Robert Redford Part 13

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In 1994 Redford came up with a possible solution, conceiving the idea of a dedicated Sundance television cable channel that would present alternative moviemaking to a wider audience. The concept seemed a natural one, piggybacking on a communication phenomenon that had taken wing since the deregulation of the television industry in 1972. Cable was originally a modest business, devised to relay over-the-air broadcasts to inaccessible areas. By the mid-nineties almost half of all householders across the country were cable subscribers. Redford entrusted Beer to build a partners.h.i.+p with Showtime (a division of CBS), Universal Studios (part of NBC Universal) and an international cofunder, Polygram Filmed Entertainment. The aim was to start in big, sophisticated markets like New York, then expand into other urban areas where cable thrived, until gradually a national coverage was achieved. The initial target audience was four million, projected to grow to fifteen million. The Independent Film Channel, however, beat Sundance to the starting gate by a substantial lead. IFC was a sister channel to "cable's cultural powerhouse" Bravo and started transmitting in September 1994 with an advisory board that included Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Soderbergh and Spike Lee. Sundance Cable got going eighteen months later, promising a similar bill of uncensored alternative viewing, with an accent on Sundance festival films and doc.u.mentaries. "But it was a heartbreaker," says Redford. "We were well capable of moving faster, but the executive expertise was sloppy, and the window of opportunity was missed." Sundance Cable, nevertheless, pushed on, launching to three million households in February 1996, with Nora Ryan of Showtime as t.i.tular head and Dalton Delan of the Travel Channel in charge. "We had all the tools to take on the IFC," says Redford. "Beyond that, it was just a question of sales drive and determination."

There was also financial scope, it was decided, in Sundance movie theaters. Redford remembered from his childhood a picture house he loved, the Aero on Santa Monica Boulevard, where he'd seen The Fallen Sparrow The Fallen Sparrow with his uncle David. In the early nineties, its fading art deco splendor prompted him to purchase the site and restore the building to its former grandeur. This set in motion another underwriting plan. "What I imagined was, again, the alternative experience," says Redford. "What we had was the characterless multiplex, the same in Seattle as in Orlando. I thought of a different setup, where each exhibition arena would serve two purposes. First, it would culturally reflect its location in every way, in the building design, the building components, the local history. Second, it would offer integrated facilities that promoted independent filmmaking at the most basic level. For example, a library unit, an equipment rental s.p.a.ce, even an advisory desk." He hoped this vision of Sundance Cinema Centers could expand internationally. In meetings with the key players in the Sundance family-Geoff Gilmore and Nicole Guillemet (overseers of the film festival) and Ken Brecher and Mich.e.l.le Satter (overseers of inst.i.tute and labs respectively) and international programs director Patricia Boero-a potential map of global Sundance Cinema Centers was drawn up, stretching from Cuba to China. To partner this extraordinary venture, Redford signed a deal with Richard A. Smith, chairman of General Cinema, the eighth-largest chain of theaters in the country. with his uncle David. In the early nineties, its fading art deco splendor prompted him to purchase the site and restore the building to its former grandeur. This set in motion another underwriting plan. "What I imagined was, again, the alternative experience," says Redford. "What we had was the characterless multiplex, the same in Seattle as in Orlando. I thought of a different setup, where each exhibition arena would serve two purposes. First, it would culturally reflect its location in every way, in the building design, the building components, the local history. Second, it would offer integrated facilities that promoted independent filmmaking at the most basic level. For example, a library unit, an equipment rental s.p.a.ce, even an advisory desk." He hoped this vision of Sundance Cinema Centers could expand internationally. In meetings with the key players in the Sundance family-Geoff Gilmore and Nicole Guillemet (overseers of the film festival) and Ken Brecher and Mich.e.l.le Satter (overseers of inst.i.tute and labs respectively) and international programs director Patricia Boero-a potential map of global Sundance Cinema Centers was drawn up, stretching from Cuba to China. To partner this extraordinary venture, Redford signed a deal with Richard A. Smith, chairman of General Cinema, the eighth-largest chain of theaters in the country.

Meanwhile, the day-to-day struggle to keep afloat went on. Ostensibly, Gary Beer was directing overall business operations for the multient.i.ty Sundance Group, as it was now known, but it was Redford who made the decisions, halving the administrative budget to $2.7 million and pressing all his business contacts for more support. Broadway designer Ian Calderon, serving as a Sundance business adviser, persuaded Sony to contribute gratis equipment to the labs, so that student filmmakers would have the best available new technology. Other contributions came from SegaSoft and Panavision, and new funding came from the Cissy Patterson Trust and the Edward John n.o.ble Foundation.

All the time, says Redford, he was aware of his failings as a manager: "I tended to be disorganized and too spontaneous," he says, "and I also trusted too much." He became concerned at this time that crucial initiatives were being mishandled within the group. Failings in the actualization of the cable scheme and the cinema centers initiative sounded the alarm, but then Redford discovered troubling aspects of the deal making. The finger pointed to Gary Beer, who, as one staffer put it, "tended to operate as a one-man band." Redford was particularly bothered that the cable deal allowed Beer to cash in his Sundance shares at any time. Arguments ensued, then Beer resigned "by mutual agreement." In his place Redford installed Bob Freeman, who had helped create the sports-themed restaurant franchise ESPN Zone. To join him in a retooled management, Redford also appointed Gordon Bowen, a Madison Avenue adman responsible for the redesign of American Express and Coca-Cola, with responsibility to rebrand Sundance. Shortly after, as part of the executive shake-up, the team managing the new cable channel was replaced by Tom Harbeck, former creative linchpin of Nickelodeon.

There was still, stubbornly, a perception problem about Sundance and what it truly represented. The oft-expressed, easy-target obloquy "purveyors of granola film" was fueled by the rebels of Sundance themselves. In June 1990 Quentin Tarantino had arrived at the labs to workshop Reservoir Dogs Reservoir Dogs with adviser Steve Buscemi. Eighteen months later, as a favor, festival director Geoff Gilmore rushed the late-delivered movie into festival compet.i.tion. When it failed to win the grand jury prize, Tarantino left town declaring Sundance a waste of time. "They were liberal in the worst sense," he was reported saying. "When [the compet.i.tion] was over I stormed out. It was a slightly less dramatic version of, f.u.c.k off!" On its later release with adviser Steve Buscemi. Eighteen months later, as a favor, festival director Geoff Gilmore rushed the late-delivered movie into festival compet.i.tion. When it failed to win the grand jury prize, Tarantino left town declaring Sundance a waste of time. "They were liberal in the worst sense," he was reported saying. "When [the compet.i.tion] was over I stormed out. It was a slightly less dramatic version of, f.u.c.k off!" On its later release Reservoir Dogs Reservoir Dogs was much honored as the movie that reclaimed the spirit of film noir for America. But no credit went to Sundance. was much honored as the movie that reclaimed the spirit of film noir for America. But no credit went to Sundance.



Sterling Van Wagenen was vehement about what he saw as a built-in contradictory dilemma. "When the summer labs started in 1981, the sanct.i.ty of the independent artist was written in stone. In those early meetings we were surrounded by Victor Nunez, Moctesuma Esparza, Larry Littlebird and Annick Smith, all of whom had very strong opinions and were protective of the notion of liberal thinking and freedom. It was a place for radicals. Those people were weeded out over the years. At my last Sundance board meeting, which was held in a conference room at CAA in Beverly Hills, Joe Roth was sitting on one side of me, and Mike Ovitz on the other. When I looked around, there were no independent filmmakers in the room at all." Hume Cronyn said, "The problem centers on the word 'independent.' Bob always stated that he wanted to create opportunity for new voices, some paradigm that allowed others to speak, as it were. This was about equal opportunity arts. But those new artists are looking for the wide audience, too, and they often become absorbed in the mainstream. So 'granola' only means 'organic' and 'new.' What happens afterward, after these new independent voices break out, is nothing to do with Sundance, or its ident.i.ty."

Sundance was still, unquestionably, a lure for those with fresh ideas. By the mid-nineties, the inst.i.tute (now distinguished as the nonprofit kernel of the group) operated eight separate creative workshops, covering tuition in all areas of filmmaking, with the June writer-director labs attracting more than a thousand applicants yearly. The ten-day for-profit film festival had become a national cultural reference point, a place, wrote Richard Zoglin in Time, Time, where "festivalgoers complain about overcrowded screenings" and distributors like Samuel Goldwyn Films, Sony Pictures Cla.s.sics and Fine Line flocked, following Miramax's trail, to buy "a selection of offerings from Latin and Native American filmmakers." But it was all still, despite Van Wagenen's suggestion, where "festivalgoers complain about overcrowded screenings" and distributors like Samuel Goldwyn Films, Sony Pictures Cla.s.sics and Fine Line flocked, following Miramax's trail, to buy "a selection of offerings from Latin and Native American filmmakers." But it was all still, despite Van Wagenen's suggestion, independent independent film, conceived away from studio patronage, nurtured with altruistic aim and made available in the most democratic of forums. film, conceived away from studio patronage, nurtured with altruistic aim and made available in the most democratic of forums.

Redford still saw perceptual difficulties with his core determination for Sundance: to create opportunity for artists. "I saw the problem of my personal fame and the a.s.sociation with what attempted to be an egalitarian colony. I began to wonder was that problem ever answerable. Was it best, in order to get a night's sleep, just to step out of the equation?" In his journal he wrote: "How can I express what Sundance is? I seem to have found something in taking the value of the old, and integrating it in the new. A third eye for a new third way. But it's a sonofabicth to make people get it. I I have to get it so clear that I can pa.s.s it down as an axiom. A word. An icon. An acorn." have to get it so clear that I can pa.s.s it down as an axiom. A word. An icon. An acorn."

Whatever the criticisms, whatever the difficulties, the public had a stubborn appet.i.te for Sundance. "People wanted it," says Gordon Bowen. "Bob always spoke of inclusiveness, of the validity of a forum that allowed all American filmmakers a good chance. He wasn't overly political or philosophical, and that's what brought so many people in. Marginalized people, minorities, whoever, could have a shot at it. One forum for all. Speaking as a product promoter, I thought this is n.o.ble, decent and secure."

Security, though, was the real problem. After two years, Redford was depressed to learn the Sundance Channel was reaching just six million subscribers, compared with the IFC's ten millionplus. He was losing ground. A series of emergency task force workshops was arranged to review the overall executive management of the group. Initially, it looked hopeful. Progress with the cinema centers seemed a.s.sured. Building was already under way at the University of Pennsylvania and in Portland, San Francisco, Dallas and Boston. Sites in Europe, China and Cuba had been visited, surveyed and short-listed. Media reportage was positive, even enthused.

But at a time of millennial recession, when yet another severe stock market tumble chilled the world, four of the six leading movie exhibitors went out of business. In the summer of 2000, to Redford's astonishment, General Cinema Corporation, the partners in the Sundance chain, filed for Chapter 11. Within a short time, Bowen, Harbeck and Freeman were gone. Sundance was, again, in executive free fall.

In November 1998, shortly after completing a new political thriller, The Devil's Own, The Devil's Own, with Brad Pitt in Ireland, Alan Pakula died in a car accident near Melville, New York. Redford was upset by the news, doubly so because he'd just returned from a visit to another dear friend, the environmentalist Margaret Owings, who lay dying at her home at Big Sur. He wrote an emotional eulogy for Pakula in with Brad Pitt in Ireland, Alan Pakula died in a car accident near Melville, New York. Redford was upset by the news, doubly so because he'd just returned from a visit to another dear friend, the environmentalist Margaret Owings, who lay dying at her home at Big Sur. He wrote an emotional eulogy for Pakula in Time. Time. Just weeks before, Pakula had mused on his old collaborator's durability. Sundance, Pakula opined, was a kind of Camelot that "has worked long enough for people to start debating independence in filmmaking, which in itself validates it." And yet, he felt, Redford's most enduring creation must be his screen persona. "He has disappointed me at times, and yet, in terms of a romantic icon, no one holds a candle to him. He a.s.sumed Clark Gable's crown, and they will both be remembered for the complexity under the surface. They were glamorous, but there was always the threat that romance is dangerous." Just weeks before, Pakula had mused on his old collaborator's durability. Sundance, Pakula opined, was a kind of Camelot that "has worked long enough for people to start debating independence in filmmaking, which in itself validates it." And yet, he felt, Redford's most enduring creation must be his screen persona. "He has disappointed me at times, and yet, in terms of a romantic icon, no one holds a candle to him. He a.s.sumed Clark Gable's crown, and they will both be remembered for the complexity under the surface. They were glamorous, but there was always the threat that romance is dangerous."

But Redford's screen persona, if it was to be solely encapsulated in The Horse Whisperer, The Horse Whisperer, provided a personal conundrum. He was in his sixties when he romanced Kristin Scott Thomas, almost twenty-five years his junior, on the screen. And while it is true that "the contract" the heroic star makes with his audience is often forgiving, his basic adventurous nature railed against stagnation. Few Hollywood actors maintain bankability into their late sixties. Those that have-Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery-endure because they embrace old age. The extraordinary potency of Redford's romantic image, however, complicated the transition. provided a personal conundrum. He was in his sixties when he romanced Kristin Scott Thomas, almost twenty-five years his junior, on the screen. And while it is true that "the contract" the heroic star makes with his audience is often forgiving, his basic adventurous nature railed against stagnation. Few Hollywood actors maintain bankability into their late sixties. Those that have-Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery-endure because they embrace old age. The extraordinary potency of Redford's romantic image, however, complicated the transition.

George Roy Hill, confined to his Upper East Side apartment in the late stages of Parkinson's disease, hadn't spoken to Redford in years but was aware of the inevitable changes he faced. For him, Redford's career as an actor divided in two: he was the buckskin saddleb.u.m, a part of his nature that grew from the Texas frontier; the other part arose from his friends.h.i.+p with Pollack, a probing Jewish sobriety that extracted the seductive Casanova from what Hill called "troubled" Irishness. "Everyone wants to be Irish in Hollywood," said Hill, "because it connotes Shaw and Joyce and that long, tormented history of suffering and alienation. Nowadays they're even calling Jack Nicholson an Irishman. But Bob's Irishness, as remote as it is, springs from the genuine well of despair. He has trouble balancing himself in the world." Reflecting on his work over the years, Hill concluded: "There's a lack of resolution that makes Redford special. It's summed up in that final scene in The Candidate, The Candidate, his best picture, where, after the shenanigans of the election, McKay says, 'What do we do now?' That his best picture, where, after the shenanigans of the election, McKay says, 'What do we do now?' That question question is in Bob." For Hill, the way forward for Redford in his sixties was "to turn inward, and give voice to some of that turmoil we've only seen glimpses of." is in Bob." For Hill, the way forward for Redford in his sixties was "to turn inward, and give voice to some of that turmoil we've only seen glimpses of."

At the turn of the century, Redford seemed ready for transformation. He was in contact with Robert Pirsig, whose Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a personal account of recovery from a nervous breakdown on a road trip with his son, deeply touched Redford. He found it "familiar" in the best sense and had met with Pirsig years before in an attempt to mount a movie based on the book. Pakula had wondered if Redford's seemingly exotic desire to make the movie wasn't unfulfilled remedial family work. Redford thought not. It was, he insists, a desire to connect with "the freedom inherent in the surrender to insanity, or the insanity inherent in freedom." Pirsig invited Redford to join him on the road in a battered old Cadillac. Redford imagined the delights of immersing in Pirsig's spiritual adventures and finding out more about the "energetic facts" of true awareness poached from Carlos Castaneda's Yaqui guru, Don Juan Matus, that Pirsig so obsessively beat the drum about. But Redford was tied up with Sundance business, and the Pirsig connection slipped. a personal account of recovery from a nervous breakdown on a road trip with his son, deeply touched Redford. He found it "familiar" in the best sense and had met with Pirsig years before in an attempt to mount a movie based on the book. Pakula had wondered if Redford's seemingly exotic desire to make the movie wasn't unfulfilled remedial family work. Redford thought not. It was, he insists, a desire to connect with "the freedom inherent in the surrender to insanity, or the insanity inherent in freedom." Pirsig invited Redford to join him on the road in a battered old Cadillac. Redford imagined the delights of immersing in Pirsig's spiritual adventures and finding out more about the "energetic facts" of true awareness poached from Carlos Castaneda's Yaqui guru, Don Juan Matus, that Pirsig so obsessively beat the drum about. But Redford was tied up with Sundance business, and the Pirsig connection slipped.

At that moment, serendipitously, Jake Eberts arrived with the outline of a novel called The Legend of Bagger Vance. The Legend of Bagger Vance. In Eberts's recollection the novel "somehow seemed important. I found myself flying to L.A. to see Bob with a sense of urgent purpose." An arrangement to meet at Redford's beach house was made, but with a flight delay and heavy traffic, Eberts arrived at Trancas Beach in a sweat, running late. "I was wired, and when Bob saw the state I was in, he offered to find me a change of T-s.h.i.+rt. I thought, That's it, then. Knowing him, I've lost my window. He'll start taking calls and answering faxes and I can forget In Eberts's recollection the novel "somehow seemed important. I found myself flying to L.A. to see Bob with a sense of urgent purpose." An arrangement to meet at Redford's beach house was made, but with a flight delay and heavy traffic, Eberts arrived at Trancas Beach in a sweat, running late. "I was wired, and when Bob saw the state I was in, he offered to find me a change of T-s.h.i.+rt. I thought, That's it, then. Knowing him, I've lost my window. He'll start taking calls and answering faxes and I can forget Bagger Vance. Bagger Vance."

Eberts offered to read the outline there and then to Redford, and within the s.p.a.ce of one page, he saw the change in Redford. "He switched off the fax and phone and settled in. 'I like this,' he told me, and I knew my instinct was right: that he was waiting for a movie like this, something mystical and fresh, to take him in a new direction."

Steven Pressfield's novel The Legend of Bagger Vance The Legend of Bagger Vance was attractive to Redford in part because of its subject matter, golf. He had started playing golf while caddying at the Bel Air Club in 1948 and at one time played to scratch. Recently, as part of his rehabilitation, Jamie had taken to the game, and since he and his father were near neighbors in northern California, it seemed an ideal way of sharing time. But the greatest draw was the philosophical symbolism of the story, which amounted to nothing less than a midlife confessional, laying out the values that dictated all his choices. was attractive to Redford in part because of its subject matter, golf. He had started playing golf while caddying at the Bel Air Club in 1948 and at one time played to scratch. Recently, as part of his rehabilitation, Jamie had taken to the game, and since he and his father were near neighbors in northern California, it seemed an ideal way of sharing time. But the greatest draw was the philosophical symbolism of the story, which amounted to nothing less than a midlife confessional, laying out the values that dictated all his choices.

Redford had recently discovered a.n.a.lyst James Hillman's The Soul's Code, The Soul's Code, with its theory of benevolent destiny. According to Jamie, with its theory of benevolent destiny. According to Jamie, Bagger Vance- Bagger Vance-the fictional story of a gifted golfer who loses his swing-"echoed" Hillman. "It was obvious Dad was crossing a bridge, in terms of his self-definition," says Jamie. "And Bagger Vance Bagger Vance was an expression of that." was an expression of that."

In keeping with his desire to explore new collaborations, Redford commissioned former psychiatrist Jeremy Leven to draft the screenplay and a.s.signed design to Stuart Craig, whose work on movies like Gandhi Gandhi and and Mary Reilly Mary Reilly impressed him. With Leven, he emphasized that this was a movie of metaphors; when he met Craig, he told him, "I want an exaggerated sense of reality. I want the golfing greens to be greener and the 1920s setting to be fairy-tale." His casting notions swung like a pendulum. First, wildly, he thought of playing the t.i.tle role himself or costarring with golf adepts like Jack Nicholson or Sean Connery. But Connery and Nicholson, like himself, were past sixty and far from the youthful presences in Pressfield's novel. He switched to the idea of Morgan Freeman as Bagger, the golfing mystic, and Brad Pitt as the story's troubled hero, Rannulph Junuh. Both men turned him down. Eberts landed DreamWorks as the funder, and though Redford found enthusiasm and support from Katzenberg, the studio nudged the movie toward the casting of Matt Damon as Junuh and Will Smith as a younger, racier Bagger Vance. (Damon had never held a golf club, but a tutor took care of that.) impressed him. With Leven, he emphasized that this was a movie of metaphors; when he met Craig, he told him, "I want an exaggerated sense of reality. I want the golfing greens to be greener and the 1920s setting to be fairy-tale." His casting notions swung like a pendulum. First, wildly, he thought of playing the t.i.tle role himself or costarring with golf adepts like Jack Nicholson or Sean Connery. But Connery and Nicholson, like himself, were past sixty and far from the youthful presences in Pressfield's novel. He switched to the idea of Morgan Freeman as Bagger, the golfing mystic, and Brad Pitt as the story's troubled hero, Rannulph Junuh. Both men turned him down. Eberts landed DreamWorks as the funder, and though Redford found enthusiasm and support from Katzenberg, the studio nudged the movie toward the casting of Matt Damon as Junuh and Will Smith as a younger, racier Bagger Vance. (Damon had never held a golf club, but a tutor took care of that.) Superficially, Leven's Bagger Vance Bagger Vance became a romance. Set in the Depression-era Deep South, it tells the tale of war-traumatized Junuh trying to break a perennial bender by helping his former sweetheart, Adele, who is striving to save the town's economy. She has inherited her father's golf course and wants to stage a tournament hosting golf legends Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. For the tournament to go ahead, Junuh, once the district's great sports hope, must partic.i.p.ate, but he cannot recapture the rhythm of his famous swing. The mysterious caddie Bagger Vance arrives from nowhere and, with Adele's loving coaching, guides Junuh back into the zone. became a romance. Set in the Depression-era Deep South, it tells the tale of war-traumatized Junuh trying to break a perennial bender by helping his former sweetheart, Adele, who is striving to save the town's economy. She has inherited her father's golf course and wants to stage a tournament hosting golf legends Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. For the tournament to go ahead, Junuh, once the district's great sports hope, must partic.i.p.ate, but he cannot recapture the rhythm of his famous swing. The mysterious caddie Bagger Vance arrives from nowhere and, with Adele's loving coaching, guides Junuh back into the zone.

But the romance, says Redford, was merely the hook. Of most value was the morality fable. For Pressfield, the original inspiration was mysticism in the form of the Mahabharata, as summarized in the Bhagavad Gita: Rannulph Junuh, or R. Junuh, is Arjuna, the mythical character who refuses to fight for possession of the kingdom that is rightfully his, since he believes war is wasteful. Lord Krishna lectures him on duty, explaining who Arjuna truly is, who G.o.d is, and how one finds peace and meaning in conflict.

In Redford's interpretation the mysticism was secondary to a hero's story. It was, says Redford, drawn from the Jungian well, and from elements of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which illuminates the interweaving of all cultural mythologies and proposes the importance of the retelling of tales to reinforce our sense of common spiritual purpose. "Given that we have abandoned myth in our culture," says Redford, "it seemed like the right time to offer this compendium. I had a sense that the way we receive information is faulty. Too much that comes into our heads-from the daily media, mostly-is redundant. Do we really which illuminates the interweaving of all cultural mythologies and proposes the importance of the retelling of tales to reinforce our sense of common spiritual purpose. "Given that we have abandoned myth in our culture," says Redford, "it seemed like the right time to offer this compendium. I had a sense that the way we receive information is faulty. Too much that comes into our heads-from the daily media, mostly-is redundant. Do we really need need to know such a huge amount of detail about the minutiae of every event in every country? to know such a huge amount of detail about the minutiae of every event in every country? Bagger Vance Bagger Vance was about remembering who we are and this shared spiritual journey we're on." was about remembering who we are and this shared spiritual journey we're on."

As with so many script developments over the years, Redford's perfectionist vision slowed the process. Leven drafted and redrafted but was replaced by LaGravenese, since his divided attention on another directorial project irritated Redford. "Bob was really authoring himself," says Eberts, "but that's his style. He is the ghostwriter, don't doubt it." Script finally in hand, Rachel Portman, an English composer, was engaged to produce the lushly nostalgic sound track. Michael Ballhaus, the cinematographer of Quiz Show, Quiz Show, was, untypically, hired again. South African Charlize Theron, whom Redford had liked in was, untypically, hired again. South African Charlize Theron, whom Redford had liked in The Astronaut's Wife, The Astronaut's Wife, was cast as Adele. For Theron, was cast as Adele. For Theron, Bagger Vance Bagger Vance had a special resonance. Her own life story was about recovering the groove. Her father had run a very successful business as a road builder. When he died, the banks descended, recalling loans. Only her mother's tenacity, says Theron, regained the family's solvency. "I related to had a special resonance. Her own life story was about recovering the groove. Her father had run a very successful business as a road builder. When he died, the banks descended, recalling loans. Only her mother's tenacity, says Theron, regained the family's solvency. "I related to Bagger Vance, Bagger Vance," said Theron. "[I had] an emotional connection with the characters and with their predicament." Jack Lemmon, professing himself retired, was lured back as the elderly narrator recalling Junuh's grand moment. Says Redford, "As a director, you are looking for actors that are tonal, like paints on a palette. You need them to complement and set off each other. I didn't get all the right people on Bagger, Bagger, but I got enough to make a go of it." but I got enough to make a go of it."

There was optimism in the air in the summer of 1999 as Bagger Vance Bagger Vance shooting got under way in Savannah, Georgia. "He'd proven a lot commercially with shooting got under way in Savannah, Georgia. "He'd proven a lot commercially with The Horse Whisperer, The Horse Whisperer," says Jake Eberts, "and we were feeling he was going from strength to strength."

When the movie wrapped at Christmas, Redford was satisfied. He stayed alone in Utah as the year 2000 dawned, in the Big House, reading Carlos Baker's Emerson Among the Eccentrics Emerson Among the Eccentrics. Throughout his life, he learned, Emerson carried a compa.s.s. The miracle of its magnetic needle, wrote Baker, bore witness to the divine spirit of nature. "I like," said Emerson, "to hold the visible G.o.d in my hand." Redford found the notion of palpable metaphor intriguing. It recalled for him his instinctive aspiration in all his ambitious work. "I tried not to overa.n.a.lyze any movie of mine or anyone else's, and generally self-important cinema annoys me. But there's no question that there's such a thing as 'serious cinema.' Seriousness, as Leonard Cohen says, is deeply agreeable to the human spirit. So there's a validity to movies of ambition, movies that say something. Concept and realization may not marry, of course. Movies fail. But the trying is legitimate. I didn't always stretch with my work, but when I did, it was in hope of generating other ideas-in the audience, as in myself. Observation, commentary, polemic-all seem to me fairly within the remit of modern cinema. And it's healthy to stretch." Such was the reasoning behind Bagger Vance. Bagger Vance.

Bagger Vance was announced for a June 2000 release, but when Walter Parkes, the studio executive, saw the proposed final cut, it was pulled at the last minute. Reportedly, Parkes was less than delighted with its two hoursplus of sunset golf courses, mellow whimsy and rambling voice-overs. "Parkes couldn't make sense of it," says a Sundance staffer. "The trouble was, as the cliche goes, no one knows nothing in Hollywood. They all admired was announced for a June 2000 release, but when Walter Parkes, the studio executive, saw the proposed final cut, it was pulled at the last minute. Reportedly, Parkes was less than delighted with its two hoursplus of sunset golf courses, mellow whimsy and rambling voice-overs. "Parkes couldn't make sense of it," says a Sundance staffer. "The trouble was, as the cliche goes, no one knows nothing in Hollywood. They all admired A River Runs Through It. A River Runs Through It. But it didn't make the money But it didn't make the money The Horse Whisperer The Horse Whisperer made. made. Bagger Vance Bagger Vance was visually akin to was visually akin to River, River, so there was wariness. Also, to be truthful, DreamWorks' big hits that summer were so there was wariness. Also, to be truthful, DreamWorks' big hits that summer were Gladiator Gladiator and and Cast Away, Cast Away, two big, starry, showy melodramas. They wanted more of the same from Bob, not a morality tale." two big, starry, showy melodramas. They wanted more of the same from Bob, not a morality tale."

In November 2000, DreamWorks finally authorized the release of Bagger Vance. Bagger Vance. The movie previewed in New York the day America cast its vote in the Bush-Gore election. It was not an auspicious day for Redford in any respect. The size of the movie's failure was considerable. Routinely reviewed as a disappointment, it earned just $30 million, against a production cost of $60 million. The movie previewed in New York the day America cast its vote in the Bush-Gore election. It was not an auspicious day for Redford in any respect. The size of the movie's failure was considerable. Routinely reviewed as a disappointment, it earned just $30 million, against a production cost of $60 million. Gladiator, Gladiator, by comparison, earned half a billion dollars. by comparison, earned half a billion dollars.

When Redford visited Bali and Java with Bylle a few weeks before the opening of Bagger Vance, Bagger Vance, with Sundance's business problems heavy on his mind, he wrote in his diary: "A strange thing. I have huge-scaled symmetrical thoughts of an order not like me, complete, formal and philosophical-and negative. So much negative energy pouring out of me, day and night, it feels like torture. Yet what sustains me is the faith that this is process." with Sundance's business problems heavy on his mind, he wrote in his diary: "A strange thing. I have huge-scaled symmetrical thoughts of an order not like me, complete, formal and philosophical-and negative. So much negative energy pouring out of me, day and night, it feels like torture. Yet what sustains me is the faith that this is process."

The fact that he had produced a movie so full of mystical whimsy and hopeful philosophy-and one so personally revelatory-and the fact that it had been so resoundingly rejected drove him freshly and deeper into self-a.n.a.lysis. As reflected in the controversy of the disputed national election result, America too was going through a time of great uncertainty and self-questioning. Hurt as he was by the rejection of the movie, he was heartened by this national urge for reevaluation.

The Clinton era in general had been good for him, and the National Medal of Arts, presented to him by the president at a White House ceremony in May 1999, seemed as much an acknowledgment of his constant conservation work as of Sundance and some durable films. The two campaigns he partic.i.p.ated in during the Clinton era, though-the ones he took most pride in-had delivered mixed results.

The expanded highway dispute with the Utah Department of Transportation that had absorbed a hefty amount of his spare time since the seventies seemed resolved when, with Governor Calvin Rampton's intervention, the proposed six lanes were reduced to four. Sundance then suggested further truncation to an environmentally friendly new two-lane road that would be serviced with picnic areas and scenic hike routes built by Redford. Sundance's environmental spokesperson, Julie Mack, felt victory was in sight, that the defacement of the canyon was uppermost in the minds of all locals. But Redford always underestimated local opposition to him and the reality that, for many, he was still an interloper imposing personal priorities. Beyond the ring of resort properties buffering what Gary Beer called "the little kingdom" were three hundred acres of privately owned lands run by eight independent property owner a.s.sociations ama.s.sed under the North Fork Property Owners Council. "They'd always argued with Sundance," says Beer, "starting with rows about who got the first use of the community plows when everyone was snowed in each January. Their position was that they frankly didn't care that Bob's resort had brought a little cash into the local economy each winter season and each summer lab season. They weren't interested in the small fry and they certainly didn't want talk of conservation. They just wanted to make good and invite all and every developer into the area."

The conservationist Utah Coalition's lawyers, partly funded by Redford, lost to the UDOT in the Salt Lake courts. The widened four-lane highway that would allow a heavier volume of cross-state traffic was authorized and, within weeks, construction began. According to Mack, the evidence of serious environmental damage was immediate. Landslide pollution poisoned much of the Provo River stock, and sections of the mountainside fringing the road became unstable and had to be harnessed with permanent, unprepossessing steel b.u.t.tresses. "It was a case of what happens when you start unraveling a ball of string," says Mack. "It might have been worse, with a six-lane highway and wider land reclaim, but it was still upsetting for everyone interested in land protection."

But there were successes, too. Under Clinton, Republicans in Congress had advanced a bill that proposed the limiting of wilderness in Utah to just 1.8 million acres of Bureau of Land Managementpreserved lands. President Clinton had vetoed it. Redford, Mack and Joyce Deep, serving the Utah Coalition, worked with Wayne Owens and Bill Bradley on an alternative Citizens' Proposal Bill calling for 5.7 million wilderness acres. Even the most loyal of Sundance staffers-people like mountain manager Jerry Hill-had their doubts about Redford's goals: "I saw the coalition's viewpoint but the bottom line was our employment and our survival. Preservation was fine. Still, we, and our children, needed to be able to utilize this landscape as needs be." But Ted Wilson, a Mormon, agreed with Redford, feeling it was a moral responsibility that had religious echoes, a land t.i.thing comparable with the Mormons' culture of t.i.thing income. Redford won this round and the bill finally signed into law by Clinton effectively endorsed unspecified expanded wilderness.

Joyce Deep's respect for Redford's vision and tenacity grew. But among his executive staff there was greater dissent. He was often regarded as a difficult, sometimes intimidating presence. "You knew his wrath," said one staffer, "and you always tried to avoid his company if you were on the wrong side of a discussion." But Deep defended the kind of obstinancy needed to match the challenges he had set himself. "He could be a pain in the a.s.s," she says, "because it was often hard, say, writing a speech for him, to please him in the details. He also was not known for dis.h.i.+ng out ma.s.sive praise. But he was a fighter, with the best. And he was modest, too modest, in situations like the wilderness challenge. He wanted to credit the coalition, but his personal achievement was huge. His style was to get his hands dirty, and he did most of it out of the media glare. When he wanted [California senator] Dianne Feinstein on our side, he just got in his car and drove right up to her home in San Francisco on a Sunday morning and knocked on her door: 'Can I talk with you about these bills? We need you on our side.' Feinstein became one of the great voices of the conservationists, and that was thanks to him, though few people knew it."

When President Clinton inaugurated a new national park in the Escalante Red Rocks-at 1.7 million acres, the biggest new national eas.e.m.e.nt since Teddy Roosevelt's day-Redford was standing proudly beside him on the Grand Canyon podium, though, says John Adams, he'd made it clear that he bore no special allegiance to any one party. "Though he'd done so much for us at the NRDC, we didn't regard him as 'our own' because he resisted labels. He felt he wanted to address the causes that felt right, and be unimpeded by partisans.h.i.+p of any kind." Redford liked the Clintons, admired the president's work, especially in race relations, and concluded "his centrist policy is probably right, for now at any rate."

Through 1998 and 1999 Redford continued to be sporadically involved in elective politics. He supported twenty-three candidates in congressional elections. Only six of the candidates for whom he made radio commercials or speeches failed to win a seat. In the presidential stakes, however, he was not so lucky. Bill Bradley's aborted run for the presidency saddened him. But he continued to support the League of Conservation Voters and strategized "a better, effective awareness of environmental threat issues by taking a state-by-state approach, candidate by candidate, rather than lobbying for change at the top."

Joyce Deep saw the obsessive nature of his strategizing, but as she got to know him better, she also saw that everything was secondary to his love of cinema. "He'd talk shop, politically speaking, for hours," she says. "If [a political story] was dominating the headlines, he was first in with a point of view-never gossipy, but intellectually probing. Still, there was always the shadow of some creative project. You'd want a meeting to discuss someone's congressional campaign, and he'd be looking at his watch. There was always some Wildwood imperative, just one more script to read."

In the aftermath of the collapse of the would-be Sundance Cinema Centers and the poor showing for Bagger Vance, Bagger Vance, Redford was depressed. Bylle took him home to Hamburg to distract and revive him. With Sundance teetering again, she suggested an independent review of Redford's finances, corporate and personal. Redford was depressed. Bylle took him home to Hamburg to distract and revive him. With Sundance teetering again, she suggested an independent review of Redford's finances, corporate and personal.

For years he had entrusted his investments and property purchases totally to Reg Gipson. Gipson had become a family friend, always with a smile on his face and a kind word. The two men had a natural kins.h.i.+p that made time in each other's company-whether in Gipson's Corporate Management Group offices on Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles or in Calistoga or Utah-joyful. "I'd never really paid attention," says Redford. "Reg handed me summary sheets of my outgoings and I asked no questions." There were sensitive areas, on reflection, where Redford should have asked questions. He did not, for example, query the stock purchases advised by Gipson's brother's brokerage in New York, or the details of the six major mortgages on properties stretching across the country, from Manhattan to Trancas Beach. "I would go out, make a movie and call Reg and say, 'I like New Mexico. Buy me a property, or take a lease.'" Now, when the review results were in, Redford was staggered by the acc.u.mulated exposure of his mortgages and the size of his personal debts. He saw the error of his ways.

Immediately, he instructed Gipson to sell off all his properties except in Utah. He was, he admits, "tailspinning." His film business lawyer since the seventies-originally backing up Hendler and at the fore since Hendler's demise-was the esteemed, expensive Barry Tyerman. Redford consulted Tyerman, pa.s.sing on Gipson's records. The men met in Tyerman's office in Century Park in Los Angeles. Redford recalls Tyerman's sharp intake of breath. "You need to declare bankruptcy," said Tyerman.

Redford knew the wisdom of Tyerman's expertise but could not bring himself to accede. His track record of stubbornness and winning-from defying Paramount over Blue Blue to helping defeat the Republicans' rollback wilderness initiative-bore him up. "Of course I probably should have taken Barry's advice and laid down my hand. But that would mean walking away from Sundance. That was never going to happen." to helping defeat the Republicans' rollback wilderness initiative-bore him up. "Of course I probably should have taken Barry's advice and laid down my hand. But that would mean walking away from Sundance. That was never going to happen."

Redford rolled up his sleeves once again.

23.

The Actor in Transit The original design of the Sundance Group was radically modified, out of necessity. A new, edgier version of Sundance Productions, headed up by former MGM executive Jeff Kleeman and capitalizing on the marquee value of the Redford connection to produce movies made either independently or under the auspices of South Fork Pictures, a Wildwood-allied company managed by Michael Nozik, was launched. It coproduced a number of Sundance-developed features, such as Ed Burns's She's the One, She's the One, with the urgent goal of b.u.t.tressing Sundance's finances. with the urgent goal of b.u.t.tressing Sundance's finances.

It wasn't to be. And neither was the salvation package that hung on Microsoft's cofounder Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions, the seemingly perfect cash-rich partner to plug the gap left by the collapse of General Cinema. With Allen's cash, Redford intended to buy out his cable partners and rid himself of what he saw as "the boardroom compromises" that dogged the inst.i.tute's history. He came close, but Vivendi, the French conglomerate, undercut him, purchasing Universal (the Sundance channel's co-owners) and, says Redford, scared Allen off.

Being tested as never before, Redford relied on his quirky attributes of self-sufficiency, instinctive reasoning and sheer will to keep him on track. "He was never good at self-pity," says Jamie. "Because he was a man of action, every crisis he saw, in the Chinese way, as an opportunity. So, perversely, he was wildly motivated when things. .h.i.t the bottom."

Redford saw the remedy as a mixture of introducing new blood and, at the same time, reinstating old concepts. He retained a Salt Lake City adviser, lawyer Tom Jolley, and two young accountants, Kyle Pexton and Tye Davis, who immediately took charge and redirected his energies. Within a very short time, new initiatives for the Sundance Inst.i.tute were announced to steer it back to its arts-purist roots. These included the establishment of the International Doc.u.mentary Fund, a scheme to underwrite fifty indie doc.u.mentaries over five years for the Sundance Channel, aided by $4.5 million in grants from the Open Society Inst.i.tute.

But the best efforts of Jolley, Pexton and Davis couldn't counter the damage of years of financial overreaching. In 2002 Bruce Willard, founder and president of the apparel catalog The Territory Ahead, acquired a controlling 50 percent share of the Sundance catalog in a deal that replenished Redford's personal wealth, and, therefore, stabilized Sundance. Two years later, Willard and Redford sold the company to Boston-based Webster Capital and New Yorkbased ACI Capital for close to $40 million. Willard disposed of all his shares, but Redford maintained a nominal 3 percent, less as an investment than a fingerprint.

How painful was this surrender for Redford? "It cut him up because of the unavoidable suggestion that a key component was gone," said one longtime staffer. "Sundance had been growing its branches over the years. This was the first to truly go." Redford insists, "It was a necessary reordering, that's all. Over the years, Shauna, myself and others built a very individual and unique western profile in the retail trade, and we continue to take pride in that. It's out there, it goes on, and I am still a part of the Sundance catalog and always will be, so the 'acorn' pertains."

What lay ahead was a continuing erosion and a fight that he knew could only be engaged in by maintaining the high public profile that launched Sundance in the first place. Reasoning the importance of his mission, he decided, was easy. Emerson spoke of a nation in terms of "conscience keepers," and that was a concept that still sat well with him. Bob Woodward, who had stayed in touch with him, believes that "conscience" is the word that underlies All the President's Men All the President's Men and so many of Redford's other ambitious works. It also, Woodward believes, lies at the heart of his Sundance experimentation and, further back, at the heart of his decision in the sixties to acquire and preserve the Sundance canyon: "He had a problem about profligate use of land and indifference, and that never stopped." Though he was most comfortable domestically now in northern California, the canyon-and the colony it bred-continued to embody his raison d'etre. "I hated this continual firefighting. But then what worthwhile cause is easy?" says Redford. "I knew I had to persevere in order to finance Sundance, and that came down to persevering as an actor and an artist." and so many of Redford's other ambitious works. It also, Woodward believes, lies at the heart of his Sundance experimentation and, further back, at the heart of his decision in the sixties to acquire and preserve the Sundance canyon: "He had a problem about profligate use of land and indifference, and that never stopped." Though he was most comfortable domestically now in northern California, the canyon-and the colony it bred-continued to embody his raison d'etre. "I hated this continual firefighting. But then what worthwhile cause is easy?" says Redford. "I knew I had to persevere in order to finance Sundance, and that came down to persevering as an actor and an artist."

Out of the threatened bankruptcy came renewed vigor to experiment and extend. The next film he took on, Spy Game, Spy Game, seemed at first a backward step. It was originally developed by Dutch director Mike van Diem and producer Douglas Wick and inherited by seemed at first a backward step. It was originally developed by Dutch director Mike van Diem and producer Douglas Wick and inherited by Enemy of the State Enemy of the State director Tony Scott. The attraction for Redford was Scott's dazzling son et lumiere reputation and by Michael Frost Beckner's electric script, which bore distinct tones of Wick's all-time favorite movie, director Tony Scott. The attraction for Redford was Scott's dazzling son et lumiere reputation and by Michael Frost Beckner's electric script, which bore distinct tones of Wick's all-time favorite movie, Three Days of the Condor. Three Days of the Condor. Markedly in the stylized contemporary thriller fas.h.i.+on, which borrowed an MTV sensibility of equal emphasis on rock music and flash editing, the movie represented a distinct step into the youth market, a pleasing act of appeas.e.m.e.nt to Lourd and CAA. Markedly in the stylized contemporary thriller fas.h.i.+on, which borrowed an MTV sensibility of equal emphasis on rock music and flash editing, the movie represented a distinct step into the youth market, a pleasing act of appeas.e.m.e.nt to Lourd and CAA.

Beckner's script, revised with David Arata, was set in 1991 and dealt with two generations of CIA field operatives, moving forward and backward over sixteen years of subterfuge in Vietnam, Berlin, Beirut and China. Superficially a buddy story, Spy Game Spy Game distinguished itself as a condensed history of recent American foreign policy, enshrining a critique of inst.i.tutional amorality. That naturally pleased the man who had created distinguished itself as a condensed history of recent American foreign policy, enshrining a critique of inst.i.tutional amorality. That naturally pleased the man who had created All the President's Men. All the President's Men. Redford's role was CIA veteran Nathan Muir, who, on his last day at Langley, learns that his protege, "Boy Scout" Bishop, played by Brad Pitt, has been incarcerated in a Chinese prison under sentence of death. Intercut with long Redford monologues that unveil the sacrificing of his friend, the movie ticks down toward Bishop's hour of execution. Redford's role was CIA veteran Nathan Muir, who, on his last day at Langley, learns that his protege, "Boy Scout" Bishop, played by Brad Pitt, has been incarcerated in a Chinese prison under sentence of death. Intercut with long Redford monologues that unveil the sacrificing of his friend, the movie ticks down toward Bishop's hour of execution.

Filming Spy Game Spy Game presented substantial logistical problems. To convey the variations of time and place, Scott used archive black-and-white reversal film stock that intensifies colors, digital video, differing gauges of standard film and vintage cameras. Redford's work, from late November through January 2001, mainly involved location shooting in Morocco, followed by the Langley CIA interiors staged at Shepperton Studios, outside London. Originally, the Beirut sequences were scheduled for Tel Aviv and Haifa. "But we had troublesome incidents in Israel," said Scott. "There was a firebomb thrown at our hotel, and then it reached a crisis point when someone was killed and dumped on the steps. We cut our losses and looked elsewhere to duplicate Beirut." The troubles were heightened by the fact that Pitt had signed on for Steven Soderbergh's presented substantial logistical problems. To convey the variations of time and place, Scott used archive black-and-white reversal film stock that intensifies colors, digital video, differing gauges of standard film and vintage cameras. Redford's work, from late November through January 2001, mainly involved location shooting in Morocco, followed by the Langley CIA interiors staged at Shepperton Studios, outside London. Originally, the Beirut sequences were scheduled for Tel Aviv and Haifa. "But we had troublesome incidents in Israel," said Scott. "There was a firebomb thrown at our hotel, and then it reached a crisis point when someone was killed and dumped on the steps. We cut our losses and looked elsewhere to duplicate Beirut." The troubles were heightened by the fact that Pitt had signed on for Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Eleven, which was due to commence directly after Christmas. "We were hemmed in [by Pitt's dates]," said Scott, "so there was a stopwatch on us all the time. But Bob understood the pressures on Brad, and he never complained." which was due to commence directly after Christmas. "We were hemmed in [by Pitt's dates]," said Scott, "so there was a stopwatch on us all the time. But Bob understood the pressures on Brad, and he never complained."

Forbearance required an emotional adjustment by Redford. A decade before, he had effectively started Brad Pitt's career. Now it was Pitt in the spotlight, and it was Pitt's minders and agents who dictated scheduling and the mood on the set. Redford could grin and bear it, though he did chafe at Pitt's insistence on a closed set, with no interruptions or visitors. Pitt himself was courteous, announcing to the media that he'd committed to the picture "basically because Bob was aboard" and expressing warm friends.h.i.+p to Redford throughout. "I wasn't, obviously, resentful," says Redford. "I fully understood the rules of the game and I acknowledged how hard it is to retain balance in the kind of promotional frenzy Brad was experiencing. I'd been there. I knew the territory. Now it was his moment. So I sat it out when I had to."

Shooting s.h.i.+fted to Casablanca. For Redford, this was the best news. Just the previous year he had promised Bylle a long vacation in Morocco. As he expected, he felt an affinity for the local culture and threw himself into learning as much as he could about it. "We can't bury our heads in the ground about foreign cultures," he says, "and I took this opportunity to observe and learn with enthusiasm." The urge to understand Arab life, says Redford, was exactly equal to the drive to experience Europe in the fifties. "I found I connected comfortably with the setting," says Redford, "the same way I connected with the Hispanic people, or the people of the Celtic Isles."

A surprising ebullience about moviemaking returned to Redford during Spy Game. Spy Game. The breakneck speed of the movie gave him energy. He lamented the fact that, because he was sixty-four, the insurance underwriters limited the helicopter battle sequences in which he could appear. "I did some stuff regardless," he says, "and it was new to me, a real adrenaline blast. The insurers were pulling their hair out, because it was all dangerous, low-level flying, with explosions going off right and left. I loved it." The breakneck speed of the movie gave him energy. He lamented the fact that, because he was sixty-four, the insurance underwriters limited the helicopter battle sequences in which he could appear. "I did some stuff regardless," he says, "and it was new to me, a real adrenaline blast. The insurers were pulling their hair out, because it was all dangerous, low-level flying, with explosions going off right and left. I loved it."

Redford fit in easily with this new, teen-targeted movie dynamic that demanded texturally variant story lines, an astonis.h.i.+ng array of visuals and an average shot duration of 2.6 seconds. "It was a new film language, but it was also a case of the more things change, the more they remain the same. You can set off a million firecrackers, but if you don't have a story to tell and capable actors to relate it, you have nothing but smoke."

Redford's effortless command was highlighted because of its juxtaposition to Pitt's hip, crinkly eyed posturings. "Robert Redford has been around for so long," wrote Edward Guthmann in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, "and has diversified his talents to such an extent-director, environmentalist, indie film guru-that one forgets what a strong and persuasive actor he can be.... There's a texture, a dimension to him now that wasn't there before-not only in his weather-beaten face and lumpy hands, but in the way he holds himself and regards the world; in the way he commits himself to this role and doesn't balk at playing the cynical, callous and dishonest aspects of his character." "and has diversified his talents to such an extent-director, environmentalist, indie film guru-that one forgets what a strong and persuasive actor he can be.... There's a texture, a dimension to him now that wasn't there before-not only in his weather-beaten face and lumpy hands, but in the way he holds himself and regards the world; in the way he commits himself to this role and doesn't balk at playing the cynical, callous and dishonest aspects of his character."

Spy Game may not have been may not have been Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Jamie observed, but the central device of the mentor-protege-what Scott called "the father-son story"-provided what he sought: a chance to essay the bonds of fractured kins.h.i.+p and the difficult business of fixing things. Jamie observed, but the central device of the mentor-protege-what Scott called "the father-son story"-provided what he sought: a chance to essay the bonds of fractured kins.h.i.+p and the difficult business of fixing things.

A career marker was noted by many. Rita Kempley of The Was.h.i.+ngton Post The Was.h.i.+ngton Post wrote that the film helped Redford "regain the dignity he threw away as Demi Moore's billionaire john in wrote that the film helped Redford "regain the dignity he threw away as Demi Moore's billionaire john in Indecent Proposal. Indecent Proposal." But if CAA imagined such success would plant him firmly in the youth market like, say, Mel Gibson, they were wrong. For a follow-up, Redford quickly opted for a script by thirty-eight-year-old Israeli-born former radio journalist Rod Lurie, who had recently appeared on the front page of Variety Variety with his controversial political sleeper, with his controversial political sleeper, The Contender, The Contender, about a campaign to humiliate a female vice presidential candidate, starring Joan Allen. That movie had been modestly funded by DreamWorks to the tune of $9 million but, after a slow start during the summer, crossed the $100 million earnings mark. about a campaign to humiliate a female vice presidential candidate, starring Joan Allen. That movie had been modestly funded by DreamWorks to the tune of $9 million but, after a slow start during the summer, crossed the $100 million earnings mark.

As a journalist broadcasting on KABC talk radio in Los Angeles, Lurie had a reputation as an outspoken leftist who was occasionally barred from press screenings and Republican get-togethers. Redford was flattered that Lurie credited All the President's Men All the President's Men as his greatest artistic inspiration. With West Point and a career as a broadcaster behind him, Lurie had started as a filmmaker in 1998 with a half-hour short, as his greatest artistic inspiration. With West Point and a career as a broadcaster behind him, Lurie had started as a filmmaker in 1998 with a half-hour short, Four Second Delay, Four Second Delay, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival. It portrayed a radio call-in show galvanized when a listener threatens to kill hostages unless the on-air interviewee, Bob Woodward, confesses the ident.i.ty of Deep Throat. Lurie followed this with his feature debut, the one-set which won the Special Jury Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival. It portrayed a radio call-in show galvanized when a listener threatens to kill hostages unless the on-air interviewee, Bob Woodward, confesses the ident.i.ty of Deep Throat. Lurie followed this with his feature debut, the one-set Deterrence, Deterrence, a political meditation in which the president is forced to a nuclear showdown with Iraq from the isolation of a remote, s...o...b..und diner. "He was obviously smart," says Redford, "and he was very b.a.l.l.sy. He appeared to have an interesting slant on human behavior, and he also had in his hands a great script. I thought it would be good because he was a younger voice, a new-ideas man to work with." a political meditation in which the president is forced to a nuclear showdown with Iraq from the isolation of a remote, s...o...b..und diner. "He was obviously smart," says Redford, "and he was very b.a.l.l.sy. He appeared to have an interesting slant on human behavior, and he also had in his hands a great script. I thought it would be good because he was a younger voice, a new-ideas man to work with."

The men first met in Redford's hotel suite in London shortly before Christmas. "All we talked about was All the President's Men, All the President's Men," says Lurie. "And then he agreed to a second meeting on the next day, and on the next day all we talked about was Quiz Show. Quiz Show." They exchanged views on national politics and Hollywood politics. Lurie had, he told Redford, wrestled with DreamWorks over a project to follow The Contender, The Contender, a dilemma Redford well related to. His intention was to film only his own stories, but then DreamWorks gave him "The Castle," the script by David Scarpa and Graham Yost that interested Redford. Redford overcame a personal momentary hesitation. The experience with DreamWorks on a dilemma Redford well related to. His intention was to film only his own stories, but then DreamWorks gave him "The Castle," the script by David Scarpa and Graham Yost that interested Redford. Redford overcame a personal momentary hesitation. The experience with DreamWorks on Bagger Vance Bagger Vance rankled, but an undamaged admiration for Katzenberg still existed. rankled, but an undamaged admiration for Katzenberg still existed.

Redford's fascination was with the role of Lieutenant General Irwin, a disgraced career soldier who tackles inst.i.tutional evil wrought by the governor of the jail to which he's confined. "I thought the role was a little like Brubaker, Brubaker," says Lurie, "and a little of many of the idealist roles he'd played. But it was also new ground. It was taxing because it required him to face new situations he'd never depicted on-screen, like playing the family man."

Redford found the script's metaphor engrossing. "I

Robert Redford Part 13

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