Every so often non-obsessive film mavens who don’t monitor the news on a day-to-day basis must wonder whatever happened to Patrick Sauriol and Corona’s Coming Attractions (’95 to ’03), the best news and gossip-tracking site in movies that ever lived. Seasons change, details fade, things slip away, and suddenly you’re going, “Wait…what happened there again?”
We know what happened, of course. Sauriol bailed on CA in ’03 to become a Cinescape reporter/editor and then he went on to write stuff for Vanity Fair and “other publications.” He was described in this undated Movieset Corporate profile as “happily married [with] two wonderful children, three cats, one dog and way too many DVDs.”
I wrote Sauriol this morning for some information. I think he lives in Vancouver. No reply at press time.
Five years and four months ago Online Journalism Review‘s Marc Glaser posted a piece about Sauriol having taken a buyout deal with Cinescape magazine, which effectively ended the glory days of Coming Attractions, which Sauriol founded in 1995.
“No, we haven’t been bought out and absolutely nothing’s changing about the way Coming Attractions reports about the movies,” Sauriol says in the piece. “That could be technically true,” replied Glaser, “but one important change for readers is that they now have to slog through Cinescape’s graphic-heavy site to find Sauriol’s movie news, which are mixed in with book and videogame news. Worse still is the loss of the weblog format, forcing readers to load a separate page for each item.”
I’m just saying I seriously miss Coming Attractions, and that it’s a damn shame it went away.
This whole jag started when I was sifting through web articles this morning about the good old days of Comic-Con. This led me to a piece I wrote eight years ago for my Reel.com column about attending a Comic-Con panel called “Caught in the Net: Movie Webmasters on Hollywood, the Internet, and the Future of Their Bastard Child.”
Wow, Gore and Poland looked so much younger eight years ago. I guess we all did, right? Gore vs. Bush, pre-9.11…what a time it was.
The panel, moderated by IGN Moves’ Den Shewman, featured “TNT Rough Cut’s Dave Poland, Film Threat’s Chris Gore, writer/director Kevin Smith, Coming Attractions’ Patrick Sauriol, CHUD’s Nick Nunziata, Ain’t It Cool News‘ Harry Knowles, and X-Men producer Tom DeSanto,” as I put it back then.
I’m running this because I’d like some reactions. Read this over and ask yourselves what’s changed over the last eight years (except for people having different gigs and jobs)? How is the movie-internet world of ’08 significantly different from the one we had in ’00?
“I wasn’t disappointed” in the panel, I wrote back then. “They gave Harry some hell. His sins, they said, included the appearance of acting arrogantly and ethically irresponsible in certain ways. They rapped him for appearing to be too chummy with moneyed, honeyed Hollywood. They were especially angry about Harry having posted posting their e-mail addresses at one point during the Jimmy Smits/Star Wars Episode 2 brouhaha a few weeks back.
“Harry apologized for the posting (‘It was a mistake’), but otherwise stood his ground and even jabbed back here and there. And Smith got off some good, funny lines.
“But the discussion was a little too political and mild-mannered for my taste. No one raised their voice or lost their temper or squirted anyone with a seltzer bottle. And there didn’t seem to be any particular focus or shape to the scrapping. It was this topic, then another topic, and then something else, then back to the first topic, and then Smith would make a crack and everyone would laugh.
“I’m looking over my notes and I still can’t find a shape to it, but if there was a theme, it was probably, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’
“Gore got off a good one at the beginning by pointedly describing Film Threat as a site that “confirms facts,” an allusion to a recent piece by Ron Wells that calls Knowles’ ethics into question. Knowles shot right back with, ‘Did you confirm the story, Chris? I don’t remember getting a phone call.’ Poland jumped in, then Gore again, and then Harry, and things started to build.
“I had written about this fracas and wanted to see where the discussion might go, but some in the audience yelled, ‘Move on! Move on!’ So the Wells’ Film Threat article was dropped.
“The movie experience, said DeSanto, ‘has been forever changed by the internet, for better or worse.’
“Poland told Knowles that he has ‘real concerns’ about how malleable Knowles may be when it comes to studio gift-giving and massaging. Referring to a recent trip Knowles took to Prague to visit the set of Sony’s A Knight’s Tale, Poland said to Knowles, ‘I can tell you, whether you realize it or not, that Sony thinks they own your ass now and have you pretty much in their pocket.’
“At one point, I asked the panelists how they were interpreting the abrupt fall-off of business for X-Men, but that topic, too, was waved aside because the audience was becoming bored.
“Midway through the discussion, Sauriol raised an ethical issue by saying, ‘We need to check each other and to affirm basic journalistic standards. There’s this concern about being renegades or untrustworthy — reflecting only a fraction of what’s been written — that mainstream media people have about us. Without a set of unified rules, the studios are never going to respect us.’
“Instances of studios getting angry at certain Internet journalists for what they’ve regarded as intemperate reporting or reviewing were brought up. 20th Century Fox was angered awhile back at Knowles for running X-Men photos that temporarily queered a deal with Entertainment Weekly to run an X-Men photo on a cover. De Santo confirmed that they almost lost the EW cover because of this.
“Poland said he was concerned about stepping over lines that might aggravate relations with the studios. Knowles mentioned at one point that he’d been banned from getting access or inside information to Fox’s Titan A.E., to which Smith said, ‘”That’s a fucking blessing.'”
Okay, here comes the emotional part…
“Then Smith admonished Poland for what he apparently felt was an undue concern about not wanting to piss off the powers-that-be and keep things on par regarding access to early screenings.
“While Poland tried to explain what the political realities of dealing with the studios involved, Smith shot back with, ‘Fuck the studios! Who gives a shit about seeing [a film] early? Pay your seven bucks, see it on your own, write what you want, and fuck ’em! Don’t worry about those cats! The weapon of the internet is that everyone has a fucking voice.”
“Poland countered that there was no one on the panel who wasn’t ‘doing business’ with the studios. ‘If renegades are really renegades, fine,’ he said. ‘It’s when supposed independents start playing both sides that we’ve got problems.’
“At one point, Knowles said part of his role in talking early about the flaws of a film like Batman and Robin was that he thought he might save someone the $7 they’d pay to see it.
“‘You can’t save anyone $7 by saying Batman and Robin is bad,’ Smith responded. ‘Because they just say ‘Oh, yeah? How bad?’ and they pay to see it anyway.’