France Like No One is Watching

In another age, if Hollywood’s priciest annual boondoggle turned into a turgid public debacle, it might not have been such a big deal. Back in the 90’s, to send half the industry around the world for two weeks of grim headlines about the collapse of the international film world might not have been so bad – hey, what’s a few tens of millions if the troops had fun. But the incongruity becomes glaring in these days of austerities and cutbacks and housekeeping deals sent packing, for Hollywood to still spend millions  on an event that gets headlines, from the Trade. Press no less..like this:   “It wasn’t just the shadow of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein casting a pall over the proceedings. Everywhere you looked, there were clear signs that the old thrill is gone.”  When THR says thrill is gone from a Hollywood mega-event, you can put your money that the thrill has cleaned

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HOLLYWOOD DANCES AROUND THE DONALD

Things are getting weird in Donald Trump’s Hollywood. And it is Donald Trump’s Hollywood, because the shadow of this Presidency is starting to fall everywhere upon it: whether, in whispers and rumors, or in major plays to keep on the right side of or ahead of an administration that wishes nothing good to the industry at large. While talent may pose as The Resistance, this is certainly not a fight the corporate overlords would have chosen. At a time when the poohbahs are trying to claw out a future for Hollywood, trouble from Washington is the last thing they want. Trump didn’t bring about this moment of total insecurity for Hollywood. It’s not because of Donald Trump that the streaming onslaught began, that Harvey Weinstein was exposed, that movie marketing costs are exploding through the stratosphere. But add to that a new element of instability and uncertainty, and you have Donald Trump’s Hollywood, in a bottle. Here

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IS HOLLYWOOD PREPARING A LAST STAND AGAINST BIG TECH?

Just as the Silicon Valley Death Star has fixed its planet-buster-beam on Hollywood, the studios may be on the brink of getting the one thing they’ve desperately needed: hope.  But are they strong enough to play their hand and take advantage of the rare turn of misfortune for their greatest foe? To recap: as we move towards the Great Entertainment Semi-Finals, Hollywood’ ancient, industrial superpowers stand on the brink of being swallowed whole. IE, having their seats taken away by the giants of tech, which are roaring into town to assimilate all the world’s content creation companies into their own algorithmic, post-carbon bliss. The fundamental imbalance here is, of course, that the studios have to play by basic rules of economics, physics and acceptable cultural norms, while the tech giants can create havens for Nazi-propaganda and teen suicide boosterism; run ads around jokes about beating up Rhianna; blow tens of billions on unwatched misfires; and call it all data collection. Not to mention compromise the

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Hollywood Preps for War!

With the madcap fun of the Oscar race behind us, we can get back to focusing on the subject at hand – the imminent meltdown of the entertainment industry as we know it as we head into the  World Entertainment Semi-Finals, coming sooner than we’d like. There are two parties whom we all but know (not that we ever really know) will have berths in the final showdown: Disney and Netflix.  And right now, which of those do you suppose has the upper hand? Given the numbers in this chart, Netflix will be worth more than Disney sometime by the end of the week, give or take a couple hours. That’s Disney, with its Marvel and its Star Wars and its total domination of the box office; its theme parks all over the globe; and its mountains of Winnie the Pooh-branded pajamas and Doc McStuffins ice capades shows. All of that is now worth less than an app with a bunch of

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THE LAST OSCAR TAKE AT THE END OF THE WORLD

I warned them but they went ahead and did it.  There were plenty of excuses they could’ve used to cancel last night’s show.  It was drizzling cats and dogs the day before! What self-respecting Angeleno wouldn’t clear their calendars for a month after a trauma like that? But ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die… One good thing about what I think we can call the systemic Oscar meltdown this year: now that we’re at a new low, viewer-wise (what’s the T word again?), if next year does not bring about the long overdue, everything-on-the-table, wholesale revamping of this spectacle, we’ll all be free to finally wash our hands of it. One more big lurch downward and Oscar will be a stone’s throw from Young Sheldon. And we don’t feel the need to shut Hollywood down for six months and rearrange our entire business to deal with the fall out over each episode of Young Sheldon. I think it’s hard for Hollywood

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Get Ready for the Least Watched Oscars in History!

Here it is!  Hollywood’s biggest week, and welcome everyone to the lead up to what could be the all-time, least watched Oscar ceremony in history! Somewhere there’s a scientific term for when the very act of studying something destroys it. Never have more people devoted more attention and more thought and more pixels to an evening than this year’s Academy Awards – pundits, activists, producers, stars, marketeers, swag suite promoters –  more camp followers than trailed after Napoleon’s Grande Armee,  and the net result will likely be – audiences scared away by the millions.The importance of this is not nothing. If ever the movie industry could use a boost of glamour and good will it is now.  To recap: not only is the survival of the movie studios on the line, but along with it the very open question of whether future generations will continue to leave their homes to

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LIFE OF RYAN

Now Netflix has got Shonda Rimes and Ryan Murphy.  Both defected from arms of what will soon be the combined greater Disney metropolitan area. Has Netflix taken Disney’s king and queen?  $300 million for the creator of the Versace mini-series and American Horror Story?  Okay..if you say so.  It will be an interesting experiment. If American Horror Story, Scream Queens had debuted on Netflix would we even know their names today? Would Glee have become a sensation? Would Shonda Rimes’ last couple shows for that matter., if they appeared among the great tides of streaming releases have been noticed by anyone? Just as it takes hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing over the course of decades to create a Will Smith, what is American Horror Story apart from the full weight of a legacy network’s marketing budget behind it? We’ll find out.  Or we won’t, because we won’t have access to that data, but block out time in your schedule in

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KROLL OF THE DICE: A HOUSE FALLS AT WARNERS

from the January 9, 2018 edition of The Ankler For over a year now, The Ankler (and nowhere else) has been reporting on the Game of Thrones in progress on the historic Warner Bros lot.  As the Ankler has long noted, the studio has  been locked in a frozen staredown scrum between House Tsujihara, House Kroll and House Emmerich, each pushing at each other with all their might, jockeying for advantage by the inch, while the frozen corporate situation kept everyone locked together in a death hug. Put less slightly less dramatically: you’ve had a bunch of factions trying to kill each other but no one could do anything until the Telephone People arrived. Six months ago, it seemed that House Kroll had the advantage in that fight, as the Marketing President de tutti Presidents strode alongside Telephone honchos on premiere nights, and the Tsujihara regime seemed ever more lavishly adrift. But the

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The Summary of All Fears 2018

OPENING MONOLOGUE: THE CIRCUS OF SHPILKIS As I started this letter early in 2017, it was clear many in the industry were consumed by a nameless dread, a sense of impending doom. Dark forces seemed to be closing in from all sides and no one could feel secure about what, if anything, would be left when they were done.  Giving that dread a name and a shape became The Ankler’s central mission in 2017. As the year went on and we turned over those rocks and looked those fears in the eye and to our surprise, they became even bigger. Nothing in 2017 suggested that we were wrong to fear for our lives.  As the events unfolded, they suggested we’d been too modest in our terrors; if anything, they proved the forces arrayed against Hollywood to be even grander and more ferocious than we dreamed.  And new ones came out from under the bed to add to the

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THE WOMEN TAKE THE REINS! FROM TODAY’S ANKLER

Since the Harveyquake first thundered, this newsletter has been flabbergasted, apoplectic and dumbfounded by the total abdication of leadership of Hollywood’s entire poobah class, in the face of the greatest crisis and demonstration of moral insolvency in the business’ history. But now, with the titans refusing to take charge, the women of Hollywood are charging into the leadership vacuum with an effort serious and mega-wattage high-powered enough to redraw the face of the entire industry. The Ankler can now reveal that – sound the trumpets –  a committee has been formed! Assembling under the working name “Time’s Up!” a group has been meeting in secrecy in the labyrinths of the Creative Artists Agency since the dawn of this crisis.  In contrast to the ineffectual wishlists issued by such groups in the past, Time’s Up has been working towards a concrete list of changes to the industry, with hard, verifiable benchmarks to

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