Thursday, March 11, 2004

It's Only Hollywood, Baby

"Alan Pakula once told me one of the truest stories I have ever heard about film journalists."

" When Sophie's Choice was coming out, one of the news magazines sent a writer to do a major feature on me. He came to my office to do the interview, and, during it, he told me about a script he had written. He just happened to have it with him and he gave it to me.

"Three days later, he called me and asked me if I had a chance to read his script yet. He told me that he was in the middle of writing his profile about me.

"I knew what he was doing: he was shaking me down. While he was in the middle of writing this profile of me which would be read by millions of people, he was asking me what I thought of his script.

""I told him that I'd been very busy, but hoped to read his script that weekend -- which I knew was past his deadline for submitting my profile.

"'Oh,' he said, sounding disappointed, 'I was hoping you'd have it read before then.'

"I thought about it. A favorable profile in a magazine with that kind of mega-circulation would certainly help the movie. I was worried about Sophie's box office anyway. The subject matter itself would scare some people off.

"I called him back and told him that I'd finished reading his script and loved it. I told him that I wanted to produce it -- not direct it, but produce it like I had produced other movies earlier in my career.

"'Oh,' he said, sounding disappointed, 'I was hoping you would direct it."

"I called him back the next morning and told him I thought about it some more. I told him I liked the script so much I wanted to direct it. As my next movie.

"There was a pause and he said 'I hear you're an honorable man. Do I have your word on that?'

"'Absolutely, ' I said to him, 'I give you my word. You've written a brilliant script.'

";Thank you,' he said, 'this is probably the greatest moment of my life. By the way, I think you are going to like the profile I am writing."

"We made plans to get together in a week -- way past his deadline -- to celebrate.

"When the profile came out, it was long, glowing, and flattering and I'm sure it helped the movie's success."

"He called me after the article came out and he kept calling me for days, but I wouldn't take his calls."

"He sent me an anonymous note in the mail, but I have no doubt it came from him.

"All it said was 'You fucked me masterfully. I applaud you. I deserved it.'"

Joe Eszterhas, Hollywood Animal, p.117-18

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