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Counterpunch

'Never Forget' Did Tell the Truth About History

April 22, 1991|LEONARD NIMOY and ROBERT B. RADNITZ | Nimoy starred as Mel Mermelstein in TNT's "Never Forget," and was executive producer with his partner Robert Radnitz, who also served as producer. and

We are saddened by the article written by Gloria Allred and published last Monday in The Times ("A TV Movie and Its Responsibility to History"). Although we had discussed the validity of our position with Allred and her partner, Michael Maroko, she evidently felt compelled to give public airing to her vision of "Never Forget," the story of Mel Mermelstein's battle against the revisionists who claimed the Holocaust was a hoax.

Mermelstein, who lost his family in the Holocaust, confronted the deniers and won judicial notice of the Holocaust in Judge Thomas T. Johnson's decision in October, 1981. This was the first time the Holocaust was recognized in American jurisprudence.

Our film, "Never Forget," focuses on events leading up to and culminating in the October, 1981, judicial notice proceeding in which the Holocaust deniers were refuted in Los Angeles Superior Court. Mermelstein was represented in the proceeding depicted in our film by attorney William Cox, who was counsel of record.

Allred contends that lawyers in her office were part of a team that represented Mermelstein and were not credited. In fact, the film contains no dramatization of any proceedings that took place during the time Allred's firm represented Mermelstein.

After the judicial notice proceeding of October, 1981, Mermelstein continued to pursue his legal action against the Institute for Historical Review. It was not until August, 1982, however, some 10 months later, that Allred's firm entered the case. Our film does not refer to these later proceedings except for a brief voice-over at the end explaining that Mermelstein eventually received a financial settlement and letter of apology.

In still later cases involving the institute, Mermelstein was represented by other lawyers. Certainly all the attorneys in the later proceedings are deserving of credit for the services provided Mermelstein, but not in our film, which only concerned earlier events in which they did not participate.

As to Allred's claim of negative depiction of ". . . two Jewish organizations" in the Los Angeles community (and of the Jewish community in general), we note that the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith both are depicted in our story and that both were and continue to be supportive of the way their well-reasoned position is represented in our film.

Allred asks, "Does Hollywood have a moral responsibility to tell the truth about history?" The answer to this rhetorical question is, "Yes." Our purpose in making "Never Forget" was to present an independent and accurate drama-

tization of, to use Allred's words, a "historically significant" event.

We believe the film accomplished these objectives and hope that Allred's search for recognition will not divert attention from Mel Mermelstein's achievements. Perhaps in time she will come to recognize that the essential point of our film was to portray one man's triumph over ignorance and bigotry--a triumph that should be cause for celebration. To sully "Never Forget," as she has done, is both self-serving and, in sum, quite sad.

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