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Rudin’s rebellion shows civility must gain equal ground with creative zeal – Deadline

My face to face meeting with Scott Rudin was brief. “You’re fired, Scott,” I said.

“I expected it,” he shrugged. “I lost control of the show.” We shook hands and he left quietly.

Rudin at the time was producing a Mel Gibson film for MGM that turned into a whirlwind of conflict. Rudin, it seemed, knew how to start a conflict, but had no idea how to handle it. I’m not sure he ever learned, as recent events suggest.

Rudin announced this week that he is “stepping down” from producing plays, films (including five projects at A24) and possibly his mock documentary FX. What we do in the shadows, but despite his commitment, the chorus of critics became more and more passionate. His film engagements involve stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Denzel Washington with Joel Coen.

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The constituency of Time’s Up reminded us that “abuse is not a stepping stone to success”. Actors’ Equity demanded that Rudin drop his “non-disclosures”. Sutton Foster, the renaissance co-star produced by Rudin Music man (with Hugh Jackman) called Rudin’s statements “shrewd public relations”, while still demanding “a safe and loving environment”.

Of all the statements, his expressed my concern. Having worked in various areas of show business, both as a buyer and a seller, two qualities that I have rarely witnessed are “safety and love”. My words to young aspirants are “competitive” and “risky”. Even “crazy fabrication”.

That said, I’m glad I fired Rudin once when I had that power. But then, as now, I had this caveat: As the great David O. Selznick once said, “Conflict is the magic behind every great performance. Every idea, every gesture must be questioned. “

A current filmmaker put it this way: “I talk and fight all the time with my writers and actors, but will HR now become the final arbiter? Are the sensitivities so intense?

The ambiguous reaction of theater critics to Rudin’s rebellion reflects this concern. Charles McNulty from Los Angeles Times wrote: “Rudin’s visionary zeal made my work infinitely more interesting. Without it, I’m afraid Broadway will return to its theme park shows. “

Most, like McNulty, agree that Rudin did the right thing by hoisting his “I’m sorry” flag – albeit the apology mantra we’ve seen all too often. Rudin won 17 Tonys, an Oscar, an Emmy and a Grammy. But the mood of the country has changed, a change put into action by the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter constituencies and also, of course, by the pandemic.

And Rudin is not the only target. Talk to actors, writers, or directors about their careers, and you’ll discover a litany of horror stories – shows and careers imploding in the cauldron of creativity. Some great filmmakers like Robert Altman were known as creative bullies. Or producers like Joel Silver. Or studio heads like Dawn Steel. All fit the description of “howlers and howlers”.

I once had a tense lunch with the infamous obnoxious Selznick, who defended his annihilation of three directors and seven writers on Blown away by the wind. “You cannot give in to failure,” he argued.

In person, I found Rudin just as rude. Rudin also threw things at the employees. Former staff members found him vengeful and destructive. Rudin encouraged brilliant ideas and showed tremendous courage in their pursuit. But his demons, like his intellect, showed no boundaries.

When our paths crossed on the MGM movie, no one on set was talking to him. He had inadvertently built a wall of isolation.

So now Rudin takes a step back at a time when his creative zeal would be in high demand. The creative communities of Broadway and Hollywood will experience a great revival. There is going to be a lot of screaming and screaming. Conflict will reign again. Hopefully civility will be too.

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