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A New Hollywood Hero?

June 09, 2005

A good agent can work miracles, but even Hollywood knows that some challenges are insurmountable. As Halle Berry said to her agent at February's Razzies awards (where she won the prize for worst actress for "Catwoman"), "Next time, read the script first."

The remark came to mind when we learned that Creative Artists Agency is representing the family of W. Mark Felt and the author and lawyer John O'Connor, whose story in Vanity Fair identified Felt as "Deep Throat." O'Connor's article created a sensation by naming the most famous anonymous source ever, and every publication in the nation (including this one) would have jumped at the chance to tell that story. Still, we wonder: Did the guys at CAA actually read the piece?

It is basically a one-liner padded out by the anecdotes of daughter Joan Felt, some canned history and stilted "how I got the story" details. As a prose stylist, O'Connor's model appears to be the annual Christmas letter ("Jan served her typical Italian-style feast with large platters of pasta, grilled chicken and vegetables").

Of course, bad prose does not by itself disqualify a story for the Hollywood treatment -- as any reader of "All the President's Men" can testify. Which story, by the way, Bob Woodward plans to revisit in his own forthcoming book about Felt. Maybe CAA is betting O'Connor will be able to tell Felt's version of events, although the former Deep Throat is now 91 and enfeebled by strokes and other illnesses.

We know enough about CAA to know it has some kind of strategy here, and undoubtedly it is designed to be opaque to lesser minds like ours. Deep Throat is a franchise character, as they say in Hollywood. We only hope that Mark Felt's legacy is more than that.

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