Wednesday, January 01, 2020

EP155: Making MANNEQUIN (& MANNEQUIN 2) Come to Life

The wild stories of the making of these two Hollywood films (one a huge hit, the other a colossal bomb). It’s a saga filled with colorful characters, scoundrels, wacky decisions, and overall craziness. In other words: a typical Hollywood story. And Ken was right in the middle of it all. 

Listen to the Hollywood & Levine podcast!


brian t said...

I'd never heard of David Begelman before, so I did I bit of reading about him, starting with Wikipedia. To put it bluntly: the guy was a shit. His involvement with Mannequin came after multiple scandals. Ken mentions the embezzlement scandal, while he was President of Columbia Pictures ... which was hushed up so well, he went on to become President and CEO of MGM.

I'm surprised no-one's made a movie about David Begelman yet, particularly his involvement with Judy Garland. He made her life hell: she was besotted with him, carried on an affair with him while he was married, slit her own wrist to get his attention; and all the while he was embezzling her money, even re-routing an expensive car that was supposed to go to her. Later, after they broke up, he blackmailed her over alleged naked photos of her in hospital after a drug overdose.

Harvey Weinstein's got nothing on this guy. What a shit.

Mike said...

Sound cuts out: This may be my fault - About two thirds through (critical reception of Mannequin), sound cuts out. Is it just me?

Jeff Boice said...

Thanks- I guess. Mentioning Bruce McNall- yikes. I don't know what group is worse- Hollywood execs or NHL owners, and that guy was both.

Mike Doran said...

Possible Friday Question:

I've read that members of the Writers Guild can register a pseudonym, which they can place on a screenplay in lieu of their own names, when they wish to decline credit for a bomb, but still keep any payments (past or future) due them for the project.

When Mannequin II was made, were either you or Mr. Isaacs made aware of this option (if applicable); and if so, would you have taken that route?

Full disclosure: I did kinda sorta like the first Mannequin - but that was mainly about Kim Cattrall (I was younger then … ).

Charles Jurries said...

Question for you: I've been working on an outline and I had the realization that the main character was acting as if they knew the whole story, versus acting with the information they had. Luckily it works out in a great way for me, the changes I have to make only help to make the story and character work pop out more. I do have to make a lot of changes, but thankfully I just have to reshape the story, not toss it out.

This was a pretty good best case scenario for me... but it has me thinking about what would happen if I had to do completely start over. With time and practice, does it get easier to do a Page 1 rewrite, or does it hurt the same every time?

DG said...

This was a great ride--the narrative of this episode puts it in the top 10 of your episodes, as far as I'm concerned.

Mike: I didn't have any sound cut-outs. Might just be you.

Loosehead said...

You got a good review for Mannequin 2 from the (female) NY Times film critic. Was she a friend of Betsy Israel? A victory for the oestrogen mafia maybe.

Storm said...

BEGELMAN! That fish-faced enemy of the people is the reason we've never gotten "Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League", or anything else BB-related. As a longtime Blue Blaze Irregular (Codename: Big Red), my hatred for him is eternal.

From an interview with director W.D. Richter:

"...Buckaroo certainly wasn’t a huge financial hit (with a reported box office of around six million dollars, against a budget of seventeen million), but the production was working uphill from the get-go, allegedly courtesy of producer David Begelman, who Richter says was a thorn in Buckaroo’s side from the get-go. “He was the guy who said, ‘Go ahead, you can make this movie,’” recalls Richter, “but he never got it on any level.” Pretty cheeky, then, to announce a sequel in the movie’s end credits, even if it was at least partly a joke. Richter reportedly laughs when asked about the sequel, and continues:

That seems like a real cheat, to put it there and not make the movie. But again, if the movie had gone out to make a fortune, we would have made it. But [Begelman] is the strangest person I’ve worked with. Then he committed suicide, verifying our feeling that he was insane. But it was constantly wacky stuff like, ‘You can put on that choreographed ending, but, you know, I don’t really believe in this movie.’ So, I have to say that people want to see this work print because they just think that they are going to get a few more treats. You know, maybe another Jeff Goldblum moment that they are deprived of now. We couldn’t put it in the DVD because we couldn’t find the footage because Begelman didn’t run a normal studio. We found some of the negatives but not a work print where you could say, ‘that’s how we cut it.’ There’s a lot of that film in a vault somewhere and it’s in pristine condition — the negative — but you can’t get at it.

Why was there never a sequel?
I believe MGM owns the theatrical rights. The other big insanity for Buckaroo is that the paper trail for the rights is almost impossible to follow. Warner Bros. wants to do an adult animated version of Buckaroo. PolyGram sold it to MGM as a big bundle — all these films move around. And then, finally, you’re sitting at a studio that you found out purchased part of someone’s library and they are reluctant to do anything with the title because they don’t know for a fact that David [Begelman], who was a notorious double dealer, might not have sold the international rights in perpetuity to some guy in Bangkok. And even if they are enthusiastic about doing a sequel, they’ll say, ‘our legal department is saying we don’t have a clear chain of title here, so we’re not going to stick our heads up, invest money, and then discover that some guy says, “Oh, by the way, I have all the international rights."

The rights were so screwed up for so long that it went completely out of print on VHS for years, and you could only get scratchy bootlegs. It didn't get released on DVD until late 2002.

Sorry, buy it's my favorite movie, and I get a little shirty about it all.

Remember: no matter where you go... there you are,


Roger Owen Green said...

That was astonishingly good. It's all in the details, even though I was unfamiliar with most of the people involved.