Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #210: Who Owns The Watchmen?

Wow!

A judge has placed a summary judgment declaring that 20th Century Fox owns the movie version of Alan Moore's Watchmen made by Warner Bros., despite having given up on actually making their own version of the movie over 10 years ago. Warner Bros. is naturally enraged, and pledges to fight to the last drop of legal blood.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but I would like to know what the hell happened to give the judge the reasons he needed to hand over to Fox a film they did not make. I mean who wrote the original option contract, Elmer Fudd after a head injury?

Perhaps I should do a wee bit of explaining for those of you who do not know what an option contract is. Let's say you run a movie studio and you want to make a movie version of a book, a screenplay, or a comic. You have your people contact the people who own the movie rights of what you want, in the case of Watchmen: DC Comics (a division, ironically, of Warner Bros.).

Once this contact is made, you sign a contract to buy an option on the project. An option is where you pay the owner of a property a certain amount of money to give you the exclusive right to make a movie from that property, for a certain amount of time.

The key words are a certain amount of time. You see most options have an expiry date, a time when you must either use it or lose it, or barring that, you have to pay the piper again to renew your option.

Now some companies keep renewing options with no intention of actually making the movie, but in order to keep someone else from making the movie without them. However, that strategy can get pricey after a while, because in business pettiness is expensive, especially when it doesn't put something in theatres that can put bums in seats. Most options only last a year or two at most, and I've never heard of an option running longer than that, and definitely not for more than 10 years.

The only way I can imagine 20th Century Fox could possibly have any legitimate claim on Watchmen is that they kept paying DC Comics to renew the option. This would mean that Warner Bros. legal department did not know that a division of their company was being paid by a major competitor for the rights to a film they were spending around $100 million to make.

This means that either Fox has no case, or Warner Bros. needs a new legal department.

Well, I'll be watching these Watchmen because someone's going to be in deep trouble over this.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #209: A Black & White Issue?

Very interesting.

It seems the winning TV broadcast of the holidays was NBC's airing of It's A Wonderful Life, beating all comers and doing surprisingly well among young viewers. This beats just about all the expectations and assumptions of the powers that be in network television. For years they have been casting classic black & white movies to the outer wastes of cable, and only allowing perennial holiday films like
It's A Wonderful Life, or in Canada, A Christmas Carol (1951), to have any time on a mainstream broadcast network.

It's almost as bad as the local stations, who rarely allow their air-time to be cluttered by the likes of Abbot & Costello, Bogart & Bacall, Hope & Crosby, or any others that dwell in the alluring black and white world of Golden Age Hollywood.

Their excuses are all the same, the kids won't watch them, they want colour, they want lots of action, and special effects, and hopefully a loud hip-hop soundtrack.

Yet when given the chance the kids will watch it, and the kids will enjoy it.

So what does this mean?

It means that the combined brainpower of every broadcast TV executive in North America couldn't light a single LED bulb on a set of Xmas lights.

It's a strange idiotic situation. The media companies that own the networks have massive libraries of black and white movies that they exile into cable specialty channels, leaving their broadcast networks and local stations with nothing to show, and then you have the kids, who would most likely see the b&w movies as exotic and novel, missing out on real classics.

I was lucky, I grew up with the last generation that was able to regularly see black and white classics on broadcast TV. I have especially fond memories of The Great Money Movie out of Bangor Maine, which showed comedy, horror, sci-fi, film noir, romance, western, and adventure movies. Sure, they're old fashioned, but in a good way. They show today's generation if not exactly how past generations lived, at least how they viewed the world.

So I say bring back the black and white movies on broadcast TV, start getting the DVDs in stores, and get people to relearn how to appreciate classic filmmaking.

(And Silverman, if you start showing B&W classics on NBC, you owe me royalties)

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Discount Bin Diving, Or Why Boxing Week Is Great!

It's the most wonderful time of the year... okay, it's not as wonderful as Christmas itself, but the Boxing Week sales are pretty freaking sweet for a movie buff.

Just yesterday I picked up the 20th Century Fox "Best Picture" collection containing FW Murnau's Sunrise, All About Eve, Gentlemen's Agreement, and John Ford's How Green Was My Valley. And I got them all for $14.98 Canadian.

Sweet.

I'll be back to my normal ranting and raving soon.

I'm also considering getting Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Adobe Premier Elements to replace the photo and video editing software I lost in a recent malware attack. I'd like to hear if they're worth it, so if you know anything about them, let me know.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Wayne & Shuster

I hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas.

Today we're going to take a look at two of the most influential sketch comedians of the 20th Century that most Americans either don't remember, or have never heard of in the first place.

I'm talking Wayne & Shuster, Canada's most prominent comedy team.

Johnny Wayne was the comic, delivering punchlines and slapstick with a decidedly un-Canadian cocky nudge and a wink. Frank Shuster was the straight man, the much tougher job of setting up the jokes, and keeping the sketches moving. They first met in high school in Toronto, performing not as a team, but as members of the school's theatre company, which led to memberships in the University of Toronto's theatre company, then early jobs in radio, and their first show as a team on CBC radio Shuster & Wayne, in 1941.

However, it was World War 2 that cemented them in the Canadian consciousness, joining the Canadian Army and performing for the troops in battlefields all across Europe (and later for troops in Korea in the 1950s). They returned from the army and started the Wayne & Shuster Show on CBC Radio in 1946. Then came work in TV, not only doing 40 years of series and specials in Canada, but a record 67 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, and while they had been offered American shows, and even did a summer replacement sitcom for CBS, they decided to stay in their native Toronto.

While some considered their comedy style hokey and old fashioned, they were a direct inspiration on Saturday Night Live, especially creator Lorne Michaels (Shuster's son-in-law & protege) and writer Rosie Shuster (Shuster's daughter) and even the obsessively edgy Kids In The Hall.

Now Wayne & Shuster didn't really do skits, but mini-epic movies, that were noted for their combination of highbrown literacy, and lowbrow puns and slapstick. Many of their sketches became like jazz standards, being revived, updated, and expanded for new audiences. Like their combination of William Shakespeare of sports with this sketch:

Shakespearean Baseball


They also weren't above mixing history, Shakespeare, and film noir with this alternative take on the death of Julius Caesar.

Rinse the Blood Off My Toga


But they weren't above skewering the pop culture of their time, like this skewering of that ever-present phenomenon of the late 70s and early 80s, the K-Tel Records ad.

K-Tel Record Ad


I hope you enjoyed this little trip in Canada's comedy history, and I'll be back to my usual rants and raves soon.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas

With the Xmas holidays upon us I'll be taking a little break from the blogging, and spending time with the family. So here's a little bloggy Christmas card for all my readers. (Both of you)
So have a Merry Xmas, and I'll probably be posting something new on Saturday.

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Case of the Fractured Future

It was a quiet day in my humble little office wedged between the Happy Ending Massage Parlour, and Big Dick's Discount Double Entendre Warehouse. Christmas was right around the corner and I had to get a new tree for the office because the one I had been using got mocked by Charlie Brown. The little bald bastard.

I had just finished putting my meagre little electric star on top of my new metallic artificial tree made from recycled celebrity owned and never driven Prius automobiles when there was a rap on my door.

It was NWA and they were wassailing for the season in their own unique foul mouthed kind of way. I gave them each a handful of candy and shortly after they left I realized that it was not Halloween, and that "Fuck Tha Police" is not a Christmas carol.

Then someone else knocked on my door. I picked up my trusty Louisville slugger to do my own version of a rap, when I realized that my visitor was a ghost.

"Bob Marley!" I exclaimed, "Isn't this a rather predictable joke?"

"Yeah mon," said the ghost of the Reggae legend, "I'm stuck being the go-to guy for sub-standard Christmas Carol parodies."

"Why am I getting visited?" I asked. "I have no trouble with my Christmas spirit!"

"Weren't you just about to give someone's noggin a floggin' with that bat?"

"I have a strange sense of gift giving," I answered.

"I'm not here about your Christmas spirit," said Marley, "I'm actually here to hire you for a case."

"I need cash up front from the dead," I responded. Marley grumbled, took out his wallet and fished my retainer out, took a second to wonder why an old piece of dental gear was in his wallet, and then got out the cash.

"Here's your money," said Marley, "now I need you to help me solve a crime."

"Just show me where it is," I said.

"It's not the where you have to worry about," replied Marley, "but the when!"

"Time travel costs extra."

Marley grumbled and fished another couple of bills and put them in my hand.

"You're very expensive," he said.

"With Pellicano in prison I'm the only P.I. left," I said. "Goes to show that spying on everyone was a really stupid idea."

"I heard that!" said Pellicano from the other side of his wiretap.

"Let's go," I said. Then everything got wavy and I soon found myself flying through a field of psychedelic colours, as clocks, and snippets from TV shows and movies remembered by Baby Boomers flew by.

After that wave of cliches I found myself back in my office. A thick layer of dust lay over everything, but that wasn't particularly unusual.

"Okay," I said, "where are we?"

"Don't you mean when?"

"Just because you're a ghost doesn't make you immune from a little of my Christmas cheer," I replied.

"Okay," replied Marley, "you are exactly eight years into the future, the year 2016."

"What's the crime?" I asked.

Marley drew the blind, showing a dead street outside. Empty storefronts that once housed S&M shops, adult bookstores, head shops, and all the other cultural landmarks of Hollywood were gone. A mangy dog chased a tumbleweed down the dead street.

"This is the crime," said Marley. "Hollywood's dead. Will you take the case?"

"I better," I said, "because without Hollywood who will this blog make fun of!"

"Be careful," said Marley, "the world of the future is strange and bizarre. In fact, they rewrote the constitution so foreign born people can run for President."

"Don't tell me Schwarzenegger is President now?"

Marley shook his head. "Jim Carrey just got elected to his second term."

"You weren't kidding."

#

My first stop was to see the folks who supposedly ran this town, the Studio Moguls, and since the Happy Endings Massage Parlour was closed, there was one place left to find them all in one spot. The AMPTP Clubhouse in Beverly Hills.

The Clubhouse gate creaked like a Hamptonite's tennis swing, and things were quiet, too quiet, just like the cliche. One of the club's peacocks poked its head out of a nook and started to creep carefully across the weed covered marble path. Suddenly something leapt out of the bushes hissing madly and tackled the peacock. There was a flash of blood and feathers, and in seconds there was nothing left but bones.

"Hmmmm," said the peacock eating figure, "good eat." Then he saw me and hissed. "Stay away," he hissed, "stay away from my precious."

"Ben Silverman?" I asked. It was Silverman, clad only a loincloth of old contracts, and a belt made from a Harvard club tie. He nodded.

"What happened?" I asked.

"They tried to take the precious," hissed Silverman. "Tried to take all of our precious, but we wouldn't let them, we held them off. Come I show you."

Silverman scurried to the main door of the Clubhouse, I followed.

We went down the dark hallways until we reached the "Moguls Only" meeting room.

"They're in there," said Silverman. "All in there with their precious." Then he did that creepy laugh of his and scurried off, muttering to himself about putting Conan O'Brien in primetime, and how it would make everything better.

I opened the door, and found the moguls, or at least, I found some of each of them. A dozen or so skeletons, still dressed in their hand tailored suits, sat around the big marble table. Their bones and suits covered with dust. They each clutched something close to themselves. I reached over to the remains of Sumner Redstone and saw that it was a piece of paper. I pulled the paper out of the bony hands, shook off the dust, and took a gander.

It was a piece of his contract as a CEO, specifically the page that said that he got paid a huge bonus no matter how good or bad the company was doing. I soon realized that each skeleton had an identical piece of paper clutched in their skeletal hands.

This left me only one option, I cleaned out their wallets, watches, and jewellry. Don't judge me, I still had some Xmas shopping to do.

Since I wasn't going to get any answers out of the moguls, I figured I better check out the unions.

#

AFTRA was the first union I found. It wasn't hard, the bones of the leadership was lined up at the back door of the mogul's club, still clad like dime store hookers. They weren't going to be any help to anyone, which was pretty much what they were in life.

SAG headquarters was my next stop. It was a bunker behind the Beverly Hilton, lined with sandbags. A red flag flapped in the wind, but there was no one there but the skeleton of Alan Rosenberg, a script for a new lawyer show, clutched in his hand.

I then tried the WGA, IATSE, and all the other union offices. They were all empty, with nothing left but dust and broken dreams.

That left me one last option, I had to find an agent.

#

I found the agent sitting alone at a table in the remains of the Ivy. His suit was ragged and filthy, he hadn't been able to keep up with his botox, and he was talking into a cell phone, though I could see that it didn't have a battery.

"There's no way I'm going to let you have Angelina for anything less than fifty million," said the Agent. "That's my final offer!"

I gave the agent a dose of reality, and by dose I mean hit, and by reality, I mean baseball bat.

"What?" asked the Agent as he pulled himself back onto his seat. "Who are you?"

"I came here for some answers," I said, "and you're the only one still around, so I need you to talk now!"

"What do you want to know?"

"What happened here?" I asked. "Why did Hollywood collapse?"

"It was the recession," said the Agent, earning him another dose of reality.

"Can the spin," I ordered, "you're talking about an industry that thrived during the Great Depression. A recession couldn't destroy it."

"The internet," he said tentativley inspiring me to raise my bat. "Okay, okay. I don't really know what happened. It all started during the actor's strike. The studios got too greedy, wouldn't let anyone get paid for their work, so SAG go too radical. AFTRA then became too easy, each deal got worse than the other. Soon they were covering not only actors, but writers, and technicians as well. Everyone else got blacklisted out of the industry. The ones that stayed behind soon realised that they were being screwed, so they started raising their rates. Soon fewer and fewer movies were being made, because they cost too much, and since no one was willing to give their all to making studio movies anymore, quality plummeted, audiences stopped coming, and then..."

He gestured to show the devastation around us.

Marley reappeared.

"So," said Marley, "did you make any progress?"

"Yeah," I answered, "I know what happened now."

"So who killed Hollywood?"

"It was suicide."

CASE CLOSED

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Saturday Silliness Cinema: The Christmas Special

Twas less than a week before Xmas and all through the blog
Not a creature was stirring, but here are some Xmas themed comedy videos for you!

Okay, so I'm not a poet, but who cares.

Here's Harry Enfield with one of his little "educational" films about how to correctly enjoy the holidays.



And on the flipside, here's Aussie troupe the 3rd Degree, and one of their favourite characters, Aussie outlaw Chopper Read. NSFW FOR LANGUAGE!



Enjoy the videos and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #208: Money Makes The World Go Round!

Looks like the world is hurting for money, but where the rest of the planet is being stung, La-La Land is getting positively reamed with a pineapple. Recently reader Kevin Waldroup, and show-biz business maven Nikki Finke both mentioned the recent money problems of Sumner Redstone, the octogenarian oligarch behind Paramount, Viacom, CBS, MTV and just about one quarter of the media in the world.

His parent company National Amusements has racked up a debt load in the gazillions, his attempts at re-organization are running longer than a Russian novel, speculation about everything from the state of his finances to his senses are running wild, and he's having street-corner fire sales of assets and non-voting stocks like they're going out of style.

And let's not forget Paramount's problem getting outside investors to put their money in their films.

Now he's not the only media company having money related troubles. Read this piece taken from IMDB about Disney:
Disney Backer Sues Studio -- 18 December 2008 1:37 AM, PST
A dispute between the Walt Disney Co. and its principal financing partner, Kingdom Films, could resolve the question, when is a sequel a sequel? According to today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, Kingdom claims that Disney's High School Musical 3 was not a sequel at all, because it was the only one of the HSM movies to be released theatrically, and that it should therefore share in its profits. Disney, however, says that it is a sequel to the Disney Channel HSM movies and therefore exempt from profit-sharing payments to Kingdom under terms of its contract, which excludes theatrical sequels. Likewise, Kingdom also claims it should receive a share of Hannah Montana: The Movie, when it is released next year, while Disney insists it should be excluded. Both the HSM and Hannah Montana franchises are among Disney's most profitable properties. Disney's attempt to exclude them from the deal, Kingdom said, was "part of a concerted effort to eliminate from the slate those films that defendants believe may be profitable as a result of their association with the Disney Channel."
Now what does that story tell you about one of the fundamental flaws in the way Hollywood does business?

Here is Disney, a supposedly intelligently run corporation, deliberately pissing off their main source of production financing over something that should have been settled right from the beginning. Now Disney may have some sort of legal case to make based on the letter of their contract with Kingdom, and will allow them to give their CEO a bigger bonus, but they're not asking themselves what it will get them in the long term.

If they did ask that question, they'd know that the answer is nothing but trouble.

Will the people whose money backs Kingdom Films be willing to renew that contract if they feel it got them a royal hosing?

No.

And that's the problem. No one in a position of power in Hollywood is thinking about anything beyond their next quarterly bonus. Hence they forget about the absolute key rule of capitalism: Everyone must walk away happy.

Guess what, no one is happy doing business in Hollywood, because no matter who or what you are, creator, financier, or shareholder, you're going to get screwed because the people in charge are not accountable to anyone for their actions and don't care how much damage they do as long as they get their bloated raises, bonuses, and stock options. Creditors aren't going to cut Redstone any slack, because they don't want to join the legions of the screwed, and nothing is going to change their minds.

They had too long where people were willing to give the screw-jobs a pass because it helped them hide their more practical profits from the tax-man, but these days, if it doesn't put the green in the pocket, it's just not worth the trouble.

It's times like these I feel like a deranged prophet roaming the wasteland calling for sinners to repent, but that doesn't mean that I'm not right. A perfect storm is brewing, and if those who are getting screwed want real change, they should band together and use what power they do have to force it.

Because things can only get worse the way they're going now.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #207: A Lose-Lose Situation

In my last post I expressed the fear that SAG might have to eat dirt in this contract in order to buy the time needed solve their problems and go for the next contract from a position of strength. It was mentioned to me that the big media companies are also having their own problems, and mentioned the layoffs occurring at places like CBS-Paramount, NBC-Universal, etc..etc...

That's true, but the problems with the media companies goes beyond the layoffs. You see a lot of companies use a tough economy to justify layoffs, even when they're profitable, because layoffs create ephemeral "savings" so these same profits can beat the blind guesswork forecasts of alleged expert analysts to create an equally ephemeral bump in the company's stock price to justify a positively concrete boost in the CEO's bonus. So they're not really as good a barometer of a company's health as many might think.

However, the more I look at the deal, the more I think that it goes beyond SAG eating dirt, but the AMPTP, or to be more specific, the companies it represents, eating shit in the long term.

The "screw everybody" business model is behind all the problems plaguing movie and TV production these days. Costs are skyrocketing, unions are pissed, investors are pissed, company shareholders are pissed, and politicians are going to start sniffing around any minute to unleash a thousand worlds of hurt upon the whole industry.

The moguls want all the new media revenue for themselves, forgetting how it will only cause the costs of making the content for new media go up and up and up. Ask yourself this question:

Will anyone be willing to take a low upfront fee when they are certain that they will get less than the steam off the CEO's pee as royalties and residuals?

Of course not, those who can will demand more and more, causing costs to go up, and profits in new media to shrink and ultimately disappear.

Right now the studios are going through a contraction in production. They're making fewer movies because things are getting too expensive to make anything that can't break the half-billion dollar mark at the box-office. They're pricing themselves out of business, and the CEOs won't do anything to stop it, because they write their own contracts, making them the only ones who profit, and if they get fired, they get a severance package that could buy Bangladesh.

We're talking about one of the few industries to thrive during the Great Depression, and yet, after decades of unprecedented economic growth the companies are claiming that they are on the brink of total collapse because of a recession.

I think in order to save the industry, the industry must tear itself down, and rebuild from the ground up. Shareholders, who aren't seeing dividends anywhere near the rewards reaped by the CEOs, and film finance investors who aren't seeing profits at all, should join forces with the people who make the shows, and create a new business model. A model where costs are kept within the realms of rationality, where the people who make the industry possible don't get screwed, and where CEOs are paid based on the performance of the company, and not how they can juggle stock prices and analysts.

New media is a golden opportunity to forge a new way of doing business, and hopefully, lay the foundation for a healthy industry.
Because if something drastic isn't done, and done quickly, then the whole industry could face ruin.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #206: SAG- A House Divided

Things are not looking good for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Negotiations with the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) are stalled, and the divisions that have plagued the union since before negotiations began, let alone stalled, have arisen again.

A list of prominent actors, many of them heavy hitters, have put out a press release opposing any strike action by SAG in light of today's economy. SAG's leadership have lashed back at them, and in turn have been lashed back at as well. Things are getting ugly, and the AMPTP leadership is cackling their little flinty hearts out at their coven headquarters.

I predicted these problems for SAG, and seeing them come to fruition has made me come to a rather grim conclusion.

SAG will probably have to eat dirt for this contract.

I hate to admit it, but they are too divided, too weak, and too broke, to handle a strike. If they do strike, they could very well end up with an even worse contract just to get their bills paid. So they're going to have to suck it up, remember that it's only for three years, and start preparing for the next contract.

I wish SAG luck, they're going to need it.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #205: Can An X-Man Save The Oscars?

It looks official that Australian actor-singer-sexiest man alive (after me) Hugh Jackman has been tapped to host the Academy Awards in February 2009.

Folks are hoping that his leading man charm and old fashioned song & dance showmanship will save the Oscar telecast from sinking ratings, and utter disinterest on the part of the movie going public.

Now I wish Mr. Jackman good luck, he's got his work cut out for him, because I don't think he can save the show, and while he'll be blamed it won't really be his fault. You see the problem with the Oscars aren't the hosts, it's the
films.

You see, Oscar nominated films have become their own genre, and it's a genre that the greater part of the audience doesn't seem at all interested in.

Hollywood studios have always made "prestige" pictures, the sort of films designed to win awards, earn praise from critics, and make studio bosses feel like they're real artists instead of just businessmen. They dealt in big important themes, usually had lavish budgets, and had the best casts money, and studio contracts, could get.

They were also aimed to appeal to the widest possible audiences, which is very different from most Oscar winning films these days.

Now not every prestige picture was guaranteed to win both audiences and Oscars, and there was a time when Oscars didn't go only to pictures meant to win Oscars.

A classic example is
Casablanca, at the time of its making, it was just a mid-range picture designed solely to fill a slot in Warner Bros.'s release schedule. It wasn't meant to win awards, or even be a big hit, hell they didn't even have a finished script when they started filming. Yet it came to dominate not only that year's box office, but win the coveted Best Picture Prize.

So I guess the best way to sum it up, was that in the Golden Age,
any film could win an Oscar if it was considered good enough. Nowadays, you pretty much have to have your acceptance speech written before the script's even written.

You see, during the 70s a new wave of brash young filmmakers came out of low budget films and TV to become dominant players of the box office. Many of their films, were broad crowd pleasing fantasy adventures, and the old Hollywood guard resented it, and while members of this generation could get nominated, they could not win for these films, because they were not seen as worthy enough.

By the 80s this schism was getting pretty militant, and these same filmmakers couldn't win even when they tried to be worthy of the Academy's praises. A classic example is Stephen Spielberg's movie The Colour Purple, which holds the record for the most nominations with no wins.

By the 1990s, the 70s generation became the old guard of Hollywood, and now they could win awards, but they still held onto the notion of only nominating "worthy" pictures. While still capable of delivering the occasional hit, the purpose of these films began to shift from winning over audiences, to winning over Academy voters.

This also witnessed the rise of the Miramax domination of the Oscars. The Weinstein Bros. took campaigning for Oscars to heights, or depths, by creating an attitude that mainstream Hollywood was no longer worthy of making Oscar worthy films. Studios began to buy up the smaller independent companies and convert them into "brands" whose purpose was solely to win awards, and feed the egos of studio executives.

Now you have films that really serve no purpose other than to get nominations and win awards. Most of these films fail, both commercially, and for prizes, look at all the recent anti-war films for proof of that, but the practise keeps coming.

Just look at the list of films people are considering Oscar hopefuls:

Frost/Nixon. It doesn't tell us anything new about Nixon, or Frost, and serves no real purpose other than to appeal to Academy voters with big performances, and the use of Hollywood's favourite political boogeyman.

Seven Pounds. They should just call this "Give Will Smith the Goddamn Oscar." From the previews I can see it's all about actors exchanging soulful looks, discussions about the meaning of life, and some artful cinematography to put it above a Lifetime movie of the week.

The Reader. May very well be a brilliant film, but Harvey Weinstein seems intent on reviving his crashing career with an Oscar, with a film about guilt, and the holocaust. The whole thing screams "Gimme Oscar" and that's actually becoming a detriment to any merits the film may actually have.

Revolutionary Road. Suburban angst in the angst filled Eisenhower 1950s. Looks like a repeat of just about every trope associated with suburban angst cinema, including infidelity, hypocrisy, and the "insane" character who sees the truth, with the added element of condemning those damn conformists of the 1950s. It should have been titled: Been There, Done That.

If Hollywood wants to get people excited about the Oscars again, they're going to have to start making films that get people excited.

That's all.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

3 To Remember

Three people who made their mark in popular culture passed away this week.

Forrest J. Ackerman: Was the grandfather of geek culture by literally being the biggest fan and booster of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in popular culture. He was a writer, editor, occasional actor, and publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and was a ground-breaker in bringing fans and creators together.

Van Johnson: An always reliable and versatile actor who was best known for his all-American looks, but was under-appreciated for a lot of his career because he did everything so naturally, he made it look easy.

Betty Page: Pin-up model and pop-culture icon, whose sex appeal was amplified exponentially by her impish smile, and the laughter in her eyes. She refused to be photographed in her later years, preferring people to remember her how she was, and who am I to refuse her.
R.I.P.

Saturday Silliness Cinema: A Bit of the East Coast

Today I'm posting comedy by comedians from Canada's Maritime provinces, mostly Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

First up, we visit Newfoundland and CODCO, which started in the early 1970s as a theatrical revue called "Cod On A Stick" written by the late Tommy Sexton, and Diane Olsen. The show satirized stereotypes of Newfoundlanders or "Newfies" and their dependence on the cod fishing industry, and had a rotating cast of performers and contributors built around a core group of Greg Malone, Cathy Jones, Mary Walsh, and Andy Jones.

The group toured, broke up, and some worked together on different projects. Sexton and Malone had success with a series of specials called the "S&M Comic Book," which led to an offer from the CBC of having a full series. Instead of doing it by themselves, Sexton and Malone got the core members of CODCO back together for CODCO the series which ran from 1987 to 1992.

Here is one of their signature songs, a salute to a slightly disreputable St. Johns watering hole called the Ship Inn.



Up next is Nikki Payne, a frantic stand-up and sketch performer from Nova Scotia, best known for her trademark lisp, her trailer park upbringing, and her absolute willingness to do anything for a laugh. Here is her "Sex With Bea" parody of the long running "Sex With Sue" advice show.

WARNING: THE SKETCH IS VERY NSFW & NOT SAFE FOR THE KIDDIES.



Our last group is an up and coming young troupe from Halifax called Picnicface, and in this video they're offering a tour of their home city of Halifax Nova Scotia, NSFW for language. Enjoy.




Friday, 12 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #204: Silverman Stays?

According to the always indefatigable Nikki Finke, Ben Silverman, recently described by late night comic Craig Ferguson as "to NBC what Mugabe is to Zimbabwe" just got his contract renewed by honcho Jeff Zucker, despite flagging ratings, crappy shows, and otherwise being viewed as a joke.

So the question on everyone's lips is why?

Why would Jeff Zucker, who many claim bumbled into his present position through luck and timing, keep on a man whose only skill is selling foreign show concepts to other executives?

I can only think of 3 possible reasons.

1. Zucker can't bring himself to admit making a mistake when he hired Silverman in the first place, and would rather watch an entire network crash and burn than do anything to fix it.

2. Zucker is keeping Silverman in place to ensure that no one at NBC gets to a high enough position to threaten his own employment, knowing full well that Silverman has risen well beyond his level of incompetence, and is most likely stuck there. He's staying, because he can't unseat Zucker himself.

3. Silverman has some sort of incriminating photos, video, or fingerprints, belonging to Zucker and/or members of the GE board of directors. But this is probably the least likely of the three possibilities.

Now I'm not going to be completely down on Silverman. His record shows that he is a good salesman, especially to other Hollywood executives. He did well as an agent, his work as a producer was basically pitching European and Latin American shows to USA based networks, something he did well too, and he was able to sell himself as executive material to Zucker.

So I will give him his props for that.

However, he just doesn't seem cut out for the suit.

He appears to like the glamour and status of being a "mogul," but doesn't look like he has the capacity for the administrative drudgery that needs to be done to make a network run. His only ideas seem to be cutbacks, and more cutbacks. If this keeps up, by fall 2009, the NBC lineup will consist of the Today show, Silverman hosting
Deal Or No Deal, because Howie Mandel got too expensive, and Jay Leno at 10 PM and his only guest will be Jeff Zucker.

I can only see one way out for NBC-Universal...
You can't blame me for trying.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #203: A Host to Boast About?

The start of Awards season has just got me burning up the keyboard. 3 posts in one day, a new record!

AMPAS, the people behind the Academy Awards, haven't announced the exact identity of the next host of the Academy Awards, but they have been dropping some clues like rabbit pellets.

They are:

1. The new host is in the movie business.

2. The new host is not a TV personality or stand-up comedian.

3. The new host will most likely not be telling jokes.

#3 is not a real clue, the last three hosts didn't tell any jokes either.

(Ba-dum-dum-taaash!)

Actually Oscar has been rather lackluster lately, and not just because it's been honouring more and more movies seen by fewer and fewer people, it's because of the hosts.

The Academy thinks the problem is their use of comedians and TV personalities, which I think is wrong. Bob Hope, Billy Crystal, and Johnny Carson were considered excellent hosts, and their backgrounds were as stand-up comedians, and in Carson's case, he worked almost exclusively in TV.

The problem with the hosts lately, and it's been going on for a while, is not the hosts' day jobs, it's connection.

The audience just aren't connecting with the hosts.

Hope, Crystal, and Carson made themselves memorable by placing themselves as outsiders among the beautiful people. Sure, they were as inside as you can get without having a studio named after you, but that's not how they played it. They acted as if they had been beamed out of the real world, and into a glittering fantasy world of glamour and fame.

In essence, they played for the audience watching at home.

The bulk of the last crop of hosts play to the audience inside the Kodak Theatre.

There's a difference.

Hollywood is an extremely insular place whose connection to the outside world, otherwise known as reality, gets weaker every day. Everyone they meet is either at their feet, or at their throat, and with so much money floating around, performers can have major league careers even if they're unable to sell tickets to a lifeboat on the Titanic. They assume that what appeals to them, is the same that appeals to the general public. It doesn't.

In the old days, the Golden Globes were the place where they could drop the inside wisecracks and other shtick. The Oscars were supposed to be about the wider audience, and appealing to them.

But Hollywood doesn't know the wider audience anymore, and the wider audience doesn't know, or want to know most of them, and what appeals to millionaires with mansions in Beverly Hills, and "beach houses" in Malibu, doesn't necessarily connect to them.

It's just that simple.

Hollywood Babble On & On #202: What Are Oscars Without Controversy?

Some gay rights groups are threatening to protest the Oscars over the announcement that comedian Jerry Lewis will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The reason the gay rights activists are so fired up is because of two recent incidents when the 82 Lewis used the word "f*g." (Censored here to avoid offending anyone)

Now, I will acknowledge that I am not a Jerry Lewis fan, never was, Dean Martin was the risible one in their diad, but that's my opinion. The French love him, but I don't really care for his comedy, so I can easily write this news off as yet another reason to ignore the Oscars this year.

However, one can't deny that Lewis has raised tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars for research and treatment of Muscular Dystrophy. In fact, I'm surprised he hadn't been given the Hersholt award twenty years ago.

Yes, his uncontrollable mouth said some things that were obnoxious, even offensive, and he should be called out on it, and scolded about it. However, that does not just wipe out all the humanitarian work he did fighting a terrible disease that strikes people regardless of orientation. Nothing will be gained by protesting his award except making gay rights activists appear in favour of muscular dystrophy.

That's not good.

My advice, like in everything, you must pick your battles wisely. When he says something stupid and obnoxious, call him on it, but there occasionally comes a time for punishment and a time when the punishment only hurts the punisher and you must acknowledge that human beings can be obnoxious and rude, tell them when they are, and move on.

Hollywood Babble On & On #201: Awards Season Has Begun!

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has released the list of nominees for the Golden Globe Awards. (h/t Nikki Finke) which marks the beginning of the annual Hollywood Award Season. It's like hunting season, except instead of hunting for food for their bodies, Hollywood hunts food for their egos.

The Golden Globes are considered an especially egregious example of this awards mania. It's not judged by the audience, critics, or even the nominee's peers of Hollywood, it's dispensed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of about 90 people who write about Hollywood for... wait for it, foreign media outlets. They're probably most notorious over awarding the 1981 "New Star of the Year" award to Pia Zadora for the critically lambasted melodrama Butterfly. Yet their rather tawdry reputation for handing out awards based on studio lobbying over perceived has not stopped the awards for being treated like the little brother of the Oscars.

It wasn't always like this. The first Golden Globes awards were not really intended for public consumption, acting more like a combination of a charity fundraiser and a celebrity roast than a real awards show. No one took it seriously, they all go lightly soused, presenters made wisecracks about the nominees, nominees made wisecracks about each other, there were some laughs, some prizes handed out, and a good time was had by all. It was overall a private affair, something the Hollywood folks could get together and have fun without having to play for the camera and the general audience.

Then someone figured out that sometimes Golden Globe winners also won Academy Awards. Soon media outlets, always on the hunt for a "scoop" started paying more attention to the Globes as if they were somehow a predictor of the Oscars. The exponentially growing celebrity media chum bucket needed to fill time and nothing does that better than the weeks worth of reports on the announcement of the nominations, the celebrity fashion watch, the red carpet entrance, then reports on the winners, losers, and what they were wearing.

Then the show itself started getting televised, and now it suddenly had to be respectable.

And that's when it lost what I think was its true role, of being a place for celebrities to be themselves into just another place for them to be their image.

Which is a bit of a shame.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE!!!

Thanks to my unique gifts of prognostication, prestidigitation and frequent mastication, I have obtained a transcript of a show that hasn't even been made yet. That's right I'm talking about the NBC ALL-STAR HOLIDAY SPECIAL from the misty and mysterious future of Christmas 2009.

FADE IN:

INT. ASPEN SKI LODGE LIVING ROOM -- EVENING

The sun is setting outside. The room is decorated for the holidays in a pleasant, nondenominational way, and a fire roars in an elegant stone fireplace.

Enter JEFF ZUCKER, carrying some mistletoe and he appears to be surprised to see the camera there.

JEFF ZUCKER
Hi there. I wasn't expecting you so early.
I'm Jeff Zucker CEO of NBC-Universal,
and I'd like to welcome you to my Aspen Ski lodge
and the NBC All-Star Holiday Special.


Music starts to swell in the background, it goes to the melody of "I'll Be Home For Xmas."

JEFF ZUCKER
(singing)
I'll get a bonus for Christmas,
You can count on me,

I'll save some dough,
Cancel more shows,
And have cash b'neath my tree...

Jeff Zucker takes a wad of money and tosses it into the fireplace.

JEFF ZUCKER
(still singing)
Christmas eve will find me,
Where the rich and famous ski,
I'll get a bonus for Christmas,
While crashing N-B-C...!
Music fades.

There's a knock on the door.

JEFF ZUCKER
Who could that be?

Jeff Zucker opens the door. It's BEN SILVERMAN.

JEFF ZUCKER
Hey, it's Ben Silverman! Who'd have thunk it.

BEN SILVERMAN
Hey-hey Zuckerino!
I was in the neighbourhood
and I thought I'd drop in with a present.


JEFF ZUCKER
Is it a show people will watch?

Both men share a hearty laugh.

BEN SILVERMAN
Nope. It's a song.

Both men break into their own version of "Deck The Halls"

JEFF & BEN
Our careers sure are funny
Fa la la la la la la la la
Our network's losing loads of money,
Fa la la la la la la la la
A new yacht we'll buy and sail,
Fa la la la la la la la la
While NBC's shows all fail,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

See the blazing fools before you
Fa la la la la la la la la
Who get paid no matter what they do
Fa la la la la la la la la
Follow us in merry measure
Fa la la la la la la la la
While we get paid a load of treasure
Fa la la la la la la la la

Fast away pilot season passes,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Everyone's tossed on their asses,

Fa la la la la la la la la
Except the pair of us together,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Heedless of ratings and weather,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

The song ends and Jeff Zucker pops open a bottle of champagne.

JEFF ZUCKER
That was fun.

BEN SILVERMAN
And it's public domain, so we saved a fortune.

JEFF ZUCKER
Care for some bubbly.

BEN SILVERMAN
Certainly.

Ben Silverman takes the bottle and starts drinking straight from it.

JEFF ZUCKER
Hey, I wonder what sort of special guests will drop in?

A door opens and in comes ROSIE O'DONNELL.

ROSIE O'DONNELL
How about me!

JEFF ZUCKER
Damn, our ratings just went lower than the CW!

BEN SILVERMAN
I'll handle it!

Ben Silverman smacks Rosie O'donnell over the head with the champagne bottle, knocking her out.

JEFF ZUCKER
That just boosted us up past the 90210 reunion special.

BEN SILVERMAN
They're reuniting the cast from the original show?

JEFF ZUCKER
No the remake.

There's a thumping on a closet door.

JEFF ZUCKER
I wonder who that could be?

Jeff Zucker opens the closet door and there's JAY LENO tied to a chair.

JAY LENO
Let me out of here!

JEFF ZUCKER
Hey Jay Leno, why don't you join us in a song.

JAY LENO
Why don't you let me free?
(to audience)
They have me working 7 days a week!
They got in prime-time, late night,
and I'm even hosting the Today Show now!
I haven't slept in months!

(to Jeff Zucker)
Either set me free or let me die!

JEFF ZUCKER
I think we can do better than that!

BEN SILVERMAN Let's sing him a song!

The pair start "The 12 Days of Xmas."

JEFF & BEN
On the first day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
A job running N-B-C.

On the second day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the third day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Eight remakes we’re milking,
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Nine Law & Order spinoffs,
Eight remakes we’re milking,
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Ten lay-off pink-slips,
Nine Law & Order spinoffs,
Eight remakes we’re milking,
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Eleven executives fired,
Ten lay-off pink-slips,
Nine Law & Order spinoffs,
Eight remakes we’re milking,
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My GE board gave to me:
Only twelve viewers viewing,
Eleven executives fired,
Ten lay-off pink-slips,
Nine Law & Order spinoffs,
Eight remakes we’re milking,
Seven nights a-sinking,
Six Tina Feys doing Palin,
Five Olympic rings!
Four talk shows,
Three sit-coms,
Two manic moguls,
and a job running N-B-C.

The song ends.

JEFF ZUCKER
That was fun. Wasn't it Jay? Jay?

Jay Leno's chair lies on the floor, he's not moving.

BEN SILVERMAN
I'll start defrosting Conan O'Brian.

JEFF ZUCKER
And that's all for NBC's All Star Holiday Special.
Stay tuned for reruns of Knight Rider: The Next Generation.
Goodnight, and happy holidays.

Now those two guys know real entertainment, that should beat the "Star Wars Holiday Special" for the greatest of all time.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #200: Fish Rots At The Head First

It's my 200th edition of Hollywood Babble On & On, and I'm going to start it with something I never thought I would say:

God bless Barry Diller.

The former network and studio mogul is taking big business, and Hollywood to task, scolding profitable companies for lay-offs and contributing to unemployment. Here's the money quote:
“The idea of a company that’s earning money, not losing money, that’s not, let’s say ‘industrially endangered,’ to have just cutbacks so they can earn another $12 million or $20 million or $40 million in a year where no one’s counting is really a horrible act when you think about it on every level. First of all, it’s certainly not necessary. It’s doing it at the worst time. It’s throwing people out to a larger, what is inevitably a larger unemployment heap for frankly no good reason.”
Now the key words here are no good reason, because there is a reason for profitable companies to do layoffs, but it is not a good reason, it is a terrible reason.

That reason is usually the CEO.

Right now the economy is in turmoil. Marked to market accounting rules are artificially depressing the values of assets, which is bringing stock prices down, no matter how healthy the company's cash flow is. Laying off a bunch of people means a temporary savings in how much money is going out, that savings causes a one day, two point rise in the company's stock price, defying the expectations of know-nothing analysts, and thus justifying the CEO getting a bigger bonus than he got last year.

I agree with Diller, I have nothing against people making as much money as they can.

However, there is a difference between making money, and just taking money. You make money when you work hard to create profits for all involved. You take money when you go the easy route of needless layoffs in order to feather your own nest.

If you want to make a lot of money, the good luck to you, but if all you want to do is take it, then you are not only a lousy person, you are also a lousy businessperson. Just look at how Hollywood is run these days, financiers are getting pissed, shareholders aren't seeing any dividends, audiences are dropping off, costs are skyrocketing, and profit margins are dwindling down to nothing.

In fact, it seems that only the top management seems to profit anymore.

That's not right.

The purpose of capitalism is that both sides in any deal, buyer/seller, investor/entrepreneur, management/labour, walk away from that deal happy. As long as both sides are basing their decisions on rational principals, and not childish and petty greed, there is always a way for both to get what they want.

However modern business, especially Hollywood, is in the grips of people who don't seem to believe that anyone should be happy about any business getting done, and hence, no business gets done, and everybody feels screwed.

Even the CEOs who are currently raking in the big bucks are merely setting themselves up for a major fall. Things are coming to a head, a perfect storm is coming to lay everything to wrack and ruin on a scale that makes the 1948 Consent Decree look like a traffic ticket.

And the only ones the CEOs can blame for it will be themselves.

Like any good Jeremiad there is always a way out, to repent sins, and to go forth, doing business to create, instead of destroy, but it's highly unlikely that anyone is listening.

It's Official!

I truly am a know it all!




There Are 0 Gaps in Your Knowledge



Where you have gaps in your knowledge:



No Gaps!



Where you don't have gaps in your knowledge:



Philosophy

Religion

Economics

Literature

History

Science

Art

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Saturday Silliness Cinema: A Blizzard of Izzard

Note-- This week my computer was infected with malware, forcing me to have my hard-drive wiped clean and rebuilt with new security measures by a professional. I lost my digital photo program, as well as some other stuff, and until I get something set up, I will be a tad light on the new gag-pictures.

But I'm still capable of delivering the silliness for Saturday. And in response to the positive reaction of Eddie Izzard fans to last week's salute to the 4 Yorkshiremen, I now present a veritable blizzard of Izzard, through the magical medium of LEGO!




Death Star Canteen



Cake or Death


James Bond

Friday, 5 December 2008

Light Blogging For A Bit

I won't be able to blog much for the next while.

It seems my computer got slapped with some malware trying to get me give my credit card numbers to the mob. McAfee, the security service I trusted, not only let it through their firewall, but refused to acknowledge that it was even there, and wanted me to pay extra for them to fix what their incompetence let in.

So I had to take it to a professional computer technician to get it fixed. Which is going to take a while, so I'm not going to be posting as much until this mess gets settled.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Case of the Junked Jobs

It was a busy day for my lone wolf operation, my phone was ringing off the hook, people were missing stuff, and when their stuff went missing they needed me to find it.

Because I'm Furious D, and I'm a dick, a private dick.

People hire me to find the answers, even when they don't know the question, though when I first heard the knocking on my office window I had a question of my own.

Who'd be knocking on my window? Which happened to be on the top floor of the Leakyroof Towers, a bleak brick monstrosity, that lay on the corner where Easy Street met the Boulevard of Broken Dreams on the outskirts of Hollywood. I pulled the blind, who then excused themselves and got away from my window so I could see who was out there.

It was a mountain.

Literally a mountain, and a very famous mountain at that. It wasn't Everest, it was Perry the Paramount mountain.

"I need your help," said Perry.

"What's the rumpus?" I asked in my coyfully outdated way.

"I got canned," answered Perry, "they fired me, after almost nine decades I got laid off without so much as a 'how do you do.'"

"Why did you get fired?"

"I don't know," said Perry with a shrug, causing an avalanche that buried a passing convertible, "when I ask, all I get is the high hat."

"Thanks for tossing in the noir slang," I said.

"Anything to help," said Perry, "can you find out why I got fired, I mean I got a wife and a small mountain range to support."

"Sure," I said, "and it'll be a freebie, since I still owe you for Tijuana."

"Aw," said Perry wistfully, "those were the days. Thanks Furious."

***

I hit the road to find some answers.

The road didn't respond well to the hitting, and neither did my knuckles from the asphalt, so I moved on. To find the answer I had to get to the heart of darkness itself, I had to go to Paramount Studios.

"Do you have an appointment?" asked the Guard at the famous Paramount gates.

"Sure," I said, "I'm delivering lunch to the legal department."

"You don't have any food?" asked the guard.

"They're cannibals," I said, "and I'm suicidal."

"Can I see some identification?"

"Sure," I answered, holding out my middle finger, "here's my fingerprint."

"You can't be from around here," said the guard, "you're too polite. How do I know you're not some psycho nut-job?"

"The voices in my head say I'm a great guy," I answered.

"Why am I even asking?" asked the Guard as he opened the gate. "Since I just got my pink slip, who gives a crap!"

"That's a healthy attitude," I said as I went in.

***
The Paramount lot was quiet.

Too quiet.

A tumbleweed rolled by, and it wasn't a prop from a western, but the real deal.

I felt like Charlton Heston in the Omega Man, but without the albinos in the groovy black robes. Which was a bit of a bummer. I made my way to the executive suite, and went inside, the door creaked and hung loosely from its hinges.

"Hello," I asked, my voice echoing down the hall. I was hoping to exchange some saucy repartee with the receptionist, but she was gone, a small chicken in her place, pecking at the buttons on the switchboard as they lit up.

I walked down the hall, to the office of the CEO. The door was open and I poked my head in. Okay, it wasn't technically my head, but one I found on the street, but I found it, so it was mine now.

"Hello," said a voice from inside, "who are you?"

"I'm Furious D," I said, "I'm a dick."

"I'm sure you are," replied the man at the big desk. "I guess you know who I am."

"Sure I do," I answered, "you're the big cheese, the alpha dog, the big kahuna, the head dingus in charge of this heap."

"That's right," said the CEO, "and why are you here, and why are you carrying a head?"

"Why are you laying off everyone left and right?"

"Well," said the CEO, "money's tight. Sacrifices have to be made."

"So you're giving up your bonus?"

"Don't talk crazy," said the CEO. "That's a justified reward for all my hard work."

"But you just said that money's tight," I said, "and that sacrifices have to be made. I think you, as the highest paid person here should have to sacrifice something before you start laying off the ordinary working folks."

"But then I wouldn't get my bonus?" asked the CEO, a look of confusion on his face.

"And maybe you could also take a pay cut," I said, "perhaps basing your pay on how well the company performs under your leadership."

"Now you're talking crazy," said the CEO, "because if I did that I'd be lucky to get paid at all, let alone get a bonus that could feed Bangladesh for a year."

"But it doesn't give you much motivation to do a good job," I said, "you've lost Dreamworks, your financing is iffy, a lot of your recent hits were produced by others, and you're parent company is over a billion bucks in the hole. Maybe if your pay was based on performance, the company would be doing better."

The CEO started rubbing his head. "Damn," he said, "all this thinking is making my head hurt! Where's my secretary? Oh, right, I fired her to get me a new company car.... Damn you!" The CEO then screamed and leaped out of his open window.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!" yelled the CEO.

"Stop you're goofing," I said, "you're on the ground floor."

"Stop ruining my dramatic moment," barked the CEO, before storming off in a huff.

I think I found the answer to my mystery.

CASE CLOSED