Skip to comments.Legendary Producer Saul Zaentz Dies at 92
Posted on 01/04/2014 10:01:09 AM PST by Borges
He won Oscars for producing three best picture winners -- "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest," "Amadeus" and "The English Patient" -- after a great career with Fantasy Records and feuds with John Fogerty.
Saul Zaentz, who parlayed a successful career in the music business into a Oscar-winning second act as an independent movie producer, died Friday at his home in the San Francisco area from complications of Alzheimer's. He was 92.
His nephew Paul Zaentz, a fellow producer, confirmed the news.
"He was an extraordinary man," Paul Zaentz, who worked with his uncle for 37 years, said. "He had a lot of guts, a lot of integrity."
After presenting such major acts as Creedence Clearwater Revival on his Fantasy Records label, Zaentz moved into producing and shared three Academy Awards for best picture -- for One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984) and The English Patient (1996). Zaentz then received the Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1997 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his consistently high quality of motion picture production.
(Excerpt) Read more at hollywoodreporter.com ...
John Fogerty is not sad.
“Zaentz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money”— John Fogerty
Not averse to litigation, including suing studios over profits sharing, Zaentz was involved in acrimonious litigation with Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty over song rights. Zaentz's contention was with two songs on Fogerty's 1985 Centerfield album for Warner Bros. Records. Zaentz argued that the song Zanz Kant Danz was a slur on him. He filed suit, and Fogerty responded by changing the first word to "Vanz."
Zaentz filed a second lawsuit, contending that Fogerty used the same chorus for The Old Man Down the Road as Run Through the Jungle, which Fogerty had recorded while on Zaentz's Fantasy Records label. Fogerty ultimately prevailed after surreal courtroom testimony that, essentially, absolved him of plagiarizing himself.
The way I view Saul Zaentz and his henchmen, shall I say -- well, that probably gives it away, Fogerty said in a New York Times interview in 2005. I still view them in the same light. If I was walking down the street and those rattlesnakes were walking towards me, I would give them a wide berth.
Is there anyone John Fogerty didn’t feud with?
Another music/movie mogul died yesterday...
Farewell to the King of Grindhouse
Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird video, dead at 56
t’s a truly sad week for cult cinema. Mike Vraney, founder of the era-defining Something Weird Video, died yesterday at the age of 56.
Vraney’s importance in the preservation and celebration of exploitation, grindhouse, drive-in and z-grade movies can not be overestimated.
For music fans, the Pacific Northwest native may be most famous as a cofounder of Seattle’s The Showbox, and later as manager of punk bands including The Dead Kennedys, TSOL, and The Accused. But it was a film fanatic in the truest and deepest sense of the words that he made his biggest impact....
This guy ripped off Fogerty on the ownership of CCR’s music.
He won’t be missed.
He was one of those people that Jack Kirby called “the grabbers”. People who give capitalism a bad name.
As a film producer he put through some great stuff.
Speaking of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, didn’t Michael Douglas get the rights for that under shadowy circumstances from Kesey? And what was Zaentz’s role, if any in that acquisition?
“This guy ripped off Fogerty on the ownership of CCRs music.
He wont be missed.”
If you think this, you know nothing about what actually happened. Fogerty signed the same publishing contract when he did his record deal with Fantasy (Zaentz) as did every other singer songwriter of the era. The publishing part of the conflict was minor. The big disputes were over (1) who was responsible for the losses Zaentz and Fogerty and everyone else involved took in offshore the Castle Bank and Trust offshore tax shelter deals the whole group of them got involved in the Bahamas; and (2) who was responsible for slander in the Zaentz Can’t Dance lawsuit, just Fogerty or Warner Records.
Fogerty was borderline crazy, in my opinion. He thought Zaentz had secret contacts to the Bahamians or some such nonsense and hundreds of thousands of dollars (more like millions) in legal fees were wasted for Fogerty to lose. And, despite being represented by one of the biggest, most-expensive and meanest law firms in the country, Fogerty did lose.
Zaentz was one of the few honest film/music producers around and Fogerty’s attacks on him demeaned a very fine man.
I watched The English Patient three showings in a row when it first came out. Now, I wrinkle my nose in disgust whenever I see it on the television line-up. Michael Ondaajee, the writer whose book that movie was based, who I have met and spoken with a couple times, is “an anti-Colonialist.” It bothers me now that I have become enlightened
Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus were both well made movie with serious honesty issues.
Cuckoo’s Nest slandered the mental health field and was largely responsible for the subsequent de-institutionalization of mental patients.
Amadeus slandered a great musician, Salieri, who was actually a friend of Mozart.
No one involved with Amadeus called it fact. Hence no slander. The 1984 film was based on the 1979 British play not historical fact. Writer Peter Shaffer called it a ‘fantasia based on events in Mozart’s life’. There were rumors going around that Salieri killed Mozart even during Salieri’s life. The Russian poet Pushkin wrote a play about it...Rimsky Korsakov made an opera out of Pushkin’s play...
It makes no sense for Ondaatje to be anti-colonialist given his life and career.
He’d have done nothing and who knows what he’d be if not for colonialism.
You are right. It wasn’t slander. It was a rehash of a very old calumny.
It came across like a rehash of every Prestige Film cliche you could think of.
It did get Salieri’s music more in the public eye than it had been since he was alive. His music still gets recorded because of Amadeus.
“Is there anyone John Fogerty didnt feud with?”
I read about his feuds with his brother and other band mates. For one record he refused to write songs and said you guys have to write the songs for this record.
My mother worked for decades at Camarillo State hospital for the mentally ill. She and her co-workers blamed the change on Gov. Reagan.
I read the book and thought it made no sense. Letting those poor helpless souls out on the street should make us ashamed.
There should be a movie made on the plight of those who suffered under deinstitutionalized and make a loved one of one of the activist a victim of this inhumane disregard.
Also, who was it who slandered Saleri, Amadeus or the movie? I can see why the left would like this movie, the sympathy was entirely with Saleri, and we know how the left does not like to exalt the accomplished, because it makes the less accomplished feel hurt.
And the thing is, he is part Dutch, hence his name. But the point that I could not get over in The English Patient, was the character of the Indian sapher(sp), the bomb detonation expert, left everyone, including his lover, because he could not abide that the bomb in Japan, because it was the responsibility of white people on “people of color”. That made no sense, since the common enemies were the Japanese, posed to strike India and of course, the Germans in Europe.
When I met Ondaatje, it was a talk with two “Post-Colonial” authors. I spoke to him, clearly struck by his genius, and being awfully cute (well, I think my picture of us shows this, lol) and at one point he grabbed my arm and took me to where the other author sat, a Caribbean man, very hung up on post-colonial authors, and told him to take me out to coffee.
Ondaatje’s last book, which I will not buy, has a boy on a ship bound from Ceylon to England, where he hears the conversations of other passengers, which include racist remarks against Indians. Oh, enough, already.
He’s affiliated with a Toronto University and has not lived in his native Columbo since school, I think. He has, apparently, other ways to show his disdain for Anglo-Saxon society.
Which by the way, is the excellent topic of Daniel Hannaman, the British representative to the EU we admire, how English body of laws, influenced our understanding of freedom and liberty, and how the English colonies were much better off being part of the English empire and how each of them have more in common with England and each other, than the basket case countries around them and what supplanted them.
I’ve met Fogerty.
He’s not crazy; just wanted what was his.
I met him too. I’ve seen him under stress. I stand by my opinion.
“Is there anyone John Fogerty didnt feud with?”
I’m sure there was somebody. But maybe not many.
The movie. In real like Salieri was a talented, accomplished musician and composer who although was sometimes a rival, was a friend of Mozart. The movie portrayed him as a talentless hack with a black heart whose envy of Mozart made him angry and bitter.
Reagan made several blunders while governor. Besides going along with the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill, there was was also his liberalization of abortion and no-fault marriage. Those three issues and their effect on our culture tally to the negative on Reagan's otherwise great history.
Did he ever learn to dance?
This is one of my husband’s favorite movies, and the theme of God-given talent is one we refer to when conversation leads to that point. Saleri was talented, but sometimes God creates one of us in his image who is truly startling in his capacity to create.
The genius of it is that the conflict in the drama isn’t so much between Salieri and Mozart but between Salieri and his God.
Mr. Lulu 16 here.
I agree. The movie was not political. Also, I can’t comment on whether Salieri was accurately portrayed or not. What I found so powerful was how the movie portrayed Salieri (once again, without a comment as to it’s historical accuracy).
In the movie, Salieri’s first anger was not with Mozart; it was with God. Salieri believed that talent (or the lack of it) was God-given. Before Salieri met Mozart he believed that God had favored Salieri with talent. When Salieri came to the conclusion that Mozart was more talented than Salieri, it meant to Salieri that God favored Mozart. What made it worse for Salieri (in the movie) is that, not only was Salieri unhappy to find that God had favored someone else more than him, but to make things worse, God had favored a buffoon. This shattered the image that Salieri had of a fair God. God, he thought, through the personage of Mozart, was constantly torturing Salieri and constantly reminding Solieri that he was not the favored one. In a rage against God, Salieri set about to destroy the object of his irritation (and God’s favorite) and the reminder that God had forsaken him (and that God had also chosen to “rub it in” with constant reminders). This gives Salieri license to make war on God, and to turn evil.
It is as if Salieri thinks “God is not fair because he has favored a buffoon with talent. Therefore, to get back at God, I will destroy the buffoon.”
It is somewhat analogous to a sibling who sets out to destroy the other sibling for no other transgression than the second sibling is the parent’s favorite.
And what makes it even more galling for Salieri is that Mozart wasn’t even aware that Salieri hated him; he thought Salieri was his friend. This naivte (which could also be considered to be an expression of goodness) pulled at whatever conscience Salieri had left, and irritated him even further.
PS Lulu doesn’t understand great movies where there is no love interest. Amadeus was a GREAT movie.
My husband just re-explained it to me. “Mozart is the temporal disdain and mocking of Salieri.”
Holy Moly. That’s a punch to the solar plexis. I did not know. How very disappointing.
Interesting to hear your experience.
I read Ondaatje many years ago, before he’d written Running with Lions or English patient.
I read Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Coming Through Slaughter. I thought very highly of them as literature and as works where the author attempted something. (I don’t know what I’d think of them now if I re-read them).
So I don’t balk when you mention his genius.
These books were both about America and Americans, Billy the Kid and Buddy Bolden, one of the originators of Jazz.
Later when his subsequent books came out I had no interest in reading them. It seemed like he had just become another conventional novelist.