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New York Times

Volatility and Revenge: How Scott Rudin used his power in show business

Scott Rudin has long been one of Hollywood’s most famous and powerful producers, especially on Broadway, an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and 17-time Tony Award-winning EGOT and industry. He is respected for his hobbies and talents in movies such as “The Social Network” and “No Country for Old Men” and in programs such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Book of Mormon”. He is also known for his horror in the entertainment world. At the moment of anger, lower layers, lassos, cell phones, mugs and other improvised projectiles. But the abuse of the assistant is only part of the way he used his power. Sign up for the morning newsletter from The New York Times He has a reputation for revenge: After a dispute with an agent over airfare, he asks some of the agent’s clients to leave him. It is said to have put pressure on it. He is in a proceeding. He sued the insurance company for huge payments after accusing the musical of closing due to the pregnancy of star Audra McDonald. And he could be cold: when Rita Wilson, who starred in one of his plays, told him she had breast cancer, she rested during the Tony voting season. I lamented that I would need it. But now the 62-year-old producer is facing calculations. In a Hollywood Reporter article this month, Rudin announced that he would withdraw from “active participation” in projects in the West End of Broadway, Hollywood and London, detailing the long history of bullying assistants. And in a written answer to the question in this article, he said he was “deeply sorry” for his actions and revealed that he would resign from the Broadway League, an industry group of producers and theater owners. did. “I know that apologies are never enough,” he said. “In taking a step back, I’m going to tackle my problem and I’m fully aware that many feel this is too little and too late.” For decades, Rudin has been his actions. I’ve avoided most of the results. His desire for artisticly ambitious (and often award-winning) works has swarmed him with established emerging artists. But he also benefited from his reputation for ruthlessness. Many of those hurt by his anger have been afraid of retaliation if they speak. Even some of his biggest supporters say he needs to change. “He was sick,” said billionaire David Geffen, who co-produced Rudin’s recent Broadway show with his fellow mogul Barry Diller. The New York Times interviewed dozens of actors, writers, agents, producers, investors and office assistants who have worked with Rudin to examine the financial records of his stage shows and from many of his legal disputes. I reviewed the court documents. What emerged confirms much of what was detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, and how he blamed, alternately nurturing and blaming colleagues at all levels of the entertainment industry, not just the office. It provided a complete picture of how power was used and abused. After Rudin’s domination for decades, his resurrection comes as the entertainment industry thinks about the future after a pandemic. Many hopes will look different from the past. The Rudin Employee Handbook, distributed to new staff, outlines strict rules of conduct. “Rude, aggressive, or exorbitant behavior” is redundant. Colleagues must treat each other with “patience, respect, and consideration.” Be polite and kind. Please do not send angry or rude emails. However, employees soon learned that there was one person to whom these rules did not apply. It’s the boss. Real and imaginary mistakes have infuriated Rudin — wrong fonts (he claims Garamond), misspelled names, and unwiped conference tables. Rudin always screamed and swore. “Why are you so stupid?” “You are a desperate idiot.” “A clown car is running in this office.” “You are a poor loser.” Former employees are on the walls, windows, ground, And sometimes he said he threw things at his subordinates. His actions caused anger after being explained to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. It’s also less effective, but has been described in several other accounts for years. Rudin provided both an apology and a bit of opposition to the story being told about him as his boss. “I don’t think some of the recently published stories are accurate, but I’m aware of how inappropriate some of my actions are and the impact they have on others,” he said. Told. “I’m not proud of these actions.” He was often trapped in a conference room at Rudin’s pre-pandemic Times Square office, where he moved last summer. Two assistants explained the door sign as follows: Do not enter. There is nothing here. For some, this was Tinsel Town’s boot camp, a place to gain irreplaceable insights into the entertainment world. Many former assistants have risen to the Hollywood ranks, admitting Scott Rudin Productions is familiar with the way the industry works. They praised Rudin’s perfectionism, his insight, his instincts (the “golden gut”), and his relentless work ethic. However, more than 20 ex-employees shared memories of their colleagues being furious. The intern receptionist was dismissed because he was too slow to warn maintenance about the flickering of the ceiling light. A spokeswoman was sitting shivering when Rudin hit the wall. The employee was fired because he fell asleep while working late. Another was kicked out of the car on the highway after mispronounced the name (the car was first pulled on the shoulder). In his decades of career, Rudin has been admired for his skill in harnessing talent and money to present adventurous works that are too risky for most other commercial producers. Built up a reputation. In Hollywood, he moved to indie fares as the industry was drawn to franchises and reboots. Among his most notable recent films are “Lady Bird,” “Isle of Dogs,” and “Uncut Gems.” On Broadway, he was the most prolific producer. For the past 15 years, he has been the lead producer on 36 shows, selling $ 6,59 not only for the production of the starry sky, which is primarily a serious play, but also for the blockbuster Book of Mormon. 1 million people on Broadway’s 10-year run. He had the knack for bridging the world of theater and film, inviting film stars to Broadway, and finding film jobs for stage actors, directors, and writers. His work starred who is who in entertainment such as Denzel Washington, Larry David, Chris Rock, Michelle Williams and Laurie Metcalf. But he has also built up a long list of enough people. Several actors and writers who worked with Rudin began sharing stories about his bad behavior. In 2015, Wilson learned that she had breast cancer while appearing in Rudin’s work in David’s play “Fish in the Dark.” When she told Rudin the news, he complained that he needed a vacation during Tony’s voting season and asked him to look at her medical records, but director Anna Shapiro had to find a replacement. I was angry that I couldn’t. A few days later, just before the curtain went up, Wilson received a call from the agent, stating that at Rudin’s request, the surgeon should immediately call the insurance assessor. Memories still afflict her. “He felt like he was trying to find a way to legally dismiss me,” Wilson said. Shapiro said she was trying to help and immediately apologized when it became clear that Wilson was unintentionally upset. Rudin’s spokesman, Rick Miramontes, said Rudin’s memory wanted Wilson to leave after opening the show, but he and the director didn’t want her to delay treatment. The generously nostalgic 2017 Broadway “Hello Dolly!” Was a must-see event. My beloved Bette Midler chewed the landscape with many musicals. Tickets sold fast, especially during the weeks Midler was playing, at spectacular prices, and peaked at $ 998 during the holiday week. Investors in the show were delighted. Huge advance sales, Boffo’s total sales, and top-notch prices suggested a monster hit. But in the end, they are making very little profit, and many are now complaining. “I’ve invested in a lot of Rudin’s shows,” said Gabby Hannah, a real estate agent at Cape Cod. She invested $ 50,000 in “Dolly” and made only $ 5,000 in profits. Please do not do it again. Over the last 15 years, Rudin has raised about $ 200 million from various investors to fund the stage show, according to a review of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s filings for each show. However, some investors are complaining about his high spending and low-earning performance. In the last five years, about three-quarters of his Broadway shows have lost money, according to a review of recovery and closing announcements and discussions with industry leaders. .. “Dolly” investors said in an interview that there was really no way to understand why returns were low, that is, little financial data was shared, but Rudin was very generous in compensating Midler for marketing. Some believed that they spent a lot of money and maintained it. It was very important to himself that there was little left to share with them. Rudin said the proposal to spend a lot of money on himself was “not true.” “I’ve given up the hundreds of thousands of dollars I have to pay to keep the show going over and over again (on almost every show),” he says. I did. The show is continuing. According to Financial Filing and the Broadway League, Dolly cost $ 16 million, operated for 76 weeks, and sold 811,203 tickets for a total of $ 128 million. According to a document submitted to the Attorney General’s Office in New York, the weekly cost of the show was high ($ 1.2 million), and the cost of the opening night, including a star-studded party at the New York Public Library, was $ 842,000. Some investors are currently closely watching the proceedings between Rudin and SpotCo, a marketing company that claims he owe $ 6.3 million to the company in a pending proceeding. As a prolific user of non-disclosure agreements, Rudin has worked hard to prevent people from talking about him, as well as intimidation. A non-disclosure agreement reviewed by Times Bar employees prohibits cooperating in interviews about him, “Scott Rudin or his family.” And the provisions of some operating agreements on his show are investments. The house is forbidden to make “negative remarks”. In this week’s essay, we recall that two artists who worked with Rudin, Tavi Gevinson and Michael Chabon, do not object to knowing what he is doing. However, many of his strong collaborators refuse to answer inquiries about him. Among them are actors such as Washington, Metcalfe and Jennifer Lawrence. Directors Wes Anderson, Coen brothers, Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, Alex Garland. Writers Aaron Sorkin and Lucas Hnath. Former studio executive Amy Pascal. And the studio that Rudin has recently collaborated with, A24 and FX Production. Still, Rudin’s position is undermined and his future is questionable. At stake is a fast-paced series of prestige projects, including the resurrection of “The Music Man,” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, scheduled to begin previewing in December. Jackman and Foster have each stated that they are working on a healthy workplace for “The Music Man” following Rudin’s announcement and are pleased that Rudin has resigned. (Both declined the request for an interview.) Rudin had planned many other projects before his actions began to catch up with him. He was developing Broadway Revivals for “Our Town” starring Dustin Hoffman, “Piano Lessons” starring Samuel L. Jackson, and “Death of a Salesman” starring Nathan Lane. He was also planning a new dance-focused show with the acclaimed choreographer Justin Peck. The new Adam Getel musical. And “The Black Clown”, a musical adaptation of Langston Hughes’ poetry by Michael Schachter and Davón e Tines. The fate of these projects and some of the films Rudin planned to produce is currently unknown. This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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