Producer Stanley Jaffe; CHILDREN ARE HIS CINEMATIC THEME
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Jaffe admits proudly to his immersion in cinematic themes involving children; this may have been accentuated by the division within his own family. He has two children, a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. Both live with his former wife in New York. Jaffe lives nearby.Skip to next paragraph
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''I spend a lot of time with my children,'' he says. ''I like to go to the country with them, where we can spend hours walking in the woods and talking. That's more important to me than anything else. I know that I'm also excessive about my work, and I'm through telling myself the lie that first comes this and next comes that. Not true. Both have to run. You have to have a balance; at least I do. And so I have now reached a point where I can concentrate totally on my work when I'm working, and totally on my kids when I'm with them. And I don't mix the two up.''
Jaffe has examined on film the impact on children of the ''win at all costs'' mentality (in ''The Bad News Bears''), the pull and strain of separation and divorce (in ''Kramer''), and the results of exposure to a single, zealous, rigid point of view (in ''Taps'').
''Whether it's because of the economic pressures on the family that require both parents to go out and work, or the fact that the family unit in this country has been terribly affected by the growing divorce rate,'' says Jaffe, ''we have as a society been turning our children over to others to raise - to the television set or to school systems that are obviously inadequately financed and supported. . . .
''I think we have a chance in the '80s of starting back toward the '50s and to see more emphasis on holding the family unit together than breaking it up. Our only hope for that to happen is our children, and I think we've got to pay more attention to them and to what is being put into their heads. If you bring a child into the world, you have a responsibility to that child in every sense of the word.''
A few months ago, Jaffe's son told him: ''You're always on my case about grades and things like that but you never say you're proud of me for resisting things like drugs. They're all over the place, and my friends are into them, but I'm not because I don't want them or need them.'' Jaffe went home, contrite, and wrote his son a long letter describing his pride in the boy and trying to explain why it had not occurred to him to express it.
''How the options have changed for our children today,'' says Jaffe in wonder. ''When I was 12, the big decision was whether to play football or baseball. Now they have to decide whether or not to take drugs. I really did grow up in a world where we were taught that crime doesn't pay and we stood up when the teacher came into the room. And I grew up with a great passion for this country that was very much my own. We seem to be losing all that. The imagination of our children is blunted on television, and their thinking is done for them. It's time we started doing something about it.''
For his part, Stanley Jaffe plans to continue putting his passion on the screen. His next project will be a film called ''Still Missing,'' which deals with the interplay following the kidnapping of a child. ''It's going to be an intensive story about what happens to relationships in a time of great crisis. It will also be the first picture I direct.''
Then, in vintage form, Jaffe concludes: ''I've been around this business for 20 years, and I'm really good at what I do. I work hard at it, too, so it's not an accident when a film of mine works. Now I want to try directing. I think I've earned that right. If I'm good, terrific. If I'm not - well, that will be interesting to find out.''