Thursday, 15 December 2011

Script Editor VI: 10 Terrible Career Moves by Hollywood's Top Brass

10 Terrible Career Moves by Hollywood's Top Brass

1. Quitting your job.

Well, sometimes. Mike Ovitz, founder of CAA and onetime Hollywood big cheese, left his job as chairman of the talent agency and has been foundering ever since. Corollary: don’t get give other people a reason to feel schadenfreude when you mess up.

2. Getting fired from your job

Or, put another way, don’t make yourself a candidate for canning. So Helen Kushnick discovered when she was executive producer for The Tonight Show and reportedly banned stars from appearing on the program if they appeared on any other talk show.

3. Firing your loyal assistant

True if they’re loyal and competent you probably aren’t going to be handing them their marching papers anytime soon but if you’re itching to swap in someone new then perhaps reconsider – remember Swimming With Sharks?

4. Passing on a hot script

Development Execs beware: if a script has heat you might want to warm up your opinion. It’s unfair but when it comes to apportioning blame for the film the company shoulda-coulda-woulda made but didn’t, you know where the buck stops.

5. Shoplifting

Not an obvious pastime but as a certain actress demonstrated, an unpaid shopping spree – especially one motivated by an unhealthy intake of pharmaceutical compounds – is not going to broaden your range in the eyes of casting directors or comfort a production’s insurers. Also include in this category, drug busts and driving under the influence.

6. Dropping out of a franchise

Well, this can work both ways; just look at the Batman films. Of the various caped crusaders, Michael Keaton departed too soon, Val Kilmer just in time and George Clooney… well, his subsequent career proved that he really is touched by grace.

7. Upfront money or profit points?

Always a gamble. The stars of the Carry On films can rest easy in their decision to always take upfront fees rather than gross percentages. Donald Sutherland however might occasionally yearn for the $40 million he could have made in profit participation on Animal House.

8. Reputation

Everybody’s got one and they should guard it jealously. Throughout cinema history it’s mainly been a concern for actors – from Fatty Arbuckle to Mel Gibson – but everyone has a profile. Then again, Scott Rudin and the Weinsteins have demonstrated that a tarnished rep isn’t necessarily the kiss of death to a career; people just get dry-mouth when taking your calls.

9. Not playing the game

When David Puttnam was invited across the pond to become head of Columbia he rapidly became, despite his apparent status, small fry. Creating opportunities for European filmmakers, lowering budget and salaries and, allegedly, sabotaging the already troubled Warren Beatty project Ishtar meant that Puttnam was soon out of the game he’d been attempting to resist.

10. Money

Yes film is a business and yes films are expensive to make. But there’s a difference between making films which make money and making films because they’ll make money. Running the numbers works only so long as you’re able to produce films which yield boffo numbers.