Hollywood once provided protection for some of its people. For example, Rock Hudson was heterosexual to the public until 1985, when he announced he had AIDS.
Studios protect big moneymakers. The movies with Rock Hudson and Doris Day were profitable. Each star was given the Sheriff’s telephone number to say, “Lay off.” The Sheriff wasn’t going to go fucking around with the talent. They were the income of Hollywood.
During the 1970s, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and producer Robert Evans were celebrated for lifestyles of sexual extravagance.
Well, they’re all virgins, every last one of them. I can testify to that. And the last one you mentioned, he’s a super virgin.
They’ve certainly never been criticized and condemned for their sexual excesses. But Polanski was condemned even before he pled guilty to raping a girl.
Well, believe it or not, anti-Semitism is very strong out here, even though this is a Jewish business. L.B. Mayer was the worst anti-Semite of all.
But he was Jewish.
Well, Mayer’s view was, “The public will turn on all of us if they know that one of us has done anything.”
You think anti-Semitism is motivating the prosecution of Polanski?
Anti-Semitism got poor Polanski. He was also a foreigner. He did not subscribe to American values in the least. To [his persecutors], that seemed vicious and unnatural.
What are “American values”?
Lying and cheating. There’s nothing better.
So you’re saying that a non-Jewish director wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught up in a sex crime scandal? Such a thing wouldn’t be an issue for Martin Scorsese?
Well, he’s an absolutely sexless director. Can you think of a sex scene that he ever shot?
Errol Flynn stood trial for raping underage girls in 1943, and was acquitted. Was he treated differently than Roman Polanski?
Everybody liked Errol Flynn.
Women threw their underwear at him.
Well, he was clean-limbed. You couldn’t find a single hair on those legs of his. So he’s another golden virgin.
You describe the New York Times as a newspaper “notorious for its dullness and hostility to excellence of any kind, other than thievery.” What do you mean by that?
Ask anyone who was a writer in the 1940s and 50s. If the ghost of Ernest Hemingway were here, he would explain it to you. The paper was a bunch of dull hacks.
During that period, the paper didn’t review any of your books. You’ve said this “blacklisting” was a blessing.
It was. My first book was in 1946. Eighteen years later, when I published the novel Julian, the paper caved in and finally reviewed me. Everybody told me that Julian, a very complex story about the apostate emperor of Rome, wouldn’t sell. But it was number one. The Times’ reviewer, Orville Prescott, came out of retirement to knock me. Now that’s dedication. I complimented him in public.
The Hearst newspapers wouldn’t review your books either. Is that ban what led you into writing for Hollywood?