Teacher-authors find happiness in movies By BRAD ALTMAN Staff Writer John Lee always aspired lo be a hack writer. Now he has made it -- big. Lee a journalism professor al Long Beach State University, recently sold a novel to movie producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown, the learn that filmed "The Sting" and "Jaws." They paid Ix;e $175,000 for (he screcnnghts to his . fourth novel, entitled The Ninth Maa. He'll also get five per cent of the film's profits. Shooting will slarl late this spring at Universal Slndios, just down the hill from John and Barbara Lee's Hollywood Hills home. "This," says 1/ce, waving his hands alxnil his wood-paneled,'book-filled living room, "is where the heavens opened up and the money storm eamc ( raining down on us." The Ninth Man was published hy Douhlcday and arrived at the bookstores in January. "In 1942," says the author, "the Germans landed eight agents, by submarine in this country, four in New York, four in Florida'. Their plan was lo bomb industries and bridges, but one would-be saboteur . confessed to the FBI and all eight were rounded up. Eventually six were electrocuted and Iwo were imprisoned with lengthy terms." Lee's fictional embellishment suggcsls there was a ninth Nazi who wasn't captured. His mission: assassinate the President. "The eight were caught in two weeks," says I.ce. "My novel is about Ihe ninth man - Ihc one who got. away." LEE CAME ACROSS historical accounts of the story while working on another novel. "Frankly, I was looking for a story lhat had the potential to be "B-6-INDEPENDENT (AM) PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM)"' life/style Â· --I Btich. Cllll.. *; . Wtd., March 24, W6 ' n * (r C^^^cn^n.' ((intc commercial. 1 thought, 'What kind o( book will gel me on Ihc besl seller lisl?'" The novel was writlen over a (wo-and-onc-half- year period while he was a faculty member al New York University. II was completed in 1074, just before he moved to Ihc West Coast to head the LliSU Dcparlmentof Journalism's maga/.ine sequence. Lee combats any suggestion thai he is an "arlis- t"in the greal literary tradition. "I'm.,a hack" he says bluntly. "And I don't mind being called lhat. To me this is not a pejorative word. Edgar Allan Poe was a hack, for whal it's worth, although I don't put myself in lhal class. "I think a hack is someone who realizes there is a living lhal has lo he made, someone who will analyze whal the public wants to read, write what it wants to read and write il professionally. "1 don't believe in a novel for art's sake," he continues. "I lell my students; that if they want to wrile to what speaks inside them, write diaries. If you want lo be a published writer, you've got lo write what the public wants. "Anil," Leo goes on, "I point to the personage of no less than Edgar Allan Poe to prove my point. Everyone thinks of Poe as a madman today because he was always writing about crypts and tombs. lie didn't wrile about thc.ni because they were in his mind, he wrote about them because that's whal Ihe public was reading. "As a hack, Poe was able lo raise his hack work lothe level of literature, hut he was still a hack." THE HACK WRITER and his wife, Barbara, live in a Ihree-bedroom frame house hugging the hillside just below Mulholland Drive on a narrow, twisting road. Barbara and John are Ihe same age -- 41. She works in the same profession -- journalism -- at California Stale University, Northridge, where she is an associate professor of journalism. And like her husband, she writes books alone as well as in partnership. She just sold a novel about Edgar Allan Poe's last five years of life. It's entitled The Fever Called hiving and it's scheduled for publication this fall. Both are native Texans, John from Brownsville, Barbara. Dallas. Married 18 years, they once tossed around story ideas the year they started -- 1057 -- at Ihe Foil Worth Slar-Telegram. ."We used lo sit in Ihc city room and talk about the novels we would someday write," says Barbara, a melodic-voiced woman with dark, short-cropped hair. Then il was youthful dreaming. Today it is reality. Writing under her maiden name, Barbara Moore, she has published one other book, Hard on the ftond, a 1971 Western Writers of America Book Club selection. John has published four novels: Assignatiiou in Â·Algeria ("I hale lhal title"), Caught in the Act ("about an alcoholic newsman free lance who lived in .Spain -- definitely not autobiograpical"), The Killing H'indand The Ninth Man. Thai's the one thai really turned dream into technicolor reality. "This book has already made more money lhan till mir first hooks combined," John says. The two have collaborated on GO lo 80 magazine articles, ranging from Holiday to BranifC International Magazine lo Men's Fiction. Regarding the latter, John says with a good-humored grin, "It was a sleczy little men's magazine, but Ihe cdilor later went into publishing and that contact resulted-in our joinl byline on a nonficlion book released in December entitled Monsters Among Us: Journey lo the Vnexuhii]- e/." AS FULL-TIME teachers and writers, the Lees devote almost no lime lo socializing or traveling. "The only points of interest we've been in the Southland are the (wo Universities," Barbara says. They rarely havS guests at their home and their undisciplinable mongrel, Tashi, is too eager for attention from strangers and must be confined to a hack room when visitors are present. They have no children. They don't care for kids, (hey say. "There's no other person in the world I could live with, male or female," says John. "I have a lol of close friends but f can't stand close contact with people for long periods of lime -- except with her." Adding up (heir leaching incomes and writing projects. John says in 1975 -- he brings his fingers half an inch aparl -- "We were just this short of earning $100.000." This year they will earn considerably more. Says John: "I don't know lhal I would judge someone else's success by money, bul -- my own? -yes, I'm perfectly willing to judge il by money." A cream colored building in the distance serves as a constant reminder of their self-defined, newfound success. "That building is the headquarters of Zanuck ami Grown," says John. The producers haven't announced who they'll cast in the film. "Dave DeBusschcrc. the former New York Knicks player, was the model for my hero in tin.' novel. I lacked a picture of him on my bulletin hoard. For olhcr characters I used actress Diannc Cannon and a male model from a cigarette adverliso- mcnl. I doub! they'll use DcBusschere -- the only thing I've seen him in is a hair oil commercial." SOCIALLY SPEAKING L.B. stars on TV By CAROLYN McDOWELL IT'S GOING to be several days before the gentlemen start their engines (or the first running o( Ihe Grand Prix West but the gentlemen arc already here and Grand Prix week in Ixing Beach started off with a bang. Dean Porter, president-elect of Junior l-cague, pulled off what may be the biggesl coup in Queen Mar)'history. !n her role as chairlady of the league-sponsored Grand Prix Concours, held Sunday in the shipsidc parking area of the QM, she persuaded NBC to semi Ralph Slory and JoAnne Worley of the Sunday Show to do 90 minutes of antique car viewing and interviews with local VIPs, with glamorous shots of Her Majesty and the Long Beach skyline. . VIP list was headed by Mayor Dr. Tom Clark, who shared the spotlight with Vito Romans, head of Downtown Long Beach Associates. Councilgal Renee Simon and QM skipper Capl. Jim Lynch successfully parried questions about the "abandon ship" movement which has been on tho news pages lately. Bill Barnes represented the Committee of 300 of the Chamber of Commerce (I'll gel lo their parly in a minute.). Representing Junior League and the charilics who will share in the more than $10.000 netted by the Concours show were Ann Roelfsema, for the Homemaker division of Family Service; Barbara Gebb, who plugged the International Community Council; and Dean, who told about the Junior League Community Trust Fund. The Big Day took a year to plan. Idea evolved because Ixmg Beachcr John Queen is active in Ihe Grand Prix committee and is involved with Lc Cerclc Concours d'Elcgancc Inc., which is the governing body of the many car clubs in the area. Members of the group call the show Chariots for Charity and appear with their cars (or judging all over the state with ticket proceeds going to various charities. As Dean put it, "The autos starred in the Junior league production." "Producers" on Dean's committee,were Donna Gibbs and Denise Scverson. co-vice chairgals; and Mary Kay Noltage, Anne Johnson. Nancy McNaughton, Patricia Queen, Patricia Fleishman and I-orie Merrill. Also Jody Ramsey, Fran Conley, Linda Brown, Susan Bell and Marilyn Brown. .JOHN LEE, journalism professor at Long Beach State University, is a successful INCLUDING THE six-figure sum John was paid for (he movie rights to The Ninth Ulan, half a million dollars was committed lo the novel before one copy was sold, figuring in Ihc hardback, softback and British rights. John says Ihey were super deals arranged hy the Lees' "superhuman" agent -- Don Congdon -- whose clients include Ray Bradbury. Lillian Hcllman and William Manchester. Jaws author Peter Benchley made a parallel deal cxccpl he also wrote Ihe screenplay. Benchley is now wealthy. "Our lifestyle hasn't changed yet," says John, settling at Ihe picnic (able on Ihc outside deck for a lale afternoon lunch. "We've hired a lax consultant who says our mode of living will change, and I guess, eventually, it will." They could afford new cars but they're slicking with a 1070 Maverick and a 1965 llamhler. "I notice we cat sleak more often," says John, as he pours a can of beer into a glass. "Barbara is the best cook in the world and I have Ihe waistline lo prove il," he adds, laying thick slabs of corned beef on Roman Meal bread. Onre a basketball player. John grumbles occasionally about his undisciplined belly. "John is very lazy," says Barbara. She does mosl o( the household chores, bin no! because she's a woman, John says. "I am lazy. It has nothing lo do with the male chauvanisl pig wilhin me." lie slrikcs a match, applying il lo her cigarelte and then his own. They're roommates and lovers, best friends, and. as professional writers, each other's worst critic. "We work together on almost everything" says John. "Barbara will frequently rewrite portions we didn't think were good enough and frankly I cannot face." "The difference,"says Barbara, her voice a hit icy, "is thai he says 'Your chapter 17 isn't working ami I'll say, 'Don't touch my copy,' but he does, anyway." When uol teaching. John likes lo wrile (or six hours in the morning, finishing early in the afternoon. author and is involved in the m o v i e production of his latest book. Staff photo by KENT HENDERSON When not working on a project, "I'm vaguely nervous," he complains. "I slave through my four lo six hours but it bothers me to be away from it. Maybe I just enjoy agom^ing." T h i s semester he teaches M o n d a y through Thursday. He has a three-day weekend. It's not enough. "I'd love a two-day teaching schedule so I could have five days lo write. "1 haven't really Ilioughl aboul it, but one of these days I'm going to have to face up to the fact that it's costing me too much to leach. I'm now in Ihe 50 per cent lax bracket. By the time 1 pay taxes, I 'earn from teaching about $4,000 a.year -- probably less than part-time instructor's salary." Why teach at all? "I've always felt my language stays current if I leach. You know, the students say it like it is. I might stagnate if I stop leaching." John has taughl journalism full-lime al three universities in the'past 10 years -- American University at Washington, D.C., the University of Arizona al Tucson and New York University. Barbara earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees al the University of Arizona. She was graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Currently. John, who received is bachelor of arts froni Texas Tech and master's from West Virginia University, is hoping to find lime to complete his dissertation and earn the 1 Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. "I've done all the course work and received staight A's," he says. "Frankly I'm making loo much money i ighL now to go back and finish il." And they don't want to leave Hollywood. "Like everybody who grew up in this country, we always wanted to know how movies arc put together. Hollywood being such a moving force. For once I'll have a chance to watch." The lxos already have dined wilh wriler Ray Bradbury, mcl former LBSU and "Jaws" director Steven Spielberg and actor Charllon Heslon. Heavy dinner companions for a boy f r o m Brownsville. "I'm sure happy," says John. Barbara nods her head. She is sure happy, too. Citizen action helps curb neighborhood crime rate In addition to the hospitality suite (Hyatt Hotel provided Ihe Royal Suite aboard Ihe QM for sponsors -and Vll's), Junior leaguers arranged for a welcoming banquet aboard ship for car owners on Saturday evening. I'hil Hill, who served as grand marshal! of the Concours, and Grand Prix driver Mario Andretli made brief speeches. Tommy Farrell, a member of Lc Ccrclc. served as emcee. Ix-aguers, never missing an opportunity to swell their philanthropic coffers, decided to auction the original arl work done for programs and posters al the banquet. Arlisl Heidi Holstrom, who specializes in automotive art, did a watercolor which any car buff would love to own. Somehow or other Bix Bixby and his wife. Betty, ended up with the painting to Ihe tune of $100. Conld be he got a small nudge from daughter Jean Smith who is league president. THE REDCOATS got together on Monday night al the Virginia Country Club. Redcoats being the brightly blazered Committee of 300 of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce who are extra special boosters of the Grand Prix Social chairgal Diane Coltranc put together the cocktail dance for sonic 500 drivers, foreign press and distinguished guests. Drivers didn't do any dancing since Ihey were all suffering from jet lag after a 16-hour journey Irom Europe. Ixjng Beachers were happy to say hello to former resident now transplanted to Paris. Joan Updike Cahier and her writer husband, Bernard, who is covering the Grand Prix. The Cahiers are house- guesting with Dr. Bill and Julia Cheney. It was truly an International Party. More than 100 of Ihe party-goers went on to International City Club for dinner. ABWA unit sets party A Bicentennial t h e me will prevail al semi-annual enrollment p a r l y hosled by J u b i l e e Chapter of A m e r i c a n B u s i n e s s W o m e n ' s A s s o c i a t i o n Saturday at 2 p.m. in the F.I Dorado Park Estates home of Eva Sontag, KM Val Verde Ave. Information is available f r o m Verna F r y , 1660 K n o x v i l l e A v e . , Long Beach 90815. The sroup is geared to Ihe professional, educational, cultural and social advancement of women in business. By SIDNEY FIELDS New York News NEW YORK -- "Don't bring me anything that's marked." fences now Icll thieves peddling loot from the I85 burglaries they commit in New York every day. The mark may be a code number listed with the uwiK'i-'s name and address in a national registry Â·called Idcntifax. That means trouble for Ihc fence and the thief. "Burglars tend lo avoid identifiable properly," says Kdward Sclnvar/er, who got the Federation o( Cilywidc Block Associations to sponsor the idea. He's the founder of Ihe Federation Since it started at Ihc end of tasl January about 7.000 member-families have registered. They're coming in al the rale of -IOO a week. The idea originated wilh an oulfit calltxl l.istfax. which provides a kit holding large and small Identilax stickers, stencil, stylus, and an assigned code number. The big slicker is pasted on a door or window where an intruder can see it; smaller ones are put on Ihe car. TV set. hi-fi, cameras, anything The stencil and stylus arc used lo mark Ihc code number on personal property, 'glass, wood, metal. "I've marked anything in my office and homo thai I'm worried aboul walking away," Ed says THE SUBSCRIBER fills out a registration card with hi.-, name and address, sends il to Idenlifax. where it's stored in a computer, and he's registered for lid-. "Any taw enforcement officer who comes on tolen properly w i t h Ihc code number on il." Ed says, "phones Idcntifax, toll free, gives Ihc code, and in M'conds: the computer furnishes Ihc owner's name and address." The kit can be obtained with a $2 check or money order to Idcntifax. 1370 Avenue of the Americas, N.Y. 10019. Allow three weeks (or delivery. If you want information about it. call 212 -- 566-02.V). "The price is basic cost," Ed says. "Normally they're sold iii stores (or $10." He's 12. an NYL' graduate, now an insurance executive, and always has been a stubborn and deuMed Now Yorker. So are his wife. Ellen, and their children. Susan. IS, and Karen. 14. The entire family are products of the city's public school system, ami h a \ r always lived here. Their present residence is on West Mlh Street, off Central Park, a nice block, which, in IPnt!. had the usual chronic problems the city should but doesn't solve: safely, security, sanitation. "We had a mugging or robber every three or four d.iys," Ed says "The streets were dirty. Ihe people disgusted and frightened. So we decided to do something aboul il." A BLOCK ASSOCIATION was one way neighbors could help each other, so he started one of the lirst in the city. They hired a uniformed guard to patrol the area during critical hours, distributed plastic bags at cost for litter and garbage, and began a personal service for emergencies: a doctor or nurse living in Ihc neighborhood responds iinmcdialcly lo anyone hurl or taken ill suddenly, sends for more help i! necessary. "The personal service has saved Ihe lives of seven elderly people so far." says F,d. "The area is a lot cleaner, too. We had ten trees before. There arc now 46. We went from one of the worst crime blocks in Manhattan to one of Ihc best." When Ed looked in on the work of other block associations be thought they could help each other. He organized 25 into Ihe federation of West Side Black Associations, then formed a group of federations inio the Citywidc Association. Thai lells a lol alxiui New Yorkers who wanl to help themselves. Last July Cilyividc demanded that Mayor Beame establish local sanitation councils, which would not be necessary if Sanitation did what it's paid to do There are now II councils in Ihe city's 5S sanitalion districts;, manned hy volunteers who issue warnings to anyone messing up Ihe streets. If the warnings are idiored. Sanitation Department officers hit them with a lummons. WHEN ED FIRST heard of Idenlifax six mor.lhs ago, he checked its effectiveness, became convinced when he "studied a controlled lesl done by Ihe police of Edison. N.J. They got 1.000 families in one area to buy the kits at nominal cost, kept them from ano.lher 1.000 families in Ihc adjacent area. In the test period (hose without the kils suffered 42 burglaries; those with them, only two. And the two burglars were caught when they tried lo sell a TV set and a radio_ wilh an Identifax code on them. A more recent survey in New York showed that the burglary rate lor people with an identification program was seven times less than the national average. In 1972 Ihc police here slarted Operation Identification, and now have 43,0fÂ«) people in it. using their social security numbers as the code. But Ed says il costs over $10 lo register each one. while, the J2 price (or Identifax includes a 15 cent lax which Ihc city gels. So we're helping lo fight crime without cost to the cily and giving it some money, too. But we don't ' care whal identification system people use. We just want ihcm to register"
What members have found on this page
Get access to Newspapers.com
- The largest online newspaper archive
- 11,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
- Millions of additional pages added every month