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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Fresh Ideas In Hollywood? Start With Executives!

I was in the middle of writing a piece about the studio landscape this week and BOOM!, down goes Megan Colligan.

I expect that she leapt before she got whacked. Not shocking. New chiefs tend to clear the decks and bring in people who were part of the success that got them the job. Plus, Colligan was stuck with Brad Grey’s decade of horrible decisions, reaping the benefit of Grey overspending on Paramount Vantage, over-delivering on movies that didn’t deserve so much attention but which got it because there was so little on the slate, and smashing into walls trying sell Shinola, pretending all the time that it wasn’t really shit. Rise and fall… and she will rise again soon enough.

So. For new chief Jim Gianopulos, the marketer with whom he had great success would be…

Anyone? Anyone?

And there is the problem.

Who is in the top slot overseeing film at the six majors?

Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos, Stacey Snider, Alan Horn, Donna Langley and Kevin Tsujihara.

Donna Langley has survived many sales and nukes at Universal and has been there a long time. Kevin Tsujihara is the newbie, has been on shaky ground from Day One and It isn’t enough to change that, and is about to face a new owner.

And then, you have the history of leadership in the film business going back over 20 years still running four of the majors.

And when there might be an open slot, who do the owners cling to?

Oren Aviv, Peter Chernin, Dick Cook, Brad Grey, Sherry Lansing, Bill Mechanic, Barry Meyer, Amy Pascal.

New Business, Mogul-ing, Retired, Dead, Retired, Producing, Retired, Producing.

Who is the one person who hasn’t run a big show that people are still obsessed with? Elizabeth Gabler… because she keeps saying, “no.”

Scott Stuber is at Netflix. Mary Parent is at Legendary (for now). Where did Donald Tang go when he wanted to reboot Open Road? Rob Friedman.  And where did Friedman go for a head of marketing? His old young EVP from Summit, Jack Pan.

In the immortal words of The Joker, “This town needs an enema.”

With due respect to an excellent career by Jim G, he’s never had success in the top job as a solo act, so why assume that he will be able to fix all that is wrong with Paramount? Remember, they are cash poor and every time some company goes on an asset search, it’s “thumbs down” on the Paramount/Viacom B asset base. Paramount has a wonderful history, but a lot of their assets don’t seem ready to convert to The Now. Library is excellent, but probably the fourth or fifth best out there. The cable networks are tired. TV is not the powerhouse it once was. And Jim G’s boss wants to spin straw into gold. Is Jim G going to take a big swing, chancing a strike out?

Wyck Godfrey: The Hire says, “No.” It says that Paramount is going to be chasing what didn’t work out for Jim G at Fox. This is not an indictment of Wyck Godfrey. He is a producer of significance. But will his Paramount slate ever hit anything better than a double? Can a studio thrive on that?

We are at the very beginning of Fox demonstrating Stacey Snider’s voice. The biggest thing she can bring is stability and a safer work environment (which the Murdochs will have to support… and should).

Horn is overseeing the multi-pronged Disney IP machine. And the new chatter about Disney buying Fox would put Stacey Snider in place to fill Alan Horn’s space on retirement, which would kinda be perfect for another decade-plus.

Warner Bros is a troubled studio, even with a run of success in the last few months. Some people on top are incredibly talented, but internal politics have overwhelmed any vision for years now and it shows. And now, the shadow of AT&T is hanging over what, just a decade ago, was the Big Movie capital of Hollywood that also played well to the middle movie range of comedies and dramas… with much of the same executive talent making that happen.

I was not a huge Jeff Robinov fan, but at least he knew where he wanted to go.

Tom Rothman is in “prove it” space at Sony and Jumani better kill. I am not telling you anything that everyone doesn’t know… though some assumed his career dead months ago. Rothman has a vision. Lots of people don’t like his vision. But he has a real track record and he hasn’t tended to lose a lot of money. But he has over this last year… so we will see.

And Universal is pretty much golden about now. The internal ranks, with as much change has happened, have been remarkably stable through five ownership changes. Comcast isn’t going anywhere. The studio plays to all fields. Marketing is like a rock (not without flaws, but solid). And aside from the now-stalled monsters relaunch, they have avoided disaster for a number of years now. And it seems that the bosses at Comcast are happy with what they own.

With Colligan’s exit, the 3/3 balance of male/female marketing chiefs is in play. Strauss and Goldstine aren’t going anywhere. Pam Levine is freshly set at Fox. Blair Rich is good at WB for now… always a potential “it was marketing” target if things go flat again over there. And Josh Greenstein lasts if Rothman lasts… JUMANJI!

Who is left for Jim G?

Tony Sella? Tomas Jegeus? Paul Hanneman?

It’s funny. Because every once in a while, Hollywood reaches for something new. And you get MT Carney… an everyone goes back into the same hot tub for a decade or so.

And that is why change is hard. It’ is hard. It’s risky. And this industry loves playing the same record over and over and over again.

Meanwhile, the media is OBSESSED with change. Change is good. Not change is bad. To the point of dementia.

Somewhere in the middle lies sanity.

One Response to “Fresh Ideas In Hollywood? Start With Executives!”

  1. Bob Burns says:

    Studio head seems like a corporate backwater, more and more, kinda like magazine publisher.

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What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

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“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

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