King of Comedy's Katrina Relief Fund Backfires - May 17, 2006

Comic-actor Bernie Mac seems to have lost his sense of humor over some movie people partying hard on his dime, and affronted crew members have been walking off the set over the funny man's finger-pointing.

Disgruntled party boy, Bernie Mac
"P.D.R.," a drama about a legendary swimming coach taking inner city kids to the water starring Terrence Howard, Tom Arnold and Bernie Mac is currently winding up production in New Orleans (doubling for Philadelphia). For that last several weeks, the benevolent Bernie Mac has been throwing end-of-the-work week wrap parties for the grateful cast, crew and friends at the upscale Intercontinental Hotel. Appreciating the business, the hotel staff has kept the bar open after hours with spirits, shrimp and cheese-balls for the parched and hungry film people. But a week ago last Friday, when Bernie Mac was out of town, the party went ahead without him and the revelers reportedly racked up a bar tab totaling $8,500.00 -- most of it spent on bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Serious Actor:
Terrence Howard
Before Bernie returned to find out about the excessive revelry, serious actor Terrence Howard took it upon himself to dress down some select crew members. Howard told the stunned below-the-line workers (most of whom were in bed before the party started) that they "should be ashamed of themselves for taking advantage of Bernie that way." The $24-an-hour grips and gaffers assembled were aghast, and several simply walked off the set. But it didn't end there.

When Bernie Mac returned to the set, with only eight days left to shoot, in full make-up, he requested that the crew have a meeting with him. The delighted workers were thinking that the comedian was going to give out traditional gratitude gifts and maybe thank them for a job well done. Not so.

Multi-millionaire Bernie Mac delivered the same shame-on-you speech to the crew, railing about how they ripped him off for the $8500. Furious, two of the key crew members quit the production then and there, and others simply walked off the set.

To make matters worse, when Bernie was told that many of singled out workers weren't even at his party and was nudged into apologizing, he had them assembled again. He began his apology saying, "Well, I've been told to apologize to you..." The crew wasn't taking this backhanded apology lying down, and one crew leader asked him if he was singling out white crew members. That's when Bernie Mac delivered the "N" bomb.

"People have been calling me nigger my whole life," he said. "You all are thin-skinned... You're acting like nieces and nephews." (Whatever that meant). After that performance, even more disgusted crew members walked off the set.

The long and short of this story is maybe Bernie Mac should have thought twice about sanctioning a party for film people and "friends of the production" in his absence. That's kind of like leaving your posse an open tab at a strip joint while you go home to bed.

Laissez les bon temps rouler, Bernie!

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It wasn't the movie crew that ran up the bill... It was that honky Duke Lacrosse team! And, the $8500 didn't even cover the hookers!!!

Posted by: Jack Hughes at May 19, 2006 12:51 PM

Naw dude, that's fucked up. You don't party on someone else's dime when they're not around unless they've been given strict permission to do so. Yeah, Bernie handled it poorly, but those little bastards took advantage of him even if they believe they didn't.

Posted by: xigreaus at May 20, 2006 12:51 AM

What an idiot. It is not entirely the crew's fault, they were having parties every week for the past couple weeks and Bernie leaves without telling what to do. And why would Bernie worry about $8500? That's pocket change to him. Maybe he was just mad they had a party without him

Posted by: Joe at May 20, 2006 09:48 PM

Well your story is mostly right, the statement about singling out white crew members is completely false.

He had called the crew a "bunch of selfish son of a bitches" and in his later apology called us a bunch of babies, and said that he was dealing with children, several people commented to him that he was making blind accusations about the entire crew and that lumping the actions of one into a group was no better that racism. After the racism comment is when he brought up the "n" word and the argument was broken up by the director and producers. It should also be noted that none of the shooting crew had attended the party and that it was extras and more importantly the directors assistant who was passing out cristal and dom. She was fired. Bernie never actually gave an apology. Just wanted to clear that up. Thanks

Posted by: a crew member at May 23, 2006 09:05 PM

I guess, in part your story is true only considering the words of my fellow crew member as very true. However, I wanted to add that Bernie did apologize directly to several of us and stated that if he could edit his words he could. Also, the directors assistant, who was a diva, took it upon herself to increase the budget for the party. It is very true that most of us locals did not attend that party inparticular because, if my memory serves me, we had worked nights at the end of that week. By the time we got off of work on Sunday a.m., we just wanted to go home! Regardless, I would like to say, in defense of Bernie, that I think, given his apology to me that he is a very kind man, a lot of fun to be around, and one of the best actors to work with. Good luck to you Bernie!

Posted by: Anonymous at January 4, 2007 10:56 AM

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