Screenwriter-Vietnam vet Michael Montgomery was so pleased with the profile he got in the Thousand Oaks News Chronicle (“ ‘Rambo’ With a Typewriter”) that he decided to reproduce it in a full-page Daily Variety ad.
“They took my money ($847), did the artwork and layout and I saw a very handsome proof sheet,” said Montgomery.
But Editor Tom Pryor ordered it cancelled. A Variety account exec told Montgomery it was “because he (Pryor) didn’t like the reference to the lawsuit and Hal Needham.”
The reference concerned the famous dispute over the origins of “Smokey and the Bandit.” Montgomery claimed writer-director Needham and others plagiarized Montgomery’s material, for which they allegedly once negotiated. Colleen Cason’s article reported that Montgomery got a settlement “estimated” at $3 million and a “created by” credit.
“I don’t have to explain it,” Pryor told us tersely. But he called back to say that he had looked at the article to refresh his memory, and his problem was with the $3-million figure, “because it can’t be verified” (Montgomery’s victory came with a gag order silencing him on details). Was he worried about offending Needham, whose productions buy plenty of Variety space. “Absolutely not,” Pryor stormed.
(The ad ran in the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday for $890).
Montgomery seems to be doing fine without the extra hype: Last year, acting without an agent, he sent 100 “dynamite” cover letters and full-color posters pitching a three-picture “action package” of original screenplays to 100 hand-picked producers. Half responded (“not all positive”) and Montgomery eventually made 15 “presentations.”
The result: His “Eye of the Tiger,” a “modern-day ‘High Noon’ ” starring Gary Busey and Yaphet Kotto and produced by Scotti Bros., opened Friday in 800 theaters--Montgomery co-produced. He’s also co-producing “Rolling Vengeance,” from his script about a boy who builds a monster truck to rid the highways of drunk drivers (just wrapped for Apollo Pictures). The third script (by another writer) didn’t find a deal. But Montgomery has gone on to produce, on his own, “California Summer,” his teen love story with photography tentatively scheduled to begin in March.