As a long time fan of producer David Brown's films “The Player,” “Jaws” and “A Few Good Men,” I was happy to read his “Lessons From a Life in Showbiz” in Variety magazine. I've had this clipping over my drawing board for 6 years now.
Since he recently died at age 93, I feel its appropriate to pass on these pearls of wisdom. I myself have only been in showbiz 25 years, a small fraction compared to David Brown, yet I agree 100% with all of his lessons.
There are 28 lessons all together, but that's too many to digest in one blog so I've broken them up into 4 parts, thus:
22.Not returning phone calls is the sign of a loser. It's always easier to get the CEO or boss of a studio than an underling. That's why they're underlings.
23. You're only as good as your last picture – depending on how long ago your last picture was.
24. Those entrusted with green lighting pictures should become involved with the process at the beginning instead of at the end. This would save scads of money spent by development executives with only the power to say no. In films as well as in television, it is ludicrous for the decision makers to sanction this waste.
25. No matter how successful you are as a producer you're always Willy Loman begging for your next gig.
26. Irving Berlin said, “The trouble with success is that you have to keep being successful.” How tragically true.
27. Actresses (and actors) are smarter than most executives. I don't know why that is, but it is.
28. The best advice I've heard for those of us in this narcissistic business (of entertainment) was from movie star Barbara Stanwyck, as quoted in William Safire and Leonard Safir's book, “Good Advice.” “Know when your time is up,” counseled Barbara. “It's the only advice I have. Hell, I knew 25 years ago it wasn't going to last. Sooner or later, the demand won't be there, and you'd better get ready for it. Get ready for the dream to fade. So I'm no longer in demand, but so what? I've had my time, and it was lovely. And I'm very grateful for it. But now I move over and make room for somebody else. What the hell. Whatever I had, it worked, didn't it?”