Monday, February 16, 2009

Studios, Stars, And (No) Money..and Listen To This!

Just some good reads this Family Day holiday...Variety's Editor-In-Chief Peter Bart writes a sobering tale in Vanity Fair about Hollywood's over reliance on the star system has resulted in poorer and poorer movies. But Bart's happy ending is how the economic crisis may end up having a positive effect on the quality of films coming out of LaLa Land.

All this said, to paint Hollywood as an all-out war zone with the artists fighting the bean counters would be an absurd oversimplification. The fraternity of filmmakers embraces a growing number who are themselves corporate players and who are in the game for the big paydays. And the ranks of the studios contain many executives who have sophisticated tastes and who, left to their own devices, would make art-house films. “It’s my ardent wish that I could create more movies that I’d actually want to see,” confessed the production chief at one studio, who obviously did not want to be named.

So here’s the discomfiting reality that makes studio executives squirm: It’s cable television, not film, that’s generating audience excitement today. Tune in to the typical watercooler chatter (or what passes for it online), and the titles you hear are more often Entourage or Weeds or Dexter or Mad Men, not Doubt or The Reader.

Ask Hollywood’s top filmmakers what forces may pull the community out of its current slough and you often elicit the following answer: The malaise itself is the key. The system needed to be shaken up. The creative community needed a reality check.
“I don’t want to sound like the dopey optimist,” says Paramount’s Brad Grey, “but I think good things will emerge from all this angst and turmoil. We may find ourselves replaying the 60s or some form thereof.”
I find it interesting that he mentions cable TV land as the place which gets all the buzz these days. It's a good essay, read it HERE.

And Linda Holmes at NPR's Monkey See blog waxes eloquent about the art of the DVD commentary HERE, with special consideration given to the first episode of the 2nd Season of This American Life - the Showtime TV version.

Host Ira Glass and director Chris Wilcha offer genuine insight about why a shot was chosen, why a sequence was or wasn't used, and how they got Johnny Depp. (Philips(the character in the episode) is a prolific writer despite the fact that typing is a very slow process for him, and having the voice of Depp -- who Philips names as one of the guys he'd want to play him in a movie -- suddenly appear to read his words gives the entire episode a floaty, dreamlike quality that utterly defies the physical limitations of Philips' world.)

It's rare that the insights offered in a commentary are so good that they're almost as rich as the episode itself, but this is that rare case.

That sounds like a show and a commentary worth taking a look at, and a listen to.

Fun's done...back to work.

1 comment:

Corey said...

There is hope yet.