MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

ShoWest Wraps Up

ShoWest 2006 threw itself a wrap party Thursday night, but not before Warner Bros. availed itself of the opportunity to brag on its upcoming slate of “event” movies. The company, which once was known for sponsoring the most star-studded of all ShoWest banquets, has been a no-show for the last few years. Instead, the “new” MGM – a company with more lives than a pride of big cats – paid for the luncheon, while WB honcho Alan Horn chipped in for dessert. It arrived in the form of extended clips from “Poseidon,” “Superman Returns,” “Lady in the Water” and “Happy Feet.”
Horn introduced director Wolfgang Petersen, who, in turn, rambled on about how “passionate” he was about his re-make of the 1972 disaster epic, “The Poseidon Adventure” (let’s hope someone thinks of dedicating it to the memory of Shelley Winters). If the clip didn’t appear to overwhelm folks in the audience, it probably was because they’d already seen something very much like it on NBC last fall. The ILM-rendered tidal wave looked pretty spectacular, but the B-list cast – Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett and Josh Logan – hardly inspired confidence. Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” will be the no-brainer option for July 4 viewing, and M. Night Shayamalan’s “Lady in the Water” shows promise, if only because of the estimable presence of Paul Giamatti and a spooky Bryce Dallas Howard.
It would be interesting to know if WB green-lit “Happy Feet” before or after its arthouse division picked up “March of the Penguins.” George Miller’s cute-as-button computer-animated feature has all the trappings of a fictional sequel to the wildly popular documentary. In this case, however, the Emperor penguins are less interested in marching than dancing … tap dancing. Among the voice actors are Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood and Brittany Murphy, names the assembled exhibitors probably would have preferred to add to their marquees for “Poseidon.” Do penguins have legs? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, MGM execs showed clips from their first lineup: “Lucky Number Slevin,” “Harsh Times,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman,” “Fragile,” “Breaking and Entering,” “The Flock” and “Van Wilder Deux: The Rise of Taj.” Anyone feel like wagering on how long it will take for Kirk Kerkorian to buy back and then re-sell the company?
The Final Night Banquet finally provided attendees an opportunity to use their cellphone cameras. This year’s honor roll was odd, indeed, in that the committee seemed just as interested in anticipating stellar performances and box-office success, as it was in rewarding good work already in the books. For example, neither director of the year, Shayamalan, nor male star of year, Jackman, actually had a picture in release in 2005. Nor did “stars of tomorrow,” Brandon Routh or Jennifer Hudson. Laurence Fishburne is an excellent actor – better than most — but there are plenty of others who had better decades. Other winners were Dakota Fanning, Vince Vaughn and Consumer Choice-pick “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

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2 Responses to “ShoWest Wraps Up”

  1. Amy says:

    I can tell you that Happy Feet went into production in 2003, Nicole Kidman recorded her voice for her role in December 2003.

  2. michael bergeron says:

    josh logan? you mean josh lucas … mb

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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