THE DON

THE DON

THE DON is a docu-drama on the life of the producer of TOP GUN, Don Simpson, which uses narration, clips, and fictional re-enactments via “lost tapes'' to take you behind the scenes into Hollywood’s decade of decadence, the 1980s. Before the era of MeToo, there was Don Simpson the poster boy of toxic masculinity, whose outlandish behavior was not only tolerated but encouraged by the film industry who profited greatly off Don’s movies. Don Simpson was, like the character he named after himself in his movie TOP GUN, a maverick. His signature style of filmmaking created one hit after another— AMERICAN GIGOLO, FLASHDANCE, BEVERLY HILLS COP, TOP GUN- they all came from the mind of Don Simpson. Don loved the movies so much that he created a mythological persona known as “The Don” to match his signature movies— loud, ballsy, cheesy— his movies were full of homo-erotic testoterone-driven race car drivers and navy fighter pilots and stripper/welders who wanted to be ballerinas— these were the movies from Don’s absurd fantasy world— this was the world that Don actually lived in— there was no separation between life and art. And that movie persona that he created— “The Don”— grew more and more outrageous and more extreme— until ultimately… it killed him.

Episodes

November 29, 2022 37 mins

The End. In this episode we chronicle Don's final days. His last gasp attempt at making a comeback with his film, "The Rock". His dependency on a team of doctors  that would bill him upwards of $50,000 a month while keeping him hooked on over a dozen uppers and downers. And we look for anyone who might have been able to save Don from himself. 

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In this episode, we go deep into Don's pill addiction and his time in seclusion with his personal doctor slash filmmaking partner. We look into how and why Don turned away from studio films to make an independent film called "Legend of Kodiak" and how the making of the film led to Don's doctor's tragic death.

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July 24, 2022 28 mins

Don and Tom's "Days of Blunder"... In this episode, we go into what went so right on Don and Tom’s critically panned and vastly under-rated  unofficial sequel to Top Gun, "Days of Thunder"... And we go into what went so terribly, terribly wrong on a production that went so wildly over-budget that Paramount chief Frank Mancuso, in a fitful rage, blew up Don’s 300 million dollar deal like one of his fiery race car crashes... A defini...

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July 7, 2022 29 mins

Don and Eddie Murphy have another box office hit with Beverly Hills Cop 2-- all in spite of Don's preoccupations with cocaine and call girls and plastic surgeries. After several failed attempts in rehab, Tom Cruise introduces Don to a new religion in the hope that Don can curb his addictions. 

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June 30, 2022 24 mins

In this episode, we go deep into the production of “Top Gun”. We learn of how Don’s insistence on throwing parties for the cast helped to fuel the rivalry between Maverick and Ice Man... The partying also would lead to Don’s stint in rehab- smack in the middle of the most important production of his career... We go into Don’s frustrations over the lack of chemistry between Maverick and Charlie... And his battles with the Navy over ...

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June 22, 2022 24 mins

In this episode, we look into Don’s paternal relationship with Tom Cruise, how Don nearly sabotaged the Top Gun screenwriters efforts to produce a script good enough for Tom, and how Don’s last ditch effort to put Tom in the air with “The Blue Angels” got Tom to finally say yes.  

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June 16, 2022 29 mins

The first of three episodes devoted to the Top Gun partnership of Don and Tom Cruise.   In this episode, we track the origins of Top Gun... How MTV videos of bands singing about nuclear war shaped Don’s vision to make a cold war movie. We go behind the scenes of Don’s big pitch at the Pentagon to convince the Navy to give Don their $14 million jets... And we learn of how the pressure to make a third blockbuster mov...

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June 9, 2022 24 mins

THE DON Season 2: Maverick, Top Gun, Don’s Greatest Hits, And The Addictions That Killed Him”  

In this episode, we learn just how close Sly Stallone came to starring in Beverly Hills Cop. We dive into Don's failure in trying to make Richard Pryor into a movie star. We look at his courtship of Eddie Murphy. And efforts to de-sexualize Eddie Murphy in order to make him a movie star. And why critics like Pauline Kael...

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June 2, 2022 26 mins

THE DON Season 2: Maverick, Top Gun, Don’s Greatest Hits, And The Addictions That Killed Him”  

In this episode,  we track Don’s collision  course with Tom Cruise-- beginning with Tom’s role in "Endless Love" and the world’s obsession with Brooke Shields virginity, Tom's breakout performance in the military film "Taps", the sex comedy he did with Shelly Duvall from Cheers, and his love a...

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THE DON Season 2: Maverick, Top Gun, Don’s Greatest Hits, And The Addictions That Killed Him”  

In Episode 3, we go into Don’s last days as a Paramount executive. His obession with making a third Godfather film puts him in direct conflict with the Vatican mob. Don’s partying gets him in trouble at the company retreat. And his producer on "Grease", Allan Carr,  goes all in on his epic Village People...

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Season 2 of "The Don" is a twelve episode double-order. We’re going all the way to the end... From Don’s greatest hits- Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Days of Thunder-- to his final days as a recluse hooked on pharmaceuticals holed up in his Bel Air mansion trying to make one last comeback in the film business. 

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May 26, 2022 28 mins

THE DON Season 2: Maverick, Top Gun, Don’s Greatest Hits, And The Addictions That Killed Him”  

Episode 2- “MORE DON FANTASIES COME TRUE”--  We look into Don’s influence on American Gigolo, Richard Gere’s infamous full frontal nude shot, Don’s relationship with fashion designer Gorgio Armani, Don’s invention of high concept, and teaming up with Warren Beatty to seek revenge ...

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May 19, 2022 1 min

THE DON is a docu-drama on the life of the producer of TOP GUN, Don Simpson, which uses narration, clips, and fictional re-enactments via “lost tapes'' to take you behind the scenes into Hollywood’s decade of decadence, the 1980s. Before the era of MeToo, there was Don Simpson the poster boy of toxic masculinity, whose outlandish behavior was not only tolerated but encouraged by the film industry who profited greatly of...

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June 8, 2021 29 mins

Pierce receives an invitation from Don’s former assistant, MIA, now a major producer, to move into Don’s house. It’s a thrill for Pierce to live in Don’s house- he had always wanted to see the great man's lair but Don had never invited him. While at Don’s house, Pierce is alerted to police cars down the street. They’re coming from Madame Cora’s house. Pierce sees that the woman he had encountered earlier seeking a job as a prostitu...

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June 1, 2021 26 mins

Pierce connects with an actress who had worked with Autumn Weston on the b-horror movie Leprechaun in which Jennifer Anniston starred in her first leading role. Here, Pierce learns that Autumn’s doctor- who had overprescribed her electric shock therapy— had attended many of Don’s parties. Pierce later connects with drug dealer Royce Newton who takes Pierce to a Laker game and later to a party at the team owner, Dr. Jerry Buss' esta...

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May 25, 2021 28 mins

Pierce is upset that John Gregory Dunne had penned Don’s obituary. We learn that Pierce and Don had a falling out and that Pierce knew little of Don’s dark days before his death. A tip from Robert Evans leads Pierce to Don’s madame- Madame Cora. Pierce learns that Don and the madame were close friends dating back to when they were both first starting out in Hollywood. Cora believes it’s no coincidence that the LAPD is staked outsid...

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May 18, 2021 30 mins

Pierce misses Don's funeral and mistakenly ends up at the funeral of fabled Hollywood lawyer and fixer Sidney Korshak. It’s there that he connects with the producer of Chinatown, The Godfather, and Rosemary’s Baby- Robert Evans. It was Don that took Evans’ old job at Paramount as President of Production. Back then Evans was in a rapid career spiral, while Don was the hottest executive in town. Evans invites Pierce to his house for ...

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May 11, 2021 28 mins

Pierce was called to Los Angeles by Don’s former drug dealer, Royce Newton, just hours after Don’s death. Royce is concerned that it was his cocaine that killed Don and he wants Pierce to find out the truth as to what might have killed him. Pierce sneaks into Don’s estate looking for clues. His search leads him to Allan Carr’s house- the producer of "Grease”— Don was the executive on the film in his early days at Paramount. Here Pi...

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May 11, 2021 27 mins

Episode One introduces Don Simpson, the producer behind such blockbuster hits as Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, and Top Gun. Don, like the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun- had a “need for speed.” Don lived a gonzo, high-octane life. By day he was a fast-talking Hollywood producer who knew how to sell a movie and get the greenlight. Many in the industry thought he was a creative genius— and that genius was validated with big box off...

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May 3, 2021 2 mins

The podcast series THE DON chronicles the wild anecdotes and escapes of Hollywood’s last great showman, Don Simpson, the producer who made such 80s classics as AMERICAN GIGOLO, FLASHDANCE, BEVERLY HILLS COP and TOP GUN. Don created a mythological persona known as “The Don” where in order to convince Hollywood to make his high-octane movies he had to live a high-octane lifestyle. But the lifestyle became all-consuming. His industry ...

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