About The Production
"Analyze This" first saw the light of day as a spec script by playwright Kenneth Lonergan
"Analyze This" first saw the light
of day as a spec script by playwright Kenneth Lonergan. Lomergan
showed the script to Len Amato, an executive at Spring Creek Productions,
who immediately recognized its appeal and submitted it to Spring
Creek founders Paula Weinstein and her late husband, Mark Rosenberg.
They were tremendously enthusiastic about the story and thought
the role of the psychiatrist would be perfect for Billy Crystal.
When they showed him the script, Crystal also became excited.
"I thought it was a great idea and said I would be interested
in playing Ben Sobol," he says. "Ben is an underachiever,
bored with his professional life, when all of a sudden the most
powerful mobster in New York bursts in on him and he has to rise
to the occasion. It's the greatest challenge imaginable for this
man, and he's excited by it -- but he's also scared to death.
He has to unravel the mystery of Vitti's past and make him healthy
in a matter of weeks so that the man is able to confront his rivals
with confidence and authority at an important Mafia meeting. Everything
rides on this for Vitti and, as it happens, the meeting becomes
a matter of life and death for Ben as well."
Crystal continues, "We hired a very talented screenwriter,
Peter Tolan, to do another draft and he came up with a wonderfully
funny script. In my mind, as I read it, the only person I could
see for the role of Paul Vitti, the Mob boss, was Bob De Niro."
Thus, the script went to Tribeca Productions so that Robert De
Niro and his partner Jane Rosenthal could take a look at it. They
reacted favorably and a reading was arranged in which Crystal
and De Niro participated. "The reading went very, very well,"
says Weinstein. "We all felt that the story worked beautifully
and that it would make a terrific film."
For his part, De Niro was willing to commit, although he had one
reservation. According to producer Jane Rosenthal, co-founder
with De Niro of Tribeca Productions. "Bob was concerned about
whether or not he would be parodying himself in this material.
After all, he could wind up mocking the closest thing Robert De
Niro has to a franchise character."
Nevertheless, De Niro decided to take the chance because he was
so intrigued by the concept. "I was also thinking that the
time had come for me to poke a little fun at myself," he
This didn't mean, however, that "Analyze This" would
be played as a parody by the two-time Oscar winner. According
to Rosenthal, De Niro had strict guidelines for what kind of film
he wanted to become involved in. "He was not about to do
a sitcom version of the Mafia movies that he made in the past.
He approached the project with the same integrity with which he
approaches everything and insisted that the film accurately and
authentically reflect the world of the character he was going
Crystal was in complete accord with this philosophy. "With
Bob on board, the project became the biggest challenge of my career,"
Crystal says. "He's our greatest actor; working with him
would be a tremendous honor for me. 1 saw the film as a real departure
and it became very exciting."
While the project's star talent fulfilled other acting obligations,
the filmmakers took time to secure the perfect director. Deciding
on a director was the easy part; Harold Ramis was everyone's
first choice. The problem was that Ramis had just moved with his
family from Los Ang
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