Movie Exec Erases Ex-Wife from History

Mike Medavoy and Patricia Duff | National Board of Review | Oscar Watch

Movie Exec Erases Ex-Wife from History

Grandma always said, "If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don't say anything." Movie exec and Hollywood player Mike Medavoy seems to have taken that advice. In his new book, You're Only As Good As Your Next One, written with Josh Young, the former head of Orion and Tri-Star Pictures completely obliterates ex-wife Patricia Duff from his story.

It's a neat trick.

Duff, of course, is the beautiful blonde who married Medavoy when he was the top Hollywood studio head, assisted him in his dive into Democratic politics in the late '80s, then took off with Revlon owner Ronald Perelman. They married once the Medavoys divorced, and had a child. Then Duff and Perelman divorced, provoking one of the nastiest custody battles in history.

Now Duff, who is famous for her marriages, has been erased from one of them altogether.

I like this new idea of selectively edited biography. First the film A Beautiful Mind skipped over important points of its subject's life; now this book omits Duff from Medavoy's story completely. I'm looking forward to O.J. Simpson's autobiography confining itself just to his football years.

The omission of Duff, though, can't be written off with the excuse that she was simply an ex-wife. When Duff was Patricia Medavoy, she was regularly cited in the Los Angeles Times as her husband's partner in political matters.

In 1987, she and Medavoy brought Gary Hart and his wife to an Aspen New Year's Eve party thrown by Don Henley of the Eagles. It was at that party that Hart — whom the Medavoys had backed in campaigns — met Donna Rice, the woman who catalyzed his downfall. In 1992, Duff and her husband were instrumental in wooing Hollywood backers for Bill Clinton.

But now Duff is excised from history. (So is Donna Rice, for that matter, or any mention of the Medavoys' involvement in most of the Hart stuff.)

There are lots of other people in Medavoy's book, though, to make it a compelling read. Chief among them: his former Sony studio rival, Batman/Flashdance producer Peter Guber, whom Medavoy relishes in attacking.

From page 288: "Guber did a lot of good things at Sony … like giving Mussolini credit for getting the trains to run on time…"  Page 282: "By the end of 1993, the whole town knew that Guber was going to push me out…" Page 277: "If I had been half the self-promoter Peter Guber was…"

I just hope these two don't meet up at an awards ceremony anytime soon. Yikes!

Movie Prize Group's Finances: No Charity Here

The National Board of Review recently filed its year 2000 tax form. As readers of this column know, the fan-based group refers to itself as "not for profit." They file a Form 990 so they don't have to pay taxes.

Meanwhile, the group charges a $350 fee to its members and assesses their annual awards dinner tickets at $400 a pop.

Last month, when I was writing about the NBR, one of their representatives insisted to me that the group regularly helps new filmmakers.

Under their "Statement of Program Service Accomplishments" the NBR typed in the following statement on their latest filing: "Assist the development of motion pictures as an entertainment art and art form, provide a forum for the review, critique, and public opinion of motion pictures, recognize achievement in filmmaking, and sponsor films as education and community service."

The cost of this largesse? Well, the NBR claims two expenses for 2000: $70,428 to screen all the new movies for their members, and another $3,700 for student grants.

After expenses (the screenings, the student grants), the group was left with a tidy sum of $60,223. What did they do with this money? Not pay taxes on it seems to be the answer.

Otherwise, the NBR earmarked about 3 percent of its annual take from members for film students.

It's not like they don't have funds to help more filmmakers: There's the $136,151 they claim as the result of income producing activities comes from two places. Their annual dinner, according to their tax form, generates a net amount of $101,324. And their membership fees kick in another $34,827.

The group does not list compensation for employees or officers. According to the Form 990, charities are not required to list anyone who makes under $50,000 a year.

Oscar Day Is Almost Here

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 (EST) we will learn the names of this year's Oscar nominees. And then the real campaigning will begin, I suppose, to bring the gold statuette home.

There's been lots of talk lately about the amount of money being spent to woo Academy voters. I suppose soon we'll see Congressional guidelines for this, with a dollar on our tax returns earmarked for Oscar Campaign Reform.

Here's a bit of wisdom, though, from Hollywood legend Richard Widmark, who was nominated once and never campaigned for anything: "It was unseemly in our day to take out ads and have a campaign." So much for that.