King Kong (super-sized, 15 or 20 times bigger than he was in 1933) is regarded as an ally or good guy of some kind because he’s forged a tender emotional bond with a little Asian girl…check. So he’s been brought in by military authorities as a kind of pinch-hitting bruiser who can take on Godzilla…check. On the other hand Godzilla sure can take a punch. HBO Max will begin streaming Godzilla vs. Kong on 3.26.
33 years ago I was poking around Book Soup on Sunset, and I came upon a thin paperback version of Bruce Wagner‘s “Force Majeure“, which I’d been reading about. This was the original novella that was only 80 pages long. But as Hollywood satires went it was one of the tastiest and most downbeat (as in “fuck me, I can’t believe my life is over and I’m not even middle-aged yet”) I’d ever read.
Those 80 pages were honed to perfection. Every line was spot-on, every phrase tight as a drum.
Three and a half years later a much longer version of “Force Majuere” appeared — same author, same Bud Wiggins character, some of the same situations (including that legendary Malibu moment with a powerful red-haired producer blowing Wiggins while The Best Years of Our Lives played on a nearby TV), only this time it was 468 pages. It arrived in Book Soup on 8.2.91.
I didn’t find it as satisfying as the 80-page version. It was very well-written, but with each turn of the page I was muttering “if you can say it in 80 pages why write a 468-page version?”
Today I was searching around for my old, coffee-stained copy of the 80-page original. No dice. So I ordered a used copy on Amazon, for only $13 and change.
A draft of Quentin Tarantino‘s Crimson Tide punch-up, signed by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. A 1998 copy of Any Given Sunday, signed by Oliver Stone, Jamie Foxx (“peace”), Dennis Quaid and Cameron Diaz. And a musty, somewhat early draft of Chinatown (153 pages, Evelyn Mulwray kills Noah Cross at the finale), bearing some resemblance to the finished film and signed by the great Robert Towne, Dick Sylbert, Robert Evans and James Hong.
Polanski wasn’t around, of course, but if he had been he probably wouldn’t have signed because it’s a version of the film he had no influence upon.
I’m the only one who gets them mixed up, right? Sees one and thinks it might be the other, etc. Name any two actresses from the recent or far-off past (and when I say “far off past” I could be referring to a time before the ’80s) who shared this much of a resemblance to each other.
Two and three-quarter years ago I posted one of my “Jesus, things really suck out there” pieces. It was titled “Definitive Saga of The Destruction of Theatrical Experience Still Required,” and the idea was that the next great Hollywood expose or tell-all could or should be called “Super-Vomit: How Hollywood Infantiles (i.e., Devotees of Comic Books and Video Games) Degraded Theatrical and All But Ruined The Greatest Modern Art Form.”
Not filmed dramas per se but the stand-alone, non-sequelized, franchise-resistant form of dramatic endeavor that used to be Hollywood’s bread-and-butter when theatres showed movies of substance (1920 to 2015). This kind of thing hasn’t completely disappeared from theatres, but it nearly has. Streaming and cable are where the goods are now, and half the time you’re talking long-form serials.
Otherwise a form of dramatic story-telling that has existed since the time of the Greeks — a tale told in one sitting, three acts delivered within 100 to 160 minutes and that’s all she wrote — is showing signs of serious theatrical erosion and may even be extinguished down the road. What does Kenneth Lonergan have to say about all this? Oh, Manchester By The Sea, how we loved ya, how we loved ya…your brevity, discipline, dramatic choices, shape.
That was then, this is now. We’ve all been living in a Covid penitentiary for roughly 11 months. It’s unlikely any of us will be paroled until sometime next fall, and perhaps not until early ’22. I’m very happy to be alive and well and writing this column and bringing in ad dough, etc., but spiritually speaking I’m the star of a downish indie flick called Each Dawn I Die.
And all I can say is “boy, would I love to be back in the old Hollywood Elsewhere misery pit of April ’18!”
HE’s West Hollywood grid (south of SM Blvd., north of Beverly Blvd., west of La Cienega) went dark just after 9 pm this evening. Flashlights, candles and slowly melting ice cream.
So Cal Electric’s website initially claimed this was a deliberate maintenance shutdown to improve service. Sorry, fellas, but not during prime time on a Saturday night.
First, this city always collapses when it rains. Second, scheduled power shutdowns are always announced in advance — this one just happened. Third, the initial SCE alert said power would be off between 8 pm and 10 pm. Except they just changed their minds — the latest announcement says power will be out until tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 8 am.
10:46 pm: The juice has just returned — nine hours earlier than projected. SCE will never share, but they have a good story to tell.
We all look good (or as good as we’re ever going to look) in our late teens and 20s. But of course (stop me if you’ve heard this one) we don’t tend to become interesting until we’ve kicked around for a while and taken a few punches and acquired that vaguely bruised, weathered, lived-in look.
Hollywood Elsewhere will eventually watch all seven episodes of Pretend It’s A City, Martin Scorsese‘s Fran Lebowitz documentary. Why haven’t I begun? Because I know Lebowitz’s schtick. She’s smart and flinty and cool to hang with, but I have a pretty good idea what she’s going to say so I can take my time. No worry or hurries.
“By nearly any measure of my affinities, I ought to love Fran Lebowitz the way I love lasagna or quickly finding a cab in a thunderstorm. But for a long time now, whenever she has entered my frame of vision, she has come at me like a mime on the subway — an unwelcome spectacle of the familiar.”
I understand writers having trouble putting pen to paper, but how does an author of two worthwhile life-in-New York City books, “Metropolitan Life” (’78) and “Social Studies” (’81), quit writing altogether? All she has to do is hire someone to transcribe everything she’s ever said in interviews and on talk shows, and then use that material to build upon. It couldn’t get much easier than that.
Ask any Oscar campaign consultant — nothing fortifies an Oscar contender like starring in a Cadillac TV commercial. Seriously…good for Regina King, director of the Oscar-touted One Night in Miami, steppin’ out and pocketing a nice fat paycheck on the side.
We live in times of such terror that I’m almost afraid to mention this, but there’s a longstanding cliche or presumption about African Americans loving Cadillacs. I think it’s more than a presumption. I’ve been hearing jokes about it all my life. Here’s a statistic-based report that says African-American Millennials are “far more likely to drive a Cadillac than other demographics.”
My favorite shot is between the :18 and :23 mark, when King is shown cruising through a ‘hood-like neighborhood (modest one-story bungalows, no shady trees) and waving to her pallies.
“Bill Harrah is the boss and he made sure that Camille and I had a car. We stayed in a motel and they sent over for us to drive a red convertible Cadillac. I went to the entertainment director and I said to him, ‘I have a problem with this car.’ There’s a negative stereotype, if that isn’t a double entendre, about black people and their favorite-color Cadillac is red in a convertible. It’s racist people making fun of black people — it’s similar to watermelon. So I said, ‘I really don’t want to be seen riding around in this stereotype car.’ He said, ‘Okay. What kind of cars do you like?'” — Bill Cosby recalling an incident in 1964 when he was about to perform at a Harrah’s in Reno.
Closing Passage: “Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Congresswoman who makes most people say ‘how is she not a teacher from Florida who fucks her students?’ I don’t know but holy shit, is this lady crazy! She does not listen to lobbyists or special interests. No, she listens to microwaves. And talking dogs. She’s an all-in QAnon believer who thinks science and reason are conspiracies to trick people into thinking. Reagan saw a shining city on a hill — this chick sees spiders on her arm. Move over, AOC — say hello to WTF.”