MCN Commentary & Analysis

Whys & Hows

What’s playing at the Roxy?
Nothing’s playing at the gawd-damned Roxy.
A video stream sharing revenue with an indie exhib that can’t pay the rent  That he rationalizes because they can see the film all the way in Biloxi.
That’s what’s f-ing playing at the Roxy.

What’s in the frickin’ trades?
I’ll tell you what’s in the frickin’ trades.
Story about how festivals will happen in September
When people are afraid to leave their houses to buy groceries in June.
That’s what’s in the frickin’ trades.

What’s happening all over?
I’ll tell you what’s happening all over.
Guy sitting home by a television set
That used to be something of a rover.
That’s what’s happening all over.

COVID is the thing that has nipped them.
And now The Ac-ad-emy’s just another victim.

When you see a group pulling dates from their poop
You can bet that their doing it for some dough.
When you spot a fest waiting out the disease
Chances are they’re insane as all of their hopes hang out in the breeze.
When you see execs giving up on their checks
For those flats that could flatten the Taj Mahal.
Call it sad, call it funny.
But it’s better than even money
That COVID’s gonna be with us through the fall.

When you see a Joe unsure if launch will go
You can bet they’ll be cutting back on the dough.
When a film sets dates that exhibs may not make
It’s a cinch that the film is into the red and desperate for breaks.
When you see a fest putting out their face best
And they’re still selling platinum passes, oh!
Call it hell, call it heaven
But it’s probable twelve to seven
That the fest’s only doing it for some dough.

When you see exhibs thin on cash to their ribs
Make a bet they’d do anything for some dough.
When they’re des-per-ate to get the release date just right
Will the crowds wear their masks and splurge on popcorn on Saturday night?
When a blogging slob takes a goody steady job,
Cause when ad dates will start he just doesn’t know.
Call it dumb, call it clever
Ah, but you can get odds forever
Industry’s only doing it for some dough
Some dough, some dough
Industry’s only doing it for some dough!

38 Responses to “Whys & Hows”

  1. cadavra says:

    Not so much Frank Loesser as Frank Lesser!

    (Seriously, that was very good.)

  2. Bob Burns says:

    very cool, Mr P.

    Unrelated but always needs saying…. denying awards is not censorship. There are many nominated films that should never have been nominated…. and no doubt there will be many Oscar quality films to come, that should not be nominated…. and that’s fine. Every year there are many very good films that are not nominated for BP….. and, every year, many films that are quite a bit better than the ones that actually are nominated….. so just leave off the films that ignore, or insult, women and blacks. Or steal their stories. Lord knows, haven’t we stolen enough from blacks already?
    If twitter erupts, that’s your clue. Don’t cherry-pick a blogger to agree with you. Find one of the myriad other Oscar-worthy candidates. It’s not like Oscar has historically set such a consistently high standard for quality in any case.
    If people want to make these white, male films, they are free to do so, and audiences are free to attend. This is free speech. But, denying awards to offensive films has nothing to do with free speech. No one is guaranteed awards by any remotely reasonable free speech standard. We can all watch them and appreciate them. Do not award them.
    If a film has an all white, and/or male cast, think twice. Look at the leadership of the crafts in that production. If they are all white, too, find a different film to nominate, or represent, if you are a publicist.
    If it is a British film, take a hard look. The Brits are even racist against their fellow whites. Remember their saying “The wogs start at Calais.” Let the Brits award their own films according to their own standards.
    For myself, I believe the publicists should be setting this quality standard themselves in the best interest of the Industry. The Academy should not be in the position of doing what the publicists have failed to do. Lurching from one embarrassment to the next is bad for everyone.
    And no, just because you represented a good film last year that does not mean you get a pass for representing an offensive film this year. That’s like saying you are only racist on Mondays and Thursdays.

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    For folks not on Twitter, DP just suggested that the racism and sexual assault allegations against Ansel Elgort could be part of an anti-West Side Story campaign. I wish I was making that up. Fucking hell DP.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    And when called out by tons of people he doubled down. This is so bad. Gross DP.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    love the quote from Annie Leibovitz. eye-opening in the best sense.

  6. leahnz says:

    the problem with DP’s OG tweet (that he doesn’t appear to understand?) is the grammatical framing and inflammatory wording. elgort is the subject, presented as the victim having a bad week without any qualifier, with the use of the verb “accused” a further poor choice given the elgort framing — and then the qualifier that is included (“someone” possibly trying to take down WSS as motive) completes the trash fire.

    christ how hard is it to say, “it was a shittily worded tweet, fucked up, my bad” rather than doubling down, blaming other people’s ‘interpretation’ of bad wording and making yourself the victim of your own fuckup. so 2020 though, on brand, ugh

  7. YancySkancy says:

    David has deleted the offending tweet:

    “I’ve deleted the tweet about Ansel Elgort & the possibility that multiple bad stories about him landed in the same week purposefully because the response is absurd.

    I didn’t defend him against accusation. Ever.

    People have become unable to manage 2 ideas that conflict.”

    I didn’t see the tweet or the responses, but I will say that the accusations against Elgort give me pause, whether they are true or invented. Looks like most news outlets are being very careful in how they report it, with disclaimers that nothing has been verified. As far as I can tell, the identity of the accusers hasn’t even been verified.

    Obviously, if the sexual assault accusation is true, it’s horrible, unconscionable and criminal. Also if it’s false, for that matter. And probably like so many of these cases, we’ll never really know the truth but be expected to believe one side or the other for the usual reasons (“believe women” or “due process”). The racism accusation is troubling too, of course, also whether true or false. But if it is true, I do have qualms about “canceling” someone for an ignorant, hateful joke they made at age 17, especially someone who has recently been supportive of Black Lives Matter. Anyone who disagrees must believe that humans are incapable of learning, growing and maturing in matters of morality, something that flies in the face of most people’s own personal experience.

    I know Oscar campaigns can get contentious, but it doesn’t seem likely to me that these bombshells are related to screwing over West Side Story. For one thing, is ANYONE thinking about Oscar campaigns right now? Has the film even been seen by enough people to motivate a thing like this? And it’s one thing to hobble an Oscar campaign, another to sabotage its commercial prospects, which would negatively impact many innocent people, including the film’s Puerto Rican cast members and gay screenwriter and lyricist. Not impossible, I guess, but that seems even below Weinstein-level campaign tactics.

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    Original tweet.

    https://twitter.com/jasonosia/status/1274074698276655106?s=09

    The woman posted screenshots but then I think she made her account private. Seemed pretty damn credible to me. David was absolutely roasted. Rightfully so. The idea that someone coordinated a campaign against a movie 6 months out and that that was a perfectly logical explanation for why Elgort had a bad week. I mean come the fuck on. And DP doubled down for quite a while after. It was not a good look. It was a very bad tweet.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    Not sure if true but someone claimed DP has a history of this. When someone turned up bad tweets from the writer of Green Book, a claim was made that DP accused them of working on behalf of A Star is Born.

  10. leahnz says:

    “…that DP accused them of working on behalf of A Star is Born.”

    yikes i vaguely remember this, seems like a hundred years ago

  11. leahnz says:

    sorry didn’t mean hit submit and now the mcn posts from different threads are all ghosting on top of each other in a ticketyboo overlap phenom… anywho DP doubles down on this exact ‘green book’ assertion in his almost-as-cringy ‘i deleted my original tweet and here’s why: you’re hysterical fake mind readers out to get me!’ follow-up tweet

  12. Stella's Boy says:

    He said he was being silenced for sharing “dangerous ideas.” The more he was taken to task the more he dug in. So, so bad.

  13. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Sad to learn about Ian Holm.

    It’s eerie that the actors who played the crew of the Nostromo are passing away in the screen order of their characters..

  14. David Poland says:

    Oy.

    I investigated the origins of the Green Book smear… which happened. The story that was used was true. The release of the information was an effort by publicists. That is the fact. No one working in that arena thinks otherwise. Of course, because it was against Green Book, somehow it makes the truth into some kind of defense of the film. Nope. In fact, I was employed by Netflix at the time, which was accused widely of planting it.

    And I never said it was any specific movie. There are a half-dozen theories about who planted the info… which was done very carefully. Two different film school kids who then sent it to two different Twitter journalists on the same week, after the writer won a Globe. But one of the kids claimed he knew about the offending tweet months earlier and just sat on it until then.

    As for Elgort, I have never questioned the validity of the claim. I have questioned the timing, which landed in the same week as a claim that he said racist things in high school. I spend most of the day dealing with this and I don’t feel a need to re=litigate tonight. Leah’s take—that the tweet was poorly written—may well be valid. But me being “taken to task” was a bunch of people wanting me to conform to what they wanted me to say…. regardless of how many times and how many ways I explained my position.

    Rape is rape. And victims have the absolute right to process and report as they see fit when they see fit. This has always been my position. I don’t see it changing. It didn’t change in this case.

    And please, Stella… kinda taking me out of context for effect there.

    The idea that someone would try to kill an awards frontrunner six months before the end of the year is not insanity. It’s how things work. People have been collecting opposition research for months already. By the time a story goes public, someone has been pushing down the tracks for months. Decisions about how to approach each film are already being made. And West Side Story has very few vulnerabilities. One is that Tony was cast in the film with a 25-year-old and the woman who plays Maria is 17.

    In The Heights is no longer this year. One of the driving forces of remaking West Side Story was putting people of the right age and ethnicity in the cast. Moral high ground. That high ground is now gone.

    Maybe that is a coincidence. But the alternative does not diminish the assault accusation or the racism accusation… unless you are worrying about the kind of people who are looking to diminish the assault allegation trying to use it as leverage. I am not one of those kinds of people. And I don’t think rape is something that is qualified in any way by the way the information comes to the surface from a victim.

    If this woman was goaded, somehow, into telling her story now, six years after it happened, this doesn’t make it untrue or any less horrible an offense. As I noted repeatedly, in pretty much every case in which there has been something funky going on in trying to take down a movie or an actor, the story has been true. It’s usually late in the season and it’s usually seen as a dirty trick and disregarded by voters. But I can’t remember a case when the accusation was false.

    Today, Elgort publicly acknowledged the sex and denied that it was less than consensual. This was to be expected and changes nothing.

    And so after I said I wasn’t going there, I went there.

  15. David Poland says:

    Oh yeah… to the other Green Book comment… I am the least conspiracy-minded of those who cover Oscars. I am forever saying that everyone constantly claiming that everything is a “dirty trick” is extreme. Of course, the attacks are always on the familiar suspects. But we live in an Oscar world in which The Academy has actually stopped enforcing some rules and changed others so some bad behavior has been normalized.

    I didn’t speak to the Green Book thing until I investigated it for days and allowed everyone connected to it who wanted to speak about it to speak about it privately. It made the outlets attached – one in particular that was taking public credit for breaking the story – really angry. But it was an unnatural event.

    Of course, I get calls about how everyone is corrupt with almost every Oscar story that gets attention. The people who feel victimized are always wildly enraged. And the people who are suspected of planting the seeds – or planting the tree – are always deeply offended and butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.

    You don’t hear much of this stuff from me, over these last two decades, because I won’t play that game.

    Before Green Book, I uncovered gamesmanship in the fight between Hurt Locker and Avatar. I was very pro-Hurt Locker and had been touting it since Toronto the year before. But I did think Avatar would win. And I lost relationships I valued because I was honest about what went down… even as I pulled my punches.

    But I have not made a direct accusation here. I just pointed out the accusation. And yes, probably too glibly. But when I see an unlikely coincidence, I wonder why it is happening. I am a journalist (of my own sort). It is what I do. I don’t think I have to apologize for that. And the idea that it is my habit… is just bullshit.

  16. leahnz says:

    i miss the hotblog

  17. Amblinman says:

    “christ how hard is it to say, “it was a shittily worded tweet, fucked up, my bad” rather than doubling down, blaming other people’s ‘interpretation’ of bad wording and making yourself the victim of your own fuckup. so 2020 though, on brand, ugh“

    2020 middle-aged white “liberals” are killing the brand forever.

    On another note for anyone who cares: looks like L*xg deleted his Twitter account. I hope it’s schtick.

  18. Amblinman says:

    “But I have not made a direct accusation here. I just pointed out the accusation. And yes, probably too glibly. But when I see an unlikely coincidence, I wonder why it is happening. I am a journalist (of my own sort). It is what I do. I don’t think I have to apologize for that. And the idea that it is my habit… is just bullshit.“

    “As for Elgort, I have never questioned the validity of the claim. I have questioned the timing, which landed in the same week as a claim that he said racist things in high school.”

    Yes, Dave, follow that “journalistic” instinct. As a white male, it must be super exciting to question both racist AND sexual assault allegations. This is unique in our culture and I’m happy you’re tackling it.

    On the second comment; people who worry about the timing of rape allegations are saying “it couldn’t have been that serious if they waited so long.”

    This one isn’t surprising coming from you. Anyone who has followed you over the years is familiar with your creepy “observations” about women’s bodies.

  19. Bob Burns says:

    Does the Academy, or Disney, need to be involved with an accused rapist over an Oscar campaign for a remake? No one is entitled to awards. One hopes the publicists, and the studios, will have the good sense to find other films for Oscar campaigns.

    Lots of films and filmmakers to honor. No one is entitled to awards.

  20. Dr Wally Rises says:

    My take? They’re going to try and wait for the social distancing protocols to ease and then Stevie’s going to pull a Christopher Plummer. He turned around both War of the Worlds and Munich in ten weeks of post-production flat, he can find a way to plug in another actor into West Side Story by February.

  21. Bradley Laing says:

    “JUNE 24, 2020 4:06PM by Pamela McClintock

    The live-action feature is directed by Niki Caro.
    Disney’s release of the live-action Mulan on July 24 is in serious jeopardy as COVID-19 cases surge in a number of states across the U.S., sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

    Hollywood is increasingly concerned that the late summer tentpole will have to give up its date and relocate to safer shores. It remains to be seen whether Warner Bros.’ fellow event pic Tenet will stick to its July 31 date.”

  22. David Poland says:

    The problem I have with that, Amblinman – and much of the current tone out there – is that I am supposed to be responsible for what someone else might think about what I think.

    Awareness of coincidence is not a white man thing. Black and female journalists do the same exact thing. What is different here is the context. But no one wants to have that discussion. Everyhing first has to go through the assumption that anything that is not precisely in line with the thinking of some people is malicious and racist/sexist. The world is loaded with racism and sexism. But every thought of while males does not start there. Do we white males need to check ourselves, in the current and in retrospect? Absolutely.

    But the irony is that your argument against me here is what has been done to women and BIPOC forever… narrowing and boxing in.

    I have heard bullshit like “if she didn’t report it immediately, it wasn’t real” forever. And I have always said it was bullshit. But some fool might say it and somehow use what I tweeted as an excuse, so I am guilty too. Just like Trump does it. “The Democrats want to get rid of police and government and home ownership and hamburgers.” It’s bad rhetoric.

    Got an angry tweet yesterday because I retweeted the Bubba Wallace news without assuming this was a conspiracy between the FBI and NASCAR. The assumed perpetrator wasn’t being punished. So I am suspect because even if the noose wasn’t aimed at Bubba Wallace, something good came out of the assumption, even if it was false. Not good enough.

    Can’t speak to my allegedly creepy observations about women’s bodies without more detail. But good way to smear me.

  23. David Poland says:

    I tried to create space for that, Leah, but no one used it.

  24. David Poland says:

    I believe WSS will be moved out of 2020 by October.

  25. David Poland says:

    He is at the center of the show… it would be a 40% re-shoot.

  26. Bradley Laing says:

    “Movieweb, RYAN SCOTT — June 24, 2020

    The information comes from a study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Self Financial. It found that 49 percent of Americans will be cautious of movie theaters. The studio focused on which industries will be impacted when they reopen, based on how willing or unwilling people will be to visit those businesses. Public transportation came in on top with 52 percent saying they would avoid it, with bars and restaurants rounding out the top three at 47 percent. Just because the economy is reopening doesn’t mean that people will simply return to normal and that could be an issue for the movie industry as a whole.

  27. Amblinman says:

    “But the irony is that your argument against me here is what has been done to women and BIPOC forever… narrowing and boxing in“

    No, the irony is in your attempt to defend yourself for using the language of white middle class guy oppression by co-opting actual oppression of non-white people. “I’m the really real victim in all this” says the guy with the media platform and bylines.

    “The problem I have with that, Amblinman – and much of the current tone out there – is that I am supposed to be responsible for what someone else might think about what I think.“

    If your words lead people to make observations about you that you find uncomfortable, then perhaps the issue isn’t on their end.

    Your reviews over two decades have made any number of sexist asides about women’s faces and bodies. I’ve certainly brought it up previously.

  28. leahnz says:

    everything makes me so freakin’ sad
    try to imagine for a single moment how exhausting, painful, humiliating, surreal and maddening it is for women to be fighting these same battles for * lifetimes & generations * only to see the likes of the US actually regressing in many respects. stop using the epidemic of sexual assault, abuse, humiliation and harassment of women and girls (routinely diminished, disbelieved, dismissed and swept under the carpet, justice incredibly rare) as a theoretical football, bandied about to suit one’s agenda. it’s reprehensible, humiliating, and gross.
    ‘i’m just pointing out my conspiracy theory!’ is not the defense you appear to think it is, DP.
    please climb down off your cross and put down the shovel. i gather you are aware twitter is a public network wherein the comments you post are then read by people – nobody climbed into your brain to read your thoughts. if you’re a “journalist” perhaps endeavour to express yourself more succinctly. your wounds are self-inflicted and yet still out here swinging at shadows

    re the hotblog:
    the community of various commenters and readers survived for such a long time, DP, perhaps against the odds, a prickly little pear, organic and alive – even after you left. it would have been so easy to simply carry it on with a link on the new MCN page, watched over by Ray, there to interact with if you felt the urge, but no — you had to kill it. you did it intentionally. it was hurtful and disheartening.
    i think it’s obvious that you held the blog in a bit of contempt and didn’t care much about the community that you originated. you can’t just cavalierly snuff something like that out and then ‘reassign’ it to some dusty corner and expect it to go on as before, it doesn’t work that way. but i think you know that. i suspect you just don’t give a shit tbh

  29. movieman says:

    Sorry, but if Ansel Elgort is digitally erased and replaced with the unctuous Ben Platt, I’m boycotting the damn movie.
    …whenever the hell it opens (and I’m pretty sure it ain’t gonna be Xmas).

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    Perfectly said leah. It is peak white male to believe that you are the victim when tons of people criticize your bad tweet. It is pathetic and asinine to believe that you are being silenced merely because people objected to your bad tweet. Shows what an ivory tower DP is in.

    Ansel Elgort is one of the worst actors on the planet. Every movie he’s been in would be infinitely better without him. You could only improve WSS by removing him. Replace him with AI. Or Christopher Plummer. Or literally any person in the world. But go ahead and boycott a movie because they removed a rapist who is also a terrible actor. Makes perfect sense.

  31. Stella's Boy says:

    Of course also just piggy-backing on what amblinman said and said better. Wish we could edit posts.

  32. movieman says:

    “Ansel Elgort is one of the worst actors on the planet.”

    Really, SB? C’mon, that’s utter hyperbole.
    Elgort has been quite effective in any number of films (most prominently “Baby Driver”), and I’m sure that he’s a pretty decent Tony if SS hired him for the role in the first place.
    Whether anyone will ever see his performance in WSS remains to be seen.

    And for what it’s worth, Ben Platt literally makes my skin crawl.
    Compared to Platt, Darren Criss (another Ryan Murphy protege/darling) is Monty Clift 2.0.
    How I got through two seasons of “The Politician” I’ll never know.
    Eek.

  33. David Poland says:

    There is no answer from me that will satisfy you. Amblin. None that would be honest, at least.

    I’m not uncomfortable with observations about me, though feeling misunderstood is always frustrating. I have been in a public discourse for a long time and my way of dealing with it is to do a lot of self-examination. Not always in the moment. Almost always on the negative only. For a lot longer than the public discussion continues. I chew on it. I test the hypotheses. I separate the ideas being expressed.

    Entitlement has become a greater part of that self-examination in the last 5 years or so. It can be a significant thing. But not always. Same with being white. Same with being middle aged. Same with being relaively healthy. Etc, etc, etc.

    I know who I am. I know how I think. I know my loyalties. Some on my shit chafes and I know it. Some of it chafes and surprises me. And some of it is just hypersensitivity on the part of others.

    But you know me better than I do, in your view. The act of responding, without submitting to your feelings, is just more grist for the mill to you. We can’t disagree. You must be right. And I must be wrong.

    And that is okay. It’s really not my choice.

    I am not a victim. And I know you are just expressing your most righteous self.

    I’m sure this response will be called “doubling down” and somehow attributed to my race, gender, and zip code… things I would never do to anyone else. But that is how things are.

  34. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh I mean it movieman. Elgort’s performance in Baby Driver is one of my least favorite male leading performances ever. He made my skin crawl. I detested the character. I cannot overstate how much I dislike him in that movie. I don’t get his appeal at all. Well maybe in a YA adaptation but that’s about it. I firmly believe he is one of the worst actors on the planet. But different strokes.

  35. David Poland says:

    If I am on a cross, it’s only because you put me there, Leah. I don’t feel persecuted. Just willfully misunderstood.

    I don’t have to imagine about women dealing with the horrors women face, because I examine them as closely as I can without being a woman. I support women. I support accusations. I do it publicly. And I do it often. But apparently, you have decided that I think it’s a game. Terribly insulting. Completely untrue. But like you say, swinging at shadows. My words are meaningless to you, unless they suit your per-determined perspective, it seems.

    Hot Blog – “you had to kill it. you did it intentionally. it was hurtful and disheartening.”

    What are you talking about??? Why would make these assumptions without asking me what my intentions are or engaging in a constructive way?

    I may have failed you in some way. I mean that. Changes in 2001, 2019/10, and 2019 have all cost time, money, and energy AND left me frustrated and challenged in how my history (and yours with it) is managed by people I have paid to take care of it with caution.

    I am glad you think things are easy, but I promise you I am 100x less satisfied than you about lots of things in the process of change.

    Hot Blog is as much a part of me as it is a part of anyone who has ever posted to it. “cavalierly snuff something like that out.” I wish I was as cavalier about any of it as you are about accusing me of being such.

    I am thankful for your years of participation in here, but this attack, more than any other, is exhausting in its thoughtless unkindness.

  36. leahnz says:

    honestly what’s going on with you, DP, something’s not right, this self-righteous pity party is weird and unseemly – and your inability to properly listen and take on board criticism for what you state using your position on a public platform has reached an order of troubling magnitude, even for you. beyond the pale now, you’re seriously freaking me out

    re the hotblog, i can’t even with this cryptic ‘rebuttal’ but i’ll say this much further on the subject: it’s not about ME, specifically, in the slightest; it was a bit of a comfortable space for lots of people and the fact is, plenty of people expressed their disappointment to you directly re axing the hotblog right after you did so, some questioning why it had to go – and your response was uniformly some form of unconcerned deflection, ‘what difference does it make?’.
    did you make any attempt to “engage in a constructive way” with the hotblog commenters/readers before the forum was simply disappeared one day out of the blue? no. you’re projecting. you abandoned the blog for reasons of your own, it managed to survive with a life of its own, and then with not so much as a word you ended it, forcing all subsequent commentary onto your personal main-page content. can’t really sugar-coat that now with all this injured-ego mambo-jumbo. in the spirit of that old expression: stop using the time people are talking to you to construct your next aggrieved rebuttal instead of listing. get a grip, seriously. i think i can say with a fair degree of confidence that none of us here are ‘out to get you’, you’re being mind-mindbogglingly ridiculous.

  37. Amblinman says:

    “I’m sure this response will be called “doubling down” and somehow attributed to my race, gender, and zip code… things I would never do to anyone else. But that is how things are.“

    “I don’t have a sexist/racist/xenophobic bone in my body..” I bet if you could you would have voted for Obama for a 3rd term.

    Okay. Got it. Good talk.

  38. cadavra says:

    They’re not reshooting WSS. Plummer was in MONEY for maybe 10-15 minutes, in scenes with one or two other actors on practical sets. Elsort is the lead character in WSS. It would cost tens of millions to rebuild sets, reclaim locations, bring back a huge cast, redo the musical numbers, ad infinitum. This story is already becoming a distant memory and won’t affect the box office.

    We should channel our anger toward much more important things, like how horrible it’s been that “The Simpsons” has had a white actor voice Dr. Hibbert for the past three decades.

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