NEW YORK — He was dressed like a typical Hollywood suit, but Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer should have been decked out in Phat Farm during his keynote speech to a full-capacity Rolling Stone Youth Marketing Conference Thursday at the W Hotel in New York.
This story first appeared in the September 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Flanked by posters flaunting such credits as “Apollo 13,” “Blue Crush,” “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “A Beautiful Mind,” Grazer began by joking that “true to Hollywood producers, all I brought was [posters from] my hit movies.” The co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment then proceeded to throw down a ghetto-fabulous soliloquy indicating that he has assimilated some of the hip-hop flava coming out of his next film “8 Mile,” starring rap star Eminem, slated for a November release.
Grazer explained that he wasn’t “feeling” the controversial rapper during their first sit-down. “Eminem sat in my office and wouldn’t even look at me,” related an incredulous Grazer. “And I’m like, ‘C’mon, man, you’re here to see me. After all, I’m me.’ So finally I said to him something like, ‘Hey, can you animate?’ And he’s like, ‘F–k you.’ And I thought: ‘Okay, this is an office. He probably won’t assault me in an office.’”
The burgeoning homeboy also spiced his keynote with liberal doses of more familiar Hollywood-producer narcissism. When Rolling Stone editor Ed Needham’s cell phone went off during his speech, Grazer joked, “Is that for me?” When applause broke out in a neighboring room, Grazer thanked his own audience. After showing the trailer from “A Beautiful Mind,” Grazer yelled “I won!” in a kind of bizarre Oscar recall and then added, “That’s why I do these things: self-adulation.” Grazer also reaffirmed his credentials as Svengali for budding actors. “I started [the careers of] Michael Keaton, Meg Ryan, and Tom Hanks and now I’m starting Eminem.” Equally L.A. were his pseudo-Zen aphorisms, including “Thinking interrupts pure instinct,” “I feel that when I breathe it’s affecting people in other parts of the world,” and, most tantalizingly, “If you think a movie’s funny, it’s definitely not funny.”
The currently married Grazer showed considerably less love for Hollywood’s female community, however. “After ‘Splash,’ all the girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day were now giving me their watch,” he said. “So I went with it. But in Hollywood, with women, there’s only one personality type. It’s always ‘Hey, can I have the keys to your car?’ I just wanted a girl who had read a book.”