Awards Archive for August, 2009

Awards Want It Long & Hard

There is nothing that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences would like better these days than a shorter Oscar show. The ratings slip a little most years and the sense is that a shorter show would be a more popular show and a more popular show would keep The Academy rich, fat, generous, and happy.
But what do you cut?
The Television Academy faced this issue and got tough about it. They made the call. Shorter show… some awards presented before the telecast and acceptance highlights to run during the big show.
Not so fast, buckaroos! Winning awards on national TV is our entitlement and we’re going to fry your asses if you try to minimize that in any way! TV Land Prime here we come!
Okay… perhaps that is pushing it a little far. But what are the awards givers going to say when the answer comes back from the networks on the next contract or the one after that and the nets just say, “2.5 hours and you are off the air”?
As the Super Bowl shows, if they can sell those ads, the networks will whore out untold numbers of hours of television space to that end. This last year, NBC, Fox and ESPN all did two hours of pre-show before NBC took the game… with 20 minutes for show before the kick-off.
The Academies are going in the opposite direction.
I respect that this is a big moment in people’s lives and that all the different talent that do great work feel they are due their respect. But as I understood it, this plan by ATAS was to split “the pain” amongst all the disciplines being celebrated. No one has, to my knowledge, ever brought that generous notion up at AMPAS. It’s always been about the less-pop branches defending their turf.
Someone’s eventually going to have to step up, act like adults, and be less celebrated in the name of keeping the entire organization healthily funded. Maybe next year…


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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