There's no denying that producer Joel Silver ("Lethal Weapon," the upcoming "Demolition Man") is one colorful dude. The legend of Silver--that of a shouting, high-strung, arm-waving impresario in the Sammy Glick mode--has become so vivid in Hollywood that whenever a movie mogul character appears in a film, the actor always seems to be "doing" Silver.
It all started, as everyone knows, in 1988 with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Director Robert Zemeckis was looking for a Silver-type to play a fretting film director and had the inspiration to hire the Real McCoy. A clean-shaven Silver appears just after the animated opening sequence, chewing out Roger for blowing his lines.
Next came "Grand Canyon," in which a bearded Steve Martin played a big-studio producer of blood 'n' guts fare who lives in a Frank Lloyd Wright house that everyone believed was basically Joel--with maybe a touch of Larry Gordon (Silver's former mentor) thrown in for good measure.
Two brand new Silver-like characters will appear in upcoming films. And there's a Silver-ish movie producer dominating the pages of a new serialized novel.
Rumors have been circulating for months that Albert Brooks' character in James L. Brooks' upcoming musical "I'll Do Anything" is a take on you-know-who. Silver reportedly expressed concern about this early on but was soothed by co-producer Polly Platt.
The character, Platt contends, "is more like Larry Gordon or the dark side of Jim Brooks." Even if Hollywood know-it-alls conclude that Albert Brooks is mimicking Silver, "Joel should be so lucky," she adds. "You feel for Albert in the film, believe me. He's a man in trouble but it's such a beautifully written part."
Meanwhile, word is filtering out that Saul Rubinek portrays a Silver-styled producer in "True Romance," Tony Scott's adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's violent script about drug dealers that Warner Bros. is releasing in July. "The beard, the glasses, the oversize Japanese shirts--and he has a great death scene," says a source close to the film. Rubinek and Scott both declined to offer comment.
On top of all this, the flamboyant Max Fischer animates John Richardson's novel-in-progress "The Blue Screen," due from William Morrow in 1994 and now being serialized in Premiere.
Silver says he's somewhere between feeling dismayed and resigned. Yet that's a hard to accept from a man whose admiration for the late Broadway showman Jed Harris is well known (and who's been trying for a couple of years to launch "Broadway," a Harris bio-pic).
"I didn't want this to happen," Silver declares. "I really didn't. I want to make terrific movies. I want them to be huge successes. I didn't want to be turned into this joke, this caricature . . ."--Silver's voice rises--". . . that you guys in the press have painted me as and now everyone has bought into it and I can't do anything about. But I live with it."