The Hot Blog Archive for January, 2009

Another Bad Sign

I clicked on The Daily Beast, an infrequent click, with all that is going on today with layoffs, etc. And here is what I saw…
Nevermind that Blago and Caroline Kennedy for Senator are old news.
Do you see what doesn’t fit?
Embarrassing. Desperate. Clicks through to “Sponsored Blogs & Stories,” Presented by Ben Button… “A Daily Beast Promotion.
Expect to see more of the same on more desperate sites on this panacea known as The Web.


Slumdog Million-Var

If you want to know how Slumdog Millionaire is costing writers their jobs at Variety, just look on the trade’s website.
My first inkling came over the weekend, when ads for The Dark Knight were still running on the site. Warner Bros, which was enthusiastically looking forward to an aggressive Phase II campaign for Best Picture, is mostly out of the game after nominations last Thursday. And nothing else was showing up on the site.
Today, it got worse.
Click on the first time and you get a Benjamin Button pop-up. (Watch for Par


Another Rough Day At Variety

As Sharon Waxman sets off on rough seas that would likely sink her new venture even if it was more cleverly conceived (more on this later), word that some big names are heading out the door at Variety.
Maddy Hammond, one of the town’s great networkers and a big part of the Bart support system, was let go on Friday… I believe the same day she returned from Sundance.
Two other big bylines, one of which had a recent change in position at the company, joining Madeleine’s now-dying group, didn’t get back until this weekend.
The more ironic of the names was brought on board at the paper specifically because of the internet appeal developed over years.
The great and pressured question of the moment is, what will become of all this talent?
Sharon Waxman has been asking names to be on the site’s list of “contributing editors” without pay, contribution, or any other responsibilities. Presumably she is paying Kim Masters, but likely at “better than unemployment” rates (something we at MCN started at and grew out of for our established writers a few years back). None of the single voice blogs that are perceived to be successful have the money to hire even at “better than unemployed” rates, no matter how loud they crow as they toldja about themselves. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety are both contracting. LAT lost much of its underpaid awards season staff to the inability to pay last year’s wages. Etc, etc, etc.
As someone who still has a business that is creating enough revenue to employ over its head, it


DP/30 @ Sundance – Paper Heart

As per at least one request, director/co-writer Nicholas Jasenovec, actors Jake Johnson and Michael Cera, and co-writer/star Charlene Yi sit down with DP to discuss their Sundance release, Paper Heart.
The video interview after the jump…

Read the full article »


DP/30 @ Sundance – Bobcat Goldthwaite – World's Greatest Dad

A chat with Bobcat Goldthwaite about his second Sundance film, World’s Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams… and his first, “the dog sex movie.”
The interview after the jump…

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Great SNL Sketch While I Was Gone…


Paper Hearts Wins Sudance Award For Screenwriting, But…


The Re-Creation Heard 'Round The 'Dance

You may have heard about the fight between “The Dude” aka Jeff Dowd and John Anderson, film critic at Sundance. If you haven’t been following our coverage on The MCN Sundance Blog, here is a look at our re-creation, co-starring who else but Michael Jai White… and Dowd’s detailed explanation, after the jump…

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DP/30 @ Sundance – Black Dynamite

For those who are interest, the co-writers and, respectively, director (Scott Saunders) and star (Michael Jai White) of Black Dynamite. take some time off from kicking ass for a chat.
The video interview is after the jump…

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This Slumdog Moment Brought To You By The Film's Publicist…

Slumdog Millionaire Exceeds Expectations in Achieving the 3rd Highest Opening Day Box Office Amongst all Hollywood Studio Releases in India
Slumdog Millionaire opened in India on 351 screens this past weekend to universally positive press reviews. It now holds the record as having the 3rd highest opening day numbers amongst all Hollywood studio releases in India ever. The first is Spider-Man 3 and the second is Casino Royale. The box office increased by over 33% on its second day of release. It also now holds the record for the highest box office figures for any Fox release in the country. The per screen average of Slumdog Millionaire is higher than the #1 film, Raaz 2. The total box office for the weekend is just under $2 million US dollars.

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You know… I am actually thrilled for Slumdog Millionaire, Fox Searchlight, Danny Boyle, et al, and I will soon explain why in greater depth.



The 3 inevitable Oscar winners also win PGA tonight…
Slumdog, Wall-E, Man on Wire.
Need more be said?


Friday Estimates by Klady – 1/24/09

Not much of note, even at this late hour.
A $19 million opening for an Underworld film without – even pretending to have – Kate Beckinsale is fine.
Slumdog is getting a nice Oscar bump, but with about 2.5x the screens, not overwhelming.
Ben Button’s pop is smaller.
Gran Torino remains a commercial film, appropriately without big Oscar noms, and people still want to see Clint force people off of his lawn.
WB seemed intent on proving they had no idea what to do with NL leftover Inkheart... and they were right. The failure doesn’t make it any less embarrassing that 3 of WB’s top five films of the last year came from the all-but-dead NL.


Sex Sells: Kutcher Spreads To Anchor Bay & TVA For Just Under $4m

By Gregg Goldstein
In the biggest sale of this year’s Sundance fest, the Ashton Kutcher sex dramedy, Spread, sold US and Austrailian rights to Overture’s sister company, Anchor Bay and Canadian rights to TVA in a deal totaling just under four million dollars.
It’s a rare case of the top Sundance sale coming just before the end of the festival. Graham Taylor of Endeavor Independence and Roeg Sutherland of CAA spearheaded the deal.
It could be the biggest release so far for Anchor Bay, which plans an aggressive late summer release. Anne Heche also stars in the Shampoo-like tale of an ambitious almost-gigolo.
(more to come)


Let The Idiotic Oscar Second Guessing Begin!

I said it before the nominations, but allow me to reiterate…
1) I have met a grand total of zero Oscar voters over 55 who LIKED The Dark Knight, much less would Top Five it.
We weight guessers of Oscar convinced ourselves that cynical desperation for a false idea of a ratings benefit would cause a nomination. We were, happily, wrong… not because I am rooting against The Bat, but because I feel this was a more honest outcome.
2) The notion that The Dark Knight or Wall-E being BPed would improve the ratings more than a quarter point was an idiotic notion to begin with. With all due respect, mega-hit that it is, TDK is not the cultural phenom that Titanic or 3 years of Rings was.
The Academy Awards ratings will continue to dip no matter what films are nominated. The shows that pander to audience loves are and have been doing less that a fifth the viewership that the Oscars have. But Oscar ratings will keep slipping because the season is too long and the marketing efforts often eat the heat. Even the brilliant Dark Knight DVD push… it ate all of the remaining heat around the film and what else is left? There are only so many calls to action that people will respond to.
Push Oscar into late January. Noms close the same date, but are turned around in less than a week. And the ballots go out 4 days later. The show is the last Sunday in January… or the first in Feb if neccessary.
It’s called momentum. It’s owning the story all month for one month instead of trying – ironically like Oscar ambitlious “early” releases – to sustain importance for months. Is too much to ask in 2009.


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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