Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) Script

The first Kurosawa film I think I ever saw... was "Throne of Blood," on the Z Channel.

Fellini film, "I Vitteloni."

There was a picture called "Spider's Stratagem."

Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch."

The "Straw Dogs"...

"Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia."

"The Story of Adele H."

"City Lights."

"Rear Window." "Midnight Cowboy."

"Ikiru." "Song Remains the Same."

"Johnny Guitar."

"The Onion Field." "Los Olvidados."

"The Man Who Fell to Earth."

Every film that Marlon Brando was ever in.

Z Channel. Z Channel.

Z Channel. Our salvation.

Uncharted territory.

Like tom-toms in the jungle.

Jerry Harvey. Jerry Harvey.

Programmer. Obsessive programmer.

Dark and negative.

Maverick. Nurturing.

Skating that line between insanity and genius.

What do you think the secret of the Z Channel's success is?

I don't know.

If I told you, then it wouldn't be a secret.

My father says there's only right and wrong.

Good and evil.

Nothing in between.

It isn't that simple, is it?

No, it isn't. It should be, but it isn't.

KNX News time, 6:06.

A Hollywood story with a tragic ending this morning.

The bodies of Z Channel programmer Jerry Harvey... and his wife Deri Rudulph were discovered Saturday Night... in their Westwood home.

Police report Harvey shot and killed Rudulph... his wife of two years... before turning the gun on himself.

The motive is unknown.

Harvey had been chief programmer at Z Channel... which is known throughout Los Angeles... for its eclectic and innovative programming.

Both Harvey and Rudulph were 39 years old.


So it was back in 1974... and I had just started selling cable television... and the Z Channel had just started.

So we came up here to the Hollywood hills.

And it was really great... because these people had terrible reception.

They couldn't see anything on their television... and not only were we offering good reception... we gave them movies... uncut and no commercials... in their bedroom, in their living room... wherever they wanted it.

They ate it up. It was very, very successful.

It was amazing.

I had friends over all the time... because they showed two movies a night... as I recall.

And they were uncut, uninterrupted.

It was this phenomenon no one had ever seen.

Theta, the Z Channel, was the only one in the major cities.

In other words...

New York did not have it at the time.

Los Angeles was the first one to do that.

That this actually existed, you could see this stuff... was incredible.

So I was like, "We've got to get this!"

I was living in El Segundo at the time.

And my mom called up, and, no, Z Channel wasn't in our area.

Not only was Theta in that area along the foothills... but it was who was in the homes along the foothills... and those were the folks that ran the movie industry.

They were films for the whole family... but I thought slanted to adults a little bit.

And those were the films I tried to get.

"Chinatown" was on a lot in those days.

They used to run it a lot.

And that was one of my favorite movies.

And I ended up seeing it 3 or 4 times a week... at certain points.

I publicized the shows that we were doing... in the Hollywood trade papers, "Variety" and "Reporter"... and gradually, word began to spread.

I think it's interesting, too, to note that in that time... it's hard to remember this.

I told my kids about it, and they don't believe me... but there was a time when there was no Blockbuster stores.

There was no videocassettes. None of that existed.

The thing you have to understand... this is before HBO, before Showtime, before any of that... and it was really, really groundbreaking.

When I left, Hal Kaufman, he took my place.

I remember he had an assistant, who he hired, Jerry Harvey.

And that was my first contact with Jerry Harvey.

The Z Channel hired a person... that really made the Z Channel... probably put the Z Channel on the map... and that's Jerry Harvey.

Jerry probably is one of those students... that a teacher encounters every so often and thinks...

"I think this student's probably smarter than I am."

I had just broken up with my girlfriend... and so I was standing at the Dickson Art Center...

Iooking rather forlorn, apparently... and he kind of recognized the look... and walked up to me and said, "I recognize the look."

And so we started talking, and we spent the entire day... having lunch and talking about movies, and that's how we met.

So many of my students, when they're interested in movies... are only interested in the art movies, the indies.

Jerry loved them all... and hated them all when they were bad.

With Jerry, you always talked about movies.

Everything that he... his entire frame of reference was films.

I started getting these weekly telephone calls... toward the end of each week... from this obviously very young, intense young man... asking me for a rundown of what the good pictures... were going to be that particular week.

I think the first contact... or memory, I have of Jerry Harvey... was when he was booking the Beverly Canon.

I heard about Jerry's work... long before I heard about Jerry... because I heard about his work for the Beverly Canon.

I was going to Cal Arts... an art school 30 miles north of Los Angeles... and everybody was talking about the Beverly Canon... especially when he ran the uncut "Wild Bunch."

I mean, that was like missile blast.

Everybody, anybody who loved film knew about this.

And on a rainy day, in the Beverly Canon theater...

2,000 people, or however many people showed up... for the screening.

I think a great coup in his life happened... because Peckinpah arrived with the print.

And it certainly was momentous because it... his bond with Peckinpah just extended from there.

Jerry certainly was one of the people that looked up to Sam... as I guess kind of a father figure.

Jerry felt that way about a number of creative people... that he admired and appreciated.

He was always surprising me.

It was Sam this and Bob that, and I thought, " Whoa!

How did you get to meet these people?"

That he arranged a screening for "Some Call It Loving" there... you can't help but respect someone... who has taken all the time and effort... to educate himself, become familiar with... with not only my films... ones I did with Kubrick of course weren't obscure... but "Some Call It Loving" was kind of an obscure film.

I met Jerry Harvey in my mother's living room.

She worked with Jim Harris at the time, and they were friends.

And I came bounding into her house... and he was standing there.

It was kind of love at first sight, I think.

We stayed on the phone that night after he left my house... for 11 hours.

He came over the next night after that... and I don't think he ever left for 3 years.

He had aspirations to be a filmmaker... or at least to start out as a screenwriter.

We wrote a script together about two college kids... who were witness to a murder.

And that's how we really started writing together.

And we ended up getting the agency off of that... meeting Monte Hellman.

Jerry was also involved in the making of a film... a western that he had written, I believe, and that... he was able to raise the financing... and went over to Italy to do it.

Are you satisfied now?

You ain't gonna last long, son.

There ain't no soft-hearted gunfighters.

"China 9" was really great fun.

I always remember, we flew into Rome.

Landed in Rome... was picked up by the limo at the airport... and then went to Almeria.

Had a great group of people.

Warren Oates was there. Fabio Testi.

Jenny Agutter, Sam Peckinpah, Monte Hellman.

We just had the best time, one of the best times of my life.

There was of course a tremendous black period... when his sister, Anne, committed suicide.

Jerry spoke to his sister all the time.

They were very, very close. Great friends.

And he adored her.

Anne checked herself into a hospital when Jerry was gone.

And I believe that she was waiting for him to come back.

She had left a suicide tape... that was her talking to Jerry while she died, explaining... everything that had transpired in her life... that led to this decision.

She was really his anchor... and not only did she go mad, but now she was gone.

And he came back to have this happen.

And by the time I saw him, he was crazy.

I had never seen him so crazy.

We got married pretty quickly after that.

We got married in February 1978.

Part of what was really attractive about it... at the time... was that we had already been having this affair... but then he was just so vulnerable in reaching out.

And so I blamed... the things that I saw that seemed dark and scary to me...

I blamed on the fact that he was in mourning... over his sister... and assumed that my loving him... would make those things go away and be better.

We were still very close friends... but we weren't really partners in activity.

We didn't write anything together after that.

We never did.

At the time there was only Select TV, and On TV... as cable sources in the area that I lived.

We had gotten Select TV.

And in the middle of the night... he would wake me up yelling at the television... because the programming sucked.

And at some point in time, I just said...

"If you hate it so much...

"either don't watch it or write a letter."

And so he wrote a letter to them... telling them what was wrong with the programming.

And they called him, and said...

"How do you know so much, and who are you?"

And, "We want to talk to you."

And Jerry had said he had found these movies that... since we were playing eclectic things, here's some... wanted to show me something.

Greece withdraws from NATO.

The third guarantor power, Britain... with air force and troops on the spot... sticks to her policy of strict non-involvement.

It was a documentary... about the invasion of Greece by the Turks... and political content.

It was an interesting movie.

It had just been this guy who'd written in this letter... who was reading the reaction and was like...

"Well, that didn't get them, so let me try one more"... and I think it was like a Laura Antonelli film... who I had never seen before, who was staggeringly gorgeous.

And I thought anybody who could go to these kind of... those poles... to the utter, pure documentary, political documentary to sex... is worth having, so I hired him.

And so that sort of set Jerry on his path... which seemed really hopeful... because then there was something... that really was about his passion... something that he could do that was positive... and that would give him something to focus on... besides his own struggle with himself.

Hal Kaufman, the guy running Z at the time... called Jerry and approached him about a job.

I left Select, and weeks after I got to Z... the head of programming fell ill and left, and never came back.

Everything that predated Z and his own eminence over Z... was merely the prep.

It was the years in the desert.

Suddenly Jerry arrives in the early eighties... and he's known all through town.

He got me on the phone, and he said... Jerry, he said, " I've been hired, and I want to do a new spin...

"on the pictures that we're showing."

I think I got a call from somebody once... picked up the phone... and somebody on the phone said to me, " This is Jerry Harvey.

"I buy movies. Do you have so-and-so?"

I think so-and-so was probably "Black Orpheus."

When you first met him, I think he was cold and distant.

We had to generate a mutual respect... which came quickly because we found out that each of us... had an interest in old movies, different movies... movies that were unloved, movies that had been unscreened.

Telephone, Ms. Gray. Thank you.

Excuse... She'll take it here.

No, never mind.

Ask them to call me at home later, please.

Bring the phone.

What was so brilliant about what Jerry was doing... was mixing the art film with commercial fare.

I had to see everything on this crash course.

It was like the Schick Center for movie addiction.

And then I had to hear him recite to me "Dr. Strangelove."

There was a month when I heard scenes from "Dr. Strangelove"... from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep.

I agree with you. It's great to be fine.

Now, then, Dimitri... you know how we've always talked about the possibility... of something going wrong with the bomb.

Z was great for him.

Z was... Jerry sort of found his place there... because he could come in...

Jerry's favorite way of dressing was... a business shirt, not tucked in; a nice jacket... baggy, dirty jeans; and Frye boots.

And he couldn't do that working in a corporate situation.

So at Z Channel, he could do what he liked to do best... which is sit cross-legged on the floor... and make his phone calls that way... smoking.

When did you start looking at films?

To be honest with you, when I was 4.

I remember vividly a film I saw at 4... and the impact it had on me.

For a great period in my life... that meant more to me than anything else, movies.

The history of the movies, seeing them.

This man, Jerry Harvey, this very sweet, very odd man... called me up and very tentatively asked me... would I like "A Safe Place," my first film, to be on television?

I was sure he made a mistake... because it was a film that was so trashed by all the critics... when it opened that nobody wanted to play it.

Yes. Yes, I have missed you.

Do you want to know why?

Because you're very simple-minded.

Screw you.

I had a film called "lmages" that I had done in... shot in Ireland in '72.

And he was particularly... Jerry liked that film a lot.

He said, " Let's run that on the Z Channel."

But we couldn't find who owned the title.

He said, " Well, I'll run it, if you'll run it."

I said, " Well, I'll run it if you'll run it.

So, here's the print.

Katherine! What are you talking about, Katherine?

I love you!

You don't.

These films get lost in a hurry.

And I would get calls...

"They just played your movie on Z Channel."

I'm naked now.

I mean, that was like a big release for me.

If you couldn't get a studio to release your picture... your picture did not get seen.

One of the big things that changed that was the Z Channel.

The Z Channel to me was the first time I could speak French.

"Z Channel."

It was the first time you could turn on your television... and see something that you would have to go to the cinema for.

What he was doing was coming up with films... that I had never heard of or didn't know existed.

People saw movies that they wouldn't have gone to see... in a theater if they were free!

And consequently, I think it was both a pleasurable experience... and an educational experience... and I think it widened everybody's horizons.

It made, I think, even the powers that be realize... that there was this alternate audience that was much larger... than anybody knew.

Jerry found all these films... and was able to program them on the Z Channel.

And it sort of built a big following.

I just think that he, in a sense, had blinders on... in which all he could see through his blinders was film.

And you grew up where?

I grew up in Bakersfield.

How would you describe Bakersfield?

In how many words?

Kind of a cross between "American Graffiti"... and "Two-Lane Blacktop."

Did you have an enjoyable childhood?

No.

When Jerry came aboard, it was also the moment... when HBO, Showtime, and The Movie Channel... all showed up in L.A.

He was a formidable competitor.

And he didn't say nice things... about people he was competing against... because he lived and slept this job.

They thought they were going to carve up the territory... that belonged to Z Channel.

Z Channel was the only one in town at that time.

But all the others thought...

"Well, we're gonna roll over this guy."

And in fact a lot of people had told Jerry to his face...

"Well, you run a nice little channel.

"It's too bad, you know."

And he said, "Well, we'll see."

And what happened was, of course... that HBO and those guys really couldn't get a toehold.

Z Channel had what was called a zero churn rate... which means that nobody would cancel the service.

Jerry loved Z Channel.

He loved everything it was about... but he felt a lot of pressure to perform.

He would call you in the middle of the night... on a Saturday night.

On a Sunday morning at 7:00 in the morning... he would call you and say, "You've got to get me this.

"The channel will go under."

It was always the sky is falling if you don't get me this.

"I got to get this."

So he tried to take it all on, and what he would always do... to compensate in those kind of situations... is that he would self-medicate.

So he would go around with... he'd drink, and then he'd have No-Doze in his pocket.

He was manic, but he was an obsessive programmer.

I want to say that that's not a bad thing, by the way.

Basically, he would come back from work at Z Channel... and order pizza and fall asleep on the floor... because he was taking a lot of medication.

So he wasn't really functioning at home... but nobody knew it at work... because he would function in the morning.

Met Jerry on the telephone. He called me in London.

Woke me up 2:30 in the morning... because he got all the times wrong.

His first words to me were, "How come I don't know you?"

So I get this lunatic on the phone at 2:30 in the morning... giving me this long monologue about... what other films have I made?

He wants to see everything.

Can I send everything over to him?

What documentaries have I made? And all that.

Will you have a dance with me, please?

I don't mind if I do.

Come on, then.

In the case of "Overlord," you have a World War II film... which actually incorporates footage from World War II... but incorporates it so artfully... that you can't tell the staged footage from the actual footage.

We began a process of developing a screenplay... based on real material... both documented material and footage.

And I began to construct a dramatized documentary... about a young English soldier.

He said, " We'll start by having a month of Stuart Cooper.

"We'll show all the features.

"We'll do the documentaries later.

"We'll show all your feature work...

"during the month, different times.

"But the deal is, you have to come a month ahead...

"and do one-on-one screenings with the 4 or 5 key critics...

"and have lunch with them or dinner...

"and talk about the work."

Gary Prebula called me up, said... they're showing two films by Stuart Cooper... who I had never heard of.

He said, "Nobody's ever heard of him.

"Z Channel is gonna premiere them."

I said, "there's still a Z Channel?"

He said, "Oh, yeah."

I was debating whether or not to go.

When I got there, I was glad I showed up... because I was the only one there that I knew of.

There was this other guy named Jerry Harvey... who I didn't know, who I thought might be a fellow critic.

I was fascinated by this guy Stuart Cooper... because I had just seen "Overlord" for the first time... and I was blown away by it.

But I'm sitting there with Jerry... and Jerry is the one who's talking to me... in this mild way, and I'm getting along with him... and we're laughing at each other's jokes.

It was really a great kismet moment... because then he started doing some reviews... for Z Channel for Jerry.

It coincided with the period that my mother was dying.

I got the news of my mother's death.

And within a half-an-hour... the phone rings, and it's Jerry Harvey.

He's like the first call I'm getting.

I don't know how he found out.

But he called me, and he was consoling me.

He said, " Look...

"I've been through several deaths in my family, and look...

"you can make it. It doesn't have to kill you."

And I said, "It won't kill me." I was feeling super strong.

I was not hearing what he was saying.

Now it's unbearably poignant.

And that was the beginning of their relationship.

And to the day Jerry died, F.X. And he were very close.

When Jerry brought me aboard, my concern was, as a critic...

I didn't want to be paid to say good things... about a movie I hated.

And Jerry liked my style of reviewing... because I wouldn't so much punish the movie... for not succeeding.

I would come from a place of, "Well, I tried to like it."

I read "Z Magazine" religiously.

I used to write nasty letters to F.X. Feeney.

I used to get the angriest letters.

The angriest letters of my life...

I got from Z Channel subscribers.

Yes, I think I did write letters to the "Z Mag"... which I had forgotten until contacted to participate... in this documentary.

I wrote, I think, complaining about... the letterboxing bars weren't big enough... for Kurosawa's "High and Low"... and that's how I got this t-shirt.

I remember I couldn't wait... when my "Z Channel Magazine" would come every month... because I wanted to read all the reviews... which weren't always good.

The people that wrote it knew that their audience... was keenly interested in what they had to say.

And what they had to say was a whole series... of original and highly controversial observations... about the films that were being shown.

It wasn't the usual pap that you get in fan magazines.

My belief, and I know that this is Jerry's belief, too... is that if you appeal... to the most intelligent member of the audience... everybody else follows along.

There's this feeling that you have to appeal... to the common denominator.

Jerry and I hit on the phrase, "the uncommon denominator"... that's what we want... because we want to go for the smart folks... because everybody is smart.

That's my man!

I don't think we'll make it past the cops.

We'll make it past the cops.

I just hope we don't see no Muslims.

Listen, you owe Ben Angelelli $4,000.

You tell Ben Angelelli to suck my cock.

Wait a minute.

You lost that money, you should pay your debts.

A double suck.

The first couple years of Jerry's stewardship of Z... are marked by just the ability to do the unexpected.

So he was able to make simple but effective use... of his position there.

And then suddenly his reputation started to take care of itself.

I have this fantasy that in the year 2050 or the year 2075... they're gonna read about... the furor that attacked "Heaven's Gate"... the furor that came down upon Heaven's Gate... and they're not gonna believe it.

It's gonna seem like science fiction.

The Stock Growers' Association... has the names of some of you people on a list.

A hundred and twenty-five names.

The then-current U.A. Management decided to make the film... at a budget of 12 million.

The 12 million turned out to be 40 before they were through.

The picture was a commercial disaster.

Hastings Beak!

Jerry would get very heated... about what had happened to a movie... what had happened to a director... or how a film had kind of gotten off track... or how somebody had been slighted... when they shouldn't have been slighted... or beaten up when they shouldn't have been beaten up.

"Heaven's Gate" was not only clobbered... it was basically burned at the stake.

The critics ganged up on it.

It became this huge set of headlines.

It was in every paper.

The "Herald Examiner" ran a story about it... every day for 3 months. Every day.

I was depressed for a year after that movie.

I was depressed about it. Really, it was just...

You do a work and you think it's good... and then nobody likes it, no critics like it.

And it goes down in the drain after two weeks... they pull it out of the theaters, and it disappears.

It was just...

It was cut immediately... and lay there until such time as Jerry approached Cimino... and talked about reconstructing his long version.

Without Jerry's prompting... it would never have occurred to me... to try to find an intact print of the original "Heaven's Gate."

It was his question that set the whole process in motion.

It became a 4-hour special.

We had the first screening of "Heaven's Gate"... which was really an event, and everybody tuned into it.

They wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

And in a different atmosphere, a different cultural climate... the reassembled "Heaven's Gate" got marvelous reviews.

It was a big event... and it was the beginning of sort of big events... happening on cable.

It was really the first time anything like that had happened.

You got to see the director's vision of what the movie was.

Even after the fact, it's very hard to get out... but in some ways, that put him 20 years ahead of his time.

We had a great relationship with Michael Cimino... because of that... because he really gave life to a film... that had been so unfairly... whether in the end you liked the movie or not... it had been so unfairly treated.

The effort to do something like that was a gargantuan effort.

It would be like saving a great edifice... that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or something.

Jerry took great risks in the films that he bought... and that's why he was so respected.

Suddenly he had this position... where he was being interviewed and quoted, and it was nice... because he had this moment of feeling like... people were acknowledging him... for what he wanted to be acknowledged for.

But he would have liked to, I think, be making movies.

Instead, he had such great respect for great filmmakers... that he provided a place to showcase their works.

I remember walking behind him one day... as we were just taking a break.

I'd turned in a bunch of stuff... and he'd just made a bunch of buys... and just done a bunch of business.

And he wanted to go out and get some ice cream.

So we file out of this little garden spot office... that we had... which was the first office that I knew.

And we're hiking up along Bundy. And I'm walking behind him.

It's just this very hot California day.

He's wearing a tweed jacket.

He's got that cigarette lighter around his neck... and he's just bopping along.

I'm looking at him, and I'm walking behind him... and I'm thinking... we've just come off of several months of really happy work... and I'm thinking...

"This is actually one of the happiest times of my life."

What were your mother and father doing when you were growing up?

My father was a judge.

My mother was a personnel director for a hospital.

Were you able to see your parents very often?

They sound as though they were very busy people.

They were around. Maybe too much.

I was at Select TV, and Jerry called... and said that he would like to talk to me.

Would I be interested?

And would I meet him for dinner to discuss... working at the Z Channel?

We talked about what the duties would entail... and most of all, he talked about his personality.

And he said to me, "I'm crazy, you know."

And I said, "Oh, yeah, sure."

Jerry would be very honest with you about his own needs.

He would say, "Got to go to my shrink."

And he would just say it in that plain way, like...

"Got to go see my doctor. Got a doctor's appointment."

But it would happen to be a shrink's appointment.

And he would go often. You knew that he was devoting... maybe a couple of afternoons a week to going over there.

One day, everything would be fine.

We'd be having a conversation.

Maybe he'd go to the bathroom or go get a glass of water... and he'd come back... and he would be incredibly depressed... because he had looked at the corner of the room... and realized that the workmanship was shoddy... and start getting depressed about... how people don't care about anything anymore.

And somehow in those moments... that he would have had that revelation... it would sink him into this depression... about how the planet was doomed... and nobody gave a shit about anything anymore.

And he said, in a very serious, intense way...

"I'm really crazy. I'm paranoid."

He wrote letters to me at the time... talking about what eventually would happen to him... that one day he would lose the struggle.

Not in a threatening way, but he talked about it.

And in rare moments of lucidity... what frightened him was something inside of him... that he didn't know how to deal with.

I don't know how I got around the "I'm crazy..." and "I'm paranoid," line... but I went to work there and found that to be pretty true.

It's Black Flag.

I made the movie. The guys that paid for it... were a couple of independent businessmen from the valley... who wanted to make a porno movie.

And I went in to talk to them... and they didn't know I was gonna come in... and pitch a punk rock movie, but I told them... that punk rock was the next best thing to porno.

So, "Hey, let's sign a check." And they did!

We showed the film one night, midnight.

They had to shut down Hollywood Boulevard...

And 300 motorcycle cops came.

We had a letter from, afterwards... from Darryl Gates, the Chief of Police, saying...

"Please don't ever show that movie in Los Angeles again."

When I go to concerts, it's like... my friends get beat up by my friends.

And it's like, "Fuck!"

It's because, like, they're not beating up the right people.

They're not beating up the fucking posers.

They're beating up just my friends.

It's fucked.

The cops recognized Eugene from having been in "The Decline"... and arrested him.

Because they saw it on Z.

Yeah, because they saw it on Z Channel.

Took you a little longer than I thought.

I'm afraid it's going to take a little longer than that.

I'm leaving now.

Road's wet.

It wasn't raining when I got here.

No?

Too bad.

People really did not understand that film.

They didn't get it, and the critics didn't get it.

You fucker! I hate you!

Stop that!

Blow it out your ass! Fuck you!

I was up for an audition to go do "Star Wars"... of all things.

And so I was reading "Star Wars"... and my agent was pressuring me, "Go read for Star Wars!

"This is gonna be this thing." And I'm going, "I don't know."

I always said as my little actress prayer...

"If somebody just gave me the chance...

"I could just show them. I know it. I could.

"Please, God, give me this chance."

And then, "Bad Timing" fell in my lap... and I was like, "Holy... Should I do this?"

Alex! You want me?

Come on! Do it now, Alex!

Here it is, Alex. Here it is, look at it, Alex.

Don't you want it? There it is, Alex, Come here.

Take it. That's what you want. Here it is, come on!

In terms of the Z Channel showing it so much... because it had such a small release theatrically... especially in this country... that was really where everybody had a chance to see it.

I swear, even to this day, I'll have people come up to me... and tell me how much that that movie affected them.

How did you go about finding those films?

Because obviously it took some effort.

No one else was doing it.

You look at a lot of things... that you think might be interesting based on somebody... not everybody that was involved in it or what it's about... or what it's based on or where it was filmed.

There's a million reasons.

Just like anything in life... you say, "Gee, that sounds interesting."

HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel... all of us are at this big convention in some hotel.

Big table, dais, pitchers of water, nameplates...

Jerry's down at the other end.

And everybody's going down the list... talking about how many committees they've got... how many market research.

"We hired this firm from New York."

"We've got this firm from Chicago."

"Jerry, how many firms do you draw on...

"to choose your programs?"

He says, "I don't consult anybody.

"I just see movies. I just show good movies."

"Yeah, but your decision-making process. Who's your committee?"

"I don't have a committee.

"We have people in the office we talk... we like movies...

"but basically, it's just whatever we want to see."

Jerry was an early and passionate admirer of a film... called " The lmportant Thing Is to Love"... directed by Andrezej Zulawski.

That film had a huge cult in Europe in the mid-seventies.

I would sometimes, seeing European films... see clips from it... because other European directors were so in awe... of " The lmportant Thing Is to Love"... that they would run little clips in their movies.

Lovers in French films would often be going to see...

"The lmportant Thing Is to Love."

It became this immediate touchstone... that automatically was being quoted in other films.

But it only opened briefly. It only opened for a week.

And it just was misunderstood... by the first critics who dealt with it.

And so it didn't go anywhere.

It didn't form the cult that it could have... here in the United States.


The thing about the Z Channel... is that the sensibility was offbeat and a little bit...

I don't know. I mean, they showed everything.

It was really appropriate that it was in L.A. In a way... because in New York, we did have a lot of venues... to find those kind of movies.

When I started working at this video store in Manhattan Beach called Video Archives... and the guy who owned the store, Lance Lawson...

I would ask, " Hey, do you have this movie?"

"Do you have that movie?"

And he'd pull them out, And as I'd watch them...

I'd realize that these were the old Z Channel tapes.

And I still have probably hundreds of hours of films... that I recorded off the Z Channel.

I saw " Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" from Z Channel.

I had a whole... and he just lent me the film... and then I watch it, and then it just...

It makes me go like this because at the beginning of it...

"Our Tribute to Sam Fuller!" All right?

And you see all the other movies that they also showed... but Lance only taped "Dead Pigeon," all right?

I'm like, " Damn! I want to see Fixed Bayonets!

"Park Row! God damn it! Tape Park fucking Row!"

In those days, that was the only game in town, you know.

It was the only cable channel... that you can watch real good movies... that totally disappeared from the screen.

And some of them were my movies... and of course I always liked to see my movies... just to see if it works on television.

When "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" first came out, it was a flop.

It made less money, grossed less money, I think... than "O.C. & Stiggs," or some of these films of mine... that were really flops.

And it's become a little... kind of a mini-classic.

You do a film and it's so...

It's just different from what the standard thing is... they just don't succeed... until the audiences have time to let themselves catch up with it.

It's hard to keep the audience's attention... when you show them everything.

And the problem with most films is... is that you hear it, you see exactly what it is.

If you're talking, there's a big close-up of your face.

So we know that you're talking. And we hear it.

So I think the mandate in film is to hide that... to make the audience...

"What's going on? I don't quite see that.

"Do you think that's..."

So that the goose bumps can come out.

Otherwise, you're sitting there drinking Coca Cola... and eating a hotdog.

I knew Jerry personally so well, he would say...

"Hey, I want to sneak your film on my channel."

And I'd say, "Oh, that's good."

Because otherwise, they didn't play anywhere.

They just didn't play anywhere.

The Z Channel did great film festivals.

We'd put on Truffaut film festivals... and Kurosawa film festivals and Australian film festivals.

French film festivals, English film festivals... anything that we could sort of highlight... maybe a lesser-known movie around.

The cool thing about Z Channel... was investigating somebody's work.

Jacqueline Bisset seemed like a fetish in a way... which I thought was pretty cool.

Jacqueline Bisset is so much a figure of Z Channel, I think... because her great beauty lent itself... to "Day for Night" by Truffaut.

It lent itself to a wonderful film called "Le Magnifique"... which was the quintessential Z movie, that is to say... a European movie that few people knew about stateside... but which had a great deal of American-style... entertainment value built into it.

You got Jean-Paul Belmondo as a poor writer... who's fantasizing himself the superhero of his own pulp novel.

And the girl downstairs, Jackie Bisset... is like the iconic star of this pulp novel in this guy's head.

When I did "Le Magnifique"...

Philippe De Broca asked me to play this part, which is... one part was this student... and one part was this sort of Bond-type character.


Doing "Le Magnifique" was interesting.

But it was a lot to do.

Interesting for me was to watch Jean-Paul Belmondo... because he was the most coordinated actor...

I've ever worked with... and he could do 3 or 4 things, comb his hair... machine-gun somebody, jump from rock to rock... like a light-footed leper. Not a leper. A leopard!

Like a person of... like an animal.

Like a beautiful animal.

It was like having a film festival in your house... every single night... a film festival.

That you would... you wouldn't have to go to Rotterdam... and you wouldn't have to go to Berlin... and you wouldn't have to go to Cannes... you wouldn't have to go to Venice.

It was just like your own private film festival... and the programming was eccentric and odd and mixed.

I was angry at it many times.

I thought, "Why are you playing that?

"You're the only voice on television.

"Play only the kind of art films that I like."

But it was very good in not catering just to me.

It really gave you a kind of smorgasbord.

It gave you a kind of open-ended view of all kinds of cinema... and it gave you a sense of the size and scope that cinema has.

Antonioni is not necessarily about... the logical structure of a dramatic story... but about atmosphere and nuance... and a kind of emotional tension that exists more like weather.

One of the most striking things for me in my memory is...

Monica Vitti walking across a piazza.

And then you see above about 25 guys just watching her move.

And it says so much about Italian culture... about visual imagery, about femininity, about sex... about just being a human and then being in a place... like, kind of classical piazza... somewhere very Italian and Mediterranean.

I don't know. It's just kind of haunting.

Jeanne Moreau walking down the street in "La Notte"... did it for me.

I said, " This is a woman. This is a job.

"Whatever this woman's doing.

"I have no idea why she's so depressed.

"She is obviously terribly depressed...

"and this man is not treating her well.

"Don't care about him. She is fascinating.

"I don't know what that, all that means.

"It's just unknown material."

For someone to sit and think...

"I want to show the final break in a relationship.

"I want to see that actual... the crack, the how.

"What about, they attend an all-night party?

"And somehow, it's the attending of that party...

"that makes them finally realize that the relationship is dead?"

And that's the film he set out to write.

Have you ever been married?

Yeah. Yes?

Yeah, I think so.

By the fall of 1983, it was really clear to me... that I couldn't stay in this relationship anymore.

The psychiatry that I had had so much hope for... wasn't gonna solve the problem.

Jerry wasn't ready to solve the problem... or perhaps capable, but I didn't care anymore.

I went into work one day, and Jerry wasn't there.

And he was gone, as it would prove, for 3 weeks.

I'd understood that it was a contract dispute... and he was holding a firm line.

Well, he surfaced 3 weeks later, and in that time... he had divorced Vera.

He continued to be in touch with me.

We saw one another a few times, a couple of times... that were really ill-fated because... we sort of had a little moment together... and then that would just make it worse... because it would give him hope.

Jerry, you know, spoke bitterly of that period.

Not bitterly of Vera... but just of being married and being in that zone... and it was just somehow... that was something we didn't discuss... except to acknowledge that love was hell.

In that 3 weeks in which he had disappeared... from the face of the earth... he had dissolved his marriage to Vera... and started dating the landlady at his new apartment... who was Deri Rudulph... who I eventually met a couple months later.

Jerry Harvey loved a movie... that Henry Fonda did with his ex-wife, Margaret Sullavan.

It was called "The Moon's Our Home..." and it's basically a New Year's Eve picture.

And Jerry wanted to play it... as his New Year's Eve movie one year.

Very hard to get a hold of.

Do you, Sarah Brown take John Smith...

I suppose you'd want me to wait around doing nothing... while you're making up your mind.

I certainly do.

To have and to hold from this day forward...

Then if that's the way you feel about it... you want to call the whole thing off?

I certainly do.

Do you promise to love, honor, and obey him...

Do you really mean that? I most certainly do!

As Justice of the Peace...

I'm sick of being made a fool of! I'm through!

I never want to see you again as long as I live!

I wouldn't marry you if you were the la...

Now all you got to do is kiss the bride, and it's $3.00.

It was a favorite picture of his... and the audience got to see it.

Well, I can see that you're definitely in love with films.

Certainly, it's your life.

But it seems to be totally your life.

Do you do anything outside of film, for instance?

What do you mean?

Jerry was a creature of habit, and he had his watering holes... and I think the favorite of all his watering holes was Guido's.

And he very often went there with Michael Cimino.

When I was introduced to Cimino for the first time... it was at Guido's.

Jerry knew all the waiters. They all knew Jerry.

The waiters all knew Cimino.

In fact, when Cimino walked through the door... two waiters at once reached out with cigarette lighters.

I remember going to Guido's one afternoon for... it was kind of a late, late, late lunch.

And Jerry was there and pretty wound up.

And I remember... the thing I remember the most about it... is he was perspiring... kind of profusely in the restaurant.

And he was wound...

I can't remember exactly what he was wound up about... but he was wound up about something.

Something was going on, or something was bothering him.

But we had a few drinks.

And I remember the waiter or one of the guys came around... and adjusted his neck for him right there at the restaurant.

Kind of got behind him and said...

"Jerry, you're way overstressed here..." and kind of did a... cracked his neck.

I thought, "Oh, my God."

He was a really moody guy.

The days that he would walk into his office... sort of skulk into his office and shut the door... we knew not to approach him.

I know he fought with his demons an awful lot.

At the same time... those demons were kind of what drove him on... because he was insistent, persistent... and he refused to take no for an answer... and he was constantly trying to make things right.

I remember when Jerry bought, "1900," Bertolucci's film... and played the entire film, not cut.

And it was so exciting.

I got the 6-hour "1900" from Lance... when he taped it off of Z Channel.

I still have, because it took me two 120 tapes...

I still have the full "1900" recorded off of Z.

"1900" was a very jinxed film... in the sense that Bertolucci had spent too much money on it.

The Grimaldis were unhappy with him... for spending too much money on it... and so his version was under lock and key for many years... almost in a fit of pique.

Jerry insisted to the Grimaldis for 5 years... that they had an uncut "1900," a 5-hour version of "1900."

They used to say, "No, no, it no longer exists.

"Maybe it existed once, but it no longer exists."

And he pressed them and pressed them... and eventually, he managed to get it released.

And so we showed it on Z Channel.

And there you could see in all its splendor... what Bertolucci had intended.

It's another amazing thing about the Z Channel to me.

I don't even know how you could get the rights... to show these things with all those politics involved.

But to just have access to the vision of the director... is amazing, invaluable.

You just never know when you're living in a golden age.

I saw "Berlin Alexanderplatz."

Now, that was the most extraordinary revelation.

Where else are you going to see this 12 or 14 hours... of this magnificent novel... turned into this extraordinarily brilliant film... which nobody in commercial filmmaking to this day... will ever put on television?

It was like some enormous meal that kept coming... and you saw the whole thing.

It was breathtaking.


One day, he walked into the office and said...

"Come into my office please," and I went into his office.

And he said... he sat back in his chair, and he said...

"I don't like the air that you breathe.

"I don't like the ground that you walk on.

"I can't stand to be in the same room as you are.

"You are a horse unreigned."

And I looked at him... and I was completely flabbergasted and shocked.

I think I even laughed because it was so out of nowhere.

And I remember laughing...

I remember at one point laughing and saying...

"Well, I guess there's no room for me to grow...

"in this organization."

And he told me he'd write a letter of recommendation... or something.

The day Peckinpah died, Jerry had to leave work early.

Jerry got the phone call that Peckinpah had died... and someone who knew Jerry well just came over to the office... and took him out for the rest of the day.

It was just understood that that was just gonna be something...

Jerry couldn't work past for a bit.

He was like family... Sam and Jerry.

And Jerry had a very strong sense of family... that you don't see that much anymore.

He felt that you were part of... this undefinable idea of a family.

You could turn your back, and he'd cover it.

We were all quite devastated over Sam passing... and the fact that he wasn't able to get work... there was nobody in this town... that would finance him at all for anything.

I think the last thing he did was a Julian Lennon video.

Peckinpah's recent years had been so difficult that... one could see, one could sense... that he was moving toward that, one way or another.


As a receptionist...

I was literally sitting right outside Jerry's door.

So I quietly sat there... and occasionally would bring up some film talk with him.

And he began to realize that I knew a little bit about film.

Then he brought me into the programming department.

He usually had Tim Ryerson in with him.

And they'd be like two guys bailing hay... on an intellectual level.

It would just be, "Why don't we do this?

"Why don't we do that?"

And they'd be moving their way down the board... trying ideas out on each other.

He stood at that board and moved those magnetic stripes around... that represented the different films.

I can remember many times just... it was... like standing there... and looking at it, and was just dreaming... about all the wonderful possibilities that you could do.

Claude Chabrol.

In fact, that was one of the other directors, all right... that Lance gave me.

I had never seen "This Man Must Die" all right... and they showed it on Z Channel, and I got it from him.

You still can't see that goddamned movie.

It was the great thing about Z right from the get-go... that they were running European films.

That was how they got the reputation... that they programmed them well... and they were making a hit with it.

Who knew?

One interesting aspect of "Das Boot," you know... it had a career as a film in theaters... where it really wowed audiences around the country... but then we discovered... that it had been a miniseries in Germany... that it was actually 6 hours long... and that there were 6 hour-long episodes.

Makes sense. We showed it.

Watch out!

Check periscope alignment!

I'll be in the engine room.

Trim gauge isn't safe, sir.

Zero, six zero!

Check! What's going on?

Look out!

There's this tragic irony under "Das Boot" that these guys... who are just hard-working guys who don't think politically... who just love the sea and are under it and in it... and involved with their work... and whose reality is one another.

They have no idea that they're in a sense like... the Monty Python characters about to be crushed... by a big foot from the sky.

And in a way because it's played in slow motion... we can feel the tragic melancholy behind that.

HBO was a thorn in the side... of everyone who worked at Z Channel... because they feared that HBO would muscle them off the dial.

HBO had buying power, so they could give monies to studios... which were very alluring.

The Z Channel had budgets that that restricted on... you couldn't just pay for everything... that you really wanted to do.

There was always somebody saying to him...

"Do we have to spend money on this program guide?

"Gee, if we didn't have the program guide...

"then we could be more profitable.

"Do you have to spend so much money on the movies?

"Do we have to spend so much in marketing the Z Channel?"

There were all these pressures on him.

Sometimes they would take money away from him... that he couldn't spend next year.

He had to figure out what his limitations were... and Jerry was very good about doing that.

He had a very strong business sense... so he knew what he could do and what he couldn't do... but he realized that what he could do was a lot... based on simply his own knowledge of movies.


Not only did Jerry champion... the full version of "Heaven's Gate"... but he also felt the same way... about Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America."

Because you still think like some schmuck from the streets.

Now if we listened to you, we'd still be... rolling drunks for a living.

You broke? Don't bust my balls, Noodles.

You broke? I am talking about real money!

This is real money to me. It's a lot of money.

Do you want any of it?

You'll carry that stink of the streets with you... the rest of your life.

Well, when we did "Once Upon A Time in America"... it was clearly, from a personal point of view... an extraordinary opportunity.

I mean, this was... you know, one of the... potentially one of the greatest movies... one of the great epics ever made.

I mean, it was... you know, Bob DeNiro was... at the height of his career.

I mean, he still is. He's always great.

But I mean, he had just come off "Raging Bull"... and, you know, Sergio Leone was a genius.

It was a 12-year project for him.

We shot for 11 months... and because of one test screening...

Warner Bros. And the Ladd Company... decided to take the three hour and 43 minute version... of "Once Upon a Time in America" and cut it down... to 2 hours and something... and they used the assistant editor of "Police Academy ll"... or something to cut it.

It broke the director's heart.

It was cut by a group of people who should never... have been allowed in the cutting room... and they massacred it, they ruined it.

They made a test showing of it in Chicago or Illinois... something, on a cold night.

They didn't get the results they wanted.

Any trouble?

No trouble. Kid stuff.

It was a really grueling, miserable experience... but I was really... it was hugely frustrating... and disappointing and discouraging.

The full version was a masterpiece... as compared to, like, a routine film... in a butchered, shortened version.

Come here. Look at this. Come here.

Sudden death. Fucking tragedy, huh?

Twenty-six years old.

Twenty-six?

What a shame.

Great stiff. She died of an overdose.

And I'm ready for another!

Jerry actually showed both versions side by side... on the Z Channel... and, I mean, there was no doubt... no doubt how stunning it is to allow your creation... when you're an artist to be manhandled by other people... who are maybe not as adept at understanding the vision... as you, the filmmaker is.

Your brother's a real friend.

He's a romantic.

When it came out in its aborted version...

Sheila Benson, who was then also a critic for the "Times"... called it the worst movie of the year... and then it was restored to the director's cut... which was also shown... and 8 years later, she picked it as either the best... or one of the 5 or 10 best pictures of the decade... which goes to show you what a little editing can do.

In a way, what Z Channel was, and what Jerry did... is it became an alternative voice... a voice which said, not only, "You're wrong"... but, " Here's why you're wrong.

"Here's how it should play, and here's how they played it."

And then they shut up... because a picture's worth a million words.

And do you feel you've arrived where you are... by accident or by design?

Initially by accident...

And then by... and then subsequently by design.

Deri was so warm, she was so bright... and I met her at her at her house.

She had a party for Jerry at her house... and that was... in itself was a very welcoming gesture.

It was a birthday party at the end of 1985.

She was a lovely woman... both in spirit and in physical beauty, actually.

And I immediately felt glad that if Jerry had to leave...

Vera for anybody that at least he'd found his way to Deri... because she seemed to be such a positive spirit.

Deri grew up with a mother, who had been in an iron lung... and needed an awful lot from Deri.

As I recall, her mother had been in a wheelchair a lot.

So Deri grew up taking care of people.

That's what she tried to do with Jerry.

To know her was to just, you know, have a crush on her.

She was just so amazing... and she was becoming a standup comedian... she was starting a newspaper in Westwood.

She owned a lot of property in Westwood... she'd inherited a lot of property... and she felt a great loyalty to the community.

She was a very optimistic, open, outgoing person... and wanted sincerely to support Jerry and give him... what he needed emotionally.

Are there any points in your life where you can look back... and say that you might have done something else... at that particular point?

Many, many times. Really?

Yeah. I think there are myriads of crossroads... in one's life where one stops...

"Do I go this way, or do I go that way?"

I was very happy when I had heard that he had remarried.

You know, I thought, "Well, since it finally...

"didn't work out with Vera...

"after, you know, a substantial number of years together"...

I thought, "Well, this is nice...

"that he's met somebody else, you know."

Their marriage was a very colorful affair... held at the Westwood Marquis... and Jerry, in his contribution to the ceremony... was to add lines from "Ride the High Country."

You know, he had the minister say...

"I am not a man of the cloth"... and this is not a religious ceremony.

It's a civil marriage... but it's not to be entered into unadvisedly... but reverently and soberly.

A good marriage has a kind of, well, a simple glory about it.

A good marriage is like a rare animal.

It's hard to find.

It's almost impossible to keep.

You see, people change.

That's important for you to know at the beginning.

People change.

It was an occasion at which, you know...

Jerry's circle of friends was small... but very potent and in attendance.

There was me, Michael Cimino was best man at the wedding... and... let's see... there was James B. Harris.

There were a whole group of really terrific people there... and Deri's very large family, they all were in love with Deri.

You know, and who wouldn't be?

I mean, it was just a really terrific gathering.

The market had been created after "Heaven's Gate"... for director's cuts... and "The Leopard" had been in a botched cut... and even the studio knew it to be a botched cut.

And so "The Leopard" was restored to its full strength... with an eye toward the video market... and Jerry was there the night they screened it... for the first time, and he made sure... there was an offer on the table... and that when we showed it on Z Channel we highlighted it.

I have seen the uncut version of it... and they restored it... to more or less its IB Technicolor stature... and, oh, it's fantastic.

"The Leopard" is about one night in the life... of a Sicilian prince, and this prince may be dying.

There's a feeling of mortality that's plaguing him.

You know, he's got a bad heart it seems... and he's just sort of moving... through the chambers of his life in a kind of melancholy way... but really what's happening is... that an era is ending around him.

Because of the length that Visconti gave to that story... that prince, in this single night of his life... we actually feel the world moving through this man... and we feel that, you know, when he goes, a world goes with him.

I met Jerry in 1986 or 1987.

I met Jerry in 1986 or 1987.

I was working at a video store in Westwood called Video Tech... and that I was going to college here at UCLA... and I was a clerk there, and Jerry was one... of the many industry customers who used to come in.

He made me a bit uncomfortable. He just seemed very strange... very... just... he gave off an uncomfortable vibe.

His wife on the other hand was a sweet, charming woman... and she gave off a great vibe.

Jerry would go in there and rent videos... and they would get into conversations... and Jerry realized...

"Hey, this guy knows what he's talking about."

And he asked me if I was... if I'd be interested... in working at Z as a programming assistant... and at that point, my attitude changed greatly.

I was very happy to see him.

I think one reason Jerry was such a great programmer... was the knowledge and the taste, the showmanship... the creativity, and then the passion to do it... or the commitment to do it.

HBO and Showtime each launched a second channel... that was more movie-focused, more film buff-focused.

Showtime did the Movie Channel, HBO did Cinemax... and, you know, they certainly were aware of Z Channel... and tried to steal some of our thunder.

We didn't think they were doing a very good job of it.

I mean if we ran it, even certain foreign films... would end up running on the other places.

They would have to be pretty sexy usually.

Our "Night Owl" films tended to show up a lot... on Movie Channel and Showtime and HBO... just because that's like, well, tits and ass.

Much to my surprise, when I asked Jerry... what was the most successful aspect of our programming... he said the "Night Owl" series.

I said, "You got to be kidding."

He said, " No, we're killing Nightline.

"We're killing the 11:00 News."

"Night Owl" programs were our late night... kind of soft-core things, movies with sex, T & A... stuff like that.

My objectivity breaks right the fuck down... when I think of those "Night Owl" films... because those girls, the women in those films were so pretty.

I mean, they always found... you know, even in the lamest of the "Night Owls"... you know, even in the one that has, like, no plot... or it's just like, "How... why am I watching this?

"I know I'm only watching this till the next nude scene...

"but I'm gonna stay in there, you know."

You know, the one " The Lady on the Bus," I remember.

Someone like Laura Antonelli or Sonia Braga would hit it big... with a respectable film, but their backlog... was full of all kinds of early, nudey kind of films... and we would get them all.

So basically, we would have Laura Antonelli festivals... that had every last movie she'd made... you know, with all the nude scenes.

Laura Antonelli, it's like, what ever happened to her?

I think she was, like, the first actress... that I ever, like, fell in love with in a movie... that I went to, like, see her films... and they were genuinely sexy.

I mean, I don't think I knew what sexy was before then.

I had crushes on actresses, and I was, like... thought I was in love with them, all right?

But I'm watching "Wifemistress."

There's a scene and she's with this actor.

He's trying to get her to his room... and they're making out on the stairs... and he reaches and grabs her in her crotch... and it was really sexy to see that.

And when he did it, she went... and she almost like, collapsed in his arms.

Please take me to bed. Please.

And then they didn't go into the room... and I was pissed!

The great divergence between European cinema... and American cinema really is about sex.

If you want to do nudity in a movie... you have to do it in a certain way.

That's... or because it's interesting... because it's so natural because you see things... with... that people do with other... that you were not aware of, that could be done.

I mean, we got many, many calls after "Turkish Delight"... saying " You enriched our sex life." So...


"Turkish Delight," well, it was a great book.

You know, I loved the book...

It was like, in Holland was doing...

"Gone With the Wind" in the United States, you know.

Everybody was interested and was having an opinion... if it should be Vivian Leigh or not, isn't it?

And who should be her lover, Clark Gable or anybody else?

And this was like... this is our book.

It was so phenomenally important... that book in Holland at that time.

I had worked with Rutger Hauer on the television series... was called "Floris."

Because he was a television person...

I didn't even think about him strangely enough.

My producer, Rob Houwer, said, you know...

"Well, what about this nice guy that he used...

"in " Floris" you know?

"Yeah, he's a nice guy, and he seems sympathetic.

"Why don't you test him?"

I said, " You know, he's more a farmer."

And he was like... he was like that.

And he said, "Yeah, but you never know.

"You have to test him."

And so I tested everybody... and at the end, I tested Rutger Hauer, too... and then I realized... that Rutger Hauer is phenomenal, you know... that it was absolutely... l... that I couldn't have been more wrong... in thinking that he couldn't do it.


We cast it with Rutger Hauer... and that was, of course, for everybody that knew the book... was like, " Are you an idiot?

You know, " How can you do this wonderful character...

"of Eric," he's called, "that is so beautiful...

"and has all these feelings for this woman?"

So I was right. I was right.

I've been right a couple of times.

I've been wrong many times, you know.

The fact that I immigrated to the United States in '85... had to do not only with the fact that I got a job here... but with the fact that people got me the job... because they knew my work... and they knew it because of Z Channel.

Is there anything else you would have liked... to have done with your life... than what you're doing at the moment?

Oh, there's a million things.

Be president, run a major studio.

More than anything, though, I think I would like... to have been able to play professional football... throw passes, be a quarterback.

A lot of things like that.

Jerry felt excited about what he was doing.

He'd be excited about a new deal.

He'd be excited about being able to announce a Warner's deal... or something along those lines... but at the same time, I always felt that Jerry felt beaten.

I think he felt he was fighting that uphill battle.

The whole time or just later?

I think the whole time.

I always felt that way with Jerry.

You know, when you were a friend of Jerry's... you were kind of immersed in his whole being... his whole life... and that was, you know... that was quite a lot of stuff.

When Deri suggested marriage, Jerry said...

"I've got to... I'll be honest with you.

"I don't want children.

"I mean, if you're OK with that...

"then we can... then we can talk...

"but you just need to know that...

"before you get your hopes up."

Jerry was so hurt by his family, it was difficult... for him to get married, and when he did get married... initially inconceivable to have children... so much so that he had had a vasectomy.

He certainly did give me the outlines... of a very, very dysfunctional family life.

Very tormented.

His father was a judge, who at some point in his career... had sent more people to death in the county... of whatever Bakersfield County is than any other judge.

I mean, this was a family full... of pain and darkness and strangeness.

Jerry's father was a fundamentalist Catholic... someone who was so much a traditionalist... so hidebound that he wasn't even close to his family.

You know, when his own daughter was coming to him... in a suicidal state, he slammed the door in her face.

From what Jerry said, Jerry's father was a drunk... rather sadistic towards his kids.

Jerry didn't really have a lot of nice things to say.

He would tell stories about his father coming in... and throwing water on him to wake him up in the morning... and there were no specifics... specific references... to specific abuse or anything else... but it was something he really didn't talk about that much.

He expressed actually more active, active anger... toward his mother.

She was a extremely monotone person.

I never saw her angry. I never saw her cry.

I never saw her really laugh that much.

It was like she was almost in a drug state.

Maybe she was shut off emotionally... because she had done things and not been there for them... or allowed abuse to happen to them.

We'll never know.

He told me that he had another sister... that the family really did not know what had happened to... but had come to the feeling that she had committed suicide.

Jerry never really made that big of a point about it... except that Mary had disappeared... and he kind of just said that as a toss-away line... and that's all he would refer to it.

It's the only way he would refer to it.

He had told me stories of struggling with depression... and what he sort of identified as evil thoughts... and dark thoughts when he was growing up.

Jerry was always volatile.

He always had a very bad temper... but he didn't drink until in the late seventies... when he started drinking.

When Jerry drank, he was dangerous.

I can remember once in Rome... we were all having a great time, we were drinking... and I made the comment, "God created whiskey...

"to keep the Irish from ruling the world."

And Jerry took a cigarette... and flicked it right at my face... from across the table and hit me in the eye.

Fortunately I wear glasses.

We both looked for him for a therapist... and found this doctor that he went to... that we were really excited about.

He was smart, he was as smart as Jerry... he could challenge him... and it started out to be a really good thing... and Jerry really looked forward to it... because he could talk to somebody.

He found somebody that could really challenge him... and talk to him.

Unfortunately along the way, it fell into other traps... and I don't think in the end it was such a good thing.

I didn't live in fear.

I mean, the day I was afraid, it was over.

The day I got afraid and something happened... to make me afraid, we weren't together anymore.

I just had this really bad feeling... and I tried to call the house... because he should have been there... and he didn't answer the phone... and I just had a bad feeling, so I got in my car... and I drove back to the house.

And I came in, and he had taken a lot of pills... and he was waving a gun... that was the gun that Sam Peckinpah had given him... and I just went to look for his doctor's phone number... because I just thought, "This is, like...

"something terrible is happening here."

And when I came back, he held the gun on me.

And basically, in one form or another, you know... had the gun at my head and in my mouth... and up against my head for the next 3 or 4 hours.

He had called the doctor before and left him a message... that he was in trouble.

So he had reached out already.

The doctor had arranged to come and take him to the hospital... and it was basically from that moment we were never together.

I didn't see Jerry for 7 years while he was married to Vera.

When Vera and Jerry started to break up...

I guess I was the first phone call...

And Jerry showed back up in my life, and it was... it was like the thing I had dreamed of... for all of those years.

One night we were having dinner somewhere in Westwood... and I remember Jerry starting to get angry for no reason.

I mean, it was, we were having... a very pedestrian conversation about something... and out of nowhere, he started to become infuriated.

So he got to the point where he stood up... and he walked out of the restaurant.

So I went trailing after him, and when I got up behind him...

I remember grabbing him by the shirt going...

"What's the matter, what did I say, what happened?"

And he turned around, and all of a sudden I found... like, his fist was in the air... and he was about to pummel me with it.

And he looked up at his hand, and he looked down at me... and he looked up at his hand, and he kind of caught it... and he and he pulled it back to himself... and it was as if it was somebody else's hand.

Jerry and I changed the nature of our relationship after that.

I think on some level he was trying to back off... and protect me from being subjected to that... but the subtext to all of that also... is that he had moved out from his place with Vera... into another apartment, and the landlady was Deri.

What the fuck is this?

Mace. Mace? For what?

Oh, wild dogs.

Yeah, wild dogs. That's bullshit, Boyle.

You've lied to me straight through, haven't you?

You want me to be honest with you?

No!

"Salvador" was not the kind of picture you would expect.

It wasn't a studio picture.

It didn't have any studio juggernaut behind it.

There was no money to promote it.

It showed for 2 weeks, as I said, in 2 theaters... in February 10 months ago, so it was forgotten.

Shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!

They're gonna fucking kill us now, Boyle!

Goddamn it, I thought you knew your way around here, Boyle!

They're gonna fucking kill us now, goddamn it!

They're gonna fucking kill us!

Shut the fuck up! Just be cool!

It was clear that both Jerry and Chuck Champlin thought... it was just a terrific picture and the kind of picture... that should have gotten attention but didn't.

Charles Champlin wrote a front-page article... in the "L.A. Times."

It was a two-page article about this great forgotten classic.

And then Jerry Harvey called up and said...

"Hey, that was great that Chuck did that."

He said, " I really believe in this film."

And he said, " I believe Z Channel can have...

"a little bit of influence."

He said, " I'm going to give this film a shot."

He said, " I'm gonna show it during December."

So he said, " While all the studios are screening

"their movies at every private screening room on the Bel"... what's called the Bel Air, Beverly Hills circuit...

"and while they're showing them at theaters and so on"...

"this film, which is not being shown anywhere...

"is going to be shown on the Z Channel."

So there was the cover of "Z Channel"... which everybody in the business got... and everybody now saw "Salvador" this month, right?

And the next thing you know...

Paul Newman "in The Color of Money"...

James Woods in "Salvador."

I get nominated for an Academy Award for best actor... and Oliver and Richard Boyle, who co-wrote the screenplay... got nominated for best screenplay.

What's the most exciting thing for you about movie making?

Tonight. Tonight is the most exciting thing... about movie making, believe me.

It was an amazing year... and had Jerry not sort of pushed to have Chuck do... the interview at the right time... put "Z Channel Magazine" out with the "Salvador" picture... on the cover, with the whole cover... shown it during that month... that picture would have been completely forgotten... and the kind of work that I'm most proud of... just personally would never have been seen.

Are you kidding?

So, you know, I think that... personally, I've always felt... that that particular day with Chuck Champlin and with Jerry Harvey and what came of it... was really the turning point in my career.

Without a doubt.

HBO and the other competitors, you know... they had been wanting... they had been wanting Z Channel gone for a long time.

It was... many people were taking bets on when Z Channel... would finally slide off the cliff.

And it was Jerry's tenacity... and the stubborn reputation of Z Channel... the fact that it was really beloved in the community... those things worked together to keep Z kind of like floating... like a castle in the air beyond its normal mortality.

Z Channel had at his peak, I think... about 100,000 paying subscribers.

There were others who I think were stealing it.

We had people calling up to say, "Would it be possible

"to subscribe to the magazine...

"without subscribing to the channel?"

You know, it's like, "Why would you like to do that?"

I remember we had some new owners come in.

The CEO ordered Z Channel for his home.

The cable man drove up to the home... and said to the CEO's wife, not knowing who she was...

"Give me 20 bucks or whatever...

"and I'll give you Z Channel for free."

Jerry was very stressed at that time... and unhappy at that time... and l... and I guess somewhere in there... is where the Salute to Z became a something we intended to do.

The AFI Tribute in January of 1987 was a real highlight... in, I think, Jerry's life... and I think in the life of Z Channel.

We were about to be sold.

This was a moment of marshalling the troops.

Everybody who had benefited... because of Z Channel's existence was invited to come take part... in a daylong series of panels.

One person that Jerry became very close to... in the last couple of months of his life... was film director Richard Brooks... who directed "Elmer Gantry," "In Cold Blood"...

"Looking for Mr. Goodbar."

Jerry located certain films of Richard Brooks'... that had been forgotten... such as "Something of Value"... with Rock Hudson and Sidney Poitier.

When it comes time to kill the lion...

I want to shoot the gun, too.

It's Just show... and you know how he feels about Africans and guns.

I want to shoot the gun, too.

I'm sorry. Mithayla!

Always when we hunt it is the same.

You have all the fun. I do all the work... but when we were little and played together...

But we're big now, and things are not the same.

Hit him.

Hit him, hit him hard.

Do what he says. Now. And in a hurry.

"Something of Value" was a movie from the early fifties... which deals with Apartheid.

It deals with the Mau Mau uprisings... of the 1950s in Africa... which is a topic so relevant to contemporary history.

It was painfully relevant to the situation... that was in South Africa at the... in the late 1980s.

You know, Nelson Mandela was still in prison... when we played " Something of Value" on Z Channel.

Remember me?

Kimani.

What do you want?

I've come home.

Jeff!

When Richard Brooks did "Something of Value"... he managed to get Winston Churchill... to do a short prologue.

Winston Churchill said, "The situation...

"in South Africa is the most important thing...

"in the world today," blah, blah, you know... turning a globe or something, very important.

The problems of East Africa are the problems of the world.

This was true in 1907, and it is true today.

But, you know, the studio had said...

"Get rid of the old fat guy," right?

It's like, " Get rid of the old fat guy?

"It's Winston Churchill!"

So Winston Churchill got cut out of the picture, right?

It's a small bit, but, you know, Churchill had done him... a huge favor, so it did Richard Brooks' heart... a lot of good to see that put back in the picture.

There was a cause for hope in about September 1987... when the Rock Group bought the Z Channel... and they had very ambitious plans.

They came to all the studios and said...

"We're going to take it national, we need your support.

"We're going to really grow the subscriber base."

The vision was to do a sort of national satellite channel... that would compete with HBO and Showtime.

Jerry was happy. He felt like he'd found... the right kind of wildcatters, the right kind of cowboys... that would understand his temperament... and it just... the future looked golden.

What do they call this place?

Just go over the rise there, big town, called Tombstone.

Fine town.

Tombstone? Yeah, I heard of it.

Well, me and my brothers might ride in there tonight... get ourselves a shave maybe. Glass of beer.

Yeah, you would enjoy yourselves.

Wide awake, wide open town, Tombstone.

Get anything you want there.

Thank you.

Any children?

No.

They had agreed not to have kids.

They were both content with it...

And there was a point when Jerry made... an ironic remark late in '87.

He said, " Well, I could have predicted this would happen."

You know, and I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, " Well, I'm gonna have to go in...

"and have my vasectomy undone."

I said, "Really? What's up?"

And, well, "Deri wants kids."

And, you know, reverse vasectomies... you know, usually don't work.

And so there was some frustration going on there... between Deri and Jerry.

Jerry had told the doctors... "Look, I have a problem.

"I used to have a drinking problem.

"Please don't give me any painkillers...

"after the surgery is over.

"You know, that way I can recover faster."

And they agreed. He had the topical anesthetic... but after that, he was cold turkey... just surviving it with gritted teeth... the pain of what followed.

Unfortunately, an infection followed... and this time, the doctors told him...

"Look, we have to perform the entire operation...

"all over again."

And he said, " All right.

"This time you use painkillers though."

He had the binge that he predicted... but he was able to manage it because he saw it coming... and he and Deri went off to Bora Bora... and, you know, within a week and a half... he was back up on top.

And it was... he arrived from Bora Bora... pretty much in time for the stock market crash.

Sadly, just after the Rock Group bought the Z Channel... the stock market went south in a big way in October of 1987... and all those ambitious plans were back-burnered... and unfortunately, they were ultimately never realized.

I could see the stress, but he really did... he was more concerned about his staff... and that they not be worried or afraid or what have you... than he, you know, seemed to be about himself.

One night in October of '87, I go to the movies... with Jerry and Deri, and we watch "The Sicilian"... directed by Michael Cimino.

It's about to come out the next week.

It's a preview screening.

We're watching this film. It's got very witty dialogue.

It's got tremendous energy to it... but, you know, the official opinion on Cimino was... he's a downer or something... and Jerry said, " You know, the 2 hour 25 minute cut...

"is actually opening next week in Paris."

I said, "It is?"

He said, " Yeah, . I'm going. You know, Deri and I... have just made plans to go over."

And I said, " Oh, well, I'm there, too."

Oh, it was such a wonderful time that we spent there... in terms of getting to know them both.

It was again to be, you know, in Deri's company.

I mean, she just loved being in Paris... and it was just all positive... and there was a special screening for us... because we'd come all this way... and my feeling was that it was one... of the 3 best films of the year... but the film was getting clobbered... back in the United States.

And when he came back, he called me to tell me... that he was back and relayed to me how upset he was.

I mean, it almost went beyond... you know, like you had to say...

"Jerry, Jerry, relax, calm down.

"It's you're making yourself sick...

"over someone else's trials and tribulations.

"You know, one has to worry about themselves a little more.

"Stop killing yourself...

"worrying about other filmmakers' problems."


Jerry had been receiving these inquiries from Joe Cohen... who was an executive with Spectacor... which owned Prism, which had some success back east... showing sports and movies, combining them in one channel... and it was Joe's idea... that the same could be done for Z Channel.

Given the conditions of that month of October... it made a lot of sense.

The way to salvage all of this was to add sports programming... and that was it.

And thus was born Z Plus, which was everything you love... about Z Channel plus the Dodgers and Angels.


The movie "The Wild Bunch"... had a pretty profound effect upon my life.

It was about men in a changing world... where the values were changing... and they had kind of outlived a different world.

March 17 of 1988, we all went to Guido's... and that was another great evening.

That was like the Parisian trip all over again.

This time, Michael Cimino was there... and because I had sort of gone to the wall... for "The Sicilian," you know... he and I were now very comfortable with each other... and so, you know, we were all, all of us there... and there was a cake that Deri had ordered... from, like, this really special bakery.

I mean, it was the most amazing chocolate cake I've ever had... and Michael had chosen the inscription... which comes from John Ford from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"... which is "Lest we forget."

So that was on the cake.

And it was Michael's way of thanking... you know, me and Jerry both... and, boy, you know, it's so amazing how the fates work... because this was the last time we were all together... and, you know, they could not have been luminous as a pair... we could not have all been happier.

I mean, that night is now surrounded by a strange aura... for me because it was so happy and we were all so together... and the cake says, "Lest we forget."

One of the risks... of taking on a partnership with a sports channel... is that sporting events often run commercials.

Because there was this precedent... and premium or pay television was defined... as not having commercials, we got into a battle with HBO... which escalated unfortunately into a lawsuit.

Z Channel felt that HBO had teamed up... with 4 of the studios to prevent Z Channel... from getting access to their films... and Z Channel instituted... a restraint of trade-type lawsuit against them.

Jerry was going to be the star witness... in this lawsuit and was preparing to testify.

When I try to understand what Jerry's state of mind was... in the last couple of weeks of his life...

I think that it had a lot to do with the fact... that he was going up against his friends and old collaborators... old business partners in court.

I was quite worried about him the last time I saw him... and expressed concern to my partner... and anyone else that would listen about it... and didn't know what to do... but he seemed that he was imploding.

The night that we inaugurated, the sports channel...

I mean, they had all these baseball players up at the building... and Jerry and I took a long kind of Socratic walk... around the block.

We walked... we circled the block several times... just talking it through... and I was full of dread and apprehension... about how things were going to work... and Jerry was being very positive.

Jerry was very ill at ease at the party... and he had to say a few words... and a lot of us all showed up in support of Jerry.

Up to the end, he was telling me and other people...

"It's going to be all right.

"You know, we're going to prevail.

"It's, you know, it's good."

And he had the flu, and basically, that was it.

He had the flu, he stayed home... and then we did not see him again.

My college girlfriend the day of Jerry's death... saw him kind of wandering through the sculpture gardens... here at UCLA.

Didn't talk to him or anything, but she knew him... and she saw him just kind of walking... through the sculpture gardens in a melancholy way.

The day he died, you know... I'm sure when she saw him... he didn't know it was gonna be the day he died.

We got a call to come into the office on Sunday.

Somebody called me at home and said...

"You need to come into the office right now."

It was at 10 A.M. On a Sunday. "Yeah, OK, I can be there."


Jerry didn't kill himself... for an hour after he killed Deri... and I know that during that time... the lucid part of him probably resurfaced.

I know he called his psychiatrist.

I know in a very sort of eerily calm way... he described what he had done to his psychiatrist.

And it's interesting.

I know Jerry so well that I didn't even need... to read the police report to corroborate the vision... that I had in my head... but I knew he would go to his bed... and I knew he would sit down in that spot in a sort of slumped position that he always sat in... and I know that he must have spent an hour contemplating... what it was that he had done... and that he had come to the conclusion there was just no way that what he had done... was acceptable enough to go on living... and he put the gun to his temple... and he self-executed himself.

I think one of the more painful events in my life... was sitting at the breakfast table... cup of tea in front of me, picking up the "L.A. Times"... and that's how I learned what happened to Jerry.

People are always asking why when something dreadful happens.

Truth is it doesn't matter why. It happened.

I was angry at him.

I was angry at him for doing that... and I think many other people felt the same way... and that may be one of the reasons... this story hasn't been told for so many years.

Maybe people needed to go... through a healing process for that.

But did I see it coming?

When Jerry died, his mother called me that day... and a few months after that, I started to see her... on a regular basis.

Maybe I just wanted to know the answer.

Maybe there was a reason why everyone at a certain age... came to this realization that they had come from a bad seed.

We don't know.

And maybe part of my association with her was sort of... because I was really curious to know, as well... because as much as I pushed Jerry away...

I wanted to understand the story.

After Jerry died, it was right at the time... within a week or two of when Z Channel... started broadcasting sports... and I guess you could say Z Channel died when Jerry died.

Z Channel died when sports came on.

Well, there was a year between Jerry's death... and the end of Z Channel.

So while those events were certainly clearly linked... in people's minds... they weren't directly linked perhaps.

We were showing "The Silence" by Ingmar Berman.

The end, a very climactic scene.

It's all about the quest for God.

Is there God, or is there just silence?

And here we reach, you know, the climax of the movie.

Then comes on at the bottom of the frame... a yellow Chyron that says, "Don't miss the Dodgers game... coming up next at 7:00 on Z Channel!"

Well.


The Z Channel was really about content.

"Here's what we love. We love movies...

"and here's a whole bunch of them...

"and here's some really interesting people...

"talking about them."

To be included within all these great filmmakers... and to hopefully have opened... somebody else's eyes out there... you know, I mean, because that's what Z Channel did do... just show the ordinary filmgoer... that there was a whole other world out there.

And so I feel very privileged to be a part of that.

There's been no place since in my mind... that has done quite what Z Channel has done... in sort of bringing all different kinds of film together in a way that really brings out... the best in films by showing it in a context... of everything that is movies.

The Z Channel being what it was... and being a remarkable achievement... if you compare that with what Jerry eventually did... and how he died and what he did prior to his death... there's this sense of creating a hero... where perhaps one is inappropriate...

and I have problems with that.

Whatever, I think, sort of positive feelings... there were about Jerry at that point... and it sort of trumped everything.

You weren't going to get around the fact... that he murdered his wife.

I had a feeling in my mind that Jerry had other options... that there was other options for him.

That doesn't make it right.

I'm not saying anything about how you leave this Earth... or don't leave this Earth.

I just always had in the back of my mind and still do... that there would... he had other options.

They can't be diminished... when we all stand up and have to say our names... about who is responsible for this piece of shit... or this masterpiece, who's responsible.

You know, everybody wants to take credit... but he was an intricate part of all of those films... that he touched.

Even though he had nothing to do with them when they were made... there was still a living, nurturing that brought... those films that otherwise, I think... would been lost forever.

I like him.

Louise Brooks, one of Jerry's favorite actresses... and one of mine always liked to quote Goethe.

Goethe would say, "A human life remains...

"of consequence not because of what we leave behind...

"but because we act and inspire and rouse others"...

Damn it.

Sorry.

"A human life remains of consequence...

"not because of what we leave behind...

"but because we act and inspire and rouse others...

"to action and inspiration.

"We act and inspire and rouse others to action and enjoyment."

And so when I think of the legacy of Jerry Harvey's life...

I think of it in those terms.

I think, you know, he's not a guy who left much behind.

What he left behind was in a lot of ways wreckage... and very tragic and costly wreckage.

The films that got left behind that he midwifed... are part of the action and inspiration of his life.

He acted and inspired others to value these things of beauty.

You're listening to "Castaway's Choice."

I'm John McNally.

Our castaway this week is Jerry Harvey... who is the program director of Group W's Z Channel.

Why did you choose "What'll I Do?"

Well, for me, it's the greatest love song.

It's that simple, huh? Yeah.

Gone is the romance that was so divine

'Tis broken and cannot be mended You must go your way, and I must go mine But now that our love dreams have ended

What'll I do?

When you are far away and I am blue What'll I do?

What'll I do?

When I am wonderin' who is kissing you What'll I do?

What'll I do with just a photograph To tell my little troubles to?

When I'm alone with only dreams of you That won't come true What'll I do?