What just happened with What Just Happened?

December 3, 2008

moguls1I’ve avoided the use of a pic of Robert De Niro, or Art Linson, or Bruce Willis with a beard, or a bear, for fear of being sued by Hollywood Moguls. So here’s a pic of me and Trev posing as media bigwigs from the 20th Century.

But to the point. I’ve just finished What Just Happened? by Art Linson. The book, not the film. I’ve not seen the film, but I’ve read about it. And I’m left bewildered. What just happened to What Just Happened?

The book is a slight but a fun read, if you like knowing just what happened during the making of a handful of films over the last few years. Take this snippet of dialogue between De Niro and Linson, as Linson tries to persuade De Niro to take one of the lead roles in The Edge, a David Mamet-scripted wilderness thriller (Moguls Wood?) which sees our hero grapple with an irritated grizzly bear;

The bear worries me.

The bear?!… …what part of the bear?

You know, fighting with a fake bear. Might not work.

We’re gonna use a real bear for some of the time.

A real bear is interesting.

Well, then we’re gonna use a real bear a lot.

A beat.

The bear… the bear still concerns me.

Imagine De Niro saying this, and it becomes priceless De Niro. (in the end, Anthony Hopkins fought the bear).

But if De Niro is playing Linson in the film, under another name, then who plays De Niro? It seems the film has decided to use fake films instead. In The Edge Alec Baldwin turned up for filming with a ridiculous beard. Eventually they persuaded him to shave it off. He’s a method actor you see, with a double chin.

In the fake film, Bruce Willis has to be persuaded to shave off a beard. and it seems the bear has been replaced by a dog!

Art Linson’s book details the troubled production histories of The Edge, Great Expectations… De Niro again…

The convict’s gonna be a great part.

It doesn’t have a bear in it, does it?

No bear.

I might get interested.

… and Fight Club. Guess what? The suits didn’t like it. Now there’s a surprise.

But why is none of this in the film? (Note. Reminder. I haven’t seen the film… yet. But from everything I’ve read it’s coming from a completely different book.)

We’re missing a treat here. De Niro arguing over the bear. Baldwin outshouting his famous speech from Glengarry Glenn Ross. De Niro getting interested at wrestling a real live bear… you growlin’ at me?

But no. they’ve thrown the book away and made it all up. Surely, surely, even Art must be shaking his head and truly asking himself what just happened?

Note to moguls; I don’t know what the rules are here. Please don’t sue me for quoting from the book. I like the book. And I have no money.

if you like reading books that dish the dirt on Hollywood forget Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and go straight for High Concept by Charles Fleming and Hollywood Animal by Joe Eszterhas; two of the most sordid books ever written and both great fun.

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