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Brains & heart & Dino

USC honors De Laurentiis

What are the three secrets to becoming a mega Hollywood producer? Brains, heart and balls, or as the late Dino De Laurentiis told his family and friends, “chevello, cuore and coglioni.”

The producer, who had more than 150 credits, was remembered at USC on Sunday as the university installed the Dino and Martha De Laurentiis-endowed professorship, although the inscription honoring the producer’s achievements discreetly altered his mantra to “brains, heart and courage.”

The standing-room-only audience reveled in a discussion with De Laurentiis’ widow, Martha, and daughter Raffaella De Laurentiis, filmmakers Michael Mann and Jonathan Mostow, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shared a story about his first meeting with the flamboyant producer who considered casting a then up-and-coming Schwarzenegger in “Flash Gordon.”

“I said to him, ‘Wow, look at this! Why does a little guy like you have such a big desk?’ And Dino said, ‘Oh, you have an accent!’ And I said, ‘I have an accent. Speak for yourself!’ And Dino said, ‘You-a-cannot-a-play-a-Flash-a-Gordon-a,’ ” Schwarzenegger told the crowd in his best Italian accent.

Mostow shared his experience working with the producer in 1997 on the film “Breakdown,” revealing how De Laurentiis flew Kurt Russell to and from his house in Los Angeles to Utah each day of the 50-day shoot.

“That’s the way that Dino loved making movies — the bigger, the grander, the better,” Mostow said. –

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