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Joseph E. Levine: Producers Producer

After agreeing to finance his comedy classic, The Producers, Embassy Pictures chief Joseph E. Levine met with director Mel Brooks. "Levine was a child of the Depression," assistant director Michael Hertzberg recalled of their first meeting, "and in his office he kept a bowl of apples. So when Mel goes up to see him, Joe says, 'Mel, my job is to get the money for you to make the movie. Your job is to make the movie. My job is to steal the money from you. And your job is to find out how I do it. Here, have an apple.'"

[Levine made his fortune distributing Hercules and Hercules Unchained. "He bought Hercules for $120,000, swathed it in $1,156,000 worth of publicity," the L. A. Times reported in 1966, "and grossed, so far, $20 million."]

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