A Grammy, A Peabody, An Oscar (and a slap)

A Grammy, A Peabody, An Oscar (and a slap): 
Stories and Lessons from Legendary Producer David Dinerstein

Los Angeles, CA (February 14, 2024): Today’s episode of Hollywood at Home with The Creative Coalition has one the most prolific producers of studio and independent film in the hot seat — executive producer David Dinerstein takes the mic reveling listeners with the real rough and tumble from noted film festivals from around the world, and his role in Hollywood’s most iconic comebacks and groundbreaking films. Listeners are invited to dive in with David and then dine out on his stories highlighting hidden gems from cultural history, spotlighting little known, behind-the-scenes antidotes from Summer of Soul. Host and CEO of The Creative Coalition Robin Bronk teases out the tidbits and trade-secrets when Dinerstein became a catalyst for Questlove’s directorial career, and the man who balanced Quentin Tarantino’s audacious style with a box office success. Dinerstein’s work on Pulp Fiction reignited John Travolta’s career, and he brought to life Spike Jonze’s brilliance and the early talents of Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Coppola. This is the episode where we unravel the threads of cinematic history, from shocking moments to triumphant victories. Tune in and experience the magic of Hollywood with one of the town’s crown jewels. 

Hollywood at Home is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and more.

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Highlights from Hollywood at Home featuring David Dinerstein: 

From a little known 196 Harlem Cultural Festival to the Blockbuster Summer of Soul: “When you talk about the artists who performed there…Nina Simone, Sly Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Hugh Masekela…These are artists who were at the top of their game in 1969. But…no one knew about this Festival. Even when we approached Questlove with an offer to collaborate with us – and ultimately direct the film – he thought we were joking. Over 300,000 people attended, and no one really knows about it. [Questlove] literally called some friends, and he said, ‘Have you ever heard of this thing?’ And Questlove knows everything about music.” He was a walking encyclopedia in respect to music, and we sort of pitched him on a rough idea, and he honed in on that and made it his own. And we promised him, literally, that if done right, we think that we have the goods here that can go all of the way.”

On Quentin Tarantino: “Quentin was a unique voice. He had a style that was unlike anything else we were watching. It was very fresh at the time, and it attracted a wide array of audiences because of that. He leaned heavily into spaghetti westerns; he embraced these comic book, violent type of scenes; his characters were incredibly well drawn; and he was a great writer – and he still is. A tremendous amount of people tried to copy that over a time, and I think what makes filmmakers great are unique voices, not trying to do a similar type of film as a filmmaker might have achieved before.”

On Pulp Fiction and John Travolta: “John’s career had previously peaked, so in essence, this was a comeback to some extent, and it was a great one. John is a great actor, and he was able to stretch out to some extent with this particular role because we hadn’t seen it before, and it was really wonderful. Pulp Fiction played at the New York Film Festival in 1994 in Avery Fisher Hall… which is sort of the church of culture…The patrons of the festival at that time were older, to say the least. And Pulp Fiction was a sort of in your face, very fresh film…One of the actors passes out in the middle of a film and Travolta takes this needle, and as that was about to happen, someone, I don’t know if it was a heart attack, but someone got incredibly sick at the festival itself and they stopped the projector….And it froze on Travolta with the needle. And then the lights go on, and there was a 20 minute-break while they were trying to seek some help…The guy was fine, but it was the most intense moment in the film when that happened and they started it again and they played back that scene and it’s still as intense as it always has been.”

On working with Samuel L. Jackson: “He’s an intense guy, but he really is a serious actor. The character was a bit over the top, but it was amazing. Not Sam, but the one that Quentin drew, so it was really great.”

Successfully distributing an indie film back in the day: “It was sort of like how one opened a nightclub. You’d start with, in essence, a velvet rope, and you’d get a line out of the door, and you’d let people in little by little until everyone wanted to be in that particular club, and you’d open it up. And that was what a wide release ultimately was, so it’s obviously morphed. I’m not going to say it’s easier, but you have more tools in the tool chest now than you previously had.”

On Spike Jonze: “Spike is a singular voice. I think all of his films are phenomenal, whether it’s Being John Malkovich, you know, anything. He’s just such an original voice.”

On finding 16-year-old Scarlett Johansson for An American Rhapsody: “It’s like when you know, you know. It’s hard to describe why, per se, but I also know often when it’s not right. So I’m not going to say I’m always right, but it’s your instincts that are sharpened through experience to some extent.”

On working with Sofia Coppola for her first feature film: “Sofia, needless to say, is incredibly talented, I was running a studio where we acquired…a movie called The Virgin Suicides. Sofia has such a beautiful aesthetic sort of voice.”

When Hustle & Flow won more Oscars than Martin Scorsese had in his career: “Jon Stewart was the host of the Oscars that year, and all of a sudden, when best song came up, there was a song called “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” that ended up winning the Oscar that year. And Jon, who I’d never met beforehand, had the best comment…where he went back to the microphone…and said, ‘Three Six Mafia, one, Martin Scorsese, zero.’ Marty, who had made some quintessential films, had yet to receive an Oscar, and we won one for Hustle & Flow.”

More about Hollywood at Home:
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.

Previous guests include Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Grace Caroline Currey (Shazam!), and Alfre Woodard (Clemency, “Luke Cage”), among others.

More about The Creative Coalition:
Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization of the arts and entertainment community. The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns, including #RightToBearArts, to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.

Media Contact:
Lauren Peteroy
Scenario Communications
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