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David Poland

By David Poland

‘Twas the Night Before The End of The Business

‘Twas the End of The Business
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town
ticket buyers weren’t stirring, from Fockers on down.
The product was hung in the theaters with care,
in hopes that the next surprise cash cow soon would be there.

The execs were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Scar-Jo freed, giving them head.
And Indie in ‘disarray, and VOD crap,
had just settled their brains praying for new mousetraps.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their beds to see if Cher’s face had shattered.
Away to the window they flew like a Flash,
Their iPads were useless, and where was their stash?

The moon shined so bright, the execs were afraid
their ceo bosses would see the mistakes they had made,
when, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
but a Powerpoint slide show and the eight points they feared.

With a little old driver, such an excellent flack,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Jack.
More rapid than eagles, his rhetoric came,
and Valenti shouted and called them by name:

“Now Windows! Now Sell-Thru!
Now, Front-loaded and Pricing!
On, 9-Figures! On, 3D!
On, Shared Costs and Blitzgreed!
To the top of the mountain!
To the MGM fall!
Now think away! Think away!
You’ve all lost your balls!”

As dry heaves that before wide releases fly,
When contracts call for big P&A, losses mount to the sky
so to a darkened conference room the execs they flew,
with the sleigh full of problems, and Valenti’s ghost too.

And then, in a twinkling, no longer aloof
the prancing and preening of each of these goofs.
As they sat in their seats and each turned around,
Into the room Jack’s Spirit came with a bound.

He was dressed in his suit, perfect from head to foot,
and his rage was apparent with each step he took.
A stack full of memos he had flung on the desk,
and he looked like a cop about to make an arrest.

“Windows – dumping one for another! You’re throwing out money!
Spent DVD sell-thru cash, every dime like some dummies!
Theatrical dollars drawn too tight like a bow,
And price points keep dropping, and down they will go.
Nine figures each film is insane behavior,
And you’re smoking the crack if you think 3D’s your savior.
You sell off your risk… profits too, what a trick!
And Wall Street laughs at your stocks, while buying Netflix.

He was tiny but mighty, the angriest elf,
and some laughed when they saw him, they were fooling themselves.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon let them all know he still knew more than them.

They spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and checked out their spread sheets, and felt like some jerks.
The blueprint they’d built with its day-n-date flows,
Would turn movies to TV, once differentiation goes.

Jack sprang to his car, to his team gave a whistle,
And for a moment they thought that they’d avoided a missle.
But He heard them exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“But folks want it now. If they want it, it’s right!”

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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