The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2009

The Informant!


Who Killed Cock Roger?

That’s what I get for believing the NY Daily News gossip section… not to mention paying any attention to what Roger Friedman is “telling everyone.” The guy can’t help but lie even when he is telling his own story.
The lawsuit that was filed yesterday has only one mention of Scientology in it – more on that in a bit – and a rather more bizarre (didn’t know that was possible, did you?) at all to any motivation on Murdoch’s part for the firing.
There is a repeated refrain about the video that Friedman “saw a film called Wolverine on the internet,” but that “Friedman did not download Wolverine.” How exactly does that work?

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Has The Bruno Basher Outed Himself?

Richard Day is quoted in a Movieline EXCLUSIVE today, sounding an awful lot like the phantom e-mailer who got both Sharon Waxman and Nikki Finke to launch hyperbolic competing hypefests about Bruno’s “gay problem.”
In fact, Movieline (and others, including me) mocked the dueling drooling when it happened.
But today, using his real name, Richard Day hits some of the same notes, including the shrill argument that “the film has not been screened for a large number of gays” and that “the reaction from gays has been almost uniformly one of alarm.”
The film has been shown to GLAAD and widely screened for hetero and homo sexuals in the industry alike. There has been little alarm since.
Not coming up much anywhere is also the fact that there is what would be an NC-17 version of the film that was screened for international exhibitors that was considered by most to be much more shocking than the final version… though not on the basis of gay content.
Day’s quotes today sound like the continuing story of someone with an ax to grind, whose first efforts didn’t take. Movieline oversells the story in its headline, suggesting a dramatically different ending to the film, when in fact, the difference, according to the angry accuser, is basically that the earlier version further extends the gay bashing that still happens in the film to a physical injury. The fact that the passive sidekick of Bruno would be victimized and take it without anger is hardly outside of the overall theme of the film nor does it seem to further anything about the gay elements of the film. They picked a gentler ending. But the joke was the guy who would get himself beat up for his employer who repeatedly treats him like shit, not that a gay man was bashed.
How bitter is Day that no one but him seems to be enraged by this film?

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Circle Of Jerk

The News Releases/BREAKING NEWS Of The Day:
Clooney and Heslov land at Sony – The crazy thing is that much of the media seems to have missed that Clooney (and Soderbergh), who produced via the now deceased Section Eight which was primarily responsible for the birth of the also deceased Warner Independent Pictures, has been out of Warners for a while already.
Since Michael Clayton, Clooney has not had a film at WB. Leatherheads (U), Burn After Reading (Focus), Up in the Air (DW), Men Who Stare At Goats (Overture), The Fantastic Mr Fox (Fox), and A Very Private Gentleman (Focus). Soderbergh’s only film at WB since Ocean’s 13 is The Informant, a $21 million Matt Damon film coming this fall, a leftover from Section Eight… but he’s basically been out for years already.
Paramount Seeks DVD Production Business Share With Others – It may seem like a big deal, but it really, really isn’t. It’s the same idea as the Paramount/MGM/Lionsgate pay-tv venture that never got off the ground. It’s like all the distribution deals that Paramount has, which have created big grosses for media stories and a dangerous combination of light profits on massive hits and a decimated production business (which has NO movies scheduled to start before next year).
This is not a deal to merge libraries or anything like that. It is an effort to save money on infrastructure, just as studios that distribute through Fox or WB do… and not actually a bad idea at all, though I don’t know the hard numbers.
Firings at Paramount – All inevitable. I’m not sure why people are so surprised.
What would be SHOCKING is other Par firings that are being rumored today around town. Some of these choices, if they turn out to be real, would be suicidal, as they go right to the heart of the some of the very few parts of Paramount that actually work right now.

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Hitler Gets Pissed… Again

But it’s still more insightful than a 7 hour block of CNN this last week… or perhaps, it is insightful ABOUT any 7 hours of CNN this week…


The Academy 134

The results of the annual ritual of inviting new members into The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences were officially announced this morning. 134 new invitees.
Most of what is interesting is along the lines of “what too so long?” For instance, Paramount’s head of marketing, Megan Colligan or long-time in-house big brain David Kaminow or screenwriter John August or producers Kathy Conrad, James Lassiter, and Paula Wagner or execs Dan Battsek and Claudia Lewis or documentarian Rachel Grady or Danny Boyle or cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle or the Supporting Actress nominee of last year, Amy Ryan.
Quietly leaping in is Russell Smith, who didn’t get blackballed – as I worried – after the public whining about him not getting in last year. (He deserved the slot then, as he does now.)
The Acting Branch seems to have gotten the message that it has been overly cautious about invites – last year inviting only 7 actors to join and 16 the year before – went in for 20 new members, half of whom have never been nominated.
It clearly pays to be an Apatow regular, as his cache put Michael Cera, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Paul Rudd into the Academy this year. Jonah Hill must be depressed.


DP/30 -Soul Power dir Jeffrey Levy-Hinte

Soul Power just won the Doc Audience Award at the LA Film Festival. The film is an extension of the Oscar-winning doc When We Were Kings, that film focusing on The Rumble In The Jungle fight with the remarkable concert that also happened as a side story. This film brings that concert of 35 years ago in Kinshasa, Zaire to life. Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, established indie producer and first-time director here sat down for a 30 minute chat…
The complete video interview in QT after the jump…

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Isn't It Enough…

… that CNN Is going wall to wall with Michael Jackson coverage… which I almost understand. I mean, we’ve been here before with the world-changing Anna Nicole Smith saga… so at least this guy actually added something other than tits to the culture.
But do they need to keep claiming that every word that falls out of anyone’s mouth is “BREAKING NEWS?”
I’m pretty sure that live footage of American troops invading Iraq is Breaking News. I’m pretty sure that a newly announced Supreme Court ruling is Breaking News. I’m pretty sure that there may be some breaking news in a presidential press conference, though not always. But people – mostly ghouls and leeches – speculating about a dead superstar without any new news breaking for many hours… not.


Weinstein Butt Boy, Roger Friedman, Angles For A Settlement

The irony of Roger Friedman’s idiotic suit against Fox News/News Corp is that by looking away from Roger’s incredibly porous journalistic standards for so long, the many reasons other than the Wolverine foolishness to fire Roger can’t really be brought into play in defending this claim.
It’s a very similar road to the one that Nikki Finke took years ago when she sued The NY Post for firing her for cause – on a fact which she still doesn’t admit she was wrong about, but was, 100% – and claimed that Disney was colluding with the paper to have her fired. The case was not quickly thrown out of court, and after a few years, quietly settled. Nikki claims to have “won,” but as with all things Nikki, the facts about her actions are not available to anyone other than her and she is free to spin them into whatever variation of the truth she likes. (Only recently have other journalists been so comfy selling the hype… as they want, as the old When Harry Met Sally joke went, what she’s having. The joke was funny, even if the orgasm was fake.)
If Friedman is suing for $5 million, you can be sure that he and Martin Garbus are looking to walk away with something a million dollar settlement, paid to make it go away. He likely picked the Scientology angle because their organization doesn’t much like to be forced into the public eye. And by angling his case by positioning a wealthy Scientologist – who recently lost a child and wants to be out of the public eye – as his victimizer, he’s probably hoping that $1 million means so little to The Travoltas that they will pay to make it go away.
Roger is scum. Has been for as long as I’ve known of him. His very first spoken words to be were outright lies and scurrilous attacks. Little has changed. May he receive all that he deserves.


BYOB Monday Pre-Indy Day


Eye Off The Prize

I am amazed that the drum keeps getting beaten for the idea that Google and aggregation in general is what is killing Old Media.
The formula for fixing this, as much as it can be fixed, is incredibly simple.
Syndication of content leads to an uncontrolled spread of page views on your copyrighted material. Want to read an AP story? Every paper they syndicate to has a website and as an aggregator, you have the choice of who you are going to give page views to every time you create a link. If the AP wants to stop that and wants to take advantage of views of their material, they need to stop syndicating… or at the very least, force the use of their copyrighted materials behind locals walls in each market and only offer a national link via a site of their own.
Now, the direct result may be that local news organizations place a lower financial value on the AP wire than before and they try to make deals for similar content with Reuters or other content providers. But that is business competition.
I am completely sympathetic to the fact that these businesses got to make money coming and going in recent years, facing no serious competition outside of one or two major competitors, with whom they split the giant pie. But that is over.
The second major step is to push a very specific set of rules that the Old Media companies feel constitutes Fair Use. But it needs to be a fair set of rules.
My suggestion is 500 characters that includes the original headline, a byline, and a date and time of publication, as well as a link to the original material. That would be something like:
Impressionist Fred Travalena dies at 66
9:23 PM EDT, June 29, 2009
Travalena died Sunday at his Encino, Calif., home of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 66.
By some counts, he could mimic more than 150 famous people.
The Associated Press reported that Travalena, who also sang and acted, reached headliner status at the Stardust Resort and Casino in 2001, a year before the lymphoma first hit. He beat cancer twice but succumbed to the latest attack, which resurfaced about eight months ago, said his publicist, Roger Neal.

If you wanted to use a pull-quote without the rest, max 150 characters:
Travalena died Sunday at his Encino, Calif., home of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 66.
By some counts, he could mimic more than 150 famous people. (Newsday/AP)

Real simple.

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The Bruno Review


DP/30 – The Stoning of Soraya M. star Shohreh Agdashloo

The Stoning of Soraya M. just won the Audience Award at the LA Film Festival, not only being a quality film, but having become a reflection of current unrest in Iran in recent months. Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Agdashloo has been an outspoken voice about Iran for years, no more so than through her role in this film and the discussions since. She sat down for a 30 minute chat…
The complete video interview in QT after the jump… and the podcast is available here.

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Can We Go Any Lower?

I just became aware that Entertainment Tonight Online… a Paramount-owned business… is running an EXCLUSIVE “last photo of Michael Jackson.” He is on a stretcher with a breathing bag taped to his face.
In their haste to publish this EXCLUSIVE, did it occur to him that the man was most likely as dead at that moment as he was when he was finally pronounced an hour or two later?
We know, last I checked, that he was in cardiac arrest and not breathing when the paramedics got to his rented house. We can tap dance around the pronounced time all we want, but I have seen zero indication that he was ever alive in any way other than semantic at that time.
Shall we look forward to more EXCLUSIVE photos of the corpse?
And by the way… all the media drooling over TMZ calling him dead first… is anyone actually thinking about this? The guy was dead before he arrived at the hospital. All TMZ did was to announce without the kind of confirmation that journalists consider legitimate. And had he miraculously been revived, all the gossip rag would have been accused of was jumping the gun… they have no journalistic credibility at stake. And yet, the media marvels are whoever said it FIRST!
Who is responsible for the degradation of the news? We are ALL responsible…. but especially Old Media outlets where the highest standards are supposed to be held and are often forgotten when dazzled by the speed of new media… until the porous standards of much of new media fail journalism and old media starts kicking the entire medium for the crime.


Weekend Estimates by Klady – 6/21/09

So… what does this mega-opening learn us, Jethro?
Well, Jed, investing personal ego in box office numbers is a fool’s errand.
They sell more hamburger than filet mignon in this world. And big sales – which is what opening weekend tickets are – defines neither. The Dark Knight and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are the same this weekend. And yet, the differences are obvious… and not so obvious.
It is human nature to want to be on the winning team… that’s always the “right” team. Except when it isn’t. The vanity of being “anti-big box office” or “anti-studio” or “anti-tentpole” is as dangerous a game as being “anti-art,” “anti-adult,” or “anti-intellectual.” We are not on teams. And life and art are more complicated than “scoreboard,” though it is in the nature of our society to work hard to slide into simplifications that make it easier to distinguish winners from losers.
The two people who should most be celebrated in this moment are Don Murphy, for truly believing in this concept being a big screen home run, and Michael Bay, for understanding the images that will draw massive numbers of people based on 2 minutes or less worth of image. Obviously, a ton of people worked hard and well to make the film a reality. And Paramount’s decision to pick-up half the film, which then became the entire film on the occasion of leasing DreamWorks for a few years, is the single best decision made by Brad Grey and Tom Freston in their tenure.
It’s not very clear, still, what the ultimate number of Tr2 will be. Trajectories are changing fast. And while the film is clearly assured of doing more than the original domestically ($319m), the difference between the first and the second at the end of the first weekend is $46 million, which could spread further… or not. If the film does 2.5x opening 3-day weekend, the domestic total lands at $370m. Figuring a similar foreign leap – to about $450m – that would put the film at $820m worldwide, into the rarefied air of the all-time worldwide Top 20 and in the company of the mega-franchises. Odd to say it, but anything under $800m would probably disappoint Par – based on this opening – and $900m would be above expectations.
What is amazing about modern franchise business is that at $800 million, about $440 million come back to the studio in rentals… about $325m of that goes into production and marketing… at least $100m of it goes into the pockets of points players… so with ALL that money, you’re still looking at the profits coming primarily in post-theatrical. Back when the first film was made, that would mean at least $300 million in profits. In the new DVDuh era, that’s likely to be under $200 million, even with the DVD selling as many or more units than TDK did last year.
This reminds us, once again, about what the most profitable film of the last two years has been… Mamma Mia!. Put that in your gap-n-gold toothed robot and smoke it…
Up, the year’s #2 film, will pass $250 million domestic tomorrow… Star Trek will pass 250 before the end of next weekend… The Hangover will hit $200 by the end of next weekend. So that’s four $200m+ films this summer, with Potter a sure bet and Ice Age 3 the best shot at a sixth. The record remains seven, set in summer 2007. Last year was six.
The Hurt Locker had the best per-screen in the nation, albeit on 4 screens. Summit has the #1 non-studio release this summer so far, with $3.1m for The Brothers Bloom. Let’s hope that THL finds a bigger audience because genre fans will love this movie if they get into the theater.


The Hot Blog

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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.


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