Sunday, July 09, 2006

Brittany Murphy saves Ed Burns' directing career!

Edward Burns wrote, directed and stars in a new movie that opens on Friday. The Groomsmen is the latest in his eleven-year run of high-quality, low budget, character-driven art films for the Average Joe. It’s got, among others, John Leguizamo (who voices Sid in the Ice Age movies), Jay Mohr and the guy who plays Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movies.

So who’d believe it took the casting of crazy Brittany Murphy to get the picture greenlit?

That’s what Burns, a respected director and bonafide acting star, tells the Apple folks in an interview promoting their Final Cut Pro editing system:

“It was so impossible to get it made.

"We ended up making the film for $3 million, about half of the original budget. And I don’t know, quite honestly, if it would have happened without Brittany Murphy. I believe their thinking was, ‘Okay, put Brittany in a wedding dress on the box of the DVD and we’ll break even.’

“A lot of the specialized film companies, whether it’s Fox Searchlight or Lion’s Gate, are having so much success with teen comedies and slasher movies that they no longer make the indie films they were set up to support, finance, and distribute. Now those companies say, ‘You go raise the money, make the movie, and then maybe we’ll overspend to buy it, but we don’t want to be involved in the risk side of that business.’”

Burns eventually got the film financed by a new company called Bauer Martinez Entertainment. At least he didn’t have to rewrite his script for filming in England, like Woody Allen, the Jewish Edward Burns, had to do to get Match Point made.

Burns’ interview promoted Apple’s Final Cut pro movie editing software, used to edit The Groomsmen, which you cinephiles will be glad to know is said to be influenced by Barry Levinsen's "Diner" and Fellini’s “I Vitelloni.”

Murphy, who was most recently in the headlines denying she was on drugs or had sex with a waiter at a Hollywood party, can be heard warbling on the new Paul Oakenfold single, "Faster Kill Pussycat."

All of which, of course, brings us back to Tabloid Baby.

It was fourteen years ago that tabloid television warlords Burt Kearns and Rafael Abramovitz were walking through Manhattan, deep in discussion about the future of A Current Affair when they ran into Edward Burns in Washington Square Park. He was shooting a pocket-budget movie that his dad, our pal Edward J. Burns, had helped finance and produce. The director of photography was a cameraman from A Current Affair. The movie was edited at night in an edit room at the A Current Affair offices.

The movie was The Brothers McMullen. It went on to win the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Originally shot for about $25,000, it took in more than ten million dollars domestic and launched Burns into a stellar Hollywood career (while he stayed true to his New York City roots and vision).

Kearns would also find Hollywood success, writing and producing the smash Burt Reynolds comedy, Cloud 9, with Brett Hudson and Academy Award winner Albert S. Ruddy (also edited on Final Cut Pro) and, among other projects with Hudson, producing the forthcoming feature by up-and-coming filmmaker Afrika Jones. He can also be seen providing commentary on the DVD of the Edward Burns-Robert DeNiro film, 15 Minutes.

For the complete story of the Washington Square run-in, see Tabloid Baby, Chapter 25, "Buttafuoco Sweats."

Click here to see-- and buy-- Edward J. Burns' unique artwork. And we found some more saucy photos of Brittany Murphy here.

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