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Montgomery Advertiser

Lifestyle-Jan. 24, 2003

Cohen and Jinks share Oscar history

By Rick Harmon
Montgomery Advertiser

When it initially looked as if Columbia might not be interested in filming "Big Fish," screenplay writer John August turned to two of his friends, who just happened to be one of Hollywood's hottest pair of producers.

The first project producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen had taken on after teaming up was a movie few thought had much box-office potential. The movie "American Beauty" went on to win the Oscar and be a box-office hit.

"Getting an Oscar for the first movie the two of us produced was remarkable, surreal and unbelievably exciting," said Jinks, who produced the comedy "Nothing to Lose" and the mystery "The Bone Collector," before teaming up with Cohen.

"We knew from the start that we had a great script, but it was hard to get it made because it was such an unusual piece that the studio questioned its commercial viability."

With an Oscar on their shelves, the pair's enthusiasm for the "Big Fish" script was able to attract the interest of top directors, including Tim Burton.

Cohen, who worked as an assistant director on "Arachnophobia" and Steven Spielberg's "Hook" before producing films such as "The Flintstones" and "Mousehunt" said it is easier to say what a producer's job isn't than what it is.

"What is difficult about being a producer is that it is an all encompassing job," he said. "You are working on everything from construction and set design to casting the script to, well, almost everything involved in making the film.

"So you can never be an expert on all of it. You just have to have general skills, skills which include people skills and being able to overlook the small problems so that you can keep an eye on the big picture."

The next project by the pair that will be in theaters is "Down With Love," a comedy staring Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger and David Hyde Pierce, that is scheduled for an April 11 release.