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Columbia Cars

November 20, 1988

How encouraging it must be to film makers that Columbia Pictures Entertainment and Dawn Steel handed out a $35,000 1988 BMW convertible as a gift to writer/director David Seltzer, whose current cars aren't quite up to snuff? (Outtakes, by Leonard Klady, Nov. 6).

But maybe we should look beyond the superficial.

$35,000 may not seem like much in relation to the salaries and expenditures of a major studio, but for a corporation laboring to re-establish itself, the money could make a world of difference to a film that needs the proper promotion to give it a fair chance at the box office, such as Sanford Lieberson's "Stars and Bars."

$35,000 could go toward developing future projects, maybe being used to option a screenplay from a first-time writer with a good story to tell, but because of his lowly status (maybe he only drives a pickup truck), not many people are willing to hear it.

$35,000 is a year's salary to one of the 750 employees Columbia and Tri-Star fired since their merger 10 months ago. (Maybe some of those former employees weren't washing their cars as often as they should.)

I'm sure Seltzer is grateful for his convertible; the gift was generous. I just hope he parks it where it won't get dented and checks his transmission fluid regularly and, God forbid, the motor to his power antenna doesn't burn out.

RUSSELL HELDT

Los Angeles

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