By David Poland

The Fat Man Sings Again…

Just when you thought he might actually be in trouble, Harvey Weinstein has the ammunition to be a player in the Oscar race yet again. Forget about Proof or The Libertine or any of the other maudlin mess of stuff that has been unceremoniously dumped this month. The goose that has gold in its colon is Mrs. Henderson Presents… and the only question is whether Ol’ Harv has the staff muscle to make one of his classic runs.
The Best Actress race is looking pretty loaded, with (in my opinion) Dian Keaton, Reese Witherspoon, and now, Judi Dench as locks for nominations, with what is looking real good for Charlize Theron to leave only one slot open. (I’ll finally see North Country later this week, but while some people question the film, few seem to questioning the now-fully-credentialed Ms. Theron. The one “female dominated movie” of the season, Memoirs of a Geisha, may have to settle for a supporting nom for Michelle Yeoh… assuming they get that close. Suddenly, this is the tightest race, though there are a ton of Best Actor possibilities, few of the performances have been seen and been locked in.
The picture itself, which should probably slot Bob Hoskins in as supporting, even though he is the co-lead, is the classic “movie the Academy loves.” It is period… it has war… it has laughs… it has nomination worthy performances… it has some tears… and it has a very well respected director in Stephen Frears, who once again flexes outside of expectations to make a beautifully old-fashioned film.
There are other films out there, like Casanova, that hope to fill this feel-good Academy slot. But Mrs. Henderson Presents is practically tailor-made for the task. That hardly guarantees things and The Weinstein Company – whose new logo is audaciously a tuxedo built into a “W” – is undermanned compared to years past. But Henderson is not Chocolat… it is a lot more senior-friendly. On the flip side, there is no David Brown to sell it. But as much as I hate to accept that the Weinstein hype machine is sometimes right… the shape of this awards puzzle piece is very close to sliding in with almost no effort at all.

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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