Chicago (Jan. 6)
A potential conflict is brewing between the Jewish community and CBS-TV because of a sharp disagreement about lines in the script of the 2 1/2-hour TV movie, “Skokie,” which deals with the efforts by a small group of Chicago Nazis to demonstrate in that now famous village.
The issue has developed around the reference in the script to a last minute “deal,” according to which the Nazis decided to demonstrate in Marquette Park in Chicago where a very substantial number of Blacks reside.
Sol Goldstein, a leader of the Holocaust survivors and chairman of the subcommittee of the Jewish United Fund Public Affairs Committee of Metropolitan Chicago (PAC) which had planned a massive counter-demonstration, charged in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune that the script “makes it sound as if the Jewish people said let the Nazis go the South Side (of Chicago) to torture the Blacks as long as they leave us alone. That’s just not true.”
He pointed out further that neither the Village of Skokie nor the organized Jewish community made any “deals” with the Nazis. In fact, when such a “deal” was unofficially offered, it was flatly refused by the Public Affairs Committee. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times published PAC statements to that effect by Raymond Epstein who was at that time PAC chairman.
ELEMENTS IN THE SCRIPT
The author of “Skokie” is the well-known writer Ernest Kinoy. The script revolves around the sharp conflict involving the Jewish community, the survivors, and the American Civil Liberties Union, who successfully defended in state and federal courts right of the Nazis to demonstrate. Subsequently, the ACLU suffered a substantial loss of membership.
The script makes little reference to the role of the PAC, representing the organized Jewish community, which, as Goldstein pointed out, had prepared a counter-demonstration of 50,000 persons from the Chicago area, other parts of the United States, and even from other countries. However, this omission was regarded as far less serious than the implications of the “deal.”
The cast includes such well-known stars as Danny Kaye and Carl Reiner. The producer is Robert Berger of Titus Productions Inc. in New York City.
The issue concerning the “deal” is particularly significant because the opening lines of the script, which presumably will be part of the television movie, state: “That which you are about to see is a dramatization of an event which actually took place in Skokie, Illinois In 1977-78. Some of the characters names have been changed and fictional characters created, but the events are essentially true.” The Chicago Tribune quoted Berger as saying that the “Jews of Skokie made no deal with the Nazis”, but that he had to take “a little dramatic license.” (See related story P.3)