Tag Archives: Carolco

Angel Heart

Life After the Manson Family or How Hollywood Got Bigger and Smaller at the Same Time – Another Exploitative Memoir

TT1

After being purged from the ranks of Manson International (see earlier memoir) just in time for Christmas 1985 I spent most of 1986 watching the TV series Berlin Alexanderplatz in a bourboned haze while polishing feature scripts to a greasy sheenIn the fall the phone rang.  A former co-worker at Manson, Warren Braverman, was now CFO at a company called Carolco. Warren asked if I wished to join Carolco as director of distribution services to help set up the Business Information Systems program we had developed at Manson International.  The computer was virgin dirt in foreign film distrib.  At Manson we created primal software with BIS; incorporating purchasing, shipping, and inventory for electro ease. Having grown weary of Fassbinder’s gargantuan parade I decided to plunge into the marvel which was Carolco (the name Carolco is meaningless, a prehistoric Panama City company at best).

            At that time Carolco was situated in the City National Bank building sandwiched between Sunset and Doheny, near enough to Beverly Hills to have Paul Lynde in your CNB banking line every other Friday but still in West LA so Charles Nelson Reilly was in line alternate  Fridays.

TT2

Carolco was in a state of joyous chaos. Carolco’s third (or fourth) production First Blood II had erupted a volcanic fortune, tripling the domestic 50 million of First Blood and exploding BO records on international frontlines.  America embraced John Rambo as their lovable, guilt scrubbing sonny boy, the one they’d been seeking since the fall of Hanoi. The money was washing over Carolco in tidal wave proportions. The accounting department, formerly attended by Linda “Dallas” Evans’ sister Charlie, had desk drawers filled with greenbacks literally splashing out.

I shared one office and one desk with Ceci Vajna, the wife of Andrew G. Vajna.  Andy with Mario Kassar owned and ran Carolco. Andy and Mario had their office a few doors from mine and they too shared one office and one desk with each other. This was not a space issue.  It was how Andy and Mario preferred to work, facing one another across a table, producing mega munchers as a game of friendly checkers or frantic chess. Ceci believed the same split desk strategy would work for her and me as well.  For the most part it did. But such proximity meant familiarity with Ceci’s world whirl outside foreign distrib.

 

TT3

Happiest of times.

Ceci had been Andy’s secretarial assistant at his old Hong Kong wig company.  She told me she used to live in a tin hut with her mother and siblings.  Now Ceci had her chauffeur on call by our office door reading his Variety.  Instead of paltry Hong Kong getups Ceci never repeated an outfit during my employ.  New wardrobe items arrived by UPS each day.  She wore hot pants suits, trending Asian chic meringue.  No Suzie Wong retro sexo 60s duds.  Actually Ceci was pals with Nancy “Suzie Wong” Kwan who opened her restaurant Joss on the ground floor of our building facing Sunset.  I went with Ceci and Andy for a pre-opening tasting there. Kwan helped serve the dim sum asking our opinion of each item.  I commented quietly that we wouldn’t be eating this fab dim sum if Marlon Brando hadn’t derailed France Nuyen from playing Wong. Before I could ask Nancy if she ever thanked Brando Ceci poked me with a fork.

Ceci planned Beverly Hills homie dinner parties, checkered with A-listers and B-climbers.  I counseled her on soiree dilemmas.

“I wish Mickey Rourke would take a bath. It’s hard to eat sitting near him.”

I suggested, “Seat him next to Nick Nolte. They may cancel each other out.”

When her son was sick and home from school (before personal game consoles were in every universal corner) she’d call an arcade rental company and have a coin op batch delivered by semi to their manse for his rehab. “One Asteroids, one Donkey Kong and Tapper.” I suggested my fave Centipede for the office but she countered with “You don’t need one. You aren’t sick or sad.”

Ceci oversaw “letter of credit” payments, the spark for overseas printing and element access. I maintained the rest of the distribution scene, receipt and delivery, anguish and anxiety.  I worked with producers and post on the completion of Extreme Prejudice and Angel Heart pleading for them to finish before Carolco sales king Rocco called again about Japan changing release dates.   At the behest of legal I created the domestic delivery schedule boiler plates for Tri-Star and began my demonic romance with attorneys and their reasoned obfuscation of everything.

The company populous was inflating.  Production offices were required. Three or four floors of bank building were tight, elbows were getting bruised.   Time to take over a whole building.  So a structure was built at 8800 Sunset Boulevard across from Tower Records and Old World restaurant (way gone institutions.) We took a “hard hat tour” of the steel shell and I discovered I had my own office and Ceci had hers. Our “wedded bliss” would end while Andy and Mario would continue their one desk, one office practice in the new digs.

8800 Sunset Boulevard.

8800 Sunset Boulevard.

Amid the moving mania and the moolah flood, there was still a family feel to Carolco.   Andy’s mom, Clara, served her fried chicken on birthdays.  Employees’ offspring were often hanging out playing with the profusion of Rambo toys. Mario’s assistant Kim would bring in king cakes at Mardi Gras, supplied by Kim’s significant other Louisiana comic Ellen DeGeneres.  There were comfy holiday parties at Le Dome with secret Santas and typical inebriated antics.

Much hubbub, personality and product flowed through our offices.  Jerry Goldsmith came in wearing an immaculate white caftan dressed perhaps for a river baptism.  He was very upset brandishing a Variety ad by the musicians’ union contending that Goldsmith’s score for Hoosiers was un-American and not worthy of Oscar consideration because it had been recorded at Carolco’s recording studio in Budapest with “Red instrumentalists.”  Ceci soothed a sobbing Goldsmith reassuring him that he wasn’t a Communist. I half-expected her to call the arcade company and order Jerry a Space Invaders for home use. Jerry may have received some solace with Walter Hill being “persuaded” to dump his buddy Ry Cooder in favor of Goldsmith’s Extreme Prejudice score.

Alan Parker paced the office distressed over the MPAA (who except the MPAA isn’t distressed over those slicing screwheads?) demanding an edit of Lisa Bonet’s naked blood bath to get Angel Heart an ‘R’.  Bill Cosby’s name came up as an arbiter and quickly dipped below the surface again.

A large carton of designer jeans arrived in my office. The legs on every pair had been brutally slashed and frayed by razor.  I showed the abused denim to Ceci assuming they were hers clarifying I didn’t do the cutting.

“No, those are Sly’s. He has them cut like that.”

In due Sly showed up. Shaped like a muscled V with face like an Italian McCartney after a pummeling, Stallone squeezed into my office, stacks of check prints and MFX mags clogged the room.

“You got my jeans in here? You oughta clean this place up, Toddles.”

“You wanna help me clean it up?”

He tittered like a thug, “Just give me my jeans.” I did and he slipped off before I could ask him how Rambo III was evolving (not very well, I’d heard). Like many I was enamored with the concept of Rambo vs. Rocky, the ultimate matchup, in the ring, the Sahara or in Richard Crenna’s pants it didn’t matter where as long as they beat each other to a pulp and retreated into oblivion.

 

McCartney before and after the fight.

McCartney before and after the fight.

Once Red Heat started up Schwarzenegger made office visitations. It was “unwritten” company policy never to have Stallone and Schwarzenegger on the same floor at the same time.  Warning signals were traded when they both had identical day meetings. Was it simple ego clash or the chance of two potent objects engorged with testosterone and steroidal jelly bumping in a hallway and exploding on contact? I tend to believe it was a safety concern.

Along with Sly’s tortured jeans, random multimillion dollar checks to no one, and the odd boxes of jet engine lubricant we also got Rambo fan letters, most followed this template:

“Dear Rambo, Please come to my house and (sic) to watch TV.  There’s food to eat and if anybody bother (sic) you feel free to shoot them.”

Things got large.  It was all about international sales becoming more than half of a film’s revenue.   It was about presales with buyers salivating for the newest plum teats.  With huge pre-sell cash gushing in for giant product it was natural (seemingly) to make interplanetary deals for even more gigantic productions. Carolco altered the dynamics across this town’s boards.  The only way to get what you want was to pay more than anybody else.  Scale film budgets became obese.

Peter Hoffman entered the scene as Carolco’s president.  Peter was brought in to make things pop, to make magic happen.   Hoffman managed an IPO which succeeded against a market usually not prone to loving film speculation. Among the other “magical things” Peter did was buy IVE (International Video Entertainment), a video producer and distributor in Woodland Hills and Canoga Park. One part of IVE was Cabellero Home Video, the old and distinguished porn purveyor, and the bedrock upon which IVE lived.  I’d had “fun dealings” with Cabellero while at Manson. The other piece of IVE was Family Home Entertainment, the family friendly stuff. The pre-video boom was a solid mix of kid content and adult content, the public lures which never wane.  The owner Noel C. Bloom was a video release pioneer, a prime “golden age of porn” producer and per the state attorney general’s office mob connected.    Bloom also collected cars.  Every Friday he had his automotive fleet taken by flatbed to a car wash. After they were cleaned he returned them to their stationary, driverless life.

Andy told me we needed to use the IVE telecine and duplication facilities from now on.  I’d been using Modern Video and was not overjoyed to work elsewhere but… He said call Jose and set things up.  Jose Menendez was running IVE which would become LIVE.  Formerly he’d been a muckety-muck with Hertz and RCA.  At RCA he supposedly signed Duran Duran and Menudo to the label.

Jose and I traded phone messages for days. When I finally got hold of him Jose seemed over his head in management woes, also unaware of what IVE’s facilities actually were. He said he had to run off to his son’s tennis match and he’d call me back. He never did. When I finally tracked him down Jose claimed they weren’t ready to receive work yet and that he’d call me when they did. Right now he had to run off to his other son’s tennis game. He sure loved watching his sons play tennis. I never heard back from Jose.

LIVE became a profitable entity. The company’s 1989 profit line received its largest bump from a life insurance policy LIVE had taken out on its chairman Menendez.

 

 

Strawberries and vanilla ice cream and blood.

Strawberries and vanilla ice cream and blood.

            Peter Hoffman’s wife Susan took the office next to mine.  Following executive spousal tradition I asked her if she wanted to share a desk and she told me she’d worked with another Todd, Todd Rundgren. She was there when he was robbed at gunpoint in his home around 1980. One of the culprits was whistling Rundgren’s song “I Saw the Light” during the theft.  Susan’s Carolco task was putting together Canadian tax shelter projects.  Her hubby Peter was a tax shelter freak.

Whereas Carolco sales were handled mainly by Rocco Viglietta, with his custom made fantastic pop shirts, Carolco’s legal end began to resemble an army metastasizing at night, each dawn another office was occupied by a new attorney handling some obscure biz tidbit.

Peter Hoffman kept company acquisitions and investments rolling. Productions were in fungi growth mode everywhere.  With Hoffman and his staff came ripples of attack buzz and office gaming, regulation job paranoia hit. There was a scent of pandemonium in the corridors.

The  Andy and Mario machine began to misfire. When two men who could buy Columbian coffee plantations for kicks engage in combat over the expresso machine you figure something’s more than amiss.  The shared desk was history. Separate offices were the new flavor.

Maggie at Technicolor rang me to ask if I wanted to run distribution and post services at a small Hollywood company. They wanted to pay me more than Carolco so I jumped (everyone at Carolco wasn’t overpaid). I told Ceci I was leaving and without looking up she said “Okay” and continued eating her lunch.

TT7

I left Carolco before Terminator 2 and Basic Instinct.  Before Wagons East! and Cutthroat Island. Before the IRS and the SEC came a’knockin’.  Before Andy Vajna split.  The last straw for Andy may have been when he asked, “What’s this shooting in British Columbia? Narrow Margin? How come I never heard of it?” In 1989 Mario bought out Andy’s percentage for 100 million clams.  Pete Hoffman vamoosed when Oliver Stone pushed The Doors 20 mil over budget with no justification. Andy and Ceci divorced.  Andy and Mario remarried and made Terminator 3.  At the moment Peter and Susan Hoffman are awaiting trial in New Orleans for a tax shelter scheme.

TT8

Skouras Pictures was located at Hollywood Center Studios on Las Palmas.  This stage rental studio reeked of lotusland history.  In 1919 John Jasper left Chaplin Studios to build three stages and a squadron of bungalows now bordered by Santa Monica, Romaine, Seward and Las Palmas.   Names and ownership changed through the decades from (Jasper) Hollywood Studios, Inc. to Hollywood/Metropolitan Studios to General Service(s) Studios to Hollywood General Studios to Zoetrope Studios and finally Hollywood Center Studios.

1040 North Las Palmas

1040 North Las Palmas

While hands changed everything under the sun was getting made in the shade there. The highlights include  Milestone’s Two Arabian Nights, Hell’s Angels, Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother, The Freshman and Speedy, Mae West’s Klondike Annie and Go West, Young Man, Renoir’s The Southerner and Diary Of A Chambermaid,  Trail Of the Lonesome Pine, The Flying Deuces,  The Thief Of Bagdad, The Jungle Book, A Night In Casablanca, Cagney’s Blood On The Sun, Crosby’s Pennies From Heaven, Love Happy,  Destination Moon, Shampoo, One From The Heart, Body Heat, X Men, Zoolander  and of course Freddie Got Fingered.  From the fifties on television dominated shooting on the lot and it was a home to tube nuggets I Love Lucy, Ozzie And Harriet, Our Miss Brooks, Sky King and the Filmways Five: The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Mr. Ed, Green Acres, and The Addams Family then  Perry Mason, The Rockford Files, Baretta, Jeopardy, True Blood and Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

TT10

The legend of Skouras Pictures (as school children tell it) began when far away in Greece Dimitri “Tom” Skouras having spent untold time sitting on a beach contemplating the Aegean Sea had the realization that there must be more to the big pic than racing cars for grins and grease.  Tom had to step in the celluloid ooze of his ancestors, a Skouras brother trio that ran a theater chain out of Missouri, managed production for the Warner brothers and one brother, Tom’s Uncle Spyros, who would have the longest run as el presidente of 20th Century Fox telling the world “Movies are better than ever” until he got slugged by Cleopatra. So Tom headed back to the difficult pastures of Hollywood and started a film distribution company. The early cream came from a Peter Elson tip (the same Peter of Manson who sold softcore Sinderella and the Golden Bra to the Mideast, see earlier memoir.) Peter told Tom to check out a little flick by the Cohens (still more brothers) named Blood Simple. The rest was some kinda history.

Skouras Pictures had a foreign division headed by Pam Pickering (Sam Peckinpah’s former assistant also dumped by Manson with me in ’85) and a domestic division run by Jeff Lipsky.  My job was to serve both divisions by wearing multi hats.  I coordinated all titles’ delivery of preprint elements, answer and check prints, film to tape transfer, trailer creation, release printing, Latin Spanish version, publicity orders, shipping, purchasing, invoicing, letters of credit, distributor contracts, inventory input and tabulation, plumbing and pharmaceuticals. I comforted clueless lawyers, problem producers, distraught directors and screaming overseas buyers. My first week there Jeff Lipsky told Tom to fire me because he hadn’t been consulted regarding my hiring. Tom laughed and Pam laughed but Jeff did not. He wanted me gone, solid gone.

Sigrid, VP of sales, a cheerful adult Heidi with dark wit beneath candied enamel, told me Jeff didn’t want another male on the premises.  The Skouras work force was comprised of 15 women and now 3 men (the mailroom staff was two males but not unlike H.G. Wells’s Morlocks they were mostly invisible toilers).  Sigrid said Skouras was “Tom’s harem” with Jeff attempting to seize the sultan position from Tom.

Sigrid advised “Now you’re competing for the harem and Jeff wants you out.”

“Tell Jeff not to worry I’m a diehard eunuch.”

Eventually Jeff cornered me in my office.  He was a strong presence described by Peter Biskind in “Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film” thusly: “Bald as a cue ball – he suffers from alopecia, the Lex Luthor disease, not a hair on his body- Lipsky has an angular face and wore black-framed Mr. McGoo glasses. He was fussy and retentive, intense and intimidating.”  Jeff wanted to know my motives, my intentions, and what’s up with women around here “liking you and going out to lunch with you.” He was also not amused that I had my own private WC (in this bungalow I was the sole male among seven femmes).  On a biz level I respected Jeff, he was a positive force in getting indie films seen from My Dinner with Andre and Sid and Nancy to Mike Leigh’s masterworks but this confrontation was bizarrely personal.  My initial response was a Ralph Kramden stammer then I uttered some Psych 101 speak, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  Having said his piece Jeff returned to his office.   After that things were copasetic even friendly between us but I remained wary around Lipsky.

Latrine of contention.

Latrine of contention.

 The bungalow suite for the Skouras foreign division sat in the northwest corner of the lot where you could breathe a mix of Magee’s Donuts and petro fumes.  This part of Hollywood Central is immortalized in the opening track shot of Altman’s The Player.

TT12

Skouras’s more expansive courtyard offices, formerly Zoetrope’s main workplace, were in the far southeast corner under a wafting chemical cloud from Consolidated Film Industries.  Dozens of journeys were made daily from foreign to the main.  These multiple treks across the cozy lot exposed troupes in play.  Standard phenom included passing James Garner posed oddly across his car hood, Mike Tyson pontificating on rape, Bill Murray playing hoop with little people, Raul Julia having another incident of eye proptosis, an open door revealing Dan Ackroyd sifting through scripts echoing Drew Friedman’s Spy mag cartoon or one night rushing to Tom Skouras’s aid and nearly colliding in the dark with a “Rickenbacker” wielding George Harrison (or more appropriately Nelson Wilbury).

TT13

The office next to our suite had been occupied since 1950 by a 92 year old ex-vaudevillian named George Burns.   Mr. Burns would arrive by Cadillac most mornings around 10 AM and spend time in his office before retreating to lunch at Hillcrest Country Club.  If I happened to pass during his arrival I’d greet him with “Good morning, Mr. Burns” and he’d wave a stogie the size of Billy Barty’s shillelagh.  Sometimes I’d channel Joe Franklin and ask a question.        

“Mr. Burns, did you discover Ann-Margret or was it actually George Jessel?”

            “No, I did. I discovered her. Or she discovered me. Jessel never discovered anybody. Some showgirls perhaps.  What else?”

“Did you ever see W.C. Fields sober?”

“Once. Maybe twice. Don’t you think we better go to our offices and get to work?”

He started to his door then stopped and asked me, “Did they vacuum your office yesterday? I think they forgot to do mine.”

 

At some point during the shoot for LIFE, Ann-Margret visited with her mentor, the legendary George Burns, in a prop room of a studio where he kept an office, 1961.

At some point during the shoot for LIFE, Ann-Margret visited with her mentor, the legendary George Burns, in a prop room of a studio where he kept an office, 1961.

Skouras entered a lucrative domestic output agreement with Paramount Pictures for video exploitation of titles.  The lead dog in the deal was Hallstrom’s My Life as a Dog (the third biggest foreign language BO up to that time after La Cage aux Folles and Das Boot and the source for any industry wallop Skouras had).  Delivery was keyed on supplying NTSC analog 1” which was acceptable to Paramount’s QC standards. Creating video masters in those primeval days usually meant use of a low contrast print for telecine (interpositives would soon swap with the LC).   The film to tape process had the telecine operator trying to recreate the look of the film on video. A true match was not technically possible so overseeing the transfer was often a labor of frustration for directors and cinematographers who didn’t identify two different mediums.  One who understood the dif was Dante Spinotti, the DP for Paul Schrader’s The Comfort of Strangers. Working on the transfer with Spinotti was a pleasure as he’d lived in the film’s setting of Venice and he recounted grand memories of swimming in the canals dodging hepatitis A nodules.

Dyan Cannon wrote, directed and starred in The End of Innocence.  Dyan supervised her video transfer while I simultaneously peered over her shoulder and at the clock.  This was Dyan’s autobio baby and her desire for perfection was understandable.  She bounced on a mini-trampoline drinking health elixirs easily manipulating our telecine operator Tim who was madly in love with Dyan.  The hours at Sunset Post ticked up as Dyan would go over scenes ad infinitum. Tom Skouras advised me any excessive hours would come out of my pay so I tried gently coaxing Dyan, “Don’t pull a Kubrick or a Billy Friedkin on me, Dyan.” Or annoying her with amusing acid trip anecdotes which Dyan countered with “There’s nothing funny about LSD.” Finally I had a heart to heart with Dyan explaining I was about to get married on a northwest camping expedition and if this isn’t wrapped now… I broke down in mock tears and she said “We’ll finish it tomorrow.”  And she did. To cover myself I bought camping gear, found someone to marry and left town for a while.

TT15

SIDEBAR:  The telecine operator Tim said working with Dyan was “the greatest moment of my life” adding “The only thing that would have made it better was if she was naked.”  For Tim’s birthday certain parties at Sunset Post set up a wee gag.  A porn actress came in with a work reel to transfer. As Tim labored the flesh thesp complained about feeling “hot and bothered” and began disrobing until… Tim forgot about what had been the earlier greatest moment of his life.

 

One of Tim’s two greatest moments

One of Tim’s two greatest moments

My finest Skouras achievements were re-titling Blood Oath to Prisoners of the Sun (apologies to Herge) and Picking Up the Pieces to Blood Sucking Pharaohs of Pittsburgh.  For this I was promoted to the absurdisto title Vice President of Post Production. Sigrid called VPs “V-penises” since they were primarily males in the industrial churn.

Tom took over more bungalows in his neck of the woods so foreign united with domestic. I shared my “suite” with sales person Midge, a former Vegas songster from Tuxedo Junction.  Our receptionist Peggy was a former Weeki Wachee mermaid.  Domestic print juggler Ruth was a former Olympic kayaker.  And my assistant Lisa was the former hot dog vendor on the lot who’d impressed with her ability to ward off a crazed Bill Murray.

A wandering maintenance drone, who wandered more than maintained, informed me that Bob Cummings used my office when he filmed his show here in the 50s. He added that when Coppola ruled the roost the office was assigned to Jean Luc Godard but Godard never showed up. Cummings to Godard, Hollywood talent shuffle.

 

Found refuse: James Cann’s MISERY prop stumps and George Burns’ chimp in Bob Cummings and Jean-Luc Godard’s office.

Found refuse: James Cann’s MISERY prop stumps and George Burns’ chimp in Bob Cummings and Jean-Luc Godard’s office.

Tom’s stepdaughter Margie, Skouras acquisitions head, saw sex, lies and videotape and embraced it shouting its brilliance to all and getting it in Sundance.  Jeff loved it even more than Margie.  It was tossed in Tom’s lap, a service deal, no upfront monies, but Tom forever cautious, often at the expense of success, said no thanks. In his consideration the film’s video rights were already with RCA/Columbia and it was perhaps a hard watch for a man whose favorite film was One-Eyed JacksSex, lies and videotape would end up with Miramax. Miramax would take over earth as Skouras dove for footnote status (read Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures for the grotty niceties).

The company mood was evident at a gloomy American Film Market cocktail party for the opus Beverly Hills Brats, a Terry “Come Back Little Sheba” Moore and Martin “Badlands” Sheen vehicle without wheels.  We also attempted to celebrate Shadow of Death but the star Anthony “Pretty Poison” Perkins was not feeling well and didn’t attend.  Perkins co-star Lyle “Ernest Goes To Camp” Alzado did show up and confirmed somberly, “Tony’s not doing so well I guess.” Beverly Hills Brats co-star Natalie “The Snake Pit” Schafer began weeping when she confessed to me that she didn’t expect there to be another Gilligan’s Island reunion because her “millionaire husband” Jim “Here Come the Nelsons” Backus was wasting away with Parkinson’s. Beverly Hills Brat Peter “A Christmas Story” Billingsley looked at me and shrugged, “Everybody’s gotta go some time.” And go they did Backus in 1989, Schafer in 1991, Perkins and Alzado in 1992.

 

Leftovers at the Beverly Hills Brats cocktail party, March 25, 1989.

Leftovers at the Beverly Hills Brats cocktail party, March 25, 1989.

Pam Pickering was shoved out in a divisive manner and went to Samuel Goldwyn.  Assistant Lisa departed months later following Pam to Goldwyn.

Jeff Lipsky quit Skouras in October 1990 when Tom wouldn’t share an interest in Mike Leigh’s great Life Is Sweet.  He and Bingham Ray started October Films.

The picture fount was unexceptional. The financial portrait was dim. Not meeting payroll was a whisper topic. The state of things was plainly headed for desolation row only no one was “selling postcards of the hanging” or selling much of anything at Skouras.

As the knives sharpened my phone rang and it was Maggie at Technicolor asking if I wanted to be “V-penis” of distribution at Odyssey Distributors.  Odyssey was a foreign distributor of A-product, mainly New Regency titles, started by comic Alan King and some “dubious” New York financiers.  Rather than become a casualty in the fall of Skouras I fled the storied bungalows of Hollywood Center Studios and headed west… to San Vicente and Wilshire and a company where the chance of being vomited on by Gerard Depardieu was considerably high.

TT19

Manson6

The Other Manson Family or Bottom Feeding In The Overseas Distribution Aquarium – An Exploitative Memoir

 

Manson1

            My significant other and I arrived in Los Angeles in 1977. We’d driven a “drive-away” Impala through a cross country blizzard from Boston.  Her mother Natasha had snared us a one bedroom in the apartment sprawl she lived in.  It was a terraced bunker uphill from the  Whiskey a Go-Go.  Dionne Warwick had been the only notable tenant there until Motley Crue in ’82.  Warwick had left eons back but long time dwellers acted as if she was still there providing glittery gravitas to the joint. It was neglected and battered but Clark Apartments was all dream exotica to former denizens of Boston’s Back Bay.  With its soaring palms, floodlit pool and a glimpse of L.A. basin sparkle this was cockeyed heaven.

Bouncing from temp spots at IBM legal to Pepperdine’s lost Watts’ campus I was longing for some Hollywood glitz appointment. Natasha offered an opening at her company, a film distributor mere blocks away from our Clark Apartments. I interviewed with Manson Distributing Corporation’s president, an anxious, awkwardly jovial gentleman named Michael Goldman. After mild chit chat, Goldman hired me. Obviously Natasha’s recommendation was key, tinsel town nepotism at work.

Manson2

Manson Distributing Corporation was situated at 9145 Sunset Boulevard in the Aladdin Building, blatantly accented by the fat brass Aladdin’s lamp hung over the entrance. It was, and still is, an undistinguished two-story square which in 1977 sat across from the Cock’n Bull tavern, birthplace of the Moscow Mule and Jack Webb’s daily waterhole.  Next door was La Maganette, our usual takeout choice, a dimly lit Italian mock swank with regulars from Sammy Davis to Richard Deacon. Further east on Sunset was Scandia, considered L.A.’s premiere eatery alongside Ma Maison.  In that era L.A. had a narrow gastronomic belly. Other neighbors included Dick Clark Productions, Dick or his wife were often out front trying to curb their massive dogs, and the old school Paul Kohner Agency, my first agent’s quarters, with John Huston carefully squeezing himself and his oxygen tank through the front door.

Manson3

Jack Webb was never perched far from the feast at the Cock’n'Bull.

 

                  The rest of Sunset was ripping itself from the clutches of the sixties as it stumbled through the seventies. Filthy McNasty’s and its flooze were in last gasp. Power Burger gave super beef shots. Turner ruled the booze front. You could eat the same bubbling quiche at both Old World and Mirabelle’s. The Rainbow served decent crunch pizza (and still does) but the Hollywood Vampires had gone bye-bye and metal heads were beginning to ooze in.  The Roxy and the Whiskey had ace acts then (before they succumbed to pay-to-play to survive.) And Tower Records was the center of the vinyl cosmos (sorry Licorice Pizza.)

Manson4

Edmund Goldman, Michael’s father, started Manson around 1953 with Sam Nathanson, the name “Manson” came from their surnames’ last syllables.  Sam had departed and Ed was settling into a more patriarchal role as Michael commandeered the company through the next phase. Ed’s fame claim was that he purchased domestic rights to Gojira from Toho for twenty-five grand and brought it to Harold Ross and Richard Kay at Jewel Enterprises.  Ross and Kay with Terry O. Morse transformed Ishiro Honda’s ground busting anti-nuke fable into the castrated American Godzilla, King Of The Monsters. There were a number of accounts as to how Ed discovered the film. One had him seeing it in a Little Tokyo movie house (did Ed really stray from the Westwood or Beverly Hills theater circuit?) Another was that it was brought to Ed’s attention by his friend Paul Schreibman, an attorney and distributor, and importantly legal consultant for Toho. But the tale I favored was from Manson’s bookkeeper Margaret who said that during the war when Ed was the Far East emissary for Columbia Pictures he was put into a Philippines detention camp by the Japanese. He struck up a friendship with one of the guards and after the war that guard became an executive at Toho. As a token to their friendship the former guard alerted Ed to the wonder which was Gojira.  I never asked Ed for verification preferring to just savor the myth.

But I did demand back story on the framed photo in Ed’s office of him being attacked by the Three Stooges on the Columbia lot. In the pic Moe has Ed in a nasty hammerlock while Shemp and Larry are doing unmentionable things to his extremities. Regarding the gouging Ed commented, “Moe Howard was friendly enough but if a camera was around he’d become dangerously violent.  Those other knuckleheads would follow his lead.”

“How often did you go to the track with Shemp?”

“We weren’t that close.” he replied.

My annual bonding with Ed came as the various foreign film markets approached. Whether it was Cannes, MIFED, or the local newbie American Film Market Ed and I would go in the company car to Smart & Final on Melrose to buy a snack spread for the hotel sales room. We’d spend a day choosing the perfect client confections.  Ed believed food was crucial to making sales.  Ed in sweater vest and dress pants resembled the Monopoly man, sans top hat, gone casual. Ed said I looked like an extra from Satan’s Sadists (one of Manson’s many Al Adamson titles.) It wasn’t off the mark when the Smart & Final cashier suggested I was Ed’s “personal hippie valet.” Ed chuckled then muttered something about Al Adamson and Sam Sherman liking Red Vines.

Manson5

I was stationed at Manson with the boys in the shipping department. The “boys” were actually two gents in their late forties and one drag queen. Devon, a determined thespian in a magnificent but obvious toupee ran the scene with expert devotion, spiked wit and high drama. Devon’s long time friend Hal assisted.

Hal was a notary and professional eccentric who had developed his own axis and orbit. At first flush Hal was the spitting image of Ernie Kovacs homophobic conception Percy Dovetonsils, including bottle spectacles and moustache, although Hal’s tongue wasn’t Percy’s. Hal expounded on Marxist principles and the anti-carcinogen benefits of cinnamon in coffee and ground up apricot pits in everything while tirelessly playing a cassette of Edith Piaf’s best. He would display his weekend acquisitions from Bargain Circus and every yard sale in a 20-mile radius of Griffith Observatory, while indulging you for your take on their value, “Guess how much, how much?” He spoke endearingly of various “mudderfuggers” who had wronged him in his global trots, tales which included his excommunication from Israel, his deep romance with India (where a soothsayer said he’d die one day, the teller was off Hal took his dirt nap in Ireland) and the glorious Roma days with Devon dating Vatican cardinals and bishops while waiting for movie roles. Hal and Devon were in Catch 22’s whorehouse scene with Charles Grodin but that “mudderfugger Nichols cut us out!” Hal didn’t hit the editing floor in Cast A Giant Shadow where he can be seen briefly as Kirk Douglas’s secretary.

The drag queen, who Hal called Queenie, was the messenger.  He jockeyed Goldberg cans from Manson’s storage (a garage with a flea size studio apartment over it behind The Palm on Santa Monica) to Nossecks’, Aidikoff’s, and Sunset screening rooms around West L.A. and Beverly Hills.  But he spent too much time on the phone arguing with fabric stores over his next costume construct. Queenie’s days were numbered as his outside curriculum was encroaching on his workaday performance.

Shipping’s main responsibility was contract fulfillment of a title’s publicity and film elements or sending out sales materials to potential buyers.  70’s overseas sale promotion required mailing salt lick sized ¾” NTSC video cassettes (a 60 and 30 minute part for each title) along with brochure sheets like these:

Manson6

Manson’s library was primarily exploitation and a hefty part of that was adult fare or as Devon discreetly tagged it “fuck films.”  Not surprisingly there was concern when sending out screening cassettes about territory censor guidelines.  This meant that features needed to be clearly marked as “hard” or “soft.”  I was appointed to determine which library screeners had “erect” as opposed to “flaccid” organs on display.  Proper labeling would decide (sometimes) whether a title made it through customs or whether it ended up in the custom house’s private library. (Greece’s postal board held “art film” fests on the second Thursday of every month.)

Japan allowed adult importation as long as a metamorphosis occurred.  Japanese distributors would purchase a feature positive 35mm print and then carefully go through it frame by frame removing all  pubic hair and genitalia, intricately “painting” it out.  From the new “clean” composite they’d make a “dirty” (low grade) negative to create release prints.

In pre-video days most territories had no public outlet for things pornographic. The Mideast was an impossible sell for anything vaguely sexual. A breakthrough came when the new Manson salesman Pete (who had moved into sales from shipping hence opening my position) sold Sinderella and the Golden Bra, a very soft skin offering, to a Lebanese distributor. After governmental slice and dice the film could have been sold as live action Disney.

Manson7

The Manson library was morphing when I came aboard.  There’d been a past deal with Janus so classics like Chimes At Midnight had been sold alongside Orgy of the Golden Nudes but overall little strayed from b to z-standard sex and violence. Now Mark and Marilyn Tensor’s Crown International was providing Manson with a new wave of youth attractions.  Crown had gone from producing Weekend with the Baby Sitter and Blood Mania to mild teen romps like The Van and Van Nuys Blvd. The Crown feature The Pom Pom Girls was second to Disney’s The Rescuers in France’s 1977 box office, a defining prize for Manson and Crown.  Another source would come from producer Charles Band with nil-budget, humdrum sci fi like The Day Time Ended, Laserblast and End Of the World. That last title brought Christopher “Playgirl After Dark” Lee and Sue “Lolita” Lyon together for the first time. Not venturing completely from stroke flicks, Band also provided an adult musical Fairy Tales (in the tradition of Bill Osco’s Alice In Wonderland and Band’s own Cinderella.Fairy Tales was notable for finally pairing Martha Reeves with Professor Irwin Corey.

Manson8

But the bulk of titles remained in the grand bottom feed tradition. Many of the purveyors were loyal pals of Ed Goldman and no one truer than Bulgaria’s gift to the world Stephen Apostolof aka A.C. Stephens.  Steve’s amazing history has been detailed capably elsewhere (particularly the interview gangbang in Psychotronic No.8, Winter 1990.) He was a habitual visitor to Manson often bringing a box of “stinkweed” cigars for Ed which Ed would dispose of as soon as Steve was out of sight.  Manson distributed such A.C. works as Class Reunion, Snow Bunnies, Fugitive Girls and Lady Godiva Rides, with its trailer narration “Filmed on two continents… in Hollywood.”  Steve was presently trying to get Edmund to pick up his latest title Hot Ice. (Hot Ice was a caper film with intended and unintended comic overtones, that unique A.C. Stephens blend. As I recall it had almost no nudity which didn’t help the sale.)  As part of the new Manson prescience there was a reluctance to acquire Hot Ice. Steve was having difficulty with this and confessed openly about it to Devon and myself. He was certain this was his greatest film and possibly the last one his buddy Eddie Wood was capable of working on. “I’m worried about the son of a bitch. He just drinks and watches TV. If Manson distributes Hot Ice it’ll help Eddie.”

Manson9

This was before major hoopla over the Ed Wood oeuvre. Like many in the tri-state area my brother and I were big fans having watched Plan 9 and Bride every time they were on Zacherly’s Chiller Theater. I asked Steve to bring Ed with him next time and we could have lunch at Cock ‘n Bull and discuss the tender side of the “The Super Swedish Angel” Tor Johnson. Steve said Wood never leaves his chair unless he falls off it.  I pleaded some more and Steve said, “If Manson distributes my Hot Ice I’ll bring Eddie to lunch.”  After Steve left Hal and Devon described Eddie Wood as “a transvestite drunk” who they didn’t want near the office. They continued with how decrepit Criswell and Vampira had become haunting the aisles of Hollywood Ranch Market at midnight. I’d seen Vampira there once and she looked heavy but fine for late fifties. Devon added “Do you really want to eat lunch with a stinking old rummy in drag?” From then on whenever Hal and Devon saw a distressed female on the street they’d suggest I take her to lunch since it might be Ed Wood (akin to “don’t step on that spider it might be Lon Chaney.”)

The ribbing continued up to the day in ’78 when a despondent Apostolof came into the office and told us Eddie was dead. Steve mused, “If Manson had picked up Hot Ice maybe Eddie would still be alive and we could have lunch. That’s something to think about.”

Manson was a compact crew in 1977, with around ten employees.  Sales and acquisitions were handled by Ed, Michael and Pete. Natasha was Michael’s assistant.  Michael as a CPA oversaw finance and was a supreme organizer.  He oversaw a paper system with multiple title, agreement and client files with every telex and soon FAX copied in triplicate regarding every contractual burp. I would never see this level of order again at another film company, anal fascism at its best.

Margaret the Manson bookkeeper was in another realm, a chain smoker who looked like Ben Franklin in a muumuu anchored to a cyclone torn office. Her desktop was a document layer cake topped by charred invoices from smoldering Pall Malls. Margaret always wore sandals; shoes couldn’t contain her toes with their elongated, twisting, never manicured nails. Margaret’s life goal was to purchase federal land in Nevada and build an underground home for herself and her son. She’d show me house blueprints and cackle about the brilliance of her plan. It would never be but she did have a novel approach to financing. South Korean distributors often paid in cash due to their government restrictions for moving money overseas via transfers or checks. So Margaret sometimes would deposit hefty greenback payments in the Sunset City National on the Beverly Hills line. Once while walking cold thousands to the bank Margaret was robbed. Or so she said. Margaret had pulled a pathetic con. Instead of her underground home she ended up in a state run facility. Poor Margaret.  As I remember she made a first-rate lasagna.

Margaret used to complain about many things including tracking “short film” distribution. “What a waste of time these aren’t even real films.” Manson did distribute short films, one was The Legend Of Jimmy Blue Eyes which was nominated for an Oscar in ’64, directed by Robert Clouse who would later helm Enter The Dragon.  The other was Minestrone written and directed by Danny DeVito. DeVito during this time was mainly known for playing Martini in the play and movie of Cuckoo’s Nest as he hadn’t yet nailed the part of Louie on Taxi.  So like Apostolof DeVito had nothing better to do but hang around the shipping department chatting up Devon.

One fine day DeVito was to drop by to pick up some Minestrone flyers.  Devon left them out for Danny and headed to an audition. Hal was making his daily lunch concoction which consisted of Laughing Cow cheese cubes, wheat germ, Lipton’s onion soup mix, apricot pit powder and boiling water shaken up in a thermos. Queenie was out running errands. The shipping department was a unified jumble of desks and chairs, no partitions, telex machine, file cabinets and plenty of wall cases slotted for pub materials. Each of us had a chair but there was no space for guest seating. While passing Queenie’s chair I noticed its cloth seat was damp, badly stained.  I asked Hal if he’d dropped some of his thermos slop on Queenie’s chair.

“No, I did not.  Lemme take a look at it.” Hal examined the chair, feeling and sniffing it. “There’s K-Y all over it.  Wait‘ll Devon sees this he’ll have another heart attack.”

The bohemian occupant of the residence over the Manson storage garage had told Devon recently that Queenie was bringing visitors there.  It wasn’t to peruse stills from The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed Up Zombies of which there was an unusual glut of 8x10s in the garage.  The connect between Queenie’s chair and the garage would likely occur to Devon.

“Don’t touch that chair.  I’ll be right back.”  Touching it was far from my mind. Hal ran off to pick up Dirty Western dialogue continuity copies nearby at “Henry Jaglom’s copy joint”, “Jaglom’s” because he tended to stake out there.

Manson10

Edmund G. buzzed me to take a print of Cries Of Ecstasy, Blows Of Death across the street to Nosseck’s.  “Right this minute?” “Yes, right this minute.” I grabbed the print and left, leaving the shipping department unmanned. Nosseck’s Screening Room was in the rear basement of a building which would soon house David Geffen and Lookout Management. Run by Don and Marilyn Nosseck it was a historic little theater. Don was there between screenings so we struck up the usual conversation about the months Howard Hughes holed up in ’58 watching Republic horse operas while chasing Hershey bars with Alta-Dena quarts. As I examined the carpet for ancient cow juice stains I envisioned Queenie’s chair and DeVito sitting in it.  I hightailed it across Sunset.

DeVito was indeed in Queenie’s chair talking non-stop to Devon.  Hal walked in with the Dirty Western continuities. As he was about to inform DeVito about the state of things I intervened, “No, Hal, some things are best left… you know.”  DeVito departed with his flyers and Hal updated Devon on Queenie’s chair. Devon didn’t have a heart attack but he had one of his more striking outbursts, transparency sheets and an ashtray took wing, Devon’s skull rug did an Edgar Kennedy 360.  Queenie vamoosed to Las Vegas where someone believed he died in the 1980 MGM Hotel fire.

In ’79 Hal found some old lysergic acid in his freezer and dropped it before a dinner party.  At the soiree Hal had chest pains and ended up hospitalized.  It was a minor attack but he was put on lengthy bed rest.  This by the way doesn’t suggest a correlation between LSD ingestion and heart function (refer to Sidney Gottlieb’s CIA studies for further analysis.)

Manson11

With Hal temporarily gone Devon brought in a close pal (and perhaps past romance) to sub for him. I came into work to find a familiar face dressed in Johnny Cash black seated at Hal’s desk.  The distinctive Oklahoma accent, which graced Rod McKuen LPs, called out, “Hey, Todd, didja hear Sid Vicious is finally dead.” It was Jesse Pearson, Bye Bye Birdie’s Conrad Birdie announcing that Sid Vicious had OD’d in NYC.  Jesse was now directing porn having given up acting after a mountain top revelation while shooting Bonanza in’69. He’d tired of playing   cowboys and “Birdie types” like Johnny Poke on Beverly Hillbillies and Keevy Hazelton on Andy Griffith. Jesse was a sweet guy and very funny. A recent Manson acquisition was Olly Olly Oxen Free starring Katharine Hepburn (it paired well with Atom Age Vampire.)  Jesse did an imitation of Kate singing Sid Vicious’s version of My Way.  Jesse got smacked with cancer later that year and headed to Louisiana for his final days. My significant other and I went to his going away gala at erotic producer Tod Johnson’s Hollywood Hills castle. She spent the party crying in the bathroom as she’d had a pre-teen crush on his Birdie character.  Jesse regaled the rest of us with gallows humor about crossing Cedar Sinai’s striking nurse picket line to get to his dentist. “Let me through. Gotta get my cavities filled before I’m dead.” The last film Jesse directed, The Legend Of Lady Blue won best picture at the 1979 AFAA Erotic Film Awards and Jesse under the name A. Fabritzi won a posthumous best screenplay trophy.

Manson12

While Manson started picking up fringe mainstreamers like Charlton Heston’s Mother Lode, Philip Borsos’ The Grey Fox, Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline Of Western Civilization, Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and the Oscar winning documentary Genocide there was still room for top grade exploitation. Answering my prayers Jimmy “Salacious Rockabilly Cat” Maslon brought Herschel Gordon Lewis’s ‘60s classics Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs! to the Manson family.   As well Mr. Lewis was being coaxed to revisit Blood Feast with a follow-up (it was finally completed in 2002.)  Canadian productions under the Great White North tax shelter began showing up like Roger Vadim’s The Hot Touch and David Cronenberg’s Scanners.  There was morbid interest in how the Dorothy Stratton tragedy would impact sales of Crown International’s Galaxina (not much bang there.)

Reoccurring visitors made appearances in the shipping department.  Johnny Legend bopped through trawling for trailers for his comps.  Holly “Tuxedo Warrior” Palance and Tanya “Tourist Trap” Roberts dropped in for hot clips for their promo reels and cocktails at “La Maggot.” Richard “Soft White Underbelly” Meltzer came by and did a tap dance because his tune “Burnin’ For You” was climbing the charts. Jim Wynorski was our “one-day trailer maven” before he made his directorial debut with The Lost Empire beginning his eighty and still counting features.  Jim would bring his cohort Linda “Humanoids From the Deep” Shayne who hijacked my IBM Selectric.  Al Adamson and Regina Carroll would peek in on occasion.  And Steve Apostolof usually showed up around film market time still shopping Hot Ice.

Sometimes surprise guests hung around longer than they wished. Manson had a small screening room on the second floor with a booth for 16mm projection and ¾” NTSC playback.  The projection room door had a troublesome lock. Once while passing the room I heard banging and a voice yelling in French and English. I went in to discover Roger Vadim trapped in the projection booth.  I freed the understandably distraught director.  I asked him if he thought Bardot would have been a more superior Barbarella than Fonda and he punched me in the face.  No, actually he was so upset by his entrapment he barely said “Merci” and took off for the safety of Sunset Blvd.

Manson13

I made numerous excursions up to Charlton Heston’s home on Coldwater during the promotion of Mother Lode. He was usually wearing a corset for a back injury. “Damn tennis.” Heston would go through the color transparencies I’d chosen approving the slides we needed to support the film. He seemed often to be in pain so I didn’t engage him in heavy conversation.  But one time after throwing out complimentary jazz about Touch Of Evil and Will Penny I got around to his most recent stage turn as Sherlock Holmes and the role of Holmes in general. I asked him if Robert DeNiro would be better as a Watson or a Holmes. ”DeNiro can pretty much play whatever he wants to play and I’m sure he’d play it well.”  What about Clint Eastwood? “That would be an interesting portrayal.” What about Mickey Rooney?  Heston handed me the pile of slides. He made a guttural noise, adjusted his corset and strode into the next room. I never got to ask him about his co-star in the play Crucifer Of Blood, Jeremy Brett who played Heston’s Watson. At that time Granada was just beginning to court Brett for their Holmes series.

The next time I visited Heston he and his house staff greeted me outside by the tennis court and they kept my visit quick without dialogue or gracious house entry. It may have been my earlier mention of Mickey Rooney or the furtive gestures of the crazed individual, actor Johnnie P. from San Jose Confidential, who was sitting in my company Toyota in the drive.

 

Devon was getting more stage work and spending less time in the office.  Other than the time Mae West kissed him at the Crown International premiere of Sextette  the happiest I’d seen him was when he found the discarded brand new 40” TV in the building dumpster. Someone had deposited the TV and remote and Devon was the first to spy them. Devon carried them into the office proclaiming “They’re mine!”   Both items were in cartons shrink wrapped with colored cellophane.  Feverishly elated he set them aside by his desk and planned to take them home at day’s end.

In the hallway outside shipping the owner of the Aladdin building, a Beirut millionaire, accosted me and Adam, the non-drag queen new shipping guy, and asked us what happened to the TV set out by the trash.  We told him that Devon had snatched it up. He began to laugh maniacally.  “I put it out there to see who would take it. It’s a complete goddamn fake.”  A peculiar prank indeed, like bad Allen Funt on lithium.

When Adam told Devon I knew there’d be a compressed acting lesson in the offering.   Devon violently tore off the wrap, smashed open the carton and removed the TV shell weighed down with worthless ballast instead of tube and circuitry.  The TV remote turned out to be a pack of cigarettes.  Devon pushed everything to the ground.  Then he picked up the phony remote.  “Well at least I got a pack of cigarettes out of it.”

Devon would go on to star as Waldo Lydecker in a staging of Laura at the Hollywood United Methodist Church.  It was great acting, a critic pronounced him better than Clifton Webb.  Christopher Guest and Peter DeLuise were in the cast. The only down side the night we went was that Peter’s father Dom sat in front of us and  seemed to be doing a monologue for himself competing with the play.  The night of Laura’s final performance, after the last curtain call, Devon dropped dead back stage; he finally had that second heart attack.  It was like a cheesy Busby Berkeley plot only there was no need for an understudy to step in.  One odd note, days after Devon’s death the director of the play, Dick “East Of Eden” Davalos, called the office asking for Devon to go to lunch. He obviously knew of Devon’s demise but acted as though he hadn’t. Taken aback I told him Devon wasn’t in. Dick inquired about Devon the next day as well. I asked him if this was some sick joke. He said “Don’t worry about it.” and hung up.

Manson had a wonderful Christmas wingding each year at the Beverly Hills Hotel.   It was a fine arena for prattle and pratfalls.  A place for buyers, producers and talent to mingle in a festive moment.  Where Michael “Timerider” Nesmith would recall how Hendrix traumatized parents as the Monkees opening act and how his mother had invented Liquid Paper. Director Penelope Spherris debated the magnetic appeal of Albert Brooks vs Darby Crash.  A German distributor pulled a knife on a Scandinavian distributor. I tried to convince Mark and Marilyn Tensor to no avail that Crown should do a teen zombies flick. Richard Farnsworth acted out horse stunts making the ladies swoon. My future boss Andy Vajna declared First Blood would change the foreign marketplace forever. My future wife grabbed a violin from the string quartet and played hot gypsy improv. And Charlton Heston passed through quickly due to back problems. “Damn jai alai.”

Manson14

I quit Manson to go to Texas seeking lost romance and ended up spending time with a charming carnival freak show in Beaumont (Hall and Christ Sideshow I believe).  When I returned to L.A. Manson welcomed me back into their fold but it was a-changing.  Manson International eventually moved from Sunset to a “more prestigious” building on Olympic in West Los Angeles. The bigger digs were required for the larger Manson Family of twenty plus employees.  As part of its expansion Manson got hitched to production, financially floating Albert Pyum’s concrete boat Radioactive Dreams.  All production is high stakes gambling but some of us were concerned where Manson was placing its bets.  Employees jumped ship to more lucrative ventures. In 1985 Michael kicked me and two other “non-team players” out the door. It was the beginning of streamlining for eventual sale of the Manson library to Jonathan Krane’s MCEG in 1987.

I resurfaced at Carolco, a foreign distributor and producer which did not feed off the bottom, a company that transformed Hollywood financing for better or worse.  Carolco’s filing system was absolute chaos compared to Manson but for Carolco that may have been insurance.