The Hot Blog Archive for February, 2011

Jane Russell, RIP

Her “Diamonds”

As Ray Pride noted, perhaps the gayest musical number ever put on film


Mamma Mia! by French & Saunders

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Oscar Winning DP/30s

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Wally Pfister, Inception

Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3

Inside Job – director Charles Ferguson

In a Better World, Denmark – writer/director Susanne Bier

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The Oscar Show: What Happened Was…

Okay… so…

The show opened with the best Oscar show clip package I think I have ever seen.

Then there was the opening filmed comedy bit, which seemed a bit redundant, forced, and lacking half of the films nominated for Best Picture.

Then, the opening monologue went… badly. Mom, Marky Mark, lesbians… weak.

Still, it’s hard not to like these two people hosting.

The problem was, particularly as the show dragged on, that it lost a sense of sincerity. Anne Hathaway was so excited about everything that it went from infectious to infection. The set – oh, how they were in love with their set! – was nice… but you don’t tune in to watch a set. And what did Gone With The Wind or The Wizard of Oz or Titanic have to do with honoring the best of 2010? Again, beautiful, but insincere.

And then you have this weird set-up about winning Art Director, Cinematography, and Picture. Who the HELL came up with that? It might have been interesting had one film won all three this year… but three different films ended up winning those three awards. Should two of them be forced to give their awards back so the show can have symmetry?

Kirk Douglas is a portrait in strength. And he’s also an old guy who struggles with being understood after a stroke and who is well known for going off book and ad-libbing. With all due respect, bad idea right from the top. But then add Melissa Leo to the mix and she’s trying to be playful and respectful to him while trying to find her moment… it was almost like she was set up to fail. God bless her, she worked her ass off in that moment. Kirk Douglas got his laughs… but it was a distraction from a big moment for this actress.

David Sediler’s speech was great. Susanne Bier’s speech was surprisingly deeply felt. Bale acquitted himself well again. Luke Matheny, who you can bet less than 10% of that room had ever laid eyes on before, did great for himself. Loved Charles Ferguson’s balls to speak out on the lack of prosecution of the men who nearly brought down our economy. Randy Newman KILLED. Tom Hooper’s speech was lovely… and Colin’s as well.. 2/3 of the Triangle of Man Love. And Portman was a beautifully pregnant woman.

The call out to the backdrop by JT and MK was clunky… and it seemed rather overly solicitous of Spielberg (the second reference to him in the show by disciple Cohen) to have a DreamWorks film represent animation when DreamWorks Animation was competing for an award.

Javier and Josh in white jackets was cure… but it didn’t really play.

The schtick by Anne Hathaway wanting to a duet with Jackman… huh? Did he really bail? Was it funny? And the problem with James Franco in a dress is that no one is remotely surprised by James Franco in a dress.

The Arthur promo was quick and cute.

The weird bit about combining sound and picture seemed left over from Condon’s Oscar show… out of place. And then to do a bunch of classic themes.. most of which were not from Best Picture winners, but again, touched on Spielberg… and then the score nominees… why did this show constantly distract from this year’s work? The seeming idea of giving context never ever worked.

The electronca movie musical thing was a DISASTER and is not going to be the viral engine they thought it was. Old men who are trying to think like young men. Not good.

What the hell was the homage to Bob Hope about? And then to have someone else voice him over? Kinda gross misuse of the dead.

The Sherlock Holmes promo, however, was one of the best written pieces of the night… only funny because Downey was playing along… but very funny.

Mostly it just got repetitive. How many times could Franco roll his eyes? How many times could Hatahway be sooooo excited to be on the same stage with whomever?

Yes… they are both likable. But the charm wore off with repetition.

And I thought the idea of taking the 5-actor homage to the top acting candidates to an homage read by last year’s opposite sex winner was, again, wanting to be beautiful, but lost all the intimacy. Love Bridges, but he doesn’t really know all five women, so it’s a script he’s reading. And it made him seem like he was fawning like a lightweight. Sandra Bullock did better by turning into a comedy bit… they got lucky.

The closing Top 10 package was, I am pretty sure, cut by whoever cut the great opener. Well done. However… redundant. And what if The King’s Speech was not likely to win? Seemed odd to package all 10 films with Colin Firth giving a speech. Presumptuous and a little insulting to the other 9 films.

Look. I didn’t hate this Oscar show. But it was neither fish not fowl. it wasn’t medicine… but it never flew. And that is what you want from Oscar… some great moments. But it felt like they were getting through it, not really present. And that is why they hire comics, who live in the moment, even when they have prepared material. They do insincerity by topping it with intelligence and a skill for reflecting what the audience is thinking.

As I said from the beginning… by hiring actors, they got a show that was dependent on the script. It’s the same reason why taped pieces on SNL tend to be better remembered than live sketches.

Nice set, though.



You know, I love you all. But I’m pretty sure you can handle this. You’ve watched TV before and I believe you can get through this show without me.

If I am really stunned, maybe I’ll fire up the iPhone and tweet something, but probably not.

I think I’ll consider what I have seen and write something when I feel I have a little perspective. Old fashioned, but well… it was good enough for Abe Lincoln.

Feel free to use this entry as a place to chat amongst yourselves while I am doing pretty much what most of you are doing… sitting in front of a TV with friends, eating some comfort food, making fun of the bad dresses, not talking too much in front of my beautiful wife when some girl looks incredibly hot, praying for someone to do something (ANYTHING!) spontaneous, discussing the strategic methodology and spending habits of various studios (well, that may not be what all of you do) and hoping that Franco lights up a joint on camera as they pass the 3 hour mark.

See you on the other side…


Weekend Estimates by “And The Box Office Goes To” Klady

Last year on Oscar weekend, there were no Best Picture nominees in the Top 10 and the only movie with a major contender in the Top 1o was Crazy Heart, which Searchlight expanded that weekend to 1274 screens and rode all the talk about Bridges locked win for Best Actor.

This year, The King’s Speech and True Grit are still in the Top 10, heading to $300m domestic between them. If you eliminate the high end of these two 10-nominee years and Lord of the Rings from the equation, you have to go back to Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to match this kind of domestic box office success in the race.

In that year, 2000, four of the five nominees were $100m domestic grossers. This year, there are five, but again, there are 10 nominees. So that 2000 year is still, in my eye, the most remarkable box office year ever for Oscar. And it even included one spring and one early summer release.

Drive Angry 3D is the box office story of most interest this weekend. The opening is in the bottom half of Summit’s 23 film history as a distributor, less than an estimated $100k better than Sorority Row… or as it will surely be known in Nic Cage’s world, “Sorority F***ing Row.” With the back-to-back vampire-free success of Letters to Juliet and Red, Summit seemed ready to move up the ladder. This is a setback.

Of course, WB can’t be too thrilled with Hall Pass either. The opening is right around where The Farrellys have been stuck with their last two films, neither of which is seen as a hit. It seems that much of the gross-out humor of the film was not advertised. A redband trailer – which is much better at establishing characters and would have made me consider seeing the film – went out Wednesday. Too late.

Paramount’s Justin Beiber “more footage”s stunt seemed to work and the film held unusually well.


CNN: Nikki & Tom – Hollywood’s Sigfreid & Roy

Yeah, I’m sick of Nikki too.

1. Fake picture.
2. Real high school picture
3. Cease & Desist
4. HBO passes on Tilda (which would have been the most generous presentation possible of her and made Nikki much more sympathetic and potentially, powerful).
5. Return to running an Oscar show rundown
6. Credentials revoked

Just for the record, out of maybe 100 people i talked to at the Indie Spirit Awards today, 2 brought up Nikki and the 5 stories prior to today. It’s not all anyone can talk about, by any stretch. But for me, it’s an open-ended story.

On the credentials thing… I wish this were complicated.
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Indie Spirits: Life’s a Beach

There’s been all kinds of self-congratulation about indies being back, but none of that was in evidence on a surprisingly sunny day that left the inside of the Independent Spirit Awards tent about 10 degrees colder than the chilly afternoon in Santa Monica. Only the pregnant woman who won Best Actress – pumping extra blood for two – may have gone through the show without feeling the chill.

Also chilling was the effort by IFC to shoot the show live to tape, which meant looooong commercial breaks that didn’t send anyone scurrying back to their seat when the show returned. As a result, literally hundreds of guests would be milling about and chatting during much of the show, seemingly unaware that a show was going on.

As for the awards, there were a grand total of zero surprises. The most popular films won all the big categories, including The King’s Speech winning for foreign film (we can talk about that some other time) and Black Swan winning every award for which it was nominated – not screenplay – and suffering the idiocy of having Matty Libatique’s Cinematography win, ISA’s only non-writing below-the-line award, made into an afterthought that was not presented as part of the 2 hour show. Really? This is independent spirit? Cutting out categories from the show? (The other award cut was to Lena Dunham for Best First Screenplay.)

I was certainly pleased by many of the winners, but the show really is broken at this point. The room was fuller than ever, heavily relying on donors and sponsors at the $500 a seat tables. And it’s lost all of its spontaneity. Joel McHale was okay… just. Though it is unclear why Black Swan was not introduced by anyone on Team Swan, even though the camera was set up there, it may have been a cunnilingus rant by McHale featuring Princess Leia’s mom.

As always, the gift bags are the best quality bags in all of the awards world. Best.

But as after last year, there will be a cry for a better, smarter, ore independent show next year.

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Friday Estimates by Drive Klady in 3D


BYOB Indie Spirits

I’ll be tweeting from the tent… but not covering each category, etc… just tweeting when it seems like tweeting is needed…

(Suddenly, I sound like I am in a disco in 1979.)


Stuck In The Middle With Sludge

I guess I have no one to blame but myself, but I feel compelled to note this and it requires more than 140 characters…

When I write about the domino effect of low journalistic standards, I am usually supported. After a splash of Nikki news in the last 48 hours, The Daily is trying to jump on board the moving train after the bloodied their own nose with a scoop that turned out to be poop when the photo they had of Nikki turned out not to be Nikki.

The Daily, if you don’t know, is the iPad’s first Titanic, already in need of salvaging. And if you haven’t bothered checking in on your own iPad, it’s still running for free, even though the door was supposed to be closed to non-subscribers earlier this week. It seemed like a great idea by Rupert Murdoch, to make a great daily paper at a reasonable price for the iPad… but the content has been mediocre at best, which is shocking considering that they hired some very good people (some of whom are already ready to head out the door).

So, today, once we got past the 3 day old lead news story about Charlie Sheen… well, let me start again. After I got an e-mail and saw a tweet about The Daily having the scoop on why Nikki C&Ded Sharon, I went to the “paper” and saw that their lead story was Sheen. And then I saw Richard Johnson’s sad version of Page Six. He leads with a 2.5 week old story about Barry Avrich’s doc on Weinstein (the film premiered in Toronto on the 11th). Then the Nikki scoop is that he claims Nikki is blaming Sharon for giving Johnson Nikki’s address, where she was staked for 4 days before not having her photo taken.

But that’s not the scummy part. That’s just Johnson and The daily trying to make lemonade out of an aging turd they left on their own lawn. (Waxman is not the only one who says it’s not Nikki. Anne Thompson chimed in too. And based on the last time I saw Nikki, I would have to agree with them, though the vagaries of photography and possible plastic surgery make me an unreliable source after not seeing her in the flesh for about 6 years.) It was this that really disturbed me:

“Right or wrong, Finke blames Waxman for leaking her address.”

2 options. Either Sharon did give Johnson her address and he is hanging a source out to dry by bringing this up at all. The right thing to do – and does anyone do this anymore? – would be to shut the f*** up. Or Sharon did not give Johnson the address and he is leaving the door open to something he knows to be untrue. This is scumbaggery of the highest order.

Of course, the saddest part is that this is all over such low stakes… except for the bigger picture… which is the future of journalism, whether some want to seriously consider the chipping away at standards or not.


Good News & Bad News About Oscar Show Leaks

The Good News is that Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer are not negotiating with Crazy Nikki to keep her from leaking her “scooped” show schedule that some asshole handed to her. (Asshole!!! Whoever you are.) Hopefully, this is because they are adults and not just because they don’t have any scoop that Nikki would trade for.

The Bad News is that Nikki’s utter lack of journalistic honor, interest in serving her readers’ needs, disinterest in anything but desperately clawing for status, and the lack of said gossip-tit-for-gossip-tat negotiation for her silence has led her back to the place she was a few years ago… trying to spoil the show for everyone else while claiming to not care while live blogging like a bitchy teen who never got asked to the prom.

Nikki is the jackass in the movie theater who keeps loudly telling her friend what’s about to happen in the movie. No one could be that much of an idiot while conscious of themselves. But when you politely ask them to stop ruing the movie, they snarl at you like you were imposing on their moral rights.

She is the scumbag who picks fights in bars and when someone takes them up on it, scolds them for even thinking of hitting someone with glasses.

And every woman in this town who has worked hard and fought for what they have should be especially enraged by Nikki, as she loves to hide behind being female as a reason why no one should ever question her. Sexism is her go-to screed. And it’s utter nonsense. She is an outright embarrassment to women who add something to the industry. She should never have attacked Jeff Robinov for sexism, but given that she did, everyonhe should take note that all that it took for him to shut her up and make her his biggest fan in journalism was bringing her into the tent… not more women execs or films about, starring, or made by women. She’d sell anyone out for a moment that made her feel important, if only for an hour.

And one more Academy note. Since he took the job as President of The Academy, it’s been an open secret that Tom Sherak has made the choice that The Academy would manage Nikki by feeding Nikki. After this, if he continues to feed her any information, he should be fired from the job.

I’m not kidding. I’m not being hyperbolic. What other damage could she do that she hasn’t done? She’s dropped the a-bomb of gossip. And the show’s ratings won’t change a bit. So why ever indulge her again? She has no more ammo.

It’s time for people in this town to grow some balls and to respond to Ms. FInke like the half-pint playground bully she is. One good pop to the rhetorical nose and she crumbles (or threatens to sue).

Really, it doesn’t even take a good pop… just the threat of a picture or words that are a fraction of what every journalist who had tried to cover her honestly has been told by dozens of people.

The only power Nikki Finke has or has ever had is the weakness of those who indulge her.

I know. You all (and you know who you are) think you are getting the best of her. You love using her to carry your water and think it’s taken more seriously because she sells the image of someone who has power and isn’t just a cheap bagman for the boys downtown (the ones who stroke her unquenchably needy ego).

But this is the worst kind of cynicism.

And here’s the harder part. You have to tell the people who you really do like… Mike and Pete and Nellie… that you aren’t going to play reindeer games at this cost anymore.


I wish I could say that this column will be responded to by those who do feed the monster with serious consideration. But it’s unlikely. They already know. Like a movie that’s going to flop… they smile and they try to convince themselves… but they know what they are into. Nikki will have to implode completely or be so subsumed by the industry that there is no one left to believe in her mythology before she is done. People will pass the buck endlessly in this town when they think they are going to be the one left standing without a chair when the music stops.

Sometimes this is, indeed, a business that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.


BYOB Oscar/Indie Spirits Weekend


DP/30 – Even The Rain, director Icíar Bollaín

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