September 24, 2022

Hoo-ray for Hollywood

LA Judge Rules Crash Producer Engaged in Creative Accounting

I don’t watch movies but coincidentally, I saw Crash and frankly it’s a miracle it made any money at all (not to mention three Academy Awards, but what do I know about movies?). That being said, L.A. Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley has determined producer Bob Yari engaged in creative accounting, ruling that Yari did so as part of an intentional scheme to withhold money from director Paul Haggis, star Brendan Fraser and co-writer Bobby Moresco.

The plaintiffs’ suit alleged that Yari improperly withheld money owed to them for the 2005 film and while Buckley has ruled in their favor, the judge has not yet set a monetary reward for plaintiffs.

The judge was clear in his ruling (which can be read in its entirety at the Hollywood Reporter), calling out the defendants’ inability to correct blatant accounting mishaps and outright fraudulent practices:

Defendants breached the contracts with the plaintiffs by diverting funds to third parties; adopting bogus contractual interpretations; refusing to correct accounting errors in a timely manner; adopting inappropriate accounting procedures that were contrary to industry standards; and, ultimately, using all of these to avoid paying plaintiffs money due under contracts.

This isn’t the first trip to court for Yari, who was sued for $100,000 by Matt Dillon, who played a dickhead cop in the film. Dillon’s company, Matthias Productions, performed an audit in 2006 and found that executives “deliberately authorized [the production entity] to apply an incorrect formula for the calculation of [Dillon’s] contingent compensation” and therefore owed him a larger piece of the $98 million the film grossed worldwide.

Paul Haggis, Brendan Fraser Win ‘Crash’ Lawsuit Against Producer Bob Yari [THR]

Does Hollywood Always Portray Accountants as ‘Pathetic’ or ‘Despicable’?

That’s the question put forth by a reader across the pond to the group and since the Academy Awards have come and gone with nothing more than the cliché PwC jokes, it seems worth discussing.

But first, the Brit with the beef:

I watched the brillant [sic] Untouchables yesterday. This triggered the point about portryal [sic] of accountants by Holloywood [sic]. It is very poor in comparision [sic] to other professions.

Most accountants in the movies are either pathetic (think Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters) or despicable (Ed Begley Jr. as the sleazeball accountant who crosses a vengeful Roseanne Barr in She-Devil).

Other professions like, firefighters, doctors, and lawyers (Julia Roberts in the Oscar-winning Erin Brockovich), get their fair share of heroic roles. But when it comes to accountants we are pushed aside.

Well, for starters, comparing the work of firefighters and doctors to accountants makes as much sense as sending a team of interns into an audit committee meeting. If you’re looking for heroics, there are few opportunities for accountants in Hollywood; even a crook-turned-crime-fighter like Sam Antar would be a anti-hero at best. One exception would be Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern in Schindler’s List.

As for Morris in Ghostbusters, he scores with Annie Potts in Ghostbusters 2, so that hardly qualifies as pathetic. As for motive behind the unflattering portrayals, maybe enough people working in Hollywood have been ripped off by their own accountants that a slight vein of villainy is always written into their characters. The most recent muse being Ken Starr.

Despite that possibility, there are plenty of accountants in film that we like:

• Thandie Newton as Stella in RocknRolla

• Leo Bloom in The Producers (Wilder or Broderick, take your pick)

• Danny Glover as Henry Sherman in The Royal Tenenbaums

• It’s on the small screen but George Wendt as Norm Peterson on Cheers

Whether you see these characters as flattering or not, is your call but their awesomeness is not in question (I’m partial to Stella, frankly). We’re missing some, surely, so feel free to chime in with others.