BootLeg Betty

AWWW! Will “Sweet Baby Jesus” Even Be Born?

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Mister D: Bette was so not ever doing this movie!

Deadline
‘Sweet Baby Jesus’ Director Quits After Filmmakers Say They Were Left Unpaid
September 16, 2010

By TIM ADLER Thursday September 16, 2010 @ 3:10am PDT


UPDATE: Peter Hewitt tells me he has left the production amid accusations that producer Philippe Rebboah has not paid below the line staff. Production on Sweet Baby Jesus was due to start September 15. Hewitt, director of Garfield and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, tells me that he’s never been properly paid, despite the verbal offer of a pay-or-play deal. “It’s been a catalogue of delays and trouble right from when I signed on in February,” he tells me. “I kept giving Rebboah the benefit of the doubt but he never paid me.”

Studio Eight, the London-based producer and financier has also exited the project saying it can longer work with Rebboah. Sweet Baby Jesus line producer BJ Rack, co-producer of Terminator 2, tells me she and Hewitt have been left €35,000 ($46,000) out of pocket. Rental car fees have also been disputed, she says. The location manager and production accountant are also owed money, says Rack.

Hewitt and Rack arrived in Detroit in August to begin location scouting. “We never did any pre-production, it was a total joke,” Hewitt says. After two weeks of what Hewitt describes as “hanging around”, Rebboah told them he was leaving for Europe. Rebboah’s departure on August 22 bewildered Hewitt and Rack, who thought they were preparing to shoot.

Brit pop singer Pixie Lott was attached to star in Sweet Baby Jesus, a comedy about a pregnant teenage mom whose arrival in Bethlehem, Maryland is mistaken for the Second Coming. Bette Midler was also set to co-star. Sam Rockwell and Adrien Brody were trumpeted as possible stars, although never officially attached. Sharon Stone was also linked. Intandem, the London-based sales agent, is handling international sales. Rebboah, who Deadline tracked down in London, says production is still going ahead, this time in Italy in November. He says he had to return to Europe after one of the financiers fell out, having already spent $46,000 on expenses. Rebboah says the Michigan recce was derailed by personality clashes and his unhappiness about the location. Rebboah says he made clear that Michigan was just a recce and not the start of pre-production. Most importantly, Rebboah tells me, everybody has been paid including the hotel and Avis car rental. Jamie Brown, managing director of Studio Eight, tells me that as far as he’s concerned some of his investor’s money is unaccounted for. Rebboah has refused to account for Studio Eight’s money he’s spent, says Brown. (Rebboah denies Studio Eight ever sent him any money. It was the other way round, he says. “It was the opposite.”) Studio Eight says it will reimburse its private investor itself. “Pete Hewitt is so upset and cross about it,” Brown tells me. “What I don’t understand is that the money was all in place and we were all set to go.” Studio Eight has spent the last 6 years developing Sweet Baby Jesus. (Not true, says Rebboah, it’s always been his project.) The shame of it is that whenever an indie project ends up in this kind of welter of recriminations, it’s just another disincentive for private investors to steer clear of indie film finance.

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