The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2005

An Interesting Note From A Reader

Looking back on the last couple of years (that


Yesterday's Dreamamount Note To The Current Employees

First, thank you for the continued patience and dedication that you have demonstrated while we have worked through the details of the division of Paramount Pictures from CBS/Paramount Television. This has been a year of tremendous transition and we now have before us the task of planning for the integration of Paramount Pictures with DreamWorks SKG.
This process of integration analysis will involve us reviewing several areas of the company and looking for opportunities to optimize our organizational structure. Our goal will be to design an organization that has the most favorable operational environment and to have this process completed shortly after the close of the DreamWorks transaction.
Specifically, we are reviewing Information Systems and the worldwide Theatrical Distribution, Marketing and Television groups. Undoubtedly, very talented employees from both DreamWorks and Paramount will be impacted as a result of this review. The company will provide an enhanced separation package to those Paramount individuals who are displaced and will take all reasonable steps to help those individuals transition to other employment opportunities within the company and externally through outplacement.
For non-contractual Paramount employees, in consideration of executing a general release, the enhanced separation package will be based on two weeks of pay for each year of service, three months of company-paid COBRA and outplacement services. Contractual employees will receive a minimum of six months separation pay, three months company-paid COBRA and outplacement services or continued payments under their contract, whichever is greater.
Human Resources representatives will be available to consult with impacted employees and to outline in full detail the benefits to which they are entitled at the time final decisions are communicated.
While these tasks are never easy, we wanted you to hear from us that this review had begun. We also want you to be confident that we will communicate as much information as we can throughout this planning phase. And, more importantly, we want you to know that we are committed to making decisions quickly and doing all we can to minimize the impact of this transaction on our workforce.


And The Worst Ten..,

Continuing the theme of absolute mediocrity in 2005, I don’t have a very big list of truly terrible movies this year. As much as I hate some of these movies, I don’t even feel terribly excited about denouncing them.
But I will…


The Blood Fever At Dreamamount Builds

Going into the lovely New Year


Hate To Even Mention Him…

But a friend inspired me to reflect on Jeffrey Wells for a moment and with Sundance just a few weeks away, I was inspired to dig up WellsDance.


So You Know Why It's So Irritating…

We received this note earlier tonight…
I’ve being tracking your “2005 top tens” chart and it seems to me that the chart is maintained in a not very consistence way.
As of last weekend when “Brokeback mountain” was at the top of the chart, there are a lot more critics in “blue columns” rated it as their top ten choices and a few of them rated it as number 1.
What a difference a few days made, today I am amazed that those critics in blue columns mysteriously dissappeared and non of them rated Brokeback Mountain as number 1.
Meanwhile “A history of violence” suddenly got a lot more critics (and many more rated it as number 1) in the blue columns.
Is this intentional manipulation or there is a better explanation for it?

I responded…
I am trying to remain respectful, but your assertion is not only insulting, it is quite wacky. Still, I will indulge you.
The blue columns indicate the new updates only. When the next update comes, the last blue group is made brown and put in alphabetical order with the rest. I suppose there would be some interest in each update remaining color coded, but we decided years ago that it was easier this way.
The first chart had 10 Top Tens… 7 BBM votes, 0 at #1
Next batch of 10… 4 BBMs, 1 at # 1 (total 1)
18 more… 9 BMM (20 total), 3 #1s (4 total)
23 more… 14 BBM (34 total), 4 #1s (8 total)
20 more… 13 BBM (47 total) 1 #1 (9 total)
And our most recent update… in which BBM fell (apparently unbelievably) fell to #2…
34 more (115 total charts listed, adding such right wingers as B Ruby Rich and J Hoberman)
10 more votes for BBM (total 57)
0 at #1. (9 total)
Please note that huge BBM supporters, like B Ruby Rich, did an unnumbered chart. Also please note that every one of the people who voted for History of Violence as #1 in this last group did not vote for BBM at all. In fact, only Jack Mathews, Leah Rozen and Gene Seymour – all members of NYFCC – gave Brokeback a top ten vote of any kind after choosing HOV as #1.
For the record, HOV now has 11 #1 votes to BBM’s 9.
Every critic who has been on the list remains on the list.
Thank you for your concern. And if you have any more, please feel free to write again.

As I have said in here before… there is a fever around BBM that has some people – even some of whom are not mouth-breathing, drooling, OCD columnists – acting with a stridency that makes something as simple as a bunch of critics embracing another movie seem virtually impossible without a conspiracy attached.
It is exhausting… and unfortunately reminiscent of Passion of The Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 more than anything else in my online experience.


Movie Club Time

David Edelstein kicks things off with his Top 20
And then AO Scott, Scott Foundas, and Jon Rosenbaum kick in


The Worthiest?

1) “Baby Face” (1933)
2) “The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man” (1975)
3) “The Cameraman” (1928)
4) Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort, S.C., May 1940 (1940)
5) “Cool Hand Luke” (1967)
6) “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
7) “The French Connection” (1971)
8) “Giant” (1956)
9) “H2O” (1929)
10) “Hands Up” (1926)
11) “Hoop Dreams” (1994)
12) “House of Usher” (1960)
13) “Imitation of Life” (1934)
14) Jeffries-Johnson world championship fight (1910)
15) “Making of an American” (1920)
16) “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
17) “Mom and Dad” (1944)
18) “The Music Man” (1962)
19) “Power of the Press” (1928)
20) “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961)
21) “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
22) San Francisco earthquake and fire, April 18, 1906 (1906)
23) “The Sting” (1973)
24) “A Time for Burning” (1966)
25) “Toy Story” (1995)


Weekend Estimates By Klady

4-Day Estimates / Weekend / % Change / Cume
King Kong / 30.8 / -58% / 118.2
The Chronicles of Narnia / 30.4 / -36% / 163.9
Fun With Dick and Jane / 23.2 / – / 30.7
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 / 14.6 / – / 19.8
Memoirs of a Geisha / 10.1 / 415% / 13.2
The Family Stone / 10.0 / -48% / 29.2
The Ringer / 8.2 / – / 8.2
Rumor Has It / 7.7 / – / 7.7
Wolf Creek / 6.1 / – / 6.1
Harry Potter & Goblet of Fire / 5.9 / -34% / 262.6


Saturday Estimates by Mojo

Not a lot of change from Klady’s Friday numbers.
King Kong did finally hit $100 million on Day 11.
Brokeback Mountain tripled its screen count on Friday and, not surprisingly, stayed about even on the gross level.
According to these Saturday estimates, Christmas Eve day is up about 11% from last year, but it is much more spread out. Meet The Fockers did $7.2 million on the 24th last year. This year, Narnia/Kong did $9.7 million on top… and then there were five $1 million-plus films this year after the Top Two and only three last year after the Top One.
Through the 24th, measured by the daily Top Tens, December is up about 15% this year. And the last week of the year


The Munich Attacks

It’s one of those weird Old Media/New Media things that I now keep reading about Munich‘s critical “comeback” as some sort of response to “Internet attacks.”
That is, to put it delicately, bullshit.
The core of the negative hum was Todd McCarthy in good old Variety, David Brooks in the good old New York Times, and one-sided opinion-pulsing by the good old wire services, which couldn’t wait to get a full picture of the Israeli reaction before doing exacty what they did earlier in the year – when they gave endless media attention to the crackpots who felt they needed to be consulted before Spielberg could make his movie – which is to jump the gun.
And of course, the excuse for the attacks? Old Media Time Magazine got an exclusive, did (in my opinion) a piss-poor job with the free pass they were given, and so muscular media types, forced into feeling like “outsiders,” lied to by Universal about Spileberg access, decided to take the other side and to attack the film.
Of course, Nikki Finke, who started this insanity with her feverish report on the non-news of a Munich non-junket, fiercely considers herself Old Media and her sense of righteousness on the story came from Old Media friends who patted her hard on the back for her non-scoop scoop and then ran their (LAT/NYT) own feverish versions of the non-story.
It is cheap and intellectually lazy to blame the web for this unneccesary fever. Ironically, one of the key defense claims by OM against the web – that everything starts with old media and that the web simply reflects their work – has been flipped on its head here… a coincident convenience in a case where it is looking like the worm is turning.
And with due respect to Anne Thompson, the notion that power reviews have now started pouring in for Munich are a reflection of “the intenet attacks” and are not as sincere as those critics would normally be assumed to be is kind of stunningly insulting to everyone involved – even though I don’t think it was a notion so intended. I don’t know Stephen Hunter, but I do know Dargis, Ebert, and Mathews and I wouldn’t want my head in between their fingers and their keyboards when they want to write something. And she didn’t even include Slate/NY Mag’s David Edelstein, who called Munich the best of the year, even though his breathren in New York would have argued the point hard against him during their post-screening beer.
Anyway… this seems to me to be another variation on the theme of internal combustion in the media these days. Take a few strong voices, obsess on them for a week, then find excuses for why things change a week later. There are no excuses needed, since things didn’t change… they just evolve normally. It is the downside of Slow Media trying to speed up. When everyone is hyper-fast in “reporting,” then everything is an alleged reaction to everything else. And most people are not as OCD as those of us covering this beat are. Not should they be.
Slow down.


Friday Estimates

King Kong / Uni / 8.4 / 3576 / 95.7
Chronicles of Narnia / BV / 8.2 / 3853 / 141.3
Fun with Dick & Jane / Sony / 5.6 / 3045 / 13.1
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 / Fox / 3.9 / 3175 / 9.2
Memoirs of a Geisha / Sony / 2.7 / 1547 / 5.8
The Family Stone / Fox / 2.4 / 2469 / 21.6
The Ringer / Fox / 2.3 / 1829 / 2.3
Harry Potter & Gob Fire / WB / 1.6 / 2521 / 258.3
Munich / Uni / 1.4 / 532 / 1.4
Syriana / WB / 1.1 / 1724 / 26.7
Brokeback Mountain / Focus / 0.7 / 217 / 5.6
Also Debuting
Cache / SonyCla / 16.5 / 5 / –
The White Countess / SonyCla / 14.5 / 10 / –
Boy, do I not want to be the first to point this out… but King Kong will take longer to get to $100 million than The Hulk.
More eventually…


From Another Post

A commenter brought up an interesting notion for some holiday pondering… what would have happened by now to the “great stars” who died before their time?
Would Marilyn Monroe be in Rumor Has It?
Would James Dean by married to Barbra Streisand… or Kevin Spacey?
Would John Belushi doing Brian Cox roles or Eugene Levy roles?


My Weekend Homework

Before I do my Top Ten list next week, I’m feeling a distinct need to go get The White Diamond, Kings and Queens, and The Beat My Heart Skipped and watch them before I finish up.
It is safe to assume that I have seen all the studio stuff that may qualify, but anyone else want to add to my burden?


The Hot Blog

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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