As a shepherd of great literary works from page to screen, assistant-gobbling producer/Kraken Scott Rudin is arguably without equal: He produced both of the dark, uncompromising visions currently vying for Oscar greatness, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. In an LAT profile, Rudin is credited with scooping up rich source material before it even hits bookstore shelves, pairing it with the right director, making casting suggestion, and even tweaking crucial moments in the script. (Recent legend has it that he quietly pulled P.T. Anderson aside between Blood takes to question if "maybe some other beverage besides Ovaltine might work better in that one line," before staring down at a half-finished Wendy's Frostee for the creative epiphany of a lifetime.) Still, no Rudin profile is complete without the requisite paragraph on his notoriously mercurial temper:
His tantrums are the stuff of legend. Battered by screaming fits, tossed objects and abrupt firings, his assistants rarely last long — a 2005 Wall Street Journal piece estimated that Rudin went through 250 assistants in a five-year period (even Rudin admitted to 119, though his figure excluded assistants who didn't survive a two-week trial period). On the other hand, the industry is full of ex-Rudin assistants who've used the experience as a steppingstone to success.
Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, who is releasing the Rudin-produced "The Other Boleyn Girl" this month, worked for Rudin as a young production executive. "He was tough," she recalls. "You'd give him script notes and get back his response, written with a big black pen, saying 'TERRIBLE IDEA!' But you'd always forgive him because he's so smart, cares so much and he gets movies made that no one else can."
Certainly, his brutal, call-roller cleansing regime is a matter of public record: Assistants' rights groups have been targeting Rudin ever since a mass grave was discovered behind his Paramount HQ by an after-hours security guard, who couldn't help but notice a human hand jutting out from a carefully tended flowerbed, still clasping a retrieved Diet Coke can whose lack of vanilla flavoring was what ultimately did them in. But for the elite few with the fortitude to survive the apprenticeship, great things are almost invariably in store: Pascal's time under the tyrannical mentor, for example, is widely credited with earning the Sony head the incongruous sex-parts that would ultimately win her titles like Showman of the Year.