Producer Alexander Tabrizi
I was watching football at David Poland's house early Sunday afternoon 10/6/02. The games were lame. David called his producer-friend Alexander Tabrizi. "I've got someone I want you to meet."
Thirty minutes later, Alexander shows up. From Iran, Tabrizi has lived in the United States since 1970, when he was 14 years of age, he says.
David insults Alex about coloring his hair. David says Alex fears getting old. David aggressively slings the barbs Alex's way but the Persian doesn't fight back. He's a gentle soul, a superb schmoozer and a loveable hustler. He's produced about 15 films for negligible box office
Alex: "I've always had a passion to be in the entertainment business. I started as a [rock drummer] musician [in the Florida group Goldfinger] and actor but I realized that I liked to be in charge."
Luke: "Which of your movies has had the most meaning for you?"
Alex: "The first one is always the big one. You think it is a miracle. Screwballs . Roger Corman was in favor of helping me. The picture was made for $500,000 and grossed $12 million domestically. It became a franchise. They made four movies back to back. I didn't get a piece of it. To see my name as executive producer on the screen was exciting."
The credit doesn't show up on Imdb.com.
Tabrizi's first credit on Imdb.com is as co-producer of the 1985 film "The Lost Empire." According to a review on Imdb.com, the film "is trash in perfection! The costumes (none of the female "actress" wears one...), the set decoration and the special F/X are more than lousy (even for the 80s standard!) and will remind you sometimes on the old Ed Wood-movies!"
Alexander next made the poorly reviewed 1987 movie Beach Fever. Also in 1987, he chose to associate produce Body Slam (directed by Hal Needham) instead of Oliver Stone's Platoon. Other projects Tabrizi worked to make but never succeeded include On Golden Pond, and Total Recall.
SpiderPants writes on Imdb.com about Body Slam: "Whomever wrote this film is in dire need of some intelligence. But that utter lack of brains, that total undeniable inability to comprehend anything filled with wit or satire, made for one of the most laughable films I have ever witnessed in my life."
Alex: "When the American Film Market [a week-long film festival in Santa Monica for independent films] started , became a film buyer. I also became head of [acquisition for] a video company, Media Home Entertainment. It was the first time the industry recognized the value of video."
Tabrizi helped produce 1984's Exterminator 2 for Cannon and MGM.
Alex: "We not only acquired the videos of other companies, we financed our own. I had access to about a dozen [major] projects including On Golden Pond, Total Recall, and Platoon. I tried to get them funded. When you lose the rights on projects, you move on.
"This was my aggressive period. I was part of a distribution company and an independent producer."
David lowers the volume on the football games and listens to our interview with a smirk on his face.
Luke: "Do you have people in the industry that you look to as mentors, that you try to model yourself after?"
Alex: "David Lean, William Wyler, Peter Yates, Steven Spielberg, Brian de Palma, Martin Scorsese... These guys had tremendous affect."
Luke: "Any one movie most break your heart?"
Alex: "I had Platoon in my hand and I tried for one year to get it financed. I believed in it so much. I even wanted to make it in Kenya. I raised $4.5 million to do it. I had a choice - either make Body Slam with Hal Needham as director (fresh after Cannonball Run) and Oliver Stone and Platoon. So I decided to go with Body Slam. The same company financed both of them. Platoon grossed $400 million and won a Best Picture Oscar and Body Slam [Alex's biggest budgeted film] opened [theatrically] in one state - Nevada.
"I didn't think that another gory Vietnam film was going to do that well. Nobody was buying. It had a bunch of unknown actors in it. Who was Charlie Sheen? Who was Tom Berenger? Willem DeFoe? Oliver Stone had just finished Salvador."
Luke: "Why does David diss you so much?"
David: "When did I diss him? All I said was, I want you to meet Alexander. You will find out all you need to know about Alexander from Alexander. You should know him because Luke has an interest in producers.
"The amazing Mr. Tabrizi - the man with a different hair color [every time you see him] and all the special accessories of Alex being Alex."
David takes us to lunch at the crowded Urth Caffee on Melrose Blvd. We meet their friend Dr. Steve Burres, a plastic surgeon who appears to have had a frightening number of plastic surgeries on his face. The scars are rampant.
Steve writes exploitation screenplays that have yet to be produced.
Steve: "Alex has people skills unlike any I've seen before."
Alexander spots a cute girl walking by. "Hi honey, how are you?"
Steve laughs: "He's a great communicator. He could get a phone number from a fire hydrant."
Luke to Alex: "David says you were at a bar showing the Miami Dolphins football game and you were passing out your card to every attractive woman in the place?"
Alex: "I don't pass them out. They ask for it. Politely I give it to them. They want to know who I am."
Luke: "David, is that your recollection?"
David: "No. Alex works the fair sex really hard. He does get numbers. Remarkably they do hang around him."
Dr. Jolly writes on Imdb.com about Alex's 1993 film Save Me: "[Harry] Hamlin and [Lysette] Anthony are having sex every five minutes, and soon, the movie becomes another Cinemax romp fest. Being male, I did enjoy seeing the naked Anthony a few times, but visual stimulus can only last so long. Hamlin and Ironside are TV actors, which means they are stuck in character roles (in this case as lawyers which is even worse). Overall, if you flip over to the channel playing this one and catch Anthony nude, you're lucky, because it's the only reason to watch this one."
Alexander is a master schmoozer and has elaborate theories on male and female psychology. David and Steve crack up.
Steve: "Alex is friendly with everyone. He never has anything bad to say about anyone. I don't know if you want to put those things. Mostly you're probably looking to put in something nasty."
Alex: "Elie Samaha is a hard-working guy but he's not to be trusted. I had to sue him. I won.
"Mark Damon is one of my favorite salesmen ever. He financed a couple of movies [Save Me and Cyborg 2] and gave me a fair shake. He has a great taste for marketing. You don't see that much money from him but he does well."
Luke keeps prompting Alex with names. "Stacey Snider?"
Alex: "I met her through Ron Meyer and Jeff Korshack [head of business affairs at Universal]. She's always been wonderful to me. She always assigns top executives to work with me project by project.
"I met Ron Meyer when he was an agent with William Morris in 1977. We became good friends."
Luke: "How was your one experience as a director?"
Alex: "Beach Fever was my original idea. I put it together with a semi-professional team..but somehow my team did not support me as I had hoped. Believe me, I am better than a lot of them [directors] out there."
Luke nudges the conversation to David Poland. Alex says many nice things about him and adds, "He should do a lot better than where he is at now."
David to Alex: "What percentage of people you run into want to be in the industry?"
Alex: "Eighty five percent."
Steve and David rib Alex about his unwillingness to pick up checks. Today he pays David Poland $5 for his bowl of soup.
Alex: "Everybody in Hollywood likes to be taken care of."
Luke: "Do you resent the number of Jews in the industry?"
Alex, a secular Muslim: "No. I like them all."
Luke: "To what do you attribute David's fascination with your hair?"
Alex: "David likes grey hair on people."
David: "No, I like colors that are naturally in nature."
Steve: "People constantly adjust their appearance. When you go out in the sun to get a tan, you're adjusting your appearance."
Luke: "To what do you attribute Hollywood's wall of silence to your screenplays?"
Steve: "Because I am a nobody. Hollywood would rather do a fifth remake of Peter Pan than take a nobody's script."
Luke: "Have you ever offered Alex any of your scripts?"
Steve: "I sure have. And he couldn't raise $200,000 for me to make another beach movie [The Making Of Bikini Space Aliens] with lots of nudity in it."
Alex: "I'm not interested in making low budget movies. It's hard work and there's no money involved, particularly sex and exploitation."
Steve offered the movie to famed distributor Omar Kaczmarczyk, but Omar demanded the lead role in the movie before he'd finance it. But I'm not allowed to write about this. Steve and David are cackling.
Steve: "I was going to put up half the money... Then this guy who looked like Jabbar the Hun [Omar] was going to be the leading man in the movie, I decided this wasn't going to be."
Luke to Steve: "Do you ever go around to chicks and hand out business cards and say, 'Your breasts look a little saggy?'"
Steve: "I never get patients from handing out business cards. They need to hear about you from somebody else."
David explains to Steve: "The fifth question Luke asked was whether I'd ever received a blowjob from a publicist in exchange for killing a story."
Steve is most fond of pursuing attractive members of the fairer sex.
Luke to Alex: "Are there any films you've made in which you were not happy with the creative result?"
Alex: "Almost every one of them. Most of it is about not having enough money and time."
Luke: "Are you embarrassed by any of the films you made?"
Alex: "Not at all."
Luke: "David, what do you think are Alex's strengths as a producer?"
David: "He's very tall [about 5'7"] and his hair is fabulous.
"Alex is a relationship builder and a consensus builder and he brings people together. So many people put up with the foibles that Alex has because ultimately he brings people together. You meet interesting people when you spend time with Alex. Like so much of Hollywood, he's a hustler, which can be said of the people who made Carolco. Terminator 3 is a hustle deal. There's no artistic inspiration there. It's all about money. It's a picture they can pre-finance overseas. They've already paid for the movie. It will probably be the most expensive movie ever made but it's already in profit because of overseas sales.
"Alexander has grown steadily over the years from Beach Fever level. It's all based on his relationships."
Alex: "If you don't have a dream, you have nothing in this world. Eventually I'm going to hit big. Winston Churchill said, failure to failure is not a loss. When you lose your passion, that's a loss. I have not lost my passion."
David Poland orders a large slice of cheesecake. Alex and Steve take large spoonfulls.
Alex: "David is not afraid of gaining weight."
Steve: "Alex is a healthy eater and he brushes his teeth after every meal and he does not have a cavity in his mouth."
Alex: "One of the best ways to help yourself healthwise... You have no idea how much your mouth breeds bacteria. If you don't clean, that bacteria causes sickness in your system. You have to spend a minimum of five minutes a day to clean your mouth."
Luke: "Are you afraid of the Gay Mafia?"
Alex: "I am not afraid. They are great people."
Luke: "David, what did you think of Alex's movie Strip Search?"
David: "Strip Search is an interesting picture because it is schizophrenic. It's a crazed sexual art film about the underbelly of Montreal. At the same time, it's a low budget crap fest.
"I saw Beach Fever before I knew Alexander. USA played it all night because it was such a fabulous piece of junk.
"I met Alex through watching a Miami Dolphins game at a bar."
Luke: "Have you ever slipped him a script of yours?"
David: "One time I gave him one of my low-budget horror comedy screenplays but he didn't really get it."
Alex: "It wasn't ready. The script didn't work. David has good concepts but that is not enough."
Steve: "I've never met a girl through writing a script."
Luke: "Do you prefer real or fake breasts?"
Steve: "Real breasts still have the advantage."
Alex says he doesn't fear growing old.
David: "I think he fears anyone else perceiving him getting old. He feels he must be young to attract young women. The film industry is not kind to people who are aging."
Alex: "Show business is to be forever young."
Alex prefers to date women aged 21-30. David prefers to date women 25-40.
Alex: "I've found that women choose you, not you them. They do tend to hang out with me. Last night I had dinner with four of them at Jerry's Deli."
David and Steve wonder who picked up the check. Alex paid part of the bill.
Alex wants to settle down, marry and have kids in the next two years. David and Steve double over with laughter.
David: "One of the best things Alex is suited for is child rearing."
Alex says he does not do drugs and he does not drink. He loves Las Vegas "because they give you a double whammy of oxygen [in the hotels] and I get high from it."
Luke: "Do you visit the brothels in Nevada?"
Alex: "Not at all. I've never paid for sex."
David: "Alex has not paid for anything at all."
Luke: "How many women have you been with in your life?"
Alex won't answer.
Steve aggressively to Luke: "Why did you ask? Did you go to journalism school?"
Luke: "A little bit."
Steve: "Did you drop out?"
Luke: "Everyone told me not to major in it."
Steve: "So you are an educational fuck-up?
"Why should any of us read your book? Do you have any verification of any of this information that you've gotten from Alex? Do we have any case to rely on your integrity to properly portray Alex? Do you have any credentials that we can rely on that you will be accurate?"
Luke: "More questions."
Steve: "We haven't gotten any answers yet."
Luke: "I'm not giving any answers."
David: "He's [Steve] not bitter at all."
Steve: "I'm just asking. If he's going to ask you about your blowjobs, whatever..."
Alex: "To say you have been with so many women is insulting to women. It's not a manly thing to say. It's how many women respect you. All the ladies I know, they're all my friends. If you're sexual, it's private.
"These guys [David and Steve], if they see a woman, they never see her again. I see them over and over."
David says that's an inaccurate assessment of his love life.
Alex: "I can walk around the block and run into three beautiful women and they will say hi to me. Can you do that?"
Alex: "You know why they say hi to me? I'll teach you one day."
Steve: "He's right. They will. He has a gift. He can walk up to a table of five girls and start talking out of nowhere. The rest of us would feel that they would shut us down or ignore us and he will break through that barrier. And they will give him their phone number."
Alex asks David if he should see Red Dragon.
David: "You'll probably think it's ok."
David thinks it is a piece of crap.
Luke: "How would you describe Alex's taste?"
David: "Incomprehensible at times. Alex likes gentler films."
Alex: "I don't like dark edgy movies. I like simpler stories with a good message, a good soul, a good heart."
I'm with Alex on that. We both like Big Fat Greek Wedding while neither Steve nor David have seen the film.
David says he cried at a number of films at the Toronto Film Festival.
Alex says he's unbothered that his films have received brutal reviews.
Steve wonders if Roger Ebert praises so many black movies because he has a black wife.
Luke: "Do you think if critics gave more thumbs down to black movies there would be another LA Riots?"
Alex, Steve and David say that's ridiculous.
Luke: "Do you feel intimidated when reviewing certain ethnic movies that the group might come to your home and burn it down if they don't like your review?"
David: "That's absurd. I do think that reviewers are sensitive that they might be accused of racism if they go after certain films."