Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #604: Even More Drippings From My Brain Pan

Welcome to the show folks....

DON'T YOU HAVE TO READ BEFORE YOU CAN WRITE?

Gallery Books have decided to waste some money publishing a novel being "written" by reality TV skank star/fake tan aficionado Snooki from the
Jersey Shore.

How can I sum up this story in a way that even Snooki can understand?

A novel by someone who can't write
Marketed at people who don't read
By a publisher who doesn't care

Let's look at the facts behind this story that show it's
even sadder than just being a sign of the end of western civilization.

1. The advance Ms. Snooki got probably could have
paid several authors to produce real books for real readers. Instead it's being pissed away on the vain hope that a trashy minor TV celebrity will somehow be a magic pill for a best-seller.

2. The money is being wasted because:

A. Snooki's target audience are people who like to look down on her in order to feel better about themselves, and low-level white trash who look up to her. One wouldn't buy her book because they don't really think she has any value beyond being a punchline, and the others, those who aspire to Snookiness, don't read books.

B. More of these "celebrity" books fail than succeed, it's a simple fact. Readers will shell out their hard earned shekels only if they think the book will be entertaining. They want something that will make them laugh, or give them some dirt to dish, or a story of triumph over tragedy, but they don't want a book that makes them wince with discomfort because it has a plot that can summarized by the words: "Tan, drink, screw."

Anyway, at least when civilization collapses I now have a planet to go hide on in the faster-than-light spaceship I've been building in my backyard. It'll be complete as soon as I can bend the laws of time and space without unleashing unnatural horrors upon the planet. Because I really hate cleaning up after them.

BRITISH BOOB TUBE BOONDOGGLES?

ITV SINKS A SHOW?

British commercial broadcaster ITV is currently sniffing around for American partners for a lavish miniseries about the sinking of the cruise ship Titanic for broadcast on the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

Oy...I myself don't think this is a very good idea. Why?

1. It's been done, really hugely, by James Cameron in 1997. You might remember the movie, it did very well in theaters. Plus the film is being re-released in 3D for the same anniversary in Hollywood's never-ending quest to suck every penny from anything they can.

2. Everyone knows how the story ends. Ship sinks, people die.

WILL THE BBC GO AMERICAN?

There's a debate going on at the venerable BBC over whether they will keep their limited-run series format, or whether they will go to a more American production style.

If you don't already know, British networks like the BBC produce their shows very differently from American networks. American networks produce 22-25 episodes a season, for an open ended multi-season run, and they are written by a large team of writers overseen by an executive producer who acts as the "show-runner" trying to maintain a sense of coherence, continuity, and consistency.

British shows do not have open ended runs divided into seasons. Instead, they create a "series" consisting of 6 episodes on average, and many of these are not traditional episodic narratives composed of smaller stories wrapped up in 1 hour chunks. Instead they opt for a single narrative arc over all the episodes with a clear beginning, middle, and an end. If the show is a success, another "series" can be ordered, but only if the scripts are available, because these shows aren't created by large conference rooms full of writers, but have either single authors, or a very small team working very closely together under the guidance of the show's creator.

While British shows sell well overseas, but they have to compete in the rerun market at a disadvantage with American shows in terms of both budgets and sheer numbers of episodes.

Personally, I don't think Britain's small TV producing community is actually capable of producing in the big American style. In fact, I don't think many American shows should have been made in that style either. NBC's
Heroes should have been done and dusted in the first season instead of trying to go on and on, with no plan or idea of what the hell they were going to do.

So I think both sides should aim for a middle ground. The USA should bring back the miniseries, and possibly Richard Chamberlain, while the Brits can figure out where they can go longer than normal without losing the sort of quality found in shows like Stephen Moffat's Sherlock.

TIME FOR A PALATE CLEANSER

A little goodbye song for Jeff Zucker courtesy of the Jimmy Kimmel Show.



Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #603: Random Drippings From My Brain Pan

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for a little post about little things that either bug me, or excite me.

STAR WHORES?

George Lucas has announced that he will re-release all 6 Star Wars movies, in chronological order, starting with Phantom Menace, one a year, and in 3D.

This means two things:

1. George Lucas likes money, and the thought of sucking some more out of his once venerable franchise with deliberately higher ticket prices, is just too much to resist.

2. I will bet dollars to donuts that George is going to tinker with the movies all even more than when he did those "Special Editions" with all the extra CGI and making Greedo shoot first.

I'm not sure 3D is even going to last much longer. Basically it's a novelty that Hollywood and the theater chains love, and not for its entertainment and artistic value. Hollywood loves it because it allows them to squander more of their investor's money on an alleged panacea to the many years of dwindling audiences and returns. Theater chains love it because it allows them to jack up the prices, at first to cover the costs of converting the theaters, keep them high, and then jack them up again at the flimsiest excuse.

I don't have any problem with a guy trying to make a buck. Make as much as much money as you can, but this whole thing kind of reeks of grave robbing to me. Normally I'd say that Lucas should move on and try to do something new, but that would be bad advice because whenever Lucas does something new, and doesn't have someone watching over him, you end up with Howard The Duck and Jar-Jar Binks.

Anyway, let's move onto other things...

CHANNEL 4 PAID WHAT?

The UK's public/commercial hybrid network Channel 4 recently canceled their version of the reality show Big Brother, and are now using the £60-£65 million they normally paid for the rights to the franchise over the normal 3 year run of their contract to produce more comedies and dramas.

Think about that for a second.

They were paying £60+ million to Endemol Entertainment for just the rights to produce their own version of Big Brother for 3 years. Take into consideration the exchange rates and Channel 4 was dumping a minimum of 31,000,000+ US dollars a year before a single episode was even filmed. Include the costs of production, promotion, and other crap and it's a boondoggle of immense proportions.

Why?

If you don't know why, then ask yourself this question: Why do networks do reality TV shows like Big Brother?

Networks do reality TV shows like Big Brother because they are supposed to be cheaper than making dramas and comedies which make up for the long term profits that would most likely be squandered paying residuals to the people who actually made the shows. Yet here they are spending enough to make two dramas, or four comedy series every year, for a reality show that's supposed to be super cheap.

Channel 4 was being taken to the cleaners royally be Endemol, and whoever negotiated that contract seriously needs to learn a thing or two about business. Here is what they should have considered in those negotiations.

1. It's harder to sell episodes of a reality show from one country in another country than it is to sell comedies and dramas. That's why producers like Endemol license out the format to the different countries so they can produce their own versions of the show.

2. Reality shows have a short shelf life when it comes to reruns, unlike dramas and comedies that can run indefinitely in some markets. People can re-enjoy a comedy, or a drama, but it's hard for them to re-enjoy a bunch of narcissists back-stabbing each other without the benefit of murder to liven things up.

3. Reality shows are supposed to be great money savers, that make room for short term quarterly profits. They aren't supposed to be money-pits before a single frame of footage is shot.

Did anyone at Channel 4 even try to haggle over that price? I mean, there were lots of reasons for them to haggle, 60,000,000+ reasons over three years for them to haggle. I mean what's the point of cutting drama and comedy production for the instant gratification of short term reality TV profits, when all those profits end up going to pay for the rights to a format you could probably rip off anyway for a lot less.

My advice to Channel 4, find someone who knows how to play a little hardball, or you're just going to get taken for another ride.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Dear David Simon

AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID SIMON

Dear Mr. Simon.

Can I call you David, Dave, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier?

Okay, Mr. Simon it is.

I heard you just won a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

CONGRATULATIONS!

You've done brilliant and groundbreaking work in TV, and that's all well and good, but I'm sure you are weighed down with liberal guilt over getting the money when so many are suffering through these tough economic times.

And let's not forget the taxes, Uncle Sam's going to take his piece of that money, and with it a good sized chunk of your hide.

So here's what you need to do with that money.

Give it away.

I'm not talking about giving it away to just any charity. I'm talking about giving it to a specific charity, one guaranteed to help someone in need.

I'm talking about:
Sure you could give the $500,000 to some celebrity endorsed charity, and maybe 1.2% of that money might actually end up helping someone who isn't already rich, if you're lucky. Or you can just send the money to ME, and I can guarantee that 100% of that $500,000 will go toward getting a poor person, namely ME, the lavish, luxurious and decadent lifestyle I wish to become accustomed to.

So get that check cashed, then pack a box with small unmarked bills, and send that package to ME. Just drop me a line, and I'll send you the address.

Then tell all your Hollywood friends to give too.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #602: NBC: Now Burke's Channel

Welcome to the show folks...

It's official, Jeff Zucker, NBC-Universal's long time el jefe has been fired, effective as soon as the Comcast takeover is finalized, and replaced by Comcast's #2 Steve Burke.

There are two fundamental facts that I would like to say about Mr. Burke.

1. He cannot possibly do any worse.

2. He is going to have his work cut out for him.

Under Zucker's lack of leadership NBC went from being the #1 network and home to mega-hits like
Seinfeld and Friends to being beaten by the gardening channel, while Universal Studios suffered a severe slump with money burning mega-flops like Land of the Lost.

Some reports, like this one, say that he's tough, straightforward, willing to take carefully calculated risks, who dislikes sycophants, leaks, the sort of toxic office politics that distract from the business of running a successful company.

That can only mean that heads are going to roll at NBC, which has the reputation as one of Hollywood's most dysfunctional and treacherous corporate cultures. Remember, this is Hollywood we're talking about, so you can just imagine what kind of a snake-pit the place is.

So I'd like to take a moment, and lay out what Mr. Burke will probably have to do to get the network and the studio back on its feet.

FIXING NBC:

1. Stop Zucker's Inane & Insane "Margin Game." One of the reasons Zucker was such a disaster was because he tried to take the audience out of the equation. He though that as long as the shows were cheap enough, had enough product placements, and no outside partners, he could somehow squeeze out a profit from shows that didn't have any viewers. That's insane. Unless a network is at least trying to be #1, it might as well be shut down.

2. Drop the illusion of "Synergy." Sure, every movie studi0/TV network conglomerate would love to be able to do everything in house in order to save money and hoard profits. Only it doesn't really work. To run a successful creative business, one must have regular infusions of fresh blood and the sort of energy that can only be created by friction. NBC must open its doors to more independent producers and even other studios to do more business with them than they did during the Zucker years.

3. Figure out how to sell their damn shows. Right now the biggest hurdle NBC has to jump is that fact that they are NBC. It will be hard to generate positive buzz for NBC's shows, and I think this season will be a washout for the network. I watched 5 minutes of NBC's flagship Friday night legal drama Outlaw, and thought that it was some elaborate act of revenge against the network by Conan O'Brien the owner of Conaco the show's co-producer.

4. See what USA Network is doing right. Right now NBC's cable stepchild the USA Network is doing pretty damn good with original shows winning viewers all over the country. Maybe they should take a look and see what they're doing in the hopes of bringing some of that good karma to the mother network.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

1. Control costs. Feature films are literally being priced out of existence. Even Judd Apatow, who had a great run as Universal's reliable money machine, lost a small fortune on Funny People. Why? Because it cost too damn much. A studio can control costs when they--

2. Try to find the middle ground. During lean times Universal kept the wolves at bay by producing films that were a lot cheaper than their competition. Look to genres that aren't inherently expensive. I'm talking comedy, horror, and action-adventures done on a reasonable scale.

3. Forget the star system. The overwhelming majority of "Movie Stars" are way better at wasting your studio's money than putting ticket buying bums in seats. Don't make movie deals simply because the actor in question has a publicist that can get their mug on multiple magazine covers every month. That says more about the publicist than the actor.

4. Open the damn doors. Universal should start some sort of apprenticeship program for new filmmakers. Filmmakers that can be taught to do things in a cost effective manner and have some loyalty towards the studio because they know that they haven't been screwed over financially. This can be done with a low budget 'exploitation' label producing movies for Universal and NBC's theatrical, home video and cable markets, with an emphasis on good entertaining stories told in an entertaining way. If the filmmakers show real talent and fiscal responsibility, they can graduate to doing bigger films for the studio or TV shows for the network.

Then, maybe, two once great companies can be great again.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #601: Flushing The Flash

Welcome to the show folks...

Greg Berlanti is a screenwriter hired to adapt long running DC Comics character
The Flash for the movies. Mr. Berlanti has declared that his adaption will be dark, disturbing, and scary, like Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs .

As Perry White would say
GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!

I hope he was joking, because if he was serious,
he should be fired and someone else brought into the project, because it's obvious that he doesn't have a clue about what his job is supposed to be. If he's serious, then it means that when he saw The Dark Knight all he saw was the surface trappings because his head was too firmly wedged between his butt-cheeks.

You see there is a reason why
The Dark Knight did so well, and that's because it matched the spirit of the source material. The movies didn't directly adapt any specific Batman storyline, but they did understand the material well enough to adapt it in a way that served the source material well. Batman is dark, suspenseful, and loaded with moral ambiguity, so are the films. The first two Spider-Man movies were faithful to the spirit of the source material, and same with Iron Man, etc., etc....

Superman Returns wasn't faithful to the spirit of the source material. It turned the man of steel into a whiny little stalker, and the film was scorned by critics and fans accordingly.

The Flash is not about serial killers, mutilation and mind games, it's about Barry Allen, a forensic scientist who gets hit by lightning & bathed in electrified chemicals. That accident gives him superhuman speed and he decides to use it to fight colorfully costumed rogues using boomerangs, magic mirrors, and ice guns.

His most powerful arch-nemesis is a talking gorilla named Grodd, not a cannibal serial killer.

That's not to say that dark things can't happen. In the original run of the comic, The Flash/Barry Allen's wife Iris was murdered by his archenemy Professor Zoom. Years later when he tries to remarry, Zoom returns to kill his next wife. The Flash kills Zoom in the fight, gets put on trial for manslaughter, his bride-to-be goes bat-shit crazy, and he dies saving the Earth during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, to be reborn recently in the pages of DC Comics.

However, the spirit of the story is about a decent, pretty square fellow, trying hard to use his powers to do the right thing. While his life does fall apart in the original story, The Flash is not about horror, The Flash is about heroism.

So let's hope that either that guy was pulling an elaborate Joaquin Phoenix level hoax, or he should be fired out of a moving vehicle, and someone else brought in to save The Flash from being flushed.

If you'd like to learn more about
The Flash, check out the podcast Tom VS The Flash by Tom Katers, which is also available on iTunes.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Something For The Hipsters

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for my usual Saturday break from ranting and raving about the business behind popular culture and have a little laugh. Today, a heartwarming song, saluting the folks who make urban life worthwhile, the 20something hipster. (NSFW Language/Mature Content Warning)


Friday, 24 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #600: Oscar Season Is Upon Us

Welcome to show number 600 folks...

You've probably noticed that Autumn has arrived, and as sure as the leaves change color and fall screaming to their leafy deaths, the season of Oscar whoring has begun. I poached a partial list of of this year's Oscar contenders and will dish out my usual ill-informed and completely biased opinion on them.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (Twentieth Century Fox - 9/24) Everyone remembers Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good" speech from the first Wall Street as the defining image of the 1980s. I see that film as the fundamental illustration of how so few people know what actual capitalism is.

In the first film Gekko declares that capitalism is a "zero sum game," where in order to become wealthier they have to somehow take that something from someone else. In other words, for me to win, you must lose.

That's not capitalism, that's a description of a poker game.

Capitalism is where two free people engage in the exchange of goods and services within the framework of the rights of private property. That means no fraud, or coercion, and in the end everyone gets something they want. It's why you and the person you bought coffee from both said "Thank you" to each other. You wanted the coffee more than the money, and they wanted the money more than keeping the coffee sitting in the pot on the counter.

Thanks this fundamental misunderstanding about capitalism people think it's all about the accumulation of wealth. In fact, is all about the
creation of wealth, which is a completely different thing. Sadly, Hollywood is not alone in this mindset, as recent developments show us, many on Wall Street don't know what capitalism is either.

NOWHERE BOY (The Weinstein Co - 10/8) More 60s nostalgia and Beatlemania for the aging baby-boomers who make up the bulk of the Academy's voters, which could land it some nominations. However, it is a Weinstein Co. release, which means the date given for it to hit theaters is not a guarantee.

SECRETARIAT (Walt Disney Pictures - 10/8) A feel good movie about horse. If the audience falls in love with it, the Academy might not, having already Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side last year.

COMPANY MEN (The Weinstein Co - 10/22) Premiered at Sundance, has an all star cast, and is another TWC release. It will never actually be seen by anyone.

WELCOME TO THE RILEYS (Samuel Goldwyn - 10/29) Viewed a strong contender at the Independent Spirit Awards, which actually may hurt its chances with Oscar.

FAIR GAME (Summit - 11/5) Hollywood takes on the Valerie Plame scandal without actually bringing up the real reason her identity was leaked to the New York Times or the person who really did it, because it didn't fit the pre-conceived narrative of the filmmakers. Also the presence of box-office toxin Sean Penn will prevent anyone outside of a few Academy voters from actually seeing it. Which means it's a shoo in for at least some nominations.

FOR COLORED GIRLS (Lionsgate - 11/5) Adapted by Tyler Perry from a play with a title too long for me to retype. Since it doesn't involve Perry's minstrel drag act Medea, unless he radically rewrote the play, it might not do as well as his other films with his target audience. While the Academy loves grim dramas about abortion, domestic violence, and other misery, they might give this film a miss.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (Warner Bros - 11/19) Fantasy had its shot with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Academy will not deign to soil the award with imagination and commercial success anytime soon.

THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Lionsgate - 11/19) Paul Haggis breaks from his usual self-important dramas to make something that might sell some tickets and put some real green in his pocket.

BURLESQUE (Sony/Screen Gems - 11/24) Three words: Show Girls Two.

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (Twentieth Century Fox - 11/24) A comedy about love between a pharmaceutical salesman and a woman with Parkinson's Disease. I got a bad feeling that it's another one of those "woman with a terminal illness teaches stuffed shirt to live" flicks.

I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS (Roadside Attractions - 12/3) The Academy might think that the fact that the rest of the world saw it before them as a point against it.

THE FIGHTER (Paramount - 12/10) Too much Rocky meets The Departed without the whole "just give Scorsese a damn Oscar" pressure because Scorsese didn't make it.

THE TOURIST (Sony Pictures - 12/10) Too commercial.

HOW DO YOU KNOW? (Sony Pictures - 12/17) A James Brooks relationship comedy, who saw that coming?

COUNTRY STRONG (Sony/Screen Gems - 12/22) Gwyneth Paltrow tries going country for some Oscar gold, sadly, it only works for grizzled farts like Robert Duvall and Jeff Bridges.

TRUE GRIT (Paramount - 12/25) Speaking of grizzled farts, Jeff Bridges stars in this Coen Bros. remake of the John Wayne classic. The Coens are always interesting, but their outsider mentality and insular working methods may turn off Academy voters who think they've already got enough awards working outside the system, why give them any more.

Hollywood Babble On & On #599: A Time To Say Goodbye

Welcome to the show folks...

Friends, Romans, television and movie viewers, lend me your eyes.

I have come not to praise Jeff Zucker, but to bury him.

The incompetence that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones.

What? You don't like me bastardizing Shakespeare?

Sheesh, try to bring a little class into this joint and you get nothing but hoots and catcalls. Well, I guess I should just press on without the literary flourish and tell you that Jeff Zucker has left behind a lot of incompetence, and for that incompetence the incoming Comcast regime at NBC-Universal served him his walking papers.

Now while I know that hearing about someone losing their job in these troubled economic times, there are two reasons you shouldn't cry about this:

1. He was really, really, really bad at running a network and movie studio combination.

2. His CEO grade "golden parachute" exit package could probably buy everyone in India a cheeseburger with all the fixings, and knowing his instinct for screwing things up big time, he might actually try that.

What was Zucker's biggest sin in my eyes?

He tried to take the viewer out of the network TV equation.

Think about it, the bulk of Zucker's many bizarre programming choices. They weren't designed to win viewers, they were designed to have a comfortable profit margin no matter what the ratings. Basically it meant that Zucker decided that having fewer viewers than Telemundo, was okay, as long as he had just enough viewers to squeeze a little profit out of advertisers.

It seemed like a good idea, sort of like performing plastic surgery on yourself to save money may seem like a good idea in theory, but in reality is a disaster. I'm looking at you Joan Rivers.

Viewers left, advertisers started to demand to pay less money for air time, and Zucker ran around claiming that ratings bursts from events like the Olympics were somehow the norm for NBC. Maybe they were the norm in Narnia, but not in the real world.

My advice to Zucker, don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out, and take up a hobby that will keep you out of the entertainment business. I suggest deep sea spear fishing.

*KNOCK KNOCK*

Who is at my door?

*opens door*

Holy crap on a stick it's JEFF ZUCKER HIMSELF!!
Hi everybody. Jeff Zucker here, I know that Furious D has been a bit critical of my work at NBC-Universal, but I'd like to take a moment to express how I truly feel, through song....

Hello, I must be going.
I have to say,
I cannot stay
I must be going

Hello, I must be going
Look like Comcast
Will kick my ass
I must be going

Hello, I must be going
My career is ending
My severance I'll be spending
I must be going

Hello, I must be going
Hate to be a bother
But Furious must gripe about another
Because I'm going....
Thank you... thank you.... and goodbye.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #598: SNARK ATTACK!!

Welcome to the show folks...

Been an annoying couple of days gentle and fragrant readers. Mostly it was spent trying install a new dishwasher in my parent's house. Only they appear to have changed EVERYTHING about installing dishwashers since I did it last, and couple that with my utter lack of skill at such things and you have a either a disaster in the making, or a low brow comedy rated X for language & pipe related violence.

So right now I'm feeling a little cranky, and since I'm on the internet, it's time to unleash my inner man-eating great white snark.

----

Singer Katy Perry recently tried to appear on the venerable kids show
Sesame Street. I say tried because they cut her appearance from the show.

Why?

Can you see the reason:
Apparently, parents are upset over Sesame Street's pro-recycling stance, which I think is idiotic....

...what?

Oh.

Looks like it wasn't the big blue can that got Ms. Perry shit-canned, but Ms. Perry's two big fun-cans.

Personally, I wasn't offended by her cleavage. The scene where she's motor-boated by Elmo was a tad inappropriate, but that could have been edited out.

All I can say, is if kids can't go to
Sesame Street to learn that B is for Boobies, where else can they go to learn that? The internet?

-----

Jodie Foster is a pro. She never turns down a gig. Want proof, look at her schedule, she just finished directing the ironically titled film
The Beaver with Mel Gibson, and is going to France to star in God of Carnage directed by Roman Polanski.

Doesn't matter if you're a racist or a rapist, Foster doesn't care.

I'm sure Polanski is a fan of her early work.

----

Oh Bono, you could have just left it at insufferable egomaniac who was as full of himself as he was full of shit, but you had to cross that line into full blown assholedom.

The British Daily Mail is reporting that U2's frontman's ONE foundation gave about 1.2% of the millions they raised for alleviating world poverty to actually doing anything about world poverty.

Now I can proudly say that I didn't give ONE one penny of my money, and it goes beyond my usual parsimony and Scrooge like revulsion at the thought of helping anyone. I didn't give anything to this group because I read that their prime mission was to "spread awareness."

Let those two words be a warning to you.

"Spread awareness" is code for using your donation to pay for the head of the "charity" to travel around first class to be paid to speak before groups of people who paid to get in and tell them about how you and everyone else is a bastard for not giving him more money to spread more awareness.
Look at what you've done Bono! You're making Don Draper cry. Damn it!

That's it, I'm out of here!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Sorry folks...

Had one real bastard of a day, and the news is a little slow and repetitive for the stuff that gets my dander up. Hopefully I'll have something decent tomorrow. Until then, visit yesterday's post, and offer your opinions on the future of the comics industry.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Comic Book Confidential: The Future Of Comics?

Welcome to the show folks...

Today I'm going to take a little dip into an industry I'm not really an expert on, comic book publishing, and post links, and a few little thoughts on them.

1. DC HEADS WEST YOUNG MAN

DC Comics is moving all their non-publishing operations from New York to Burbank to be closer to their parent company's movie division Warner Bros. Pictures.

The good side of this news is that it will hopefully streamline the film/TV development process for DC properties, which right now seems cursed outside of Batman, and is currently being left behind cinematically by arch-rival Marvel.

The bad side is that a lot of people are losing their jobs, being forced to move to Burbank, and other unpleasantness. Also the Wildstorm Comics line is being retired, but the option of incorporating these characters into the mainstream DCU is being left open, possibly adding a whole new layer to their already head-spinning continuity situation.

Feel free to post your own thoughts on the situation in the comments.

2. WILL THE MAJORS GO MANGA?

Erik Larsen, creator of
The Savage Dragon, and partner in the Image Comics company has a suggestion that could bring comics out of the specialty store ghetto, and back in convenience stores and magazine racks where they can bring in new readers.

To sum it up for those too lazy to click the
link he's suggesting following a business model that's closer to the Japanese Manga method. A good way to illustrate his argument is that DC comics prints multiple titles all starring Batman every month, as well as spin-offs, crossovers, and special issues. Those books are hated by mainstream retailers because they are small, flimsy, hard to ship, hard to stack in modern magazine racks, and have a profit margin thinner than the paper they're printed on.

Larsen's plan, if I understand it correctly, is to cancel all those monthly titles, break each of their 20-25 page stories into 5 page installments, and combine those installments into a weekly, 60+ page magazine size publication, with a sturdy card-stock cover at roughly twice the price of a standard 'floppy' comic book. Extended stories from these new combined magazines could also still be collected into graphic novels and trade paperbacks as they are now.

Like I said, I don't really know the comics industry the way I know the movie business, so I'd like your opinion of this plan. Do you think it will work? Fail? Let me know.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #597: Little Bits That Plop Out Of My Head

Welcome to the show folks...

TGIM... okay, maybe not, but to get you over the proverbial Monday blahs here are a few drippings from my proverbial brain pan...

MGM- MUMBAI GOES METRO?

There is yet another development that could decide the fate of the long moribund MGM studio. First Spyglass Entertainment is trying to move it out of distribution and into production, mostly TV, but now there's a new player. Indian conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar is in the early stages of making an offer to buy MGM from its owners/creditors for about $2 billion. Some reports say that the Broccoli family, whose EON Productions own the screen rights to James Bond are supporting this deal.

I suspect that the Broccoli family is hoping that this partnership will let the next James Bond movie have scenes like this:



I know I showed it before, but I love that scene so damn much.... yet it does not love me back....

Anyway, but seriously folks, there are some pretty good reasons for the Broccoli family to back any deal that keeps MGM a viable independent producer and distributor.

1. With an independent MGM, EON and James Bond are quite literally the big fish in the pond. If the franchise is doled out to another studio, they become yet another franchise fighting for resources with all of the studio's other franchises.

2. Being the big fish in the MGM pond means EON can fight the inevitable studio meddling, where some suit will force them to replace Daniel Craig with Tracy Morgan, team him up with Jackie Chan, and make it into a buddy-cop comedy directed by Brett Ratner.

3. SIP must have impressed the Broccoli family with a very detailed and serious plan to make MGM viable again, and included a plan to get the Bond franchise back on screens before Daniel Craig has to collect his old age pension.

Personally, I wish good luck to anyone who can make MGM a successful company again. Hollywood needs the competition, the market needs another buyer, and the audience sure could use another supplier of entertainment operating outside the narrow group-think of the other majors.

UPDATE: MGM management denies going Bollywood. We'll have to wait and see if the next Bond movie has any spontaneous musical numbers.

EASY A GETS A B-, WHILE THE TOWN GOES TO TOWN

Every box office expert in Hollywood was saying that teen comedy/chick flick
Easy A was going to handily beat Ben Affleck's starring/directing caper flick The Town. It was PG-13, versus The Town's R Rating, the star Emma Stone was very charming, and while The Town had a lot of critical buzz, conventional wisdom was betting against it.

Turns out they were wrong.

The Town kicked butt, over-performing all estimates, while
Easy A did okay, it under-performed all the expert predictions.

Why?

Two reasons:

1. MATURITY: The older audience, 25+ by Hollywood's reckoning, is hungry for a movie that offers action and suspense with a decent plot. They were disappointed by
The American, getting a portrait of middle age ennui, and took a chance on The Town. Plus, people have been watching Ben Affleck slowly and surely rebuild his movie career by working his ass off after almost sinking it during that whole Bennifer fiasco. I call that the Robert Downey Jr. effect. It means that the audience respects and rewards hard work on the part of movie stars rebuilding their careers after some bad moves and worse movies.

2. WEAK MARKETING: The ad campaign for
Easy A got a D- on my rankings. Too many ads showed it as just another goofball teen comedy while others showed too much of Amanda Bynes as the film's bitchy evangelical Christian villain. This isn't a knock against Bynes, but at the character. Remember, 75% of Americans are active Christians, many of them belong to evangelical churches, and they tend to ignore and avoid movies that portray them as villains. Personally, I wouldn't have written the character that way. The "I condemn thee" evangelical type is a boring cliche, that ignores the comic potential that lay in making the character more of a Ned Flanders-type, a meddling do-gooder whose well meaning but poorly executed attempts to 'save' the mislabeled harlot create even more chaos.

The film did do pretty good, but that short-sightedness over the picture's villain could cost Easy A its proverbial box-office legs in the long run.

JEFF ZUCKER YOU ARE A NATIONAL TREASURE

At least to me, because you're still providing me with material. His most recent jaunt into my verbal cross-hairs is his talk to student at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. He was there to give a talk on "Leadership and Management."

Think about that... he lead and managed NBC-Universal to near extinction. Asking Jeff Zucker to talk about leadership and management is like...

...asking Attila the Hun to talk about the importance of diplomacy.

...asking OJ Simpson about maintaining marital happiness.

...asking Field Marshal Haig to discuss modern military strategy.

...asking Phil Spector about successful legal defense strategies.

...asking Lindsay Lohan to lecture about saying no to drugs.

I'm sure you can all whip up a few of your own, please leave them in the comments.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: MONEY!

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for my Saturday break from my usual ranting about the business behind pop culture to have a little laugh.

Today an old Monty Python chestnut, which, thanks to the Euro, features a lot of currencies that just don't exist anymore. I guess when they were uniting Europe's economies they didn't consider the effect it would have on comedy. Try rhyming something with "Euro."


Friday, 17 September 2010

The Case of the Sunken Sequel

I had just returned to my office on the corner on the corner of Melrose and the Boulevard of Broken after a very long day. I had just cracked the case of the Creepy Croaked Critic when a figure appeared at my door.

"You Furious D, the Private Dick?" asked the figure.

"I am," I said, my world weary cynicism flowing as freely as the rotgut whiskey flowed into my glass. "What do you want?" I asked as I downed the whiskey in one macho manly gulp.

When I regained consciousness I realized that I really can't hold my liquor.

"You're awake," said my visitor, who I realized was Rupert Murdoch. "Good, I got a job for you."

"What kind of a job?" I asked as I picked myself up from my puddle of vomit.

"It's trouble," said Murdoch, "a lot of bloody blimey trouble."

"Trouble is my business," I said.

"I thought you were a bloody private dick?"

"Let's not go in circles," I said as I splashed off my face in the sink, "and let's not use the words 'bloody' and 'dick' in the same sentence, this blog disappoints enough weirdos doing Google searches."

"It's a bloody crikey bastard of a bloody case," said Murdoch.

"Just give me the details," I said, "and some cash."

Rupert Murdoch dropped a fat envelope on my desk, then he spilled the beans.

"Crikey," said Murdoch, "sorry about that, who leaves an open can of beans on their desk?"

"Just tell me about the case!"

"It's James Cameron," said Murdoch. "His movies have made my studio a bloody shitload of money. But his movies cost a bloody shitload of money too."

"So?"

"He's just announced that he wants to shoot part of Avatar 2 in the bloody goddamn Marianas Trench!"

"Isn't that like seven miles underwater?"

"Yes!" barked Murdoch. "I'm just scared that his luck at making blockbusters might run out on the film that leaves my proverbial didgeridoo hanging out to the tune of half a billion dollars. And what if there's an accident and someone drowns, or gets eaten by something? I could be on the hook even more!"

"What do you want me to do?"

"Find him and find out why he's gone off his nut!"

"Drop another envelope on my desk," I said, "and do it without spilling any more of my precious beans, and I'll take your case."

Murdoch reached into his jacket for another envelope when his eyes caught something through my office window.

"Crikey," barked Murdoch, "a dingo's got my baby! Not bloody again!"

#

I thought that if I was going to find James Cameron I was going to have to burn some shoe leather. I soon realized that all burning shoe leather did was fill my office with smelly smoke, so I thought I'd try beating the bushes. All that did was disturb some homeless people, and awake a very cranky badger.

Hitting the streets hurt my knuckles, and I realized that I was running out of meta-fiction type jokes using old cliches. There was a way to find James Cameron, and it was the quickest, just follow the trail of ex-wives.

The trail led me deep into the depths of the Hollywood Hills. The underbrush hadn't been burnt out in a wildfire in a while and had threatened to totally consume the road and my purple 1975 AMC Gremlin. Through twists and turns I drove, expecting any minute to run into the ghost of Dennis Hopper festooned with cameras talking like he was in Apocalypse Now.

Then I did.

"Sorry Dennis," I said to his ghost.

"That's all right," answered Dennis Hopper's ghost, "I'm incorporeal, no harm, no foul."

"I'm looking for James Cameron's place," I asked him, "do you know where it is?"

"It's at the end of the road," said the ghost as he faded away. "I'd show you, but I'm booked to haunt a house in Silver Lake."

"Have fun," I said, then I put my Gremlin into gear and plunged deeper into the interior of a world that probably mirrored the subconscious of someone if this story had been done by a better writer.

#

"Who are you?" asked a voice from the other side of the massive solid steel gate with a solid gold 'JC' emblazoned on it.

"I'm Furious D, I'm a private dick sent by the studio to talk to Mr. Cameron."

"You were really sent by the studio?" asked the voice.

"Yes," I said, "Rupert Murdoch himself sent me."

"Did a dingo tried to get his baby while he was there?"

"You know I never pass up a good Australian stereotype gag."

"You may enter," said the voice. An engine roared to life, and a great pillar of exhaust spewed from a smokestack next to the gate. The gate creaked and moaned and slowly opened.

A small officious looking fellow in a neatly tailored gray suit emerged from behind the gate. "My name is R. Daniel Oliver," said the man, "I am Mr. Cameron's personal assistant. You will have to leave your car here. Mr. Cameron does not allow such crimes against Mother Earth into his private environmentally perfect compound. We'll get to the house golf cart."

Mr. Oliver clicked a remote control and a gold plated golf cart, complete with Academy Award hood ornament appeared, as if someone just wrote that it was there.

I got in and we began the five mile trek to the house. Which took about three hours, the cart's engine straining to bear the weight of the gold plating. At least, I think it was the gold weighing it down.

"This is a perfectly self-sustaining community," said Mr. Oliver as we drove past fields of Jentucky Bluegrass, maintained in the harsh southern California desert by legions of sprinklers spraying water in all directions. Then we past a field of SUV's parked in a lot marked 'Extra Vehicles." "Everything here is in perfect harmony with Mother Earth."

"I guess it's all solar powered," I said.

"Mostly."

"How much is solar powered?"

"There's a light in the garden shed that's solar powered," answered Mr. Oliver. "At least we think it is, it doesn't seem to want to work at night."

We arrived at a house that about as wide as two football fields. Oliver didn't stop the cart, instead he just drove it up the imported marble staircase, severely jostling my sacroiliac.

"Mr. Cameron designed this place himself," said Oliver as we left the stairs and started driving down a hallway that I soon realized was once MC Hammer's house. In fact, he was still in it, rocking a pair of glittery harem pants.

We drove another hour down this long hall until we reached a solid gold door, encrusted in diamonds in the shape of the letters JC in the center. Oliver spoke into a walkie talkie.

"The man from the studio is here," said Oliver.

Another engine roared to life somewhere as the door slowly opened. I didn't wait for it to open completely and slipped in.

"Mr. Cameron?" I asked realizing that I had just stepped into a dark room, lit only by banks of TV monitors tuned into dead channels.

"It's wonderful that you're in darkness Mr. Cameron," declared Oliver as he followed me in.

"Where are you?" I asked, turning on a light, revealing what could only be called an emperor sized bed, solid gold, in the center, the mattress made of stacks of compressed $100 bills.

"What do you want?" asked a voice that came from under the bed.

"Oh," said Oliver, "you're under the bed, that's a wonderful idea Mr. Cameron. Truly a work of epic genius."

"Murdoch sent me to talk to you about filming the Avatar sequel underwater," I said. "Especially seven miles underwater."

"NO ONE QUESTIONS JAMES CAMERON'S DECISIONS!" barked Cameron from under the bed. "Oliver, get rid of this plebeian interloper."

"That's a brilliant decision Mr. Cameron," said Oliver as he clamped a hand on my shoulder. This was the trouble Murdoch warned me about, thankfully trouble is my business, and I brought my Colt .45.

The bottle of malt liquor shattered as it came in contact with Oliver's skull. Sparks suddenly flew out of his head, then his head popped off, revealing a mass of circuits and gears. Oliver was a robot, and not a very well built on either.

"Damn," said Cameron. "That robot cost me seven millions dollars!"

"I came here for some answers," I said, "and I'm not leaving until I get them."


"All right," said Cameron, "what do you want to know?"

"Why do you want to shoot Avatar 2 seven miles underwater?"

"Because of the Avatar re-release," croaked Cameron.

"Say what?"

Cameron slid out from under his bed. His hair was long and disheveled, and it looked like he hadn't shaved, and smelled like he hadn't bathed in days.

"I re-released Avatar," said Cameron, "expecting it to be #1 again, but it stank worse than a Nicole Kidman film."

"So what?"

"I then realized what had happened," said Cameron. "The people who paid extra to see the movie in 3D in theaters then went out and bought the DVDs. Watching it at home, without the distraction of 3D, and the novelty of the effects gone, all they had left was the story, the characters, and the dialogue."

"Now I see where you're going," I said. "When they saw the re-release advertising more of that story, characters, and dialogue, and without the novelty of seeing those effects for the first time, they chose to stay at home."

"If I'm going to make a sequel," said Cameron, "I need to do something really crazy to make people want to see it. So I'm going to film it seven miles underwater!"

"Couldn't you just put more work on the story?" I asked. "Maybe collaborate with someone you can't bully into agreeing with your every brain-fart."

"I think I'd rather just spend a few extra hundred million dollars," said Cameron. "It's worked for me before, and it's better for my ego than honest feedback."

I shrugged and nodded. I had my answer, it was time to declare...

CASE CLOSED

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #596: Sweet Baby Jesus... Not So Sweet

Welcome to the show folks...

Deary me. Peter Hewitt, the director hired to helm the film
Sweet Baby Jesus, has left the project because he hasn't been paid by producer Philippe Rebboah,who has been "trying" to get the project off the ground for 6 years.

I put the word "trying" in quotes because something about the whole thing doesn't pass my smell test. I wrote about it before, but I'll repeat myself if you're too lazy to click the link.

1. BAD PREMISE: The whole movie can be summed up very simply-- "A poor American white trash re-enactment of the Nativity story from the Bible." It's essentially a sketch from a cable TV show where the writers have two empty minutes, no original ideas, and think they need to be "edgy."

2. IT'S A GUARANTEED BOMB: It's an indie film, that means that the budget and fees are supposed to be covered from pre-sales, and any hope for a profit must come from a successful release in the USA. However, the USA is 75% Christian, and the majority of non-Christian Americans aren't keen on insulting the Christian Americans, because they think it's rude. Even the hard-core Bill Maher types aren't going to go, because they will know the movie is going to be eight kinds of stink.

3. ULTERIOR MOTIVES: When I first heard of this movie, it was supposed to be a starring vehicle for Britney Spears as the film's hillbilly Mary. Now it's British pop tart Pixie Lott is in the lead role. These are not performers known for their comedic talents, or artistic integrity.

However it is exactly the sort of project they could be talked into doing because it sounds "edgy" and "rebellious." Either they can't see, or refuse to see that the whole deal is neither edgy or rebellious, just condescending or snobbish.

So here's my theory.

Whether or not the film gets made or not, the folks producing it will get do what they can to get their fees and expenses covered via pre-sales, tax credits, etc., and can blame either the failure of the production to get off the ground, or at the box office on the ignorance of investors, and/or the audience, get some pats on the back for "speaking truth to power" and move onto another more lucrative gig.

As for investors, it's not ignorance making them back away, it's that while they understand that indie film investing is inherently a gamble, they at least need a slim chance of getting a return on their investment to make it worth their while.

The really sad part of this story is that projects like these, and the resources wasted on them, are taking away from the kind of independent films that are really edgy, original, and might actually be seen by an actual audience.

I expect a lot more talk about the movie, but no actual movie in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #595: Little Bitty Link Pieces

Welcome to the show folks...

Bit of a slow news day... so here are a few quick hits...

AT TIFF: WEINSTEIN COMPANY SINKS A SUBMARINE

Harvey Weinstein's magical hypno-coin still has some magic in it. The Weinstein Co. has been on a bit of a shopping spree at the Toronto International Film Festival, recently picking up the British coming of age comedy Submarine.

The rumor is that TWC offered less cash up front, but made a bigger release commitment.

BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Sorry, I just blurted that out.


But come on, you have to admit that past
behavior is a pretty good indicator of future behavior, and everything indicates that when the time release the film in 2011 comes... and goes... the only talk about this film will be between lawyers over violated release commitments, and cranks like me liberally peppered with the old chestnut: "I told you so."

I fear that this will join all the other Weinstein Co. acquisitions, which will be propping up the little couch-cushion fort Harvey Weinstein's built in his office.

THANK YOU NERDIST

If you don't know much about
Doctor Who, and want to be one of the cool kids, then check out this handy intro from Chris Hardwick's Nerdist website.

CAN'T WAIT FOR THE HOBBIT?

Then thank the good folks at io9, who present The Lord of the Rings... in Finnish.

THE TIDE'S GOING OUT ON ABC

The ABC network is putting together a Prince of Tides TV series.

Why?

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you don't know
The Prince of Tides started as a novel by Pat Conroy. It was all about abuse, family dysfunction, and mental illness in the Old South. It was made into an Oscar bait movie by Barbra Streisand in 1991, but only succeeded in getting co-star Nick Nolte a Golden Globe.

I can see them doing a TV movie that's closer to the book.

I can see them doing a mini-series based on the book. The Brits do it all the time.

In fact, if they were to do it as a miniseries, I'd root for them. A lot of books can't be adapted properly into 90min to 2hr movies, but a multi-part "novel for television" could do it right.

If they're doing that, fine.

But I fear that they're going to try to make it a traditional series, with 22-25 episodes each season, and aim for a 100+ episode run. I don't think the writers could stretch a single novel and its characters out that long without becoming a repetitious litany of misery that the audience will avoid like the plague, or turning it into a traditional soap opera.

I just can't see it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Comic Book Confidential: The Return of Atlas

Welcome to the show folks...

It's time to get your geek on kiddies, because I'm taking a moment to talk about the comic book business. It's just been announced that Atlas Comics has been brought back from the dead.

For those who don't know, I'll give you a little history.

Many moons ago, during the heady days of the 1970s, Martin Goodman owned Marvel Comics. According to legend he sold Marvel to Cadence Inc. on the understanding that his son Chip would remain working for the company. However, according to the legend, Stan Lee, now in charge of the Marvel, gave Chip the boot.

In revenge, Martin and Chip began what was known as Atlas Comics, or Atlas/Seaboard comics. The company's mission was to crush Marvel. It didn't work, and the company eventually folded. Time passed and Martin's grandson Jason Goodman is reviving the company and their characters.

Let's look at the pros and cons of this revival.

PROS:

1. The new Atlas will have the largest privately owned catalog of characters and stories to work with.

2. They've hired comics veteran J.M. DeMatteis to be the editor in chief of this venture. He's an experienced hand who knows the industry well.

3. The original Atlas Comics introduced radical concepts like creators owning the characters they create, returning original artwork to the artist, and profit sharing. All concepts that helped eventually break the work for hire ghetto that dominated the industry since its beginning. Hopefully the new Atlas will keep up that tradition.

4. Baggage. Hopefully this new company, and their new line-up will start from scratch, and not try to jam in the original continuity from their first run. Decades of convoluted, confusing, and even contradictory back-stories are one the main reasons it's so hard to get new readers into comic books. Why would anyone want to start reading something where they know they're not going to know what the hell is going on? A fresh new universe might attract fresh new readers, hopefully.

CONS:

1. Most of the Atlas Comics characters were considered either derivative of Marvel characters, if not outright rip-offs. The company also got criticized for changing around all their concepts and characters between issues, not good. While their back catalog is all well and good, they're going to need new creators with new ideas to make the company stand out among all the others.

2. The business of adapting comic book characters to movies is big business. However, it only really pays off in a serious way if those characters have some sort of the connection with the general cultural zeitgeist. I'm talking Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, with Iron Man showing that even characters on the relative fringe of that zeitgeist can still catch on. However, Atlas characters are way beyond the fringe that even Iron Man called home. Also that previously mentioned inconsistency with many of their characters can make things confusing for audiences unless they start over from scratch, as I suggested earlier.

3. The comics market is pretty harsh right now. The industry's having a hard time getting kids to read their books, having to compete with video games, the internet, and whatever pop-tart crap the Disney company is squatting out at the moment. Without kids, the overall readership will start to dwindle, if it hasn't started already, and the majors like DC and Marvel get most of, if not all, of their profits from movie and TV adaptations of their characters.

I wish the new Atlas Comics and the people working there lots of good luck, I like the idea of some fresh competition on the market, but they are going to have a tough time ahead of them.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #594: Is It True? Is It A Lie? It's A True Lie!

Welcome to the show folks.

James Cameron is rapidly replacing Jeff Zucker and Harvey Weinstein as a source of material. When he's not loosing trial balloons about Avatar sequels and other flicks that will probably take another decade and a half to see the light of day, he's making a deal to adapt his 90s spy-caper/marital comedy True Lies into a TV series.

Let's look at the pros and cons of this plan:

PROS:

1. Rene Echevarria, the show-runner for the proposed series, is an experienced writer and producer with credits as far back as Star Trek: TNG, DS9, to his own show The 4400. I'm sure he has his detractors, everyone in Hollywood does, but I'm not going to judge him without giving him a shot.

2. With Cameron involved it will definitely have a lot of expensive production values.

CONS:

1. The formula of the spy balancing domestic life and espionage has been a little overdone lately. There's bound to be a saturation point.

2. Cameron has a spotty record with television. Namely his series Dark Angel, which had a big start, but rapidly fizzled, as if everyone involved lost interest, including the audience. This could easily happen again here.

3. Chemistry between the leads. One of the main reasons for the success of True Lies was the great chemistry between its stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. Both are 16 years older, and unlikely to commit to the grind of a action-oriented series. New leads will have to be found, and they have to somehow put lightning in a bottle the second time. That is very unlikely.

4. Sanitizing the characters. The husband character is a bit of a dick, when he's not boring her half to death by being emotionally and mentally absent, he's emotionally and mentally torturing her. It's a very sado-masochistic movie, and no doubt everything about them will have to be sanitized for a TV network. That mean turning them basically into every other TV spy done before.

That's why I'm not seeing much hope for this as a series.

What do you think?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #593: Playing Favorites?

Welcome to the show folks....

There's some trouble a-brewing at the Venice Film Festival, here's the link, but I'll boil it down to the salient points for you:

Quentin Tarantino was the President of the jury for the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion Awards.

Sofia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino's ex-girlfriend, won the top Golden Lion Award.

Monte Hellman, Tarantino's favorite mayonnaise mentor, won some sort of lifetime achievement award for.... something....

Enter the European press, who immediately started shitting their pants, which were in a twist, in rage over what they consider blatant favoritism.

It is at this time that I do my classic Claude Rains in Casablanca impression and declare that I am shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that personal feelings may play a more important part than merit or artistic quality in dispensing entertainment awards.

Did you get the sarcasm dripping from that last
statement like maple syrup dripping off a piece of waffle... or did I just think about what I want for breakfast tomorrow...?

Anyway, when it comes to awards, from the Oscars to the Golden Globes, the Emmys, to the Golden Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my, it pretty much all boils down to personal feelings on the part of the people casting the votes.

Even the People's Choice Awards make me want to take away people's freedom of choice.

That's because winning an award and deserving an award are two completely different things.

You see awards are dispensed by human beings, human beings have their own foibles like personal preferences, prejudices, and fits of pique. They have literally hundreds of reasons for giving awards to some and not to others that have no connection to the quality of the work at hand.

You want proof?

YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE PROOF!

Sorry, I just blurted that out for some nonsensical reason....

But it is a pretty tough challenge that few can handle.

First look up the names of every movie that has ever won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, The Palme D'Or from Cannes, the Golden Lion of Venice, and Berlin's Golden Bear.

Randomly pick ten that you have never seen from each category. Try to get as wide a range of eras and subject matter as you can.

Watch them.

All of them.

Every last reeking minute of them.

Take note of how many are remotely watchable, and how many are total dreck.

You'll be surprised at how many films that are almost laughably bad were major award winners. My personal un-fave is Cecil B. DeMille's Greatest Show On Earth, which is the most mis-leading title in the history of cinema.

M
y advice, don't get all worked up over awards they have their own reasons for existing, and most of them have more to do with the internal politics of the people voting on them, than anything else.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: A Moment Of Zen

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for my usual Saturday break from ranting and raving about the business of pop culture and to have a little giggle.

Today a relaxing moment of Zen, Christopher Walken performing Lady Gaga's Poker Face. Enjoy.