A female publicist friend complained earlier today about my having referred to Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson and Danny Dumbort, producers of the upcoming Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables , as “the Bad News Jews of the 21st Century.” It just came trippingly off the tongue, but I suppose it sounded a bit raw. So I wrote her back to explain and fill things in.
Back in the ’80s, I said, the term “Bad News Jews” was a commonly used slur aimed at Cannon Films honchos Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who more or less pioneered the Israeli rug-merchant approach to making and producing movies. Everybody in the business used this term and joked about it, I explained, so don’t get all huffy on me — I’m just recycling.
Menahem and Yoram, whom I briefly worked for in the mid ’80s and came to know from a distance, were thought of by some as the Godfathers of the Israeli Hollywood mafia. They came from the Dino de Laurentiis/Carlo Ponti big swagger school of producing. When I worked for them they were always talking deals, territories, packages, int’l grosses, etc. but the word around Cannon was that they never read any scripts and never seemed to really get the joy and wonder and music of movies the way the real filmmakers did (and still do). And they were more or less thought of as bloated commoners, plebes, vulgarians.
In any case they paved the way for and sired their successors, in a manner of speaking, as various oily financiers, slick wheeler-dealers and hot-shot Euro-styled producers like Philippe Martinez, Elie Samaha, Giancarlo Peretti, Jean-Marie Messier, Bob Yari and Avi Lerner came along and more or less picked up the same torch and ran with it.