You’d think Albert Brooks would have had no problem getting a green light for his new movie, ”The Muse” (opens Friday). After all, the script attracted the star power of Sharon Stone and Jeff Bridges, and Brooks managed to snare such Hollywood heavyweights as Martin Scorsese, Rob Reiner, and James Cameron for cameos. But that just wasn’t enough. ”Getting actors and getting studios are two completely different beasts,” explains Brooks. ”For an actor, the first question is, ‘How good is this?’ A studio doesn’t make decisions based on that.”
Riding on the critical success of 1996’s ”Mother,” Brooks had enough clout to take ”The Muse” to Paramount… or so he thought. Unfortunately, he handed in the script just when theaters were showing ”Burn Hollywood Burn,” the 1997 parody of film-biz-as-usual written by ”Showgirls” scribe Joe Eszterhas. Because that film was a critical and commerical disaster, Paramount frowned on Brooks’ showbiz-themed ”Muse,” the story of a screenwriter who discovers his own muse. The plot was deemed ”too inside.” ”I kept thinking, ‘That’s not me, I didn’t make that other movie,”’ says Brooks, 52. ”But it all goes to genre. If the genre isn’t working, you’re not going to get your movie made.”
After the movie was dumped by Paramount, it took Brooks about a year to find a home for ”The Muse” at USA Films. Whether or not the film brings in boffo box office this weekend, Brooks still refuses to buy Paramount’s argument against it. ”All the world now is about show business,” he explains. ”’Too inside’ doesn’t exist anymore. You just want it to be funny.” And hey, once you see James Cameron trying to act, you’ll get funny.