The Four Types of Scott Rudin Temper Tantrums
In the wake of the David Denby ban, a look at the producer's versatile displays of temper.
Scott Rudin's plan to ban David Denby from future screenings of his films after The New Yorker critic broke the review embargo on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is petty, impractical, and very much in keeping with the producer's reputation for scorched earth nastiness. While some of his peers can only shout and demean, Rudin's temper is versatile enough to manifest itself in any of the following ways.
Firing: In a 2005 Wall Street Journal profile by Kate Kelly and Melissa Marr, Rudin claimed he employed 119 assistants over the previous five years. Former staffers disputed that figure, saying the actual number was much closer to 250. Either way, Rudin has never offered much in the way of job security. One former assistant says he was axed for bringing the wrong kind of muffins to a breakfast meeting, while another got his walking papers after slamming the door to Rudin's office just as he was leaving to attend a childhood friend's funeral. Rudin himself recalls ordering an assistant who had arrived late out of their rental car, telling him, "You're fired, get out, take a taxi wherever you're going."
Throwing: Because Rudin can't fire inanimate objects when he's mad, he settles for throwing them. According to the Journal profile, these outbursts were frequent enough for his assistants to develop some safety precautions.
Former assistants say he sometimes vents his anger by throwing phones and office supplies, prompting assistants to take precautions. Some feared Mr. Rudin might hurl an easily accessible framed picture on his desk, so they surreptitiously moved it out of his reach. Others measured Mr. Rudin's phone cord so they could keep the appropriate distance. "The rookies often stood too close," remembers [former assistant Derek] Evans.
Banning: Rudin banned Denby even though The New Yorker critic liked his movie. The same couldn't be said of famously contrarian New York Press critic Armond White, who claimed last year that Rudin, director Noah Baumbach and publicist Leslee Dart uninvited him from a screening of Greenberg last year because they didn't care for his scathing reviews of Baumbach's two previous movies, The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. (In an email to Michael Musto of The Village Voice, Dart denied that Baumbach or Rudin ordered White to be banned.)
Cryptic gift-giving: When Rudin partnered with Harvey Weinstein to make The Hours in 2002, the two prickly producers reportedly fought about everything from Nicole Kidman's prosthetic nose to the Phillip Glass score, but it was Weinstein's decision not to screen the film at the Venice film festival that sent Rudin around the bend. According to New York magazine, a fuming Rudin called Weinstein and told him "You and I are done. You skunked me. It's despicable that you pulled this stunt and damaged my movie in front of press. I don't think I could ever trust you again." He followedup by sending Weinstein, a smoker, a "crate of cigarettes" with a note that read: "Thanks as always for your help." Hollywood being Hollywood, Rudin produced The Reader for the Weinstein Co. five years later, before fighting with Harvey again and taking his name off the movie.