It ain’t much. The scandal du jour: "Thank You for Smoking," the feature directorial debut of Jason Reitman (son of "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman), a satire (based on a novel by Christopher Buckley) starring Aaron Eckhart as a tobacco company spokesman who has to balance the constant corporate spin required by his job with being a good father and role model for his 12-year-old son, has apparently been sold. Twice. Paramount Classics and Fox Searchlight are both claiming to have picked up distribution rights to the film, though it’s looking like Fox Searchlight will prevail, since they’ve already banged out a press release.
Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE started on this story yesterday, and updates it here, and did Ian Mohr at Variety. Sharon Waxman at the New York Times and John Clark at the LA Times weighed in today, and both pull a random assortment of quotes from varying industry figures. For those who prefer their Indiewood machinations only lightly sketched out (wise), we’ll summarize:
1. "Thank You for Smoking" was produced by David O. Sacks, one of the founders of Paypal, who sold out to eBay and scurried off to live a particular version of the American dream â€” running around Hollywood throwing money at people one deems worthy of making movies, with the understanding that they’ll have to take notes from you and pretend to like them.
2. Paramount and Fox were competing for the film. Paramount’s people hammered out a late night handshake deal with Sacks, took him out to dinner, considered it done.
3. Sacks then reopened negotiations with Fox, eventually actually signing a contract with them for a reported $6-7 million.
4. Paramount’s feelings are hurt â€” they were, like, totally there first! Fox is all, we have it in ink, bitches! Then Paramount’s like, well, gentlemen’s agreement?! They promised! And Fox is like, oh, how sad, why don’t you dry your tears on our signed contract, huh?
Needless Weinstein quote (from the New York Times):
"I’m not in this one," protested Harvey Weinstein, who was arriving to watch the film for his post-Miramax venture, the Weinstein Company. "I’ll leave that to the younger guys."
Damn right, Harvey, you wouldn’t have put up with this bullshit, much less let it ride out for more than a day. Anyway, none of this will matter much to anyone in the end, other than aspiring filmmakers who’ll find themselves having to provide a credit check, copy of their birth certificate, and signature in blood (notarized) in order to sell their movies in the future. Mostly, it’s garnering much press for "Thank You for Smoking."
And who are we not to reward them for that? Here’s Kirk Honeycutt‘s review of the film for the Hollywood Reporter, Carina Chocano‘s interview with star Eckhart for the LA Times and Simon Houpt’s interview with director Reitman at the Globe and Mail.
+ Reitman’s "Smoking" Apparently Acquired; Fox Searchlight and Paramount Classics Each Claiming Separate Deals (indieWIRE)
+ Amidst Buzz and Rumors, Paramount Continues To Assert It Owns "Thank You For Smoking" (indieWIRE)
+ A deal is a deal. . .unless it isn’t (Variety)
+ Competing Studios Claim Rights to the Same Film (NY Times)
+ Huffing and puffing over ‘Smoking’s’ undone deal (LA Times)
+ Thank You for Smoking (HR)
+ Playing a character you’ll hate to love (LA Times)
+ Ivan Reitman: The Sequel (Globe and Mail)