De Niro sends up Hollywood and Cannes in new film

Sun May 25, 2008 8:24am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Robert De Niro plays a movie producer whose professional and personal life lurches from crisis to crisis in a new comedy on the cut-throat world of Hollywood and its relationship with the Cannes film festival.

The final scenes of "What Just Happened" play out in the Riviera resort where De Niro's picture has its premiere, making it a fitting closing film for the festival on Sunday.

Sean Penn and Bruce Willis also send themselves up in the satire based on the memoirs of veteran Hollywood producer Art Linson and directed by Barry Levinson, who made "Rain Man."

De Niro plays Ben, who must juggle two ex-wives and their families, a pill-popping bi-polar director, a ruthless studio boss demanding radical changes to his picture and Willis steadfastly refusing to shave his beard for an action hero role.

The film casts an ironic eye on the process of getting movies made, how cash outweighs quality almost every time and how no one in Hollywood is safe from the whims of studio bosses, superstar actors and the movie-going public.

"It really is a place where most people are not doing well," said Linson, when asked about how Hollywood was perceived. "I know it's hard to believe.

"Most people are there doing their best not to be asked to leave. I don't care if you're Steven Spielberg or some new director, everybody is like a snail on a glass trying to hang on and not to slip down and lose their standing."

DE NIRO'S "ANXIETIES"   Continued...

<p>Cast member Robert De Niro attends a news conference for the film "What Just Happened" by U.S. director Barry Levinson at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 25, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>