Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Seinfeld's doc-diss

While I interpreted Jerry Seinfeld’s joke-a-thon intro to the documentary awards as play for Oscar host next year, John Sinno saw it differently. And he has a point.
Sinno, whose “Iraq in Fragments” didn’t win, has sent an open letter to the Academy (and to the press) to protest Seinfeld’s disrespect of this traditionally undervalued category. Before you say boo-hoo (as I was initially inclined, since at least Seinfeld was a respite from all the trumped-up sobriety of the slick show), consider that nearly every other awards category was treated with awe and dignity. (Except maybe those child actors being forced to make badly scripted jokes about the “shorts” categories.)
My problem isn’t with Seinfeld introducing the nominated docs as “incredibly depressing” — because that was rather funny, and rather true. It’s that somehow everything else in the show has gotten so serious and pompous that Seinfeld’s ribbing stood out in the midst of a politically correct, essentially boring evening. The other awards were positioned as momentous events worthy of suspiciously glistening eyes.
Sinno goes on to protest that there wasn’t any mention of Iraq. Here I disagree. It’s tedious when celebrities use the Oscars as a podium to go all noble over world events. So, again, it wasn’t the lack of a mention of Iraq that was the problem, it was that this year’s Oscars were an informercial for the eventual doc winner, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Now, I’m all for fighting global warming (or “global warmings” as Will Ferrell pronounces it in one of his hilarious riffs on President Bush speaking to the nation; Google it and you’ll see). But between all the Gore-boosting of the evening and the trio of Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola waiting to welcome long-overdue Martin Scorsese into the Oscar fold, it looked like the fix was in. (Can you imagine how humiliating it would have been for Marty if someone else had trotted up to accept the directing Oscar from his three amigos?)
So I’m not necessarily in favor of making Sinno et al whole by enshrining documentaries as they do other categories. I’m for taking it all down a peg, or at least getting a grip. You know more ink has been spilled about Jennifer Hudson’s silver bolero jacket than about anything else Oscar night, and that the real power of the Oscar show is in its ratings, so stop trying to overcompensate. The only part of the evening that truly merits those glistening eyes is the so-called Parade of the Dead clip reel, the only time the audience understands the true value of things.

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“I have a license to carry in New York. Can you believe that? Nobody knows that, [Applause] somebody attacks, somebody attacks me, oh, they’re gonna be shot. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh, it is Trump, he’s easy pickings what do you say? Right? Oh, boy. What was the famous movie? No. Remember, no remember where he went around and he sort of after his wife was hurt so badly and kill. What?  I — Honestly, Yeah, right, it’s true, but you have many of them. Famous movie. Somebody. You have many of them. Charles Bronson right the late great Charles Bronson name of the movie come on.  , remember that? Ah, we’re gonna cut you up, sir, we’re gonna cut you up, uh-huh.

Bing!

One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
~ Donald Trump

“The scene opens the new movie. It was something Ridley Scott told me a long time ago, when I was on my eighth draft of Blade Runner. He thinks it’s my fault, which it probably is, but it’s also his fault, because he kept coming up with new ideas. This time, he said to me, “What did Deckard do before he was doing this?” I said, “He was doing what he was doing, but not on such a high level. He was retiring androids that weren’t quite like Nexus Sixes, like Nexus Fives, kind of dumb androids.” He said, “So, why don’t we start the movie like that?” He always had a new beginning he wanted to try. Let’s start it on a train, let’s start it on a plane. Let’s start in the snow. Let’s start in the desert. I was writing all that. He said, “What if Deckard is retiring an old version of Nexus?” Right away I was feeling him, like fate, and he said, “There’s a cabin, with soup bubbling on the stove …” When he said soup boiling on the stove, I said, “Don’t say any more! Let me get home.” I wrote a scene that night. Just three or four pages. Deckard retires this not-very-bright droid, and you feel sorry for him. It’s like Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. It’s just those two guys, with Deckard as the George character and the droid as the Lennie, and Deckard doesn’t want to do it. But then the droid gets mad, and then Deckard has to do it. The audience thinks he killed someone—he reaches into the guy’s mouth and pulls off his whole jaw and we see it says made by tyrell industries or whatever. I wrote that scene and took it to Ridley. I was proud of it. I remember standing and watching him read the whole thing. He loved it, but no. There are a lot of scenes that didn’t get in, but I never forgot that one. I wrote it as the beginning to this new short story called “The Shape of the Final Dog.” I’d always wanted to have a dog that wasn’t real, so I wrote one into the scene at the cabin. After Deckard retires the droid, he’s getting ready to take off and he wants the dog to come with him. The dog rolls over and keeps barking with his mouth closed. The dog’s an android dog. I thought, If there’s ever a new Blade Runner, we’ll have to use this scene. Three weeks go by, and I’m working on the story and it’s ready to hand in. The phone rings. Someone with a posh English accent says, “Would you be available in ten minutes for a call with Ridley Scott?” These people are so important they don’t waste their time on voicemail. I said, “I’ll be here.” Ten minutes go by and Ridley calls. “Hampton! Did you know, I think we’ve got it together to do Blade Runner a second time?” I said, “You finally got so hard up you’re calling me.” I knew they’d been looking for a year. People had been telling me, “You’ve got to call Ridley,” but I was a little chagrined or embarrassed. I thought, He’ll call me if he wants. Ridley said, “We’re interested in whether you have any ideas.” I said, “Funny you should ask that question. Let me read you a paragraph.” I walk over there with the phone and I read him the opening paragraph. And he says, “Fuck me. Can you come to London tomorrow?”
~ Hampton Fancher