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Ballad of Narayama

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Interview with Jacqueline Susann

"You wanna hear a funny story?" Jacqueline Susann said. "When 'Valley of the Dolls' came out in Russia, it was reviewed in Pravda. "So somebody sent us the review and we had it translated. They said it was a very exotic story."

"So then tell about Nureyev," said Irving Mansfield, her husband.

"I'm getting to that. So we sent the review to Rudolf Nureyev and he said the translator had made one mistake. Instead of exotic, Pravda said it was neurotic. Isn't that darling?"

"Not neurotic, dear," said Irving. "They said it was erotic. Remember?"

"Neurotic, erotic," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

"It's a great best seller in 12 languages," Irving said.

"Already 3 1/2 million copies in paperback," said Miss Susann. "We'll even pass Dr. Spock."

"Wouldn't that be something?" said Irving. "Then you and Dr. Spock can run for President, instead of Dr. Martin Luther King."

"I don't think I want to be in on that ticket," Miss Susann said. "Besides. I'm too busy writing my next novel. You know how I write? When I did 'Valley of the Dolls,' I did five drafts. Then I showed the fifth draft to Irving, and he told me where I'd let the interest lag. So then we argued and compromised. He didn't like the downbeat ending, but I won out. He said I'd kill the movie sale."

"So then they changed the ending anyway for the movie," Irving said, grinning. So I won out in the end."

"But you were wrong about it killing the sale." Miss Susann said. "It'll be a fantastic movie. It's too bad about Judy Garland. Everybody keeps asking me why she was fired from the movie, as if it was my fault or something. You know what I think went wrong?" Here she was, raised in the great tradition of the studio stars, where they make 30 takes of every scene to get it right, and the other girls in the picture were all raised as television actresses. So they're used to doing it right the first time. Judy just got rattled, that's all." Miss Susann shook her head. "It was so pitiful," she said. "Judy called me and said she thought she was doing very well. She said she was there every day. She said, 'Where did everyone go" She said, 'I can't get anybody on the phone'" Miss Susann revealed that she wrote "Valley of the Dolls," because she felt she had something to say and wanted to say it.

"It was my second book, of course," she said. "The first was 'Not Tonight, Josephine,' about our pet poodle."

"She's the most intelligent dog in the world," Irving said.

Miss Susann agreed. "I never met an animal I didn't like," she said.

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