Guests: Jerry Bruckheimer, Linda Bruckheimer
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: Hollywood‘s top gun. You may not recognize the face, but you‘re sure to know his work. He is the brains behind a multi-million-dollar bevy of big-budget blockbusters.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never would have thought of that.
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NORVILLE: ... and the driving force behind the some of the biggest careers in the biz.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your name was at the top of the list.
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NORVILLE: He satisfied Tom Cruise‘s need for speed, made Richard Gere a sex symbol, inspired Jennifer Beals to flash dance, gave Will Smith a bad reputation...
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You the man!
NORVILLE: ... and turned Johnny Depp into a swashbuckling Oscar nominee.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew you‘d warm up to me.
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NORVILLE: On the ground or in the air, mega-mogul Jerry Bruckheimer knows what summer movie fans like. And he‘s running one of the hottest franchises on television, too.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re aware of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything else?
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NORVILLE: Yes, as a matter of fact. Jerry also happens to be married to Linda Bruckheimer, a best-selling novelist with her own knack for wowing the masses with nostalgic tales about her native South. Tonight, in their first television interview together, Hollywood power couple Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer.
ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening, everybody. When it comes to a golden touch, Jerry Bruckheimer‘s just about as close as you can get to that in Hollywood. Whether it‘s television or movies, he has a knock for success. His latest film, “King Arthur,” opens next week, and as usual, Bruckheimer has put his own unique spin on the legendary tale of the knights of the roundtable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “KING ARTHUR”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every knight here has laid his life on the line for you. For you. And instead of freedom, you want more blood? Our blood? You think more of Roman blood than you do of ours!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are our orders. We leave at first light. And when we return, your freedom will be waiting for you, a freedom that we can embrace with honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a free man! I will choose my own fate!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: And it‘s a pleasure to welcome Jerry Bruckheimer to the program. Later on, we‘ll be joined by his wife, Linda, herself a best-selling author. It‘s great to see you.
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER, PRODUCER, “KING ARTHUR”: Great to be here. Thank you for having me.
NORVILLE: This does not look like the “King Arthur” that I remember reading, or the cartoon that I saw when I was a little kid. It‘s pretty different.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, he‘s reinvented every 100 years. Every generation has their King Arthur, and this is the 21st century King Arthur. This is the historic King Arthur. This is where all the tales came from. This—he lived in the 5th century. You know, most people have him a medieval knight.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: He‘s a Dark Ages man. And this was all uncovered by a monk in the 7th century who came to this monastery, found a room that had been walled up, and he found all these scrolls. And this was—he created a book called “The History of Britain.” And this is where we got our story from.
NORVILLE: And you literally had to go back to those early writings, when the scriptwriters were putting this all together. You knew you didn‘t want to do the medieval version, but the real version. That must have been a very time-consuming process.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Oh, our screenwriter is fantastic. The way he pitched the story to us, he said, This is the last days of Saigon, because during this period, which is the 5th century, Rome had conquered the world. They‘d been in Britain for about 300 years. They were about to leave. So they‘re starting to pull out. And Arthur was, like, the special forces. He was sent by Rome with his knights, who were Sarmacians (ph), or Russians...
J. BRUCKHEIMER: ... to this wall, Hadrian‘s wall, which was built in the, I guess, the 1st century. And it‘s 73 miles long. It‘s still standing.
NORVILLE: It‘s still there, yes.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s still there. And it took them 10 years to build it. And he was stationed at this wall to protect the south from the north. And in the north were the Picts, who were this ferocious fighting force who kept raiding the south. And Arthur was there to protect the indigenous Brits from the Picts.
NORVILLE: How did you get interested in this story? I mean, every kid grows up hearing about King Arthur, but not every person gets to grow up and make movies about it. Why did you think this is something that‘s going to be a great Hollywood movie?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Because I love the Dark Ages. Not much written has been about it. I love the special forces. I love there‘s a parallel between today and what‘s going on in the world in Iraq and Afghanistan, what happened in the 5th century.
NORVILLE: And the challenge is to make it in such a way that—I mean, your specialty are these great action scenes, and this movie is loaded with them.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes. We have one battle which is on the ice, which I think is worth the price of admission right there. It‘s an amazing accomplishment. Antoine Fuqua, who directed “Training Day,” directed this also, and he‘s an amazing artist. And he created this thing. It took him almost eight months to create it.
NORVILLE: And one of the things about this film is When you watch it, you‘ll see a lot of great actors, but you won‘t necessarily see a lot of great actors that you know. And that‘s by design.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, I think I wanted to have this be realistic, and it‘s not realistic if you have a big movie star in there. But we‘ve been real fortunate because we had Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.” We had Eddie Murphy before he was Eddie Murphy...
J. BRUCKHEIMER: ... in “Beverly Hills Cop,” Ben Affleck in “Armageddon,” also Josh Hartnett in “Pearl Harbor.” So we start these careers, at least expose them to a vast audience. And Keira Knightley, who was in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” has become a big star.
NORVILLE: She has become a big star. And again, it‘s because she started out in a Bruckheimer film. She plays the role of Lady Guinevere, and a bit of a tough Guinevere, not necessarily the shrinking violet that we‘re familiar with. Take a look.
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KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: My father told me great tales of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? And what did you hear?
KNIGHTLEY: Fairy tales, the kind you hear about people so brave, so selfless that they can‘t be real. Arthur and his knights, a leader both Britain and Roman. And yet you chose your allegiance to Rome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Keira Knightley. She‘s so stunningly beautiful. That‘s kind of a low-key scene, but she is—she‘s quite a trooper . She did all of her own stunts in this movie?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, she‘s a real warrior in this. I mean, she‘s trained for about three months. She built up her body. She learned how to work a bow and arrow. She could fight hand-to-hand combat. She has enormous battle scenes in this movie.
NORVILLE: And there were times when she actually had bumps and bruises. I mean, here we see now the tough stuff. You were thinking, Maybe we ought to call the doctor? I mean, check her out?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No, she was as tough as the guys. I mean, she worked as hard, if not harder, than any of our knights.
NORVILLE: And what do you predict for her career-wise? Because as you said, you worked with Eddie Murphy before he was Eddie Murphy.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I think she has the ability—she‘s a phenomenal actress—to be anything she wants to be. It all comes down to choices. What films do you pick? Who do you want to be? What kind of career do you want to have? She certainly has the talent.
NORVILLE: And it‘s certainly true in your career, as well. I mean, as you say, it all comes down to choices. How do you pick which movies you want to do? What‘s kind of the bottom line umbrella that it‘s got fall under for it to be a film that Jerry Bruckheimer wants to make?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Do I want to see it? It‘s that simple. You have choices. Every time you go to the movies, you either go on line or you open up a newspaper and you make a choice. You have 15 choices, maybe.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Why do you pick the movie that you‘re going to go see? That‘s how I pick whatever screenplays we decide to make.
NORVILLE: And what jazzes you personally? What kinds of stories do you like?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I love romance. I love comedy. I love adventure. I love adventure films. I mean, my favorite filmmaker is David Lean who did “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” big, sweeping epics. This is a big, sweeping epic.
NORVILLE: And is that a trend in Hollywood? I mean, we saw “Troy” come out earlier this year. We‘ve seen a lot of sort of historically based movies. Hollywood sometimes, it seems, those of us who just go to the movies and don‘t make them, gets on a—gets on a roll with something. Is -- are we going to see a lot of history coming out of LA these days?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I hope so. I mean, you know, when we did “Pirates,” everybody said, You do a movie about a theme park ride or about pirates. Nobody wants to go see that. I‘m sure that...
NORVILLE: But wait a minute. That‘s what you said, too, wasn‘t it? I mean, from the very beginning, when they said, you know, Do Pirates of the Penzance (sic). No, I can‘t do the Disney ride.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No, I didn‘t want to do that, but we created these wonderful characters and that‘s what made the movie so successful. But you know, it‘s no different than, I guess, anything else that you get bored with. So we‘re bored with maybe contemporary movies. “Gladiator” came out, was a big success, you know, won Academy Awards, and now we realize an audience will accept, you know, swords and sandals.
NORVILLE: And when you do a movie that‘s swords and sandals, how important is it to you that you be historically correct? I mean, you could have done this movie without spending the gobs of money that I‘m sure it took to do the historical research and get the story right to the 5th century, as opposed to the 1400s, when we thought it all happened.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: You know, part of my success both in television and films is that we give you process. We give you the real world the way things really happened. “CSI,” we have CSI people on the set with us, the real people. We have their technology. We have everything.
Same thing with the 5th century. We went back. We had historians work with us. How authentic are we? The weapons are authentic. Everything we do is—we try to be authentic. There‘s about—according to historians, there‘s 90 percent authenticity and 10 percent Hollywood in “King Arthur.” This is not the movie that‘s “Camelot.” There is no lady in the lake. There‘s no looking for the Holly Grail. That all came later.
This monk was the first one to point out that there was a man named Autorius (ph) who was half Roman, half British. He lived in the 5th century, not in the 15th century. And every century had their own. In the 12th century, they wrote something about the kings of Britain that was done by Geoffrey (ph) of Mammoth (ph). He made Arthur Christian. Before, he wasn‘t Christian.
NORVILLE: Which wasn‘t true.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, we don‘t know if it was true or not. Chances -
· since he came from Rome, chances are he was at Christian because he was -
· he was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) raised partially in Britain and partially in Rome. So Rome at that—during that period was Christian.
NORVILLE: And in the movie, the Merlin character is a shaman, but he‘s really a guerrilla fighter. He‘s not a bippity-boppety-boo with the wand.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No. Again, that‘s all fantasy that came later. That came in the 12th Century. Sir Thomas—or 15th century, I guess, Sir Thomas Mallory wrote about Arthur.
NORVILLE: One of the things that I think sort of fits with all of the movies and the TV shows that you do—you talked about them being accurate. There‘s also something about them that you want to see. And I wonder how much of that comes from your early, early days as an advertising executive. You know, you got to sell the product. You got to sell the movie.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, I think it‘s hard to make a movie, or at least, it‘s hard for me to make a movie you can‘t sell. So I thought this would be an interesting tale to tell, the real King Arthur, not—not again the knights in shining armor. That‘s not this movie.
NORVILLE: Not this movie, but it‘s a fascinating movie. It opens on Wednesday around the country.
We‘re going to take a short break. When we come back, more with Jerry Bruckheimer, his incredible career, looking back at both the film and TV shows. He is dominating the airwaves, and you‘ll find out why right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “KING ARTHUR”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to see your face, so that I alone may find you on the battlefield, and it would be good for you to mark my face, Saxon. For the next time you see it, it will be the last thing you see on this earth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, a man worth killing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “TOP GUN”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, miss!
TOM CRUISE: Hey, hey, hey. Don‘t worry. I‘ll take care of this. (SINGING) You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips. There‘s no tenderness like before in your fingertips.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That‘s Tom Cruise crooning a little blue-eyed soul in 1986‘s “Top Gun,” one of the many blockbusters produced by my guest tonight, Jerry Bruckheimer.
Getting Tom Cruise into that movie, you actually had to chase him for a little bit.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: A lot.
NORVILLE: Tell me the story.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Tom at the time had just finished a movie called “Legend” with Ridley Scott, and he had this long pony tail, and he was kind of hippie, you know, drove a motorcycle and was this good-looking young actor in Hollywood, and everybody was chasing him. So we really chased him. In fact, I arranged with the government to put him up in an A-4 to try to convince him to do “Top Gun.” And we sent him out to El Centro (ph). The Blue Angels were there. Tom jumped in the jet, thought he was a big hotshot. And he took him and rolled him and dipped him, and he threw up. And he got on the ground, and he called me from a pay phone. We had no mobile phones in those days.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: And he said, I‘m doing the movie. He loved it. He loves speed. And so that—that got him to do the movie.
NORVILLE: So you went as far as arranging with the United States Navy to put him in a fighter jet...
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Right.
NORVILLE: ... to convince him that this is what he needed to do.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Absolutely. Do what you have to do.
NORVILLE: You will stop at nothing to make the movie the way you think it needs to be made. Where do your good instincts come from? How do you know you need these people, these directors, these writers? Where does that instinct come from?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It comes from hard work and loving what I do. I think, you know, it‘s like a writer who reads a lot of other writers knows good writing from bad writing. You know, we see good actors from bad actors, or actors that just don‘t work. That‘s because you see the wheels turning. We see so many actors in all these interviews, and you—when somebody special walks in, it‘s like magic, and you can tell.
NORVILLE: How can you tell?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s real. It‘s not phony. It‘s like when you see Jack Nicholson. He‘s a real person on screen, you know? He‘s not—he‘s not acting.
NORVILLE: He‘s not Jack Nicholson, he‘s the character.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: HE‘s being himself, and that‘s wonderful.
NORVILLE: Yes. Yes. The numbers of dollars that your movies have grossed, both in the box office and the video sales and all the ancillary stuff that goes along with it, is staggering -- $13.3 billion. You‘re not grinning when I say that! That‘s just amazing!
J. BRUCKHEIMER: You know, it‘s great, but it‘s always about the work. I mean, you know, fortunately, they‘ve done really well. But I love the work, and audiences love the work, and that‘s why I do it. It‘s not for the money I do it, I do it because I love it. You know, initially, you want to make a living, but it‘s gone behind that. I certainly have made a good living and don‘t have to work anymore. I do it because I love doing it. I love being here. I love promoting our movies. I love watching our with an audience. That‘s so much fun.
NORVILLE: Yes. And you go to more screenings, I am told, than just about anybody in Hollywood. And that‘s to gauge how the audience is responding to your work, to keep you in touch with what they‘re up to?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: With our films, yes.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: But for other films, no. I‘ll go to the multiplexes and watch it with everybody else. I never go to a Hollywood screening unless it‘s a friend of mine who‘s made the movie. Otherwise, you know, I like to sit there with my hand in my popcorn, enjoy it just like everybody else.
NORVILLE: They say that your career really took off when in 1983, you teamed up with Don Simpson and you guys made “Flashdance.” What was it about that story? Because you say it‘s all about the story that you want to see. What about that story resonated for you?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It was an everyday girl. The girl was a welder and, you know, construction worker, and had this dream and she wanted to be a dancer, and she, you know, worked hard on her dream. And it‘s kind of like me. You know, I worked hard on my dream, and here I am, talking to you.
NORVILLE: Yes. Let‘s run a little clip just from the—I think this is the dance scene from “Flashdance,” which is sort of the iconic moment of that film. Here‘s “Flashdance.”
(VIDEO CLIP FROM “FLASHDANCE‘)
NORVILLE: When you saw this film, this part of the movie play out, did you know then that this was it, this was the iconic moment of “Flashdance”?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Not really. You know, I just make ‘em and love ‘em and hope other people embrace them. You never know. You never know what an audience is going to embrace. You have no idea. I have no idea what “King Arthur” is going to do. If you‘d have told me “Pirates” was going to do the business it did, I would have never believed you. I was hoping the picture would get to $100 million, and it did $650 million worldwide. I mean, it‘s just amazing.
NORVILLE: And Johnny Depp was probably not the person that a lot of people in Hollywood would have said should play the role that he did. Why did you think he was so perfect? Because he ended up Oscar nominee, won the actor award for (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
J. BRUCKHEIMER: We had to send a message to the audience that this wasn‘t a movie about a theme park ride, that it was a real movie, and it was an edgy movie. It wasn‘t a kids‘ movie. And Johnny, with his wonderful body of work, tells the audience that this is special because he‘s a special actor. And he‘s never done anything like this. I think the fact that he has two children now kind of softened him up.
NORVILLE: And in the role, he really became that kind of wacky, offbeat pirate who was funny and terrifying all at the same time.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, Johnny has a way of creating characters, and he‘ll—he‘ll base it sometimes on true-life characters. This is based a little bit on Keith Richards, who, you know, is a friend of his, and he kind of mimicked him a little bit. And that‘s how he created Captain Jack.
NORVILLE: Tell us what a Hollywood producer does. We know what the director does. We know what the writer does. We know what the actors do. What‘s the producer do?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I‘m like a manager of a sports team. You know, I don‘t own the team, the studio owns the team, but I‘ll pick the coach, who could be the writer or the director, and I‘ll pick all the players, who are the actors, and in collaboration, of course, with the director and the studio. But you know, it‘s my decision to make sure that everything gets done, that we‘re on budget, that we—you know, we get the best cast, the best screenplay. It all falls on my shoulders.
NORVILLE: And I know you‘ve said that when you were a little kid, you thought that your best talent was being a good organizer.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, I started when I was, like, I guess, 10 years old, and I organized a baseball team. I wasn‘t a very good player, so I had to organize a team myself so I could play. You know, got sponsors and, you know, filled out all the paperwork at the stadium, or whatever it was we played at. And I did the same thing with a hockey team when I was 12. I organized one and got us into a league and went to the rink and made it all official and got everybody there and was able to play.
NORVILLE: So that was your way of getting into the game.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Exactly.
NORVILLE: Because maybe you weren‘t going to be the best player on the team, but if you formed the team, they had to let you get out on the ice.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I‘m still doing the same thing today. I have a game every Sunday night, and I organize that, so they let me play.
NORVILLE: And this is a fairly high-profile game. I know Cuba Gooding, Jr....
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Right.
NORVILLE: ... is one of the players that comes out there and hits the ice with you.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes. Kiefer Sutherland comes out, and we have a lot of pros who come out during the summer and play with us, which is a real thrill.
NORVILLE: One of the great things about your movies, which is why I think it appeals to so many different age groups, is you don‘t skimp when it comes to the special effects. And it means it‘s a high-budget film, but it also means it‘s—there‘s a high entertainment value. Why is it so important to you to get the effects bigger than life, so that they‘re literally just jumping off the screen?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s always the competition. You want to make good entertainment. And when you see movies like “Matrix” or “Lord of the Rings,” and they do it beautifully and they raise the bar so high, you‘ve got to keep up to that level because audiences expect it now. We want to give them the best entertainment possible, and that‘s why having (UNINTELLIGIBLE) special effects. In King Arthur, we do very little, except for the ice battle, where we have a lot of special effects. But the rest of it is all done real. Those battles are all real. We have thousands of extras fighting with swords, and we trained them for months in advance. We had special people come over to train. We did it in Ireland and trained the people, the extras, the Irish extras, to be in combat.
NORVILLE: And by the same token, when you shot “Black Hawk Down,” you literally had military people come in and teach the cast what they needed to know to be legitimate, believable soldiers going through the streets of Mogadishu.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: We put them through boot camp. We really did. We put them through Ranger camp, and in fact, we lost one of the actors. He pulled a groin muscle and couldn‘t compete in the movie, couldn‘t be in the movie. It was really grueling. And we had 90 Rangers in the movie who were actually jumping out of the helicopters, doing all the really tough stuff. And they were the background. They did everything for us. And also, we had Delta Force guys. Some of them were retired, some of them current, working with us, also.
NORVILLE: One of the great special effects scene, though, in one of your movies comes from “The Rock,” when Nick Cage is scrambling through the streets of San Francisco to save the day, as it were. Let‘s roll a little bit of this and hear some of the inside story of how this scene came to be.
(VIDEO CLIP FROM “THE ROCK”)
NORVILLE: Now, I understand the course of this, what, probably 15, 20 seconds of film, with trolley cars flying and going here, there and everywhere, cost $390,000?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s very possible. I mean, this is all really—believe it or not, it‘s done real. We actually blew that trolley car up, and we blew out half the windows on the block when we did it and had to repair all the windows on that street.
NORVILLE: And that used to be a Ferrari, I think?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It used to be.
NORVILLE: Yes. And that was a real Ferrari that you squashed?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, that was a shell.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: The real one is actually in the movie, but we crushed a shell.
NORVILLE: Yes. How much fun is that, planning all that stuff?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Oh, it‘s the best. I mean, Michael Bay directed that, who‘s a real genius and designs these things and comes up with these phenomenal visuals on every movie he does. And fortunately, we‘ve done a lot of movies with him.
NORVILLE: As we said, you‘ve—you‘ve sort of made a career of making careers. A lot of people have become big stars because they were in your movies. Eddie Murphy is one that comes to mind, in “Beverly Hills Cop.”
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Right.
NORVILLE: What was it about Eddie Murphy at that time that you knew he was the guy?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: He‘s funny. I‘m he‘s just funny. He‘s just a cool guy, and he‘s always been a cool guy. I interviewed people who went to high school with him, and Eddie was the coolest guy in his class. And he still is. You know, again, he‘s an actor who comes on screen, becomes himself, makes you comfortable to watch him, and is hilarious. And that‘s what you want. That‘s what you‘re looking for. You‘re looking for something unique. Eddie is unique.
NORVILLE: Take a look at a unique Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “BEVERLY HILLS COP”)
EDDIE MURPHY: Morning, officers. What‘re you all, the second team?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re the first team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We‘re not going to fall for a banana in the tailpipe.
MURPHY: You‘re not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe?
That should be more natural, brother. It should flow out, like this. Look, man, I ain‘t falling for no banana in my tailpipe! See? That‘s more natural for us. You been hanging out with this dude too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: How much of that is scripted? When you work with someone who is such a comedic genius as Eddie Murphy, do you give him parameters to go through?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, he‘s got to, you know, stay within the plot. But like, that scene you saw, the officers were scripted lines. Eddie‘s was not scripted. Eddie did it on his own. So Eddie ad libs. And you know, with Martin Brest, who was the director of that, loves to have the actors ad lib.
NORVILLE: And who is out there right now that you‘d like to work with that you haven‘t been able to snag yet?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: There‘s tons of them, you know, from Al Pacino to—
I mean, it just goes on and on—Jack Nicholson. There are so many big stars that, hopefully, some day I‘ll get an opportunity to work with.
NORVILLE: You have done so much in movies. Most people—as you say, you could have retired a long time ago. But a few years ago, you took on the world of television.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Right.
NORVILLE: Why? Why‘d you feel like TV was somewhere you needed to make your mark?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Because the work is so good. I mean, you watch the stuff that Dick Wolf does and Wells (ph) and there‘s a whole group of wonderful TV producers—David Kelley, another one. And I said, We should try our hand at it. We do things a little bit differently. At least, our features are different, and we want to bring the same kind of creative energy that we‘ve put in our features into television. And that‘s what made “CSI,” I think, the big success, because it‘s process. It‘s what I love.
NORVILLE: “CSI,” crime scene investigation, has been the top-rated show on the CBS network. A lot of people say you saved CBS.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I don‘t think so. I think Les Moonves did.
NORVILLE: Les Moonves says that, and he ought to know.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No, but he‘s the one who, you know, made it all happen. You know, we just gave him a show, and he was intimately involved in every aspect of the making of the pilot and throughout the series.
NORVILLE: This is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but there‘s no way that Jerry Bruckheimer personally could be involved intimately in, what is it, five television shows, six television shows...
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Six, yes.
NORVILLE: ... that you‘ve got on network TV, and at any given time, the number of movies that you have in various stages of development. How do you keep track of all of this?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s easy when you have talented people working with you. I have great people in my office who work with us. Our TV shows are run by brilliant show runners (ph), writers. Anthony Zuiker, who created the “CSI” series, Carol Mendelsohn (ph), Ann Donahue (ph) do all three shows. They‘ve been with us since the beginning, and they continue to pop out new shows. And “CSI: New York” comes on this fall. Zuiker‘s going to run that show. Carol runs “CSI,” and Ann runs “CSI: Miami.” So those three people really make my life real easy.
NORVILLE: Well, they make your life easy, and they make it successful because we checked. In the ratings race last week, your television shows came in at No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 9 and No. 10. Not too shabby!
J. BRUCKHEIMER: That‘s pretty good.
NORVILLE: That‘s pretty good. It‘s not bad to be Jerry Bruckheimer.
When we come back, more with him. And we‘ll be joined by his wife, novelist Linda Bruckheimer, after this.
NORVILLE: Back with legendary movie and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer, whose new blockbuster “King Arthur” opens next Wednesday.
And joining us now is Jerry‘s wife, best-selling author Linda Bruckheimer. Her new novel, “The Southern Belles of Honeysuckle Way,” is a follow up to her first book which was the semi-autobiographical “Dreaming Southern,” which spent 12 weeks on the “L.A. Times‘” best-seller list.
This is their first-ever television interview together, and we pray it won‘t be the last.
Nice to see you—Linda.
LINDA BRUCKHEIMER, AUTHOR: Great to see you as well, Debbie.
NORVILLE: Congratulations on the new book.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Thank you.
NORVILLE: This is the story of some Kentucky women who leave home and come back and it really is, I guess, proof that you should write what you know.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Absolutely. I mean, this is a book about my family and the south, two things that are very dear to me.
I guess the overall theme is that it‘s never too late to chase your dreams. So these girls, who have gone off to California, which is the first book, “Dreaming Southern,” have ended up back in Kentucky following dreams which were there in their backyard all along. And they end up fighting a developer to save this small town in Kentucky.
NORVILLE: And this sounds so much like pages out of your own life story, because you have gone back home to Kentucky. You and Jerry have this amazing house not very far from where you grew up.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: That‘s right. It‘s a case of art imitating life.
NORVILLE: And storyline in the book, which is fighting the developer, is also a storyline from your own life. Tell me about that.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: That‘s correct. I didn‘t come into town with a fairy godmother wand, but we bought this house, we fixed that up, and I started noticing some of the buildings in town that were in severe disrepair. A couple of them were on the verge of total collapse.
And I very innocently bought one building. Started the restoration project. And it was a little bit behind Jerry‘s back. I got started before he could say no.
NORVILLE: Wait a minute. He didn‘t know that you had bought a building—Jerry.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No. No idea. You know, I find out afterwards.
That‘s how it works. When the bills come in, I find out what‘s going on.
NORVILLE: So she does the purchase—
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Exactly.
NORVILLE: -- and you get the fix-up part of it.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Oh, I get to sign the bad news.
NORVILLE: And what kind of building was it—Linda.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: It was a building that was built in 1890, a brick building, and it‘s fantastic. It‘s the best thing ever watching these old buildings come back to life. It‘s watching a ghost spring back into the picture.
NORVILLE: And what does it do for the town? Because that was the first of what has now been a number of buildings in town that you‘ve bought. What does it do for the community to come in and revitalize all this stuff?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, it gives them a new sense of pride. I have people stopping me on the street and telling me, “Thank you, you‘re doing what I would have loved to have done if I had had the financial resources to do it.”
And my husband, who does high-budget movies, ends up with a high-budget wife.
NORVILLE: But it‘s not as high-budget as it could have been. I mean, come on, Jerry, she could have been looking at ramshackled buildings in Los Angeles. At least in Kentucky it‘s a little more affordable.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: No it‘s certainly not New York prices or Los Angeles prices, so it‘s certainly not awful, but it‘s expensive. But, listen, it does so much for the state of Kentucky, that community, the county.
It‘s now—this town was founded in 1790, so it is restoring some of our history which we don‘t want to have disappear. You don‘t want to see a shopping center go in there and take away what is beautiful about our country.
You go to Europe and you see how they preserve everything, how there are land trusts, you can‘t tear things down. You go to Italy and you see these towns that are original from the 1500‘s. You can‘t change the color, you can‘t put antennas. That‘s why we go there. We want to go back into the past.
And Linda is on the National Board of Trust for Preservation. She‘s on the board of directors there. And thanks to her, they‘re restoring a lot of our national treasures.
NORVILLE: How important, Linda, it is to you—and I sort of get the sense in your book that this is a real motivator for you—that people embrace their history.
You left Kentucky when you were, what, 15?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes.
NORVILLE: When did you realize that Kentucky was more important to you than growing up the rest of your childhood in California, maybe you had recognized?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: This is rather newfound. When I moved from California to Kentucky, the last thing in the world I wanted to be was a Kentuckian, because, you know, it‘s very difficult as a teenager to have that southern accent and I tried to get rid of that and all things Kentucky.
And then through the years I found myself creeping back to visit my grandmother who just died a couple of years ago—
NORVILLE: To whom you dedicate the book, too.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes. She was 103-1/2 when she died 2 years ago. An amazing Southern belle. So she lured me back, my visits to her. And then I‘d start roaming around. I discovered a Kentucky that I didn‘t know when I was a girl.
NORVILLE: Do you think many of us do that at a certain point when we get older, we realize that maybe all that stuff that we rejected as kids was kind of important after all?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes. I think people are fortunate if they are able to do that. I‘m very lucky that I have both lifestyles. I have the glitz and glamour of L.A., and I love that, and then I have the comforting arms of home, and I love the South.
NORVILLE: Jerry, you don‘t come from the South. You grew up in Michigan, and both of you all have made amazing lives for yourselves in Los Angeles. What does spending the time that you get to in Kentucky, in the South, do for you?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: You know what, the stress just comes right out of you. When I go up that long drive to this home that was built by Daniel Boone in 1820, you know, I go back in history, and it just takes away all the bad stuff that happened that week or that day, and you just lose it.
NORVILLE: The story of “The Southern Belles of Honeysuckle Way,” the continuation of “Dreaming Southern,” is a girls story. I mean, there is sort of a sense of “Steel Magnolias” in it to me. There‘s these strong women who are incredibly focused and dedicated and connected to one another. That‘s so unlike the kinds of movies that Jerry makes for the most part. Would you ever see this—
L. BRUCKHEIMER: You noticed.
NORVILLE: Duh. Would you ever see this becoming a movie, this kind of dear story?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: I do. I haven‘t given it a lot of thought, but I give it thought when somebody like you asks me about it, but I don‘t go around thinking about that, but I do think it‘s a wonderful story and a good part for a great actress, or many actresses.
NORVILLE: Or many actresses, yes, because it‘s really a chick flick.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, yes.
NORVILLE: That‘s not the kind of movie you would ever make, I‘m guessing. I mean, I don‘t want to make any marital issues.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Why would you want to do that? Because, I would—you know, it would be 24/7. Why did you cast so and so. Why did I delete this character from the screenplay. I‘d get all of that. So I think, let somebody else do it who is also much better at this type of movie than I would be.
NORVILLE: Yes. When we come back, we‘re going to talk more with the ultimate Hollywood power couple, Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer. More with them when we continue.
NORVILLE: Back with legendary movie and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his wife, best-selling author Linda Bruckheimer.
This is their first-ever television interview together.
You guys are in the magazines as being called Hollywood‘s ultimate power couple. You‘ve got your whole movie and TV thing. Linda, you‘ve got your books that are successful every time they come out. How do you meld the two careers together and give each other the space but still keep connected—Linda.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, I think it‘s important not to smother one another‘s creativity. You can only do that for so long. And we both have creative projects. And by now—I don‘t have a blueprint. I wish I did. I‘d be writing a best-selling book and it would be on the cover of “Time” magazine.
But right now we have it down to a fine science. We have just basically a great staff that helps us coordinate things like this show. It is great we‘re on this show, we get to see one another. And they make sure that I don‘t launch my book on the same night that “King Arthur” has the premier.
But in the end, it‘s all about our love for one another and our friendship and mutual respect.
NORVILLE: How did you all meet—Jerry.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: We met at a party in California and just, you know, started dating, and from there it just led to 27 years and almost 12 years of marriage.
NORVILLE: So you guys were together for a very long time before you decided to say the I do‘s.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, well, she finally got fed up with me and said you‘d better do this, you know.
NORVILLE: Did she give you an ultimatum, fish or cut bait?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: No, she never did that, but friends of ours said why don‘t you—we‘re going to renew our vows and why don‘t you join us in Las Vegas. Our daughter was in college at the time and couldn‘t make it to Las Vegas because she was back East, so our friends said why don‘t you come to our place in New York state and do it there, and I said sure, why not.
NORVILLE: That‘s great. That‘s great.
I know how projective, Linda, you are of Jerry‘s career. There are some legendary stories of you not liking some of the things reports have said and you actually call them on it.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: I do. I do.
I think it‘s fine to criticize the work, but when they go after him, that‘s when my claws come out and the letters get written and the phone calls get made.
NORVILLE: And do they back off? Do they realize, wait a second, I went too far, I took it personal and it should have been professional?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: I haven‘t seen any evidence of that lately, but I had to get it out of my system so I—I haven‘t written any lately, so maybe you‘re onto something there.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: I don‘t know. I don‘t think they want to get her letters.
NORVILLE: How did it make you feel, though? I mean, I know one time my husband tried to actually call up somebody that said something ugly about me, and the guy mercifully was unlisted. But it made me feel like, yes. How did it make you feel when she did that?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s a good feeling. I mean, it really is. It‘s kind of, you‘re ambivalent in a way. You like her to do it but it could create more problems, you know, by doing it. Because some journalists never give up. You know, they‘re going to just take you on no matter what‘s written to them, and that kind of eggs them on sometimes, when somebody writes a nasty letter.
NORVILLE: When you live your lives in the spotlight, as you all do because of your careers, does it ever put pressure on the relationship between the two of you?
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Not really. I don‘t think. I mean, not for me, because, I mean, we‘re so focused on what we do and Linda is so driven for her writing. I mean, I‘ll come home at 11:00 at night and she‘ll say, well, what are you doing home so early, because she‘s working on her book. And the easiest time for her to work is at night when all the stuff for her business—she runs a very successful antique business in Kentucky—and she has all these buildings she‘s restored plus taking care of the home, both in Kentucky and California. It‘s a big undertaking. And so she only can work at night.
So, with she is in Kentucky and I‘m in California, I‘ll call her at 1:00 in the morning when I‘m going to bed and she‘s still up. It‘s 4:00 in the morning for her, and she‘s still writing.
So, you know, that‘s what makes it great, the fact that we‘re so driven at what we do and we have mutual respect for the creative process. And her creative process is staying up all night. That‘s what she does. And fortunately she‘s in Kentucky when she stays up all night, so I can get a good night‘s sleep.
NORVILLE: Linda, there are a lot of two career couples out there.
What advice do you give them to keep it working?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: I think they just have—I think you have to be fortunate in the beginning. You have to really have a good friendship and a good relationship, for starters. And then after that you just have to accommodate one another‘s needs. And it can be a practical need, like scheduling, or just a mood.
I think, you know, we both have our mood shifts, and when you see one brewing, the other one should back off.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: And you find things, you see. I‘ve found hockey is something that I can do a couple of times a week so she can do her work and I can be occupied at night, and I love it, and she gets a chance to keep working on her book.
NORVILLE: And nobody feels guilty about it, because, you know, each one is doing something that they love.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Right.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Once the book is over, then she gets upset with me. Why are you playing hockey, you know, going to a game, going to watch it and then you‘re playing it two nights a week and what‘s going on, I never get to see you.
I said, before you didn‘t want to see me because you were working.
Now it‘s changed.
NORVILLE: The battling Bruckheimers finally emerge.
We‘ll take a short break. More with Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer right after this.
NORVILLE: More now with Jerry Bruckheimer, TV producer, and his wife, best-selling author Linda.
Linda, you were saying when we went into the break that if you have to work at a relationship, maybe there‘s something not quite right.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes, I hear a lot of people talk about how hard it is, what hard work it is to be married, and it‘s not like digging ditches. If it feels like that, you‘re with the wrong person.
NORVILLE: How luck do both of you feel? I mean, you all left Kentucky when things were not going so well for your family.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Yes.
NORVILLE: Your father worked so hard and you just hit it amazingly big in television advertising.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: It‘s a great feeling to love something and to be able to do it.
My dad said to me, don‘t take on a profession where you have to look forward to a vacation. And I don‘t have any vacations, so I can‘t look forward to them, because I love what I do. It‘s a vacation. Not that you don‘t have terrible days, because you do. You know, you lose an actor, you lose a movie, something happens, you know, on the set that you don‘t like. That‘s just part of life. But in the end, you have something that you‘re really proud of.
I‘m really proud of “King Arthur.” I‘m really proud of our television and all the movies we‘ve made, whether they‘re successful or not. You know, it‘s something that‘s part of you, that I love doing, and it entertains audiences. When you have reached the amount of box office we‘ve reached, it‘s because people are being entertained, and that‘s why I got into this business, so you could sit back in your theater, wherever that is in America or around the world, eat your popcorn and forget about everything for two hours.
That‘s what I try to do, and hopefully you walk out of there and feel a little better.
NORVILLE: You know, Thoreau said to affect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts. It must be wonderful, through your books and your movies, to know that you can brighten somebody‘s day or just give them a moment of escape.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: It is. I hit the jackpot. When we left Kentucky, we were dodging bill collectors, and now to meet Jerry and have a great relationship and a great life and a career that I love, it just couldn‘t be better.
NORVILLE: Well, good luck to both of you.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Linda, what‘s after the book? What‘s next for you?
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Well, I‘m going to collect my thoughts and start on a third book.
NORVILLE: All right. And Jerry, you‘ve got “King Arthur” opening on Wednesday of this next week—
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Right. And then we have “National Treasure” with Nicholas Cage and Diane Krueger, who is that beautiful girl in “Troy,” and Christopher Plummer and John Voight and Harvey Keitel and Sean Bean. It‘s a great cast. It‘s a wonderful adventure. It‘s a treasure hunt movie, so it‘s fabulous.
NORVILLE: Treasure hunt movie, and then we can go back into “The Legends of King Arthur” and hear the real story, the way it really played out with “King Arthur” when it opens next week.
Jerry Bruckheimer, congratulations, good luck to you with the new movie. Linda, wonderful book. “Southern Belles of the Honeysuckle Way.” Thanks so much, both of you, for doing your first TV interview here.
L. BRUCKHEIMER: Thank you.
J. BRUCKHEIMER: Thanks for having us.
NORVILLE: Glad to see you.
When we come back, the big catch that almost got away. That‘s this week‘s AMERICAN MOMENT.
NORVILLE: This week‘s AMERICAN MOMENT is a real fish tale. 14-year-old Bobby Capri, Jr. of Manahawkin, New Jersey captured a 53-pound striped bass. Now keep in mind that fish is almost as big as Bobby and it put up a huge struggle. Bobby was fishing out in the Atlantic Ocean in his 10-foot kayak when he felt a big tug on his line. Next thing he knew, he was being taken for a wild ride by the big fish as it dragged his boat around and around in circles.
Well, after about 20 minutes Bobby had had enough of that so he reached down and grabbed the fish by its gills, pulling it into the kayak. But that wasn‘t the end of the struggle. The fish was so big, it kept capsizing the small boat, so finally Bobby abandoned ship with the bass and hauled it back to shore.
The 14-year-old fisherman almost set a record with his catch. It was just five pounds short of the record for his age group.
Nice work, Bobby.
But dad said he‘s not surprised. Bobby has been fishing for striped bass ever since he was 2.
And that is this week‘s AMERICAN MOMENT.
You can send us your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.COM.
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That‘s our program for tonight. Thanks for watching. I‘m Deborah Norville.
Coming up on Monday, the man who Princess Diana chose to write her biography, Andrew Morton. He‘s got a new book out about the late princess called “Diana In Pursuit of Love.” Andrew Morton on Diana‘s final years and some of her still untold secrets.
Coming up next, Joe Scarborough and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘ll see you Monday.
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