Director John McTiernan pleaded guilty today in federal court in Los Angeles to lying to the FBI when questioned about dealings with Hollywood wiretapper Anthony Pellicano. The Die Hard helmer faces five years in the can, probation and fines, etc., but he almost certainly won’t be punished too hard because he’s said to be cooperating with investigators. When is something going to happen in this case? The readers are restless and I can hear the jungle chant: “We want Brad…we want Brad…we want Brad.” No, the other one.
The word on John Lasseter‘s Cars (Disney/Pixar, 6.12) still ain’t good. That or the old Showest buzz is still banging around. “It’s okay but it doesn’t really work…it’s not The Incredibles …nobody bats 1000,” etc. Is anyone over the moon about this thing? I mean, someone who isn’t on the Disney-Pixar payroll?
According to New Yorker critic Anthony Lane, Paul Weitz‘s American Dreamz (Universal, 4.21) is “physically horrid to behold.” On top of which “any attempt to defend [the film] for its political venom, or for the surfeit of its surreal conceits, is doomed to founder on a single, obstructive fact: this picture ain’t funny. I winced three times, and gave a couple of short laughs, but that was it.”
The trick in giving your kid a really cool name is to avoid dull pokey names like Pete or Mike or Ted, but don’t make it too cool or strange. You know…don’t fix it so the kid is guaranteed to have a hard time at school with their classmates because his first name is Pilot Inspektor (the believe-it-or-not first name of Jason Lee‘s son) or Moxie Crimefighter (real name of Penn Jillette‘s son) or Moses (sired and condemned by Gwynneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin). When Pilot Inspektor turns 22 or 23, he’s going to find his father sittin’ at a table dealing stud’ with a bunch of other actors and say, “My name is Pilot Inspektor! How do you do! Now you’re gonna die!” And then they’ll tumble to the floor and into the street, a kickin’ and a gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer.
A pretty tasty piece by N.Y. Times reporter Sharon Waxman about the temporary downfall of Amanda Scheer Demme. The widow of director Ted Demme ran the two hottest clubs in Los Angeles, Teddy’s and Tropicana Bar, at the Roosevelt hotel on Hollywood Blvd. That is, until Stephen Brandman, honcho of Thompson Hotels, which manages the Roosevelt for the owners, gave her the boot about two weeks ago. Demme’s clubs were very cool and attracted big stars, which made Demme herself a kind of star, and she certainly acted like one and so did other people who came to the clubs. (Anything goes!) But eventually the fuddy- duds just couldn’t roll with the shrieks and disturbances and that was the end of it. The lesson of the story is that if stars are royalty then the people who cater to their whims are very close to that royalty, and that often means they feel they should be allowed to live and work as freely and irreverently as the stars do. One motto to take away from this downfall-child story is “don’t fuck with the Godz!” Another would be, “You can push the fuddy-duds around and make fun of them behind their back, but if you push it too far they’ll come after you with knives in their fists and ice in their veins.” You’ll find the whole story alluded to in Charles Bukowksi’s poem, “The Genius of the Crowd.”
The 79th Annual Academy Awards will happen a bit earlier next year — on Sunday, 2.25.07. Nomination polls will close on 1.13.07 with the nominations set to be announced ten days later — Tuesday, 1.23.07. Final ballots will be mailed a week later (1.31.07) and final polls will close at the end of the day on Tuesday, 2.20.07. It’s been suggested that these earlier dates may make it appear as if the Broadcast Film Critics Association and their Critics’ Choice Awards are influencing things a bit more than their nearest competititors, the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Golden Globes. It’s obvious that the BFCA is as much into ass-kissing and whoring itself out as the HFPA, but the former apparently has hunkies on the first weekend (or the first workable Monday) after the New Year’s holiday weekend, which means the HFPA has to choose between Sunday, 1.14 or Sunday, 1.21, to stage the Golden Globes. Either way the HPGA won’t appear to be exerting much in the way of Oscar influencing, it’s being argued, because 1.14 is one day after Oscar polling closes, and 1.21 is just two days before Oscar nominations. But c’mon…take two steps back and smell the Starbuck’s. Many people feel that the Academy pretty much wiped Oscar off the map as the statuette with the Biggest and Classiest Pedigree…as any kind of vaguely legitimate barometer of serious cinematic distinction when it gave the Best Picture Oscar to Crash. So if you ask me the whole “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” hoo-hah will be somewhat less important this year as a result, and it may keep going that way. The Globes are the Globes, the BFCA’s are the BFCA’s, the critics are the critics…everything is everything, baby. The Oscar Award show is on the ropes and closer than ever to irrelevance, and if you ask me nothing can be done to save it until the Academy fires producer Gil Cates.
Rudy Youngblood, who plays the lead character (called “Jaguar Claw”) in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (Touchstone, 12.8), has his own site. And on the main page he writes about how he’s unable to say anything about his part in Gibson’s bloody action film about war among the ancient Mayans: “I have had an amazing year and a lot of things have happened for me in my life,” Youngblood relates, “[and] I wish I could talk about where I am right now, but contractually I can’t.” In a piece about Apocalypto in the current Esquire, Luke Dittrich writes about an unauth- orized visit to the set in Mexico, which was somewhere south of Vera Cruz. On page 104 Dittrich offers a synopsis of the plot, which is basically “about good Mayans vs. bad Mayans,” he writes. Youngblood’s “Jaguar Claw” is “a Mayan prince who lives in a peaceful village,” but then Mayans “from a less peaceful but more powerful tribe invade Jaguar Claw’s village…raping, pillaging, burning. They kill many of Jaguar Claw’s friends and family and take others, including his pregnant wife, prisoner. The prisoners are hauled off to a city of massie pyramids, where they are to become sacrificial fodder. Jaguar Claw organizes the remnants of his tribe [and] trains them in the art of war” with the goal of “wreaking vengeance and liberating their people.” Basically, Dittrich concludes, Apocalypto is “Braveheart in the jungle.”
Oh…that item that mentioned a scene in Mission: Impossible III in which Tom Cruise “gets beaten up pretty badly” and an alleged “Paramount insider” saying that a “test audience clapped” when they saw it, and that “it was kind of weird…you’d think Tom√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢√É‚Äû√É¬¥s people wouldn’t have allowed it to stay in the film”? It came from Roger Friedman‘s column from last Tuesday (4.11), which I obviously should have zeroed in on earlier.
On 12.1.05, a story about Emilio Estevez and the making of his film Bobby , a portrait of Robert F. Kennedy through the eyes of his supporters and admirers just before, during and after his assassination on June 4, 1968, at L.A.’s Ambassador hotel, ran in the New York Times. Staff writer David Halbfinger covered the basic points — Estevez’s struggle to get at least a portion of the film shot at the Ambassador before it was torn down, how he broke through on the writing of the script (i.e., by absorbing the recollections of a former Kennedy volunteer, a desk clerk at a Pismo Beach motel where Estevez just happened to be staying, who was at the Ambassador that night in ’68), his finding financing through the curiously-named Bold Films and “its Belgian principal” Michel Litvak, etc. But if you want a real lip-smacking account, you have to read Nikki Go‘s rundown of the Bobby situation (“What Have They Done to Bobby?”) in the current issue of Esquire. (It’s not on the site — you’ll have to buy a copy.) I have it on good authority that “Nikki Go” is actually screenwriter John Ridley (U-Turn, The Night Watchman), who briefly worked on the Bobby screenplay. (Ridley tries to obscure things on page 169 by writing that Bobby producer Gary Michael Walters “concedes that novelist John Ridley, who’s got a producer credit on the film, also did a ‘polish’ on the screenplay.”) Ridley’s piece definitely pushes a sassy, smarty-pants attitude about Estevez and his film, which has a huge “name” cast (Anthony Hopkins, Elijah Wood, Demi Moore, Christian Slater, William H. Macy, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan, Heather Graham, Lawrence Fishburne) and is described by a Bobby crew member as “an episode of Love Boat ’68 .” What’s especially funny is the way Ridley describes the disputes over finance and script-trimming between Estevez, Litvak (who not only made sure that his wife, the Russian-born Svetlana Metkina, was given a part in the film but managed to arrange for her to appear in “more scenes” just as principal photography was about to begin), and a scrappy, budget- conscious producer named Edward Bass, who has since left Bold Films. The story says that Estevez was “faking heart attacks left and right” as a way of gaining a psychological advantage during budget battles. It also says that when Estevez triumphed over Bass after a late-inning sitdown with Litvak, his “parting salutation” to Bass was “checkmate, asshole!”. The IMDB says that the Weinstein Co., which picked up Estevez’s film for “an undisclosed amount,” is intending to release it on 11.22.06. Does opening a film about Robert Kennedy on the 44th anniversary of the assassination of his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, strike anyone as (a) a blatant swipe at the younger Kennedy’s reputation and (b) a wee bit tacky?
“In about 15 years, when the studios and exhibitors finally get their acts together and come up with digital delivery systems and digital projectors, it’s my belief that film will be dead… images will never touch emulsion again . And from what I’ve seen, abandoning film will cost us little or nothing in warmth and quality, and gain us so very much more.” — Craig Mazin posting to “The Artful Writer” about the Panavision Genesis HD system, which Scary Movie 4 and Superman Returns were shot with.
“You’re forgetting another primary reason for [potential] animosity towards The DaVinci Code. I think the religious aspect has both extremes — devout Catholics and Jesus followers on one side, and agnostic-atheists on the other — sneering. And I think the word you’re looking for with the Tom Cruise situation is his ‘Q rating.’ It may be on the downswing, but my 16-year old is oblivious to his antics and can’t wait for M:I:3.” — Doug Pratt, editor, DVD Newsletter
“The Celestine Prophecy played two days in Portland (the town that gave What the Bleep? its boost) at the beginning of April, and no press previews were involved. As I wasn’t gonna pay money to go see this thing on a weekend, and that was that. I have heard exactly nothing from anyone who saw it.” — Shawn Levy , film critic, The Oregonian