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18 June 2005

Who is David Wolper?

David Wolper's autobiography, "Producer", is available at some public libraries. Christopher Bollyn and I read this book to see if we could find connections between David Wolper and the criminals behind 9-11 and other scams. As is typical of autobiographies, it does not have much of value. However, I found a few interesting remarks in his book.

For example, on page 20 he describes a concept that I mention in both my video, Painful Deceptions, and on my web site. Specifically, I think the Urban Legends web site was created to deceive people. They build up a reputation for honesty, and then they slip a few lies into their mix of truthful statements.

This also seems to be the concept behind the Penn & Teller television show and Michael Shermer's Skeptic magazine. Wolper describes this technique like this:

And my sales technique was based on a story I'd heard about a dry cleaner. The first time a new customer left a suit or jacket with this dry cleaner, when that customer picked it up, they dry cleaner would tell him, "Oh, by the way, you left this dollar bill in your pocket." The dollar bill came from the cash register, but invariably the customer was so impressed by the dry cleaner's honesty that he would return. So it cost the dry cleaner a dollar to get a customer for a lifetime.

I discovered that, if I began by telling the truth about the worst thing I was selling, the buyer would trust me about everything else.

An early version of Jerry Springer

On page 25 he admits that he took advantage of people in order to create more emotionally titillating television shows.
Gerber introduced me to two of his clients who had a concept for a show entitled divorce hearing. Dr. Paul Popenoe, of the American Institute of Marital Relations, acted as a mediator for couples considering a divorce. He took this show seriously. He really wanted to help people. ...

He would sit at a judge's bench and a couple would stand in front of him, separated by a railing. Theoretically, each of them would explain to him the problems in their relationship, and he would try to help them bridge gaps, solve their problems, and save their marriage. The stated goal was to keep couples together. In reality, we really wanted them to fight for the camera.

We brought the people into the studio by separate entrances and kept them apart and until we were on the air. Each of them was briefed by one of my coproducers, Ralph Andrews and Harry Spears, whose job it was to remind the person why he or she was so angry. Sometimes, the first time they'd seen each other in person in months was on the show. We wanted confrontation, and often we got it. One husband, I remember, got so angry with his wife that he suddenly reached across the set and took a swing at her. She hit him right back ...

... One couple I'll never forget was separating because the husband was always drunk and the wife was always complaining. The day of the show, the husband did a terrible thing -- he came in sober. Harry and Ralph took the guy to Diamond Jim's, the bar next door, listening sympathetically as he bought drinks for him. By the time the show started, the guy was smashed. Seeing him that way, his wife became irate. They started screaming at each other, and the future it was secure for Jerry Springer and all those other shows that exploit human relations.

How can anybody justify such television programs? This behavior could be described as exploiting the guests of the TV show, and exploiting the television audience. It could also be described as immoral behavior.

Wolper faced resistance during the early years

Wolper started producing documentaries for television in the late 1950s. He encountered a lot of resistance from the television networks because they considered his documentaries to be a form of entertainment or idiotic exploitation, not "documentaries". For example, on page 109 he writes about his struggle to create a program about a curse on the Hope Diamond. The Smithsonian thought the concept of a "curse" was idiotic. He also admits that his primary goal was money, not intelligent documentaries:
While in 1974 we made three successful documentaries with the Smithsonian, we had a fundamental disagreement over our programming objectives: we wanted to attract as large an audience as possible, they wanted to impress academia.

The Hope Diamond, which carries with it a curse that misfortune will befall the person who possesses it, has been in the Smithsonian since 1958.
We planned a show entitled "The Curse of the Hope Diamond." It took twenty-eight meetings and a Smithsonian committee before they agreed to the format of the show -- and insisted we change the name to The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond.

Like many successful salesman, when Wolper was told to get out of the office, he would come back again, and again, and again. After 28 attempts, the Smithsonian committee gave in.

Wolper continues to explain another show he did for the Smithsonian, and notice his technique of trying to please everybody in the audience.

The third show we did together was Monsters! Mysteries or Myths?, an investigation into the existence of the Loch Ness monster, the Abominable Snowman, and Bigfoot. The Smithsonian did not want us to make this documentary -- these monsters don't exist, end of story. Producer Bob Guenette convinced them that these creatures were an important part of cultural fascination with unsolved mysteries. Reluctantly, they agreed, and we did a balanced show: we offered enough to support for those people who wanted to believe these creatures existed and debunked their existence for those people who did not.
The recent show about UFO's that Peter Jennings narrated for ABC also used this technique of providing some support for the UFO's, while also providing some evidence that they are imaginary.

ABC also recently broadcase 15 hours of a program called Kingdom Hospital in which they hinted that Stephen King's novel might be accurate about the ghosts at that hospital. Do we really need television shows to promote such nonsense?

Why are television executives producing such deceptive and idiotic shows? Looking at Wolper's book shows that he may not have any interest in contributing something of value to the human race. For example, on page 178 he writes about entering his documentary about insects in a Cannes Film Festival:

The theater was packed for the screening. I couldn't believe it. People were fighting to get in at four o'clock in the afternoon. And they were cheering at the end. As Wally and I walked out, I said to him, "Well, looks like we fooled 'em again!"

He doesn't explain what he means by "we fooled 'em again". But on the previous page he complained to his employees that he did not like the first version of the documentary. He complained,"I want something to make money." So they ended up adding a mysterious character to the documentary called "Dr. Nils Hellstorm" who claimed that insects are going to take over the earth.

The end result was not a serious documentary about insects. Rather, it was almost as silly as a movie called "Attack of the Giant Tomatoes". Wolper's documentary could be described as exploitation of the television audience.

Wolper may have been fully aware that he was exploiting people. That would explain his remark that "we fooled 'em again".

Recreating history - a good idea?

Wolper would often use actors for events where there was no video available. This practice was shunned by the television networks during the early days of television because it can give people a distorted view of the issue. An example is Wolper's documentary about Montezuma. As Wolper describes it on page 134:
When we filmed "Cortéz and Montezuma: Conquest of an Empire", the story of the confrontation between cultures that changed the course of history, we had no idea what sort of costume the Aztec emperor Montezuma might have been wearing when the Spanish conquistadores landed in Mexico. We assumed it was elaborate and extremely colorful. One of our production assistants solved the problem: he found a gorgeous cape with colorful feathers being worn by a drag queen in a striptease parlor we rented it for almost nothing -- and Montezuma had his robes.

The dressing of Montezuma as a drag queen might help you understand why the television executives of the late 1950's and 1960's considered Wolper's documentaries to be "entertainment" or "exploitation" rather than "documentaries".

Does he really believe Oswald did it?

One of the documentaries that Wolper never got funding for was a documentary about the material in Gerald Posner's book. As Wolper describes it on page 101:
I was equally disappointed by my inability to sell Gerald Posner's book detailing his investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, Case Closed. Posner was an investigative journalist who had been hired by a major publisher to examine in depth all the Kennedy assassination theories. He persuasively argued that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. This well researched, highly detailed book served as a response to the intellectually dishonest garbage produced by Oliver Stone. But when I try to sell it, all three networks told me it was just too boring if there was no massive plot to kill the president. Posner seemed to have made one big mistake -- he debunked all the conspiracy theories. .... For years, I have heard people say, knowingly, that we will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination. The truth is, we already know the truth. But it is more fun to believe there exists some great mystery that will never be solved.

In chapters 11 and 12 of my book "Painful Questions, An Analysis of the September 11 Attack", I point out that the Warren Report makes it obvious that Oswald did not shoot president Kennedy. Therefore, Posner is helping to cover the crime. So why would David Wolper praise Posner, insult Oliver Stone, and insist that Oswald killed Kennedy? And why did Wolper want to create a documentary about Posner's book? Did he really want to provide us with the truth about the Kennedy assassination?

Meyer Lansky and some other Zionists, were among the masterminds of the Kennedy killing. Christopher Bollyn points out that David Wolper seems to have a connection with some of those Jewish gangsters. Perhaps Wolper is trying to convince us that Osawald killed Kennedy in order to protect his friends who were involved in the killing.

Even if Wolper does not have connections to the people who killed Kennedy, he could not possibly be so naive as to believe Oswald killed Kennedy, in which case he is trying to decieve us about the Kennedy assassination. Therefore, how can we trust him when he produces documentaries about other subjects? How many times does a person have to lie to you before you wonder what else he lies about?

Rearranging the truth into lies

Wolper is fully aware of how the media can distort the truth and fool people into believing nonsense. He discusses this on page 73 in his section about Teddy White, who wrote the chronicle of the 1960 presidential campaign, "The Making Of The President". He also slips in an insult for Oliver Stone:
Teddy White once said that the script-writing experience had been frightening for him, because the medium can easily invite men to rearrange visible truth into historical lies -- that unless goodwill and conscience dominate the entire production, what the viewer sees may actually be untrue.

"Rearrange visible truth into historical lies." I have often thought about that warning, particularly many years later when I saw Oliver Stone's perversion of truth, the movie JFK.

He wants us to belive that Oliver Stone rearranges the truth into lies, but the evidence suggests the rearraging of the truth is being done by Wolper.

How did he become friends with astronauts?

In his later years, Wolper bought a golf course in California. He points out on page 334 that Neil Armstrong played in a "tournament" at his private golf course, and that Neil Armstrong is not easy to contact:
Among the celebrities who played in my tournament were three of the most private people I've ever known: Neil Armstrong, Sandy Koufax, whom no one ever sees, and Joe DiMaggio. Neil Armstrong doesn't even have an answering machine; if he doesn't answer the phone himself, you can't reach them.
How did Wolper get to know somebody as private as Neil Armstrong? Why would Neil Armstrong travel to Wolper's golf course in California and play golf with a man who is trying to cover up the murder of Kennedy?

Perhaps because Wolper was involved in filming the fake trip to the moon. Therefore, the astronauts feel comfortable around him. Wolper will not ask what it was like to walk on the moon, nor will Wolper let the secret out.

Any connection to the Beatles?

Wolper made a documentary about John Lennon, but he avoided the murder of Lennon. On page 210 Wolper writes:
One of our most difficult decisions was how to deal with his murder. We did not want to get any more notoriety to the crazed individual who killed him. So, in the film, the killer's name is never mentioned, and rather than a stark image or footage from that night, we show the huge crowds paying silent homage to him by standing vigil outside the Dakota.
A person with the pseudonym Salvador Astucia argues that the murder of John Lennon is another government operation disguised as a murder by one of those mysterious "lone nuts". Perhaps Wolper did not want to include the killing of John Lennon in his documentary because he did not want to bring attention to the suspicious aspects of the murder. And perhaps the reason is that his friends were involved in that murder, also.
Salvador Astucia's site

Sex was not a topic in the early years of TV

On page 180 we read that Wolper discovered a great idea for a documentary:
Because we were producing films primarily for television, we rarely explored anything concerning sex, but when we began looking for ideas for our next feature-length documentaries, I met with Nick Noxon and Irwin Rosten to figure out what we wanted to do. What do people want, I asked, what subjects are they interested in?

"Sex and food," Rosten said.

Exactly. We discussed many different ways of approaching the subjects until finally someone mentioned animals. I responded to that immediately: "Right. Animal sex. That's what we'll do." This was followed by a long silence.

Finally Nick said, "What an incredible idea -- animal sex."

Advertisements, television programs, and movies are full of sexual titillation, but there is no serious information about sex, our digestive system, or the reproductive process. People like Wolper are part of the reason. Their goals are not to educate people with their advertisements, television shows, or movies. Rather, their goals are to increase profit and bring them fame. They consider the common person to be an animal to exploit, or a retarded girl to rape. They have no concern about whether they create anything of value for the human race.

There are some interesting aspects to animal and human sex, but Wolper was not interested in discussing this issue from a serious point of view. He was discussing animal sex only to titillate the common people.

Does Wolper have Redeeming Social Value?

Has David Wolper or any of the executives in television, Hollywood, or advertising provided anything of value to the human race? Do we really benefit from their television shows, movies, or advertisements? I don't think so. Actually, I think everybody, especially children, would have a much happier life if we were free of their manipulation, deception, and sexual titillation. I think children are picking up distorted views of life, money, sex, drugs, and jewelry from these people.

I think David Wolper is analogous to a doctor who offers people whatever prescription drugs they want, regardless of whether they need them.