It wasn’t really until Chris Wallace hit him with questions about his supposed business fumbles and four bankruptcies that Trump seemed to crack. I wondered if Chris had seen any of the long suppressed and just released documentary called TRUMP: WHAT’S THE DEAL?, produced by Al Levin and Libby Handros back in 1989-90. Donald robotically repeated the fact that he’s done hundreds of deals and it was only 4 times that he used bankruptcy laws to protect himself and screw his investors. He was seething. Here was his real Achilles heel. The man who boasts being the greatest deal maker has plenty of bad deals buried in his closet. As he grew redder and more irate, I flashed back to seeing him in a similar state of agitation, screaming at my father.
It was in the fall of 1998, a few years after my father had completed the documentary expose. Trump threatened to sue and the film was never released. Meanwhile my film SLAM had just opened in New York City and there was an after party at a club downtown.
I had never seen my father engage in physical violence, so it was quite a shock to witness him on the verge of a fist fight with anyone, let alone The Donald. The evening had already gotten tense when one of Puff Daddy's security guards had pulled a gun back stage during an argument between the rapper Black Rob, who had done a song for SLAM, and one of the other scheduled performers.
Then Donald Trump arrived with a small entourage and was greeted by one of our producers who had invited them. At some point Trump recognized my father and confronted him. "Weren't you making that hatchet job documentary - are you following me?" Soon they were shouting at each other. All of a sudden, my father, who at this point was considered an almost saintly non violent godfather to our tribe, and Trump were pushing each other. A body guard separated them and the evening proceeded without further trouble.
To me it was living proof that the Donald can blow up any party and has always been able to offend even the most benevolent tolerant open minded folks. How the Republican base, the media, and the American public ultimately react to his candidacy remains to be seen, although this morning’s headline in the NY Daily News read: MAD MAN.
But now that the film TRUMP: WHAT’S THE DEAL? is finally seeing the light of day, that question may be asked by many others besides Chris Wallace. If so my dad, who passed away in 2006, may finally land a solid blow to the Trump myth and earn a well deserved last laugh.
Then again, if Trump goes on to win the Republican nomination, everyone better watch this documentary. Or else …
Mano y Mano with Trump
by Marc Levin
Watching the Republican Presidential candidates go mano y mano with Donald Trump in last night’s first debate, I recall a night almost 20 years ago when I witnessed a face off between the Donald and my father, Al Levin.
Right from the opening question, last night was classic Trump. He alone raised his hand to make it clear who he really represents – the party of Trump and his money. Center stage and grim faced he seemed to regard the other Republican candidates as puppets and pygmies. His bombastic unorthodoxy is part of his appeal. He didn’t apologize for being a misogynist to Megan Kelly and he tossed off contrarian zingers like how single payer health care seems to work pretty well in Canada or that he’s the only one on the stage who was against the Iraq war. Unfortunately as the evening progressed, Trump and every other candidate seemed to be campaigning for another Mid East war, this time against Iran.
To watch the film, please visit