Transcript: Brian Grazer

 

 

The transcript from this week’s MIB: Brian Grazer, Film & TV producer, is below.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Bloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

 

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MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, what can I say? I have a extra special guest. His name is Brian Grazer. If you have any interest in the entertainment industry, if you’re a film buff, if you watch any of the best television and films produced over the past 30 years, well, then then you’re definitely familiar with his work and you will find this to be an absolutely fantastic conversation, fascinating, and informative.

With no further ado, my interview of Brian Grazer.

MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Brian Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Brian Grazer. He is the co-founder of Imagine Entertainment with his partner, Ron Howard. He is the producer of such seminal films as “Splash,” “Back Draft,” “Apollo 13,” “Liar Liar,” “8 Mile”

His television offerings include such things as “Sports Night,” “24” and the cult — can I call it a cult favorite — “Arrested Development… ”

BRIAN GRAZER, TELEVISION AND MOVIE PRODUCER; CO-FOUNDER, IMAGINE ENTERTAINMENT: It is. Yes. That’s funny.

RITHOLTZ: His films have generated more than $13.5 billion dollars in revenue and his television work has done probably twice as much as that. The Producers Guild of America awarded him the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He is the author of “A Curious Mind.” And most recently, “Face to Face: The art of Human Connection,” Brian Grazer.

Welcome to Bloomberg.

GRAZER: Thank you. Glad to be here, boom — Bloomberg, rather. And with Barry. And I — help me get all my food items for the morning.

RITHOLTZ: We got you ready to go.

So, I’m looking deeply into your eyes. And in the book, you explain how, as a kid, that was a problem, looking people directly face to face was a challenge. How did that manifest itself and how did you overcome that?

GRAZER: OK. So — and thank you for reading the book and having me in the show.

RITHOLTZ: My pleasure. By the way, the book was very enjoyable. It’s very — you’re a spiritual philosophical cat and I found that really …

GRAZER: I am, actually. But thank you.

So, as a kid, I had acute dyslexia, but it wasn’t called back then. It wasn’t labeled as such. It was just like that kid …

RITHOLTZ: Learning disability.

GRAZER: Yes. Learning disability. Let’s put him back. I was the kid that would let the parents we’re talking about every night, let’s-put-him-back kid.

But — it was — it was really just — the root of that was that I had no ability to read. I couldn’t read one word. I couldn’t even sequence a sentence.

I mean, I would be way out of sequence and I’d often start from the wrong side. And …

RITHOLTZ: You’ve left to right issues also?

GRAZER: I do. I still have that problem.

RITHOLTZ: So, I’ll share some secrets with you. Learn …

GRAZER: But with discipline, you can fix …

RITHOLTZ: Well, once you’re married, you know the …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: That was a big deal. But I remember taking my learner’s permit test and left is the hand that make the L. Every time the instructor would say make a right or a left, I would go this. And he would say, what are you doing? I’m like, I — that’s how the only way I know left from right.

So, what did you do to overcome the reading issue>

GRAZER: Well, I — what I did was I avoided eye contact with all teachers all the time.

RITHOLTZ: They love that.

GRAZER: No, they don’t like that. I avoided eye contact. It just became — I did that because if you look at the teacher or if you’re eyes are available, in fact, then you get picked to answer the question or, Brian, come to the board, the chalkboard.

So, I just didn’t want any of those request because I never had the answer because it was always based on the material you were to have read and I was incapable of reading. And I had a Mr. Polovoy (ph) who is teaching me how to read, theoretically, but it was impossible for — impossible for him just because the way the symptoms and root of dyslexia itself.

So, anyway, nonetheless couldn’t read. But fourth or — I guess around fifth grade, I was started to be able to read a little. And but — by the way, my grandmother, I had a — I had one mentor in my life at the time that really believed in Brian.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And she’d say you have the gift of gab. You have curiosity and you can talk about it. And she’d be looking at my report cards over my shoulder. They were straight F’s. And I’m thinking, wow, she believes in me and she says you’re going all the way. She had all those isms.

You’re going all the way. Think big, be big. But there was, like, no empirical evidence whatsoever that I was going to be the think big, be big person.

RITHOLTZ: She saw something in you, obviously.

GRAZER: She saw something in me …

RITHOLTZ: This is more than just a grandmother’s love. This is — she saw something.

GRAZER: Yes. She saw the hints of this superpower called curiosity.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And that that is valuable. And if you can use it exhaustively with human beings, you can learn a lot, gain insights, and gain hearts. And if I said that right now to her if she were alive, she would say, yes, that’s right. She’d probably be very strong on the hearts.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: In any event, fifth grade, I could read. And now, I realize if I can read, I can now look at people. So, I started looking at people and using them also was as a secondary or primary textbook onto themselves.

So, I would look at you — today, for example, I noticed so much about you, Barry.

RITHOLTZ: Really?

GRAZER: So much. Well, you move quickly, you think quickly, you’re very helpful …

RITHOLTZ: Little hyper, yes.

GRAZER: You incredibly smart — well, some …

RITHOLTZ: Stop. Stop.

GRAZER: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

RITHOLTZ: Go on. Go on.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAZER: But I did notice quite a bit. So, you’re …

(CROSSTALK)

RITHOLTZ: You are a judge, not with me, but you tend to be a judge of human nature and human character, you do this in the — in the way — this is my pop observation in the in the material you select to make films, in the casting …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: I know everybody works with casting director and others, but it looks like that’s a big part of what you do.

GRAZER: Well, I’m very good at prospecting for ideas that have — that haven’t been done, that have an authentic voice and/or they’ll be an idea that’s as simple as a face-to face but I’m able to granulate the techniques of what face-to-face means in a way that’s interesting and with stories. And that empowers people to get the promotion you’re looking to get so that they can communicate it and they understand that energy, someone’s energy, the energy you bring in to a room, that millisecond is the beginning of the Barry story or the Brian story.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And you don’t want anything to deflect that present state of mind. And then you want to be — you want to use your eye contact and I’m using this in a simple way. You want to use your contact as tool, a bridge, the Wi-Fi into human connection itself. And if you’re really present with somebody, like just genuine interest, not transactional interest, but a genuine interest, you gain so much.

Every one of my movies, “A Beautiful Mind,” “Friday Night Lights, “Empire,” television of course, any of the successful things I ever did, “Splash,’ which you referenced, it’s all birthed out of human interaction, human connection, and which would came into play because of eye contact.

Then let’s say, I have those insights as I did. Let’s use “A Beautiful Mind.” Then I need someone to pay for “A Beautiful Mind.”

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Because then they could box it up and say, oh, it’s a movie about schizophrenia, that’s not going to be a a popular or a sexy subject, which of course I heard to some degree.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Then what I have to do is use the powers of my observational skills that I’ve had in the past and, OK, which one — how do I approach this so that I can make it not a study of schizophrenia but a — how do I make it a story that’s engaging to people? How do I make cinematic? What perspective on this subject makes it worthy of somebody going out of their house, getting a babysitter, whatever they have to do, find a parking spot, pay for the seat, and then feel like they’ve had a great time, rather had a great time?

So, I have to invent all of that stuff or I have to lead the invention of all of that stuff, the invention — and those things, in the case of “A Beautiful Mind” came from the — just a simple observational power of meeting new and interesting people. So, the story of “A Beautiful Mind,” what made it cinematic was 20 years before “A Beautiful Mind” ever existed I met a woman in 1985 named Veronica De Negri who was tortured in Chile. She was — during the Pinochet regime, the dictatorship of Pinochet.

And so, she sentenced to 18 months of constant torture. And I had the opportunity to meet her through Sting, actually, because I’d met him a year before that because I was so fascinated, like, I thought, how does a teacher become a rock star?

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And so, I constantly ask myself these questions. So, I got to meet Sting. A year later, Sting says come over, we have a barbeque, and meet Veronica De Negri. I say how do you — how did you survive it?

She said I created an alternate narrative that I would live in, another story I would live in …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: … all of the time. So, I live and fully engage in this other story that’s not actually a reality because reality was torture. So, that enabled her to survive this 18 months.

And I thought, well, then I’m thinking, wow, that’s very interesting. Twenty years later, I transport that insight that I gained from his non-transactional conversation.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And I thought that insight completely applies to a schizophrenic mind. So, if we start the movie through an alternate universe and alternate narrative, like another story, which we did, it’s going to be mind-blowing to people. Now, could this engage them? But it can also really engage them because then it becomes kind of a thriller.

So, it changes the entire genre of the experience. So, therefore, instead of being a drama, it became a thriller. And then a love story and that’s how he -s John Nash survived the — and coped with his schizophrenia.

RITHOLTZ: I was going to say, it’s not about schizophrenia, it’s a love story with one of the parties sort of descending into a bit of madness and that’s the driver of the plot.

I have to talk about “A Beautiful Mind,” for a minute.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: Because I just watched a couple weeks ago “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” Not only is Russell Crowe so fabulous in “A Beautiful Mind.”

GRAZER: He’s amazing.

RITHOLTZ: He’s spectacular. Like …

GRAZER: He is.

RITHOLTZ: … you can’t believe this is the same guy. It’s such a …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: And then Jennifer Connelly, God — I fell in love with her in “Career Opportunities” and she’s just so amazing in “A Beautiful Mind.” She’s just specular in it. She won an Oscar for that, right?

GRAZER: She won an Oscar …

RITHOLTZ: As did you.

GRAZER: And as did I. Yes. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting.

GRAZER: It was great. Great experience.

RITHOLTZ: And you’ve said this is your favorite film that you’ve made?

GRAZER: It’s certainly — yes. Probably my favorite film. I have several that I really like a lot but “A Beautiful Mind” is probably my favorite film because it triumphed in so many categories. I mean, it became a vehicle of a message that mattered to me which was let’s look at people directly and treat people as human beings and try to understand them or and not apply an immediate bias.

And I was one of those people …

RITHOLTZ: There’s no caricatures in that film at all.

GRAZER: Yes. And I wanted to help destigmatize mental disability so that when you we — here in New York, you see people in the street, they’re yelling in the middle of the street or they’re screaming at a store window. And let’s not just disregard them immediately.

I mean, let’s try to understand that they may be bipolar, they may be schizophrenic. They have issues. And basically, compassion is so powerful, so important to success, really. Empathy is really important to success.

I’ve been able to sell and raise lots of money for lots of movies, billions of dollars for movies which is, really, ideas.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: But similar to a startup, like, say OK, let’s do Airbnb. They’re not that different. They don’t make a lot of …

RITHOLTZ: It’s a startup. It’s entrepreneurial. You have to bring in investors.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: You have to bring in managers. It’s very parallel to running a new tech startup.

GRAZER: Exactly. And it can fail in an evening or it can succeed or have life and you pump more life into it and it could be “A Beautiful Mind,” for example.

RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating.

GRAZER: But you really have to be — in order to do anything well, you — like get the raise, raise the hundred million dollars, find your wife, me finding my wife, you have to be present and open-minded.

RITHOLTZ: So, you do a lot of work that’s been recognized and awarded and rewarded. Tell us a little bit about your process, how do you decide what films you want to produce? Is at the business side? Is it things you want to see? What — what is your process like?

GRAZER: OK. Because my first success was in 1984 about a mermaid, “Splash.”

RITHOLTZ: “Splash.”

GRAZER: And it’s really — that became — that became very helpful in the way I would start this journey. So, basically …

RITHOLTZ: Both the people and the process or …

GRAZER: No, just the hundreds of people that turned down a mermaid movie because it sounded so stupid to them. This is the stupidest idea. It’s like there’s no such thing as a mermaid or it’s just such a dumb idea.

What you learn is that, first of all, nobody really knows and nobody really knows the internal heartbeat of something, particularly when it’s got a big premise at the beginning of it. So, the fact that I could do a dumb idea and have it be really successful meant that I should just do things that I believe in.

RITHOLTZ: That’s the …

GRAZER: So …

RITHOLTZ: That’s the William Goldman quote about Hollywood, nobody knows anything.

GRAZER: Yes. Who is a friend of mine …

RITHOLTZ: Really?

GRAZER: Yes. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: I love the book — what is it?

GRAZER: It’s great.

RITHOLTZ: “Confessions of a Screenwriter” or something like that?

GRAZER: Yes. That’s right.

RITHOLTZ: So, he describes how everybody passed on “Star Wars,” everybody passed on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” by the way.

GRAZER: “E.T.”

RITHOLTZ: “E.T.” So, how do you — are you relying on your gut? What are you doing to …

GRAZER: I rely …

RITHOLTZ: … choose something, by the way, like “Splash,” where you’re working with Ron Howard, who you obviously, have a partnership with. You worked with Tom Hanks. You’ve done multiple …

GRAZER: Well that was his first movie, of course.

RITHOLTZ: Well, he had come off of the television show …

GRAZER: He did this TV series called “Bosom Buddies.”

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: But we, frankly, we did — discovered him and put him in his first movie.

RITHOLTZ: And that worked out pretty well for everybody.

GRAZER: And it worked really, really well. We were all …

RITHOLTZ: Yes.

GRAZER: I think I’ve made seven movies with Tom Hanks now.

RITHOLTZ: He’s quite delightful.

GRAZER: Yes. He’s brilliant.

RITHOLTZ: He’s brilliant.

GRAZER: Brilliant guy, brilliant actor. And his selection process for movies or television is unbelievably great.

RITHOLTZ: So, what is your process? What is your selection process? How do you figure out what you’re interested in making?

GRAZER: I bomb — you’ll relate to this. I bombard myself with information all the time. I make a point to go out of my way and out of my comfort zone to meet new people every day. From Uber drivers to baristas, to you saw me over there with the water, getting a water, waiting to talk to somebody who’s just — some stranger.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And I just — I operate on — I trust that I will constantly disrupt my comfort zone by trying to conduct a conversation with some — someone that’s an expert in something that I’m not. So, then I have to get through that challenge, the challenge of the language of physics.

RITHOLTZ: You described that in the book that you made a conscious decision to say let me find someone from outside of my field …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: … and have a conversation with them.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: What motivated that? That’s really not a very common approach.

GRAZER: No, it’s — it’s not. What motivated is, I asked myself what seem to be a rhetorical question when I graduated college, USC. And it was a very good school but I said to myself, like the day I graduated, what did I learn? Did I learn anything?

And I thought I’m not sure I really learned anything. And then I thought, what — well, what did I learn? I continued to assault these primary universal questions, the simple questions. And you just keep assaulting.

I thought, well, I think I — what I really learned, for sure, is how to — is I learned how to cope, survive, and collaborate in a bigger population of people. Because that was a certainty. I went — grew up in a — I was a middle-class kid, went to small schools prior to that. This was a bigger school.

And I succeeded in this bigger school academically and socially and culturally. But I found the whole thing an interesting kind of challenge, so I succeeded at that part. Then I thought to myself, there’s got to be a professor or a class that really, really grab me. There was. There was a Dr. Milton Wallpen (ph) who taught this very popular class, a 400-class, on abnormal psychology.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Which was very interesting to people because it — OK. So, it’s a a very big class. I never met the teacher — professor because it’s a class of 300 kids and I thought — I’m going to try to go meet Wilton — Milton Wallpen (ph).

And so, I was very persistent in trying to meet a professor at USC that — and I’d already graduated. He didn’t acknowledge, didn’t respond to any of my letters, so I decided I’m going to go wait for him outside of summer school class.

I waited, he says to me, didn’t you graduate? I say I did but I was really impressed with your — the class and your conducting of the class. I really wanted to just have a five-minute coffee conversation and I turned that into an hour conversation.

And I learned a lot. I learned a lot more even in the hour. I thought, wow, I learned more in the hour than I did in the whole class and I like that class. So, I can do this with other people.

It just made me feel like, well, this is possible. And I was just a little nobody. I didn’t even have a job. I was just — couple weeks later, I finally get a locker job — sorry …

RITHOLTZ: Which, by the way, I love the story how you got that job at Warner Bros.

GRAZER: Yes. It’s funny.

RITHOLTZ: You were — tell the story. I don’t want to give the …

GRAZER: Yes. So, basically, I met with — I had the meeting that I just referred to a Dr. Milton Wallpen (ph) and then I’m in my little apartment complex on Ocean Avenue and in the apartment complex, I overhear these three law school grads because I was scheduled to go to law school at USC. I hear them talking about wow, what a summer. One guy says I had the cushiest, easiest job.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: So, it immediately got my interest because I needed a job and if it’s going to be cushy and of his day to be cushy and easy …

RITHOLTZ: Fantastic.

GRAZER: Even better. Let’s go.

So, I thought, OK, so I pulled the window back so I could really hear through the screen and drew the drapes so he — they couldn’t see me with my ear to the window or to the screen. And so, the guy starts talking about the job. It’s a legal department at Warner Bros., blah-blah-blah.

I get them — the man’s name, his name was Peter Knecht, who ran the legal department. He started with Jack Warner. He’s probably 80.

And I called and got a meeting that afternoon with Peter Knecht and got the job at 3:15.

RITHOLTZ: Saying I hear you have an opening for an intern?

GRAZER: Yes. I said — yes. I’m scheduled to go to USC Law School. I’m a graduate. I hear you need a law clerk, love to be that person right now. And he said, you’re hired.

RITHOLTZ: Just like that?

GRAZER: Just like that.

RITHOLTZ: Unbelievable.

Let’s talk a little bit about how human connections have helped you in your career. In your early life, you weren’t much of a reader.

GRAZER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: But you learned that conversations with people became crucial to your intellectual growth and professional growth. How did you reach this insight and how has it come out even to this day? How does it manifested?

GRAZER: Well, I mean, the techniques of which are embedded in these stories in this book that were talking about called “Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection” because you can’t really have — you can’t get — you can’t get promoted without looking at somebody.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Connecting. You’re never going to be able to raise a hundred million dollars which I would do often to make a movie. That was my job …

RITHOLTZ: Is that what it takes now to make a film? That much money?

GRAZER: Well, because movies are now sort of event oriented …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: There — the $100-million movie or hundred plus, $100 to $200-million movie is actually easier to accomplish than the $40-million movie.

RITHOLTZ: Overseas rights and a broader audience or …

GRAZER: Yes. You have to go for a broader audience. So, but I’ve always tried to have stories that had universal themes.

So, we’re talking about “A Beautiful Mind” which it which we won an Oscar for or I did and it — and the thing about that is that the universal theme wasn’t really about schizophrenia and it wasn’t about winning a Nobel Prize, it was much more about love. That love, the power of love is — which is a universal force, gets you through — can get you through a lot. In this case, it was schizophrenia and then his ability to win a Nobel Prize in Economics.

So, basically, I found that by taking the opportunity to look at people when I walk to the street in New York as opposed to my phone.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Because I can look at my phone all the time. That’s always going to be there and I love my phone and it provides me with so much information. But if I’m walking the street in New York, I’m looking at people, and I’m trying to feel or intuit it, like what’s going on in the world right now?

RITHOLTZ: Right. So, I bombard myself with information that I could read on my iPhone when I’m at home or in my office or iPad but nonetheless, I thrive on human connection because human connection is — you feel people’s hearts and you don’t feel their heart on an iPhone and they don’t feel your heart.

And the only way to move people enough to promote you or to move — or in the case of romance, move the girl to want to like you or be with you or see something intrinsically valuable is through their heart, through a spirit. It’s just — that’s just really the way it works.

And so, whether you’re in technology — whatever the thing you’re doing, you have to have face-to-face connection. Otherwise, you’re just not going to advance your cause.

RITHOLTZ: So, in the book, you describe — and pardon me if I’m confusing the two books because …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: … it’s a bit of a blur. I’ve gone through a lot of your writings …

GRAZER: Well, they overlap in some ways.

RITHOLTZ: They definitely do.

GRAZER: Yes. Because one is about is curiosity …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: But then I realized, unless you look at somebody and cut — and use face-to-face connection …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: There’s no bridge into the possibility of exercising curiosity. So, you can’t really ask people questions and have them share with you anything valuable unless you’ve looked — you’re looking at them because they have to be seen, they have to feel like they’re seen and what their — and that they’re — what they have to say is valuable.

RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about some of the communicators you discussed in the books.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: Some people that you’ve engaged in conversation and it’s changed the course of, at least, entertainment and probably some people’s live.

GRAZER: Sure.

RITHOLTZ: You said Oprah could be the most successful communicator you’ve ever experienced. Explain why?

GRAZER: Well, I mean, there’s so much evidence that supports that she’s probably the most successful communicator in the world right now. But it’s experiencing it that really — experiencing that really makes a difference and you see it. You really- so, Spike Lee, I was making a movie with Spike Lee.

RITHOLTZ: Which film was that?

GRAZER: It was called “Inside Man.”

RITHOLTZ: Of course.

GRAZER: Shot right here in your city.

RITHOLTZ: Denzel Washington. Right.

GRAZER: And it’s shot in Wall Street. And with Denzel Washington. I have a great story about eye contact that made that movie happen, actually. But …

RITHOLTZ: Explain.

GRAZER: Then we …

RITHOLTZ: Don’t tease us. Give us …

GRAZER: We won’t forget. OK. OK.

So, basically, I’d known Spike Lee for a while. We both were nominated for Oscars. He for ” Do the Right Thing” and I was for another movie. And, yes, so we met each other under a very privileged situation. And I love “Do the Right Thing.” It was just so inventive in so many ways cinematically.

He handled a pretty heavy subject in a — the most evolved way, cinematically. No one has ever done that. And I always wanted to work with him.

So, many years have gone and we just never could figure it out and I put a lot of effort into trying to figure it out. Now, it’s about eight or nine years later and I have a movie that I — that I’m going to make and he came in to talk about it, but we saw it a little bit differently and I walked into the elevator.

And as I press — I pressed the button and it was only — had to go seven floors. And in those singular moments …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: He looked up at me like he’s never looked at me before. I felt it differently. And he looked me in the eyes and he said I’m — this is the movie I want to make. And he pulled it from behind his back. It’s called Inside Man.

I already had another director on it. But he looked me in the eyes, says I want to make this movie. It’s going to successful and more importantly, it’s going to be a successful work relationship for you and me. I promise you it will be a great experience.

RITHOLTZ: Literally an elevator pitch, seven floors.

GRAZER: That’s what it was. And I felt him. And I — and he really probably did exactly- he did one of the techniques that I would describe in the book actually, but he did it and I felt the power of it, the authenticity of it. I sell — I felt that I felt his soul.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Honestly. And so, I said yes. And I let the other director go which wasn’t easy and …

RITHOLTZ: Expensive?

GRAZER: It was a little expensive but worth it.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Because this became like one the most profitable.

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: Maybe the most profitable movie for universal that year.

RITHOLTZ: Wow. That’s amazing.

GRAZER: And I know the most profitable movie for Spike in his career and huge for Denzel and me and …

RITHOLTZ: That’s fantastic.

GRAZER: So, it was a real — a real big win and the — probably as importantly, it ended well. He did provide me a great work experience. He collaborated. He’s awesome. He’s talented and collaborative. You can’t beat that.

RITHOLTZ: The other two stories that stand out in the book that involved that contact, Eminem, with the before “8 Mile” came out …

GRAZER: Before “8 Mile,” yes.

RITHOLTZ: … was kind of known but not exactly a superstar.

GRAZER: No, he wasn’t a superstar. Well, I had …

RITHOLTZ: He was a rising rapper.

GRAZER: Yes. So, this is actually an example of what being alert and what I contact will do. So, 15 years before “8 Mile” came to life, I overheard in New York in a taxicab …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: While I was going from Soho to Midtown, like right about here, and a shock jock radio guy talking to …

RITHOLTZ: Howard or someone else?

GRAZER: It could have been Howard.

RITHOLTZ: Yes.

GRAZER: So, talking — talking to a guest. And the guest was named Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

RITHOLTZ: Wu-Tang Clan.

GRAZER: Yes. From the Wu-Tang Clan. But I didn’t know much about — this is 25 years ago today, so I didn’t know much about the Wu-Tang Clan or even about East Coast hip hop for that matter. I didn’t know about that culture.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: So, I hear Ol’ Dirty — a guy that insist …

RITHOLTZ: ODB.

GRAZER: Yes. But he insists on being called Ol’ Dirty Bastard. That’s a really unusual thing. Normally guys, that’s an insult.

He insisted that you don’t — that’s what I am. I’m this guy. So, I thought whoever is that person, I have to meet him. So, I really go out of my way and I make a lot of calls, and eventually, I’m able to meet ODB. You’re guy here.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And we have this interesting conversation. He’s really incredibly wild, very free form character and I thought wow, this is — what east — the voice of East Coast rap is. This is, now, as you said the Wu-Tang Clan.

And so, I started to learn about the Wu-Tang Clan then I sort of — then I went met Chuck D of Public Enemy and in Slick Rick and I realized there’s a comical way of …

RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) comes up from this as well?

GRAZER: All this stuff. And that got me on the path of realizing that this music, artform, was going to be the culture. It’s not a subculture. It is, in fact, going to be the culture which of course it is as we now know.

And so, I then sought I’m going to try to prove this out cinematically. And …

RITHOLTZ: “American Gangster.”

GRAZER: Yes. Well, “American Gangster” was part of that because I was able to hire RZA and put him in “American Gangster.” But I then, of course, with “8 Mile,” I thought this is worthy of an entire movie, but studios but there’s been rap movies. Mariah Carey did one. Vanilla Ice did one.

And I said, well, this is a different type. There’s the “Belly.” There’s a bunch of other movies. But I said, well, this is different. And I really relied upon all the information I got about human beings and self-actualization and growing …

RITHOLTZ: It’s a Joseph Campbell plot line.

GRAZER: It is a Joseph …

RITHOLTZ: It’s absolutely the whole — yes, rap happens to be involved in it, but it’s not about rap. Rap just is a flavoring in that broader …

GRAZER: Well, that’s incredibly smart. You’re — no one’s ever said that to me. But you’re right. It is a myth.

RITHOLTZ: Right. There’s been dozens of versions of that story …

GRAZER: Yes. Wrapped up differently.

RITHOLTZ: Right. Only, this is a unique kid in a unique location …

GRAZER: Yes. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: And then the whole different dimension of hip hop top on top of it …

GRAZER: Yes. But the internal heartbeat that make — creates the story architecture is your right, it’s Joseph Campbell.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: … “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” It’s — it leaves in that space.

And so I kind of — I probably — actually, gravitated towards that paradigm because it gives you comfort.

RITHOLTZ: It’s a great plot also.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: That works.

GRAZER: So, thank you. And then I had a chance to meet Eminem. I saw — it was …

RITHOLTZ: So, talk about the meeting. That’s …

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: By the way, just whole digression is because the meeting that you describe, he’s like, yes, who the hell are you? I’m out of here.

GRAZER: Yes. He did say that. Yes. Exactly. He said it in multiple different ways, but basically, I thought it’s now many years later since I met ODB and the RZA and RZA was a big person in my life, too. I thought I am going to try to make a movie about this but then I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t figure out this puzzle.

Eventually, I see this guy Eminem. He’s being filmed on — of the VMAs.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: He wasn’t winning an award. He was just in his seat. And I thought, wow, I got to meet this guy.

So, Jimmy Iovine was a very long time friend, created a music label called Interscope Records.

RITHOLTZ: Giant.

GRAZER: He — yes. And he is a visionary. He was able — he had Eminem. So, I said, kind of, let’s meet him.

So, we meet him. And out of — I’m trying so hard to connect with Eminem and he won’t look at me. He just wasn’t …

RITHOLTZ: He’s not an eye contact guy either.

GRAZER: He is definitely not an eye contact guy. He’s a brilliant poet/somewhat recluse. And so, he did not want to really look at connect.

And so, he said, I’m out after about 15 or 20 minutes. And I thought …

RITHOLTZ: I’d heard enough. I’m going.

GRAZER: Yes. I hear …

RITHOLTZ: Tapping out.

GRAZER: Yes. I’m not connecting with you, man, I’m out.

And so, I — as his hand was on the door to leave, I just desperately said, come on, you can animate. I just — I mean, I’ve no logic for the sentence, I just said it. And he was hesitant but then came back.

And then he told his story, how he grew up, and that became the basis of the entire movie.

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: And really the story architecture the whole movie. And he ended up winning an Oscar. Never before as a rapper won an Oscar and he did.

So, he’s a really, really gifted and he wrote the music, wrote the — he played every — he did everything. The guy did everything.

RITHOLTZ: The rap contest, did he right all of that on both sides?

GRAZER: He did everything. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing. So, what was it about the word animate …

GRAZER: And the music composition (ph).

RITHOLTZ: The animate word, what is it that caught his attention?

GRAZER: Well, I don’t really know but animate means come to life.

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: And he is a Scrabble. He might have known the full meaning of it. He was intrigued. I never have asked him. I should probably someday do that.

RITHOLTZ: You definitely should.

Let’s talk about some of the work you’ve liked and helped motivate or animate your career. As a kid, you’re a giant James Bond fan with Sean Connery.

GRAZER: I was.

RITHOLTZ: Who is it? Those were just the greatest films …

GRAZER: Yes. Those were fantastic. They took you into an escapism universe of fantasy of like, wow, I can do anything. I get the cute — I can get the hot girl. I can kick guy’s asses.

RITHOLTZ: Kill the bad guys.

GRAZER: And kill the bad guys.

RITHOLTZ: Save the world.

GRAZER: Kill bad guys, save the world, and drink all at the same time.

RITHOLTZ: Right. So, don’t really action films. So, you really do films with the big dramatic content.

GRAZER: Yes. With real — a motion film.

RITHOLTZ: Right. If there’s action …

GRAZER: I believe a motion is the destination for films.

RITHOLTZ: If there’s action, it sets up the emotional tension …

GRAZER: Correct.

RITHOLTZ: … like “Apollo 13” or “Backdraft.” Stuff happens but it tees up …

GRAZER: Or even “Da Vinci Code.” We had him running and doing things …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And it wasn’t even in the book, really. There was that active. But we had found a way to manufacture that.

RITHOLTZ: So, have you ever watched a movie and said, God, I could never have — I never would’ve seen that idea. What a great concept, it’s just so outside of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have done that or conversely, have you ever seen something and said there was a great opportunity here and these guys blew it?

GRAZER: My God. All those — the answer yes to — OK.

I’ve seen concepts not correctly executed where I think they blew it. But I’ve blown it, too. So, I have movies that I could say which I won’t do now that where I’ve — where I’ve kind of blown it. I’ve rationalized, that was one of my rules, where I thought, well, this is good enough.

This one decision is good enough and one decision that is good enough is always (inaudible).

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: It just is. And you’re the best judge of quality. You just have to don’t (inaudible) yourself.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: So, and I do sometimes because it — you just — the endless assault of decisions you have to make to make a movie. Raise the money, make a movie, turn it into some cinematic masterpiece, hopefully.

So, but I have had — there — the movie that — a couple of movies changed my life.

RITHOLTZ: Really?

GRAZER: The one movie that got me into show business, really, that made me think that everything is possible was Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles.”

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: Because he violated every single rule of ethics, morality, and language and …

RITHOLTZ: And the “Fourth Wall.”

GRAZER: And “Fourth Wall.”

RITHOLTZ: He (inaudible).

GRAZER: And it worked. So, I thought, wow. This was like a — the first chock comedy and I just called it that to myself, like a shot comedy and I thought that means you can really do anything. This is so exciting.

So, the first 17 years of my life, it’s all I wrote or produce was — were comedies. “Nutty Professor,” “Liar Liar,” “Parenthood.” I could go on. But the point is I, just to that, “Boomerang” with Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin.

Anyway, but the movie that really changed my life was Steven Spielberg’s “E.T” because I realize when I experienced that movie at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, every — but when the movie ended, everybody was at peace. Everybody felt good.

It — he that movie elevated people’s moods to a really positive place. It created a transcendental moment for human beings where they didn’t have to rush to get their car and they weren’t aggressive. And it was — it empowered you — it empowered possibilities.

And I thought — I want to try to make that be my goal, like to aspire. I never reached that — and honestly, I have been really good work. But that was a very, very, very high level and I deeply admire it and became an aspirational, professional aspiration.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a touchstone in your career. Seeing your (ph) film.

GRAZER: It was. Yes. Well, the knowing the power of film. Like the power of film, great stories that have redemption, can move people, can create good vibes in the world, and that’s actually my goal with even — with my television shows or my movies. I just — I really want to entertain people, engage them so they have a great time, but make them — but put out good vibes.

RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about a touchstone and moving people.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: I’m a giant “Arrested Development” fan. The voiceover narration, it’s beyond the meme now. That has become a cultural touchstone especially in the current era. You see it all the time. Someone says something on TV, that turns out to be nonsense. And in parentheses, you get narrator. It wasn’t.

The line straight from …

GRAZER: Yes, that’s pretty funny.

RITHOLTZ: … from Ron Howard’s — when you guys were first putting that together, how did the narrator come about and did you have any idea this was going to become as giant, a little cultural touch known as it’s become?

GRAZER: No. No to all those things (ph). Basically, this was a project that was primarily cooked up with the — I was part of it, of course. But the collaboration of Mitch Hurwitz who created it …

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: … and Ron Howard who collaborated on its birth, and of course, this voiceover narration. And I …

RITHOLTZ: Which, by the way, is just pitch perfect.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: Like you recognize this voice but if you’re not paying attention, you don’t know who it is right away.

GRAZER: Correct.

RITHOLTZ: And he’s …

GRAZER: Well, he’s smart and talented.

RITHOLTZ: He’s deadpan is perfect.

GRAZER: Yes, it is.

RITHOLTZ: And I know throughout the show, there had been little hints that it’s him. You see a hand of the narrator with the ring that says RH on it.

GRAZER: That’s funny.

RITHOLTZ: How did — how did that come about?

GRAZER: I think it was probably Mitch’s idea and Ron was excited to do it and knew he could do it. Because he understood the tone really well and he has a great voice, he’s incredibly — he’s a really good actor. And his style of communication in real life is not that dissimilar. He’s very unaffected person.

He’s a completely unpretentious. He’s incredibly — he’s confident but unpretentious and …

RITHOLTZ: How did you guys meet and become partners?

GRAZER: We met because I had this discipline of curiosity conversations.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And I looked out my window while I was a television producer at Paramount and I yell out the window to Richie Cunningham.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: He was …

RITHOLTZ: You didn’t call him Richie Cunningham, did you?

GRAZER: No. I said, Ron, Ron Howard. And then he sort of scurried away and then I called his office and said would he consider meeting me and then we had our first Hollywood lunch.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Which is his first Hollywood lunch and he — because he never did hold lunches. He was just working.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: Again, he’s just a — he’s a guy that just works and gets on it. But so we never did a Hollywood lunch. He did (inaudible) Brian Grazer. That worked and then we pitched some ideas together. I pitched two ideas. One was “Night Shift” and one was “Splash.”

RITHOLTZ: Michael Keaton, right?

GRAZER: Michael Keaton. Right. And Henry Winkler.

RITHOLTZ: That’s right.

GRAZER: And that was the first movie we did even though I wanted him to do the love story mermaid, he wanted to do an R rated film. And so, he did it and he did it really, really well.

RITHOLTZ: Relatively small budget and it was very successful, right?

GRAZER: It was immediately successful because the chairman of Warner Bros. at the time, his name Bob Daly who was — who just left CBS. He sold it immediately to CBS for the entire cost of the movie. So, we’re in in profit …

RITHOLTZ: Guarantee.

GRAZER: … hour one. Right. Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: And then where did the script from — for “Splash” come frome?

GRAZER: “Splash” came because I had this — I started this at this idea of what if I could meet my perfect girl.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And what would that girl be like? What were those characteristics be? How would she communicate? The purity of all of those things and I just kept defining it and redefining it and redefining. Where would I live? Well, would it ever happen in L.A.?

No. I would never meet the perfect girl in L.A. OK. What …

RITHOLTZ: Although eventually you do.

GRAZER: Where would it be — yes, which I did. Veronica, actually, was from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

RITHOLTZ: OK.

GRAZER: And she was only in L.A. for a day, but you’re right. Wow, you’re a good reader. Thoughtful.

So, in any event, so I just kept assaulting the simplicity, again, of a question that I postulated to myself. Is it is a possible to meet a perfect girl? Is it possible — what does a perfect girl look like? What would that be?

Then I’ve defined it, then I wrote it, then I superimposed this whole mythological image of — imagery of a mermaid because mermaids have power. They have beauty and sex appeal. They have simplicity and their unattainable. And that makes the love story harder and gives you a third act.

RITHOLTZ: Right. That’s interesting.

And it’s — the film, I’ve always adored. It’s filled with great characters. John, the little cameos from John Candy are just hilarious.

GRAZER: Well, John Candy was so funny. But we talked earlier today in the show about my grandmother who supported me. He was a Jewish grandmother, his little tiny Jewish grandmother and she had all these isms. The isms were like think big, be big.

It’s just as easy to love a rich girl as a poor girl. You have problems, wash it down with chicken soup. She had — every one of these isms.

I took all of those isms that Grandma Sonia said and I gave him to the character of John Candy.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And that’s how they all kind of happened like that. He says think big, be big …

RITHOLTZ: That’s so funny.

GRAZER: … my friend. And then there — my grandmother had kind of a decadence, weirdly, and I extrapolated further on the decadence like my grandmother smoked. She got divorced early in life like when she was like — in 1940, no one got divorced. She did all this kind of things that were that — were unconventional.

So, I put a lot of those things into the character that John Candy played and then real writers came in to rewrite me because my script was terrible. It embodied the idea but …

RITHOLTZ: It was a first draft.

GRAZER: But Lowell Ganz and Babaloo — it’s the first draft. But it was Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel that were really gifted and incredibly funny. Like beyond funny.

RITHOLTZ: So, you mentioned the beautiful girl. You mention this which sort of makes me think of the current environment. I don’t think you can make “Blazing Saddles” today.

GRAZER: No, you can’t do that.

RITHOLTZ: You probably could make splash today but it would be — it would — some of the more interesting aspects would be sanded down. So, given the current environment, given the Me Too movement and everything else, how has that affected the options you have for making films today?

GRAZER: It’s not — it’s not too confining for Ron and Brian Grazer. And imagine because we operate — the movies and television we make, they just naturally operate within a value system that doesn’t violate …

RITHOLTZ: So, it doesn’t affect.

GRAZER: … that phase. So, it doesn’t …

RITHOLTZ: No negative impact?

GRAZER: No. I mean, if you’re doing — I don’t make those hard — those are comedies.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: But it would definitely affect, be constrictive that way if we — if we did.

RITHOLTZ: Not your genre, really.

GRAZER: Yes. It’s not really my genre, the R rated comedies. And doing comedies itself is kind of hard right now in movies.

In TV, I’m thrilled to do a comedy. I may — I like television and I like — so, I’m sensitized to it but I think Ron and I, just by nature, are not human rights of violators.

RITHOLTZ: Right. You describe him as like the nicest human soul you’ll ever want to meet.

GRAZER: He is.

RITHOLTZ: Before I get to my speed round questions, I just have to talk to you little bit about the dyslexia.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: I told you I love the left is the hand that makes the L when you do this.

GRAZER: That’s funny.

RITHOLTZ: I don’t know how else it manifests of you. I always found that if I would go out to eat with a group of people, I was always eating other people’s bread and water because …

GRAZER: I don’t do that. I never did that.

RITHOLTZ: But I’ll tell you …

GRAZER: That’s funny.

RITHOLTZ: … a neurologist at Stony Brook University Medical Center who works with ADHD kids and dyslexic kids told me another little shortcut. You make the OK signs?

GRAZER: Yes. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: And this is B is bread and D is drink. And that’s how — and ever since she showed me that shortcut, I’ve stopped eating other people’s …

GRAZER: Cool.

RITHOLTZ: … dinner rolls. It’s — I wanted to ask, how did you learn to manage the dyslexia. How did you overcome that? Because that’s a really — specially for someone who reads screenplays all day long, getting past that reading issue had to be a big challenge.

GRAZER: Well, yes. In my early education, zero through fifth grade, I couldn’t read a word.

RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing.

GRAZER: I couldn’t read one word. And so, it became pretty traumatizing and it caused behaviors of like not looking at people because they might pick me to come to the — in front of the class and I would never have the answers because I couldn’t read.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: So, therefore, any of those kind of exchange — exchanges that involved having to read to get the answer didn’t work.

RITHOLTZ: So, how did you overcome that?

GRAZER: It just happened. I got …

RITHOLTZ: Overtime?

GRAZER: I got lucky there’s — these sort of moments of epiphany where some flash breakthrough occurred and I could then spell. I was able to spell almost really — I remember being able to before I could read. And then I was able to read in sixth grade, not well because I would always start on the right and go to the left.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And so, that was problematic but it just took discipline and it still takes a lot of discipline. I invert words and I get so upset and I say to Veronica, I’m so upset I pressed send and it doesn’t make any sense. And she said, well, people expects stuff like that. you don’t have to be so hard on yourself.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: You have trouble dialing phones? You have trouble …

RITHOLTZ: Do you transpose numbers?

GRAZER: I don’t dial phones.

RITHOLTZ: You don’t?

GRAZER: No. I mean, I do transport — I do transpose numbers. I seldom dial phones. I use my smart phone, I use my Siri or I press a name.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: That’s it.

RITHOLTZ: Early in my career, I worked in an investment bank and they rotate you through every department on the trading desk, you’re in the bond risk (ph). So, when they rotated me through the sales department, they give you a list of clients and call all these people. That lasted a day. I couldn’t — I was …

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: It’s constantly getting wrong numbers. They’re like …

(CROSSTALK)

GRAZER: Well, fortunately, I mean, technology is so great right now.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: I mean I love technology and I love the power of smart phones. I just think they should be done independently.

I think you should use all your smartphones and smart equipment to get smarter and then when you meet somebody, be completely …

RITHOLTZ: Put it away.

GRAZER: … and look at them face to face.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: And in the book, there’s so many techniques that bridge into success variables, success situations.

RITHOLTZ: All right. So, I only have you for a few more moments.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: Let me run through our speed round.

GRAZER: Yes. Let’s try it.

RITHOLTZ: I’m going to ask you 10 questions.

GRAZER: Boy.

RITHOLTZ: Bank through these as fast as you can.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: First car you ever owned, year, make and model?

GRAZER: A 2002 BMW burgundy. And that’s what it was 2002 Burgundy.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: BMW. I drove it on the Warner Bros. lot and I’ve met two girls, very independent of one another, looking through my rearview mirror with my little BMW. One was Diane Keaton and I stopped and talked to her for a minute.

RITHOLTZ: Get out of here.

GRAZER: And I said what are you working on? She said “The Godfather.” I had no idea. I like I — I was just like, I was a kid just from the Valley. I didn’t even know why I was on the lot.

And Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson Hanks who’s now like a — she’s a Rockstar. I mean, but she’s Tom’s wife and I met her and drove her home in the daytime to Wilson — Woodrow Wilson Avenue and that’s — she told me that’s where they got their last name, from the street there.

RITHOLTZ: That’s so funny.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: What’s the most important thing people don’t know about Brian Grazer?

GRAZER: That I cry a lot.

RITHOLTZ: Really?

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: Like watching commercials or …

GRAZER: No. Well, music.

RITHOLTZ: OK.

GRAZER: I get emotional.

RITHOLTZ: I get that.

GRAZER: I celebrate the beauty of genius or hard work or accomplishment. And I can see little bits of accomplishment in things and I start to get emotional.

RITHOLTZ: Interesting. Early mentors?

GRAZER: Early mentors. Well, my grandmother first, Grandma Sonia.

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: Grandma Sonia’s words. And then early in my career, a producer named Saul Zaentz who produced “Amadeus” and he produced — he also produced “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

RITHOLTZ: Wow …

GRAZER: Impeccable — well, and a third one, “The English Patient.” I think he won two or three Oscars for Best Picture. He had impeccable taste.

And what I learned from Saul Zaentz is if you even with nothing written, I’m going to start scouting locations.

RITHOLTZ: Really?

GRAZER: Meaning, if I like something and it’s not even written, I’m actualizing it. It’s being done. So, I just thought, wow, creative visualization. He was doing that early on. And someone named Richard Zanuck, Dick Zanuck.

RITHOLTZ: Of course.

GRAZER: Also, great taste. Amazing taste.

RITHOLTZ: What are some of your favorite books? Do you read much in the way books or are you so busy with screenplays, you just don’t get to books?

GRAZER: No. I do I read. I read books more than I read screenplays. I try to read nonfiction, but I have a favorite — I’ve many, many favorite books but one of them that is “Grit” by Angela …

RITHOLTZ: Just came out last year. Yes, very popular.

GRAZER: She’s — it’s so great. It’s definitely I have to do that.

RITHOLTZ: Give us another one. Everybody loves this question.

GRAZER: I — look, I like martial arts and I like Eastern thought. So, Bruce Lee is icon and I’m a fan of.

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

GRAZER: So, he wrote a book called “Jeet Kune Do” and I like that book. OK.

RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting.

GRAZER: OK.

RITHOLTZ: Tell us about a time you failed and what you learn from the experience?

GRAZER: I failed so many times. I learned to keep taking risk and keep failing.

RITHOLTZ: Keep coming back at it.

GRAZER: Keep coming back. Don’t — well, what I really learned is don’t let — it used to really traumatize me, depress me, I couldn’t go to work. I develop physical problems.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

GRAZER: But that doesn’t happen any longer. I still don’t like to fail but I’d rather be fearless.

RITHOLTZ: So, normally, at this point, I would ask you what you do for fun but I know you surf. I know you do tae kwon do and other stuff.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: What else do you do for fun?

GRAZER: I play tennis. I love that. Do food videos. So, go to Brian Grazer and watch my food videos. They’re kind of funny.

RITHOLTZ: OK.

GRAZER: I did them originally from like all of for my kids. They thought they were hilarious because I’ve always doing something funny with food and funny parts of the world and my kids encourage me and that’s why I like doing that.

RITHOLTZ: That sounds like a blast.

GRAZER: Yes.

RITHOLTZ: Within the film and television industry, what are you most optimistic and most pessimistic about today?

GRAZER: I’m the most optimistic about the power of stories. That hardware is changed. Consolidation, movie companies, all those things have changed. But that — I’ve seen that over three and a half decades that all — OK, movies are terrible now, but they’re not terrible.

DVD is going to change the movie business. It didn’t. Netflix is going to destroy the movie business, it didn’t. It’s good for the movie business.

RITHOLTZ: It’s the Golden Age film and television now.

GRAZER: It is. It’s just great stories. I think people, particularly in the tech business who didn’t, a decade ago, value stories. Everybody values the power of a story.

RITHOLTZ: And our final two questions …

GRAZER: Yes?

RITHOLTZ: A recent college grad comes to you and said they’re interested in pursuing a career in film or television production, what sort of advice would you give now?

GRAZER: Always try to understand the language of our business, of the culture. Read the trades, read Deadline Hollywood. Read these things that seemed kind of like trashy, gossipy, but truthful of what’s going on in Hollywood.

First, learn the language. That’s what I’d say. Learn the language then I’d say find somebody that you respond — and then I always say to somebody, do you want to — optimally, do you want to work inside or outside? If you want to work inside, then you can be an agent, you can be a producer, you can be a writer.

If you’re going to work outside, you can be an assistant director or a director. You have to think, imagine, where do you want to spend your day? In or out? It’s a simple thing. And then you can find another simple thing that helps you get there.

But the language is going to help you because it will decode the internal workings of the business.

RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of entertainment today that you wish you knew 30 plus years ago when you were first getting started?

GRAZER: That — what I wish I — say it again?

RITHOLTZ: What do you know today that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

GRAZER: That failing is OK. I wish I knew that failing is OK because it caused me a lot of worry and stress.

I think if you, honestly, what I really think is if you’re a good person, you work towards the laws of karma like — just I do really believe in like smiling at people. I believe in — I believe in all of those little — those little butterfly effect moments get you goodwill.

RITHOLTZ: Absolutely.

GRAZER: Goodwill allow — forgives you for failure. There are — I’ve seen so many people, superstars that’d be incredibly rude and when they fail, they never come back. They can’t get back.

RITHOLTZ: Yes.

GRAZER: But if you’re kind …

RITHOLTZ: Burned so many bridges along the way? Is that …

GRAZER: They burned a lot of bridges. They make too much noise. They’re too rude. They offend too many people. And they don’t create good vibes out there. It’s a collaborative business.

And you’re never — you’re not going to even bat 500. It’s sort of — if you think of baseball, you’re going to bat 330 or 350, that’s pretty amazing.

RITHOLTZ: Yes.

GRAZER: And so, basically, you have to just know that success is not a straight-up trajectory and a lot of people lose their humility and they think — and they when they lose humility, then they lose manners and human etiquette. They don’t look at you. They look past you. They look over you.

And everyone catches all that stuff. People feel energy, that’s how you make big decisions. And so I think I’ve gotten a lot of breaks and I am really grateful to all the breaks I’ve gotten and continue to get.

RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Brian, for being so generous with your time. This has been absolutely fascinating.

We have been speaking with Brian Grazer. He is the television and film producer and co-founder of Imagine Entertainment. If you enjoy this conversation, well look up an inch or down an inch on Apple iTunes. You can see any of the previous 260 or so conversations we’ve had over the past five years.

You can find that at iTunes, Google podcasts, Spotify, wherever you find a podcast result. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at MIBpodcast@Bloomberg.net. Go give us a lovely review on Apple iTunes.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put together this podcast each week. Atika Valbrun is our project director, Michael Boyle is my booker/producer, Michael Batnick is my director of research.

I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg radio.

END

 

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