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David O. Russell’s Next Movie Gets ‘Nailed’

Working outside the studio system can be a risky proposition. For David O. Russell, the director of Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, the decision to team up with financier David Bergstein, the CEO of Pangea Media Group, for the comedy Nailed starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhall, proved to be a disaster. Production on the movie, about a young woman who accidentally gets a nail driven through her head; sparking a sexual awakening and inspiring her to take a stand before congress to advocate for health care reform, began in the spring of 2008.

Things started to go wrong fast and shooting was repeatedly stopped and started when the money to pay the cast and crew failed to materialize. When it was clear that the money to keep it going would not be forthcoming, production on the movie was shut down altogether. Bergstein, who is currently embroiled in several lawsuits, has recently issued a statement placing blame on the fact that his lending partner, the DB Zwirn hedge fund, collapsed during the economic crisis:

A lot of problems happened (because of Zwirn) that caused legitimate problems to third parties where they couldn’t get paid on time. We did the best we could but people don’t care.


According to entertainment reporter Kim Masters in a recent article for The Daily Beast, Nailed was a nightmare scenario for everyone working on the film. The situation was so dire that one employee sent Bergstein a letter that read:

How can you people live with yourselves? My typical day is filled with making promises that I cannot keep to little Ma and Pa vendors who have extended services to our company on good faith. These are real people with families to provide for and bills to pay. Your constant promises of `tomorrow the loan will go through’ [are] ludicrous. And you’ve all made a liar out of me . . . Fuck you.

According to Masters’ sources, O. Russell who is famous for his temper tantrums on set (one from the set I Heart Huckabees was memorialized in an infamous viral video) was calm in the midst all of the turmoil. She quotes an associate, who said:

For the first time, there were more demons outside his head than inside his head. He wanted to step forward and captain a good ship for his own career. He was in ultra-professional mode. For him, it was so cruel—he was trapped at every turn.

One of the most surprising pieces of information in the article is that the movie was completely finished besides a key scene in which Biel’s character gets nailed in the head. O. Russell declined Masters’ request for a comment, but Biel talked about her experience in an interview with the Orlando-Sentinel to promote the film Easy Virtue in May 2009. She said:

That was definitely an experience, something I could NOT say no to. I am a huge David O. Russell fan. It’s just heartbreaking that so many people put so much work into this particular project only to have it sit there, unfinished. But it’s one of those things where we had no idea it would have happened.

She added that she didn’t regret signing on to do the movie, despite the unfinished outcome:

If I’d had an idea that it might happen, would I still have done it? I don’t know. Probably. I had an incredible experience with David and the rest of the cast. It made me a better actor. For all that, I’m devastated that it’s not finished and who knows when it will be and will come out. I still have my fingers crossed that something good will come of it, that it will be finished.


A year after that interview, the question of whether the film will see the light of day or not still isn’t certain. One cause for hope is the fact that Taylor Hackford‘s Bergstein produced movie Love Ranch starring Hackford’s wife Helen Mirren will finally be released on July 4th after spending a year in purgatory while funding stalled.

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