Synopsis by Mark Deming
Bernard Rose directed this look at the sordid underside of the film business and one man's attempts to come to terms with his mortality in this fallen world, in a story loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Ivan Beckman (Danny Huston), a hot-shot talent agent at the powerful Media Talent Agency, unexpectedly dies, and soon his colleagues are scrambling among themselves over the shards of Ivan's leftover business, with Barry Oaks (Adam Krentzman) eager to take over representation of Don West (Peter Weller), a major star Ivan signed shortly before his death. Everyone assumes that Ivan died of a drug overdose, but as viewers watch his last few days in flashback, they learn that Ivan was diagnosed with a severe case of lung cancer as he was trying to put together a deal with firebrand director Danny McTeague (James Merendino), actress Constanza Vero (Valeria Golino), and West. As the dynamic businessman is forced to confront his mortality, he is dragged into a binge of booze, drugs, and women with West, while he also tries to decide how to confront his family and his girlfriend Charlotte (Lisa Enos) with the grim news about his health. Ivansxtc. (To Live and Die in Hollywood) was shot using digital video equipment and a skeleton crew -- according to Rose, a reaction in part to studio interference over his 1997 adaptation of another Tolstoy work, Anna Karenina.