Producer Alain Bernheim
I spoke by phone with producer and former literary agent Alain Bernheim May 21, 2002.
Luke: "How did you come to produce Billy Wilder's last movie Buddy Buddy?"
Alain: "I'd known Billy for many years. I came back to Los Angeles from France in 1980. Lorimar asked me to package movies. They were primarily a TV production company.
"Buddy Buddy was a remake of a 1973 French film L'Emerdeur (The Bore), written by Francis Veber. Walter Matthau was interested if I could get Wilder. I got Wilder and showed him the French movie. He signed on and MGM made the movie.
"It was fabulous and frustrating working with Billy Wilder. It was difficult for me, never having made a movie, to contradict him. I'd see where some jokes weren't working and I'd give him my thoughts. He'd say, 'Those are good thoughts. Let me think about it over the weekend.' Then he'd come back and say, 'Your ideas are good ones but my approach is better.' And I wasn't about to say no to Billy Wilder. His body of work (Seven Year Itch, Stalag 17) was much more impressive than mine.
"I was pleased with Buddy Buddy the movie but I was not pleased with the box office. Matthau was not right to play the killer.
"Producing wasn't what I thought it would be. Producing independently is not satisfying today. You have to go with your hat in your hand to get money for a script. Then you have to get a director and stars. It's a juggling act that gets tedious. I sometimes regret leaving the agency business because it was more direct and active. As a producer, you're waiting for the telephone to ring.
"I executive produced Yes Giorgio (1982). A young producer Peter Fetterman had this idea of doing a picture with Luciano Pavarotti and he needed help. I was at MGM. David Begelman liked opera. We got the script to Pavarotti and he said yes. I didn't have much to do with the creative part. The problem was that Pavarotti is not a leading man and he shouldn't have played the lover, which is what he wanted to do. We thought that at least the opera fans would come but they didn't.
"Racing With the Moon (1984) was an idea of mine. I found this young writer Steve Kloves, who wrote the Harry Potter films. My partner John Kohn, who just passed away, was the line producer.
From Imdb.com: "Henry and Nicky are small town pals from blue collar families with only a short time before they ship off to World War II. Henry begins romancing new-to-town Caddie Winger, believing her to be wealthy. Mischievious and irresponsible, Nicky gets into trouble which forces the other two to become involved, testing their relationship, as well as the friendship between the boys."
Alain: "Return to Paradise (1998) was a brutal remake of the French film Force Majeure."
Luke: "I've met many producers who are still going strong in their 70s."
Alain: "It is easier for producers [to work in Hollywood as they age] than writers, directors and actors, who, as soon as they get white hair, the studio executives get scared.
"I like romantic comedies. I don't like murder stories or whodunits or special effects things. I like to make things that I would want to see, things about people and relationships."