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Ross Johnson

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National Newspapers  
Selling the Big Ape
(New York Times, 9/11/2005)
After the moguls at Time-Warner went bats**t over the below "Lord of the Rings" lawsuit story, I walked down the street to Universal Studios and did a story on Peter Jackson's NEXT film, "King Kong." (note: not archived on web site yet; link only to NYT pay archive)
The Lawsuit That Ate Hollywood
(New York Times, 6/27/05)
Director Peter Jackson took time out from directing his remake of "King Kong" to sue the living hell out of New Line Cinema, the financier and distributor of Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. The way Jackson sees it, New Line should pay him another $100 million on top of the $200 million they've paid him so far. (An NYT editor's note is attached to this story.)
Funny is Money with Blue Collar
(New York Times, 6/13/05)
The tale of J.P. Williams, the Hollywood personal manager who came up with the idea of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Seventy-five million dollars later, Larry the Cable Guy is the hottest comedian in the country. Who woulda thunk it?
What Hollywood Needs: A Few Good Jesuits

(New York Times, 5/22/2005)
When Father Robert B. Lawton became president of Loyola Marymount University, he saw that the school could be a sui generis institution by training writers to write good screenplays that had human values. What's not to love? (note: not archived on web site yet; link only to NYT pay archive)
The Movie Midas
(New York Times, 3/7/05)
This is the story of Lions Gate Pictures and its chief executive, Jon Feltheimer. From Crash to The Devil's Rejects, this L.A. outfit and its c.e.o. have become the go-to indies after the demise of Miramax Films.


Hollywood's Best-Kept Secret
(New York Times, 1/31/2005)
The Hollywood studios have screamed for the last two years that video piracy is costing them billions in international sales. Wait until you see what happens when they were asked how much they are earning from international home video sales.

Actors Fight For a Piece of the DVD Pie
(New York Times, 12/13/2004)
This story has some of the incredible DVD revenue numbers that the studios don't want anyone to see.
Scott Greenstein Bets on Stern to Save Sirius
(New York Times, 10/11/2004)
On Oct. 6, Scott Greenstein made news around the world when he signed Howard Stern to a deal with Sirius Satellite Radio. Greenstein's resume featured stints working as a mogul-in-training under Harvey Weinstein and Barry Diller, which will sharpen any man's elbows. Things got dicey halfway through this profile. Ouch!
Hollywood Nepotism? Tell It To the Judge
(New York Times, 10/15/2004)
Sherry Lansing became chairwoman of Paramount Pictures, married director William Friedkin, and then oversaw her husband as he made movies for Paramount. Now they sleep with a lawsuit.
High Noon in Hollywood as Lawyers Deal for Clients
(New York Times, 10/6/2004)
This story details the incredible vitrol between Barry Hirsch, the lawyer for Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez; and James Jackoway, Hirsch's former partner in one of Hollywood's most successful law firms.

National Magazines
Kirsten Dunst (jpeg of cover)
(Esquire, 6/1/2002)
Sometimes writing about a cover subject is as easy as going bowling in Hollywood with Kirsten Dunst. Smart girl. Quite pretty. Good bowler.
What I've Learned: James Caan
(Esquire magazine, 9/1/2003)
I've done a number of these interviews for Esquire over the years. Here, Jimmy Caan talks about what's really important in life: Little League!

What I've Learned: Suge Knight
(Esquire magazine, 5/1/2002)
I interviewed Knight a day after he got out of prison in 2001 (after his first stretch). The former rap mogul talked about the secrets of solitary confinement, the women who walk around Mule Creek State Prison, and why his father never left the family.
What I've Learned: Haley Joel Osment
(Esquire magazine, 3/1/2000)
Andy Ward, then a junior editor at Esquire (he's now at GQ), came up with the brilliant idea of interviewing the juvie star of "Sixth Sense" for the What I've Learned section. Here's Haley on agents, auditions, babes who chase movie stars, and never having seen dead people.

Profiles  
Tequila Sunset
(Los Angeles magazine, 10/1/2000)
A man-bites-celeb tale about a wild Malibu hippie and his paparazzo son who lived down the street from Barbra Streisand in Malibu. The story is set on Point Dume, one of the most isolated stretches of Southern California wealth where all is not well with Bob Dylan, Nick Nolte, and Marty Sheen.
The Enforcer
(Los Angeles magazine, 9/1/2000)
Allie Mayorkas, then the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was all set to run for the U.S. Senate when this came out. But when he tried to help a dope dealer get a pardon, it was all over.
Raging Bulls
(Los Angeles magazine, 6/1/2000)
One of the most requested service pieces ever published in L.A. magazine, and it was all about the meanest lawyers in town! The star of the piece, and making his debut performance, was press lawyer Marty "Mad Dog" Singer, who waxes with fond memories of terrorizing dirt diggers like John Connolly.
John Ridley
(USA Today, 5/14/2002)
This is a piece I did on screenwriter/director/novelist John Ridley before the debut of "Undercover Brother." John is a complex man who uses his anger at the system to make a lot of money off it. I've interviewed him three times, and he tells nothing but the truth.

Shmoozer Take All (jpeg of cover)
(Premiere, 5/1/2001)
For the past three years, I've written about Elie Samaha, the film financier who was recently found liable for $106 million in damages for defrauding his German partner. But give Elie this: He's an honest thief. Here's the first story I did on him.

Robert Redford (jpeg cover)
(Buzz, 1/1/1996)
My first ever national magazine profile. It took me seven months of phone calls. Then I had to write how Bob getting a baseball scholarship to the U. of Colorado was utter b.s. He never even made his high school team. Bob still bought me a drink at Sundance, and we blamed it all on a publicist.

Enterprise  
Twenty Questions: Miramax
(New York magazine, 12/8/1999)
On the 20th anniversary of the the founding of Miramax Films, I looked up British author Angus Finney, who had signed a deal to write an unauthorized bio of Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Then Angus got an offer from Harvey that he couldn't refuse.

Grumpy Old Producers (jpeg of cover)
(Buzz, 5/1/1996)
"You'll never work in this town again," said Sumner Redstone. I believed him. Sumner had his then-girlfriend stashed on Bob Evans' payroll, and I had just started my profile of Evans with this quote: "Francis Coppola? That cocksucer!" Evans, to his credit, backed me.


Investigative  

Andy and Elie Go to the Movies

(Los Angeles Daily Journal, 5/1/2001)
This is an incredible story filled with death threats, shady lawyers, and bizarre interrogation scenes. Andrew Stevens, then the partner of Elie Samaha in Franchise Pictures, got the idea of going to Munich to try to settle the mess caused by Elie stealing from his German partner. Achtung, baby!
The Fixer
("The Public Eye" column, L.A. Daily Journal, 2/1/2000)
I'm fascinated with stories in which one false move changes lives forever. Four years ago, I set out to discover who fixed the 1982 "Twilight Zone: The Movie" helicopter deaths in such a way that Warner Bros. got off scott free.