By Stephanie Lysaght, Patrick Kevin Day and Denise Martin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
A film director wears many hats: translator, visionary, disciplinarian. With so much power and so much responsibility, its no wonder that directors often end up sparring with actors, writers, and even other directors.
In a recent directorial dust-up, Spike Lee made headlines by criticizing Clint Eastwood. “Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen,” alleged Lee. " ... There’s no way I know why he did that. That was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It’s not like he didn’t know.”
Eastwood fired back, telling the Guardian that in his new film, set in South Africa, Im not going to make Nelson Mandela a white guy. He also said that Lee should shut his face. Hey, we said they were powerful, not mature.
The feud: Clerks director Kevin Smith vs. Batman director Tim Burton
The accusation: On the New York Posts Page Six, Smith accused Burton of ripping off one of his comic books with his ending to Planet of the Apes.
Back story: Smith had written a script for a Superman project that Burton had planned to direct. But rather than work with Smith, Burton immediately tossed his script out in favor of other ideas, angering Smith.
Trash talking: Burtons statement to Page Six read: Anyone who knows me knows I would never read a comic book. And I would especially never read anything created by Kevin Smith. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
The feud: Superman director Richard Donner vs. Superman II director Richard Lester
The accusation: Over 25 years after the release of Superman II, Donner pulled together the film elements to release his own cut of the film on DVD to restore the good stuff.
Back story: After a fight with producers, Donner exited Superman II midway through production. Richard Lester was brought in to finish. Though the sequel was more highly regarded than the original Superman, Lesters follow-up Superman III was trashed, leading many fans to believe anything good in Superman II was because of Donner.
Trash talking: Talking to Newsweek, Donner mentioned a restored scene in which Lois Lane discovers Supermans identity. I have no idea why they took it out. I can’t speak for their lack of filmmaking intelligence.” (Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
The feud: Malcolm X director Spike Lee vs. Flags of Our Fathers director Clint Eastwood
The accusation: Lee told the press at Cannes that Eastwood used too few black actors in his World War II film Flags of Our Fathers.
Back story: Eastwoods film depicted the story behind the famed flag-raising photo taken at the battle of Iwo Jima. Lee has a forthcoming film, The Miracle at St. Anna, which shows black troops in Italy during World War II.
Trash talking: Talking to the Guardian, Eastwood responded to Lees accusation by saying Lee should shut his face and that his films were historically accurate. On his upcoming film on post-apartheid South Africa, Eastwood said, Im not going to make Nelson Mandela a white guy. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The (faux) feud: Director M. Night Shyamalan vs. The Sci Fi Channel
The accusation: The Sci Fi Channel claimed that Shyamalan had stormed away from their documentary, The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan, when an interviewer began to pry into his personal life.
Back story: There was no back story, because the whole feud was fabricated to publicize the show.
Back-tracking: “Perhaps we might have taken the guerrilla campaign one step too far. We thought it would create controversy,” Sci Fi Channel President Bonnie Hammer confessed to the Associated Press. (Jennifer S. Altman / The Times)
The feud: Three Kings director David O. Russell vs. Three Kings actor George Clooney, right.
The accusation: Clooney reportedly took Russell to task for mistreating crew members on the set of “Three Kings.” Apparently, the argument turned into a fistfight.
Back story: This wasnt the only report of Russells temper getting the best of him. A video of Russell launching a verbal assault on actress Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees also made the rounds.
Trash talking: Clooney told Playboy that it all started when he told Russell, David, it’s a big day. But you can’t shove, push or humiliate people who aren’t allowed to defend themselves. (Murray Close / Warner Bros)
The feud: Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu vs. Babel writer Guillermo Arriaga
The accusation: Inarritu and Arriaga attacked each other for taking too much credit for Babel.
Back story: The writer/director pair had collaborated for nine years, on films like 21 Grams and Amores Perros.
Trash talking: “It’s a shame that in your unjustified obsession to claim sole responsibility for the film, you seem not to recognize that movies are an art of deep collaboration,” Inarritu and other members of the Babel team wrote in a letter to Chilango magazine. (Murray Close / Paramount Vantage)
The feud: Bad Lieutenant remake director Werner Herzog vs. original Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferarra
The accusation: Ferrara was none to happy to hear that while in Cannes, Herzog announced he would be filming an update of the 1992 NC-17-rated crime drama. Nicolas Cage is set to reprise the role of a corrupt cop, originally played by Harvey Keitel.
The back story: When Ferrara was informed of the remake, he told the Los Angeles Times: “These people should die in hell . It’s so disrespectful.” He added, referring to his delayed arrival in Cannes. “And it’s a good thing I’m not there. If I see them I’ll strangle every one of them.”
The trash talking: Herzog told Defamer: “I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills.... I’ve never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is.” (Aries Film)
The feud: Postal director Uwe Boll vs. Transformers director Michael Bay
The accusation: Self-promoting machine Boll challenged Bay to a round of fisticuffs last month to clear up who is the better director.
The back story: After an online petition to send Boll to directors jail launched earlier this year, Boll responded by mouthing off on Michael Bay and Eli Roth for making bad movies. Bay responded on his websites official message boards by calling Boll an obviously sad being. Shortly after, Boll challenged him to a duel.
The trash talking: With the money [Bay] has for his movies, he sucks big time. And I think its time to meet in the ring. Michael, in between your pool parties in L.A. or your casting sessions with strippers, you should start training now. You look good, you look thin . I think youre a fit guy . So lets meet in the ring in September or October. Pay-per-view. Mandalay, Las Vegas. Twelve rounds of round of boxing . Well clear it up who is not only the better director, but who is able to fight more for what he wants . Boll against Bay. Its on.
Watch the video here. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
The feud:Uwe Boll vs. Steven Spielberg
The accusation: Boll claimed his terrorism satire Postal would “go out and destroy ‘Indiana Jones’ at the box office.
The back story: Boll fired off the missive trashing Spielberg to movie website Bloody Disgusting and it gets picked up everywhere -- but were 99.9% sure no one saw Postal, which didnt report any box office results for the 13 theaters that released the film last month.
The trash talking: All Boll, all the time: Spielberg gets sloppy. We saw that with War of the Worlds, and also in parts of Jaws, E.T., ‘Munich, etc. My performance in Postal as Nazi Theme Park Owner outperforms easily Ben Kingsleys in Schindlers List. (Nina Prommer / EPA)