“Even though you can argue that Brett [Ratner] is easily distracted and has a short attention span and likes to go out and party and have a good time, Brett is in his own way a perfectionist. He wants his movies to be great.” — New Line production president Toby Emmerich speaking to L.A. Times reporter John Horn in an 8.7 article about the making of Rush Hour 3. Also: An assemblage of quotes from online pontificators about why Ratner is so hated by the blogging commuinity (“paid too much and laid too much,” etc.), edited by L.A. Times staffer Deborah Netburn.
Premiere.com’s Stephen Saito has thrown together a list of the 20 Hottest New Faces of Comedy. Disputation — Anna Faris brings a certain spunk and vivaciousness to her performances, but I’ve never so much as grinned at anything she’s done in an allegedly humorous vein. She really needs to pay the piper for starring in all those Scary Movie movies. (The IMDB says she’ll next be in Scary Movie 5.) In this sense she won’t be out of the woods and forgiven and performing on a level playing field until at least 2010. Otherwise the hottest guys on the list are Superbad‘s Jonah Hill, 23,and Michael Cera, 19, who Saito calls “the Laurel and Hardy for the Y generation.”
It’s sad and dispiriting to hear that Sydney Pollack has decided against directing the HBO movie Recount, a verite-styled drama about about the fiercely contested 2000 U.S. presidential election, because of illness. Pollack’s spokesperson Leslee Dart said “he’s got some medical issues” and “is not feeling well right now,” making it “unrealistic” for him to move into production within the next few weeks.
Sydney Pollack, Jay Roach, Danny Strong
The head-scratcher, of course, is the decision to replace Pollack with comedy director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers films, Meet The Parents/Fockers — he was also one of the Borat producers). Roach is a proficient pro and he’s obviously looking to strike a blow for his own artistic maturity by directing Recount, but c’mon…when I think of Jay Roach, I think of a funnier Brett Ratner without the poon.
I’ve read a rough draft of Recount that convinced me it could be really good. I just hope Roach doesn’t screw it up. I’m sure he has the exact same thought on his mind right now.
Written by Danny Strong, Recount will be “a character-driven film about all the squabbling, spinning, vote-disqualifying and Supreme Court deliberating that eventually handed George Bush the presidency despite Al Gore winning the popular vote in both Florida and across the nation,” as I wrote earlier. News reports are saying Recount will begin shooting “in the fall,” but I was told yesterday that Roach may need a little while to get up to speed so it may not shoot until later in the year.
The following quote appears on page 137 of Strong’s script, and I am revealing nothing as it is from a published dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens regarding Bush vs. Gore: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
Believe it or not, Bill O’Reilly will be advancing a view that The Bourne Ultimatum is antigovernment propaganda during the second hour of The Radio Factor, starting at 1 pm today. As the Radio Factor website puts it, “Ultimatum has a political message that may surprise you… we’ll break it out for you and explain why it may make you mad.” Flash: Arizona Daily Star critic Phil Villarreal was supposed to be a guest, presumably arguing against the O’Reilly view, but his bosses stepped in at the last second and said “no, you can’t do that.”
The guy from “Fox TV” who’s been hired to fill Russell Schwartz‘s marketing president position at New Line is Chris Carlisle, executive vp of marketing for Fox Broadcasting since June ’04. Carlisle was with FX from ’99 to ’04, and was credited with launching shows such as Rescue Me, The Shield and Nip/Tuck.
Chris Carlisle (l.), Russell Schwartz (second from r.), Shoot ‘Em Up‘s Clive Owen (r.)
We all know from Animal Planet docs that when a new lion takes over the pride, cubs that have been sired by the old lion (i.e., the one that he’s defeated and sent packing) are sometimes killed. Do just-hired marketing execs take the same approach to movies that have had their ad campaigns shaped by the older guy on the way out? The truly bold and innovative marketing exec doesn’t think like a lion on the Serengeti, but like a poet-warrior…like Alexander the Great Let’s just hope that Shoot “Em Up doesn’t suffer from this turnover.
Rush Hour 3 (which I saw this evening…don’t ask) is tracking at 91, 49 and 18. It’ll do $40 to $50 million this weekend (not so bad) but New Line spent a fortune to make it, they’re pissed at Ratner for going over-budget, they paid loads of money to Rats, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker because nobody wanted to do it, and they all have huge back end deals.
Daddy Day Camp (Cuba Gooding revoltathon) is tracking at 82,16 and 2. Skinwalkers, the werewofl movie, is 26, 28 and 2. Stardust…61, 27 and 5. In short, no real competition for Rush Hour 3 among the newbies.
The Invasion (8.17) is tracking 52, 22 and…toilet time. The Last Legion is 21, 18 and nothing. Superbad is still struggling with 45, 28 and 3….definite interest has gone up only 1 point. Mr. Bean’s Holiday is running at 46, 17 and 1 Rod Lurie‘s Resurrecting the Champ is at 27, 18 and nothing. September Dawn is 16, 14 and 0. The War….35, 35 and 2.
Julie Delpy‘s 2 Days in Paris (Samuel Goldwyn, 8.10) is an above-average relationship meltdown film — part comedy, part “heart” movie, part Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff? (Okay, not that dark…but nearly.) It ends on a moderately hopeful note (i.e., one of resignation and acceptance), but nothing that smacks of pat or soothing. And for that alone it has my allegiance.
2 Days in Paris director-writer-costar Julie Delpy in modestly-proportioned second-floor room in the Four Seasons hotel — Monday, 8.6.07, 1:25 pm
It’s about un-cute rancor between an American-born boyfriend (Adam Goldberg) and his French-born girlfriend (Delpy) as he gets to really know her during a brief stopover in Paris as he realizes she’s a lot more complicated than he figured, and that she’s got way too many ex-boyfriends, and that he’s lacking in that laid-back European cool that comes in handy when you’re grappling with ex-boyfriend jealousy. And that he really hates Paris, or more precisely Parisians.
I hated Paris the first time I visited way back when. I got so frustrated and angry with my inability to understand or recognize the necesssary nouns and verbs that I eventually freaked out and decided to pretend to be a deaf mute, or at least a guy with terminal laryngitis. I would go into restaurants and bakeries and point to my mouth and indicate my inability to say anything in any language. I would then point to this and that rather than ask for it pigeon French, which always led to trouble.
I’m explaining why I both liked and didn’t like Golberg’s performance. I related and didn’t relate. It wasn’t altogether comfortable or uncomfortable — it was in-between. Which is what I half-liked about it. I respect Delpy, finally, for not trying to make me like or love this film 100%.
Delpy directed, wrote, costars in and did the music for 2 Days in Paris. I spoke to her about it for about 20 minutes this afternoon. It was another one of my nothing- special interviews — at times stimulating, blah at times, an in-and-outer. But I fell in love with a photo I took of her, and so I’m happy with the whole thing. As I hope she is.
I’d be lying through my teeth if I said everyone in the dysfunctional family known as New Line Cinema is sad or heartbroken over the departure of marketing president Russell Schwartz. A guy up to his neck in the mucky-muck called the news “great…a good thing for New Line.” A former New Line executive said everyone in the pipeline had known for months that Schwartz was a dead man, but when told of the actual axe-falling this afternoon he responded with an effusive “wow…it finally happened!”
Variety‘s Dave McNary wrote that Schwartz’s departure “did not come as a huge surprise…he’d been rumored to be on the way out since last year.”
Until Hairspray opened and made (as of last weekend )$78.9 million, New Line’s slate “had chalked up undistinguished box office results on such pics as Snakes on a Plane, The Nativity Story, The New World, Fracture, The Last Mimzy, Hoot, The Number 23, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny and Texas Chainsaw Mas– sacre: The Beginning,” McNary wrote. “During 2006, its top performing pic was Final Destination 3 with $55 million.”
Schwartz “is a very nice guy but he never had a clue about mass distribution,” said a marketing veteran. “He’s used to doing small art films…mass distribution is off his radar.”
The former New Line exec said “the marketing over there has been broken for a while, and the talk about Schwartz being on the way out has been happening for a good five or six months. They tried to hire a couple of people to replace [Schwartz] but they couldn’t make it work. There was talk at one time that he would partner up with someone and they’d both report to [New Line’s distribution/marketing president and COO] Rolf Mittweg, but no one wanted to come into that situation.
Rolf Mittweg, Russell Schwartz
“The company was split” over the Schwartz situation, the former exec said. “[Production president] Toby Emmerich and his camp wanted to get rid of him, and Rolf and his gang wanted to protect him.
“They had raised expectations so high for Hairspray — they really thought it was a $200 million movie — and its failure to get there may be a part of what happened today. The failure of The Last Mimzy didn’t help. There were people who thought Schwartz should go after the failure of Snakes on a Plane. There were some who said he should be out the door after Nativity went south. The fact that they finally stepped up and did this means they’ve probably got somebody in the wings to take his place.”
Schwartz won’t actually leave the building until the end of August, according to Variety, but where does this leave New Line’s Shoot ‘Em Up , which opens on 9.7? Probably unaffected. Whatever happens box-office-wise, it’ll come into the market- place boosted or depleted by certain Schwartz decisions about this and that. Schwartz, after all, will be out the door only seven days before it opens, according to Variety.
What is with big muscular black guys and their affection for angry snarly dogs that bite, gouge and kill each other in illegal dogfight rings, and sometimes kill the occasional human? Last week Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was busted for owning several snarling attack dogs for the purpose of putting them in fight-to-the-death dog battles, and last Friday Ving Rhames stepped into it when two of his dogs (possibly a pair of Fila Brasileiro mastiffs) killed a 40 year-old housekeeper.
Ving Rhames (center) flanked by Fila Brasileiro mastiffs
Rhames wasn’t around when it happened, but who owns dogs with that kind of temperament and potential? It has something to do with a belligerent macho attitude, and I think it’s despicable. Those dogs should be strung up or put before a firing squad. And I were a producer, I’d try to find an excuse not to hire Rhames the next time I need to cast a guy like him. What a brute. According to an MSNBC report, Rhames “bragged” to Time magazine in 2001 that he owned “eight Fila Brasileiro mastiffs — the national dog of Brazil, also used by U.S. Marines in jungle warfare.”
We all know that the dog we own is the person we are deep down. We all laughed when George C. Scott‘s Patton bought “Willie,” the ugly white bull terrier with the pink eyes, because we saw the resemblance. My favorite dogs are love dogs — golden retrievers, in particular, because they’re into hugging and making out and licking your hands and snuggling. I’m also partial to collies and golden labs.
Film scores and their composers (and their relationships with directors) could make for a fascinating multi-part series. It’s therefore dispiriting to read that Dan Lieberstein‘s Lights! Action! Music!, a doc that airs tonight on New York’s WLIW , is, in the opinion of N.Y. Times critic Stephen Holden, “a fluffy, disorganized, woefully incomplete compendium of interviews and film clips about movie music…a sampler for a larger and deeper exploration….even on its own terms, a frivolous diversion.”
“One of the pleasures of Jeffrey Blitz‘s film is that it immerses us in the fraught, competitive pressures of the high-school debate world — like Spellbound, it gets the details right. Blitz’s brainy kids, who run the gamut from the pathetically awkward to the brazenly self-assured, are a far cry from the usual horny adolescents Hollywood comedies serve up to flatter their target audience. They’re no less hormonal, but a lot more human.” — from David Ansen‘s review of Rocket Science (Picturehouse, 8.10).
“If you think those who have long challenged the mainstream scientific findings about global warming recognize that the game is over, think again. Yes, 19 million people watched the ‘Live Earth’ concerts last month, titans of corporate America are calling for laws mandating greenhouse cuts, ‘green’ magazines fill newsstands, and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar. But outside Hollywood, Manhattan and other habitats of the chattering classes, the denial machine is running at full throttle — and continuing to shape both government policy and public opinion.” — from an 8.13 Newsweek piece by Sharon Begley about the global-warming denial crowd, and the ample funding behind them.