MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

DVD Wrapup Gift Guide I: W.C. Fields, IndiePix, Grinchmas, Human Centipede, Flowers, Neon God, Home Fires … More

Now that Halloween is nearly upon us and early birds have begun to camp out in front of Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us, in anticipation of Black Friday bargains, it’s the time to think about shelling out big bucks on giftable DVD/Blu-ray collections and holiday specialties. New multidisc packages will be released on a fast-and-furious basis – if you get my drift – over the course of the next eight weeks and they will be competing for eyes and shelf space with hundreds of sets already in the marketplace. Price tags can be steep, but terrific bargains can be found on the Internet and stores that handle previously viewed items. Like any serious vinyl collector, buyers for such second-hand stores pay meticulous attention to the condition of items they purchase and, of course, discs resist damage in ways vinyl never could. Most Internet outlets offer free shipping for sales of multiple items or a minimum purchase.  Here are some recent releases that have caught my eye:

W.C. Fields Comedy Essentials Collection
Mr. Warmth! Don Rickles: The Ultimate TV Collection
The Marx Brothers have stood the test of time, delighting every new generation of comedy lovers. I wonder if W.C. Fields has demonstrated the same resilience with kids whose only knowledge of gin blossoms comes from the rock band, not one of the most famous lushes in Hollywood history. From Universal, the W.C. Fields Comedy Essentials Collection serves both as a nostalgic reminder of movies past and an excellent starter kit for uninitiated youths. Serious collectors of vintage comedy will already possess most of the titles here, but certainly not all of them – Million Dollar Legs and Tillie and Gus — on actual DVD, as opposed to DVDr. For movies that are between 70 and 80-plus years old, the audio/visual quality far surpasses anything shown on television sets, dormitory walls and classrooms in the interim. Every one of Field’s sarcastic asides rings perfectly clear, even in DVD. This collection features 18 of his most memorable films, including Alice in Wonderland, If I Had a Million, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, Mississippi, International House, It’s a Gift, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, My Little Chickadee, The Bank Dick, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, You’re Telling Me!, The Old Fashioned Way and Poppy. It adds the less-well-preserved bio-doc, “Wayne and Shuster Take an Affectionate Look at W.C. Fields.” There is other Fields material extant, but not under the Universal banner.

While Fields tended to reserve his most toxic vitriol for children, dogs, spinsters and fellow boozehounds, “insult comic” Don Rickles adopted a more in-your-face approach. There’s no question both men were cut from the same cloth, however. Arguably at his best when least confined by network censors, “Mr. Warmth: Don Rickles: The Ultimate TV Collection” demonstrates how caustic a comedian could be on prime time and still pass through the medium’s many filters. I would love to see footage of Rickles’ wee-hours’ Las Vegas lounge act, which attracted the Rat Pack and other marquee talent to the Sahara like a magnet, but, alas, evidence of those shows likely is lost to the ages. The Time Life/WEA compilation contains four one-hour network television specials, from the 1970s, and the complete series of “CPO Sharkey” episodes. Bonus features add never-before-seen outtakes and unedited scenes, with new introductions from Rickles; the “Tonight Show” clip with Johnny Carson’s surprise visit to the “CPO Sharkey” set; and the TV Land Awards’ Legend Award presentation by Jimmy Kimmel. Among the stars on display here are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Klugman, Bob Newhart, John Wayne, Helen Reddy, Loretta Swift, Rip Taylor, Don Adams, James Caan, Michael Caine, Jose Ferrer, Arthur Godfrey, Elliott Gould, Michele Lee, Larry Linville, Jack Palance, Otto Preminger, Bobby Riggs and Loretta Swit.

IndiePix Mix 10
Parsing the difference between studio and independent films can be a tiresome exercise, even for moviegoers who make it a point to tune into both the Oscar and Indie Spirit Awards ceremonies. More often than not, anymore, the same artists, films and producers are nominated for awards in similar categories, while the budgets for many Spirits candidates match those accorded studio “prestige pictures.” There are strict rules for governing such things, but … well, why bother. One of the nice things about the Spirits has been a willingness on the part of voters to honor movies that have been exhibited on the festival circuit, without the benefit of a theatrical distributor.  Such is the case for several of the movies included in “IndiePix Mix 10,” a virtual grab bag of titles from the company’s decade-plus mission to unearth gems from festivals around the world and offer them to consumers on DVD. It isn’t the only company providing such a service, of course. Viewers’ acceptance of PPV and other streaming services has allowed niche distributors to target audiences for indies, arthouse, foreign, documentary and animated products, without spending a bundle to market them. Heavy on documentaries, the titles include The Axe in the Attic, which focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills, a nostalgic look at the tailor to such stars as Cary Grant, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra; Echotone, a close-up view into the lives and lifestyles of Austin’s young musicians; Frontrunner, set in Afghanistan during its first democratic election, with a tight focus on the country’s first candidates; Shooting Star(s) follows Johnny Nunez as he overcomes the obstacles imposed by his humble upbringing in Brooklyn, to become today’s most prominent hip-hop celebrity photographer; The Devilles, a verite glimpse into the lives of burlesque stripper and Marilyn Monroe lookalike Teri Lee Geary (a.k.a., Kitten DeVille) and her punk-rock-singer husband, Shawn Geary; and Candyman, a documentary recounting the true story of David Klein, the eccentric L.A. candy inventor who came up with the concept of Jelly Belly jellybeans. Dramas include “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers,” about a fortune teller who lives and works in a haunted house at the edge of the woods; Artois the Goat, about one man’s quest to create the greatest goat cheese the world has ever known; Evergreen, in which a Pacific Northwest teenager yearns to reinvent herself and find something she can be thankful for in the face of poverty. If the list is heavy on non-fiction, it’s only because docs are enjoying a creative renaissance, thanks mainly to advancements in technology. The titles have previously been available on an a la carte basis.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Grinchmas Edition: Blu-ray
I wonder how many people expected Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas to do for Jim Carey what Aladdin did for Robin Williams, which is to say, add an entirely new dimension to a career that desperately needed a jump start. In the Disney animated feature, the directors allowed Williams to hit warp speed and stay there as long as they could stretch the Genie to fit his anarchic improvisation. Something tells me that director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer kept a tighter grip on the controls, allowing Carey less freedom to make gags up as he was going along. Neither was Williams required to act in costume, which required Carey to spend countless hours in the makeup and costume trailers. The physical restrictions imposed by the prize-winning designs, alone, would have been sufficiently stringent to discourage flights of fancy. (The Grinch did bear a fleeting resemblance to the actor’s creepy Fire Marshall Bill character, on “In Living Color,” though.) The movie’s huge budget, especially in circa-2000 dollars, also would have demanded more creative control on Howard and Grazer’s part. When foreign receipts and DVD/Blu-ray sales were added to a very decent domestic return, the folks inside Universal Studio’s hulking Black Tower probably breathed a sigh of relief. Critics, no strangers to Grinch-y behavior, gave the movie mixed reviews, mostly in reaction to the new material that had to be added to the 69-page children’s book – long on pictures, short on words – to fit a 104-minute movie. Kids don’t have much use for numbers, of course, so it’s likely the newly upgraded – mercifully so – edition will retain its ability to enchant the Suessian fan base. Besides the tech facelift, the Blu-ray picks up the features package included in the 2009 hi-def edition, including enhanced commentary with Howard, several making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes and Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?,” as well as BD Live and D Box.

Among the other early holiday releases are “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Christmas,” a themed collection of three vintage episodes: In “The Christmas Aliens” (2004), Michaelangelo runs afoul of a group of criminals hoping to attain a profit from some stolen toys; “The Way of Invisibility” (2003), in which the Turtles are required to deal with Foot Tech Ninjas that raise the bar in the ways of invisibility; and “Fallen Angel,” where Casey Jones tries to stop a young girl from becoming a member of the dangerous Purple Dragon gang. One of the titles sounds seasonal, at least.

Shout! Factory is offering “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour: Christmas Specials,” which packages two holiday shows from 1969 and 1970, late in the era of variety shows on prime-time television. The mix included guest appearances by George Gobel, Jerry Reed, Anne Murray, Shecky Greene, Mel Tillis, Cher, Andy Griffith and Paul Lynde.

Shalom Sesame
Chanukah & Passover on Planet Matzah Ball
There’s no particular reason for those who celebrate Chanukah to feel at a loss for gifts that reflect traditional values, while also taking into account their kids’ tech-savvy craving for at-home entertainment and virtual babysitters. SISU Entertainment, which caters to Jewish viewers of all ages and interests, offer a wide array of titles, most of which you’d be hard-pressed to find in the usual retail outlets. In the latest addition to its “Shalom Sesame” lineup, Grover and celebrity host Anneliese van der Pol (“That’s So Raven”) travel to Israel to discover the vitality of Jewish culture and tradition, as well as the diversity of Israeli life, intended for American children and their families. Each 30-minute episode combines live-action and animated sequences based on themed storylines, highlighting lessons on Hebrew letters and words, and unique sites in Israel. The six-DVD set is co-produced by Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street” — and Israel’s Channel HOP! An additional DVD features two programs from the classic “Shalom Sesame” – “Jerusalem” and “People of Israel” – as well as a free 30-day trial download of the program, “Welcome to Israel.”

SISU also has a full line of Chanukah-specific titles. “Chanukah & Passover on Planet Matzah Ball” takes young viewers to a planet partially inhabited by Jews, but absent most Jewish traditions. One day, a menorah traveling through space crash lands on Planet Matzah Ball – I kid you, not — and the furry Jewish aliens don’t know what to make of it. Determined to solve the mystery of the menorah, 9-year-old Oogy uses a super-powered telescope to investigate all possibilities. Finally, he spies four children enjoying a Chanukah party in Cleveland, of all celestial landmarks. As he observes them, a clever Chanukah tale unfolds in his mind. It involves puppets, animation and music, all of which bring the wonderful holiday traditions to life. The DVD features include an interactive menu, karaoke and a guide for parents and teachers, as well as the companion video, “The Seder on Planet Matzah Ball.”

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (Three Movie Gift Set)
And, what would a holiday gift guide be without something to excite young girls, brony brethren and pegasisters, in almost equal measure. After all, the “My Little Pony” video phenomenon was preceded by the success of an ever-expanding line of toys. The early animated titles weren’t particularly impressive, but they’ve improved markedly in the past five years. The DVD/Blu-ray package, “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls,” contains three feature-length movies – led by the title picture — that received limited runs in theaters before crossing over into DVD. When her crown is stolen from the Crystal Empire, Twilight pursues the thief, Sunset Shimmer, into an alternate world where she finds herself turned into a teenage girl. I couldn’t begin to explain with any accuracy the intricacies and plot twists at play in Equestria Girls, but, of course, I’m not a brony. The new package adds Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series
Transformers: Robots in Disguise: A New Autobot Mission
While collectors are happy whenever complete-series sets of their favorite shows become available, they get cranky when they sense that distributors are toying with their affections. A quick perusal of retail and fan sites reveals how disappointed are with “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series.” While emphasizing their love for the product, fans who’ve waited for an all-inclusive three-season package have voiced their displeasure with the lack of a Blu-ray option and what they believe to be a missed opportunity to clean up visual problems, especially in Season One. With fans as loyal as those committed to “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” it’s dangerous to take shortcuts. Neither am I sure how loyalists will take the sweetheart deal with Amazon. In addition to the complete-series box, its customers will find the book, “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 1,” written by the co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The events described in the 80-page book take place directly following the ending of the series.

Considering that the first season of “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” ended more than a month ago and complete-season sets are what devoted fans are most interested in purchasing, it borders on cruelty for Hasbro Studios to send out “Transformers: Robots in Disguise: A New Autobot Mission” with a grand total of only 5 out of 26 episodes, plus a behind-the-scenes featurette. That said, the new Autobot mission begins when a prison ship crashes on Earth, setting hundreds of Cybertron’s most dangerous Decepticons free. Optimus Prime responds by ordering Bumblebee and his new squad — Strongarm, Sideswipe and former Decepticon, Grimlock, and two human allies – to track down and recapture the evil escapees.

The Human Centipede: The Complete Sequence: Blu-ray
Flowers: Limited Edition
The Horror Network
Anyone considering gifting The Human Centipede: The Complete Sequence either has a very twisted sense of humor or a giftee with a peculiar taste in movies. That doesn’t make the three-film compilation a bad present, necessarily, just one that many people might consider to be inappropriate, at best. In the six years since the first installment in the trilogy was released, comedians and sitcom writers have used The Human Centipede as a verbal cue for eliciting disgust and self-conscious laughter among horror and pop-culture cognoscenti. In Tom Mix’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence), a mad scientist (Dieter Laser) kidnaps and mutilates a trio of German tourists, in order to reassemble them by stitching their mouths to another victim’s rectum. It’s a movie that has to be seen to be believed and, apparently, enough people sought it out in DVD to warrant two sequels. To say these films aren’t for everyone is like saying body snatching isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. If the first installment in the series could fairly be judged as an extreme example of inky black humor, the sequel, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), represented more of the same, absent any pretense of humor. In it, Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is a mentally disturbed loner who lives with his mother in a bleak housing project. He works the night shift as a security guard in an equally grim and foreboding underground parking complex. To escape his dreary existence, Martin loses himself in the fantasy world of The Human Centipede (First Sequence), “fetishizing the meticulous surgical skills of the gifted Dr. Heiter, whose knowledge of the human gastrointestinal system inspires Martin to attempt the unthinkable.” Laser and Harvey return in The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence), but as very different characters. Laser plays Billy Boss, the warden of George H.W. Bush State Prison, while Harvey is the troubled facility’s chief financial officer. No amount of torture and degradation of the prison’s worst offenders dissuades the other inmates from misbehaving and rioting. Vexed to the point of considering mass castration, the accountant convinces Boss to borrow from their favorite movie, instead. When the pictures are shown to the prisoners, they react by shouting out actual quotes pulled from reviews written by mainstream critics. Finally, of course, the joke will be on them … unless Texas law-enforcement authorities agree to intercede. “The Complete Sequence” compilation adds the 48-minute featurette, “The Ladies of The Human Centipede,” with new interviews from Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black and Kandace Caine, from “First Sequence” (adult star Bree Daniels is the only woman in “III”); the color version of “THC2”; an alternate poster gallery; and Laurence Harvey’s audition tape.

Anyone who can’t make it through even one “sequence” of The Human Centipede saga isn’t likely to make it through 15 minutes of Flowers, an exercise in existential horror so potentially upsetting that it should carry a warning label. Phil Stevens’ debut feature demands of viewers that we empathize with the victims of a serial killer to the point where we might conjure a scenario in which they regained consciousness in their final resting place. Here, Stevens might have been inspired by the young men tortured, murdered and buried in the crawl space of John Wayne Gacy’s suburban Chicago home. In Flowers, the victims are all women … or, perhaps, one woman played by six different “flowers.” They are required to make their way through blood, guts and filth, until they are able to find an entrance to the house. Once inside, they relive the trials and tortures endured before their untimely deaths. Watching Flowers isn’t that far removed from trying to imagine the indignities suffered by women and girls kidnapped by fiends and forced to live in captivity until they can escape or be rescued. Try too hard and your dreams will never be the same. Even buffs, I think, would find Flowers a difficult movie to watch. But, I suppose, people in the 16th Century said the same thing about Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmarish depictions of hell in his “The Garden of Earthly Delights” … not that I’m making the comparison. The bonus package on the three-disc package adds commentaries with Phil Stevens and editor Ronnie Sortor; an interview with actor Bryant W. Lohr Sr.; Makaria Tsapatoris’ audition tape; a stills gallery; deleted scenes (with optional commentary); a trailer reel; an isolated FX track; featurette “Floravision: The Making of Flowers”; storyboards video gallery (with optional commentary); a CD soundtrack; and two versions of the short, “Kiss Me Whore.” It really will be interesting to see what Stevens comes up with, next.

Sometimes, when researching the work of an interesting actor or filmmaker, I turn to the pages on reserved for such things, only to find several short films listed among their credits. A quick trip to YouTube sometimes will provide an opportunity to see an artist’s earliest work. Occasionally, too, anthologies such as Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt, V/H/S and The ABCs of Death serve the same purpose. The Horror Network combines the efforts of six largely unsung writer/directors for five short films that test the limits of terror experienced by characters unaccustomed to strange noises, creepy neighbors and inanimate objects that unexpectedly become animated. Creators Brian Dorton and Douglas Conner reportedly sampled more than 200 films to get to the five that made the cut in The Horror Network. It succeeds, even absent such frills as a Cryptkeeper or animated interstitials.

Rebels of the Neon God
It took 25 years for Tsai Ming-liang’s excellent debut feature, Rebels of the Neon God, to be accorded a theatrical release in the United States. Since then, the Malaysian-born writer/director has developed an international reputation with such idiosyncratic entertainments as Vive L’Amour (1994), What Time Is It There? (2001), Good Bye, Dragon Inn (2003) and The Wayward Cloud (2005), all of which showcase minimalist values and atmospheric settings. Most clearly informed by the French New Wave, Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love) and either James Dean or Nicholas Ray (or both), his disaffected characters frequently seem overwhelmed by the chaos of urban life that surrounds them. Such is the case with Rebels of the Neon God, in which the lives of three aimless Taipei youths intersect in streets teeming with cars, scooters, motorbikes, bicycles and an endless parade of pedestrians, all going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. At night, a different population moves at a less impatient pace, seeking refuge from the garishly lit streets in the shadows and behind the doors of skating rinks, video arcades and all-night restaurants … anywhere, but in the tiny apartments they call home. The catalyst for drama is a mindless act of vandalism, committed by Ah-tze and his buddy Ah-ping after a taxi inadvertently cuts off their motorbike. It escalates exponentially when the cabbie’s son, Hsiao-Kang, recognizes the young hoodlums and, for lack of anything better to do, begins to stalk them. Hsiao-kang exacts his revenge in an even greater act of vandalism. To cover the damage, Ah-tze commits a crime that backfires badly on him. A curious romance, involving Ah-tze and a lovesick clerk at the rink, is every bit as hit-and-run as the careless incident in the streets, hours earlier. The characters don’t waste a lot of time exchanging dialogue and, when they do, it mostly serves to add a touch of humor to the drama.  The bustling Taipei setting adds greatly to the overall sense of alienation that permeates the story, just as America’s similarly mean streets informed Martin Scorsese’s early works.

If the name, Tatia Pilieva, sounds familiar it’s because of her short film, “First Kiss,” in which 20 strangers share kisses, to varying results. It caught fire on YouTube last year, registering more than 66 million visits. It isn’t likely that the filmmaker from the Republic of Georgia, now living in Los Angeles, would be known for her first feature, Forever, which found hardly any traction in theaters before being released into DVD.  The uneven drama was co-written with the late Gill Dennis, who previously shared screenwriting credits on Ring of Fire and Return to Oz. “True Blood” alums Deborah Ann Woll and Luke Grimes play Alice and Charlie, who meet very un-cute at a commune full of extremely troubled people, led by a doctor (John Diehl) whose methodology can best be described as curious. Alice is a passionate investigative reporter, who, after the suicide of her boyfriend, takes on an assignment requiring her to check out what’s happening in the compound across the lake from her hometown. Deep in the forest, she discovers what appears to be a multigenerational refuge for men and women who are either contemplating suicide or whose depression has reached an intolerable level. The mystery at the core of Forever requires Alice and viewers, alike, to decide if the doctor is a quack or a genius. And, if it’s the former, can Alice and Charlie escape the compound before the shit hits the fan? Not everything that transpires around the communal dining table translates into heart-tugging drama, but the cast, which also includes, Rhys Coiro, Jill Larson, Ioan Gruffudd, Tom Everett Scott, Shanola Hampton and Seth Gabel, give it their best shot.

PBS: Masterpiece: Home Fires: Blu-ray
PBS: Nova: Nuclear Meltdown Disaster
No one beats the Brits when it comes to soapy mini-series about life between and during our last two world wars. The UK’s unique perspective on the toll paid by civilians, medical and diplomatic personnel, stationed at home and abroad, is reflected in a continuing parade of movies and television shows. ITV’s fine period melodrama, “Home Fires,” is only the latest example. More gossipy than previous mini-series, it opens in a rural Cheshire village, in 1939, just as Hitler is about to light the fuse on war. Memories of England’s great losses in World War I remain fresh in the minds of older residents, just as the call to duty summons of men too young be intimately familiar with the carnage in the trenches. To fully appreciate “Home Fires,” American viewers need to know a little bit, at least, about the Women’s Institute, around which the story revolves. The community-based organization was founded in Stoney Creek, Ontario, by Adelaide Hoodless in 1897, and expanded to Britain 18 years later. The WI’s wartime mission involved revitalizing rural communities and encouraging women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. During World War II, they looked after evacuees, performed tasks normally handled by the men now training for combat and, somewhat famously, running the government-sponsored Preservation Centers, where volunteers canned or made jam from excess produce. The produce was sent to depots to be added to the rations sent to soldiers. It explains why novelist Julie Summers titled the book that inspired the six-part series, “Jambusters.” The emphasis here is less on food production than with the members’ interpersonal relationships and decisions that impacted daily life in the community, at home and in their work. A large ensemble cast is led by Samantha Bond (a.k.a., Miss Moneypenny) and Francesca Annis (“Wives and Daughters”). The first season ends with the harrowing Dunkirk evacuation. The PBS Blu-ray represents the full UK-length edition.

PBS’ “Nova” covers natural and man-made catastrophes with the same intensity – and frequency – as the E! network covers the Kardashians. “Nuclear Meltdown Disaster” takes the tick-tock approach to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, providing details that would have scared the crap out of the Japanese citizenry, if they had only been alerted to the perilously close call at the other Fukushima nuclear plant a few miles away from the meltdowns. The producers were accorded unprecedented access inside both facilities and to workers who there during the first harrowing days. We’re also introduced to an employee who has worked there since Day One and became the unsung hero who kept the disaster from spreading.

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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