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David Poland

By David Poland

News By the Numbers

There was only one story this week, so all of this week’s top 10 stories are somehow Oscar related. After this, you’ll get an Academy breather, with the race for 1998’s Oscar pretty much on hold until October. Which brings up one interesting thought: Had Titanic premiered in July 1997 as planned, it’s unlikely that it would be blessed with 11 Oscars and over $1 billion today. Fate is an amazing thing.
10. Going Away Mad: A Michigan-based research film did a telephone poll after the Academy Awards and asked who was the worst-dressed of the night. Madonna “won” the contest, with Cher running second. Perhaps Madonna shouldn’t have borrowed a dress from Kirstie Alley‘s wardrobe from “Veronica’s Closet.”
9. Leo Shows Up. Naked!: Leonardo DiCaprio is suing Playgirl magazine for planning to publish nudes of the Academy-snubbed actor in next month’s issue. Of course, this is kind of silly since Leo has appeared buck naked in two films already. Maybe he’s concerned he doesn’t fill the frame quite like former Playgirl-litigating model Brad Pitt. You know what they say: the longer the name.
8. Ben Hurt: When Titanic tied Ben-Hur with 11 Oscar wins on Monday night, ol’ Ben-Hur himself showed he still takes the races pretty seriously. “I know they’re comparing this to Ben-Hur, and that it tied with Ben-Hur,” bitched Charlton Heston. “Well, there were a lot fewer categories back then, so for it to win 11 was a real coup. Today, it’s a lot easier to get 11, so I think Ben-Hur still beats out Titanic.” Not too classy, Chuck. No truth to the rumor that when he ran into Jim Cameron at an after-party he said, “Get your stinkin’ hands off me, you filthy ape!” Ironically, the hottest rumor of the moment has “The King Of The World” Cameron setting his sights on remaking Planet of the Apes (at Titanic‘s senior-partner studio, 20th Century Fox) as his next project with Ahnuld in the loincloth that N.R.A. Charlie once wore. (Well, not literally the same one. That would be gross!) This is all possible because Universal pulled the plug on Ahnuld’s most pressing project, I Am Legend, which was a re-make of The Omega Man, which was (surprise!) a Charlton Heston movie.
7. Matt & Minnie – The Final Chapter: Word is that Minnie Driver, Matt Damon and Winona Ryder all occupied the same 10 square feet of party on Monday night, sending Minnie away in tears. This will hopefully be the very last public chapter in the most public break-up since Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. And keep this in mind, Minnie. Eddie Fisher. Just keep saying it to yourself. Eddie Fisher. Debbie Reynolds is still making movies. Eddie Fisher.
6. All About Ashley: Howard Stern and many others spent Tuesday reviewing the state of Ashley Judd‘s undergarments, or lack of such, as the actress strode across Oscar’s stage Monday night. Her publicists kept the conversation alive by issuing a stern denial. I happened to have taped the awards. After watching the tape in slo-mo, over and over, I am convinced of two things. One, I don’t care about catching a fleeting glance at a beautiful woman’s private parts nearly as much as I did when I was in high school. And two, that girl was footloose and panty free.
5. Missing: The line-up of former acting Oscar-winners was surprisingly incomplete. Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand were all out on sick leave. Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Al Pacino, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando (who didn’t accept his Oscar in the first place), Christopher Walken, Paul Scofield and Daniel Day-Lewis are all notorious no-shows. But where were Tom Hanks, Jodie Foster, Nicolas Cage, F. Murray Abraham, Emma Thompson, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline (whose father-in-law, Gil Cates, produced the award show), Dianne Wiest, Mercedes Ruehl, Olympia Dukakis, Linda Hunt, Jessica Lange, Mary Steenburgen, Julie Andrews, Jane Fonda and Patty Duke?
4. Good Jim Paying: WhenTitanic looked like an iffy proposition, Jim Cameron gave his rights to profit participation in the film back to the studios (Fox & Paramount) as a show of support. $1 billion-plus later, everyone agrees that he should get it back. The question is, how much will the studios fork over? The latest rumor is that a check for $100 million will soon be headed Cameron’s way. That’s almost enough for Cameron to make a movie trailer!
3. The Sound of Money: Cameron’s not the only one who will be passing the eight-figure payday for Titanic. Composer James Horner, who won an Oscar for his score and another for writing the mega-hit “My Heart Will Go On,” earned $800,000 for scoring the film and will get a royalty of about $1.20 for every Titanic album sold. That looks to add up to about $20 million, which means a lot of Horner’s new favorite music: Cha Ching!
2. Sunday Night At The Oscars: Next year, Oscar will be making the move from Monday night, where it has been for 45 years, to Sunday night. Why? There’s more money for ABC on Sunday than on Monday. Oh, and the traffic will be easier to deal with in L.A. (Sure, that’s the reason.) The event may also start an hour earlier to accommodate the early risers. So, why is this bad for the movie business even though it’s good for T.V.? Sunday night is the third best night of the week at the box office. Monday is generally the worst.
1. Back To The Boat: Eleven Oscars meant more than a 50 percent increase this week for Titanic box office receipts, pushing the film past the $500 million mark domestically even before the weekend. As Good As It Gets and Good Will Hunting also showed increases, but both films had already fallen well below the $10 million a weekend mark. Titanic‘s increase means that it will likely fight off Grease for the top spot at the box office this weekend. That would be week 15 on top.
Reader Of The Day: From Erik: “It amazes me that James Horner is getting accolades with a soundtrack that is a rehash of every score he’s done since the early ’90s. Even the Oscar-winning ‘My Heart Will Go On’ is reminiscent of the Diana Ross ballad sung for Land Before Time. His music is popular only because it has a wider audience now — listen to Braveheart, Aliens, Star Trek II, Land Before Time, Backdraft, and you’ll see where he got the inspiration for Titanic: Himself. Thanks for offering a forum to allow film nerds like me rant about pointless subjects!”

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima