At the end of April, Universal Studios celebrates its 100th anniversary. To mark the milestone, the studio has a heavy presence at the eleventh annual Tribeca Film Festival. Its upcoming comedy, "The Five-Year Engagement," opened Tribeca on Wednesday night, and on Thursday, the fest hosted Judd Apatow and Robert De Niro for an hour-long discussion about their contributions to the studio.
De Niro has made twelve films for Universal throughout his lauded career, including "Meet the Parents," "Cape Fear," "The Deer Hunter," "Casino" and "Midnight Run." All four of Apatow's directorial efforts ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up," "Funny People" and the upcoming "This is 40") were released by Universal, as was the Apatow-produced comedy "Bridesmaids." (He also produced "Five-Year.") As Universal president and COO Ron Meyer said at the beginning of the presentation, the two men are "an integral part of [the] organization."
Despite a shaky start -- mostly owing to the fact that moderator Mike Fleming asked a torrent of questions about De Niro's work in "The Deer Hunter," his first Universal feature, that the actor didn't seem all that interested in answering -- Apatow and De Niro had a good rapport during the panel, discussing everything from personal failures to the future of digital filmmaking. (Meryl Streep, who made "Out of Africa" and "Mamma Mia" for Universal was scheduled to attend, but had to bow out due to an illness in her family.)
Ahead, the seven key moments from the Tribeca Film Festival panel "100 Years of Universal."
1. Judd Apatow reads your Internet comments...
...and they hurt his feelings.
"Sometimes when I want to kill myself, I read what they say about me," Apatow said about the commenting section on Deadline.com. (Moderator Fleming is a reporter for the site.) Play nice, readers!
2. Apatow was not a 40-year-old virgin, and neither was Robert De Niro (probably).
Apatow's directorial debut was the Universal comedy "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and while the script -- from star Steve Carell -- felt relatable for Apatow, he was not sexless for four decades.
"It was the end of school. I thought it went pretty well," he said when asked about his first time. "Afterward, I said, 'So, was it good for you, too?' I thought it would be funny to say, not expecting her to answer. And she said, 'Well, I guess it'll get better.'
After the laughter from the crowd died down, Fleming quipped that he knew better than to ask the same question of De Niro. Responded Apatow: "Pussy."
3. Apatow doesn't regret "Funny People."
After Fleming noted that "some people" called "Funny People" self-indulgent for the way Apatow used his family in the film, the director said he liked making movies that are close to his heart.
"I think it's important for people to make movies that are deeply personal," he remarked. "I think you have to be willing [to] do things."
Apatow joked that "Funny People" lost "millions of dollars," but noted that Universal couldn't have been a better creative partner.
"In all honesty, they've always loved the movie and always supported it," he said. "It's been an amazing for me, working with them, because they want me to grow and get better at what I do. Part of that is for me to take risks and try new things and it was never weird."
Apatow should know. He was producer of "The Cable Guy," a famed (and misunderstood) comedy bust.
"I've been on planes on the way back from the test screening of 'The Cable Guy.' I know what it's like when people are like, 'Oh my God, what are we going to do?' And I'm like, 'It's great, isn't it? It's like 'Neighbors'!' And they're like, 'What?'"
4. Robert De Niro is ready for "Midnight Run 2."
Back in March, Deadline.com reported that Universal had hired David Elliot and Paul Lovett to rewrite "Midnight Run 2," which Brett Ratner would direct. When asked by Fleming about the project, De Niro revealed where his character, bounty hunter Jack Walsh, would be at the beginning of the film.
"He's helping the son of Charles Grodin['s character, Jonathan Mardukas]. He got himself in trouble. So that's where we are. The script is being reworked. I hope to do it -- it was a lot of fun to do."
5. He's also primed for another feature with Martin Scorsese.
Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have made eight movies together, but none since "Casino" in 1995. Why the long delay between collaborations?
"There were a couple of things that I would have been in, would like to have been in, but I just couldn't at the time for personal reasons," De Niro said. "I couldn't be available. A long time has passed, but we do have something now that we're going to do; that we're working at. I'm hoping at least this one, maybe more."
That film is "The Irishman," a mob movie based on the novel I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. Awesome and all, but what recent Scorsese films was De Niro not able to do? Use this time to wildly imagine him in "The Departed" or "Shutter Island."
6. De Niro doesn't know much about watching films on mobile devices.
"I just don't know. I don't know what to say about it," De Niro said when asked about the iPad revolution, before later adding, "I don't know […] I don't know." Got it.
7. Apatow, on the other hand, is a fan.
"I love it," he said. "Anything that allows me to watch a film while going to the bathroom is awesome."
For more coverage on the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, click here.
PHOTO: Tribeca Film Festival Opening Night
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