Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz

Carol Baum (Veteran Studio Executive and Producer) on the Art of Creative Producing

April 17, 2024 Kevin Goetz / Carol Baum Season 2024 Episode 41
Carol Baum (Veteran Studio Executive and Producer) on the Art of Creative Producing
Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
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Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
Carol Baum (Veteran Studio Executive and Producer) on the Art of Creative Producing
Apr 17, 2024 Season 2024 Episode 41
Kevin Goetz / Carol Baum

Send Kevin a Text Message

(Recorded December 2023)
In this episode of "Don't Kill the Messenger," host Kevin Goetz sits down with veteran producer Carol Baum, whose impressive career includes working with Hollywood icons such as Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, Robert De Niro, Zendaya, and Steve Martin. Carol shares stories and insights from her decades in the film industry, discussing her work on memorable films like "Father of the Bride," "The Good Girl," "Dead Ringers," and "Flyaway Home." She also shares candid experiences as a studio executive at Fox and Lorimar, where she developed classic films like "Officer and a Gentleman" and "The Dead Zone." With the recent release of her book, "Creative Producing," Carol provides a wealth of knowledge for aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals.

Carol’s Early Career and Education (07:42)
Carol discusses her early career, how a girl from South Orange, New Jersey with no Hollywood connections landed a job in publishing at Bantam Books, where she discovered "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and how she went on to produce classic movies.

Studio Executive Roles (24:28)
As a studio executive, Carol worked with Jon Peters' company, where she learned the importance of a positive work environment. She then moved on to Fox, working under Joe Wizan, and experienced a culture shift when Larry Gordon and Scott Rudin joined the studio. At Lorimar, Carol developed classic films such as "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "The Dead Zone."

Father of the Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sandollar Productions (30:17)
Carol shares stories of working with Sandy Gallin and Dolly Parton at Sandollar Productions where she produced successful films like "Father of the Bride" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" while collaborating with Howard Rosenman.

Creative Producing (38:10)
Carol discusses her book, Creative Producing, where she emphasizes the importance of the development process and working closely with writers to refine scripts and make them better.

Working with Stars Like Barbara Streisand, Steve Martin, and a Young Zendaya (42:53)
Carol shares her love for actors and their role in getting projects made. She considers Anthony Hopkins one of the greatest living actors and recounts her experiences working with Barbara Streisand, Steve Martin, and a young Zendaya.

Carol Baum's love for movies shines through and shows why she is so valuable to the film industry. Her willingness to share her experiences and lessons in this episode as well as in her book, Creative Producing, are sure to inspire and guide countless filmmakers If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review or connect on social media. We look forward to bringing you more revelations from behind the scenes next time on Don't Kill the Messenger!

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Carol Baum
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano

For more information about Carol Baum:
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062071/
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Baum
Website: https://www.carolfriedlandbaum.com/

For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Website: www.KevinGoetz360.com
Audienceology Book: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Audience-ology/Kevin-Goetz/9781982186678
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website: www.ScreenEngineASI.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send Kevin a Text Message

(Recorded December 2023)
In this episode of "Don't Kill the Messenger," host Kevin Goetz sits down with veteran producer Carol Baum, whose impressive career includes working with Hollywood icons such as Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, Robert De Niro, Zendaya, and Steve Martin. Carol shares stories and insights from her decades in the film industry, discussing her work on memorable films like "Father of the Bride," "The Good Girl," "Dead Ringers," and "Flyaway Home." She also shares candid experiences as a studio executive at Fox and Lorimar, where she developed classic films like "Officer and a Gentleman" and "The Dead Zone." With the recent release of her book, "Creative Producing," Carol provides a wealth of knowledge for aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals.

Carol’s Early Career and Education (07:42)
Carol discusses her early career, how a girl from South Orange, New Jersey with no Hollywood connections landed a job in publishing at Bantam Books, where she discovered "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and how she went on to produce classic movies.

Studio Executive Roles (24:28)
As a studio executive, Carol worked with Jon Peters' company, where she learned the importance of a positive work environment. She then moved on to Fox, working under Joe Wizan, and experienced a culture shift when Larry Gordon and Scott Rudin joined the studio. At Lorimar, Carol developed classic films such as "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "The Dead Zone."

Father of the Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sandollar Productions (30:17)
Carol shares stories of working with Sandy Gallin and Dolly Parton at Sandollar Productions where she produced successful films like "Father of the Bride" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" while collaborating with Howard Rosenman.

Creative Producing (38:10)
Carol discusses her book, Creative Producing, where she emphasizes the importance of the development process and working closely with writers to refine scripts and make them better.

Working with Stars Like Barbara Streisand, Steve Martin, and a Young Zendaya (42:53)
Carol shares her love for actors and their role in getting projects made. She considers Anthony Hopkins one of the greatest living actors and recounts her experiences working with Barbara Streisand, Steve Martin, and a young Zendaya.

Carol Baum's love for movies shines through and shows why she is so valuable to the film industry. Her willingness to share her experiences and lessons in this episode as well as in her book, Creative Producing, are sure to inspire and guide countless filmmakers If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review or connect on social media. We look forward to bringing you more revelations from behind the scenes next time on Don't Kill the Messenger!

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Carol Baum
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano

For more information about Carol Baum:
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062071/
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Baum
Website: https://www.carolfriedlandbaum.com/

For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Website: www.KevinGoetz360.com
Audienceology Book: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Audience-ology/Kevin-Goetz/9781982186678
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website: www.ScreenEngineASI.com

Podcast: Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz 
Guest:  Producer, Carol Baum
Interview Transcript:

Announcer (00:02):

There's a little-known part of Hollywood that most people are not aware of known as the audience test preview. The recently released book, Audienceology, reveals this for the first time. Our podcast series, Don't Kill the Messenger, brings this book to life, taking a peek behind the curtain. And now, join author and entertainment research expert, Kevin Goetz.

Kevin Goetz (00:24):

I wrote my book, Audienceology, to give people a peek behind the curtain of a part of Hollywood that many people don't know about, audience testing. My guest today who has been producing film and television for nearly four decades also pulls back the curtain in her new book, Creative Producing, about not only surviving in, but really thriving as a producer. Carol Baum has worked with so many Hollywood legends, including Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, Zendaya, Robert De Niro, and Jake Gyllenhaal. And her film credits include Flyaway Home, Father of the Bride One and Two with Steve Martin, The Good Girl with Jennifer Aniston, Dead Ringers, A Stranger Among Us, and Shining Through. Carol, welcome. It's so nice to be with you. 

Carol Baum (01:12):

It's so nice to be with you.

Kevin Goetz (01:13):

We've spent many a break fast together at our dear friend Paula Silver's house for so many years.

Carol Baum (01:19):

Well, I missed it this year and I hope we'll do it someplace.

Kevin Goetz (01:23):

I think we're going to do it someplace next year. Good. But you know, you and I go back many years, probably most of your movies, I had something to do with in the testing of them.

Carol Baum (01:35):

Well, what I remember about you, Kevin, is that it was my first experience where somebody came and did the focus group thing and you did it so brilliantly and you got people to talk and be honest, but not be savage. And you knew to pull away from them if a trend was going to start where there were going to be too negative. I learned tons from that evening and I thought, who is this guy who does this? This is brilliant. And then what I realized is nobody else did it like you did it. 

Kevin Goetz (02:05):

Well, that's so kind of you to say. I too was, I guess it's the Mutual Admiration Society because one particular movie that you did, I remember the Father of the Brides really clearly, that was Nancy Myers and Charles Shire. But the movie that I was blown away by really was Flyaway Home that Carol Ballard directed. And you probably willed that movie to happen.

Carol Baum (02:29):

Well, you know, that one was easy. As movies go, all of my movies have taken from six to 10 years, I hate to say it to those junior producers who think they can make it happen quickly. It doesn't happen quickly. However, Flyaway Home did happen quickly for the following reason. The geese are hatched in April and the movie had to be timed with the hatching of the geese.

Kevin Goetz (02:56):

The truth of the matter is, today at least not many people would give a damn that you have geese that have to be born at a certain time. They'd say, well, the finances don't make sense. But you obviously had such a passion and an advocacy for this movie that I so admired it. I was really in there with you.

Carol Baum (03:14):

Well, thank you. But I had a partner in this one. I had a partner in everything and I believe in partners whenever you can find them. My partner in Flyaway Home was the head of Columbia Pictures, Gareth Wiggin. He wasn't the head. He shared the head with Lisa Henson.

Kevin Goetz (03:28):

Did they? Did they not make them like that anymore?

Carol Baum (03:31):

Oh, they certainly don't. But Gareth grew, I didn't know this about him 'cause he was so English and so proper. He grew up on a farm and he knew about geese and he knew about this lifestyle and he was partial to this project. This does not happen anymore where you find an executive who is as excited as you are and wants to make it happen. And it was Gareth who said, we're doing this and we are doing it in April because of the hatching, because it's gotta be real.

Kevin Goetz (04:02):

Oh, you know, I had dinner with friends of mine last night and Gareth's name came up and we were just reminiscing about what a gentleman he was. I don't know. He was of a certain ilk of gentleman as you said, that I miss very much.

Carol Baum (04:18):

Well they call it old school. And you know, I'm called old school and I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted, but I think what that means is we who grew up a certain way where we rolled up our sleeves, we worked with the writer until we got it right and we returned every phone call and it was really the Katzenberg way. You know, those methods of behaving seem to be lost.

Kevin Goetz (04:43):

I absolutely will disabuse anyone listening that that is old school to me, that is right school and the way that I hope we get back, I'm lamenting the fact that we don't have civics classes in schools anymore, where you simply learn about our legacy as Americans. And also what that means is a certain etiquette and decency and civic discourse and good debate. And you come from a literary background, don't you?

Carol Baum (05:17):

I don't think of myself as a literary person. However, I started my career in publishing and I learned how to read there. I always knew how to read. But when you work for a publisher, you're reading those manuscripts. This is pre-digital. So you would take home these boxes like Streisand's thing, which is 900 pages. You would take home these boxes of manuscripts paper, and that's what you read on the weekend. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was that important to me and starting me on the road to reading material and evaluating it and liking it. But I just wanted to say one thing about what you just said because it's what I teach my class, I teach them, you call it civics, I call it manners. You know, have the good manners to, you know what agents say increasingly is, well I sent it, but it went into a black hole. How many times do you hear that remark? So I say to my kids, because they're all going to have those jobs when they graduate from USC, they will have assistant jobs, some of them, not everybody. 

Kevin Goetz (06:21):

Where do you teach, at the Stark program?

Carol Baum (06:22):

I teach at regular USC undergrads, though I did teach at the Stark Program too.

Kevin Goetz (06:27):

But this, I think I did your class once. I think I was a guest there.

Carol Baum (06:30):

May have been at the Stark program. Yeah, I've been doing USC undergrads for a while now. And so I tell them how important this is and how they are going to shine if they do this. If they go on a Monday and for the Monday we can read what did you read and what did you think? And let's get back to the person who submitted it. All the things that are, you know, second nature to you and me. But they're not to these kids. And so they do have to be told they have to be schooled.

Kevin Goetz (06:59):

Absolutely. I would be so fired as a weekend reader if I had to read the Streisand book because I'm the slowest reader on the planet.

Carol Baum (07:06):

My son is giving it to me, the audible version. I can't crack a 900-page book. It's too hard. People are complaining. She should have published it in two volumes, which I think she wanted to do.

Kevin Goetz (07:17):

Oh, if I know Barbara, she probably did want to do that. And you know, she does No wrong in my book having worked with her. And I want to talk about that because you can really enlighten us on the genius of that woman. But may I ask you to tell our listeners, you and I share the fact that we're both Jersey folks. How does a girl from South Orange get to be Carol Baum?

Carol Baum (07:42):

I wanted my book to talk about that more than it does. I think it's very important for people to know that us kids from New Jersey with no Hollywood connections. I don't know about you. I had zero and nobody talked about movies even so I grew up in a house where people did other things. My brother was a big jock and I would babysit every Saturday night from the age of 13 on to make a few pennies. And I watched movies when I babysat, I put the kids to bed and that was like a revelation to me. So I fell in love with the movies at 13 with no instruction, no nothing. You're probably too young to remember the Million Dollar Movie, but there was a channel.

Kevin Goetz (08:31):

No, I remember it, I remember it.

Carol Baum (08:32):

Remember that? It was like TCM today. But it was a Million Dollar movie. Yes. And they played movies again and again and again. So if you liked it the first time, you were guaranteed another viewing.

Kevin Goetz (08:44):

What movie stuck with you?

Carol Baum (08:46):

The movie that had the most profound effect on me is not everybody's favorite movie, but it's mine. It's called The Fountainhead.

Kevin Goetz (08:54):

Oh, the Fountainhead with Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper.

Carol Baum (08:58):

And they were magic. It's an ill-fated love story. It's an incredible movie. And I watch it at least once a year and every time I watch it, I love it. 

Kevin Goetz (09:08):

Again, I want to ask you, Fountainhead has a profound effect on you. You then say, I think I want to do this. I think I want to go into that business.

Carol Baum (09:19):

No, because it's removed. Nobody talked about a business show business. 

Kevin Goetz (09:25):

Well, you went to NYU, you were a sociology major, right? If I recall. 

Carol Baum (09:28):

That's right. I was a, I thought I was going to be a psychologist. That was also of interest to me. I liked that field, but I didn't think movies at all. There was no film school. I predated Scorsese. It wasn't until I got my first job at Bantam Books when I was a clerk. All I did was file. And then I would peek around the corner and I would see all the glamorous people talking about stuff. Norman Mailer. And they were talking about writers I'd heard of and I said, how do I get in there? And somebody said, well you know, maybe you want to take home one of those boxes. Oh, and show everybody that you're smart. And so I took home my first manuscript box and it was just sitting around, it was in somebody's pile being ignored. And it was The Autobiography of Malcolm X. And I came back on that Monday and I said, oh my God, I've just read a fantastic book. It's going to be a bestseller, it's going to be a movie, it's going to be important. And they bought it on my recommendation. 

Kevin Goetz (10:34):

When you had that passion, you had that passion. That was it, that advocacy. That was, that's what I'm talking about. And that's why when I saw Flyaway Home, I was taken by the fact that this is not a movie that would get an easy green light.

Carol Baum (10:46):

But also what people don't know is that there was a 60 Minutes piece on these geese. This story was a real story. And we had a New York scout named Jane Weiner, I want to name her because she was brilliant and responsible for half the movies that I did, I think. And she brought it to my attention. She said, there's the 60 Minutes piece and you've gotta drop everything to watch it. She loved it. So that's what I tell the kid, you got up on the tabletops and you gotta shout loud and make your voice heard and be a champion. Not be obnoxious about it, but be a champion. And that's what Jane did. And she was the New York person when I was at Sandollar. And if that didn't have a 60 Minutes piece, I think it would've been a harder sell. It really helps. You need something.

Kevin Goetz (11:36):

I often will tell young writers, particularly if they have like a graphic novelly type thing, I'm like, make a graphic novel first. Have something that you can say it's based on people used to do that. And you could probably get someone to call it a bestseller.

Carol Baum (11:53):

<laugh>. Well, it's really important. More important now than ever before. It was always important. IP was always important, but now it's all important.

Kevin Goetz (12:02):

I love that you impart that to your students. Do you love teaching?

Carol Baum (12:07):

I love teaching and I love the movies. So my excitement about movies and what I saw this weekend and what I saw this week propels me and what I say to the kids, what did you watch? Why don't you tell us something that you're excited about? And in a lot of blank places, look at me and I say, the first order of business here is to watch something. I don't care if it's a series or whatever it is, but just come in to this class and tell us what you like and make sure you like something and force yourself to like it. If you don't like it going in. I like stuff like a 10-year-old. And you do too.

Kevin Goetz (12:45):

What are you excited about right now?

Carol Baum (12:47):

Well, I'm working my way through the Oscar movies.

Kevin Goetz (12:52):

Shout out to the Academy for creating that beautiful platform.

Carol Baum (12:56):

And I, for example, there's the movie and I'm not going to make it because we're doing this and I don't feel that bad about it, except that I'm going to miss the director talking. That's wonderful to me. You know, when we went to see Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese was there, Leonardo DiCaprio was there, the actress was there, and the cinematographer was there. That was one of the thrills of life. Hearing them talk about this movie, whether I liked it or not, and I did like it. But hearing Scorsese, the film freak of all time, talk about how Leonardo informed his performance by watching Montgomery Cliff in a Place in the Sun. I wanted to climb up on the stage and hug him because that's where I live. And you too, you know what those movies are. So I say to my students, Hey, you can't go into a room with Marty Scorsese or any of these guys you admire and not be familiar with the movies that they love or grew up on. And then they say, oh, okay. You know, and then maybe they'll watch something.

Kevin Goetz (13:58):

I've kicked some of those young people out of class and when they didn't know certain things that were so important to know, and I said, use this time seriously. Go, go now. Because you're going to learn a lot more by doing reports. I'm going to give you five names of people that you go to the library right now to research and come back at the next class knowing who these people are and what they do. It's extraordinary to not, and this is applies in any field in anything, to not know the history of where it comes from is Shonda. And that means shame.

Carol Baum (14:32):

I know.

Kevin Goetz (14:33):

We know. Not For You. Not for you. South Orange <laugh>. 

Carol Baum (14:38):

Who Did you tell them to find out about? Do you remember?

Kevin Goetz (14:42):

Probably like, I'm going to say John Ford and Willie Wyler and Frank Capra. And they didn't know these directors. George Stevens, I mean these extraordinary folks. And some of the early great writers and directors were women.

Carol Baum (15:00):

Scott Feinberg was doing an article for the Hollywood Reporter about the hundred best film books. And he asked me to look at the list. And of course I put my book on the list. It didn't make it, but the book that was number one was the Hitchcock Truffaut book, which is one of my favorite books because it's Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock. And you better know who both of them are. But every time there's a Hitchcock, who's my personal favorite movie on, we go to that book. And Tom, who is also a film student.

Kevin Goetz (15:35):

Tom Baum, your husband?

Carol Baum (15:36):

My husband, yeah. He will read to me from that book. And it's a wonderful, wonderful book. It's not like school. I never say to the kids, you have to watch Potemkin. That's not where I live. The magic is the Fountainhead, the, the romance, the glamor.

Kevin Goetz (15:51):

And everyone's magic is their own magic. I mean that's the beauty of film. But you have to encourage them to see things and to experience and have a sense of curiosity. What I love about the young folks that I do teach who are really engaged, I could go around your class and by 20 minutes I would say tell you who is going to last in the business or not. It's very interesting. And it's only about their level of leaning in, shall we say, or their level of sort of curiosity in maybe the questions they ask. And I love that. Is film school for everyone, Carol? Everyone that wants to go into movies, is it a prerequisite these days?

Carol Baum (16:32):

It's a good question. I didn't go to film school. I think it's useful for many reasons. But the main reason is the networking reason because they will make friends with each other. And I had a, a director come into my class, I have directors and writers come in all the time and it was Randal Kleiser and he said that he went to USC and he went the same year as George Lucas and they became known as the USC mafia and there were like five of them. And they stuck together their whole life. Well, that's what you get in film school. I don’t know that you get it anywhere else, but you get it in school. I don't have that kind of camaraderie with anybody I grew up with because in South Orange we didn't have that. And, and at Bantam Books we didn't have that. But those film school people, they seem to have that. So that's pretty good.

Kevin Goetz (17:26):

So a well-educated student who graduates from a class or two they've taken from you leaves with what? 

Carol Baum (17:34):

Well, I think they've got the pedigree and they can go to CAA and say, I want to be in the mail room. And that person will probably get the job before somebody from the street will get it.

Kevin Goetz (17:48):

Because of SC, the USC? Or is it because of simply going to film school?

Carol Baum (17:53):

That's a good question. I think USC is at the top, but maybe any film school is going to impress somebody. Why should somebody take a chance on somebody who's never been to a school where they're trained to make a movie, to understand movies, to love the whole process. I think that's who you want to hire. But I don't know, I'm not hiring right now. I'm not sure that would be my standard. But it is an interesting question. What do you think the answer is?

Kevin Goetz (18:22):

I think that SC is a credit card school. And what I mean by that is there's added benefits from going to certain schools in the country that like going to the Ivys, like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, those kinds of schools get you top of the list in big jobs. Sadly, maybe it's, you're missing out on a bunch of people. But I'd often tell people who apply at Screen Engine/ASI, we have a blind screening process to promote diversity. That's blinding names. But we don't blind schools, schools are important. I always figure that if someone got into this school, for example, graduated from Princeton, there's gotta be something special about them. And it's not always academic. I don't really care that much about the academics. I care about what makes that person interesting. A lot of schools now talk about diversity. And diversity to me comes in a lot of forms and fashions.

Kevin Goetz (19:26):

Sure it comes in ethnicity and race and genders naturally. But it also comes in like, I owned a business when I was 17 years old. I want to know that somebody had that drive, that chutzpah. That to me is a talent. I want to know they have musical or artistic ability. To me that's a great talent. It doesn't have to be the pedigree, if you will, of this past relative that went there or any that's uninteresting to me completely. But the variety, the diversity of the person interests me a great deal. And I think SC vets people really well and delivers a great education. And so does UCLA and I think so does NYU and AFI and Chapman and North Carolina School of the Arts Film School. And there's several others around the country that I'm really taken with that I'm very impressed with. And by how about you? 

Carol Baum (20:22):

Well, what it says to me when I hear that somebody went to a great school, an Ivy League school, it means they had to be a hard worker because I don't think you can skate through. Maybe you can, I don't know. I don't think so. I think you have to apply yourself. And I am from the work ethic school and if you don't work hard, I don't want to know about you. So I think, and maybe it's misguided sometimes is 'cause you can go to Harvard, I guess, and just be a smart person from a fancy family, I suppose, and get the gentleman C-plus. There are a lot of things that are going on that I'm learning about because grades are important and yet they're not important. But the kids insist on getting them and if they don't get what they want, you'll hear complaints.

Kevin Goetz (21:10):

And same with with SAT, same with SAT scores.

Carol Baum (21:12):

Yeah. Yeah. So the gentleman C at Harvard is the gentleman C, nobody flunks out unless you're caught plagiarizing. But so I don't know. All I know is that when I interview assistants over, over the years, if somebody came to me from Harvard or Princeton, Yale, or one of those schools, I perk up a little bit. I have to say maybe that's…

Kevin Goetz (21:32):

That's what I'm saying. I agree. I agree. 

Carol Baum (21:34):

Yeah, maybe it's the New Jersey snob thing. And I wasn't an Ivy League person, but I married an Ivy League person. 

Kevin Goetz (21:40):

Where did Tom go to school?

Carol Baum (21:42):

He went to Harvard. But his attitude is to debunk all of it. He's, 'cause he turned into a writer and he did not get the benefits of Harvard because he was a math major when he should have been an English major. So he's got his own story. But his view, you know, when the kids were all kind of being nervous about where they were going to apply, his attitude was, doesn't matter. You will get what you want if you apply yourself, you can go anywhere. And he would try to make everybody in the family feel better about that 'cause people get such, I mean, books are written about this. The people who lied to get their kids, you know, on the…

Kevin Goetz (22:22):

Isn't that awful? I know. It's so awful. 

Carol Baum (22:23):

Oh my God, I know that book. I read that book. I couldn't believe it.

Kevin Goetz (22:27):

I know they're so desperate to get their kids in like great schools. But look, you gotta do it on your own. I always resented when friends of mine would inherit money from family because I had to make it all my own. And I'm really proud of that.

Carol Baum (22:42):

Well, I guess I'm the same way. And I gravitate towards people who are underdogs. And all of my movies are about underdogs.

Kevin Goetz (22:49):

They really are. When we come back from break, I want to talk about those movies and more. We'll be back in a moment,

Announcer (22:59):

Get a glimpse into a secret part of Hollywood that few are aware of and that filmmakers rarely talk about in the new book Audienceology by Kevin Goetz. Each chapter is filled with never-before-revealed inside stories and interviews from famous studio chiefs, directors, producers, and movie stars, bringing the art and science of audienceology into focus. Audienceology, How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, from Tiller Press at Simon and Schuster. Available now.

Kevin Goetz (23:31):

We're back with Carol Baum, author of the new book, creative Producing. Carol, I would like to talk about your beginnings at Sandollar and working with Sandy Gallin and of course by extension Dolly Parton. Tell us about that time, that experience, and how did you get into that?

Carol Baum (23:51):

I was a senior VP at John Peters. I was a studio executive at Fox. I was a studio executive at Lorimar. So by the time I came to Sandollar, I was a very experienced person. Otherwise, I don't know that I could have soared at Sandollar because I knew all this stuff. I knew how to put a movie together. You know, when you're a studio executive and I try to recommend anybody get on the inside if you can. When I came out from New York, I was known as a person who could find books. And I had found The Shining, oh, and my, my little company, the Producer Circle bought The Shining on my recommendation. And so everybody knew that. And so I became the person who found The Shining. That was a pretty big feather in my cap. And so by the time I moved to California and John Peters wanted to hire somebody, he said, you, you found The Shining. I want that.

Kevin Goetz (24:47):

Wow.

Carol Baum (24:48):

And he hired me and I thought, this is good. This'll be a very high-profile job. We think about that kind of thing. John was a lot of fun. The company was new, Barbara was his girlfriend and I was very excited to be there. He had a deal with Orion and the office was on the Warner's lot and we were in business.

Kevin Goetz (25:10):

What did you find for him?

Carol Baum (25:12):

Well, I didn't stay around long enough to find anything. John made people cry. And you don't want to be in an office where morale is so low that people come to you, the head person and cry. And it was not good. And I would have to go home at night and be cheerful with my kids and pretend it was okay and it wasn't okay. Oh man, wasn't that so I thought, you know, and these are very big decisions because you're working for a company like that and everybody knows what you're doing. And everybody said, you can't quit that job. Don't do that. That's stupid. And don't quit before you have another job. And I said, you know, I have to. I have to leave for my sanity.

Kevin Goetz (25:57):

It was killing my soul.

Carol Baum (25:58):

It was my sanity. And Barbara was lovely to me. I had a great time with Barbara, but she wasn't running the company. He was. And it was during the time when The Main Event was in production. It was Barbara and Ryan O'Neal and Howard Zieff and whatever the movie is. That was the movie that was happening. And the next movie was going to be Caddyshack. All good, very commercial. John had really good instincts, but nobody should be made to cry. Not good. Yeah. So I left.

Kevin Goetz (26:28):

And from there you went to Fox.

Carol Baum (26:30):

My experience at Fox working for Joe was invaluable. And it didn't last very long 'cause he got fired.

Kevin Goetz (26:37):

And wasn't Todd Black there too? At that time?

Carol Baum (26:39):

I brought Todd Black in to work with Joe afterwards. Joe was fired because he's a really nice guy and he didn't fit into the mold of the time, which was Larry Gordon. Larry Gordon came in with Scott Rudin and there was a ruthlessness about them. And Joe was a gentleman and a really good guy.

Kevin Goetz (27:01):

And how did you get along with Rudin and?

Carol Baum (27:03):

Well, they fired me so not so well.

Kevin Goetz (27:05):

Ah, <laugh>,

Carol Baum (27:05):

It's in the book. So I, Larry Gordon will pick up the phone and yell at me one day. This is what I wrote in the book, and I don't mind saying it. He called me in one day and he said, you're very good at your job, but I don't see you at the restaurants at night at La Dome. And he named all of them, whatever the restaurants were at that time where everybody was going.

Kevin Goetz (27:28):

Right. La Rangerie.

Carol Baum (27:30):

I see Dawn Steel there, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And Dawn was the most successful woman in Hollywood at the time. I see Dawn there, I don't see you. And this is what I want you to do. Four nights a week. I want you at one of those restaurants on me, on Fox. And then I want you to cultivate Madonna. They were eager to get in business with Madonna. Those were my marching orders. So this is what I said. I said, well Larry, my writers don't want to leave the house, let alone put on a jacket and go to a fancy restaurant. And his answer was, so find new writers. Wow. And I knew, and I knew that <laugh>, my, my, my future was limited there. And he hired me and he was right to fire me because I wasn't going to do that. I had kids, I had a husband, I went home at night and I didn't want to do that. There were other ways to network and I found them. God knows, did it my way. And, going to those restaurants is perfectly fine. You can go at lunch, you don't need to go at dinner. Anyway, that's my story about Fox. 

Kevin Goetz (28:37):

And, and where'd you go after Fox? When you got fired from Fox?

Carol Baum (28:40):

I think I went to Lorimar after Fox. David Picker was running.

Kevin Goetz (28:44):

Oh, now he was one good guy, huh?

Carol Baum (28:46):

And David was a great guy. And there I developed Officer and a Gentleman and the Dead Zone. And that company was, it had great plans to become the United Artists of that day. And it didn't happen. There was too much internal feuding. And so it lasted a couple of years unfortunately because that was a great job. And then after that…

Kevin Goetz (29:10):

Was Lee Rich there then?

Carol Baum (29:12):

Lee Rich was doing books and, and television, movies. And Picker was brought in to do the films, movies. And they didn't speak the same language. There really was different language because in those days, Lee was the king of the movies of the week. He did it brilliantly. One success after another. And movies are different and slower. And they made a deal with Hal Ashby. We couldn't, I don't want to get sidetracked on that, but because Hal Ashby was after Being There, a very esteemed director, good make a deal with him, but read the scripts that he wants to do. The movies that happen after Being There were one flop after another 'cause nobody read the scripts. So that's not the way to run a company. Right. You can't do that. And I remember reading, and I think I was not popular that week with Merv Adelson who ran the company. He asked me to read one of the latest Hal Ashby movies. And I said, you know, we can't make this. This is not worthy. And he didn't want to hear that. Oh no.

Carol Baum (30:17):

They don't want to hear that from their senior executive who maybe knows something. No. And then people said to me, this guy Sandy Gallin, who I didn't know, and Dolly Parton are starting up a company and they're looking for you <laugh>. And I said, what does that mean? I said, what does a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey have to do with Dolly Parton? And they said, well, you know, don't worry if Sandy Gallin wants to be successful, he will be. And CAA is behind it and Dolly's fabulous and all, blah blah blah blah blah. So I sat down with Sandy and it was clear that Sandy was not a movie guy. He didn't ask any of the questions. This is all in the book that people usually ask, what's your favorite movie? What's your favorite writer? What's your, you know, he just said, what stars do you know? That's where he lived. That was his world. That was his universe. And then I met Dolly, who is the greatest person on the planet. There's nobody like Dolly.

Kevin Goetz (31:13):

I have never, in 35, 6 years, whatever it's been that I've been doing this, heard a negative thing about Dolly Parton.

Carol Baum (31:21):

And you won't because Dolly is unique. I can't say enough good things about her. She's a queen. She is so sensitive and funny. And she's Dolly.

Kevin Goetz (31:34):

Our friend Bobby Joey was her makeup artist for years and raves about her. And you know, makeup artists and actors have a certain kind of thing. It's like your hair stylist, your hairdresser, cutter, whatever. Right. You spill your guts out and spoke just beautifully about her.

Carol Baum (31:52):

Well, Dolly would come into the office and this was, you have to understand a new enterprise for her. She wanted to be a movie producer. She wanted a company. She didn't want to roll up her sleeve and produce movies, but she was an entrepreneur. And she would come into the company one day to see what we were all doing and everybody would just smile. She just walked in. And her magic would just <inaudible> everybody. And she always was kind. She was always adorable. She always looked fantastic. I never could understand how she could even walk. But she, I mean still with the heels, I don't think she ever left the house without full regalia. I don't think so.

Kevin Goetz (32:36):

It's part of her whole persona, her makeup, her costume, if you will. How is Sandy to work with?

Carol Baum (32:41):

Well Sandy is, is a mixed bag. Sandy is a very charismatic guy. He's brilliant at what he does. But if you work for him, how shall I say this? 'cause I want to be kind because that was the greatest job I ever had. Sometimes things weren't enough for him. He wanted everything to be a home run. And in movies that can't be, it doesn't happen that way. So if that's the demand made on you, well, is it a home run? He would ask. And I'd say Sandy, I don't know.

Kevin Goetz (33:14):

I'm, I'm not being facetious when I ask this. He wouldn't go for a triple or a solid double?

Carol Baum (33:19):

That was Jeffrey's language. Jeffrey Katzenberg would make singles and doubles because they cost less.

Kevin Goetz (33:25):

But singles the studios shouldn't make. They're not profitable enough. But doubles and triples are quite good and can keep you going. 

Carol Baum (33:33):

You know, Father of the Bride was in the double category. All the movies that we made for Jeffrey and there were five in one year, which is staggering. They were under that $20 million range. And to Jeffrey, those were not stellar actors or directors you've heard of necessarily. He made them because he believed that they could turn a profit. And sometimes we hired people I wasn't so crazy about. And Father of the Bride was the exception. That was the one that arose to the top and worked in every way that it could work. It was great. But Sandy was very happy about Father of the Bride. But when Howard, my partner brought in Buffy, Howard, Howard Roseman brought in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Nobody knew what that was. That was a very quirky script by Joss Whedon. Nobody ever heard of him. And Howard was mad for it. He just loved saying Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He just loved the concept. And Sandy didn't understand that where he lived that concept didn't.

Kevin Goetz (34:37):

Well, how did Howard convince him to do it?

Carol Baum (34:40):

Well, because Sandy never stopped us from doing anything. That's why it was great job.

Kevin Goetz (34:43):

Well, in a way then I have to just in defense of someone aspiring for home runs, it's kind of a good aspiration because he's pushing everyone and it's kind of like the parent who you didn't, couldn't get an A plus. Which is really frustrating. At the same time there's no question that you want to please that person even beyond. And you did make a lot of good movies in that time. So that's kind of well, interesting. I wonder if that has something to do with the alchemy is all I was trying to get at.

Carol Baum (35:14):

I think it was a great job. We were serviced by CAA, Sandy's clients were represented by CAA, they had to help us. Dolly was a CAA client. Neil Diamond was a CAA client. Whoopi Goldberg, you know, Sandy's gallery was represented by CAA. They wanted to help. And let me tell you, that's wonderful when that happens. So all of that worked and we got a lot of movies made and, and yes, Sandy allowed that to happen and he never stopped us from doing anything.

Kevin Goetz (35:44):

What about you and Howard? Do you still speak? 

Carol Baum (35:46):

Well, Howard just read me, God, I love him. Howard's writing a book too. And he read my book of Natch and he's written a book, a whole different kind of book. His is more of a gossipy book. And I read it and I said, Howard, where am I? Because we were partners at Sandollar for 10 years and we're still partners. And he was, he said, okay, I'm going to write about you now. And he just today read me the chapter that he wrote about me and him. And it made me cry. What he says is, I guess you have to read it, but just our energy together, our Jewish guys from New York thing, our lifestyles so different. Howard is gay and flamboyant and likes big concepts and I like character pieces. So our taste wasn't always the same. And yet we supported each other. Always, always, always.

Carol Baum (36:50):

And Howard in the, in the chapter he wrote, I don't know if he'll keep it, but we, we would attend every Tuesday there would be a management meeting which was required. Now we weren't managers, but Sandy wanted us to be there and we got fed pizza on paper plates. And Sandy would have his people, his cook, make him a special lunch, which was served on china. So this became like a, like a running gag and sort of says a lot about how we worked there. But Howard and I would sit at these meetings and we weren't that interested in management.

Kevin Goetz (37:26):

Management.

Carol Baum (37:27):

The tour of Mac Davis, it was all about that. You know, it wasn't about movies for these people. I would be very interested in that. It was about touring because a lot of…

Kevin Goetz (37:37):

Sure. Recording artists.

Carol Baum (37:39):

Yeah, it was about touring and you know, Neil Diamond was always performing the form and this and that. And Dolly too, all of them. And Howard and I would sit there like two little kids and write notes to each other and giggle.

Kevin Goetz (37:51):

And eat your pizza.

Carol Baum (37:52):

And eat our pizza on paper plates.

Kevin Goetz (37:55):

Oh, how fabulous. What a great image that is. Carol, what would you say is the reason that you chose to call the book Creative Producing? Because isn't all producing creative to some degree?

Carol Baum (38:10):

What people don't understand, and I'm asked this every day, by the way, what is a line producer? What is a creative producer? What's the difference? And they don't know. Even at the end of my class, which is 17 sessions, they still are asking the same question. They really don't understand because they're making films and they're working as line producers making these films. They're not so much developers. And what I explain and why we call the book Creative Producing, it's all about the process of development. What do you have to do to make a script better? And every chapter talks about that and how to work with a writer. And the first title was going to be Love the Writer. Because my orientation is completely writer-oriented and the publisher didn't like that title. It felt too specific. But that was the M.O. of the book. So that's what development is, that's what creative producing is. And people don't understand that. They think just things appear and then they get made <laugh>.

Kevin Goetz (39:19):

I would go a little further than that, having produced 12 movies myself, television movies, that being on the set is also a part of that because it doesn't end with the script. That's the pre-production part of the process. Then the production part. And then I think the great producers that I work with and have worked with over the years and have been fortunate enough to work with, understand that and are very involved in also the post of the movie and the editing process for everything. 

Carol Baum (39:49):

Well, it's all creative.

Kevin Goetz (39:50):

Do you specifically focus on the, the beginning process with the writer? Or do you believe, 'cause I know you're a woman who did go on set and does go on set and is very involved in the post-production process. We started this conversation talking about the research screenings. Clearly they take place in the post process. To what extent do you acknowledge that a creative producer should be involved in those other aspects to get that moniker?

Carol Baum (40:16):

If the director is your pal and includes you. I love the editing process because to me the editing process is the same as the writing process. You're refining the movie and making it tighter and better. And that's what editing is and all the other things that go with it. But if the director doesn't invite you into the editing room and I'm not always invited, then you can't be that helpful. So the part where, where nobody can exclude you is the beginning part where you're developing the script because it's just you and the writer making it better. And you haven't hired a director yet and you haven't hired a cast yet. It's just you trying to make the script as good as it can be in order to get the package. So it's a, you know, many-faceted thing. I don't, I don't love being on set. I go, I do go on set. And again, it depends on who the director is. I did a picture with John Dahl who, who directed this movie with Ben Kingsley and Taylor Leone and Luke Wilson called You Kill Me. He treated me like his partner. Hmm. I was there there every second I was in the editing room every second. I really counted. And that felt unusual to me. It doesn't always happen.

Kevin Goetz (41:36):

Who in the directing world would you say you admire the most? Of all the directors you've worked with?

Carol Baum (41:44):

David Cronenberg.

Kevin Goetz (41:46):

Wow.

Carol Baum (41:47):

Now David Cronenberg directed Dead Ringers and David Cronenberg is a unique talent. There's nobody like him. And I'm old school, like there was Truffaut and Godard, and Chabrol and those guys and they were voices. And I think that Cronenberg fits into that category. He's sui generis, he makes a Cronenberg movie. There's no mistaking it. I don't like everything that he does. But what he does is what he does and the reason he never really moved to Los Angeles is he wanted to hang out in Toronto where he lives, where nobody was going to bother him and give him bad notes. Wow. He didn't have to get those notes. Those notes can be a trial.

Kevin Goetz (42:33):

A lot of people, especially if people really don't know <laugh> script. Really don't know script and character, the actors, which particular actor really blew you away? You've worked with like everybody.

Carol Baum (42:48):

You know, I have to say I worship actors. I really do. I'm in love with them.

Kevin Goetz (42:52):

I get it.

Carol Baum (42:53):

I remember meeting John Garfield's son at a friend's house. I thought, oh my god, he's John Garfield's son. John Garfield was a heartthrob for me growing up. His movies are unique. I don't know if the kids know who he is, they probably don't, but he's, he's the king to me. I love John Garfield. But anyway, that level of stardom to me, what I grew up on continues. I think they're all the actors are the reason a movie gets made. The actors are the ones that get behind a project and get the green light.

Kevin Goetz (43:27):

Who's the greatest living actor right now?

Carol Baum (43:29):

Well that's a tough one. Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Goetz (43:32):

Not a bad <laugh>. Not a bad selection

Carol Baum (43:35):

Though I didn't want like Freud's Last Session, I'm sorry to say, but I, I love him.

Kevin Goetz (43:41):

I have a few speed round names to throw out. Just give me first impressions. First impressions. Okay. I said I'd come back to her before Barbara. Barbara Streisand.

Carol Baum (43:51):

Well, I love Barbara. Barbara's a trip. I can't wait to read the book. I feel you know, Barbara was fun for many different reasons. You know, Jewish girl from Brooklyn, one of us, right? Barbara was heimish. She was easy to talk to. You could relate to her like she was a real person. But she was Barbara and you could never forget that because she's Funny Girl. And it's one of my favorite movies of all time. Funny Girl and The Way We Were are two of my all-time favorite Barbara movies.

Kevin Goetz (44:24):

Did you read the article of what she's doing now? She's restoring, I think, why don't I want to say four minutes? From the original cut scenes that were her scenes that were removed, that really helped with the character arc. I cannot wait to see them. And I'm sure you're interested.

Carol Baum (44:41):

I’m very interested, but I think the movie's perfect now.

Kevin Goetz (44:43):

Alright, lemme give you another name. Steve Martin. 

Carol Baum (44:46):

Well, you know, I never really hung out with Steve. Steve did Father of the Bride and he kept to himself. Marty Short was the jolly one. Marty Short, we'd come to set and he would regale us with his brilliance. So funny. Every manic funny, you know? And Steve had other things to do, so we weren't really, I can't say he was my friend. Do I love him? I think he's a genius. I think everything he does from the banjo to the plays to, I mean.

Kevin Goetz (45:15):

It’s unbelievable, isn't it?

Carol Baum (45:17):

It's incredible. 

Kevin Goetz (45:18):

Nothing he can't, nothing he can't do artistically.

Carol Baum (45:20):

And his performance in Father of the Bride is perfect.

Kevin Goetz (45:22):

How about Zendaya?

Carol Baum (45:24):

Zenday was 13.

Kevin Goetz (45:25):

Yeah, that's why I'm asking

Carol Baum (45:28):

<laugh>,

Kevin Goetz (45:28):

What was the project?

Carol Baum (45:30):

It's a Disney movie. She was one of the Disney girls.

Kevin Goetz (45:33):

Did you see anything special then?

Carol Baum (45:34):

Absolutely. She could dance. She was gorgeous, but she was hiding behind a kind of solemn face. She did not want to interact with anybody. She was not a friendly girl. But when she danced and when she moved and she acted, you took your breath away. Did I know she was going to be Zendaya? I don't know that I did. I knew she was special because we would talk to each other, say, did you see that dance sequence? Wow. But she was a sullen teenager. So what do you know about a cell teenager? You know, not a lot. Really? Wow. I know the type because I have children and it seemed to me that she was going through a phase, but she's wonderful in the movie. And look at her. Wow.

Kevin Goetz (46:17):

Look at what's happened to her career. And I want to acknowledge before we break, and this has gone very long already, because you and I can sit and talk, it's like literally we are on your porch in South Orange or wherever, <laugh> <laugh> or my deck in East Brunswick. <laugh>, your candor is not only somewhat surprising to me, it's completely refreshing. And I want to acknowledge that. I want to encourage people to read your book, Creative Producing. We need to learn from people who have been there, done it over and over successfully. And so read the book, support people who are artists like Carol, who can teach us a ton, a ton of really interesting and important information. And we don't want to forget our legacy. Carol, thank you so much for being my guest today and I wish you all the greatest success on the book and beyond.

Carol Baum (47:18):

Well, thank you for saying what you just said and I really appreciate that. And I just want to say I'm having the most fun going around talking to people about the work and the career. I can't get enough of it.

Kevin Goetz (47:31):

To our listeners, I hope you enjoyed our interview. I encourage you to learn more about Carol's work at carolfriedlandbaum.com. For more filmmaking and audience testing stories, I invite you to check out my book, Audienceology, at Amazon or through my website at KevinGoetz360.com. You can also follow me on my social media @KevinGoetz360. Next time on Don't Kill the Messenger, I'll welcome veteran agent, producer, and former studio head Bill Block. Until then, I'm Kevin Goetz and to you, our listeners, I appreciate you being part of the movie-making process. Your opinions matter.

 

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Carol Baum
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano