What Just Happened?


What Just Happened is a roman a clef, or I suppose maybe it should be called a "cinema a clef," a fictionalized cinema version of real events that happened to a film producer between 1997-2001, as recounted by screenwriter Art Linson. One would have to call Linson the perfect choice to write this script for two main reasons:

1. The screenplay was adapted from a non-fiction book written by Art Linson.

2. The real producer who lived through the events described in the book was none other than the very same Art Linson.

Linson's book, "What Just Happened: Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line" covers the trials and tribulations of his role in creating six films:

  1. Heist (2001/I) (producer)
  2. Sunset Strip (2000) (producer)
  3. Fight Club (1999) (producer)
  4. Pushing Tin (1999) (producer)
  5. Great Expectations (1998) (producer)
  6. The Edge (1997) (producer)

The book is rich in "insider stories," and is gutsy. It shies away neither from recounting the deeds and misdeeds of familiar industry figures, nor from associating those deeds with their real names. And big names they are: Alec Baldwin, David Fincher, David Mamet, and others.

The movie takes a more oblique approach. One of the major story lines comes straight from the book with only the names changed, but the rest of the script is primarily fictional, the product of consolidating and compressing real events while inventing other incidents from whole cloth. The movie version of the story has essentially consolidated Linson's six movie projects down to two, and the book's four-year span into one very hectic week.

* One of the real films covered by the fictional story is The Edge. This is the story line in which the movie version of What Just Happened stays quite faithful to the real events portrayed in the eponymous book, right down to long stretches of verbatim dialogue. Although Bruce Willis is playing a character named Bruce Willis, it will take a diligent researcher only a few minutes to thumb through the source book to find that the character is actually Alec Baldwin. Baldwin decided to show up for filming with a Grizzly Adams beard and an extra twenty pounds of flesh around his middle when the studio thought it was paying for a lean and handsome leading man. When asked to shave the beard and to go on a diet, Baldwin threw a legendary tantrum and promptly fired the hapless agent who was chosen by the big-wigs to be the bearer of bad tidings to the prickly star. Baldwin finally gave in under the threat of massive litigation.

* The other story line is basically fictional, although it bears a certain resemblance to Linson's experiences in trying to get David Fincher's edgy Fight Club past the scrutiny of studio suits who were uneasy about the film's dark themes and casual violence, and had no idea what a good film they had on their hands until they saw the reaction at Venice. Linson took the basic structure of that struggle and re-invented it, changing it into a familiar tile about how the commerce of the film industry suppresses its art.

The life of a producer, as portrayed by Robert DeNiro as Linson's alter ego, basically consists of running from fire to fire and splashing water on each, but often leaving the fires smoldering and ready to burst back into flames because he's working on three major projects at once and can't give any of them his undivided attention. A director is finishing off one film in post-production, and is locked in an angry struggle with the studio, which has threatened to take his film away unless he cuts it their way. Meanwhile, a new film is about to start filming, and all the crew is on the clock - pending a Bruce Willis shave. Finally, a third film needs financing, and the producer is the guy who has to come up with the investors. The producer is always the man in the middle who has to balance the delicate egos of directors and stars with the realistic demands of the studios and independent investors who quite reasonably would like to get a return on their investments. He has 30 hours worth of work to do in every 24-hour day, and almost all of it consists of stressful crisis management. Moreover, he still has a personal life which cannot be ignored: an ex-wife he still loves and a daughter who is growing up too fast.

I found this a very interesting film, especially since I read Linson's book just before popping in the DVD, so I knew which characters were representing which real people. Of course, I'm interested in the subject matter anyway, since I write every day about the film world and its inhabitants. My guess is that the film will not be nearly as interesting to you if you lack my enthusiasm for the industry and my ambition to read the book (which, by the way, is now available in a new edition which includes the screenplay for this movie).

Unfortunately for those of you who are not film geeks, this story is not funny enough to work as a comedy and is not original enough to work as an insider drama. Linson has the necessary insight and connections, and he told the truth about what he saw, but we've already seen many similar variations on these same themes in dozens of earlier films. And even I found the stories more interesting in the book's version, with the real names and places attached.

The only nudity is a very brief flash from a totally unnecessary and undeveloped character, an industry wannabe with whom DeNiro has a one-night stand. The actress is Moon Bloodgood. Film clip here.


Tale of the tape:

The distributors had no faith in this film. It never reached more than 88 theaters in North America, and it grossed only about a million dollars.

The notices were so-so. 54% of the reviews were positive, but that figure dropped to 44% among the main critics. Roger Ebert's evaluation was ** out of four.



  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.









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1280x528 film clips of Flora Montgomery. Collages below.







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Kate Winslet gave up some skin, as is her wont. Caps and a clip.




Over in TV Land Connie Britton showing off some leg on an appearance on New York city television promoting the new season of "Friday Night Lights.







Close Enough to Touch


 (Continuing with my assortment of film clips, mostly third party web finds.)

Part 2 of a tribute to Tracy Ryan.









The Gumshoe Kid


IMDb summary:

"A young man has to take over the ruined detective agency of his father and his uncle. There are two major difficulties to manage: His uncle and his new job."

Tracy Scoggins. Film clip here

Sample below:







Notes and collages


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Nikki Cox. Season one continued.

s1, e11

Best ... episode ... ever

(At least as it related to Nikki Cox cleavage)







Oviedo Express



Bonus: The Babysitters

2008. Katherine Waterston film clip here, collages below.







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Film Clips

Gabriella Hall in The Pleasure Zone, s1, e2. (Samples right)

Lisa Throw in The Pleasure Zone, s1, e2. (Sample right)

Shayna Ryan in The Pleasure Zone, s1, e2. (Sample right)

Taimie Hannum in The Pleasure Zone, s1, e1. (Samples right)

Tane McClure in The Pleasure Zone, s1, e1. (Samples right)

Sascha Knopf and Kahshanna Evans in Black Male (Six clips, almost 100% Knopf)