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What just happened - Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Barry Levinson

Threat advisory: Guarded - General risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

In Hollywood, everybody can hear you scream.

What just happened is a winningly sharp comedy about two nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer - as he tries to juggle an actual life with an outrageous series of crises in his day job.

Ben (Robert De Niro) is already in over his head trying to balance the tug-of-war of having two ex-wives and two different families with his latest business venture - the boldly "visionary" movie Fiercely starring Sean Penn (Sean Penn) - when everything that can go wrong goes completely screwy.

Fiercely looks like an audience-offending flop which draws the ire of iron-gloved studio chief Lou (Catherine Keener), who forces him into tangling with the film's rebellious and drug-addled director Jeremy (Michael Wincott). Meanwhile, he's confused and bewitched by his ex Kelly (Robin Wright Penn) who can't make up her mind about him; shocked by his daughter Zoe (Kristen Stewart), who seems to have grown up overnight; infuriated by his screenwriter friend Scott (Stanley Tucci) who's trying to make a deal with him while making moves on his former wife; horrified by a hirsute Bruce Willis (Bruce Willis) and flummoxed by Willis' nebbishy agent Dick (John Turturro), who's scared to death of his own clients.

Somehow amidst all the madness, treachery, deceit, runaway egos, rampant commercialism, personal politics and atrocious behaviour of America's dream-making machinery, Ben has to find a way not just to make it to Cannes with a finished film, but to cope...

Theatrical propaganda posters

What just happened theatrical one sheet image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film comedy satire Hollywood movie filmmaking producer award actor agent ego set Cannes Film Festival studio

Persons of interest

  • Robert De Niro .... Ben
  • Bruce Willis .... Himself
  • Stanley Tucci .... Scott Solomon
  • John Turturro .... Dick Bell
  • Kristen Stewart .... Zoe
  • Lily Rabe .... Dawn
  • Dennis Albanese .... Anthony
  • Ari Barak .... Aba Peterson
  • Alessandra Daniele .... Sophie
  • Karina Friend Buck .... Verna
  • Logan Grove .... Max
  • Marin Hinkle .... Annie
  • Mark Ivanir .... Johnny
  • Peter Jacobson .... Cal
  • Catherine Keener .... Lou Tarnow
  • Dimitri Lekkos .... Jack L McDonagh
  • Paydin LoPachin .... Mary
  • Sean Penn .... Himself
  • Remy K Selma .... Jimmy
  • Michael Wincott .... Jeremy Brunell
  • Robin Wright Penn .... Kelly
  • Dey Young .... Marilyn
  • Art Linson .... Author: What just happened: Bitter Hollywood tales from the front line
  • Art Linson .... Screenwriter
  • Barry Levinson .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

If you want to find out what a film producer actually does then you need to watch What just happened. If you don't want to go to the expense then I'll give you a list: talks on the phone, worries about inanities, listens to people whingeing, gets divorced, gets paid more than they're worth, turns up on the red carpet. Wag the dog is a much better definition of what Hollywood does.

The comedy, satire movie What just happened is directed by Barry Levinson and stars Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis.

Government security censorship classification


Surveillance time

107 minutes (1:47 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 21 May 2009

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