A framed copy of a DVD for the 1998 “VooDoo Dawn” sits on the receptionist’s desk, ready for hanging in Splendid Pictures’ Beverly Glen office. On his way out to lunch, Splendid CEO David Glasser regards the item with indifference. He says the DVD company sent it: “Believe me, I’m not going to be framing a movie like that one.”
In the past four years, Glasser has had his name on more than a dozen movies, with titles like “Two Shades of Blue,” “Held for Ransom” and “One Eyed King.”
But that was then — a time when Glasser owned Cutting Edge Entertainment and his movies were best known for the lawsuits that followed them. Now, he and chief operating officer Andreas Klein have launched Splendid Pictures.
They created the production and foreign sales shingle a year ago with the backing of Klein’s Splendid Medien. Splendid’s slate boasts stars like Richard Gere, Julianne Moore, Ed Norton and Naomi Watts. It’s developing movies with Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Jan De Bont. It produced the upcoming “Agent Cody Banks” starring Frankie Muniz for MGM.
However, Splendid’s most important credit to date is “Narc.” Begun as a Cutting Edge production, it reaches screens Dec. 20 as a Splendid Pictures presentation distributed by Paramount Pictures. In the process, Glasser’s name has been bumped down to third-position “executive produced by,” right after Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.
While “Narc” may have started life as a Cutting Edge project, Splendid believes Cruise and other A-list producers represent its future.
“This is totally a new group and a totally new structure called Splendid Pictures,” says Klein.
Splendid’s 27-year-old parent company is a publicly traded German financier, distributor and producer that made its Hollywood debut in 1999 with a 49% stake in foreign sales and production shingle Initial Entertainment Group. IEG sold international rights on big-budget titles like “Gangs of New York,” “Traffic” and “Ali,” which Splendid handled in Germany.
But Glasser is still working to put the Cutting Edge legacy behind him. That company produced more than 15 films and nine lawsuits, most of which stemmed from unpaid bills. All of the suits have been dismissed or settled.
Klein says he knew about Glasser’s history but he decided to make him his partner because he saw in him a person “still young and with a huge future.”
Many in the industry were ready to write off Glasser when he produced what would become the final Cutting Edge title, “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” The production nearly collapsed when an investor failed to come through, and it is still unfinished almost two years after it wrapped production.
Glasser waves his hand dismissively. “That’s old stuff,” he says. “I give him credit for directing a good movie.”
“Him” is the film’s director and star, Alec Baldwin. He sued in May 2001, claiming that neither he nor the “Devil” cast members had been compensated. Two months later, bills were paid and Baldwin dropped his claim.
Baldwin’s name will be on the picture only as producer and star; he withdrew his name as director. Glasser now controls the film and he says it will be delivered Jan. 20.
Glasser’s resilience may stem from having the bloodline of a true Hollywood mutt. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, entertainment is the family business. His mom is a casting agent and his father founded Double R Management and Billabong Music.
A former child actor, Glasser appeared in nearly 100 commercials and had small roles in films like “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Pump Up the Volume.”
“I looked like I was 10 years old forever and I could work 15 hours,” says the 31-year-old film executive. With his blue eyes, dark hair and clean-shaven face that still bears the suggestion of acne scars, he looks like a compact and pugnacious version of actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
There’s a Mutt-and-Jeff effect when Glasser is with the tall and fair Klein, which is more often than not. Four months ago, Klein even relocated from Cologne, Germany, to become Glasser’s neighbor in West Hills.
For Klein, entertainment is also a family matter: His father founded Splendid. “We are like a Lego piece,” Glasser says fondly. “He does his thing, I do mine.”
Among Klein’s things is to help keep his aggressive and ambitious partner in line. “He calls me a deal junkie,” Glasser says. “He has a good way of bringing me down. Before, I was maybe a little too much of a cowboy.”
That seems a reasonable assessment, given the amount he must have spent on legal fees. However, Glasser says he’s never reneged on a deal. “Be guilty of being late,” he says. “Don’t be guilty of screwing someone.”
Given the company’s desire to remain in the mainstream, however, late is a luxury it can no longer afford.