It’s possible you don’t recognize the name of veteran movie producer Howard Rosenman. But after hearing his shocking, gossip-laden appearance on The Originals, the podcast from Los Angeles magazine, he’ll be someone you’ll never, ever forget. The 77-year-old Call Me By Your Name producer and friend to absolutely everyone in show business regaled host Andrew Goldman with his journey from Orthodox yeshivas in Brooklyn to life as a successful, oversexed, formerly drugged-out gay Hollywood macher.
Listen to The Originals with Howard Rosenman below, or save it for later and entice yourself with these four key takeaways from one wild hour of conversation.
He agrees with Sarah Silverman that Hollywood’s got a “jewface” problem.
Rosenman, who dated Leonard Bernstein in the late 60s, is decidedly “meh” on Bradley Cooper playing his onetime boyfriend in Maestro, Cooper’s directorial follow-up to A Star Is Born (coming to Netflix in 2023). “Bradley is brilliant,” Rosenman says. “But [Bernstein]’s the most Jewish man in the world. Why would you pick a goy to play him?”
There’s nothing wrong with a little career-advancing sex…
Though Rosenman has long said he believes there’s no such thing as the velvet mafia, he acknowledges that he and late director Joel Schumacher (with whom Rosenman teamed to make the 1976 film Sparkle) both used their sexuality as a tool to climb the Hollywood ladder. “It helps if you’re attractive in Hollywood,” Rosenman says. “I was a good-looking young guy. So was Joel. Both of us used our sexuality at the beginning of our careers to advance. You could only do that for so long because after a while, you lose that. You have to be able to deliver the goods without all of that.”
…unless it involved sleeping with gross men.
That said, he had his limits, and even though he once worked for Saturday Night Live/Bee Gees impresario Robert Stigwood—who had a taste for young men—Rosenman never submitted. “Ugliest thing that ever walked the face of the earth,” he says of Stigwood. “Beyond ugly….I never did that. If someone was ugly, I would never.”
He and his buddies did a lot of cocaine.
“We would party,” Rosenman says. “There was a group of about 50 of us that came from New York—[writer/director] Paul Schrader, Richard Gere, [producer] Michele Rappaport, [production designer] Nando Scarfiotti, [set decorator] Bruce Weintraub. At the beginning, we would split one gram of coke for the whole weekend. By the time 1979 rolled around, we would be splitting three ounces of coke.”
The most thankless job in Hollywood is…
For a short period in the 90s, Rosenman headed King Of Pop Michael Jackson’s film production company. “He was desperate for…a starring role in a great piece of material,” Rosenman says. “I read a lot of material for him—many, many scripts.” Owing to Jackson’s appearance, nothing was ever produced. “He was beyond peculiar,” he says. “He had no nose. Imagine that face on 60 feet of screen! It just can’t work.”
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