In the words of one Creative Artists Agency insider, a "major war" erupted early last month between Hollywood Pictures, New Line Cinema and CAA over Pauly Shore, the MTV comedian who became a hot property after his starring role in Hollywood's hit comedy "Encino Man."
The fight was over which film Shore would do next--"Totally London," a comedy for New Line that he was eager to do, or "The Son-in-Law," a comedy for Disney Studios' Hollywood, that the comic, according to a New Line source, wasn't as interested in.
Ultimately, Hollywood Pictures won. On Nov. 3, Shore will start filming "The Son-in-Law," a comic spin on "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in which Shore visits his fiancee's repressed family, with director Steve Rash ("Queens Logic"). But according to sources, Shore's decision came about mainly because of heavy pressure from Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Katzenberg and Hollywood Pictures had the contractual muscle to keep Shore from jumping ship until Aug. 1, the "drop-dead" date after which Shore was free to cut deals with other producers. Shore's contract, which he signed after being cast in "Encino Man," gave Hollywood an option to hire Shore in two more films, pending his approval. (Disney is known for signing modestly priced actors to multi-picture contracts, thus protecting itself against escalating fees when and if the actor becomes a star.)
The thing was, Hollywood hadn't found anything that Shore was enthusiastic about. Shore and his manager, Michael Rotenberg, were approached last summer by New Line executives with whom, by last October, they had negotiated and agreed to an unsigned two-picture deal. By last May, Shore had become a big fan of "Totally London," in which he'd play a male nanny to a brood of British tykes. As Aug. 1 approached, the key "London" players--Shore, Rotenberg, New Line and CAA, which brokered the deal and arranged for client Dennis Dugan ("Problem Child") to be hired as director--all expected that Hollywood would let the Shore option lapse. (A not-uncommon practice, according to several agents, producers and entertainment attorneys.)
On Monday, Aug. 3 (the actual deadline was a Saturday), Disney exercised its option, demanding Shore's commitment to "The Son-in-Law." "I think people were surprised and upset this happened at the last minute," say a Disney-associated producer. "They didn't see it coming."
According to one participant, Disney did not have Shore in an iron-clad legal grip. Even with the "Son-in-Law" rewrites, the comic was inclined to exercise his option to pass on the project, thus prompting Katzenberg to apply his "personal diplomacy."
"That's just sour grapes on New Line's part," responds a producer familiar with the situation. "Pauly is making a smart career move by sticking with Hollywood (Pictures)."
After Shore came over, Hollywood offered to either buy "Totally London" or take it on as a co-venture with New Line. New Line considered the offer, but the deal fell apart over who would retain domestic theatrical rights.