I spoke by phone to producer Michael Z. Gordon August 16, 2002.
Michael: "I've been in the music business almost my entire [adult] life. I was working on a couple of projects such as Pulp Fiction. Through Pulp Fiction, I made some contacts that led me to [producer] David Glasser. He was raising money for the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster. I represent an investment group and we decided to put some money into the movie. It became a two-picture deal with Narc. We were mainly in it for The Devil and Daniel Webster but it turns out that Narc may be the one that saves us on this thing. We've had many problems on Devil but with Narc, you couldn't ask for more.
"We've completed principle photography on Devil. We've finished a producer's cut. Alec Baldwin was the director. His first film. He had taken on much more than he could handle. It was nothing but problem after problem. He walked off the set in the middle of shooting to take his family to Hawaii for two weeks. Then he filed a lawsuit against David Glasser to get some director's money supposedly owed him. Meanwhile, Alec had invested a sizable amount of money in the film. It was like cutting off your nose to spite your face. There were some other sordid details that held up the film.
"Now we're looking for a domestic distributor."
Luke: "You've got many big stars. Alec Baldwin, Dan Akroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewett, Kim Cattrall."
Michael: "It's a $30 million independent production. It really isn't a bad movie."
Luke: "What was your role on the project?"
Michael: "Anybody who put in money got to be a producer. We came in during principle photography to salvage the thing when it looked like it would go over to the bonding company. I knew somebody who put a million dollars into the film. It still wasn't enough. The film was like a big black hole that kept eating everything up that we put into it. It took a year to edit the thing. It took Baldwin months to finish his cut. Then it took months for us to do a producer's cut."
Luke: "The director's cut wasn't commercial?"
Michael: "It had a lot of problems."
Luke: "And Narc?"
Michael: "Whoever puts in money gets to be a producer. There are 17 producers on Narc. He who puts in the most money wins. David Glasser did everything he could to get these pictures done. I didn't give much credence to Narc at first. Devil was such a big film with such big names. Narc didn't seem to be in the same league.
"Tom Cruise saw the film Narc and liked it so much he went to Paramount, who bought the domestic rights on his behalf. He became the executive producer."
Luke: "You've been in the music business most of your life."
Michael: "I've written and produced music for movies, TV and commercials. I wrote my first song when I was 20 and it was a hit called, "Surfer's Stomp". I wrote many hits including, "Outer Limits". I toured as leader of the Marketts and The Routers. My first movie was with the Routers in "Surf Party" and second was with the Marketts in, "The Name of The Game is Kill". I have produced music for movies such as "Pulp Fiction", "Angels In the Endzone", "From The Earth To The Moon" and for such commercials as The National Car Rental Commercial "Let's Go!" and more."
Luke: "And what has been your principle contribution to Devil and Narc?"
Michael: "Financial. Keeping these projects afloat."
Luke: "Have you put your own money into them?"
Michael: "Yes, unfortunately. Well, I shouldn't say that. At first it looked bleak but now it looks better."
Luke: "And you are credited as a producer on the movie Angels in the Endzone. What was your role?"
Michael: "I did the music."
Luke: "And you're credited as a producer on From the Earth to the Moon. You did music as well?"
Luke: "What do you envision for your movie producing career from here?"
Michael: "To be honest, I'm thinking about just getting out of the business soon when I have all my commitments fulfilled. I went to the doctor after a year and a half of this and my blood pressure was through the roof. And my cholesterol was sky high. He said, 'What happened to you?' I said, 'I'm in the movie business. That will do it every time.' A lot of sleepless nights, like you can't believe. You can't believe what people tell you. They'll say anything and it doesn't come through when you're counting on it.
"We were involved with a picture called Northfork, with a great cast including Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Wood, Peter Coyote. They were filming in Montana. I'm waiting for a wire to go through so they can continue the principle photography. And the wire never came through. I don't know if this sort of things happens just to me."
Luke: "Other people have told me similar stories."
Michael: "That's comforting. I have to tell you that it is an exciting business."
Luke: "Exciting like cancer."
Michael: "I wanted to graduate into films from music. I thought this would be a great opportunity. In a sense it has been. I've gotten a lot of offers and a lot of projects sent my way.
"I'm not 20 anymore. I've got a family. I just discussed this last night with my wife. They want me to go to Europe for six weeks for another film. I said I didn't know if I could do that. I have two boys, aged six and nine. This is my second marriage. On my first one, I was a raving lunatic for 20 years. This time round, I'm much more settled. I enjoy being home and working around the house.
"I've sold two scripts but neither have been made."
Luke: "Did you visit the set of Daniel Webster?"
Michael: "One time. It was trying to plug holes to keep the ship from sinking. It wasn't a question of whether the shoot was going well..."
Luke: "I've always wondered why people invest in movies."
Michael: "It's a terrible investment. Terrible. The difference between me and 99% of investors is that the money I put in personally was in the form of a loan backed up by personal guarantees and collateral. My wife is a conservative person and she wouldn't talk to me for the first six weeks after I first loaned the money..."
Luke: "Yet you still couldn't sleep and your blood pressure went way up."
Michael: "After we did more due diligence, it was frightening to look at the whole situation. I had to do some drastic measures to make sure that I got my money back."
Luke: "I thought the music business was a rough business."
Michael: "This is terrible. I come from a conservative background, despite being in the music business. It just blows my mind that people get away with this. But I'm taking it easier now. I'm on blood pressure medication and at least my blood pressure is normal now."
Luke: "Didn't you know about Alec Baldwin's reputation as a troublemaker?"
Michael: "I didn't. To be a director, you have to be a people person to get the most out of your cast and crew. He is the most anti-social person I've met in my life. He had a disagreement with the editor and he decked him."