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David Poland

By David Poland

Patrick's From Venus…

I don’t read The Envelope. With due respect to some writers there I admire, the quality of the product is not good and the print version stands as a weekly testament to why print media is having such a hard time versus the web.
But I did look at the thing this morning, waiting on a director for an interview… and I saw this in Patrick Goldstein’s “Winners & Losers” piece
The Big Eight studios: Never has there been a greater gulf between the popcorn sensibility of the major studios and the quality consciousness of critics and academy members. With the exception of “Michael Clayton,” none of the best picture nominees was released by a major studio. The only studio that still consistently hits home runs with both critics and consumers is Pixar, which should get an Oscar for sustained excellence.
At first, I shortcutted a, “Wha?” But then I really gave it some thought. Patrick Goldstein is not stupid. He is not ignorant. He is not crazy. The piece suggests that he may be lazy, but…
First… what “big eight” studios? I count 6 majors (Disney, Fox, Par/DreamWorks, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros), MGM (which isn’t making movies on its own), and what, Lionsgate as #8? Weinstein Co? DreamWorks? Is that how he counts?
There are six “big” studios… period. Everyone else is an IPO waiting to happen.
Second, on what planet does he still delude himself into thinking that “the big six” are not in the Oscar game with their indie-minded Dependents? Has he noticed that three of the four Best Picture nominees “not from the big eight” are too expensive to qualify for The Independent Spirit Awards, whose price range has been overinflated for years? (And the one that did qualify, Juno, will win most of what it

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7 Responses to “Patrick's From Venus…”

  1. T. Holly says:

    Look at the studio drop down here:
    and think about it today when you open all the freebies in your mail today.

  2. T. Holly says:

    Do that today. Joe L., go do something useful like fixing your typo in Variety.

  3. T. Holly says:

    Never mind Joe, you’re just too fast, it’s already fixed. Did you scream at someone?

  4. David Poland says:

    Not sure what you are trying to say, THolly… and why do you assume everything is free?

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    No, T. Holly: I merely e-mailed them after you gave me the head’s up. Again, thanks.

  6. R Scott R says:

    “Did he notice that “big” Fox and Disney and Sony and Paramount didn’t even field serious candidates for awards this year?”
    Wouldn’t this support the theory that there is a gulf between their sensibilities? They don’t even care.
    “How can you lose if you choose not to play?”
    Well, it makes it difficult to win.
    It does raise questions as to whether he counts Lionsgate or Weinstein as a major.

  7. David Poland says:

    It has nothing to do with their sensibilities, RSR… it has to do with launching division to do that job and letting them do that work. It’s not a mystery. It’s not a statement. It’s what they do.
    Peter Rice often gives credit to Tom and Jim for their support of Searchlight, because even though he has had massive success there, technically he still answers to them.
    Miramax exists, as Disney wants it to, as a true art arm of the company. Daniel Battsek was part of the operation’s “big” side for years and has taken on the work of finding smaller, smarter projects brilliantly. But Disney keeps Miramax going for a reason.
    Sony Classics is the most independent of the “studio Dependents.” They also spend less than the others and focus on a wider palette of films. But even then, the long arms of Sony are a big part of their biggest successes. Sony has strategically invested in foreign filmmaking, so films like Kung Fu Hustle are already in the family. SPC did the heavy lifting in releasing it domestically, but they were in position thanks to the parent. Capote was part of the MGM/US deal and like all the other UA pictures that were orphaned, the various releasing arms at the company figured out who would get what and moved forward. Again, excellent work by SPC in releasing the film… but it would not have been theirs were it not for mom & dad.
    This is the same kind of thing as not paying attention to international box office when it is now 30% – 40% of the revenue on a film in its first 18 months. If a movie bombs in the US, it doesn’t mean that it surely is a loser anymore. And if it does well here, it no longer means that it’s a big winner. Studios are integrated and journalists have to see that and appreciate it in their analysis or we simply are not doing our jobs in this era.

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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