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"What frustrated me is I had really good people around me, and it looked like a clusterfuck," Jones says. "There were moments when it was that, but there were many more when it wasn't that. They thought the truth would get in the way of the drama."
As a result, Moore's regularly accosted by people who've seen the show and think him a vengeful, Machiavellian sumbitch--which, he insists, is fine with him. All he wanted to do was pull back the curtain and show hopeful moviemakers how damned easy it really is.
"That is my greatest hope," he insists, "and what I say to people when they hassle me on the street is, “Go out and do it, dude. Go out and do it better than I do it. Or don't yell at me. If you think there's a better way, go out and do it, dude.' There are 10,000 other guys out here doing what I do. You'll see, though, the hardest part is getting the movies made. And I just think it's fun. I really love the challenge. There's nothing better...I love the actual moment when you give someone the chance to live the dream they wanna live.
"I have a good life. I'm not gonna lie to you. It's fun, and I make more money than I probably would if I did some other job, and I got no complaints, and I like sharing that with people. So if that means some people think I'm an ass--and, quite frankly, I think I was an ass a number of times--well, I can't blame anybody."
Part of Moore's charm is that he's as jovial as he is gruff, as funny as he is fuming. "Chris," Jones says, "is an affable guy who's tough as nails...There's nothing I would want more in a producer than a guy who would say to my face what he'd say behind my back." He's even become something of a star himself: Some 2,500 contestants entered Greenlight's so-called Chris Moore Challenge, offering up their own videotaped impressions of the producer for the chance to hang with him at Stolen Summer's premiere. (The film debuts in four cities, including Los Angeles, on March 22; there will be a larger rollout later.)
The son of a Maryland labor lawyer and a Harvard grad (he attended the school with Damon, though they barely knew each other then), Moore quit his gig as an agent to produce 1996's Glory Daze, starring Affleck. Talk to him long enough, and he comes across as a regular guy with a million-dollar gig. He says "fuck" a lot--as in, "one more Arnold-Schwarzenegger-saves-the-day movie is just boring as fuck"--and punctuates his sentences with "shit" and "dude." He's the antithesis of Jerry Bruckheimer, the silent shark in black leather. Moore's the frantic frat boy, easygoing till the check arrives. Unlike his immediate producing predecessors, he's the insider who still posits himself as something of an outsider.
When asked the status of The Third Wheel, a Luke Wilson-Denise Richards romantic comedy Miramax keeps yanking from its release schedule, Moore plays the part of the aggrieved producer--despite the fact Affleck and Damon have small roles in it, and all three are tight with Miramax bossman Harvey Weinstein. "If you get anybody from Miramax on the phone, call me back and tell me," he says. "They don't like it very much--and I'm not gonna lie to ya, it didn't turn into fuckin' Harry Met Sally--but it still deserves to get released, so we're beatin' on 'em." And Harvey Weinstein is not a man who likes anyone, even his favorite sons, beating on him.
At the moment, LivePlanet is in production on several other films entered in the initial Greenlightcontest; Moore takes pride in the fact he and his partners picked up not only Jones' movie but others, proving their commitment to young comers. The Runnermay debut in the summer of 2003 and run for six to 12 weeks; Moore says all discussions about the series remain tentative. Push, Nevada, a treasure-hunt pilot for ABC, likely will air sooner, and it could be the biggest test of LivePlanet's potential for cross-pollination between media, since you can either watch the show passively or log on and join in the quest. Moore, who expected to be tied up working on The Runnerthese days, can only work and wait and let others pass judgment.
"John Frankenheimer, who I did Reindeer Gameswith, he said to me, “Chris, if it were easy, everybody would do it,'" he says. "So I don't ever get beaten down, because I love the battle. What I hate is the same battle over and over again about stupid shit, and that happens sometimes in this business, because some people lovethe same battle about stupid shit, and you get bored with that. You reach a certain level where hopefully most of the time you're dealing with smart people, and you go from there. I'm someone who has the choice to go back to just making movies and livin' a good life, and I still believe we have a lot more things to prove but have proved enough that I wanna stick with it."