Thursday, March 12, 2009

And You Thought He Just Got Lucky

Words of Wisdom from Sylvester Stallone:
"War is in your blood. When you're pushed--killin's as easy as breathin'.
Live for nothing. Or die for...something. Your call."
I wonder if Stallone thought that sounded really philosophical when he wrote it. And when he performed it. And when he first heard it played over footage of explosions and killings in the trailer. I bet he did.

If you'd like another window into the Stallone brain machine, peep this:

Alternate Movie Title Ideas for Rambo:

John Rambo
Rambo IV Rambo IV: End of Peace
Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye
Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra
Rambo: First Blood Part IV
Rambo: To Hell and Back

Those were not foreign titles, where studio stooges humorously adapt things to fit perceived local tastes--those were all working titles for the US market (although one was a 'fake working title,' which cracks me up--why should you need one when it hides nothing?). The studio was all, you know, testing the waters, throwing vomit on the walls and seeing what sticks, etc.

It's amusing that the studio let this get out. On the one hand, it makes them seem smart in choosing the simple, elegant Rambo. On the other hand, it makes them look dumb as bricks for thinking Pearl of the Cobra and--all the other ones--just might work. I'm no genius, but I think the cost outweighs the benefits there. Vote: idiots.

This whole 'bad title' situation reminds me of when I wrote my first book.

I was in third grade or fourth or fifth or...who knows--I was young. I was intelligent, but also extremely ignorant. I decided, for a class project/contest, to write a book called The Quest for the Holy Baseball and did.

My friend carefully illustrated it with colored pencils. I self-published one copy. Even as a young boy, as I first held that hot-off-the-press book in my hand, I realized it was the stupidest title for a book I had ever seen. And one of the stupidest books to have written in the first place.

Why is Sylvester Stallone not smart enough, with all his age, his hard-fought wisdom, to refuse to even entertain those abominable titles? Or, if he is not to blame, why is he not smart enough to use his HGH-fueled muscles to squeeze to death anyone partnered on this movie who suggested those titles in some meeting?

More importantly, why did Stallone--who wrote, directed, and starred in Rambo, ever in hot pursuit of Roman Polanski, Charlie Chaplin, and others for the title of Artistic King of Cinema--not also decide to compose the score and produce, or at least executive produce it (read: do nothing)?

How badly did nobody want this movie made? What manner of sick, disgusting, slobbery favors did Sly have to cash in to get cameras rolling? He had to give up producer credit on Rambo? Jennifer Love Hewitt gets fucking producer credit!

There were eighteen people who got some sort of producing credit on Rambo!!!

[Note: I did not include the two line producers in that number, as they actually did all of the work]

Hmmm...I wonder if he had a ghost director, and he gave up his producer credit for not-quite-deserved director credit, in his ongoing attempt to be appreciated as a man of letters...

I mean...he gave up tons of money (and maybe producer credit?) on Rocky, in order to be able to star in it himself (he wrote the script). And the producers of that movie didn't too badly for themselves...

The bottom line is: Stallone has personally made over $250million and been a creative force behind some enduring characters in the public consciousness. More than once, he has had to fight for what he wanted, and it seems he won far more than he lost.

So who am I to judge?

Side note: I once had the pleasure , several years ago, of being paid to help dismantle a large playhouse in the backyard of one half of the Rambo producing team of Chartoff/Winkler.

The last of Irwin Winkler's children was to be married in the expansive backyard soon, so the playground for the grandchildren had to be removed, sodded over, and then rebuilt after the wedding. Teams of people were dismantling different structures, hauling up mulch, laying down sod, trucks moving in and out--it was like a weird spin on an Amish barn raising. All for a rich person wedding!

Anyway, the property was amazing--the huge pool and his/hers poolhouse complex were in the distance in one direction, the two secluded tennis courts were in another, the house went on forever, the guest house was bigger than the house I grew up in, there was a manservant in a white jumpsuit waxing a series of vintage and modern sports cars in the forecourt, and outside the formal front entrance was parked an LAPD police car used in 48Hrs.

Winkler put it out there to scare burglars. It is always parked there. Still. I drive by it every so often to check and see. But even if I drive past one day and the squad car is absent, fear not for the Winkler clan, my brother, for they shan't have fallen on hard times. Two of his sons have managed to become producers on all of his movies, along with one of Chartoff's sons.

The dynasty shall outlast the sun...

Anyway, to finish this odd meandering blob off slyly, here are the most interesting tidbits from Sly's imdb trivia section: (Warning--there are a lot. Sorry, but they just kept getting better!)

- Oil paints in his spare time and considers Leonardo Da Vinci his personal hero.

- Birth complications, caused by forceps, resulted in paralysis of the lower left side of his face, manifested by a perennial snarl and slurred speech.

- He sued writer Peter "Taki" Theodoracopulos and the British magazine "The Spectator" in 1991 for suggesting he acted in a cowardly and hypocritical way when he "ducked the Vietnam War." He won the case.

- At 15, his classmates voted him the one "most likely to end up in the electric chair."

- Sued by model Margie Carr, who contends that he tried to force her to have physical relations with him last year at a Santa Monica Gym. [26 February 2001]

- 14 February 2002 - Sylvester sued his former business manager, Kenneth Starr, for giving him bad business advice. He claims $17M in damages. Part of the advice was for him to hold onto his shares in Planet Hollywood, the now bankrupt restaurant chain, despite it already being in a financial bind.

- His father Frank Stallone was a hairdresser and mother Jackie Stallone is a larger-than-life eccentric who's also sought fame as an astrologer and women's wrestling promoter. Her maiden name is Labofish.

- Was 23 years old when he got his first starring role in the porno The Party at Kitty and Stud's (1970) (which was re-released and renamed "The Italian Stallion" after his success with Rocky (1976)), in which he played the role of Stud The Italian Stallion. He was paid $200 to play the sex-craved gigolo and appeared in almost every scene nude.

- Attended the University of Miami on an athletic scholarship

- On 5 June 1994 he broke up with then-girlfriend Jennifer Flavin by sending her a "Dear Jane" letter via FedEx. They reconciled after one year, on 5 June 1995 and married on 17 May 1997.

- Turned down the role of John McClane in Die Hard (1988). The part went to Bruce Willis instead.

- Mother Jackie Stallone was a fan of Tyrone Power and had originally named him Tyrone Stallone, but when she got the birth certificate it had been changed by Sly's father Frank Stallone to Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone.

- Oddly, 1994 was one of the few years he was not nominated for an acting Razzie Award, even though he had appeared in both Cliffhanger (1993) and Demolition Man (1993), which had been nominated, with "Cliffhanger" receiving a nomination for Worst Screenplay, which Stallone had written himself.

- On 8 March 2005 he appeared in his first magazine issue of Sly which came out monthly. He was on the cover of every magazine and did most of the articles and interviews himself.

- On 10 May 2005 he published his book "Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power, and Live Your Dream".

- Did all of his own singing in Rhinestone (1984).

- In 1988 he was offered $4 million to do an advert for an American beer commercial under the condition that he cut his hair; when he refused they offered a further $1 million to go to the barber - he still refused.

- The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation awarded him a special "Worst Actor of the Century" award in 2000.

- Was said to have only $106 in his bank account at the time the Rocky (1976) project was given the green light by producer Irwin Winkler.

- He was presented with a certificate of recognition by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for filming Rocky Balboa (2006) in Los Angeles at a time when other filmmakers are moving their business to cheaper states or overseas locations to cut costs. (22 December 2005). (what a strange, unnecessary ceremony that must have been)

- In 1986, following the enormous success of Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Stallone was received at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.

- Received the first Boxing Writers Association of America's award for lifetime cinematic achievement in boxing at the organization's 81st annual Awards Dinner at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. (5 May 2006) (Who else was left at this point? Did I get second place? I watched Rocky a few times...)

- In 1971 he auditioned for a small part in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) but didn't get it. He decided he might have better luck as a writer. He wrote the screenplay for the modestly successful The Lord's of Flatbush (1974) and had a featured role in the film.

- The wax figure portraying Stallone as Rocky Balboa at the now defunct Movieland Wax Museum (Buena Park, California) was 5' 7" tall.

- His full frontal nude scene was edited out of Demolition Man (1993) prior to release, but can be viewed on the Internet.

- A lifelong Republican, he is one of President George W. Bush's two favorite actors. The other is fellow action hero and conservative Republican Chuck Norris. Both men attended Bush's inauguration as President in 2001.

- Despite his long association with the Republican Party, Stallone supported President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial and hosted a Democratic fund raiser at his Miami home on 9 July 1998.

- In 1998, following the murder of his friend Phil Hartman, Stallone, then living in England, called for America to ban all guns. This caused some controversy, since he had used guns in many of his movies.

- All his children's names begin with the letter "S": Sage, Sargeoh, Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet.

- Pleaded guilty to bringing vials of restricted muscle-building hormones into Australia and faces sentencing next week. Lawyers for Stallone entered the guilty pleas on behalf of the actor, who did not appear before Sydney's Downing Center Local Court. The star was accused of bringing banned substances into Australia after a customs search of his luggage during a 16 February 2007 visit to Sydney revealed 48 vials of the human growth hormone product, Jintropin. (14 May 2007).

- Stallone claims to have been able to bench press 385-400 lbs (174.6-181.4 kg) and squat 500 lbs (226.8 kg) in his prime. While in a bench pressing contest with former Mr Olympia Franco Columbu, he severely tore his pectoral muscle and needed over 160 stitches on it. This is why one half of his chest is more veiny than the other.

- Turned down Christopher Reeve's role in Superman (1978), Jon Voight's role in Coming Home (1978), Eddie Murphy's role in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Harrison Ford's role in Witness (1985), Bruce Willis's roles in Die Hard (1988) and Pulp Fiction (1994), John Travolta's role in Face/Off (1997), Samuel L. Jackson's role in Rules of Engagement (2000), and Kurt Russell's role in Death Proof (2007). (What? Stallone as Eddie Murphy?)

- Expelled from 14 schools for antisocial and violent behavior before the age of 13.

- "I really am a manifestation of my own fantasy."

- "People say, 'Come on, grow old gracefully.' No, why? I'm not ready. I know people will think Rocky is my story, but it's also my generation's story."

- "I'm now starting Rambo (2008) and I'm looking for a young actor to star opposite me. I've been looking for the next Robert Mitchum or Steve McQueen, but the fact is they just don't exist. Tough guys today are getting their hair done at Hollywood hairdressers. Whatever happened to having a beer and scratching your balls?"

- "I abused my body so much throughout my career that I am literally held together by glue. The stuff I took thickens the bones and reinforces the tendons."

- "I never had extraordinary genes or great bone structure, and I'm still very thin. What I try to do is create a body that every man can look at and say, 'You know, with a certain amount of dedication I can achieve the same thing.' I try to keep it in the realm of athletic, rather than unapproachable." (And where does the HGH fit in?)

- "I look back on Judge Dredd as a real missed opportunity. It seemed that lots of fans had a problem with Dredd removing his helmet, because he never does in the comic books. But for me it is more about wasting such great potential there was in that idea... it didn't live up to what it could have been. It probably should have been much more comic, really humourous, and fun. What I learned out of that experience was that we shouldn't have tried to make it 'Hamlet', it's more 'Hamlet & Eggs.'"

- "If I have a regret, it's that I didn't expand my acting when I was building my career. It often sounds pathetic when you hear actors say that they feel sorry for themselves - I've been very very blessed, believe me - but if I had to do it all over again I could have done both. You can do commercial films and then do small, independent, acting films. Bruce Willis has done it well, so it's possible. I wish I had done it, but that wasn't the style back then. You were either a studio actor or an independent actor. So I regret that."

- "During Rocky IV, Dolph [Lundgren] had hit me so hard I had swelling around the heart and had to stay in intensive care at St. John's Hospital for four days."

Bonus Points: Burt Reynold's imdb entry is also fascinating. If you're looking for a good story, something with heart, something with balls, try it out some time. I think you'll like it.



Horatio J. Sugarshack, Esq. said...

It's gonna take me a while to get past the idea of Burt Reynolds as Han Solo.

Goodtime Charlie said...

How about him in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?" Talk about a narrowly-avoided mistake.

Jessica said...

"...he severely tore his pectoral muscle and needed over 160 stitches on it. This is why one half of his chest is more veiny than the other."

Ever since I read this, I can't stop shuddering. Seriously, he's lifting weights to the point of muscle explosion? Why? Dudes are weird.

Paz said...

yeaahhh, whatever happened to having a beer and scratching your balls?! I miss the good old days.