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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Brian Grazer

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.

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Brian Grazer to produce the Oscars

November 9, 2011 |  4:04 pm

Brian Grazer will produce the Academy Awards show in February.
Just 24 hours after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lost its Oscar producer, Brett Ratner,  and then its host, Eddie Murphy, the organization announced that Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer would come aboard as the show’s producer.

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

"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, who will produce along with Don Mischer. "Don is a legend, and I am excited to work with him."

"I am thrilled to welcome Brian Grazer as my partner and that we will be  collaborating to produce an outstanding show," Mischer said.

 It's still unclear whom Grazer will bring along as the host of the show. Grazer, who produced Ratner's "Tower Heist," which stars Murphy and Ben Stiller, has a close relationship with Murphy, and has long wanted to produce the awards telecast. It's intriguing that the academy is going with Grazer, given his close association with Ratner. Still to be seen is whether Grazer will try to bring Murphy back into the fold, or look for someone else.

Grazer is also likely to have a horse in the Oscar race, with the Clint Eastwood film "J.Edgar" that he produced.


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: Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer has been brought on board to produce February's Academy Awards show. Credit: Stephen Chernin / Associated Press.

Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' set for movie, TV series

September 8, 2010 |  3:01 pm

Sking Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" -- comprising seven novels, short stories and comic books -- will come to life in three films and a television series. The unique deal will have Ron Howard directing the first film in the trilogy and the first season of the TV series, Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment announced Wednesday afternoon. 

Akiva Goldsman, perhaps best known for writing "Angels & Demons" and "A Beautiful Mind," will write the first season of the television program and produce the film alongside Imagine Entertainment, which Howard runs with Brian Grazer.

"The Dark Tower" has been wildly successful -- the novels alone have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. The story centers upon the sole survivor in a line of knightly gunslingers, Roland Deschain, who has been charged with finding a Dark Tower in order to save humanity.

“We are excited to have found partners at Universal who understand and embrace our approach to King’s remarkable epic,” Howard said in today's release. “By using both the scope and scale of theatrical filmmaking and the intimacy of television we hope to more comprehensively do justice to the characters, themes and amazing sequences King has given us in The Dark Tower novels. It might be the challenge of a lifetime but clearly a thrilling one to take on and explore.”

The first film will be quickly followed by the television series, which will lead to the second film. The TV series will then resume until the third film is released. No word yet on when production is slated to begin on the first film.

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Stephen King in 2009. Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP


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