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Producer Donald Zuckerman

I sat down with producer Donald Zuckerman at Lulu's restaurant on Beverly and La Brea Blvds in Los Angeles Monday morning, January 21, 2002.

Donald ate salmon on bagel and I ate an eggless tofu omelette.

Donald: "There are a couple of major film markets each year - the AFM in Santa Monica, the Cannes Film Festival, Mifed in Milan and now the London festival has overtaken Mifed in importance. Apparently [the distributor which was originally slated to distribute Zuckerman's 2001 $8 million film The Man From Elysian Fields] didn't show up for the first two days of the London screening. We missed a big opportunity. The people at Gold Circle Films [financiers] were livid.

"We shot the movie during the last three months of 2000 and finished the editing July of 2001. Toronto was our big festival for selling it. I was in New York a couple of days before. I ended up waiting in line for three hours on September 12, and rented a car and drove to Toronto. When the planes hit the World Trade Center September 11th, I was on 86th St and Madison Ave in upper Manhattan.

"Roger Ebert writing January 17th called The Man From Elysian Fields the best film he'd seen at the Sundance Festival. Samuel Goldwyn will give the film a domestic theatrical release in October 2002. It's an ideal time because the Rolling Stones 40th anniversary tour is in the fall and Mick Jagger has a lead in the film. He plays the owner of an escort service."

Luke: "And you've got your foreign and video and broadcast rights sold?"

Donald: "No, very little has been sold because of the problems with [the initial distributor]."

Luke: "You work a lot with director George Hickenlooper."

Donald: "We're starting another picture April 1. I met George in 1994 at the New Directors series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He'd directed a short film called Slingblade which became the first act of Billy Bob Thornton's Slingblade.

"I'd come out to Los Angeles in 1990 to open a nightclub. I had a club in New York that I was going to clone here. I found a space, rented a space, went through the Liquor license process and ultimately decided not to do it. My friends suggested that I stay and become a movie producer. I asked, 'What does a producer do?' And they said, 'Exactly what you do.'

"I didn't know about the independent film world at that time. I optioned a book about [Mexican painter] Frida Kahlo and sold it to New Line. They developed it and almost made it. Miramax is making a movie now about Frida but not ours. I made two other deals with New Line and produced a play I sold to Columbia Tri Star. Then I did a deal with HBO. And nothing ever got made. For the first time in my life, I felt defeated.

"Then I went back to New York to produce the extreme fighting shows which got a lot of press. If it wasn't for Senator John McCain was all over us, following us all over the place creating problems with politicians... It's all over television today. We were a couple of years ahead... We kept on losing distribution.

"When I was in danger of getting kicked out of New York, I held a press conference. I hired 12 picketers, who I had hired but they didn't know they were working for me, carrying signs, 'Stop this blood sport. Somebody will die. Stop this before it is too late.' I knew two kids at Columbia who paid these other kids $100 each to come down and protest. I wanted to get as much press as I could."

CNN offers this profile of producer and star Andy Garcia.

FilmStew.com reports: Marking the first sale of the Sundance Film Festival, which kicked off last Thursday night, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Fireworks Pictures has purchased distribution rights to The Man From Elysian Fields for an undisclosed sum. Samuel Goldwyn Jr., who heads Goldwyn, has been eyeing the film with Fireworks for about six weeks, but just recently sealed the deal in time to make the announcement on the first day of the festival.

Despite the list of established actors, it's Jagger who steals the show. His performance as Tiller shows his diversity as an actor. Goldwyn told Reuters, "He's (Jagger) been trying to have a movie career for years, and this is going to give him that career."

In its March 2001 issue, Los Angeles Magazine profiled casting director Heidi Levitt who cast The Man From Elysian Fields. Here's an excerpt from that article:

TWO YEARS AGO, PRODUCERS Donald Zuckerman and Andrew Pfeffer received a spec screenplay from a television writer named Phil Lasker, who had once cranked out jokes for Bob Hope and produced The Golden Girls. In Lasker's script, titled The Man from Elysian Fields, a struggling novelist secretly takes a job at a male escort agency in order to support his family and becomes entangled with the wife of a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. The project, which Hickenlooper describes, in typical Hollywood fashion, as a cross between American Beauty and Being There, attracted the attention of Andy Garcia, who agreed to star in and produce the film for a fee of a million dollars if Lasker would tone down the sexuality.

Garcia asked Hickenlooper to direct the project after seeing The Big Brass Ring, his adaptation of an Orson Welles script, on Show-time in 1999. Hickenlooper tapped Levitt to cast it. The producers secured financing from Kronemyer's Gold Circle Films, a Beverly Hills firm backed by one of the founders of Gateway Computers.

Levitt, who had worked with the director and the producers on previous projects, agreed to do Elysian with the understanding that casting wouldn't be dictated by foreign market concerns. "That's where it gets really awful," she says. On Pfeffer and Zuckerman's last film, the as yet unreleased Beat, starring Courtney Love, Levitt felt her work was undermined by the producers' obsession with names. Nevertheless, she respected them for getting films made at all, and she especially liked Hickenlooper for being, in her words, "a very real guy." Besides, she says, sitting in her office before a meeting with the other principals, "I'm a softie."

Donald: "I decided that I would make a movie like I was going to open a nightclub. Make it small, get the money and do it. The day after meeting George, he showed me a screenplay, which we could make for $300,000. We made a deal a day later and six weeks later, we were in LA making the [1994] movie The Low Life. George likes the theme of writers.

"Dog Town [1997] turned out all right."

Luke: "It seemed like an interesting premise."

Donald: "It seemed like it when we started doing. Nobody sets out to make a movie that is not really good. But most movies aren't really good.

"Thick as Thieves [1999]. This writer, Arthur Krystal, called me. He said he'd read this out of print book and that I could buy it cheaply and he'd like to adapt it. I called the writer's agent and struck a deal. A couple of days later, this kid John Steingart called me and said he wanted to option the movie. He took me to lunch in New York, said he had a director for the project, Scott Sanders, an unknown. The guy said he could bring Alec Baldwin to the part. Then he fessed up that they [Jon and Glenn Zoller] had already written [Scott Sanders] the screenplay but they didn't hold the book. They assumed that if the book was out of print, nobody would option it. I read the screenplay and it was good. So I made a deal with them contingent on Alec coming to the party.

"We had an agreement with October Films that if the film tested well, they would release it theatrically. So they tested it in Washington D.C. in a black urban audience where the film was a sophisticated caper movie that wasn't going to appeal to 18-year old urban kids. So it premiered on HBO.

"By then my partner [Andrew Pfeffer] and I were on to our next project, Big Brass Ring, based on the last screenplay by Orson Welles. We kept the offices, the same line producers, the same crew... I have mixed-feelings about the movie. I think the script is better than the movie. It has a complicated story and it was hard to tell."

Born and raised in New Jersey, Zuckerman attended the small private school Mount Claire Academy. He majored in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, "because it was an easy major. I wasn't a motivated student. There weren't many black people there either. Only one in my prep school, the son of a chauffeur. The blacks at college were Africans. Their fathers were royalty and presidents, or athletes. I didn't get to know black people well until I was a public defender for four years in the Bronx."

After graduating with a law degree from Boston University, Donald worked as a public defender. "I was a young liberal idealist who got mugged by reality. I got tired of getting guilty people off. And I was good at it. Then I went into private practice, but I didn't want to do anymore criminal defense. In 1980, I opened The Ritz, which became a famous night club. Almost every major band in the world played there - the Police, Genesis, Sting, Tina Turner."

2/1/02

Luke on phone to producer Donald Zuckerman, 2/1/02: "Tell me about 2000's Beat."

Donald: "While we were shooting Dog Town [1997], I met this guy Gary Walkow, a writer-director. He had a script that I read and liked. He'd done a couple of low budget movies that played Sundance.

"My partner and I made a deal with Avi Lerner from New Image. He took the foreign distribution rights and we agreed to put up the money for domestic distribution. The movie premiered at Sundance. We had a lot of trouble selling it. Ultimately we sold it to Lions Gate and it will come out on video this year.

"We shot in Mexico. It was a blast. My ex-girlfriend Wendy Pier Cassileth came down with me and co-produced the movie. We all had a good time with the exception of the fact that Courtney Love was there. She was really really hard to deal with. She's an extremely angry person who takes delight in having people not like her. She takes delight in being cruel and mean to people. She made me fire the make-up people. And as far as I could tell, their only crime was that they were attractive. Not good to have other attractive women around."

Here are some links about Beat: From Upcomingmovies.com. Info about the Beats.

From IMDB.com: "I saw the premiere of this film tonight at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, Texas. Prior to this movie, I knew very little about William Burroughs. The producer, Donald Zuckerman spoke before the showing. He explained that after the film's showing at the Cannes Film Festival, they decided to completely reedit the movie. As a result, the final film print of this movie was not finished for our festival(or compatible with our theater). As a result, we viewed the movie in the theater on a VHS video projected on the screen with a LCD projector and two speakers (on stands) set up on each side of the screen. The producer took some questions before the movie began and stated that the film was closely based on actual factual events. He stated that they did not use "one" specific source (or screenplay) but accumulated the facts from many verifiable sources. Mr. Zuckerman stated that all the scenes were filmed at the actual locations where they took place. The Mexico apartment footage was filmed at the actual location where William Burrough's and his wife Joan lived. The film makers used the apartment across the street because the actual apartment had been demolished."

Luke: "How did the other actors react to Courtney?"

Donald: "I don't think they liked her much. She was disrespectful to their time. They would be ready and on the set and she would take forever in hair and makeup to come out. And then as soon as she got there, she'd be like, 'I don't like this light.' And, 'Where do I put my chin?' That was her favorite question.

"It was hard to get a good performance out of her. Instead of having five takes where there were a couple of good ones, there was a line here and a line there. And whatever actor was acting against her, you frequently had to use his worst performance to get one acceptable performance from her.

"Norman Reedus and Ron Livingston went to her when she wanted to fire their make-up people. 'Look, Donald says you're insisting that he fire our people, and they don't even have anything to do with you. It's not fair. How would you like it if we didn't like your crew?' And she said, 'Hey, too bad.'"

Luke: "Do you regret casting her?"

Donald: "No, not really. What can you do?"

Luke: "I heard she got into a fist fight with Kirk Honeycutt, the lead critic of the Hollywood Reporter, at Sundance?"

Donald: "She did. She was unbelievable. We had a little dinner party the day before our screening. Kirk and his wife Mira were there. Kirk's wife asked if she could take some photos? So I asked Courtney's PR person from PMK and she said fine. A couple of hours later, I turn around and Courtney has yanked the camera out of Mira's hand because Mira took a picture of her. And Kirk goes for the camera and they're in a tug of war over it. And Courtney starts yelling, 'You hit me. You hit me.' And Courtney's boyfriend/record producer Jim Barbour goes after Kirk. I got in between both of them."

Luke: "I heard a distributor made an offer on the picture if Courtney would help promote it, and she told him in an expletive laden manner that she wouldn't."

Donald: "The chairman of the board of Trimark Pictures, Mark Amin, made an offer the night of our premiere. I said, 'I appreciate that but we have more money in the picture than you're offering.' So he said, 'Why don't you and I sit down tomorrow and see what we can do?' So I was feeling good about that.

"Half an hour later, we're talking to Avi Lerner and we see Mark talking to Courtney. Then he storms over to us and says, 'Fuck her. There's no way I'm buying this movie.' So we don't know what she said to him. We just know that there was an extreme reaction to what was said."

Luke: "There were some bad reviews on it in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety."

Donald: "It's not a great movie. And we had a director who was unwilling to take any notes. My partner and I thought there were a lot of things that could've been done to improve the movie. He refused to discuss it with us. He said, 'I got us into Sundance and I know what's best.' And we didn't have any time before Sundance to get any work done. So we screened it the way he wanted it at Sundance and got a mediocre response. Then we took the picture, recut it, and got accepted to the LA Independent Film Festival. The director objected to our cuts. The people at the festival who had seen both versions said our version was much better. We played at the LA Independent Film Festival and all the actors... I don't know about Courtney because by that time she was no longer talking to us. But Kiefer Sutherland, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, and their people, all saw the second version and all said it was superior to the first version.

"The director, of course, because he's so talented, didn't need to see the second version to know that his version was better. Because he already knew it wasn't any good, he wouldn't watch it. And one got one review from F.X. Fieny who said it was good but the movie was already damaged goods from not having sold at Sundance. That's why it's sat around for a long time. The version being released is Gary's version because we don't feel like spending the money."

Luke: "I wonder if some of the bad reviews come from the uncomfortable presentation of William Burroughs and the Beats?"

"There were scenes in the movie of William Burroughs chasing after a young man. It was very unflattering. The young man would only have sex with him every other day. It was almost like he was paying for it. It wasn't like, 'I'm gay and I'm enjoying myself.' It was portrayed in an unattractive way. But I know some gay guys who saw the film and liked it.

"Gary really tried to be true to the subject matter. He went out of his way to shoot in the actual locations. We went to Lake Patzcurao in Mexico because they went to Lake Patzcurao. We went to the volcano they went to. We shot across the street from Burrough's apartment. Gary did a lot of research. Burroughs was probably the way Gary portrayed him."

Luke: "I think people have a more romantic view of Burroughs and the Beats and this film was a downer for them."

Donald: "That's probably true.

"When I saw Gary's rough cut of the movie, I was happy, because I worried if he would be able to get a performance out of Courtney, which was essential. He did. He pieced together the bits and pieces."

Luke: "I heard the Mexican producers tried to extort you and held parts of the negative and sound track?"

Donald: "They did. We're in court. They claim that Courtney slandered them. The line producer says she had to have back surgery because Courtney called her names. Courtney did call her names. Courtney called everybody names."

I talked to another source who worked on Beat.

"The producers suddenly found themselves with a picture that was not as easy to sell as they had thought.

XXX: "The nexus of producing is creatively helping to get the best picture done but fiscally trying to stay within budget and make sure that what you finally have is something that can be sold and return the cost. The two challenges are intricately woven together. Most directors are fiscally responsible. I don't encourage them to worry about how much something will cost. I encourage them to try to get the most possible and it is my job to tell them whether it can or cannot be done.

"Beat was in casting for 16 months. It couldn't get made without particular actors agreeing to do it for particular prices. It was my first time working with Gary Walkow. We met at the Director's Guild. We were on a couple of committees together. He told me he had a number of projects and asked me to read them. I took a look and passed on a number of strategies to get them made.

"Originally Beat, written by Gary, was planned for a $400,000 budget. After a year, Gary spoke again with producers Andrew Pfeffer and Donald Zuckerman.

"The movie is about two events in the early history of the Beat literary movement. One in 1944 and the other, which is most of the picture, culminating in Mexico in 1951."

Johnathan Crow of the All Movie Guide writes: "William S. Burroughs' ill-fated performance of his "William Tell act" -- resulting in his wife Joan Vollmer getting a bullet in the brain with a shot glass atop her head -- soon became the stuff of Beat legend. This film, directed by Gary Walkow, traces this doomed romance from its inception to its bloody end. The movie opens in 1944 New York, where Columbia journalism student Vollmer is already living a bohemian life filled with pharmaceuticals and a host of future beatniks, including hunky Jack Kerouac (Daniel Martinez), a young Allen Ginsberg (Ron Livingston), and of course, Burroughs (Kiefer Sutherland). Also frequenting Vollmer's pad is Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus) whom everyone is enamored with, especially Dave Kammerer (Kyle Secor), who winds up dead after trying to jump the object of his affection. Seven years later, Joan and William have married in spite of Burroughs' obvious homosexual predilections. Their domestic bliss is strained when the two have to flee to Mexico City after they get slapped with a drug rap. Ginsberg and Carr, now correspondents for the UPI, visit the couple only to discover that Burroughs split town with his lover-for-hire. Vollmer and the boys decide to go on a road trip that is brimming with heterosexual tension. William eventually returns from his sex-binge suspecting that Joan had a fling with Carr. During that fateful night, Burroughs pulls out a gun that he was going to sell for drug money and performs one of the most spectacularly botched party-tricks in literary history."

XXX: "Lucian Carr is under pseudonym in a lot of Kerouac novels. Lucian introduced Burroughs to Ginsberg. They hung out at a salon in an apartment shared by a woman who was to become Kerouac's first wife and the future Joan Burroughs.

"That Lucian's still living added a whole new level of complication once we finally got the go-ahead on the picture and had to get Errors and Omissions insurance [for libel].

"Eventually Zuckerman and Pfeffer got financial backing from German Willi Bar, who's backed a lot of pictures. I'm using this as an example of how independent pictures work. You've got a script. You want to make a movie. You don't have a studio to give you money. You either find equity money, private investors who will permit you to make a picture without any requirements, or you attach some actors and off the actors you sell territories. Either in chunks or in small pieces. And off the sales of the territories, you borrow the money under the understanding from a motion picture lender, that all these sales are in place. And you can also borrow against "air," or what is called "the gap." If you've sold X number of territories for this amount of money, it's simple to predict what the remaining territories are worth. That's how Beat was put together.

"A deal was made for foreign distribution with Millennium for two-thirds of the budget. He didn't put up cash. He just put up a contract. Since Millennium's been in business for over ten years, it is possible to borrow against the full value of that contract. Enough of them have been honored that lenders feel secure to lend against those contracts.

"The other producers then had to scramble around to come up with the other third of the budget.

"Over six months, various offers were made to various women (like Winona Ryder) for the part of Joan and to various men (such as John Malkovich and Ethan Hawke) for the part of Burroughs. And the offers varied from $250-750,000 with a total budget between $4.2 - $4.8 million. None of the offers were accepted. So Gary and I started doing another picture with these other two producers (Andrew and Donald), a digital project for a $150,000 total budget.

"We were a few weeks from shooting after spending $30-40,000, when there was an offer accepted on Beat by an actor named Norman Reedus. The problem with signing an actor like Reedus is that he doesn't get you financing. A former male model, Norman's done a lot of independent pictures. I'd only seen him in a brief scene in 8mm when we cast him. He was a good choice. A lot of studio casting directors thought he was going to break out.

"In Hollywood, when you make an actor an offer, and it is accepted, you're obligated to pay. It's known as "pay or play." So now there's an obligation to pay Norman and there's a start date. Gary, the director, wanted a woman named Allison Elliot (Wings of the Dove, Spitfire Grill) to play Joan. The problem was, with Norman and Allison as the leads, there was still no way to get the movie funded. So the search continued and finally there was an acceptance from Courtney Love. And based on that, it was possible to get the Millennium deal.

"Later, Kiefer Sutherland signed on to play Burroughs and Ron Livingston to play Lucien Carr. Gary, the director, was upset that he was forced to accept these actors. He now agrees that Kiefer and Ron are the best things in the movie. Nobody saw Kiefer as Burroughs but he did homework on Burroughs before coming down to Mexico. He only worked two weeks of the five week shooting schedule. That's all we could afford to pay him for.

"We compressed his part. He was originally in less than a third of the script. He was only in the Mexico City portion of the shoot, not in the western location. One of the things we did on the fly in Mexico was to add him to some scenes. Once we saw that his performance was what we really needed to anchor the second two acts of the movie with, he disappeared for the second act, we added three short scenes that kept him from disappearing for 18 pages of script. And focused towards the third act, which was Burroughs and Joan. Lucian and Ginzberg leave by the beginning of the third act.

"We ended up cutting many of Joan's scenes. As valiantly as Courtney tried, she was just not giving the kind of performance that had been owed. We shot her in a lot of scenes that we couldn't use. That cost Ron Livingstone two big scenes. He understood. Despite many physical problems, we actually came in under schedule.

"We had some other issues. The Mexican producers wanted more money. They held parts of the negative and half the soundtrack to try to extort it. Ultimately they did not succeed in doing that, but it caused some big problems with the post-production schedule. For six weeks, there was nothing we could do.

"The idea was to try to get it into Sundance. Even though we got it into Sundance (the print only a day-and-a-half old), I don't think Gary and the two other editors really had the time to get the picture into the best possible shape. But we didn't have a choice.

"The Mexican producers are suing over a bunch of different issues. They're mostly suing Courtney Love for inflicting emotional distress. They presume Courtney has the deepest pockets."

Luke: "A producer suing an actor for emotional distress? That's so funny."

XXX: "Not if you know Courtney. I have to say in Courtney's defense, she's dedicated to becoming a better actress. She understands this. It's a difficult situation for her to come from being a star in one medium to an ordinary player in another. Many of the complaints about Courtney were not made by the producers. They were made by the other actors.

"Courtney's name came up two years before the shooting of the film. She was always on the list for Joan.

"Performance is a delicate thing and the whole idea there was to get actors to give quality performances. This is an art movie. It's not terribly commercial. It needed those kind of performances.

"Beat got into Sundance but it came out of Sundance very badly. First, we lost six weeks of post production. Then it didn't help that Courtney almost got into a fist fight with the lead reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt. They settled their squabble but the next day she yelled at some kid on the street. The biggest problem was that after the main screening, one of the offers on the picture [to distribute it], when that gentleman made an offer on it and went up to Courtney and asked if she'd help promote it, she told him in an expletive-laden manner that no, she wouldn't. And in fact, there's no reason why she should. It's not something that she's required to do.

"After all that time in casting, and surviving a difficult shooting situation... We had to deal with hail storms, difficult terrain in these lava fields... The actors had to ride horses into the location. Then the squabble with the Mexican producers... And to end up with a marketing strategy that deteriorated to the point that we went from good offers before Sundance to fractions of that after... It's part of independent production. It's not over when the picture's through shooting. If you've still got territories to sell, there's still an ongoing fight.

"Beat got a decent reception at the Sundance screening. We couldn't go to the Salt Lake screening because we had this dinner in Park City for trade and other newspaper folk to meet the actors. It was the only day that Kiefer could be there. Beat got bad reviews in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. It wasn't written by Kirk Honeycutt and I don't think there was any journalistic retribution. The reviewer for the Reporter honestly did not like the picture. The Variety reporter, Dennis Harvey, there are a lot of pictures he didn't like.

"There was resentment by many members of the audience about the liberties taken with the historical story. I would say the pictures is 90-95% accurate. Most of the presumption is about a romantic involvement between Lucian Carr and Joan Vollmer which is supported in a lot of books on the Beats. A lot of people did not like the way that Ginzberg and Burroughs were portrayed. They were portrayed as gay men in the 1950s. Burroughs I don't think would've had a problem with the portrayal. He's written extensively about the events. The shock of killing Joan is what finally propelled him into finishing his two novels Junkie and Queers. Queers is about events parallel to Joan driving around Mexico with Lucian Carr and Ginzberg. They'd come down to visit Burroughs and he wasn't there. He'd gone away on an excursion into Central America with a quasi-hired male lover."

Luke: "Was Burroughs primarily a homosexual?"

XXX: "Yes."

Luke: "And Ginzberg?"

XXX: "Yes."

Luke: "Lucian Carr?"

XXX: "No. His son is a best selling novelist named Caleb Carr."

Luke: "Why did people object to the '50s portrayal of Ginzberg and Burrough's homosexuality?"

XXX: "There's an implication in the picture that in the '50s, that if these guys could choose not to be gay, it would make their lives easier. Ginzberg and Burroughs were wrestling with their sexual identities."

Luke: "While the thinking today is, if you think you're gay, you should just run with it."

XXX: "Yes. Gary wanted to portray Burroughs' genuine intellectual love for Joan. There's a scene early on with Joan and Burroughs in the kitchen. And the toast is, 'Oh Joan, if only you were a man.' And her reply is, 'Well, Bill, nobody's perfect.'

"I think this '50s attitude towards relationships didn't sit well with a lot of people who have very protective attitudes towards Ginzberg, Burroughs and the Beats. They look at their sexual identities from a 21st Century perspective.

"I remember that within a week, Gary went from a high after finishing the picture to a low after two very bad reviews.

"A guy who's part of the Burroughs estate, who to the best of my knowledge, has never seen the picture, nevertheless posted a negative diatribe about it on a website.

"Gary started working on the script when Ginzberg and Burroughs were still alive. From the point of view of the Errors and Omissions insurance, it became much simpler once they were dead. In the United States, you can't libel the dead. And they were both public figures [whom it is much harder to libel]. Joan was also dead. Lucian Carr was the biggest issue because he's still alive. And a few changes were made to the script to satisfy the insurance carrier. That we weren't speculating in a way that was beyond the bounds of permissible speculation."

Luke: "Did you ever get any reaction from Lucian Carr?"

XXX: "No. Courtney tried to contact him. Our attorneys advised us not to contact him. For a while, it looked like the whole project might fall apart because we couldn't get that Errors and Omissions (E&O) coverage. If we couldn't get that E&O coverage, we couldn't get a bank loan to fund the picture. You can't borrow money or get a completion bond without all the insurance in place.

"We didn't close the loan on the picture, which gave us the bulk of the funding, until the fourth week of shooting. This is not the ideal way to proceed. It was difficult keeping the budget going with limited cash flow. Fortunately Millennium advanced against the loan or we couldn't have continued.

"That's not the only time I've started shooting without production loans in place. You have to use bridge funding where you can."

Luke: "How were the other reviews on Beat?"

XXX: "There haven't been many others. There is no domestic distribution for the film yet. The picture was delivered to Avi Lerner at Millennium. He pre-purchased all the foreign distribution. There's re-cut version because the other producers have been attempting to sell it. I helped broker a deal between them and Gary, because Gary had final cut rights according to his contract.

"There's a shift in how you market independent pictures. It goes back to the '80s and what kind of budget you can expect to raise on an independent project. In the late '80s, you could shoot anything, it seemed. You get by attaching very marginal names as actors to raise funds. And then the foreign buyers caught up to the fact that the American independent product they were buying was substandard. Plus the video shelves in all those little stores in Europe filled up. There just isn't the need that there was in the late '80s when you just bought anything you could that was American."

Courtney Love responded to the criticisms on Hole.com, then promptly deleted the thread for legal reasons.

Courtney says she never had a problem with Donald Zuckerman. She hates the rich kid Mexican producers of Background Productions - Antonio Zavala Kugler, Victor Zavala Kugler, Alexandra Cardenas.

Courtney writes that she wanted the make-up artists fired because they were trying to give drugs to Norman Reedus and Kiefer Sutherland. Courtney writes that she can't work with actors who are on drugs. And she says the make-up artists were not at all attractive.

In Mexico, says Courtney, even PAs are rich kids who require bodyguards out of fear of kidnapping.

Miss Love says Donald Zuckerman tried to get her, in the middle of the night, to stand with a megaphone on a platform talking the crew, which hadn't been paid in three weeks, to stay on. She refused.

Despite not being paid, the workers were allowed only one water a day, one coffee with no milk or sugar, and one meal, which Love ate too - despite being promised fresh fruit and clean water - a slop of refried beans, buttered spaghetti, reconstituted potatoes, with local water. Zuckerman got hepatitis and other gringos got dysentery.

One of the female producers became obsessed with Kiefer Sutherland and slept in his hallway.

The worst problem with the film, writes Courtney, was that the script sucked.

2/1/02

I asked Zuckerman by phone about this news report:

For executive producer Donald Zuckerman, it was the shortest schedule he'd had on any of his eight films and the first time he hadn't been in on a project [2001's Say Nothing] from the beginning. After [Allan] Moyle replaced director Arthur Hiller on the project, he asked that Zuckerman be brought aboard. Hired in L.A. on May 4, Zuckerman was in Toronto doing preproduction by May 6.

"It could have gone really poorly and it hasn't and I attribute a lot of that to Allan's leadership. He's popular with the crew and he's very directed," Zuckerman said. "I've known Allan for 10 years. He's not your average person. Allan is a real spiritual guy, very intellectually curious."

Donald tells Luke: "Arthur Hiller apparently got kicked off the movie. The replacement director Allan Moyle is a friend. He called me three days later, 'The project is a mess. Would you be interested in producing it? If you're not, I'm not going to do it.' So I read it and met with the producer Ellen S. Wander. I made a deal and came on board to fix the whole mess. Ellen was not well thought of by the people she dealt with. They had problems with her veracity.

"My partner [Pfeffer] and I came on board and we fixed it. We helped her close the loan. We got the movie going. And she fucked us. And we're suing her."

From the review on IMDB.com: "I thought I read somewhere that Nastassja Kinski wasn't doing anymore nude scenes. Scratch that. Well...almost. There are some topless scenes with William Baldwin... This is Fatal Attraction in reverse. One difference is that nothing is as extreme as that film. No pets are boiled, etc. Kinski has a one night stand with Baldwin, who then sets out to wreck her marriage with Hart Bochner, who plays her husband. Baldwin plays a millionaire power player in a global corporation, and offers Bochner a prime position in his company. Of course the poor husband has no clue why he is being hired. This infuriates Kinski, and the manipulation continues.

"I was quite entertained by the first two thirds of this film. The last third simply gets a little dull. Nothing too drastic really happens, just a lot of power play by Baldwin's character, which threatens the Bochner/Kinski marriage. It fizzles out. The interesting thing about it is that Kinski plays an ex-model very close to her real life persona. Her past history as a top model is emphasized by showing her famous "Kinski and the serpent" pose by Avedon, her Andy Warhol tribute, etcetera. Kinski still looks fantastic as ever, does an okay job as the stalked wife. Her little girl voice is out of place at times, but there are a few instances where she overcomes that liability, and belts out her anger in a real woman's voice."

Donald: "It's a Cinemax cable movie. It turned out all right considering the budget was tight and other problems. I think the director and I did a good job putting it all together and bringing it in. She's acting like we didn't produce the movie. She took our name off it. We never finalized the contract with her.

"It was apparent a week after we started shooting that she was going to screw us but I was up there already and I didn't want to abandon the director. So I stuck it out. I intend to cream her in court."

Luke to Donald: "What else are you working on?"

Donald: "We have a project A Whale In Montana we start shooting in New York in April. George Hickenloop directs, Susan Sarandon stars. We'll shoot it in the suburbs and the countryside around New York to make it look like Montana. The logic of filmmaking. Our deal with Susan is that she gets to sleep at home every night. Susan only wants to work while her kids are in school. And she can't take them away with her."