Hangover Producer Seeks to Repay His Debt to Society
February 27, 2015 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Scott Budnick walked away from his position as head of the production company that made the Hangover movies to run a prison-reform advocacy group. Budnick volunteers as a writing teacher at various prisons, focusing on youthful offenders who went behind bars before the age of 18. He also uses his Hollywood connections and natural drive ("I’m ADD to the fullest. I like going and going and going and getting shit done.") to lobby for prison and justice reform, including Proposition 47, which reclassified many petty theft and drug crimes to misdemeanors.
posted by Etrigan (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Does this mean we won't get an Alien versus Predator style movie with the Hangover series and the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise? If so, sad face.
posted by srboisvert at 5:52 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've seen the Hangover movies. He's getting off lightly.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:55 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I’m ADD to the fullest. I like going and going and going and getting shit done.

Dude how come my ADD doesn't work like that?

posted by louche mustachio at 8:39 PM on February 27, 2015 [12 favorites]

Good for him!
posted by oceanjesse at 10:25 PM on February 27, 2015

But when they arrived at San Quentin’s gates, the guard took one look at Budnick’s faded Levi’s and shook his head: “You can’t wear those pants in here.”

“What are you talking about?” Budnick said.

“Those jeans, they’re blue,” the guard said.

“I’ve worn these jeans to every prison in California.”

“Well, you can’t wear them in here.”

To avoid just this situation, Budnick’s assistant had emailed everyone the prison’s visitor guidelines, which ban blue and gray denim. To Budnick’s thinking, those rules were silly and inconsistently enforced. “If they fuck with us like this, think what they do to the families who come to visit,”

What the hell? I can imagine no reason for an injunction on blue jeans other than an arbitrary reason for the guards to fuck with people.

Can anybody tell me any other reason for this? I'm drawing a blank.
posted by adept256 at 11:17 PM on February 27, 2015

I assume it's ostensibly to do with gang colors.
posted by NoraReed at 11:26 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've seen the Hangover movies. He's getting off lightly.

He's doing what little he can to ameliorate the slavery-and-crushing-the-humanity-industry that is the American (and creeping into Canada) world of prisons. He deserves nothing but unending applause for that, especially since he could very easily be lounging in an LA mansion doing lines of blow off the asses of underage prostitutes without any fear of ever doing hard time for said activities, unlike the vast majority of the people he is working with.

"The world is my oyster and I'm gonna go make the world a little bit better at my own expense" is something that needs to be applauded from the mountaintops, not the recipient of lazy snark.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:38 PM on February 27, 2015 [33 favorites]

adept256: "What the hell? I can imagine no reason for an injunction on blue jeans other than an arbitrary reason for the guards to fuck with people."

People I work with have done film shoots in actual prisons here in Mexico (I was supposed to go, but for various reasons couldn't, which I've regretted, since it sounded quite interesting), and there are similar rules. It's not to do with gang colors, it's to avoid visitors wearing colors too similar to the inmate uniform colors, so that inmates are immediately visible and distinguishable, I assume in case of a riot, hostage situation, breakout attempt, etc. I think it was blue here too, actually, the inmates wear blue overalls made of a denim-like fabric.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:17 AM on February 28, 2015 [10 favorites]

Well done him. You can make a difference.

Really, if all the angst and politics of the left was put into "Get Rich And Powerful, Then I'll Be Able To Effect Change"... well, I guess you'd get Communists, who were really quite effective!
posted by alasdair at 1:05 AM on February 28, 2015

adept256: "What the hell? I can imagine no reason for an injunction on blue jeans other than an arbitrary reason for the guards to fuck with people."

See Joakim Ziegler's response. When I was doing some stuff in San Quentin, we were told about all we could pick from were blacks, browns and reds for what to wear. The gist of it was that everyone who were in the prison more than us (e.g., inmates and guards) had specific colors of their clothing -- blue for the inmates, mostly green for the guards -- and most of the colors of the rainbow were already assigned. It was said at one point that if we were in the prison and a riot broke out, the color coding meant that the guards would have had a good idea of who was who from a distance if any shooting happened.

Not that it would really have mattered, I suppose. I mostly wore brown pants with a red sweater on top. Not entirely stylish, I suppose, but no one else cared that I wore the same thing every time, since they were doing the same.
posted by barnacles at 1:20 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

barnacles and Joakim Ziegler.

Thank you, that makes a great deal of sense.
posted by adept256 at 1:43 AM on February 28, 2015

...a few teenage boys filter out of their cells. Most are tatted, from necks to knuckles to earlobes, with neighborhood insignia: a map of L.A. poverty. Each is an “unfit,” the juvenile system’s term for a minor so irredeemable, or accused of a crime so grievous, he must stand trial as an adult. Every one of them is black or brown.

Budnick spots Jorge. He is pallid and compact, swallowed by a gray sweatshirt and grayer Dickies. “You’re such a good kid,” says Budnick, wrapping him in a bear hug, then throwing him into a headlock. “I’d be lucky to have you as my own kid.”
The comparison between what the "justice" system sees in these kids and what he sees in them is genuinely making me tearful. What an awesome human being. Thank you for posting this and giving me today's reason not to give up on humanity.
posted by billiebee at 3:49 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is *also* true that civilians entering a prison are treated arbitrarily and capriciously, often especially if they're there to help. There are many rules, often with weak or contradictory justifications, and they are randomly enforced.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:19 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

arc has given Budnick a platform — plus a salary now ($165,000)

I'm pretty suspicious of vanity charities. Per the 2013 990, Budnick made a 50k loan to ARC for office space. With a budget of just north of a million, he's recaptured about 20% of the charity's income.

The org's fiscal year end is 5/31, and I don't see a 2014 tax return yet. With 9 months to file, they're pushing right up to the deadline, which makes one wonder about their accounting systems. They also don't appear to be registered with California as required.

I'm not saying they're crooked or that the charity doesn't do a good job, but as a former charity auditor I learned to approach charities with a healthy dose of skepticism; the foregoing heightens that skepticism.
posted by jpe at 5:29 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Strike the bit about CA registration. They are registered.
posted by jpe at 5:36 AM on February 28, 2015

"I’m ADD to the fullest. I like going and going and going and getting shit done."

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
posted by spock at 7:26 AM on February 28, 2015

Not to further derail this- but I do contemporary art workshops with incarcerated juveniles, and the dress code there is specifically related to gang color prohibitions and not whether or not visitor's clothing choices too closely match the inmate's jumpsuits. I guess every institution is different (and yes, the common theme seems to be an arbitrariness to when and how the rules are enforced). Many (most?) of my students are affiliated with, or live in close proximity to, gangs.

I can't wear purple, red, or blue (their jumpsuits are black or orange) and those limitations extend to the colors of paper, pastels, and crayons I'm allowed to let them use. Every bag of materials, including magazine clippings for collage work, is sorted during my security check-ins for even a hint of red or blue.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:48 AM on February 28, 2015

Make all the Hangover jokes you want. But if there is a Heaven, it's guys like Budnick who'll be running the joint.

(I expect to find myself in a somewhat less pleasant locale)
posted by doctor tough love at 4:41 PM on February 28, 2015

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