Born in 1951, Brian Grazer grew up in Northridge, California. His father was a criminal defense lawyer. Grazer describes his upbringing as the TV show "Leave it to Beaver".
Brian was a poor student. He made it to law school at USC, working nights as a short-order cook on the night shift at Howard Johnson's.
He eventually got a job as a law clerk at Warner Bros. He dropped out of law school in 1972 and was hired by Edgar J. Scherick.
"He was alert, he was cute, he seemed ambitious," says Scherick. "He seemed like a nice young man with a good future. Turned out he was very opportunistic. He was always expanding his range of contacts, always cultivating people. He was very aggressive. The minute he started working for me, he was out to work for Brian Grazer. Nothing wrong with that. One day, he told me he was dissatisfied. We talked for half an hour and I gave him a raise. The next day, he quit. Why? You tell me." (The New Yorker, 10/15/01)
Larissa MacFarquhar writes: "What set Grazer apart from everybody else was his crazy tenacity. People insulted him, ignored him, and rejected him, but he persisted. He could take a level of humiliation that other people couldn't. When he was trying to sell Splash, he so infuriated an executive at United Artists that she told him him to go away, lose her number, and never, ever call her again. Ten minutes afterward, he phoned her back as though nothing had happened, and she was so astounded that she talked to him. Later, she bought the movie." (TNY, 10/15/01)
After landing a TV production deal at Paramount, where he met actor-director Ron Howard. They formed a production company, Imagine Entertainment, in 1986. "Grazer is the bad cop who cajoles, threatens, and punishes, allowing Howard to live with his family on the East Coast and be the nicest guy in the business.
A Hollywood player says: "Unlike his Ivy League educated peers, Brian Grazer is essentially a street hustler. He doesn't read much. There's a feral (wild, savage, not domesticated) quality about him."
Chris Mankiewicz says: "I remember associate producing a movie that Brian Grazer produced - 1986's Armed and Dangerous. It was a real piece of caca doodoo. And Brian Grazer was never there except for when we had a really dirty sexy scene with a girl he was interested in taking a look at... And when they were doing a studio publicity thing about the making of the movie, suddenly he wanted to be there because he wanted to show everybody he was the producer."
Until the remake of the The Nutty Professor and Liar, Liar, Grazer had not produced a hit that was not directed by his business partner Ron Howard. Grazer has long been known for broad comedies while Howard has been known for making middle-brow movies.
"Grazer likes to make movies that are both hip and wholesome, but, if there is a conflict between the two, wholesome will win. Grazer does not make films for the peevish cosmopolitan. In his movies...the main character always possesses some noble attribute, and his flaws are always redeemed by love. The classic Grazer movie is a sweet but brisk comedy that is structured like amusical: a simple story line provides connections between scenes in which the star spins free of the plot into the thrilling, maniacal spasms that exhibit his particular genius.
"Grazer's taste is consistent through every aspect of his life. Even his house is like his movies - simple, colorful, big." (TNY 10/15/01)
Brian son Riley, was born in 1986, daughter Sage, was born in 1988, and son Thomas in 1999.
Grazer likes to wander on this his film sets incognito and see how people treat him. Often they are rude. He enjoys firing such people, or at least seeing the expressions on their faces when they learn who he is. (TNY)
Grazer has said that he is "completely impervious to rejection."
Brian Grazer did not answer my repeated requests for an interview.
Grazer told the 2/5/01 edition of Newsweek: "After my first success - after Splash - I was intoxicated to the state of just about euphoria for six months. And then I realized that people were still going to say no to the things that I wanted, no matter now smart I thought I was. This is what put it in perspective for me. At the time, Steven Spielberg was getting put into turnaround [i.e., put on hold] for E.T. - after Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I thought, 'Wow, even this guy is getting put into turnaround.'"
Grazer says he's a nervous wreck on the day his movie opens. "I just have anxiety the entire day. At night I go from theater to theater. I get drunk usually every time, because I am so neurotic about the whole thing. And then I wake up at 5 or %;30 the next morning, and they either say it worked or it didn't work.
"Because The Grinch was unusually successful, I got a lot of people that called and wrote letters. I don't know if I really buy it, but it feels better than the other... When I've had a movie that didn't do well at all, I've had people call and say, "How are you feeling? How are you doing?" I had one person try to develop an intimacy with me because, "I don't want to be there just when things are great." And it's like, "Well, you weren't." People just want to know: what does the pain feel like? They're dying for you to show your pain."
At the beginning of his career, according to the 10/15/01 issue of The New Yorker, Grazer pondered what sort of man he should be. "Should I be liked, or not? Should I comb my hair and wear a suit, or should I wear jeans and be quirky? I saw that powerful people in Hollywood want to talk about themselves and have a ton of opinions, so I thought, Should I be that guy? Or should I be the guy who asks questions all the time? Which guy should I be?"
Grazer decided to be the listener. He decided to charm rather than intimidate. He went on to make movies that grossed over four billion dollars, making him one of the the industry's three most powerful producers along with Gerry Bruckheimer and Scott Rudin.
In the year 2001, Grazer was developing a movie about the life of Hugh Hefner. Brian was fascinated that Hugh could sleep with thousands of women and they all seemed to like him afterwards. Most guys couldn't break up with one woman without making her hate him, he thought.
"Grazer is a man of maxims. He believes that the game of life has rules, and the person who discovers the most rules and observes them faithfully will win. Over the years, Grazer has developed a detailed code of conduct that covers nearly every aspect of his life, and even now he rehearses his rules with a superstitious fervor." (TNY 10/15/01)
Todd Jones writes on alt.video.dvd: "The perfect example of why the Producer is NOT a creative force: Gale Anne Hurd. She was the Producer of The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss. Wow, sounds impressive, right? Wrong, she was JUST the Producer. After she had a falling out with James Cameron, the director of the Terminator, Aliens, and Abyss, Cameron went on to direct T2: Judgment Day, True Lies, and Titanic. Gale Anne Hurd went on to produce such classics of modern cinema as Switchback and The Relic. Watch any making-of documentary or listen to any commentary track with a Producer on it to realize that Producers are just shmoozing phone jockeys who don't have an ounce of talent in them, except maybe for finding money. A recent favorite is the Lost Moon documentary, in which Producer Brian Grazer basically says that he didn't [know] that there was an Apollo program, and says, "I don't read much. I'm very intuitive.""