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When Hollywood Art Succumbs to Commerce

May 29, 2003

Frank Pierson's "Hollywood Plays to the Pimply" (Commentary, May 26) was one of the most "on the money" takes written on the Hollywood landscape. I hope his remarks hit home with the USC film school graduates.

Writers such as Pierson, Ernest Lehman, Horton Foote and Robert Towne seem to be forgotten heroes in an era of demographics first, content second. Lehman's acceptance speech for his lifetime achievement Oscar in 2001 was an eloquent homage to the art of screenwriting and an implied directive to those writers who might still have a mind to do quality work. I trust Pierson's vision of art, defining how we live our lives, will have a respective place in the hands of future filmmakers.

Victor Castagna

Los Angeles

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Pierson spoke from the heart straight to my own heart. All that I am is partially due to the books I've read and the films I've seen. I shudder to think of the character that is developing based on the little that many people read and the types of films they attend. I have an adolescent daughter who would be happy to eat at McDonald's every day. But that doesn't mean I let her. I fight to expose her body to quality and variety and I fight an even tougher fight to expose her mind to more than is offered by the majority of the airwaves.

Adolescent boys need meaning, depth and real emotion in their lives, and these can be combined with stories that speak to them if only Hollywood could lift its nose from the bottom line and use a little intelligence and sensitivity. There are writers who write these stories -- please, Hollywood, give them a chance.

Eileen Valentino Flaxman

Los Angeles

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Pierson's strong sting on Hollywood's system of moviemaking remains one that today's risk-averse gang in charge has chosen to bunt instead of aiming out of the park. In life, we all have to decide our audience, mortal or immortal.

Michael Levine

Los Angeles

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