MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Next Week at the Hot Button

Next week, I’m going on a cruise ship and I’m leaving the Hot Button Asylum to the inmates. That’s you, gang! You want a chance to be Dave for a day? Here it is. But I need your comments, thoughts, rants or just plain insults about Hollywood this week, so I can package them for next week. Topics that are already on the table are Favorite Movies, The Worst Movie of 1998 To Date, Movie Ideas You Are Desperate To See Made and Racism (Perceived or Real) in The Movie Business. But the topic list is wide open. It’s up to you! So, write, right now.
CONTEST WINNERS: As long as I’m doing housekeeping at the top of the page today, let me be the first to congratulate Mario, aka mar1679. He’s the contest winner this week, just barely nosing out Sam H. Ironically, neither gave an address. I hope they’ll read this and correct that. Mario didn’t even give a last name. In any case, they were the only two who actually got the Top Five right. Only two others got the Top Four in order and they were Jennifer J and Deidre C. When asked about sex in the entry form, Jennifer responded “yes,” so she’ll be getting a special Hot Button Smart-Ass prize. Thanks to all of you who entered and keep trying. So far, no one has made the Top Five twice, so there is hope. And keep an eye out for this week’s prize sponsor on Thursday.
STEPPING ON MICHAEL DOUGLAS’ HEAD: Warner Bros. is apparently high on The Perfect Murder, the Michael Douglas/Gwyneth Paltrow murder mystery from director Andy The FugitiveDavis. So high that they may movie the film to the June 5 slot that has sent everyone else running because of its proximity to Godzilla. I, for one, am hoping they’ll make the move. That way the studios can junket Godzilla and Gwyneth all in one glorious New York weekend.
SKEET IN RETREAT: After Skeet Ulrich took the role in Ang Lee‘s To Live On that Matt Damon was supposed to take before he took the role that Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to take in All the Pretty Horses, he started telling people he would be ready to retire from the film business after another five or six films. Why? Because his wife, Georgina Cates, retired from acting to live on a farm in Virginia, and says Skeet, “I was so proud of her when she quit the business.” Now, I’m not one to mock those lost in the self-delusion of intense romance (Skeet has her name tattoed on his left pec and she has his on her right buttock), but these two are both under 30 and in show business. They have violated the Eleventh Commandment 1998: Thou Shall Not Have An Actor’s Name Tattooed On Your Body, No Matter How Good The Sex!
ORSON WELLES, THE MOTION PICTURE: It looks like director Tim Robbins is finally going to get into production with his long-talked-about period drama about the fight over Marc Blitzstein‘s The Cradle Will Rock. The little-known (outside of the theater world) Blitzstein will be played by Hank Azaria, who will next be seen in Godzilla. But the real fun, besides what I’m sure will be a great movie in its own right, will be current actors playing well-known figures form the past. John Cusack will play Nelson Rockefeller, Cary Elwes will play the young John Houseman and as Orson Welles, is Angus McFadden, who you will remember from Braveheart and who is currently playing another dead guy, Peter Lawford, in HBO’s movie about the Rat Pack. Also on board are some little-known actors: Vanessa Redgrave, Susan Sarandon and John Turturro. I’ll definitely be looking forward to this one.
ADVENTURES IN IRONY: Castle Rock has bought William Prochnau‘s Vanity Fair article, “Adventures in the Ransom Trade.” Where did they come up with that catchy title? No doubt it was inspired from screenwriter William Goldman‘s classic show biz book Adventures in the Screen Trade. Where does Goldman call home these days? Castle Rock. Maybe he’ll end up writing the screenplay.
READER OF THE DAY: Maria responds, rather viciously, to my question about who would be next to be caught with their pants down in Hollywood: “It is so obvious the next to be caught in an awkward position will be those two pretty boys who think they can act, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. They will probably be caught in the back of a brand new car they buy with the $5.5 million Mattie will get for doing that movie that was first offered to Leo!”

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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