NOT long ago, Mike Medavoy was hanging out with a bunch of other producers – most of them guys who had been too young to work in the business in the ‘70s but looked back with longing at its maverick glory. Medavoy, by contrast, had played a small but important role as a studio exec who’d helped Rocky, Apocalypse Now and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest see the light of day.
“They all said, almost in unison, that the best movies were all made it the ‘70s,” Medavoy recalls from his Culver City office, dominated by a Persian rug and overstuffed furniture that make it feel like a comfortable living room. “And I said, When were in the ‘70s, making these movies, I thought of the ‘40s as the era I was interested in – a combination of ‘40s movies and the New European movies coming out.”
The one person who wasn’t sentimental for that period, then, was the one who’d really been there. Those were good years, he says now, but why pine?
Despite working during this blossoming of American film – which he saw undone, he’s written, by “filmmaking by committee” and corporate takeovers in the 1980s -- Medavoy doesn’t rail against the forces of history. He’s old-school in his tastes, in many ways, but resists easy nostalgia. (He's more recenty worked on Shutter Island and Black Swan.)
“I don’t despair of where it’s all going,” says Medavoy, who has thinning red hair and is dressed in faded jeans and a baggy black shirt. “I can’t change it. I never get emotional about things I can’t change.”
The rest of my story on Medavoy runs in the new Hollywood Reporter.
I'm a former LA Times arts and culture writer, sometime New York Times, GQ and Salon contributor, the co-editor of "The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles," and an enthusiast of film, wine, indie rock, retro culture, archtop guitars and California history.