The Hot Blog Archive for November, 2005

From "Pop" To "Smart" To "Smug"

Armond White’s feature piece for The New York Press this week is so intense, so thought-provoking, and so incredibly abusive to anyone else’s opinions, it is hard to know where to start. In trying to pull a quotation for this entry, there was not more than a couple of graphs that didn’t include specific attacks, so choosing one would suggest that I was agreeing with that particular rage. Not the case. The fact is, I spent the entire piece agreeing excitedly and disagreeing angrily. Intellectual Whiplash!
But here is a link and here is a pullquote:
Film journalists and filmmakers have lost the instinct to question the presumptions of their own privileged class. Third-raters with more temerity than talent rule. Every word of praise for Clooney, Baumbach and their mendacious colleagues demonstrates the preening self-satisfaction of a media canton incapable of self-scrutiny, heedlessly celebrating its own kind. Now that the privileged children of ’60s dissent have risen to power, they discourage the moviegoing public from coming together in assent.


Is The Deep End Too Shallow Or The Shallow Too Deep?

From Today’s THB
“When MovieCityNews came into the world three years ago, it was simpler. Instead of rewriting other people’s stories as our own, we linked to the papers and web sites who we felt did the best job with the stories or if we could, to the reporter who originated the story. We also created our own content – and a lot of it – with writers who were veteran professionals more than capable of handling top reporting jobs at any outlet.
But as the blog world grew, the discussion about the aggregated stories expanded. A thrown telephone could be discussed for months. And, as usual, the really important stuff that is hard to report slipped between the cracks in most quarters. Suddenly, tiny stories that were really quite meaningless started to become “news” because there were so many people looking to make news, that they needed more fodder.
And now we see a more aggressive approach to the web by traditional media. On the film side, there is The Hollywood Reporter’s Anne Thompson assuring on hiring that her weekly column will be freely accessible on the web and then starting a blog of her own under the Reporter banner. The L.A. Times starts The Envelope, featuring a grand total of zero writers who have ever delivered news on a daily basis scrambling to do daily news (in an arena where there is almost no real news


Kaus On Goldstein

Quoting Kaus’ entire citation
That’s how I feel about sex! The LAT’s Patrick Goldstein attacks Oscar prediction blogging, then produces the Buried Weasel Graf of the Week:
Full disclosure: I write an Oscar prediction column too, but I do it once a year, not 47 times a week.
Goldstein adds, “without getting into the Academy Award prediction business full-time, I may be doing an Oscar podcast in the near future too.” … That’s OK. Go ahead, do it full-time! As long as you let us know you’d really rather “wrestle with questions about what our movies say about America today.” God help us.
… P.S.: Hollywood is an isolated subculture populated by quirky egomaniacs, and movies have long lead times. They are lousy barometers of “America today.” Indeed, wrestling with “what movies say about America today” is usually just a disingenuous, intellectually flattering, week-in-reviewish way of writing about glamorous stars and directors and attracting lucrative movie ads. At least Oscar handicappers are open and straightforward about what they’re doing. … 5:55 P.M.


A New Level Of Arrogance

All I can say is, “Wow!”
Slandered by Patrick Goldstein in the morning… the attacking paper wanting free content for their effort in the afternoon.
The e-mail….
—–Original Message—–
From: Rushfield, Richard
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 2:09 PM
To: Rushfield, Richard
Subject: Your response sought
Dear Blogger,
As you may have seen, this morning the LA Times Calendar Section published a piece by columnist Patrick Goldstein taking on the phenomenon of online Oscar prognostication and the effect of blogs and the web rumor mill on entertainment coverage at large. You can read the full piece here:,0,2796255.story?coll=env-home-headlines
The Envelope, the Times’ awards site, would like to open up the debate on this question and invite you to respond to the Goldstein column. Over the next few days, we will feature on The Envelope site the responses of prominent bloggers and online entertainment reporters to the column.
If you would like to join the debate, please send your response to me at this address and we will post them quickly. Hope you can weigh in and share with us your perspective and experience on this issue. But please, as we are still a family corner of the internet, we’ll have to ask you to check any profanity at the door.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Best wishes,
Richard Rushfield
Senior Editor

Breathtaking. The first thing that actually generates any attention for The Envelope is a piece attacking everyone else. Think of the journalistic significance of that. The only thing left to build the LA Times film coverage on is bitter rage and the subsequent aftermath. Worthy of Karl Rove.
I will not be participating. I have said my share. And any discussion about whether the awards season has gotten out of hand will be on my own terms, not in response to Patrick Goldstein’s blathering.
But then again, Jeffrey Wells is already basking in the glow of being called “The Lewis Black of Oscar Blogging” and Tom O’Neil is sending out links to Goldstein and his lame response under the subject line, “OSCAR BLOGGERS BITCH FIGHT!”
Can we get any lower?


Not So Indie Spirit

The winners?
Sony Classics


Oy, Patrick

You know, Patrick


Spielberg's Wished

I sat on Laura Holson


Who Isn't…

… going to replace the place in the movie world of Spielberg, Scorsese, and Lucas?
There are a lot of good young directors in the world. But has anyone come close to stepping up into that space that these men have occupied for more than 25 years now?
You could argue Peter Jackson in for Lucas, maybe. Limited palette. Building an empire outside of the Hollywood system.
But have we found anyone who is close to Scorsese? (Meirelles is brilliant, but already 50.)
Will we ever see an impresario like Spielberg, combining his own films and the production of many big hits from others, ever again?
It isn’t going to be Roland Emmerich or Bryan Singer or Brett Ratner or Sam Raimi or The Wachowskis or Michael Bay or even Pixar. Or will it?


Devin Gordon Reviews King Kong

We are shockedshocked by Universal trying to pass off a review as a feature for the howevermanyeth time. (I’m guessing that Devin Gordon didn’t have to give up his Blackberry when he saw the film.)
(Note: The piece has a number of spoilers.)
And as though by an act of God, after going all the way to New Zealand to see the film… Gordon LOVED it!!! A miracle! One wonders why Newsweek, which has handled the transition to the web better than any of its competition, continues to degrade its film staff by whoring them out like this. With due respect to top critic David Ansen and all the other fine writers on that staff, the line has been blurred beyond recognition for all but industry and anal people who care about such distinctions. And, of course, studios that want to pretend reviews are not reviews.
That said, an outlet receiving a studios DNA and smearing it all over itself like so much moisturizer does not necessarily make it wrong about the quality of a movie. And I hope Devin/Newsweek’s monkey love is reasonable or even understated.
Universal will junket the film later this week in NY, where the film will allegedly be shown on something less than a final print. Anyone who is not junket press will allegedly not be shown the film. But a real print is scheduled to be shown for the first time on Sunday, for Academy members… we’ll see how many press get into that screening (20 is the over/under). The press will officially be shown the film under we-don’t-trust-you/we-want-perfect-conditions conditions on Monday.
I believe that Kong will be a creative success and a massive hit.
But what tends to piss me off is the notion that anyone ever allows themselves to believe that a story like this is anything other than mutual backscratching, by design and intent.
More about all of this on Monday


Sunday Estimates/Analysis 11/27/05

Using BoxOfficeMojo, it is impossible to be sure, since their in-depth numbers only go a few years back, but it looks like this 5-day Thanksgiving may break the record set in 2000 when the second weekend of The Grinch combined with $80 million combined launch of Unbreakable and 102 Dalmations.
For clarity, the $162.1 million 3-day is second to the 2000 record-holding Grinch weekend. But the 5-day may be the best ever, given that Rent, Just Friends and others were a bit front-loaded at the box office.
If indeed this is the second straight record-breaking weekend at the box office, what angle will the boo birds use to keep the dream of a box office apocalypse going? Bet on a lot of chatter about ticket prices being higher than ever and a focus on approximated numbers of ticket sold (since there are no public reports on the actual numbers of tickets sold, expect for the MPAA


Early Friday Estimates by Klady

(Note: A mistake on the Harry Potter estimate was made earlier and has now been corrected. My spologies.)
Looks like Potter will hit $200 million in 10 days… with less than $35 million to go to reach that landmark.
Joaq The Line will be short of $60 million in 10 days, but still solid and likely enough business to lock up a Best Picture nomination, as the perception of business success is an important part of the Oscar positioning.
Chicken Little looks like it will have more like 125 million acorns at the end of 10 days.
Just Friends, on the other hand, will be lower than I thought yesterday, topping out at about $15 million for 5.
Rent is still heading to $20 million over 5… and $50 must feel a long way away. Alexander opened to about the same numbers last year and got to $34 million. A similar opening three years ago, Treasure Planet got to $38 million.
Title / Distributor / Gross* / Theaters / % Change
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / WB / 23.6 / 3858 / -28%
Walk the Line / Fox / 7.9 / 3138 / +3%
Yours, Mine and Ours / Par / 7.3 / 3206 / New
Chicken Little / BV / 5.5 / 3475 / +55%
Rent / Sony / 4.4 / 2433 / New
Just Friends / New Line / 3.7 / 2505 / New
Pride and Prejudice / Focus / 2.7 / 1299 / +332%
In the Mix / Lions Gate / 1.8 / 1608 / New
Derailed / Wein Co / 1.8 / 2061 / -15%
Ice Harvest / Focus / 1.5 / 1550 / New
Zathura / Sony / 1.5 / 2620 / +2%
Also Debuting
Syriana / WB / 0.13 / 5 / n/a


Is Being Gay On The Big Screen A Win?

Fron a Slate interview with a writer who feels that Rent was ripped off, in part, from here work…
“Slate: Let me play devil’s advocate. Isn’t Rent progressive? It revolves around people with AIDS. It shows men kissing, women kissing


Kool Aid Time

With due respect to Anne Thompson, the idea of connecting trouble in the American auto business and alleged “trouble” in the film business is horrfying. It speaks directly to my greatest fear… that the intellectual debate about what the future of the film business is will be reduced to non-specific ramblings and irrational connections between things that are utterly unconnected.
In the most simplistic analysis, the auto business is completely different than the film business. The auto business has not been dominated by America the way that the film business dominates the world business in a long, long time. G.M. or any manufacturer release their product line once a year and sell that line for a year. While making a film does take time, no one film involves the kind of massive investment that an auto line does. And no studio, since the end of the studio system in the late 60s, has ever suffered or benefitted from trend buying the way the auto business is. Studios are not building SUVs only and seeing the trend suddenly turn away from that style.
Stealth may have crashed, but another studio tentpole, Fantastic Four, did terrific. Yes, Disney lost by chasing the Asian girl horror trend with Dark Water. But that was one movie with a small loss… and the lesson was learned. And a few months later, girls drove The Exorcism of Emily Rose to huge profits. The ship of movie state is much more flecible than that of the auto business.
And the argument that the connection is that the film business is slow to adapt is completely counter-intuitive.
The DVD business is five years old!!!
How many times must one say it? The DVD business, which expanded revenues by 30% to 40%, is only five years old!
Anne restates the same utterly false, completely unproven notion that texting is speeding up word-of-mouth to lightening speed. Besides people mouthing this absurdity a lot over the last year, what proof is offered? Forget details… just show me a Friday/Saturday drop that suggests it. Second weekend drops are not new. So if things are going faster, it should be seen on Saturdays, right? And before you use Rent as an example, you’ll need to find a teenager who saw the movie on Wednesday.
We have seen this kind of hysteria before. It comes and goes. And it DOESN’T mean that there is nothing wrong. Many things are wrong. But this experiential journalism – for which the web must take some responsibility – is for shit. None of us who write about this business are the target for the business. Yet we write endlessly about how we feel… and now that extends to the major papers and teh trades. This is getting very dangerous.
No one who knows anything about the record business will tell you that the troubles that occured in the 90s were a result of technology so much as a result of record company greed. Pricing was just to high.
And for some reason, all these people who are screaming about the end of the movie world as we know it and the NEED to chase technology (let’s not even get into the lack of screaming that the studios should have converted theaters to digital projection years ago and could be saving a billion dollars a year now) don’t seem to understand that the entire push for home delivery is about expanding the costs of films at home… not serving the consumer more effectively.
If you serve the customer more effectively, the price families spend to receive films at home will go down, not up! And if you prioritize the home experience over the theaterical window followed by the home window, it will go down even further.
The only two arguments for shrinking the window further are: 1. Serving the blockbuster and 2. the notion that people will pay a significant premium for seeing movies on opening weekend at home.
If either of these notions disturb you… and I would bet that both notions would disturb Anne Thompson and Patrick Goldstein as the primary drivers, since neither have written about them… then you have to be taking a stand on the side of strengthening the theatrical business and window before getting to a wide open ancillary business. If not, you are sure to be like the girl who sleeps with the guy on their first date to “get him” and wonders why he then leaves her because he thinks she is a whore.
The film business is a long relationship. The one night stand mentality is not progress.


Early Thanksgiving Day Estimates

Can Harry Potter IV pass $200 million in 10 days or less? That is the golden question for the weekend.
Walk the Line should near $60 million in 10 days by the time the weekend ends. The solid show in a second weekend bodes well for a nice run into Christmas and position as the highest grossing awards movie when Oscar nominations are released in late January


Funny What Gets Us Excited This Time Of Year…

Over the weekend, BFCA members got a note from The Angellotti Company explaining tha we won’t be getting Munich, King Kong, or The Producers screeners until after release. And this:
“Universal wishes to convey that there will be no press conference with Steven Spielberg of anyone attached to MUNICH as there will be no junket for the film. No other press group will receive an opportunity to interview the cast or filmmakers until much closer to the film’s release on December 23.
Also, we have just been informed that, sadly, Mel brooks will not participate in THE PRODUCERS junket in New York. Mr. Brooks will not be available to any other group or journalists either.”

Never occured to me that Spielberg not junketing Munich was news… since we all knew this was the case since early October. In fact, there was talk amongst his production team about actually releasing the film with no trailer, no poster and no screenings until the first public screening. That idea didn’t even get into meetings at Universal.
The history is that Spielberg doesn’t test screen and tends to say “no junket” until at the last minute they decide there might not be enough buzz and they throw something together. Spielberg had Tom Hanks dump a lot of media obligations to reshoot the ending of The Terminal less than two weeks before release. For a long time, there was to be no junket for Saving Private Ryan. And I wouldn’t be shocked if a small junket suddenly comes together either right before X-Mas or right after New Years.
Steven does what Steven wants to do. Period.
Anyway… if this is news, I guess Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh’s decision not to come to L.A. at all to promote Kong is news. Old news.
Meanwhile, Tom O’Neil is crowing about George Clooney moving to Supporting Actor for Syriana… where they obviously hope he can movie star his way to a nomination in what is the leading role in the film. Good luck to them. To me… still not news.


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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