My Life with Cleopatra

Free My Life with Cleopatra by Walter Wanger

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Authors: Walter Wanger
or three other night clubs where we were joined by Sidney Guilaroff and others.
    The Guilaroff situation at the studio is still the same. The hairdressers say they will walk out if he comes on the set, so he visits Liz at her hotel and fixes her hair for tests in her dressing room.
    J ANUARY 3, 1961
    Mamoulian does not seem interested in conferring with Johnson over the script because he still didn’t think he is the right choice.
    The interplay of personalities, while no more complex than it usually is in the business, is holding up our chances of getting the picture before the cameras. Mamoulian is unhappy with Nunnally Johnson’s approach to the script and Nunnally, who is aware of Rouben’s feelings, is unhappy over that. As usual, I am in the middle as arbiter. Liz doesn’t like the Johnson material or the old script. She and Eddie suggested Paddy Chayefsky to do a rewrite, and Eddie is talking about making the film in Hollywood, as he too is fearful of the climate here and Elizabeth’s health.
    J ANUARY 4, 1961
    Paddy Chayefsky sent a very interesting letter about his views on the script, but they would require six months for the rewrite. We don’t have the time.
    Almost had the Guilaroff situation settled.
    I made another side deal with the lady hairdressers—a promise of a bonus—after convincing them that Guilaroff was not as arrogant as they believed him to be. Then, as luck would have it, Guilaroff went to see Liz in her dressing room followed by one of the lady hairdressers. Either the wind or Guilaroff slammed the door in her face. The hairdresser said it was Guilaroff. So the hassle is back on full blast.
    We are not starting Monday, as we should, because the script is not satisfactory. Liz has just advised me she has chills and can’t shoot tests tomorrow.
    J ANUARY 5, 1961
    Skouras offers the insurance company a deal. He suggests that they pay $3,750,000 in settlement of the present loss, with Fox to pay the underwriters 20 per cent of the profits on
Cleopatra
up to $2,000,000. Alternately, the company can pay $2,250,000 in settlement of the present loss with no share of the profits. In addition, the company has to agree to renew cast insurance to Elizabeth and the other principals.
    To sweeten the pot he pointed out that if the insurance company accepts either of his offers they will avoid lots of bad publicity and the cost of legal action. If they accept his first offer and
Cleopatra
is a big box-office success, they will suffer only a relatively small loss.
    J ANUARY 6, 1961
    Went to see Liz and Eddie at the Dorchester for a conference.
    They live like royalty with children, dogs, cats, retainers, and supplicants for favor all over the place. Writers and famous people are always dropping in.
    Liz and Eddie are constantly taking on projects, and the phone rings continually, with friends or agents calling in from Hollywood or Switzerland or Rome. The order of the day is—deals. Liz is enthusiastically interested in everything and anything, especially films and the theater. She has enough knowledge about show business to edit
Variety
with her left hand.
    J ANUARY 10, 1961
    Script problems.
    Liz and Peter Finch said the scene they were rehearsing was unplayable. Mamoulian, however, had approved it, even though I am sure he didn’t consider it perfect. But he did want to get onwith the picture and thought he would get something out of the scene on the set.
    Liz said she wanted to see me later at the Dorchester for a script conference. She was in bed, not feeling well, when I arrived with Rogell. Liz said she was not happy with the script and insisted we call Skouras from her room. She managed to upset Skouras too.
    Rogell suggested to me later that we move back to Hollywood as we are making no progress here. I wonder now whether the picture will ever be started, let alone finished.
    J ANUARY 14, 1961
    A new bombshell—Skouras is considering another producer and director!
    Charles Feldman, my agent,

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