It's been a while since we last heard from David Bergstein, the embattled studio chieftain whose cash-challenged Capitol/ThinkFilm operation has withstood everything from repeated production stoppages to lawsuit flurries in recent months. In the time since Variety caught up with him on his yacht at Cannes, however, he's been plenty busy polishing his brass balls, today unveiling his secret comeback plan in The Hollywood Reporter. Follow the jump for more specifics on the schmogul's no-cost rebuilding strategy:
In what sadly may become a regular feature of our industry coverage here at Defamer, we feel compelled today to recap one of the ugliest weeks in recent memory among those toiling in the independent-film trenches. if you haven't been able to keep it all straight before now, please read on (and keep the liquor handy):
Bad news for film fans but delicious news for those of you who love DVD extras: David O. Russell's political comedy Nailed has been shut down again, for the fourth time. As per Nikki Finke, the trouble-plagued production "was shut down by IATSE on Friday for the same reasons as before: crew not getting paid," though Variety reports that filmmaking is scheduled to resume today for two more days of principal photography. As enticing as the film's synopsis sounds (Jessica Biel has nail shot into her forehead, becomes nymphomaniac) we must concur with Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells, who'd prefer to skip straight to the making-of documentary where the mercurial O. Russell calls Biel a string of nasty names she hasn't heard since Ruthie hit puberty on 7th Heaven.
As if the indie film climate wasn't poisonous enough with Picturehouse and Warner Independent biting the dust last month, another recent Oscar-winner is on life-support after a pair of lawsuits crashed down on it in the last week. Troubled distributor ThinkFilm, whose owner David Bergstein and corporate sibling Capitol Films have faced an infamous series of production stoppages over the last month, is now ensnared in a pair of lawsuits from ad media buyers claiming they're owed $4.5 million in outstanding fees. A troubling breakdown of the debts follows after the jump.
Here we go again: Nikki Finke is reporting that production on David O. Russell's Nailed has shut down once more as IATSE brass pulled members off the set over "payroll irregularities." "Friday was supposed to be the deadline set for the crew to get paid since there was a promise of a loan being made by then," Finke writes. "But IATSE apparently lost its patience with all the smoke-and-mirror promises so today the union ordered its crew to walk off the production." No word yet from Capitol Films chief and noted yacht renter David Bergstein, who attributed SAG's earlier walk-off to dodgy bridge financing that he insisted had since been resolved. We hear that Russell, meanwhile, still smarting from Cookiegate and his previous work stoppage, is spending his day off calling around for quotes on jinx insurance. [DHD]
All the drama affecting David O. Russell's new film Nailed settled down a bit Monday when production resumed on the South Carolina set. But while the producers squared away their money issues with SAG, which shut shooting down last Friday, our own suspicions about precariously-budgeted distributor ThinkFilm got another look from Variety yesterday afternoon:
We can't imagine how or why, after the ordeals of Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, trouble could possibly find its way back to the set of a David O. Russell film. Alas, there it is — or, was, rather, in South Carolina, where only three weeks after resident cookie-choking expert James Caan quit the project, both the Teamsters and IATSE are grumpy and SAG reportedly shut production down because of "insufficient funds on deposit with the guild." And that's just the beginning, writes Nikki Finke:
From the cancer-stricken title character of Brian's Song to the broken-footed novelist of Misery (don't even get us started on The Godfather), James Caan knows a thing or two about suffering onscreen. So naturally we're stunned to learn that the "creative differences" that irreparably fractured the actor's relationship with David O. Russell on the set of Nailed came down to... the proper way to choke on a cookie? "Russell asked him to cough as he choked, but Caan argued that the character couldn't cough and choke to death at the same time," wrote Gregg Goldstein today in The Hollywood Reporter. "Russell suggested that they shoot it both ways, but the actor expressed distrust that his version would be considered and left the South Carolina set." Caan's replacement has yet to be determined, but will be screened carefully by the newly wary Russell for his knowledge of (and loose adherance to) basic physiological functions. [THR]
James Caan and Jake Gyllenhaal are the latest casualties of David O. Russell's tastefully hands-on directing style, which this week resulted in the Caan's departure from and Gyllenhaal's apparent whimpering around the set of Russell's latest film, Nailed. As reported today, Caan walked out after "creative differences" with the tempestuous filmmaker best known for berating Lily Tomlin while shooting I Heart Huckabees (or is it for fighting George Clooney during Three Kings? It's always been too close for us to call).