Poor Edward Bass, the Bobby producer who’s sounds to me like he’s just another obstinate and egoistic self-promoter and con artist, which puts him in the same general polluted tank that a lot of other producers in this town are swimming in. L.A. Times writer Robert Welkos has run a profile piece with a headline that describes Bass as an “ex-con,” which he is…but if you read the article a second time, he only sounds moderately flawed. Not that much worse, I’m saying, than a lot of other smiling flim-flammers I’ve run into over the years.
I’m not saying Bass is the most respected or creative-minded producer to have worked on a mainstream film in this town. Is he a dick? Bobby director-writer Emilio Estevez has evidently been of that opinion. He warred tooth-and-nail with Bass over the shape of the script, and as John Ridley‘s seminal Esquire piece recounts, it was Bass whom Esetevez was addressing when he uttered the immortal line, “Checkmate, asshole!
Bass did time in the early ’80s for mail fraud and that’s no joke, but if you look closely at the particulars — he and another guy were charged with falsifying information to obtain a higher credit rating that allowed their company to purchase equipment at cheaper prices — Bass was involved in the same realm of financial fakery that Jack Lemmon‘s Harry Stoner character was guilty of in John Avild- sen‘s Save The Tiger (’73), and he was presented as a flawed but sympathetic man. A lot of people cut corners and put on false fronts. I’m not saying it’s okay, but Hollywood has never been a sanctuary of ethical behavior.
Bass changed his first name from Michael to Edward so people wouldn’t associate him with his younger jailbird incarnation and so he could start anew, in a sense. Is there anyone who hasn’t wanted to keep certain aspects of their past hidden? It’s not exactly touching when Bass says to Welkos, “Why can’t we just let Michael Bass die and let Edward Bass live? He’s my evil twin“…but you can half-feel for the guy.