What a shock this past weekend that famed movie director John Frankenheimer passed away after spinal surgery. Frankenheimer was 72, and left a legacy of classic films including The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, The Birdman of Alcatraz and the more recent underrated Ronin, which starred Robert De Niro.
But what an even bigger shock to see the omission, officially, of his son, director Michael Bay, as one of his survivors. Bay, the director of Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and other big-budget fare, was the product of a relationship Frankenheimer had publicly refuted in the last few years since Bay had become famous himself. But the truth was out there, even if it wasn't verified by a forensic test, Bay knew what anyone who saw this pair did: do a split screen picture between the two directors. Even if John Henry Williams clones his father Ted sometime in the future, he won't get as close a physical copy as Bay seems to be of Frankenheimer.
Last year, just as Pearl Harbor was coming out, Frankenheimer went so far as to tell the Los Angeles Times that some kind of tests had been taken, but that there was no truth to the widely known open secret. Bay countered that at the time, saying the tests were not very sophisticated. Now the secret dies with Frankenheimer, and a new Hollywood myth is born.
How sad that Frankenheimer couldn't come to terms with the situation before he died so abruptly. Frankenheimer's forte was the psychological thriller, mental chess games that often worked up as much emotion as Bay's over the top rollercoaster rides of movies.
Ironically, Frankenheimer and Bay were often working with the same actors in the last few years. Ben Affleck, for example, starred in the former's Reindeer Games and the latter's Pearl Harbor and Armageddon.
Bay is off to Miami today to start production on Bad Boys 2, the sequel to his first big hit, starring Martin Lawrence and Bay staple Will Smith. His office did not return calls asking for a quote about the death of the man who probably was his biological father.
It must be a full moon — or someone's not taking their medicine as prescribed. Michael Jackson (see below) and Michael Ovitz have each come in for crash landings this week.
The scathing profile of Ovitz in the new Vanity Fair is obviously condensed for space — to tell every detail of the story Bryan Burrough would have needed the whole magazine.
Yet, he leaves out an important point. In his desire to start Artists Management Group, Ovitz lost all sense of judgment. He relied on money manager Dana Giacchetto to introduce him to Rick and Julie Yorn, the talent managers with whom he would become so tragically partnered.
Ovitz even told reporters back in 1998 that Giacchetto — who would later go to jail for fraud and who lied to everyone about his background, education and qualifications — was his "life advisor." Giacchetto even helped Ovitz broker the AMG deal on his yacht.
What did Ovitz want from Giacchetto? Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. The money manager had become their party buddy, the consequently a friend of the Yorns, who managed them. Giacchetto had met Ovitz through mutual friends at an art gallery in New York, then took off after Ovitz in hot pursuit. Ovitz's first big mistake in his ploy to make a comeback as a dealmaker was in not doing background checks on anyone. He simply assumed they'd all be so frightened of him they'd never cross him.
That was his second mistake.
Is the record business racist, as Michael Jackson claimed to anyone who'd listen this past weekend?
If so, Jackson would have a lot of trouble explaining the presence of so many African American label executives, says a friend of mine who knows the business inside and out. She's right, too.
Starting with Motown's Berry Gordy, the record business — not a walk in the park for anyone of any color — is nevertheless a rainbow. Sylvia Rhone runs Elektra Records; Jheryl Busby, Kevin Liles, Damon Dash, Steve Stoute and Russell Simmons are just a few of the African-Americans in charge at Universal Music Group; and let's not forget Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs, Jermaine Dupri, music biz attorneys Londell McMillan, Nicole Bernard and Denise Brown; Wyclef Jean and his whole Clef Records group, and L.A. Reid runs Arista Records and so on and so forth.
No, Michael. The business can be short-sighted, age-ist and brusque. But it rips everyone off unilaterally — race is not a factor.
Some other media businesses might be better charged with racism. For example: Halle Berry boycotted being part of Vanity Fair's Oscar party this past April because they fail to put blacks on their cover. Since March, when Berry and Denzel Washington won Oscars, neither of them has made it to the magazine's cover. People, US and Entertainment Weekly have given these actors short shrift, but VF has pretty much ignored them. In the latest issue, over several pages of pictures from Vanity Fair's recent exclusive parties, only one African-American — award winning novelist Toni Morrison — is included. That's one in 40 photos, not counting even more pics of some London party. In the VF world, Michael, sister Janet, Will Smith, Russell Simmons, Halle, Denzel, Angela Bassett, Oprah, Martin Lawrence, Alicia Keys, Heather Headley, Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def (stars of Broadway's Top Dog/Underdog), Puffy, Wyclef, Lauryn Hill, Bernie Mac, Ashanti, Ja Rule, etc., all live in some weird parallel world that doesn't warrant coverage. Wanna be starting something, Michael? Start that.