Hollywood-Qaddafi Dream Team Almost Had It All

beckerman_qaddafi300.jpgEven Hollywood's culture of megalomania, paranoia, ruthlessness, ego, greed and avarice has to draw the line somewhere. Apparently it's at genocide: A producer operating with $100 million of Qaddafi family money has achieved official pariah status in the industry. Now that is overachieving.

As recounted in today's NYT, Mathew Beckerman's Natural Selection shingle managed to raise the funds by partnering with al-Saadi "Son of Libyan despot Muammar" Qaddafi -- a former footballer who swaggered into the pit of the film industry's recent credit and capitalization crisis with cash to burn. A number of projects followed, making their ways to various stages of the development process and even, in the case of the Adrien Brody-Forest Whitaker thriller The Experiment, cutting a path straight to DVD.

Then came the ongoing, bloody civil unrest in Libya, resulting in stars from Beyoncé to Usher to Nelly Furtado donating their earnings from Qaddafi-family party performances to charity. That still left the matter of Natural Selection, whose Hollywood headway has been scrubbed from the record faster than you can say "Tripoli":

Over the weekend, Mr. Beckerman's name was deleted from the producer credits of a documentary, Live at Preservation Hall: Louisiana Fairytale, on the official Web site of the South by Southwest festival, which begins this week in Austin, Tex.

In an e-mail on Saturday, Theresa Vibberts, who works with the movie's director, Danny Clinch, said simply, "Natural Selection is not involved in the film." Neither Ms. Vibberts nor Mr. Clinch responded further to queries about the sudden disappearance of Mr. Beckerman's credit, or a listing that shows Natural Selection among the movie's backers on the Internet Movie Database. [...]

The writer David McKenna and the actors Mickey Rourke and Eva Amurri, who is Susan Sarandon's daughter, have all been connected to some extent with film projects financed by Natural Selection since Saadi el-Qaddafi signed on.

A spokesman for the Paradigm agency, which represents Mr. McKenna, said on Tuesday that the writer could not be reached. A representative of One Talent Management, which represents Ms. Amurri, and a spokeswoman for International Creative Management, which represents Mr. Rourke, had no comment.

But several people who have been involved with Mr. Beckerman's list of films -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflict -- described a scramble by major Hollywood players and institutions to distance themselves from projects in which Mr. Qaddafi might be involved.

William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, which had been identified in several reports as a distribution partner on Natural Selection's planned crime film The Ice Man, for instance, is now unlikely to get involved because of concerns about the Qaddafis, according to two people connected to the situation. A spokesman for the agency said its policy was not to comment on individual projects.

Kevin Iwashina, whose Preferred Content has been lined up as a sales agent for Isolation, which has already been shot and stars Ms. Amurri, declined to comment. Schuyler Moore, an entertainment lawyer who was identified in a 2009 news report as having helped Mr. Beckerman assemble the Qaddafi deal, did not respond to queries.

All right, everyone just calm down. Any industry that enabled someone like Charlie Sheen long enough to become... uh, whatever the hell he is now shouldn't have that much trouble numbing its conscience to a financier whose pops offed a few thousand civilians (and counting) halfway around the world. I expected much more than this kind of fairweather sissiness from the gang at WME, for example, an organization heretofore so well-known for its scruples, loyalty and class. And don't even get me started about Mickey Rourke, a living, breathing symbol of how everyone in Hollywood -- even the dilettante scion of a genocidal maniac -- deserves a second chance, if not the benefit of the doubt. Can't we talk about this?

· Hollywood Feels Ripples From Libya [NYT]


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