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

Continue reading »

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

Continue reading »

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

Continue reading »

WHERE THE FEAR AND THE ENVELOPES PLAY

This is a preview of today’s edition of The Ankler, Hollywood’s most feared newsletter. Click here to subscribe today, or click here to sign up for the Daily Preview edition for a peek at what’s in each newsletter.  Don’t get caught going in to a meeting blind! Subscribe to the Ankler now! The results are in and the winner is….The Spirit Awards! Plenty of lovely pictures represented this year.  It may be, pound for pound, as good a collection of films as Oscar ever nominated.  If there’s no film-of-a-lifetime in the pack, there’s also no Weinsteinesque Chocolat dead weight in the list. But this has never been just about appreciating finely honed, delicate craftsmanship. We have finally reached the day of the near total collapse of the Big Dreaming Hollywood Movie – the sort of grand, massive, come-one, come-all unmatchable achievement that for a hundred years made Hollywood the world’s capital of dream-making.

Continue reading »

Mouse of Cards

From the December 19th issue of The Ankler So a week in, we all get what this deal is all about, right?  Everyone? The main takeaway from the coverage so far: It will be big! Big all over! Big where it counts!  Look out Netflix! Or as Deadline dutifully put it, (do they ever put it any other way?) “The deal, officially valued at $66.1 billion including assumption of debt, will create an entertainment colossus that expands Disney’s footprint in every area.” Expanded in every area!  And that’s good, right? There’s been a lot of talk about Disney’s now unparalleled filmmaking capacity, as if they didn’t already have as much of that as they wanted; as if they were only making six movies a year because they couldn’t find anyone to rent them a soundstage or give them notes on the scripts they had piled up. The fact that people are flailing around

Continue reading »

AND THEN THERE WERE FIVE

FROM TODAY’S ANKLER: The good news is, after a hundred years of showbiz, Disney has repealed the Goldman Law. For a century now, we’ve been governed by one immutable principle – that Nobody Knows Anything, eventually codified by William Goldman. The Goldman Law does not refer just to the notion that we’re overseen by clueless venal con artists looking for a quick score and to cash out (although that’s often also the case). The principle invokes the essential nature of entertainment, which is perhaps the one product in the world where novelty is the only essential ingredient. If you’re in the food business, innovation is a constant, but more or less, you know that five years from now, people will want their sandwiches to look like sandwiches and their tacos, still to be, with tweaks and refinements, tacos. In the petroleum industry, people may want cleaner fuel, cheaper fuel, but basically you

Continue reading »

NETMARE ON UNDERWHELM STREET

From yesterday’s Ankler: In two weeks, Netflix will premiere Bright. Starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton – real movie stars – directed by David Ayer – a real movie director – the film is said to have cost somewhere in the time zone of $120 million – real money. So why does Bright not feel like a real film? More specifically, subjective though this question may be, why does Bright feel give off the same sense that so many Netflix Movies of the Week do – of looking like a movie that people in a movie go see, rather than a movie that real life people see. Having not seen it, this isn’t to suggest there’s anything wrong with Bright; for all I know it may be Citizen Kane. Certainly just about every studio has made a movie or three far more preposterous than the package described above, based on worse material. And yet, it doesn’t feel like a major

Continue reading »

HOLLYWOOD HOTHEADS: THE VIEW FROM THE DUG OUT

How much have things changed in Hollywood since the Harveyquake?  In some ways, the business will never be the same. But in most ways, there’s still plenty the same. One very important view, however, comes from someone who deals with Hollywood muckety-mucks, poobahs, and grandees at the most sensitive level  – from their children’s softball games. The letter below, obtained EXCLUSIVELY BY THE ANKLER (trumpet flourish!) comes from the Referee Adminstrator of a Little League Association somewhere in West LA, one populated by lots of show business folk. In this letter, he addresses league parents about behavior at the games. Read on and judge for yourself how much the climate of Hollywood has changed, post-Weinstein. Parents, Coaches and Referees, We are all in this together to create a fun, fair and safe experience for the players. However, the “we are all in this together” doesn’t mean that everyone gets to

Continue reading »

What Now? From Today’s Ankler

Today’s is the first Ankler in over a month in which the lead item is not some sort of Harveygate news. And it still certainly could be. The fallout and the consequences here are not half over. So where’s it going now?  To date, we’ve been in the Open Secrets phase of this journey. Harvey, Brett Ratner, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey: all people about whom there were plenty of rumors. Although frankly “people about whom there were plenty of rumors” would describe half the men in Hollywood. There are still a handful of those obvious, long-rumored about candidates to come, and sorting them out will take a while. But then there are the higher rung of the predators. The non-public figures, or mostly non-public.  People whose toppling could erase billions from a company’s valuation overnight.  The fact of the matter is, we live in a closed system. Reporters can’t file requests for

Continue reading »

Spacey. Piven. Ratner. Apres le Deluge

The big question now is no longer “who’s next?”  That question seems to be answering itself.  Everyone. Everyone will be next. Lots of little to medium-sized to now somewhat big names are coming out. And the standards of what is needed for a takedown are falling by the hour. The very biggest names unfortunately take time. Given how well people with all the resources in the world in this business are able to cover up their misdeeds – the armies of courtiers trailing behind, each writing checks and making things right – these stories are very hard to tell, even with the mobs roaming the streets. It’s one thing for Andy Dick’s or James Toback’s victims to come forward, but even after the explosion, a titan of Hollywood is still a fearsome thing, with a lot of carrots and sticks at their disposal. We’re living in this strange in-between moment, when no

Continue reading »