In a battle of will and egos -- Hollywood privilege vs. French snobbery -- Brett Ratner met his match … and triumphed
Last year, Bob Shaye invited me to the Cannes Film Festival and New Line reserved a room for me at the Hotel du Cap. Now, the rooms at the Hotel du Cap don’t come cheap. They don’t even post their rates or take credit cards. During Cannes, rooms are in such demand that you have to pay cash, up front, for all 12 nights of the festival. Leave after two nights, you still pay for 12. And if you do leave after two nights, the hotel re-rents your old room to someone new who also has to pay cash, up front, for all 12 nights, even if they’re only staying two. And for all that money you’d think the staff would know how to treat their guests. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case while I stayed there.
The best rooms at the hotel are at Eden Roc. That’s where the chairmen of studios and the top actors stay. Last year it was Bob Shaye, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffery Katzenberg, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Eddie Murphy. Obviously, that’s where I want to stay.
But New Line has already reserved me a suite in the main hotel, which is a different building, a couple hundred yards away from Eden Roc. Still, I call up New Line to ask if it would be possible to be moved. I know it’s a long shot, no big deal, but just move me if a room happens to open up.
It doesn’t look good, but a few days later, I’m talking to my good friend Charles Koppelman, who is the former chairman of EMI Records. I mention that I’m going to Cannes and staying at the Hotel du Cap.
Charles says, “You have to call my friend, Andrew Quiska. Absolutely have to call him. He’s an amazing guy. He’s in charge of the rooms at the hotel.”
“Great,” I say, “Do you think he can help me move to Eden Roc?”
“No problem. Call him, tell him I sent you. And I’ll call him, too, just to make sure.”
And then he tells me the secret: Slip Quiska e500 when I get there — ’cause that’s the going rate for a little special care.
Three times before I leave for Cannes, I try to call Quiska. Not once do I hear back from him, but I figure, with the festival, it’s a busy time. Whatever. When I get to the hotel, he’s sitting behind a desk in the lobby. Now, Quiska is a serious French motherfucker. He’s old and he’s big. Immaculate suit, polished fingernails, slicked back silver hair, very imposing. The James Bond of concierges.
“Pleased to meet you,” I say, “I’m Brett Ratner, I’m Charles Koppelman’s friend.”
“Oh, Mr. Ratner. It is so nice to finally meet you. I must tell you, I love Charles Koppelman. He is a fantastique guy. I always send him to the best places when he vacations, the most fantastique hotels.”
Well, this son-of-a-bitch clearly loves Charles, ’cause he tells me story after story. And the whole time I’m listening, I’m thinking of how seriously hooked up I am. So I slip him his e500 and ask if he was able to move me to Eden Roc.
“No,” he says, “not the Eden Roc.”
“Not the Eden Roc?”
“No, no, no, no. For you, for you are Charles Koppelman’s friend, I have something fantastique! For you, I have put in the Annex.”
“Oui. Yes. The Annex!”
“The Annex? I’ve never heard of the Annex.”
“Yes. Charles called me personally. He asked me to take great care of you, so I take great care of you. For you, the Annex.”
The Punch Line
Welcome to the Annex. First you walk out of the main hotel — carrying your own bags because there’s no one to help you — and take a road off the main driveway, one that leads away from the ocean and Eden Roc. Then you get to a lonely three-story building that you can only enter with a key since there’s no bellman. You go up to the second floor, down this tiny hallway and then another and then: my room. My very-special-good-friend-of-super-fantastique-Charles-Koppelman room. I mean, literally, it’s the size of a toaster oven. It smells like the building where my grandparents lived in Miami Beach. No TV. No minibar. There’s a tiny bed and four walls. I can pretty much touch all four walls while sitting on the bed.
So I walk back and find Quiska, ’cause there’s gotta be some kind of mistake, right?
“Oh, no, no, no, Mr. Ratner. There’s no mistake,” he says. “Mr. Koppelman asked me to take care of you, so I give you a fantastique room.”
How is this a fantastique room? I’m overlooking a shrub. I can touch all four walls at once. But this guy. This guy who’s already been paid, who took my money, my goddamn money, looks me in the eye and says, “But Mr. Ratner, I am taking good care of you.”
Okay. So I’m pissed, but I’m acting calm. I’m going to be nice. I’m going to charm him. “I know you’re trying to take good care of me,” I say, “but the room is very, very small and I’m not happy there.”
“It is impossible,” he says. “All the other rooms are booked. If, perhaps, tomorrow there is a change … “
The Sucker Punch
So not only is my room the size of a toaster oven, but the Annex is where all the assistants to all the other people who are staying at the hotel stay. I’ve got a studio exec’s wife’s personal trainer and a director’s assistant and a couple of makeup artists as neighbors. It sucks. I’m ashamed. And every day, I’m running into publicists in the hallways who are looking at me with that “who did you piss off to end up over here?” look.
I start trying to figure this out, because it doesn’t make any sense. Quiska knew I had a suite reserved by New Line — I called DDA, the agency that booked my suite, and confirmed it — but Charles called him up and told him to take care of me. I mean, the way things are going, this guy must have really hated “Red Dragon.”