Re: “Barbra Hopes You’ll Listen,” Nov. 3 and the line, “She’d been rushed into finishing [“A Star Is Born”], she said, adding that she was ‘blackmailed’ into giving the directing credit to Frank Pierson even though she had final cut”:
It’s always upsetting when my words are taken out of context. Here is the truth. When I started working on my 1976 movie “A Star Is Born” I tried to get my friend Sydney Pollack to direct. I hired Frank Pierson to rewrite the screenplay, but then Frank told me he wouldn’t do a second draft unless he also directed the film. And since Sydney was unavailable and we had to start shooting, I had to agree to that.
Mikael Wood’s implication that somehow I was trying to take away Frank’s credit as director at the end of the shoot is totally ridiculous. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As a matter of fact, I gave away my producing credit and took a lesser one that I buried in the crawl at the end.
The story of the making of this movie is complex, and if you’re interested, you can read the 50-page chapter on it when I publish my autobiography.
The arts’ other saving graces
The article on the lasting effect that the 2008 Great Recession had on the arts in Los Angeles [“How the Arts Fared After the ’08 Crash,” Nov. 4] did a good job delineating many of the mitigating factors that helped organizations survive, but omitted probably the most important one: leadership.
Thor Steingraber rightly credited the quietly consistent support of Los Angeles County, where I served as executive director of the Arts Commission from 1992 to 2017. In a fortuitous move, the county had doubled its grant support for arts organizations right before the recession, and only reduced that support by 9% over the worst economic years. The program, which funds close to 400 organizations, is now restored to its pre-recession level of $4.5 million. This was entirely due to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who recognized the critical role arts and culture play in the Los Angeles economy, as well as its spiritual vitality. He also arranged a loan from the county to cover the L.A. Opera’s deficit — a loan that has been repaid in full. I witnessed members of numerous private boards of directors step up financially, when it would have been easier to step away. That’s leadership.
The assessment of the arts and cultural scene in Los Angeles after the crash of 2008 has one glaring omission: The arrival downtown in 1998 of the Colburn School for Performing Arts and the subsequent launch of its Conservatory in 2003, which competes today with the very top echelon of such programs nationally and internationally. The Colburn has collaborated with the L.A. Phil, the L.A. Opera, LACO and many other arts organizations in Los Angeles. It is a good neighbor, providing free or low-cost tickets to top-flight musical and dance performances throughout the year and creating strong arts programs with many of the Title 1 public schools in its neighborhood. The school will also create significant new performing arts capacity downtown with a major facility designed by Frank Gehry. To have talented young people thriving in the very heart of the Grand Avenue of the Arts, is a great thing for L.A. and for the world of music and dance.
Reality check for ‘Outlander’
One hopes that the new season of “Outlander” will at least note — as your story [by Emily Zemler, “A Whole New World, Sort Of,” Nov. 1] did not — that the South’s plantation system was developed by the second sons of Scottish lairds, deprived of inheriting their ancestral feudal estates. These barons of the New World first imported indentured servants as their serfs, debtors from their home country who chose immigration over imprisonment in Scotland. When the latter proved insufficient to tend and harvest the cotton crops, the Scottish plantation owners turned to importing Africans as slaves. Does Claire Fraser know all that?
Hershl Hartman, the Sholem Community
Let celebrities have their say
Why is space given to letters like those from Bob Launius and Geri Witt [“Calendar Feedback,” Nov. 4]? Both writers express their political anger quite clearly but also are opposed to celebrities having opinions. By running such letters, you appear to legitimize questioning of your own journalists’ integrity and also encourage the view that celebrities aren’t entitled to opinions.
I’m not especially a Willie Nelson fan, but I support his right to an opinion.
Shedding light on Paris phrase
The article about the film “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” [“A Magical City of Lights,” Nov. 4], is very complimentary of the movie’s depiction of Paris in the 1920s, with descriptions of historically perfect sets, fashion and design. But Paris has been known (at least since the late 1800s into the early 1920s) as the “City of Light” not the “City of Lights” as per the headline.
The “Light” in the famous term refers to the light that was brought into Paris by Georges Haussmann, commissioned by Napoleon III in 1853 to demolish the dark, teeming medieval neighborhoods and bring sunlight into the city by creating wide avenues, city squares and parks.
Mona Shafer Edwards
Essential guide to small theater
Thank you for “The 99-Seat Beat.” It is essential to support the craft.
It’s not quite ‘nonpartisan’
I hope the get-out-the-vote telethon is a smashing success [“This Telethon Wants Voters, Not Their Cash,” Nov. 1]. But is it truly a “nonpartisan” push? I suppose it’d be impolitic to acknowledge that the impetus for this telethon came from progressives who oppose conservatives’ relentless voter-suppression efforts.