The Hot Blog Archive for February, 2008

Just For Variety

I just want to comment on the rumors that Movie City News is in talks to purchase Variety from Reed Elsevier…
But I have been told not to do so.
All I can say for now is that we have an unshakeable faith in Charlie Koones and appreciate that his exit from the publishing chair of the trade made sense when it became apparent that they were about to hold a fire sale rather than investing in a more aggressive future.


Patrick's From Venus…

I don’t read The Envelope. With due respect to some writers there I admire, the quality of the product is not good and the print version stands as a weekly testament to why print media is having such a hard time versus the web.
But I did look at the thing this morning, waiting on a director for an interview… and I saw this in Patrick Goldstein’s “Winners & Losers” piece
The Big Eight studios: Never has there been a greater gulf between the popcorn sensibility of the major studios and the quality consciousness of critics and academy members. With the exception of “Michael Clayton,” none of the best picture nominees was released by a major studio. The only studio that still consistently hits home runs with both critics and consumers is Pixar, which should get an Oscar for sustained excellence.
At first, I shortcutted a, “Wha?” But then I really gave it some thought. Patrick Goldstein is not stupid. He is not ignorant. He is not crazy. The piece suggests that he may be lazy, but…
First… what “big eight” studios? I count 6 majors (Disney, Fox, Par/DreamWorks, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros), MGM (which isn’t making movies on its own), and what, Lionsgate as #8? Weinstein Co? DreamWorks? Is that how he counts?
There are six “big” studios… period. Everyone else is an IPO waiting to happen.
Second, on what planet does he still delude himself into thinking that “the big six” are not in the Oscar game with their indie-minded Dependents? Has he noticed that three of the four Best Picture nominees “not from the big eight” are too expensive to qualify for The Independent Spirit Awards, whose price range has been overinflated for years? (And the one that did qualify, Juno, will win most of what it


The Deep New Blu

Both No Country For Old Men and Michael Clayton landed on my doorstep today in Blu-Ray… and all I can say is, “Wow.”
Neither is exactly a feast of extras. But the images…
We have seen many of these scene over and over and over again. But the image on Blu-ray is profoundly more beautiful, even on shots like The Coen’s simply doing a POV of a car zooming down a road.
Also racing into Blu are Ratatouille, 3:10 To Yuma, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, In The Valley Of Elah, Gone Baby Gone, and La Vie En Rose, but only in France. (Persepolis and Enchanted are soon due in the format from their studios and I’m wondering whether Sweeney Todd will delay for Blu-ray to be a Par/DW option.)
(Transformers, The Bourne Ultimatum, and I think, American Gangster are now available in HD only)
For the first time, The Academy membership could have the opportunity to see the films in contention is a format that is close to the quality of going to the movies. It is still not the same and will never replace it for me. But I think, even as HD died, Sony lost the oportunity this season of creating a block of “super delegates” who would spread the gospel of Blu-ray (the same was true of HD when the season started). The people who get screeners are a group in which a high percentage could afford to buy the hardware… but mostly have not, though I would get a significantly larger group than “overall American TV owners” have bought hi-def sets. With a few of the top titles in their mailbox in this remarkable format, not only could Sony have moved a bunch of Blu-ray players, but they had the chance to inspire bland loyalty and a lot of press around the format in the media… especially in a year with little Oscar news to report.
Would The Diving Bell & The Butterfly have gotten further with Blu-rays to watch? With all the problems I have with the third act of There WIll Be Blood, the Blu-ray will be an absolute must-buy, years beyond the 2-dvds it was sent out on by Paramount Vantage. Same with Michael Clayton‘s 2-disc send out, which was not very well done, even by straight DVD standards.
Me… I’m just thrilled to be looking at these terrific movies, as I once was just getting tapes and then getting DVDs, in such a wonderful way… while the season is still happening. And I am excited that hi-definition has created a greater interest in my life and work again for home entertainment. The ability to experience the work of our greatest filmmakers is this form, especially the catalog stuff – Kubrick is killin’ me – is like going back to the revival houses of my college years. Sensational.


The Beginning Of The End?

“Now others might be joining a movement. Well, I’m joining you on the night shift, and on the day shift.”
Hillary Clinton, slapping at the candidate that is beginning to run away with the race.
Yeah… Hillary is working that night shift… and that day shift. Blue Collar Clinton? Is she kidding?
A big part of her base has been older conservative Democrats, slow to move away from the familiar. But the idea of Hillary Clinton as “one of them” can be seen as nothing less than laughable, even to her most ardent supporters.
(Smartly, she is slowing the anti-rhetoric rhetoric. Her preaching against preaching will never work.)
And now… The Teamsters are going for Obama, all 1.4 million members.
Almost more profoundly, Jimmy Hoffa II is endorsing a black man for the American presidency.
People ask why I have an interest in the Oscar race. It’s because it is interesting political theater. But THIS is real political theater and some of the best in my adult lifetime. Whatever side of it you are on, it is really, really exciting.


Where The Wild Rumors Are

From WB –
Below please find a statement from director, Spike Jonze regarding Where The Wild Things Are in response to a clip that is being posted recently online.


Wow-Bama – 2.19.08

Driving around today, I had the chance to listen to the righties on talk radio. All Obama attack, all the time. It’s like the race is over in their minds.
After winning Wisconsin, John McCain gave a speech that sounded like a fall campaign stop, attacking Obama about 5 times to every shot at Clinton (both never named).
Then, after losing Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton was mouthing almost the same speech as the Republicans had all day.
It’s truly breathtaking. To see both sides of the aisle lining up against this man, spouting almost the same negative rhetoric, just makes him stronger and stronger. He is no longer the underdog, but how can we see him any other way when so much is against him? They keep trying to find the Kryptonite… but more and more, they are becoming the sun that is powering his flight.
What do you do if you are Hillary and have lost 10 states in a row? The tone of her attacks and the failure to stay on point is what made her so vulnerable in the first place. What we are seeing now makes perfect sense.
Meanwhile, Obama is already doing what Republicans have done so well… he is staying on point, no matter what the attacks.
And really, when has the American presidency ever been determined by facts and figures and not the great voice. People talk about the tallest candidate almost always winning, but what about the best orator?
23 states (and DC) to 10. 15 to go.


SAG Fight Tonight!

The growing wave of pre-contract civil war at SAG is making the WGA guys look like a bunch of unmitigated geniuses.
There are three fronts in the war.
1. We Don

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BYOB – Tuesday 2/19


Still Trying To Catch Up…



I'm Kinda Stunned

It was only a matter of time before Lindsay Lohan offered a direct answer to the most popular request at Mardi Gras. But I have to say… dumb move!
Did someone tell this poor, spiraling actress that she looked like a little naked girl with big breasts, no curves on any other part of her body, and a face that now looks like Marilyn’s less sexy sister after 30 years of sitting in the sun in Miami Beach?
I hate to spend time objectifying The Most Overly Objectified Living Woman On The Earth 2007, but it is a sudden nude photo display in New York Magazine (huh?). And aside from having a nice set of mammary glands… and in spite of having a nice set of mammary glands… shark… jump… eat… Fonzie… eat… Lindsay.
About the only thing I am less interested on seeing in Celeb World now is another shot of any part of Ms. Spears: The Elder’s anatomy.
Or maybe she is aiming at so low a bottom that we will all have to root for a comeback.


Klady's 4 Day Estimates



BYOB – President's Day… oy…

David “Not The Bagger Here” Carr kicks out an excellent column about Obama fever and the idea that it may actually be changing news viewing habits of the younger set (and more).
And btw, it finally occurred to me what a nasty spin the whole “Is Obama ready?” scam is… when you realize that Mrs. Clinton should be asked about how her husband had even less experience in international affairs when he took office.
The is that the last 30 years of The Presidency (five presidents) has consisted of 4 governors and one experienced Washington figure… George HW Bush. All governors come up against the question of international experience. And before Carter, you had the very experienced, very ineffective Gerald Ford, political maven Tricky Dick Nixon, smoky room man LBJ, and John F Kennedy


When Did Brian Lowry Become An Old Crank?

I clicked on Brian Lowry’s Variety column, titled “Strike unleashed Internet ire” and sub-headed, “Mob mentality rules on talkbacks, boards,” thinking… hmm… maybe he’s walking in the same footprints I set out last week, but ok, maybe he has something interesting to add…
Instead, we get what Variety has become the master of lately… vitriolic whining about the internet, no specifics, open acknowledgement that

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In Toronto

I’m in the great white north to participate in a celebration of the life of my friend, Dusty Cohl. It’s tomorrow morning at the Elgin Theater, a big house for a big man.
In the meanwhile, we dined this evening at one of the ultimate Dusty locations, the Spadina Gardens chinese restaurant, which was a “must stop” location every Tuesday night during the Toronto Film Festival… at Dusty’s insistence. It was a bit of a secret, as not everyone was invited. But the regulars included critics like Ebert, The Corlisses, Rex Reed, and some Canadian journos as well as a prime selection of execs, local heroes, friends, newbies… everyone that Dusty brought into his ever extending family.
As it turned out, we found this in front of the SG’s door tonight…
A trip uptown found this image familiar from annual visits to TIFF… but different…
And finally, as long as I am posting crap iPhone images… this one is from back in L.A… my favorite Oscar billboard ever…


The One Where Hollywood Shuts Down Without A Strike

Others have spoken to this, but I think it demands a headline…
New film production will stop around Tax Day if productive talks that seem to mean avoiding a strike are not well underway by then. As with so many of the windmills of the WGA strike, it’s not personal… It’s math.
Many of you know this already, but if you are mid-production with a flawed script, things are not optimal, but you don’t shut down either. If the actors walk, however, you do. That minute. Forever.
A SAG strike, even in the last week of production of an 8 week shoot is a disaster.
So, even if there never is a SAG strike, months of work can be lost. This time, it is a movie problem in a real way.
This is not to say that SAG shouldn’t strike if they feel they aren’t getting a good deal in bargaining. In fact, the ongoing threat of a SAG strike are far more potent than WGA’s were, if only because the economies of the WGA strike, for the studios, will not be revisited. A SAG strike would hurt from Day One and never stop hurting. Even reality programs would be hit, with star and host talent unlikely to be willing to cross the lines, even out of jurisdiction (meaning talk shows again).
This may all seem obvious to many of you, but like I said, it needs pointing to. Late June feels far away and people need time to heal. But the clock has started… And we’re just 2 months away from the first major shots across the bow.


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