What the Hell Happened to Michael Keaton?

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton started out as a manic comic and grew into an unlikely leading man and an even more unlikely super hero.  As the first big-screen Batman, Keaton was able to make deals that secured him A-list work.  But when he walked away from the Bat-franchise, Keaton’s opportunities dried up.  Eventually, he all but disappeared from the spotlight.

What the hell happened?

Michael Keaton – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood - 1968

Michael Keaton – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood – 1975

After failing to break into stand-up comedy, Michael Keaton worked as a cameraman at a public television station in Pittsburg.  He started appearing onscreen in TV shows like Where the Heart Is and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where he played one of the Flying Zucchini Brothers.  Keaton was a production assistant on Mr. Rogers and hosted a tribute show on PBS following Fred Rogers’ death in 2004.

I kind of blew past that stand-up comedy career, didn’t I?  Wanna see a clip?  Of course you do.  Here’s an early Michael Keaton stand-up routine.

Keaton left public television to start a career as an actor.  He appeared on TV shows like Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.  Here’s a clip of Keaton doing a song and dance number with a pre-fame David Letterman and Mary Tyler Moore.

Man, I do not miss variety shows.  But that was pretty awesome.

As Keaton was entering this phase of his career, he was asked to change his professional name.  Keaton’s real name is Michael Douglas.  In fact, it is still his legal name.  But there was already a famous actor named Michael Douglas and Mike Douglas was a famous TV host.

Ironically, Michael Douglas’ father, Kirk Douglas, was born Issur Danielovitch.  If he hadn’t changed his name to Douglas when he came to Hollywood, the name Michael Douglas would have been available for Keaton to use.  If that had happened, Michael Douglas would have been Michael Danielovitch and Michael Keaton would have been Michael Douglas.

The internet insists that Keaton chose his stage name after reading an article about Diane Keaton on a plane.  However, this is not true.  It’s funny how the internet feeds off of itself some times.  Someone posted the original story without citation and soon it became cited all over the place including Wikipedia.  But Keaton has publicly denied the story.  Keaton picked the name without giving it much thought.  But he has said Buster Keaton was an influence.

rabbit test

In 1978, Keaton had a cameo role in his first movie, Rabbit Test.  Rabbit Test starred Billy Crystal as the world’s first pregnant man.  There was nowhere to go from here but up.

keaton working stiffs

Michael Keaton – Working Stiffs – 1979

In 1979, Keaton starred opposite Jim Belushi in the short-lived sitcom, Working Stiffs.  Keaton and Belushi played brothers who lived together and worked as janitors.  Nine episodes of the show were produced, but only four episodes were aired.

I’m not sure which is worse.  A pregnant-man film directed by Joan Rivers or a sit-com co-starring the lesser Belushi.  Fortunately for Keaton, one of the writer’s on Working Stiffs was also working on a screenplay for Ron Howard and introduced them.

Michael Keaton - Night Shift - 1982

Michael Keaton – Night Shift – 1982

That screenplay was Night Shift.

Night Shift was released in 1982 and starred Henry Winkler as an accountant-turned-pimp  and a pre-Cheers Shelley Long as a hooker with a heart of gold (a novel concept if ever there was one).  Ron Howard directed his former Happy Days co-star in what was intended to be a career change for both of them.  Howard was a novice director and Winkler was trying to get away from his Fonzie persona.

Keaton absolutely stole the show.  His motormouth idea man, Billy “Blaze” Blazejowski never stopped rattling off one crazy idea after another to the point where even the Fonz lost his cool and told him to shut up.

But Keaton’s over-the-top performance made the studio nervous.  According to Keaton,

“They saw the dailies and they were telling Ronnie I had to stop chewing gum, I had to get my hair cut. Eventually they were, like, ‘We have to fire him! What the fuck is he doing?’ They didn’t get it. To Ronnie’s credit, he told ’em to wait and see until it was all cut together.”

Night Shift got mostly favorable reviews and performed reasonably well at the box office.  It set off a string of prostitution-themed comedies in the 80’s that included Risky Business and Doctor Detroit.

Keaton - mr mom

Michael Keaton – Mr. Mom – 1983

Following Night Shift, Keaton was offered the John Candy role in Ron Howard’s Splash.  But he turned it down fearing that the role was too similar to the side-kick he played in Night Shift.

Instead, Keaton opted for a starring role in Mr. Mom in 1983.  John Hughes’ script for the high concept domestic comedy appealed to Keaton as did the fact it allowed him to grow as a leading man.

Reviews at the time were mixed to positive.  Many noted that the film felt a little like a TV sitcom.  But Keaton elevated the material.  Mr. Mom was a hit at the box office.

Next: Johnny Dangerously and Gung Ho

Posted on March 16, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 599 Comments.

  1. forrestbracket

    he has oscar bait movies comingup the founder and spotlight.


  2. Michael Keaton dies for our tears:

    By Nick Schager@nschager
    Jun 15, 2015 1:00 PM

    Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: The recent teen weepie Me And Earl And The Dying Girl—as well as the emotional new Pixar movie, Inside Out—has us tearfully recalling movies designed to make you cry.

    Manipulative to the point of shamelessness, My Life remains one of the most effective mainstream tearjerkers of the past two decades, in part because—for all of its mawkish flourishes—its premise and heartrending power remain universal. Shot with a straightforward blandness that reflects its bluntness, Bruce Joel Rubin’s film concerns detached Los Angeles PR exec Bob Jones (Michael Keaton), who’s dying of kidney cancer that’s now spread to his lungs, and which hasn’t been stymied by various medical treatments. This is anguishing enough to Bob and wife, Gail (Nicole Kidman). Compounding matters is that Gail is pregnant, and Bob fears that he won’t survive long enough to see the birth of his child—a dilemma that compels him (in an act that presages today’s smartphone-recording culture) to begin incessantly videotaping messages to his unborn offspring in an effort to communicate with the kid in the future, once he’s gone.

    Those VHS dispatches are the maudlin lifeblood of My Life, and far more effective at wringing tears from viewers than subplots involving Bob’s visits to a Chinese healer (Haing S. Ngor) and his efforts to reconcile with his estranged Detroit family. The film is concerned with Bob’s reconciliation with his past and confrontation of his failings, all of which culminates with a Fellini-esque surprise that helps heal one of Bob’s decades-old primal wounds. Still, more than those threads, it’s the portrait of the bond shared by Bob and Gail during this unbearably trying ordeal that really elicits the uncontrollable waterworks. A great, nuanced Keaton and an understated Kidman fully and compellingly commit themselves to characters whose thoughts and feelings—about each other, themselves, and the future they can no longer share together—vacillate wildly between hope and despair. Treating their all-too-common scenario with respect for the arduous emotional toll such fatal diseases take on everyone involved, My Life pulls at the heartstrings with abandon, but in a manner that stays true to the pain of death, and the means by which everyone tries to find some way to live on through those left behind.

    Availability: My Life is available on Blu-ray and DVD through Amazon or possibly your local video store/library. It can also be rented or purchased through the major digital services.


  3. forrestbracket

    Minions is currently doing well in the box office .


  4. I’m surprised that LeBeau hasn’t done a “What Might Have Been” on Michael Keaton yet (like he did for his “Batman” co-star, Kim Basinger) since we all immediately wonder where his career would’ve gone had he done what would become “Batman Forever”:


      • Roles turned down by Michael Keaton:

        Batman Forever
        After originally accepting, Keaton decided not to do the third movie because he reportedly did not like Joel Schumacher’s direction.
        Actor who got the part: Val Kilmer

        Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
        Keaton was considered to play Willy Wonka.
        Actor who got the part: Johnny Depp

        Cutthroat Island
        Keaton was turned down for the role of William.
        Actor who got the part: Matthew Modine

        The Fly
        Michael Keaton was considered for the role of Seth Brundle.
        Actor who got the part: Jeff Goldblum

        Get Shorty
        Keaton was Considered To Play Chili Palmer
        Actor who got the part: John Travolta

        The Getaway
        Michael Keaton turned down the lead role of Doc McCoy.
        Actor who got the part: Alec Baldwin

        Keaton was considered for the role of Kazinski.
        Actor who got the part: Chris Cooper

        Was considered for Jim Garrison.
        Actor who got the part: Kevin Costner

        Michael Keaton was considered to play the lead role.
        Actor who got the part: Woody Harrelson

        Leap of Faith
        Steve Martin took over the lead role after Michael Keaton quit.
        Actor who got the part: Steve Martin

        Michael Keaton was considered for the lead role of Andrew Beckett.
        Actor who got the part: Tom Hanks

        Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
        Michael Keaton was considered for the Capt. Jack Sparrow role.
        Actor who got the part: Johnny Depp

        Police Academy
        According to an article by Entertainment Weekly, Keaton was one of the actors considered for the lead.
        Actor who got the part: Steve Guttenberg

        The Purple Rose of Cairo
        Keaton was originally cast in the role of Tom Baxter but was replaced by Jeff Daniels.
        Actor who got the part: Jeff Daniels

        The Silence of the Lambs
        Considered for the Jack Crawford role.
        Actor who got the part: Scott Glenn

        Michael Keaton turned down the lead that went to Tom Hanks.
        Actor who got the part: Tom Hanks

        Vanilla Sky
        Keaton was considered for the psychiatrist role.
        Actor who got the part: Kurt Russell


        • If Keaton did Batman Forever….


          I liked Val Kilmer in the role. Michael Keaton’s version wouldn’t have worked for it or that story. Keaton played sad, angry, sometimes in love, but also off psychologically Batman. It worked for Burton’s Batman. But Schumacher’s was very much heroic, redemptive, hopeful and romantic. From Bruce saying to Harvey that he needs help instead of setting him fire to the moment where the movie ends on him smiling with a newfound hope for batman as a hero, instead of looking slightly perplexed out the window of his car about what he is.

          God bless you! God bless everyone in your life!

          « Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 16:18 »

          It actually would have fit the progression though;

          In the first film Bruce Wayne is a mystery to the public so much that Vale and Knox don’t recognize him. The only other time we see him go out in public was to crime alley to pay his respects.

          In the second film we see more of the industrious side of Bruce Wayne; he goes to meet with Shreck and implies he’s discussed power issues with the Mayor. Perhaps having a female relationship and killing his parents killer as well as saving Gotham gave Bruce the confidence he needed?

          So introducing Wayne enterprises and making Bruce a statesman was the next logical choice for the third film.

          Note that Bruce isn’t acting quite as tortured in the second film. I know people like to read a lot into the first shot of Bruce but all that’s implied there is that he’s a man who sits and thinks to himself. He’s more confident but he does in a way relive the dark part of his past noticing that Oswald was orphaned as well. In the third film he again would have relived it with Dick’s parents dying. While many believe Bruce isn’t acting dark and tortured in the fourth film because the third film cures him, it is also possible that is the only film in which there are no events paralleling his parents death.

          Now the jokes are a little bit of a tough one, I have a hard time seeing Keaton delivering the goofy lines a la “I’ll get drive thru” I do think Keaton would have cut the overall dialogue; saying the same things but in fewer words.

          Lastly, Keaton did indicate that Batman Returns (the only time he ever reprised a character) was difficult because he was felt as though he was imitating himself. Perhaps to help him in the next film he would have tried to play the character differently and thus tried to expand to a more comedic approach. I think if he went along with it, he would have been fine, we know Keaton can do comedy.


  5. forrestbracket

    kingpin good movie but flopped box office and got mixed reviews at the time. Being in that movie wouldnt help keaton career. Clean and sober a keaton movie people like was box office flop at time so that movie didnt help him as much as bettle juice


  6. batman forever made money didnt flop it wouldnt hurt keaton career it would been better coming from moives such as much ado my life paper speechless all were not hits


    • Not to be a jerk or smart ass or anything, but I really wish that you would proofread. I guess what you’re trying to say is that the ’90s movies that Michael Keaton made outside of the Batman franchise didn’t exactly connect or resonant w/ most people. There’s always going to be a “What if…” or “What could’ve been” had Keaton done a third Batman film.

      I do think that rightly or wrongly or for better or for worse, Keaton leaving the Batman franchise when he did in hindsight, seriously hurt his career. It gave off the perception that such a thing was beneath him (even though it kind of helped “make his career”).

      I said recently in Jason Patric’s WTHHT entry, that I got the vibe that Patric ticked people off w/ his rather fiercely independent approach to film-making. With Michael Keaton, he was too blindly loyal to Tim Burton to see otherwise and was pretty much weary or uncomfortable w/ the prospect of having to play the same character (i.e. “repeating”/”imitating himself”) anyway.

      Keaton didn’t exactly have any other hits (at the time) to fall back on (the same sort of thing pretty much happened w/ Val Kilmer after “The Saint” flopped) so he pretty much got lost/directionless.


  7. Keaton should have at least wited till he had other hits to fall back on before leaving franchisee. I am sure he could have balanced other films and batman at same time. Hugh jackman had other hits during his tenture as wolverwine. Like reel steel ,prestige,prisoners and les miserable


    • You probably don’t have to worry about Keaton finding work. He’s got to be in demand after what he did in Birdman.


      • The thing about Keaton, and I know I’m repeating myself here, is that he turns down a lot of work. He’s pretty much set for life thanks to the two Batman films. And he doesn’t care to take jobs that pull him away from his family or whatever else he is interested in at the time. Not too long ago, he left Skull Island. If he was worried about star-status, he wouldn’t have walked away from such a high profile project. He’s obviously not concerned with such things.

        As for Batman 3, they offered him essentially a blank check. He walked away from a massive payday because 1. He didn’t like the script and 2. He was showing solidarity with his friend Tim Burton who was more or less fired after Batman Returns. If he had taken that paycheck, he’d have even less reason to work than he does now. He may have retired from movies entirely.

        The truth of the matter is, I don’t think Birdman changes much for Keaton because I don’t think he was looking for much of a change. He’s happy with things the way they are.


        • I wonder if Michael Keaton did what he figured Christopher Reeve should’ve done when the Salkinds fired Richard Donner from the Superman franchise? Like w/ the Batman franchise under Joel Schumacher, the Superman series (under Richard Lester and w/ the Cannon Group producing the fourth movie) got decidedly sillier and campier.


        • I doubt he gave Reeve or Superman any thought. I get the impression that Keaton is his own man. He just follows his internal compass and doesn’t look back. His gut said to walk away from Batman Forever no matter what they offered him. So he did. I think it’s just that simple.


        • Re: If Keaton did Batman Forever….


          Good question. When I apply hypotheticals I tend to configure thinking at that time rather than a current day opinion to determine a logical outcome. I think it would be TOO easy to suggest Keaton would have hit the “Trilogy” curse of superheroes like Superman and Spider-Man, had he done a third one. Because to say that is to allow all the water to flow under that bridge of discontent after B&R came out 18 years ago. To assume that stays would not be giving it an accurate assessment. This movie came out in 1995 and those feelings of discourse towards Schumacher did NOT exist.

          If we’re to be completely honest, he actually saved the franchise with the success of Forever, because Returns had driven such a harsh nail into public opinion. The Studios were already at odds with the public over it’s tone and subsequent reduced commercial appeal. And because that had happen so early, there were still allot of skeptics in the industry kitchen about Batman’s viability as a franchise after only one sequel in. So perhaps the bigger question here is what would have happened to Keaton in the fourth installment? Success sells perception and industry value. Renewed success in a third Batman film would have propped up Keaton’s market value and likely solidified the industry perception that he was not replaceable giving him more of a voice in the next film. Translation: Batman & Robin never gets made and we’re having an entirely different conversation today about Schumacher’s place in Batman cinematic history.

          Remember, Schumacher always wanted to go darker. Who’s to say with more clout in the Keaton camp they wouldn’t have taken back that direction, only with a little more management on the tone controls. I think it’s completely conceivable history gets completely rewritten if Keaton stays on and Batman Forever is the success it became.


        • https://www.facebook.com/groups/2207199868/permalink/10153844413964869/?comment_id=10153845757869869&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D

          I liked what Keaton said when he’d left the Franchise and the media was all over the gossip of who was replacing him: “People are dying Rwanda and everyone is worried about who’s going to be the new Batman!”


        • Difficult actors – Page 15


          “For example, [Allen] replaced Michael Keaton in The Purple Rose of Cairo with Jeff Daniels after the movie had already been shooting for 10 days.”

          When Keaton was doing all that press for BIRDMAN I was hoping someone would ask him about working on PURPLE ROSE. Keaton was also, I seem to remember, fired from MYSTIC RIVER after disagreements with Clint Eastwood.


    • https://www.facebook.com/groups/2207199868/permalink/10153847078694869/?comment_id=10153848404329869&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D

      Keaton is more of an actor than a guy concerned about a huge paycheck. To me at least. If he left I’m pretty sure it is because he wanted a chance to take his character somewhere interesting. And given we saw what Batman Forever turned into, can you really blame him for not wanting to play seconds fiddle to the over-the-top stuff Jones & Carrey ended up putting out?

      He’s capable of just as much as them. Just watch Beetlejuice.

      If it ever became about money I’d wager it being that attitude of “Fine, you want to keep me from doing something creative and interesting… that’s fine. How much are you going to pay me to make me put up with this shit I’m not happy about?”


      • With “Returns”, the main issue I think was that Tim Burton had nobody to keep him under control so to speak. He in a sense, suffered from “George Lucas disease”, as everything felt very incoherent and lacking focus. “Returns” was went too far w/ the vulgarity and the mean-spirited, nihilistic mind-set. It didn’t end w/ a complete sense of triumph like the ’89 movie, as it had a more bittersweet ending.

        Just because a Batman movie tries to be “dark” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s automatically going be “good” or better. It’s just like if a Batman movie or any other adaptation wants to be decidedly campy or more light-hearted, it isn’t necessarily always has to be a bad thing like “Batman & Robin”.


        “Once I heard the executives at Warner Brothers starting of the meetings with questions like “Why does it have to be so dark?” and “Why is he so melancholy and depressed all the time?” I knew it was time to move on and let someone else put their stamp on the character.” -Michael Keaton on why he left the Batman movie series after Batman Returns.


  8. True unlike his birdman character he never wanted the spotlight . He not like sam l jackson who has to work alot. In a business that pays alot where one can afford not to work as much why not take it easy. Hes like Tobey maguire he picks 1 film every few years


  9. reeve kept doing it for 4 movies and his career turned out worse then keaton. At least keaton had few hits outside superhero franchise. I cant think of any hits reeves had outside superman. Plus keaton was already kind of famous before batman he was comic actor in hits. In fact director of other guys called him jim carrey of 80s


  10. Another key difference is keaton was briefly a list for a certain time. Reeves couldnt really capitalize on supermans success. Even before his tragic accident his career wasnt so hot . HE was finding work but flops like keaton reeves didnt wnat to be typecast so took roles strayed away from superman


  11. Lebeau in 2005 keaton was scoring with his lead hit white noise and supporting role in box office hit herbie yet barely worked after that. I wouldnt be surprise if he got tons of offers since then but turned it down if he did care about being a list he would capitalize on success of white noise but diidnt.


  12. spotlight is getting great reviews. I think keaont being picky with scripts means while people will see less of him it means the few movies he does maybe quality will be good. I dont like keaton as actor but i thought he was amazing in birdman.


    • Blind Item #3


      This former A list mostly movie actor turned no wants to hire him turned Academy Award winner/nominee turned no one wants to hire him despite his name recognition tired to get his girlfriend to have sex with him during a premiere the other night. The girlfriend was having none of it and walked out.

      October 30, 2015 at 9:37 am

      While I like the Michael Keaton guess for the career gap/recent success, I don’t remember the gap having been due to “no one wants to hire him.” I thought it was his choice not to work as much (particularly in front of the cameras).
      Mickey fits better, but who’s still inviting him to premieres?

      October 30, 2015 at 10:07 am
      I know I’ve read that Keaton is a much bigger pain in the ass and not nearly the nice guy the public thinks he is, and that that contributed to his loss of the Oscar.


    • Spotlight: A Movie that Turns Controversy into Boredom


      Okay, the movie Spotlight. Why, other than its subject matter, did this movie win Best Picture?

      No one is disputing the facts. The Catholic Church quietly shuffled pedophile priests around knowing they were active pedophiles, and as a result, a LOT of kids got molested. Everyone knows this. The reporters at The Boston Globe, working under the Spotlight banner publicized it. Good for them.

      Did they have to make this movie so flat-footed and boring?

      The big draw seems to be how realistically they portray journalists doing their jobs. They work in an office, they take phone calls, they interview people in other offices or over lunches at restaurants. Wow. That blows me away. Imagine the cinematic craft that can show what working in an office really looks like. And they did it with NO CGI! Amazing! You really get the feel of what a staff meeting is like!

      Another point of praise for the film is that it perfectly captures Boston. Well, huh. I think The Blues Brothers perfectly captures Chicago, but at least that movie kept me interested.

      Okay, low shot. Spotlight is a serious movie, not a raucous action comedy. So, there’s talk…and talk….and talk…and reading letters and documents out loud…..and more extremely earnest talk about how explosive all of this is. Not that any of it is really explosive until Mark Ruffalo throws his Best Supporting Actor Nomination hissy fit. “It could’ve been any of us!!” I wish it had been. Then maybe this movie would’ve shown something memorable instead of just blathering on for two hours.

      But then, probably not, because we don’t learn anything about Mark Ruffalo’s character, nor anybody else’s. It’s impossible to give a damn about anybody in this film, except for maybe the weepy guy that knocks over the coffee while meeting Rachel McAdams. See how being molested messed him up? Unfortunately, weepy guy only has two short scenes in the film and he’s gone. So that leaves us with McAdams, who mostly just looks wide-eyed at everything. Best Supporting Actress Nomination for her! Great job Rachel!

      There’s a riveting scene where boss Michael Keaton realizes how guilty he is about forgetting a single letter out of the thousands he’s read in his journalistic career. He’s just as guilty as Cardinal Law because he let that one letter get buried in tons of paperwork. Oh my freakin’ god! The horror! The horror!

      Oh, come the fuck on! The guy probably got hundreds of letters about child abuse and molestation over the years. Just because he didn’t jump up and act on THAT PARTICULAR ONE LETTER from fifteen years before doesn’t automatically make him a monster. Get a grip on reality people. The greatness of this movie is supposed to be about its realism, regardless of how boring it is.


  13. Category: Guilty Pleasures Created on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 14:24 Written by George Rother


    While watching The Squeeze this past weekend, I observed how much better bad movies from back in the day seem compared to today’s bad movies. The Squeeze, an action-comedy starring Michael Keaton and Rae Dawn Chong, is what I call a “one-week wonder” meaning that it was in and out of theaters in a week. I saw it on the very last night it played at the old Lawrence Park Theater. Although the reviews were unanimously bad, I didn’t think it could be as bad as the critics claimed. So much for youthful optimism. It was terrible! It was almost as bad as Hot Pursuit. I didn’t laugh once; I didn’t even smile. It made my bottom 10 list for ’87. Now flash forward to this past Sunday.

    Since The Squeeze isn’t yet available on DVD, I procured a transfer copy from a friend. So why, after all these years, did I decide to rewatch it? I figured after enduring the likes of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Mortdecai, it might not seem as bad as I initially thought. My experiment produced the expected results. The Squeeze is better than I remember it being. I hate to admit it, but I actually kind of like it now. Kind of.

    Down-on-his-luck artist Harry Berg (Keaton, Night Shift) and ambitious skip tracer Rachel Dobs (Chong, Commando) find themselves mixed up in a conspiracy connected to a mysterious package that his ex-wife Hilda (Langland) asks him to retrieve from her apartment. In addition to the parcel, he also finds a body. Is it possible that his ex murdered somebody? It soon becomes apparent that whatever is in the package is valuable. A lot of people want to get their hands on it like wealthy Bulgarian businessman Rigaud (Guttman, Little Nikita) and his two thugs, Joe (Gerdes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Titus (rocker Meat Loaf). The latter has a glandular disorder that causes him to sweat non-stop. So what is this thing that everybody’s after? It’s an electromagnetic device that the bad guys plan to use to rig the state lottery, currently at $58 million. Will Harry and Rachel work together to stop the bad guys? Will they fall in love along the way? If you hesitate on either question, you need a refresher course in Basic Screenwriting 101.

    The Squeeze was originally titled Skip Tracer after the female lead’s profession, but the producers changed it on the presumption that not too many people know what the term means. For the record, it refers to a person that tracks down missing or hard-to-locate people for the purposes of collecting debts or serving summonses. In the movie, Rachel tries in vain to serve Harry a summons on behalf of his ex-wife seeking back alimony. Here’s where The Squeeze becomes educational. In order for a summons to be valid, the served person has to actually physically touch it. In other words, the server can’t just slip it under the door or something. Good to know. In any event, this situation serves as the movie’s meet-cute moment.

    I guess the main problem with The Squeeze is that it isn’t funny, an especially disappointing thing with gifted actors like Keaton and Chong in the lead roles. Keaton has amazing range as an actor, but I’ll always think of him first as a comic wild man. Look at his debut, the 1982 comedy Night Shift. Classic! He followed that up with 1983’s Mr. Mom, not a great movie by any means, but made better by his presence. Chong more than held her own against Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. She has great timing. There appears to be some chemistry between the two, but the flawed screenplay makes it hard to measure with any degree of accuracy. The plot is muddled and indistinct. At times, it’s unclear what’s going on. When you stop and think about it, the story doesn’t make a lot of sense. For example, why does the big lottery drawing take place on a battleship? Director Roger Young (Lassiter) never bothers to explain this. Even the look of the movie is a bust. I understand The Squeeze is a comic take on film noir, but instead of enhancing the suspense (of which there is none anyway), it only makes it harder for the viewer to see what’s going on. This isn’t an example of style; it’s an example of poor lighting.

    The supporting cast is kind of interesting. John Davidson, host of That’s Incredible (1980-84) and the revived Hollywood Squares (1986-89), plays “Honest Tom T. Murray”, the host of the lottery program. Wait until you get a load of his helmet hair. He’s actually the only funny thing in The Squeeze. Him and the sculpture Harry is building in his apartment for a gay Puerto Rican night club owner (Portnow, Tin Men). It’s a dinosaur constructed of lights and old TV sets. Joe Pantoliano (the killer pimp from Risky Business) shows up as Harry’s friend Norman, but isn’t given all that much to do. While it’s always great to see Meat Loaf, his character is pretty gross and unappealing. The tone of The Squeeze is uneven, but usually dark. I give Keaton and Chong a lot of credit for doing their best with such weak material. BUT, like I said at the onset, it seems like a much better movie in comparison to much of what passes for comedies at multiplexes these days. I was actually entertained this time around. I like how wrong-headed, misconceived and just plain weird this movie is. It’s almost innocent in its incompetence. I wish they still made bad movies this good. Does that make sense?

    Incidentally, the movie that replaced The Squeeze was none other than Jaws: The Revenge. Like that did any better!

    TRIVIA TIDBIT: Jenny Wright (St. Elmo’s Fire, Near Dark) was supposed to play the female lead, but was replaced by Chong.


  14. sptlight might bring him 2nd oscar nom


  15. Under the Radar: Night Shift

    Night Shift, a 1982 film directed by Ron Howard, centers on a couple of average guys (Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton) who turn the is city morgue into a call girl service. This was Keaton’s film debut and what a debut it was. Largely forgotten and unjustly so. Find out why.


  16. Michael Keaton Provided A Simple Reason Why Batman Will Always Be Better Than Spider-Man



  17. Spotlight is getting amazing reviews. Keaton probably wont work as much but when he does script will be better.


      • “He never had a comeback, cuz he never left……


        I don’t know if any saw the interview with Mark Ruffalo on Jimmy Kimmel about Spotlight but at the end JK asks Ruffalo about working with Michael Keaton and he tells a story of when him and Keaton were walking back to their hotel rooms and Mark Ruffalo got himself in a pretty uncomfortable topic discussion

        M.R. – (while walking with Keaton) “So man it’s so amazing this kind of renaissance that you’re having right now its really…..

        M.K. – “What renaissance!??”

        M.R. – (nervously trying to recompose himself) …Well uh ya know, this, this kinda comeback that you’re having it’s amazing….

        M.K. – (confused, slightly irritated) Comeback??!?…… I never knew I left!…..

        And they had another 10 blocks to go LOL.

        Here’s the link below (I don’t know why I felt the need to type it out LOL)

        Anyway a good point is brought up here and I want to say that Michael Keaton never left acting or was a ‘has been’ or someone who faded out of Hollywood, he went a different path and did allot of theater because it challenged him more. He never sold out and a perfect example of this is that when Batman Forever was being pitched to the studios they wanted Michael Keaton back so bad that they offered to double his salary from what he got paid for Batman Returns (11 million in 1992 which adjusted for inflation in 2015 = $18,730,471.36). That would also not be including the bonuses and residuals for toys and promotional beep he would be getting paid for leading up to the release of the film. Keaton was on board for 14 million as long as Tim Burton was directing and that they would get fair input on how the script was handled, he didn’t even go after a ridiculous pay increase only 3 million more than the 2nd one and creative input given to both Burton and himself (this is before they told him Tim Burton wouldn’t be directing and that Joel beep was directing).

        Because Returns was considered “too dark” WB tried to bullshizzle him and say that it would still be like the first 2 and although Burton wasn’t directing that he would still be there as ‘executive producer’. According to Tim Burton, Keaton quickly skimmed through the script just to humor the wankers at the WB and their new director Schmucker just to tell them that the only way he would return was if Tim Burton directed and that they rewrote the entire script, especially questioning why Billy Dee Williams wasn’t reprising his role as dent/two face (as it was in his contract from the original) and furthermore why Tommy Lee Jones face was pink and even furthermore furthermore the biggest WTF…. Why does two face try so hard to be like Jack’s Joker????? no back story no nothing just that he hates Batman.

        So in other words he said this sucks, no thank you.

        The studio returned with the $22 million dollar offer (adjusted from 1995 inflation to 2015 $34,508,109.55!!)

        Keaton asked 2 questions, is Burton directing and is the script going to be redone to what we feel isn’t butchering the film??

        Answers no and no

        Keaton : Thanks but no thanks.

        The back and forth went to the point where they offered Mr. Keaton a whopping $35,000,000 which would not only make him the highest paid actor ever at the time but just so we can adjust for inflation = $54,899,265.20 for 2015

        Finally Michael Keaton asked if they were either deaf or just downright beep stupid????? = No Burton directing = No Keaton as Batman

        So I do apologize for the overly long message board post however what is important is that Michael Keaton was never a sell out, nor did he faze out and then pull a Mickey Rourke and return with his own ‘The Wrestler’ being ‘Birdman’ respectively. He picks and chooses his roles and has just proven to the world that he is and always has been a phenomenal talent and among the few great actors left in the world today.


  18. When actors play actors acting—a video essay on meta-performance:


  19. Keaton did theater?. He never did theater or took acting class. He has no acting experience before going to Hollywood. His current film spotlight is having lots of hype. Out of all the people on the list he is the few still appearing in huge hits. He has founder next year that could land him oscar nom. Spotlight could do alot for rachel career it could show people shes capable of more then playing sweetgirl


  20. Actors Whose Careers Were Ruined By DC And Marvel Movies



    Michael Keaton is undoubtedly a huge name, and he could be considered in some ways the father of the modern superhero film. His two bites at the Batman apple back in the late 1980s and early 1990s seemed very much like the beginning of the modern superhero age in film. And he has had a long film career since he opted out of appearing as the Caped Crusader for a third time in Batman Forever, so can we really say DC ruined his career? Well, you be the judge.

    After Batman Returns, the only movies Keaton has made that have done anywhere near as well at the box office have been cartoons in which he provided the voices, along with a number of others. And no one considers Toy Story 3 a Michael Keaton movie, so is it fair to consider that one of his hits? Or just a hit he was in?

    The fact is, aside from a few standout supporting roles, films like Jackie Brown and maybe the Robocop remake, his career has been incredibly forgettable save for one movie: Birdman. And the movie’s story, depicting a washed-up actor recovering from a stint in a superhero franchise, seems to cement how Batman really did ruin Keaton’s career, whether Birdman is a fictionalized account or not.


    • Re: Playing Batman ultimately ruined Michael Keaton’s career!?


      Just because a lot of movies Keaton appeared in after Batman Returns, didn’t approach the kind of box office success that his two Batman movies did, it doesn’t mean it destroyed his career. One should not measure an actor’s worth based on how much his movies make but rather on the performance he turns in.

      My Life, The Paper, Jackie Brown, Live in Baghdad, as well as the recent Birdman and now Spotlight, he turned in excellent performances in.

      Did he have a dry spell? Yes. But he wouldn’t be the first actor. Remember Katharine Hepburn was once considered box office poison after winning her first Oscar, it was only when she appeared in The Philadelphia Story that it revitalized her career. But I have to say I quite enjoy a few films she appeared in during the period when she was no longer considered a bankable star (one of which is Bringing up Baby, a box office dud at the time of its release and is now considered one of the all time best comedies).

      Keaton has always given it 100 percent in every film he appears in. I could care less how much or less any of his movies make, it’s his effort that really matters.


  21. Conservative to Liberal? Michael Keaton Award Speeches Differ Dramatically in One Year


    Michael Keaton joined his fellow Spotlight cast members onstage at Saturday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, where the troupe earned the evening’s highest Best Ensemble honor — but in his acceptance speech remarks, the actor seemingly abandoned the conservative-minded message about the value of hard work he delivered at last year’s Golden Globes to adopt a more progressive-minded message about fairness.


  22. Speaking of spotlight Lebeau I remmeber seeing Rachel Mcadams in the poll any chance you will put her on the blog. I mean i know she was dubbed next Julia roberts at one point maybe that brief break from acting hurt but throughout the years she always managed to appear in box office hits . She got oscar nom this year in spotlight her last 2 films before that about Time and Vow where huge hits so its not shes deemed box office poison. Morning Glory proved she is not bankable on her own but shes talented.


  23. I do not think rachel career is struggling as bad as some actors on the site. She is not box office poison


  24. Clean and sober was a flop. Plus other guys was not a hit


  25. Not sure if keaton was ever a list. Batman success had little to do with him. Mr mom bettle juisce was a hit. Pacfic heights paper must been considered hits back then,


  26. I believe it is Batman that fueled his self-imposed exile from Hollywood.

    He made so much money and garnered so much unwanted attention that he retreated in to home life (kind of like Kurt Russell).

    I read that for a while all he did was coach his son’s little league team.

    It’s good to have him back. He has that rare comedy to drama range like Robin Williams and John C. Reilly.


  27. Michael Keaton To Star In ‘American Assassin’, Long Awaited Screen Adaptation Of Vince Flynn Novel Series


    By Mike Fleming Jr 7 hours ago

    Michael Keaton is the first star casting on American Assassin, the adaptation of the Vince Flynn bestselling novel series that Michael Cuesta will direct for CBS Films and Lionsgate. Keaton doesn’t play Mitch Rapp, the title character who ruthlessly carries out covert counter-terrorist operations for the CIA in the book series. Keaton will play Stan Hurley, a badass Cold War veteran who teaches the young assassin everything he needs to know. Stephen Schiff adapted the…


  28. Rachel appered alot of hits so her career is going good. time travelers wife, red eye sherlock holmes midnight in paris , vow and about time and lastly her oscar nom spotlight


  29. Michael Keaton?


    Any gossip? Thoughts? What’s your favorite film of his?


  30. Michael Keaton is reportedly in talks for the new #SpiderMan movie: http://vult.re/1SAN1N4


  31. Watch: Michael Keaton Stars as McDonald’s Chairman in ‘The Founder’


    “How the heck does a 52-year-old, over the hill milkshake machine salesman build a fast food empire with 1,600 restaurants, at an annual revenue of $700 million? One word: persistence.”


  32. Batman: Ray Liotta on turning down his audition


    Ray Liotta reveals he turned down the chance to meet Tim Burton, and chat about potentially playing Batman…


  33. Did he really get fried from mystic river


  34. Out of all the people in the blog he seems like the only actor who`s recent career is doing good .


  35. Michael Keaton on Rumored ‘Beetlejuice’ Sequel: ‘It’s Possible That Ship Has Sailed’


    After “The Founder,” Michael Keaton will be seen in a film adaptation of Vince Flynn’s bestselling novel series, “American Assassin.” And he’ll return to the superhero world in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” though rumor has him on the villain side this time. Asked how he feels about moving from the DC world of “Batman” to Marvel’s “Spider-Man” universe, Keaton says: “You’re asking the wrong guy. I know so little about the entire culture; honestly it’s a little embarrassing. You’d think that even by osmosis I would know more about it.” Fortunately, a friend has two young daughters who help him out. “They fill me in on the backstory of my character and all the other characters. So when I have questions,


  36. It’s Weird When Movies Become TV Shows: ‘Gung Ho’


    In 1986, Ron Howard released his fifth full-length directorial effort, about a struggling Pennsylvania auto plant that is purchased by a Japanese company. If you haven’t seen Gung Ho, you can probably imagine, especially since this was the 1980s, that hijinks based on cultural differences ensued.

    If nothing else, Gung Ho did deliver one legitimate laugh out loud moment. Faced with an impossible deadline, the auto plant cut some corners on the design of its cars. After an emotional speech about how proud he is of the cars that were just built, Michael Keaton’s Hunt Stevenson dramatically decides to leave in a new car that was just built. Within seconds of putting the car into drive, it completely collapses.

    Gung Ho would go on to be the top movie the weekend it was released, besting the third weekend of Pretty in Pink. Gung Ho would then go on to be the 29th biggest movie in 1986, earning slightly less money than Tom Hanks’ The Money Pit and slightly more money than Tom Hanks’ Nothing in Common. Along the way, for some reason, someone decided, “We should make this a television series.”

    Unfortunately, the nine full episodes of Gung Ho are difficult to find, so today we have to make do with just the opening theme song.

    What made Gung Ho the television series unique is that many cast members reprised their roles from the film. No, Michael Keaton wasn’t going to stoop to television, so here a young Scott Bakula plays the role of Hunt Stevenson. (I can only assume there was last minute recasting, because an L.A. Times article claims that Ned Eisenberg, maybe best known today for his role on Law & Order: SVU, would be playing Hunt.) But, Gedde Watanabe, Clint Howard, and a host of others did reprise their roles.

    (I do wonder, after a tense day on set, if Watanabe ever yelled at Bakula, “You’re no Keaton!,” before storming off the set. I’d pay good money to see that.)


  37. Batman Forever (1995) : Keaton wouldn’t do Batman without Burton?


    I don’t entirely understand why Michael Keaton was so dead-set on only doing a Batman movie if Tim Burton was directing? I’m not necessarily saying that he should’ve automatically done “Batman Forever” for Joel Schumacher regardless.

    My point is that Batman wasn’t Tim Burton’s creation like say Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, or Jack Skellington. “Batman” (1989) and “Batman Returns” are of course, interpretations of Batman by Tim Burton, but they aren’t necessarily the “definitive” take on them. If you’re truly good at playing a particular character, then you should be able to transcend any director.


    • He continued negotiations after Burton left which suggests to me that if he liked the script and the direction the picture was taking, he would have done another Batman without Burton. I remember reading an interview with Keaton in premiere magazine before the first Batman was even released and he said his nightmare was to end up like Adam West. I think from the outset he had reservations about doing too many Batman movies. I can’t blame him for turning down Batman Forever. After being overshadowed by the bad guys in the first two movies, Keaton wanted to have a central role in his own franchise. That seems reasonable. But once again, Batman was crowded out of his own movie. I actually respect Keaton for turning down the massive sums of money they threw at him.


      • I think that I said this a long time ago, but I find it extremely ironic (and maybe even a tad bit hypocritical) that Michael Keaton (if it’s true) was upset about being overshadowed by the villains in his Batman movies, which were none the less, under Tim Burton. Even, the screenwriter, Daniel Waters said in an interview recently, that he and Tim Burton all but deliberately downplayed Batman in the “Batman Returns” script. I don’t have much symphathy in regards to Keaton worrying about becoming another Adam West because quite frankly, he should’ve foreseen what he was or could be getting into by agreeing to be Batman in the first place. One silver lining you can say is that Batman all but shadowed Keaton’s preconceived image or typecast as being a quirky comedian. It’s however, the choices that he made soon after Batman kind of got him lost:

        Were you conscious of not downplaying the Batman character in your script?
        I definitely was, but at the same time I was absolutely in love with Catwoman. She was what was exciting to me when I was writing. My first draft opened with the Batman logo and then we pull out and you realise you are in a merchandising store for Batman. After that, a grenade gets thrown in and the place blows up. I originally had more elements of Batman being commodified and hating being treated like a celebrity. Tim found stuff like that a little bit too much.

        How challenging was it to write dialogue for Batman?
        Michael Keaton was great to work with. He was such a smart guy. I would give him all these great speeches and what I thought were great lines, and he would say ”Batman should only say this. Bruce Wayne should only say this. ” He was very specific that when Batman is wearing the suit, he shouldn’t say three senetences put together at any one time. At the time I was thinking ”I’m giving you gold here! I am going to get into trouble now because Penguin and Catwoman have more lines. ” But he was right. Then when I saw THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), which I loved – Christopher Nolan’s work is prose, Tim’s is poetry, but they can co-exist in the same stratosphere – there’s a scene towards the end where Batman is giving a big speech to The Joker and you could go grab a bottle of water and come back and he would still be talking. Michael was right. Batman shouldn’t be giving speeches in the costume with the Batman voice.


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