Back from the Boondocks

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I'm Matt Holzman with The Business Brief, a look at what's happening in and around show business this week.

The story of Troy Duffy's rocket-ride to success and equally dramatic plummet back to Earth is combination of Hollywood legend and Greek tragedy; call it Icarus meets Narcissus meets William Morris. But now, it appears that his saga is far from over.

In 1997, Duffy, a total unknown, found himself in the middle of a bidding war over the script for a shoot-em-up called The Boondock Saints. Miramax emerged victorious; offered him a tidy sum, and agreed to let him direct and use his band's music in the movie. As the story goes, Harvey Weinstein was so enamored of the tough-talking kid from Connecticut that he promised to buy the place where Duffy tended bar and make him his partner. Any of this ring a bell?

It's hard to hyperbolize about the hyperbole that surrounded Duffy and his posse at the time. And it was Duffy himself who seemed to be both the creator of his myth and the main consumer of it. Maybe he had talent; but for sure he had drive and an ego and a mouth and a temper.

The fact that he let his friends film his every move for posterity is evidence of the hubris that would eventually cause his deal with Miramax to come apart at the seams and turn duffy's story into a kind of show business cautionary tale.

In the documentary his “friends” made about Duffy's rise and fall, called Overnite, he displays a kind of arrogance that's hard to imagine, though he insists that his wild-eyed grandiosity and angry tirades were taken out of context. And at the end of the film, you get the feeling that Troy Duffy's career was over before it really had started.

And yet, he managed to make The Boondock Saints without Miramax. And though it would basically be a DVD release, it would find a cult following and as time passed. DVD sales numbers are hard to pin down, but it's safe to say that the movie made in the tens of millions of dollars on home video.

And now, a decade after The Boondock Saints came out, and after a long legal battle over money and rights, Troy Duffy is back with a sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. The film has real theatrical distribution and opened the weekend before last to respectable per screen numbers. This last weekend, it platformed to even more theaters and seems to be holding its own. As Duffy spins it, his is a story of triumph, and I tend to agree.

The sequel to Boondock Saints got made because sales from the original film's DVD made it a good business decision. That fact that it got made does not prove that the documentary about Troy Duffy was wrong and that he is a wonderful person. But you don't get kicked off the island in Hollywood for hubris; in fact, you could argue that chutzpah is as important as talent in the business, and Duffy clearly has it in spades. All he needed to figure out was how to make it work for him and not against him.

I talked to Duffy for next week's edition of The Business heard here on KCRW Monday's at 2:30pm, and it seemed to me that he's done just that. More than that, he's figured our why it's not OK to be a raging lunatic – even in Hollywood. And he learned the hard way. So now, Troy Duffy is just another run-of-the-mill egomaniac in a business filled with egomaniacs. Say what you will about his talent or his character, I wouldn't bet against him.

I'd love to hear your opinion. You post your thoughts and download this commentary at For KCRW, I'm Matt Holzman.



Matt Holzman