85,000 The Movie
By Larry Katzen, former Andersen Partner in charge of worldwide retail industry practice and managing partner of St. Louis office and the Great Plains Region. Larry spent 35 years with Andersen and worked in the Chicago, Melbourne, Dallas and St. Louis offices. Larry recently wrote a book on his life with the firm entitled “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – my life inside Arthur Andersen.” Larry and his wife Susan are the proud parents of quadruplets, three boys and one girl and now have seven grandchildren.
Larry, started this process more than 4 years ago when he hired Christopher L. Rehr as his script writer. Chris attended UCLA film school and later worked at Orion pictures for over 20 years where he was involved in reviewing literally thousands of scripts. Subsequently he became a writer himself and is still involved with UCLA film school. After completing their script, they then needed to find a movie producer.
J. Todd Harris, founder and CEO of Branded Pictures Entertainment, liked the script and the story. Todd received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University and has produced over 45 movies, including some Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. He is currently working with Larry on finalizing the budget, identifying directors and lead actors and raising the money to make it a reality
Larry frequently gets asked, why make the movie on Andersen now? The reason is that after completing the research with Chris Rehr, they found out not only what happened, but why it happened and who was involved to make it happen. It is not a documentary, but a human-interest story of what it was like to go through this historic process. This is the biggest travesty in the history of business. The government never in its history has destroyed an entire business with 85,000 people.
Some Andersen alum have raised certain objections, such as:
1. Why open sore wounds? The past is the past.
2. Who would be interested in a movie about accountants?
3. This is ancient history. Who cares? Many of us went on to bigger and better careers.
Well, Larry has found out that these objections are not what the world thinks. During the past several years, Larry has spoken to people from over 35 Universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He has also spoken to YPO groups, Libraries, Country Clubs, and met with various other movie producers. The fact of the matter, is that not only are these people interested, but they are VERY INTERSTED and can’t what to see the movie.
What Larry found out when talking about, “Arthur Andersen, So, Who Was Really at Fault,” was that many of these Universities teach the students that the reason for Enron’s downfall was because of Arthur Andersen. That we did poor quality work and because of that this firm deserved what they got.
In doing research for the movie, Chris and Larry looked at tons of material that was in the press and on TV during this period of time. They also met with our former Houston partner David Duncan, our attorney, Rusty Harden, various members of the DOJ, including Michael Chertoff, and Representative Michael Oxley, the co-author of Sarbanes-Oxley. Michael shared his first-hand knowledge of the indictment with us. He said that in his view Andersen was the gold standard of the accounting profession and he wanted to pilot the Sarbanes-Oxley law with the firm to make us the model for all other firms to follow. He then explained why it couldn’t get approved. He said, “we were doomed from the start.”
So now that we have written the script and hired a movie producer, the only remaining task is to raise the money. The movie will be filmed in a state where we will get at least a 25% credit to film in that location. The remaining amount, about $6 million, must be raised. So far, we have achieved about 20% of our goal.
Recently we have met or talked with former partners and other alumni from Southern California, Northern California, Pacific Northwest, St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, Japan and Europe. In meeting with these individuals, we talk about how each Andersen alum can make a difference through one of 3 ways:
1. Spread the word to other Andersen folks
2. Identify other successful individuals or organizations that have a concern for the power of government and/or an emotional connection to the firm and who may be interested in investing in this movie.
3. Make an individual investment of their own that they feel comfortable doing.
Below you will find a 90 second teaser of the movie. This was produced to show prospective producers when they were marketing the script. Larry also shows this at the end of each of his presentations. You can find more information about the movie “85,000” on his website, www.Larryrkatzen.com. We can all make a difference in getting the truth be told. Let’s follow our old principle of “Think Straight-Talk Straight” and show the world the REAL Arthur Andersen.
Thanks for all your interest and help. Your partner and friend - Larry