MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrap: Salt, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Step Up 3, Soul Kitchen … and more

Salt: Deluxe Unrated Edition

Angelina Jolie has proven time and again that she’s the only established actress — outside China, anyway – who not only can open an action film, but also carry it to the finish line at the box office, no matter how unfathomable the premise. If I had to boil her appeal in such pictures down to a single word, it would be, “swagger.”

If her characters are cocky, it’s only because they’re absolutely certain of their superiority over the enemy. Their brains and muscles work together in perfect harmony, whether the women are stuck in a hole in a North Korean prison or infiltrating a state dinner in Washington. To borrow an old phrase, Jolie’s heroines have the “right stuff.”

In Phillip Noyce’s occasionally baffling thriller, Salt, Jolie plays an American CIA agent whose many years of service to her country are discounted after a defector accuses her of being a deep-cover mole for the Russians. There are just enough holes in Evelyn Salt’s biography for officials in a competing U.S. security agency to believe the turncoat’s story may be true, and she should be relieved of her duties.

Viewers who’ve already watched Salt being tortured by Commie goons are far more willing to give her the benefit of a doubt, however, even when she’s forced into a “Bourne”-like escape. As orchestrated by Noyce, the ensuing race to the truth is undeniably exciting and often quite surprising. Like Tom Cruise, Jolie enjoys performing her own stunts, and it shows.

Watching Salt on Blu-ray, I couldn’t help but wonder how much more successful the season’s other, considerably more fact-based CIA flick, Fair Game, might have been if Jolie had played CIA agent Valerie Plame, instead of the more fragile Naomi Watts. Plame, of course, was the station chief whose cover was blown by Bush administration officials pissed off at her husband for his op-ed column in the New York Times.

Instead of merely filing a civil suit against Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney and Richard Armitage, Jolie could have kicked their fat Republican asses down the steps of the Capitol Building and sent them packing to civil service jobs in North Dakota. And, she’d look good doing it. The “Deluxe Unrated Edition” adds featurettes, “The Ultimate Female Action Hero,” on Jolie; “The Real Agents,” in which former intelligence officials and agents are interviewed; “Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt”; “The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce”; “False Identity: Creating A New Reality,” which describes the elaborate makeup effects; “The Treatment,” a radio Interview with Phillip Noyce; commentaries with the filmmakers on the three versions of the film; and the picture-in-picture, “Spy Cam.”


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

If ever a movie cried out for a sequel, it’s Wall Street. Oliver Stone’s original high-stakes thriller captured not only the cutthroat business practices of a generation of Armani-clad sharks, but also the cocaine-fueled hedonism of traders and raiders burdened by too much money. Gordon Gekko’s shockingly brazen declaration, “Greed … is good,” became a rallying cry on Wall Street and in myriad businesses around the world. Twenty years later, of course, the seeds of greed planted by those adherents of Reaganomics would yield a bitter harvest. Could Stone find an entertaining way to explain how Gekkonomics might have contributed to the collapse of the American economy and disappearance of millions of jobs?

Money Never Sleeps tries mightily to accomplish just such a task, but Wall Street’s a far different place today than it was even five years ago. For one thing, the investment bankers who got us into the current mess aren’t nearly as charismatic as the slick hustlers portrayed in Wall Street. Billionaires simply aren’t as much fun to be with as newly coined millionaires, willing to waste their ill-gotten gains on sex, drugs and rock-‘n’-roll.

The financial “instruments” invented to realize even greater profits from mortgage and insurance scams are so bizarre, even government regulators surrendered to their complexity. Neither was it all that easy to convince potential viewers, many of whom no longer could afford the price of a ticket and popcorn, to relive the horror in their lives or be amused by Stone’s endless name-dropping and nauseating cameos by New York swells.

Money Never Sleeps opens with Gekko’s release from prison for various financial crimes, the least of which might have been his pursuit Blue Star Airlines. He looks none the worse for the wear, but is dismayed by the absence of anyone at the gates to meet him. Flash forward a few years, when Gekko’s become something of a contrarian hero by writing a book predicting bad times ahead for America.

Sure enough, the first giant financial temblor that rocks Wall Street takes down a venerable firm run by a much-admired stockbroker (Frank Langella). Shia LaBeouf plays a trader at the company, who sets out to avenge his mentor’s tragic fall from grace. To this end, he turns to his girlfriend’s dad, Gekko, for advice. Despite his prison reformation, Gekko’s involvement eventually soils everything he touches, including his daughter and her boyfriend. James Brolin plays the evil corporate raider with all the condescending menace he can muster, but, really, the studly actor belongs on a horse or in a Jeep, not inside the hallowed halls of the Federal Reserve. The ending, while satisfying in a commercial sense, owes far more to Hollywood than to either the original “Wall Street” or the current economic reality, as documented in Charles Ferguson’s infuriating documentary, “Inside Job.” (Gekko’s a lightweight compared to the men who shaped Bush and Obama’s so-called recovery strategy.)

That said, Michael Douglas still looks young enough to pull off his slicked-back Pat Riley imitation, as Gekko; LaBeouf and Carrie Mullligan are fine as the wide-eyed innocents; Brolin is a million times more handsome than any actual Wall Street player; and Langella adds needed gravity to the first act scheming. The Blu-ray edition includes commentary by Stone; a casual chat with the director and his stars; a five-part examination of the economic collapse and tour of Gekko’s Wall Street; deleted and extended scenes; and character studies.


The Films of Rita Hayworth

If the classic movies included in this collection prove anything, it’s that erotic appeal isn’t limited to actors willing to shed their clothes willy-nilly and make love in unusual places, as is the custom today. Naked people can be sexy, sure, but unless an actress can sell her character’s inherent sensuality and raw charisma, she might as well be a butterfly pinned to a mounting board and hung on a wall.

In Gilda (1946), Rita Hayworth was able to steam the bifocals of men around the world simply by performing a striptease in which a single black satin glove was removed. It remains one of the hottest scenes ever recorded on film. Seven years later, in Miss Sadie Thompson, Hayworth performed another joyfully seductive dance, this time before a room full of island-bound marines, and it, too, caused a panic among censors. They were shocked as much by Sadie’s “breezy” attitude while cavorting around the barroom, as her undeniable sexuality (originally showcased in 3D).

A decade before photographs of Marilyn Monroe’s naked body were used to launch Playboy magazine, Life magazine raised the morale of countless American servicemen by printing pinup-worthy photos of Hayworth in lingerie and bathing suits that left much to the imagination. Julia Roberts, who resembles Hayworth, might still be able to pull off such PG-13 accomplishments, but she’s the rare contemporary actress who can maintain her sexy appeal, while fully clothed and laughing out loud.

Before being “discovered” by a Fox executive, the former Margarita Cansino danced with her father in nightclubs from Tijuana to Hollywood. It was a talent that would serve her well throughout her career. By 1940, she was one of Columbia’s most important contract stars, performing in a wide variety of film entertainments, including noir thrillers. Her career would be thrown into neutral several times by her “reckless” – as studio head Harry Cohn put it – decision-making and rash choice of husbands, including Orson Welles, Prince Aly Kahn, actor Dick Haymes and producer James Hill. She would mount comebacks, but long absences from the big screen allowed other “love goddesses” to usurp her throne.

In addition to Gilda and Miss Sadie Thompson, the Collector’s Choice edition includes Cover Girl (1944), Tonight and Every Night (1945) and Salome (1953). By no means is this a definitive collection, but it is representative of her mid-career highlights, as well as her dynamism. (Only Cover Girl and Gilda have previously been released on DVD.)

Sony Pictures and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation have teamed on the restorations, four of which capture Hayworth’s fiery mane and splendid costumes in Technicolor. (Gilda was shot in black-and-white.)

If the presence of Hayworth, alone, isn’t sufficient incentive for checking out the set, the movies also feature fine work by Gene Kelly, Phil Silvers, Eve Arden, Glenn Ford, Aldo Ray, Jose Ferrer, Charles Laughton, stars Stewart Granger, Dame Judith Anderson and Sir Cedric Hardwick. Baz Luhrmann comments on Cover Girl; Patricia Clarkson, on Miss Sadie Thompson and Tonight and Every Night; and author Richard Shickel provides commentary.

Turning Green

Video-store browsers may assume that this edgy coming-of-age tale has something to with environmental terrorism or the branding of the color green by corporations hoping to profit from consumers looking for an easy way to save the planet. Here, though, green represents both Ireland and the color of dollar bills. It is the Ireland of 1979, before the government began loosening its ties with the Roman Catholic establishment and its own chronic underachievement.

Sixteen-year-old James Powers and his 11-year-old brother are American lads who’ve been shipped to Ireland after the death of their mother to live with three doting aunts. Their only male confidante is an alcoholic gambler, nicely played by Colm Meaney. To earn a few extra bucks for pints of Guiness, the lads do odd jobs for a local bookie (Alessandro Nivola) and his enforcer (Timothy Hutton, playing very much against type). Like tens of millions of teenage boys around the world, James has discovered the joy of self-stimulation and spends inordinate amounts of time in the bathroom and under the covers satisfying his addiction.

His clueless aunts, who can only surmise James is suffering from constipation, send him to London for a needless medical examination. While there, however, he discovers the wonderful world of skin magazines, a commodity forbidden in Ireland. Sensing he can make enough money importing and selling porn to sex-starved locals, James conspires with a London merchant to import select titles. Naturally, he finds a ready market for such products. Unfortunately, his success eventually is noticed by his bosses, who shut him down.

The popularity of Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pie notwithstanding, masturbation remains a difficult subject to dramatize in mainstream movies, or anywhere else. Writer/directors Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann are careful not to pander to prurient interests in their exploitation of the subject matter, but genteel viewers will find it difficult to contextualize. Turning Green benefits most from its County Wicklow locations, which are alternately lovely and dreary, and some excellent acting.


Step Up 3: Blu-ray

The third edition of Disney’s Step Up franchise moves from the Maryland School of the Arts to the playgrounds, parks and lofts of New York City (and soundstages of L.A.), where dozens of insanely agile kids compete for the honor of being named top street-dance team on the planet … or maybe just lower Manhattan. Those whose knowledge of urban choreography is limited to break-dancing, the robot and moon-walking might be stunned to discover how far hoofing has come since the days of Flashdance, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and, yes, even Riverdance.

The young men and women do things with their bodies here, the acrobats of Cirque du Soleil wouldn’t attempt, and they do it in step with the accelerated rhythms of Flo Rida and David Guetta, Trey Songz, Wisin y Yandel, Busta Rhymes, Sofia Fresh, Roscoe Dash and T-Pain. Even though my home theater isn’t yet equipped with 3D HDTV – and I missed the original 3D theatrical experience — I found much of Step Up 3 to be thrilling. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the moves were accomplished through the use of wires and harnesses.

Like most dance movies made after the death of Bob Fosse, Jon Chu’s second installment in the Step Up series doesn’t require an appreciation of the storyline to enjoy. In fact, it’s better not to pay close attention to it. The race to the championship showdown does parallel one star-crossed love affair and bitter rivalry, at least, but otherwise there’s no suspense whatsoever. No matter. The basic DVD package includes alternate versions of the routines, a music-video back-rounder and eight music videos.

The Blu-ray adds “Born From a Boombox: A Luke Katcher Film,” the documentary being made by the lead character and several deleted scenes, with introductions by Chu. The 3D Blu-ray contains the feature only.


Soul Kitchen
I’ll Come Running
Let It Rain
Map of the Sounds of Tokyo

Movies set in restaurants should make viewers hungry, not only for the food on display, but also the experience of sharing a few hours with interesting and attractive fellow diners. This week, Fatih Akin’s delightful Soul Kitchen joins the short list of mouth-watering titles that includes The Secret of the Grain, Big Night, Ratatouille, Mostly Martha, Tampopo, Julie & Julia and the virtually unseen The Ramen Girl. (There are plenty of other foodie-friendly titles, of course, but chowing down isn’t necessarily the same as dining.)

A Hamburg native of Turkish extraction, Akin has demonstrated a keen appreciation of the problems related to immigrants living with one foot in Germany and the other in Turkey. In Soul Kitchen, his protagonists are Greeks residing in Germany. Star and co-writer Adam Bousdoukos and Moritz Bleibtreu play brothers Zinos and Illias Kazantsakis respectively. Zinos is in the process of turning his low-end diner into a place where young hipsters will gather for fine food and drink, loud music, dance and relaxation.

Illias is a burglar who needs the kind of job that will allow him to leave prison from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. each day. The Soul Kitchen provides him with an alibi and a hangout. Zinos’ decision to bring in a cantankerous superchef, fired from a high-end dining room, coincides with the opening of a dance studio just down the block. Almost overnight, Soul Kitchen becomes a magnet for people who enjoy inventive food and are willing to pay for it. The trouble comes when Zinos gives Illias power-of-attorney and he quickly manages to gamble away the deed to the property.

One thing leads to another and the brothers devise a scheme to get the restaurant back into the proper hands. Akim tugs all the right emotional strings in Soul Kitchen, and there’s not a false moment in its entire 99-minute length. As the title suggests, the soundtrack overflows with terrific R&B music, as well as rave and ethnic sounds. The DVD adds an interesting conversation with Akin and Bousdoukos.

In Spencer Parsons’ I’ll Come Running, a movie that went virtually unseen until now, rising star Melanie Diaz (Raising Victor Vargas) plays a wise-cracking Austin waitress who allows herself the momentary pleasure of sharing her bed with a cocky Danish back-packer in desperate need of a place to crash. (Yes, that kind of stuff still happens in Austin.) Although Pelle, a travel journalist, can be as obnoxious as any foreign visitor to the United State, in the company of Veronica he’s open and funny.

After spending a few days and nights of bliss together, Pelle must return to Denmark, where’s he widely recognized as a former child star. Instead of jumping on a plane, as planned, he makes the fateful decision to return to Veronica’s house and see what develops between them. Before Pelle can get there, though, a truck collides with the taxi in which he’s riding, killing him and the driver instantly.

The rest of I’ll Come Running takes place in Denmark, where Veronica hopes to meet Pelle’s family and attend his funeral. Initially apprehensive, the young man’s parents warm to Veronica. That’s because a close friend has convinced them that their son proposed to her and she might even be carrying his child. A stranger in a strange land, Veronica doesn’t want to lie to his family, but she feels overwhelmed by Pelle’s overbearing and possibly dangerous pal.

What transpires next need not be revealed here, but it packs a punch. I don’t understand why smart little movies like this can’t find distribution, when so many lesser pictures do, but that’s what makes festivals and cable channels like IFC and Sundance so valuable.

In Agnes Jaoui’s sneaky comedy, Let It Rain, a domineering French politician returns to her childhood home in Provence, from Paris, on family business. While there, she reluctantly agrees to be interviewed by a Mutt-and-Jeff team of aspiring documentary makers, one a hotel clerk and the other an event videographer. Although she’s abrupt with almost everyone else in her life, Agathe is patient with the bumbling filmmakers. The subject of the film is powerful French woman and she assumes the filmmakers want her to discuss her feminist beliefs.

Instead, they bicker over minutiae and find it difficult, even, to remember when to start the camera. Despite the fact that Agathe’s relationship with her boyfriend is collapsing around her and plans to confer with local politicians get totally screwed up, she inexplicably continues to work on the film, even when it means competing with a flock of bleating sheep. It isn’t until she’s accidentally shown a gag edit of already filmed material that she realizes how poorly she comes off in public.

It’s possible to find fault in Let It Rain for what it doesn’t do, which is discuss issues of race, sexism and unemployment in France, but Jaoui’s intention, I think, was to make a comedy of bourgeois manners and the longer I watched, the more I enjoyed it.

Isabel Coixet’s erotically charged thriller, Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, focuses on the bizarre relationship that develops between gorgeous Japanese assassin, who also works in a fish market, and the man she’s been hired to kill. Her target is a Spanish purveyor of fine wine, whose Japanese girlfriend committed suicide. He father, a powerful industrialist, believes the Spaniard was to blame for his daughter’s death and orders the hit.

The assassin (Rinko Kikuchi) expects to finish the guy off in a fantasy hotel room designed to resemble a subway car – now, that’s kinky – where he touches all of her buttons in the right order and wins her admiration, at least. When confronted by her client, the killer offers to return the down payment for the job and then some. The title refers to the woman’s confidante at the fish market, who, in his spare time, records ambient sounds wherever he goes.

Significantly, the most fascinating sound of all is the silence he records at a grave yard. Other notable titles from IFC Independent include, the British relationship comedy, French Film, in which a Franco-phobic magazine writer (Hugh Bonneville) is required to interview a stereotypically pompous French director, whose views on love he ridicules. The more he studies the man’s movies, though, the more attuned he becomes to the fissures in his relationship with his live-in partner and pain felt by the girlfriend of his duplicitous best friend.

In Against the Current, a handsome young widower played by Joseph Fiennes talks friends into helping him fulfill a childhood dream of swimming the 150-mile length of the Hudson River. The rub comes when he informs them of his plan to commit suicide after achieving his goal. Will he or won’t he? The cast includes Justin Kirk (Weeds), Elizabeth Reaser (Grey’s Anatomy), Mary Tyler Moore and Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl).

Angel is a lush period drama in which a woman of modest means (Romola Garai) becomes a successful author of bodice-ripping romances. As she climbs the social ladder, she encounters an aristocratic brother and sister on their way down the same rungs. By inviting them into her world, she seals her own sad fate. Francois Ozon adapted the story from a novel by Elizabeth Taylor (the other one). It may not be the most peppy and upbeat of pictures, but the settings and costumes are splendid.


Stonehenge Apocalypse
The Lost Tribe

There will never be a scarcity of really dumb science-fiction movies for the crew of the Satellite of Love to skewer as they while away their time in eternal MST3K exile. That much I’ve learned from watching several year’s worth of really dumb made-for-cable movies. As I watched the Syfy original, Stonehenge Apocalypse, I couldn’t help but come up with zingers of my own invention. Any movie that demands one’s attention, even as brain cells are being audibly destroyed, is a perfect candidate for enshrinement in the Hall of Shame.

In Paul Ziller’s latest low-budget thriller, mankind is threatened by an electromagnetic field emanating from Stonehenge and extending to pyramids and other structures of mysterious origin around the globe. The discovery of a skeleton at the ancient monument also reveals a strange mechanism believed to be related to the recent vaporization of tourists. While scientists debate the meaning of the event and an American military officer declares Stonehenge a “security risk,” a crank conspiracy theorist enters the picture as the voice of reason.

His proof comes in the form of a gizmo that measures electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, an archeologist crony has breached a hidden chamber inside a great Egyptian pyramid, where further truths are revealed. His disciples gather in caves awaiting the apocalypse and invasion of mainstream scientists and soldiers. As you can imagine, the dialogue runs the gamut from paranoid to insipid. But, that’s what makes Stonehenge Apocalypse so perversely impressive.

Any movie in which Lance Henrikson plays a killer priest, on assignment from the Vatican to quash the advance of evolutionist theory, is OK in my book. In Lost Tribe, he does just that. Apparently, the Pope is concerned that the discovery of a previously unknown clan of humanoids on a remote tropical island will shake the foundations of Christianity. An archeological team is decimated after unraveling the island’s secret, as is nearly every member of a group of unwitting yuppies whose boat is destroyed on its rocks.

The humanoids so closely resemble the creatures in Predator that a court would demand DNA samples to discern the differences, if any. Roel Reine’s film also recalls a nearly identically plotted 2009 horror-thriller, The Forgotten Ones (a.k.a., After Dusk They Come), which shares common producers. In any case, the cast of Lost Tribe includes Emily Foxler (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), Nick Mennell (Friday the 13th), Hadley Fraser (Doctor Who) and Brianna Brown (Knocked Up). The DVD adds commentary with producer Mohit Ramchandani (both films) and Fraser, and a making-of featurette.


Billy the Exterminator: Seasons 1, 2
Gene Simmons Family Jewels: Seasons 4, 5
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Five
Comfort and Joy
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

In the never-ending pursuit of viewers, the A&E cable network has kept its head above water with some of the most imaginative programming in the medium. Now, by imaginative, I don’t necessarily mean intellectually stimulating or highly entertaining … just wildly different.

In Billy the Exterminator, we tag along with a sketchy looking dude named Billy Bretherton, whose pest-removal business is booming. Now, if Billy had opened a shop in Wisconsin or Idaho, he might have spent most of his time waiting for the phone to ring. In Louisiana, where there are more varmints than people, he has his hands full. As is the custom in reality-based shows, Billy manages to keep family members gainfully employed, as well.

Among Billy’s targets over the past two seasons have been alligators, homesteading raccoons, beavers, killer bees and wasps, bats, bobcats, snakes, squirrels, spiders, skunks, possums and roaches. What distinguishes “BtE” from other such shows, perhaps, is the tendency of his prey to seek out unusual lairs, including funeral homes, sports stadiums, dumpsters, suburban streets and swamps. The seasonal sets add biographical material showcasing Billy’s diverse talents, family members and how-to tips.

A&E is also responsible for Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which, in the absence of Ozzy Osbourne’s unruly brood, sates America’s appetite for surprisingly normal-seeming rock-‘n’-roll families. Papa Simmons, of course, is known far and wide as the frontman for KISS, a rock band that, like cockroaches, probably could survive a nuclear holocaust. For my money, Mama Shannon has always deserved equal billing. After being chosen Playmate of the Year, in 1982, the blond bombshell went on to excel as a B-movie queen, TV actress, producer, author and talk-show favorite.

The highlights of Season 4 include daughter Sophie’s Sweet 16 party, Gene’s appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Shannon’s role in a roller-derby flick and Nick’s getting his own apartment. Season 5 covers Sophie’s high school graduation, Gene’s 60th and Nick’s 21st birthdays and Shannon’s health scare. Musically, KISS has embarked on an international tour and Nick joins KISS on the stage of ComicCon, for a promotion of his graphic novel, Incarnate. There’s also plenty of additional footage.

My math isn’t great, but I doubt if I’m the only person confused by the numeric guidelines followed by distributors of TV-to-DVD packages. Ever since companies began splitting seasons in half, new and even more inventive strategies have been introduced to confuse fans, including best-of and themed collections, and those dedicated to a single character. Not being a loyal follower of ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I’m not at all sure how three full seasons of shows has been divided into five volumes. But, there it is.

The central conflict in the fifth volume is Adrian’s pregnancy and her reluctance to admit the truth to Ben, who wants to get back with Amy but must await Adrian’s decision as to the fate of the unborn child. Meanwhile, Ashley, Rickey, Jack and John have serious problems of their own with which to deal. (Maybe, if they all joined their school’s glee club, things would get better.) The set adds on-set visits with director Anson Williams and several key actors.

No sooner had I listed here Lifetime’s recent wave of holiday movies than the company slipped another title in on me. In Comfort and Joy (2003), Nancy McKeon plays a Manhattan advertising executive whose time-space continuum is disrupted in an automobile accident on Christmas Eve. When she awakes from her coma, the woman discovers her old self inhabiting the life and body of a very different new self.

Lifetime tends to reinterpret It’s a Wonderful Life every couple of years and Jane must decide if she wants to get back in the fast lane or follow the mainstream. It also stars Dixie Carter, Paul Dooley and Steven Eckholdt.

In what amounts to a departure from traditional TV-to-DVD distribution practices, Amazon is making available individual episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Tonight Show on an a la carte basis, via downloads or specially cut DVDs. The first batch from the Fred Rogers Company represents 100 titles, covering four decades of the landmark series. Among the titles are “Mister Rogers Talks About Divorce,” “A Boy in a Wheelchair,” “Is Santa Claus Real?” and “Death of a Goldfish.” Check out for individual favorites.

Likewise, more than 30 hours of The Tonight Show are being released through Amazon piecemeal or in a 15-disc set from Respond2 Entertainment. Unlike today, when any putz with a new movie to shill can find a seat on a late-night talker, Johnny Carson’s guest list was quite a bit more select. That would change in Carson’s later years, of course, but the shows represented in the first wave are populated with personalities who had something to offer besides a plug for their new product.

A complete list can be found on the The Tonight Show‘s Amazon page. The shows cost between about $10-13, so shop carefully. – Gary Dretzka

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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