As if suffering through Righteous Kill and a stultifying Letterman Top 10 weren't career punishment enough for Robert De Niro, the actor has found himself the subject of just-leaked phone calls between Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein during the making of Jackie Brown — and the conversation paints the supposedly money-grubbing De Niro in a light more unflattering than the entirety of Rocky & Bullwinkle:

"He thinks he's going to . . . make John Travolta look like that was an amateur night in Dixie," says Weinstein in the 11-year-old recording, referring to Travolta's comeback in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

Responds Tarantino: "He's still dealing with, subconsciously, the fact that he's not going to get paid for doing the thing that he's created after 20 years . . . He's built his reputation on roles like [Jackie Brown's]Louis . . . 'How can you not pay me?' " At another point, Weinstein warns Tarantino he might get a "weird midnight phone call" from the star. Tarantino rages: "Tell Bob not to call me yelling and screaming . . . I don't know if I'm going to be nice [if] the guy calls up yelling and screaming at me like a maniac, calling me a [bleep]er!"

Better that than a terrifying, apostrophe-free email, we think, though we certainly wouldn't welcome a late-night tirade from the erstwhile Travis Bickle. Still, we can't help but think this all could have been avoided if De Niro had tempted Tarantino into a pay raise by appealing to his well-known foot fetish. Sure, it may be an ignominious thing for an Oscar-winning actor to doff his shoes and socks and wiggle his little piggies for gross points, but can it really be worse than Analyze That? [Photo Credit: AP]