Newman, Paul 1

The press appalls Paul Newman


From the Dec. 18, 1981, Deseret News

NEW YORK — Paul Newman — along with several other prominent members of the "Absence of Malice" cast and crew — was being interviewed by entertainment reporters in New York when he took the opportunity to talk about the side of the press he abhors.

Newman has been a major movie star for more than two decades, but after a slump in his career recently, he has only now been getting critical acclaim again for "Fort Apache – The Bronx" and "Absence of Malice."

Newman said he has no ax to grind with the press as a whole but he did take the opportunity of talking to writers from all over the country to lambaste the New York Post for what he called "irresponsibility" in reporting falsehoods about the filming of "Fort Apache" in New York City.

"While this picture (‘Absence of Malice') is certainly not an indictment of the press," Newman said, "I think it raises a cautionary flag about what should be looked at."

In the film, Newman plays a man with mobster connections who is being investigated by federal agents. Though he is innocent of any wrongdoing, Newman's character is named in a newspaper story as a suspect in a murder investigation, and the result is a lot of problems in his personal life. "Watergate raised the investigative reporter somewhere on Calgary but we have leaks that go out to the press all the time from the Pentagon, Standard Oil, the White House – and they're all in there to manipulate the public.


                               Paul Newman receives direction from Sydney Pollack on the set of 'Absence of Malice'

"I think this picture, while directly about this one character, is about the whole way the press is manipulated."

Newman also said he recognizes that there is good and bad reporting, good and bad newspapers, adding that he has the highest respect for the good ones. "Newspapers and newspaper reporting in this country vary as much as the quality of movies. Some should be applauded, and garbage cans like the New York Post should be severely chastised."

Newman describes his 20-plus years of stardom as "a rather checkered career." He said he recognized some of his movie flops but feels "you can't always play it safe." He stayed away from films for a while because he didn't like the way the industry was headed. "What can you say about an industry where the biggest stars are two robots and a shark?"

His next project is Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict," in which he will play an attorney. At one time, Robert Redford was going to play the role.

Newman said he and Redford and George Roy Hill, director of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting," have been looking for a mutual project for years but haven't found one they feel is suitable. A lack of good scripts also distresses Newman.