MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland


Combine the hip L.A. wannabes from Swingers with Sling Blade’s Karl “Killer” Childers and what do you get? A blood-soaked lounge act or a job directing a big Hollywood movie. Nicholas Goodman got the former, landing a directing gig for Paramount based on his three minute-long parody Swing Blade. I wonder whether Paramount would have hired him if he’d mocked the studio’s summer misses and missing blockbuster, Titanic, with Addicted To The Event Movie On The Horizon.
Speaking of Swingers, writer/star Jon Favreau is giving up his “Friends” dream of being the Ultimate Fighting Champion to go back to the typewriter to adapt the Po Bronson book about the early days of Silicon Valley, The First 20 Million Is Always the Hardest. Seems like no one can make a career out of sleeping with Courtney Cox. Michael Keaton hasn’t been seen in a while, Favreau’s back behind the typewriter and Tom Selleck’s playing second banana in the closet comedy In & Out.
Art Brown and Tracy Fraim are also trying to ride the parody train to the director’s chair. In their parody, Eating Las Vegas, the hero goes to Vegas to eat himself to death. In Vegas, the buffets never close. His hooker girlfriend in this one is bulimic, leading to some explosive (and messy) love scenes. The creators of the film already have a foot in the Hollywood door as writers of an upcoming Drew Barrymore movie, but like their parody’s female lead, what they really want to do is project.
Finally, Julia Roberts has agreed to keep smiling in movies, this time opposite Hugh Grant in an untitled project from the team that made Four Weddings and a Funeral. Roberts will spoof herself, playing “the biggest movie star in the world” who walks into Grant’s quiet bookstore-owning life. Hugh’s second-most famous date’s asking price is around $10 million — about 500 thousand times more expensive than his most famous conquest.
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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon