Ed Driscoll

The Audience Included Her Out

Reuters notes that Crash producer Cathy Schulman is “flat broke“:

It’s been a bumpy ride. Accepting the fifth best picture Oscar ever awarded to a woman, independent producer Cathy Schulman landed on the stage of Hollywood’s Kodak Theater on Sunday along with writer-director Paul Haggis as one of the credited producers of “Crash.”

But while Schulman, 40, has a lot for which to be grateful, including a supportive husband of 12 years and a 5-year-old daughter, she can’t entirely savor her win. She still faces a court fight against producer Bob Yari, who is furious that he was deprived of the chance for his own moment onstage because of rulings by the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And at what should be a career pinnacle, Schulman finds herself flat broke. “I have the interesting distinction of having made five movies in a row without ever being paid,” she says. “I can’t pay my bills.”

In the mid-1990s though:

Universal Studios president Ron Meyer put Schulman together with on-lot producers Michael Lobell and Andrew Bergman, and she learned about studio-level producing on the ill-fated Demi Moore movie “Striptease” and “Isn’t She Great,” starring Bette Midler as Jacqueline Susann. “We had fabulously fancy-schmancy offices at Universal,” Schulman recalls. “I learned how to make big-budget movies, but they were not the kind of movies I was interested in.”

So having gone from not being interested in big budget movies that couldn’t find an audience, she’s gone to low-budget movies that can’t find much of an audience, either. Crash’s domestic gross is currently $53,404,817, compared with the $288,937,326 that The Chronicles of Narnia has grossed or the $380,270,577 that Revenge of the Sith raked in.

Sam Goldwyn was famous for saying “Include me out” of deals he wanted to avoid. Schulman’s career seems dominated by films that American audiences want to be included out of as well.

(Which is why she probably won’t be broke for long: like Robert Altman, Woody Allen and Rob Reiner, armed with an Oscar and the appropriate leftwing pedigree, she’ll probably work for life in Hollywood, no matter how little her movies make at the box office.)