THERE were four directors on the set of "The Wolf of Wall Street," but it wasn't a case of too many cooks.
Martin Scorsese was the lone chef. Among his chosen ingredients - a supporting cast of actors that included Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze and Rob Reiner, the latter with a substantial role as the bean-counting father of the movie's free-spending title character, an investment swindler played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Reiner was there to perform, not to kibbitz, but he did have a chance to commiserate with Scorsese about a subject common to all of them - how hard it is, even for big-name directors, to get grown-up material made by risk-averse studios.
Of course, all directors say this, and the movies still get made - Jonze has "Her" coming out next month, Reiner has "And So It Goes" (Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton) this spring and Scorsese has "Wolf."
"Yes, but you know something, even Marty has a hard time," said Reiner. "It was a real struggle to finance this picture. It was initially dropped by Warner Bros., and think about that - he'd just made 'The Departed,' with DiCaprio, and that was a huge hit for them, and he couldn't get it done."
"Wolf" was financed outside the studio system, and is distributed by Paramount, and that's what directors and producers have to do nowadays, Reiner said - spend most of their time scrambling to assemble complex financing deals, involving foreign distribution rights, etc.
They spend much less time actually making movies. Reiner had Jack Nicholson and Morgan Feeman lined up for the "The Bucket List" and spent years begging studios to make it.
"That movie made $200 million, and the next one, I still couldn't get it made," he said. "And this is what's scary. When I look back at all the movies I've made, not one of them, not one, would be financed by a studio today."
Reiner's credits include "The Princess Bride," "A Few Good Men" and "This is Spinal Tap," which, by the way, celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.
Also a movie that no studio would make today: "Lawrence of Arabia," which Reiner was moved to mention subsequent to the death of Peter O'Toole.
I offer that even contemporary audiences might have a hard time with that movie - roughly equivalent in length to "Wolf of Wall Street," but Scorsese's movie probably has ten times as many cuts and edits, and is visually suited to today's REM audiences.
"Yeah, that bothers me," said Reiner. "No more 'Lawrence of Arabias.' I've even heard studios say that they wouldn't make 'Argo' again."