MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Ranting and Raving

I’ve been to the desert for a week with no sleep. It feels good to come back where it rains. (For those of you who aren’t singing along to the tune of America’s “Horse With No Name,” try it, you’ll like it.) Well, maybe not so good. After spending the week in Las Vegas at ShoWest you might expect that I am all show-bized out. But it’s the opposite. For all the glitz, for all the selling, ShoWest is a show for real people. You hang out with people who own movie theaters, but most of them are every bit as star-struck as teenagers at a rock concert. You walk with them through the concession-laden trade show and, like Patty Duke, a hot dog makes them lose control. Offer up a T-shirt and a shortfall will turn into a mob scene. I know that I may sound like I’m mocking these folks, but quite the opposite. See, I had to come home.
It started at the ShoWest awards. Star after star ran through the press room because they had “to catch a plane.” So L.A. Tom Arnold died with a “real” audience with material that would’ve received laughs in L.A. See, these folks weren’t used to laughing on cue. Certain media outlets brought their L.A. attitudes with them to the press room. I’ll give you a hint. They were TV people. But can I really blame them? After all, they had to get their segment with each star in the couple of minutes they had with them. No time to bother with perspective. They didn’t really care about ShoWest or the exhibitors. They needed Oscar exclusives. And I guess that’s where the disparity lays. In perspective. The wine doesn’t taste as good if you don’t let it breathe, but L.A. is all about getting drunk quickly, not enjoying the experience.
Maybe it’s because we have too much to intoxicate us out here. I returned to three screenings at the same time on the same day. Obviously, I couldn’t attend all three. I chose the one that was most important to my business needs. The news from Renny Harlin‘s birthday party was about how expensive the house was and who was there. (Kevin Costner says that Titanic will sweep, if you care about what “The Postman” thinks. Jim Carrey and Lauren Holly are back in love and acting like teens. And Renny still drinks like a Fin.) The Coffee Bean is still loaded to the gills with long-legged wannabes and the men who wanna be with them, at least for a few hours. Tuesday was St. Patricks Day and in L.A. the green flowed freely. Only here, it’s the color of cash and envy. Welcome.
TOYS FOR YOU: Not only will there be a Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas T-shirt up for grabs in the box office competition this week, but we have to have an Oscar competition too, right? Get your e-mail warmed up. The contests and the rules in tomorrow’s The Hot Button.
MORE SELF PROMOTION: Today is the day that rough cut’s weekly page is updated. There’s a brand new chapter of The Whole Picture and more coverage on NoShoWest.
READER OF THE DAY: From Erin P: “I haven’t seen The Man in the Iron Mask yet, but Janet Maslin’s review in the New York Times is one of the funniest things I’ve read in quite some time.”
I was in Las Vegas when Maslin’s review ran. Thanks to Erin, I’ve read it and I agree that it’s very funny. One quote from Ms. Maslin: “When the mask comes off, the story’s glowing young hero appears to have undergone a seaweed wrap at that exceptionally punishing spa, the Bastille. And he later delivers this self-help credo: `I wear the mask. It does not wear me.'”

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“What Quibi trying to do is get to the next generation of film narrative. The first generation was movies, and they were principally two-hour stories that were designed to be watched in a single sitting in a movie theater [ED: After formats like the nickelodeon]. The next generation of film narrative was television, principally designed to be watched in one-hour chapters in front of a television set. I believe the third generation of film narrative will be a merging of those two ideas, which is to tell two-hour stories in chapters that are seven to ten minutes in length. We are actually doing long-form in bite-size.”
~ Jeffrey Katzenberg

“The important thing is: what makes the audience interested in it? Of course, I don’t take on any roles that don’t interest me, or where I can’t find anything for myself in it. But I don’t like talking about that. If you go into a restaurant and you have been served an exquisite meal, you don’t need to know how the chef felt, or when he chose the vegetables on the market. I always feel a little like I would pull the rug out from under myself if I were to I speak about the background of my work. My explanations would come into conflict with the reason a movie is made in the first place — for the experience of the audience — and that, I would not want.
~  Christoph Waltz