The gig: Bill Gerber is a film producer whose credits include "Gran Torino," "The Dukes of Hazzard," and "The In-Laws." His next movie, "Grudge Match," which will be released by
Rock 'n' roll dreams: Gerber, 56, grew up wanting to be a rock 'n' roll drummer. "The minute I heard [the Beatles'] 'I Saw Her Standing There,' the world changed," he said. "I studied music for years, going to different music camps and taking lessons." But when he was 19 years old, after realizing that his future was uncertain as a drummer in bands that were "all unsuccessful — no record deals," he had an epiphany: He would get into the music business "so that I could make my own records, sign other bands and be a force in music and have some control over my destiny."
"Are We Not Men?": Gerber became a music manager in 1977 — "a great time in music in L.A. — it was on fire." A year later, he visited the now-defunct Starwood club and saw the new wave band
"All of a sudden the curtains part and out comes Devo in those yellow suits playing 'Are We Not Men?' and I thought, 'I've seen the future of rock and roll. It's not
No grudge here: Roughly a year later, Gerber began working for Roberts' Lookout Management. "Elliot is one of the greatest managers in history, and knew everything about the music business," Gerber said. "I was his protege and was able to learn the management and record businesses from him." And, by joining Lookout, Gerber got to manage Devo. During his five years there, he also would manage bands including the Cars and Heaven 17.
Making movies: The early 1980s was an era of hit soundtracks — those of films such as "Urban Cowboy" and "Flashdance" scored on the Billboard charts — and studios sought out Lookout for its expertise. Gerber met people in the movie business, and he started thinking, "Those people dress pretty well — there must be something going on."
Through his attorney at the time,
"A great run": Gerber became a Warner Bros. production executive in 1985, and he oversaw Oliver Stone's "JFK" and the Oscar-winning crime drama
Despite the parting, Gerber set up his production company on the Warner lot the same year, and he maintains a first-look deal there. "Professionally, it means everything to me to still be at Warners," Gerber said. "I think it is the best studio … and I've always been treated really well — treated like family and treated with respect."
Another odd couple: "Grudge Match" originally came out of Gerber's desire to do a movie with
Then fellow producer
Casting it: With Eastwood and Nicholson out, Gerber said, the only other options were Stallone and De Niro, both famed film pugilists — Stallone for the role of Rocky Balboa and De Niro for that of Jake LaMotta. Gerber said audiences will be in for a surprise when it comes to De Niro's physique: "I don't think he's been in this kind of shape since 'Cape Fear.' I looked at a bunch of production stills and the guy has a legit eight-pack in the movie. We didn't do any CGI to his body, nothing."
Iron man: Gerber runs marathons and competes in triathlons. He has completed the Ironman — a grueling long-distance race — and hopes to beat his time of 12 1/2 hours. "I know I can. I have three kids, a wife and a job — I don't have time for the usual triathlon regimen — but I am up for the challenge. I think it is good to get raw once in a while and see what you are made of."