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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX SUN JAN 25, 2004 15:24:58 ET XXXXX
BOOK STABS HOLLYWOOD IN THE HEART ON EVE OF GOLDEN GLOBES; ESZTERHAS TELLS ALL
PARAMOUNT Studio head Sherry Lansing was so afraid of being attacked for nepotism involving her husband, director Billy Friedkin, that she asked screenwriter Joe Eszterhas to lie for her.
That’s the allegation contained in HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL, the 736-page memoir written by Eszterhas that is set to cause a serious TinselTown storm.
Publisher KNOPF has been holding the book close, and only the DRUDGE REPORT can crack the embargo.
Eszterhas claims Lansing asked him as “a favor” to tell the media that he wanted director Billy Friedkin, Lansing’s husband, to direct the movie JADE.
Eszterhas writes: “She was going to be criticized, Sherry said, for letting Billy direct Jade ... and she wanted me to say it was my idea for Billy to direct Jade, not hers. As I thought about it, Sherry said, ‘I’ll owe you a favor, honey.’ I smiled and simply said okay and Sherry said, ‘I love you, honey.’”
Earlier, Eszterhas writes, he told Lansing “Billy hasn’t had a hit in over 20 years, Sherry. There are people in town who think the only reason Billy still works is because he’s married to you.”
Eszterhas writes that Friedkin assured him in a meeting that he “wouldn’t change a comma of my script” and that in return, and as a favor to Lansing, Eszterhas spoke to the LOS ANGELES TIMES and on April 18th, 1994, that newspaper wrote: “Eszterhas, also the film’s executive producer, maintains that Friedkin had long been his first choice to direct JADE.”
During the production of the movie, when Friedkin began changing Eszterhas’s script, the screenwriter wrote Friedkin an angry memo on October 31, 1994 which said:
“It is clear that you lied to me. The lie rankles, of course, not only on a creative level, but on a personal one. Considering the fact that the last time you had a hit movie was in the early 70s, you never would have gotten the chance to direct a script that was viewed as the hottest in town without my support... you needed my public support to avoid any charges of favoritism. You needed it and you got it. We even had a discussion outside Alice’s in Malibu one day about how, thanks to my quotes in the L.A. Times, we had put the issue to rest.”
When Eszterhas saw the film, he was so angry that he called Lansing. He writes in the memoir: “I called Sherry from the limo, screamed at her and told her she’d used me and her husband had used me to get a job... and had then lied to me about changing my script. I told Sherry I wanted my name off the movie and was going to tell the media how she’d asked me to say Billy was my idea to direct the script so it would seem like there was no nepotism involved.”
Eszterhas writes that Lansing said “You can’t do that, honey, please” and that he hung up on her.
According to Eszterhas, Lansing called his agent the next day and offered him a $4 million script for an unspecified new deal. Eszterhas took the deal and didn’t take his name off the movie. Nor did he reveal the agreement he had made with Lansing to shield her from criticism.
The allegations are just the the first licks of HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL.
Filed By Matt Drudge
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