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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BAILEYGATE: TIME FOR A TIME OUT FOR THE ACADEMY

We of course still don’t know what the charges are against John Bailey, let alone how serious, solid or verifiable they are. That said, it’s hard to see in this day and age, once your company has put it out there that they are looking into harassment allegations, how you walk away from multiple accusations. That genie no longer fits back in any bottle. As for AMPAS… what’s next: will we find the museum is being built on an Indian burial ground? The timing, of course, raises eyebrows. That this comes out right as the Oscar dust settles is interesting. For a company to suddenly leak that it is investigating multiple charges of harassment against its own President, is unusual. Did all these accusations just come in the door, all together, just now after Oscars? Also interesting, given that, that David Rubin one of the candidates for the Presidency against John Bailey,

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THE LION ROARS: GARY BARBER FEELS THE BURNETT

Stunning news broke last night about the ouster of Gary Barber from the helm of MGM.  It’s not that stunning that a film company would lose its leader because these things happen, the business we’ve chosen, all that.  But his ouster brings the question: was the steady hand Barber done in by a more high-profile, free-wheeling rival within the company? MGM, in fits and starts, seemed under Barber a place that was building something in the gap being abandoned by the studios. Now all that is up in the air, or down the drain, depending on whom you ask. The midnight ouster of a man who has done what almost no one at the wheel in Hollywood these days can claim – resurrected a troubled company – fell to the hurricane-force winds stirring up Hollywood and turning everyone into twitchy, nervous wrecks about the future. Barber’s tension with the board boiled over about what

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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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ABOLISH THE OSCARS

At some point, it just bears asking: who the hell is this for? The Academy is not Dick Clark Productions.  It has an actual mandate apart from getting itself the biggest ratings it can. AMPAS’ website claims, “We recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.” Sounds good but we’re not out taking to the airwaves and summoning the world around their television sets so that we can do a live dramatic reading of Masters of Light or plug a month-long Maya Derin retrospective at the Anthology Film Archives. The Oscars were once a celebration of film – the most vibrant, far-reaching, dream infecting, artistic medium in the history of the human race. Now, every year we dragoon at gunpoint a glum, discontent group dutifully obliged to appear (the fact that no A-Listers without an official job

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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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MARVEL’S BREAKTHROUGH

Since the dawn of the Marvel age, there hasn’t been a Marvel release that hasn’t been declared historic. But wanton hyperbole disclaimers notwithstanding, Black Panther is a movie that’s actually going to change some things–things important and things mundane. And it’s worth a pause from The Ankler’s vitriol festival to take note. First, there’s the ceiling-shattering about the type of film this is, the casting, etc.  All worth noting.  But to me, the more important thing is what comes after. This is not an eat-your-vegetables, box-checking, begrudged project, reluctantly produced by Disney/Marvel and then dumped on the market so they can petulantly say, “See we tried that! Will you leave us alone now?!” What makes Black Panther remarkable is not just the African-American helmer and headliners, but that they are going for gold with every piece of this. This movie could change lots of things not because it broke a ceiling for the sake of breaking a ceiling, but because

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HOLLYWOOD’S WORST GENERATION

Individually, the tragedy of the studio world is a pie gets split in a lot of ways, but collectively, there’s clearly one generation, and one clique of that can claim sole and complete credit for everything that has happened to this place in the past quarter century. Surveying the blind alley the film business has walked itself down, sometimes it pays to take a glance at who is driving this train. Especially if the folks in the locomotive are the same ones who have been driving it off the cliff in slow motion for 25 years now. One might think in this moment of semi-meltdown, when the question is on the table whether this will be the last generation of humanity who pays money to see movies in theaters, the industry would be turning for leadership to people in touch with the film-goers of tomorrow, perhaps even people who were filmgoers

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