There are only three people in LA. Everything else is done with mirrors.


In the fall of 1996, a $30-million Hollywood production almost ground to a halt because of facial hair. As producer Art Linson recounted in his 2002 memoir, “What Just Happened?,” Alec Baldwin surprised everyone when he showed up to film “The Edge” (1997), a man-against-nature thriller, with an overgrown beard. A profanity-laced debate ensued between producer, star, agent and studio executives.

Finally it came down to this: The execs, who had already sunk millions into the production, wouldn’t shoot the picture with their expensive star acting behind a hairy hedge. The stand-off might have ended badly for the studio if the star had walked, but in the end he didn’t: Mr. Baldwin blinked, emerging from his trailer clean-shaven for the first day of filming.

Why risk so much money over a few whiskers? The answer to that question and other mysteries of modern-day film financing can be found in “The Hollywood Economist,” Edward Jay Epstein’s latest foray into the seamy underbelly of Hollywood spreadsheets.

{ Wall Street Journal | Continue reading }