Legendary producer set to receive leadership kudos

Producer Robert Evans will receive a leadership award from Best Buddies, a nonprofit org dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing one-one-one mentorships and employment opportunities.

The award, given at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival on Sept. 13, recognizes those who have “repeatedly led the way in their field and made a significant contribution to humanity.” Past recipients include Muhammad Ali, Maria Shriver and Herb Ritts.

“Robert Evans absolutely fits that bill,” says Best Buddies board member and Echo Advertising prexy Barry Avrich. “This guy has gone zero to hero more times than anyone can count, and he’s still going, he’s still full of spirit.”

Evans realizes it’s more than just his career accomplishments that bring him this award. “It’s my infamy,” he says. “In 1979 I made $11 million dollars, in 1989 I made $37 dollars. Then I spent two months in the hospital and eight months in recovery, paralyzed, trying to learn how to walk again. I’m a role model not because of my ups, but because of my downs.”

Today, Evans is still rising from the ashes and working hard. Upcoming projects include turning his animated show “Kid Notorious” into a Brett Ratner-directed feature called “Hip-Hop to the Godfather.” Also in the hopper are “The Man Who Kept Secrets,” with Brian Grazer and William Friedkin, and “Triggerfish,” with Joe and Anthony Russo.

He recently purchased rights to novels “Stranger at the Palazzo D’Oro” and “Mailman.” And, of course, there’s his next book, “The Fat Lady Sang,” a post-stroke autobiography that he’s both writing and adapting for another Ratner-directed film.

Evans’ ability to connect with a new generation of filmmakers such as Ratner demonstrates his role model stature. And he’s always got a great story at the ready.

“You want to know why I’m so big with the under-30 crowd?” he asks. “I haven’t worn a tie in eight years. I only wear my lucky bolo. I bought it off this belly dancer. She was wearing it while dancing and afterward I offered her $100 for it. She turned me down. I came back the next week and offered her $500. The third week I walked in and laid 10 Franklins on the table. That did the trick.”

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