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ROBERT EVANS The Kid Stays in the Picture

Robert Evans was the head of Paramount in the late 1960's.   "The Kid Stays in the Picture" is a wild retelling of his life story.  This audio book is fascinating on its own but especially in terms of understanding the movie making process.  There is a film adaptation that you can rent on youtube for $3.99 at the link above.  I can't recommend it enough.

It's a delicious peek behind scenes into some of the greatest movies ever made but also as a crash course on what it takes to produce movies.  If you've ever asked yourself: "What does a movie producer do exactly?"  Watch this!   Evans tells the most amazing tales including how Coppola almost ruined "The Godfather" and utterly heartbreaking ones as well.  The film also includes clips from the movies and behind the scenes snapshots that are wonderful.

But, regardless of whether you watch the film, listen to the audio book or not, I think it's important to highlight my favorite moment... 

In 1971, Gulf and Western the parent company of Paramount Pictures, the 9th ranked studio in Hollywood at the time, had decided to shut the studio down.  They sent word to Bob Evans that in one weeks' time Paramount would be liquidated.  Evans asked for one half hour with the board of Gulf and Western. Just one half hour.  They agreed.   He got Mike Nichol's to film a promo including snippets of all the films Paramount was currently working on and flew to New York.  He showed the executives the promo during which he gave the following speech:

"These past few years have been rough for Hollywood. We've made a lot of mistakes. Some people have learned from them. Some people haven't. We have. The money we spend is not going to be through extravagances.  The money we spend is going to be on the screen and speaking of the screen I think that's maybe the reason we are here today. I'd like to have the opportunity to show you some of our product from 1971.  Right now, we are approaching Christmas and Paramount's Christmas gift to the world is "Love Story".   I think "Love Story" is going to start a new trend in movies.  A trend towards the romantic, towards love, towards people, towards telling the story about how it feels rather than where it's at.   I think "Love Story" is going to bring the people back into the theater in droves.  I could go on for an hour and tell you about twenty or thirty projects in various stages of development and bore you with it, so I wont.  But, I want to bring up one project and that's "The Godfather".  I bring it up for several reasons.  One, that it's starting production next month.  Two, that it's going to be next Christmas' picture, and three to bring up the similarity between "The Godfather" and "Love Story" which are the two biggest books of the last decade.  Paramount owns them both.  But Paramount has more than just owning them both. We didn't just sit back in our plush chairs and write a check out for a million, million and a half dollars for the books which happens so often in our industry. We developed both of these books.  If it weren't for Paramount, the book "Love Story" would never have been written.  If it weren't for Paramount the book The Godfather would never have been written.  Because we were in there from the beginning spurring the writers on, working closely with them to make these books the best sellers that they are.  And what we think will be the great movies they're going to be.  We at Paramount don't look at ourselves as passive backers of films.  We look at ourselves as a creative force unto ourselves and that is why Paramount is going to be paramount in the industry in the '70s.  I promise you that."

Gulf and Western did not shut Paramount down. The kid stayed in the picture and the rest is history.  

So I ask you... are you a passive backer looking for an easy million or are you  a creative force unto yourself, championing your stories, believing in them beyond reason? 

I am a dreamer and I can only hope that this post covid world will not be unlike the post studio heyday, where movies were struggling to make money and people had stopped going to the theater.  I can only hope that we are looking at a new renaissance in film and theater, when human stories will lull people back into the seats, and movies will start trending "towards telling the story about how it feels rather than where it's at." 

After all, great stories are cultivated, nurtured, believed in.  That's what we as artists need to remember and live by.  

At the end of the film, an interviewer asks Evans, who had incredibly tumultuous ups and downs: "Was it all worth it? 

Evans answers:

"Sure. You know why?  I love what I do."

(If you rent the youtube movie version of 'The Kid Stays in the Picture" you can view the speech that saved Paramount  at the 37:00 minute mark.)

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