MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Thursday, 18 September 1997

Leonardo DiCaprio will soon play Theodore Hall, the little-known teen genius biophysicist who participated in the making of the first atom bomb and then passed the info on to the Soviets in an attempt to create nuclear weapons parity. Fortunately for DiCaprio, besides being a genius and traitor, Hall was also a skinny, brooding, long-haired teen with a tendency to hyperactivity who screamed at the top of his lungs unintelligibly whenever having a strong emotion. Talk about a coincidence!
Ford model Nacho Arenas is directing a movie. Let that linger in your mind for a moment. Nacho is directing a movie. Nacho! To prove that models are exclusively on the Fernandoesque “It’s better to look good than to act good” platform, he’s hired alleged actors Maxine “I Lived With Ed Burns” Bahns, Ashley “I Married Shannon Doherty And Angie Everhardt” Hamilton and A. J. “I’ve Screwed Up My Career As A Gossip Columnist, But My Two Day Growth Looks Really Cool” Benza to star.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans get their civil rights violated in small town America in the comedy, My Kinda Town. When their successful lawsuit bankrupts the tiny town, the duo takes ownership of the town. The first thing they do is create a law forcing all the other citizens to mug at the camera, walk funny and make wild sounds in order to try and get a laugh.
Speaking of jurisprudence, reports are that Marlon Brando is looking to work opposite John Travolta in writer/director Steven Zaillian’s film of the non-fiction novel, A Civil Action. The big question is whether Brando is attracted to the project because he thinks the role of corporate counsel to Beatrice Foods is the kind of great role that will bring respect to the tail end of his career or whether he’s just looking for a corporate discount.
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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