Monday, 30 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #891: Random Thoughts...

IN DEFENSE OF SWAMP PEOPLE

A while back while cruising through Twitter I noticed that the TV Swamp People was a trending topic. I happen to like the show, but here in Canada it's run much later than it did in the USA, so I clicked on to see what people were saying.

One vacuous pinhead tweeted: "Swamp People is on. Those people are so stupid."

Seriously, there are people who actually think that way.  I checked that person's Twitter feed and had my suspicions confirmed, their Twitter output consisted of praising the shopping choices of people named Kardashian.

For those of you who don't get cable of any kind in their cave Swamp People is a show about Cajun alligator hunters in Louisiana. 

For 1 month of each year they are allowed to hunt alligators to sell their meat and hides for some good money. In fact many of these hunters can make their year if they bag big gators and lots of them.  Now the hunt is regulated by the government and each hunter has a certain number of tags, one for each alligator they bring in, and if they "tag out" one year, they can get more tags for next year's hunt.  However, if they fail to tag out, they get fewer tags the next year.

The show is chock full of the sort of drama that makes good reality TV.  The prey itself can kill a man pretty easily, the method of hunting requires considerable physical strength, courage, and marksmanship, and then there's the characters you meet on the show. While they're not sexy, fashionable, and yes, some are missing teeth, they are charming, intelligent, are not wrapped up in an empty headed consumerist culture, and live way better in their environment than I do in mine.

The show does very well in the ratings, usually appearing in the top 5 for cable shows, and getting viewership numbers that most broadcast networks would envy.

Doesn't sound like they're stupid at all.

Now they don't get the hype that their lower rated competition gets because they don't really serve a need that Hollywood has. That need is product placement.

Sure, you don't get as many eyeballs trying to keep up with Kardashians as you do with Troy Landry the King of the Swamp, but those few eyeballs will buy what their reality idols tell them too.

Who is being stupid now?

SPEAKING OF TRASHY REALITY STARS


Amateur porn star turned publicity whore Kim Kardashian was at the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington DC over the weekend.


While there President Obama offered her the job of Secretary of State, but she turned it down, telling the President that she doesn't type.


SPEAKING OF TRASHY REALITY TV


The E! Network is trying to branch off from 24/7 coverage of the has-beens, never weres, and never should be celebrities, to develop a slate of scripted programming.


Now I won't judge the slate they're putting together.  They do have some heavy hitters behind them, so the shows could turn out to be pretty good.


However, I doubt that E! is really capable of ensuring those heavy hitter producers and showrunners are happy, and properly marketing original scripted programming when they've been so dependent on following the "D List" when they go shoe shopping to fill their schedule for so damn long.


IF YOU'RE A WRITER YOU WILL PROBABLY WANT TO SKIP THIS STORY.


Uggie the dog from the movie The Artist will be releasing his autobiography this October from a major international publisher.


That's right, a dog that appeared in one award winning, but only modestly successful has a book deal.  


If you listen very carefully you can hear hundreds, if not thousands of unpublished writers who dedicate their lives to their work screaming in anguish.


So if you're a struggling writer who can't even get read, let alone published, ask Uggie whose leg you have to hump to get a book deal.  He knows.


Meanwhile ask a publisher what they do, and they'll tell you that they're the gatekeepers of quality in literature, and they want you to take them seriously.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #890: Let's Help MGM... Again

MGM has to do remakes.

I accept that.  They need to bank some money, and Hollywood's convinced that remakes are the only safe way to do it.  

What I don't really care for is their strategy of remaking movies that are thought of so highly by fans that any remake will be guaranteed to get a hell of a lot of resentment and unkind comparisons with the original.

They're getting deeper into casting for their remake of Carrie, despite the franchise's history of dropping bombs like a B-17 over Berlin, and they've contracted Sam Raimi to oversee a remake of the 1980s haunted suburbia classic Poltergeist.

It's obvious that the folks at MGM aren't listening to me, since I posted a blog about movies they should remake almost 3 years ago that I updated last year.

Let's try another round of helping MGM come up with movies they can remake that won't offend movie fandom and maybe someone there will listen.  Join in yourself by looking at the film's on their roster.

The Comedy of Terrors.  The original was a black comedy about a crooked undertaker who blackmails his assistant into helping him boost business by making more customers.  Their plans go awry when one of their victims refuses to stay down.

Slapstick and murder, how can you go wrong?

The Conqueror Worm (AKA The Witchfinder General). A fictional story inspired by the real life of Matthew Hopkins a 17th century lawyer, extortionist, and murderer who manipulated witch hysteria and both sides of the English Civil War to great profit and power.

Now a new angle would be to make the casting more historically accurate.  The actor who played Hopkins in the original was Vincent Price, but the real man was only 27 when he died.  So you could have a hot young actor like Benedict Cumberbatch playing the manipulative and psychopathic Hopkins running amok in the English countryside.  Costume dramas do big business on TV, so why not one on the big screen?

Destination Moon.  The original was made in 1950 and was considered groundbreaking realistic science fiction for its time. The original's concept of private industry paying for a lunar expedition seems more realistic now considering that the US government's pretty much given up on space exploration.  Do it in a very straight docudrama style with the added element of competing against rival expeditions and you might just get a damn good movie.

Donovan’s Brain. The original is probably unfairly remembered only for having future first lady Nancy Reagan as the female lead, while it's actually a pretty good sci-fi thriller for its time.  The premise is simple, a doctor is working on a machine that can keep a brain alive outside the human body, but he can't find a test subject.

That changes when a plane carrying corrupt mega-millionaire W.H. Donovan crashes near his house.  The doctor can't save Donovan's body, but uses his machine to save the titular organ.  But that's just the beginning, Donovan's malevolent mentality starts to reach out, forcing others, especially the doctor himself, to act out his plans of revenge.

The Food of the Gods. Based on an old H.G. Wells story about mysterious chemicals that cause animals to grow to enormous size.

Giant rats, chickens, and wasps?  Come on, it's a no brainer.

Sometimes They Come Back.  Based on a Stephen King short story about a high school teacher whose students start getting bumped off and replaced by the ghosts of the bullies who terrorized him and killed his brother years earlier.  He's forced to delve into some serious darkness to stop them.

The original was a 1991 TV movie that had a bit of a second life on home video that spawned two sequels that really had nothing to do with original, and were summarily forgotten.  So it will be fresh to most viewers.

Witness For The Prosecution.  A blend of comedy, mystery and courtroom drama about a lawyer eager to make a comeback after a heart attack by defending a young man accused of murdering a wealthy widower.

It's loaded with great parts for actors adept at comedy and chewing up the scenery, can be done cheap, (it has like 4 major settings) and has a nice twist at the end, and as a well done period film, can be replayed on TV into infinity.

If you have your own ideas for movies that MGM can remake, leave them in the comments, so I'll steal them and sell them to the studio as my own. BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #889: Who Wants To Run Disney?

It looks like I might actually have a shot at running Disney.

You might recall that last week Disney honcho Bob Iger shit-canned the studio's Chairman Rich Ross, and I made a pitch to replace him.

Well, it looks like I might have a shot.  The studio has reportedly tried the best, including Pixar head John Lasseter, Dreamworks partner Stacey Snider, Marvel Studios Pres Kevin Feige, and former Disney boss turned producer Joe Roth have all been considered and all made it known that they are either unavailable, or just not interested.

I can understand their hesitance.  It's a hard job, you don't have as much direct power to green light or red light projects as other studio chairmen, because divisions or "brands" like Pixar, are pretty much autonomous entities in everything but marketing and distribution.

Outside of Pixar you have to deal with big name mega-producers like Joe Roth, and Jerry Bruckheimer, and the Dreamworks team of Stephen Spielberg and Stacy Snider.

The credit for success tends to go to those big names, while the blame for any failures falls on the shoulders of the poor bastard with the chairman's job. 

That means I actually have a shot at this.  I mean if the best won't take the job, they're going to have to try the rest, and by that, I mean me.

Sure, I have no experience in Hollywood, no connections, but look at what experience and connections got Disney so far.

But seriously, one of the main problems facing any chairman is that the position is like being a king without a country.  You have a crown, a scepter and a throne, but your 'realm' consists of a bunch of city-states and principalities that do their own thing, but if things don't go right, they'll be going for your head.
I promise to not let my power go to my head.

Whoever takes over the position...whoever that might be... has to develop their own power-base, and do it fast.

That means developing talent in all areas that is directly loyal to the chairman that brought them up.

Ironically, this was the strategy that fueled Disney's revival in the 1980s. They formed Touchstone Pictures and forged relationships with producers and actors who were either on the way up, or facing a stalled career.  They put these people into low-risk high yield projects, like comedies and low budget genre pictures.  When particular films hit it big, they won really big because the margins were so wide.

If the chairman treats these people right, the ones that make it big will owe a certain loyalty to guy who didn't screw them at every opportunity.  Then the chairman might be able to stand their ground with the other big swinging dicks in the Disney stable.

Or they could just hire me and let the fireworks fly! ;-)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #888: 2 Random Drippings From My Brain Pan

FILE THIS UNDER "W" FOR "WELL D'UH!"

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the Hollywood studios for possible shenanigans over the deals they made to get the door to the Chinese movie market to open about a crack.

I suspect that simple fact that they're successfully opening doors in China is evidence that some bribery and or kick-backing took place somewhere.  Remember what I said about the Chinese market in the past.  It has tremendous potential, but also some tremendous problems.

If you're too lazy to click the links, I'll repeat myself.  The population is huge, it's cash flush, and there's a vibrant movie going cultural vibe in China.  That's all wonderful. However China is not a free market.  Despite reforms it is still heavily dominated by Communist Party hacks, high ranking military officers, and their cronies.

It doesn't matter what cultural baggage may exist, corruption will always flower in a system where success in business is based more on political connections than commercial merit.  Add Hollywood's determination that the China market is the panacea for all the problems caused by their own incompetence and greed, and you have a perfect storm for trouble.

You don't need an SEC investigation to figure that out.

48 FAILS PER SECOND?

They debuted some footage from the upcoming fantasy epic The Hobbit for exhibitors at Cinemacon and the reaction was less than stellar.

In case you haven't heard, the film was shot using a new process.  Regular movies are shot and projected at 24 frames per second, and this has bugged some filmmakers like James Cameron, especially since it doesn't really translate best into the new digital 3D processes.

Cameron has since advocated shooting and projecting movies at the speed of 48 fps.  This will look smoother and translate better into 3D.

Jackson bought into Cameron's theory and shot The Hobbit at 48 fps.

And that's where the trouble begins.

According to the folks at Cinemacon, the image looked stunning in the wide shots, but the up close stuff with the actors looked very different.  In fact, a lot of people have compared the look to BBC productions from the 1970s that were shot in video at 30 fps.  A good example is the mini-series I, Claudius, here's a clip...


Now the acting and the writing is first rate drama, but the visuals leave a lot to be desired.  Derek Jacobi's makeup looks incredibly obvious, the lighting is flat, and the sets look like cardboard.  If this effect has transferred over to The Hobbit as badly as folks are saying, there will be expensive trouble.

Personally, I'd have hoped that they had shot a smaller scale film with fewer expectations first, to work out all the visual kinks before jumping into a mega-million dollar fantasy epic with millions of fans all over the world ready to nit-pick it into oblivion.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

YOU ASKED FOR IT!

That's right folks, I'm answering reader questions. I am still collecting questions to answer in the future, so keep asking in the comments.

First question:
Blast Hardcheese asked... OK, I'll start. D, following up on your post for The Rockford Files remake - let's assume you make it a TV show instead of a movie. Who would you cast for Rockford?
The answer to that one is simple. 
 
James Garner circa 1974. Without James Garner's very specific charisma and persona Jim Rockford kinda comes across as a wimpy loser instead of a likeable everyman.
 
With Garner you got a sense that Rockford deplored violence because years of hard-earned experience taught him that getting into fights really hurts, and should be avoided if possible. 
 
Too many of today's "leading men" don't carry the weight of that sort of experience.  They're either too pretty or too goofy.
 
I think the best course of action is to come up with a new PI character tailored to the gifts of a new actor.
 
It's not hard, it just takes a scintilla of imagination and balls bigger than a raisin.
Dirty Dingus McGee 1 asked... It seems like many movies get made and released that never should have made it that far in the process. Some have terrible scripts, and some are just horribly, stupid ideas. How do these projects make is so far down the road when is seems obvious to anyone on the outside that the movie is going to suck?
This is a big question that tackles some of the fundamental issues of how Hollywood is run.

It all starts with intent.

Outside of The Asylum and those SyFy original movies no one actually intends to make a bad movie.  Everyone who hacks out a script and/or puts film in the camera and yells "Action" intends for their film to be the very best there is.
 
There are three reasons for bad movies:
 
1. POLITICS
 
2. FEAR
 
3. CHEMISTRY

1. POLITICS:

Now I'm not talking about which party is in government.  I'm talking about politics as all the nonsense that has nothing to do with accomplishing the task you set out to accomplish, but still gets in the way.

And boy is there a lot of nonsense in Hollywood.

A frequent occurrence is that a script that has a lot of promise is bought. Rewrites are ordered because rewrites are pretty much mandatory in order for the people who green-lit the film to protect themselves from taking responsibility for their decisions.  
 
Who gets to do those rewrites is often a political decision based more on connections and social position than merit.  Depending on how that draft comes out, another writer is often hired to give it another pass. 

Then comes the director and the cast.  The director usually does their own pass, or has one of their friends take a shot at it.  If the lead actors have any clout then their own pet writers have to do drafts of their own. This can happen so many times that everything about the original script that made it such a good buy can be easily lost forever.
 
2. FEAR
 
A stinker of an idea needs someone in a position of power to think it's brilliant. None of the underlings will dare admit that the particular brain-fart of casting Rosie O'Donnell as the lead in a multimillion dollar sex comedy gives of eight kinds of stink for fear of being fired, so they let it go.

Even if the executive, producer, or star who let loose the brain-fart is ousted it's often the case that such a stinker will live on if enough money's been spent on its development.  Then they'll try to finish it in the vain hope that they'll recoup at least something from it.
 
3. CHEMISTRY

Now this is just plain bad luck.  A final shooting script can look great on the page, the actors and director can all be very talented, and yet when the final product is on the screen.... it just doesn't come together.

All creative endeavors are crap-shoots and rely on an impossible to define alchemical reaction to work.  Miss that precious reaction, and your movie is going to stink.

Next question:
ILDC asked... With The Hunger Games, has Lionsgate and the other mini-majors "proven" they can produce and release big-budget blockbusters like The Big 6?
Independent producers/distributors have been capable of making and releasing big budget blockbusters since the dawn of film-making.  All it takes really is money and testicular fortitude.

A classic example of this is independent producer Samuel Bronston.  He made a series of mega-budget epics like El Cid and 55 Days At Peking that were released through the independent distributor Allied Artists.

Now the trap that lies in wait for independent producers and mini-majors making epic blockbusters is cushioning.

A big studio has a lot of cushioning to protect it when it falls.  There's the income earned by other releases, the film library, and television productions, and then there's the sheer bulk of a being major movie studio that's part of an even huger media conglomerate.

When you're an independent or a mini-major you don't have cushioning like that.  You need to bat a thousand when you play in the big leagues or risk being completely wiped out.  It happened to Bronston when his 1964 mega-epic The Fall Of The Roman Empire tanked at the box office.  His company went bankrupt and he even did time in jail from all the fracas it caused.

Lionsgate can survive in the big leagues if it develops the right strategy. Namely avoiding putting all their eggs in the basket of promised blockbuster mega-hits by still cultivating smaller, lower risk, higher margin productions, and growing their interests in television production.

NEXT!
Dirty Dingus McGee 2 asked...  How do we get back to the 70s and 80s when hot female stars were unafraid to bare their uh, assets?
Time travel?

Actually there's been a massive social shift that probably ensures that big screen nudity would be a thing of the past.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when nipples became involved with mainstream cinema there were two reasons to have big screen nudity: 
 
1. Street Cred. 
 
2. Prurient Titillation (pun intended)

Having some nudity in your movie meant that your film was not your grand-dad's movie.  It marked you as a rebel, a renegade, someone not afraid to take risks who was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.  Now for those of you who don't know what "prurient titillation" means I can translate it best into "Hurray for boobies!"

However times have changed.  Why shell out money in a movie theater to see an actress take her top off with a hundred other people when you can beat off to see it and so much more on the internet for free and in the privacy of your own home.

Nudity also means getting an R-Rating for your movie. The excitement of seeing an R-Rated movie for the sake of it being R-Rated died out some time after the birth of home video.  So you can expect to make less money than if the film was rated PG or PG-13.
 
Then there's whole sleazy aspect producers using a celebrity nude scene to sell their movie. It tells the audience that the only thing worth seeing in the movie is some brief boobage, so they just stay home and get the pics off the internet.

So don't expect a comeback of the casual nude scene anytime soon.
 
Last question of the night:
Gary T. Burnaska asked... The Lobo movie news makes me wonder if
 
1. This film is an attempt for a director known for more family fare to branch out into more hard edged R rated material.

2. Since Lobo is a obscure, 3rd stringer character, does this mean that DC/WB is scraping the bottom of the comic licensing barrel for new characters?
 1.  Unlikely, since WB would probably spend $100+ million on a Lobo movie, they would want the director to sanitize it to make the more marketable PG-13 rating. That would offend the character's core fans and pretty much ensure that it would become a bomb.
 
2.  DC/WB's biggest problem is that they expect every comic book character to star in a big budget blockbuster feature film that will break records every time.  So they look for characters that were "big" at one time or another.  Lobo was "big" in the 1990s.  He became a symbol of everything wrong with 1990s comics, and is now considered more of an obnoxious remnant of a best forgotten age, but he was still big at some time, so someone at Warner Bros. is hoping that will translate into boffo box office.

It won't, but that won't stop them from spending millions of dollars of other people's money before they find that out.

I hope I answered all your questions.  If you have any more, keep them coming, and leave them in the comments....

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #887: Lobo Go/No Go?

Warner Bros. has hired Brad Peyton, the helmer of family hit Journey 2: The Mysterious Island to rewrite and direct a live action movie of the DC Comics character Lobo.

Now this has sparked some crankiness from some corners, since a director known for family adventures is planning to make a film about a character known for graphic violence and sleazy sexual content.  Those same people take some comfort in the tendency of the majority of DC's film/TV adaptations fizzling out in development.

Now if you're not familiar with Lobo and his oeuvre I'll  drop a little history on you...

Lobo began life as a mercenary and bounty hunter fighting The Omega Men in the early 1980s, but was quickly forgotten.

That was until the 1990s.

During the 1990s "bad-ass" anti-heroes were all the rage and the big two comic companies were eager to exploit it.  This was most obviously personified by Marvel Comics Wolverine and the company's use of him in just about every title or super-team they could cram him into.

Lobo was reborn as a parody of the "bad-ass anti-hero."  This incarnation he was the last of the Czarnians, because he killed all the others in a fit of juvenile whimsy. He roamed the stars looking for nothing more than violent kicks and intoxicating pleasures. This sometimes brought him in contact with the DC heroes, either to fight, or cooperate, depending on his mood.

Lobo became a bit of a sensation in the comics scene as he shifted from being a parody of others to becoming a parody of himself.  His adventures grew more and more ridiculous in just about every sense of the word and in every way. The characters also suffered from inconsistency that was pretty extreme even for a comic book character.  Depending on who was writing and drawing the book Lobo could be as strong as a large, but otherwise normal, human, or, be able to go toe-to-toe with Superman.  The only really consistent thing about his powers was that he was pretty much impossible to kill.

His solo comic died from over-exposure and the character was once again relegated to guest appearances in other character's comics and animated TV shows, but is being groomed for a big comeback as part of the "New 52."

Now Warner Bros. is looking to take Lobo to the big screen, let's look at the Pros & Cons.

PROS:

1. At his peak the character was wildly popular.

CONS:

1. That peak was 20 years ago, since then he's become symbolic of everything wrong about comics in the 1990s, which he was originally intended to parody.  Unlike Superman, Batman, or even Green Lantern, he's not very well known outside of the hardcore fan community.

2. It is highly unlikely that Warner Bros. or the general audience would catch on that he was supposed to be a parody of the over-the-top uber-violent over-sexed anti-heroes of the 1990s.  The studio will tempted to sanitize him, offending his remaining core fans, and the general audience would be tempted to just ignore him as something that only appeals to a narrow group of hardcore fans.

Personally, I don't really see this project going much farther past the development stage.  It just doesn't have legs in my opinion.

_______________

GOTTA QUESTION? ASK IT HERE!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #886: What Now Disney?

Rich Ross, the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, has just been given the royal kiss off and shown the door.

He's been fired most likely because of the $200+ million bath the company took on the sci-fi epic John Carter.

Now the Walt Disney Studios encompasses all of the Mouse Empire's film and TV production. I'm talking about Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone, and Hollywood Pictures.  That's a lot of responsibility, and you can't let their be a vacuum at the top.  Which is why I'm requesting that the board of Walt Disney Company should...
That's right, I'm putting myself up to become one of the most powerful men in the American motion picture industry.  Who needs experience, connections, or background, when you've got me...

Here's why they should put me in charge...

1.  I'll be affordable.

Everyone loves to gripe about how big media bosses get huge pay-packets that have nothing to do with how they do their job.  I pledge that if hired as Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios,  I'll do it for half the money and benefits that Rich Ross was paid, and a piece of the gross profits I make for the company.

That's right, I said "gross" not "net," because everyone knows that "net" is a myth.

2.  I'll make the movies affordable. 

John Carter could have been profitable if they hadn't spent the gross national product of a European nation to make and market the damn thing.

I pledge to find the proper balance between being practical when it comes to budgets and being a cheap jerk. I'll streamline the development process to maximize the amount of money that actually makes it on screen.  I'll also reform the marketing department so that they won't don't repeat the mistakes made with the John Carter debacle, like how they missed the opportunity to capitalize on the good word of mouth from John Carter's audiences.

3. I'll make Touchstone & Hollywood Pictures earn their keep.

Lately Disney's been letting their "adult" divisions Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures collect more dust than money. They've cut productions down, refuse to do sequels for the movies that do succeed, and the only thing keeping at least Touchstone from completely going dead is its distribution deal with Dreamworks.

Now that could be a sign of how I will reform those companies into leaner, meaner, and hopefully more productive divisions that will maximize output, but minimize the amount of skin Disney has in the game.

First, I will collect info on all the independent  film producers and financiers out there. See who is unhappy, either with their distributors, or how they have to shop each film around to find one.

Then I'd offer them a deal...

1. My reformed companies would distribute what they put out either for a flat up front payment based on the P&A costs plus a fee based on the size of the P&A outlay, or, if we're a direct stakeholder in the project, a straight up percentage of the revenue.

Touchstone would handle the mainstream films and occasional Oscar bait movies, while Hollywood would handle the smaller-budget genre and exploitation films.

(One caveat, these producers can't release films through this deal that directly compete with the family films released by Disney/Pixar. But few do.)

2. My reformed companies would not screw them over. No silly accounting tricks, no fiscal skullduggery, just straight up square dealings.  Why, because we need to keep those people happy, because if these companies aren't putting out product, they won't be making any money.

So hire me now Disney before one of your rivals snaps me up.

*crickets*

___________________

Thursday, 19 April 2012

ASK ME ANYTHING!

That's right folks, I'm collecting questions about pop culture and the business behind it to answer right here on this very blog.  

So leave your question in the comments or ask me via twitter at @FuriousDShow.

START ASKING NOW!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #885: How Do You Become Influential?

Time Magazine, the once venerable weekly news-rag has released its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Now I'm not going to talk about the politicians, athletes, and money-moguls on this blog, that's not my bailiwick.  What I will talk about are the movie and TV people who were included in the list, and see if Time's definition of influential matches the real world's definition of influential.

Viola Davis - Now she's had a great couple of years, racking up awards and nominations for recent films like The Help, and Doubt.  Now I doubt that she really has that much "influence" with the general public. But her work ethic, shown by years toiling in the trenches of TV guest spots, treading the boards on and off Broadway, and dozens of thankless supporting and bit parts in feature films, should be mimicked by other actors looking to "make it."

Louis CK - Now Louis CK is definitely influential with other comedians, especially with Dane Cook, but he did write and direct Pootie Tang.

Kristen Wiig - Had a good run on SNL, and a hit movie with Bridesmaids, but it's still too early to tell if she can carry a post-Bridesmaids movie career, but the no doubt inevitable rush of Bridesmaids imitators will be seen as evidence of her influence.
 
Jessica Chastain - Literally came out of nowhere last year with seven movies, one right after the other.  That's a neat trick, but does it means that she has any say in the tastes of the nation, unlikely.

 
Chelsea Handler - Has about 1 million, mostly young female, fans, who buy everything she plops out. While that's a nice crowd to maintain a cable talk show, and sell the occasional "memoir," it so far hasn't shown much ability to make it into the mainstream as the sitcom based on her life struggles to stay alive, even on NBC.
 
Harvey Weinstein - Has a lot of influence in Hollywood, if physical fear can be considered influence, and he has great influence with investors, since he's always been able to bring in the suckers.  However, I think his case illustrates how this list, at least in relation to TV and movie people puts more weight on their influence within their own industry.

Take for example the movie The Artist.  Taking a black and white silent movie from France to the winning podium at the Academy Awards was a great achievement.

However, he had put all his eggs in the basket of the Oscars when it came to selling the movie, and the Oscars have been declining in influence for at least a decade.  The film did make $44 million at the US box office, but they failed to take the film, which had been judged a real crowd pleaser by all who saw it, and make a hell of a lot more.

Tilda Swinton - She's a talented actress, but if you were to show her picture to an average person they'd ask: "Why is Conan O'Brien in drag?"
 
Claire Danes - Had a show on cable that did well with critics, and has a loyal audience, won an Emmy for a TV movie.  A nice comeback for a former child actress, but how many people are going to be "influenced" by her?
 
Stephen Colbert - Another case of being big within his narrow world of media personalities, but small when it comes to the real world.  If you go by what the media tells you, everyone in the world watches Colbert and its lead-in companion The Daily Show with John Stewart.  Yet neither are in the top 20 of cable ratings, and have just a fraction of the viewers of the top rated cable shows like Swamp People, and Pawn Stars.

Yet there he is, listed in the number one slot.

Now this tells me a lot.  It tells me that the media world, encompassing movies, TV, and even news media, is a tad too enclosed, too wrapped in on itself.  They honestly believe that those who dominate their own cultural lives have a say in the cultural lives of people outside their narrow little world.

Their inability to see that is one of the main reasons why the influence of the traditional media taste-makers are waning, and new media's influence is growing.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #884: Tossing Another Rock At Rockford...

The motto at Universal must be "If at first you don't succeed, flog a dead horse."

Why do I say that?

Because after developing a Rockford Files TV remake starring Dermot Mulroney that fizzled before it got made, Universal Pictures is trying to do it again, this time as a feature film starring Vince Vaughn in the title role.

Now for those of you who were culturally deprived The Rockford Files was a TV series that ran on the NBC network between 1974 and 1980 that was created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell, and starred veteran movie and TV star James Garner. 

It was about Jim Rockford a blue collar guy who spent 5 years in San Quentin because of a wrongful conviction, and was now running a one man private investigation business out of his trailer in a parking lot by the beach in Malibu, occasionally helped by his dad, and a grifter prison buddy who acted as his snitch.

Now Rockford's style was to try to talk his way out of trouble since he disliked violence and guns, but wasn't above car chases, which Garner did himself, because he was apparently a bitching driver.

I think it's time for me to break this project down to its PROS AND CONS!

PROS:

1. FAMILIARITY. The Rockford Files is a familiar title that NBC-Universal owns.

CONS:

1. FAMILIARITY.  While the show has been in steady syndication since it ended over 30 years ago, it really isn't all that familiar to people under the age of 35. Which is a shame, because I remember it was a pretty good show. Those who are familiar with the show will judge it through the prism of their memories of...

2. JAMES GARNER.  The entire original series was custom tailored to the charms and abilities of James Garner.  They're going to look at the promotional material for the movie version, look at Vince Vaughn, and say: "He's no James Garner," and they would stay home.

3. MISSED OPPORTUNITY. Vince Vaughn could probably carry a movie about a down at heels private eye that done with humor as long as it has a good script, a solid director, and a reasonable budget that has nothing to do with The Rockford Files, and be free of the baggage associated with it. But that would require making up a new title, and that's beyond the capabilities of Universal Pictures.


That truly sad part is that if such an original private eye movie succeeds, then Universal and Vaughn would have a potential franchise that didn't need to set box office records to turn a profit.

Gotta love Hollywood, they can't stand originality when originality could really sell.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #883: Miscellaneous Monday Musings...

It's Monday, the weather's good, and the news is slow, so I'm going to drop a few random musings on you.

1. BULLY NOT SO BULLISH.

Well, after months of hype, controversy, grandstanding, and other nonsense the PG-13 cut of the anti-bullying documentary Bully was released, and promptly fizzled

2 reasons for this...

A)  All the talk show appearances, and interviews, and outright campaigning since this nonsense started made everyone sick of the movie before it was even released.

B)  No one needs to be told that bullying is wrong.  Even the bullies know that, that's one of the reasons why they love doing it.  Trust me I've dealt with enough of them in my childhood.  A documentary isn't going to change their behavior, aversion therapy in the form of a humiliating public ass kicking is the only thing that will change their behavior.

2. DID SARAH SINK HER SITCOM?

The folks at the Wrap are speculating that an abortion joke made on Twitter by comedian Sarah Silverman might scuttle her upcoming NBC sitcom.

I doubt it.  She's made her career by being "shocking" but in a way that Hollywood is totally comfortable with by never attacking their own precious shibboleths.

What will scuttle her NBC sitcom is the fact that the overwhelming majority of people living outside of New York or Los Angeles don't really care about Sarah Silverman, or even know who she is outside of being "That chick who was on that episode of Voyager where they went to the 1990s."

3. PARTICIPANT WANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN TV

Participant Media, the brainchild of E-Bay billionaire/cinematic dilettante Jeff Skoll is expanding into making "socially relevant" television.

Considering that it wasn't that long ago that even the mainstream press considered Participant as more of a billionaire's hobby than a serious movie company expect some show's that offer a lot of sincerity, that win all kinds of awards, and critical praise, and far too few viewers.

4.  IRON MAN TO BE MADE IN CHINA

Iron Man 3 is to be at least partially shot in China as a China/USA co-production.  This deal will help get the film around China's strict quota system on foreign movies, but a few changes will be made.

The biggest change will be that the long promised villain The Mandarin will be rewritten into The Bureaucrat, and will be played by Josh Brolin with a Texas drawl.