'Deep Throat' Spurs a Celebrity Debate

By

Published February 08, 2005

| FoxNews.com

'Deep Throat' | Alan Alda | Ossie Davis

'Deep Throat' Spurs a Celebrity Debate

Intellectual kookiness collided with Hollywood last night at the New York premiere of "Inside Deep Throat."

This is the documentary, first seen two weeks ago at Sundance, about the making of the most famous and profitable film in history — a porn flick made before Paris Hilton was born. Someone decided that at the conclusion of the screening there should be a panel discussion.

Former New York Times movie critic Elvis Mitchell moderated, and the group consisted of HarperCollins publisher and controversy lightning rod Judith Regan, journalist Peter Boyer, famed criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz and feminist professor Catherine McKinnon.

The latter, who turned out be quite mad, I thought, immediately coined the phrase "throat rape" about what happened on screen to the movie's late star, Linda Lovelace.

That declaration produced hissing, and a few laughs, from the audience.

McKinnon, infamously known in intellectual circles as the "feminist censor," does not often appear before mainstream audiences. Her "partner in crime" is the militant feminist Andrea Dworkin, who was not among us.

"Inside Deep Throat" producer Brian Grazer's hair was already standing straight up. More of McKinnon's theories might have made it curl.

Luckily, Dershowitz was prepared and ready to deflect McKinnon, whom he has been debating for 20 years. Dershowitz successfully represented the original film's star, Harry Reems, when he was tried on obscenity charges two decades ago.

Reems, a handsome man in his late 50s, is now a real-estate guy in Park City, Utah. His real name is Herbie Streicher, and he's originally from the Bronx. He has a head of neatly combed gray hair, dresses conservatively and is well-spoken.

Wisely, he did not participate in the debate, since McKinnon looked like she was ready to have him arrested for throat rape.

Regan stuck to promoting a book she recently published by porn queen Jenna Jameson, pointing out her 24-year-old son in the audience.

"He's the one who introduced me to Jenna Jameson," she said.

Boyer spent most of the time ducking.

Watching all this was a wide variety of New York characters, including actors Ron Silver and Bebe Neuwirth, director Joel Coen, comedienne Marilyn Michaels, documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Barbara Kopple, novelist Erica Jong (who's in the film and helps make sense of it all) and various media types such as Tina Brown and Simon & Schuster chief David Rosenthal.

Many in the audience had never seen "Deep Throat." Some were so young, they'd never heard of it, if you can believe it. But they know what it is now, that's for sure.

Alan Alda on How to Steal a Scene

Alan Alda, who has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his superb performance as Sen. Ralph Brewster in "The Aviator," had a shaky start on Broadway in the early 1960s.

With one exception, each of the plays he was in opened and closed in just a few days.

"A lot of them ran for three nights. I always wondered, 'This will either close in Boston or on opening night in New York. Or maybe it might close after the first act,'" he said. "I always wondered why I was the only one in the company to know that. But I needed to work, so I said yes to everything."

Every time he started something, it stopped..

"But it wasn't a surprise," he said. "I had a song with Sam Levene in 'Cafe Crown' called 'What's the Matter With Buffalo?' I didn't even know what it was about. But it was experience.

"In 'Fair Game' I played the young lover." Alda continued. "It was a big part, but I didn't have to take credit for the failure, because there were all these names in it. On opening night, I did call attention to myself by accidentally setting fire to my bathrobe on stage."

Was he scared?

"No. I thought I'd get a big laugh. I didn't realize I was going to die," Alda said. "You could hear a pin drop in the theater.

"I was supposed to light a cigarette. I put the match out but the head was still glowing. And you know they don't spend a lot on the clothing. It was some cheap acetate robe. It just burst into flame. So Walter Kerr mentioned my performance in his review and said I would do anything to get attention including set my fire to myself," he said.

No longer into self-immolation, Alda is best known for "M*A*S*H." He remains great friends with his former M*A*S*H co-star Wayne Rogers ("Trapper John"). Rogers, a sometime FOX News contributor, has made a fortune in business over the years since "M*A*S*H."

"I just had breakfast with him," Alda said. "He just bought Kleinfeld's bridal business and is building a big store for them in Manhattan. He's very smart. He majored in history at Princeton. And he's been a business manager for 20 or 30 years in addition to his acting career. He would come into 'M*A*S*H' with samples of carpeting for businesses he owned. It didn't matter what color we liked, it was always the cheapest one that got laid down. He's very attentive to the bottom line."

Alda said, by the way, that the cast of "M*A*S*H" continues to get together at least once a year for dinner. The show ran for 11 seasons on CBS from 1972 to 1983.

"We were like a family in the sense that we learned how to put up with one another. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies. Early on in the first week we got together. We would sit all day long with our chairs in a circle and talk and go over our scenes together," he said. "I really learned from that. The connection you have off-camera is the most important part of the connection you have on stage."

His closeness to Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio comes through the same way.

"I had a wonderful time doing 'The Aviator,'" he said. "The idea of playing with Leo and with Alec [Baldwin] ... And Leo, I wasn't that articulate at 30 or able to play that range. He has skills I didn't have. That makes me think when he gets to be my age, think of the performances he'll give. Any of those experiences alone would be enough."

Ossie Davis Passes On

I didn't want to let another day pass without commenting on the passing of Ossie Davis. What a remarkable man, brilliant actor and social activist.

Last year, among all his other credits and gifts, he helped out in the promotion of Mario Van Peebles' "Baadasssss!" Davis appeared on a panel discussion following a screening with van Peebles and his dad Melvin Van Peebles.

It was a memorable night, one of many I had over the years with Davis and truly never appreciated. He was a gentleman and a great artist and shall be missed sorely.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/02/08/deep-throat-spurs-celebrity-debate