While Farrah Fawcett's college sweetheart Greg Lott has been getting lots of attention with his bombshell claims of their secret love affair in the final decade of her life, another close male companion who is about to get his own share of headlines.
Craig Nevius is suing Ryan O'Neal, Alana Stewart and O'Neal's business manager for pushing him aside from the cancer journal documentary he and Farrah were producing for NBC. Though "Farrah's Story" received many harsh, disgusted reviews for its maudlin morbidity, it is up for an Emmy-- as are Farrah and Nevius, who kept his executive producer title.
As the case winds its way to court, Nevius tells his side of the story and much more to Chris Mann on Retroality.tv.
The extensive two-part interview (here and here) contains many insights into Farrah as well as exclusive information about the career plans left unfulfilled, though more interest will likely be placed on Nevius' claim that Ryan O'Neal threatened to kill him.
You must feel thrilled (being nominated for an Emmy. Aren’t you?
People say to me: “Congratulations. Are you excited?” But that’s not the right word. I guess I’m more “relieved.” Because when Farrah took a turn for the worse in April, Ryan O’Neal and his business manager banned me from seeing or talking to Farrah ever again.
At the same time, Ryan and Alana Stewart decided it was time for them to come in and “save” the project. And NBC, who had previously been so supportive and promised Farrah that this was her story to tell, supported them 100 percent. I’m sure the network would say otherwise but I believe that it was because they wanted this on the air for May sweeps and didn’t have the star to promote it. So began the “Ryan O’Neal Grieving Widower Press Tour With Special Appearances by Farrah’s Robotic Self-Promoting Best Friend Alana Stewart.”
That was bad enough but then Ryan and Alana did basically the same thing in the documentary itself by inserting those cringe-inducing, self-serving interview sound bytes shot by an unemployed ex-Dateline NBC Producer. I was appalled. But my appall quickly turned to disgust when I saw that Ryan and Alana had secretly shot Redmond (Farrah’s son with Ryan) in chains when he was released from jail for a few hours, under the supervision of two sheriff’s deputies, visiting Farrah—who was unconscious or close to unconscious in her bed. How dare they?
Ryan was not a producer on this program. Alana had refused to sign her co-producer contract because she wanted more money and a better title. Farrah was the boss, and if the boss was unable to function because of a health crisis her authority went automatically to me as per our company’s operating agreement (signed on April 1, 2008).
Ryan didn’t seem to care what any piece of paper said. He demanded that the title of the documentary be changed from A Wing & A Prayer to Farrah’s Story— which, in my opinion, was nothing but a cheap homage to his greatest claim to fame other than dating Farrah: Love Story. Changing the title was also a cruel irony considering if this was really Farrah’s story it would have been broadcast under the original title that Farrah and I chose: A Wing & A Prayer.
How much of the finished product that aired reflected Farrah’s intentions with the project?
Don’t get me wrong, most of the work that Farrah and I did is there. Like the diary narration that I shot with her in my living room. No one else was present. It was just her and her diary—and me and my camera.
It’s just that a lot of our other work was interrupted and sloppily clipped short in order to make room for Ryan’s bad reprisal of his Oliver Barrett role and Alana telling us that “needles are painful.” And for needless inserts of a trip to Mexico and Farrah’s brief experience with an inconclusive test of a new cancer drug. Farrah and I agreed not to include such footage because we had a lot more important, educational and inspiring scenes to include.
The New York Times reviewer Alessandra Stanley wrote, “...it was an exploitative portrait of a celebrity’s fight with cancer... NBC took Ms. Fawcett’s candid video diary and allowed it to be packaged as a generic VH1 Behind the Music” biography—maudlin music, gauzy slow-motion film, and pseudo-revealing interviews with friends, coworkers, doctors and hairdressers reminiscing about a former star.” Yikes.
I can't disagree with the reviewer. That being said, there were scenes that were cut out completely. Scenes that dealt with medical information and issues that Farrah wanted to address in order to start a dialogue that could eventually effect change in our health system. And once again Ms. Stanley nailed it, criticizing the film for what wasn’t there (based on Farrah’s diary narration) and understanding that it was supposed to have been.
She also seemed to distinguish Farrah from Farrah’s Story. She wrote that “the film isn’t as nearly as brave or as serious-minded as its cancer-stricken subject.”
But the film that Farrah and I were close to completing was as brave and as serious minded as she was. Because this project was a total reflection of her—and not Ryan O’Neal or Alana Stewart. And the fact that NBC allowed Ryan and Alana to do what they did, with significant help from an ex, unemployed NBC Dateline producer who Farrah had previously rejected, is still staggering to me. The rest of the reviews I read were as bad if not worse. At that point, I really didn’t think my promise to Farrah—of a nomination much less an Emmy—would come true. But there was one glimmer of hope. Most of the reviewers appreciated Farrah herself. Her bravery.
What changes would you make to NBC’s cut? Would you cut out some of the more graphic “death” scenes?
Absolutely. Because that’s sinking to the levels of the tabloids. It’s what Farrah was against. Like the scene with her son, Redmond, in chains and shackles, when he comes to visit Farrah, who does not appear to be conscious. And the various scenes from her last trip to Germany, which Alana withheld in order to try to get more money and a better credit. Farrah doesn’t appear to be completely lucid in that footage. And since neither Farrah nor I was ever shown that video to approve its inclusion, well, I think it was in bad taste and totally exploitative of everyone.
Doesn’t sound like you’re going to drop your lawsuit anytime soon?
I’m not. I can’t. Farrah trusted me. She was a good partner and a good person. A lot of fun as a friend. She was a talented actress and artist. And an inspiration to millions around the world—not just fans but also her fellow cancer patients and their families.
* * *
Alana ignored Farrah’s wishes as to who she entrusted to make decisions and violated her right to privacy in doing so. Nowhere is that more evident than when she shot Farrah barely conscious— if she was conscious at all— in her bedroom. Her own bedroom. Again, Farrah was fine with having everything (related to cancer) filmed in order to consider its use. But that was only with the knowledge that the footage was going directly to me and no one else, including NBC. It was a betrayal.
* * *
Ryan and I had never fought, at least not to my knowledge. In fact, Farrah was always amazed that we got along because she said that Ryan didn’t like most of the people in her life. Anyway, he was going on and on. But I never raised my voice—again, as far as I was concerned we had nothing to fight about. But Ryan saw it differently. His final words to me that day were the final words he has ever spoken to me: 'If you take me on, I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you in Farrah’s life and then I’ll kill you in real life!' Then he hung up.
Read Retroality.tv's complete interview with Craig Nevius here and here.