The unlikely producers of "Rape and Marriage -- The Rideout Case," a former Louisanan named Blue Andre, 34, and a former Londoner, Vanessa Greene, 26, (their Blue-Greene Productions has no credits) captapulted to prime-time TV in one brash swoop.
Based largely on transcripts of courtroom testimoney, "Rape and Marriage," directed by Peter Levin and written by Hesper Anderson, was shot in 17 days for $1.7 million. CBS thinks enough of its potential drawing power to put it on at the beginning of a ratings sweep period.
The two producers had followed newspaper accounts of the Rideout case in 1978 with the idea of somehow producing the story. "It blew us away when they reconciled," Andre said.
They borrowed money, drove to Salem, Ore., rented a motel room and arranged to take Greta, John and Jenny Rideout and the couple's lawyers to dinner, and to make their bid for Greta Rideout's rights. Lorimar Productons already had an option on John Rideout's rights.
The two women returned to their motel room later and at midnight heard banging on the door, Greene recalled. "I said, 'Who is it?' They said, 'It's John, Greta and the baby.'"
"They told us they had come back to us because we were the only producers they had met who wore jeans," Andre said.
They sat on the bed and negotiated. "We told them we wanted to tell the story in an interview, that there were always two sides," Andre said.
About 5 a.m., Greta agreed to give them an option on her rights.
"When they left the room, we were like two schoolgirls," Greene said, "screaming and jumping in the air and dancing around the room."
Then began phase two in Los Angeles.
"Deals had to be negotiated," Andre said. "John's deal with Lorimar, Greta's deal with Blue-Greene, Blue-Greene's deal with Lorimar, and Lorimar's and Blue-Greene's deal with CBS."
Since Lorimar had John Rideout's rights and Blue-Greene had Greta Rideout's rights, there was a marriage of producers.
CBS and Lorimar "didn't want to give Greta the things we had told her we'd give her," Andre said. "We had to fight for her. Someone else might have sold her down the river."
It was a two-way street. "We wouldn't have had a prayer in hell if we didn't have Greta," Andre said. "She was our only card."
"We were two little goldfish and we were in a bowl with barracuda," Greenee added. "Nobody took us seriously. It was, The girls did this, the girls' did that. Oh, the girls got the rights to Greta. How nice.'"
In the spring of 1979, when writer Anderson, Greene and Andre arrived in Salem for a week of research, they interviewed principals in the case from their motel.
Rideout refused to be interviewed in the motel room, fearing it was bugged, and the three women became convinced that their activities were being monitored.
Bill Bebout, columnist for the Salem Statesman-Journal, who gave Andre and Greene assistance while they were there, is convinced the women were paranoid. "I don't think anyone was watching them," he said. "The district attorney's office didn't care what they were doing."
The fear was real, however. "We were three women in this godforsaken motel in this horrible town and we were scared," Greene said.
The producers found Rideout "a scared little boy trying to keep control of something inside," Greene said. "The only way we could deal with him was in a nonsexual way. Maternalism worked extremely well."
The producers say they arrived in Salem with an open mind but came back believing that rape had occurred and that the Salem legal community was dominated by "a group of lawyers who just decided they didn't like this law [marriage is not a defense in a rape case] and they just didn't want it."
And Andre added, "We were real nervous when Lee Rich [Lorimar's president] saw it. After it was over, all he said was, 'Ladies, you did a great job and you'll get a big share.' Then he swept out of the room."
Greta Rideout now lives with her daughter somewhere in Oregon, but she won't say where. She plans to go to college and study journalism, but she won't say which college. She is now using her maiden name, but she does not want the name in the paper.
She sounded frightened. John Rideout doesn't know where she is, and she doesn't want a lot of publicity. "I don't plan to expose myself beyond this interview," she said. "I've put everything behind me."