Hollywood Flashback: Dustin Hoffman Remembers When Michael Ovitz Saved 'Tootsie'
Helmer Sydney Pollack "was ambivalent right from the get-go, and he was not a particularly collaborative director," the actor recalls of his passion project in an exclusive excerpt from James Andrew Miller's new book 'Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists.'
Michael [Ovitz] was certainly instrumental in keeping Sydney [Pollack] interested. Sydney was ambivalent right from the get-go, and he was not a particularly collaborative director. I think Larry Gelbart had a phrase for him: "He's the arsonist and the fire chief." And I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "He always yells, 'Fire! We have to put it out!' Then adds, 'Thankfully, I'm also the fire chief.'"
He loved to solve problems. Sydney and I were ambivalent right from the beginning. This had been my project; I'd thought of it, with Murray [Schisgal], I gave it the title, and I had also worked with Elaine [May]. When Sydney came on board, he just wanted me to be the actor. I said, "That's not where we are on this. You're coming in as an eleventh-hour director." So Michael had to keep the peace as best he could between Sydney and me.
From Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller. Copyright © 2016 by Jimmy the Writer, Inc. To be published on Aug. 9, 2016, by Custom House, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Excerpted by permission.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.