Something’s Rotten in the Big Apple
The Inside Story of a NY Publisher’s Attempt to Conspire with Hollywood Insiders
to Defraud America
John W. Cones
A funny thing happened on my way to publishing a book for my New York publisher. In the summer of 2006, I met the publisher of another of my books about the Hollywood-based film industry in San Francisco to help staff his booth at the trade show associated with the annual gathering of communications professors at their International Communications Association conference. The individual publisher’s name was David Demers. His publishing company is Marquette Books. The title of the book he published for me was: Hollywood Wars – How Insiders Gained and Maintain Illegitimate Control Over the Film Industry.
I have been working in the film industry as a securities/entertainment attorney for about 20 years. My area of concentration is film finance, more specifically investor financing of independent films. Along the way, I’ve lectured more than 300 times all across the country on the subject of film finance or the more narrow topic of investor financing of independent films. My producer client offerings successfully raised money and produced or helped produce about 43 independent films including Better Luck Tomorrow, Amy’s O and Comedy Central’s Strangers With Candy. The films are typically low budget independent films.
My books about the film industry include Film Finance and Distribution – A Dictionary of Terms, originally published by Silman-James Press in Los Angeles and subsequently re-published under the revised title Dictionary of Film Finance and Distribution – A Guide for Independent Filmmakers by Marquette Books. Southern Illinois University Press published the overview of film finance (43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film) now in its third edition, and The Feature Film Distribution Deal. I successfully self-published and sold another book across the world. It’s entitled Film Industry Contracts and contains 100 sample film industry agreements. I have for years maintained a pro bono Q&A forum online to answer questions from independent producers about investor financing of independent films.
David Demers thought it might be helpful in promoting the Hollywood Wars book if I were there at the booth and available to meet interested professors. During some of my down time at the conference, I visited the booths of the many other book publishers also attending the conference and offering their publications. One of those publishers was Peter Lang Publishing of New York. Their representative at the conference was Damon Zucca, the Acquisitions Editor for the publisher’s media and communications studies series. They had already published books for the series relating to radio, magazines, the Internet, broadcast television and other media, but as Damon explained they had experienced some difficulty in finding an author that could complete a book for the series about the film industry. Each of the books for the series named an industry, for example, “Radio” then followed with the sub-title “A Complete Guide to the Industry”. In other words, this series of books was designed to provide fairly comprehensive overviews of each of these important communications industries. The film industry book was to be called Motion Pictures: A Complete Guide to the Industry. The general editor for the series was David Sumner, a professor of journalism at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana.
I told Damon Zucca about my years of research on the film industry and my previous publishing. I also offered to take on the film industry project for Peter Lang Publishing. When he got back to his office, he sent me the publisher’s book proposal guidelines. I prepared and submitted a proposal. Peter Lang’s Senior Acquisition Editor Phyllis Korper sent me a contract in October of 2006 saying:
“Thank you for submitting your excellent proposal for editorial consideration. I am delighted to report that Peter Lang Publishing is very much interested in publishing this book in David Sumner’s series of books on the media industries.”
We then signed a contract. Subsequently, I was contacted by Peter Lang’s Production Manager Bernadette Shade to begin the process of actually producing the book and providing her with necessary information including author and book information, a list of keywords, a book synopsis, along with Library of Congress materials. Ms. Shade was quite helpful.
Shortly thereafter, Damon Zucca left Peter Lang Publishing and moved over to Oxford University Press. He was replaced by Mary Savigar. The manuscript went through the usual editing process and several drafts including deleting a hundred plus pages to meet an arbitrary page limit. Lots of editorial suggestions from both David Sumner and Mary Savigar were accepted and incorporated into the book.
In September of ‘07 David Sumner wrote: “I want to say first how much I appreciate your prompt and punctual work and the positive way you have made any changes we requested. I am very happy with the overall content.”
In October of ‘07 Mary Savigar wrote: “Many thanks for this final draft of the manuscript. David and I appreciate all the time you have spent taking our comments on board and we think you’ve done an excellent job incorporating our suggestions. I am pleased to say that I am now ready to send the manuscript to the copy editor.” In December ‘07 several technical issues raised by the copy editor were resolved.
On December 27, of ‘07 I received an e-mail from Mary Savigar discussing several further technical issues relating to copy editing. Those also were resolved. Later on the same day, I received another e-mail, this one from the General Editor for the book series, David Sumner raising a point that Mary Savigar was apparently unwilling to discuss with me since it was omitted from her earlier e-mail of that same day. David’s e-mail reads:
“I had a chance to meet Mary Savigar at the journalism educators convention in Washington, DC, last August and like her very much. She is a young English woman in her early 30s probably and just came to New York to work for Peter Lang. After your manuscript came back from the copy editor, she talked to me about their concern in chapter 7 where you talk about ‘politically liberal, not very religious, Jewish males of European heritage’ and they felt it could be interpreted in the wrong way (anti-Semitic). I did not agree with her because I saw your point and urged them to keep it in. There is a widespread sense among people I know that Hollywood movies tend to portray Christians or pastors/priests as clumsy not-too–bright people, especially if they are from the South. This section helps explain why. But I did agree to look at the passages in chapter 7 where you make those points and see if I could edit it ‘tone it down’ (her words). So I did that and have attached a copy of that section with my edited version followed by your original version . . . Are you willing to accept these edits? I believe it’s important to respect the integrity of the author and have tried to edit it in a way so that you make the same point. But I did reduce the number of times you referred to ‘politically liberal, not very religious, Jewish males of European heritage.’ We hope you will accept these edits as a compromise to a delicate situation.”
David Sumner and I had a few phone conversations about the matter, but I took the position that it really was not appropriate for him to be asked to revise a portion of my book without Mary Savigar advising me as to what specific language was deemed unacceptable.
In the meantime, apparently David Sumner conferred with Mary Savigar and she sent a followup e-mail a several weeks later (January 18, ‘08) saying:
“David has informed me that he just spoke to you. In light of your conversation, he has asked me to send you his suggested edits to pages 203-206 where there are several references to Jewish men who hold leadership positions n Hollywood. In the attached document, David has copied and pasted the original material from pages 203-106 and then copied and pasted the same three pages with his edits and deletions. In both the original and revised texts he has highlighted in yellow those paragraphs where you talk about Jewish men. When you have had a chance to consider these edits, please let us know if you are willing to accept them.”
I wrote Mary Savigar back that same day stating: “Before I consider such changes, I believe it would be in order for me to be advised as to: (1) Who is objecting to the original text? (2) What are they objecting to? (3) What is the basis for the objection?”
Mary Savigar responded on January 24, ‘08 saying: “The copy editor initially raised the query about some of the material on pages 203-206. I then discussed this with David Sumner. We felt the editor has some valid points and the attached copy is just a suggestion as to how the material might be amended. The issue is that some of the material, we feel, could be viewed as offensive to some readers. We felt the attached edits in my last e-mail provides a compromise. Please let me know what you think.”
Early the next day, I responded by e-mail to Mary Savigar saying:
“What I am asking specifically is: ‘What are the editor’s valid points?’ Issues of concern to me are knowing what you feel are ‘valid points’, and whether it is appropriate for a publisher to ask an author to change material for some vague and undisclosed reason. My objective in writing this book is to be honest about the film industry (i.e., a complete guide). I’m not very sympathetic to people who want me to tip toe around the truth because of some vague notion that some unstated persons may be offended by the truth. I’ve worked in and researched the film industry for 20 years. I’ve been honest and straightforward about what I write. My faithful following expects me to be truthful and that’s what I’d like to be.”
She wrote back on January 30, ‘08 saying: “Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate your comments and am happy to leave the text as it is. I still think some of the paragraphs would benefit from being shorter but I will leave it up to you to decide whether you want to edit them. Please let me know. The assistant editor is inputting your changes to the hard copy as we speak.”
I responded on the same day stating: “Since I’ve already deleted about a third of the material to meet page limits, unless someone has some very specific suggested editing cuts to make, I’d just prefer to move on with the book as is.”
I did not hear anything further from Mary Savigar for a month and a half ( March 19, 2008) when she sent another e-mail saying:
“The proof reader has just finished reading the manuscript. Unfortunately, she has noted some serious issues which we need to resolve before we go anything further. Please find the text attached. The most serious concern at this stage is something I know we have discussed briefly before but we need to do so again. This is the issue of anti-Semitic material. The material causing concern is on page 175, ‘censorship’ on p.177, 222-223, 229-230, and questions on p. 180. The proofreader's concerns reflect those of the copy editor. I have also re-read this material as have colleagues in-house, and we are all of the same opinion that the book cannot be published with this material left in. It has to be deleted or we will need to cancel the book. Although it’s only a few pages this is a very complex and serious issue. The material about a ‘Hollywood control group’ consisting of ‘Jewish males of European heritage’ (p222) is not ok. Even if you are not saying anything about Jewish character in general you most definitely are saying something about the Jews in general. Why? Because you are saying that some Jews conspire ‘to gain and maintain control over Hollywood’ (p227). Rather than engaging in a protracted debate about whether your viewpoint is valid or not, it is easier to look at the situation from this viewpoint: we are publishing this volume as a basic primer to teach undergraduate students about the film industry. The observations about Jewish control of Hollywood is gratuitous and inappropriate for this audience. If you agree to address our concerns I suggest we have the whole final manuscript (after you have changed it) read again for just this issue. There are some other issues which need addressing after this main issue has been settled. I realize that this is a difficult situation that may cause you concern and I do hope that we can find a way forward.”
The next morning I responded to Mary Savigar’s e-mail (with a copy to David Sumner):
“Here’s an excerpt from my book Hollywood Wars – How Insiders Gained and Maintain Illegitimate Control Over the Film Industry that appears to be on point for purposes of our discussion. Of course, I am very disappointed at the intellectual dishonesty involved in threatening to refuse to publish a perfectly good book, without supporting your arbitrary views with credible reasons. For example, when an editor starts interfering with the substance of a book as opposed to issues relating to punctuation, readability, formatting, etc. the burden of persuasion is on the editor to show that something needs to be changed. You have not only failed to meet your burden of persuasion, you haven’t even made the attempt. Initially, you could only argue that some parts of the book might be considered offensive. Now, more recently you’ve gone so far as to label some of the writing in the book as “anti-Semitic”. On the other hand, you have not offered any recognition that there are numerous definitions of the term anti-Semitism available for use in such a discussion and you’ve not offered a single definition from which to work (see the below book excerpt for several working definitions of the term). Nor, have you pointed to specific language in the book that meets all of the elements of any such definition. Thus, you have not made your case. You’ve merely acted in an unprofessional manner, yelled and screamed “anti-Semitism” and threatened to pull the plug on the book. Ultimately, you are demanding that I omit factual information regarding the state of Hollywood and by doing so mislead readers of the book to think that such problems are not real. You may think that is an appropriate role for a book editor, but I think you are way out of line and extremely unethical. Please provide me with the e-mail addresses for those people at the publishing house who are your supervisors. I think this discussion needs the involvement of more reasonable and more honest individuals.”
The Excerpt – Some effort should first be made to define what it means to be anti-Semitic. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, for example, an anti-Semite is "[o]ne who discriminates against or who is hostile toward or prejudiced against Jews."1 Unfortunately, there are at least a couple of problems with this definition. It does not provide any quantitative limits on the number of Jews (minimum or maximum) that are required to fall within the scope of anti-Semitism, nor does it distinguish between hostility based on good cause. In other words, this definition would permit hostile behavior or language directed toward two Jews who have in fact committed horrible acts to be considered anti-Semitic. Thus, that dictionary definition of anti-Semitism seems too vague and overly broad. It is not workable in a practical sense.
Checking another dictionary, Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary also defines "anti-Semite" as "one who is hostile to or discriminates against Jews." This definition is pretty much the same (after all, discrimination is based on prejudice) and it has the same inadequacy (i.e., it does not distinguish between the person who is hostile toward Jews generally, as opposed to the person who may be hostile toward a few Jewish individuals who happen to be Jewish, but the hostility is not related to their Jewishness, instead, for example, because of their actual bad behavior). In other words, these first two dictionary definitions of anti-Semitism actually suggest that if anyone is hostile toward any number of Jewish people, regardless of the behavior of those particular Jewish people, the hostile individual may be fairly called anti-Semitic.
Maybe it would be more helpful to use a definition by someone who holds himself out as a scholar on the subject and who wrote a very contemporary book entitled Anti-Semitism in America. Leonard Dinnerstein, a professor of history at the University of Arizona, for example, defines anti-Semitism in his recent book as " . . . hostile expressions toward, or negative behavior against, individuals or groups because of their Jewish faith or heritage." Dinnerstein goes on to point out that "[p]rejudice reflects antagonistic thoughts but when those ideas are put into actions that restrict or condemn Jews (or others, for that matter) they become forces of discrimination."2
Note, however, that Dinnerstein's definition adds an essential element, omitted by the dictionaries. He states that in order for hostile expressions or negative behavior directed toward Jews to be fairly considered anti-Semitic, it must be made because the targets are Jewish, or it must stem from a belief that Jewish persons behave the way they do because they are Jewish. In other words, Dinnerstein's definition adds the requirement that the alleged anti-Semite's motives must be considered. Demonstrating someone's motives for negative behavior or hostile expressions clearly requires a much higher level of evidence, certainly much higher than that demonstrated by any of the above cited authors. Since, the charge of anti-Semitism is a serious charge, this book takes the reasonable position that it should not be taken lightly, and should not be made without good reason. In addition, the better practice is that no such charge be made unless it is accompanied by evidence regarding the motivation of the alleged anti-Semite, not just another allegation regarding such person's motivations. After all, that’s nothing more than gossip or a whispering campaign and the people who participate in such activities have a similar mentality to a lynch mob.
One other semantical problem occurs with both Dinnerstein's and the dictionary definitions of anti-Semites, and that relates to the meaning of Semite itself. On the one hand, the American Heritage dictionary's preferred definition of a Semite is "[a] member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews and Phoenicians." Its secondary meaning is "Jew".3 Also, Webster defines "Semite" as "a member of any of the peoples descended from Shem; a member of any of a group of peoples of southwestern Asia chiefly represented now by the Jews and Arabs but in ancient times also by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans, Canaanites, and Phoenicians. It also defines Semitic as "of, relating to, or characteristic of the Semites; specifically Jewish" or "of, relating to, or constituting a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Ethiopic." Webster further defines Semitic as "any or all of the Semitic languages".
Thus, the word "Semite" is not always synonymous with the term "Jewish" and Jews only represent a part of the Semitic peoples. Consequently, it is not specifically accurate to say that a person who is anti-Jewish is necessarily anti-Semitic. And it is understandable that many of the other Semitic peoples of the world may be offended by the Jewish usurpation of the term "Semitic" in place of "Jewish" when used to describe someone who is anti-Jewish but not anti-Semitic in the broader sense. Even if the argument is made that dictionaries report usage, and are therefore justified in saying anti-Semitic means anti-Jewish because it is commonly used that way, all of the non-Jewish Semitic peoples still have a right to complain about the inherent ambiguity in the use of such term, and it may be a more useful and worthy purpose for the people who write and publish dictionaries to help clear up such ambiguities in the language instead of contributing to the confusion.
Dinnerstein, meanwhile, (writing in 1994) goes on to state that "[a]ntisemitism has existed throughout American history."4 This is no doubt an accurate statement. On the other hand, it is just as accurate to say that some Jewish prejudice against some non-Jews has also existed throughout Jewish and American history. Dinnerstein does not say that, however. He like Medved makes a very important omission from his discussion. As you may recall, Medved reported in his book Hollywood vs America said, " . . . Jewish 'control' of American entertainment now stands at an all-time low . . . "5 while omitting to state the other side of that same truthful statement, (i.e., but a small group of politically liberal and not very religious Jewish males of European heritage still retain more control in Hollywood than any other readily identifiable religious, racial, ethnic or cultural group). Omitting an important fact is just as wrong as mis-stating the truth.
It may be fair, considering these two examples, to raise the question as to whether Dinnerstein and Medved are actually trying to reveal the whole truth, or just the part they want us to see. After all, based on the studies and collection of anecdotal reports contained in this book, it may be just as accurate and fair to report that the politically liberal and not very religious Jewish males of European heritage who control Hollywood are, as a group, just as prejudiced against non-Jews, if not more so, than most Americans who are considered anti-Jewish. Thus, anyone concerned about prejudice directed toward one particular group, must also be concerned about the prejudices of that group directed at others. If not, such persons may be considered unfair and hypocritical in their analysis and suffer a loss of credibility. It must also be remembered that people who are regularly and wrongfully accused of being prejudice may become very resentful of such allegations and in the long-term become prejudice against those who make such allegations, thus generating a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Another, presumably, even more authoritative definition, of anti-Semitism comes from The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (7th Edition)6 That publication " . . . acknowledged as the authoritative source book of information about all aspects of Jewish life . . . " provides an even more conservative definition of anti-Semitism, saying it is a " . . . term . . . used . . . to designate the organized movement or other manifestations against the Jews; more loosely, hatred of the Jews generally." Wigoder's definition seems to require that in order for something to rise to the level of anti-Semitism, it must either be part of an "organized movement" or at least directed at Jews generally. Thus, under such a definition, it would be inappropriate to label an individual as anti-Semitic unless that individual was part of a larger movement against Jews, or was at least guilty of an expression of hatred (which is even stronger than "hostility") toward all Jews or, at least, a broad cross-section of Jews.
Author Patricia Erens chose a similar approach in defending Jewish filmmakers who provide negative or stereotypical portrayals of Jews in American films. Erens stated that the " . . . fact that most of the works (reviewed in her book The Jew in American Cinema) were written or scripted by Jewish writers and produced by Jewish businessmen and actors classifies them as a form of self-examination."7 And she points out that this Jewish self-examination is different " . . . from an attack from without." However, in determining whether such Jewish self-examination in film actually rises to the level of Jewish anti-Semitism, Erens quotes Robert Alter's definition of anti-Semitism, which holds that "Anti-Semitism implies an active hostility towards Jews as a group and an active intention to vilify them".8 Thus, Erens takes the position that " . . . one must make a distinction between a negative character or even an unlikable family and a slur aimed at the entire Jewish community. Using this criterion . . . " Erens reports that " . . . very few films are genuinely anti-Semitic works, despite the outcry and rage of overly sensitive, defensive, and protective Jewish critics."9
In any case, the good news from Dinnerstein's published analysis of anti-Semitism in America is that " . . . prejudice (in the United States) toward all groups (has) declined since 1945 . . . " and that " . . . Jews, more than any other identifiable group, have been the major beneficiaries as educational, employment, housing, resort, and recreational opportunities opened up for them."10
Thus, it is fair to observe that if those who write about Hollywood and who make accusations about the anti-Semitic beliefs or behavior of non-Jews, such accusers have an affirmative obligation to support such accusations with credible evidence, and not only use a reasonable definition of the term anti-Semitism but disclose what definition they are using. That evidence must at least show that the person accused either was "hostile" toward Jews generally or was "hostile" toward one or more Jews because they were Jewish. Otherwise, these accusers should be considered not credible, and even worse, someone who maliciously wields the sword of anti-Semitism, a blatantly dishonest debate and discussion tactic.
1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992, 81.
2. Dinnerstein, ix.
3. American Heritage Dictionary, 1641.
4. Dinnerstein, viii.
5. Medved, 317.
6. Wigoder, Geoffrey, The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, Facts on File, 1992, 58.
7. Erens, 257.
8. Ibid, 257.
10. Dinnerstein, xii.
David Sumner sent me a further note the next day (March 20): “I have tried to be a go-between on this disagreement, but do agree with you. This is the busiest time of the academic year for me and I am swamped with grading projects and other meetings, events, etc. After I have had time to gather my thoughts, I will write another e-mail to Mary. I told her Peter Lang is the publisher and has the right to decide what gets printed under its imprint, but if you don’t agree, you also have the right to refuse to publish it under your name.”
On that same day (March 20) I responded to the series editor David Sumner stating: “I understand, but I’m hoping it won’t go to the take-it-or-leave-it stage. I’m just asking for some reasonable discourse, about the issue, instead of thoughtless labels, omitted definitions and no analysis as to whether any of my language contains the elements of any reasonable definition. Have you worked with anyone else there at Peter Lang? It appears to me that Mary is just not capable of standing up to these copy editors and is not willing to protect her authors.”
I also sent off another e-mail on March 20 to an Editorial Assistant at Peter Lang (Caitlin Levelle) who had been briefly involved in correspondence regarding the publishing contract to ask: “In the event that it appears a Peter Lang editor is inappropriately demanding specific edits to a book in process and threatening to refuse to publish the book if such edits are not made, is there any mechanism in place there at Peter Lang for having someone else to step in to resolve such a problem and offer the author a fair hearing?” I also sent a similar e-mail to Production Manager Bernadette Shade.
Later that day I received an e-mail from Peter Lang’s Managing Director Chris Myers saying: “Bernadette Shade forwarded a copy of your e-mail to me. Although Mary Savigar is out of the office this week, she did brief me on the situation with the content of your book, so I am familiar with the current state of things. You can feel free to reply to this e-mail at your convenience.”
I wrote back:
“In my view Ms. Savigar is jumping to a false conclusion without fully considering the issue. She has, in my opinion, falsely proclaimed that some of my writing is anti-Semitic, without offering any authoritative definition of what anti-Semitism is, without breaking down the alleged offensive language or demonstrating how that language meets all of the elements of the authoritative definition. She has just skipped past that sort of reasonable analysis and immediately threatened to throw out the book, if I don't go along with her shallow analysis. I think that if she and others who are encouraging her will stop long enough to actually examine my statements, they will realize that what we are dealing with here is the truth, and it is important that my and Peter Lang books focus on the truth, otherwise we are misleading our readers. Thanks for your participation.”
In the meantime, David Sumner also wrote to Chris Myers saying:
“I support Mr. Cones and believe it's important for publishers to support the editorial freedom and integrity of their authors. Mr. Cones was personally recruited by Damon Zucca and asked to write this book when we were desperately seeking an author to write the book on motion pictures. I am not qualified to discuss what is or isn't ‘anti-Semitic.’ I do know, however, that what he has said has been written and documented by other authors in other books and articles. I checked his sources. There is nothing he has said that is libelous or that puts the publisher at risk. If Peter Lang decides not to publish the book, I will feel a personal obligation to help him find another publisher. I will, however, continue to fulfill my duties as general editor of the Peter Lang Media Industry Series.”
Chris Myers then responded to David Sumner saying in relevant part:
“ . . . I appreciate the position you're in--I've seen situations like this before. You have the awkward job of maintaining loyalty to your authors at the same time as doing the right thing for the publishing house. I'm trying to be the lightning rod to relieve you of as much of the problem as possible. Mary is away for a few more days, then she's at a conference in NY for the majority of next week (I'll be there as well), but I'll ask her to give this priority treatment. Simply put, I don't want to proceed with publication as the text now stands, and I've seen the email this morning from John to Mary asking for further instructions, so hopefully this can all be resolved amicably without the need to cancel the contract. Let's see what the two of them can work out. In the interim, thanks for your effort.”
I also wrote again to David Sumner saying: “Thanks for your support. I sent Mary some research and discussion of the issue of anti-Semitism. Don’t know if anyone at Peter Lang has seen it since she is apparently out for the week. I had already started looking for someone at Peter Lang to get involved before I read your prior message re waiting. Chris Myers has sent me one e-mail and I’ve responded. We’ll see.”
Then continuing our correspondence on March 20, Chris Myers wrote:
“Let me apprise you of the situation to date as I have been made aware of it. When your final draft was submitted to us, it was reviewed by Mary Savigar for approval of the final content, as well as the editor responsible for assigning copy editing. Independent of each other, both identified your discussion about Jewish control of Hollywood as problematic. While other, lesser issues also need to be resolved before we can continue editing the project, this content remains the primary focus of the discussion.
“I am aware of the email that she sent to you the other day, since I approved the final content. I understand that you consider her description of the problem as a shallow analysis, but I disagree with that assessment. To be blunt, I primarily need to concern myself with the ability of Peter Lang to have its books stand up to peer review and, ultimately, to be able to sell a sufficient quantity of each book that we publish to maintain our Media and Communication list. I, too, have trouble understanding the necessity of stressing the issue of Jewish control of Hollywood as if that is a single, overarching factor in its business environment. Many writers argue that Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole are dominated by major corporations that have no knowledge or interest in entertainment but rather are interested only in profits. This argument is countered by industry people who maintain that studios are still interested in producing quality products. My point is that different writers maintain differing viewpoints about the industry. To place so much emphasis on the rather narrow point about Jewish control seems out of balance with the purpose of the book. Including my own read of the material, 3 publishing people felt the same way. I have no doubt that book reviewers will feel the same way. This is why I agree with Mary's assessment of the draft.
“I suspect that you are not going to agree with my viewpoint any more than you did with Mary's. I understand that you have documented your argument by citing secondary sources and, to some extent, I sense that you are looking for a comparable approach to this exchange. The emphasis of my side of the conversation, however, is based as much on 20+ years of experience as Director of Peter Lang as anything else. I know our market well enough to know what will and will not work in our books. Understand that you've written a good manuscript that contains what I had hoped would have been a few problems that could be easily remedied. Let me also state that while I appreciate your wish to have freedom of expression as a writer, we as publisher also wish to have some control over the content of our books. We are asking you to alter a very small percentage of the project as a whole. In any case, I stand behind Mary's message about the need to alter the manuscript.”
My response later that same day stated:
“It is amazing to me that someone like you and your two independent editors could so easily make the very same mental slip that creates the problem here. I do not talk anywhere in my book about ‘Jewish control of Hollywood’. That wording is ambiguous and allows for the inference that all Jews are somehow involved. That is clearly not the case, and clearly is not what I've written. It is one thing for a book publisher to reject my writing for something I've actually written, but it is quite something else for a publisher to misstate my position and then reject the book because of that incorrect view of my writing.
“I also do not take the position that control of Hollywood is the ‘single, overarching factor in its business environment.’ Those are your words, not mine. That's setting up a second straw man. I simply have determined both through direct research supported by secondary sources that this factual observation (and no one at Peter Lang has demonstrated it is not a factual observation), is part of a number of problems in the Hollywood business environment that should not be left out of any discussion that purports to be ‘A Complete Guide to the Industry’. It would be helpful if we could all just focus on what I've written, not what someone assumes I've written.
“Also, keep in mind that some of the people who are offering ‘peer review’ have agendas of their own (i.e., to protect the status quo in Hollywood), so they're happy to confuse this issue.
“I happen to agree with the U.S. Supreme Court, that the motion picture is a significant medium for the communication of ideas, but would go further and suggest that a significant communications medium like the film industry that is dominated by the voices of a few (i.e., lacks diversity at the top) is not healthy for our nation's democracy (which is supposedly based on a free marketplace of ideas). A nation that cannot figure out what the essence of the problem is (i.e., lack of diversity at the top, no matter who is actually in control) is a nation that will never be able to stimulate healthy change in that important communications industry. A publisher that stands in the way of the truth on this important matter is harming the nation's democracy.”
“Why don't you have Ms. Savigar set out the exact language she thinks is objectionable and explain why it is objectionable, without resorting to such vague notions like ‘well it may be offensive to somebody’. Don't your authors at least deserve that?”
In the evening of March 20, I also wrote back to Mary Savigar saying: “Ok, it is clear that we are not communicating regarding the material you consider offensive. So, let’s agree to disagree. But, I’m not sure what you are asking me to do. If you want to delete something, go ahead and delete it. If you want me to change something, tell me exactly what you want me to change. You don’t need my opinion regarding most of the editorial notes sent with the accompanying edited version and I’ve already answered the source question re the chart. So, proceed to publish the book.”
The next morning (March 21) David Sumner wrote to Chris Myers saying: “I have stated my position supporting John Cones since I didn’t feel I could stand by neutral on the sidelines. In the meantime, I would appreciate if all of you could work it out.”
Subsequently on March 30, I sent an edited hard copy version of the manuscript back to Mary Savigar with the following letter:
“The most recent version of the above-referenced manuscript has been printed out in hard copy form and reviewed. The needed changes have been carefully noted in red ink on the document itself. If you have any questions regarding these changes please let me know as soon as possible. The changes are mostly very minor and only involve 75 of the 271 total pages. Overall the book is clean and a quick read. It is a valuable contribution to the literature of the film industry and an important part of Peter Lang’s communication series. Thank you and your associates for your valuable contributions.
“Now with respect to the remaining questions of concern:
“1. Target Audience – There unfortunately appears to be a misunderstanding with respect to the target audience for this book and that seems to be affecting your opinion regarding the appropriateness of certain information contained in the book. You indicated in your e-mail to me of March 19, 2008;
‘we are publishing this volume as a basic primer to teach undergraduate students about the film industry’.
“In your August 1, 2007 e-mail you stated:
‘I think this is really important. The book is an introductory textbook for students new to the field.’
“Unfortunately, both statements are absolutely incorrect and completely inconsistent with the more authoritative and contractual description of the audience for the book provided to me earlier by the series editor David E. Sumner (before you were even hired at Peter Lang), – the target audience description upon which my original proposal for the book was made and contractually accepted. That description reads:
‘(a) Undergraduate and graduate students in introductory courses in each discipline and courses in mass media in society, mass media history, and mass media economics; (b) scholars in departments of communication, sociology and popular culture, (c) college and university libraries and (d) executives and professionals in the industry.’
“I am sorry that you have misunderstood this basic assumption about the book and hope that you will recognize that it is inappropriate for an editor or publisher to significantly change the target audience for a book after the book has been substantially written, and/or for the partial or primary purpose of simply making an argument that the book as written is not appropriate for a more narrow and presumably less sophisticated audience.
“I further dispute your implied contention that any students (at any level), scholars, librarians and/or executives and professionals in the field need to be protected from the truth (or want to be lied to by the authors of the books they read or the editors and publishers who publish those books). If you can demonstrate that I have made any false statements in the book, please do so immediately. To this point, you have made no attempt whatsoever to make such a demonstration.
“2. Alleged anti-Semitism– Now with respect to the more difficult issue of your false allegations of some anti-Semitic writing in the book. As you suggest in your March 19, 2008 e-mail, it is not even fair to say that we have discussed this issue “briefly” because you have refused to discuss it. And, instead of entering in any dialogue in good faith about this important issue, you have simply trotted out the threat of cancelling the book.
“Further, your opinion on the matter of anti-Semitism is not supported by any research that you have revealed, no analysis of what anti-Semitism is or isn’t, not based on any authoritative sources and includes no comparison of what any specific words actually written with the elements of any known and reasonable definition of anti-Semitism. As you have expressed in your e-mails you are relying on the opinion of one or two copy editors, your own opinion, possibly that of your managing director Chris Myers and one or two so-called peer reviewers (people in the film industry who you’ve asked to review the book).
“First, we have to understand that none of these people have the credentials to step forward and allege that some of the writing in this book is anti-Semitic. They have no particular expertise on this very narrow question. Some may be motivated by concerns of political correctness. The peer reviewers clearly may have their own self-interest in mind by trying to delete what is essentially mere criticism of the business practices of the Hollywood establishment, after all the Hollywood insiders have been able to successfully engage in reverse discrimination for more than 100 years without serious challenge.
“Your supervisor Chris Myers stated in his e-mail to me that his primary concern is “the ability of Peter Lang to have its books stand up to peer review and, ultimately, to be able to sell a sufficient quantity of each book that we publish to maintain our Media and Communication list.”
“Do any of you realize what that implies? It implies not only that my writing on this issue is absolutely correct about a small, narrowly defined control group in Hollywood exercising enormous and inordinate control over the film industry, but it also apparently has the power to reach out and influence the publishing of New York publishers and film schools around the country by squelching anything that comes close to being critical of that unhealthy control. Chris Myers probably knows, as I point out in the book that the film industry is over-populated with filmmakers of all stripes and as a result many of them have moved into academia. They tend to carry with them the same prejudices held in Hollywood. And those prejudices are being used to try to stop the publication of a perfectly good book.
“What a wonderful opportunity for a publisher to stand up for what is right – to be part of a stimulus for discussion and conversation about the issue of anti-Semitism, so that more people will be more aware of what it is and what it is not. I am ashamed of you and other people like you who react with a knee-jerk and fail to look deeper into the subject.
“In the book itself, I point out on pages 174 and 175:
‘Continuing along the same lines, in her article ‘Film Fatales – Shocking Statistics About Women in the Film Industry’, Jane Louise Boursaw goes on to cite the opinion of Cari Beauchamp, Hollywood historian and author of several books, including Without Lying Down: Francis Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood (Scribner, March 1997) and Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary (University of California Press, 2006). Boursaw points out that Beachamp claims that the phrase “white men” is the best way to describe those who dominate or control the Hollywood scene. On the other hand, this description has the same fatal flaw that the phrase “the Jews” has, as used in “Hollywood is controlled by ‘the Jews” (another false and misleading assertion).
“These statements are not only too general, they are also misleading. Neither of these statements are precise enough to avoid criticism of an entire class of people, many of whom do not have anything to do with Hollywood. It is just as accurate to say that “white men” do not control Hollywood and just as accurate to say that “the Jews” do not control Hollywood. In other words, some people in this country apparently do not know the difference between the meanings of the words “some” and “all”.
“This clarification should make it obvious that this small Hollywood control group is not representative of Jews generally, nor does it appear that they behave the way they do because they are Jewish. It is more fair and probably more accurate to speculate (since that’s all anyone can do with respect to the motives of others) that their motives are similar to the motives of many people around the world from all backgrounds, that is to say, they are principally motivated by greed and the desire for power – two very common human attributes across the board.
“If women and all other disenfranchised ‘minorities’ want to claim their fair share of power in the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry, they must at least have the courage to accurately and precisely identify from whom that power must be taken.
“I don’t really see how any author can be any more clear that they are not talking about Jews generally while also readily admitting that the small group at the top in Hollywood does not behave the way because they are Jewish. That clearly takes this writing out of the realm of anti-Semitism and you are all smart enough to know that. Your continued and repeated bashing of me in your e-mails with the false allegation of talking about ‘Jews in general’ is blatantly dishonest.
“It appears that you are arguing that we should allow the American reading public to continue to be confused about who controls Hollywood, that it is ok to let them think that Beauchamp’s description of “white men” is adequate and tells the whole truth. That’s a smoke screen. From her perspective, it is adequate because she is looking at the film industry from the standpoint of the women who have been discriminated against for 100 years. No one denies that white males have been discriminating against women in Hollywood since the institution was created. Why is it so difficult for some people to understand that it is important to the future development of a much broader diversity at all levels in the film industry and the country to be more precise in our description of who is doing the discriminating in Hollywood and against whom that discrimination is directed? That is exactly what my writing does. That is what is new about my approach.
“In fact, from my point of view, I’m doing the so-called broader Jewish community a favor by agreeing with them that ‘Jews do not control Hollywood’. I also explicitly state that in the above quote. In other words, I disagree with the author of ‘The Big Hollywood Lie: Denying that Jews Control the Film Business’ the article edited by Victor Marchetti, appearing in April 1, 1994 New American View newsletter; and online at ihr.org. I disagree for the reasons stated above. I’m in the middle on this issue. My interest is being scholarly and accurate in the description of who controls Hollywood, not in over-stating the case as Victor Marchetti does or making a material omission as historian Cari Beauchamp and so many others do for various reasons.
“Chris Myers also makes the comment in his March 20th e-mail that my position was documented by citing ‘secondary sources’, as if to dismiss the quality of my research. Let’s also clear up that false assumption. The first level of sources relied on include the following, most of which are noted in the book’s bibliography. I do not expect you to read these books, but at least an editor ought to give the benefit of the doubt to the author who has read and studied all of these books.
Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report – Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in the Top 250 Films of 2005, Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D., School of Communication, San Diego State University.
Female Studio Executives, Jennifer Berry, research paper for “Film Finance and Distribution”, UCLA Producer's Program, Fall, 1994.
“Film Fatales – Shocking Statistics About Women in the Film Industry”, by Jane Louise Boursaw, MovieMaker Magazine, Winter 2006.
“He'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again!”, Michael Logan, Los Angeles Magazine, September 1992.
“Hollywood Movies, Society, and Political Criticism”, Stephen P. Powers, David J. Rothman and Stanley Rothman, The World & I, April 1991.
“Hollywood’s Ethical Malaise,” Eric Weissman, Variety.com, October 12, 2004.
“Hollywood's Family Ways”, Terry Pristin, Los Angeles Times Calendar Section, January 31, 1993.
“Killing the Golden Goose: Hollywood's Death Wish”, Pierce O'Donnell, Beverly Hills Bar Journal, Summer, 1992.
“Lawyer Rips H'w'd, Calls for Reform.” Kathleen O'Steen. Daily Variety, September 29, 1992.
“Piercing Indictment – Accused of Trying to Destroy Tinseltown, Art Buchwald's Attorney Pleads 'Not Guilty' and Turns the Charges Back on his Accusers and You.” Steven Gaydos. Los Angeles Reader, December 11, 1992.
“Researching the Truth About Hollywood's Impact – Consensus and Denial”, Michael Medved, Ethics Magazine, Josephson Institute, 1993.
An Empire of Their Own – How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Neal Gabler, Anchor Books, 1988.
Anti-Semitism In America, Leonard Dinnerstein, Oxford University Press, 1994.
The Club Rules – Power, Money, Sex, and Fear – How It Works in Hollywood, Paul Rosenfield, Warner Books, 1992.
A History of the Jews, Paul Johnson, Harper & Row, 1987.
A History of the Jews in America, Howard M. Sachar, Vintage Books, 1993.
Hollywood Be Thy Name – The Warner Brothers Story, Cass Warner Sperling and Cork Millner, Prima Publishing, 1994.
Hollywood Goes to War – How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies, Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black, University of California Press, 1987.
The Hollywood History of the World, George MacDonald Fraser, Viking Penguin, Inc., 1989.
Hollywood: the Dream Factory; an Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers, Reprint of 1950 ed., Hortense Powdermaker, New York: Ayer, 1979.
Hollywood vs. America – Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values, Michael Medved, Harper Collins, 1992.
Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies, Robert Sklar, Random House, 1975.
Naked Hollywood – Money and Power in The Movies Today, Nicolas Kent, St. Martin's Press, 1991.
The Power and the Glitter – The Hollywood-Washington Connection, Ronald Brownstein, Vintage Books, 1992.
Risky Business – The Political Economy of Hollywood, David F. Prindle, Westview Press, 1993.
They Can Kill You . . . But They Can't Eat You – Lessons From the Front, Dawn Steel, Pocket Books, 1993.
Tribes – How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy, Joel Kotkin, Random House, 1993.
You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again, Julia Phillips, Penguin Books, 1991.
Who Makes the Movies?, (a collection of essays), "Pink Triangle and Yellow Star", Gore Vidal,
published by William Heinemann, Ltd., London, 1982.
“It is my contention that no person who is intellectually honest can read Terry Pristin’s “Hollywood Family Ways”, Neal Gabler’s An Empire of their Own – How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Leonard Dinnerstein’s Anti-Semitism in America, Paul Rosenfield’s The Club Rules – Power, Sex and Fear – How It Works in Hollywood, Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews, Howard Sachar’s A History of the Jews in America, Michael Medved’s Hollywood vs. America – Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values, David F. Prindle’s Risky Business – The Political Economy of Hollywood and Joel Kotkin’s Tribes – How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy (and I have read and digested the contents of each of these important books) without concluding exactly what I have concluded for purposes of accurately describing the Hollywood control group.
“I am also not aware that the writing of any of these authors has been labeled anti-Semitic. My writing simply melds together the already published views of these able scholars to provide an accurate description of the inevitable facts on the ground in Hollywood. I am merely a reporter of the facts as they exist and these facts were created by someone other than me. If you want to change the facts, feel free. If you want to molest the truth, please don’t.
“I would think it would be embarrassing to know that all of these authors have written so much about this subject (and their publishers have published their books and articles), but that Peter Lang does not have the courage to participate in this discussion – that the Peter Lang editors are afraid of offending somebody by being honest. Leaving out the particular information of concern to you creates an obvious intellectual vacuum in the literature where a reasonable conclusion ought to appear. Do you really believe that I’m the only person who will not notice the oddity of that missing information?
“Now back to sources: I was not even satisfied after having reviewed the above excellent sources already published in books and articles. I took my research several steps further – steps beyond the research of anyone else who has ever dealt with this subject matter. I first analyzed who really has the power in Hollywood, more specifically who has the power to green light movies and therefore has the power to determine which scripts are selected for production, which movies are produced and distributed by the major studio/distributors and who gets to work in the top level positions on those movies. My analysis (available in the manuscript entitled “Who Really Controls Hollywood”) ultimately concludes that such power rests primarily in the hands of the three top studio executives at each of the major studios.
“I then went to the UCLA and Academy Libraries in Los Angeles and spent weeks pouring through materials to create a comprehensive list of the names of those top executives. I then sifted through the published individual biographies of each of those studio executives from the time each of the major studio/distributors were created up until the time of the study in the mid-‘90s, along with the individual envelopes of newspaper clippings maintained by the Academy Library on important film industry individuals to determine whether they were male or female, their political affiliation (where possible) and their cultural and religious background. That meant reading about where they were born, to what parents, about their grandparents, where they went to school, where they went to Church, Synagogue or Temple, when and where many of them were Bar Mitzvahed, where they were married, organizations to which they belonged and where they were buried. It’s all there in the Academy Library clippings. The actual purpose was to put to rest the myth that has been floating around Hollywood for years that “The Jews control Hollywood”.
“That research including the books cited above resulted in a finding that approximately 70% of those top three studio positions have actually been held by persons fitting the precise description “political liberal, not very religious, Jewish males of European heritage”. The ordinary dictionary meaning of the word “control” is “to exercise restraining or directing influence over”. Therefore, it is entirely accurate to describe this small group of people (usually about 13 to 15 individuals at any one time) as a “control group”, after all, they clearly exercise restraining or directing influence over the film industry. It is also clearly inaccurate to suggest from what I have written that my writing applies to a broader group of people or that these individuals engage in the well-documented and much-litigated business practices in which they engage other than for the usual motivating reasons: power and greed.
“I do not believe that the vast majority of Jews in America or the world want us to lie about what is actually going on in Hollywood. I would argue that such a position is ultimately not in their best long-term interest. And even though some of you may believe that by over-zealously guarding all Jews from any form of criticism is appropriate, I believe that to be a misguided intention, and will eventually do more harm than good for the very people you are trying to protect.
“Further, there is a big difference between falsely proclaiming that a specific piece of writing is anti-Semitic and stepping up to actually demonstrate that certain specifically identified words meet a reasonable standard. You have failed to even attempt to set out any standard for making a judgment about what is anti-Semitic writing. Your rush to judgment reflects a lack of integrity or a lack of understanding of the subject. So, let me help you briefly. Anti-Semitism, as noted in my chapter “The Anti-Semitic Sword” (and based on the multiple and authoritative sources cited there) can best be defined as “hatred or hostility directed toward Jews generally or one or more Jews because they are Jewish”. First, I challenge your implied finding that there is any “hatred” or “hostility” directed toward either possible subject in my book. There is criticism of the business practices, yes. But that is different from “hatred” or “hostility”. Criticism is fair. Hatred and hostility is not. Further, even though you and Chris continue in your e-mails to make the false claim that I have said anything about Jews in general, that is simply false on its face. And, you have made no attempt to show specifically where you think that occurs. You have instead, mis-quoted and mis-interpreted my writing, ostensibly because of your own prejudice which may be over-riding your ability to think clearly on this issue. Finally, no where in my book is there any evidence of language that can reasonably be interpreted as stating, suggesting or implying that I believe this small group of individuals in Hollywood behave the way they do because they are Jewish. In fact, I explicitly state just the opposite. How can you argue in good faith that I believe just the opposite of what I state in writing that I believe?
“3. The Assumption that An Honest Book Will Not Sell – I question Chris Myers’ assumption that a book that openly and honestly identifies some of the problems facing the filmmaking community in America will not sell. It may, in fact be welcomed as a breath of fresh air on college and university campuses all across the country, as well as in much of the film industry, which is becoming less and less concentrated in Hollywood. It may serve as a catalyst for stimulating useful discussion of important issues that relate to the film industry, clearly one of our most important communications media. It also may be controversial in the view of some, but since when did controversial books not sell? Only when they are arbitrarily and thoughtlessly censored and are not published by well-meaning publishers trying not to offend a protected group in our society?
“4. The Practical Matter of Editing – Now as a practical matter, I’ve already stated twice in my recent e-mails to you that if you want to provide me with the specific edits that will accomplish your goal of hiding the truth, I’ll certainly try to work with you to figure out a way to take concluding material out, without removing the entire discussion that leads up to the conclusion. That, will of course, be difficult (which may be the reason you have not offered your own specific editing suggestions to date) while also looking pretty ridiculous to any discerning reader. I’m not interested in being embarrassed and would hope my publisher would not force me to write something that is blatantly false. In other words, just saying to me that somewhere on page 177 or page 180 we think there is some anti-Semitic writing is not adequate for any purpose, precisely because no language anywhere in the book is anti-Semitic. If you wish to be more precise with regard to which specific words you are referring, please use those handy quotation marks and say: on page whatever, in the third paragraph, the words “blah blah blah” are anti-Semitic in my opinion and must be removed. Then we can talk about whether or not those specific words are actually anti-Semitic and I can refer you to all of the sources I’ve already reviewed to help prepare you for that discussion. You cannot just assume the truth of your contention and then proceed to the death penalty. It appears that you do not actually know what the exact language of concern is or that you are afraid of being specific for fear that others will eventually realize that those words are not anti-Semitic. In point of fact, if the words you are concerned about are not actually anti-Semitic, this entire exercise is a waste of everybody’s time, and quite likely prompted by PC hysteria combined with the expressed self-serving interests of one or more Hollywood-based peer reviewers who happen to be wrong and wrongfully manipulating your views.
“5. David Sumner’s Support – I am thankful for the support of your own General Editor for the Media Industry Series, David Sumner, and hope you will take note of his e-mail to Chris Myers stating:
‘I support Mr. Cones and believe it's important for publishers to support the editorial freedom and integrity of their authors. Mr. Cones was personally recruited by Damon Zucca and asked to write this book when we were desperately seeking an author to write the book on motion pictures. I am not qualified to discuss what is or isn't ‘anti-Semitic.’ I do know, however, that what he has said has been written and documented by other authors in other books and articles. I checked his sources. There is nothing he has said that is libelous or that puts the publisher at risk. If Peter Lang decides not to publish the book, I will feel a personal obligation to help him find another publisher.’
“The view of a book series’ General Editor ought to carry great weight in such considerations and serve as a clue for which direction you ought to go with this decision. Unless you can actually develop and present a strong “case” in writing to both of us for supporting your position you should abandon your objection to the publication of this book. Your “case” to this point has been non-existent and consists merely of a false allegation and a threat. In other words, you are not only acting in a flippant manner with me, you are doing the same with your company’s General Editor for the book series. I’m sure the academic community will take note of such shabby treatment.
“6. The Matter of Your Threatening Me with Non-Publication – I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that you (an editor of a big-time New York publisher) resorted to this unethical bullying tactic without ever even attempting to engage in any good faith discussion of substance about the subject at hand. You clearly have the power to stop publication of this excellent book (which you and your copy editors have helped to bring into being) and you seem ready and willing to abuse that power. Keep in mind, however, that we are publishing in a different time. Such transactions today are more transparent. We are now publishing in the time of the Internet, where ideas and information can spread around the world in an instant. It thus appears to me that we have three options:
“(a) PUBLISH THE BOOK AS IT IS: With this option, we can celebrate its honesty, its precise language and aggressively promote its controversial potential. I’m all for that.
“(b) PUBLISH THE BOOK WITHOUT THE MATERIAL YOU ERRONEOUSLY BELIEVE IS ANTI-SEMITIC: In that case, I will proceed to continue drafting an article for publication in a New York-based or national magazine about my experience with Mary Savigar, Chris Myers and Peter Lang Publishing. Much of what I have written in this letter and that is contained in your and Chris’ e-mails will be cited in that article. The exact language wrongfully deleted will be disclosed. The article will be circulated to all academic institutions and associations in the country, other publishers, newspapers, magazines, television stations, radio talk shows and so forth, along with postings on the World Wide Web and Internet. The tentative title for the article is “A Conspiracy to Defraud the American Filmmaking Community”. That conspiracy which you have admitted in your e-mails to me involves you, Chris Myers, your two copy editors and the peer reviewers. Of course, I’ll want to get their names along the way. Although a novel claim, I believe the time is right and these circumstances present a wonderful opportunity to contact the district attorney of your company’s home district, the attorney general of New York and the Justice Department to see if I can stir some interest in bringing criminal charges based on this alleged conspiracy to defraud the American filmmaking community. After all, you are claiming to be selling and seeking to make money off of a “complete guide to the industry” and fraudulently misleading the book’s retailers and purchasers to believe that they are getting an honest presentation of the facts when they are not. You are actually maliciously and knowingly attempting to give them an incomplete guide to the industry, a guide containing false information and/or omitting material and relevant information. Further, I will also file a complaint with the appropriate federal agency regarding a possible claim of reverse discrimination. Such activities will be accompanied by appropriate press releases to the national media. The complete and sordid history of your wrongheaded participation and involvement in the Peter Lang failure to publish this book will be presented in detail on the Internet and elsewhere. You need to be very sure about your choices, proud of what you are doing and why you are doing it, because people are going to know. Once the published book is being sold on the Internet through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble online it’s promotional pages will be accompanied by the story of its publication so prospective purchases will have the history of the book and your role in attempting to squelch a portion of its contents.
“(c) REFUSE TO PUBLISH THE BOOK: In that case, I will of course seek another publisher and believe that with David Sumner’s already offered help and the help of others, I will be able to find a publisher who is willing to publish this book. If this option is chosen, all of the other remedies discussed under option (b) will also be pursued to make sure that anyone choosing to deal with Mary Savigar, Chris Myers and Peter Lang Publishing know exactly what they are dealing with when entering into a contract to publish a book with your company. Your actions seem to make a Peter Lang publishing contract worthless. Your take-it-or-leave-it attitude is unconscionable.
“In summary, do not delude yourself into believing that your use of what you believe is a quiet, private threat of non-publication of a small part of a book is not really a serious matter. For one, you are attempting to squash a significant part of my life’s work. I’ve been working with these delicate issues for 20 years. I also believe that you are participating with your associates in a conspiracy to engage in reverse discrimination, the same sort of reverse discrimination that I have been studying here in the Hollywood-based U.S. film community for that same 20 years (see my chapter from the book Hollywood Wars on “The Anti-Semitic Sword”). In other words, you are wielding the anti-Semitic Sword, the false allegation of anti-Semitism being affirmatively used to deny an individual’s rights of free speech. Maybe together we can make the concept of the anti-Semitic sword world-famous. How do you think the Jewish community would feel about that? As noted above, I further believe that you and your associates are also engaging in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the American filmmaking community. Film schools all across the country are going to want to know about that. I also believe that governmental investigations of your activities and any possible criminal charges are outside the scope of your contract’s arbitration clause and thus it does not apply. Your choices to this point have been short-sighted, mis-directed, unethical, dishonest, uninformed and otherwise despicable. Your treatment of me as an author has been disrespectful, demeaning and unprofessional. You have not lived up to any acceptable standard for conducting yourself as a representative of a legitimate publishing house. You can do better! I would suggest that you try to avoid relying too heavily on the opinions of your copy editors on matters outside their areas of limited expertise. Their knee-jerk judgments are partly the cause of our problem.
“Just so you will know, my background includes six years as a newspaper, radio and television reporter, six years as an association executive/lobbyist and then the remaining 30 years as a practicing attorney. I believe a large potential audience exists for this story of reverse discrimination by a New York publishing house against a Los Angeles attorney and if you do not make the appropriate decisions with regard to the proper publication of this fine book, I will vigorously pursue all possible remedies for your bad decision accompanied by press releases to national media. I might even be able to make you famous, or infamous, depending on your perspective.
“The easiest thing for you to do at this point is to publish the accompanying edited version of the book. You can justifiably take the position that there is nothing in this book that is either anti-Semitic or offensive to any reasonably informed person. You can also attribute all of the opinions expressed in the book as those of the author. You can further take credit for helping to stimulate a healthy discussion throughout the country concerning an important issue. You seem to be taking the position that intelligent people should not even discuss this issue. How incredibly crude and barbaric!
“Note that this letter will be forwarded to a continuously expanding circle of individuals around the country as this matter moves forward. This dishonest treatment of an author needs to be exposed to the light of day. However, I will hold off on those copies until I have received your decision. In the meantime, I still have hope that you make the right choice.
“P.S. I also noted in my most recent review of the book that you went back on your promises to (1) take out the series commas before “and”, and (2) to spell “theatre” which is considered appropriate for the National Association of Theatre Owners (the most prominent national organization of theatre owners in the country) as “theatre” and not “theater”. In my notes to you, I do point out several instances where the actual spelling of the word in the proper names of such organizations has been wrongfully changed by your copy editors.”
Incidentally, research relating to the Hollywood-based U.S. film industry in addition to that cited in the above e-mail, may be found in the following:
Who Really Controls Hollywood, John W. Cones, manuscript, 1996.
Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content, John W. Cones, manuscript, 1995.
Motion Picture Biographies – Hollywood’s Spin on Historical Figures, manuscript, 1995.
A Study in Motion Picture Propaganda – Hollywood's Preferred Movie Messages, manuscript, 1996).
In any case, I subsequently (April 2) received the following brief e-mail from Chris Myers: “We are in receipt of the revised copy of your manuscript and your letter dated March 30, 2008. Given the content of that letter, please note the following. First, I wish for all future correspondence from you to be directed to me exclusively; I have asked Mary Savigar to transfer the project to me. Second, I am suspending all further work on your book until I can confer with our legal counsel. I will get back to you with more details at the conclusion of that process.”
I responded that same day saying:
“Thank you for your e-mail of April 2, 2008. I appreciate your ‘wish’ that I correspond just with you, but unless you pair that request with a promise to publish the book as it has now been edited, you really have nothing to say about with whom who I correspond. I agree that you have made the right decision taking Mary Savigar off the project. She did not demonstrate the intellectual honesty or integrity to deal with this particular situation. Unfortunately, some of her decisions may have been encouraged by you. Since you and Mary Savigar have already threatened to cancel the contract on the book (without good reason), and showed no willingness to even discuss the issue of substance, suspending all further work on the book neither adds nor takes away anything. Your conference with legal counsel is also understandable, but I can tell you in advance, your primary problem is not a legal problem, rather it’s a PR problem that is about to explode in your face. For I intend to devote all of my hobby hours for the next ten years explaining to anyone and everyone in whatever forum how irresponsible your and your associate’s behavior has been. I don’t know at this point whether you are part of a larger conspiracy to defraud the American public and the American film industry about what is really going on in Hollywood, but the choice is yours. You can keep this unsavory transaction between our small group and publish the book, or you can make it an even bigger controversy. The book and I welcome the controversy. I think there are lots of reporters in the world press who would relish the opportunity to expose what goes on behind closed doors at a New York publishing house. You also do not have the privilege of determining how long you can hold off my PR activities on your behalf, so the “conclusion of that process” with legal counsel is irrelevant to me. The only thing you have that I want is to publish the book as it is. And you chose to say nothing about that possibility in your e-mail. Best of luck to you and your associate Mary Savigar.”
On April 18, 2008, I received an e-mail from Chris Myers saying: “After further consideration of your manuscript of Motion Pictures: A Complete Guide to the Industry by the Board of Editors of Peter Lang it has been decided that it does not fit the criteria required for intended inclusion of the book in the company’s Media Industries Series presenting the various media disciplines to the academic and professional communities. Your response to our editor’s request for manuscript revisions clearly indicates that you are unwilling to modify the manuscript to meet those criteria. We respect your position that those revisions impact the integrity of the work and therefore consider it more suitable for publication by a house not focused on scientific and academic texts.”
Once again, Chris Myers, in this e-mail, is hiding behind dishonest double-talk. Neither he nor anyone at Peter Lang has demonstrated that the book does not “fit the criteria”, and in fact, as shown by her earlier e-mails, Mary Savigar wrongfully tried to change the criteria for the book (relating to its target audience) after I was contracted to write it. None of them have shown where there is any anti-Semitic language in the book. They have never offered any reasonable or authoritative definition of what anti-Semitism is. They have not shown what specific writing in the book meets the elements of any such definition. Further, they are claiming that they are an “academic” publisher, but academics is about the truth. Peter Lang, Chris Myers and Mary Savigar tried to force me to publish a dishonest and false account of what is really going on in Hollywood. There is nothing honest or academic about that. Arguing that I was “unwilling to modify the manuscript” is simply, in my view, a bold face lie, since I responded repeatedly to their requests that if they would or could demonstrate that their false claim of anti-Semitic writing was anything more than blatant error or their part, I’d be happy to consider it.
In my view, Peter Lang publishing has failed miserably in its ill-conceived attempt to squelch the truth about Hollywood and no one like Mary Savigar and Chris Myers who would stoop to the sleazy tactics used by the two of them in that effort ought to remain in responsible positions at a major publishing house.
On April 26, 2008 the following SUMMARY of the Peter Lang publishing disaster was provided to Chris Myers:
"Just so that your last communication (your e-mail of April 18) which contains what in my opinion is an absolutely dishonest statement is not the last communication of record between us, I've prepared the following quick overview of what really happened here.
Peter Lang employees bungled their way through a series of mistakes, then tried to cover their mistakes with serious misrepresentations.
Mistake #1 - Peter Lang Acquisitions Editor Mary Savigar made a mistake and relied too much on the advice of Peter Lang copy editors when they expressed their mistaken opinion that the book contained some anti-Semitic language. Not only were the copy editors voicing an opinion on a matter outside their expertise, which Ms. Savigar should have recognized, they were simply wrong. There was and is no anti-Semitic language in the book.
Mistake # 2 - Peter Lang Managing Director Chris Myers relied too much on the opinions of "peer reviewers", people supposedly in the film industry who were asked to preview the book. Chris Myers failed to recognize that these people were very likely from the same group that was being criticized in the book "the Hollywood insiders" and therefore their opinion on the matter was possibly compromised (i.e., they were in a conflict of interest position). Chris Myers mistakenly failed to discount their opinions for this reason.
Mistake #3 - Neither Ms. Savigar, nor Chris Myers were willing to rely on the judgment of their own contracted author who so far as is known to this point is the only person involved who has actually studied and researched the question relating to what is and what is not anti-Semitic writing.
Mistake #4 - Even though the author requested that Ms. Savigar support her false contention that there was anti-Semitic writing in the book, she refused to even address the issue. She refused to provide a reasonable and authoritative definition of the term. She refused to specifically set out the language she thought was anti-Semitic. She refused to show how any specific language in the book met all of the elements of any authoritative definition of anti-Semitic writing. In effect, she made a false allegation, used that as the excuse for threatening not to publish the book, but failed to support her false allegation with any evidence whatsoever. That is a disgustingly dishonest attempt to intimidate an author.
Mistake #5 and Serious Misrepresentation #1 - Even though the author shared his research with Ms. Savigar and Chris Myers relating to the several available and authoritative definitions of anti-Semitism, they ignored his research, never even once commenting on it one way or the other. Such irresponsible behavior converts what had previously been merely a stupid mistake into a dishonest act, since at that point, Ms. Savigar and Chris Myers knew that the language in question was not anti-Semitic, yet they maintained their dishonest position.
Mistake #6 - The series editor for the book (David Sumner) advised Ms. Savigar and Chris Myers that he supported the author's view and that the language should remain in the book. Both Ms. Savigar and Chris Myers ignored the advice of the series editor for the book.
Mistake #7 - Ms. Savigar tried to argue at one point that what she considered objectionable material was not suited for the target audience for the book. Unfortunately, she wrongfully defined the book's target audience in a very narrow manner, and her definition of the book's target audience was clearly more narrow and not consistent with the definition of the book's target audience provided in the original Peter Lang book proposal guidelines (upon which the author's contract was based). Shortly after her mistake was pointed out to her, she was removed from the project by Chris Myers.
Mistake #8 and Serious Misrepresentation #2 - Chris Myers finally claimed that the book would not be published because in his words, the author's " . . . response to our editor's request for manuscript revisions clearly indicates that you are unwilling to modify the manuscript to meet those criteria." In truth, the publisher had clearly demonstrated that it was unwilling to provide honest criteria by which the language in question could be judged. Ms. Savigar had already been proven wrong in her attempt to falsely define the target audience for the book. Neither Ms. Savigar or Chris Myers had ever set forth any "criteria" by which their false allegation of anti-Semitic writing could be judged and even though the author did their homework for them, they refused to even acknowledge the information or their mistakes. So, in effect, they made a false and ultimately dishonest allegation of anti-Semitic writing and then falsely claimed that the author's refusal to meet their unreasonable demands (i.e., to write a book with a dishonest description of what is really going on in Hollywood) was the reason for not publishing the book. That statement is absolutely false. Of course, Chris Myers' use of the term "criteria" in this context is also extremely vague. On the other hand, the only criteria with which there was any disagreement was the Peter Lang requirement that I write something that was dishonest. And, of course, I refused.
Ultimately, it appears to me that this episode involves at least 6 to 8 mistakes on the part of Peter Lang coupled with an attempted coverup and at least two blatant misrepresentations."
A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE appears at:
The BOOK in its final draft stages, with the final editorial corrections provided by Cones, is also available to reporters (and other publishers) upon request.
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