When Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman behaved like groupies

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Friday, March 4, 2011; 6:54 PM

On behalf of my 1970s Post colleagues, I take exception to actor Robert Redford's claim that "All the President's Men" was not filmed in the Post newsroom because "it was all giggling women and people doing their makeup and a general feeling of disorder" [Style, March 3].

As I recall, we threw them out. Filmmakers may have seen the problem as our distracting them from what they doubtless considered to be more important work, but, oddly enough, we thought the opposite.

In the name of research, Mr. Redford and Dustin Hoffman were the ones who behaved like groupies. I remember the verdict of the female reporters of the time as being that Mr. Redford was not as good-looking as Bob Woodward. We were better disposed toward Mr. Hoffman after someone asked him sneeringly if he thought he had gotten the hang of being a reporter, and he replied, "I think so. Can I borrow $10?"

The set they built elsewhere was eerily accurate, and Post people who visited it said they knew just where to look for bathrooms and cigarette machines. Much was made about its displaying "authentic trash." When the real newsroom was still under consideration, we were warned that a camera might pick up something libelous from the trash (I never quite understood how that would work), so boxes were issued to reporters with instructions to fill them with their carefully vetted trash.

I complained about not being assigned a box, only to be told scornfully, "Well, just look at your desk!" (There was nothing on it but a neat stack of that day's work and a china teacup and saucer.) So I assisted my friend Tom Donnelly, who was then critic-at-large for Style and a champion slob. He tried to dump in his Selectric typewriter, which he considered too sissy for a real newspaperman. We did manage, with great glee, to top it off with a plastic, see-through, obviously unopened package of publicity shots of Mr. Redford from his previous movie.

Mind you, we all loved the movie when we were shown a preview. We had always wondered how it would be possible to make our lives of telephoning around and having doors shut on us seem glamorous.

Judith Martin, Washington

Judith Martin writes the syndicated column Miss Manners, which appears in The Post.


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