Joan Graves, woman of international mystery

In the showbiz world, there are some people who are so press shy that you can devote years of your life in vain attempts to track them down, usually without any luck at all. The list would start with Terrence Malick, who's a total recluse; Charlie Kaufman, who seems allergic to doing any kind of interview; and of course Bob Dylan, who (hint, hint) I'd love to talk to about his amazing XM show, "Theme Time Radio Hour," which is surely the best hour of radio ever invented.

As a guy who writes regularly about the movie ratings system, I'd add another name to the list: Joan Graves, the secretive head of the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), the ratings board that not only charts our cultural sensitivity to swear words, sex and violence, but essentially defines for millions of parents what movie is appropriate for their kids to see.  Graves is one of the huge behind-the-scenes powerbrokers in Hollywood, since her ratings decisions can cost a studio untold millions of dollars, yet she's spent years ducking my interview requests, along with my fellow reporters. (When I asked our film writer John Horn if he'd ever gotten Graves on the phone, he laughingly said: "I've have an easier time getting Steve Jobs to talk than her.")

Etbp0707graves So imagine my shock when I discovered that Graves had given a rare interview--in the current issue of the Stanford alumni magazine. But what was really embarrassing was who she gave the interview to: my wife!

Although she is a wonderful writer and far more learned than myself about most things--you can read her regular Times young-adult books column

07/08/2008 06:00

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