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'Dangerous Evidence' details case of rape, race and a Marine

June 16, 1995|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

A multimedia company has an option on the story, but its fate remains unsettled, Mr. Cohen says. Gossip columnist Liz Smith recently reported that actress Whoopi Goldberg might be interested in the role of Lori Jackson.

Mr. Cohen, a 1963 graduate of Forest Park High School, is also the co-author, with Jina Bacarr, of "Avenue of the Stars," a fictional account of a Japanese takeover of a major Hollywood studio.

He says he dreamed up the plot while picketing -- on the street of the title -- during the six-month Writer's Guild strike in 1988.

Coincidentally, but fortuitously for later sales, Mr. Cohen says, the day before the novel was sold to NAL-Dutton in 1989, Sony Corp. purchased Columbia Studios.

Mr. Cohen became so deeply involved in the Scott case that he eventually became part of the story. "I couldn't write myself in the third person," he says, explaining how he came to hire Mr. Shapiro, a London-based "professional ghost," to write the second part "and polish the manuscript."

Mr. Cohen -- who earned an associate's degree in communications from what was then Baltimore Junior College, with an Army hitch sandwiched between college years -- started out in public relations. He worked for the former Club Venus, the Jewish Community Center and the old Hochschild Kohn department store, and produced radio commercials. Mr. Cohen says he fell in love with producing, the job of bringing disparate elements together to create a finished product.

He polished his craft at New York ad agencies and at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, where he produced )) two New York Emmy Awards shows.

From there, Mr. Cohen went to work in the in-house movie and miniseries division of CBS, where he called on his own childhood days to produce his 1979 hit film, "Aunt Mary," starring Jean Stapleton as the poor and handicapped woman coaching neighborhood baseball teams.

His other TV movies are "First Steps," an account of pioneering experiments allowing paraplegics to walk again; and "Love, Mary," the story of a young woman who overcame a background of delinquency, a learning disability and a serious stroke to become a doctor at age 35.

Mr. Cohen has been away from Baltimore for more than 20 years. He occasionally visits his parents, Leonard and Selma Cohen, and his younger brother, Jerome, an aspiring screenwriter, but has no desire to return permanently.

What he really misses, he says, is New York -- even more so since he was nearly killed in the Northridge earthquake that rocked the Los Angeles area on Jan. 17, 1994.

"I broke my left foot in that. My whole place fell in on me," Mr. Cohen said. "I'm scared after nearly being killed. I'm scared all the time now."

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