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Peter Guber Shoots It Out With Stars

19 Dec, 2005 By: Brendan Howard

Peter Guber has been in the movie industry for more than 35 years. He's logged time as a producer of such films as Rain Man, Batman and Gorillas in the Mist. He formed Polygram Pictures, has been co-chairman and chairman of Sony Pictures, and is now head of his own production company, Mandalay Entertainment. He taught at the UCLA film department that he co-founded and worked as a paid speaker all over the world. He co-wrote a book and had a book written about him.

But nothing fully prepared Guber for being on screen in his Hollywood-business talk show, “Sunday Morning Shootout,” whose third season airs Sundays on cable's AMC.

Sunday Morning Shootout: The Best of Season 1 streets Dec. 27 from Delta Entertainment. It's available as a six-pack ($29.99) or three two-packs ($12.99 each).

“I have a much greater respect for actors,” Guber said. “I understand their impatience, their fluttering about. Everybody's leering down at you. If you pick your nose, they see it on the monitor somewhere. You're in the white light.”

It's strange, then, that part of the show's appeal for the guests — actors, actresses, directors, writers, etc. — is that they can let their hair down a bit and really talk to Guber and co-host and Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart. They go beyond the standard funny anecdotes and publicity-junket answers.

“A lot of the talent look at us as equals,” he said. “They think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can't just take my normal synopsis out there.' They have enough time to evolve points of view, to talk about things that are interesting.”

The relaxed environment of the coffee-shop set is so convincing that some guests are surprised to find it's not real, according to Guber.

The guest list for the first-season best-of set from Delta is exhaustive: Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Kevin Smith, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron and Laura Linney are just a few of the 52 Hollywood bigwigs and stars featured in the collection.

The questions tackled by Guber and Bart in the first half of each show — or tackled with guests in the last half — run the gamut: business (“Is any director worth $2 million?”), media (“Do film critics really matter?”) and life (“Has Hollywood overdosed on violence?”).

“Usually on talk shows, the host is interested but not interesting,” he said. “Leno and Letterman, they're brilliant. I wish I had one-tenth of their talent. But if they have George Clooney on, they have fun with him, but talking about films, the process, the fear, the anxiety, they only ask the first questions. They didn't make films with Clooney. They didn't work with him. I did.”

To prove the point, the new set's DVD featurettes go behind the scenes of the show and peek at the workdays of Bart and Guber, “giving the show context,” Guber said.

“We don't just do this as the show and have no life,” he said. “I'm making movies, I speak all over the world, I teach, I write. We're active participants in the industry.”

Similar to the recent “This Is Your Life!” DVD release, the three two-packs are organized with two subjects or types of guest per set: The Triple Threat/The Directors, The New Breed of Leading Men/Women in Film and The Executive Shuffle/And the Oscar Goes To.

One of the best things about the show for Guber is the research it forces him to do.

“Seeing all the films, reading all the research, thinking through the issues every week in order to be informative in an entertaining way, but not combative,” he said. “You've got to keep learning. It allows me to keep learning.”

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