Friday, 31 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #337: Levels of Risk

1. 3 PICS & LEVELS OF RISK

Comedian turned director turned one man movie empire Judd Apatow has signed a 3 picture directing deal with Universal Pictures on the eve of the release of his third movie, Funny People.

Now Apatow isn't perfect, films like Walk Hard, and Year One, have tanked, but on the whole he is as close to a safe bet that Universal can make. His films tend to be relatively inexpensive, so even if they don't break records, they can break even, or even profit a lot easier than most movies. This bucks the trend of most big studio movies that need to have box office takes in the hundreds of millions just to cover the production costs.

As Warner Bros. recently proved, smaller films can reap big rewards when they catch on with the public, like their recent film The Hangover, and hopefully Universal has learned something from that considering the stinky summer they've had so far.

It's also good for Apatow, because his films are pretty low budget, the stay pretty much under the meddle detectors of most studio executives who are too busy micro-managing the big $150 million + productions.

Which brings us to Apatow's Funny People, which is the closest the modest aiming filmmaker has come to a major epic. Reports say that it's his most expensive picture, with a big expensive cast, and at 2.5 hours in length, pretty damn long for an R-Rated comedy. So a lot of people, especially those who despise his loosy goosy improvisation heavy style, and strange mix of lowbrow sexual humour, and family values, are heaping on the negatives, and hoping the film will fail. The major critical aggregators and audience tracking though, are fairly positive, and the experts are guessing forecasting anything between $20-$40 million+ for the film.

Personally, I hope the film turns out to be well done, and does well. Because I'm tired of all the cranking, because Apatow seems to work hard, almost obsessively so, and avoids the excessive trappings of fame and power, preferring his work to speak for him instead of the tabloids.

2. BUZZ FOR BASTERDS & JOE, AND HOW IT COULD ALL GO WRONG

Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds is tracking well, being beat only by GI Joe among males in the excitement category. However, reports say that the film is now one minute longer than the extra long version shown to much controversy and consternation at Cannes.

Now I think the buzz around GI Joe is based mostly around 30 something males who were kids in the 1980s and fondly remember the toys, cartoon, and comic books shaping their childhood, and aren't paying attention to all the negative buzz emerging from the production by fan-boys disappointed at reports of the changes being made to their childhood memories.

Now both films can have brilliant opening weekends, however, that could easily blow up in their face.

Audiences could walk out of Basterds, thinking that Tarantino promised them an old fashioned "men on a mission" action adventure, but instead pissed on their veteran grandpa's grave, with self indulgent cinematic nihilism. This could cause bad word of mouth, and those who were planning on going on the second night, pick to go somewhere else. GI Joe, could also end up having a big opening night, but those who leave the theatres, could feel that Hasbro and director Stephen Sommers raped their childhoods, and these disappointed filmgoers will let their feelings be known.

So things can go either way, and badly hurt the companies that made these films. The Weinstein Co. is hanging by a thread already, and Basterds could cut that thread if the audiences don't like it. Paramount's had a pretty good summer so far, but could lose a lot if GI Joe hits the dirt instead of the ground running.

So unlike Funny People, the risk levels of these films are much, much higher.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Case of the Suspicious Sapphic Storyline

The past day had been hot, hard, and long, and I was just realizing how many strange Google hits this opening sentence was going to bring to this blog. I had spent the day trying to solve the Case of the Angry Assistants. The solution turned out to be easy: Their bosses were assholes.

That's what I do, I find answers, I'm a dick.

Damn, now I'm going to get a lot more weird Google visits than the story with the giant rooster.

Anyway, I had staggered into my office, beat tired and slumped in my chair like a sack full of jello.

Correction.

I slumped in my chair
on a sack full of jello.

"Who put a bag full of jello on my chair?" I asked.

"Hey," said voice from the corner, "that was my desert."

I spun around, my piece in my hand.

"Why are you pointing a piece of cake at me?" asked the voice from the corner.

"It's my desert," I said, "and my desert is free of butt prints. Now who are you and why are you here?"

"Don't you know me?"

The figure stepped out of the shadows. He was short, pimply, had an awful haircut, an even weaker attempt at a beard, and a
Masters of the Universe T-shirt that didn't quite master the universe of his stomach.

"Sam Deehaygo," I said recognizing that face anywhere. He was the ultimate fanboy, there wasn't a single thing in the geek world that didn't have his sticky fingerprints on it. "What brings you here."

"I need a dick," said Sam.

"Well," I said, "I'm sort of flattered, but I don't swing that way, and just because a woman won't touch you doesn't make you gay. It might mean that you make
them gay, but that's a totally different thing--"

"I mean a private detective," snapped Sam.

"I know," I answered, "I was just milking an old hackneyed joke. Much the same way I'm milking an often incorrect stereotype with your character."

"Admitting that is very meta-fiction of you."

"It's that kind of story," I said scraping the jello off my chair. "Now, what can I do for you?"

"There's a question I need answering," said Sam. "Do you watch
Heroes?"

"Sweet mother of monkeys," I growled, "not another goddamn NBC story."

"Do you watch it?"

"I never got into it."

"Well there are stories going around that the Cheerleader character will have some sort of lesbian relationship on the show."

"Like Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

"Yeah."

"Just a minute," I said as I went into the next room.

"Furious?" asked Sam. "What are you doing in there? Furious?"

"Okay," said sitting back at my desk.

"What were you doing in there?"

"Let's get on with the case," I said.

"I want you to find out why the show it doing this," he asked, "I'm not complaining, I just want to know why."

"All right," I said, "I'll take the case."

#

I figured that I'd go right to the source to find my answers, mostly because I wasted a lot of time with the introduction scene. So I leaped into my a chocolate colored 1971 Lamborghini Miura everyone called The Brown Hornet, and realized that it was not a convertible, but thanks to my girth, it now had a new sunroof.

Anyway, after the fire department got me out, I put the pedal to the metal and tore down to Universal City. If there were answers to be found, it would be there.

The backlot was a ghost town. In the distance I could hear the footsteps of runaway productions, and the weeping of some executive wondering why reshoots were needed for The Wolf-Man after $85 million had already been spent on the picture. I went into that big black slab that served as the executive office building and met the receptionist.

"What a pleasure meeting you here Sugartits," I said to the receptionist.

"Aren't you getting tired of using the gag where receptionists are always being named after sexist terms?" asked Sugartits McGee. "I mean it's a cheap gag, I'm talking Family Guy cheap."

"You know," I said, "this reminds me of the time I was Johnny Depp's--"

"Don't start doing cut-aways!" screeched Sugartits. "Just tell me who you want to see."

"I need to see the person in charge of Heroes," I said.

"Do you know who it is?" she asked.

"Don't you?"

"This is NBC," she said, "no one's sure of anything. Just pick a random office, I'm sure you'll write it so that it'll turn out to be the right guy."

I followed her advice, went into the elevator, picked a floor at random, and then picked a random office.

She was right.

"So you're the show-runner for Heroes?" I asked.

"Yeah," said the guy as he nervously sipped a cappucino. "For now, who's asking."

"I am Furious D," I said, "I'm a private dick, and I'm looking for some answers."

"About what?" asked the show-runner. "And make it fast, I'm getting fired in an hour."

"A lot of folks are wondering about the rumours about that cheerleader character having a lesbian relationship in Season 3."

"Oh," said the show-runner, "that."

"Well," I said.

"The ratings for the past two seasons stink," said the show-runner. "And I mean dead squid on a beach stink. We need something to attract attention, and I was watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, saw that whole Willow/Tara thing... Hey, where did you go?"

"Go on," I said as I returned to my seat.

"What were you doing in my closet?"

"Just finish your story," I said.

"We figured getting two girls making out on television would boost the ratings."

"Doesn't that seem like a cheap play for attention."

"Oh it is cheap, really, really cheap," said the show-runner, "it's like every time Megan Fox opens her mouth."

"Why go that route?" I asked. "People are already getting sick of her."

"Because this is NBC," said the show-runner, "we've got nothing else."

I nodded and was glad to have an excuse to get away from that network, the whole building had that whole Dawn of the Dead feeling to it, and I skedaddled. I had my answer, so it was time to declare---

CASE CLOSED

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #336: Quo Vadis NBC?

Josef Adalian at The Wrap has a piece that raises some questions about what going to happen next at NBC in the aftermath of Ben Silverman's exit, replacement by Jeff Gaspin and Jeff Zucker's career clock reaching 5 minutes to midnight.

Well here are my answers to some of the questions that Adalian's asking:
Will Jeff Gaspin be able to end the culture of backstabbing and political positioning that's preoccupied NBC for nearly a decade?
That sort of behaviour is a sure sign of two things.

1. Those who are supposed to do the daily running of NBC are denied the power to do what's necessary (mainly hiring & firing) by the head office.

2. The people who are doing the backstabbing and positioning are not doing their jobs, or they wouldn't have the time to back-stab anyone.

How do you solve it?

Such conspiring and skullduggery are a symptom of a lack of authority by those who are supposed to run the company because like a fish, a company rot starts at the head. It looks like no one respects Zucker, and Zucker won't let those in charge of the day to day operations make a decision and act on it without his meddling.

If the CEO doesn't trust the Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc., to make decisions, then why the hell did he give them the jobs in the first place?

Anyway the next question:
Can NBC repair the damage done to its relationships with the creative community?
Not only do a lot of the people necessary to make television hate NBC, it's management, and all that they stand for, they also do not respect NBC, nor do they even fear NBC.

Adalian cites a quote from the creator of
My Name Is Earl, who likened his show's cancellation to being tossed from the Titanic.

That says a hell of a lot, and it will take a massive shake up at the company just to start building the bridges that NBC has burned over the past few years. Plus there's also the problem of convincing people to sell their shows to a network that's considered the place where shows go to die.
Who will the media blogosphere obsess over now that Party Ben has left the dance floor?
Someone will rise, or sink to the challenge. Someone always does, Hollywood's a good provider that way.

Now here are a few of my own questions for NBC to answer.

1. What will NBC do when Jay Leno's show crashes and burns?

I know it won't happen right away, a certain novelty, coupled with Jay's personal popularity will buoy the show for a while. However, a nightly prime time variety show has a 99.8% chance of becoming a complete disaster, especially with the conditions NBC is rumored to be putting on the show. Leno accepted the gig because they played on his deep insecurities even though he could probably buy the network by now. A weekly show, perhaps on Wednesdays as a "humpday pick-me-up" could have worked if he had a crack team of writers and a killer supporting cast, but not every weeknight.

It seems though that NBC doesn't have any plans for this contingency, letting 5 hours a week lie fallow.

2. How will NBC win back the viewers?

The critics, and creative community are one thing, but how do you win back the most important part of the equation, the audience. I don't have any reason at all to watch NBC, considering they cancelled Life, the bastards, and only run reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which I can catch earlier on a Canadian station. What can they do to possibly make me want to watch an NBC show?

3. When will something be done about Zucker?

I don't like to see people lose their jobs, but they have to be doing their jobs to make me want them to stay. Zucker's probably got a golden parachute that could feed Paraguay for a year, so he might want to consider retirement, and whatever poor bastard gets roped into replacing him, can be paid based on job performance, not ass-kissing.

Now, will someone outside of NBC-U do something, I'm getting to sound like a broken record around here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

One More Silverman Related Bit...

The exit of Ben Silverman from NBC-U is still causing ripples across the show-biz world. One of those ripples is the question of why a businessman with the tough reputation of Barry Diller would hire Ben Silverman for this new venture.

Well, let's take a gander at the

Top 10 Possible Reasons Barry Diller Hired Ben Silverman:

1. He lost a poker game to the CEO of GE.

2. He owns a lot of NBC-U stock and needed to something to get it moving upward.

3. He needs an excuse if IAC blows up in his face.

4. Silverman's crazy manic giggle just warms Diller's heart like a basket of puppies.

5. Diller just got the DNA tests back, he is the father!

6. Diller needs a younger body to transplant his brain into.

7. Diller wants someone to teach him how to party hard.

8. Diller got tired of not being criticized on DHD every second day.

9. Two words: Whipping boy.

10. Once hired, Diller intends to replace Silverman with his evil twin from the negative universe. Evil Twin Silverman has a goatee, and can actually run a network. With Evil Twin working out great, all the blame for NBC-U's troubles will fall on Zucker, chaos will reign, and Diller will sweep in to take over NBC-U at fire sale prices.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A Musical Moment...

I was having lunch with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, or "Andy" as we call him at the club, and I told him about Ben Silverman's exit from NBC. He was inspired and wrote the following song for a whole new show about Silverman's work and career called "Silvita."

I hope you enjoy this sneak preview of what's destined to be a Broadway classic.

Don't Cry For Me NBC (from Silvita) :

My show's were cheesy
My decisions strange
When I try to explain how I feel
That I still need your love
After all that I've done
You won't believe me
All you will see
Is the boy you once knew
Although he's dressd up to the nines
And turned NBC into poo

I had to let it happen
I couldn't change
Couldn't really take the wheel
Looking out of the window
Working instead of fun
So I chose freedom
Running around trying everything new
But none of my shows impressed you at all
I even expected them too

Don't cry for me NBC
The truth is I should have left sooner
All through my wild days
My complete indifference
I blew my promise
To go the distance

And as for fortune and as for fame
I preferred them more than work
Though it seemed to the world
That I acted a jerk
I had grand delusions
And no real solutions
To be a network killer
The answer was getting the hell out
And ruin things for Barry Diller

Don't cry for me NBC
The truth is I should've left you sooner
I'd disappear for days
Forgot your existence
I blew my promise
At every instance

I always say too much?
And all the bullshit I'd say to you
But all you have to do
Is look at Zucker to know
That NBC is still screwed.

Hollywood Babble On & On #335: Monday's Musings

1. CANADIANS CAN BE FUNNY?

Telefilm, the film financing arm of the Canadian government, the Just For Laughs festival of Montreal, and the Canadian Film Centre have announced that they are forming a group to promote and foster the development of Canadian comedy films by new talent. (h/t Cinematical)

I have to admit, that I am incredibly cynical about the whole thing, and I'm pretty sure that it's doomed to failure.

Now you're probably sitting there, staring at the screen, brow furrowed in a feeble attempt to understand why I, a fellow Canadian, would have such low expectations, considering the history of Hollywood comedy is liberally peppered with Canadians from Mack Sennett, and Marie Dressler, to John Candy, Ivan Reitman, Mike Myers, and Jim Carrey, to Seth Rogen, Michael Cera and current big money stand-up Russel Peters. This should be a shoo in.

Well it isn't, and here's why.

When you look at that list, what's one thing they all have in common.

They all went south of the border to find success, because the comedy inside Canada is growing increasingly bland, complacent, and even worse, often un-funny.

Look up the comedy shows produced in Canada over the past 10 years on IMDB. Make a note of how many times the same names pop up on
every damn show. On Canadian television it's not at all uncommon to see the same people writing, and performing on two series at the same time, all the while doing guest spots and rewrite work on other shows. Toss in CBC radio, the traditional entry point for new talent, and you still end up hearing even more of the same people doing pretty much the same material that they just did on television.

My fear is that this program will end up like all the other programs that promise to seek out new talent, and wind up wasting more of Canadian entertainment's finite resources on fewer and fewer people.

2. NBC-UNIVERSAL IS SHAKEN AND STIRRED

The word on the street is that sinking ship called NBC-Universal is losing it's first mate. Ben Silverman, the living illustration of the Peter Principle is reportedly out at the network-studio conglomerate. You're not going to be seeing poor Ben sitting on a street corner with a sign that reads: "Will program your network for food." He's reportedly moving onto a position with another company, so he's their problem now.

There are also reports of shake-ups, scrutiny, and general turmoil at Universal Studios, the studio wing of the company. It's parent GE is allegedly not amused with the weak performance of many of Universal's most recent releases, like
Bruno, Public Enemies, and Land of the Lost.

Now the defenders of the folks in power at the studio are saying that the company is just having a rough year, that recent years have been pretty good and that things are cyclical, in this business, and to an certain extent they're right. This year Warner's is hot right now, thanks to
Harry Potter, The Hangover, and next summer's expected blockbuster Harry Potter & The Hangover of Vegas.

However, a lot of the problems Universal is facing comes from a very simple concept. They're spending too much damn money per movie. Going by the performance of
Borat, should have spent about 1/3 of what they spent on Bruno to maintain a profit. Public Enemies could have been profitable, if the film's budget was under some sort of control. It was a period crime drama, not a special effects heavy comic book blockbuster, and shouldn't have cost over $100million.

Then there's
Land of the Lost.

Which probably shouldn't have been done in the first place, but they still spent way too much to make the damn thing.

Now I'm not the type to shamelessly self-promote myself, but...
You can't blame me for trying. This was how Louis B. Mayer got his start.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #334: The Foundation Crumbles...

This may come as a bit of a shock to those of you who see me as a font of all things hip, trendy, and fashionable, but I have a confession to make. Growing up, I was, and still am, a science fiction fan.

I know, I spent a good part of my childhood literally consuming the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, and of course, Isaac Asimov.

In Junior High I read just about all of the Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, a sweeping epic about the collapse of a mighty Galactic Empire, and a small community dedicated to building a new civilization from the ashes of the old.

I just read a piece that announced that a Hollywood studio was going to make a movie from Foundation, which piqued my interest, then I realized that they were going to screw it all up as usual.

The word is that Roland Emmerich, Hollywood's master of overwrought bombast will helm the movie version of Foundation.

If you listen carefully, you can hear Asimov spinning in his grave.

Now Foundation is a tricky thing to adapt. First, it's not just one book, it's a series of novels, the first ones are collections of stories illustrating episodes in Asimov's future-history, without a single character to portray as the "star" except for Hari Seldon, who, not counting the prequels, is an old man in a wheelchair and an intellectual, not an Emmerich style action hero.

As a director Emmerich is more interested in overblown special effects than telling a coherent story, which is why he's been doing so many disaster movies lately. His solution to creative problems is to bring in a bigger tidal wave.

Now it is possible to adapt Foundation, I think that it can be done. However, I do believe that its episodic structure and constantly shifting cast of characters means that a satisfying big-screen feature film is most likely an impossibility.

I've always viewed Foundation as a limited run television series like I, Claudius, where a top notch, but relatively unknown cast brings to life a compelling story, that despite what Hollywood may think, does have enough action and suspense, and doesn't need any big tidal waves. With today's technology, it could even be done pretty cheaply if you don't blow it on stars that can't carry the weight of the project. Then you'll have fans buying the DVD box-set, watching the reruns on cable, and generally keeping it a perennial favourite that will keep it a money-earner well into the future. And then there's the merchandising, I know that may sound crass, but geeks will buy merch that they feel honours the original instead of mangling it.

This is Asimov's I, Robot, all over again. What was a fascinating and compelling drama about the nature of machines and humanity, transformed into just another over-loud, gun-blasting action fest that although profitable, was pretty much forgotten within 15 minutes of the film's release.

Now I'm having nightmares of Will Smith, or Tom Cruise as a gun toting Hari Seldon, blasting bad guys left and right while tossing off catch-phrases designed to sound cool to a 12 year old.

Please Hollywood, step back from the book. For your own good, please step back from the book.

What do you readers think of this revolting development, and how would you adapt Foundation, and with whom?

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Mystery Science Theatre 3000

Hello, and welcome to my weekly break from ranting about the business of pop culture, for a little laugh. This week we get a visit from the guys at Mystery Science Theatre 3000, one of the best comedy shows of all time.

Enjoy.

Justify Full




I'll be back to ranting and raving about business as soon as a story breaks. So keep coming back.

Plus I'm doing some tweaking with the blog's look, feel free to let me know what you think.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #333: MGM, Relativity, & 2 Combating Columnists!

The Wrap's Sharon Waxman poo-pooed Nikki Finke for poo-pooing The Wrap's story about a plot by Relativity Media to take over MGM by buying up their debt, forcing the semi-moribund studio into bankruptcy, then taking it over, sweeping out the old management, putting in some new folks, and remaking the studio in their image.

Sharon Waxman says yes, and has what is alleged to be samples from a Relativity presentation called "Project Smith." The presentation illustrates a plan to take over an unnamed studio code-named "Smith" and by the way, Studio Smith, just happens to have the James Bond franchise.

Nikki Finke says that her sources say that Relativity is planning some other deal with the debt, possibly selling it at a profit at a future date when the general economy, and the studio are on a surer footing.

I'm not sure who to believe.

So let's look at the evidence:

Relativity recently dipped its toe in MGM's pond by co-producing the remake of
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

However,
The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 lost a lot of money for Relativity, Columbia, and MGM, ouch.

Relativity has a very close relationship with Universal Pictures.

However, that relationship can't all that hot right now, especially after the bath both companies took with the movie
Land of the Lost, and Relativity's rather odd decision to buy Universal's former "B-Movie" division Rogue Pictures and turn it into some sort of "lifestyle brand."

So this could go either way. The Project Smith papers could merely be a trial balloon by some executives at Relativity that got leaked, or it could be a real plan of action. The real trick is if Relativity and its backers have the hard cash to take over MGM, and make it an active company without amassing the sort of crippling debt that's kept the company from being more than just a bare bones distributor and a film library.

In the case of Waxman vs Finke, I only have one solution to prove who is right:

THUNDERDOME!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

On Comedy: What Hollywood Thinks Is Funny

Nikki Finke got her dander up about the Fox Network's request that writers wanting to work on the upcoming Wanda Sykes Show, to provide try-out material for free. I have to differ with her, they can't use anything on air without paying for it, but they also can't pay several hundred comedy writers to submit test material.

I had a similar experience when I was in college. Word went out that a sketch comedy pilot was being put together. They had 6 performers, and were looking for around the same number of staff writers. After a round of reading some pre-existing material, they called in around 40 candidates for a final try-out. We were brought to a comedy club, met the cast, and were given the front pages of several newspapers, and given about 90 minutes to write something topical.

Since all the papers were going on about a study about the rise of girls belonging to street gangs, I wrote a piece called "Gang Violence Barbie." That piece put me over the top, and I was hired.

Sadly, the pilot never got beyond the script stage. The producer blew the budget on market research, hoping that it would give her the magic formula for a hit show, instead it turned what was a clever, if a bit scatter-shot, sketch show, into a sitcom about angels that didn't have any actual jokes in it.

The reason it became a sitcom about angels: Because of an ad campaign for Philly Cream Cheese that was very successful. In fact, that ad campaign is still running, sadly, its popularity sank our hopes for a pilot, let alone a series.

Anyway, I wasn't paid for the tryout material, because it wasn't going to be used. In fact, nothing anyone in the group was going to be used once the focus groups and marketing people were through rewriting butchering it, but that's not the main topic of this post.

What concerns me is what the
Wanda Sykes Show is looking for in the field of material. Take a look at what the memo says: (click to enlarge)


Now let's take a look at what kind of where they are coming from at some of the types of routines they're looking for.

- Shopping for a pet with Michael Vick.

That's like offering to take Charles Manson to a Hollywood Party. It serves no purpose, and what humor could Wanda Sykes extract from a pet store employee calling the police, because I believe that sort of behaviour would be considered a violation of his plea agreement.

-Trying to get Congressmen Peter King to cry about Michael Jackson at some sort of Michael Jackson tribute at a Veteran's Hall.

Okay, and how are you going to swing that? I'm sure Peter King would probably just tell you off and hang up.

-Get a walk through for a "gay exorcism."

Didn't Bruno already do stuff like this? Or was it Bill Maher in Religulous? And I think we know how that worked out for them. All I really see is Wanda trying to pick a fight with people most Christians consider as on the fringe, and attempting to paint all Christians as being like them. Now that's comedy.

-Look for the "Department of Law" Sarah Palin talked about.

Okay, now this is a bit of a stretch. We're talking about a slip of the tongue from a now former politician, being extended into some sort of major news story that can justify a full on comedy sketch. About 90% of people who don't view the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos as their only new sources probably never even heard of that gaffe, let alone what the sketch is supposed to be about.

Then there's the issue of relevance. Sarah Palin's run for the Vice Presidency ended in November 2008, and resigned as governor of Alaska this month. This show will probably be coming around about September-October 2009 at the earliest. That means any sketch done about it will be done about a year after she was nationally relevant news. That's a hell of a way to stay topical. I'll have more to say about this topic later, because it shows up again with...

-Inserting Wanda into a reverse of Palin's resignation explainer-- along with that creepy looking audience of five--

Okay, here's I guess is the point of the sketch, Alaskans are creepy.

Ouch, I think my side has split.

But seriously, this tells me a lot about the thinking, or lack thereof, of the people who are behind this show.

1. They think anyone who doesn't live in the Axis of Ego is somehow "creepy."

2. They have no idea of the law of unintended consequences.

As for #1, this is Hollywood we're talking about here, anyone over 35 whose face isn't frozen into a botox related grimace, is considered the odd one out. Add that the only "average people" who they meet are either serving them, or servicing them in one way or another, and you get a sense of humour that thinks mocking ordinary people for their ordinariness is funny.

Which brings me to #2, the law of unintended consequences. Sarah Palin, despite what the media says, is a very popular politician, with the compelling narrative of a working class background, becoming a small town mayor, taking on and beating a corrupt Republican political machine, to become a popular governor. She is also seen as the victim of a character assassination campaign unseen since HUAC. The more the media picks on her, making jokes about her and her family, long after the election, and even when she's no longer the governor of a relatively remote and underpopulated state, the more popular she becomes with the folks in Flyover Country. The unintended consequence is that such material, and its repetition, could put Palin in the White House in 2012 or 2016. I don't think Wanda Sykes really wants that, but since all she and the others making this show hear is that they're doing the right thing and "saving" the country, they honestly don't see it.

Another thing that sort of sticks in my craw is the claim that Wanda Sykes "speaks up to power without talking down to people."

I don't know, I caught her performance at the Press Club dinner, and aside from a few tepid jabs at the people who were actually in power, she spent most of the night going on about those who were out of power. Because she is a Hollywood person, no matter how much she may deny it, and in Hollywood comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable translates to: Only make jokes that won't endanger your invitation to next party at Spago's or your potential for an Emmy nomination.

She could rebel and make jokes about the people in power, but since the people in power in Washington, are very close to the people in power in Hollywood, that's just too dangerous to try. And when your act is basically being shrill and self righteous, you can't afford to do anything truly dangerous, because that won't get you your own talk/comedy show.

At least we can take small comfort that this show will probably last about a half hour longer than the show I worked on.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #332: Miscellaneous Money/Movie Musings

1. WARNER BROS. PLAYS GAMES, BARELY READS COMICS

Word is out that director Sam Raimi will direct a feature film based on the World of Warcraft online computer game for Warner Bros. It'll be the first film where the hero not only has to defeat villains, monsters, and
dangerous traps, but also morbid obesity.

But seriously, I find it interesting that Warner Bros. is in such a feast or famine situation when it comes to fantasy and adventure franchises that they have to got to a video game company for ideas. They have Batman, and Harry Potter, two of the biggest movie series going, but outside of those two, they've had very little luck at best, or at worst, make Superman Returns.

The reason I find it so interesting is that Warner
Bros. has the same owners as DC Comics.

DC frikkin' Comics!

They should have franchises coming out of their ears. Yet so far in the past 10 years they've had 2 Batmans (1 great, 1 stupendous), 1 Superman (whiny, tedious), 2 films that didn't leave room for traditional sequels (
Watchmen, 300) and a lot of promised DC projects that never come to fruition.

Now some are pointing at the recent news about the casting of Ryan Reynolds as
Green Lantern as a sure sign of a new franchise, but I still think they will find a way to screw it up.

Warner Bros. has been having a good time lately, but that doesn't mean that they should rest on their laurels. They have to find out what is blocking them from successfully developing these DC properties, and fix it. Right now comic book and fantasy franchises are hot, hot, hot, and they can't just sit back and let Marvel dominate the field.

2. SUPER-SIZE MY RELEVANCE

Morgan Spurlock the self styled gonzo documentarian and Fu Manchu mustache aficionado is going back to his biggest success by producing a comic book series inspired by his movie Super-Size Me. The comic will be a mish-mash of urban legends, and lectures about the evils of fast food.

Call me cynical, but this strikes me as Spurlock trying to reclaim some relevance after his attempt at being the thin Michael Moore,
Where In The World Is Osama Bin Ladin, missed the 15 minute window that was open just after the success of Fahrenheit 9/11.

I don't think this series will last. I don't think comic fans will buy up something that is pretty much yelling at them with gross stories about their cheeseburger.

3. SOME GOOD NEWS FOR INDIES?

The indefatigable Nikki Finke reports some possible good news in the film completion insurance business, especially for independent filmmakers. I can see the potential for greatly improving the indie film business, especially since the majors seem mired in a sense of entitlement that lead to bloated CEO salaries while their stocks and investors suffer.

Right now is a good time for independent filmmakers to forge a profitable niche for themselves by making appealing films, with modest budgets, and well constructed marketing, and distribution campaigns. Of course that would require someone in independent cinema breaking their own mindset issues, and forging a bold new course.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #331: 2 Bits About Bosses

1. NBC-U: IT'S EVERYONE ELSE'S FAULT

Kim Masters at The Daily Beast is a little amazed that the majority of the rumors about who is to blame for the slow sinking of the good ship NBC-Universal don't put the blame on its Captain and First Mate, CEO Jeff Zucker and network boss Ben Silverman.

The prevalent theory is that Zucker, Silverman, and/or their staff are planting the rumors in hope that it will somehow help them keep their jobs.

I can believe that theory, because they're definitely not running a studio/network, and henceforth have the time to go around planting rumors. The studio's had a string of turkeys this summer, and even managed to turn a #1 opening weekend for Bruno into a disaster.

On the network side NBC can't buy a hit, literally. The entire network's become a black hole, just being their has become a mark against the shows, regardless of quality.

The company needs a fresh start, with fresh blood, and you can't get much fresher than...
You can't blame me for trying.

Anyway, in other news...

2. BOB NEEDS HELP?

Defamer's buzzing about an anonymous help wanted ad calling for an assistant for a New York movie executive. They suspect the ad was posted by Bob Weinstein, who is debuting on this blog, and that he is in need of some help with operating The Weinstein Co. which currently makes NBC-U look well run.

Let's have a look at the ad, and I'll tell you what they're really looking for:
Responsibilities include:

· Managing heavy phones, rolling calls, and maintaining call sheet

Somebody to run interference from filmmakers demanding to know why their film hasn't been released, and won't be released, ever.

· Scheduling meetings and managing calendar for all work and personal related matters

Arrange meeting times that I'll ignore, and be able to take getting blamed for me being late.

· Supply constant mobile communication and attend to personal errands

Be able to answer my phone and wipe my ass at the same time.

· Preparation and submission of expense reports

Lots of imagination needed.

· Liaison between executive and studio presidents, financial institutions, talent agencies, principal investors, fortune 500 CEOs, writers, directors, producers, and A-list talent

You have to do it, because none of them are talking to me.

· Able to juggle multiple tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities

Basically do everything I tell you, all at the same time.

· Booking all travel and travel arrangements

Be able to book my travel on your credit card instead of the company card. The company will reimburse you, I swear.

· Traveling with executive, usually at the last minute and for unknown periods of time

I need someone to carry my luggage, and on occasion, me.

· Superb gate-keeping skills

Must be able to hold back angry torch wielding mobs. Which are legal in New York as long as they don't smoke indoors.

· Ability to travel on a moments notice and stay away from home for uncertain amounts of time

If I need you to meet me in the woods and to bring a shovel, you will do it.

· Ability to stay on top of an ever-changing day and night

Follow my mood swings.

· Attending events and company-related functions with executive

Do my running and fetching, and making sure that everyone knows that I'm still important.

· Take dictation and be responsible for speaking on behalf of executive

Write down what I say, and then leak it to the press, verbatim, to make the company look like it's still viable.

· Coordinate screenings, meetings, private lodging, parties, etc. for executive and senior staff

Must know what places don't ask for cash up front.

Experience and qualifications must include:

· BA/BS degree

We've got lots of BS here, that's for certain.

· Expansive knowledge of film and the film industry

Know the difference between who hates me, who loathes me, and who is plotting to kill me.

· Must know how to do script coverage

Look at films that we either won't make, or bury if they do get made.

· Minimum 2-3 years experience assisting another top-level executive or high-level professional

I need someone to tell me what it is that a top level executive actually does.

· Organized and detail-oriented

Be what I am not.

· Excellent writing and communication skills

Mus rite gud an talc widdout usin da word "fuck" in every sentence.

· Personable and professional demeanor

Keeping your crying jags, and depression fueled booze and drug binges on your own time.

· Minimum of three references

Not that I'll be able to check them, no one's talking to me anyway.

· Must know how to use blackberry and Microsoft Outlook

Because I don't.

· Mac & PC literate

Able to fix the computer that I threw at you.

Wow, that ad says a lot.

(Knock-Knock)

Who could that be?

Bob Weinstein?

Aaargh!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #330: Pound Foolish

1. JACKSON RISES FROM THE GRAVE (SORT OF)

Word on the street is that Sony is the front runner to make some sort of feature film from the 80 hours of rehearsal footage, and pre-shot interstitial material the late pop star filmed just before his death.

Now the price is rumored to be north of $50 million. Which I find rather interesting, because the first reports said that the bidding would start at $50 million. Since they're not bragging about how frenzied the bidding was, or how much higher than $50 million the final price will be, I have the feeling that bidding wasn't particularly frenzied, or that AEG will be getting much more than starting price. At least that's my suspicion.

Anyway, this brings me to the price itself. $50,000,000 seems a tad high to me for something that may never be more than a ghoulish curiosity. Because the reports I've seen about those rehearsals say that Jackson just couldn't deliver the energy that made his early performances so popular due to age, poor health, and a reported loss of passion for performing. It strikes me that Sony will have their work cut out for them if they're going to make anything out of the 80 hours of footage that won't come across as a redux of the whole Britney Spears/MTV Awards fiasco.

Now MTV used that to get their logo on every infotainment show in the world, but Sony will be buying into a different situation. I'm talking $50 million + to buy the footage, several million in post production costs to make it into something coherent, then promotion and distribution, which could be anywhere from another $50-$100 million+ added on top. This could end up costing Sony anywhere between $100-$200 million, which means that the film would have to be a blockbuster of
Transformers/Harry Potter levels to make a profit in theaters. Despite the recent canonization of Jackson in the aftermath of his demise, that sort of excitement won't be at the same fever pitch by the time the film comes out. I don't really see a concert/rehearsal film making that kind of money, even when you put DVDs into the equation.

2. POUND FOOLISHARAMA

Once upon a time a 2oth Century Fox had a show on the enchanted Fox Network called Futurama, created by Matt Groening. It did okay, I thought it's satire was a tad ham-fisted, but it had its fans. However, the Fox Network didn't think there were enough of them, so they shit-canned the show.

But that wasn't the end of this little fairy tale. Original DVD movies did very well, reviving interest in the show, and Comedy Central offered to buy new episodes for their channel.

20th Century Fox seemed happy at first to get the show moving again, but decided that they didn't need the original cast, and put out a call for cheaper replacements.

And then it was revealed that the 20th Century Fox was in fact not a Wicked Witch, but a Witless Witch.

I can't keep up the faux-fairy tale spiel, so I'll cut it out, and tell you why 20th Century Fox has its head up its ass but thinks its brilliant...

The fans of
Futurama are surprisingly dedicated to the show. They watch the reruns, and the DVDs and can recite dialogue from their fave episodes. They are going to notice that the voices they have loved are gone, replaced by illegal immigrant labour, and they are going to resent it, big time. The fans are going to hold it against the new show, and most likely avoid it as a pale imitation, or rip-off, of their beloved original, and they're going to tune out.

That's why the move was stupid, but here is my theory as to why Fox thinks they're being clever.

Comedy Central is owned by a rival company, and Fox doesn't want a rival to have any success with something that they considered a failure. So they're going to sabotage this iteration of
Futurama, and gloat about their rival failing.

Of course, they are ruining the success of the show as well as ruining the potential those new
Futurama episodes could have in syndication, because Fox will no doubt foist them upon the broadcasters of the original Futurama, and drive those hard core fans away from that as well.

The show will fade from syndication, and an opportunity to revive a franchise and make it work will be missed.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #329: Musings on Movies, Money & Madness

1. MODEST MOVIES MAKE MUCHO MONEY

The latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise raked in over $150+ million over the past 5 days, putting its studio Warner Bros. over the $1 billion mark in revenues this summer.

They're the second studio to hit that mark, right after Paramount, but unlike Paramount they don't have to contend with a massive debt with their parent company, and spending the last few years releasing films that made money for other people, but not them. They are also the only company that has consistently beat the billion for 10 of the past 11 years.

This is due to the success of Harry Potter's latest field trip from Hogwarts, but also the films that the media considered surprise moneymakers like The Hangover ($235 million domestic) and Gran Torino ($148 million).

I'm sure both were considered to have potential, or they wouldn't have been given the green light, but not that sort of potential. The Hangover was an R Rated comedy with no stars that didn't involve teenagers and pies, so the expectations of the studio were probably modest. Considering that they gleefully signed a profit participation deal with the director in lieu of an up front fee to save money they were probably very modest indeed. When it hit as big as it did, I'm sure Todd Phillips was dancing with glee.

Another film with modest expectations was Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino. Here is a film with a star that's pushing 80, playing a crusty prejudiced crank and the catchphrase of "Get off my lawn." That's not exactly what blockbusters are made from, yet that was Eastwood's strategy, one he had followed for years. Take a look at Clint's filmography, the great majority of his films had modest budgets, yet big ambitions. He deliberately followed that strategy knowing that if he proved himself a consistently profitable filmmaker and star, who didn't risk the studio's financial future with every picture, he could have the independence that he wanted even though he was a part of the studio system.

Both films succeeded, and helped push their studio over the top because the delivered what they promised, and did it at a reasonable price. If other studios followed that strategy and didn't put all their eggs in the proverbial cinematic basket of a tiny handful of overpriced, overwrought "blockbusters," and balanced them out with smaller films with broad appeal, they could reach a nice equilibrium of consistent profitability.

Sadly, too many companies are wrapped up in the "blockbuster or else" strategy to see that there's a better and cheaper way right under their noses.

2. THE SHOW MUST GO ON

The publicists for the film The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, showed some grace under pressure when the hotel that was hosting their press junket got a bomb threat.

Now I could say that the only bomb in that hotel was a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy, but I won't, because I'm classy, and I already used that joke somewhere else.

What I would like to talk about is how the publicists simply moved the entire operation to a restaurant across the street, and got the job done.

Now those publicists deserve some kudos. They followed the old showbiz maxim that the show must go on to the letter. It showed a level of professionalism that's hard to find among the spoiled masses of Hollywood's elite. This is especially true in the field of movie publicity, when disaster strikes, you use it, and milk it for as much free coverage as you can.

So to publicity department of Sony Studios, you are my magnificent bastards of the week!*

3. STARLET FALLS

I don't normally report of celebrity behavior, it's too damn repetitive, but I thought I must make a mention of reports that are burning up the gossip blogs about actress Mischa Barton. The reports, and I'm not making any claim as to their accuracy, say that she was committed to a period of psychiatric evaluation after an alleged 3 day cocaine and party binge.

I was not surprised by this report, what I am surprised is that it's not happening every day to Hollywood's current generation of starlets and wannabe starlets. We live in an age where a young actress can click with a successful TV show or movie, assume that it guarantees her a big-name A-List movie career, and flounders with a series of unseen films, missed opportunities, and dwindling finances.

Toss in the 24/7 bottomless chum bucket of gossip blogs, tabloid fish-wraps, celebrity magazines, and infotainment shows, with a nightclub culture willing to pay young actresses up to $100,000 a night to dance, drink, and do drugs in front of the paparazzi at their establishments, and an audience more interested in the schadenfreude achieved from seeing the young and attractive destroy themselves in public, and you've got a perfect recipe for self destruction.

I expect more young stars to hit bottom in the months to come. With overvalued mortgages due and no one willing to hire a neurotic addict who parties all night, every night, things are only going to get worse for a lot more of them.

*This I hope to make a regular feature where I will give kudos to deserving Hollywood folks who show professionalism, intelligence, guts, or guile.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #328: Miscellaneous Money-Movie-Media Musings

As I mentioned in my last post, today was the day of the annual library sale, where the public and school libraries of three counties put all their over-stock books together and sell them at great prices. I'm talking $5 for 3 hardcovers, and $2 for 3 paperbacks (mass market and trade size).

For a stingy yet voracious reader like myself, I always go ape-shit crazy at this sale, and I bought a huge load of books for about $25 in just about every genre and subject. The trick is that you have to get to the back room of a small town library at before 8:00 AM on a Saturday, and wait amid a cloud of blackflies and mosquitoes for them to unlock the door. Then you have to fight the crowd, which gets bigger every year and these book buyers can get pretty aggressive.

Thankfully I had my mace.
I showed that little old lady who's the boss when she tried to poach that book about movies from me. And the lesson is: Don't bring a brittle hip to a mace fight.

Anyway, enough about me, because I'm really boring. You've come here to read me gripe about the business of show biz, so let's go...

1. UNIVERSAL TAKES A BATH

The flailing NBC-U empire just released their second quarter revenue report, and their profits are down 41%.

Ouch.

And don't expect things to get much better, especially with their summer tent-pole mockumentary
Bruno collapsing 89% at the Box Office after a big opening night, showing that despite spending around $100 million to promote the film they bought for $42 million, the film did not have legs to wax.

While it's predecessor
Borat made over $100 million domestically, the film cost less thant $20 million total, and had nowhere near the promotion budget Bruno had. Which means that NBC-Universal forgot that the real key to Borat's success was that it was so cheap to produce and release. They thought that if they spent more, they would make more, and forgetting that a hard-R comedy based on an already over-exposed concept.

And don't get me started on the NBC network. The former home of "must see TV" has become a black hole where shows go to die.

And when it comes to the management of the company, all they seem to do is worry about public relations. At this stage, changing your "message" is like giving the Titanic a paint-job as
the North Atlantic comes over the poop deck. The problems with the company start and end at the very top of the company.

In my arrogant opinion, management at the top of NBC-U is completely and totally dysfunctional. And what I don't understand is that General Electric doesn't seem to see it. I know that Zucker, the CEO of NBC-U has a reputation as an ass kisser, but if I ran GE, I don't care if an executive's head shows up on my colonoscopy, if they cost me over 40% of a subsidiary's profits, I'm going to drop them the way NBC Universal dropped Life with Sarah Shahi and some guy named Damian Lewis or something like that.

Anyway, if GE actually realizes that today's economy requires all facets of a company to be at least functional, they may make a move for some reform.

Of course any move to fix NBC-U would require more than a few pink slips at the top, I could loan them a mace if they want it, but I don't think they do anything. It's the law of commercial inertia.

2. E-BOOK THE FLYING CAR OF LITERATURE

Amazon, the online bookseller, has convinced a lot of people to not buy the e-book reader The Kindle when they snuck into people's machines and deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 because they were having a dispute with Orwell's publisher. Now they refunded the cost of the e-book to those customers but it does tells me why the e-book will be the flying car of literature, always right around the corner, but never really coming to fruition beyond a novelty.

Why?

Because when you buy a Kindle edition, you don't really own that e-book. You are merely licensing the right to read it as long as Amazon keeps on good terms with the publisher, or doesn't just take it back in an act of corporate whimsy. What's to keep them from changing the terms of use, and jack up their prices and demand that you pay the difference, or have your Kindle library deleted?

Nothing, except the fear of litigation, which companies tend to lose when they become big enough to crush all who oppose them.

That's why I will remain a Luddite when it comes to books, I prefer hard copies, and if you want to take them, you not only have to pry them from my cold dead hands, but you will have to get past my mace to even try.

3. SOMETIMES THE CLOSET ISN'T A BAD PLACE

Director/producer Todd Holland is apologizing for remarks he made at the Outfest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where he said that some gay actors should stay in the closet for the sake of their careers.

Now I think he was partially right. I think all actors, regardless of sexual preferences, should be in the closet.

I don't care if an actor is gay, straight, bi, tri, or has a fetish for goldfish, and I don't want to hear about it either. I would like to go on line on the internet, or in line at the supermarket, and not see yet another cover story about who the royal hell Jennifer Aniston is dating this week.

Also, I would like to get Jada Pinkett-Smith to stop going on about her and Will Smith's sex lives. Yes, you have a lot of sex, so why are you here talking about instead of at home getting your freak on? Have all the sex you want, let Will wear the French Maid outfit this time, just don't make it national freaking news, because I don't want to hear about it.

So here's my proposal, if gay actors have to be in the closet to protect their careers, then everyone else has to be in the closet as well, and place a moratorium on the media from speculating on their sex lives. Maybe this will make people learn to live without giving a shit about which actor is sleeping with which, and demand more of that bottomless chum bucket called the media than just a sexual tally card.

Saturday Silliness Cinema: A Parcel of Python

I just got back from the annual library overstock sale, and like every year, I went completely ape-shit and bought about 100 pounds of books for about $25. Hardcovers, paperbacks, fiction, non-fiction, anthologies, omnibuses, and just about every genre. So here's some Monty Python, and I promise to post something business and rant related later today. So y'all come back now ya' hear.



Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sorry folks...

Sorry that I didn't blog today. A mix of slow news, hot weather, and too much else to do. Though I did get a lot of work done on my book about Hollywood business today, so it wasn't a complete wank.

My search for a literary agent is going strong. I sent out just about a dozen queries for this round, got 3 rejections so far, and all the rejections had one thing in common. All three came literally within the amount of time it took to hit the reply button, and paste in a form rejection letter, which tells me that those agents didn't even read the materials their submission guidelines asked for. The fastest was literally within an hour of the e-mail query being sent.

Well, if they don't bother to read the letter and the other materials their guidelines claimed to ask for, I won't be wasting my time with them.

Anyway, posting for tomorrow is a tad uncertain. I have to attend a funeral tomorrow, and will be gone most of the day, and Saturday is the annual summer library overstock sale. Which has a huge selection of used books at rock bottom prices. So I will probably be going ape-shit crazy at the sale, like I do every year.

Be good, and I'll be back posting as soon as possible, until then feel free to read my last two posts, and place your 2 cents in the comments.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #327: Let's Help MGM

I'm buoyed by the response I got over my suggestions with what could have been done with the $60 million pissed away on the movie Che, so I'm going to posit another possibility.

MGM-UA has been declared a going concern, and has been meeting all of its debt requirements, which bodes well for the company, but it's $5.5 billion dollar library isn't enough to keep the company going. It needs new product to increase it's value and revenue potential.

Now normally I don't support remakes, I think MGM's plan to remake
Red Dawn is about 20+ years too late, but it looks like MGM might have no choice but to do some remakes until the company is on a surer financial footing.

Which is where you come in. I want you to look up the MGM library, and see what films could be used in a remake that won't offend the sense and sensibility of movie fans.

Here are my suggestions:

TELEFON: The original was a Charles Bronson vehicle where he played a KGB agent hunting Donald Pleasance who is using the phone to set off brainwashed people and turn them into killers.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: A KGB agent, whose came to America as a sleeper in the 1970s or 80s and stayed after the USSR's collapse, finds out that an old associate has sold the list of brainwashed people, and the instructions to use them, to a terrorist organization, and has to stop the plan before this cold war relic wreaks havoc. It'll be a great part for an older actor, and if anyone says that won't sell, tell them three little words: "
Gran Torino, Taken." Hat tip to Thierry Attard whose horrified reaction to the concept made me think of this post.

THE SATAN BUG: A thriller about a mad scientist threatening to "play god" with vials of stolen bio-weapons and the secret agent tasked to stop him.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Despite being directed by action movie legend John Sturges, and a script by top action/adventure writers Alistair McLean, James Clavell, and screenwriter Edward Anhalt, was surprisingly light on real thrills. They were trying to be more cerebral than the Bond films but when was found wanting by critics and audiences. My advice, take the thrills and suspense that's inherent in the story, and run with it.

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK: A French film by Francois Truffaut, about a woman out for revenge when her husband's killed at their wedding.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Beautiful woman, action, suspense, and beautiful European locales, the film makes itself.

FROM NOON TIL THREE: A rare Charles Bronson romantic comedy about an Old West outlaw who becomes a legend thanks to the overwrought imagination of a lonely widow in a big isolated house, but when he can't live up to the legend things start to get weird.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: If handled as a satire of media culture, with liberal doses of racy comedy, it could work.

SECRET ADMIRER: An old fashioned romantic farce in the guise of an 80s teen sex comedy about a misdirected anonymous love letter that wreaks havoc wherever it goes.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Michael Cera, Amada Seyfried, as the leads, a sharp script, and Jason Reitman directing, you could have a winner.

YOUR PAST IS SHOWING: A mostly forgotten Peter Sellers black comedy about a TV star with a taste for elaborate disguises plotting to kill a blackmailing tabloid editor.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Jim Carrey dons a variety of disguises as he plots to snuff out an obnoxious gossip blogger who is blackmailing half of Hollywood. Trust me, the hissy fits it'll cause among real gossip bloggers will be worth millions in advertising.

So get poking around the MGM-UA library, come up with some concepts, and I'll poach them and pitch them to MGM myself for millions! Bwah-hah-hah!

Just kidding, MGM doesn't have millions to spare.

I'll do it for thousands! Bwah-hah-hah!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #326: Regrets & Raking It In

1. THE FALL OF COMMUNISM

Director Steven Soderbergh was rather candid in an interview with UK's The Guardian newspaper, admitting that he regrets making his 2 part, 4 1/2 hour biopic of Marxist rebel Che Guevera.

Well, I can understand the regrets. I mean Soderbergh literally pissed away around $60 million dollars making an incredibly long movie about someone that the majority of people either know as a celebrity fashion accessory, or as a hopped up mini-Hitler wannabe who shot anyone and everyone that displeased him in the slightest with wild abandon. Even Fidel Castro, his one time comrade in arms, didn't like Che, sending him militarily naked to Bolivia to get killed, and only started canonizing him after his death.

What I don't understand is exactly how he got $60 million to get it made. That might become a case for Furious D, Private Dick, someday.

But anyway, it's interesting to see a filmmaker admit that he made a big $60 million mistake that despite what the Guardian says, made less than $2 million at the international box office according the most accurate sources. He might learn from it, but since he's part of Hollywood, that's probably unlikely.

And this is where you, my readers come in, I want you to come up with as many ideas as you can as to how you would spend the $60 million spent on Che, and leave them in the comments.

2. THE RISE OF CAPITALISM

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has inked a 3 year $45 million deal to continue hosting the show.

News of this deal sparked a lot of bitching a moaning about how talentless he is, and how he doesn't deserve this sort of deal, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Well, I guess I have to repeat what I wrote in an earlier post, that while I don't care for the shows that he hosts, he does have a talent, and that is not having talent. He's not the star, and he doesn't even try to be the star of the show, he comes out, has a few words with the singer, lets the judges speak, takes a shot at Simon, reminds people of what numbers to call to vote, and then gets the hell off the stage. He doesn't go make a film about Marxist revolutionaries, do talk show appearances mocking other people's religious or political beliefs, or make pseudo-profound pronouncements on how others should live their lives. He does his job, and then he shuts the hell up.

Knowing when to shut the hell up is a supremely rare gift in Hollywood, and despite the occasional on camera screw up, he seems to be using it well, so I won't knock his fat paycheck.