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Category: Brett Ratner

Tribeca 2012: Brett Ratner explains why he loves product placement

April 20, 2012 |  4:27 pm

When he's not talking his way out of Oscar gigs, Brett Ratner is known for directing big studio action movies. But the garrulous one has another, less prominent business: as a pitchman of sorts.

The director runs Brett Ratner Brands, a production outfit that helps brands as varied as Mitchum deodorant and the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

On a panel Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival, Ratner explained why he can’t get enough of Madison Avenue.

"I had a not-so-good experience making 'X-Men [: The Last Stand].' All the brands in the past would go to studios directly and say, ‘We'll give you X millions of dollars [for product placement],” Ratner, who is also on an award jury here at the festival, said.

Sometimes, he added, a representative from a company the studio had made a deal with would come to the set and try to coordinate the product placement. "The problem is, I'm the director, and I decide what goes in the movie… I’m, like, ‘Who is this guy? Get him off the set.’”

But Ratner said he soon came to see the error of his ways, and he became more open to product placement. "I realize I need these brands. I need a car in my movie.”

He grew even more enamored after a conversation with Bobby Kotick, the controversial Activision chief.

“Bobby had this game called Guitar Hero. Actually, it wasn’t called Guitar Hero. He was paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with a name.” So, Ratner explained, he suggested the name. (According to Businessweek, Ratner did come up with a name connected to Guitar Hero, but only the “World Tour” appendage for a later version of the game.)

Ratner said he then decided to make a commercial for Kotick's property. “Every celebrity from Kobe to A-Rod to Michael Phelps called me and said, ‘I want to be in a Guitar Hero commercial.”

From there, he said, things blossomed, and he now does work for a variety of companies. “Mitchum sales have been stagnant, and we think it’s the best brand out there in stopping perspiring. So I said, ‘What if we came up with a contest looking for the hardest-working man in the world?'”

Ultimately, Ratner said, he’d like to not only make commercials for these companies but even see himself and others use their money to wholly finance movies.

“Filmmakers are having a hard time getting their movies made,” he said. “Five years from now, brands like Chipotle will go directly to the talent.”


Brett Ratner's gay slur: Can the academy really be surprised?

Why the academy booted Brett Ratner as Oscar producer

Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy quit Oscars: The Internet reacts

— Steven Zeitchik in New York


Photo: Brett Ratner. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

'Tower Heist's' Ferrari: Inspired by Nicolas Cage's living room

November 15, 2011 | 11:02 am

The "Tower Heist" Ferrari
Twenty-five years ago, Matthew Broderick took a spin in a vintage red Ferrari and ran into some big trouble in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Now he’s back in “Tower Heist” — in which another red Ferrari plays a similarly pivotal role (and comes in for a different yet equally memorable bruising).

“Tower Heist” director Brett Ratner said any similarities to the 1986 John Hughes classic and his film were subconscious for him. Instead, he said he was inspired by seeing a luxury car on display in the living room of actor Nicolas Cage, whom he directed in 2000’s “The Family Man.”

In “Tower Heist,” the audience meets the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso in the penthouse apartment of Arthur Shaw, a Bernie Madoff-type character played by Alan Alda. (The car in “Ferris Bueller” was a 1961 Ferrari GT California.)

The Ferrari becomes central to the “Tower Heist” plot as characters played by Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Broderick conspire to rob Shaw after his Ponzi scheme is exposed. In the movie, Shaw says the car was previously owned by Steve McQueen.

The "King of Cool" really did own a 250 GT Lusso. But the rare sports car sells for around $1 million at auctions, so Ratner, et al. didn’t have the luxury of getting the real deal. Ratner had two replicas built, both without engines to make them lighter and rigged for stunt shots.

At one point in “Tower Heist,” Stiller’s character smashes the windows of the car with a golf club. Even though everyone knew it was a replica, “it was painful” to watch, Ratner said, “especially for my Italian cinematographer.”

The windows of the replica car used for that scene were replaced after filming. Universal Pictures owns one of the fake Ferraris, and Ratner took home the other. He also owns the Corvette from his movie “Rush Hour” and a car from the 1995 crime film “Dead Presidents.”

Though the Ferrari replica will reside in Ratner’s garage, he hopes it will also inhabit the minds of wheels-loving boys who see “Tower Heist.”

“I want it to be what the ‘Risky Business’ Porsche was for that movie. I had that poster on my wall when I was [young],” Ratner said. “That would be the ultimate — I hope to do for 12-year-olds seeing this movie what that car did for me.”


'Tower Heist': Is Eddie Murphy's tank finally on empty?

Brett Ratner's Oscar debacle: Hollywood hypocrisy?

Academy president: 'I was appalled' hearing Ratner on Howard Stern

— Emily Rome

Photo: The replica 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso in "Tower Heist." Credit: Universal Pictures

Week in review: Academy Awards implosion [video]

November 11, 2011 |  5:29 pm


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been in crisis management mode this week with the ousting of Brett Ratner, who had been set to produce the 2012 Oscar telecast with Don Mischer, and the subsequent departure of Ratner's handpicked host, Eddie Murphy. The academy leadership quickly replaced the duo with a much more conventional pairing: producer Brian Grazer and veteran host Billy Crystal.

The Times' Nicole Sperling and Steve Zeitchik discuss this week's turmoil at the academy and comment on what the new guard means for an organization that continually has tried to appeal to a younger demographic, only to see its attempts backfire.



Oscars not lacking for excitement

Billy Crystal steps in to host the 2012 Oscars show

Brett Ratner quits Oscars after using anti-gay slur

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Billy Crystal poses with the the iconic Oscar statues Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Billy Crystal to host 2012 Oscars

November 10, 2011 |  2:15 pm

This post has been corrected; please see bottom for details.

Billy Crystal tweeted Thursday, in what some construed as a joke, "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show." Now, two sources familiar with the 2012 Oscars telecast who were not authorized to talk publicly confirmed that  Crystal would host, replacing the recently departed Eddie Murphy.

A spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and  Sciences did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

At age 63, Crystal would be the oldest solo host of the show since Bob Hope in 1978.

Crystal, who has hosted some of Oscars' most successful modern telecasts, had been a popular public choice since Murphy departed Wednesday. The chorus first began when Crystal appeared on the 2011 show presenting a tribute to Hope.

During an August appearance at the Aero theater in Santa Monica, Crystal admitted that he got "itchy" after last winter's cameo on the Oscars and that he'd be ready to talk about a return to the global stage of the gala.

 "It got to be too much after a while and the sameness in my life," he said. "That's why I pulled back. And then when I thought I might want to do it again, they were on to other people. It's always fun. It's really hard, but maybe one or two more times? I don't know. They know where I am."

Crystal, at the Santa Monica event, elaborated on the stress and pleasures of the one-of-a-kind Oscars gig.

"I so appreciate that you like when we do it," he said. "And I had a good time doing them. I did eight of them. And it takes a long time. I sort of stopped doing it -- I would do it in patches -- and then fortunately, I was doing other things that I wanted to do. [It takes a long time] in order to do the things we did -- and [those things] change the way a host was working on the show. We started doing the medley with Mark [Shaiman], and then those got really funny. Then we entered the films, you know, cutting into the nominated movies, and that started taking a really long time. I was working four or five months just on the Oscars."

The 84th Academy Awards will be broadcast live by ABC on Feb. 26 from the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.

{For the Record, Nov. 10, 2:37 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Billy Crystal would be the oldest Oscars host since 1978. He would be the oldest solo host since that year; co-hosting the 2010 show with Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin was 64.]


Brian Grazer to produce the Oscars

Brett Ratner's gay slur: Can the academy really be surprised?

Academy president: 'I was appalled' hearing Ratner on Howard Stern

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Billy Crystal mimics the Oscar statues at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after it was announced that he would host the 76th Academy Awards. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

Academy president: 'I was appalled' hearing Ratner on Howard Stern

November 10, 2011 | 11:06 am

Cohen sherak mischer
A day after announcing that Brian Grazer would take over as co-producer of the Oscar show after Brett Ratner dropped out, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Tom Sherak answered questions about the debacle, the loss of Eddie Murphy as host, and efforts to get the broadcast back on track.

Was it the gay slur or the Howard Stern show that lost Ratner his job?

It was both. I had already said in a statement that I was going to give him another chance, but that he was not to do it again. The academy is a special place. It’s about integrity in every way, shape or form. It’s spent its entire eightysomething years trying to be above in what his mission is.

It was the accumulation. It wasn’t just one thing. He did everything he could. He apologized right away. I stood behind him. It was wrong, reckless, all those things. But I’ve been brought up that you give someone a second chance if they do not do it maliciously and he did not do that maliciously. I looked at it that way. When he looked at it the next day … he understood it. He got it. I appreciate that also. It had to happen. He went a step over the line in the accumulation of the things he did.

Did you receive a lot of pressure, phone calls from academy members upset with his behavior?

There was no question that a lot of people called and complained. The answer is yes. I got a lot of emails, 50 emails … People were upset. They had a right to be upset. It’s their organization, and people need to speak out when they are upset. They were upset by both things. Some by the first, some by the second. I think the first statement I made, don’t do it again, the bottom line is all those things came in,  but I didn’t look at as pressure, I looked at it as expressing how they felt. I didn’t look at it as pressure but people caring about the organization. The organization didn’t do this, he did this. Yes he worked for us.

He knew he crossed the line. He resigned because he didn’t want to hurt the academy or me. He knew he had gone too far. He was trying to protect us.

Do you regret hiring him?

Not at all. Not one bit. Would I do it again? The answer is, I would have done it again based on the interview I had. I knew a bit about him and his career and I’ve known him for a long time. Not close. I believed and so did [academy CEO] Dawn [Hudson] that he would give us a great show. That’s what we were looking for, a great show. He brought us someone who gave us a lot of press with Eddie. Think about that, we were talking about the Academy Awards in August. Everybody has an opinion. Based on him coming in and talking to us, I would have.

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Oscar producer Brian Grazer's 2010 gay controversy

November 9, 2011 |  7:50 pm

Of the many ways it's surprising to learn that Brian Grazer is replacing Brett Ratner as Oscar producer after Ratner uttered a gay slur, there’s this:  Grazer himself was involved in a controversy involving a gay slur just a year ago.

Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment produced “The Dilemma,” the Vince Vaughn-Kevin James dramedy that came outin January. As astute filmgoers will remember, the movie kicked up controversy in October 2010 when a trailer was released that featured Vaughn’s character using the word “gay” as a pejorative.

“Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay,” said Vaughn’s character, a fast-talking salesman named Ronny Valentine.

The spot prompted protests from gay rights groups, including GLAAD, the organization that registered objection to Ratner’s “rehearsal is for fags."

Universal decided to pull the trailer from theaters. But the film’s director, Grazer’s longtime producing partner Ron Howard, opted to keep the joke in the film. “I believe in sensitivity but not censorship,” Howard told my colleague Patrick Goldstein.

In many ways, the controversies are similar: Both instances featured the use of a term with unsavory connotations about gays that was not aimed specifically at the gay community.

The distinction, of course, is that in one case the word came from a character in a film and in another it was from a producer directly. It remains to be seen how sharply that distinction will be drawn  by gay-rights groups as the Grazer-produced Oscars move forward.

If gay politics weren’t already hovering over these Oscars, there’s yet another turn.

Grazer is behind “J. Edgar,” Clint Eastwood’s new movie that deals with the personal and public life of J. Edgar Hoover.

The movie, which was written by the openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, opens nationally this weekend. According to reviews, it avoids extensive treatment of the FBI chief's sex life; in fact, Leonardo DiCaprio told an audience last week in response to a question about Hoover’s widely rumored homosexuality that "it's not our business to care about what happened behind closed doors."

This won’t be a simple Oscar season.


Ron Howard's gay joke: It stays in the movie

Movie Review: J. Edgar

Brian Grazer to produce the Oscars

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Dilemma." Credit: Universal Pictures

With Grazer now on for Oscars, hunt is on for a new host

November 9, 2011 |  5:38 pm

Brian grazer brett ratner
Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer agreed Wednesday to take on the job of producing the Academy Awards telecast in February, stepping into the void left by Brett Ratner, who resigned after an anti-gay slur. Grazer and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences did not immediately announce a host to replace Eddie Murphy, who dropped out after Ratner exited.

Grazer, who has produced five movies this year including Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” and Ratner’s “Tower Heist,” had been asked to helm the Oscar show earlier this year, but declined. Given Grazer’s ties to Ratner and Murphy, there was some speculation that he might try to convince Murphy to stay on as host, but a person close to the Grazer who was not authorized to speak publicly said he wouldn’t try to lure Murphy back into the fold.

“It’s very gratifying to be part of a show that honors excellence in the medium to which I have devoted so much of my career,” said Grazer, whose “A Beautiful Mind” earned a best picture Oscar a decade ago. Grazer will share producing duties on the broadcast with industry veteran Don Mischer. “Don is a legend, and I am excited to work with him.”

Grazer could have a horse in this year’s Oscar race with “J.Edgar” (which opened in limited release Wednesday), but his other recent films have disappointed at the box office, including “Cowboys & Aliens,” “The Dilemma,” and the Gus Van Sant-directed indie “Restless.” His high-profile television project “The Playboy Club” was canceled after just a few episodes.

Still, academy president Tom Sherak said: “Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work. He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars.”

Grazer has not been able to completely steer clear of controversy himself. Last fall, the trailer for his film “The Dilemma” was widely criticized for including a scene in which actor Vince Vaughn said, “Electric cars are gay”; the promo debuted in the wake of a series of suicides of teenagers who killed themselves after being bullied because of their sexual orientation. The line was later excised from the trailer, but it remained in the film.

Continue reading »

Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy quit Oscars: The Internet reacts

November 9, 2011 | 12:58 pm

Brett Ratner's resignation from his Oscar telecast producing gig has been met with a wave of online responses
Things have been happening fast in the Brett Ratner debacle. The "Tower Heist" director was out of the Oscars producing job less than four days after his anti-gay slur and one day after his vulgar Howard Stern interview, and now Eddie Murphy has quit his hosting gig. Just as fast, if not faster, are the bloggers of the Internet, ready with responses. Here's a roundup of online reactions to Ratner's decision to step down and who his replacement should be.

"I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with Ratner for this year's TCM Classic Movie Film Festival in April and found him exceptionally bright, informed, and savvy. I think this real movie fan would have produced a great show. I know he had great ideas for it. Despite his terrible judgment and stupid actions this week, I am sorry we won't get the chance to see what he might have done." -– Pete Hammond, Deadline

"'Rush Hour' director and physical embodiment of everything Axe body spray stands for Brett Ratner has quit his gig producing the Oscars under heavy pressure from the Academy. Hooray! Unfortunately, the Oscars will still suck." -– Max Read, Gawker

"[Ratner resigned] because of Hollywood’s predictably typical PC ... . Brett Ratner is a [jerk] and a terrible director but ... this is stupid. He obviously wasn't saying anything homophobic." -– gossip blog What Would Tyler Durden Do?

"For the Academy, the incident brings it to an important crossroads in which it must decide which is more important: its self-styled image as defender of noble progressive ideals or its desire to seem with it, au courant, and glamorous, things that to much of the Hollywood establishment, perhaps inexplicably, Ratner and his coterie represent. It is a brutal choice for the Academy to make." –- Richard Rushfield, The Daily Beast

"The question is whether AMPAS will hire someone to lure the young-demo viewers –- clearly a hope when they'd named Ratner –- or whether they will go with a safer choice. The clock is ticking as the kudocast's Feb. 26 airdate draws near. … In truth, the field of prospective candidates is limited, and it's relatively late in the game to throw a total newcomer into the mix." -– Christy Grosz, Variety

"Do the Oscars need to replace Brett Ratner?  ... [Don] Mischer, a 13-time Emmy winner, is Hollywood’s go-to guy for producing live awards telecasts. ... And he’s hardly doing the job alone: Michael Seligman signed on this fall as a supervising producer for the 2012 Oscars, due in no small part to his decades of live broadcast experience, including seven previous Oscar telecasts. In short: The  Academy won’t find two producers who are more prepared to make a relevant and watchable telecast for February. And yet, the search has resumed to find another high-profile director or producer to replace Ratner.." -– Lynette Rice, Entertainment Weekly

"You know, the Academy doesn't have to look far for Brett's replacement. They just have to tilt their heads and look up a few branches above Brett on his family tree and they'll find his gorgeously perfect grandmother Fanita. Fanita is the real star of that family. The Oscars should just be 10 hours of Fanita glimmering at the camera while throwing statues at the winners' heads." -– Michael K, celebrity blog Dlisted

"There is only one call the Oscars need to make, and it's to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Best Oscars ever. You're welcome, Hollywood." – Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay on Twitter


Ratnergate: Where do the Oscars go from here?

Brett Ratner resigns as Oscar producer after gay slur

Why the Academy booted Brett Ratner out as Oscar producer

–- Emily Rome

Photo: Brian Grazer, left, and Brett Ratner at the premiere of "J. Edgar" at AFI Fest on Nov. 3. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Eddie Murphy out as host of the Oscars

November 9, 2011 | 11:13 am

Less than 24 hours after Brett Ratner resigned as producer of the 2012 Oscars after making an anti-gay slur, his handpicked host Eddie Murphy has quit.

In a statement Wednesday morning Murphy said, "First and foremost I want to say I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."

Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak added, "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well." Murphy stars in Ratner's new film, "Tower Heist."

Sherak and his academy team, including recently appointed CEO Dawn Hudson, must now scramble to find both a new host and a new producer to help Don Mischer, who was to produce the show with Ratner and is staying on.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 26.


Poll: Should the Oscars have ditched Brett Ratner?

Brett Ratner resigns as Oscar producer after gay slur

With Eddie Murphy out of the Oscars, who should host?

--Nicole Sperling

Photo credit: Eddie Murphy at the premiere of 'Tower Heist'. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Poll: Should the Oscars have ditched Brett Ratner?

November 9, 2011 | 10:19 am

Brett Ratner

Brett Ratner says he resigned as the co-producer of next year's Academy Awards ceremony, following his slur about gays and comments he made about his sex life. But there's little question the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wasn't fighting for him to stay in the job.

The reaction to Ratner's exit has been divisive. Some say he deserved to be shown the door, while others defended his right to speak his crass mind. The academy now must race to replace Ratner, who was going to produce the ceremony with television veteran Don Mischer, and the status of host Eddie Murphy, who starred in Ratner's "Tower Heist," is up in the air.

What do you think? Was Ratner right to quit? Or should he and the academy tried to ride out the storm?



Ratnergate: Where do the Oscars go from here?

Brett Ratner resigns as Oscar producer after gay slur

Brett Ratner's gay slur: Can the academy really be surprised?

-- John Horn

Photo: Brett Ratner. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times




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