Hollywood, Wall Street and New York media converged last night at the premiere of Too Big to Fail, the movie.
Michael Douglas, Brian Williams, and Regis Philbin met Warren Buffett, uber-analyst Meredith Whitney, and CNBC's Becky Quick at the Museum of Modern Art, where HBO's screening took place, and at a swishy after-party at Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant.
Hank Paulson is indisputably the hero of the film based on Andrew Ross Sorkin's book about the global financial meltdown. The former Treasury Secretary wasn't there last night, but William Hurt, who plays him in the film, hobnobbed through the evening -- and told me that he spent several days with Paulson to prep for the part. Hurt went fishing with Paulson and did some birdwatching as well. What you see in the movie, sure enough, is a full-bodied, very human Paulson who suffered physically and emotionally during the 2008 crisis while he kept the system from total collapse.
Many of the actors got to know, or at least meet, the masters of the universe they portray. Tony Shalhoub, known as Monk on TV, told me that he spent time with former Morgan Stanley (MS) CEO John Mack. The two men found plenty in common, Shalhoub said, since both their fathers immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon -- Shalhoub's to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Mack's to Mooresville, North Carolina.
Matthew Modine, who plays John Thain, told me that he and the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, who sold to Bank of America (BAC) mid-crisis, had planned to get together. But last minute, they mutually decided not to. Fine with Modine, who went with it, portraying the bespectacled Thain with just the right dose of stiffness and selfishness.
Amy Carlson wanted to but couldn't meet Erin Callan, who was Lehman Brothers' CFO and practically disappeared after she got ousted in June of 2008. Carlson learned about Callan, she told me, largely by reading my Fortune profile, "The fall of a Wall Street highflier," last year. Carlson also mentioned that the Lehman (BCS) scenes in Too Big to Fail were shot on the 30th floor of midtown's Citigroup Center. That's interesting trivia since Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit comes across in the movie as one of the least likable characters among the big bank bosses.
The most revelatory character in Too Big To Fail, as I see it, is Ben Bernanke, the wise Federal Reserve chairman who calmly guides Washington's and Wall Street's honchos to do what is right. Sorkin told me that Paul Giamatti met the Fed boss before playing the role -- and Giamatti, who is consistently great no matter the movie, plays Bernanke beautifully.
As for Buffett, who flew in from Omaha for the screening, he met Ed Asner, who plays him, for the first time last evening. The two hearty, gray-haired men posed for pictures and laughed about their lookalike status. Though one is much beefier and the other is richer. "We're going to remake the movie Twins together," joked the Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) chairman. Buffett's on-the-spot review of Too Big to Fail: "Terrific."
The movie premieres on HBO (TWX) next Monday, May 23.
by Patricia Sellers
John Mack interviewed Hank Paulson at New York University's Stern School last evening. The Morgan Stanley (MS) chairman, who recently turned over the CEO reins, told me that he wanted to push some emotional buttons in the former U.S. Treasury Secretary and onetime CEO of Goldman Sachs (GS).
And he did. The two talked about the hairiest, scariest moments of the global financial crisis. Mack credited Paulson with keeping MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 4, 2010 11:51 AM ET
My Fortune colleague Carol Loomis passed on this YouTube video of a talk that Morgan Stanley (MS) CEO John Mack delivered last week at Wharton. It's a remarkably candid play-by-play of living through the global economic meltdown.
Mack talks about being pushed by Tim Geithner, then head of the New York Fed, to do a deal with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) or Citigroup (C) or another partner that might stabilize the teetering MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 23, 2009 4:41 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Maybe it's a sign of recovery in the financial services industry: Wall Street's two most renowned women dropouts have settled on what to do next. Yesterday on Postcards, you read Sallie Krawcheck's bizarre tale of her bumpy road on the way to Bank of America (BAC). Today, news broke that former Morgan Stanley (MS) co-president Zoe Cruz is starting a hedge fund.
Cruz, who spent her entire career at MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 9, 2009 12:21 PM ET
Addendum: Morgan Stanley sources say that Wallid Chammah, widely viewed and ID'd below as a contender to be CEO of Morgan Stanley, took himself out of the race a year ago, after he and his family moved to London. James Gorman's rivals for the top job, in fact, were outsiders. Spencer Stuart recruiter Tom Neff gave the board a list of names known to include usual suspects such as ex-Merrill MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 10, 2009 5:26 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
As CIT gets a lifeline to stave off bankruptcy--a $3 billion deal with bondholders is reportedly in the works--the CEO who got the company into trouble is hanging on. But Jeff Peek's reputation is in tatters.
This is the third time in eight years that Peek has failed to grab the golden ring and redeem his reputation. First at Merrill Lynch (BAC), then at Credit Suisse Group (CSGKF), and MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 20, 2009 4:36 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Procter & Gamble (PG) lost its president today: Susan Arnold, a 29-year veteran who drove the company's high-margin beauty business to $20 billion in sales and went on to oversee all of P&G's brands, stepped down one day after her 55th birthday.
"My dad retired at 62," Arnold said, phoning this afternoon on her way to a Walt Disney (DIS) board meeting. "Then he got really sick. You know MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 9, 2009 2:57 PM ET
Such wrath! Readers' comments on Friday's post about Bob Rubin were angrier than I ever expected. A half-dozen commenters suggested that the onetime U.S. Treasury Secretary, whose reputation collapsed along with the fortunes of Citigroup (C), should go to jail for bungling the job that he's now leaving. On the one hand, I'm tempted to say: Calm down! There's no evidence - not a whiff - that Rubin did anything MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 12, 2009 2:28 PM ET
Is the role of the Fortune 500 CEO changing? I think it is. Of course, we've never seen so many corporate chiefs gain fame by testifying in the halls of Congress -- and then get skewered on Saturday Night Live. Any leader's nightmare, indeed. But as the world spins out of control, even the admired CEOs (a rare breed!) are feeling a need to step up and broaden their traditional MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 12, 2008 4:42 PM ET
This morning, I read about the potential merger of General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. Then I read about the benign rivalry of two divas of the blog world, Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown. Two stories that have nothing to do with each other? You would think. But actually, they do. They point to a new reality of the business world: Competition isn't what it used to be. Competition becomes coopetition. MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 27, 2008 5:14 PM ET
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