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A down-and-out film producer agrees to make his nephew's film about 19th century English statesman Benjamin Disraeli, but can only get financing if he casts a well-known action star. Production is halted however, when the lead actor is kidnapped, so the producer hatches a scheme with a struggling creative executive to save the star and the movie. Written by
a satire of what it takes to make a movie, and probably not that far off
Bill Macy, Meg Ryan, Elliot Gould, and LL Cool J star in "The Deal" from 2008, directed by Steven Schachter and written by Macy and Schacter.
Macy plays another loser, this time Charlie Berns, who has a couple of producer credits on his resume, but they're not recent, and he can't get arrested. His nephew (Jason Ritter) gives him his script about Benjamin Disraeli to read. He's not interested in it but then he sees an article about a major star in adventure films, Bobby Mason (LL Cool J) who has converted to Judaism and wants to do a film with a Jewish theme for his next project.
Charlie manages to convince a studio that he has Bobby Mason's next kick your butt film and a studio executive, Deidre (Meg Ryan) is assigned to make it happen. Soon "Bill & Ben" is being filmed, with Berns' heartbroken nephew screaming, "There's not one word of my script in this." Then Bobby Mason is kidnapped and held for ransom, and the studio doesn't want to pay. But Deidre has an idea.
We've seen these behind the scenes getting a movie made before, and this is absurd but quite good. And how absurd is it? Probably not far off. Macy is excellent as Berns, who has been around the block a few times and knows how to talk his way into and out of trouble. This movie too a while to get made, so there's no doubt Macy knew what he was talking about when he wrote the script - I'm sure it wasn't a new experience for him.
Ryan's role could have been played by anyone, but at 47 and once the ingénue du jour (as Rene Zwelleger, Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Sally Field once were), she has a problem. While leading men are leading men from the time they're in their twenties until death, pert, pretty young actresses have a limited shelf life, and the transition to lead woman not only is difficult, it's often not even worth it since that doesn't last long either. Today things are much better -- at least 30 is no longer the cut-off like it was in Bette Davis' day -- but the fact remains, unless your name is Meryl Streep, you'll be in character roles by the time you're 55. If you have a job. So I can't blame her for doing this role.
Good, enjoyable movie, especially if you're a writer and know what happens to scripts in Hollywood.
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