Fact vs Fiction: The Offer episode 6 — was Al Ruddy fired from The Godfather?

Miles Teller as Al Ruddy in The Offer
Miles Teller as Al Ruddy in The Offer (Image credit: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+)

It’s taken six episodes, but The Offer, which is about the making of The Godfather, has finally shown the cameras actually rolling on the movie that's one of the all-time classics. Of course, as we’ve learned from the previous five episodes of the Paramount Plus series, the behind-the-scenes antics were as entertaining as what ended up on film and that continues with episode 6, "A Stand Up Guy."

This episode of The Offer picks up in the aftermath of the press conference that Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi) sprung on Al Ruddy (Miles Teller) — which included Ruddy being fired just as production is about to get underway. This causes even more headaches for the production. Also, Gulf + Western makes a call on whether or not to sell Paramount. But what really happened and what was made up for the show?

We’ve dug into the history to separate what’s fact and what’s fiction in The Offer episode 6. 

Check out our previous fact vs fiction recaps for The Offer

Was Al Ruddy fired from The Godfather?

Miles Teller as Al Ruddy in The Offer

Miles Teller as Al Ruddy in The Offer (Image credit: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+)

The fiction:
Al Ruddy has been walking the tightrope throughout his tenure as The Godfather producer. First, he had to contend with the mafia wanting to shut the movie down but ultimately was able to forge an alliance with the mob boss, Joe Colombo. Then he got into a heated battle with Robert Evans (Matthew Goode) over the casting, particularly for Al Pacino. All of this threatened to get him thrown off the movie, but he powered through. That is until the press conference with Colombo where it is directly implied that the Italian American Civil Rights League (in essence the mafia) and Gulf + Western struck a deal.

This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. A livid Charlie Bluhdorn (Burn Gorman) fires Ruddy. But, when Colombo hears about Ruddy being fired he shows his support for the producer by pulling the unions and shutting down production. Then director Francis Ford Coppola pleads with Bluhdorn to save Ruddy, saying that they can’t make the movie without him. Ultimately, Ruddy is hired back on the movie.

So... was Ruddy really fired from The Godfather (even if just temporarily)?

The fact:
Yes. Ruddy was fired following the Colombo press conference, after some backlash and a dip in stock prices for Gulf + Western. Although some dramatic flair was added for the series.

Just like in the show, Ruddy was not remorseful over his actions, being quoted in Mark Seal’s Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli saying, "I’m not interested in what happens to Gulf + Western stock. I’m interested in getting my movie made."

The show also got the scene right — Al Pacino and Diane Keaton walking down a New York sidewalk after going Christmas shopping. However, the rest of the scenario played out less eventfully in real life.

Bluhdorn, according to Mark Seal’s account, shut down the production after firing Ruddy, telling Coppola and Evans to find another producer. 

Coppola did stick up for Ruddy, claiming he was the only one who could keep the movie going. There's no indication, though, that Colombo did anything to hinder the production after Ruddy’s firing.

Bluhdorn’s threat of killing Ruddy if he talked to the press again was also true, apparently. Seal quotes Bluhdorn saying, "... one more line to the press and I will personally choke you to death."

Did Robert Evans convince Bluhdorn not to sell Paramount?

Matthew Goode as Robert Evans in The Offer

Matthew Goode as Robert Evans in The Offer (Image credit: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+)

The fiction:
The rumors that Gulf + Western was looking to sell Paramount came to near fruition in the final episode. Even more desperate to offload the movie studio after the disastrous Colombo press conference, Lapidus (Colin Hanks) and Bluhdorn meet with a prospective buyer, a Texas oil baron, who gives them a below-market offer. Unfortunately, that is their only offer. 

When Evans arrives to talk to Bluhdorn about the potential sale, he bursts into a meeting where the board is about to vote on the deal, giving an impassioned speech about the value of movies and how The Godfather is going to save the studio and boost Gulf + Western. It works. Bluhdorn rejects the offer and Paramount stays under the Gulf + Western banner.

So... did Robert Evans convince Bluhdorn and the Gulf + Western board not to sell Paramount with his passion for movies? 

The fact:
This appears to be fiction.

While Gulf + Western did consider selling Paramount a couple of times, this was in the late 1960s — not during the making of The Godfather. And, although Robert Evans was leading the studio during the 60s, he wasn’t what saved Paramount. Instead, it was a business move by Bluhdorn.

In 1970, Gulf + Western acquired shares of the Italian real estate company Societá Generale Immobiliare (SGI). Bluhdorn worked with SGI's accountant Michele Sindona, who had connections to the mafia and the Pope (Giovanni Montini/Paul VI), on a deal that saw SGI buy an interest in Paramount’s backlot. This gave Gulf + Western some breathing room on the Paramount debts, which were paid off later that year following the release of Paramount's hit movie Love Story.

If this sounds familiar it might be because the Gulf + Western/SGI deal was an inspiration for The Godfather Part III — the Vatican was a shareholder in SGI at the time of the Gulf + Western deal...

All episodes of The Offer are now available to stream on Paramount Plus in the US and UK.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.