Director Mick Jackson ("L.A. Story") was involved with the upcoming Warner Bros. Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston drama "The Bodyguard" for more than a year. He shepherded the film through production and eventually, after 12 weeks of editing, through two successful preview screenings.
So why, industry watchdogs are wondering, did the three producers of the film--Costner, Jim Wilson and Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote the script--re-edit the film after the director's cut had been submitted to the studio?
According to various industry sources and others close to the production, Jackson was basically informed that the producers were going to tinker with the film and he was not, at that point, exactly pleased with the decision.
Those privy to the goings on in "The Bodyguard" editing room say they are not surprised the trio of producers shaped the final film. "What is surprising, though, is that the studio basically allowed a director of some note to be partially removed from his own movie," one source says.
Another offers a different take. "Kevin did the same thing on another Warners project, 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,' and is basically credited with saving that film. It's no wonder they entirely welcomed his input on this movie."
During several weeks of what is being called "fine-tuning," Jackson was invited to sit in on the process. "Sometimes his suggestions and objections were listened to, and sometimes they were not," says a source close to the film, which opens nationwide on Nov. 25.
Several sources close to the project claim that "The Bodyguard" was not a film that needed major overhauling. When word leaked out that Costner, Wilson and Kasdan were editing the film, questions were raised about the performance of pop diva Whitney Houston, who makes her film debut in "The Bodyguard."
But one who has seen the final cut of the film says this is just not the case. "Whitney is superb in the movie. When you look at her up on the screen, you would never guess this is her first film performance. She did a truly professional, first-rate job. She's gonna turn a lot of heads with this movie."
So why then, the tinkering of Costner, Wilson and Kasdan?
According to Wilson, the only major problem the trio had was the film's length. "We've just shortened it considerably, by around 15 to 20 minutes," Wilson says. "The director's cut was just too long."
Says another source: "They wanted to rethink parts of the movie."
Wilson does not argue with a report that they also wanted to "rethink parts of the movie." He says there were "a zillion things" the producers wanted to fine-tune and re-examine.
"Look," says Wilson, explaining his involvement in the editing process, "Kevin, Larry and I have all directed movies. We're a very hands-on trio and we all had very specific ideas. I was involved in the exact same way on 'Dances With Wolves.' This is a common thing."
Wilson says that in no way was Jackson shunted aside and locked out of the process. "The four of us sat down and worked on the film together. No one put a gun to another person's head and said, 'Do this.' This is clearly not a case of any of us saying to Mick, 'Hey, buddy, you're outta here.' "
Adds Wilson: "I'm so sick and tired of hearing about that auteur vision of film, where the director absolutely has to have the final cut with no input from other people involved in the production. Editing is a collaborative process and that's what happened with this movie."
Costner's involvement in the editing of "Robin Hood" was said to have put a severe crimp in his relationship with the director of that film, Kevin Reynolds. The rift, though, was eventually repaired.
According to several sources, everything was resolved pleasantly enough with the powers that be on "The Bodyguard."
"There's no bad blood," says one source. "Everything, surprisingly enough, has remained very cordial."