To the editors:
I've got a few boxes, my word processor and my backpack to load into the car, and tomorrow morning I'll hit the highway, heading west--but Lewis Lazare needs to be reminded of just a couple of things. Yes, he did go over his Culture Club piece [March 22] with me "line by line" [Letters, April 5]. And yes, he did change some of the copy--when I talked to him originally, I told him that I hoped to be back next season in rehearsals with a new play at the Goodman, but that turned out not to be the case--so I called Lewis and asked him not to run the piece. I told him it was bad timing, I felt awkward about it. He told me it was pretty much too late. I asked him to read the copy to me over the phone. He did. I reminded him that the things he had me quoted as saying weren't exactly what I had said. He told me he knew that. I won't try and quote Lewis here--I know better--but he told me that what I had said during the interview wasn't as good--his reworking of what I had said was "better." I asked him a second time not to run the piece--and he told me again it was too late. And that was that. The piece ran, and probably by now everyone's pretty much forgotten it. People that know me, and know Lewis's column, probably ignored it. But it irked me that the guy was able to rewrite what I said--not outright make things up--but rewrite things just enough to change the tone of what I had said in the pursuit of a more quotable quote. Is that journalism? Hey Lewis, do me a favor and lay off questioning the courage of my convictions--you're out of line. Now I know why some ball players don't like to talk to the press.
Lewis Lazare replies:
Rick Cleveland is correct when he says he expressed concern about my item on his departure from Chicago in light of the news he had just received about a decision not to produce his play The Rhino's Policeman at the Goodman. But it was precisely because of that concern that I offered to rewrite part of the item well after my normal column deadline. Cleveland and I did not discuss alleged misquotations. Cleveland's concerns were focused on downplaying the news value of his departure from Chicago and excising any reference to a hoped-for Goodman production of his play, concerns that presumably were laid to rest by my rewriting of the item.