Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

'United 93' Premiere Begs Question: 'Is That Seat Taken?'

In today’s Daily News, Lloyd Grove stirs the shit about tonight’s United 93 premiere having potentially been underbooked. While Grove writes that local celebrities are expected to round out the low-key nexus of the Ziegfeld Theater, he details a bitchy (and, naturally, anonymous) give-and-take between a pair of sources speculating just how packed the Lowes Lincoln Square’s overflow venue will be:

“Despite grand hopes for massive attendance, it seems they were having trouble filling the seats and had to send out last-minute invitations to B-list invitees,” said my source. “There’s a lack of appetite for watching something so gruesome and something we already know so much about.”

But a festival organizer scoffed: “You have bad information. Our overflow screening is full.”

As for suggestions that Universal Studios might have overestimated the demand, the festival type said: “The phones have not stopped all day for tickets to this.”

A little probing this morning from Reeler HQ revealed the latter to be closer to the truth, even if 6,000 guests are quite a lot for anyone to expect to draw at two theaters for a docudrama about one of 9/11’s hijacked plane. But if no less an authority than Peggy Siegel says the screenings are the source of crowded “high anxiety,” then I guess we can probably expect people sitting in the aisles. “I guess we’ll see,” Grove concludes; I have my money on the festival.

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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