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The priest that introduced Margaret to the medium George Anderson against the wishes of the Catholic church
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Articles by Margaret Wendt

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Nevins Rules by Julie Salamon

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Another day, I find Nevins on the telephone talking to Gerardine Wurzburg,   producer-director of a documentary called "Graduating Peter," about the   experiences of a boy with Down syndrome who is enrolled in a local public   school. It is a follow-up to Wurzburg's 1992 film, "Educating Peter," filmed   when he was in third grade. The movie won an Academy Award.

Nevins motions for me to come into her office, but doesn't tell Wurzburg   until several minutes later that a reporter is eavesdropping. The discussion has   been heated because Nevins has offered the opinion that it was a mistake for   Peter to be mainstreamed. She thinks Wurzburg presents an overly optimistic view   of how other children in the school have adapted to Peter, who at 18 can barely   speak coherently and can't tie his shoelaces.

"I think if I had a mildly retarded child, I'd be furious at this film,"   Nevins says. "They're taking a child who should be in a special facility and   trying to be mainstreamed, but this kid is so extremely retarded he can't make   it at all."

Wurzburg's disembodied voice sounds tense on the speakerphone: "Yeah. It's   complicated."

A vehement discussion ensues, covering broad questions of social policy   toward mentally disabled people and Peter's specific case. Nevins is bothered   because she didn't empathize with Peter. "I must be heartless," she says   brusquely.

After a pause, Wurzburg asks, "Are you going to pull the film?"

Without hesitation, Nevins says: "No, we aren't going to pull it, but we   have to help audiences and critics. A low-watched film should be high applause.   Three people watch, and they all say yea."

A meeting with Nevins is almost always a theatrical event, and I sense her   meetings go pretty much the same whether a reporter is present or not. One   morning, she invites me to join her and Nancy Abraham, almost nine months   pregnant, at a breakfast meeting at HBO with Claire Sanders and Margaret Wendt,   who are pitching a show called "To Hell and Back," which they describe as   "the dark side of near-death experiences."

Wendt, who says she has produced documentaries about the paranormal for   Discovery's TLC and A&E, describes interviews with people who claimed they   had seen hell. Wendt has just flown in on the red-eye from Los Angeles and talks   with the hypercharge of the overtired.

"How do they know they've had a glimpse of hell?" Abraham asks.

Wendt offers many examples, faster and faster, as she sees that she is losing   her audience. Then she mentions that her late husband helped introduce Velcro.

Nevins stops looking bored and begins peppering Wendt with questions. Was he   rich? Does she have a lover now? How did they meet?

Finally, Nevins says: "I like you Margaret, but are you ready for me to be   direct? This project borders on the edge of crackpot."

Wendt is unfazed. Without missing a beat, she reaches into her bag and to the   astonishment of her partner pulls out another pitch. "O.K. Can I show you   something else? Castration by law."

Nevins bursts out laughing. "What happened to the devil and hell?"

Abraham, looking at the castration by law pitch, neatly bound for   presentation, says, "Didn't we already do this?"

The two HBO women discuss why they think they have previously rejected a show   on the subject of legal castration, but they can't remember.

"Sheila, don't you want to work with Claire and I?" Wendt asks.

"I like you," Nevins says. "I don't know if I want to work with you, but I   like to talk to you. You're exploratory, insane and you're Catholic. I like that   good and evil thing."

On another morning, I find Nevins curled on a couch in her office, on the   speakerphone with Randy Barbato about "Monica in Black and White," which will   kick off this spring's "America Undercover Sundays" series. It will soon   become another example of Nevins's and HBO's uncanny ability to generate buzz.   At the television critics' press tour in Pasadena in January, Lewinsky will be   brought close to tears by nasty questions from critics who wonder why she is   appearing in a documentary if she wants to stay out of the limelight.

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It has been brought to our attention that Margaret is being portrayed as a psychic on $1.99 sites. These sites are doing so without Margaret's permission. Margaret has not claimed she is a psychic. - MW