July 8, 1997 in Features

Hollywood Can Always Use More Insurance

Barry Koltnow The Orange County Register
 

If you think making movies is easy, I’ve got a screenplay about swampland in New Jersey that I’d like to sell you.

It is not just a matter of putting together the right actors with the right director and the right script. It is a lot more complicated than that.

Movie-making is, after all, a business, and there are countless details that must be attended to to keep this business going.

Which brings me to the subject of insurance. Oh, I understand that insurance is not a glamorous subject, but it as important to the process of making a movie as signing a big-name star. No insurance, no movie.

There are all kinds of insurance that must be acquired before a production can start.

There is negative insurance, which protects a company from the loss of the film negative in a fire or other calamity. There is insurance meant to protect the cameras and other equipment. General liability insurance protects against injuries sustained in accidents. There even are policies to protect a production against weather problems.

And then there is cast insurance, known in some circles as the “key player policy.” This is a policy that covers the four or five top actors in the film, as well as the director and, occasionally, the director of photography.

This policy protects the producers and studio against something happening to the stars before or during filming.

Warner Bros. recently invented a new type of insurance when it revealed it had taken out a special incarceration policy on Robert Downey Jr. so he could work on the big-budget action film “U.S. Marshals.”

According to his agreement with the court, Downey must stay off drugs under threat of incarceration. The Warner’s insurance policy requires the actor to be drug-tested twice a week during filming.

This could start a trend of special insurance policies in Hollywood. I would like to make suggestions:

The Julia Roberts Policy - Also known as the “Mary Reilly Policy.” The studio would be protected against the eventuality that a beautiful actress with a great smile decides to turn her back on her fans by cutting her hair and appearing in an entire movie without smiling.

The Cuba Gooding Jr. Policy - This would protect the producers should a certain actor decide to make a movie in which he does not say “Show me the money.”

The Jim Carrey Policy - Also referred to as the “Cable Guy Policy” or the “Every-Comic-in-the-World-Wants-to-Play-Hamlet Policy.” This is used as leverage against funny actors who determine that movie audiences are tired of laughing and want to be depressed for two hours.

The Demi Moore Policy - This would require an actress to notify the studio if she decides to play a stripper in a really bad movie.

The Steven Spielberg Policy - A policy designed for popular directors who want to make special “little” films about important issues such as the Holocaust. For each little film, the director must make another film that brings in at least $900 million at the box office.

The Vito Corleone/Francis Ford Coppola Policy - This policy pays off if a director makes one too many trips to the well.

The Bruce Willis Policy - This would require an actor to be tested twice daily to make sure he is smirking his way through another role.

The Rubber Suit Policy - This insures a studio against the loss of an actor who ducks out of reprising a popular role in a string of successful movies so he can make movies like … uh … “Multiplicity.”

The Keanu Reeves/Dogstar Policy - Similar to the “Rubber Suit Policy,” except it protects a studio when an actor refuses $11 million to reprise a role so that he can play small club dates with an undistinguished rock ‘n’ roll band.

The Titanic Policy - This would protect a studio against the possibility that one of its own executives would green-light a movie that costs $200 million and has a title that is synonymous in the English language for “disaster.”


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