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The Woman Behind the Women : Ann Lewis Hamilton Created the Smart Cops of 'Sirens'

April 14, 1993|DANIEL CERONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"I thought, 'I could be incredibly offended,' " Hamilton said. "I could say, 'Don't use that kind of language.' But what's the point of that? I kind of waited a little bit, and I told a joke to him, and I used (a profanity). I just wanted to say, 'Language isn't going to get me. Don't do that.' Life's too short to be intimidated by that. I mean, if you're going to allow yourself to be intimidated by men . . ."

Her voice trailed off. Rather than complain about the inequities she faces as a woman in Hollywood, she instead seems to want to work them to her advantage. At one point, she and Butler, a veteran TV producer and director since the early 1960s, were looking for studio space to shoot "Sirens."

"Bob and I were walking around with some guy who was showing us around his studio," Hamilton said. "I think he thought I was Bob's assistant. Bob is real tall, handsome, just looks like a director. And there I am, kind of tagging along with Bob. And this guy is only talking to Bob, you know. And he's kind of treating me like the secretary. It didn't bother me. I just thought it was kind of amusing, because I think you can sort of use that. You listen, and you save it to use later."

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Hamilton studied drama at the University of Virginia, believing she wanted to be an actress. But her knack for writing short plays led her to film school. She was an assistant to Julie Corman--the wife of B-movie master Roger Corman--in 1984 when she married Schouweiler, an attorney at the time.

"We knew this low-budget world, and that's what John wanted to go into," Hamilton said. "So I said, 'Honey, for our wedding present, I'll write you a script. I'll give you two weeks of my life, and I'll write you a low-budget, action script.' "

Hamilton took director John Ford's 1939 classic film "Stagecoach" and set the story after the apocalypse, making the John Wayne character a woman and the prostitute a man. She wrote the script under a male pseudonym, Buck Finch, to help it sell.

"I wanted to pick the most masculine first name I could," she said. "I thought of Rod or Dick, and settled on Buck. And Finch is from Atticus Finch from 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' my favorite book."

Hamilton noted wryly that "Neon City" was finally filmed not long ago, but producers rewrote the story and put a guy, Michael Ironside, back in the lead with a woman at his side.

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