HOLLYWOOD CONFIDENTIAL

Who is Hollywood’s Biggest Hack? Most Wanted Actor? Most Deranged Director? More than 50 of the industry’s top power brokers dish out the honors in an Exclusive Radar Poll

Mike Ovitz is history. Barry Diller is playing matchmaker. Tom Cruise is an unemployed stay-at-home dad. So who are Hollywood’s new gods and monsters? To find out, we dispatched a dozen well-connected reporters to interview the industry’s remaining heavy hitters. Our crack team spent weeks abusing their expense accounts on hundreds of surreptitious phone calls, closed-door conversations, and boozy lunches at the Ivy and the Palm. Eventually we convinced more than 50 top power players to participate in our survey: studio execs, high-level agents from every major firm, and dozens of A-list producers, directors, managers, screenwriters, and publicists. These are people who have run studios, released blockbusters, won Oscars—and for once, nobody wanted top billing. So to assure their cooperation we promised them full anonymity, stroked their assistants’ egos, plied them with liquor, and spent countless hours on hold (they love that). Then we hit them with the questions even their personal trainers are too afraid to ask. Who is Hollywood’s Most Demonic Actor? What director drives his casts to tears? Below, the results of our first annual Hollywood survey.

 

WINNER: RUSSELL CROWE
The winner in our first category is a no-brainer (in more ways than one). A vast majority of respondents instantly fingered the Aussie thug, who tackled a British TV producer in 2002, flipped off a camera-toting student on the Princeton set of A Beautiful Mind, and hurled a telephone at a defenseless hotel clerk during his Cinderella Man press tour. “Some incident can occur and he won’t show up on set for the next week—and you’re screwed,” says one producer with a sigh. “Russell is an unhappy guy,” adds an ex studio head. “His process is difficult. You have to talk him through everything, and he always has an opinion. He thinks he’s smarter than everybody else.”

HONORABLE MENTION: LINDSAY LOHAN
While she got high marks for talent, the actress’s hard-partying ways raised eyebrows among many respondents, who noted her propensity to call in “sick” after a particularly long night. After she failed to show up on the set of her latest pic, an exec shot her a scathing memo in which he wrote, “We are well aware that your ongoing all-night heavy partying is the real reason for your so-called ‘exhaustion’.”

HONORABLE MENTION: JIM CARREY
“Jim has been a nightmare on his last couple of pictures,” says a leading producer. “Not coming out of his trailer, wanting to control every element, rewriting the script.” This summer alone, two big-budget Carrey vehicles—Used Guys and Believe It or Not—were returned to development hell back-to-back, causing speculation that his oddball reputation could be endangering his career. “He’s depressed and weird,” says one former studio prez (in fact, Carrey told 60 Minutes in 2002, “I was on Prozac for a long time … it may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit”). A marketing exec who also cast a vote for Carrey explains: “Most comics are insecure people who aren’t funny in real life.” But judging from Fun With Dick and Jane, he’s also not always funny on-screen.

 

 

WINNER: JULIA ROBERTS
RUNNERS-UP: ANGELINA JOLIE, REESE WITHERSPOON
Given that 2000’s Erin Brockovich was the last Roberts-driven vehicle to make bank, her triumph in this category is a sad commentary on the ability of leading women to open a picture. “Julia Roberts hasn’t made a movie in a while, but she hasn’t failed, either,” explains one producer. Cameron Diaz lost her shot in this category after the dismal earnings of In Her Shoes. Same for Charlize Theron, who squeezed out two recent stinkers: North Country and Aeon Flux. Roberts’s closest competitor, Jolie, received a smattering of votes, although many insiders expressed concern that Mr. & Mrs. Smith has been her only recent hit. Witherspoon benefited not only from a decent track record (Walk the LineSweet Home Alabama, both Legally Blondes) but also a sensible personality. “If there’s a problem,” says one ex studio president, “you can talk to her and not worry that she’s going to melt down.”

 

 

WINNER: DAVID O. RUSSELL
RUNNERS-UP: MICHAEL BAY, MICHAEL MANN
It was no surprise to discover that Bay and Mann were also runners-up in this category—one respondent claims that he witnessed Kate Beckinsale actually sobbing after an encounter with the director on the set of Pearl Harbor. (Unlike the Pearl Harbor audience, she wasn’t crying tears of boredom.) The shocker is that they were beaten by Russell, who has just a few movies under his belt. But the latter, in the words of one studio exec, epitomizes that oft-uttered Hollywood cliche, “Life’s too short.” Adds another suit, “Russell is incredibly talented, but it doesn’t matter. He’s mean and rude and alienates everyone on set. I mean, he got into a brawl with George Clooney on the set of Three Kings” (after Clooney came to the defense of a browbeaten crew member). And few have forgotten the outlandish report from the set of I Heart Huckabees, during which Russell reportedly groped Mark Wahlberg’s johnson, drove a hysterical Lily Tomlin to seek comfort in Dustin Hoffman’s arms, and—in an incident that was covertly taped and sent around to Hollywood’s talent agencies—went nuclear on Tomlin before trashing the set, storming off, and locking himself in his office.

 

 

 

 

WINNER: SCOTT RUDIN
RUNNER-UP: JOEL SILVER
Rudin’s propensity for tormenting his assistants is legendary. The hot-tempered producer has fired over 119 of them in the past six years—notably including one legally blind minion whom Rudin dismissed but then rehired, according to a recent report, after seeing saw him standing helplessly at a bus stop. On occasion, the prolific producer has also been known to overturn tables in a blind rage, and he virtually invented the annoying Hollywood trick of returning calls at odd hours when no one is reachable. “He’s so not worth it!” says an exec who still has nightmares about the brief time he worked with Rudin. Others argued that voting for Rudin (The Truman ShowThe Hours) was unfair since, “he at least attempts to execute some idea of taste,” in the words of one writer-producer.

Not so for runner-up Joel Silver, whose assistants have famously survived flesh wounds (he stabbed one victim in the hand with a sharpened pencil) and 2am phone calls demanding that pastrami sandwiches be delivered right now. “Other than The Matrix and Lethal Weapon, Joel’s choice of movies and huge budgets aren’t worth the headache,” says another writer-producer, probably referring to House of Wax and CW’s Veronica Mars.

 

 

WINNER: BRIAN GRAZER
RUNNER-UP: WALTER PARKES
“He’s just such a publicity hound,” complains a rival producer of Grazer (A Beautiful MindCinderella Man), who, not coincidentally, also took high honors in the Most Effective Producer category. Rumor around town last year was that a grand and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to nominate Grazer for one of Hollywood’s highest honors, the Academy’s Thalberg Award for Lifetime Achievement, was secretly orchestrated by … Grazer himself. But, according to one Oscar-winning producer, “When it comes to stealing credit, Brian Grazer is Mother Teresa next to Walter Parkes (Minority ReportGladiator).” Says another statue winner, “If you have an idea and Walter’s in the room, it’s his.”

 

 

WINNER: BRYAN LOURD, RICHARD LOVETT, KEVIN HUVANE, CAA
The no-longer-so-Young Turks who took over the agency from Michael Ovitz in 1995 have managed to maintain its dominance—Tom Hanks! Nicole Kidman! Jake Gyllenhaal!—by using some of their former overlord’s tactics but with much greater subtlety and finesse. Lourd emerged as the first among equals because “he’s good at getting people to do things without overtly bullying them,” according to one studio head who adds, “He’s smart and has good taste.” Lovett, a close second, “sees the puzzle pieces of a career and how they fit together, whereas most agents can’t see beyond each interaction.” Huvane is direct and efficient, although also the scariest of the bunch: More than one poll respondent noted that while Lourd might stab you in the back, Huvane would be only too happy to do it in the front.

 

 

WINNER: RON MEYER
The votes were heartwarmingly scattered in this category: Who knew there were so many nice people in Hollywood? But Meyer, the president of Universal who formerly helmed CAA, rose to the top with his unassuming manner and disarming sweetness. If a favor can be done, he does it, according to many sources—and he has never been accused of grabbing credit. “He understands movies, talent, and how to manage,” says a producer who has worked with him. “It’s almost a shame that he wins Biggest Mensch, because he’s so much more than that.”

 

Ovitz

WINNER: MIKE OVITZ
RUNNER-UP: HARVEY WEINSTEIN
We tried to ban Ovitz in this category (it’s been years, people—get over it), but CAA’s now-disgraced dictator still won a majority of votes from panelists who’ve been permanently scarred by his gangster tactics and unbridled gay paranoia. Of course, everyone else voted for Harvey. Though Weinstein is said to be on his best behavior lately (he recently told a reporter that his infamous outbursts were caused by his adult-onset diabetes and eating too many M&Ms;), his reputation for screaming, phone-throwing, and bodily threats was apparently too much for some to forgive. Still, even Harvey’s biggest detractors couldn’t help but admire the former Miramax honcho’s ability to glide into last year’s Oscar race (TransamericaMrs. Henderson Presents) so quickly after his ouster from Disney. Hollywood hates a bully, but it loves a winner more.