Capturing the Friedmans

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Postby Guest » 06/03/03 11:22 AM

I could have sworn there was a thread on this already, but for the life of me I can't find it. Perhaps there was a big brouhaha and the thread got deleted. In that case, sorry I missed the brouhaha.

At any rate...

I saw this documentary last night. It's incredible, definitely recommended.

IF you want the specfics check out any review of the film, but basically it concerns the family of David Friedman aka Silly Billy and deals with the topics of pedophilia, mass hysteria, the validity of repressed memories, and the nature of truth and memory. Much of the film comes from old home-movies of the Friedman family taken by David Friedman himself.

It's incredibly disturbing, occasionally darkly amusing, but always completely intriguing.

You probably won't find it playing next to Finding Nemo, but if it is playing near you, I recommend checking it out.
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Postby James Foster » 06/03/03 11:59 AM

There was a thread in the BUZZ section which began on May 25, 2003, but it is no longer available.

The movie was the subject of a recent New Yorker write-up as well.

I hope it makes its way to the environs of central Texas...

Cheers.

James
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Postby Guest » 06/03/03 12:05 PM

Yeah, I originally wrote the post on this movie a week or so back, with links to reviews, etc.,
but it was deleted because someone "whistled" it. The reason for deleting the thread was explained to me as an attempt to avoid any injury to David Kaye.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Guest » 06/03/03 04:22 PM

The story's already been covered in every major news outlet including the New York Times, so I doubt the Genii Forum is going to make matters any worse.

Now is the time David could probably use the support and friendship of the magic community more than ever.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 06/03/03 07:03 PM

Originally posted by John Hudson:
The story's already been covered in every major news outlet including the New York Times, so I doubt the Genii Forum is going to make matters any worse.

Now is the time David could probably use the support and friendship of the magic community more than ever.
You can send David your best wishes at getsilly@aol.com. As I told him personally, nothing in this changes my opinion of him as one of the really good guys in the world. And the fact that he was able to lead such a positive and productive life in the face of such hardship is a tribute to his courage.
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Postby MaxNY » 06/03/03 07:27 PM

I'm glad this thread made it back. I was going to go view the movie tomorrow night (Wednesday), Anybody from NY wishing to catch up with me? (Angelika @ 7:20).
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Postby Brian Marks » 06/04/03 08:39 AM

Max, I would be willing to meet you tonight, Wed. @ 7:20 to go see the film
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Postby Guest » 06/04/03 09:54 AM

pardon my ignorance, but David Kaye is David Friedman is Silly Billy. Yes?

If that's the case, I believe he fully backs this project and would have no problem with an honest discussion about it. He provided the footage, gave a number of interviews in the film, and I believe he shows up at the Film Forum here in NYC with the director and answers questions after showings of the film.

The film goes out of it's way to remain objective but at the end of the film you can't help (at least I couldn't help) thinking; Yeah, this family had some serious problems but at the same time they certainly got railroaded.

I look forward to hearing more opinions from people who saw the film.
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Postby Brian Marks » 06/04/03 08:49 PM

David Kaye is David Friedman is Silly Billy

As I said I went to go see the movie with Max. The viewing was followed a q&a with the editor of the film and Jessie Friedman's best friend who is interviewed in the movie. Jessie, who is on parole right now, missed the q&a because he was on a date.

The movie was awesome. Very well made. Of course its very sad. I would have to say I agree that the family was railroaded, especially Jessie. The movie is having a successful run in NY that has brought about the movie being booked in 16 more cities.
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Postby MaxNY » 06/04/03 09:46 PM

This could very well be the best documentary ever made. My head is still spinning, so a few radom thoughts here, real fast.
---Will this hurt The Silly One's career? Probably not right now, I think the only people in the audience were Indy film lovers, not the 5th Ave. crowd. His empire may take a much bigger hit once this hits HBO (later this year). There are rumors that he works up to 15 "Silly" clones, so I'm not too sure what his percentage on income is..say vs. what the clones pull in.
---The film editor said he doesn't think any of the Friedman's will recieve compensation, I find that very hard to believe.
---I met David around 1987, after a client/producer from Showtime kept telling me about this guy "Silly Billy". We have run into each other at meetings, auctions, and conventions. His company called me when they heard I had a "Wizard School", but after I sent them a run down of how I incorporated the Boy-wizard phenomenon into my act, I never heard back from them... I also have never met a "Silly" spin-off. Rumors are that they may be out of work actor's. If he is smart (and after this movie I have a better estimation of his legal grasp) he would have had the spin-offs sign " Do not work here for five years" clauses...Just to protect his turf.
---David has captured this big city. I have done thousands of shows, but only two birthday parties in New York City! (I am not counting the hundreds of BarMitvah's I have done). There are only a handful of professional children's entertainers that I know, working this mighty block.
---As was said before me by Brian Marks, the Editor was fielding questions after the movie, and said the film is now in 16 cities.
---I kept thinking "The sad clown syndrome"
---I was wondering, what should David wear on the Red Carpet? Does he dare wear his clown colors?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/05/03 09:50 AM

The director's comment, which he has repeated verbatim several times, about David being "an angry clown" really annoy me. I have known David for many years and he has never struck me as particularly angry ... quite the opposite!
Regarding Max's comment about "Silly Billy clones," it is no longer true and has not been so for years. The guys who work for David all dress differently not all "Silly Billy" clones.
David's choice about cooperating with the director was not a simple yes or no. The director started making a movie about Silly Billy, and then discovered the family's past, and insisted upon changing the direction of the film. As a selfish filmmaker with a nose for what might make a good film, he was right on the money. As a guy in whom David placed his trust to make a film about Silly Billy the kid's magician, the director acted like a selfish [censored] (my opinion).
I don't see that David had much of a choice about cooperating, particularly since it might benefit his brother. The downside, of course, is that it may hurt his career as a kid's magician.
And, I do not believe the Friedmans are receiving any money from the film. Only the filmaker, who's already a rich bastard. Ain't that the way of the world!
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Postby Guest » 06/05/03 11:40 AM

Mr. Kaufman-

See the movie. I don't think you will leave thinking that the portrayal of David in the film was unfairly unflattering or inaccurate.

And perhaps the director is going everywhere saying David is an "angry clown" but incredibly the terms "angry clown" and "capturing the friedmans" will give you zero results at Google. But hey, that's only a few gazillion pages, so it might have slipped through.

For the record, in regards to the issues covered in the movie David is angry. And he is, in fact, a clown. So it wouldn't be a wholly inaccurate characterization.

Additionally, I'm not sure how "having a nose for what makes a good film" and then making that film, makes a director a selfish [censored]. But as you said, that's your opinion.

Here is a quote from an MSNBC article about the movie and David Friedman's relationship to Jarecki (the director) and the film itself...

--Friedman trusted Jarecki, but he still agonized about cooperating. “We were changing from a story about me being a great entertainer, which was probably going to help my career,” Friedman says, “to a story about the case against my father and brother, which could conceivably ruin it.” Ultimately, he agreed to participate, believing that the film might help vindicate them.--

That sounds to me like someone who understood the risks and agreed to the project. Not someone who was manipulated by a selfish director.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/05/03 09:37 PM

I have spoken to David and he has provided me with a set of questions and answers that he feels will deal with some of the questions that members of the Forum might have. Let me make a few points first.
David Kaye is Silly Billy and he is also David Friedman.
David is participating in panel discussions following screenings of the documentary in New York. He is doing this in order to protect his image and gauge audience reaction. He says the audiences are reacting 99 percent positively. After the film they generally conclude that Davids brother and father are innocent of the charges for which they were imprisoned.
David is not only worried how his client base in NY is going to react, but he is also worried how the magic community is going to react. I agree with John Hudson when he writes that this is the time that David needs us the most. Lets support him as he goes through a difficult time.

In Davids own words:
It has always been painful for me to talk about the tragedy that befell my father and brother, both of whom were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. My father died in prison, and my brother spent 13 years there. I had a personal policy of telling no one about this. I have always been afraid that if my clients found out even a bit of this story, I would lose my ability to earn a living.
Below are the questions that most people are asking me. I hope this information answers questions you may have as well. To learn more about the exonerating evidence and my brothers work at overturning his conviction visit his web site. www.FreeJesse.net
How did the filmmaker discover this story?
The original film started out as a movie about me, as New Yorks top childrens entertainer. The filmmaker spent two years interviewing me and filming my life. (The footage of Silly Billy is from that period.) I was excited that a film was being made about me and felt it would help bring me publicity.
After extensive interviewing over this time his questions became more probing, and he became suspicious of my vague answers. Following his research, he discovered a secret about my family. He told me the clown movie was halted and he would now be making a movie about my family. He made it clear that he was making this new movie whether I participated in the movie or not. I felt that by participating I would have more control than by not participating. In a sense it was under duress in that the filmmaker gave me no choice in the matter. If it were up to me, a film about my family would not have been made. But once the filmmaker insisted that he would make the film no matter what, I acquiesced.
Why did you help make the new film, and share the videotape you shot of your family?
At the time my brother was still in prison and looking at six more years. So I made a big decision. I decided that, in good conscience, I could not miss this opportunity to help exonerate my father and brother, and possibly get my brother out of prison. I understood that this might affect my career, but I was willing to take that risk. Some things are just more important than work. I always did and always will do anything in my power to help my family. That meant cooperating with the filmmaker.
Why did you shoot all that videotape in 1987?
Initially I shot the tape knowing that my family was about to begin a difficult chapter in our life. After two or three months it became clear that things were not going to end in their favor. I then continued to tape in order to preserve our family and to have a record of our lives together.
Did your father and brother do the things they were accused of?
Absolutely not. Child molestation is both abhorrent and detestable, but both my father and certainly my brother are innocent of the charges against them. You cant ignore the fact that there was no physical evidence, there was no medical evidence, children continued to voluntarily sign up for class -- semester after semester, parents showed up unannounced and saw nothing, and even after 15 years the police never found any photos that the children said had been taken. I hope everyone sees this movie and I expect anyone who does will come away with the same reaction.
How much money are you making off this film?
Nothing. I spent hundreds of hours helping make the clown movie, and hundreds more when it became a film about my family. I was not compensated for my participation in the past and will not be in the future. According to the filmmaker, compensating me would make his credibility suspect. Then why would I share such private moments? Because I wanted to help make the best movie possible, in order for more people to see it, and convince more people to join our crusade for my brothers innocence.
What do you think of the film?
I am hoping this film serves the purpose I always intended it to. That the truth about the injustice to my father and brother comes out and that their names are finally cleared. I am hoping that, in addition to the three students in the film who say they know nothing happened, additional complainants come forward and admit that my dad and brother didnt do those things. In fact as a direct result of the film two more ex-computer students have come forward and offered their help. These two were in the computer classes where others said they were molested. These two people have told us they were there and no abuse occurred. They have agreed to participate in exonerating my brother. The process has begun.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/27/12 02:01 AM

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/27/12 11:49 AM

I've spoken to David about this for many years, so it's not news to me. What is amazing is the terrible reluctance of the people who convicted Jesse and his father to admit what they did. Of course that would open them up to civil lawsuits.

No one here has any real idea of the toll this has had on David and his tattered family. David's ability to move forward with his life has amazed me on numerous occasions.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/27/12 12:43 PM

Great to hear that David is dealing with the social issue of accusations by the hysterical and our societie's tolerance of such behavior.

The truths about abused children are their own issues. Sounds like folks are stuck looking for "others" when complex myths of Oedipus and Electra fail to satisfy as explanations. You can't blame the stork, can you? How about the swan then? So much easier to point fingers at the vulnerable while deluded by social fictions.

I wish our Silly Billy, and David (by any name he choses) the best,

Jon
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 11/27/12 12:55 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: unpacked some of the text. Others can discuss the Oedipus/abuse excuse
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/27/12 08:28 PM

I am truly surprised that this has come up here so many years after this was first broadcast in 2003. David discussed the issues related to this tragedy without me knowing about it during my first interview with him in when he was involved with Celebracadabra. I discovered the documentary randomly a few months later and he and I have talked about it from time to time over the last few years. David is a great guy and someone that I am proud to say is my friend. The sad part of this thread for me is that it was started by an "Anonymous" poster. It seems that there was an agenda behind this and it is my opinion that if you want to start a thread like this then you should be required to "man up" (or Woman up) as the case may be. I for one have maintained an "magic offenders" post with info from public records related to any magicians convicted criminal acts against children which can be found here: http://bit.ly/TjU538 . It is my opinion that we need to insure that the general public never thinks that the magic community is tacitly condoning the criminal acts of a small minority against those most innocent among us. I have a child with autism. Hence, have always been particularly careful about whom he is left alone with knowing that it would be difficult for him to communicate with us about something improper happening in our absence. To go one step further, why are anonymous posts allowed at all knowing that they can "stir the pot" without being held accountable? RK... Over to you.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 11/27/12 08:57 PM

To go one step further, why are anonymous posts allowed at all knowing that they can "stir the pot" without being held accountable? RK... Over to you.


I believe all the "Anonymous" posts are a side effect of an issue with the software many many years ago, loosing many usernames.
Share your knowledge on the MagicPedia wiki.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/27/12 09:01 PM

Dodd, you've completely misinterpreted what's happening. It's an old thread, the names of the original posters were lost. But what is important is Bill Mullins' post and link, "Exonerating the Friendmans." That is news. Watch it.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 11/27/12 09:35 PM

Ok.. Will do.. Sorry for jumping the gun. Just a touchy subject. Just now realizing to my embarrassment that this was posted just after it aired. Thx Richard
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