Reading this story from last Sunday by The New York Times Hollywood correspondent reminded me that Bernie Weinraub covered the Washington, DC premiere of my film "Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?" At the time, Weinraub was White House correspondent for the Times. It was during the Reagan administration. He didn't know me, and his story was perfectly fair and factual. In fact, we became sort of friendly acquaintances after the screening, and sort of stayed in touch. I found him to be an honest reporter, and a perfectly decent person. He said Reagan was more complicated than people thought, and that the Central American situation was not so simple as administration critics were claiming. I thought Weinraub seemed thoughtful and intelligent, reasonable and sensible.
I never understood the venom directed against him, in print, nor the ridiculous "conflict-of-interest" charges in the press. Anyone who knows Hollywood knows that the only reason to cover it is a "conflict of interest"--to be discovered as a writer, to make some money, to get your dream onscreen. Why else put up with show-biz nonsense, except for fun or profit?
Weinraub covered Vietnam, Central America, the White House and other big stories. I think assignment Hollywood meant a change of pace. Perhaps he went through a mid-life crisis, that led to the move from covering the serious to writing about the ridiculous.
I know he has a serious streak. At one time, Weinraub discussed writing a novel set in the period covered in my film, about Ben Hecht, Peter Bergson, Franklin Roosevelt and the work of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe during WWII. At the time, I advised him not to publish about the topic, if he wanted to keep his day job. (He had already published a roman a clef about the New York Times, and was not afraid of anything). Discretion won, and Weinraub has had a good run covering Tinsel Town.
Now that Weinraub's quit the Times, I am looking forward to see what he does next. He's a good writer, and I hope one of his projects might be the historical novel we discussed some twenty years ago...