AIP ballyhoo


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977

THE CHILD ballyhoo

From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977


From Boxoffice Magazine, May 30, 1977




Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - August 31, 1983

Author: Ann Kolson, Inquirer Staff Writer

Gorehounds are a breed apart.

They can be seen lining up outside movie theaters for such stomach-turners as Corpse Grinder, Maniac, Gore Gore Girls or that all-time favorite I Spit on Your Grave . They crave nothing better than a brutal slaughter, spurting blood, severed limbs, cleaved heads and gouged eyeballs.

Though the low-budget splatter flicks they love are reviled by highbrow critics for their bad acting, poor technical quality and frequently anti- female themes, gorehounds have found a champion in Rick Sullivan.

Sullivan, 28, is the founder, publisher and sole contributor to the Gore Gazette - a 35-cent newsletter dedicated to sleazy films or, as its masthead proclaims, "Your Bi-Weekly Guide to Horror, Exploitation and Gore in the N.Y. Metro Area." Circulation of the three-year-old publication is 5,000 and growing.

Slight, mild-mannered and bespectacled, Sullivan is a "normal guy" who just happens to be known as "Mr. Gore." He looks more like a certified public accountant than a connoisseur of the gross and disgusting. Funny, he is a certified public accountant, working in North Jersey booking films and doing accounting for a small chain of movie theaters. But that's just his job; sleazy cinema is his life.

Most of Sullivan's spare time is spent in the squalid movie houses around 42d Street in New York City or, sometimes, at suburban New Jersey theaters where gory films are screened at midnight. The Fabian, a five-screen theater owned by Sullivan's boss in fraying downtown Paterson, N.J., is a showplace for the greatest in gore. (One recent imaginative, although unprofitable, booking there was the pairing of Gandhi with Tales of the Crypt, "catering strictly to Hindu gorehounds," Sullivan says.)

According to Sullivan, defining the schlock/shock genre - "goon pictures shown in goon theaters" - is easy. An exploitation film is made only to make money and "any artistic statement is only accidental."

Take the movie Blood Feast (1963), for example, that Sullivan considers a classic. "A lot of people think it's the worst movie ever made," Sullivan says cheerfully. It was made for $20,000 in six days ("It was supposed to be five, but it rained one day.")

Blood Feast - filmed in Miami by Herschell Gordon Lewis, a granddaddy of gore - made $2 million, according to Sullivan, without ever playing in New York, Chicago or the West Coast. (It did, however, play Philadelphia.) Rural Southern drive-ins are where it and films like it fare best.

At the theaters he attends, Sullivan sees who goes but can't say what makes the movies popular. At the theaters in urban New Jersey, audiences are primarily black and Hispanic. In trendy Manhattan theaters and bars that screen gore classics, much of the clientele is gay.

Scratchy prints, uninspired scripts and wooden actors are taken for granted by gorehounds. According to Sullivan, 50 percent of the actors in these films are unknowns, the other 50 percent are has-beens. Cameron Mitchell is one who appears. So is Samantha Eggar.

Sullivan sees himself as kind of a Ralph Nader: "I tell them what to see and what's a rip-off." He admits that as much as 80 percent of the movies are ''garbage" but thinks that "a lot are very good films the press ignores."

This is a fast-buck industry where the advertising budget often exceeds the shooting budget for the film. And where greedy filmmakers change the names of films to capture a new, unsuspecting audience.

Who else but Sullivan could caution the unwary that "Dr. Butcher is the 1979 Italian production, formerly Queen of the Cannibals, to which Aquarius added an opening sequence lifted from a mid-'70s American production known as Tales That Will Rip Your Heart Out from director Roy Frumkes."

The gazette is filled with other helpful tips. "Ignore the ad campaign: Class of 1984 is not the trendy throw-away fluff United is promoting it to be," one review reads. ". . . There is plenty of activity with table saws, lead pipes, switchblades, car crashes . . . to more than satiate any gorehound."

Sullivan turned to gore because he was forbidden to watch horror movies as a kid. That's his theory, anyway. But by the time he accidentally saw The Giant Behemoth, at age 5, he was hooked.

After college he wound up in a three-piece suit working as a financial analyst for Exxon in New York City and spending his lunch hours in 42d Street theaters watching gore.

Sullivan began the Gore Gazette in 1980 at Exxon expense (unbeknownst to Exxon), using company printers and mailing it in company envelopes. He "drew the line," he says, at using company stamps.

The gazette, then free, was gaining in popularity ("the printers liked it better than doing financial statements") and all was going well for several years until a security guard found a copy in the men's room. Exxon threatened to get him for mail fraud - they didn't pursue it - and after 4 1/2 years of work, Sullivan found himself unemployed. Three weeks later he found his present job with the theater chain.

Interesting, sometimes elevating - "I try to include vocabulary expansion in the Gore Gazette; I try to include at least three words readers would have to look up" - Sullivan isn't sure that the Gazette will last forever.

Sometimes, he admits, it gets boring. "How many synonyms are there for 'sick,' 'deranged' and 'crazed'?" he asks.


1994 Theater image from the Flickr photosite of sssdc1

Our Own Outrageous Ontario

Washington Post, The (DC) - October 30, 1981

Author: Michael Kernan

IT IS 7:30 on a Saturday night, and the Ontario Theater is embarking on a marathon of the three "Omen" movies, one after the other. Thirty people are rattling around in the great dark chamber which has room for 1,100. The floor isn't canted, to speak of, but the huge screen is so high that it doesn't matter. A stage projects several yards in front of it. The place is clean, amazingly clean.

"We have three films every night," says Seth Hurwitz, the former manager who now books pictures for the Ontario when he isn't running his own booking company, IMP ("(It's May Party"). "Three movies for $3, it's a gimmick. I go to all the screenings of first-run pictures and only use proven hits. The neighborhood is changing, and we try to keep that in mind."

The neighborhood is perhaps Washington's most interesting, Adams-Morgan, the Columbia Road area between 16th and Connecticut. Blacks, whites, Latinos, artists, embassy people, white-haired apartment dwellers . . . and he's right, it is changing, and the prices are going up.

"I tried 'Elephant Man,' and that didn't go. I tried 'Straw Dogs,' which has plenty of violence, but it didn't go. I put the classic 'Freaks' in with 'The Fantastic Animation Festival,' but that didn't work either. But they loved 'Gloria,' which is a classy movie but violent."

Now the audience is building. People drift in steadily, paying no attention to the movie times. A group, laden with cups, pails and bushel baskets of popcorn, files in and settles itself. On the screen, David Warner is being nastily beheaded by sheet glass, the sound track is screaming and blood is pumping, but the talkative newcomers don't bother to look.

Recently a local magazine attacked the Ontario for running so much violence, notably the sadistic " I Spit on Your Grave ." Hurwitz and the present manager, Carlos Rosario, say they are doing their best to upgrade the product while still making a living. On weekends the theater shows Spanish-language films, mostly Mexican, with the occasional Cantinflas comedy (no subtitles). These do very well indeed.The live rock concerts also do well.

"It's expensive to operate as a concert Hall," Hurwitz says, "because there are no lights or sound, everything has to be brought in and taken out. We pick them carefully, charge $8 or $9, you have to be sure you have a hit. We had three this year, all sellouts."

One problem is making the theater attractive to suburban kids who might feel threatened by the neighborhood and perhaps don't understand the uninhibited Columbia Road audiences. The Ontario goes out of its way to have police protection at concerts and a couple of black-belt bouncers hanging around . . . "They're kids themselves, and they're concerned mainly with the fire regulations. It's a happy group, a little noisy, but we've never had any trouble," Hurwitz says.

The first "Omen" picture is over, and more people drift in from the black-marble-and-mirror lobby designed by Marvin Goldman when K-B Theaters took over the place in 1958. Someone calls to a friend clear across the theater. the friend shouts happily back. Small children run up and down the aisles. Everyone seems immune to the film's determined spookiness. It is only when the action explodes that the chatter stops, like crickets in the country when a car passes.

"Outrageous is our byword," Hurwitz says. "We don't do any X-rated stuff. I would say the ideal combination was 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'halloween II.' The perfect Ontario movie. Sometimes they come in late and don't like it and demand their money back, or they want to pay $1 just to see the last picture."

For several years he tried to run hard-ticket reserved-seat programs at the Ontario, but it was no good. The turning point came in March 1979, when Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon" opened, and receipts went through the roof. Since then, the Ontario Theater has provided a fascinating study in esthetics, teetering delicately on the razor's edge between art and money. It's also the last word in community movie theaters.

The other night they had a ridiculous picture called "Dracula's Dog." A guy came up to the box office and said, "I didnt know dracula had no dawg." But he paid his $3 and went in anyway.

INTO THE VALLEY OF THE 'ULTRAVIXEN' bu David Lees and Stan Berkowits

Poster image from Bosnuk's Public Gallery :

Into the Valley of the 'Ultravixen'

Washington Post, The (DC) - March 18, 1979

Author: David Lees and Stan Berkowits; Copyright (COPYRIGHT) 1979, David Lees and Stan Berkowitz Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate

The sign on the sandy highway optimistically proclaims: "Rosamond, Gateway to Progress." But if there have ever been any gateways (or any rpogress) during the history of this little town on the edge of the Mojave Desert, they've been sunbaked or sandblasted out of existence. A handful of fast-food franchises huddle together along the only street in town. Hilly desert country stretches out on all sides; a lonely highway cuts across it all, going to nowhere from nowhere.

Nobody in Rosamond knows about it, but the biggest news here is the shooting of the finishing touches of a feature motion picture.

The firm carries the marquee-stretching title "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens." Coupled with the almost furtive location work, it's a sure sign that Russ Meyer, the man Forbes magazine calls "the Hugh Hefner of the adult-movie business," is back at work.

Work, for Meyer, means shooting -- and marketing -- his own filmed fantasies. Meyer comes up with the ideas for his films. He collaborates in the writing of the scripts. He secures all financing, half of the money usually coming out of his own pocket. In addition to the traditional duties associated with a producerdirector, Meyer feels most comfortable working as his own cinematographer, camera operator, gaffer, transportation captain, unit manager and occasinal cook. He will serve as the film's editor, and after it's completed, he will spend one day each week going over ledger sheets and calling up theaters, in his role as the distributor of the finished product. It may open soon in Dallas.

Although Meyer has kept away from hardcore footage in his work, he has spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself against obscenity charges throughout America.

During the last 18 years, Meyer has turned out 32 films. At last count, the take for his movies totaled around $60 million. Meyer's audience, once limited to older men in raincoats, has grown to include college students and even a few women. This small, youthful Russ Meyer film cult turns out in full force for Meyer reruns.

It takes most of the two-hour drive out to Rosamond for Meyer to sketch in the plot of the film. Concerned with the career of a young man whose sexual dysfunction is cured by the divine intervention of a lady evangelist, "Beneath" is scattered with silly character names, cases of mistaken identity and a cheerful bawdiness throughout. Meyer can point with pride to Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert as a collaborator on "Beneath." Ebert, an old friend of Meyer's who won the journalism prize as a film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times, has his name listed as screenwriter on Meyer's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." This time around, he wants to use a pseudonym.

"Go ahead and use his name," Meyer says. "He just tells everyone anyway. He wants to call himself Holly Martins (the character Joseph Cotten played in "The Third Man"), but I think Mr. Hyde would be better."

There is little chance that "Beneath" will show up on many critics' top-10 lists, despite the shadowy presence of Ebert. In New Times, Richard Corliss accused Meyer of going directly from adolescence to senility in "Up." Another critic wrote that he found "not one damned thing redemptive" about "beyond the Valley of the Dolls."

But to many observers, Meyer's films have become important not so much for their content as for the way they are made. Meyer's working style offers what some say is a sensible alternative to the extravagances of major studio productions. A Meyer film rarely exceeds its $250,000 budget. He takes only a few people along on the crew; the films he makes require only a few weeks to shoot. A finished Meyer product has the high production values of studio features -- and Meyer's astonishing batting average of 30 hits and two flops is far better than any studio's.

On Meyer's small crews, everyone has double duties. Often, the sound recordist helps with the props, the makeup woman claps the slate and the actors help carry the equipment.

"Meyer is very overbearing, but he gets the job done," says Charles Pitt, an actor who played the lead in "Supervixens." "It's like old Blood-and Guts Patton. If he needs a shot, he'll lie down in the mud and show you the shot he wants; he'll never tell an actor to do something he won't."

Meyer has a tired face, the lines etched by the months he has spent looking at his latest film through the tiny window of a Moviola.Sitting in a corner booth in the bar at the Hollywood Nickodell, the 56-year-old Meyer sips on a nonstop series of Bombay martinis. He is reluctant to speculate on how long be will be able to sustain his flat-out working pace, but it is clear he intends to continue as a strictly one-man show.

"I want to make my films, my kind of pictures, one a year," he says.

The relative comfort of a full union crew doesn't seem to appeal to him. He has signed with only one union, Screen Actors Guild; the others have never bothered him.

"If you want to make a picture that has any real scope and name stars, where you have to have portable toilets, policemen, caterers, you have to sign a contract because you need all those services. It serves me no purpose to have a giant crew for my kind of film... but it's very good if you're going to make a musical, like 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'"

"Beyond" -- or, as some critics called it, "B.V.D." -- was Meyer's first major studio film, made in 1970 for 20th Century-Fox. He went on to direct "The Seven Minutes" for the studio, but when it bombed, Meyer found himself back on his own.

"I wouldn't go back to a major studio," Meyer says flatly. "At Fox, [Richard] Zanuck was always telling me how great it was to see my car in the lot on Sundays, but I don't think he'd ever seen one of my films.

"I don't want to make an art movie," continues Meyer. "I don't want to make a film that has great critical acclaim. It's nice if someone says a few nice things, but the important thing is the guy who plunks down his $3.50 or $4 to see the movie.

"The satisfaction I have is that I can make films that are not peopled with any kind of stars; and if I do it right, people will come in large numbers to see what the hell I've done.

"My films are just extensions of my own fantasies. Right now, I want to make a film a year and have a good time."

Meyer's definition of "a good time" has always included flirting with disaster. Meyer, and nearly everyone who has always included flirting with disaster. Meyer, and nearly everyone who has worked for him, has a stock pile of stories about boat crashes, near-electrocutions and brushes with venomous snakes, all encountered during the course of shooting.

Steve Oliver, who starred in Meyer's 1964 bike epic, "Motorpsycho," before playing in 148 episodes of "Peyton Polace" as Lee Webber, recalls: "If Meyer wanted something, he'd get it. We were shooting on a hill, with about a foot and a half on each side of us and the camera right in the way of the bikes. Two actors ended up in the hospital, one with a hole in his stomach two inches wide."

But for Meyer, the worst disaster is failing to complete a movie.

"You make the film by the grace of God and a long-handled spoon," he says. "The only thing that counts is get the film done, no matter what you have to do. Lie, cheat, steal, bunco, con, get it out."

All Those measures failed recently on a project called (depending on who you talk to) either "Anarchy in the U.K." or "Who Killed Bambi?" Meyer was hired by the management of the then-punk, now-defunct Sex Pistols to direct a takeoff on "A Hard Day's Night"; but after three days of shooting in Ireland, the production stopped.

Meyer is suing the Pistols for back pay; they are counter suing him, claiming unprofessionalism and alleging that he attacked an actress during auditions. Meyer denies the charge, but he hopes the court fight will generate publicity for his new film.

Meyer's hunger for publicity never extends to the actual shooting of his films. He clamps a security lid on the set because he says his actresses balk at appearing naked in front of gawking strangers. It's also cheaper to shoot in a semi secret environment.

Segments of "Supervixens" were filmed in the home of an old Army buddy of Meyer's who lives in Highland Park. An interior for "Beneath" was shot at The Other Ball bar in San Gabriel. In selecting an exterior for "Beneath's" inserts, Meyer simply turned off the main highway, drove across the rough terrain and opened up shop at the foot of a hill.

Meyer's drive to complete his own films in his own way often tempts even the unknown actors he uses to walk off the set and across the desert. On his "Cherry, Harry and Raquel," an actress left in the middle of shooting.

"The person who's involved in simulated sex," Meyer explains, "They think after a while, well, this is just a porno film, why is it so important?"

Uschi Digard, a buxom North Dakotan who has acted in four of Meyer's films and served most recently as associate producer for him, claims, "As an actress, you have to give Russ what Russ wants."

Meyer alumni have graduated to other things from his films. Oliver plays the character role of Dugan in Crown International Pictures' top-grossing "Malibu Beach." Harrison Page, a regular in "C.P.O. Sharkey," Ken Swofford of "The Eddie Capra Mysteries," Alex Rocco, who was Moe Green in "The Godfather," and Charles Napier, Chrome Angel in "Handle With Care," have all worked for Meyer.

Meyer is quick to point out the irony that although he is known for casting actresses of spectacular dimension, few of them have gone on to any prominence. Former Playmate Dolly Reed starred in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," but now she's known mainly for a succession of guest appearances on game shows with her husband, comedian Dick Martin. Erica Gavin, whom Meyer credits with the success of his "Vixen," now works in a boutique in West Hollywood. Shari Eubank worked in "Supervixens," acted in one other exploitation film, then returned to her home in rural Illinois.

"None of them are primarily actresses," says Digard. "They don't really want to be actresses. They either marry a rich man or go into other fields. I never really wanted to be an actress. I've had fun, but I've never felt about acting as I do about being behind the camera."

Francesca (Kitten) Natividad, one of the leads in "Beneath," seems to echo Digard's assessment. "I don't have to be a serious actress. I have a great body, so why not use it?"

Phyllis Elizabeth Davis may become the exception to the dismal track record of ex-Meyer actresses. Her first major role was in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," a film she somehow managed to get through without removing her clothes. Her later work in a couple of women-in-prison films did involve some nudity, but that part of her past didn't prevent her from doing "Love American Style" on television (she was with the blackout cast) and a major feature, "The Choirboys."

Currently on the ABC series "Vegas," Davis remembers that she and Meyer "just didn't hit it off.

"I don't want to say anything negative about him," she adds. "We just didn't become friends -- at all."

Meyer's subject may be sex, but he is puritanical about off screen passion. He demands that the sexes be segregated while on location and is constantly on the alert to make sure they stay that way. Just talking to an actress alone in her room drew an assistant cameraman an angry reprimand from Meyer.

"A newspaper editor came by while we were shooting once," reports Meyer, "a real swinger. He thought we'd all be mingling together like angle worms. Fall asleep, then wake up and do a couple of shots. That's not the way it works."

"Sure, you'd be anxious to see what the girl looked like when she took off her clothes," says one former grip for Meyer, "but then, after about five minutes, it was business as usual. Well... maybe 10 minutes."

"I choose to think that if the actors and actresses continue to keep being horny, their whole attitude is hungry, lean. It may contribute to their performance," Meyer said of his on-location policy.

Ms. Nativdad, who tells a reporter to "make sure to say I'm his girlfriend," seems to contradict Meyer's avowed reluctance to mix real-life sex with is celluloid fantasies. "I was in 'Up,' and after that I really wanted to be in his next one really bad. I kept inviting him out to lunch, but he wouldn't go. Finally, he went, because he had nothing else to do, I guess. You know, he drinks and I don't but I was drinking anyway. I passed out and woke up at his house. That's how our romance started," she says brightly.

Their relationship has continued during the making of "Beneath," and because of it, Meyer lifted has ban on fraternization.

During principal photography, he and Kitten would often slip away together at lunch. Concerned, Kitten says, "Do you think everyone knew what we were doing?"

"Sure," Meyer replies blithely."When you came back, some of your body makeup was gone."

At Rosamond, Kitten sponges on her body makeup for what she hopes will be the last time... on this film. Meyer completed principal photography a year ago, but he is still busy shooting inserts, brief pieces of nonverbal footage that add to the flow of the film. Kitten's figure is pure Little Annie Fannie, with an assist from a Las Vegas plastic surgeon.

Despite the proximity of these distractions, Meyer works steadily through the afternoon. His personality on the set is low-key; he rarely shouts. He moves quickly to set up each shot, but he doesn't seem to panic as he hurries to wrap up shooting before the sun goes behind the mountains. Everything goes so smoothly, one is tempted to wonder why Meyer needs even one assistant.

But suddenly, Meyer asks his assistant to operate the camera, enabling Meyer to do the one thing he hasn't done so far in this film -- act. He will play himself, directing "Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens."

After the scene, with the sun gone, Meyer takes advantage of te natural echo of the hills to record some sound effects. Kitten and the assistant position themselves next to each other, about 20 feet from the microphone. They burst into a cacophony of orgiastic moans and groans, punctuated by lunatic dialogue. Meyer interrupts several times, orchestrating the precise effect he has in mind.

"I want it to sound like lunch at the zoo," he says with satisfaction.


Violence in the Wake of 'Warriors'

Washington Post, The (DC) - February 22, 1979

Author: Megan Rosenfeld

On February 15, Martin Yacabowicz, 16, was riding on a Boston subway at about 10 p.m. when he got into an argument with six young men he knew; one of them had a knife strapped to his right leg. A few minutes later, a knife had been plunged into Yacabowicz' stomach; he staggered off the train and collapsed at a bus stop, where he was found by two policemen and taken to a hospital. He died at 5:15 a.m. Police have charged two young men with his murder, and say they were among the six and that they had all been to see a movie called "The Warriors," advertised as "Boston's Number One Newest Hit."

On February 12, at 10:20 p.m., in the lobby of a movie theater in the Esplanade Shopping Center in Oxnard, Calif., Timothy Gitchel, 18, his brother and two of his friends, all white, were asked for a quarter by one of a group of 20 black youths. They got into a shouting match; Gitchel got a bloody nose. The fight escalated, and a few minutes later Gitchel, who had been stabbed in the heart, staggered into another area, and died. The movie: "The Warriors."

"The Warriors," a $4 million feature made with unknown actors which opened on Feb. 9, grossed $3.5 million in its first three days. At least five incidents of violence have followed in its wake, although a Paramount spokesman denies any direct link. In addition to the deaths in Oxnard and Boston, there was a fatal shooting in a Palm Springs drive-in , a subway rampage in New York, and a rock and bottle throwing incident at a drive-in in Oxnard.

Paramount spokesman Gordon Weaver said that as a result of the incidents the company had withdrawn its advertising, and offered to pay for extra security at any of the 670 movie theaters playing the film. Two theaters , in Oxnard and Palm Springs, have canceled showings of "The Warriors."

"We canceled the advertising because it was turning into a media event," Weaver said. "We didn't want to have a situation where a news commentator would finish a report on one of these incidents and then an ad would come on saying 'now playing at your local theater .'"

(Last night, however, the AP quoted Weaver as saying Paramount had decided to resume advertising but that the ads would be different -- telling prospective patrons only that the film was being shown and where they could see it. "We wanted an ad that could never be construed as being exhortative," he was quoted as saying.)

Weaver said he did not believe that the movie inspired the violence, and cautioned that in the incident in Palm Springs the participants had been involved in another fight unrelated to the movie, and that in Oxnard the blacks had seen the movie but the whites had not.

"What happens is when you have an event where you have large groups of people from diverse backgrounds meeting in a common forum, it perhaps provides a setting for something antisocial to happen. I've seen enough bloody noses at high school football games to know that... You have to look at the number of films released every year and say do people act out their fantasies? That does not seem to happen."

Massachusetts state Sen. Michael LoPresti complained in a letter to the Boston area district attorney that the film "depicts youth crime in a glamorous manner." LoPresti asked to have the movie banned in Boston; assistant district attorney Paul K. Leary said the office would view the film and see if it was violating any local statutes.

"It's a very violent picture," said the assistant manager of the downtown Boston theater where the six youths had allegedly seen "The Warriors."

"It's fantasy violence," said Weaver. "The violence is not real violence, it's pop-gun violence. Obviously, heads get bashed in, but it's not done in an ugly way."

"These are the Armies of the Night," read the advertisements for "The Warriors." "They outnumber the cops five to one..." It takes place in New York City, and involves the efforts of a gang (the Warriors) to reach their home turf via subway after being mistakenly blamed for the death of another gang's leader.

"There are not innocent people who get attacked," said Weaver. "It's good guys and bad guys, like a Western. The one truly bad person receives retribution."

Locally, the film is playing at the Town Downtown, the K.B. Silver, and the K.B. Georgetown Square. The manager of the Town theater said the only problem he'd had was "some noisy kids" one day when school was canceled because of the snow. He said Paramount was paying for the two extra security guards he had hired for the run of the movie.

Oxnard police spokesman Lt. Dan Hanline said the fight did not appear to be a gang war but rather a racial incident. There were 60 people in the lobby during the fight, he said, yet police have been unable to charge anyone with the murder. One suspect was released for insufficient evidence "although there was blood on him."

In another incident the night before in Oxnard, Hanline said, young people threw rocks and bottles at police cars called to a drive-in after a showing of the film was canceled because of fog. Asked if he thought the movie was related to both incidents, Hanline said, "you can't expect me to answer that." However, he said, violence of that type is "rare" in Oxnard, where last year there were a total of 14 murders in a population of 100,000.

Paramount Pictures executives were "shocked, totally shocked," at the violent incidents surrounding the showing of the movie, Weaver said. "Three young people lost their lives," he said. "We knew young people would like it, but we certainly were not prepared for that."

"I'll tell you one thing," said the assistant theater manager in Boston."We haven't done such good business in 15 years, not since we had 'My Fair Lady'."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - January 31, 1983
Author: LIZ BALMASEDA Herald Staff Writer

When the flying cars, burning rubber and crashing metal stopped Sunday morning, a wreckage of fast cars littered Collins Avenue like a mess of linguini.

"Anybody get killed? Where are the bodies?" a hysterical motorist asked a police officer.

"Nah -- they walked away without a scratch," the policeman answered coolly.

Well, they walked away without a scratch after the director said "Cut."

It was only a movie -- a wild, wild movie: an Italian comedy about two wacky secret agents who -- in their chase for the bad guys -- come to Miami Beach in their "Supercar," check into the Fontainebleau Hilton and get into all sorts of zany trouble in the wildest of places -- for example, the Seaquarium.

Go For It. it is called.

"Is it Burt Reynolds or Jackie Gleason?" asked a passerby, seemingly familiar with local film production.

When she was told the cast, she gave a blank look.


The film, which will be edited in Italy and dubbed in various languages, stars Italy's Dynamic Duo, Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill , familiar faces of the slapstick genre. Produced by the El Pico company, it is directed by Roman filmmaker E.B. Clutcher (his American name).

The secret agents zoom about Collins Avenue in their custom-made Supercar, a speed machine that resembles a low-rider vehicle.

Still learning the function of all the hidden gadgets in the car, the spys hit the oil-slick button by mistake, releasing a jetstream of oil (actually grape-colored water) onto Collins Avenue, which triggers a series of spinouts and wrecks. Even a Miami police car involved in the chase gets into the demolition session.

"The Italians are here. Incredible," chuckled one spectator.

But during Sunday's smash-up scenes, the big stars took a breather. The action scenes were done by local stunt actors like Mike Warren -- the guy who walked out of the smashed Olds without a scratch -- and Artie Malesci, who also maneuvered a jump car at a deceiving 40 miles per hour.

"I've done that stunt about 200 times," shrugged Warren, taking a swig of Coors during lunchtime.

Passersby didn't know that.

Before they continued a picture-taking escapade, a group of Japanese tourists stopped to take their pictures in front of the set.

Hubert Yount and Fran Eiseman, two Indiana Realtors in Miami Beach for a convention, parked themselves in lawn chairs that Yount extracted from his trailer.

"That crash scene was as real as can be," said Yount, who took pictures of the whole thing.

"Both of those guys got out without a scratch, bruise or bump. They came out of the wreck laughing."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 7, 1985
Author: MORRIS PANNER Herald Staff Writer

Hollywood has come to the Hialeah Police Department, and Chief C.B. Seay has won a gold star.

Columbia Pictures is producing a police comedy film and the production company is using the Hialeah department for the film.

"I don't really like it much," said Seay, who was relaxing in his office after a scene in which he had been fired by the evil and corrupt police commissioner. "And, if you'll excuse me, I have to go catch up on a script."

The film, which has a working title of Policemen of Eighth Street, takes place in a small, but unnamed city in South Florida.

Two local companies, El Pico and Trans-Cinema, are filming in Hialeah week. For the first half of the week, the company filmed in the police offices at City Hall. Today and Friday, the crew will move to the North Station on Le Jeune Road.

Seay, who had to take several days off to shoot the film, said that six films had been done in Hialeah before, and he acted in one film about 12 years ago.

"Even though I'm off, I still have to keep up with things at the department, so this has been a busy time," Seay said.

Film company official Josi Konski said the chief was a natural at his job.

"He has a very important role," Konski said. "The part is just him. We couldn't find an actor that is as good at being chief, as the chief is at being chief.

"He has a good, strong face and he doesn't over act." Although Seay is the only police officer with a speaking part, dozens of other officers are acting as extras for $50 a day. Seay would not say what he is being paid. Lt. Lowell Coffin, who has been in charge of recruiting the extras and is an extra
himself, said he has had no trouble getting volunteers.

"We put out a memo," Coffin said. "And people seem pretty interested."

The film makers said there is no guarantee the extras will end up in the movie because much more film is shot than actually used.

Seay, however, has a "critical part," and will definitely be a part of the film, Konski said.

The movie, which will cost about $7 or 8 million to produce, will be released either in the summer or Christmas season of 1986.

Max Wolkoff, executive producer, said the movie will be released primarily in Europe and Japan, and that the stars of the film, Terence Hill and BudSpencer , are big names in Europe.

"Kind of like Clint Eastwood over here," Wolkoff said.

Wolkoff said the movie is being produced in English, but that it will be dubbed in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese.

"There will be a lot of action and fighting in this film," Wolkoff said. "But no one bleeds and no one dies. This is a comedy."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - December 28, 1985
Author: MARK POTOK Herald Staff Writer

A few waiters, several retirees, a college football player, a smattering of children, a dry cleaner and two college professors gathered in Hollywood Friday.

Their extraordinary mission: Be typical.

So the odd group, dressed in everything from sweaters to bikinis, got up and cheered at the Six Flags Atlantis water theme park. They sat down, and then they stood up and cheered again. A man yelled, and so the group of 130 cheered some more.

The movies came to Hollywood Friday -- only this was Hollywood, Fla. To hear some of the extras working the gig, the business isn't all glamour and spice.

"We eat hot dogs and run around in jeans just like everybody else," said Hollywood resident Lori Duffy, 20, who was one of the extras. "All the stars live in trailers and I don't think that's very glamorous."

But the crew, filming the latest South Florida scene in The Genie, an update of the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp,
drew stares nonetheless from regular tourists and park-goers as they shot crowd scenes of a waterskiing meet.

To many of the extras, however, it was old hat.

Most had been in movies before, or at least commercials or television serials, and many had worked for the Rome-based movie firm of Compagnia Generale R.T. before. So the day, the first of three at Six Flags Atlantis, was for many a time of backslapping and renewed friendships.

The work was routine.

"You think it's going to be fun, all this acting and stuff," said Laura Iovino, 15, another Hollywood resident. "But it really isn't. It's boring."

"This is about the ninth or tenth movie," said Jane Candelori, a local retiree. "I like it. We get paid, we get good food and we get to meet Burt Reynolds."

That was last time, in the movie Stick.

Most of the stars of The Genie are Italian, even the leading man whose stage name is Bud Spencer in the English- language film. Still, about 4,000 South Floridians will make $40 a day as extras in the almost $3 million movie.

Many of those working came in answer to radio ads. But the vast majority, said casting director Beverly McDermott of Hollywood, were drawn from talent agencies, old friendships and a personal computer file of some 15,000 names.

Candelori was at the filming with another veteran extra and retiree, Frank Duffy. Another old friend, a woman in star-shaped glasses, walked up. They chatted about old times, about the summer 1986 release of the film in American theaters, and then Duffy turned to make the point once more.

"The kids think it's all glamour," he said. "But it's a lot of hard work."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 19, 1985
Author: Herald Staff

Three classic horror movies will be shown tonight and Saturday at six area Wometco Theaters.

Beginning at midnight each night, the films Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Zombies will be shown at the Palm Springs, Miracle, Dadeland, Kendale Lakes, Plaza Hollywood and 163rd Street Theaters .


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 5, 1982
Author: LOURDES BREZO Herald Staff Writer

A fantasy trip into the future turned into a quick trip to jail for one Hialeah man at a trouble-ridden opening of the movie Star Trek -- The Wrath of Kahn.

Michael Chiochetti, 50, of 1364 W. 62nd St., was one of the 400 to 500 persons attending the 10 p.m. showing of Star Trek at the Apollo Theatre, 4054 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah.

He was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and resisting arrest with violence, Hialeah police said.

About 30 minutes into the movie, viewers complained that the sound was inadequate, police said. About half of the patrons began demanding refund of their $4 admission, Sgt. Joseph Elizardi said.

"The management made an announcement that there was no cash to refund," Elizardi said, "because the day’s receipts had been taken to the bank.

The people were offered passes for the future."

"If I would have had the money here I would have given them refunds," theater manager Jorge Lemes said.

Lemes estimated the crowd asking for refunds at 40 to 50 persons. Sgt. Elizardi estimated 150.

The sergeant called it a potentially dangerous situation, "because of a handful of people."

"They started verbally abusing a police officer," Elizardi said. "Then he

Chiochetti took a swing at a police officer." Chiochetti missed, the sergeant said.

"He tried to take another swing when he was arrested," Elizardi said.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 10, 1982

A Times Square peep show theater , which advertises "7 Live Bedroom Acts" on its marquee, received a $65,000 loan from the federal Small Business Administration.

The loan was granted in 1977 and passed on to the owner of the Show World Center on West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, considered one of the largest combination peep-show theater and sex-magazine shops in the city.

Officials said SBA auditors discovered the nature of the theater about two years ago. The loan has been repaid, they said.

The theater , which advertises pornographic films and live sexual acts, received the loan under an SBA program that encourages investment firms to support local businesses.

Two investment firms applied for the $65,000 loan listing the recipient as a "movie theater ."



Image pilfered from

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 24, 1982
Author: BOB THOMAS Associated Press

Most producers of war movies start by opening negotiations with Yugoslavia or the Philippines. Al Ruddy wanted to try something novel: filming in the United States.

It wasn’t easy. Ruddy had to go to the Pentagon four times before winning approval.

Ruddy is no faint-hearted producer. He made The Godfather despite pressure from Italian-American groups, which objected to the concept of a Mafia, and from Paramount Pictures, which wanted to fire Francis Coppola early in filming. He also put together Cannonball Run for the Hong Kong-based Golden Harvest Productions, paying Burt Reynolds $5 million for showing up.

The $20-million Megaforce, which opens Friday in South Florida theaters , marked a reunion of Golden Harvest, Ruddy and director Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit). It concerns a fictional U.S. battle force with futuristic weapons and vehicles which can be transported swiftly to any trouble spot in the world.

"I always wanted to make the picture in the United States," says Ruddy. "But I needed to have the use of troops and material, and all approvals must come from the Department of Defense. A producer submits the script and receives one of three responses:

"1. The picture shows U.S. equipment and personnel in a flattering light and is eligible for full cooperation.

"2. The picture is not in the best interests of the military and can receive no help.

"3. The picture does not put U.S. equipment and personnel in a flattering or unflattering light and cooperation is possible at a user’s rate -- meaning the producer pays for use of equipment, gasoline, troops, etc."

Ruddy said his first three trips to the Pentagon were fruitless "because the Defense Department didn’t like the idea of portraying a phantom army with exotic equipment, ready to fight anywhere in the world." He had hoped to film in Nevada, combining studio-made war gadgets with equipment of the National Guard.

"While I was in Washington, I went country-shopping," said the Montreal-born producer. "I found interest from South Africa and Israel, and I was about to leave for Africa when word got to Nevada authorities that the state was going to lose the $10 million we planned to spend there."

Pressure was applied, and the film was allowed to rent National Guard gear with one constraint: Location of Megaforce headquarters would not be identified.

Now the National Guard is lending C-130s to fly Megaforce props around the country to help promote the opening. Included are megadestroyers -- armored cars with cannons, rockets, sidewinders, Gatling gun and lasers -- and a six-wheel battlewagon with a computer to monitor all the equipment during warfare. The guard will use the tour to help recruitment.

Ruddy isn’t around to oversee the tour. He’s leaving for locations of another Golden Harvest war epic, High Road to China. That one’s shooting in Yugoslavia.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 9, 1982
Author: GEOFFREY TOMB Herald Columnist

Remember Frankie, Annette, the Fab Fifties and those films about where the boys are? Well, they are back.

A new film, Spring Break, is being filmed along "The Strip" in Fort Lauderdale. Except there is a problem. This is July. Spring break has sprung. No one seems to know where the boys, or the girls, are.

"We need hundreds of extras," says Steve Zeller, publicist for the movie.

Imagine that. They do a $5-million movie and come to Florida in the off-season.

If you would like to take part in the film, it’s hot and boring but you do get a free lunch (no cash, however), show up at 11 a.m. today at the Marlin Beach Hotel, 17 South Atlantic Blvd.

Zeller suggests you wear T-shirts and bathing suits. Naturally. The film has few recognizable stars. The director is Sean S. Cunningham, who did the original Friday the 13th. Lead actors are David Knell, Perry Lang, who appeared in 1941, Paul Land and Steve Bassett.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - October 1, 1982

A human skeleton estimated to be 100 years old, rented as a Halloween costume-ball prop and a star in a horror movie and lodge initiation rites, was back where it belonged Wednesday at the county morgue.

Police officer Frank Augustine recognized the skeleton as the real thing and not a plastic replica when he spotted it lying in a glass-topped coffin in a Costume World store.

The skeleton, rented for $100 during Halloween for many years, appeared in the 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead, filmed in Pittsburgh.

The bones were removed from the costume store Tuesday and identified by Allegheny County Coroner Joshua Perper as those of a middle-aged woman.

Police have not ruled out foul play in the woman’s death, but they are leaning toward the theory that the skeleton was originally used by a medical school and discarded as it began to deteriorate.

Marilyn Wick, owner of the Costume World shop, said she bought it last spring from Larry Wintersteller when his costume shop folded.

Wintersteller, now living in San Diego, Calif., said he knew the skeleton was authentic when he bought it about 10 years ago.

He said he purchased it from a man who said the bones were used in initiations by members of a now-defunct Odd Fellows lodge.

"Why didn’t they see it while it was sitting in my store
window -- while I needed the publicity?" Wintersteller asked.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - November 13, 1982
Author: BOB MIMS Associated Press

There was a time when many people living near two drive-in movies snapped closed their living-room curtains when darkness fell.

The reason: R-rated fare on the nearby 40-foot-wide screens.

But nearly two years ago, the West Valley City, the state’s second largest city which is 10 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, passed a law creating a commission to review restricted films prior to showing.

Now, says one outdoor theater owner, it would be hard to find a truly R-rated film at the two outdoor theaters . They’re often either cut to remove objectionable scenes, or shipped back, unshown, to distributors.

"It’s a pain to be faced with this, wondering what you can play," said Wes Webb, owner of Valley-Vu Drive-In Theater . "It gives a small element of people the opportunity, whenever they see something on the screen they don’t like, to scream it’s time to enforce the law."

The Commission on Public Decency, the offspring of a local petition campaign, targets not only nudity and sex on outdoor screens, but eyes indoor theaters , sale and rental of video cassettes and distribution of adult magazines and books.

"We are reducing most of the R-rated movies to essentially PG-rated movies. We show very few R-rated movies any more," Webb said.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) defines PG movies as requiring parental guidance because some of the material may not be suited for children. R-rated movies should be restricted, according to the commission, requiring any viewer under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

For the recent run of Private Lessons, the story of a wealthy teenager seduced by the family housekeeper, Webb darkened the screen during scenes the commission thought were objectionable.

"The big thing we’ve got going for us is our bark, holding a sword over their heads," said City Attorney Ron Greenhalgh. "And the cooperation of the theater people has been great.

"We let the theater owners know we stand behind the
commission, and we’re not afraid to take legal action," he said. "When we talk about prosecution, we’re talking about minors being exposed to the materials."

Greenhalgh said the city could close down a theater "in the event of a couple of convictions."

Nine volunteer commission members, soon to be 12, serve one- year renewable terms at the discretion of the city manager. Under the law that created the panel, West Valley City theater owners must notify the city attorney when they are showing R- or X-rated films.

Webb said he complies with the law, but thinks it is "ridiculous, over-restrictive and very inconvenient."

Since most of the films are copyrighted and can’t be cut, theater operators often return them if they draw the committee’s ire, he said.

"If we really wanted to make money, we would challenge the law and overturn it," Webb said. "I still don’t think a soft-R picture with an occasional bare breast is offensive to children."

But Steve Allen, chairman of the Commission on Public Decency, said what may be acceptable at an indoor theater where restrictions can be enforced, can often be offensive when shown outdoors.

"Nudity, by Supreme Court standards, is not obscene," he said. "But if a lady was to stand outside a drive-in theater and take her top off, she could be arrested for indecent exposure. At the same time, we can show that same scene 40 times larger. That bothers me."

The 32-year-old father of six said although the commission is primarily concerned with the two drive-in theaters , it occasionally checks video cassette rental shops, store magazine shelves and the four indoor theaters in this city of 72,000.

Officials at Redwood Drive-In referred questions to Deanza Land and Leisure of Los Angeles, which manages West Valley City’s other outdoor theater . Company spokesman Steve Pentoney declined comment.

Meanwhile, West Valley City officials are confident their law, based on a similar ordinance in Orem, could withstand legal challenge. Webb said he has not decided whether to challege the commission’s authority in court.

But in Orem, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, a Media Review Commission has modified its goals after theater managers began charging the city for use of equipment and projectionists during film previews.

"That got to be rather expensive," said commission secretary June Hair. "So now they go to the first showing and print the reviews in the paper."

If commission members see something they feel is legally obscene, they can notify the city attorney’s office for possible action. But primarily, the panel confines itself to developing the reviews, run as a city-paid feature in the local daily newspaper, Hair said.

"I don’t know what West Valley City is doing, but our ordinance was set up to educate people that some things are not as enjoyable or desirable to see as others," she said.


Herald Crime Report from 1983

A WOMAN WHO WAS YELLING AND SCREAMING "for a long time" Monday night during a movie at the Lincoln Cinema, 555 Lincoln Rd., was charged with aggravated assault after she threatened several movie watchers with a kitchen knife, police said. Mary Cruz, 45, who refused to give her address, threatened Benjamin Klein and other patrons with a knife after she was told to quiet down. When police were called, she became "very abusive" and was escorted out of the theater . She was taken to the Women’s Annex of the Dade County Jail.

And this. Not movie related but because it’s damn humorous:

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 9, 1983
Author: Herald Staff

A Miami Beach man took too long in the bathroom Monday, so his neighbor stabbed him, according to a police report.

Alex Berrospi, 42, who lives in an apartment in the 1500 block of Drexel Avenue, shares a bathroom with a neighbor he knows only as "Maximo."

About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Maximo wanted his turn, but Berrospi was in the room. Maximo became angry, then violent. He knocked on the door. Berrospi finally opened it and Maximo stabbed him in the scrotum with a knife, Berrospi told police.

Police could not find Maximo.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - April 26, 1984

One person was taken to the hospital and several others suffered minor injuries when fighting broke out among a crowd of people waiting to see a horror show in Jacksonville Tuesday night.

Between 1,500 and 1,700 people were waiting in the parking lot of the movie theater when the fights broke out, police reported. A witness said Wednesday most of the people were local students on spring break.

"They were gathering all day long, said Lou Ella Johnson, a student at a nearby barber school. "By the time evening came, there was just a swarm of teenagers, not knowing what to do with themselves."

Marcus Hobby, 15, was treated and released from University Hospital after the crowd pushed him against a cashier’s window that broke.

Police said a similar disturbance took place last week in the theater ’s parking lot.

"There was a larger crowd this week, and it was very
violent," officer R.D. Williamson said.

The theater , which was showing Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, was closed after the fighting Tuesday.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 16, 1985
Author: ROBERT L. STEINBACK Herald Staff Writer

It’s strange enough that a kid would grow up wanting to make monsters for a living.

But what’s really weird is that Norman Cabrera is getting his chance.

Cabrera, and just about everyone else on the Davie set of the horror movie "Scarecrows," is immersing himself in the ultimate dream, or nightmare, come true.

The set of "Scarecrows," which begins shooting Monday, is really a sort of dream factory. Everyone from the set construction crew to producer-director Bill Wesley is trying to turn a personal fantasy into a hit movie.

Cabrera couldn’t have asked for a better break than a movie about scarecrow-corpses who come to life to deal with seven uninvited guests, including five murderer-thieves who happen to drop in on their abandoned farm.

"My house is like plastered with monsters," said Cabrera, 20, who is building the chilling creatures. "It started as a hobby. This is like my big opportunity."

Cabrera, who grew up in Miami, pursued his hobby watching movies rich in special effects and studying horror film magazines. He traveled to California to look over the shoulder of Rick Baker, the special effects genius behind Michael Jackson’s music video "Thriller" and the movie "An American Werewolf in London."

Cabrera has worked on some locally produced videos and cable TV presentations. But to work on a full-length horror movie full of blood and gore practically in his own back yard is like a promotion to heaven.

On the "Scarecrows" set, though, Cabrera’s story is typical. The crew is young -- director Wesley is only 30 -- and nearly all are working on their first feature movie.

The fact that the movie is being shot at all is the chance meeting of two dreamers: Wesley, who had always wanted to make a horror movie, and 36-year-old Dade millionaire Ted Vernon, who always wanted to make -- and act in -- a film.

Vernon, who owns a Miami luxury car dealership called the Ted Vernon Collection, bankrolled "Scarecrows" to the tune of $1.8 million and got one of the seven lead roles.

"Scarecrows" is the reality Cami Winikoff often dreamed about. Winikoff, who declined to give her age, but who would certainly be carded buying beer, is a self-styled "film creature" who can’t imagine life outside show business. She’s making the most of a golden opportunity.

"I was trying to get a job on ’Miami Vice,’-t" the New York native said. "Finally, the guy said, ’Leave me alone. Go call this guy Bill Wesley.’"’

Wesley hired Winikoff to answer telephones on the "Scarecrows" set. But she promptly organized the books, took over the paperwork and began handling business arrangements. She now sports the title "associate producer."

Tony Bondanella is a classic "starving actor" waiting for his big break. The 33-year-old Fort Lauderdale bartender with the California surfer good looks didn’t get one of the lead roles in "Scarecrows." But he’s helping out with set construction -- for no pay -- in hopes of landing a bit part in the movie.

" is interesting, and I can put it on my resume," said Bondanella, who had minor roles in "Spring Break," "Where the Boys Are ’84," and "Stick."

But the opportunity presented by "Scarecrows" was probably best expressed by 21-year-old unit production manager Barry Waldman, fresh out of the University of Miami’s communications school.

"This film is great," he said. "To walk out of college and become a production manager? There is a God!"


The Last Starlet

Washington Post, The (DC) - May 27, 1981
Author: Roger Ebert, Field News Service

When they write the history of the movies in the dark days after the passing of Hollywood's Golden Age, there ought to be a mention of Edy Williams, the Last Starlet. When, and if, she attends her last Cannes Film Festival, and era will have ended.

All of Hollywood studios used to have half a dozen starlets under contract.

Their duties were simple; They had to look gorgeous, attend acting classes, play bit parts in movies and, most important, pose for thousands of cheesecake photographs and be on call 24 hours a day for the opening of a supermarket, the christening of a boat or the dedication of a shopping center.

The primary duty of a starlet was to be photographed while in the act of being a starlet, and Edy Williams understands this in the innermost recesses of her ambition. She is so good at being a starlet, so tireless and dedicated, that she was, in fact, the last official starlet in Hollywood. She was under contract to 20th Century-Fox until 1971. Now she is the last starlet at Cannes.

To be sure, there are other girls who take off their bikinis on the beach or pose in motorcycle helmets and fishnet stockings. But they aren't trying to be discovered -- they're just being exhibitionists. Edy Williams hopes again this year, as she has at Cannes almost every year since 1974, to be discovered.

In the dreams of the starlet, I suspect, there is always that scene where the cigar-chomping producer spots a lovely young woman on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel and shouts, "Who is that girl? I must have her for my next picture. Sign her up immediately."

That has not yet happened to Williams, but she was on the terrace of the Carlton again the other day, breathlessly saying hello to genial Sam Arkoff , a man who founded American-International Pictures in 1954 and has already produced 450 movies without finding it necessary to hire Edy Williams. Now Sam has sold AIP and is back in independent production. Maybe this year?

"I just don't know what to do about my image," Williams said the other night, thinking out loud and a little poignantly. We were having dinner at Felix, one of the in spots along the Boulevard Croisette. Every waiter and busboy in the restaurant was making six trips a minute past our table to gaze in awe at her plunging neckline.

Across the table from her, Silver Dollar Billy Baxter shouted, "Irving, brang 'em on." The waiters, who have all been trained by Baxter to believe that their names are Irving, raced to his side with a glass of scotch. This was a conference of war. Silver Dollar Baxter, who is the second most visible American at Cannes (after Edy Williams), had agreed to counsel Williams on her image.

"Irving," said Baxter, "brang Miss Williams here some champagne. Good stuff. None of that cheap French crap. And Irving, do me a favor, huh? Clean aashtrays. And the menus. What do you recommend, apart from another restaurant?"

"Oh, Billy, you always know what to say," Williams said

"Only thinking of you, sweetheart," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "Now what are you complaining about? Look at that dress you're wearing. It covers up so much I can hardly see everything."

"Do you think it's right for evening?" asked Edy Williams.

"What's the stuff all over your b--bs?"

"Gold sparkle. It's my new makeup. Do you like it? But, Billy, I was thinking. You know, I'm not in my 20s anymore. I was thinking if maybe my bikini routine is getting a little dated."

"What bikini routine? You mean where you go down to the beach and take off your bikini?"

"You know what I was thinking? I brought along tapes of my nightclub act. I have a portable stereo that's real loud. I was thinking, what if I play my tapes and do my nightclub act on the terrace of the Carlton, huh?"

"What if you fall off the edge of the terrace and bust your a--?"

"I was thinking of a new image for my 30s. Maybe something a little more reserved."

"I can't believe my ears," Baxter said. "More reserved? We're talking about the girl who jumped into the ring before the Ali-Spinks fight and took off her clothes in front of 70,000 people in the Superdome."

"They were caught completely by surprise," Williams said.

"What did it feel like?" asked Silver Dollar Baxter. (As a public relations stunt he once had two starlets push a brass four-poster bed down the middle of Broadway.)

"What did what feel like?"

"Taking off your clothes in front of 70,000 people. You know, I'm not sure . . . I gotta check on this . . . I'll bet you are the only person in history to take off her clothes in front of 70,000 people. At once, anyway."

"It was real scary," Williams said. "The worst part was right before I did it. I was standing at ringside, and I was scared. What if they didn't like it? What if everybody booed? Or didn't pay any attention?"

"That's gotta be every girl's nightmare," said Silver Dollar Baxter. "There she is, she jumps in the ring, whe whips off her clothes in front of 70,000 people, and they all shout, 'Put 'em on!'"

"But it was the most unbelievable sensation, when I was in the ring and they were all cheering," she said. "I knew what Ali must feel like. Then they made me leave the Superdome. They wouldn't let me stay for the fight. And I had a ticket and everything."

"Irving," said Silver Dollar Baxter, "look at these flowers. It looks like you picked them up off the street."

"Somebody was telling me I was using too much makeup," Williams said. "But for the photographers, if you don't wear enough makeup, your eyes don't show up. And you never know when they're going to take your picture."

Two days later, in the daily English-Language at Cannes, there was a photo of Williams posing in front of the James Bond poster that covers the front of the Carlton Hotel. The poster, two stories high, shows Bond framed by two long, lovely female legs. Edy Williams was posing with her legs in the same position, and without her bikini top.

"Doesn't look like she made too extensive revisions in her image yet," Silver Dollar Baxter said. "Wait a minute. What's this? He was reading the daily gossip column by Peter Noble, editor of Screen International. "Says here Edy has a pilot for her new TV show. It's physical exercise show called 'Keeping in Shape With Edy.'"

Baxter was sitting by the pool of the Majestic Hotel, watching the fleet of nine airplanes flying past with banners advertising "Superman III." Just then, Williams appeared at poolside and planted a big kiss on his cheek. j

"What do you think about my pilot?" she asked him.

"Edy," said Baxter, "If you ask me, you could bring it in on instruments."


THE SEATTLE TIMES - March 27, 1985


It doesn't matter, I know.

But over there was a bowling alley run by a pornographer who once got arrested by telephone.

Down that way was a go-go joint with awful dancers, but if you complained, a barmaid swatted you with a stick.

That old topless bar at the end of the block? I forget the name. I only remember the blind man sitting there that one night, applauding.

Pike Street, old Pike Street. New Pike Street, now. This block across the way, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, a skyscraper is going in there, so most of it will be knocked down as the other places were knocked down over the years. And with the convention center going in up that way, the last Pike Street tombstones will be pulled down and paved over.

Not that it matters. I'm not saying that.

Let's see _ before the big hotel went in a few years ago, there was the Gay Nineties at the end of the block there, at Seventh and Pike. The Club Chi Chi was next to it, all run down and crappy and wonderful. And somewhere along there, the Flick XXX Theater . The Fun Zone, people called that block.

A man named Nick, who was ticket taker, popcorn vendor and film projectionist, called me up the day the Flick closed.

....After the last film ended, at 6:30 this morning,'' Nick said, ....I went down and woke up the last three customers.

....The workmen are starting to take out anything of value right now. They should be done in a coupla minutes.''

I asked Nick from the Flick what he thought of Pike Street's changes over the years. There were fewer prostitutes, fewer bars, fewer fights . Now its last porno house was folding.

....Oh! There's been a definite moral and spiritual decay,'' Nick said.

I like to remember those words.

Not that they mean anything, of course.

Around this side, now, what was here? The Magic Inn. A rough place. And Bob's Chili Parlor. Tough crew there. Over that way, across Sixth Avenue, I liked those places better. Let's go over there.

This is where the Nikko Garden was until recently. The Nikko had a bright awning and a striped front and a lot of little lights outlining the rooftop. It always had a sign in the window: ....Dancers wanted.'' Now, the sign says the Nikko has moved to another location, across the freeway, because the building is coming down. It says the Nikko would reopen on a Thursday. Thursday was spelled ....Thuresday'' twice. The sign also says:

....We hope to see there.''

I thought of going to see there myself. But didn't.

As I said, it's not important.

I walked over to where the old Orchard Room used to be. Once it was called Gabe's.

Gabe's was the first place in Seattle to do dope. Gabe's was where people went when they got out of Walla Walla and had no place else to go.

But Gabe did clean the place up after a while and it was more famous as a little rhythm-and-blues club.

Actually, there probably wasn't another place like it. Gabe had a jukebox with blues records that you could listen to with earphones.

You could sit at the bar or tables and plug in. The place would rock in silence.

Best remembered are the dirty blues songs.

Gabe collected the best of them, apparently in copyright violation, onto a record album. A lot of people still have copies.

....Gabe's Dirty Blues,'' it's called.

Which is probably irrelevant anyway.

Once on this corner, Sixth and Pike, I saw a man run by with a pulltab machine in his arms. I didn't ask.

I saw a man and woman having sex here, sort of, once.

This was the place for it. Once.

Years ago, they were already complaining that Pike Street was losing it.

One complainer owned a smoke shop called the Carcinogen. That means: Cancer-causing.

Actually, he sold dirty books and movies in the smoke shop, and always had a big sign in his window: ....Welcome Navy.''

The Navy never came, however.

....You know,'' he complained, ....some nights you could go out and throw a brick down this street and not hit anybody.''

People went out and threw bricks, anyway. It was that kind of street.

It has changed a lot since then. It was changing forever, yesterday. To the lament of I guess nobody.

Not that it matters any more. I should mention that.



Philadelphia Daily News (PA) - October 29, 1984
Author: United Press International
Police may turn to a psychiatrist for clues on why a man obsessed with the movie " Revenge of the Ninja " donned the garb of an Oriental warrior and killed two people before turning his submachine gun on himself.

Police say Gregory Eley, 24, dressed in his black "Ninja" outfit and armed with an arsenal of weapons, gunned down Arlene Jones, 47, and Wayne Massey, 42, a friend, Friday night at Jones’ fashionable Dutch colonial home.

Two boys hiding upstairs heard Eley cry out for God’s forgiveness before he pressed the Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun to his chest and pulled the trigger, hitting himself twice, said police Detective Sylvia Kaiser.

Kaiser said Jones was shot numerous times, while Massey was shot "a couple of times" in the neck. All three were dead when police arrived.

Authorities who found Eley’s body said he was armed with the submachine gun, two crossbows, a .45-caliber automatic pistol and three Oriental battle stars. He had blackened his face and pulled a mask over it.

Police say the motive for the killings may have been revenge for a soured real estate deal - Eley, his wife and three children had been evicted from their home last week - but they are considering seeking a psychiatrist’s opinion about why Eley "did the thing the way he did."

Annette Eley told investigators her husband watched " Revenge of the Ninja " often.

"His wife said he watched it as often as he could and really got involved in it," Kaiser said. "Evidently, he went out and bought the costume. When and where we do not know."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 10, 1984

Author: SUSAN SACHS Herald Staff Writer

The executive producers of a much-ballyhooed movie about breakdancing filmed in South Florida this spring are associates of organized-crime figures, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Last week, Cry of the City co-producer Michael Franzese was arrested in New York with 15 other men on a racketeering charge. He is accused of participating in a loan-sharking scheme and is identified in wiretapped conversations as a "high ranking member of an organized crime family," according to the federal complaint.

He was released on a $300,000 personal recognizance bond.

The other producer of the film, which showcased local teen- agers in a street-tough romance, is Jerome Zimmerman, who is identified by Florida and Los Angeles law enforcement authorities as a long-time associate of Franzese’s stepfather, underworld figure John "Sonny" Franzese.

The movie producers, who have a company called Miami Gold Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, have become minor celebrities in South Florida. Miami Beach officials, pleased that the moviemakers used South Beach as a location for a portion of the movie, gave them a key to the city.

In previous interviews, the producers said that Cry of the City, which features Sammy Davis Jr. in a small role, had a budget of $5 million. It is scheduled for release in September.

"Words are just allegations -- my partner is this, his father is that, there’s gangster money involved," said Zimmerman, contacted at Miami Gold’s offices on Monday to comment on Franzese’s arrest. "We made a picture we felt was very successful. We have another one, Game of Chance, that will start filming here in four weeks. We’ll be here."

Zimmerman said the financing for the movie came from "banks" and offered to respond fully to questions about the film company’s backers and the producers’ backgrounds Wednesday.

Michael Franzese, contacted in New York, denied any connections to organized crime and said he would plead innocent to the racketeering charge. He, too, said financing for the movie came from "legitimate lenders" but declined to identify them because "it’s not good business ethics to reveal the source of your financing to the world."

"I have never been convicted of a crime," Franzese added. "I guess it’s because I’m Italian that all this is coming out."

In previous interviews during the filming of Cry of the City, 33-year-old Franzese described himself as a one-time medical student who owned a Long Island car dealership with Zimmerman before the two got into the movie business.

Zimmerman -- six feet five inches tall and heavy-set -- described himself as a former stand-up comic.

Police investigators, however, said Zimmerman, 52, has been an associate of organized crime figures for years. He also is facing 6-year-old charges of grand theft in Los Angeles County in connection with an alleged "bustout" scheme involving several companies, including one of which he was president. The case, which involves charges of ordering merchandise with no intention of paying for it, has not gone to trial.

Los Angeles Police Detective Norm Bonneau said Zimmerman once was convicted of perjury in connection with his testimony before a New York grand jury investigating Sonny Franzese.

NBC News reported Monday night that police investigators had the two men under surveillance during a "wrap party" celebrating the conclusion of the filming in South Florida last month. The television report also suggested that Mafia money is financing the Franzese and Zimmerman feature films.

The elder Franzese, considered a leading figure in the Columbo crime family, served 11 years of a 50-year sentence for bank robbery and was in jail in Otisville, N.Y., until his release last month on separate racketeering charges. Local law enforcement authorities said Sonny Franzese spearheaded early organized-crime involvement in pornography.

The federal complaint against Michael Franzese in New York accuses him and others of lending to various businesses more than $1 million that was obtained from illegal organized-crime activities. The money was lent at "usurious" interest rates of 2 percent or more a week, according to the complaint.

The participants, charged under the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, also threatened their victims with physical violence and claimed, as a further threat, to be connected to organized crime families, the complaint said. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in jail and fines of $25,000.

Michael Franzese is charged with participating in the loan- sharking operation. Executive Assistant U. S. Attorney Jane Parver said wiretaps made by the FBI also contain conversations in which Franzese is identified as a "high-ranking" organized- crime figure who had invested in the loan-sharking operation.

The operation was run out of a business identified at various times between August 1981 and February 1983 as Cooper Funding or Resource Capital Group in Lake Success, a New York City suburb, the complaint charged.

Although Zimmerman is not named in the New York complaint and no reference is made to his and Franzese’s movie-making activities, Zimmerman was at one time associated with a Woodland
Hills, Calif., company called Cooper Funding that is believed to be related to the New York business of the same name, according to police sources.

Los Angeles Police Detective Bonneau said investigators once called the New York office of Cooper Funding for information about financing and were referred to the Woodland
Hills office. The California company has been defunct for several years, he said.

During the filming of Cry of the City, Zimmerman and Franzese told reporters they had produced two low-budget horror films, one starring former evangelist Marjo Gortner, that did surprisingly well and provided them with money to invest in the South Florida movie.

The two films mentioned, Gates of Hell and Mausoleum, were released by a company called MPM . Zimmerman said Franzese owns a distribution company in Los Angeles called Motion Picture Marketing.

Dade County’s film coordinator, Marylee Lander, said she has received no complaints about the producers. "They paid their bills," she said. Several businesses in Broward County that provided services or locations for the filming also reported no problems in getting paid.

Recently, Zimmerman appeared on a local television station escorting one of the film’s amateur dancers to a furniture store. The youth had refused the producers’ offers to fly him to California and introduce him to the movie business there. Instead, the teen-ager had asked for furniture for the apartment of his mother, who is on welfare. The producers obliged, with local television crews present.


The Record (New Jersey) - January 28, 1986
Author: ANN CRAWFORD: The Record

A couple of weeks ago President Reagan was deploring mob infiltration of legitimate businesses. He could have taken for his text the extraordinary federal indictment returned last month in Brooklyn, charging movie producer Michael Franzese and a group of associates with predatory raids that crisscrossed the corporate landscape of the metropolitan area. Franzese's credits include " Night of the Zombies ," "Savage Streets," and the like. The New York Times critic said that "Streets" wallowed in it s own awfulness.

Franzese does a lot more than make bad movies, if one is to credit the details of the 99-page indictment. His enterprises include a disco, Mazda and Chevy dealerships, an auto-body shop, a carpentry firm, a window fabricator, a masonry contractor, a construction company, consulting firms with strange names (M&M Business Relations Corporation, for one), leasing agencies, an oil distributor, a gas station, and a bunch of labor unions.

This empire is reputedly run by Franzese and eight codefendant sidekicks from mansions on Long Island and Pompano Beach, each equipped with fleets of limos, yachts, and a private jet. The schemes alleged by the grand jury run the range of rapine:

A plot to beat New Jersey out of $3 million in gas taxes owed by the gasoline distributorship, Houston Holdings. The insurance company that bonded Houston (on the basis of counterfeit collateral) is now in receivership.

A scheme to con Beneficial Commercial Corporation into financing the purchase of scores of new cars for the two auto dealerships, using forged Treasury bills as collateral. Beneficial never got its money back, and the hapless car buyers never got clear title to their cars.

The body shop was used to defraud another insurance company for thousands in repairs that weren't done.

The grand jury also said that Franzese and his henchmen, as officers of the Allied Security Health and Welfare Fund, used the fund to buy certificates of deposit issued by Dome Insurance Company in St. Croix. Dome's now in receivership, too. The union fund lost hundreds of thousands. In return for the union's business, Dome's president made huge cash payments to Franzese sidekicks and took three of them on a junket to St. Croix. One vacationer was the unions attorney, Mitchell Goldblatt.

We've met Goldblatt before, as attorney for the Federation of Special Police and Law Enforcement Officers. The federation is a unit in the Allied Security group. It aims to organize guards in sensitive spots like the air-freight terminal at Newark Airport or the Meadowlands race track. Under the unsavory leadership of convicted labor racketeer Daniel Cunningham, the union also tried to move into the casinos in Atlantic City and the Three Mile Island, Indian Point, and Salem nuclear plants.

embezzling $225,000 from the union before he could get into nuclear-power plants.

In the Franzese indictment, Goldblatt is charged with simply stealing $50,000 from the welfare fund to share with the union's president, codefendant Anthony Tomasso, and with Cunningham's current wife, Susan.

The grand jury also charges a credit-card scam, in which counterfeit cards were used to ring up $13,000 in phony purchases at a marina in Babylon. There was a boat-insurance scam in which a 1978 Formula was falsely reported stolen. The insurance company paid out $24,000, though the boat's title proved to be a forgery.

Mobil was taken for $60,000 of gasoline delivered to the service station. The Franzese subordinate who ran it submitted a false armed-robbery report to explain to Mobil why he couldn't pay his bills. U.S. Attorney Raymond Dearie asked for forfeitures of $5 million in ill-gotten gains from this assortment of thefts.

It seems a modest enough figure, but it doesn't include reparations for the multiple counts of income-tax fraud. The IRS says that Franzese concealed his assets by placing them in his wife's name, by failing to report cash income, by shifting funds among scores of corporations, real and phony. Extensions were repeatedly sought on false grounds. Checks to the IRS bounced.

The conspicuous victims are big guys: Mobil, Chemical Bank, Beneficial Finance, Chubb and Son, and a flock of lesser banks, insurance companies, and bonding institutions. The unseen victims are all the rest of us.

Members of the union are stripped of protections they earned. Policyholders of the ruined insurance companies are left holding the bag. Dockage fees are up at the marina to cover higher insurance premiums. Credit-card fees will rise. Mobil's customers will make up the $60,000. Taxpayers will pay the tab that Franzese has allegedly avoided together with the immense cost of mounting this prosecution. Welcome to the president's war on the Mafia, and happy hunting.

The Franzese File A Porsche, a pool and not much informing for mobster set free.

Newsday (Melville, NY) - January 6, 1991

Author: Much of the reporting on this story was done by the late Tom Renner, Newsday organized crime reporter, who died in January, 1990. The reporting was completed by staff writer Letta Tayler, who wrote the story.

Less than two years after being released from prison, former Long Island mobster Michael Franzese has resumed his luxurious lifestyle, frustrating prosecutors who say he owes them $14.7 million in fines and information on organized crime.

When not relaxing in his swimming pool or sauna at his Southern California mansion, sources say, the 39-year-old Franzese - once described in Life magazine as the Yuppie mobster - is cruising in a Porsche, or sometimes a Mercedes. He's also working with a best-selling author on his memoirs and is discussing offers to sell his life story, complete with details of his days as a Colombo crime family captain and film producer, for a movie or a mini-series.

What rankles prosecutors in Suffolk County and Florida is that under the terms of a deal the former Brookville resident cut with the federal government, there's little they can do to force Franzese to pay up or begin talking.

Under the deal, Franzese was released from prison in May, 1989, after serving only 3 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence for racketeering and conspiracy. In addition, the pact gave Franzese immunity from prosecution on his past organized crime activities. It kept his five-year probation sentence and his fine.

In return, Franzese was to turn over everything he knew about his mob activities and associates - but prosecutors had only a year, until April 30, 1990, to pump him. He also was required to testify in any trial related to his information if the indictments were filed before April 30, 1990. Law enforcement officials said the time constraints in the deal were virtually unprecedented and made the cooperation clause essentially useless.

As a result, some prosecutors say that Franzese's biggest contribution as an informant has been his 1989 testimony against New York talent and sports agent Norby Walters, who was convicted of racketeering for illegally signing college athletes to professional contracts. But Walters' conviction was reversed in September on an unrelated legal technicality.

"The government gave up one of the most important, up-and-coming members of the Colombo organized crime family in return for information on a booking agent," said Ray Jermyn, chief of the rackets bureau in the Suffolk County district attorney's office, who provided the federal government with much of the information that helped indict Franzese in December, 1985. "We're deprived of his use as a witness, and we didn't get the money he owes us, either."

"Quite frankly, I think Michael ripped off the U.S. government," said James Stein, deputy chief U.S. parole and probation officer for the Eastern District, which includes Long Island.

In a lengthy telephone interview last week, Franzese conceded, "I'm not living in a ghetto." But he denied he was getting a free ride from the government and said he was under constant pressure to pay his fines.

"I can't say that I got away with the better bargain or that the government did great, either. It was a compromise," he said, calling his decision to sign the deal one of the toughest he ever made. ". . . I absolutely do not feel that I pulled the wool over anybody's eyes."

But Franzese, who refused to join the federal witness protection program, also said that "I really didn't hurt anybody" by providing information and that "most of the people I knew were already in jail."

The two officials who were key to engineering the pact with Franzese

- Anton Valukas, then U.S. attorney for Chicago, and Ed McDonald, then chief of the federal Organized Crime Strike Force in Brooklyn, which is now defunct - are now in private practice. In recent interviews, McDonald blamed the terms of the pact on a separate deal he said Valukas made with Franzese for testimony in the Walters case, but Valukas denied he had made any agreement.

John Gleeson, the chief of the organized crime unit in the Justice Department's Eastern District, who is overseeing the pact, refused to discuss the agreement on grounds that Franzese was still linked to pending investigations.

`It's entirely inappropriate for me to comment on whether it's a good deal or a bad deal for the government," Gleeson said. But he added that any time authorities strike a deal with an informant, there is always a critic claiming that "the government gave away the store."

Suffolk law enforcement officials, who were not consulted about the deal, say the time limit placed on Franzese's cooperation has kept them from seeking indictments in five major cases involving gasoline bootlegging and business fraud.

Suffolk did file one loansharking case by the deadline, but Franzese refused to testify, Jermyn said. As a result, the county indicted Franzese. He has been ordered to appear in Suffolk later this month to answer charges of contempt of court.

Asked about the loansharking case, Franzese said he does not intend to testify because "I don't know anything about it."

Because of his notoriety and his lifestyle, Franzese is also being investigated by the federal parole and probation office to see if he is violating his probation. The results of that probe are expected to be presented to a federal judge within two months.

Franzese is no stranger to the parole office. Stein, its second-in-command, was once the parole officer for Franzese's stepfather, reputed Colombo mobster John Franzese, known as "Sonny," who is in prison for parole violations linked to a bank robbery conviction. According to testimony by Lawrence Iorizzo, a former gasoline executive and mob associate who became a federal witness, Michael Franzese in the early 1980s discussed having Stein "whacked" - mob lingo for killed - because the parole officer's investigations into his stepfather's activities were interfering with family business.

Federal officials also plan to make Franzese testify in the next two months about his finances to find out why he hasn't paid the $14.7 million in fines, including about $4 million to Suffolk and $3 million to Florida.

The dark-eyed, smooth-mannered Franzese was considered the biggest - and youngest - money-maker for the Colombo crime family during his days in Brookville in the early and mid 1980s, making Fortune magazine's 1986 list of the top 50 mobsters. He also has been profiled in Life, and will be featured in an article in February's Vanity Fair.

Franzese now lives with his wife, Cammy, and their three children, and has three other children by a previous marriage. He was raised in Roslyn and joined the mob when his stepfather was in jail, prosecutors say. He cut off his biology studies at Hofstra University after three years and went to work for the "family" fulltime, specializing in complicated financial manipulations of legitimate businesses.

By the mid 1980s, investigators believed he was involved in dozens of illegitimate activities using night clubs, car dealerships, gasoline companies and other businesses as fronts. He reached the rank of captain, overseeing about 20 soldiers, prosecutors said.

In those years, Franzese lived in Brookville, docked his boat at the Fire Island community of Saltaire and was seen some nights holding court at the Casablanca restaurant in Huntington Station.

He also moved his interests and his money south to Florida, where he produced four B movies: "Mausoleum," " Night of the Zombies ," "Savage Streets" and "Knights of the City." In Miami Beach, he was given the key to the city and a Bible blessed by the Pope for his film-making enterprises. That was before officials discovered he was running a multi-million-dollar gasoline bootlegging ring in both Florida and Long Island - his biggest known scam.

The ring, which Franzese ran with Iorizzo, bilked the federal, New York and Suffolk governments of an estimated $1 billion in gasoline excise taxes from 1981 to 1985. Franzese created dummy corporations that claimed to have paid the taxes and then vanished once auditors got on their trail.

In December, 1985, acting on information from Iorizzo and Suffolk prosecutors, the federal government arrested Franzese on a 14-count indictment charging him with crimes including racketeering, conspiracy, embezzlement from a union benefit plan, using counterfeit credit cards, and extortion.

In 1986, he pleaded guilty to the racketeering and conspiracy charges in return for the 10-year prison sentence and the the $14.7 million in fines and restitution. That year, he also pleaded guilty in Florida to 65 counts of a state indictment linked to his gas-tax scam and was sentenced to 9 years in prison, to be served concurrently with the federal term.

Initially, Franzese resisted any deal, although he did provide some information about the mob in late 1986, federal officials said. Then along came the Norby Walters case in Chicago.

Franzese's testimony about how he used his mob muscle on Walters' behalf made headlines nationwide. He not only testified that he had contacted college athletes for Walters, but also revealed that he had tried to intimidate other agents into assigning Walters contracts for performers Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick and the group New Edition.

According to McDonald, U.S. Attorney Valukas was so excited about using Franzese that, in return for testifying against Walters, he promised him he would not have to serve more than another year and a half behind bars - at a "camp" or other minimum-security center. Valukas also did not require Franzese to provide any information about his other crime activities in return for the promise of a shorter sentence, McDonald said.

At that time, Franzese faced at least three more years in prison, after routine reductions in his 10-year sentence for good behavior, parole records show.

McDonald said that he was informed of Valukas' deal with Franzese only after the fact. He said that as a result, the strike force had no choice but to offer Franzese an even better agreement to get any more testimony out of him - the pact signed May 18, 1989, that let him out of prison immediately.

"At that point, our bargaining chips were virtually non-existent" in cutting a deal to get Franzese to testify about additional organized crime activities, McDonald said.

Valukas called McDonald's version an "absolute fabrication." He said that although he considered Franzese one of the best witnesses he'd ever called to the stand, "no one ever went back to him and said, `You are only going to serve one more year.' " He said his office agreed not to return Franzese to a hard-time penitentiary, calling that common procedure for convicts who testify in important cases.

Franzese denied Valukas promised to shorten his term. However, he did say that Valukas wrote him a letter "that I could use with the judge or the parole board . . . and that he'd support whatever consideration they'd give me."

Moreover, Franzese said he was led to believe that "I would have done at the most another 14 or 15 months" after testifying in the Walters trial, but didn't say who gave him that information.

Federal officials in New York familiar with the case, who asked not to be named, supported McDonald's version. They also said that Valukas was able to make his deal because he had far more political clout with the Justice Department in Washington than McDonald, whose strike force was being abolished. McDonald "had to make the best of a sour deal," one source said. Justice Department officials in Washington refused to comment.

Franzese said he had placed the time limit on his testimony because "I wanted to get on with my life. . . I didn't want to become an organized crime witness who was paraded around the country to testify. That kind of thing sickens me.

"My goal in this whole thing was to get out and try to give my family a better life than what my mother and brother and sisters and I went through, because what happened to them was devastating," he said. ". . . There are certain people in government that maybe felt they personally worked on my case and would have liked to have gotten a piece of the pie. But that doesn't entitle them to a piece of me. I'm not a commodity to be cut up."

Apart from the Walters case, Franzese has testified in only one trial in return for his freedom. Last July, Franzese testified in federal court in Uniondale about how he got a former janitor to leak him information about the federal grand jury proceedings that led to his indictment on racketeering charges.

Federal officials said Fran- zese also has testified before at least one grand jury, but refused to give details on what information he has provided. McDonald said only that it was enough to make the pact with the government "worthwhile." Franzese also would not give any details.

But some government sources said they believe Franzese withheld most of the valuable information he had about New York mobsters. "The best information he could give is `enterprise-type evidence' about who's who in the families and what they are doing, but that's what he's holding back on," said one source, who described Franzese as "extremely manipulative." Another source said that Franzese's current lifestyle and the money he owes the government make the results of the deal "laughable."

That opinion was echoed by Dary Matera, the Phoenix-based author who wrote the best-selling "Are You Lonesome Tonight" about a woman who claimed to be Elvis Presley's illegitimate daughter, and who is co-writing Franzese's biography.

"He's given them [the government] nothing. I really think he hasn't given them a thing," said Matera, whose book is slated for release next year under the title, "Quitting the Mob."

Florida officials don't care about Franzese's testimony. They just want their $3-million share of his fine.

"The debt is neither forgiven nor forgotten," said Fred Damski, a state prosecutor in Broward County who prosecuted Franzese, adding that he held the Eastern District office responsible for getting the money for Florida.

One Florida source close to the Franzese case said: "If the guy is making a lot of money and living in a million-dollar house, then somebody should be able to get some of that restitution money out of him without too much trouble."

Officials entrusted with recouping the money disagree. They said that to seize Franzese's house or cars, they would have to prove that he owned or financed them, or was siphoning funds to the people who did. And so far, they have found no proof that he has done that. In fact, Franzese isn't listed as owning any property or being employed in any job, they said.

The government was supposed to receive any profits from Franzese's last film, "Knights of the City," but the books show no profits, said Mary Dooley, the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to collections for the Eastern District. She said the government also was entitled to any rights from distributing the film's soundtrack, but it can't distribute the music without the master tapes - which disappeared after Franzese's arrest.

In addition, Franzese told the government as part of his 1986 guilty plea that it could have all his assets - including the Brookville house, co-ops in Patchogue and a house in Delray Beach, Fla. But there were already so many previous liens on the property that the federal government didn't collect a penny from the holdings, Dooley said.

"My idea of a good plea agreement is where at the sentencing, the guy shows up with the certified check," she said. "Once the agreement is set and the person is out [of jail], it's very hard to get the money."

Franzese said he intended to pay, but doesn't know how long it will take him to earn the money. He said he was working hard, often "12 to 14 hours a day," but wouldn't reveal what kind of activities he was involved in except to say that some of them were linked to the film industry and that they were "100 percent legit." He also wouldn't comment on who owns the house he and his family live in and the cars he drives.

Franzese also denied rumors that he has millions stashed in foreign bank accounts or buried in a back yard. "The belief is that I've got more than bags of money, that I've got barrels," he said. "But if anybody finds it, let me know."

Despite the money owed, McDonald insisted that he thinks the real loser in the deal was not the government, but Franzese, in risking the anger of other mobsters by becoming an informant.

"Did he scam his way into a situation where he isn't being penalized for what he did? I guess in a way you can say he did," McDonald said. "But on the other hand, he's going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. He's supplied information about organized crime figures who don't take that lightly."

Franzese disagreed.

"I did something that, technically, according to my previous lifestyle, I'm not supposed to do. So technically I'm in trouble even by signing that piece of paper," he said of his deal. "But could I tell you that I live in fear or that I'm concerned? The answer is, no . . . Whatever will be, will be." ***** A Life Like a Mob Movie

He hates being compared to Michael Corleone, but when Michael Franzese saw "The Godfather Part III," he says he identified with the movie don who suffered from his life in organized crime.

"He was in so much pain, and that got to me a little bit," said Franzese, 39, a former Colombo crime family captain from Brookville.

But Franzese said that he sees no parallels between himself and mobster Henry Hill, whose real-life story was the subject of the film "GoodFellas."

Both Hill and Franzese operated in the New York area, and both signed pacts - with the same federal prosecutor - that set them free in return for testifying against their former mob associates.

"I'm not trying to become a crusader for the government, unlike a Henry Hill, who I think is a . . . low life," Franzese said.

Hill went into hiding under the federal witness protection program, but Franzese lives under his own name with his family in Southern California.

Like the fictional Corleone, Franzese says he dreamed of living a legitimate life but was sucked into organized crime out of love for his father. He left his studies at Hofstra University to begin his underworld career when his stepfather, John Franzese, a reputed Colombo mobster known as "Sonny," was imprisoned on a bank robbery conviction.

Michael Franzese, who produced four Grade B movies during his mob days, revealed that he is co-fielding offers to be the subject of a film or a mini-series. But perhaps because of his reservations about the Corleone and Hill characters, he hasn't yet decided if he wants to take that jump.

"That's really putting yourself in a fishbowl," he said.

Franzese would divulge few details about his activities since he was released from prison in May, 1989, except to say he's been working on a book about his life. But he insists that these days, he's just a regular guy.

"I'm not doing anything illegal," he said. "My life now is 100 percent legit." Letta Tayler