MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

Stop the madness! Enough on Pellicano, already … wake us in time for the movie

May 3, 2006
Like almost everyone else in Los Angeles, I’ve become so distraught by recent revelations in the Pellicano-gate scandal (there, I’ve said it) that I’ve had a hard time concentrating on the business at hand. By comparison, navigating around Monday’s immigration boycott was a walk down the Yellow Brick Road.
I still find it difficult to believe that any show-business executive – let alone, a former agent – would hire a Philip Marlowe wanna-be to spy on his enemies. These are honorable men, who are engaged in a high-stakes game in which integrity and fair play are taken for granted. And, if Ron Meyer visited the besmirched P.I. in prison … well, what would Jesus have done? Charity has to begin somewhere … it might as well be in the executive offices overlooking an amusement park.
Surely, the New York Times and Vanity Fair have something better to obsess over than a case of business-as-usual in Hollywood? If even half of the leaked rumors it’s repeated, concerning such outstanding corporate citizens as Michael Ovitz, Brad Grey, Chris Rock, mogul Ron Burkle, director John McTiernan and attorneys Bert Fields and Terry Christensen (generally referred to as “feared” or “aggressive,” not “reptilian” or “ruthless,” as some would have it) were accurate, the Hollywood honor code would demand they be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail. Not only wouldn’t they be able to eat lunch in this town ever again, but they also wouldn’t be allowed to operate a Hummer or Mercedes anywhere west of the 405.
Who would risk such ostracism?
OK, you got caught me there … the answer to that question, of course, is “everyone in the 312, 213 and 818 area codes.” Remember, in the business of show — as in college sports — if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. And, anyway, chewing the fat with hard-boiled guys like Pellicano is way cooler than staying home and watching DVDs of movies that have yet to be released. Too bad, if a few estranged wives and girlfriends, jealous business partners, uppity actors and nosy reporters don’t get the joke.
If the lawyers one retains aren’t fearsome and aggressive, what the hell good would they be? Everyone has a niece or nephew in law school that could walk the case through court for the price of a Mini-Cooper. Why waste the big bucks? Better to cop a plea, than risk a trial that might conflict with Cannes or Christmas on Maui.
And, that’s the part of this manufactured scandal the editors and journalistic assault teams of the New York Times and Vanity Fair don’t understand. Until the half-buried body of a divorce lawyer or plaintiff is discovered alongside the road to Palm Springs – those of dead homeless people don’t count – no one in those aforementioned area codes is going to give a good crap about eavesdropping and wiretapping. Reporting that this contretemps is “gripping” the town doesn’t make it so. A few homes in Malibu and Bel-Aire might be feeling tremors, but none north or east of Burbank and south of the 10.
Who knows when any one of us might need the services of an aggressive litigator? If they’re all in prison, where’s our justice gonna come from?
It all makes for a titillating read over bagels and macchiato on a slow morning at Starbuck’s. L’affaire Pellicano pales, however, by comparison to losing the services of a maid or gardener for a full day, just so they can march down Wilshire Avenue … instead of taking the bus, like normal servants do.
No, the full extent of the horror won’t be known until someone at HBO commissions a made-for-cable movie to explain it to us, just as it did in “Barbarians at the Gate” and “The Late Shift.” Right now, I’m seeing Dennis Franz as the wiseguy P.I. … G.D.

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“I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I like to subscribe to Susan Sontag’s thought of no highs and lows. I think dismissing popular culture and popular films can be really dangerous because they may seem innocuous, but some are works of art and even when they’re not they can say so much about the culture that they’re reflecting. This also gets into the idea of canon. What is good and isn’t good? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Specifically, who writes these canons? Mainly, straight white guys — which basically rigs the system. So, if you have a knowledge of female filmmakers, queer filmmakers, African or Asian filmmakers, some people won’t give them the same culture capital. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s nice niche knowledge.” No, it’s not. You’re just seeing it through the prism of something white and male. Like Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Scandal.’ I love that show, but is it a guilty pleasure because it’s a soap on TV? No. I think it has incredible writing, incredible thought and characters, so we should take it seriously. That’s a long-winded answer to say, “Yes, I love Titanic.” I was 10 years old when it came out and my mom took me to see it three times. I was so obsessed with it. A big thanks to my mom who’ll never get those nine hours of her life back.”
~ Toronto Int’l Programmer and Critic Kiva Reardon

“A lot of us felt blindsided,” Van Vliet told me. In the seventies, Van Vliet was drafted out of film school by Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now 62 and semi-retired, he said, “Once you get into your fifties, you’re pretty disposable.” Van Vliet was in the middle of reviewing DVD screeners before casting his Oscar votes, a process he estimated would take a hundred and twenty hours. “The Academy is essentially asking us to give them three weeks of labor, and then they’re going to take our results, put them into a ceremony, and sell it,” he said, referring to the seventy-five million dollars that the organization earns from the television broadcast. “Then they’re turning around and kicking us in the teeth.”
~ “Shakeup At The Oscars”