ACTOR ALEC BALDWIN HAS BECOME SO frustrated with the financier of his directorial debut, “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” that he has refused to get involved in post-production until he is sure that the moneymen at Cutting Edge Ent. have the cash to finish the film.
Baldwin hung in until the March 13 wrap of principal photography, despite not being paid during the final four weeks, along with many others as money ran low, he said. Baldwin finally got paid, only after hiring litigator Martin Singer, but he’s unconvinced that the problems are over, and said he won’t cut the film until they are.
Pic’s a remake of the 1941 film about a writer (Baldwin), who sells his soul to the devil (Jennifer Love Hewitt), with Anthony Hopkins playing the advocate who argues for the writer’s soul.
Cutting Edge’s David Glasser denied the film had serious money woes beyond the usual turbulence weathered by independently financed films with numerous investors.
“It’s incorrect that Alec hasn’t been paid,” said Glasser, who says he’s made good with almost everyone, after replacing an investor who fell out. “All the crew members and actors have been paid. There are a few outstanding vendors owed some money, but that’s a minute piece of the picture which is currently being rectified. The edit bay is open in New York, with our editor cutting every day. The only reason Alec isn’t in the editing room is that he’s been in Hawaii and he had personal issues, but he’s coming back to work on May 29.”
This rosy picture is news to Baldwin, who, reached late Monday, was completely unconvinced he’d be back to finish the film. He produced with partner Jon Cornick, saying he called in favors all over the place to bring the $27.5 million film in $700,000 under budget, at a time when he was going through personal turmoil with the breakup of his marriage to Kim Basinger. “All I know is that I developed this film (over) seven years, that Hopkins did the movie because I asked him to and after I went to my ex-wife’s agent, Rick Nicita, to ask him.”
Problems ensued through the production, coming to a head, Baldwin said, when Glasser and partner Adam Stone told him they would be unable to pay part of his salary, something Glasser denied.
“The financing appeared to have fallen through and they just stopped paying people,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin balked at starting post-production for fear there wasn’t money to facilitate the 10 weeks he was contracted to deliver a director’s cut, much less the 21 total weeks of postproduction.
Glasser’s assertion that the editor has been working off notes from Baldwin and Cornick was denied by the latter: “I saw the editor’s assemblage and was happy with what I saw, but Alec never gave notes on this movie, nor have I, so I don’t know why David’s saying that,” said Cornick.
Baldwin said he has no fiduciary responsibility to the film, and has been annoyed at a growing perception that he was involved in stiffing below-the-liners.
More embarrassing, said Baldwin, was the bouncing of a check to Nassau County for the lease of an empty Grumman facility used by the movie on Long Island. Baldwin went to bat with Nassau County executive Tom Gulotta to get the site at a bargain rate. Glasser said he was unaware of any bounced check.
About the only thing Baldwin and his financier agree on is that they’ve got a good film that needs finishing. “The response to the trailer and footage at Cannes were unbelievable and sales of territories were substantial,” said Glasser. “That’s more than enough money to cover what’s outstanding, which is why Alec’s comments are so shocking.” Glasser’s lawyer, Ed Labowitz, said he’d just received a resolution proposal from Baldwin’s lawyers with conditions that would get him back to work, something Glasser is confident will happen.
Baldwin, who kissed off one acting job waiting for a resolution, wants all the bills squared and the postproduction money escrowed. Soon.
DEBUT OF NEW LAUREN PIC: Producer Andrew Lauren has just started production on “G,” a Christopher Scott Cherot-directed film which puts a contemporary spin on “The Great Gatsby” by exploiting the rage hip hop has become in the tony Hamptons. “G,” which stars Richard T. Jones and Blair Underwood, is the first film for the producer son of fashion magnate Ralph Lauren, who dressed the cast of “The Great Gatsby” and fueled his son’s love of movies. “I was the ‘Cinema Paradiso’ kid, running the projector so my parents could watch movies before VHS, putting in the reels, watching them break with film spilling out all over the floor,” said Lauren. With partner Judd Landon (a former WMA agent) and no help from his father, Lauren got financing for the $3.7 million “G.” Pic is a drama about a rap mogul who built an empire solely to win back the love of his life. They’re racing to finish, not because of SAG negotiations, but mostly the inevitable post-Memorial Day bumper to bumper traffic. “We’re dealing with two deadlines, and are more nervous about finishing before all those people start coming from this city this way,” said Lauren, who with Landon are also adapting the Melvin Jules Bukiet novel “After,” scripted by Srdjan Dragovich, and “Blue Jean.”