No one’s pretending that 2001’s Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles – the Razzie-nominated, 11% Rotten Tomates-rated threequel that came out 14 years after Crocodile Dundee 2 – is a good movie. And, given his very ugly and very public divorce in 1986, and his (alleged) very ugly and very public tax evasion in 2008, there’s a pretty good chance that Paul Hogan might not be the best bloke going around. But former screenwriter now ESPN fantasy football analyst (yep) Matthew Berry has given an inside glimpse into just how not-the-best Hoges really is.
Berry, who wrote Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles with his writing partner Eric Abrams, appeared on the How Did This Get Made? podcast, in which comedians Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael dissect so-bad-it’s-good movies.
Berry and Abrams, at the time writing sitcoms, were called in to pitch ideas for Mick Dundee’s return to the silver screen to Hogan. Their idea of a family-friendly alternative to the sexual gross-out comedies that were big at the time won over Hogan, and they were booked for the job. Not really wanting to spend “three months in front of a computer with Paul” (and who would?), they instead wrote the script themselves, and submitted it to Hogan for his edits.
Berry describes Hogan’s edits as like “a college kid changing his term paper from Wikipedia” – character names, locations and other minor details were altered, while gags and punchlines were watered down. “Everything was like a worse version of what we had”.
Once the movie was in production, things with Hogan threw the writers on the barbie, with the actor/producer attempting to remove Berry and Abrams’ names from the script and giving himself the sole writers’ credit, claiming his edits represented the original product. Berry and Abrams were paid for their work writing the film, but in order to receive residuals (ie. Their share of the profits the movie would go on to make), they needed the writing credit that Hogan was trying to withhold.
That’s not a first draft. THIS is a first draft.
The decision wound up being in the hands of the Writer’s Guild of America, who compared Berry’s draft to Hogan’s draft, and decided pretty quickly that Hogan’s claim was a croc of shit, and ruled in Berry’s favour. Hogan appealed the decision, and when he lost that, he went on to threaten to sue the Writer’s Guild, publicly trashing Berry and Abrams along the way. Hilariously, in fighting for their credits on the film, Berry and Abrams found themselves “in this really public battle about this movie that we’re not real proud of… It’s this horrible awkward thing where we have to very publicly say ‘No, we’re the writers of this horrible, shitty movie’ ”.
In the end though, Berry and Abrams did get full writing credit, all the residuals they were entitled to (Berry is open about the job being completely and utterly about the money), and tickets to the premiere, where they were put in the last row in the back corner, making them the envy of everyone else in the theatre. The best part though? Hogan is contractually obliged to offer Berry and Abrams the first shot at writing the next movie. That means that Hogan’s ego might be the only thing standing between us and Crocodile Dundee 4: Croc In Space.