With the recent absorption by tractor beam of sputtering starship New Line Cinema into the immense Warner Borg, the LAT takes a moment to reassess the legacy left behind by its founder, Bob Shaye. Shaye was the last of a dying breed of Honchos With Heart—lumbering, larger-than-life mogulsaurs, pounding their deep footprints into the early indie landscape, and scooping smaller talents into their gaping mandibles along the way. His only crime: that sometimes he cared too much:
Shaye tended to trust his own instincts, sometimes for the best — being the only person in Hollywood willing to let Peter Jackson make his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy — and sometimes for the worse, hastening his demise by ducking out last year to direct a flop ("The Last Mimzy") at a time when New Line was in a downward spiral. [...]
Never blessed with the glad-handing skills of Harvey Weinstein, Shaye drove [Paul Thomas] Anderson away by trying to edit his last film, got sued by Jackson over profits from "Rings," alienated the Farrellys and lost most of his comedy stars to bigger studios who offered higher salaries and fewer blunt Shaye-style critiques of their work.
It's a testament to Shaye's passionate commitment to dirtying his hands with every level of production—hovering over Anderson's shoulder in the Punch-Drunk Love edit bay, for example, wondering if perhaps "the meet cute with Lena shouldn't happen a beat sooner, before the harmonium discovery? I don't know—what do you think? Hey, you mind if I finish that half of your Subway sandwich? Is this great or what—I think we're really slapping together something very special here!"—that he would eventually suffocate and drive away the emerging talent he gambled on when no one else would.