Oliver Stone On The Crimes Of Wall Street

Aaron Ross Sorkin dines with Oliver Stone at the favorite lunch-spot of Wall Street titans — and Stone doesn’t disappoint in his dissection of the crimes of the rich and famous! From the New York Times:

“You know, half the people in this place could be prosecuted.”

Oliver Stone, the film director, was sitting across from me over a late lunch in the Grill Room of the Four Seasons restaurant in Midtown Manhattan last week.

In one corner was Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman of the Blackstone Group; Felix Rohatyn, a special adviser to the chairman of Lazard, was leaving as I was coming in, as was Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp. And Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup — “the mother of all evil,” Mr. Stone said with a wry smile — had just dashed out.

If one man epitomizes the populist view of Wall Street and corporate America, it is Mr. Stone, whose new film, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” opens next week. It is the sequel to his hit movie “Wall Street” in 1987. The original tapped into the zeitgeist of the moment — “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” as Gordon Gekko said — by capturing the lust for money and power that led to the market’s crash.

Two years after the height of the latest financial crisis — Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the wee hours of Sept. 15 — the country is still grappling with the aftermath of a period that looks suspiciously similar to the one Mr. Stone depicted two decades ago.

And so it seemed only fitting that we were having lunch at the epicenter of what’s left of moguldom, surrounded by the real-life characters who populate Wall Street. For a moment, I’m a bit worried Mr. Stone won’t be able to keep his food down.

“Look, Wall Street’s gone crazy. It’s banking on steroids,” Mr. Stone said, getting a bit irritated. “Banks don’t mean what they did. When I was a kid, you had a savings account; you made 3 to 4 percent. Now you make zero, and Goldman Sachs is a bank holding company.”

If Wall Street is ever going to overcome the distrust that so much of the public has about the finance industry, it is going to have to win over the likes of Mr. Stone, whose father worked as a broker under Mr. Weill.

While the industry may think Mr. Stone’s point of view is radical — “Stone must be a communist here, a liberal; a liberal is worse than a communist,” he said of himself, talking in the third person — it is a perspective that has gained, not lost, momentum in large parts of nation’s populous, irrespective of political party or ideology. Wall Street as villain, it seems, has bipartisan support…

[continues in the New York Times]

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