Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Price of Art Dept: Brad Pitt as Dr. Masters? Angelina Jolie as Virginia? Hey, What's a Bald Cranium Among Friends, Right?

I was recently asked who would I like to see as Masters and Johnson if they made a rendition of my biography, "Masters of Sex", for the big screen (actually, my 42-inch HDTV screen, to be exact). Of course, Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson are one of the most fascinating American couples of our times, so naturally I thought Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The drama around their lives is nothing compared to the long-running partnership and marriage of Masters and Johnson. Of course, Pitt and Jolie might command top dollar for such a production. But I read in Vanity Fair's cover story on Jolie that she and Brad were looking for a project that they could both work on together. Well, voila! How's that for a short commute?
Contracts, agents, the paparazzi, they all are surely factors if Angelina and Brad became the "Masters of Sex" portrayed in my book, a kind of real-life version of the Pygmalion tale. The biggest obstacle might be the need for Pitt to shave his head bald, a la Dr. Masters. It gets awfully chilly in that lab without hair. But what price art, say I?

Pooh-Poohing Pee-Wee? Claims He'd Call "Masters and Johnson" Expert to Bolster Innocence in "One Hand Vs. The Other" Defense

When you're a high-minded biographer like myself, you're occasionally asked a question that makes you squirm. Sometimes, it's because you don't know the answer. Other times, it's because you wish you weren't asked the question in the first place.
A friendly journalist at Playboy, Chip Rowe, called me the other day about this reply that Paul Reubens (aka, TV's "Pee Wee Herman") gave to his magazine when asked about the 1991 arrest for indecency that virtually wrecked poor Pee Wee's career with the kiddies and their parents. Chip asked if I knew who might have been willing to testify among the Masters and Johnson staff on Pee Wee's behalf? I told Chip that I might have an idea, but the person I have in mind spoke to me in confidence for my book about Masters and Johnson and I couldn't reveal this person's name. I was really sorry to do that because the Playboy Foundation was very gracious to my book and Hugh Hefner consented to a very illuminating interview as part of the research. As my biography of Masters and Johnson recounts, Hefner is very proud of the financing that his foundation provided for the medical research done by Masters and Johnson, particularly at a time in the 1960s when government and academia shunned them. By the early 1990s, the Masters and Johnson clinic had virtually closed down, with Virginia in near retirement and Bill suffering from Parkinson's disease and winding down his medical practice. I'm virtually certain they wouldn't have testified for Pee-Wee. A former staffer who might have been willing to be called for the defense was an early source for mine in the research. I couldn't reveal this source without breaking my off-the-record promise. So unfortunately, I was no help in solving the Great Pee-Wee Mystery.