MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend, 27 September 1997

Superman may live, but not until 1999. After moving faster than a speeding bullet to start filming October 6th with Nicolas Cage putting on the tights for director Tim Burton, the film leapt to a February start date, then took a second bound to April 1998. Why? It’s inferred. To explain. Superman Lives has had enough troubles to make one believe that Lex Luthor was an exec at another studio. The original script, by Chasing Amy scribe Kevin Smith, was dumped by Burton. The new version, by Wesley Strick (Cape Fear/The Saint), apparently has struck Kryptonite as well. Then, the production move to early 1998 made the scheduled summer 1998 release date into a Titanic-like scheduling nightmare. So, Warner Bros. moved it to Christmas 1998. Okay? Nope! Resurrected Producer Jon Peters wanted a summer movie! So, July 3, 1999 it is. Safe at last? Warner Bros. hopes so. The Independence Day release date is five whole weeks from the Star Wars prequel. It’ll need it. And if the other studios are looking for a fight, Cage’s Neurotic Man Of Steel could end up fighting the Jedi, The Fantastic Four and The Terminator (T-3) in one bloody summer.
Speaking of The Terminator, I told you last week about the purchase of the sequel rights by bankrupt company king Andy Vanja. Turns out the 20th Century Fox found out about the purchase at about the same time I did. Why does that matter? Well, they were in the midst of closing negotiations with Jim Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gale Ann Hurd to make T-3 at Fox. Not only were they embarrassed, but they now have a very unwanted partner. The bottom price for the remake rights now sits at about $15 million and is likely to go up as Vanja applies the pressure. And that’s before Arnold’s likely $30 million asking price, Cameron’s probable $15 million writer/director fee and the production itself, which, given Cameron’s history, could push beyond Titanic’s $200 million (low estimate) price tag. Arnold’s new tag line? “I’ll be back-breaker.”
In more Fox news, the studio is being sued by New York State, which is claiming that the studio is in cahoots with Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, former mob hit man, to skirt the state’s “Son of Sam” law, which keeps convicted felons from profiting from their criminal acts. The fight is over the $250,000 Gravano received when Underboss, the Peter Maas bestseller about Gravano’s murderous history, was sold to Fox. Always wanting to stay with the trend, California legislators want to pass the Home Alone 3 law, making it illegal for studios to profit from unnecessary sequels.
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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