MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Monday, 22 September 1997

Another by-the-book weekend at the box office. In & Out was all in, doing $15.3 million and besting last weekend’s $14 million opening for The Game, whose second weekend brought a reasonable 36% drop, banking another $9.2 million to take second place. L.A. Confidential, which opened on only 769 screens vs. Out’s 1,992, was expected to be the per-screen average winner, but the big-city butch cops got beaten by the small town queens, $7681 to $7152. A good number for L.A.C. (totaling $5.5 million for the fourth slot), but not as OUTstanding as expected. Maybe the platformed release pattern may not have been the best choice.
In the rest of the B.O. news, A Thousand Acres took a hit to its overall Oscar potential, with only $3 million cropping up to take the fifth spot with a $2,483 per-screen average. That’s $300 less per screen than Wishmaster (number three with a $6.5 million total) conjured up. The fact that, despite these numbers, Lange and Pfeiffer are still very real candidates for Oscar gold proves just how few great women’s roles there are out there. And even worse, the numbers show why there are more films made featuring serial killers than there are about thinking women.
Trimark Pictures has bought the rights to Wayne Wang’s next flick, Chinese Box. The question is, “Why?” Wang, the director of Miramax’s successful double-bill Smoke/Blue In The Face and Disney’s The Joy Luck Club, screened his Jeremy Irons-starring arthouse film at the Venice and Toronto film festivals before settling in with Trimark, the company that brought us Carrot Top in Chairman Of The Board and Angie Everhart taking her clothes off — does she do anything else? — in the 9 1/2 Weeks sequel. Another case of Art For Crap’s Sake.
In celebrity news, tragedy hit Yaphet Kotto when the limo he was riding in broke its rear axle, lost its right rear wheel, ran up an embankment, and burst into flames. No one was physically hurt, but in a $500,000 lawsuit, Kotto claims “serious bodily injury, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and economic loss.” And worse — so much worse — Kotto “has not been able to get back in a limo since that time.” Please divert all donations to the Princess Diana or Mother Teresa Trusts to the Caddy For Kotto Fund. We can cure limowreckaphobia in our time.
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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