Rebuttal to Oliver's Twist
December 5, 2013
Back in 2011, we discovered a book by the broadcaster Craig Oliver that had some mistakes regarding Percy and just some plain oddness. We wrote a letter to Penguin Books, sent it by Registered Mail and heard nothing. Read the letter yourself make your own judgement. Frankly, we think the letter was more polite than what Percy would have written.
Penguin Group Canada
90 Eglinton Ave East, Suite 700
Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3
Robert Ford (no relation to Mayor Ford)
(Address removed for web publication)
March 8, 2012
Inaccuracies in Oliver's Twist by Craig Oliver
I am writing on behalf of my mother, Audrey Saltzman, the second wife of Percy Saltzman. Mr. Saltzman is referenced in Oliver's Twist. Mrs Saltzman was married to Percy Saltzman for 15 years until his death in 2007.
I am also the webmaster for Percy's website: www.percysaltzman.com. On November 21, 2011, an email from the website guest book said:
The interview with Michael Caine the actor is highlighted in Craig Oliver's recent book Is the reference accurate? My recollection of that interview is quite different.
When I received this email, I did not know Oliver's Twist existed and it was not until December 2011 that I picked up a copy of the book and gave it to my mother for Christmas. Her reaction to the sections pertaining to Percy was one of distress. (That's an understatement by the way.)
With Percy being deceased, it makes it very difficult to mount a defence to what seems to be an attack on his character. For simplicity, let's start with an actual error.
On page 71 of Oliver's Twist, Mr Oliver cites Percy unleashing "verbal tirade" at Carole Taylor. A paragraph later Mr Oliver writes, "Canada AM was soon off and running again under Carole and a string of other co-hosts." My mother has tapes of Percy co-hosting with Helen Hutchinson, who succeeded Carole Taylor at Canada AM. In addition, Percy's CV shows that he did not move to City-TV until 1974 and Wikipedia shows that Carole Taylor left Canada AM in 1973 to do W5 and was succeeded by Helen Hutchinson. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_AM). This is a significant error in fact.
When we return to the Michael Caine issue, on page 69, Mr. Oliver writes that Percy accused Mr. Caine of being a fake. The inference is that Percy was being disrespectful. Percy reported to family members on a number of occasions that Mr. Caine enjoyed the interview because the questions where not the usual ones. Perhaps this is why my website visitor also has a different memory of the interview.
On page 70, Mr. Oliver states that Percy's wife -- in this case his first wife Rose -- monitored the show with a stopwatch. Even if this were true, one wonders how Mr. Oliver knew such a thing. Second, Percy was quite aware that the show was of a new type and wanted his wife's opinion on the show and its content.
And I end this letter at the first assertion that Mr. Oliver writes on page 68.
The world was a tussle between good and evil for Percy, and he believed that television could be an instrument for overdue change.
This is pure conjecture as one wants to ask "how the heck would Mr. Oliver know that?" And also "tussle"? I'm not sure any one who lived during World War II would use that word for the conflict to defeat Nazism, nor would any Jewish person use "tussle" to describe the effort to survive Russian pogroms or German concentration camps.
Regardless, it would be of great assistance to have your views on these matters, particularly the error about the timing of Carole Taylor's departure from Canada AM.
When can I expect a response?