David O. Russell Quits ‘Nailed’

It’s difficult to know exactly what this means for the film, but David O. Russell‘s film Nailed, which was famously stalled several times during production before being shut down altogether, may actually be able to be finished this year. Would be great to see the satire about a waitress (Jessica Biel) who has a nail lodged in her head and travels to Washington D.C., where she meets a character played by Jake Gyllenhaal and things get weird.

Trouble is, it will be finished without any further involvement from Russell, who has officially quit the project.

THR reports that Russell has bailed out of the film based on a dissatisfaction with negotiations over fees for producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher.

Here’s the short version: Nailed was originally stalled and shut down when David Bergstein failed to pay crew on time. The film was bound up in the financial failure of Capitol Films, but Bergstein’s sometime partner Ron Tutor bought the film out of foreclosure and wants to do the couple days of shooting required to finish the film so it can be released. You might recall that it is all but shot, though the material that hasn’t been shot is key to  the plot.

But it seems like Tutor wants to spend as little as possible to make this happen. Jessica Biel and Tracy Morgan will need to show up, and they are reportedly contractually bound to do so without getting paid for the work. Which would make more sense if the film was proceeding on anything like a regular production schedule, but this is many months after Nailed was shut down, when both actors long since having moved on.

Doesn’t take much to read between the lines and see that the reason Russell and the producers are unhappy is based in similar spendthrift thinking. The producers themselves released a statement about the negotiations:

We have been informed that we will be unable to stay involved with the movie ‘Nailed’ unless we agree to make concessions that are unfair, unprofessional and detrimental to the movie. We applaud David O. Russell’s unique talent and tireless work, and we hope to collaborate with him again soon.

For his part, Russell said,

This has been a painful process for me…The multiple production delays and stoppages, which were caused by David Bergstein and preceded Ron Tutor’s direct involvement with me, have now spanned two years, and the circumstances under which the film would now be completed are much different on several fundamental levels than when we embarked several years ago. I, unfortunately, am no longer involved in the project and cannot call it ‘my’ film. I wish Ron Tutor well.

Tutor says the negotiations with Russell were all above board and agreeable, but that they couldn’t reach a deal. “So,” he says, “we’re going to go ahead probably with Nailed and try to hire another director and finish it.”

There is an edit of the film at this point, but it is one assembled by an editor Bergstein hired, done without the oversight of Russell.

With Tutor in the process of buying Miramax and planning to be involved with running the resulting production and distribution company, this process is probably getting even more scrutiny than it normally would, as it seems to suggest how Tutor will shape that outfit. Hopefully, the alienation of producers and talent won’t be a consistent factor. (To be fair, there is a lot about these negotiations for Nailed that we don’t know, and the financial state of the film is a mess thanks to Bergstein.)

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