Rushfield's State of Showbiz Address
Biden's got his issues; we have our own
And so we meet again.
Greetings to my fellow citizens of show business.
To all the agents and producers, the make-up artists, the executives, the gaffers and the gift-bag suite attendants, to the assistants and handlers, hacks and flacks, editors and enablers — it is good to see you all once again.
There were times in the past year when it seemed Hollywood might not make it. We endured a multi-year, dead-in-our tracks shutdown like few industries have ever faced and survived. Our internal culture was driven by defeatism and despair. Our problems raged and few solutions were there for the taking.
But as Omicron recedes, the worst finally seems behind us. And Hollywood is still standing. As the theaters open and production returns to something like normal, we gaze out this week at a spectacle we haven't seen in a very long time — real life heroism in the face of unimaginable risk, and a world united and inspired by its example. Led by a former actor and comedian no less.
We in Hollywood are in the dreams business. To bring this back to us (but of course), cynicism and despair are bad for business. If hope and heroism are good for the world, they are especially good for us.
But as we build back (yes, better), Hollywood stands at a crossroads. This shutdown put our turning point in stark relief: the old ways of Hollywood — the way we did business, the way we saw the world — are gone. The ways humanity ingests culture and entertainment are changing by the minute.
For the past few years, our response has been to cling to what was.
And so, my fellow citizens of entertainment, I stand before you tonight to declare the state of showbiz is kind of f-ed. Unless we get our acts together and face this new world head on.
In my past few addresses, I've focused on the trade-offs between the theatrical and the streaming world — what we stand to lose if we tilt too far this way or that.
But tonight I step back and look at the even wider picture: What is Hollywood today anyway? In any form, in any medium? Are we defending our shores?
Let's talk about the big picture first and then drill down.
For 100 years, Hollywood has stood at the center of the world's culture. We weren't the only entertainers on the planet, but we were the biggest, the best — the focus of the world's dreams, and the products we created stood as the exemplar of modern storytelling, glamour and entertainment.
The selling point of Hollywood wasn't that we had the most elaborate distribution system, or the biggest sound stages, or the most aggressive mechanisms for capitalizing on regional tax breaks.
All that flowed out of the fact that we captured the imaginations and aspirations of the world, gave them laughter and tears, like no place else. And consistently doing that, as the decades marched by, allowed us to build a pretty good business around it.
But all that could be slipping right away.