I interviewed Producer David Friendly (born 5/1/56) of Deep River Productions on July 9, 2002.
First I did my research:
LA TIMES, 1/5/00: In early drafts, the script of "Big Momma's House," an action-comedy starring Martin Lawrence that starts shooting next month, began with a violent motorcycle chase that left the streets of San Francisco strewn with bullet-riddled bodies. But thanks in part to the public outcry about violence in Hollywood after spring's massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School, that scene -- now excised from the script - - will never be filmed.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't influence us," said producer David Friendly, who is making the film -- about an FBI agent who poses as a Southern grandmother to catch an escaped killer -- for 20th Century Fox. "We talked about it, post-Columbine, and decided the scene was inappropriate to the movie and inappropriate for the time. We said, `This movie doesn't need it, we don't want it, let's take it out.' And it cost too much, anyway."
4/10/02 NEWSDAY: Movie folks love to "dis" the tube. They belittle it, or ignore it. Then they steal from it. The same week the big screen claimed "Shot in the Heart" as its own, Newsday reported, "Paramount Pictures wants to bring back 'The Honeymooners' as a movie - a contemporary movie at that."
How many ways is this brilliant notion insane? Let us count. Who can possibly match Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows, not to mention Art Carney? How will they re-create the Kramdens' Bensonhurst walkup in all its 1950s black- and-white sparseness? And then there's the series' touching simplicity of plot and complexity of emotion. (See above for how the big screen achieves "exquisite understanding" these days.) But here's the true terror. Producer David Friendly was quoted saying, "You can certainly expect to hear the term 'bang-zoom' a few times, and using the phrases and gestures and other staples of the show is critical."
Bang-zoom to you, dude! What makes the movie folks think they can "improve" on TV? And the best of TV, at that. They can't even get "Lost in Space" or "Leave It to Beaver" right. Every now and then, they'll catch a show' s essential flavor without aping its every move - in "The Fugitive" or our all-time TV-to-film fave, "The Brady Bunch Movie," which recognized its source material's absurd charm and reinvented it by sending it up.
From CNN September 22, 2001: "I do think you are going to find a lot of actors who say find me a movie that's set in America," says producer David Friendly. "Because they are, above all else, human beings. They want to be near their families. No one wants to be in a foreign land if another attack does occur.
"If an A-list movie star says he doesn't want to make a movie outside the country, then that movie is probably not going to get made outside the country."
Friendly, who produced "Big Mama's House," "Doctor Dolittle," and "Courage Under Fire," also believes Americans will be clamoring for more comedy and feel-good films.
"What I don't think you are going to see is a mirror image of what happened in New York (two) weeks ago," Friendly added. "That was a situation where the reality was much more disturbing, shocking and frightening than anything Hollywood could conjure up and that's rare."
From Daily Variety over the past ten years: Friendly said the [Honeymooners] movie would be updated and take place in the present. As a result, some of the dialogue may be altered because it now seems out of date and misogynistic. Ralph often threatened to belt Alice - he never did, of course - with famous lines like, "One of these days, Alice, pow, right in the kisser".
"Everyone, including Alice, knew he would never touch her. In fact, the women on the show were always far stronger than the men," Friendly said.
Bona Fide Prods brought "Joe College" to Deep River Prods., which optioned the book and will cover development costs through its $25 million overhead and development fund, in keeping with what Friendly calls the shingle's agenda to pursue "independent fare that has the potential to break through as mainstream entertainment."
DEEP RIVER PRODS: A longtime producer for 20th Century Fox, David Friendly took his exit from the studio lot last year in favor of finding backing from billionaire Marc Turtletaub. Together they have formed Deep River Prods. and are currently seeking foreign partners.
"The greatest upside is creative freedom," says former 20th Century Fox producer David Friendly.. The company has a $25 million war chest for overhead and development and later may move into production financing.
"When you have a partner who finances development, you get to test and flex your creative muscles. What can be a little frightening about the process is we won't know if we've done a good job until we take a script out and see if anyone agrees."
Friendly also says that he was surprised by the number of noncreative issues for which he was suddenly responsible, including such niceties as payrolls, health insurance and office space. "On the lot, there's a tremendous support system in the bureaucracy," he admits.
The deal, which calls for [William] Broyles to write an original script that either he or they hatch, comes out of a long relationship between Friendly and the writer.
"Bill was the editor of Newsweek when I came out of Northwestern to be a researcher for the business section," Friendly said. "I was the lowest guy in the organization and he was the highest. I was nervous just to get into the elevator with him."
The son of the broadcast journalism legend Fred Friendly, David Friendly left a writing job at the L.A. Times to work for Brian Grazer at Imagine, rising to president before moving on to produce films for John Davis, where his credits include "Dr. Dolittle," "Courage Under Fire" and "Daylight." He then got his own Fox deal, which led to "Here on Earth" and most recently, "Big Momma's House." After being a producer of five films in six years at Fox, Friendly was ending his studio deal when he met Turtletaub.
A former journalist, Friendly spent six years as a staff writer at Newsweek and two years at the LA Times. In 1987, Friendly joined Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment as a VP of motion pictures. He moved up the ranks, becoming production prexy in 1991. At Imagine, Friendly worked on such films as "Backdraft," "Kindergarten Cop," "The Dream Team" and "The Burbs." He also served as exec producer on "My Girl," "Greedy" and "The Chamber."
Producer David Friendly and wife Priscilla Nedd-Friendly [a movie editor who used to date Don Simpson] welcomed daughter Madeleine at Cedars-Sinai Saturday .
David: "Normally when I talk to a reporter, I have a single agenda. And I stick to my script, no matter what question I'm asked. This is different because it's for a book. But you have to be careful in what you say for publication. I've said a throwaway line and it has come back to haunt me."
On background, Friendly gives me a sizzling example.
Luke: "Good quote."
David: "It was a good quote but it was upsetting to them. I busted them a bit. And in the end I thought, 'Not very smart.' I wouldn't do it again because I need to work with these people. I'm getting a minute of pleasure for a pithy quote that ultimately could've endangered my long-term relationship.
"I inherited my father's tendency to sometimes say what is on my mind. Because that was an issue that bugged me."
Luke: "Like Ovitz and the Gay Mafia quote. Many people in the industry talk about the Gay Mafia, they just don't do it on the record."
David: "Exactly. And for good reason."
Luke: "Because you get your head handed to you."
David laughs: "Your job is to get those people to say those things that they wouldn't normally say."
We discuss my first book about sex in film.
David: "I know people who are adverse to doing a movie with any action. They're not into violence on the screen. They feel it contributes to violence in the culture. So you say, well, you can do comedy and drama. But look at what movies are working today. Bourne Identity. The Minority Report. Action is a big part of the American movie-going experience. And so is sex. Imagine if you had to eliminate that. You'd be fighting with one hand behind your back against people using two hands.
"So what's your thesis in this book?"
Luke: "I don't have one. Just that it is about the different kinds of producers."
David: "There is no specific definition of a modern day producer. Many producers do it in different ways and many of them are successful are doing it differently. I was trained under Brian Grazer. He was my mentor and boss and the person who recruited me from the halls of journalism into the plusher halls of show business. Brian is a very different producer from a Scott Rudin who is very different from Jerry Bruckheimer. Yet they are all wildly successful.
"I have been intimately involved in all my movies. And I want to change this so I can make more movies. I'm not trusting enough to turn that over to other people. But the guys that get five movies a year done have whole systems so they can delegate. I'm trying to get to that place because I have aspirations to be a bigger producer. But I've found that it is highly important to be around all phases of producing a movie.
"For instance, on Big Momma's House, I sat next to Director Raja Gosnell every day, from first shot to last shot. It was good to have a second opinion there. Directors get so caught up in the technical and what they need to accomplish to have the scenes cut together that it is good to have somebody like a producer sitting there to say that this didn't play quite as funny as we thought... Or did you notice that he's wearing the hat differently in this take... It's good to have someone to manage the outsized personalities.
"Some producers don't go to the set. You can't criticize it. It's just a different way of doing it.
"For me, the creative satisfaction is having input in the process. If I'm not there, it's hard to have input, either in the present or later, because you don't have the credibility of having been around. For example, Betty Thomas, who directed Dr. Dolittle, is a character. She's eccentric, prickly and funny with strong opinions. We would dailies every day on this eight-wheeler truck. If you weren't at dailies, how would you possibly have a strong point of view about how you wanted to shoot the movie? Unless your philosophy is: I develop the project. I put the elements together. I let them go make the movie."
Luke: "Like Bob Kosberg, the pitch man."
David: "He sells ideas. That's different from producing."
Luke: "He still gets the credit."
David: "That's the thing that still makes producers a little crazy because you have this broad spectrum of people who call themselves producers. It's like anybody can have a business card printed and describe their occupation as producer. The people that I look up to - the Brian Grazers, the Doug Wicks, the Scott Rudins - these people are not here to go to premieres and cocktail parties. They're creating movies."
Luke: "But a Brian Grazer is not on the set."
David: "He has built an infrastructure. When he and Ron Howard were starting out, creating movies for Paramount together like Night Shift, he was on the set. But as his system grew, and he got more financial wherewithal, he was able to recruit a team of people he trusts and he lets them do their job. Who can quibble with his success?
"Dick Zanuck is about 75 years old and he goes to the sets. He lives on the movies he produces."
Luke: "What did you think of the movie The Player?"
David: "It was exaggerated. People have gone to great lengths to sell ideas in this town but the goofier approaches usually don't work. There was a point where David Permut sent out a pitch on videotape and he sold it.
"You can bracket the different types of producers. There are the salesmen [like David Permut, Bob Kosberg], the creative producers, the line producers... I pride myself on being a creative producer. On the first day of production, that becomes the director's movie. I get to come back in in post-production but when we're making the movie, there can be only one boss on that set. And that boss has to be the director.
"There's an old expression that in pre-production, the producer holds the gun. And on the first day of production, he hands the gun to the director. I live by that rule. My job is to keep that director calm and focused.
"When we were doing Courage Under Fire, I was in Texas with [Director] Ed Zwick. We were shooting a scene next to a private airport. It was an intense scene between Denzel Washington and Matt Damon. Denzel was interviewing this kid and finding out that he was hiding things about his drug use. Every take was getting blown by these little airplanes. After one particularly rough take that had been going well and then was blown because of sound, Ed Zwick took his headphones off, threw them to the ground and stamped on them. It was like watching a kid have a temper tantrum. Then he said, 'You're the f---ing producer. Do something about this.'
"To that point, he and I had this brother to brother relationship. I decided to send one of our PAs to the terminal, a 1000 yards away, with a walky talkie. And ask the air traffic controller to wait to send the planes between the takes. And it ended up working out.
"I left my home a week after my son was born and I spent six months in Texas on Courage Under Fire. My family joined me for one month."
Luke: "How did you meet your wife [Priscilla Nedd-Friendly]?"
David: "She's a film editor. I was an executive at Imagine Entertainment. I was overseeing The Dream Team starring Michael Keaton. We had a music supervisor named Becky Mancuso, who was a good friend of my wife. I was having dinner one night with Becky. She said, 'Oh, I want to bring this friend of mine.' It wasn't a setup or anything. We quickly struck up a relationship. We've been married eleven years."
Luke: "How do you feel about her having a hyphenated name?"
David: "It's fine with me. That's her choice. I love seeing her name on the credits with 'Friendly' at the end. I've learned about movies from being married to an editor. Studio executives want to have input but because they don't get to produce the movie or experience the editing process, their opportunities to have input are based on a couple of screenings. That's not to say their opinion isn't valid but it's not from within the eye of the storm.
"A producer like Jerry Bruckheimer is close to being a director. He's proactive, both in the process of making a movie and especially in post-production. In many of his movies, he'll work with directors who are controllable."
Luke: "When you were a kid, what were your career ambitions?"
David: "I grew up in the shadow of a famous journalist. My father was a larger-than-life human being devoted to his journalistic mission. I thought that was my path. I edited my high school newspaper. I went to Northwestern [outside of Chicago], which has an excellent journalism school. While at Northwestern, as a sophomore, I got the producing bug by becoming the concert chairman. I had an office and I was on the phones to the coast every day and I got Billboard magazine and I loved putting on a show. I produced concerts with the Beach Boys and Jethro Tull and The Grateful Dead. My ego came out. I made it part of the deal that any band played Northwestern, I had to introduce them or we wouldn't do the deal.
"At the same time, I produced a radio show that was hosted by the dean of the journalism school. When I graduated, I had a couple of offers to work for big Chicago concert promoters. But because of the influence of my father, and my major, it didn't seem serious enough. So at age 22, I got a summer internship at Newsweek and I stayed there for six years (1978-84). I was one of the youngest staff writers in the history of the magazine. It was a crazy job because they had reporters out in the field sending in files and then you as a staff writer compile everything and boil it down to six paragraphs. So from Monday to Thursday, you're sending out queries and monitoring the reporting, and then Friday morning, the pressure was on. It was not what I wanted to be doing. It froze me. It was too much too soon.
"I wanted to be a reporter, out in the field interviewing people. I didn't want to be sitting in a little office in New York writing up files. So I transferred to the LA Times covering Hollywood.
"What got frustrating for me as a journalist was that I got tired of observing life and I wanted to participate in life. I was 30 years old and I out interviewing people in my same age group who were driving BMWs and had big beautiful offices. And then I'd drive back to this windowless cubicle at the LA Times. It wasn't exciting enough for me. I had bigger dreams. And, I don't think I was as good at journalism as I wanted to be."
Luke: "You had a once-a-week column like Patrick Goldstein."
David: "Mine was called First Look. His is The Big Picture. I look at his column all the time and I can always tell when he was out of ideas and he does some story, like a couple of weeks ago, about a father-son producing team. You do that when you're stuck. That's just the run of the mill profile. I don't begrudge him. It's hard, even if it is just once a week, to come up with a good column."
Luke: "Did you break any stories?"
David: "I did a Sunday Calendar story about the leaders at Disney. I called them 'Team Disney' and the label wound up sticking. It was all about the new regime at Disney. The lead was about this black convertible mustang rolling into the lot at 6AM. It was all about Katzenberg and his crew. I was proud of the fact that they started calling themselves Team Disney.
"I also did a piece on why there hasn't been a Godfather III. Later there was one. I did some controversial stuff. My column got a lot of attention. I concentrated on the business. I wasn't interested in doing profiles of stars. I tried to give the reader a window into the day to day process of movie making.
"I did a piece about writer Dale Launer (Ruthless People, Blind Date). He didn't have an agent. He did his own deals. David Permut was producing Blind Date with him. And I published Launer's fee, which at the time was about $150,000. The head of the studio, Jeff Sagansky, didn't want that published. That was the angriest any source got at me. I remember holding the phone two feet from my ear, with Jeff screaming away: 'You've made it impossible for Tri-Star to do business in this town.' It was like something out of a movie. It was great. And all I'd done was print the number that David Permut had shown me."
Luke: "Were you ever conscious of writing beat sweeteners?"
David: "I've never heard that term. It's great. A story that would help your relationship with an important source. I don't think I ever consciously set out to do a puff piece on a guy, but there were people I was definitely seduced by. My favorite source was veteran producer Larry Gordon. He always spoke the truth from his standpoint and he is an incredible raconteur. He represented what appealed to me about the movie business - large than life characters who were fearless. This guy gave the best quotes. Everything was wrapped in a wonderful anecdote. There was a Southern accent on the end of the phone. He remains a good friend and a mentor. He was the kind of guy I'd give a lot of breaks to because he was so entertaining.
"The best ones understand that they have a job to do when they talk to the press, and that's to entertain.
"Some of these guys were just so tough. I remember going to a lunch at Paramount. And Barry Diller was running the studio. There were a couple of dozen people at the lunch. I was introduced to Barry Diller. I said to the head of publicity, Deborah Rosen, for five minutes with Mr. Diller for a piece. She told me to be at his office at 2:30PM. Now it was 1:15.
"So I went to his office. I walked in. He was sitting at this desk that devoid of any paper. He was looking at a legal pad. When I walked in, he said, 'And you are?' It was a naked power move. It was jarring to me. Why is he saying this to me? I had just met this guy an hour ago. And I'm the press, who everybody courts in this town. It rattled me. I don't remember what the story was about but I remember that moment because it was somebody demonstrating power and freezing you."
Luke: "Did you ever withhold writing something you believed to be true and accurate and you just didn't want to burn a source?"
David: "If something I thought was germane to the story, I'd figure out a way to tell it. If I had to shade it, by not identifying the source, I would say, 'one industry observer...' I wasn't out to embarrass people or cost anybody their job but I wrote some tough pieces."
Luke: "Did anyone you write about come back to haunt you as a producer?"
David: "No. In fact, the opposite. When I started working for Imagine, I had a two year deal. Shortly after I started in 1987, there was a writer's strike. You could not meet with writers. And when you're a young development executive, that is what you do. Your day is meeting writers. I was sitting in my office when I got this call from Brian Grazer. He said, 'What's going on?' I said, 'Not that much. I can't meet with any writers because of the strike.' And he said, 'Don't think we're going to keep you around just because there's a writers strike. You better go out and find a movie for us.' I was petrified. When I hung up the phone, I was shaking. I'd just given up a nine-year career in journalism and now I was being told that if I didn't find a movie, I was going to be out on my ass. I couldn't go back to journalism.
"I called a young agent at CAA. I said I need to get to other sources of movies. He said he'd slip me a list of every producer in Hollywood and I could go see if they had any projects they'd want to bring to Imagine. I got to Rafaella De Laurentiis, who I had profiled in my column. It had a famous picture of her with her feet up on her desk, barefoot. I called her. 'Rafaella, I've got to come see you. I'm coming over. I need a script.'
"I came to her office. She was running DEG at the time, DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, for her father Dino. She said, 'Look, I don't really have anything that you would do. I've got this one movie about firemen but you guys wouldn't do it.' I said, 'Sounds great. Let me read it.' I read it and I gave it to Brian and Ron [Howard]. Over the weekend, everyone at the company read it. On Monday morning, they went around the table at the staff meeting. Everyone was dumping on it. It gets around to me. I said, 'I would make it. It's a strong concept. People are interested in what firemen do.' And Brian said, 'Yeah, I like it too and so does Ron.' Ron then took it on to direct.
"After the meeting, Brian came to my office and high fived me. So in a five day period, I went from the verge of being fired to being the hero. And a lot of that came from having a relationship with Rafaella."
Luke: "How did you come to Imagine?"
David: "About every Monday, I would call about 25 different people in the business. And Brian was one of them. He courted the press. After about two years at the LA Times, I was interested in crossing over. Somebody said to Brian, 'You could hire this guy.' We ended up having a drink at the Sportsmen's Lodge. We had another meeting and he offered me a job at his new company.
"It was a fantastic place to learn. Brian and Ron are two of the most successful people in the history of the business. I was there for seven years, eventually becoming president of production. But ultimately it is the Ron and Brian show, as it should be, and I hit the glass ceiling. I left there and partnered with John Davis, who was a producer at Fox. I wanted to produce movies. I didn't want to be just a guy running a company. There was no chance to have your own byline.
"John came after me to run his company and to produce the movies with him. In three years, we produced four movies together: Daylight, Out to Sea, Courage Under Fire and Dr. Dolittle.
"By going to live on the movie set of Courage Under Fire, my first call and last call of every day was to Laura Ziskin [who ran Fox 2000]. That was a difficult movie. Through that experience, Laura said I'd done a good job and she would give me a producing deal. I said, I definitely want that. And that's how I got the opportunity to open up Friendly Productions."
Luke: "Do producers share techniques with each other?"
David: "Producers talk to each other about challenges and frustrations and out of that you get a sense of how the other people do it. But like a good poker player, they're not going to give away all their moves. Different producers have different attitudes about it. I loved about Brian that he would go to movie theaters to watch movies with the public. He would not go to premieres. It made him uncomfortable to sit there with his competitors.
"You have these relationships with other producers but you're in friendly competition with them. Michael Caton-Jones is going to direct this movie I'm doing with Pierce Brosnan [Laws of Attraction]. Michael is off the market now. He's not available to other producers."
Luke: "Were you excited about all the movies you made or were some just a job?"
David: "I had a movie that didn't work, Here on Earth, but I was really passionate about it because it was my idea. Those are the ones that I get most excited about - when I generate the concept and turn it into an actual movie. Laws of Attraction is an idea of mine to do a modern day's Adams Rib about two divorce attorneys who can't stand each other and fall in love on opposite sides of the case.
"Once you decide to make a movie, you have to be passionate about it or it doesn't get made. Producing is pushing a boulder up a hill every day. And the boulder weighs two tons and I weigh 170 pounds. If I don't have the passion, I can't push that boulder up the hill. The studio or financier that greenlights the movie, if they don't sense that in the producer, they are not going to make the movie."
Luke: "Is it possible to make an intelligent movie at a studio?"
David: "It all depends. I look back on Courage Under Fire as a smart
movie. Laura Ziskin championed the movie. It was a problematic story to
tell because it had this rashamon quality. I come from the studio world.
I'm now doing my first independent film, Little Miss Sunshine. I don't
like vast generalizations of any kind. American Beauty was a studio movie.
Good work comes from many different places."
David: "At the time, I wanted to attract a different kind of script than I had normally been associated with. Sometimes you say things that are salesmanship. We have a mix of movies here. There are the mainstream high concept comedies that are my bailiwick but we're also drawn to independent fare. My partner would rather make independent movies. But the mainstream movies pay the bills.
"I'm like every other producer. You're looking for a great script. You're looking for a script that wows you and seduces you. You don't categorize studio or independent. You're just trying to find good stories like a journalist is trying to find good stories. I don't think you set out to say, 'Well, this is where the story is going to come from.' You do 100 interviews and maybe the guy you did as a favor for somebody turns out to be the best interview. It's hard to go in and prefab the movie.
"What's great about independent features is that there are less rules. There are still plenty of rules but there are less of them. You can get away with more things and they don't have to be so event driven. Studios today are into event movies. Look at what's out there - Men in Black II, Stuart Little II. Sequels, high concept saleable entities that can become a theme park attraction. The independent world is more about interesting characters and dynamic situations but it doesn't have to be high concept.
"It's hard to get a movie made, like American Beauty, by a studio. But when it is made, it is great because they put the same marketing muscle behind it as they would behind a regular feature. The Road to Perdition looks like an independent movie that's being sold by a studio. That's the best of both worlds."
Luke: "Is your pecking order among your peers totally calibrated according to box office results?"
David: "I don't think so. Mark Johnson, for instance, is the epitome of the class producer. He's done a range of material. But he's not Jerry Bruckheimer. He doesn't have Jerry's economic success but I respect him equally. I'd like to achieve the economic success of a Brian Grazer or a Jerry Bruckheimer but I'm more drawn to the kinds of movies that Brian does than the movies that Jerry does.
"There are a handful of producers out there who can make what they want to make - Scott Rudin, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer... When they call a studio head and say, 'I want to make this movie,' the studio head will generally trust their taste. That's true power because most of us have to sell all the time. Then the response comes back, 'The idea sounds good. Write the script. Get us a star.' You get the star and then you have to get a director."
Luke: "The movies you've made reflect you and your taste?"
David: "Somewhat. There are movies I would have liked to have made but haven't that I feel best reflect my taste. I wanted to produce Dr. Dolittle because at the time my kids were small and I wanted to make a movie that would make them smile and that they would watch over and over again.
"I love comedy. I find it to be a tonic for the world. But I like comedies with heart. I don't like doing big broad dumb comedy. Bob Simons has the market cornered on those. Growing up, I was drawn to much darker fare. I think the best movies our business has ever made were in the early '70s - The Deer Hunter, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The French Connection, The Godfather. With all the technology and everything available to us today, I don't think the movies are as good. Yet I don't want to make those dark movies. I have a family now and I'm sheepish about violence. I'm not quite to the point where I think that violence in movies contributes to violence in society but I'm not drawn to: 'In this scene, do we want the guy strangled with a wire or we should just have him shove a knife into the back of his hand.'
"We change as people. You bring a family into the world and your tastes change and what you want out of a movie changes. I want to make movies that my kids can see. I'm proud of what I've done but I don't think I've done what I'm capable of doing."
Luke: "Another of the Variety stories about you said Deep River was seeking foreign partners. Have you found that?"
David: "No. One of the things you learn when you start a company from the scratch, the game plan is constantly in flux."
Luke: "In many ways, we have less freedom to create today than we
did 30 years ago."
Luke: "Have you found yourself running into things that are forbidden?"
David: "Not really. Our tastes are mainstream. Little Miss Sunshine is a movie about a family going through a beauty pageant in south Florida with a little girl. We have to be very careful how we deal with that because of the Jon Benet Ramsey incident. It's not a movie about beauty pageants. It's a movie about a family coming together, but there's a scene at the end of the movie where she dances at a pageant and we have to be careful how we treat that. We've had a lot of discussion about that."
Luke: "Why are studios so afraid of themes of organized religion? In a country as religious as the United States, you'd think that if you wanted to make family entertainment, you'd do some religious themes."
David: "A lot of the conflict in the world today is based on religious differences. A lot of the terrorism that we're facing now has its origins in religion. Studios want to avoid risk. To them, the world of religion is fraught with risk. The Last Temptation of Christ..."
Luke: "That was a blasphemous movie... Most producers don't get it because they're not active in an organized religion."
David: "There was picketing and controversy but they had Marty Scorsese saying he wanted to make a movie and he's everybody's favorite director in this town. We don't turn him down.
"I've never been a particularly religious person. I grew up Jewish in New York. I went to Hebrew school. I was Bar Mitzvahed in a Reform temple. I take Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off and go to services. My wife who is not Jewish comes with me and really enjoys it... So I'm now drawn to those projects. I don't find them entertaining. I associate religion with history. I wouldn't make a movie about history either unless it has great conflict at the center."
Luke: "Yet 40% of Americans go to religious services weekly."
David: "Bowling is the most popular sport in America, yet nobody is making bowling movies."