I’ve paid $1600 for a nice two-bedroom Telluride condo (9.1 thru 9.5) at 350 South Mahoney, Telluride, CO 81435. Looking for someone with the right vibe to share. Please pass the word around — this is a very well-located, very nice place…can’t beat it for the price (you pay $750, I’ve got the rest). Why do I have to hustle this thing? If you know anything about Telluride Film Festival rentals this is as cheap as it gets.
Over the last decade or so I’ve been sensing chilly, corporate vibes from Warner Bros. A kind of top-down, less-personable, Death Star-meets-garrison state attitude. And now, in the wake of a disappointing performance by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there’s talk about the studio shutting some gates and releasing fewer films. Excerpts from Kim Master‘s 4.6 Hollywood Reporter piece: (a) “Several sources say Warner Bros. executives were convinced they had the goods with BvS and were shocked when negative reviews began pouring in“; (b) “Many top industry executives believe the troubles with BvS are the latest sign of the instability created when Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes promoted Kevin Tsujihara to the top Warners job and created a committee to run the film studio that includes president Greg Silverman and marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll…it’s fair to say things haven’t gone so well since“; (c) “Several executives and agents say Warners seems to be greenlighting fewer homegrown movies as it focuses on silos (DC Comics, Lego and a planned franchise spun off from the Harry Potter series)”; (d) “Overall, sources say there is an understanding Warners is aiming to release fewer homegrown films…the studio still will make some movies from ‘family’ directors including Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips. But the emphasis is elsewhere.” (e) “A person who does extensive business at WB says ‘they were always filmmaker-driven…that might now not be the case as much…they had a bad 18 months. How could there not be some kind of reaction to that?'”; (f) Nonetheless “the studio says it will release 18 movies this year and is projected to release 19 in 2017.”
Congrats to top Variety film critic Justin Chang on being hired as a senior L.A. Times critic, presumably with a long-term eye to Chang becoming the new Kenneth Turan in a decade or so. (Turan will probably start to think about downshifting his work load sometime during the 2020s.) Chang and his wife have a kid on the way, and you know he’s getting a significant salary bump out of this. TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider has speculated as to whether Variety and Indiewire owner Jay Penske might want to shift top Indiewire editor/critic Eric Kohn into Chang’s slot. Is that what the just-announced hire of David Ehrlich was about — i.e., replacing Kohn as the new top Indiewire guy?
You can see the formulaic scheme in an instant, and you have to wonder why it didn’t debut at a more prestigious venue than the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, where it popped last July. Nonetheless something tells me it might not be half bad. Excerpt of review from guy who saw it at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival earlier this year: “Dough is a dramedy about shared values…story’s about a small baker (Jonathan Pryce) fighting a losing battle for survival against a corporate giant and how a young assistant (Jerome Holder) comes up with a solution. You’ll find yourself cheering them on….loved it!”
Why have Netflix and director David Wain suddenly announced plans to make a movie based on a decade-old biography of National Lampoon co-founder/editor Doug Kenney (i.e., Josh Karp‘s “A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever“)? Doug Tirola‘s Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, one of 2015’s most under-appreciated docs, is why. Wain saw it, loved it and a light went on. Obviously. Trust me — a deal to adapt Karp’s book didn’t just happen to come together ten years later. Will Forte will play Kenney (fine) and Domnhall Gleason will play Lampoon editor Henry Beard (not a shred of physical resemblance — they couldn’t at least find somebody who hails from a vaguely similar gene pool?). John Gemberling has reportedly been cast as John Belushi; ditto Joel McHale as Chevy Chase.
The final episode of The People vs. O.J. Simpson (i.e., lead-up to and the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict) aired last night…wham. All hail director Ryan Murphy and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewki. Each and every episode has hit the spot — no one has disputed this — and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that a pile of Emmy nominations (especially, I’m guessing, for Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and John Travolta along with the creators) will happen.
But as much as I enjoyed and admired the finale, it couldn’t stand up to my recollections of the real thing on TV and particularly that nauseating feeling that settled in among whites when they realized that 95% of the black community cared more about sending a fuck-you message to racist police regimes than accepting the obvious in terms of Simpson’s guilt.
The jury didn’t want to find him guilty and so they didn’t. And so they embraced denial like a life preserver and freed a rich Brentwood murderer who once said “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” Brilliant, guys.
The night of the verdict (or was it the following night?) Julia Phillips and I took part in a N.O.W. candlelight parade that went from San Vicente and 26th down to the late Nicole Brown Simpson‘s condo on Bundy. And then everyone sang “Amazing Grace.”
A couple of weeks ago Variety‘s Kris Tapley posted an intelligent opinion piece about Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju‘s Screening Room, a start-up that would offer $50 living-room downloads of brand new films. Tapley’s view is basically that the theatrical experience has been taken over by the mongrels and that people of taste and refinement prefer to duck it as a result, and that it would probably make sense to offer Screening Room to this crowd rather than restricting them to standard multiplex degradations.
Gary Musgrave illustration that first appeared in a 3.15 Variety story about Screening Room.
Populist, reach-out filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson and Ron Howard like the Screening Room concept while those who continue to cherish the notion of theatres as havens for Movie Catholic worship — Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, M. Night Shyamalan, Roland Emmerich — are against it. The issue is sure to be topic #1 during Cinemacon (4.11 thru 4.14), the annual Las Vegas exhibitor gathering that I for one will be ducking this year.
Most exhibitors believe in the revenues they’ve enjoyed in the past. Like most people they want the past to be present, the good times to continue. The past, of course, didn’t include revenue reducers or diverters like Screening Room. They will therefore express anger and opposition to Screening Room at Cinemacon.
“Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in Wisconsin does not significantly dent her comfortable lead in the race for the 2,383 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination. But the loss underscores her problems connecting with young and white working-class voters who have gravitated to Mr. Sanders’s economic message — a message he will now take to economically depressed parts of New York State ahead of the April 19 primary there.” — from Amy Chozik‘s 4.5. N.Y. Times story, “Bernie Sanders Wins Wisconsin Democratic Primary, Adding to Momentum.”