Dustin Hoffman and Me, or I Was Almost Famous for One Night. In five parts.

pkatz

Member
Prologue

The Graduate, Little Big Man, Rain Man, Midnight Cowboy, Lenny, Papillon: Hoffman was in so many great movies.

He also starred in lesser-known films, one of which was

WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN, (AND WHY IS HE SAYING THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME?).

If you haven’t heard of it I’m not surprised. Filmed in 1970 and released a year later it may be one of Hoffman’s least memorable films. In a middling story with some uneven editing, Hoffman plays a neurotic songwriter of 1960’s rock hits.

The film contains two memorable scenes: a Rock Concert where the great Shel Silverstein fronts for the Dr. Hook band and My Appearance in a Major Hollywood Movie. (Dox to follow!)

A little background: in 1970 I was living in San Juan and enrolled on the Dianetic Auditor course at Dick Dorff’s CofS Mission.

I heard that a Dustin Hoffman film was going to be shooting in town, that they were looking for extras and paying $50 for a day’s work. Fifty bucks in 1970 would equal almost $270 today. At the casting interview I was hired to play part of a tourist group that traveled to Mexico for quickie divorces. They told me to show up next morning at an old Spanish fort in the city wearing a 3-button sports coat, white dress shirt and tie.

I was living in the Tropics and there was no way that I owned a sports coat, white dress shirt, tie or even closed-toed shoes. My friend, Tom Rodriguez, lent me a jacket and tie and a pair of black shoes and socks. The closest I had to a white dress shirt was a Guayabera, also known as a wedding shirt, often worn by Hispanic men. They have four large patch pockets connected by vertical rows of pleats and are worn untucked. Luckily, I still owned a pair of long pants and, tucked in and with the jacket buttoned, the pockets and pleats were hidden.

In the morning, dressed in my costume, I rode the bus into Old San Juan city.

Next: The Shoot.
 
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pkatz

Member
Act 1: An Encounter with The Man, Dustin Hoffman.


The courtyard of Castillo San Cristobal (Fort St. Christopher) in San Juan can pass for the plaza in a Mexican city, which is why they were filming there.

I joined the other extras inside a semi-lit whitewashed hall. It was cool inside, though the outside temperature was climbing into the mid-80’s. We milled around for a bit, and then the film’s Director, Ulu Grossbard (why I’ll never forget him will come later) and his Assistant came in to prepare us for our scene.

We were to form a double line with Hoffman and actor Herbie Faye, playing Hoffman’s agent, as if leaving a courthouse post divorce proceedings. There was to be a wide shot and a closeup of Hoffman and Faye speaking their lines.

Hoffman came into the hall where we were waiting. We gathered around him and he was all smiles. There was a little small talk, and someone asked him where he was staying. I don’t remember the name of the hotel any more, but I knew where it was. After some minutes it was time for the shoot. The Assistant put us in our places for the scene. I was placed behind Faye. That’s my face you see over Hoffman’s right shoulder: the good looking 20 year old kid with the tan and sideburns. The call came and we walked out into the sun.




I don’t remember much about the shooting sequence or how many times we had to go back and do it again or what I was thinking. I was probably trying not to blow it for everyone else.

We got paid off and I started toward home. On the way I stopped off at the Scientology Mission. It was early afternoon, not many people around, but Inez Loewy, who wore the Div VI public outreach hat, was there. I told her what I had been doing that morning and made the mistake of mentioning Dustin Hoffman.


Next: Beans Spilled. Dammit!
 

pkatz

Member
Act 2: I Get Marching Orders


The Scn Mission took up the top two floors of a small apartment building on hotel row in the newer part of town. If you left the building and walked to the next corner, the hotel where Hoffman was staying was across the street.

Why did I say anything? And if I had to blab to someone, why did it have to be to Inez, with her piercing blue eyes and all that Teutonic Enthusiasm? (she was a German).

“Do you know where he is staying?”
“Yes, he’s at the (Name of Hotel)”
“Oh, you must go sell him a book!”

I wanted more than anything to say “Sorry, Inez, but I don’t know what hotel he’s in.” Why didn’t I just lie about knowing where Hoffman was staying or, if I was dumb enough to admit that I knew, return in a few minutes and say “Too bad, he wasn’t there, but I left a message for him to call” ?

Because telling a lie would have given me a withhold and I was sure that Dick, the Mission Holder, would look at me and know that I had done something bad and wasn’t telling. Please don’t think I would have feared retribution or a Sec Check if it came out that I lied. Mission Ethics were mild back then and few there knew Sec Checking even existed. I just didn’t want Dick to “miss” my withhold and make me feel like I was hiding from him.

To me he seemed to be a real OT even though he was off-policy and out-tech, eventually declared a squirrel. Scientology, even Dick Dorff’s version, could be fun in the ‘70s.

So, armed with a pen, a blank Scn Puerto Rico invoice and a paperback copy of New Slant On Life I rode the elevator down and walked the half block to Hoffman’s hotel. To continue, I’m now in the hotel lobby.

Me, to the desk clerk: Is Mr. Hoffman here?
Clerk: He’s out by the pool.

Why didn’t he just throw me out? Maybe it was my Guayabera.

newslant.jpeg

New Slant on Life in 1970. Really.


Next: The Deed is Done
 
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pkatz

Member
Act 3 : Here Goes...Something


It was easy to see where Hoffman was sunning himself in a beach chair. Not that there was a crowd of paparazzi or anything, but everyone’s attention was on him. I walked over. He was sitting next to the Director, Grossbard, who was dozing.

“Mr. Hoffman?”
“Yes?”
“Could I speak with you?”
“OK…???”
“Could we talk over here?” and we moved a few feet away.

Without any introduction I began the Dissemination Drill we had been practicing at the Mission:

“What do you do best in life: Start things, Change things or Stop things?”

“Start things.”

“And what do you do worst: Change things or Stop things?”

“Stop things.” I had his mild interest. Now for the clincher.

“What would you like to have that you don’t think you can have?”

“Happiness”.

Then I told him that the answers he sought can be found in Scientology and it starts with the book I held in my hand. Once he knew that all I wanted was to give him something he was relieved and half-smiled at my moxie as I handed it to him.

At that moment Grossbard came up, asking “What’s going on?”

I gave him a Tone 40 “Hello!” and he turned and retreated to his seat, shaking his head. I swear, he would have sat down in that chair even if he’d been an ashtray.

Then I had to tell Hoffman what the book would cost. He turned to Grossbard. “Ulu! You got a buck-fifty?”

I received payment, got his PO Box address in Hollywood, quickly filled out the invoice and gave him his copy, wished him a nice day and got the Hell out of there.

[ note:The Dissem Drill I used matched up two Scientology concepts, Start-Change-Stop ( to find the person’s “ruin”) and Be-Do-Have, for the money-shot question.
For example, if he said he was worst at Starting things, the question would have been “What would you like to Be that you don’t think you can be?”. I don’t know where this version came from and haven’t seen it anywhere else in Scn.]


Next: Some Thoughts and one Final Act
 

pkatz

Member
Epilogue


So. Was I lionized, feted and praised for disseminating to and adding such a famous name to Scientology Puerto Rico’s Central Files? Well, no. I don’t remember anyone even mentioning it, though Dick gave me a big smile that night in passing.

But, if someone wants to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with me, I connect to Bacon in the Second Degree: he starred in Sleepers in which Hoffman made a great cameo appearance.

Did Dustin Hoffman read New Slant on Life? Who knows? That horrible cover would turn anyone off. If Tom Cruise or Michael Roberts mentioned Scientology to him while filming Rain Man in 1988 I doubt he would have thought of me or the book I sold him eighteen years earlier.

As far as I know his only connection to Scn is the 1997 Open Letter protesting the treatment of German Scientologists published in the International Herald Tribune, signed by Hoffman and other notables.


There is a little more to the story.

It’s 1971. I’m in the Sea Org, working at the Celebrity Centre in LA. I hadn’t thought about the film shoot or that Dissem Drill in a long time.

Joe Crane, who worked at Axioms Productions (a Scn-related business), approaches smiling a half-smile.

Joe: “Were you in a movie?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s called Who is Harry Kellerman“, and I gave him a few details.
Joe: “Well, I went to see it last night. When your face came on the screen I couldn’t believe it. I shouted

“THAT’S PAUL KATZ !!! ”

We both laughed. And that’s how, in a darkened theater somewhere in West Hollywood, I Was Almost Famous for One Night.

hoffman.foto-page-0.jpg

Fin.
 

HelluvaHoax!

Well-known member
.

Cool story.

Funny, as I was reading the first few parts I started thinking of how a Scientologist would be EXPECTED TO MAKE IT GO RIGHT to get Dustin Hoffman on the Bridge. And then it was hard to avoid thinking that you would be told or even ordered to go back and find his ruin.

Then I read, with great astonishment that THAT is exactly what happened. LOL!

It's so cringefully predictable, but still hard to believe that such CULTY things are done (even by cults).

The only other part I imagined while reading the rest of the story was that at some future event or "briefing", Scientology staff would be "r-factored" that Dustin Hoffman is on the Bridge to Total Freedom. And jubilantly joyous staff would cheer, stamp and salute Ron's wall photo while repetitively chanting HIP HIP HOOOORAYYYYY!!!

I better stop thinking about this or tonight I am going to have one of those "Oh shit! I'm back in Scientology, I'm back in the org, I'm still on staff, I'm trying to escape and they're chasing me nightmares", LOL. I had a few of those when i left staff way back in one of my past lives on the wholetrack.

Well, in any case your story was very entertaining I wanted to congratulate you, validate you and flow power to you for being a Power FSM and getting the biggest movie star in the world (at that time) on Ron's Bridge---and making planetary clearing a reality!

.
 
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HelluvaHoax!

Well-known member
Thanks HH. Coming to a wannabe writer from a pro, this means a lot!
Thanks!

But I disagree. There was no "wannabe writer" involved in this scenario.

You wrote!

You captured the readers' attention & curiosity. You entertained. You enlightened. You got paid.

Well, so what if the payment (this time) was in laughter, appreciation & applause.

Keep lettin' that creative beast off its leash! LOL

.
 

The_Fixer

Well-known member
Epilogue


So. Was I lionized, feted and praised for disseminating to and adding such a famous name to Scientology Puerto Rico’s Central Files? Well, no. I don’t remember anyone even mentioning it, though Dick gave me a big smile that night in passing.

But, if someone wants to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with me, I connect to Bacon in the Second Degree: he starred in Sleepers in which Hoffman made a great cameo appearance.

Did Dustin Hoffman read New Slant on Life? Who knows? That horrible cover would turn anyone off. If Tom Cruise or Michael Roberts mentioned Scientology to him while filming Rain Man in 1988 I doubt he would have thought of me or the book I sold him eighteen years earlier.

As far as I know his only connection to Scn is the 1997 Open Letter protesting the treatment of German Scientologists published in the International Herald Tribune, signed by Hoffman and other notables.


There is a little more to the story.

It’s 1971. I’m in the Sea Org, working at the Celebrity Centre in LA. I hadn’t thought about the film shoot or that Dissem Drill in a long time.

Joe Crane, who worked at Axioms Productions (a Scn-related business), approaches smiling a half-smile.

Joe: “Were you in a movie?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s called Who is Harry Kellerman“, and I gave him a few details.
Joe: “Well, I went to see it last night. When your face came on the screen I couldn’t believe it. I shouted

“THAT’S PAUL KATZ !!! ”

We both laughed. And that’s how, in a darkened theater somewhere in West Hollywood, I Was Almost Famous for One Night.

View attachment 1092

Fin.
.

Cool story.

Funny, as I was reading the first few parts I started thinking of how a Scientologist would be EXPECTED TO MAKE IT GO RIGHT to get Dustin Hoffman on the Bridge. And then it was hard to avoid thinking that you would be told or even ordered to go back and find his ruin.

Then I read, with great astonishment that THAT is exactly what happened. LOL!

It's so cringefully predictable, but still hard to believe that such CULTY things are done (even by cults).

The only other part I imagined while reading the rest of the story was that at some future event or "briefing", Scientology staff would be "r-factored" that Dustin Hoffman is on the Bridge to Total Freedom. And jubilantly joyous staff would cheer, stamp and salute Ron's wall photo while repetitively chanting HIP HIP HOOOORAYYYYY!!!

I better stop thinking about this or tonight I am going to have one of those "Oh shit! I'm back in Scientology, I'm back in the org, I'm still on staff, I'm trying to escape and they're chasing me nightmares", LOL. I had a few of those when i left staff way back in one of my past lives on the wholetrack.

Well, in any case your story was very entertaining I wanted to congratulate you, validate you and flow power to you for being a Power FSM and getting the biggest movie star in the world (at that time) on Ron's Bridge---and making planetary clearing a reality!

.
That was certainly a really cool story! Thanks for sharing.
 

Logothetan

Member
Loved the full story, bro. I remember your tone 40 hellos. Walked by the place the other day. They removed the metal roof I had to climb to fill the leaking. Ashford Avenue, like Puerto Rico in general, is not as prosperous looking as in the 60s-70s.
 
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