MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

News By the Numbers

10. More Oscar: The Academy Awards has set a deal with ABC through 2008. What does that mean to you? Absolutely nothing. There is probably no other event for which the network of choice (or biggest greenback count) means less. The one real difference is the show will now start at 8:30 p.m. instead of 9:00 p.m., which is significant only in that it gives Barbara Walters 30 minutes less to try and make Matt Damon cry next year.
9. I Apologize In Advance: Carsey-Werner and the WB are teaming up to do an hour-long action pilot with Shannon Lee, the daughter of the late Bruce Lee. The producers will try to delay Ms. Lee’s mysterious death due to a firearm accident on the set until May sweeps. (I know, but it does seem like asking for trouble, doesn’t it?)
8. Sloppy Seconds: In the great tradition of classic re-releases like Star Wars, Grease and Lawrence of Arabia, Miramax is re-releasing Scream 2 on April 24. Thank God! Just when you thought you couldn’t stand the idea of a Scream 3 any more than Neve Campbell, Scream 2 is back to remind you why. Apparently, the film is $4 million shy of the magical $100 million domestic mark, so here it comes. In equally shoddy Miramax doings, they will try to release Nightwatch, starring Ewan McGregor, yet again. It didn’t take the first time and it’s now a two-year-old film. What’s next, the Mimic Special Edition?!?!
7. That’s Hedley! Hedley!: Why Corel feels compelled to have a picture of WWII-era movie star Hedy Lamarr on the cover of their software packages is beyond me. Why they didn’t pay her for using her image is even more questionable. Well, she’s had enough and she’s suing. But what makes this one of my favorite stories of the week is Blazing Saddles, featuring Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamar, who is always called Hedy. Mel Brooks, as the drunken, mysoginist, racist, very funny Governor finally says (paraphrased here), “She’s not even born yet. Then, you can sue her!” No suit is pending against Brooks.
6. He Left In A Bronco: Howard Weitzman has left his post as Executive VP Corporate Operations at Universal Studios. On his exit, Weitzman said he was considering going back into law (where he was once counsel to O.J. Simpson) but would like to stay in show business, commenting, “I like the action.” Indeed. What’s a double homicide when you could be doing a deal to make a Leave It To Beaver sequel?
5. The Phantom Of The Accent: The Phantom of the Opera is finally being made into a feature and it looks like Antonio Banderas will be in the title role after proving his musical skills in Evita. So will the dainty object of his passion be Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell or Mandy Patinkin in drag? Only one of the three can actually hit the notes and it isn’t the one with the ovaries.
4. “Pinky & The Brain,” Inc.: Every episode of the aforementioned “Anamaniacs” spin-off cartoon starts with the two title lab mice planning to take over the world. This week, Sony and Microsoft took a step in that direction by joining forces to make your household even more computer-filled than it is now. The two will make “smart” products designed to integrate themselves seamlessly into your lives. And then, you can’t stop watching the “Wheel of Fortune” Channel. Your pre-teen daughters tear down the Backstreet Boys posters for poster size print-outs of Bill Gates’ face. You start using the word “art” and Spice Girls in the same sentence. Run! Run for your lives! (This has been a message from your friendly employee of the Time Warner empire.)
3. Cruising For Trouble: George Michael may have been looking for a father figure in that Beverly Hills Park or maybe he just was going to do a re-mix called “I Want your Pants.” Either way, he’s now in movie star territory. Looking forward to his next national appearance with Eddie Murphy, Hugh Grant and Pee-Wee Herman: Hands Across America II.
2. Light For Lolita: After the controversial documentary, Kurt and Courtney, got distribution despite lots of legal threats from the surviving title character, I guess it was a matter of time before someone would finally get on the stick with Lolita. Canadian distributor Lions Gate Films is waiting to get a thumbs up on a deal with Pathe’, the French company that co-financed the film and controls the rights. I’ll give you the projected domestic gross now. A $3.5 million opening weekend in extremely limited distribution, inspiring delusions of hit status, causing a 750-print release that bombs. Final total: $13 million. But I’m glad the film will be seen.
1. Murder Most Mickey: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating a series of animal deaths at Walt Disney World’s latest family attraction, Animal Kingdom. It’s apparently too small a world, with four cheetah cubs dying of kidney failure likely to have occurred from mistakenly ingesting antifreeze, a white rhinoceros dying under anesthetic during a routine exam, two Asian small-clawed otters dying from eating non-indigenous fruit and two West African crowned cranes smushed by 32-passenger safari vehicles in two separate traffic accidents. But what would you expect from a company that makes animals wear pants and has a dog (Goofy) as the master of another dog (Pluto)?
BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE: Click here to enter. Entries will be officially accepted until noon on Saturday. If you’re too late, try it out anyway. If you enjoy it, maybe you’ll be on time next week. This week, stuff from Species II is up for grabs.
READER OF THE DAY: From Sam S, regarding the Hindenburg movie to come: “Hindenburg. I knew, months ago, that it would happen, but I didn’t know when. We’re going to see all kinds of fictional love stories set in human technological disasters now. Watch for Hindenburg, and then these: Moritania, Lusitania, Chernobyl, Challenger, Pisa. They’ll all be made in the next two or three years. Mark my words.”

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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