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What are Journalists For? — Global Issues
In the summer of 1992, a rather remarkable but little noticed series of coincidental events occurred: four separate film industry-related professionals (a film critic, a litigating attorney, a journalist and a securities/entertainment attorney), working independently of each other (each approaching his task from his own unique perspective as two individuals and one pair) published three separate books that were extremely critical of the U.S. film industry. All three books agreed on at least two important points, while still disagreeing on one or two other issues. These authors agreed that (1) motion pictures play an important role in society (they are more than mere entertainment) and (2) there are serious problems with the U.S. film industry. All four authors were also very critical of the way in which the film industry is operated today and critical of the results in terms of the motion pictures produced and distributed. These authors appeared to disagree about (or at least some were hesitant to honestly discuss) the question of who is primarily responsible for these problems and the question of how to remedy the situation. A fourth book that was also somewhat critical of the U.S. film industry, was published in 1993 but, again, was written without benefit of the three previous works since it was already at the publisher's when the other books came out. That was David Prindle's (see brief description below),In their book Los Angeles litigating attorney Pierce O'Donnell (along with co-author Dennis McDougal of the Los Angeles Times) provided a detailed review of the Buchwald v. Paramount lawsuit during which Pierce O'Donnell represented the plaintiff writer and producer against the major studio/distributor Paramount. In addition to points (1) and (2) above, the book and subsequent magazine articles about the same lawsuit, furnished a fairly good look at the way in which at least one major studio/distributor handles its financial relationship with the creative community. The book also states that the other studios conduct their business in the same or similar manner, and goes on to offer that an " . . . elite group of two dozen white males . . . " are primarily responsible for the industry's problems. Finally the O'Donnell/McDougal book makes some broad suggestions to the effect that a number of institutions and people should become involved in remedying the situation including Congress, the U.S. Justice Department, the President, the Federal Trade Commission, the talent guilds and the movie-going public. Unfortunately, little else is offered in the way of specific remedies.In Michael Medved's , film critic Medved basically made four points: (1) motion pictures are important, (2) Hollywood has been turning out a lot of trash of late, (3) the fault lies with a secularist Hollywood creative community and possibly the foreign and domestic international corporate conglomerates who own the major studio/distributors and (4) the way to get Hollywood back on track is to (a) get the Hollywood establishment to publicly acknowledge its obligation to accept reasonable standards for its own activities, (b) let Hollywood know how the public feels, (c) change the values of the people who shape our popular culture, (i.e., persuade Hollywood to alter its underlying attitudes) and (d) infiltrate Hollywood with more religious filmmakers who can produce new movies that reflect more traditional values. Thus, this critic of specific films has also evolved into a film industry critic. My own 1992 book offering, (Silman-James Press), first provides the definitions of some 3,600 terms relating to film finance and distribution, provides some examples of how those terms are used in the industry and then goes on to express some of the same criticism of the film industry in commentary appended to many of the definitions. At the time the dictionary was being prepared there were no other books on the market that were as blatantly critical of the overall film industry as the Medved and O'Donnell/McDougal books turned out to be and the dictionary/commentary format was considered to be a convenient way to both contribute to a higher level of understanding of film finance and distribution topics among those working in the industry, while at the same time, showing how financial control in the industry is inextricably intertwined with creative control. Thus, my book explained why many of the problems complained about in the Medved and O'Donnell/McDougal books actually come about as a result of the financial controls of the film industry exercised by the major studio/distributors. My dictionary also discusses certain more controversial issues of concern to both myself and others in the industry through commentary related to specifically defined terms. Prindle's 1993 book, also provides some useful analysis relating to Hollywood politics, economics and sociology. This current study of Hollywood () will comment on the Prindle, Medved, O'Donnell/McDougal books, at length, agreeing with those authors on some issues while disagreeing on others. In addition, some 145 other books (plus articles) relating to the film industry have been reviewed in preparation for the writing of this book and observations from those writings have been incorporated herein. Thus, this writing has evolved into a review of the literature of the industry, and utilizes the observations of other writers to either confirm the underlying research of this book and my ten years of experience as a practicing securities/entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, or to serve as a point of departure on matters of disagreement. Although there appears to be a tendency for the so-called Hollywood insiders and others who have special knowledge and information about what is really going on in Hollywood to keep quiet, occasionally, someone does step forward to offer limited, but valuable criticism of the business side of the film industry and how that relates to the films that are available to be seen by mass audiences. An honor roll of some of those who have not been intimidated by the Hollywood power structure and who have come forward in recent years to write about their own perspective on the corruption in Hollywood should include Dan Moldea, Kenneth Anger, Pierce O'Donnell, Dennis McDougal, Steven Bach, William Cash, Steven Sills, David McClintick, Michael Medved and Terry Pristin. These are the few who have not kept quiet. Aside from the many quotes included in this book and attributed to such authors and others, the balance of the statements made are my own and represent my opinion only.Literature of the Industry and Original Research--As already stated, this book and its companion volumes on Hollywood take a critical look at the film industry, thus attempting to review and critically analyze much of the literature regarding the business and legal aspects of this important field. This series of books are not intended to focus on original research, although a limited amount of such research is reported. Expressed in its simplest terms, what this book seeks to accomplish is to combine a review of the literature of the film industry with the experience of a working professional in that industry while comparing the views expressed in those books and articles with personal impressions and the impressions of others. This book then attempts to draw certain conclusions regarding important issues based on that variety of perspectives, recognizing that such conclusions are not unassailable, simply the honest expression of personal opinions, offered at a minimum to stimulate further research, writing and discussion. In addition, however, this book attempts to go beyond where most of the other writers on the film industry have gone with respect to the question of who is responsible for the current circumstances of the industry. The companion volume (), also seeks to go beyond these other offerings with respect to what remedies ought to be applied.