Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Finke You, Very Much

I hate Hollywood, "the Business," and all of the cheap shot Peter Principle wack jobs that adore it as players and field negros on the outside looking to move into massa's house. (As evidence, this is the first label for "Hollywood") It's pathetic to think about, but at this very moment, young people are either coming to or about to come to LA so that they can realize their dreams.


There're two courses that need to be pre-reqs in any film school; call the first "The Odds." In it, the student learns about the various elements that make up the ultra high stakes gambling of the modern day studio system. So, in broad strokes it'd be; history in terms of the moguls who founded their fiefdoms, evolution to the corporate takeovers and on to today, the era of the super conglomerates. This is the factual stuff of history.

The second could have a number of titles, and among the candidates, "Bizarro World," "Day of the Shitheads," and "There's a place for jerkoffs. And they give tours." This one deals more with interpretative history but is arguably the more valuable of the two, certainly more lively and entertaining, because it deals with the wacko nut jobs that run "the Business." I mean, Harvey Weinstein ripping out phones and using them as weapons... c'mon, Thalberg's well worn wunderkind place in history is kinda ... boring in comparison.

As a dumb 20 something, I did my time working on the plantation. Here's a typical scenario; I, like so many others, would sacrifice their weekend by taking home scripts to read and write coverage (lingo for assessments or Hollywood's version of Cliff Notes meets book report). Take my word for it, every single one of those things was SHITTY, and I must have read hundreds. One was so bad I remember letting Mitchy read it; to this day we laugh.

Inevitably, the head of the department - always a 30 something, always, well, I better shut up - anyway, they toodle in around 11:30. She'll have bags from shopping, check her messages, maybe make some calls, then toodle out for lunch and be gone for at least 2 hours. Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum.

Meanwhile, after months of this barf-o-rama, I look around and see that I'm the lone or one of the few kids of color. Then I can't help but notice that the white kids are usually always the ones getting the promotions. So, the writing was on the wall.

It's hard not to come off as self-indulgent, "my time in Hollywood" crap, but there it is. And the truth of it is that my story isn't unique in the slightest. It does give me and the others who've slogged through this ho house a bit more room to laugh when they hear about guys like Marc Shmuger getting not just canned, but crapped on from a lot of quarters. Dude evidently was a real shithead. What's interesting though is when someone like Michael Mann steps up to bat for him.

All I can say is, check out the comments to Nikki Finke's column - a damn fine nasty bite. She's not your momma's Rona Barrett.

From this city's Snark Queen, Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood

Why Karma Is A Bitch For Marc Shmuger
By Nikki Finke | Category: Uncategorized | Monday October 5, 2009 @ 7:58am

UPDATE: STUDIO SHAKEUP! Adam Fogelson Named New Chairman Of Universal Pictures; Donna Langley Named Co-Chairman; Shmuger And Linde Unceremoniously Out

So I predict that when the announcement is made, and trust me it must be, everyone atop Universal and NBCU will try to play kissy face. I even bet the media will be given some fictional account that this was Marc Shmuger's and David Linde's own decision to step down. Poor Linde: he's just collateral damage since he came in as a tag team with Shmuger and will exit with him as well. But the truth is Marc kept clinging to his moguldom until the very last minute even when he was just embarrassing himself, and now he's bitter as hell at being ousted. But what choice did Ron Meyer have? Especially when so many people inside and outside the company detested Shmuger (who had become known simply as "The Schmuck"). Case in point: "We're all hoping," Brian Grazer kept replying as Hollywood kept asking when Shmuger would get the boot.

I've always considered Shmuger’s biggest problem was that he thinks he plays well with others when, in fact, he treats people badly and then is blind to the fact they hate his guts. He considers himself a political pro but really is just a polarizing asshole. Which is why he deserves to be kicked to the curb as much for his own behavior as for the infighting he instigated inside the studio and for lousy box office in a downtown economy where DVDs can no longer cover a mogul's greenlighting misses.

I believe Shmuger's fate was unofficially sealed when Ron Meyer began fielding journalist calls about whether Universal's well-liked and extremely capable and new mother Donna Langley was being fired. (Which would have besmirched Ron's carefully crafted good guy persona and made him look no better than that long ago Paramount cro-magnon mogul Ned Tanen who fired Dawn Steel while she was on maternity leave.) Meyer was bewildered how such a nasty untrue rumor even got started. But studio chatter rightly or wrongly pointed to Shmuger who needed to get the heat off himself and to blame someone else for Uni's dismal summer.

Yes, every journalist's email has been overflowing with tips about Universal which has been rumor central. (Mine, every time readers saw Ron Meyer eating at the commissary with, say, Scott Stuber.) All summer and this fall, Shmuger has been the subject of rumor after rumor, speculative article after speculative article. The reason why so many people were more than willing to throw this thin-skinned cry baby under the bus is a cautionary tale for Hollywood execs.

I'd heard earfuls about how "all the filmmakers" couldn't stand the guy. Michael Mann and Ridley Scott supposedly won't return his calls. Spike Lee reportedly will never talk to him again. And Clint Eastwood openly hates him. As an insider revealed to me, "Clint once said, 'You can see Mr. Shmuger thinking, plotting, scheming, all the time. He acts like he knows what he's doing with such certainty. But he doesn't. And he says really stupid things.'" Ouch! Of course, only an idiot would have greenlit another film with Michael Mann after the Miami Vice movie. Mann is one of those brilliant directors who also falls into the "Life Is Too Short" category. So Shmuger's inability to handle talent became all too apparant when Public Enemies was filming, and Michael Mann and Johnny Depp stopped talking to one another. Unable to cool down the hot tempers himself, Shmuger has the less than brilliant idea to send in underling Dylan Clark to act as Universal's official feud go-between. So Depp would talk to Clark who then talked to Mann, and Mann would talk to Clark who then talked to Depp. This was no way to run a production for the studio's big 2009 summer blockbuster.

Still, Shmuger and Linde last January signed a new contract. At the time, people both on the lot and in Black Tower saw them as good managers. They had the marketing and distribution and newly independent international departments well organized. So firing them now may seem unfair since they were riding high just a year ago after back-to-back record-setting numbers for the studio. [Universal Pictures recorded its biggest year ever in 2008 with global theatrical grosses totaling $2.834 billion. Universal’s domestic box-office tally of $1.12 billion outpaced the record it previously set in 2007, which was $1.099 billion. Internationally, Universal shattered 2007’s box-office mark of $1.034 billion, with a 2008 total of $1.714 billion, for an incredible year-over-year improvement of 66%.] But success like this is cyclical in Hollywood. What goes up must come down, eventually.

And that's where karma was a bitch for Marc. Here's why:

In 2008, the usually successful studio Twentieth Century Fox had one of its worst summers in recent memory. Almost immediately, certain journalists predicted heads would roll among the long stable management because of what was suddenly seen as deep systemic problems at the studio. Prior to the summer, Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos had been lauded for doing more with less: spending little money and smartly laying off risk on highly commercial movies that outperformed with moviegoers if not the critics. Rothman especially was rumored ready to be axed that summer, and the relentless media rushed to print the minuscule Rotten Tomatoes scores for his slate of swill. (Ring a bell, LA Times columnist/blogger Patrick Goldstein?)

But what the film community didn't know (and it even took Fox a long time to find out) is that those stories were no coincidence. They were planted by Shmuger who pushed and prodded and pressured entertainment and business journalists to badmouth the rival studio. He gave reporters all the ammunition they needed, from pithy off-the-record quotes about how Rothman had "ruined" the movie biz, to emailed handouts with facts and figures. He even put together the list of Rotten Tomatoes scores for all of Fox movies in recent years. His motivation for going to the media was that Fox made junk while he was making edgy and important movies at Universal. He depicted himself as the one truly creative mogul. And when some journalists wouldn't play his nasty parlor game [Full Disclosure: I refused, arguing that successful slates were cyclical and the place for this criticism was in my weekly box office reports and not my banner headlines], he froze them out.

Flash forward to 2009 when suddenly it's Universal's turn to fall apart at the box office. To their credit, the Fox moguls didn't return the favor when now it was Shmuger's time for public humiliation. And that's why no one is crying a river for Shmuger now. If anything, the feeling is he's getting what he deserved. Certainly, Uni's movie slate isn't getting any better since the summer. Love Happens didn't with audiences, and that upcoming Vince Vaughn starrer Couples Retreat has little box office heat. True, Nancy Meyer's It's Complicated does have considerable buzz, but it's a comedy aimed at adults. As a result, Universal won’t make its numbers this year, which would mean that for the first time in a long while the studio won't be quietly contributing is annual $1 billion profit into GE coffers.

Shmuger and Linde started out strong in the wake of Stacey Snider's unexpected departure to go run Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks. Meyer had total confidence in Snider, and let her do her thing while he did his. Which, like all those top jobs at subsidiaries of bigger media companies which are subsidiaries of even bigger companies, consists of kissing the rings of corporate overlords. And GE especially is a dictator when it comes to meetings and retreats and town halls and all the other bullshit, not to mention the GE Finance beancounters. So why doesn't this fish stink at the head? Because Ron Meyer isn't really in the movie biz, he's in the running-the-studio biz. He has to leave the movie-picking and -production to underlings, who in exchange for freedom have to bear the responsibility.

Shmuger and Linde were merely dogpaddling for a good long while as they carefully navigated their new moguldom. Linde took over international and did well. (He's the guy who oversaw Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds from spec script to box office success, trying not to be manipulated by Harvey Weinstein all the while.) But the creative part of the job was all Shmuger's.

It's not just that he made too many Russell Crowe movies. And too many ambivalent message war movies. Or that he bizarrely patted himself on the back for originality when he rebooted Fast And Furious with the original cast. Or took Hellboy from Sony and came out with a sequel. Coming from marketing, without production experience, he was viewed suspiciously by filmmakers. It wasn't long before they complained about all things Marc. They hated his habit of forcing them to undergo humiliating Q&As before he greenlighted a movie. "Which was impossible because you can't answer every question. So you bull-shitted him," a source told me. "He acted like that dean in Animal House who takes himself so seriously, but we all know he's a joke."

Then, after the movies would start production, Shmuger was scorned for periodically calling up filmmakers "and giving them random notes on one set of dailies and never doing the foreplay," one insider described.

When things were going swell, Marc was never warm but at least cordial. But when things began to go badly, first with State Of Play, then with Land Of The Lost which was such a huge embarrassing bomb (and, ironically, exactly the kind of low-brow comedy that Fox would release only better executed), "Marc was so traumatized that he just sounded like he was under a hypnotic spell."

Then things went from bad to worse. Universal's next 3 movies had to total $300 in any combination: Bruno, Public Enemies, and Funny People. First, Public Enemies opened July 1st and to date has taken in only $97.1M domestic. Bruno debuted July 10th and tapped out around $60M. And Funny People was released July 31st and hit a high of $51.8M. That's $209M tops, not nearly good enough. "During that time, Shmuger became delusional and weirdly paralyzed. It was too hard to talk to him. He became a contrarian. If you said one thing, he'd say the other thing," an insider told me.

To their credit, both Shmuger and Linde responded to the crisis by setting the example of working even harder than before (they were never slackers) and mending fences hither and yon. But Shmuger's deep-rooted insecurity got the better of him. Obsessed with what the media were not just writing about him but also thinking about him as they circled like vultures in search of carrion, Shmuger went pleading to NBCU for a vote of confidence. "He said he wanted to be supported in some press story about what his accomplishments are, that would let him go talk about them and then the bosses reinforce that. He wanted a bullshit endorsement," one Hollywood publicist told me. But there was worry "it would be a Band-Aid on a surgical wound". Nevertheless, Shmuger arranged for LA Times journalist Claudia Eller to do an exclusive interview (and kept that secret from other media, ridiculously responding to their constant phone calls with just ums and ers). While his future remained uncertain at Universal, he attempted to rally other journalists on his behalf.

It was Meyer's call whether to can Shmuger and Linde, but GE still had to agree to pay off the 2 1/2 years that they both have left on their contracts -- not an inconsequential amount.

FYI, my info is the Los Angeles Times was 100% wrong when it reported Friday that Shmuger's and Linde's fate would have to wait until the negotiations for a sale of NBC Universal was complete. And that stuff about Jeff Zucker telling Ron Meyer to wait because of "something big" was pure fiction. But, if others were writing speculation about turmoil at the top of Universal, why didn't I?

Because, readers, I hate Shmuger, really detest the putz, and I didn't want it to look like I was doing him harm because of a personal vendetta. I told The New Yorker why I was waiting: because I believe in killing the king, not just wounding him. And I feared writing one of my trademark brutally honest posts only to have Shmuger's bosses suddenly feel sorry for him and keep him. Yes, I want Marc gone that much. More importantly, I'm not the only one.
Comments (53)


But we had Will Ferrell in Land of the Lost…audiences love him, right???
Comment by Tyler-Perry_is_the_Anti-Christ — October 5, 2009 @ 8:36 am Reply to this post

The pity of it all is that a man like this could ever advance to the level that he did. Those of us in the industry, especially on the marketing side from which Shmuger arose, have always known, marveled at, resented, and laughed at Marc’s total ineptness in the creative community. This applies to both the marketing side, which he single handed ruined through his lack of heart and his malicious spirit, and the production side which subsequently experienced the same dunderheadedness that he brought to marketing. For the last 20 years, people have lived in fear and misery from this guy, and their only reward was to watch him rise through the ranks. Please dear god let it be finally over. As for Shmuger’s legacy of mediocrioty and cold hearted nastiness, let us just say, “nice shot dork”.
Comment by shamefully anonymous — October 5, 2009 @ 9:05 am Reply to this post

There IS a god.
Comment by ExExec — October 5, 2009 @ 9:13 am Reply to this post

That whole organization needs to be revamped. Especially those in Theatrical and Home Entertainment! Hopefully Meyer will look at other depts too.
Comment by In the Biz — October 5, 2009 @ 2:53 pm Reply to this post

When does the head get chopped off when the when the fish is out of wthe ater. It seems to me Zucker should be held accountable for something. Ron Meyer has his sandbox to play in. But Zucker is in charge of the playground. One day the Zucker cyst that he uses for a head will pop. I hope they catch it on film.
Comment by Zuckercyst — October 5, 2009 @ 9:27 am Reply to this post

I haven’t laughed as hard as I did now, reading the “Zucker cyst” tag line, in many months. Hopefully, Zucker cyst, you write comedy.
Comment by Anonymous — October 6, 2009 @ 9:36 pm Reply to this post

now that’s how to kick start monday.
Comment by crossly — October 5, 2009 @ 9:54 am Reply to this post

New website yes but the same cutting edge journalism we come to love and expect from you Nikki. Great article, this is why I read your website every day. ps They should keep David Kosse though as he is one of the good guys…
Comment by The Judge — October 5, 2009 @ 9:59 am Reply to this post

Linde will go back and run Focus
Comment by Anonymous — October 5, 2009 @ 10:00 am Reply to this post

Wow, that’s pretty much the definition of a hit job…
Comment by Jesus — October 5, 2009 @ 10:04 am Reply to this post

When Clint Eastwood hates you, you are dead.

You just don’t know it yet :P
Comment by Nurf? — October 5, 2009 @ 10:38 am Reply to this post

Nikki, I’ve been critical of you lately (and in true Nikki form, you probably don’t give a shit).

But this article is a return to what makes you great: you are a good story teller who exposes the stories the public would otherwise not hear.

Good work, much appreciated.
Comment by J.R. — October 5, 2009 @ 11:02 am Reply to this post

There is a god…and he hates movie executives. :)
Comment by King Jack — October 5, 2009 @ 11:23 am Reply to this post

RE: King Jack -

“There is a god… and he hates movie executives.”

He hates movie executives who hate creative people and don’t love making movies.

Congrats to Adam F and Donna L for surviving and thriving!
Comment by Happy Days — October 5, 2009 @ 11:37 am Reply to this post

“For months, Finke has been privately promising to write a tough piece about Universal, which has had a bad year at the box office. She’s biding her time until it’s clear that there will be changes in the executive suite. In general, she says, “I like to do kill-the-king, don’t just injure them.”

Hats off to the New Yorker. They totally called this one right!
Comment by Monkey Munch — October 5, 2009 @ 11:42 am Reply to this post

One down, one to go, watch out Oren Aviv. If there is a God you’re next.
Comment by Snarky — October 5, 2009 @ 12:05 pm Reply to this post

Lionsgate has their version of Shmuger. The name is Tim Palen.
Comment by violet — October 5, 2009 @ 12:13 pm Reply to this post

I knew Marc as one of mmy closest friends in High School in suburban St Louis. He was one of the three most briliant men I have ever met in my life. And Marc always had teremendous character and drive.

You get to know the real person when close as a teenager and I saw Marc’s inner personality. Those of you cowards who post here anonymously–unwilingness to sign your sign name says a lot.

Marc may take the fall b/c U’s fortunes changed this year after two highly profitable years. But do not attack him personally, Because Marc is of the highest personal character.

Daniel Bloom
St Louis Mo
Comment by Daniel N Bloom — October 5, 2009 @ 12:20 pm Reply to this post


I too grew up with Marc but only knew him because our parents were friends. He never had a whole lot to say and was a complete ass to people in the industry who moved to LA from his home town St. Louis. In fact, I don’t think he even wanted to admit he was from St. Louis.
Based on how he treated people here, I would not say he has any personal character.
Comment by Kathy — October 5, 2009 @ 1:21 pm Reply to this post

Daniel, you are right that Marc had drive, but Kathy is correct that he forgot his Midwestern roots.

As a reporter, I covered Sony when he was there and that drive of his led him to take credit for other’s work. When called out on it, he became arrogant.

I think Marc would gain a lot in going back to St. Louis and getting back to who he used to be.

And Daniel, you are right, people should post their names. There are just too many cowards in Hollywood.

fyi, I’m from Granite City.
Comment by Anita Busch — October 5, 2009 @ 8:13 pm Reply to this post


Considering all the sheer hell you been put through when you dared to speak truth to power, it is refreshing and heartening to hear from a survivor like you. And to paraphrase the late playwright and civil rights activist Endesha Ida Mae Holland, “If I can survive — and thrive, so can you.”

You have made my day!
Comment by John Arthur Lowe — October 6, 2009 @ 1:53 pm Reply to this post

Hey look, they got the internet in St. Louis!! Two breaking stories in one day!

People post here anonymously b/c they’re smart, Daniel Bloom. It’s a small town. The internet has its own rules.
Comment by smokey mccracksalot — October 5, 2009 @ 1:43 pm Reply to this post

“Hey look, they got the internet in St. Louis!! Two breaking stories in one day!” ”
Yep and 5000 square foot homes on acre lots for less than 2 million where you leave your doors unlocked, and do not have to worry about driving 3 blocks from the best parts of town to be confronted by a gang member. My parents live In Beverly Hills. I went to school in so cal (still recovering from the smog). I have the armpit of the world and it los angeles.

Anyone who has actualy lived in both socal and St Louis knows which is the better place to live. Next time you fly over our state–keep flying please don’t land.
Comment by Anonymous — October 5, 2009 @ 3:30 pm Reply to this post

As Missouri lacks competitive production incentives for the filmed entertainment business, I have no reason to go there. As Missouri is a place dying entertainers go to perform to decrepit audiences… it is irrelevant to this discussion. You can have it. We don’t miss you. buh. bye.
Comment by smokey — October 6, 2009 @ 12:21 pm Reply to this post

First you set your sights on Shaye and Lynne and they were quickly ‘dispatched’. Now it’s Shmuger’s turn and he’s been similarly dealt with.

Universal have really improved their standing in alot of ways the last few years but I never understood some of their alleged ’successes’ under Shmuger. For example, how can they claim Hellboy 2 is a hit?

If anything that film is one of an alarmingly more common creature. A film that ‘bombs’ after it’s initial strong opening. A $75m domestic gross is not a summer hit never mind a franchise starter.
Comment by Warner Borg — October 5, 2009 @ 12:41 pm Reply to this post

Shmuger can go back to Sony Pix as Jeff Blake always loved him…ha,ha,ha!
Comment by King Jack 2 — October 5, 2009 @ 12:51 pm Reply to this post

Damn, Nikki! Very impressive article. The amount of stuff that you know about this industry keeps me coming back to this site every day. A studio head so hated by the world-class filmmakers working under him that they won’t return his calls? OUch!
Comment by Armando — October 5, 2009 @ 1:10 pm Reply to this post

It’s about time – he was a dick when I worked for him at Sony. And the talent hated him then too – a couple of A-list stars threatened to walk off the set unless he was escorted off the stage. I guess you could say he’s not really a “people person”.
Comment by Ex-Sonyite — October 5, 2009 @ 1:16 pm Reply to this post

Giving Marketing guys Production responsibilities was suuuccccccccch a great idea tho!!!!

Tick tock, Mr. Aviv. Tick. Tock.
Comment by even still it took too long — October 5, 2009 @ 1:29 pm Reply to this post

“Giving Marketing guys Production responsibilities was suuuccccccccch a great idea tho!!!”
You would think someone might have learned that when Frank Price tried it with Marvin Antonowsky but I guess this is a business where they not only remake scripts they remake mistakes over and over again.
Comment by Gofer — October 5, 2009 @ 2:03 pm Reply to this post

In the span of a few months, the heads of NBCU have rolled, Silverman at NBC, Shmuger and Linde at U. I wonder who is running NBCU and how big of a putz he’d have to be to have such staggeringly incompetent top execs on both sides of his company? Could it be the same exec who took NBC from 1st to 4th? Could it be the same guy about to be replaced by Steve Burke or Ted Harbert, dear G-d we hope?
Comment by Tom — October 5, 2009 @ 2:25 pm Reply to this post

I feel bad for David Linde.
Comment by Charlotte A. Cavatica — October 5, 2009 @ 2:55 pm Reply to this post

David Linde reached for the brass ring – good for him. He is a huge talent and will come out on top.
Comment by Anonymous — October 5, 2009 @ 5:21 pm Reply to this post

wow – go get em nikki. so when are you going to start on tony sella at fox? pages and pages of shit can be (and should be) written about that guy. and his “co” head of marketing – pam levine. what a joke those two are….
Comment by exfoxer — October 5, 2009 @ 3:18 pm Reply to this post

Hey no anti-Ned Tanen statements here, Nik. You know damn well this business would be better off both financially and creatively if there were a Ned Tanen clone running every studio in town.
Comment by Valerie — October 5, 2009 @ 3:23 pm Reply to this post

So Glad to see the Wicked Dick is gone! I agree with 99% of Hollywood, Nobody liked this guy! He was a creative dud, a horrible manager, and didn’t know the difference between production and basket weaving! Truly I am shocked it took this long for Ron to can this Guy! Even with two successful years at U, working with this guy was utter hell! FOR EVERYONE! He lost me over a year ago, I swore never to make another film with U until he was out! If it wasn’t for David Linde I would have scraped that project to!

I am happy to Report a good call with Adam is on the horizon, I will be delighted to bring my business back to him! If Shmuger is the devil then Adam is Jesus! U will be all the better with the presence of someone with even an ounce of integrity. Shmuger can go find a hole to die in, he will be hard pressed to find anyone in this town to work with and if he does they can count me OUT!
Comment by eyeforaneye — October 5, 2009 @ 3:36 pm Reply to this post

Congratulations to Adam! It’s about time the good guy with talent wins in this town!
Comment by EOS — October 5, 2009 @ 5:58 pm Reply to this post

Does the shmuger get to keep his ruby red slippers?
Comment by kink 2 — October 5, 2009 @ 3:45 pm Reply to this post

I love how people in Hollywood equate genius and great guy with the fact that they’ve thrown business their way or said yes to them. What a bunch of children. Adam Fogelson might be the right call for Universal right now — a tree stump would be better than Shmuger — or he might be just an inexpensive seat-filler to do no harm until the new overlords come in. Deifying him is a bit much, if he is anything like his father, then he is a conniving little prick. How does Michael Moses feel now that he no longer has to wipe Shmuger’s ass or carry out his evil deeds?
Comment by James Early — October 5, 2009 @ 4:13 pm Reply to this post

“These are really hard decisions to make. What movies to make, how to make them at what price, how to market and release them. In isolation, that is very challenging.”

Marc Shmuger quote
Comment by no friends left — October 5, 2009 @ 4:14 pm Reply to this post


Universal’s top execs used to play ball with Finke. But that cozy relationship ended some time ago, with the studio freezing her out, which is why as the news surfaced this morning that studio chairman Marc Shmuger was getting the ax, Finke erupted with an incredibly nasty post — even by her standards — about Shmuger. She called him, among other things, a “polarizing [jerk...though she uses stronger language that I can't print here]” and a “thin-skinned cry baby,” adding “I hate Shmuger, really detest the putz.”

To bolster her case that he was a loser, she claims that a wide variety of top filmmakers couldn’t stand him either, citing Michael Mann (”supposedly won’t return his calls”), Spike Lee (”reportedly will never talk to him again”) and Clint Eastwood (”openly hates him”). It sounds like very damning stuff, but is it actually true? I don’t have Clint’s home phone number, so I couldn’t ask him for verification, but guess what? I did talk to Michael Mann today after Shmuger was fired, so he had no need to suck up to the guy anymore. And Mann said that Finke’s account was totally erroneous.

“That stuff about me not returning his calls — that’s just not true,” Mann told me. “He’s a terrific guy, and Marc and I have a terrific relationship. He was incredibly supportive during the making of ‘Public Enemies,’ and I think he’s going to have a lot of good will wherever he goes. I don’t dislike him at all. In fact, I like him a lot. He always had a lot of good ideas and was a stand-up guy. From a filmmaker’s point of view, working with him, and Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson, it was a really great experience.”

Mann laughed. “You really have to stretch to say I had problems at Universal. I even got along with the business affairs guys, who are the ones you’re supposed to have a tough time with.”
Comment by BitterNoMo — October 5, 2009 @ 5:51 pm Reply to this post

David Linde is one of the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever worked with. Somehow, in the midst of the most stressful jobs, he always took care of his employees and always was there for you if you needed him. Wherever he lands, they will be lucky to have him. What a talent, what a gentleman.
Comment by underwater — October 5, 2009 @ 8:09 pm Reply to this post

marc is a weirdo who dresses up in women’s clothes and likes things hard and undercover.

daniel- did you ever have to work with this guy? if so, you would know why everyone hated his ass.
Comment by adam — October 5, 2009 @ 9:36 pm Reply to this post

I certainly wish all the best to David Linde, he’s a very calm and focused gentleman and a pleasure to work with.
Comment by Joz Bernstein — October 5, 2009 @ 10:39 pm Reply to this post

Maria- Stop making posts as bitternomore. Marc is gone now so you can stop kissing his ass and give Adam’s your undivided attention. Don’t worry though, Ant Farm may be laying off people but you can always sign on with Workshop.
Comment by Keyartguy — October 6, 2009 @ 5:04 am Reply to this post

It’s “BitterNoMo,” Key Art Guy, not “BitterNoMore.” Maybe it’s your lack of attention to detail that prevents you from getting more work? Just a thought.

Not Maria – but whatever. Just someone who has worked with her and appreciates smart, out-of-the-box thinking and really can’t tolerate angry, entitled, hack keyartguys. Hey, we all have our prejudices.
Comment by BitterNoMo — October 6, 2009 @ 12:12 pm Reply to this post

I agree with The Judge about David Kosse. He’s a true professional, great to work with and a real talent. They are lucky to have his international expertise.
Comment by Mary de Costa — October 6, 2009 @ 7:29 am Reply to this post

Um, am I the only one who noticed ANITA BUSCH posted here?!
Comment by m — October 6, 2009 @ 9:34 am Reply to this post

i hope she doesn’t get another sicilian message for her cuglione di ferro in posting publicly or a karate chop from segall! hahahhah
Comment by lurker — October 6, 2009 @ 2:19 pm Reply to this post

Thank you Keyartguy for “outing” Maria. The quote from Mann read like a publicist’s handiwork and typical “on the record” fare. I laughed when I read it and laughed harder when I read your reply!
Comment by Jean — October 6, 2009 @ 10:56 am Reply to this post

Does anybody know what Ron Meyer does?
Comment by Sam Spiegel — October 6, 2009 @ 1:57 pm Reply to this post

Give Maria a break – she learned the business from Dana Precious, who did the exact same thing at Sony. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Comment by Ex-Sonyite — October 6, 2009 @ 5:24 pm Reply to this post

I’m sitting here reading this blog and these entries and I don’t recognize the Marc Shmuger you describe. I’ve known Marc for over 30 years dating to freshman year of college and he’s one of the brightest, kindest, most sincere people I’ve ever known. And, yes, his warmth and generosity haven’t changed one iota since we were 18 year olds.

Long ago I asked Marc how he planned to survive in Hollywood, a place –even then — known as a swamp of scheming, back-stabbing, schadenfreude-infused narcissists. Well, now I know –he wasn’t up to the task. I also know — after reading the original blog and subsequent comments — that my original thoughts about Hollywood’s denizens were way too kind. You all make my skin crawl.
Comment by Aghast — October 6, 2009 @ 9:16 pm Reply to this post