Universal says Dustin Hoffman 'might' end up in 'Little Fockers' after all
Universal's big holiday comedy, "Little Fockers," the latest in the studio's "Meet the Parents" series, is still months away from release, but it's already been cast as a troubled production by a variety of online stories this past week. Deadline reported that the film needed a week of pick-up shooting while Vulture has a new post up saying that Universal is exploring the idea of bringing Dustin Hoffman back to reprise his role as Bernie Focker as a means of punching up what Vulture called a "troubled" production.
This is the sort of thing that drives studios crazy, since they can rightfully argue that the majority of their movies have some sort of reshoots or additional photography done during the post-production process. It's especially true with comedies, which almost always need a lot of fixes and reshoots. For years, Woody Allen had extra money in his budgets specifically set aside for reshoots. So is "Little Fockers" really in trouble?
No way, says Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson, who hopped on the phone with me today, eager to put the rumors to rest. "We're incredibly delighted to have a film that's already scored as well as it has [in test screenings] six months before its release." However, he left the door open to the possibility that Hoffman could still turn up in a guest spot of some sort in the film.
"As we're continuing to refine the film, one of the ideas that's certainly a possibility is having Dustin be a part of the picture," he explained. "We didn't call him and say that we desperately need his help or anything like that. But there is one path that we're pursuing that could include his involvement. If Dustin decides that he wants to do it and has a real interest in being involved, and if it worked for the film, then we'd love to make it happen, but nothing at all has been decided yet."
Fogelson was far too circumspect to ever blast away at all of the fragmentary Web scuttlebutt, but I could feel his pain. It must be tough if you have a movie that actually has already tested well--and still see it gossiped about as a "troubled" production. On the other hand, I've had studio chiefs swear to me that a movie was doing fine, right up until the moment before it crashed and burned on opening weekend. So it's never a surprise to see media skepticism about studio assurances that everything is fine.
Maybe "Little Fockers" just needs a few tweaks along the way. It wouldn't be the first time that a comedy needed some work under the hood to smooth over a few rough edges. If all it takes is a little sprinkle of Dustin Hoffman fairy dust, I'm eager to see the results.
Photo: Dustin Hoffman. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press