×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Luft dances around Oscar auction inquiries

GOOD MORNING: The plot thickens. This would make for a mini-series, or mebbe an entire season’s dramatic series, titled “Who REALLY Has Judy Garland’s Oscar?” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently didn’t believe Sid Luft when he told me (June 6) “I am innocent — I do not have Judy Garland’s Oscar — the original or the replacement.” (The latter’s in Lorna Luft’s bank vault where she says it will remain). So the Acad’s law firm rep (a private eye) plus an appraiser met with Sid Luft in person at the Bank of America in Century City to identify people involved in the sale of the Oscar, namely Luft and memorabilia dealer Marcia Tysseling of Star Wares. The Acad says Luft was there because he thought he had a buyer to pay more than $1 million for the statuette. The Acad’s attorney Joel Thvedt says the appraiser verified the Oscar and Luft and Tysseling were served with temporary restraining orders to prevent the sale … The only problem is that Luft says he didn’t bring any Oscar to the meeting — he didn’t know of Tysseling until that meeting and that he didn’t have any Oscar. So what did you bring, Sid? “I can’t tell you — but I will when the time is ripe.” So why were you there, Sid? “I was told I was to meet a heavy profile director and heavy producer.” In the bank? And what did you bring with you? “I will tell at the next court hearing.” But Thvedt, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, in support of its order to show cause of preliminary injunction against Luft (and Nate Saunders of Nate’s Autographs) filed a declaration from Jerome Adamo, the private investigator at the Thursday meeting in the Bank of America. It states in part that Luft, there with an associate, “John,” showed him and an appraiser, Richard Ruskin, a half-sized “Oscar” statuette awarded to Judy Garland. “Also offered for sale were 1948 and 1949 high school yearbooks signed by James Dean, a full suit of clothing worn by James Stewart in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,’ an ‘Oscar’ statuette presented for the movie ‘Dodsworth,’ and a prototype of the hat worn by the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ ” The declaration further states that the (certified) appraiser “examined the Garland ‘Oscar’ for approximately three to four minutes. After he examined the ‘Oscar’ he stated that it to the best of his knowledge it was genuine.” Following this “act,” investigator Adamo said, ” ‘I am here under false pretenses.’ I said I was there on behalf of the Academy and I handed to Luft, in an envelope, a temporary restraining order and order to show cause.” He ditto’d to Tysseling. Adamo also states “Luft demanded to know who I was. … When I identified myself as an employee of 7-W Investigations and Diamond Management and a private investigator, Luft told me to ‘shove the papers up my ass.’ ” All parties will have it out Sept. 13 in Dept. 85, Superior Court, when Luft may say what else he had in that bag. And, oh yes, Luft says he may sue the Academy for “abusive process.” I don’t think we’ll see this story on “The Practice.” Or will we, David E. Kelley?

IT’S RARE THAT BILLY WILDER will comment — positively — on any of his films, but maybe he’s mellowing — at the age of 94. Frank Darabont arranged for a screening Friday for Wilder of his “Sunset Boulevard ” on its 50th anni. Paramount struck a new print and the Egyptian donated the theater for the screening. Billy told me he thought it was very good — “for 50 years ago.” But I started reciting some of his choice lines — and he quickly picked up with Gloria Swanson’s classic: “I AM big, it’s the pictures that got small! We didn’t need dialogue, we had faces.” “Stalag 17″ used to be Darabont’s favorite Wilder pic, but after seeing ‘Sunset Blvd.” again, he admits, “I may have to revise that now!” Wilder doesn’t get out much these days, but will accept Cameron Crowe’s invite to see his autobiographical pic “Almost Famous.” Crowe, you recall, also authored “Conversations With Wilder” … “I owe a lot to you,” docu producer Ron Frank flatteringly informed me. It seems, back on April 29, 1999, I noted here that Hollywood Bowl Orchestra principal conductor John Mauceri would world premiere Kurt Weill’s “Eternal Road,” about the coming of the Holocaust in Chemnitz, Germany, when he discovered that city had its own Krystalnacht, Nov. 9, 1938, the same night as in Berlin. There were 3,000 Jews living there before the war, 30 after — and no synagogue. His concert would raise funds for a new temple. Producer Frank’s family had escaped from Chemnitz — and were among those invited back by the city’s mayor for the memorable Weill concert by Mauceri. Frank decided to film a docu showing not only the premiere, but the story of those survivors who returned to see it and the city they had left behind more than 60 years earlier. He found home movies of those early days in an attic. Docu is a combined story of their return and that of Weill, also an exile. The docu, “The Eternal Road: Encounter With the Past” airs on PBS, debuting Oct. 5 on WNET New York. But first, a special screening Sept. 25 at the German Information Center, across from the U.N. … On another note, Jerry Vale will grand marshal the traditional Feast of St. Gennaro Procession Sept. 19 in N.Y.’s Little Italy. Vale’s real name is Genaro Vitaliano. And you can find out more about Vale’s 50 years in showbiz in his book, “Jerry Vale, A Singer’s Life.”

More Voices

  • FX Confronts Streaming Thanks to Disney

    Kicking and Screaming, FX Is Forced to Confront Future in the Stream (Column)

    During his network’s presentation at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX chief John Landgraf made waves — and headlines — by mounting perhaps his most direct criticism yet of Netflix. Landgraf, whose briefings to the press tend to rely heavily on data about the volume of shows with which FX’s competitors flood the [...]

  • Longtime TV Editor Recalls Working for

    How a Bad Director Can Spoil the Show (Guest Column)

    I have been blessed with editing some of TV’s greatest shows, working with some of the industry’s greatest minds. “The Wonder Years,” “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” “Pushing Daisies” and, most recently, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I have earned an Emmy, ACE Eddie Awards, and many nominations. Related USA Today Launches Oscars AR Experience [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. Related USA Today Launches Oscars [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. Related USA Today Launches Oscars AR Experience to Highlight Work of Costume Designers (EXCLUSIVE) Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Related USA Today Launches Oscars AR Experience to Highlight Work of Costume Designers (EXCLUSIVE) Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content