Lately, more movies have been built around such oldsters as Sean Connery (Finding Forrester) and Clint Eastwood (Space Cowboys). Television's latest example of this trend is The Last Producer, a USA Network original telepic that gives viewers a behind-the-curtain look at how youth-obsessed Hollywood treats its oldtimers.
Star and director Burt Reynolds has attracted such supporting players as Charles Durning and Ann-Margret. Reynolds does a nice job as Sonny Wexler, a has-been producer who sees a screenplay by a novice writer named Bo Pomerantz (Sean Astin) as his ticket to a comeback.
Durning and Benjamin Bratt also score with their portrayals-the former as Syd Wolf, a 40-year studio veteran who tries to help Wexler, and Bratt as Damon Black, an arrogant young studio vice president. Wexler-who had earlier optioned Bo's screenplay-is now worried that his option is three days from expiration.
To raise the $50,000 needed to buy the script, he anxiously contacts everyone he knows-even as Black secretly woos Bo and his lawyer with a hefty bid.
Wexler's loan contacts are a bizarre group of characters, ranging from his alcoholic, gambling-addicted son-in-law (Greg Germann) and a crooked insurance adjuster (Rod Steiger) to a self-centered actor friend (Robert Goulet) and a sleazy Armenian loan shark (Robert Costanzo).
Foiling Wexler's plan to use Wolf to sidestep the hot shot from Majestik Studios, Black fires Wolf-who is less than two years away from his pension. Soon after, the movie climaxes with a violent confrontation at a restaurant.
Clyde Hayes, who co-produced The Last Producer, also wrote the mostly interesting script.
This movie also will keep trivia buffs busy trying to spot veteran stars in fleeting walk-ons (including Erin Gray as a doctor and Angie Dickinson, James Farentino and Shecky Greene as poker-playing buddies). Ann-Margret also has a role brief enough to be labeled a cameo.
The movie also isn't helped by its slow pacing and use of a jazz score that's more in keeping with old private-eye flicks. And surely a veteran producer that's eager to gain access to studio execs wouldn't tool around in a battered Cadillac convertible with a missing door, as Wexler does here.
The Last Producer
will air on USA on Feb. 6 at 9 p.m.
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