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Lew Wasserman JFK RFK Jack Valenti and.....

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Hi all.

First, my work has kept me away from here for a while.

I’d like to start by saying I am still working on getting some time to do some image enhancements for Lee Foreman which I honestly haven’t had the time or the DriveSpace to finish up but I will as some of my projects are getting launched into the land of Backupville…

Here starts the rant..

I watched a lengthy documentary on Lew Wasserman tonight.

(info Here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388201/ here http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20030630&s=schatz

and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lew_Wasserman )

There were a number of things that peaked me as I thought I was watching a documentary on Wasserman but as it went along I learned a few things I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere else:

Wasserman and MCA were under investigation by Bobby Kennedy and the result was an anti trust ruling that changed the way his (Wasserman/MCA) business got done.

Wassermann ran an almost unchallenged monopoly in Hollywood and was also backed by a heavy lawyer who had “alleged” ties to the mob. It cost Wasserman and his friends Millions.

They also showed a picture of Jack Valenti on Air force one during the swearing in of LBJ. Later in the documentary, (in present time ) Jack Valenti is quoted as saying something to the effect of; “If you go after Wasserman you’re coming after me.”

Throughout the course of this documentary, a number of statements were made to the effect of Wassermanns’ ability to place Ronald Reagan in the Screen actors’ guild as president and then later, it goes on to talk about his power in Washington and his involvement with future presidents.

Now Wassermanns’ lawyer (who’s name escapes me at present) was also involved with the teamsters etc and was known for being a very serious individual… the documentary states that the word of Wassermanns lawyer was the word of the mob and you’d better listen to what you were told…

Now I’m not suggesting that Hollywood killed the Kennedy’s, but it kinda made something really clear to me about the approach most people take when looking at the case of both brothers:

When people look at the case, they seem to compartmentalize it into the most unconnected coincidences, assuming that the “government couldn’t have done it with the mob” or the “CIA” wouldn’t have done it in conjunction with so and so.Etc.

The more I read about history, the more I seem to discover that not only are the agencies of criminals, governments and business linked at the hip, they all sleep in the same bed.

Not that this is anything new, but it seems to be the jumping off point for most of the dismissals about the case either by lone nutters but also by those who would have us believe that simply there are no tangible connections between these people and the agencies they represent. This is not so. History proves this correct.

Operation Mockingbird.

Operation Mongoose.

Operation Control Everything.

Whether it’s the Mob in Cuba or Vegas, its ties to politics and Hollywood are historical, not conjecture and you can replace the “entertainment Industry” with “Government” or “Organized crime” almost interchangeably when looking at who benefited and who owed whom a favor. All of them certainly coulda split the dinner bill on the hit and not even looked at what the tip should be.

My point I guess is that instead of making it more confused, it should make it simpler.

Maybe it wasn’t any one group, but rather a coordinated effort by everyone and why not?

Business is trans global as much now as it was in WW2, so why isn’t it possible that the key players could have been hired by A and B and C and paid out by D.

I mean as it has been well stated before:

with the who’s who in Dallas that day, you coulda sold tickets on the assumption that something was going to happen.. People KNEW!

And nothing was left to chance.

I am not asserting anything here; I’m just trying to point out another thread of connections here and the Wasserman Documentary left me with a few questions:

1) What the hell was Valenti doing on Kennedy’s’ plane in the first place? Press secretary? Hrmmmmmm… Who were his buddies? Who had a strong influence on network owned news programs?

2) Why would Valenti within weeks of the assassination want to have Wasserman appointed to special advisory capacity to LBJ in the LBJ Whitehouse?

3) Why hasn’t anyone drawn a connection to Valenti/Wasserman/Mob/Kennedy hits before?

4) (R Kennedy I know but..) Who owned the Ambassador Hotel? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._David_Schine ) Who were Schines pals?

5) Who hated the Kennedys more than Wassermann and co?

6) Who didn’t hate the Kennedy’s?

Sorry for the rant…

I also was unfortunate enough to see Gus Russo s awful documentary “rendezvous with death” which should have thanked the CIA in the credits for all the cash it propped that sad piece of garbage with…Just bad …

thanks for your patience…

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The more I read about history, the more I seem to discover that not only are the agencies of criminals, governments and business linked at the hip, they all sleep in the same bed.

Exactly right. This is the theme of Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade: The Contracting Out of U.S. Foreign Policy: 1940-2006:


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You might be interested in this:

New Times, December 10, 1998

"Lew Wasserman--co-founder, with the late Jules Stein, of MCA (now known as Universal Studios)--will forever be extolled in the pages of his lifelong mouthpiece, the [Los Angeles] Times, as the brilliant businessman who practically created Hollywood, who erected the financial bridge that tightly binds Hollywood to the Democratic Party, and who graciously gave to charity once his work was done. But in an earth-scorching new epic on Hollywood, The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood, longtime rumors and dark whisperings finally come to the fore in a devastating portrayal of Wasserman and Stein as two men so in bed with the Mob and so willing to ruin others in their quest for gold that they must be regarded with fascinated contempt ... As for [Lew's wife] Edie Wasserman, long portrayed in the L.A. media as a big-hearted philanthropist and hostess extraordinaire, [investigative journalist Dennis] McDougal claims instead that she was a manipulator who introduced Lew to mobsters via her dad, Henry Beckerman, connected to the Moe Dalitz Mayfield Road gang of Cleveland ... McDougal cites numerous examples of Stein and Wasserman's dealings with the Mob, including an incident in the 1960s when Meyer Lansky, the feared New York mobster, waltzed into Jules Stein's Hollywood office to drink liqueur and meet with well-known mob lawyer Sidney Korshak, the labor fixer who also just happened to be Lew Wasserman's best friend and legal confidante."

Then there is this book review of When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence.

In When Hollywood Had a King, the distinguished journalist Connie Bruck tells the sweeping story of MCA and its brilliant leader, a man who transformed the entertainment industry--businessman, politician, tactician, and visionary Lew Wasserman. The Music Corporation of America was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Dr. Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist with a gift for booking bands. Twelve years later, Stein moved his operations west to Beverly Hills and hired Lew Wasserman. From his meager beginnings as a movie-theater usher in Cleveland, Wasserman ultimately ascended to the post of president of MCA, and the company became the most powerful force in Hollywood, regarded with a mixture of fear and awe. In his signature black suit and black knit tie, Wasserman took Hollywood by storm. He shifted the balance of power from the studios--which had seven-year contractual strangleholds on the stars--to the talent, who became profit partners. When an antitrust suit forced MCA's evolution from talent agency to film- and television-production company, it was Wasserman who parlayed the control of a wide variety of entertainment and media products into a new type of Hollywood power base. There was only Washington left to conquer, and conquer it Wasserman did, quietly brokering alliances with Democratic and Republican administrations alike. That Wasserman's reach extended from the underworld to the White House only added to his mystique. Among his friends were Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, mob lawyer Sidney Korshak, and gangster Moe Dalitz--along with Presidents Johnson, Clinton, and especially Reagan, who enjoyed a particularly close and mutually beneficial relationship with Wasserman. He was equally intimate with Hollywood royalty, from Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart to Steven Spielberg, who began his career at MCA and once described Wasserman's eyeglasses as looking like two giant movie screens. The history of MCA is really the history of a revolution. Lew Wasserman ushered in the Hollywood we know today. He is the link between the old-school moguls with their ironclad studio contracts and the new industry defined by multimedia conglomerates, power agents, multimillionaire actors, and profit sharing. In the hands of Connie Bruck, the story of Lew Wasserman's rise to power takes on an almost Shakespearean scope. When Hollywood Had a King reveals the industry's greatest untold story: how a stealthy, enterprising power broker became, for a time, Tinseltown's absolute monarch.

Then there is:


Lew Wasserman's Hollywood

Two pairs of twin stars orbit the center of the universe of desire. One is made up of wealth and power, the other of fame and love. Some people see the twins as singletons, often with confused, even dire consequences. Smart, successful people seem unusually capable of keeping the twins apart. They may know that power brings wealth, and vice versa, but they decide which one of these goods is their true heart's desire, and don't think much about the other. Matters are not quite so symmetrical between love and fame, of course; to be successful in love is a good way of guaranteeing a complete lack of celebrity, and celebrity can kill love. But it is not impossible to reconcile the two. It makes sense that love and fame would be a more complicated couple, because they both excite enthusiasm in others. Power and wealth have always been seen to be comparatively cold-blooded.

You can do one of two things with power. You can become a leader, inspiring followers and enlisting their support in the pursuit of a common objective. The example of Adolf Hitler shows us that leadership can be malign, and recent generations have tended to see all would-be leaders as egotistical, ill-informed oppressors. This is careless, however, and I classify malignant or inept leadership as having more to do with the other thing that can be done with power. The other thing is that you can become a thug.

Two years ago, I read an excerpt from what would become Connie Bruck's book, When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence (Random House, 2003). The excerpt appeared in The New Yorker, I gathered that it was part of a story without many appealing figures. Indeed. Having read the book, I must say that I couldn't find a sympathetic character anywhere in it. Even Jackie Kennedy, corresponding with Jules Stein about fine furniture (of which Stein was a collector, and which the First Lady, determined to polish up the White House, longed to acquire), at a time when the Justice Department was investigating the Stein's talent agency for antitrust violations (thus precluding any gifts from this source to the White House), comes off looking just a bit foolish. Books about Hollywood always make me glad that I don't live anywhere nearby or have any friends in the industry. Movies may be great, and the development of American cinema may be fascinating. But the people who make the movies happen have not, as a rule, been the sort of people I'd want to live next door to. What's surprising about Ms Bruck's book is how much worse than average-for-Hollywood a person Lew Wasserman was.

The Music Corporation of America was a grandly named, skin-of-the-teeth agency founded in 1924 by Jules Stein, a medical doctor with an interest in dance bands. It grew the way most things grew in the Twenties, by a combination of muscle and exhilaration. But it held on because Dr Stein and his men did their homework. In 1936, the decision was made to move the center of operations to Beverly Hills. In 1939, the agency signed its first major star, Bette Davis, and it never looked back. But like an exotic weed, MCA flourished in the very atmosphere that the old studios found toxic: that of television. By the time television began to outgrow its infancy, MCA could expect to collect commissions on every aspect of production, from the stars that it represented to the network stagehands who (otherwise) had no connection with the agency. Thanks to a waiver of Screen Actors Guild rules, arranged by Ronald Reagan, MCA could even produce its own television shows and collect commissions! The beauty part of the inevitable antitrust proceedings was that the government forced MCA to do what its president most wanted to do anyway but could never have done voluntarily: dump the agency business altogether. By then, MCA had acquired Universal Studios, and Lew Wasserman, president of MCA since 1946 (under Stein's chairmanship), became top dog in Hollywood.

Coming up today, Wasserman would probably have found a way into computers. He was a numbers man with a photographic memory who appears to have reduced everything important to a figure which could be retrievably placed in an interior galaxy. He wrote almost nothing down, and his meetings were always brief unless prolonged by one of his tirades. Wasserman's displays of temper were no less terrifying for being rigorously controlled - just as everything in Wasserman's life was rigorously controlled. An oversight, a violation of one of his rules (however well-intentioned), or an act tinctured by disloyalty would all trigger eruptions from which men were known to leave in tears. So far as I know, Wasserman never had anybody killed, but he could cut people out of his life, which sometimes meant cutting them out of the industry altogether.

He was not a decent man. His rock-ribbed loyalty was legendary, and his displays of generosity were not uncommon, but without more these are not virtues. They are both the plumage of the thug and the engine of his authority. Wasserman had little interest in the movies themselves; what engaged his attention, aside from grosses, was labor relations. Hollywood was a union town by the time he got there, in 1939, and far from struggling against the organized labor, as most of the early tycoons had done, Wasserman exploited his connections with union leadership. The Teamsters, for example, acting alone, could bring film production to a halt. Wasserman staved off such threats with the help of a shadowy éminence grise, the lawyer and fixer Sidney Korshak. Wasserman also took an interest in politics - or, rather, in political contributions. Money spent in Washington was money spent on protection.

The film industry operates on the frontier between regular, heavy industry, where widgets are produced day and night by companies that stay in business for decades, and the drug underworld, where every deal stands alone, and may, but probably won't, involve a serial cast of participants. Every film is made, technically, by its own production company, or by a company formed to make two or three films; such companies are usually limited partnerships. A film studio is simply an outfit prepared to act as the general (or responsible) partner for limited partnership production companies. It may own the rights to film distribution, but it does not actually own any movies all by itself. Because of the need to create every product (film) from scratch, and because the film industry is even less predictable than the trade in illegal drugs, it is natural that underworld-type figures, lawful behavior notwithstanding, rise to eminence in Hollywood. The lawfulness of Lew Wasserman's behavior is something that Connie Bruck's biography leaves open to question.

This is a serious failing for so comprehensive a book. Ms Bruck anatomizes the industry that Wasserman wrought, and she clearly charts the course of that industry's undoing by forces that Wasserman had unleashed long before but that he could no longer control. But she does not judge. One suspects that she would pronounce Wasserman's work as ultimately benign. Certainly the man kept intramural strife to a minimum, and almost everyone involved got rich. But to leave us with the portrait of a benign, if occasionally terrible, dictator, without assessing the nature of the dictator's regime, is to shirk what ought to have been a principal objective. The days in which the success of a business can be determined by its balance sheet are over.

On top of the structural differences from mainstream industry that I have already pointed out, Hollywood is unusual both for the nature of its product and for the intensiveness of its demand for human talent. Movies don't have to be any good at all, and many aren't (and hardly any work done for television is any good), but the fact that some movies rise to prominence, and even eminence, in our cultural pantheon implies a responsibility to the world at large that is rather like the chemical industry's responsibility to avoid environmental contaminations. Simply cranking out mediocre fodder for hungry 'outlets' is morally bankrupt. (It worried me very much that, unlike almost every other writer on Hollywood history that I've come across, Ms Bruck has nothing to say about the merits, apart from popularity and earnings, of a single motion picture.) Trained in the utterly ephemeral atmosphere of booking dance bands, Stein and Wasserman seemed unaware of any long-term implications that might attach to their work. Alfred Hitchcock's movies of the Fifties would probably not be so sleekly harmonious to watch if it hadn't been for Lew Wasserman's wizardry as a packager of talent, but Hitchcock himself appears to have responded with a very ambiguous gratitude, as if to say thanks for an unintended gift.

It is difficult to feel any enthusiasm for a book about a successful thug whose achievement seems ever more evanescent. Ms Bruck writes with great brio, considering the density and darkness of her material, but transitions for foreground to background are not well-modulated. On at least two occasions, her book lurches into protracted episodes that don't much concern Wasserman himself, and these episodes seem to be the fruit of irresistibly piquant research that would probably never see the light of print between the covers of a more appropriate volume. (The history of Richard Nixon and Taft Schreiber - Wasserman's deadliest rival at MCA - climaxes on a note that's more Watergate than Hollywood.) The illustrations seem miscellaneous rather than illustrative, more the trophies on an executives wall (which is what almost all of them undoubtedly were) than sources of information. Thanks to the always pulse-quickening appearances of mobsters and strongmen, this is a hard book to put down, but the reader can expect to have a nasty hangover. How can a book of nearly five hundred pages, with 'Hollywood' in its title, say so little about the movies? How can a book about dreamworks be so silent about fame and love? (August 2004)

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1) What the hell was Valenti doing on Kennedy’s’ plane in the first place? Press secretary? Hrmmmmmm… Who were his buddies? Who had a strong influence on network owned news programs?

Valenti was an aide to Johnson and in charge of press coverage during the Dallas trip.

Valenti was a native Texan who ran an advertising agency in Houston before joining Johnson’s staff in the 1950s.

In 1962 Valenti married Mary Margaret Wiley, who had also joined Johnson's staff in the 1950s. Their son's name is John Lyndon Valenti.

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There is a mob connection to the case that is rarely mentioned. Not sure exactly where I read about it but I'll find it if need be. After Ed Reid broke the story in the late 60's (in The Grim Reapers) that Marcello had talked of killing Kennedy to stop RFK-the cutting off the head of the dog line--the FBI followed up on it. If I recall correctly, they followed up on it by asking around if the source of this quote, Ed Becker, had any credibility. The Los Angeles FBI office immediately chimed in that they'd checked with a reputable attorney and discovered that Becker had no credibility. The "reputable" attorney? Sidney Korshak, the Chicago mob's man in the movie biz, labor "fixer" extraordinaire, and close personal pal to Lew Wasserman... Incredible.

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i should say my post was a little vague and my comments/questions at the end were a little rhetorical.

thank you for all the posts.

i'm just going to throw this out and see what happens...

i think now (after some sleep and some more reading) is more to the point that there seems to be two levels of mafia: the street level types and those that shake hands at a more acceptable public level.

the idea that the marcello and co would do something that bold is quite beyond me: that type of mobster waits. historically they were known to operate in the background as much as possible and try not to draw that kind of attention to themselves.

the corporate level mobster plants the black mail and ruins careers, sets up all the dominos to fall at once when the candidate they want in place is set to go. they are the cleaner assets that can be invited to dinner and trusted to employ their own assets quietly.

mob complicity is implied at every level, but the benefits immediate and otherwise of JFKs death seem to point more towards LBJ than anyone else. who had access to the secret service? who had direct access to oswalds information/status? who had friends in texas?

it becomes increasingly clear to me that if i put myself in the place of someone like LBJ, it becomes rather obvious who would get blamed first for the assisination and that with that in mind, a number of various assets from the CIA/FBI/MAFIA can then be employed at a "one hand doesn't know what the other is doing" level.

i think the key strategy here was the scatter effect and that post nov 63, it had snowballed back towards the vice president and at that point the diffusion strategy started to come into play.

implicate everyone, therefore it becomes in everybody's best interest to clean up after themselves.

i just can't help but think oswald was working on a totally different angle and for the mob to have known about his involvement with security agencies and russia while he was running around with pro/anti castro groups put the street level mob guys in a direct handshake with the LBJ office and that in itself doesn't make sense. especially when they were trying to nail JFKs coffin shut with the info that he was involved with hiring the Mob to hit castro.

i think my point with Wasserman was more that at a number of levels, there is a "bank" that can take care of its assets without implicating others.

each arm would have had limited information and would be involved only with their own assets.

but again, how does a joseph milteer show up in dallas that day?

he was told where and when. so were the anti castro assets and so were the cia assets. if in fact those people were told in advance, they were there to be implicated and not in direct participation.

we have various expendable assets implicated like ruby, gen walker, oswald, braden etc that all seem to draw everyone away from the texans even to the degree that connally got a vanity wound to keep him from implicating the texans.

the murchisons/hunts couldn't fund this kinda thing alone either. it's too easy to follow the money. each set of players had their own instructions and their own paymasters. again, the oil magnates are implicated but not LBJ and co directly.

the only person who "wasn't" there was LBJs buddy mac wallace.

now if the fingerprint is in fact his, it puts him in a control position but it also means he is the only person out of place in the sense that while the conspirators were pointing to cubans mob and the cia, he was never mentioned as far as i know by anyone except researchers...

if my meandering is correct, this puts LBJ in the main drivers seat as far as implementing and contracting the hit.

just thought i'd throw that out there.

nothing new i know but...

thanks for your patience.

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