Jeff Wald - A Wild and Crazy Guy
Jeff Wald shows me a poem his son Jordan, 15 years old at the time, wrote about him in 1983. Here's an excerpt:
With the drugs came all the whores,
A couple of lines, they get on all fours.
All the girls to him were one and the same.
When he woke up in the morning,
He'd forgotten their name.
He wasn't even sleeping, he was more like passed out.
That's what the life of a drug addict's about
Watching the future slowly disappear.
One night he went to bed
And felt a sharp pain inside his head.
He rushed to the hospital, the very next day
Things weren't exactly going his way.
My sister and I gathered his friends
With one intention - the Betty Ford intervention
Translated into a simpler word,
It's the biggest ultimatum you've ever heard
"You either seek help right away
Or your family and friends are going away."
He gathered his things and went to Palm Springs.
When it was confrontation day, there was so much I wanted to say.
I felt so much resentment, so much hate...
I did a lot of forgetting and a lot of forgiving,
I just realized that I'm lucky he's living.
Four years it took him to get back on track and out of debt.
Everyone's happy, no more being phony.
And I thank the dear Lord for creating Sony.
Guber and Peters said what the heck,
Let's give Jordan's dad a big check.
Now I'm in an environment that brings me joy,
I'm a lucky thankful fortunate boy
Not because we're wealthy but because we're healthy.
My dad's honest and open, not sneaky and selfish.
Jeff Wald calls 5:21PM 9/5/02:
Jeff: "You have a fucking death wish?"
Jeff: "Let me tell you something. First of all, you had no right to reprint my son's poem, which is copyrighted. That's the first fucking lawsuit you're going to get. Between me, Medavoy and Anita Busch, you are going to have a lot fucking problems because I am going to finance everybody's lawsuit against you. Let's see how much money you have to go fucking do depositions and the rest of the shit. So you better get my kid's poem right the fuck off of there, that's for openers.
"Secondly, you are so fucking inaccurate, you can't even get names right. Your spelling and your fucking listing of names is just fucking unbelievable. So let me tell you something. I'm now making it a career to go after you and break you. So you better get my shit off your fucking website.
"Anita Busch is not too happy with you and neither is Mike Medavoy. So if you think you can come into this town you little snot-nosed fuck and just put shit like that up there, let's see how much you can afford fucking lawyers. I'll own your fucking shirt when I'm finished because I can just afford to keep your fucking ass in fucking depositions for the rest of your fucking life. Do you understand that?"
Luke: "Yeah. What would you like me to do?"
Jeff: "Get my fucking shit off the website especially my kid's fucking poem, which as far as I'm concerned, I haven't decided whether to call the police and say you stole it off my desk."
Luke: "I'll take it off right now."
Jeff: "That's the fucking position that I am going to take with everybody in my office, that you stole it. You came in my office and stole it. You're a little motherfucker. You came in here. You were going to write a book. You put up all that shit on the website and you think you can come into this fucking town and trash everybody. You're not Julia Phillips pal. She had a long fucking history with me and a long history in this town. She's an Oscar winner. You're a fucking pimple on my goddam ass.
"I'll break you the fuck down like you've never seen in your fucking life. You want to see some shit? Let's see how much fucking money you have. You'll never have a fucking dime as long as you live. Because that's how long I'll fucking keep you in court. And I don't give a fuck if I lose. I'll just keep going after you in fucking court. Do you understand that? I'll make sure that every fucking penny you earn for the rest of your life will go in fucking lawyers. I can finance that with my residuals."
Luke: "I've taken it off. Is there anything else you'd like me to do?"
Jeff: "Lose my fucking name. If I see one more word with your name attached to me, and you're fucking dead. Do you understand that? You can tape-record that. You can put that as a threat and anything else. You're financially fucking dead. Ok, and if I were you, I'd leave Anita Busch alone. She's got a lot of fucking friends in this town. And right now they're not real happy with you."
Luke: "Is there anything else you'd like me to do?"
Jeff: "That's all I want you to do. Get it the fuck down right now. Don't let me go on a website and find anything with your name and my name."
A Hollywood source writes: "It was always noted by the business managers who handled the Walds that Jeff was disgusting before he ever got on coke. The end of 1982 and beginning of 1983 Jeff had bankrupted, everything his wife earned and was coked out of his mind. When Helen left Jeff his intent was to take their son to punish her for leaving him. He paid Marvin Gross his attorney, out of the proceeds of the sale of the community property home, an unknown "bonus" to accomplish this. An evaluator, on a list in the Santa Monica courthouse, said Jeff was suitable, under the Father's Rights law for 50/50 time. I believe, but never checked the file, that it was Dr. Rocco Motto, psychiatrist, whose license was "retired," in 1987 who did the job. Dr. Motto was also asked to resign as head of Rice-Davis rather than be fired. Jeff was running around town screaming "I aced my MMPI," The Minnesota Multiphasic test, designed for the likes of Detroit auto workers to try and weed out potential crazy's. Several hundred yes or no boxes to check, any sociopath could ace it. Jeff then co-parented his son, who was a straight A student, who's weekend job, when he was with his father, to watch Jeff binge until he passed out. When a lump of coke worked it's way to Jeff's brain and Jeff was dying, Jorden found him and got help. At the time Jeff rented a house on Malibu Road. The paramedics knew the address by heart. If Jeff hadn't "purchased" the use of his son for his own purposes. He would probably be dead."
Jeff Wald phones 9/6/02 at 5:30 PM.
Jeff: "You think it's funny with Medavoy's letter and Anita Busch? You're playing with the wrong people. I want my whole thing down. I want nothing to do with you. I'm fat with a pot belly? Who the fuck do you think you are? I can make you not fucking breathe. Everyone else will be polite and send you a letter like Medavoy did. I'll stop you from breathing. Do you understand me? You can put that up there and quote it. I'm just telling you something right now. We will crush you with fucking lawyers. And that will just be the fun part. That will be the part of your day that you fucking enjoy when you run out of fucking money. Now take it the fuck done. You came in here under false pretenses. Take the whole fucking thing down. And you've got that shitty thing on Anita Busch up there. What the fuck is the matter with you? Do you want to win friends here and get any kind of cooperation? I'll put your name all over this fucking place. I'll send out emails to everyone in this fucking town and nobody will take your fucking calls when I'm finished. I'm just telling you something. You're fucking with the wrong guy here. You put up all the times I've been arrested. They were for assault pal."
Luke: "I sent you most everything I wrote about you."
Jeff: "I got it. I don't like it. You twisted things. You got things wrong. I'm just telling you I want it down. I want nothing to do with you. Don't write about me. I will sue the shit out of you. I don't give a fuck if I lose. I'll just resue you. You can't afford the lawsuits. I'll fucking hire a lawyer fulltime right out of fucking law school whose job will be nothing but to file depositions and shit on you and make you defend yourself. I'll break you."
Luke: "If I take it all down, will you leave me alone?"
Jeff: "I'll totally leave you alone. Take it the fuck down."
Julia Phillips spends about 45 pages on manager-producer Jeff Wald in her 1991 book, You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again.
Jeff knew Julia's hubby Michael Philips growing up. After Julia and Michael won a Best Picture Oscar for The Sting, Jeff and his wife Helen Reddy invited them to their home for dinner. Like most folks in Hollywood, the Phillips found Helen cold and Jeff vulgar.
After Julia and Michael divorced, Jeff said nasty things about Julia to defend Michael.
Then Julia and Jeff hooked up in Hawaii around 1981. Julia describes their sex as boring.
Wald refused to accept that he's addicted to cocaine and that he and Helen blew most of the $40 million they made.
I interviewed manager - producer Jeff Wald, clean and sober 15 years, at his office on July 2, 2002.
He has pictures of himself on the wall with Presidents Clinton, Ford, Carter and George Bush Sr. He's friendly with such celebrities as Barbra Streisand and Sylvester Stallone. During our interview, he took a call from Jimmy Connors, the ex-tennis champ.
Jeff's third wife, Deborah (an English actress), took the People magazine cover photo of Barbra Streisand and hubby James Brolin, one of eight Wald clients.
As we talk, Jeff has a secretary in the room screening his calls and a male assistant working on a laptop computer.
Wald is a short squat balding man with a pot belly. On his desk is a plaque that reads: "Jeff Wald - Prophet, Genius." He dominates a room.
Jeff: "I grew up in New York. I was born Jeff Sommers. My father, a doctor, died when I was eight. My mother, a school teacher, remarried and changed my name. I didn't like and I shortened it to Wald. My son Jordan now uses the name Sommers.
"A couple of things made me want to go into this business. When I was eleven years old, Mike Todd was married to Elizabeth Taylor. He was 5'5" with the same bad accent that I have. He was from the Bronx. He threw a birthday party for Elizabeth Taylor at Madison Square Garden. He brought her in on an elephant painted pink. I saw this guy on television talking. I thought it he could do it, I could.
"I went to the same all-boys high school (De Witt Clinton in the Bronx) as Neil Simon, Garry Marshal, Paddy Chayefsky, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Stokely Carmichael, Milton Berle, Burt Lancaster. Ralph Lauren was in my class. He was then Ralph Lipshitz.
"I was a rough kid. I was always in trouble. I fought a lot. I had a big mouth and a short fuse, so I hit first. I was somebody's bad news. I didn't like to be f---ed with. I had taken a test to get into a special school. I was admitted. Then they wrote my mother a letter saying they didn't want discipline problems. In high school, I was a truant. I spent a lot of time in Harlem going to the Apollo Theater. I was arrested a lot for fighting but I was never convicted. Not really."
Luke: "What's your ethnic background?"
Luke: "Were you raised religious?"
Jeff: "Not a f---ing chance. All those religions are full of s---. With your pedophiles in the Church. It's all about controlling people and sexual repression.
"I've got a younger brother who's a pediatrician. My grandfather was a doctor.
"I grew up in the du-op era of music. I started in the music industry after getting kicked out of NYU for gambling along with 63 other guys. I didn't fix games but I knew guys who did. One was a relative of Vito Genovese, a big Mafia guy.
"I moved to Buffalo in 1963. This [black] singer-songwriter Oscar Brown Jr came through town. I hung with him. He asked me if I wanted to be in show business. I said yes. I hopped in my car and I followed him to Chicago. I lived in his house. I was his gopher.
"A few months in, he fired his manager. I became his manager. I didn't know sh--. But I did know that in the business there were a lot of drugs, money and women. I got to meet Martin Luther King through him and Malcom X and Elijah Mohammed.
"I stayed with him for six months. Then I left Chicago."
Luke: "Were you run out of town?"
Jeff: "Basically, by the police. For a dumb reason. It was a political time. We had the Alley Theater Company and it used what we called title funds from the government to go into inner-city schools and teach kids different things. The kids we worked with were a street gang called The Mighty Blackstone Rangers. They are the biggest street gang in the US to this day, bigger than the Crips and the Bloods. The guy who ran it is now in jail for the rest of his life for murder - Jeff Fort.
"The police in those days would shoot a Blackstone Ranger and leave a Disciples jacket near the body to foment gang violence."
Jeff's four-year old daughter, his third child, comes running in. He also has Jordan, a 29-year old screenwriter and an older married daughter Traci.
Jeff: "The police didn't like anybody trying to help those kids. I was told that if I didn't leave, I'd have an accident.
"I was brought to Bobby Kennedy who was interested in how those government programs were working.
"I moved back to New York. I realized that I didn't sh-- about the business. I got a job at William Morris talent agency in the mailroom."
Jeff points at a framed couple of pages from the April, 1998 issue of Vanity Fair about all the people who started in the W.M. mailroom.
Luke: "Did you have to fake a college degree?"
Jeff: "Yeah. I lied. I met David Geffen in the mailroom. We became friends. I married [Australian singer] Helen [Reddy] in 1964. I met her on a Friday and I married her on a Tuesday. I proposed to my current wife on our first date and married her five weeks later.
"I actually dated my second wife. That was my big mistake. I'd just gotten out of Betty Ford [drug addiction clinic], so what did I know? I stayed six weeks for the four-week program. Betty Ford kept me two extra weeks because she said I was suffering from terminal uniqueness. She and her husband are good friends of mine.
"The marriage [in 1987] last eight months."
I picked up the Tom King book, The Operator, about David Geffen and found this reference: "Jeff Wald, who supported his petty salary by peddling marijuana in the mailroom, immediately latched onto Geffen."
Assistant: "I have to pass gas. Do you mind turning that off?"
Jeff: "Get out of the f---ing room, you asshole.
"I was at William Morris for a year and then left and went to Ashley Famous Agency. I lasted three weeks and I got fired.
"You know Ann Miller? She was an actress who did a lot of movies in the forties and fifties. Then she had a revival of her career doing a play on Broadway with Mickey Rooney called Sugarbabies. They used to call her 'Big Hash.' She had big hair. She was a big tall dancer. Not a rocket scientist.
"I was a junior agent in the nightclub division. A friend of mine, Tom Milius, was a senior agent. Our boss was an Irish guy named Joe Higgins. He was usually drunk in the afternoons and he'd never use an intercom. He'd just yell, 'Tom Milius, get in my office.'
"One day, Tom came out of Higgins' office with a long face. 'We've just signed Ann Miller and I have to take her out to dinner at the Copacabana.'
"The next day, Joe Higgins yells, 'Tom Milius, get in my office.' So I yelled out, 'Yeah, tonight they want you to fuck Lassie.' And Ann Miller was standing there with Ted Ashley. I got fired on the spot.
"I was out of work for four months. I got two job offers on the same day in 1967. One [thanks to a recommendation by David Geffen] was with a management company called Chartoff-Winkler. They were a sh---y management company that had Buffy Sainte-Marie, a little Indian girl who was a singer-songwriter, a fat comic named Jackie Vernon who's now dead, and a rockn'roll group called The Happenings. They offered me $125 a week.
"The same day I got an offer from a company in Chicago that owned a string of nightclubs. That job paid $325 a week. I had a lot of parking tickets in my glove box. So I moved to Chicago with Helen and my daughter. I booked talent for the club - people like Flip Wilson, Dione Warwick, Joan Rivers, Tony Fields, Shecky Green, Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis, Richard Pryor... I was with Richard the night that Martin Luther King got shot. We had to close the club because the troops were in the streets controlling the riot. We drove around and smoked a joint and watched all the sh-- happen.
"Miriam McCaver worked at the club. The night that she opened, she announced her engagement to Stokely Carmichael, who was head of SNVCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). It was actually violent. He wore combat boots. Those were the black militants of the time.
"I lasted ten months, until the Chicago Democratic convention and the riots. I wanted out.
"Bill Cosby had come to town. I told him I had to get out. I couldn't spend another winter here. He told me to call his manager Roy Silver. They'd formed a [management] company Campbell-Silver-Cosby. Roy said that if I was ever in California, I should give him a call. I flew out that night. I showed up at his office the next morning. I got hired. I rented an apartment in West Hollywood.
"I flew back to Chicago. I quit my job. I put Helen and my daughter in the car and we drove to LA. We got here with $8 cash. I bought a $5 bag of grass on Sunset Strip and spent the remaining $3 for food."
Sarah wanders in.
Jeff: "What's your mommy doing?
"I was at the management company four minutes and we signed Tiny Tim. In a minute, I got one of the biggest acts in the world. We had an unbelievable 18-month ride. The money's pouring in.
"I produced a show on Broadway starring Mohammed Ali, Bigtime Buck White. It ran six days.
"Norman Brokaw, the chairman of William Morris, told me that Roy Silver was not handling Cosby's funds in the appropriate way. And that if I wanted to have a career in the business, I should quit. I was making $600 a week. I was driving a new car. I wasn't saving anything. I was doing drugs - mainly grass but some coke.
"William Morris loaned me $30,000 to go into business and set up my own office.
"In 1970, I convinced a guy at Capitol Records to give my wife Helen Reddy a deal to make one single. She did a song from Jesus Christ Superstar, 'I don't know how to love him.' It went top ten. I dropped all my other clients and concentrated on her between 1971-75. I produced a TV series for NBC in 1973 called, 'Flip Wilson Presents the Helen Reddy Hour.' It was an eclectic show. It was the biggest thing I'd ever produced. I had acts like The Eagles, Cheech and Chong, Jim Crow, B.B. King, The Temptations, Gloria Steinem... I got into this huge fight with the president of NBC who wanted Ken Berry and Florence Henderson on the show. I said they were never walking on my f---ing stage. So the guy hated me and canceled the show after eight episodes.
"Then I made a specials deal. On the last one I did, I remember telling one of the executives that I'd gotten Jane Fonda to do her first variety show. She was going to do a 160-song medley with Helen. I flew to Hawaii to talk to the guys running NBC. And they said, 'I wish you would've gotten me Cindy Williams instead of Jane Fonda.'
"It turned out that NBC didn't want Jane Fonda on because NBC was owned by RCA, a huge defense contractor. They didn't want Hanoi Jane.
"I got into another huge fight with the president of NBC, Michael Weinman. This time I threatened to kill him. The show I'd done was supposed to air on Mother's Day. And NBC was going to f--- me and put it on in August, when nobody's watching. I went berserk. I offered to buy it back for what they paid, $580,000. I wrote a check for $580,000 and I owned the most expensive home video in America.
"I convinced ABC to put it on Mother's Day. I made a $50,000 profit. I'm the only producer of television in history who's bought back his show because he didn't like its time slot, and then put it on another network. The show won its time slot and came in in the top 20 for the quarter.
"It was the only good press I ever got. Weinman got fired. The New York Times wrote this great article about David and Goliath. I was David for a change beating Goliath, a man who took, on principle, his special back from the network. It wasn't principle. I was coked up. I had a lot of money and an attitude."
Luke: "Where did you make your money?"
Jeff: "In the beginning, with Tiny Tim, Deep Purple and those acts. Then in 1975, I developed a huge management company. I signed Donna Summer. She was making $400,000 a week in Las Vegas. Helen was making huge money. I signed Sylvester Stallone right out of Rocky. I still speak to him most every day. I had Chicago and Flip Wilson, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Marvin Gay, Miles Davis... I produced one of Stallone's movies, Paradise Alley. It's the only movie I've ever acted in. I did TV specials with Donna and Helen.
"I've got a huge coke habit."
Luke: "How come you're not dead?"
Jeff: "I came close. I overdosed a couple of times.
"I was six years on the LA Olympic organizing committee. I was four years on the national board of USO (United Servicemen's Organization), appointed by President Carter. I was four years on the Economic Council of California. I was big in politics. You saw all those pictures of me with Carter, and Humphrey and Teddy Kennedy and John Tierney... I was riding a nice wave.
"Then Donna Summer found God. She started trashing gay people. I didn't want anything to do with that politically. She wanted me to sue Neil Bogart (founder of Casablanca Records). I wouldn't do that. He was my friend. Donna and I split."
Jeff told the authors of the book Hit and Run about his time with Casablanca: "We had this interior decorator spending a million dollars on furniture. You walked into Casablanca and the size of the speakers just assaulted your senses, and there was cocaine on people's desks, and getting loaded. And by the time we got down to business, it was almost irrelevant."
Much of the business was done at Roy's, a Chinese restaurant down the street on Sunset Boulevard. Bogard was a part owner. "There was more cocaine being tooted than Chinese food," says Wald. "They served egg creams and frozen Milky Ways and Snickers. Neil and I each had a booth with a little brass plate with out name on it, and a curtain that closed the booth, very chic then. It was about leaving hundred-dollar tips for waitresses... It was about dope, it was about music, it was about parties, it was about spending money.
"It was like the money was never going to end. It just came in handfuls or buckets." (Hit and Run by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters, pg. 90-91, 100)
Jeff: "In 1983, the divorce with Helen Reddy was ugly and expensive."
Jeff pulls out a issue of People magazine with Helen and Jeff's divorce as the cover story.
"Then Marvin Gay's dad killed him. That didn't help my business. Chicago fired me. Spallone and I split at my request, which was stupid. One day I got coked up and I basically told him to f--- off. We wound up staying friends. I went to his wedding. I went to his honeymoon. I will probably wind up producing some films with him this year.
"I made a movie in 1985 called Opposing Force. It was one of the biggest pieces of sh-- ever made."
Slnixon writes this review of Opposing Force on Imdb.com: "Tom Skeritt provides a surprisingly emotional performance as a military man that has been captured along with his platoon, including a female trainee/friend. When the base commander decides that the war games need to be more realistic and rapes the girl, the team realize that their only hope is to escape. The movie then becomes a kill or be killed hunt."
Jeff: "I did it in the Philippines for Mike Medavoy's Orion. Mike Medavoy wanted me to make another war picture while I was down there. I passed. I wouldn't even read the script. It turned out to be Platoon.
"I made the wrong war movie. But I'd spent three months down there and it was enough. They were at war. I was bribing the Marcoses and the guerillas. People were shooting at us. It was three months of insanity. I came back and went to Sly's wedding and honeymoon. I came back and overdosed. I was at Cedars Sinai for 18 days and then I went to Betty Ford for six weeks. I've been clean since January 25, 1986.
"Ali McGraw saved my life. She found me unconscious. My kid called her up and said, 'I can't wake him this time.'"
Julia Phillips visited Wald at Cedars Sinai after his overdose. She writes in her book: "Mr. Wald is not that great looking to begin with and this operation he had two days ago is wreaking havoc with his face. For starters, they have pinned his left eye pretty much back onto his face... Just now he is sporting orange and blue, which give a Modern Art cast to his head.
"His mouth is already fixed in a permanent snarl because of childhood polio. He could end up with his facial features looking like a Picasso.
"I had gotten a hysterical call from his daughter, Traci, the day before, telling me...that he had woken up two days ago with his face exploded and his eyes bugging out of his head and that he had been in surgery for six hours before they could cut out the pustule that had traveled from his nasal cavity into his brain...
""I did so much blow I tore the tissue away," he is explaining to me... "Jordan found me, bicycled all over the colony until he could find someone to help." Jordan had found Ali [McGraw], and Ali had taken Jeff to Malibu Emergency. They took one look at him and said no thank you, so she took him to Cedars. They didn't want to deal with him either, but he had donated so much money, he might as well have his own wing, probably even his own doctors, so they had to take him."
Jeff: "That was the end of my tenure with Crosby, Stills & Nash because David went to jail (in Texas for gun possession and drugs) the same day I went to rehab.
"I married [American Graffiti star] Candy Clark, January 1, 1987. That lasted eight months."
"I was friendly with producer Burt Sugarman, producer of the  TV show The Midnight Special. He'd just produced the movie Children of a Lesser God. He'd just bought the company Chuck Barris Industries, which produced The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, The Dating Game. I met with him and we formed a partnership company called Barris-Wald. That lasted four days. I said to him, 'The company is a piece of shit.' He said, 'If you don't like it, change it. You're the president.'
"So I fired 127 people in one day out of 129 employees. I hired 127 new people. I went over to the shows and fired everyone on the shows - all the producers, everybody. They'd been doing the show for 24 years."
Sarah runs in.
Jeff: "What, sweet girl?"
Sarah complains about a sore foot. Jeff kisses it.
Jeff: "I produced 3000 hours of TV. I did a miniseries called Switched at Birth."
Veteran television syndicators Chris Bearde and Bud Granoff blamed Wald for the demise of the Barris company. "He didn't have enough knowledge of syndicated television," Bearde told Hit & Run. "You can't just walk into this. Bud Granoff was the ultimate master of being able to schmooze those television station guys... Jeff doesn't have that ability. You get people who dislike you in those stations and they'll destroy a show. That's what happened with Jeff and Burt [Sugarman]."
Burt Sugarman stopped speaking to Wald. Gary Winnick, a former associate of Michael Milken, tried to broker peace between the warring parties. Eventually Burt sold to Australian businessman Frank Lowy.
Jeff Wald appears prominently in an article in the August, 1991 issue of Spy magazine about "Voices That Care," the celebrity salute to the trop stationed in the Persian Gulf:
...[O]nly has-beens were interested until Kevin Costner volunteered.
The credit for snaring Costner goes to Jeff Wald, executive coproducer of "Voices That Care," who is now poised to assume the mantle of Hollywood conscience broker, held most recently by Ken Kragen, the organizer of USA for Africa. That could not have been easily predicted, as Wald, the onetime manager of his ex-wife Helen Reddy and of Marvin Gaye, is a legendary wild man - even by Hollywood standards.
"One day about ten years," remembers a music industry executive, "I'm on Pacific Coast Highway, and there's Jeffrey handcuffed to the door of his Rolls-Royce. Another time he put a shotgun in the face of a union picketer in Lake Tahoe. [He's] a nice guy but a fucking lunatic."
"I am a fucking lunatic," Wald agrees...
"We had a lot of people like me who are vehemently antiwar who really went in there as a fucking support for the troops," Jeff Wald says. "It was probably collective guilt about the way all of us treated the Vietnam guys.... It wasn't meant to be a fucking victory parade or any of that shit, because if you look at what's happening now with the Kurds, it's nothing to be proud of. What it was about was some fucking kid with pimples over there who's going to sleep in a place where he can't get a fucking beer or look at a porno magazine. To let him know somebody gave a shit."
IN A SUBSEQUENT ISSUE of Spy magazine, these letters to the editor were printed:
Thomas Routson from Gulf Breeze, Florida, writes: "Those eloquent words of "Voices That Care" executive producer Jeff Wald remind me of the days I spent working at the famous Hotel L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills (1982-87). After Jeff moved out of the posh Helen Reddy estate in Santa Monica, he moved into the 'Tage. One morning he rang the front desk to say that he'd just returned from a morning out doing things and his bed had not been made yet. It being already 10AM, he assured me that if I didn't get the maids up to his townhouse that instant, he'd "throw the fucking bed out the window." Thanks for the memories."
Tim Golliher from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: "Before reading your column, I had no fucking idea who Jeff Wald was. That fucker is the greatest. I respect a guy who cuts the crap and gets down to the serious shit without talking his fucking ass off. It's gotta be tough to stand up for all-American things like broads, beer and porno magazines while putting up with tons of fucking criticism from fuckers who don't give a shit.
"Maybe you could do a full feature on Wald in the future?"
Luke: "What's your view on Michael Ovitz?"
Jeff: "I've never liked him. I always thought he was bad for business. He was always the antithesis of everything that this business is about for me. I like being involved in music, television, movies and records. I think it is a privilege to be able to make a living doing this stuff. The people that I started in this business with, the Geffens of the world, had a passion for this business. This guy was about killing people. He was about leveraging. He was not collegial. He took a lot of the fun out of the business. It was always competitive but there were always gentlemen running the business. You didn't always judge your success by other people's failure. But to him, it was all about that.
"I started attacking him in 1990 when they were calling him the most powerful man in the business. I called him a jerk. And for him to be so disingenuous to blame a gay mafia, please. Blame yourself and your f---ing hubris."
Luke: "Are you afraid of the gay Mafia?"
Jeff: "No. They're my friends. I love David Geffen. I think he's an incredibly talented guy. And the rest of these guys [Ovitz] names are friends of mine. I grew up with them. They're sexual orientation has nothing to do with me."
Luke: "Is there a secret gay Mafia running Hollywood?"
Jeff: "F--- no. There's a generation running Hollywood, all of whom come from the same backgrounds, from the William Morris mailroom and places like that. [Ovitz] is a f---ing asshole. He's not talented at the end of the day. He was all about the wrong things and he's getting it in the ass like he deserves. He's done nothing right since he left CAA. He f---ed his partners at CAA. He f---ed them all. He lied to them. He did everything wrong for them and his clients. Then he did a sh--ty job at Disney. Then he invested in a internet business that tanked. Then he f---ed around with the NFL and cost LA from having a team. He started this AMG (Artists Management Group) which was a f---ing joke. It's all about his incompetence, stupidity and venality.
"James Brolin has been my client for 24 years and my friend. I executive produced his TV series Pensacola: Wings of Gold. I executive produced the Roseanne talkshow. It was the worst experience of my life. She's probably the single worst human being I've ever dealt with on any level. I signed Mike Tyson at the same time. I'd take ten Mike Tysons on a bad day rather than her on a good day any day.
"I thought I could handle her. I thought I could change her. I thought I could control her. I thought I could deal with her. I turned out to be 100% wrong but the money was so good that I stayed. I was with her for almost five years."
Luke, trying to egg Jeff on: "Were you guys ever romantically involved?"
Jeff: "Roseanne? I wouldn't f--- her with yours. Can I get any clearer?"
Luke: "I heard a rumor that you guys were sexually involved."
Jeff: "I'd rather jerk off. I'd rather become gay first."
Luke: "So you were not impressed with her kabbalistic spiritual development?"
Luke: "I hear you're trying to take over professional boxing?"
Jeff: "Where did you hear that?"
Luke: "From this guy sitting at the table."
Jeff: "We're working on boxing.
"I made a movie a few years ago called Two Days in the Valley. I'm proud of that. I'm hands on. I read every script of Pensacola. I was on the set every day of Two Days. I helped the design the favored nations deal for the movie where everyone got paid $20,000 a week. Instead of paying people scale, I had the best caterer and the best trailers. I had a band on Fridays so people could dance. People looked forward to coming to work. So I ended up with no meal penalties [for being more than five hours between meals], no overtime...
"It was Charlize Theron's first film. I gave her the job at the audition. We were in this tiny room. The director, me, and the casting director. Normally the secretary knocks on the door and hands you a resume. The actor comes in. There's two minutes of small talk and they read with the casting director. We'd been doing that all day. It was hotter than sh--. There's no knock at the door. Someone comes crashing through the f---ing door. She throws herself on the floor and does the death scene from the end of the movie. That was Charlize's audition."
Luke: "And you're producing a musical?"
Jeff: "Who told you that?"
Luke: "This cute girl that I met when I walked in the door."
Jeff: "It's called Sisterella. It ran at the Pasadena Playhouse. It's the single biggest grossing show in the eight year history of the Pasadena Playhouse. Dana. She's worked for me seven years."
Male assistant: "Don't put my name anywhere in there."
Luke: "What's the most meaningful part of your work?"
Jeff: "The money."
A journalist from New Times LA follows me into Jeff's office to do an interview about the management business.
"Back in the late 1970s," notes Joel Kotkin in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, "... [future California governor Gray] Davis became acquainted with [former Governor Jerry] Brown's powerful coterie of Jewish political bankrollers like financiers S. Jon Kreedman, superagent Jeff Wald, and Eli Broad. The big Democratic political money in Los Angeles Democratic politics, Davis realized, was Jewish ... Davis made it his job to be the Gentile champion of the Jews." [KOTKIN, 5-29-98]
I found this PR release about Wald on the Internet: Jeff Wald (Producer) has enjoyed success in a diversified career in the entertainment industry, spanning over three decades and involving talent management and the development and production of film, television and live entertainment projects. In 1994, he partnered with Herb Nanas, and 2 days in the Valley marks their inaugural feature film production together.
With a keen eye for talent, Wald began his career as a personal manager in the early 1960s. Since then, he has been responsible for managing such noted artists as Sylvester Stallone, Paul Rodriguez, George Foreman, Peter Allen, James Brolin, Tom Skerritt, George Carlin, Elliot Gould, Deep Purple, Helen Reddy, Donna Summer, Flip Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Chicago and Crosby, Stills & Nash, to name only a few. In 1987, he became President of Barris Industries, Inc. where he was involved in every facet of the television and management divisions. He also served as executive producer of several revitalized and revamped Barris game shows, including the new incarnations of "The Dating Game," "The Gong Show" and "The Newlywed Game." When Barris merged with Guber-Peters Entertainment in 1988, Wald was named President of Television and Management. During his tenure, he was also the producer of a number of television movies and specials, including "Switched at Birth," "Christmas on Division Street" and "Miracle on I-880."
Stepping out on his own, he formed Jeff Wald Entertainment in 1991. In addition to managing an impressive client list, he served as executive producer of Paul Rodriguez' comedy specials as well as his popular Univision talk show. He also executive produced four Fox Network specials and the CBS special "Back to School '92," which featured such top artists as Robin Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Whoopi Goldberg, and marked the first network appearance of Boyz II Men. He was also the co-organizer and co-executive producer of "Voices That Care," a non-profit foundation to raise money for the USO and the Red Cross Persian Gulf Fund. Together with Herb Nanas, he has also produced a number of other network and cable specials, including "Latin Nights" and "Elvis: The Tribute," both for ABC. In addition to his work in the entertainment industry, Wald is a politically active member of the community. His involvement has included an appointment to the Board of Governors of the USO by President Carter, and he served for six years as an original member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. He is also a recipient of the prestigious City of Hope Award.