal would have us believe is controlled by men of similar racial characteristics and that their racial similarity is one of the most important associative criteria.

It would again have been more honest and straightforward of O'Donnell and McDougal to say that the industry appears to be controlled by a small group (the actual number is irrelevant and appears to be just another attempt by O'Donnell and McDougal to make an outrageous statement that will be quoted in the press) of mostly Jewish males of European heritage, who to be sure, from a racial point of view are considered to be white, but who are considered to be "insider's" in the film industry precisely because they have a common cultural heritage with the other Jewish males who control the film industry, and not because they are white. The term "mostly" was added to allow for the real world fact that a few non-Jewish white males are likely to appear in anyone's list of the top fifty or so most powerful people in Hollywood at any given time. So it is fair to say that men control Hollywood at the highest levels to the exclusion of women. And it is fair to say that a small group of mostly Jewish men control Hollywood to the exclusion of Jewish women, Jews whose backgrounds are other than European and non-Jewish men, although a few of these most powerful men who share control in Hollywood, may at any given time be non-Jewish. This loosely defined group, however, primarily made up of men who share an European Jewish heritage, (i.e., the one common thread that helps bind them together or give them a common background is that they hold themselves out as being Jewish, sometimes in the religious sense, but more commonly in the cultural sense). Thus, again, the O'Donnell/McDougal attempt to make a flat statement about "white males" appears to be misleading, racist demagoguery and potentially offensive to those non-Jewish white males struggling in the film industry in non-leadership positions.

Taken as a whole, the contemporary literature of the industry clearly indicates that although Jewish control of the industry may be at an " . . . all-time low . . . " or even " . . . greatly reduced . . . ", it is still far higher than any other cultural, ethnic, religious or racial group. Again, in point of fact, none of the many observer/writers whose published works were reviewed for purposes of this study, ever affirmatively asserted that African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos or even WASPs, for that matter, controlled Hollywood. Thus, for Medved to suggest that traditional Hollywood management is not at least partly responsible for the kinds of movies being turned out in recent years (the films he so vehemently criticizes) is at best disingenuous and misleading. (The Medved book otherwise provides an excellent presentation relating to many of the problems in the American motion picture industry.) In any event, until someone steps forward with evidence tending to show otherwise, it is certainly fair to assume (as the literature of the industry states) that a specific sub-set of Jewish males still control and/or dominate Hollywood today.

A Closer Look at the Backgrounds of the Major Studio Executives

Having determined with some sense of finality that the ultimate power to make the important decisions relating to what movies are made by Hollywood film companies, who gets to work on these movies and the content of such movies still primarily rests in the hands of the top studio executives at the major studio/distributors (with some input and influence by a few of the top talent agents on certain projects), the questions relating to who controls Hollywood ultimately then come down to: "Who are these people? and "What are their shared characteristics? In the following pages, an attempt has been made to go beyond the recitation of the quotes of other observers of Hollywood and to provide a listing of the top three executives (typically the Chairman of the Board, President and Head of Production) of each of the major studio/distributors, still considered to be such today (i.e., Columbia/TriStar, Disney, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century-Fox, MCA/Universal and Warner Bros.). United Artists, Orion and RKO have been omitted from this study because they are no longer considered stand-alone major studio/distributors. For each of these current major studio/distributors the executives' names have been listed vertically in a left-hand column, followed by their sex, race and reported religious/cultural background (where such information was available in the published sources used; see bibliography). Such characteristics were chosen because of the frequency with which they are mentioned in the industry literature as the characteristics that unify the Hollywood insider community. Following each entry, the source of the information is noted.

Note that the designation "Jewish" in this studio executive chart is an abbreviated designation for "Jewish heritage" (see column heading). Also, the chart designation "Jewish Name" means the name was identified by a third party Jewish consultant as a name commonly used by persons of Jewish heritage or that a Jewish person with the same name appeared in Wigoder's Jewish Encyclopedia. Thus, such a designation significantly increases the likelihood that such person has a Jewish heritage and thereby reasonably permits the inclusion of that person in the category of Hollywood studio/distributor executives with a Jewish heritage for statistical purposes, recognizing that such calculations may not be entirely accurate, merely the best and most reasonable estimate available.

History of Studio Control
Other Studios

Supporting Cones Research Selected Bibliography of Additional Works

The top several executives at Columbia Pictures (including Sony Pictures Entertainment and TriStar) have been:

Name Race Sex Heritage Source
Harry Cohn White Male Jewish Gabler, 155.
Abraham Schneider White Male Jewish Gabler, 162 & Farber, "Dyn", 266.
Joseph Brandt White Male Jewish Gabler, 161 & 162.
Leo Jaffe White Male Jewish Gabler, 162.
Jerry Wald White Male Jewish Sperling, 303 & Erens, 188.
Alan Hirschfield White Male Jewish McClintick, 510 & Erens, 392.
Francis T. Vincent, Jr. White Male Catholic McClintick, 480.
Samuel J. Briskin White Male Jewish Gabler, 161.
Sol Schwartz White Male Jewish Name
Mike J. Frankovitch White Male Jewish Erens, 392.
Robert M. Weitman White Male Jewish Variety, 12-24-70.
Herbert A. Allen White Male Jewish
Stanley Schneider White Male Jewish Variety, 1-29-75 & Farber, 278.
Sy Weintraub White Male Jewish Name
Richard C. Gallop White Male Jewish
David Begelman White Male Jewish Friedman, 76.
Daniel Melnick White Male Jewish Erens, 392 & Friedman, 76.
Donald R. Keough White Male Jewish
Lewis J. Korman White Male Jewish Variety, 10-16-94, 11.
Frank Price White Male Catholic LA Times 4-15-92.
Victor A. Kaufman White Male Jewish McClintick, 121.
David Matalon White Male Jewish Academy Library Clipping File
Jeff Sagansky White Male Jewish
John Veitch White Male Jewish Variety, 3-6-79.
Mike Medavoy White Male Jewish Rosendahl Cable TV Interview
Marc Platt White Male Jewish LA Times, 3-22-94.
Stacey Lassally Snider White Female Jewish Cusolito, S-10.
Peter Guber White Male Jewish Katz, 568.
Jon Peters White Male Part Indian Katz, 1075.
Alan J. Levine White Male Jewish Name H'wood Rptr, 1-10-94.
Guy McElwaine White Male Jewish LA Magazine, Jan. '95.
Jud Taylor White Male Jewish Citizen News, 3-26-65.
Jonathan Dolgen White Male Jewish H'wd Rptr, 1-10-94.
Stephen T. Sohmer White Male Jewish Name LA Times, 8-4-82.
John C. Fiedler White Male Jewish Name
David Puttnam White Male "Half-Jewish" Vanity Fair, 4-88, 100.
David Picker White Male Jewish Erens, 392.
Fred Bernstein White Male Jewish Name H'wd Rptr, Aug 12-14, '94, 1.
Dawn Steel (Spielberg) White Female Jewish Steel, 13.
Michael Nathanson White Male Jewish Name
Mark Canton White Male Jewish H'wd Rptr, 1-10-94.
Barry Josephson White Male Jewish Name Variety, 10-16-94, 22.]
Lisa Henson White Female Jewish Berry, 14.

Other Studios

For the top several executives at the Walt Disney Company, since its founding in 1923, (including Buena Vista, Hollywood Pictures and Touchstone), click here.

For the top several executives at MGM since the company's inception, click here.

For the top several executives at Paramount since its inception as a distributor in 1914, click here.

For the top several executives at 20th Century-Fox, since its inception, click here.

For the top several executives at MCA/Universal, click here.

For the top several executives at Warner Bros., click here.


Several observations can be made from this study of major studio executives. First, there appears to be no persons of African/American, no persons of Asian/American, and only one person of possible Hispanic/Latino heritage (and that was not confirmed by any published sources in the literature reviewed) in the entire group. In other words, such persons have been completely and arbitrarily excluded from the highest levels of power in the U.S. film industry for the nearly 100 year history of the industry. It is not likely that anyone other than a racist would sincerely argue that the persons who have held these studio executive positions actually deserved to be in such positions to the complete exclusion of African/Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos (male or female).

Second, only 8 of the executive slots were occupied for women at any given time (i.e., only 4% of the total number of studio executive positions reported) and only for short periods of time. Also, only 6 women were involved (i.e., Lansing, and Steel worked in high level executive positions for two different studios). Not only are all of these major studio/distributors so-called male bastions, 3 of them (Disney, MGM and Universal) have never permitted a women to enter one of the three top level positions considered in this study. It is not likely that anyone other than a sexist would sincerely argue that the persons who have held these highest level studio executive positions deserved to be there to the almost complete exclusion of women. In addition, however, at least 3 of these women, the first 3 to be awarded such their executive positions (Lansing, Steel and Weinstein) have Jewish backgrounds.

Third, of the 226 individual major studio/executives identified for purposes of this study, (counting those who served at more than one studio in one of the top executive positions, once for each studio served) 84 are specifically identified by the sources cited as being Jewish or having a Jewish heritage. That is a little over 37%, a figure that is extremely high when compared with the percentage of Jews in the U.S. population (i.e., 2.4%) but well below the estimates of many of those who have actually worked in Hollywood over the years. On the other hand, if we calculate the number of persons identified as Jewish or of a Jewish background in such executive positions as a percentage of all of those persons whose religious/cultural background have been specifically cited in the sources reviewed (see bibliography) the percentage is unrealistic to the other extreme (i.e., 82%). In other words, the many sources reviewed only disclosed the religious/cultural background of the studio executives in 103 of 226 instances or 46% of the cases, regardless of whether such persons have a Jewish or non-Jewish background. It may be fair then to report that the percentage of the top three studio executives (i.e., board chairmen, presidents and production chiefs) at the major studio/distributors still considered to be majors today (and who are specifically identified as Jewish or of Jewish heritage in published sources) lies somewhere between 37% on the low end and 82% on the high end.

When confronted with a similar problem, however, Patricia Erens, in conducting her research for the book The Jew in American Cinema, determined that in " . . . some cases, (film) characters can be considered Jewish by virtue of their names or other distinguishing features (use of Yiddish phrases, mention of Jewish holidays, etc.), although no specific reference (to their Jewishness) is included in the (film's) dialogue." In a situation, where the information relating to the religious/cultural background of people in the film industry is not published or otherwise remains secret (for whatever reason), it is necessary to resort to methods similar to those used by Patricia Erens in order to come up with a more reasonable estimate of percentages relating to the religious/cultural background of such high level studio executives.

In order to develop such additional information, two methods have been utilized for purposes of this book. First, the assistance of a Jewish person (a Los Angeles native who has had some contact with the film industry and is therefore somewhat familiar with the Hollywood Jews) was obtained to study the list of studio executives provided and to identify those with names that are "likely" to be Jewish. Those names were then compared with the names of persons identified in various published sources (again, see bibliography) that are or were Jewish, to further increase the likelihood that such names actually represent people who are Jewish or who have Jewish backgrounds. That group is identified in the above charts with the designation "Jewish Name". Using that method, an additional 50 persons can be added to the 84 previously identified as being Jewish or of Jewish heritage. With these added names, the new percentage calculation would suggest that of 226 studio executives on the list, 134 are Jewish, have a Jewish background or are likely to be of a Jewish heritage (based on their names alone), thus nearly 60% ( in any case, a clear majority) of the studio executives on the list may be considered to share a Jewish heritage.

In any event, it is not likely that anyone other than a Jewish-supremacist (i.e., one who believes in the racial or otherwise inherent superiority of Jewish people) or, at least, a philo-Semitic (i.e., one who is prejudiced in favor of Jews) would sincerely argue that this disproportionate number of males (and females) of Jewish heritage deserved to be in these high-level studio executives positions to the exclusion of other white males, African-Americans, non-Jewish women, Hispanic/Latinos, Asian-Americans and others who have no Jewish background.

For those who might take the defensive posture that such a listing and calculation is at the very least inappropriate, please read further and be reminded that this book (and companion volumes by the same author) are making the very serious but quite reasonable allegations that Hollywood is controlled by a small group of Jewish males of European heritage, who are politically liberal and not very religious, and who are not representative of the Jewish community or "nation" as a whole, and who have, over the years, engaged in unethical, unfair, predatory, anti-competitive and illegal business practices, including wholesale discrimination (i.e., nepotism, favoritism, cronyism, blacklisting and reciprocal preferences) directed toward persons of other racial, ethnic, cultural and/or religious backgrounds.

On the other hand, this book does not in any way suggest that these studio executives have engaged in such practices because they are Jewish, rather, it is more accurate to say they have engaged in such practices despite having a Jewish background. This book further alleges, however, that the beneficiaries of that wholesale discrimination in the U.S. film industry are primarily the fellow Jewish males (of European heritage) of those in control positions. In addition, this study concludes that control of the film industry in the hands of any narrowly defined interest group, has undesirable effects on the kinds of motion pictures that are produced and distributed, who gets to work on those films and the content of the movies themselves; and these results are not in the best interests of the nation, or the world for that matter. Thus, the question relating to the religious/cultural background of the people in the top level positions of the major studio/distributors of Hollywood is at the very heart of the larger issues about which this series of books on Hollywood has been written, and therefore must be explored in any responsible inquiry by anyone who seriously considers the question.

Since as reported earlier, long time studio executive David Picker stated, "[i]f I had said yes to all the projects I turned down, and no to all the ones I took, it would have worked about the same . . . " then it really should make no difference, from a commercial point of view, whether studio executives are African- Americans, Latinos, American-Indian, females, white Anglo-Saxon males from the South, Christians, Muslims, or whatever, because the same projects are pretty much going to be presented to the studio executives. Also, if as is so commonly stated in Hollywood, "nobody knows" anything (see the discussion in How the Movie Wars Were Won relating to "Myth and Misinformation"), there must be other reasons why people from the groups listed immediately above, are generally excluded from high level studio executive positions. Based on the survey and charts shown above, those reasons now appear to be more clear. (Additional clarification is provided in the companion volume How the Movie Wars Were Won on this question of "How Did They Gain and Maintain Control?")

Research Project: Expand this study of the top studio executives to include United Artists, Orion and RKO and other executives that may have been inadvertently omitted due to their omission from the sources relied upon (see bibliography). Additional insight into the level of control by persons of Jewish heritage could be gained, of course, with better information regarding the cultural heritage of such individuals and by determining the precise dates of service and calculating the years of service by persons of Jewish and non-Jewish heritage. It is entirely possible that such percentages would even more heavily favor management of Jewish heritage.

Movie Portrayals

This book, and its companion volume Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content, also contend that movie portrayals provide further evidence regarding the nature of the Hollywood control group. If we accept the assumption that groups of people who control Hollywood are not likely to consistently portray themselves in a negative manner in the motion pictures that they produce and/or distribute, it is equally fair to assume that those people who have been consistently portrayed in a negative manner in motion pictures probably do not control Hollywood. As reported in the Patterns of Bias and the Movies and Propaganda volumes, there appears to be substantial evidence that the Hollywood control group does in fact consistently portray itself in a positive manner (or in most instances where the portrayal was negative, it was created by filmmakers with the same religious/cultural background of the person portrayed) while consistently portraying other populations in a negative manner. For a listing of the various ethnic, cultural, religious and racial groups that have publicly complained about the portrayal of their members in movies see that discussion in Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content. Additional, evidence tending to show that there is a positive correlation between who does not control Hollywood and who is consistently portrayed in a negative or stereotypical manner in American movies, is also set forth in that book. The material found there also tends to support the conclusion of this volume, (i.e., that Hollywood is controlled by a small group of Jewish males of European heritage, who as a group, are politically liberal and not very religious).

Another way to approach the question of who does not control Hollywood is to conduct surveys of moviegoing audiences. During the period from 1992-1994, at UCLA Extension and the graduate level UCLA Independent Producers Program, informal surveys of students relating to this question were conducted in order to obtain another reading of what groups of people over the past ten years are perceived to have been consistently portrayed in MPAA releases in a negative manner. Here's the list (in no particular order): African Americans, parents, lawyers, Germans, governmental agencies (e.g., CIA), Arabs, Hispanics, fundamentalist Christians, American Indians, women, Catholics, lesbians, the elderly, politicians, gays, business executives, white anglo southern males and Asians. These film industry professionals and students were then asked if they thought it would be fair to say that none of these groups controlled Hollywood based on their belief and the reasonable assumption that none of these groups would consistently portray themselves in a negative manner if any of these groups in fact "controlled" Hollywood. And these students agreed that none of these consistently and negatively portrayed groups controlled Hollywood.

Again, lest there be any misunderstanding (or purposeful misinterpretation) on the point, it should be clear to any reasonable reader that this book is not suggesting that Hollywood is controlled by Jews (generally). That is a much too generalized statement to be accurate and suggests other connotations. Based on the published reports of numerous other observers of the Hollywood scene and the research involved, this book does contend that Hollywood is controlled by a small group of Jewish males, of European heritage, who, generally speaking are politically liberal and not very religious. At the very least, this means that Jewish women are generally excluded from this Hollywood control group, that Jewish males who do not have a European background are generally excluded and that non-Jews are also generally excluded, although white males who are politically liberal and not very religious have a better chance of at least being on the periphery of the Hollywood insiders' club than African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Asian-Americans or any other non-Jewish members of American society.

It is also fair to say that not all Jews around the world support the activities of what Gabler calls the Hollywood Jews. Gabler reports that in the 1930's an open letter was published " . . . from one embarrassed Jew to his Hollywood confreres saying: 'I am a Jew' . . . 'but I am ashamed of my kinship with you Jews of Hollywood. I am ashamed of kinships with a people who have wholly forgotten their spiritual mission and are now engaged only in the feverish acquisition of wealth by pandering to the worst instincts of humanity."

The truth is that the research supporting this work turned up numerous written statements (as set out above) from various sources asserting somewhat differing views with regard to who has the most power in Hollywood when considering the issue among writers, directors, producers, agents, lawyers and studio executives, although opinion was clearly tilted in favor of studio executives and the top agents. But, when it came to identifying the racial, ethnic, religious and/or cultural background of such persons, the consistent opinion was that a disproportionate number of the people with power in Hollywood, have long been and continue to be Jewish males of European heritage, and, of course, much of that opinion was expressed by persons of Jewish backgrounds. On the other hand, as has already been pointed out, no one affirmatively asserted that any other racial, ethnic, religious and/or cultural group controlled Hollywood, (other than Pierce O'Donnell's "two dozen white males" which merely side-stepped the religious/cultural question). Consequently, as this series of books on Hollywood moves forward with discussions relating to the results of Hollywood power residing in the hands of such a narrowly defined control group, it is clearly appropriate (and specifically relevant) to seek further confirmation of the above assertion through research relating to the racial, ethnic, religious and/or cultural background of the people involved in producing and releasing the resulting motion pictures.


This book and its companion volumes take the position that it is simply not acceptable in a free, democratic and diverse society which values the free flow of information and the competition of ideas in an open marketplace, for the citizens or their government, to stand idly by and allow any narrowly defined interest group (regardless of whether such group is defined in terms of its race, religion, cultural background, ethnicity or otherwise) to control or dominate any important communications medium, including film. These books argue that movies mirror the values, interests, cultural perspectives and prejudices of their makers, thus to the extent that the film industry is controlled by any narrowly defined interest group, the values, interests, cultural perspectives and prejudices of most other segments of our diverse society will not be regularly or accurately reflected on the screen (at best, they are being filtered through the cultural sensibilities of another group).

These books further take the position that movies are important, that they are much more than the "mere entertainment" that Hollywood management would have us believe; that in fact, the motion picture is a significant medium for the communication of ideas. And, recognizing further that ideas have always been, and will always be, one of the most important motivating forces influencing human conduct, then all reasonable persons must recognize that the motion picture, one of the most effective forms of communication yet devised, has great potential for influencing people's behavior, and, in fact, does influence human behavior on a regular basis, particularly amongst that target audience for which many films are directed, the relatively immature and unsophisticated youth of our nation.

For these reasons, all persons in our society have a right to be concerned about the effect of the modern technology of the motion picture on themselves and the rest of society, and to be understandably alarmed to discover that control of the Hollywood-based U.S. motion picture industry does not come anywhere close to reflecting the diversity in U.S. society, and even worse, that most observers who have chosen to write about Hollywood have specifically sought to mislead the public about this critically important issue.

Supporting Cones Research Selected Bibliography of Additional Works


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