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About The Production

Production on The Muse took only 40 days, running from late August through late September of 1998. Such an efficient shooting schedule is rare for a movie filming in and around Hollywood, but common for an Albert Brooks movie. The secret? Preparedness.

While the logistics of production were well-planned-out and implemented by Brooks, producer Herb Nanas, and executive producer/unit production manager Barry Berg, Brooks also insisted on preparedness from his actors. Only then could any improvisation(s) begin: "You must first have it on paper, and then you can play with it," explains Brooks. "If it's not down on paper, then you start reaching, and it looks phony."

Here, Brooks' casting instinct for his Muse paid dividends: "As it turned out, Sharon was more than I could have hoped for. Aside from being funny, she's smart and well-prepared. She was always coming at me with lots of ideas for the character, which made my job as director so much easier."

Stone adds, "Every day I came up with tons of goofy ideas. Albert would hear them all, tell me what would work and what wouldn't, and would explain why. So, in the process, he not only got what he needed for the movie, but he also educated me about how to create comedy."

Back on the logistics front, the production filmed on locations ranging from an opulent mansion in Pasadena, to a home in Pacific Palisades, to the new Long Beach Aquarium.

The last-named location was in part utilized for the appearance of one of the film's notable cameo players, actor/director Rob Reiner. A high-school friend of Brooks', Reiner is one of three major film directors who make forays in front of the camera in The Muse. The others are James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.

Brooks notes, "I was amazed to get Marty. He hates to fly, and was about to start his own movie, so I was thrilled he even accepted." Directing Scorsese marked the first time that Brooks had worked with him since Scorsese had directed Brooks in the 1976 classic Taxi Driver.

Another star of Taxi Driver, actress Cybill Shepherd, appears in the opening sequence of The Muse, as the presenter at the black-tie dinner honoring Brooks' character with a humanitarian award. Other actors appearing in cameos include Jennifer Tilly and Lorenzo Lamas.

The cameo players lent verisimilitude to the film's Hollywood setting, and recognizably "Hollywood" locations where filming took place included Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, and Raleigh Studios.

Shooting was also done at the restaurant Spago, with Spago's Wolfgang Puck participating in a few scenes as himself. Or, like the other cameo players, more or less as himself...

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