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David Poland

By David Poland

Variety Goes Bloggy

A terrifc get by Gabriel Snyder in Wednesday’s Variety is very much in the style of bloggers and is a terrific story… whoever put two and two together.
Litigious scholar seeks to enter PR ‘Kingdom’
‘God’ scribe Reston offering expert services to media

“Even though James Reston Jr. is still threatening to sue 20th Century Fox over “Kingdom of Heaven,” the historian would love to be featured in any stories or shows about the film.Two weeks after Reston publicly claimed that Fox illegally lifted material from his 2002 book “Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and the Saladin in the Third Crusade,” the tome’s publisher, Anchor Books, sent out a press release advising, “If you are planning an article, segment or show on the new movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ — and need an expert on the Crusades — James Reston Jr. is available.”
While the advisory doesn’t mention the author’s legal tussle, it does bill the film as “sure to be one of the first major summer blockbusters!”
Asked if the attempt to publicize his book by latching onto the film amounts to a reversal of course, Reston shot back, “I think you’ve got it upside down. It was the movie that latched onto the book. It’s my view that the whole movie is based on my book.” Though rattling his saber, Reston has not filed any suit.
Russell Perreault, director of publicity at Anchor, said there’s been media interest in Reston but admitted it makes for a “weird” situation. “He’s completely promoting his book, not the movie,” he said. “He has not seen the film. He’s not commenting on whether it’s good or bad.”
Reston acknowledged an expert contemplating litigation may not be the ideal source. “It should be disclosed,” he said, “and there are people who would rather speak to someone else.”
Date in print: Wed., Apr. 20, 2005, Los Angeles”

7 Responses to “Variety Goes Bloggy”

  1. L&DB says:

    Okay. Let me get this straight. This guy believes
    a major movie studio, director, and whomever else
    ripped off his book. Ripped off to such an extent
    that he has threatened legal action. Yet he wants
    to be a part of any story dealing with the film that
    ripped him off? Is he into the bookies or something?
    Did he just realize that renting a gulfstream still
    cost too much? Not only does this kill his chance
    at future litigation (because we all know he and
    his people are just waiting for this film to become
    financially successful), but it kills any credibility
    he has as a scholar. Wow. I am sure the US government
    appreciates those student loans of his now.

  2. bicycle bob says:

    this guy is dying for some publicity. media whore

  3. bakednudel says:

    Those kinds of press releases are routinely sent out by the publicity departments of publishing houses. I know we are always trying to find any kind of hook for our academic authors to get “off the book review page” publicity.
    That being said, it sounds like Reston and the publicity dept. at Anchor were not aware of what each other was doing.

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    Of course, what will be REALLY interesting is whether Reston’s book just happens to come out in a new paperback edition just in time for the movie’s release, with cover art that looks suspiciously like Orlando Bloom.

  5. Terence D says:

    What some people will do for a tie in with a big movie.

  6. Mark says:

    Get the conspiracy theories out with this one.

  7. Dan R% says:

    Hypocricy knows no bounds…
    For some reason I don’t think this is what was meant when Jesus said, “Don’t let your right hand know what your left is doing…”

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin