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David Poland

By David Poland

Monday Monday

You know someone doesn’t want you talking about their news when it lands on the web late Friday or just before a holiday. You know they do want you talking about it when they announce it on Monday morning.

Ron Meyer is now contracted at Universal through 2015. Traditionally, this is the kind of contract that some would assume to be a golden parachute in the making. Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s talk after Battleship.


Bob Pisano is officially leaving MPAA. His name is not a very high profile one in the real world, but many at SAG continue to remember him as the man who delivered SAG to Netflix. Pisano negotiated the 2005 SAG deal that didn’t upgrade the union’s DVD residual which had been originally negotiated under claims that DVD was an “emerging technology” and that the studios couldn’t afford the kind of residuals that had been offered for other media. Pisano was also serving on the Netflix board at the time.

There was a lawsuit, claiming a conflict of interest, which was eventually thrown out of court when a judge found that there was no conflict with the same man negotiating SAG’s DVD residuals from the studios and being a Netflix board member… even though the studios were co-owners of Netflix, having been given 2% of Netflix each in exchange for better deals for DVDs.

Pisano resigned from his role at SAG and quickly took up residence at MPAA, which is an organization by and for the major studios. He also cashed out personally on over $2 million in Netflix stock.

Pisano was supported along the way by the SAG group then led by SAG President Melissa Gilbert, who has always been pro-AFTRA-merger and was active in undermining the last strike, aligned with the current leadership.

The failure of the strike has been exacerbated by the failure to get any significant residuals deal for streaming re-runs, which went from being a meaningless revenue stream during the strike to a significant one almost immediately after the strike. What company made the prices on reruns and streaming spike instantly? Netflix.

Where was Bob Pisano? At MPAA, running things between MPAA CEOs.


How much did Pisano have to do with the timing of Netflix suddenly being willing to pay the majors $100 million a year or more each to stream 6 month old movies and DVD-release-dated TV after crying digital poverty to the unions for 18 months? I doubt we’ll ever know.

Meanwhile, AFTRA has eaten SAG’s TV business almost whole, a merger dominated by AFTRA has become inevitable, and residuals continue to drop, forcing SAG to consider rationing healthcare and pension benefits for members who most need them, as well as raising the bar – as residuals disappear – for newcomers to earn those benefits.

SAG has been gutted and may never recover. With an AFTRA-dominated merged union and the majority of AFTRA membership working in non-rerun/non-residual jobs, the odds of a strike to make SAG whole again is unlikely.

Pisano has truly been a gift to the studios. He really has been their home run hitter.

Which studio will start him on a $4m a year salary as a “consultant?” I would bet that a few are already lined up, just waiting for him to pick.


The GdT produced and co-written horror film Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark scared people at LAFF’s closing night so much that they thought there was a fire drill in the middle of the film!

I am not going to write a formal review of the film. I will just say – and say repeatedly – “See it.” You don’t want to know what it’s about. You should know that it is very Del Toro-esque and involves creepy crawlies and a threat to women and children and even men. When I suggested, after seeing the film, that absolutely no one under 10 should see the film, Pete Hammond replied, “No one under 70 should see the film! And you can quote me on that!” And I have!

If you like or love scary movies, go. And if you can, see it in an ethnic neighborhood. This is a classic, “Don’t open that door!”, “No! Don’t! It’s right around the…” kinda movie. It would have been even more fun at midnight on Saturday instead of on closing night.

Guillermo, intro’ing the film, offered that the film was made to be PG-13, but got an R “for pervasive scariness… I like that.” We did too.

Don’t expect a revolution on film or even much of an evolution (Go to 1974, add a touch of CG, shake… and run!). Just expect a fun fucking time at the movies.

As for the release date (August ), I guess they are looking at the numbers of The FInal Destination and the Halloween reboot and hoping they can hype this one into that range. It’s hard to imagine it opening as well as either, but hey, if Screen Gems can go 20m/30m almost anywhere, I guess Bob Berney can too. FilmDistrict went 13m/53m with Insidious. I hope for the same or better here. This is the kind of film that should be able to build an audience for over a month.

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29 Responses to “Monday Monday”

  1. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Can’t wait for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Looks great. Also, the decision to release Shark Night 3D with a PG-13 is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

  2. anghus says:

    they just finished filming Piranha 3DD around these parts. My favorite moment was seeing someone facebook
    “just finished filming a scene with David Hasslehoff, now off to film a naked lady coming down the waterslide IN 3D.”

  3. nikki whisperer says:

    The irony of a certain “she who shall not be named” ending her coverage of the Ron Meyer press release with the following salvo was pretty astounding:

    “Meanwhile, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I continue to hope for the beginning of a long-overdue generational shift in Hollywood to finally bring in new blood. Already, most executive suites at the studios will be overrun with over-fifty and over-sixty fogies, all overcompensated and entrenched managers. The movie biz has lost generations worth of younger managers fed up with waiting their turn to get to the top.”


  4. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I hope Piranha 3DD is as much ridiculous fun as Piranha 3D. At least it won’t be PG-13.

  5. LexG says:

    That’s it, if they ask me to transcribe DBAOTD at my job (probably in the next week or two, gotta get that shit DONE two months before release!), I’m quitting on the spot. Fuck, just remembered I did THE DEBT over a YEAR ago… I see they REALLY needed that DVD to be ready last May.

    Already figuring on how to plan my fake-sickness to avoid getting Selena Gomez ruined for me this week.

  6. Brett says:

    Pete Hammond saying “And you can quote me on that!” is hilarious.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    And now, for all you John Wayne fans:

  8. christian says:

    The fact this woman has gotten so far without being questioned on her serious estrangement from reality…

  9. anghus says:

    its like the Presidential race has become a reality show


  10. christian says:

    I actually saw a CNN reporter tell Tim Pawlenty that he was voted “Biggest Loser” in an online poll at the GOP debate and what did he think about that? Jesus Christ.

  11. The Big Perm says:

    YAY for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. My most anticipated summer movie. I love genuinely scary movies, and it’s not like there’s a ton of them. Even the trailer was scary.

  12. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Similar to Palin’s “Paul Revere warned the British” shenanigans a few weeks ago, John Wayne (the actor) wikipedia page is currently being updated every few minutes with people trying to change his birthplace, and it being reverted back by someone else almost immediately. Unless they’ve finally locked it from editing.

    After all, if it’s on wikipedia it must be true…

  13. anghus says:

    the popularity of Palin and Bachmann isn’t nearly as fascinating as those who go to Wikipedia and try to change history to match what they say.

    that’s cult worshiper stuff.

    The local magazine i write for has a website, and the people who run it tell me if they run an article about Palin, the hit count is tenfold and that they get people from all over the country reading who never would normally even engage with a website for a local arts magazine.

    her little online army is kind of scary.

  14. berg says:

    “how to plan my fake-sickness”

    get your chauffeur to beat the shit out of you like in Dr. Detroit

  15. palmtree says:

    What’s with all this rampant corruption? Conflicts of interest abounding in board members of companies in positions of government that will decide the fate of those companies. Why has this become standard practice? Do we not have enough people in the world who are competent and not in bed with the financial/commercial sector?

  16. The Pope says:

    Nikkin Whisperer,

    Re: “Most executive suites at the studios will be overrun with over-fifty and over-sixty fogies.”

    And don’t we know that if the studios were run by anyone under 40, Finke would complain and sark that they are too young for such power and influence etc.

  17. Madam Pince says:

    So Green Lantern is getting a sequel. Guess I’ll go out and see the movie this weekend then?

    The Battleship movie puzzles me. They spent a lot of money on what seems like a bad idea to me, and none of that mountain of money went to hiring established stars, barring Neeson. People complain of no stars in XMFC, though I disagreed, but what will they call the cast of Battleship then? Sub-nobodies on their scale? Anti-stars? I can’t wait to read the reviews and analysis on that one.

  18. JKill says:

    Taylor Kitsch hasn’t starred in a movie yet, but he’s awesome (I’m on the third season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS now) and I could see him being a Chris Pine in STAR TREK-level breakout in BATTLESHP.

    DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is something I’m psyched for. Usually I don’t complain when horror movies are PG-13, but SHARK NIGHT in 3-D makes no sense in that rating. Is this not David Ellis’s first non-R? A shame.

  19. anghus says:

    So Lionsgate picks up Red State for a VOD release

    Man, if you read that entire, long winded piece (Does Kevin Smith have any other kind?), he takes one particular critic to task but doesn’t name them.

  20. JS Partisan says:

    God he can’t get to a point to save his life. Good for him for covering his costs.

  21. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Jesus H. Christ he is thin-skinned, whiny, and ridiculously self-important.

  22. JKill says:

    As I referenced on another thread I’m looking forward to RED STATE but…

    when skimming (no way in hell would I read that whole thing) I noticed that it says there’s going to be VOD before the theatrical wide release he talked about at Sundance. However, a little further down it says there will be theatrical showings with a digital Q and A, plus some radio show or something, and all for the low, low price of twenty dollars.

    So he’s basically just doing a scaled down version of the roadshow? That doesn’t seem like something you could even play in a wide release multiple times a day. I can’t be the only person looking forward to this movie who would have zero interest paying that much money and sitting through extras afterward.

  23. LexG says:



    “Say, would you like a chocolate-covered pretzel?” HAHAHAHAHAHA Mallrats is like the only movie that sends me into gales of uncontrollable laughter each and every time for 15 years on.

  24. yancyskancy says:

    Not sure he’s right that “anybody” could do this. He’s a brand name. But it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. He’s already succeeded, since everything’s pure profit from here on out.

    Oopsie: The press release misidentifies Melissa Leo as a “Best Actress” winner.

  25. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    You’re not the only one JKill. As much as I think Smith is a self-important blowhard, I want to see Red State. Not for that much $ though.

  26. hcat says:

    My instincts tell me that Battleship is a giant mistake, so obviously it will make 750 million worldwide and bring stardom to all involved. On paper is it really that much more of a stretch than ID4 which had a similiar all-semistar cast (oh Adam Baldwin and Robert Loggia sharing the screen, where do I buy tickets). I know Smith was a name do to television and the modest success of Bad Boys, though I think Lawrence was top billed in the first one, but that wasn’t sold on star power, that was sold on the White House getting blasted. If Uni can find a hook similiar to that one, Battleship might be a winner.

    Plus I have faith in the Berg.

  27. movieman says:

    Taylor Kitsch hasn’t starred in a movie yet, but he’s awesome (I’m on the third season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS now) and I could see him being a Chris Pine in STAR TREK-level breakout in BATTLESHP.

    Wasn’t Kitsch in “Wolverine” a few years back, JKill? I remember thinking at the time that he looked like a young Johnny Depp. But like an unkempt Depp, the dude could definitely use a haircut.
    Just started watching “Friday Night Lights” a year ago, and could kick myself for not jumping on the crix-cult bandwagon when it first began airing in 2006. Fantastic show, and one of the few network programs in TV history that has an authentic feel for middle-class life.
    Also love the actor (Derek Phillips ) who plays Kitsch’s brother: he reminds me of a cross between Brad Davis and….Jeremy Piven?!?

  28. LexG says:

    You know who rules on FNL is the Coach’s daughter.

    MMMM…. Cute! CUTE! Teegarden Power.

  29. JKill says:

    Yeah Movieman, Kitsch was Gambit in WOLVERINE. He’s great. Pure charisma. As Riggens on FNL, he’s endearing, loveable, inspiring, vulneralbe, complex, hilarious and heart breaking. I would be shocked if he’s not insanely cool in JOHN CARTER and BATTLESHIP, not to mention the upcoming Oliver Stone movie, SAVAGES.

    FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which I’m now towards the end of the third season on, is one of my favorite television shows I’ve ever watched. It’s so honest but sweet, alternating between moments of true darkness and genuine, uncynical displays of human kindness and optimism. The entire cast is incredible, and watching the episodes in rapid succession, I’m really impressed with the arcs, themes and storylines that the writers have came up with. It’s a great achievement. Coach Eric Taylor is a brilliant Atticus Finch-esq creation, and his marriage to Tammy is so richly portrayed, yet without any artificial dramatic trappings or devices. I could gush about this show all day…

    And, Lex, I’ll second the Teegarden Power.

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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