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Insider Contention Over Editing of ‘The Contender’

Bravo to actor Gary Oldman, a real rebel, for having the guts to criticize Steven Spielberg and David Geffen for editing “The Contender” to suit their own political views (Morning Report, Oct. 18). Oldman reflects what many Americans already know: Hollywood is a propaganda pit for the Democratic party, and “The Contender” just another piece of PC tripe.

I’m an Independent and I am sickened by the mainstream media bias and the Hollywood propaganda that has infiltrated so many films and the nightly news coverage. It’s as if serious issues have been reduced to the infantile formula of “Democrats, good; Republicans, bad.”

There’s little subtlety in a Hollywood film today, just the shrill hype and preaching of an industry full of its PC self.

BJ SULLIVAN

San Francisco

* In the past few days, several members of the media have been making hay of comments attributed to Gary Oldman and his producer/manager, Douglas Urbanski, in Premiere magazine as saying that DreamWorks, the company distributing “The Contender,” forced me to make cuts on the film once they had purchased it with the explicit purpose of giving it a pro-liberal/anti-conservative stance.

Up until now, I have, for the most part, resisted talking about this (except on my former radio station, KABC) because, despite my high regard for Oldman as an actor, I considered the claims outrageous and unsubstantiated. However, now that The Times, my hometown newspaper, has reported on this story, I feel compelled to take a stand and hopefully put this matter to rest.

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Neither DreamWorks nor anybody at DreamWorks ever instructed or even suggested to me that I recut the film to give it a liberal bent. Here are the simple facts:

“The Contender” is a film that I shot with independent money in the summer of 1999. After seeing the completed picture, DreamWorks bought the domestic rights to distribute it.

After the deal was made with the studio, I had a long conversation with Steven Spielberg, one of the owners of the studio. I told him that I thought the movie was still a little fat and that I wanted to edit out about five to 10 minutes. He told me he thought the film played very well as it was but that, if I wanted to recut the film, I would have the full support of DreamWorks.

Spielberg was good to his word. Over the next few months, my editor, Michael Jablow, and I made some edits to the film. Absolutely every decision we made had to do with pace, story and emotional verve. Simply put, I wanted to make “The Contender” a better and more efficient thriller.

By the way, the Morning Report piece says that DreamWorks paid me to recut my movie. Not true. I have not received a dime from DreamWorks insofar as “The Contender” is concerned.

ROD LURIE

Writer-director, “The Contender”

Los Angeles


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