Thursday, July 06, 2006

M. Night had his heart broken on Valentine’s Day too

So you may have noticed that the TV spots have started to run for M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, Lady in the Water, due out in theaters later this month.

(Ah, we fondly remember sightings of a sweaty Paul Giamatti in Rittenhouse last August, while he was in town filming.)

What you may not know is that the script for
Lady was the impetus for Shyamalan to split with his longtime movie studio, Disney.

What’s more, there’s a Shyamalan-backed book coming out on July 20 — one day before the theatrical release of the movie — that details the falling out between “the talent” and “the suits.”

We know. This is troublingly reminiscent of the “unauthorized” expose/documentary that the Sci Fi Channel did on Shyamalan (The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan) in 2004 to hype the release of The Village. Said Documentary turned out to be neither unauthorized or an expose.

But this time, the conflict appears to be legit.

The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale is a purported tell-all of the messy divorce between Shyamalan and Disney.

And one of the key episodes went down at Philadelphia’s own Lacroix restaurant. There, Disney execs told M flat out that they didn’t “get” the script for Lady. Needless to say, M was not pleased.
The book's most revealing scene is the tense dinner of Feb. 15, 2005, and its aftermath — referred to by Shyamalan's colleagues as "The Valentine's Day Massacre."

The setting was a fancy Philadelphia restaurant, Lacroix, not far from the farmhouse where Shyamalan, his wife and two daughters live. But from the start, the book says, the dinner seemed doomed. The tables were too close together, and "Night felt that other diners could hear their conversation."

Seated next to Shyamalan, Jacobson aired her problems with the script. Criticisms "came spewing out of her without a filter," Bamberger writes.

"You said it was funny; I didn't laugh," the book quotes her as saying. "You're going to let a critic get attacked? They'll kill you for that … Your part's too big; you'll get killed again … What's with the names? Scrunt? Narf? Tartutic? Not working … Don't get it … Not buying it. Not getting it. Not working."

Her words went over like spoiled fish. "She went on and on and on," the book says. "Night was waiting for her to say she didn't like the font" his assistant had printed the script in.
Evidently, M. Night is sensitive. After the meal ended, the director told Disney it was over. He then proceeded to break down and spent the next three days locked in his room, curled up in the fetal position, eating ice cream, listening to Tori Amos and having a good, long cry.

Philadelphia loyalties notwithstanding, we think the Disney exec might have had a point. Shyamalan goes as far as to put himself in the film's trailer. A cameo in your film is one thing. Putting yourself in your movie's trailer… that’s a tad much, eh? (We like the bit about the film critic getting mauled. That's real clever M.)

In the end, Warner Bros. financed the $70-million movie, which was shot outside Philadelphia last summer. The trailer is below.

(OK, we admit it. We’re still a little suspicious that this isn’t one of Shyamalan’s nutty jokes. He can't help himself — the man just loves him some twists.)

Related:
M. Night and Disney break up; new tell-all book gives the juicy details. That is, if any of the details of a director-movie studio relationship can be juicy. [LA Times]
M. Night Shyamalan presents the Valentine’s Day Massacre [Defamer]
Sci Fi Channel admits hoax and that, yes, they are all a bunch of uber dorks [CBS News]
Lady in the Water, we really hope you don’t suck [Official Site]

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