reflects on his $22.75 million suit against
Sometime around 1982
Photo by Richard S. Hayza /
Author sues Warren Beatty over film
by Don Duncan
Times staff reporter
Beatty was the producer-director and star of the film.
"It makes me seem like a senile old man," Greene said. "But I got $250, which I thought was an advance. He invited me down to see him, in 1973, after my agent sent his agent a copy of the manuscript. I hardly knew his name, when he telephoned me. I spent three days with him. And I paid my own air fare."
attorney, Gerald Corsini of
Despite the lawsuit, Greene has no complaint with how
"Reds" came out. "It's a
For the Ukrainian-born Greene – a former newspaperman, radio and TV writer and sometimes biographer - the opportunity to see his Louise Bryant manuscript on film, "and make a little money," was not, and is not, his dream for the story.
"I've got the book out with my agent. It's called 'Louise Bryant - Her Life With Revolutionist John Reed, Playwright Eugene O'Neill and U.S. Ambassador William C. Bullitt.' I hope it sells. Then there's TV rights, which are mine."
In Greene's opinion - and he has strong ones - Louise Bryant's story was one of the great untold tales of the radical movement in this country during the late teens, '20s and '30s.
deals with Bryant's relationship with Reed (Beatty), author-journalist who died
Greene over the years worked for The Wenatchee World, Tacoma News Tribune and The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, wrote radio material for ABC and NBC and produced one of the early-day talk shows on television.
It was while working as a copy editor for The Tacoma News Tribune in 1967 that a woman friend mentioned Louise Bryant and he recalled having read Reed's "Ten Days That Shook the World" and Bryant's "Six Red Months," which she dedicated to Reed. He re-read them and began a search for Bryant's roots.
The breakthrough, he says, came when he located a woman in Bellingham who had gone to a tiny one-room school on Stuart Island (in the San Juans) when Bryant was the teacher. What's more, Bryant had lived in the family home.
Bryant's first marriage, to a
"Historians always said she sneaked into the country disguised as a male sailor. That was a story she made up and told, tongue-in-cheek. The truth is, she was a correspondent for William Randolph Hearst and that's how she got in."
Perhaps the most interesting chapter of Bryant's life, Greene says, was her second marriage and equally secret divorce from Bullitt, the epitome of the upright presidential servant.
"All her life, Louise had a way with men - important men."
Bryant believed in
Greene, who likes to joke about "my six gentile wives," all of whom he parted with on friendly terms, says that in pursuit of Louise Bryant story he fell in love once more.
With Bryant, naturally.
"There 'was something about her and it comes through when you look at her picture and talk with those who knew her."
Greene hopes "Reds" wins several Oscars. It might help sell books and get television really interested in doing a story on Louise Bryant alone. And if the Bryant story sells, the world might be ready for Greene’s own biography.
When you are in your 80s and living on a small newspaper pension and Social Security you let the agents and lawyers take care of the lawsuits, Greene says.
"Me, I've got to write while I've still got time.”