MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Friday, 19 September 1997

In an era where everyone is complaining about star salaries, Disney found a new level of bizarre by paying $2.25 million for Sixth Sense, a horror script about a child psychologist. Even better, the deal gives the director’s chair to first-timer M. Night Shyamalan, who wrote the film. Unlike other writers who have demanded a directing gig, Shyamalan has no writing track record, with his first major feature, Wide Awake, due from Miramax on Oct. 17. And there’s more! The $2.5 million fee will comprise about 20 percent of the film’s overall budget, a bigger piece of the budgetary pie than $20 million action stars like Arnold get. This may be the stupidest financial deal this writer has ever heard of in Hollywood. No joke.
The new Harrison Ford film, The Age Aquarius, changed plans to shoot in Israel for three weeks next month when someone figures out that Israel could be dangerous. Also on the Genius Insight travel advisory list was the fact that the French don’t like us, the British can’t cook and Italian men may pinch your wife’s buttocks. Stay tuned for more important updates.
Andy Vajna is buying half The Terminator sequel rights at $7.5 million from Carolco Liquidating Trust, the executor of the bankruptcy that Carolco founder Vanja left behind to start Cinergi Pictures. But, Vanja’s Cinergi isn’t the one buying the rights, because that company is self-liquidating to avoid bankruptcy after making too many losers, like The Color of Night, Judge Dredd and The Scarlett Letter (not to mention weak returns on Evita). So, if you have a few hundred million lying around the house, invest in Andy. Only this time, the Indecent Proposal will be paying Demi Moore $12 million to appear in a costume drama and you’re the one that gets screwed.
Bruce Willis and Demi Moore did their best to shock the world at this year’s Emmy Awards when Bruce gave a big hello smooch to Ellen DeGeneres while Demi did likewise with Anne Heche. More shocking still would have been the trio of Willis, Moore and Heche not finding a way to steal headlines form the people who actually won Emmys.
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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