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While actor Russell Crowe is out promoting Cinderella Man by waging a very public, bloody battle against poor customer service in hotels, producer Brian Grazer is taking a more peaceful tack, turning the spotlight on himself (he's selfless that way) and discussing the superproducing process that single-handedly generates Imagine Entertainment's hits with the LAT:

"I'm an autodidact," he says. "I can't really read, but I can ask interesting questions." Grazer even has what he calls a "cultural attaché" on the payroll who reels in the great thinkers. Over the years, he's met with Jonas Salk, Edward Teller (father of the hydrogen bomb), physicist Sheldon Glashow and author Malcolm Gladwell. [...]

Grazer contends that all of his comedies could've just as easily been dramas, pointing out that the premise of "The Nutty Professor" isn't so different from "A Beautiful Mind." "They come from the same place — they both deal with emotionally handicapped people. Sherman Klump is clever and funny, but he's fat. John Nash is really smart, but he gets abused in the same way as Sherman. You feel bad for Sherman, but to destigmatize disability, I chose to make you laugh. With 'Beautiful Mind,' I chose to make you cry. It's the same message in a different artistic form."

Maybe Grazer shouldn't be giving up his secret sauce so freely. Now any up-and-comer who can't read (reading is overrated anyway, as Hollywood has proven over and over again) knows that soaking up the wisdom of the world's most beautiful greatest minds will allow them to plumb the emotional depths of the "handicapped" and produce incredibly nuanced works featuring Eddie Murphy farting through 150 pounds of latex, or Crowe writing equations on dirty windows and playing with imaginary friends. Also, now the world knows Grazer's greatest secret: that chatting with the pointy-headed set (that is, when the brains floating in formaldehyde in his "thinking room" aren't getting the job done) imbues a words-averse producer with the incredible power to completely bypass writers, directors, and actors and directly manipulate the emotions of audiences. We always had a feeling that Grazer was pulling the strings that made us kick in the screen on the television when A Beautiful Mind won all those Oscars.