The Hot Blog Archive for September, 2010

Tool Businesses Vs Content Businesses

There has been a bit of violent conversation, starting with The Social Network, but expanding to the question of whether Facebook is really a Media Company.

Here’s what I think…

Since the web started, there have been two very different types of sites/services, etc. One kind is driven by content over which the site/service has (for the most part) control. Content Businesses. The other is the Tool Businesses category, in which I would include Yahoo!, YouTube, Google (which has expanded into other businesses now), and really, the browsers, RealPlayer, QuickTime, etc, etc, etc.

The mega businesses are – though there must be an exception somewhere – the Tool Businesses that give people tools to use the web in a new, inventive, or significantly more convenient way. Invariably, they realize, after massive valuations, that they need something proprietary to hang onto if they are going to last longer than, say, a decade. And usually, that’s when they start slipping.

It gets very blurry, especially as Traditional Media moves fully into New Media. The thing to hang onto is that, for instance, The New York Times, has been and always will be a niche business. It’s a niche of a few million and it is influential well beyond its reader base. But be clear, if a movie being released relied only on every NYT reader going to see it on opening weekend, the gross would be under $15 million. It’s not nothing. But Facebook has over 400 million users… and if one in forty sees The Social Network, it is a $100 million movie. That’s the mindfuck that everyone seems to be trying to sort out. Facebook is much less influential than the massive size of its base… in great part because the purpose of the site is not to be an influencer… which is an inherent reason why it is so widely popular.

Content has a naturally narrowing effect. Tools are just tools. Everyone needs a hammer, even if everyone uses it differently. Content doesn’t offer a hammer, but it tells you how to use it.

Another example… YouTube is an important site and its existence is influential. But they did something quite simple. They made streaming video free to the public and to businesses. The public and businesses took care of the rest. It wasn’t brain surgery. It was a big light bulb idea and a hugely risky one at that. As the price of memory and streaming has dropped, YouTube has become closer to being a financially viable long-term operation. Had the cost of streaming/memory not dropped, they might not be in business today. But for all the content on YouTube, the site itself is a Tool Site, first and last. Giving people something they didn’t have before for free is not content creation… it’s offering a tool people want at a perfect price point… major… but not content.

Even The Huffington Post launched as more of a Tool Business pretending to be a Content Business. The Tool was this idea of aggregating more than a sample of content. They focused on a very specific market, stole most of their content from others by creating branded ad-ready pages that offered other people’s content, and did just enough original content to convince the public that it was a content play. But being The Liberal Site was limiting for a Tool Business, so they quickly expanded to soft-core porn, gossip, sports, etc… not their original concept at all.

HuffPo is now working hard to become the content site they promised, as they now face new challenges. Their Tool was not unique enough to dominate. And perhaps aware that soon the whip will crack and Traditional Media will start protecting their content much more aggressively, destroying their tool of choice. So they are down to Huffington’s strong suit… self promotion. In the current media culture, a dozen voices is enough to be real in the content world… so they are… now… even as they milk free writing from others and still steal content with seeming impunity, so long as they keep Mrs Huffington up front, regally claiming to have already won the war.

And by the way, this is not just a web business reality. Blockbuster was a “tool” business. It didn’t create the content it rented. It just came up with a better way to get it to people. It was followed, evolutionarily, by Netflix, first with subscription-based mailed DVDs and now with streaming. But as you have seen, Netflix is now trying to evolve from Tool Business to Content Business, as their idea of streaming is not in any way proprietary and subscriptions are driven by content, not by how cool Netflix is. They are grossly overpaying for content in a bid to plant their flag in the streaming business (still a Tool Business) so firmly that when the industry converts its libraries fully, the Tool is made ubiquitous, and post-theatrical relies on being a Content Business again (not as good a business), they will not be left out.

And just for fun, a note that Nikki Finke and Deadline Hollywood is 100% a Content Business… and will never grow past the narrow base. This doesn’t mean it cannot be successful in that context… though by trying to expand the business into something beyond the strongest personality to hit movie coverage in decades (for better or worse), there is jeopardy of spending more than can be earned. My sense of it is that the folks at MMC have confused Content with Tool and think they can convert to the much wider-based model. And who knows, maybe they are the geniuses who can change the game completely. Probably not. Going from Content to Tool is, it seems to me, almost impossible.

So… I wish I was in the Tool Business mindset. It is where all the real money is. It’s not some backhanded insult to Facebook to say it is a Tool Business and neither a media business nor a Content business. Neither was MySpace or Friendster, nor is Twitter. Rotten Tomatoes was and is a brilliant Tool Business… and frankly, the money they have spent on building their Content side is kind of a waste. They may make a success of it and it may be wonderful to spend time wandering through, but first and last, RT is what it started as… an aggregator and compiler. That business will always be worth more than any Content Business they can build under the brand. And this is likely true of Facebook and others.

You can’t get 20 million people to use a content site. One day for one announcement or something, sure. But in terms of an ongoing business, even 10 million is not a realistic expectation for Content Businesses. And, simply, none exist at that size now… or ever have. But Tool Businesses… sure. Because they serve a macro self-interest, not just a micro interest.


Poll du Jour – The Irony Of Death


Weekend Estimates by Klady, Money Never Hoots

Nothing much to add from yesterday…


Friday Estimates by Legends of the Never Sleeping Klady

So… WS2 will not open as well as The Town… but still, it’s a pretty solid number for a straight drama in September, even if it’s a sequel. These are Burn After Reading numbers, which were touted as miraculous back in 2008. (Burn was also a comedy… but Coens… so somehow it feels like a similar audience to me.) It’s certainly not the number that Fox wanted when they decided to do this sequel.

Excellent hold for The Town… nice hold for Easy A. Town has become “that movie” right now… the movie that adults are telling other adults they should get out of the house to go see.

Legends of The Owls Of Hookala Mookala (did I misspell that?) feels a bit like the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within effort… probably a lot more interesting than anyone just looking to go to the movies is interested in seeing. Given that it’s the first true family film to be widely released in a month, since Nanny McSequel, not so great. But there is this… the opening Friday is almost 4x the opening for Hoot!

Waiting For “Superman” opened on 4, like An Inconvenient Truth… but is about 37% off of the earlier film’s opening day, even though AIT opened on a Wednesday, lessening the opening Friday demand of the rabidly interested. Of course, if this percentage holds, W4S will be a $15m doc… which would be a big success any way you cut it.

And I have no idea what the hell Liosngate is up to with Buried. They don’t do 11 screen releases unless they are dumping a film or rolling out a doc or Oscar film, like last year’s Precious. No idea. But it looks like Ryan Reynolds is dead meat now.


You Again director Andy Fickman


Mini-Review: Wall Street 2

I wish I could say that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was a worthy successor to Oliver Stone’s classic. It’s not. And mostly because it, not unlike The Godfather 3, misses the heart of what made the first film work… a story that both illuminated the mysteries of Wall Street and was clear enough to resonate with the audience.

It was probably too soon for this film – which was also an issue with W, though I thought that film was a bit more successful in its goals – as the Wall Street crisis of 2008, still going, hasn’t quite been crystallized. The pieces are here, but they seem kinda thrown together hours before shooting and don’t get as clear as they need to be. Josh Brolin‘s Bretton James is the leading example of this. He’s an interesting character with multiple motives in play throughout his arc, but instead of representing the dark side of Wall Street’s smile-while-you’re-stabbing-others culture, he becomes party to some convoluted revenge plot out of a lighthearted heist comedy in which the victim is getting his comeuppance from decades earlier… but not a good one.

Likewise, Carey Mulligan‘s character, daughter of Gekko, is a Rubber Stamp Woman character, there as a whinny Greek Chorus to the men, willing to do as she is told when push comes to shove. What a waste. Personally, I would LOVE to see a movie with a seriously considered character of a young woman who lived in the shadow of That Guy and has real human reactions to that experience. What is it really like to be pre-TV Ivanka Trump… or one of Spitzer’s daughters… or Lizzie Grubman? We get only the surface and too much fake mystery that turns out not to be mysterious, but leads to a weird passivity when things change.

The movie doesn’t have the courage to make Gordon Gekko a better man than the ones who followed him to Wall Street leadership. The movie doesn’t have the courage to make Gekko, in clear terms, an equivalent to what followed him. Really, it does two stories, which don’t really add up. First is the “Gekko Returns & How With He Regain His Position” movie and the second is the “Shia learns just how ugly Wall Street can be, but never really confronts how ugly he is when the movie starts.” Neither really works on its own and neither really works as part of a whole.

All that said, it is a sequel, for better and worse. It’s an okay movie, but not a very good movie for the “betters,” like familiar characters and themes we go in already liking and some really good actors (including the odd casting of Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon as JEWS). On the “worse,” there is what feels like an indifference to really making the story work, perhaps an arrogance in trying to do too much in order to make a sequel better or more valuable than the original. So I didn’t hate the film. But man, was it frustrating.

I am an Oliver Stone fan. He is a maniac, but he is also a tortured artist. His best work in recent years has been as a documentarian and I expect that to continue. I may not agree with every view he has and chooses to discuss in his one-sided docs, but when he has a strong point of view, the work is always fascinating. WS:MNS is not.


DP/13 – Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps actor Shia LaBeouf

It’s Shia. It’s iPhone. It’s not pretty. But still, I think worth watching for the Shia experience and some interesting insights into how he got into the WS2 role.

BYOB Weekend

The weekend’s here and it’s going to hot in the City of Angels. Woo hoo.

You’re up…


Sad SAG Swan Song

I don’t even know how to express how it feels to read Nikki Finke’s breathless coverage of the latest steps in SAG’s dismantling. It was the future that many of us saw coming, as she made her name by cheering along unions, starting with WGA, into the terrible choices that are leading to the most severe marginalization of the talent unions since they the days of the old studio system.

I certainly can’t blame her for the wrong choices being made. She just used the opportunity to promote herself and an agenda that she could not have understood, lest she realize that she was basically working for AMPTP’s goals. And I don’t think she would do that, no matter how much she relies on top execs of AMPTP companies to give her information hours before anyone else.

AMPTP won every conflict in the last go round. They fed WGA Pyrrhic victories while using DGA, the union least reliant on the residual system for their members, to keep the union from holding out any longer than allowed the studios to clean their books of a wide swath of deals. The lack of any union backing them up, combined with AFTRA buried SAG’s then-leadership’s efforts to protect the middle class of talent. And the argument that old issues cannot be reopened – as in, “we can’t re-open DVD… we’re just going to focus on the internet” – suggests that there is no happy ending on the way, unless you are singularly focused on union mergers and keeping the machine going at any cost to actors (1st) and then other creatives in lessening pain down the line.

We’re at that moment where the Republicans are now, claiming that this is Obama’s recession and any mention of Bush’s economic policies are “looking backwards” when we should be “looking forward.” But everything that the “Membership First” group predicted and was shouted down over, like they were hysterics, has started coming true. Reruns are dead. AFTRA keeps eating more of the network schedules with less stringent contracts, especially on residuals. And the best friend Netflix, Hulu, and other online streamers have against the cable/satellite world is the crappy contracts for streaming, which make those deals even more attractive to the studios.

It’s hard, because many people who are not only well-intended, but who are unquestionably honorable and very smart often line up on the side of it that I feel is dangerous. Some of those people are actual friends. And I, and those who believe as I do about these issues, would love to be wrong… would be thrilled to be told “We told you so” instead of the other way around.

Sad days. Hollywood’s correction is probably about 85% done and the industry will start getting seriously healthy again, leaner and meaner, next year or the year after. The unions, mostly SAG, are a significant percentage of that correction and will be a bigger percentage in these upcoming years. And that’s a real shame, as working actors were never the problem for this industry’s bottom line.

Of course, everyone will survive and jobs with be had and some will get rich. Many of the victims of this transition will be invisible, aspiring actors who are forced to give up their dreams before they have crawled their way into “working” status. And yes, many will still overcome this hurdle out of sheer determination. Another vulnerable group will be actors who make a living acting, but not a consistent six-figure annual income. Not only will they suffer with a continuing slide in how much they make for each job they do, from start to residuals, but they will struggle to earn enough to get benefits that used to be a relatively easy target to achieve for even modestly successful working actors.

But hey… remember Alan Rosenberg playing guitar and wailing about how hard life is… wasn’t that funny? Isn’t it fun to mock the guy who almost lost his mind trying to fight for his beliefs? Not so much.


Daydream Nation actors Kat Dennings & Josh Lucas


Review – The Social Network (98.75% Spoiler-Free)

There are three key components to The Social Network.

First, there is the Aaron Sorkin screenplay, which is about as Aaron Sorkin as Aaron Sorkin gets. The first scene of the film – perhaps the best scene in the film – is textbook A.S. A ping-pong match of lust, hope, hate, power, naïveté, and fear… lots of fear… between our anti-hero, “Mark Zuckerberg,” and The Girl Who Would Cause Facebook.

In that scene, we also get a taste of how Element Two, director David Fincher, is going to play it. Straight. And with the exception of 3 or 4 gorgeously indulgent flourishes, he services the screenplay here, first and last. There has never been a Fincher film like it, really. And it reminds is that with his skill set, he can do anything he wants.

The third element is the actors. And Jesse Eisenberg is the Olivier to Sorkin’s Shakespeare, the Bill Macy to his Mamet. Eisenberg has always been engaging, but he was born to this text, both indulging Sorkin’s detailed rhythms (and much of the great cast of West Wing did) and avoiding the trap of sing songing it. You never catch Eisenberg acting for a second, even though his character, Mark Zuckerberg, often is.

This is a very strong movie. A terrific story told as well as, I would think, it could be told.

But… what is missing is metaphor. And I will admit, I have read as many of the raves as I could find, from Foundas’ embargo breaker to this morning’s Dargis NYT review, and I find no evidence of the universality they feel about the film. I think it’s instructive that most have gone outside of the film itself, to their personal feelings about social networks as well as philosophy about humanity as reflected by a wired world, to make the connections. The film, simply, does not. It doesn’t actually make the slightest effort to do so.

The film is about a boy genius that feels like an outsider within his role as one of the most insider-y institutions on the planet, Harvard. The film, for all the expansion beyond Harvard that occurs, never gets very far outside of the tiny, tiny bubble. Even the blaring disco in San Francisco is reduced down to a two-person scene. Sex occurs in bathroom stalls, impersonally, two people to a stall. Moving to California means a house with 4 people imported from Harvard and 3 visitors who don’t get much attention. When Facebook gets some money and more staff and offices, scene take place in closed rooms with glass walls or with characters who are focused only on what is on their computers.

Is that the Great Irony? Is that the Big Point?

Doesn’t say Big Theme to me.

The reason why Fincher’s career top remains Fight Club is that Chuck Palahniuk gave him a Shakespearian tale of man’s fight against himself from which to fly… and fly he did. Sorkin, who is a true master of language and with very few exceptions, does not go much deeper than the skin, doesn’t give Fincher that kind of big picture to work with here.

For me, the most fascinating element of all of this is that it happened so fast, so recently, and so painlessly. But this isn’t really a part of the film. You can surmise it. But Sorkin, as usual, is all about the characters and not about the wake they create.

And as a character study, this is masterful stuff. Fincher’s lush imagery flattens out the vaudevillian in Sorkin just enough to keep the entire enterprise tethered to terra firma. Sorkin’s characters bring Fincher’s brown just enough helium to float above the dirt. It is a perfect pairing.

As noted before, Eisenberg is perfect. Andrew Garfield takes another difficult role – he has to play the straight man here, but must not ask for too much sympathy or demand more from Zuckerberg than his friendship – and finds just the right notes to make is flawless. Armie Hammer (who came from an even cushier berth than his character here) hits it out of the park as God-like, but myopic twins. It’s a pretty perfect cast from top to bottom. (I like Justin Timberlake in the film… but he has never felt like he isn’t on camera while he’s on camera.)

But the ultimate scene stealers of the film are Douglas Urbanski as Larry Summers and Dakota Johnson’s ass. The rest of Dakota Johnson is actually quite arresting as well… and I don’t mean that as a comment on her looks. She has something really interesting going on in her eyes and a slightly quirky look that portends great things in the future. She stands out in a very interesting way. (And now that I have looked her up on imdb, I get it… she’s Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter. Completely makes sense.) I suspect that as years pass and we catch up with The Social Network on cable/satellite/internet, there will be “wow… she was in that?’ early performances for her and Rooney Mara. Anyway, Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth photograph her ass like it was the audience’s first ice cream cone.

I feel like I am on familiar 2010 ground here, a bit. Inception was the other film that I quite liked and also felt was being made into more than it is. In many ways, this film is St Elmo’s Fire for a next generation. After the first scene, Zuckerberg comes out of the bar/restaurant they were in and the crane shot looks almost exactly like the one early in S.E.F. They are both college bars shot romantically. But Fincher has the genius score of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross playing. And as we proceed, this film is so much more than S.E.F.

Yet, it is not iconic in the way that S.E.F., unless, perhaps, you are on the outside judging these characters. Virtually every character in the film is, as Obama once said, above the audience’s pay grade, perhaps with the exception of bookend women of clarification, Rooney Mara and Rashida Jones, both of whom will clearly work themselves up into this pay grade.

Of course, St Elmo’s Fire seems like an insulting comparison. But it’s not meant to be. It’s the iconic intimacy of John Hughes’ best work. It’s the way William Goldman brought audiences into his stories. And then you get the more operatic writers, like Shakespeare and Paddy Chayefsky.

It seems to me that the filmmaker who would most perfectly fit this content would be Billy Wilder. This film really wants to be Sunset Blvd. Mark is Norma Desmond… Eduardo is Joe Gillis… Sean Parker is Max. But the thing that makes Sunset Blvd work so brilliantly is that there is clear context. The line between the silent movie past and the talkie future is not blurry. And as here, every character except Norma has conflicting motivations. Norma is driven – in a straight-forward, if psychotic way – by a world in her head that we can glimpse, but only she can really see… just like Mark.

What’s missing, I am afraid, in The Social Network are any real stakes for these characters. The audience responds to a character suggesting that people just move on to chase new ideas and not obsess on Facebook’s success because that character is saying what we, as an audience, are feeling. It’s as though the movie is counting on the ends justifying the means because the ultimate ends for Facebook are in the billions, not the millions. If Facebook was worth only $100 million now, yawn. But now that it’s valued at $25 billion, depth is – allegedly – infused. Not so much for me… though I certainly think there is depth to explore here.

I have seen all kinds of people imprint all kinds of ideas on what they see in this film. And that is a sign of quality work, absolutely. But while I don’t need it spelled out to me in giant block letters, I don’t think that the best movies are Rorschach tests. They may measure you as a person. But it’s a yes/no or multiple choice…not a fill in the blank. “Mark Zuckerberg” uses a computer, but his behavior does not define a generation. He is not Charlie Kane, who lived a life of gusto and real ambition before falling under the weight of his own power. The film might want him to be Bill McKay of The Candidate or Ben Braddock of The Graduate (whom I have compared Tyler Durden to), but unlike those characters, “Mark Zuckerberg” has never believed in anything enough to put himself at risk in a real way.

Perhaps it is my generation and older ones that will see “Mark Zuckerberg” as the next generation they fear… a disconnected, uninspired punk who uses his skills to get something he doesn’t even really appreciate simply to fill the giant gaping void in his ego and never really has to risk anything. Perhaps that unsympathetic view of “Zuckerberg” is what is inspiring the sense of depth… except I don’t think he is that simple and I don’t think, from watching the film, that Fincher or Sorkin thinks he is that simple.

For me, the idea that everyone around him is imprinting their desires on The Guy Who Can Deliver Something Cool and blaming him for not letting them have what they want is the road to a more complex, rewarding film. But the characters who are most on the road, the Winklevosses, are mocked for their behavior by the film, and in the end, whether they get money out of all the inconvenience of these events is of minor impact or importance.

Even the idea that Facebook was inspired by the rejection of a girl doesn’t really get explored enough to be real. It was, the film tells us, a confluence of events and people and choices, all of which conspire to bring a singular event to life. But it doesn’t really explore the randomness of that either. (Interestingly, Se7en did.)


I have spent a lot of words explaining why I don’t think The Social Network is a truly GREAT movie. But I want to write again… it is a tremendous entertainment for adults. It is an interesting story told with a tremendous skill set.

As I was driving away from the screening yesterday (my second look), I was struck with the idea of how movies get rated by critics and that there should be a more expansive scale. There should be a 1-10 star ranking for Fun Junky Films or 1-10 for High Quality Audience Films, or 10 for Seriously Ambitious Films.

The Social Network doesn’t have a Junky bone in its celluloid body. As a High Quality Audience Film, I’d give it a 10. Even Fincher’s forays into “Beautiful Huh?” feel more like a happy palette cleansing than something that should have been cut. It’s pretty perfect. Amongst Seriously Ambitious Films, I give it a 7.5. It’s not that I think it failed to deliver. I just feel as though it wasn’t ambitious enough to merit a higher rank on that scale.

The only people over 30 who I don’t think will enjoy The Social Network are the ones who are just uncomfortable spending any time with “Mark Zuckerberg.” And some will be out there. But they’ll be missing a really,really good movie.


Warren Buffet Owes Roger Ebert 50 Cents

So Warren Buffet goes to the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps premiere – photographed at the event with CNBC Squawk Boxers Becky Quick and Joe Kernen – and according to studio sources, hung around the afterparty for quite a while. When asked how he liked the movie, he reportedly responded, “Two Thumbs Up.”

Maybe he’ll pay Roger (and the copyright) back by doing a guest critic slot on the new show…

On The Town

I like The Town.

Ben Affleck did a nice job doing two things he had never done before: shooting action and shooting himself as an actor.

The story is solid, but not very special. It’s yet another “last job” movie with familiar elements of “the new guy who is a bit psychotic” and “the hero who gets too close to forbidden fruit.” Still, we have seen the same stories in movies, on stage and in books forever and when we are fully engaged, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. And Affleck has good taste in actors. This makes up for many flaws…. even if Blake Lively is disastrously miscast and unable to make her character work.

But unlike Gone Baby Gone, there is almost nothing in The Town that doesn’t feel exactly like something we have seen before in one of a couple of dozen movies. And if I am referencing Heat and Lumet’s entire canon and more non-stop throughout the film, I’m thinking about the wrong movie.

So the question that is floating around post-TIFF is whether The Town is really an Oscar movie. The answer is simple. No way to know.

It looks like a fairly small group of films really competing this year and many will be less exceptional (box office, raw likability) than The Blind Side, which was (unfairly) mocked last year for being nominated. So ruling out this film is silly. It does match the sensibilities of The Academy membership. It is trying hard to be an early 70s style movie. And Gone Baby Gone, which I would rank a large step over this film, would have likely made a 10 film field in its year.

But… it’s nothing close to a lock. It is one of those films that will be in the mix. It won’t be a major actors’ film, but could be a SAG Ensemble movie, given the number of well-liked actors in the cast. Movies like Get Low, Made In Dagenham, Winter’s Bone, Biutiful, and The Kids Are All Right are going to be where the battle for The Town is, not in the top half of the vote getters. There are 2 or 3 unseen films that could make it a race for the last 3 slots for “smaller” films.

But even amongst the titles that I would consider near-locks in this field, a few of them are really just “good stories, well told.” But they also have another gear that The Town does not. The King’s Speech, for instance, feels like it will be there in the end. It’s not only a strong movie, but it is period, it’s stars have serious Oscar bona fides, and it feels triumphant in a demure way. Solid Oscar movie. On the other hand, as noted, some of the titles out there will be picked apart – as in , “I like this, but not that” – and perhaps The Town is a movie movie from start to finish and that pushes it forward.

We don’t know. But as usual, we in the prognostication game feel compelled to be more definitive about what is in front of us this week than befits the film.


Excuse Our Dust

MCN is going through its second server change in less than a month. It seems that the demand on the new server was greater than had been anticipated. That’s good. Getting slow loads and “please come back later” screens… not so good. Hopefully, you haven’t noticed, but if you have, our apologies. We’ll be at full speed again shortly.


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