I must admit, I don’t always follow the behind-the-scenes stories of filmmakers. If you had told me last week that Brett Ratner was an insensitive dolt and a crass hustler, it would have been news to me. I’ve never interviewed him and only know him from the movies and TV shows he’s directed or produced — Tower Heist, X-Men: The Last Stand, and ABC’s Women’s Murder Club, among them.
But Ratner may have dented his career with recent comments about gays and other topics. During a Q & A session following a screening of his new film, Tower Heist, he responded to a question about his creative process by saying that “rehearsal is for fags.” Ok, I can understand if his filmmaking methods are less about rehearsals and more about improvisation or whatever. But if so, that is not the right way to say it.
So Ratner issued an apology — the very same day he went on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show (wrong move right there) and further eroded his reputation by discussing things not generally talked about in public, much less a radio show. These included masturbation, cunnilingus, pubic hair, the size of his testicles, his sexual encounter with Lindsay Lohan, and the fact that he sends women to his doctor to make sure they don’t have any sexually transmitted diseases “before I go all the way” with them. I realize it’s Howard Stern’s show, but really?
Look, I don’t need my film and TV people to be squeaky clean. Lord knows if they’ve made it this far in the business, they’ve probably had to do some unsavory things. But gay slurs and stupid remarks like these will only have a negative impact on a person. Ratner has 24 film projects coming up in the next few years, and time will tell whether he’ll see the fallout at the box office.
Look what happened to the careers of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards after their faux pas slurs. Gibson is slowly making his way back into films, thanks to pal Jodie Foster putting him back on the screen in The Beaver. Michael Richards has been virtually out of the public eye for the past few years.
Then there are people like 30 Rock‘s Tracy Morgan. While doing a stand-up routine five months ago, he made a series of inflammatory remarks about gay people, saying that if his son were gay, he would “pull out a knife and stab” him. Like Ratner, Morgan apologized and went back to work. He wasn’t suspended or fired. Life went on.
For Ratner, there’s already been a major backlash. He was set to produce the upcoming 84th Annual Academy Awards, and submitted his resignation to Academy President Tom Sherak yesterday.
“He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself,” Sherak said. “Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent.”
UPDATE 11/9: Tom Sherak just announced that Eddie Murphy has withdrawn as host of the 84th Academy Awards. “I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well,” said Sherak.
Commented Murphy, “First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job.”
Oh boy. They’d better get cracking. The Oscars are scheduled for Feb. 26, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre.
UPDATE 11/10: Brian Grazer has been tapped to produce the 84th Academy Awards. No host has been named yet.
Does it matter to you when entertainment people do stupid things? Will Ratner’s remarks about “fags” keep you from seeing his movies?