The Grill: Where Hollywood Suffers

In light of the recent disappointing™ and disastrous openings of M:i:III and Poseidon, respectively, LAT columnist Patrick Goldstein examines one of Hollywood's favorite bloodsports, the Monday ritual of flop-tainted executives and producers donning sweaters made of chum and casting themselves into the lunchtime shark tanks at the city's power-eateries:

"You feel as if you've been sucker punched, like the wind's knocked out of you," says former Warners production chief Bill Gerber, now a producer, who has survived stinkers like "The In-Laws." "It's agonizing. As a producer, you can be working on a movie for 10 years and then by Friday night, it's over. And it's a very public humiliation. It's tough walking into the Grill on Monday, feeling the pain." [...]

After a fall, some people flee the city, seeking refuge. Others stay inside, the doors closed and lights dim. When I had lunch with producer Brian Grazer after one of his movies fizzled, we stayed in his office instead of heading over to the Grill. "Going out is just too awkward," he explains. "Nobody knows what to say. And if I don't know what they mean when they say 'congratulations' after I've had a hit, how do I know what they mean when they say, 'Oh, I'm so sorry?' " [...]

Producer Steve Tisch hasn't forgotten the lonely feeling of having to put on a brave public face after making "The Postman," a costly 1997 Kevin Costner dud. "When you go to the Grill for your Monday lunch after you've had a $100-million movie that flops, you have the feeling as you're walking by everyone is whispering, 'There's the poor guy who produced "The Postman." ' It can be very humbling."

Since no one besides notorious iconoclast Grazer seems capable of simply not eating [SFX: audible gasp] at that particular restaurant on the day following a career setback, we offer a less practical, but perhaps more effective, solution than canceling one's lunch plans: Once one discovers that the weekend box office numbers are underwhelming enough to merit a day of nasty whispers and false expressions of consolation, one should immediately dispatch an assistant to burn The Grill to the ground. With the industry's Thunderdome of Schadenfraude gone, a suffering executive will be forced to seek out a more private lunchtime ritualistic humiliation, like trying to eat take-out in his office while wearing nothing but an adult diaper and a ball-gag.