My latest column, The Iceberg Cometh, is about Jeff Berg and ICM’s purchase of the Broder, Webb, Chervin, Silbermann Agency. Here’s how it starts:
“Those who knew him as an abnormally normal teenager say that Jeff Berg never betrayed any burning ambitions while growing up in wealthy Brentwood. But, one day in 1965, the Uni High senior came home from school and, instead of going up to his room to study, went to the garage and grabbed a rope. He tied one end to the iron grating of the family home’s second-story balcony, wrapped the other end around his waist like a mountain climber, and began to hoist himself upward hand over hand. But halfway to the top, Berg’s knot gave out. He dropped some 15 feet to the ground and fractured both wrists. His parents were stunned that evening to find their son with huge plaster casts on both arms. But they were even more shocked when they heard his explanation: Unbeknownst to anyone, Berg had spent most of the year contemplating joining the CIA, the Green Berets or the Marines in hopes of becoming some sort of Special Forces–like operative, and this had been a training exercise. Ironically, the double injury kept him out of the Vietnam War. Instead, Berg enrolled at Berkeley. He talked about going on to graduate school, getting a … Read More »
He covered so much more territory than Hollywood as the columnist for the Los Angeles legal newspaper Daily Journal. But Garry Abrams was the sharpest truthteller about the entertainment business’ many legal scrapes I’ve ever known. He was also my friend, and he died after a long battle with cancer (Cedars-Sinai photo of him below). I spoke to his wife last week and, inbetween my tears, and her courage, we laughed. Which was fitting, because Garry and I used to laugh a lot about the craziness that is Hollywood. I first met him when we shared a pod at the Los Angeles Times. Unlike myself, Garry was not openly confrontational; yet his subversive spirit surfaced regularly in a wry and well-timed comment here and there. Besides his keen mind and sharp writing, what I admired best about Garry was how he’d managed to stay both a normal person and a tough journalist. When he left and eventually landed at the Daily Journal and began his regular column, he seemed remarkedly content because he had almost total freedom. We reconnected when we covered the Katzenberg v Disney trial together off and on in 1999. When the court sessions ended, we trotted along the hallways, convulsed in laughter at the idiocy of all these bickering rich folk. But it wasn’t until my own legal squabble that I saw how much the legal community of Los Angeles respected Garry personally and … Read More »
The big question here is what are their real motives? What have they been promised? Hollywood woke up with a shock today: the Los Angeles Times reporting that Democratic loyalists Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban are supporting Republican incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger for California governor over the Democratic contender, state Treasurer Phil Angelides. (Interestingly, David Geffen’s name is not included with the other Dreamworks partners, indicating a difference of opinion.) The betrayal of the California Democratic Party in the name of “friendship” was confirmed by Andy Spahn, who was Dreamworks’ longtime politico before he went out on his own: “It started with a personal relationship. They are friends,” he told the LAT. Yeah, sure, and pigs fly. You and I know this must be all about business. Other Hollywood Democrats supporting Schwarzenegger include director Jerry Zucker, movie producer Jonathan Sheinberg, and deep-pocketed TV director and producer Bud Yorkin. I must say, I find this revolt especially revolting. Inexplicable is Saban’s reversal after he spent $200,000 fighting the 2003 recall election that was the basis for Arnold’s power grab, and is one of the Democratic National Committee’s largest donors. For these Hollywood moguls to be able to ignore Schwarzenegger’s broken promises and outright lies as a politician, not to mention his disgusting personal conduct over the years which he helped bury with the collusion of newspaper and magazine publishers, shows a political mindset where expediency obviously trumps integrity. (Just … Read More »
SUNDAY/SATURDAY/FRIDAY: I’m told Sony’s good-natured NASCAR spoof, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby First, victory lapped every movie at the box office for No. 1 passing $18 million Friday and $16 million Saturday for a fast-paced $47 million weekend. This is comic Will Ferrell’s biggest opening ever, exceeding his previous best Elf ($31 mil), and the 2nd biggest original comedy opening of all time behind Bruce Almighty. After decades of Hollywood looking down its collective nose at this 75-million-strong sporting phenomenon, Sony now becomes the second studio this summer to successfully tap into the NASCAR craze across America: Disney’s Cars was first (with $236 mil to date in grosses). This is Sony’s 8th Number One opening this year, and Talladega Nights will be the 7th best opening of the year among all product (behind sequels of Pirates, X Men, Ice Age, and Superman Returns and behind originals Cars and Da Vinci Code). Tracking on the generally well-reviewed pic showed a solid opening initially in the $30s (as in millions), so it did better-than-expected this weekend. (Weekend figures include Sunday estimates)
Other movies opening this weekend were Paramount’s kiddie fare Barnyard which was No. 2 with $5.4 mil on Friday and $5.5 on Saturday to finish the weekend with at least $15 mil. And Lionsgate’s The Descent (whose disgusting marketing campaign boasted it had more blood and gore than its previous horror film Saw) could only muster $8.5 mil for 5th place. Meanwhile, Disney’s Pirates … Read More »
My latest column, Too Fast And Too Furious, applies not just to Mel Gibson, but sanctimonious Hollywood, too. Many may think I hold a controversial opinion about this, but it’s mine and I’m entitled to it. And you’re entitled to disagree. Here’s how it starts out:
“Where is the Hollywood outrage? Where is the industrywide condemnation? No, I’m not talking about Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic slurs. I’m talking about the Lionsgate scandal. Its ads for its slasher flick opening this weekend set a new low by boasting — yes, boasting — about how this movie is way more disgusting than anything the studio has previously brought to the big screen. “People are concerned that the amount of blood and gore in horror films goes too far,” the deep-voiced announcer intones, barely heard above the barrage of shrieks and moans. “On August 4, the studio that brought you Saw and Hostel goes over the edge. The Descent, rated R.”
“Instead, the movie biz is consumed by the scandal of a dwarfish über-Catholic bigot with a fondness for blonde fans. Why, I haven’t witnessed so many power players this quick to kick a confessed alcoholic when he’s down and out, since, well, never. A guy who relapsed and drove near 90 miles an hour because he felt suicidal and wanted to wrap himself around a telephone pole (or so one … Read More »
Today, DHD passed 2,700,000 page views. Thank you so much.
Jon Fine writes the weekly column Media Centric for Business Week’s print edition and the daily blog Fine on Media at businessweek.com. Among the short list of blogs which Fine tells ExtremeMortman.com he reads regularly, daily or otherwise, is DHD. My best to him, and other media and entertainment figures who’ve been so supportive.
I’m told by a Mel Gibson insider that he has no plans for any TV interviews “anytime soon”. I do know that NBC’s Dateline is pulling together a Mel-in-crisis piece for this Sunday (they asked me to go on camera along with GMA, MSNBC & CBS, but I’ve declined all the TV requests cuz it’s unseemly.). So let’s look at the anchor sweepstakes for Gibson’s first on-camera mea culpa, shall we? This is my speculation, now, and not anyone’s close to Mel. Well, ABC canceled his Holocaust TV miniseries, so they’re probably out of the running (not to mention Barbara Walters’ diss on The View yesterday). And, depending on how that Dateline segment pans out, Brian Williams may be shut out. Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly has boasted repeatedly how the movie rights to one of his books was optioned by Gibson, so that could be a factor for The Factor. (Already, Bill’s doing the “Has It Been Fair Coverage?” angle.) A Mel and CNN’s Anderson Cooper pairing would end up as the battle of blue eyes. I can’t see Mel doing 60 Minutes, but I could imagine him sitting down with Katie Couric who’d chauffeur him around Malibu just to score the coup for CBS News. But my best guess is Gibson will go for the global, so the softest of softball questioners Larry King it is. (I’m hoping Larry can’t find a babysitter that night so Bob Costas fills in.) But before or after Mel’s inevitable appearance on Leno?
The Jewish community is starting to respond — some warmly, some more coldly — after Mel Gibson today admitted he made “vitriolic and harmful” anti-Semitic slurs, apologized to the Jewish community, and asked “for its help understanding where those vicious words came from.” I’m told by a source intimate with the Oscar-winning actor, director and producer that “there are some Jewish leaders who’ve reached out to him, and he has reached out to some Jewish leaders.” So far, the contacts are being kept private. But I’m told that’s been extremely difficult given the media frenzy around the slur scandal. ”A rabbi I won’t name but who represents a huge congregation emailed an offer to Mel to speak at a service. Before anyone could respond, a call came in from the media asking for comment on that offer,” the insider said. I’ve learned that call was from TMZ.com, which is now reporting the rabbi was David Baron of Temple of the Arts, the largest synagogue in the United States, and the offer was to speak at his temple on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
UPDATED: *The American Jewish Committee said it “welcomed” Mel Gibson’s apology to the Jewish community, but noted “that true contrition must stand the test of time.” Here’s the full statement from its website: “In the Jewish tradition, we are very receptive of repentance, but complete repentance is measured by actions, not just words, over time,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. “Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade when arrested for DUI last weekend was both outrageous and hurtful. While we appreciate his … Read More »
STATEMENT FROM MEL GIBSON on August 2, 2006: There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of Anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge. I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words. The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith. I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing. I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I … Read More »
I understand that ICM will be making a statement today re Mel Gibson. ICM decision not to make a statement today. The agency will keep Mel Gibson, its client of 18 years. More Hollywood power players speak up publicly about the slur scandal. Today’s Los Angeles Times beats The New York Times’ coverage of the Mel Gibson slur scandal fallout by a mile. That’s because of the article by Claudia Eller and Claire Hoffman featuring “several prominent Hollywood figures [who] broke the industry’s silence by publicly condemning the star.” Quoted first is Sony Pictures movie chairwoman Amy Pascal, who was the only studio chief to speak to the reporting pair on the record. “It’s incredibly disappointing that somebody of his stature would speak out that way, especially at this sensitive time,” she told the paper. Next was producer Arnon Milchan, an Israeli citizen, who said: “To make all of your money from Jews in Hollywood, and then have a few drinks and say you hate Jews, is shocking. If you are so upset with the Jews, don’t work for them.” Producer Jerry Weintraub is quoted calling Gibson “an old friend of mine. I am so sad, so hurt and so disappointed. I don’t have words to express it. I really feel bad for him as a human being. I never … Read More »