MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Tuesday, 16 September 1997

Robin Williams has set his next project, The Interpreter. The light-hearted comedy about a schlub who interprets rather than translates in tense international negotiations might as well be called Flubber 2, following his expected hit Thanksgiving release. Ironically, when Robin was in negotiations to play The Riddler in Batman Forever four years ago, I asked him why he wanted the part. He said, “If I don’t play a bad guy soon, I’m going to become f***ing Fred MacMurray!” No word on whether the Double Indemnity remake is on his “To Do” list.
The Full Monty will be the first late-summer release to go all the way to profitability. Even though the film’s gross has just hit $6 million, it should pass $15 million in the next two or three weeks, putting the film into the black considering a $3 million production cost and an estimated $8 million P&A (Prints & Advertising) budget. On the flip side, G.I. Jane, September’s top drawer (with silk stocking in it?), is in its fourth week with a $39 million total, making it a poor bet to even match its production costs in domestic box office, though it will certainly be profitable in the long worldwide run. Naked fat guys everywhere rejoice!
Speaking of G.I. Jane, what was with the men in short shorts and hairless legs? Despite Moore’s pointedly feminine physique, Ridley Scott’s vision of the S.E.A.L.S was more about beefcake than a Chippendale’s video.
You think it’s easy to be in the movie business? MGM, formerly the lion of Hollywood, has been singing in red ink for the last five years to the tune of $1.7 billion. Yes, billion with a B. Even last year, with The Birdcage and Goldeneye on the release list, MGM dropped $90.5 million. Fortunately, studio chief Frank Mancuso has taken home almost $30 million in salary and stock in that same five years. Makes Michael Eisner’s paycheck look pretty reasonable, huh?
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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