MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Monday, 8 September 1997

Steven Seagal, America’s favorite Talentless-Clint-Eastwood-
Imitator-with-a Bowling Ball-In-His-Gut, took the top box office spot with a Fire Down Below without even hitting the $10 million mark ($6.1 million bucks). Just last weekend, even adjusting with kindness for the three-day weekend, Seagal would have been number five on the box office chart behind week two veterans G.I. Jane and Money Talks, Air Force One’s week six and Hoodlum’s opening. And Whispering Ponytail Man would be in a fight even for spot five, with week four of Conspiracy Theory and box-office juggernaut Excess Baggage putting up similar numbers. Then again, what do you expect from a guy who kicks when he fights?
John Cusack is making the air controller comedy Pushing Tin with Four Weddings And A Funeral director Mike Newell. No truth to rumors that studio heads are trying to use their previous hits to their P.R. advantage by calling it Four Air Disasters and a Competition or Grosse Pointe Air Space.
Also, Cusack is developing a sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank, the hit film about a slacker hitman who wants to win back his ex-girlfriend. And he and Newell are developing the Nick Hornby bestseller High Fidelity, which the Reuters wire calls “the story of a slacker who owns a record store and wants to win back his ex-girlfriend.” Cusack’s resume includes The Real Thing (Slacker Crosses Country For Girl), Eight Men Out (Slacker Plays Baseball), Say Anything (Slacker Obsesses On Ione Skye), The Road To Wellville (Slacker Tries To Make Corn Flakes) and Con Air (Slacker Becomes Action Hero). No wonder they call him Mr. Originality!

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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