Toronto producer didn't pay, U.S. actors say

Union fears anti-Canadian backlash in L.A.

Toronto Star, March 4, 2000

By Betsy Powell, Entertainment reporter

American actor Daniel Baldwin is among dozens of members of the cast and crew of the gangster movie The Fall who say they have not been paid by the film's Toronto-based producers.

The complaints could harm the Canadian film and television business, already under attack in the U.S. for stealing production away from Hollywood, industry observers say.

"It's the last thing we need," says Robin Chetwynd, the Toronto chief administrative officer of ACTRA, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists.

"There's enough conflict going on as it is between our two production centres and the two countries - a lot of it blown way out of proportion - but it's things like this people will pick up and run with"

The $1.2 million U.S. movie shot here last fall featured Hollywood stars Joe Mantegna and Michael Madsen, who were paid up front, and Chad McQueen, the actor/producer son of silverscreen legend Steve McQueen, who is still out of pocket.

American crew members also received bounced cheques after they worked on a one-day makeup shoot in Los Angeles in January.

"These people are due their money and should be paid," Baldwin, the film's star and director, complained to the Hollywood Reporter in an article published on the Internet yesterday.

"Half my fee has not been paid," he said.

Madsen insisted on payment in full prior to appearing in the picture.

"We were paid in full but we had to bust some major chops to assure payment," says Harmon Kaslow, Madsen's L.A.-based manager

"We had the impression that the producer had not close on his financing prior to starting and we didn't want to become a financier or investor in the film."

The finger is being pointed at Toronto producers John Gillespie and Paul Wynn, a member of the controversial real estate family known for their court batles with tenants over rents and unkempt buildings.

Neither Gillespie nor Wynn, who owns Annex Entertainment with Richard Borchiver, could be reached for comment. Gillespie told Hollywood Reporter everyone will be paid and blamed a budget shortfall for the missing payments.

In collaboration with Gillespie's Trinity Pictures, Annex co-produced, finance and distributed the feature films All The Fine Lines and Silverman, starring Eugene Levy and Joe Pantoliano, the trade magazine Playback repored in September.

This week ACTRA issued an industry-wide bulletin advising members not to work for John Gillespie until "outstanding financial matters for his productions" are resolved.

Those projects included All the Fine Lines and Silverman.

Chetwynd said ACTRA has been able to pay out some of the outstanding payments, "60 cents on the dollar," but he hopes "to work with this guy (Gillespie) and find a way to get these performers paid."

That won't help L.A.-baed producer Josh Silver, who says he and partner Josh Kesselman are owed a "five-figure sum."

"In the movie business, everybody tries and not everybody delivers . . . you make allowances for people. But this is way beyond the pale," Silver said on the phone from L.A.

David Steinberg, a Toronto entertainment lawyer, representing Sliver, Kesselman and McQueen, agrees, and says the incident will fuel anti-Canadian sentiment.

He points to yesterday's article in the Hollywood Reporter with its "hint of anti-Canadian propaganda."

In it, American key grip Scotty Reiniger is quoted saying "all of us are really bitter about this because we are losing our jobs to Canadians,and then they come down here and write us back checks."

Back to the West Lodge (Toronto) Tenants Association home page.

Hosted by