Re: Cheaters the movie [May 19]–

There’s a phrase they use in filmmaking called “cheating.”

“Cheat left. Cheat right. Cheat to the camera.” In other words turn yourself in such a way that it looks better on film. This, I believe, is what happened in the making of the HBO teleplay Cheaters.

They cheated.

They took the relatively interesting incident of the Steinmetz cheating scandal and they “cheated” it towards the camera. Not because it needed brilliant highlighting but because they wanted to make it something they could easily understand–The Bad News Bears. They tried to make it that a scruffy bunch of Steinmetz losers managed to triumph over the well-oiled and arrogant group of Whitney Young snotty overachievers.

Wow, smells like a made for TV flick to me!

Problem. Whitney Young is not the Latin School. Not to worry, we’ll cheat it.

Problem. The Bad News Bears (or Mighty Ducks, or any of those ragtag movie-transformation teams) didn’t cheat. No sweat, we’ll fudge it.

Needs a villain? Make the victim the villain–the Whitney Young coach–the poor dead Larry Minkoff. He was short and blunt and not real charming. Hell’s bells, we can have a field day with that asshole and he’s not even alive anymore to defend himself. Perfect!

And here’s my favorite part: when the cheating director is pressed on this point he shifts the blame to some actor whom he accuses of ad-libbing and not following the script–in other words, cheating. Cheating for more “camera time.” (By the way, can’t director Stockwell control his actors? Don’t they have scissors in LA? I say LA although I’m sure HBO shot this in Canada to cheat the technical unions.)

And the final fudge–“everybody does it”–was so lame it made me sick. Larry Minkoff didn’t cheat. He taught our young people to play fair and win square. He dedicated his life to those kids…but then again he wasn’t in showbiz–that purgatory of cheating for the camera.

Steve Grossman, Minkoff’s assistant, naively says HBO should be ashamed for blackening Minkoff’s name and bringing such humiliation to the Minkoff family. Shame? Steve, they don’t have that out there. Besides, they only fucked him over a little for the good of the project.

Lastly, I ask, why would they finally come back to Chicago and show us this crap. Why show the screening here? We know the truth. We’re the last people who should see it. I’m sad to say I think I know the answer. They’re like nasty spoiled children out there who sit on the pot and demand we all come and see what they’ve done. I say take that shit back to LA with you, you cheating bastards.


Alan Gross

N. Wells