×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Last Producer

Burt Reynolds' extremely brief cameo in "The Player" comes to mind while watching "The Last Producer," a film he directs and headlines. In the Altman pic, Reynolds spit out an angry ad-lib, referring to the ambitious studio suits who stop to schmooze with him as "assholes." This mournful comedy benefits from a certain soulfulness in Reynolds' treatment of a once-successful, at least modestly talented producer who genuinely believes he still has something to offer.

With:
Sonny Wexler - Burt Reynolds Mira Wexler - Ann-Margret Damon Black - Benjamin Bratt Syd Wolf - Charles Durning Reuben Tallridge - Greg Germann Sherri Ganse - Rod Steiger Frances Chadway - Lauren Holly Bo Pomerants - Sean Astin Moogian - Robert Costanzo Henry Moore - Robert Goulet

Burt Reynolds’ extremely brief cameo in “The Player” comes to mind while watching “The Last Producer,” a film he directs and headlines. In the Altman pic, Reynolds spit out an angry ad-lib, referring to the ambitious studio suits who stop to schmooze with him as “assholes.” Reynolds undoubtedly meant it, and he puts some of that emotion into this film, which will air on USA Network. What comes out isn’t quite satire — he’s not trying to duplicate Altman here — and the story’s too slack and slow, but this mournful comedy benefits from a certain soulfulness in Reynolds’ treatment of a once-successful, at least modestly talented producer who genuinely believes he still has something to offer.

Reynolds plays Sonny Wexler, a guy who produced a few popular films that may or may not have been pretty good. Now, after 40 years in the biz, Sonny has a hard time getting his pitches heard, let alone purchased. Most of the powerful people he knew have retired or passed away, although his buddy and former partner Syd (a sympathetic Charles Durning), still makes sure he can get on the lot and keeps him tuned in to the gossip channels. The latest news is that the studio’s head honcho, the ice-cold Damon Black (Benjamin Bratt), is hot for a script by a writer Sonny’s been nurturing. Plotline of the pic involves Sonny trying to raise the $50,000 he needs to exercise his informal option and make sure he stays attached to the project.

Sonny knows this is his very last shot, and hopes just a touch of his old success will rejuvenate his pill-popping wife (Ann-Margret) and even help out his gambling-addicted son-in-law (“Ally McBeal’s” Greg Germann). But the further he goes to try and secure a loan from a seedy and potentially dangerous Armenian millionaire (Robert Costanzo), the more he questions whether it’s worth it after all.

Reynolds clearly wants to present Sonny as a real guy — he’s not a comic fraud, nor is he a tragically neglected genius. The character isn’t drawn with the sharpest clarity, and at times the portrayal becomes just a touch self-pitying, but overall this is an honest, caring view of a Hollywood has-been, and it reaches moments of true poignancy.

The film does get lethargic, but it gets a big boost not a moment too soon in the form of Rod Steiger, who enters the second half of the story as an eccentric former cop who insists, in cryptic cliches, that he can take care of just about anything. Steiger and Reynolds have some real comic chemistry, the type that’s so unforced, so natural, that they’re funnier just looking at each other silently than speaking. With their equally oversized on-screen personalities, this duo deserves a more clever vehicle created just for them.

The Last Producer

Telepic; USA; Fri., Feb. 9; 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Kushner-Locke. Executive producers, Peter Locke, Donald Kushner; co-executive producers, Phil Mittleman, Vincent Cirrincione; producers, Daniel Bigel, Michael Mailer; co-producers, Clyde Hayes, Tod Feurman; line producer, Lansing Parker. Directed by Burt Reynolds; written by Clyde Hayes.

Crew: Cinematography, Nick McLean Sr.; production design, Suzette Ervin; editors, Tod Feurman, Jennifer Jean Cacavas; costumes, Warden Neil; music Peter Manning Robinson; casting, Mike Fenton, Allison Cowitt. 2 HOURS

Cast: Sonny Wexler - Burt Reynolds Mira Wexler - Ann-Margret Damon Black - Benjamin Bratt Syd Wolf - Charles Durning Reuben Tallridge - Greg Germann Sherri Ganse - Rod Steiger Frances Chadway - Lauren Holly Bo Pomerants - Sean Astin Moogian - Robert Costanzo Henry Moore - Robert GouletWith: Erin Gray, Paul McCrane, Marnie McPhail, David Atkinson, Leslie Rae Bega, Kim Chase, Arthur Darbinyan, Jayson Kane, Charles Lanyer, Marshall Manesh, Marvin J. McIntyre, Stephen O'Mahoney, Ed O'Ross, Cynthia Palmer, E.J. Peaker, Kimberly Pullis, Shelley Berman, Anthony John Denison, Angie Dickinson, James Farentino, Shecky Green, Alex Rocco.

More TV

  • Apple-TV-event

    Apple TV 'Show Time' Event: How to Watch Live-Stream

    Monday is the big coming-out party for Apple’s Hollywood ambitions: After years of trademark secrecy about its plans to stream into video entertainment, the tech giant is set to pull back the curtain at a media event. The live program kicks off at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, on Monday, March 25, from [...]

  • Rosie O'Donnell Had a Crush on

    'The View' Book: Rosie O'Donnell Reveals Secret Crush on Elisabeth Hasselbeck

    For most of Season 10 of “The View,” which aired from 2006 to 2007, Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck publicly feuded on TV. But in a new book, O’Donnell reveals more complicated emotions about her former conservative colleague. In “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View'” by Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh, O’Donnell talks [...]

  • THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON

    Samsung Offers 'Tonight' Audience Different View of Jimmy Fallon (EXCLUSIVE)

    Samsung wants to change the way viewers look at Jimmy Fallon. Monday night’s broadcast of NBC’s “Tonight Show” will feature no opening monologue and no traditional sit-downs with guests. Instead, Fallon will open the program by telling viewers that the entire episode has been shot with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone, which features an ultra-wide [...]

  • Netflix Producing Second Turkish Original, 'The

    Netflix Boards Second Turkish Original, 'The Gift,' Starring Beren Saat

    Netflix has announced its second Turkish original, supernatural drama “The Gift,” toplining local star Beren Saat, who is best-known for playing the lead in female empowerment drama “Fatmagul,” which was a global hit. Shooting has started in Istanbul, with British producer Alex Sutherland (“Argo”) shepherding the eight-episode show, which is produced by Turkey’s OG Medya [...]

  • Daily Show Viacom

    DirecTV, Viacom Avert Blackout After Marathon Negotiation

    DirecTV and Viacom have agreed on a carriage renewal pact covering a raft of Viacom’s cable channels after a marathon negotiation over the weekend. In a joint statement early Monday, the companies said: “We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Feeds Fantasy-Hungry YAs in France

    LILLE, France —  The series the audience was about to see on Sunday night at Lille’s central UGC Cine-Cité multiplex wasn’t even playing in Series Mania’s main International Competition. But in many ways, Netflix’s” “Osmosis” was certainly among the most-anticipated of shows at this year’s festival. The excitement before the screening was palpable, and pointed [...]

  • Series Mania: Q & A with

    Series Mania: ‘Hierro’ as ‘Southern Noir’ and an Industry Groundbreaker

    LILLE, France —  Banijay Rights-sold “Hierro” begins with sea, land, air and fire: Shots of the stunning volcanic isle of El Hierro, the most westerly point of Spain’s Canary Islands, with its black basalt rock, brown iron-rich gravel, white waves pummeling the coast, trees trunks twisted by wind and lava, a juniper bent double by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content