“‘Good enough’ equals shitty.”
– Brian Grazer
Brian Grazer (@BrianGrazer) is an Academy Award-winning producer and New York Times bestselling author (A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, with Charles Fishman) who has been making movies and television programs for more than 25 years. Grazer and his longtime friend and business partner Ron Howard began their collaboration in 1985 on the hit comedies Nightshift and Splash, and in 1986 they founded Imagine Entertainment.
In 2002, Grazer won an Oscar for Best Picture for A Beautiful Mind (shared with Ron Howard). In 2007, he was named one of Time‘s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” His films and TV series have been nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmys.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Brian’s “supertool” that helped him get ahead in business.
- How to pitch people to create opportunity.
- Favorite failures and lessons learned.
- Brian’s criteria for choosing what movies to make.
- How to develop better decision-making abilities.
- And much, much more.
This episode was recorded in front of a live, sold-out audience of about 2,000 people at Summit LA17 in Los Angeles. Enjoy!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast with a brilliant producer? — Listen to my conversation with Vince Vaughn. In this episode, we discuss stories of his early beginnings, how to negotiate, his cold-calling career, and important decisions he’s made as a producer, an artist, and a businessperson (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Brian Grazer:
- A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
- Summit LA17
- Friday Night Lights: the book, the film, and the series.
- Basic Butterfly Stroke Technique
- Warner Bros. Studio
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
- The Godfather
- Love Story
- Universal Studios
- Heaven Can Wait
- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
- Wide World of Sports
- Zuma Beach
- Night Shift
- Paramount Studios
- Happy Days
- The Andy Griffith Show
- Tulane University
- University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address — Admiral William H. McRaven
- The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
- When LA Erupted In Anger: A Look Back At The Rodney King Riots by Maureen Pao and Karen Grisby Bates, NPR
- Eye Contact: The Power of One on One by Brian Grazer
- 8 Mile
- Apollo 13
- Sidney Poitier announces Best Picture at the 68th Academy Awards in 1996.
- A Beautiful Mind
- A Beautiful Mind Wins Best Picture: 2002 Oscars
- National Lampoon’s Animal House
- Introducing Brian. [08:55]
- Brian tells us how his 4’10 grandmother championed his curiosity at an early age. [10:42]
- On the trauma of being cut from his high school football team in front of 300 classmates. [12:25]
- Why Brian stayed in college despite the urgings of one teacher dubiously named “Mr. French.” [19:00]
- Why Brian went (and then discontinued going) to law school. [22:01]
- Working as a law clerk at the Warner Bros. legal department wasn’t glamorous, but it gave enterprising Brian the opportunity to make connections. [23:45]
- What was Brian’s “supertool of curiosity” that got him invited to watch studio heads work? [27:55]
- Lew Wasserman’s no-B.S. advice to Brian at their first meeting. [31:52]
- Brian wasn’t above using financial bribery to avoid being fired. [34:22]
- How does Brian’s modern pitch for meeting important people differ from when he first started? [35:09]
- From fired law clerk to fired up aspirations of becoming a studio executive. [39:37]
- How Brian’s partnership with Ron Howard came about. [44:44]
- What advice would Brian give to others who are trying to cultivate their own curiosity? [47:35]
- Advice for contacting someone who is hard to reach. [50:44]
- How do people blow it when reaching out to Brian? [52:34]
- How does Brian choose lunch companionship? [56:23]
- Does Brian ever go out of his way to meet people with whom he knows he’ll disagree? [1:00:44]
- The story behind Brian’s signature hairstyle. [1:06:20]
- How did the movie 8 Mile come to be? [1:08:26]
- A favorite failure and lessons learned. [1:16:56]
- Brian’s criteria for choosing movies to make. [1:24:21]
- An example of what can happen when a good story’s perspective is miscalibrated for its audience. [1:27:55]
- What separates a good producer from a great producer? [1:30:21]
- Can taste be developed or is it fixed? [1:32:47]
- On keeping a gratitude journal and parting thoughts. [1:34:43]
- Sue Mengers
- Warren Beatty
- William Peter Blatty
- Ted Ashley
- John Calley
- Frank Wells
- Mel Brooks
- Richard Brooks
- Robert Evans
- Lew Wasserman
- Henry Kissinger
- Melody Sherwood
- Barbara Walters
- Edgar J. Scherick
- Scott Rudin
- Tom Hanks
- Ron Howard
- Michael Eisner
- Barry Diller
- Louisa Velis
- Rem Koolhaas
- Thomas Costa Grazer
- Walter Isaacson
- Albert Einstein
- Gucci Mane
- LeBron James
- Gabe Johns
- William H. McRaven
- Edward Teller
- Jeff Bezos
- Isaac Asimov
- Janet Asimov
- Robert S. McNamara
- Daryl Gates
- Rodney King
- Sage Grazer
- Ol’ Dirty Bastard
- Slick Rick
- Chuck D
- Frank Rich
- Jimmy Iovine
- Sidney Poitier
- Jim Lovell
- Russell Crowe
- Sandra Bullock
- Nicole Kidman
- Mark Wahlberg
- Reese Witherspoon
- Harold Ramis
- Alessandro Michele
- FranÁois Pinault
- Veronica Smiley