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David Poland

By David Poland

News By The Numbers

10. The Roar Store: Did you think that Disney and Warner Bros. stores were enough already? Paramount parent Viacom tried its hand at The Viacom Store (which also encompasses Nickelodeon, Nick at Night and TV Land) on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, and word has it that the store will soon close. In other words, the franchises you are selling had better be damned strong and clear-cut if you want to make it in that racket. Disney and Warner animation are. Is the MGM brand strong enough? The studio apparently thinks so, as it announced plans to open studio brand outlets in department and specialty stores around the U.S., and you can look for the 50 percent off liquidation sales sometime next February.
9. The Cannes Con: It’s Cannes time again! Once again the festival of glitz, glamour and overstuffed film critics hits the south of France. It’s the perfect place to be if you are a salesman, whether of a movie, your body or your soul. About the only legitimate work that goes on there seems to be by Roger Ebert, which is kind of scary when you think about it. One good thing: The bimbo population of L.A. drops by 30 percent as girlfriends, wannabes and wannabe girlfriends head for the topless beaches and drunken cocktail parties that would make Michael DeLuca blush.
8. Glub, Glub Glub: The Soundtrack — Titanic: The movie may be finally sailing into the sunset, but the soundtrack is still number one with a bullet after a record-breaking (for soundtracks) 15 consecutive weeks on top. The previous record holder was the score for Exodus, which featured the Celine Dion hit, “I’m a Jew On a Boat and I’m in Love.” (Just kidding.)
7. That’s A Rap!: Sean “Puffy” Combs and Mariah Carey both set their debuts in starring movie roles this week. Carey will play the pouty-lipped, tight-skirted love interest of Chris Tucker in Double-O-Soul, while Puff Daddy will be toiling for Oliver Stone in the Warner Bros. football drama, On Any Given Sunday. Puffy, in accordance with his practice in the video world, insisted as part of his deal that he be allowed to make a cameo in every single movie, TV show and animated program the studio makes and that the WB logo would be replaced by a picture of The Notorious B.I.G.
6. George W. Bush, Texas governor and likely presidential candidate in 2000, hit Hollywood this week. A crowd of 300 industry-ites showed up to a breakfast to listen to the son of George and Barbara. Bush avoided any overt attacks on Hollywood, but did say, amongst other things, “The culture can be changed, one act of compassion at a time.” At that point, singer George Michael excused himself from the room and headed to the nearest park.
5. The Black Is Back: The much-discussed, much-debated, much-wanted home video release of The Black Cauldron is on its way. The only PG-rated, fully-animated Disney feature will hit shelves August 4. I don’t know if that’s really a good thing, but lots of you seem to think so, so enjoy.
4. The Studio Follies: There’s an old elementary school joke about dirty laundry, with a recurring punchline of “Awash-a, wash-a, wash, arinse-a, rinse-a, rinse, you put it to your nose and it smells just like a rose.” I am reminded of that joke every time another Warner Bros. or Universal exec is dumped. That means I’ve been thinking about that stupid joke way too much this last couple of weeks. This week’s victim: Warner Bros.’ Bill Gerber, who “resigned” Tuesday from his co-presidency of the studio with Lorenzo di Bonaventura. And you know what? Things still stink.
3. Anime I, Mickey?: Disney has become the first Hollywood studio to invest in original Japanese animation (aka anime), coughing up $1.23 million for a 10 percent stake in the film, securing domestic and European rights. The film should be sweeter and less violent than the most popular Japanese anime product since it’s based on a family comic from the national daily Asahi Shimbun. Look for it next summer.
2. The Amazing Cameronman: Investment maven Carl Icahn is leading a group that is trying to buy the long-bankrupt Marvel Comics Group for $475 million. The company certainly has value, but could it be that Icahn is really investing in the potential Jim Cameron‘s Spiderman. After all, Marvel sued to regain exclusive rights to their character, and if that happens and Cameron finally does make the most-anticipated movie not-to-be-made of the last few years, the payoff could be worth billions. Certainly more than $475 million.
1. And Last But Not Least, ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!: Godzilla will close the aforementioned Cannes film festival. It’s not clear whether Mr. Zilla will be in attendance, but the French are preparing hundreds of 300-foot platforms so they can be sure to be looking down at him if he shows.
THE BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE: Hurry up and enter before the coach turns into a pumpkin. The winner will choose from the Paramount stash of The Truman Show and Deep Impact product.
READER OF THE DAY: From Larry: “I went to see Homegrown twice. Once on opening night and then I caught a Saturday matinee with friends. I loved it both times and highly recommend it (no pun intended.) At both screenings, the theater was near capacity. Those who came for a drug comedy, a la Half-Baked or Up in Smoke, were in for a pleasant surprise in that they got a “funny-drama” instead. Tri Star really needs to change their ad campaign for this film. It is unfortunate that Homegrown, as did The Big Lebowski — the greatest film of the 1990s! — came out so early in the year that they will be overlooked by the Academy during next year’s Oscar nominations.

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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