Happy Sunday from The Ankler! For those of you who don’t know me, I am partners with Richard Rushfield in this little experiment to make entertainment reporting and commentary more interesting, provocative and meaningful.
This is a quick note to update you on a few things around here. First, I want to introduce to you our new weekly columnist known as Entertainment Strategy Guy. A former business-side executive at a major — major! — Hollywood entity, he now, under anonymity, writes under said nom de newsletter analyzing the streaming wars. His column this week is classic ESG — a debunking of and skepticism around popular entertainment business narratives. In his new post, he uses data to counter the “winner-take-all” theory of streaming (looking at you, Netflix) and, through four charts, reveals how the game everyone thought would be played in 2021 changed. Plus: his questions for 2022, whose answers very well may serve as industry bellwethers. Look for more ESG each and every week.
A few other highlights:
The Ankler Hot Seat podcast premiered, hosted by me, Richard Rushfield and Tatiana Siegel. We had a lot of fun talking about Don’t Look Up, the surprise winner of the most downloaded streaming app of 2021, and Scott Rudin, whereby Tatiana (whose reporting led to his industry ouster) revealed a few more tidbits never shared before about her story. We also had on best-selling author Michael Wolff, who had just returned from lunch with Michael Mailer, son of Norman Mailer, at — where else — Michael’s restaurant in New York City in the wake of...
The Norman Mailer frenzy. In the world of media, it’s always a sign of something big when your outlet sparks a trending topic on Twitter. And on Monday, Michael Wolff’s column for The Ankler did just that. A longtime contributor for me at The Hollywood Reporter, Michael is now better known as a best-selling author of 10 books, including a trio of titles that captured the frenetic rise and fall of Donald Trump. Never one to shy from controversial topics, he broke news that a collection of Norman Mailer’s essays had been abandoned by Random House, reporting that among the reasons given to the Mailer family were that a junior staffer objected to the title of the author’s 1957 “The White Negro” essay. By week’s end, the collection had landed at a new publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, which has put out books from messy authors abandoned by other houses, including those from Woody Allen, Roger Stone and Alan Dershowitz. One hidden gem in Michael’s story: a current email he excerpted from a top Hollywood buyer to a top Hollywood agent laying out why current politics, events and controversy must be avoided at all costs. “It isn’t, in fact, the work that causes concern,” wrote Michael, “but rather the prospect of controversy itself that scares corporate entities away.”
Hollywood’s other cancel culture. Don’t miss Richard’s column about our ongoing pandemic meltdown, with everything yet again getting packed up in mothballs — farewell (again) IRL Sundance, awards shows, and so on. (Did you know tonight was the Golden Globes? No? You are not alone). In his funny, smart, and savage way, Richard poses an existential question for the industry: “We are long past being disabused of the notion that the world can't survive without its Oscar circuit, or without Hollywood self-congratulatory pageantry in general. But the indifference at this point makes one wonder if not only does the world not mind if they go away, they might actively prefer that much of it never come back.” Scathingly, he adds: “The new times come with a new ethos, a new Zeitgeist. And so much of what Hollywood does — not just what it makes but in all the pomp and hype around it — falls under the category of bloated, ponderous, self-regard that belongs to another era.”
Please stay tuned for more Ankler this week, including a new “Ankler Hot Seat” podcast with me, Richard and Tatiana on Wednesday.
ESG is the best! Long time follower
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