Monday, June 30, 2008
Caught in the draft
If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not... well, I'd have to at least consider taking the job, wouldn't I?
"I am not a number. I am a free man."
A moment of zen
The graying of broadcast TV
You can download a .pdf copy of Sternberg's report here.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Hal Ashby lives!
Being There is not one of those movies. It is completely original. The screenplay, by Jerzy Kosinski, based on his novel, is stunning. It is by turns hilarious, insightful, mysterious. I wish it inspired me to want to write that well, but it just inspires me to consider another career. It’s as if you were a member of Soft Cell and someone played you U2 for the first time. You would have to give up.
After Raines, Goldblum cops another role
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Really, really bad TV
You could argue, of course, that NBC, CBS and ABC already take a similar approach to programming, since the networks stopped offering original epsidoes of scripted dramas and comedies on Saturday nights a long time ago. But Channel 55 president Matt Reiff wants to go beyond merely marking time with a lineup of cop show reruns and third-run movies. As he tells the Houston Chronicle's Ken Hoffman, "We're looking for the worst shows, I'm talking sitcoms and movies, in the history of television" for a weekly marathon of Bad TV.
The summer so far
Monday, June 23, 2008
R.I.P.: George Carlin (1937-2008)
Ironically, I first became aware of Carlin when he and Richard Pryor were conservatively dressed (i.e., coat and tie), ever-so-polite stand-up comics during their weekly stints on the 1966 Kraft Summer Music Hall hosted by – no, I’m not making this up – John Davidson. (And, boy, do I wish I could see some YouTube clips from that show right now.) I remained amused as he evolved into a hipper (and hippier) comic performer, and even tried to repeat some of his more memorable monologues – Hippie-Dippy Weatherman: “Tonight’s forecast: Dark!” – to high school classmates. I cannot say I ever became a diehard fan – I attended just one of his live shows -- but whenever I did catch up with him over the years, he never failed to make me laugh out loud with his trademark mix of bemused curiosity and blunt-spoken iconoclasm. He’ll be missed.
Westerns get the White House vote
Arthur Penn rides again
Indie arbitration on The Dark Side
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The future of movies: Less kid stuff?
"Here's a genuinely surprising piece of news about the summer of 2008: In a season expressly designed to appeal to the hordes of kids who are out of school, two of the kiddiest movies so far, Speed Racer and Prince Caspian, have fizzled. And next summer, and for several summers to come, there'll be fewer kids going to the movies, because there'll be fewer kids, period. Apparently (this is the U.S. Census talking), we had a mini-baby boom between about 1981 and 1995. And then came a dip — a substantial dip — in the kid population. In other words, that mammoth group of youngsters that has reliably fueled movie grosses for almost 15 years is now looking less kidlike: They're between 13 and 27. And getting older. And looking for movies that appeal to them. And they're really not going to like being called a niche."
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Stairway to Heaven"
Take the Leningrad Cowboys (the tres outré Finnish rock group showcased in Aki Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys Go America). Mix with the Red Army Choir. Add the Led Zeppelin anthem. Here is the result -- which you should play very, very loud. No, seriously.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Confirming your worst suspicions
Shane: No. 1 with a bullet
2. High Noon
3. The Searchers
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
5. Dances With Wolves
6. The Wild Bunch
7. Red River
9. The Magnificent Seven
10. Open Range
"It's not the Top 10 I would come up with," says incoming WWA president Johnny D. Boggs, "but that's the fun of lists like these. It prompts lively debate, and members of Western Writers of America can be as passionate about Western film as they are about literature of the West."
In any event: Congratulations to Kevin Costner for making the final cut with both Dances With Wolves and Open Range -- here is a link to my 2003 Cowboys & Indians interview, in which Costner talks about his high regard for Westerns -- and thanks to WWA for also listing what might be described as 90 runners-up.
Blogs: Threat or menace?
“Newspaper publishers assumed that even if the printing press disappeared, the internet would still have an insatiable need for their basic product—verified facts, hierarchically arranged by importance. But Romenesko’s rapid growth showed that even newsrooms are part of the emerging market for an unprocessed sprawl of information, delivered immediately and with as few filters as possible between the fingertips of one laptop user and the eyeballs of another. In short, it’s not technology per se that’s killing newspapers; it’s plummeting demand for quality information…
“In little more than a century, journalism has been conducted under a variety of short-lived labels. Yellow journalism begat objective journalism, which begat investigative journalism, which begat advocacy journalism. To some of us, the New Journalism looked like a destination, but that was before the passage through gossip journalism to our next stop: fact-free journalism…
“[Romenesko has] proven that speedily aggregated, often unsubstantiated information is marketable. Both the Huffington Post and the investors behind Tina Brown’s proposed aggregation site are also betting on that."
Monday, June 16, 2008
Cowboys and aliens and Downey, oh my!
Update, June 17: Evidently, some folks aren't too happy about the "allegorical" content of this "liberal Hollywood" movie. They're also unhappy about the "blatant foolishness" of the equally offensive Tombstone. No kidding.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Puttin' on The Ritz
Just keep telling yourself: It's only a movie... It's only a movie...
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Hulk will smash. Hulk will destroy. Hulk will... sell tickets
Friday, June 13, 2008
All the news that's fit to print may not be printed
10 reasons why Speed Racer sputtered
Coming soon: Punisher: War Zone
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Art and commerce and balloons
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
And so, alas, the death watch continues...
Reeling down memory lane with Rusty from Down Under
Before they turned the cameras on, I tried to break the ice with Russell Crowe by asking, in what I intended as a tone of mock-outrage: "What the hell is it with you Australians coming over here and taking jobs away from American actors?" Really: I meant it as a joke. Honest to God. After all, we weren't even really "over here" -- we were in Canada, for cryin' out loud, for the 1997 Toronto Film Festival premiere of L.A. Confidential. Unfortunately, Crowe didn't immediately catch on to the gag, and cast a Tommy-Lee-Jones-ish glare at me. Very fortunately, he didn't have any telephones in easy reach before he realized that, oh, the frightened-looking bloke sitting before him was just fooling around. He smiled, broadly. I smiled, gratefully. And the mini-interview went on from there. (Thanks again to filmmaker Robert Clark.)
Reeling down memory lane with Leo and Jimmy
Thanks to the restorative work of filmmaker Robert Clark, I can offer you these two mini-interviews I taped with Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron during the 1997 New York press junket for Titanic. I feel a little guilty while watching these, since they expose my... my... well, my faking enthusiasm for a movie that underwhelmed me. But, hey, that's the game you have to play sometimes during the junket ritual. Just in case you're wondering what Cameron and I were chatting about before the cameras were turned on: Our first meeting, 14 years earlier, on the "Tech Noir" bar set while I was doing a location story about a low-budget sci-fi movie called The Terminator.
Monday, June 09, 2008
What we're watching
U.S. homes now receive on average 118.6 total television channels and the average household watches 16 channels or 13% of the total average number received for at least 10 minutes per week.
Based on the total U.S. composite, African Americans watch more television overall, while Hispanics watch the least. Among all U.S. households, total TV viewing is at 31 hours and 55 minutes per week while African American households watch 45 hours and 22 minutes and Hispanic households watch 27 hours and 13 minutes.
The advertising commercial mainstay in primetime is the 30-second commercial resulting in 55% of all units across all networks. 15-second commercial units come next and account for 53% of all commercials on English-language networks in daytime.
The average U.S. TV home is populated with 2.5 people and 2.8 TV sets; 31% of U.S. TV homes have digital cable; 61% of homes have wired cable service (down from 68% in 2000) and 27% have satellite or specialized antenna systems (up from 19% in 2005).
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Death of an immortal
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Dark -- really, really dark -- comedy
Who do you love?
In honor of the late, great Bo Diddley...