Introducing HE: (Plus)
Get ready for HE:(plus), a parallel paywall site that will augment Hollywood Elsewhere with seven new columns — frequently updated, each with its own archive and topped by a snazzy logo of some kind. Seriously, no foolin’ — HE Plus will double the drama quirk-factor angst excitement. Not for me, of course, but for HE readers. It’ll launch sometime in April, certainly before May 1st.
I’m jazzed for the usual starting-a-new-enterprise reasons — it’ll be “fun”, a creative challenge, a dog bark, a splash, an attention-grabber. It’ll be $4.99 mønthly or $49 annually. I could charge less, I suppose, but that would be embarassing. The new material will easily be worth a lousy $1.25 per week…c’mon.
Classic Hollywood Elsewhere isn’t changing or downsizing or anything like that. Everything will stay exactly the same, and for free as always. I’ll continue to bang out four or five riffs, reviews and stories per day, like I’ve been doing since August ’04. Plus my occasional photography and video stirrings.
But I’ll also post a fresh article or two on HE Plus each day plus I’ll generate material for four new columns on some kind of biweekly, haphazard, Marlon Brando-in-Last Tango in Paris basis — “Let’s just say we’re taking a flying fuck at a rolling donut.”
One, the extra daily post or two that won’t appear on Hollywood Elsewhere.
Two, a biographical thing called MISERABLE WANDERER Over Half The Globe (i.e., all the stuff I’d write about if I were to sit down and write a proper autobiography, which of course I’ll never do because of HE Plus).
Three, a Bluray/streaming column called DYING ART FORM.
Four, a relationship advice column called YOUR BROKE MY HEART, a kind of bluesy, world-weary, suburban angst-meets-Miss Lonelyhearts type deal.
And five, TALK’S CHEAP, a forum/place-holder for HE podcasts.
In addition HE’s own Jordan Ruimy will generate a new column, which we’ve tentatively agreed will be titled RUIMY WITH A VIEW. Partly reviews, partly trends or commentary, partly undisciplined musings and incomplete notions… whatever pops out.
And finally a new Reddit-like, scattershot column called either (a) IL FORO ROMANO or (b) HOLLYWOOD WELTSCHMERZ. It’ll be a kind of HE community bulletin board thing, and will be partly written or “fed” by any trusted friend and/or semi-professional acquaintance of Hollywood Elsewhere who has anything to say. I’ll allow these “trustees” to post directly without my input. They can post any damn thing as long as it’s not absurd or vulgar or pro-Trumpy or rancid or old-farty, and is reasonably well composed. If they fuck up, they’ll know what.
Maybe I’ll also steal from Movie City News and run a cluster of links to current news reviews & trend stories and invite comment to same.
I’ll start off with a roster of, say, six or eight or ten friends or colleagues whom I trust to respect the site and the concept behind IL FORO ROMANO or whatever I’ll call it. We can build out from there.
I’ll also be running promotional links and artwork to friends-of-Hollywood Elsewhere sites like Sasha Stone‘s Awards Daily, Richard Rushfield‘s The Ankler, Jeff Sneider‘s The Tracking Board and perhaps others.
I should probably be honest and admit that I’ve created HE: (plus) out of that mother of invention called necessity. It’s an essential component if I want to keep building the site and pushing back against the lions, tigers and bears of this realm and maintaining my basic HE workstyle/lifestyle. Nobody’s getting rich here, but I’ve lived and operated a certain way for the last 13 and 2/3 years, and this new thing is the best way I know to keep the engine well-oiled and filled with gas and blah blah. This is my life. This is my Hail Mary play.
HE:(plus) is basically a creative response to financial pressure caused by increasingly brutal and voracious competition from the big award-season ad-revenue consumers, principally Penske Media (Deadline, Variety, Indiewire, Gold Derby), The Hollywood Reporter, TheWrap, Vulture, N.Y. Times and a few others.
Award-season ad revenue is finite, and over the last two or three years the big gobble guys have muscled their way into the banquet room like the Al Capone mob. They’ve been shoving their weight around and sucking up the oxygen and eating me (and some others I could mention) alive. I’m not exaggerating.
Plus the new whiz-kid agency buyers are, like their forebears of ten years ago, interested only in astronomical numbers and page-views, and not in HE’s sui generis cosmology as well as its longtime award-season selling point — not just the numbers but the quality of industry eyeballs — the coolest directors, producers, screenwriters, Academy members, agency guys, ubers, early adopters, grumpy know-it-alls, etc.
Hollywood Elsewhere has had a place at the table for almost 14 years now. We have the same friends and allies as everyone else (last year’s buyers included Fox Searchlight, big Fox, Amazon, Netflix, Roadside, CBS Films, Lionsgate, Paramount, A24, Sony Classics, Focus Features, Universal) but if it weren’t for the support of certain award-season strategists and certain top-rank directors and producers who’ve pushed for HE buys out of the goodness and advocacy of their hearts, things would be even rougher. It’s brutal out there.
Columnist friend: “This is good. I would keep hitting hard on the voracious corps trying to vacuum up every penny in the sector and drive all competitors out. Because (a) It’s true, and (b) it makes people feel invested in this. “
And what else is new? I’ve always found life demanding. Nobody owes anyone a living. You have to struggle and hustle and dig deep and put in 14-hour days. There’s no other way. Bop ’till you drop. So this is the new thing: HE:(plus)…all for one and one for all.
Will HE:(plus) be a movable feast? Will it adapt to whatever works or doesn’t? Will it accommodate whatever new ideas may surface from whatever quarter? Of course, but right now what I’ve dreamt up feels like a plan.
Will my marriage survive this new infusion of energy and invention plus the inevitable burden of extra hours? Put it this way — I sincerely hope so. What’s life without a little intrigue?