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Hollywood uber-producer Brian Grazer has fond memories of the Sundance Film Festival that go back more than 30 years.
"My first movie, 'Splash,' premiered there," he said. "And we had an amazing party. It was so good."
That was back in 1984. In 2005, Grazer threw a bash for the documentary "Inside Deep Throat," which screened at the festival, and it was "probably the best party that Sundance ever had. There were naked girls. Police came. It was all about the theme of doing the autopsy on [the porn film] 'Deep Throat.' "
There were no naked girls at the party for "Splash," a film about a guy (Tom Hanks) who fell in love with a mermaid (Daryl Hannah). It wasn't the first movie Grazer produced, but it was the first he co-wrote. The incredibly long list of films he's produced begins with "Night Shift" in 1982 and includes "Parenthood," "Cry-Baby," "Kindergarten Cop," "Backdraft," "My Girl," "Far and Away," "Apollo 13," "Liar Liar," "Inventing the Abbots," "A Beautiful Mind," "8 Mile," "Friday Night Lights," "The Da Vinci Code," "Frost/Nixon" and "J. Edgar" just to name a few.
Back in 1984, Sundance "was such a good omen for the movie," Grazer said. "And a great omen for me as I got into movies."
He had started out in television, producing made-for-TV movies at Paramount and selling them to the broadcast networks.
"I got kicked out of television," Grazer said, after being "pretty successful" as a 25-year-old TV executive. At the time, there were only three outlets for TV movies ABC, CBS and NBC "and someone at one of the networks got mad at me, so I only had two networks left. And my boss said, 'You better not screw this up and get someone else mad.'
"And I did, because I was kind of a wild 25-year-old."
Grazer got fired, "so then I finished writing what became 'Splash' and became a movie producer. And then I got back into television to redeem myself."
He and his friend Ron Howard (who directed "Night Shift" and "Splash") founded Imagine Entertainment in 1986, and it has become a Hollywood production powerhouse. Grazer also has a long list of TV productions to his credit, including "From the Earth to the Moon," "Sports Night," "Felicity," "Friday Night Lights," "Parenthood," "24," "Arrested Development" and "Empire" just to name a few. (He is executive producer of "Shots Fired," a Fox television series about race-related shootings making its premiere at Sundance.)
He points back to the Sundance premiere of "Splash" as the turning point in his career.
"Sundance had a huge effect on my life and career," he said. "And it's where I learned to ski."
A longtime surfer, Grazer and the star of "Splash" took to the slopes back in 1984.
"Tom Hanks and I totally learned to ski when we were invited to the Sundance Film Festival, he said. "We were, like, 'Let's try it.' "
Hanks picked it up more quickly.
"He's really, really good at taking instructions," Grazer said. "Of any human being I've ever met, Tom Hanks gets an instruction, he can assimilate it and do it. So he was able to ski pretty quickly and easily.
"I'm pretty athletic, but it still took me longer than him."