Robert Iger: The People’s Choice?

Since the 2016 election, there can’t be a tycoon left in America who doesn’t wake up, look in the mirror and see the 46th President of the United States. In Hollywood, the name of one CEO has seemed to many such an obvious leader of the free world, that no less an august personage than Oprah, a President in waiting in her own right, reported that she begged him to run.  By her account she “really, really pushed him to run for president, so much so that I said to him, ‘Gee, if you ever decide to run for office, I will go door to door carrying leaflets. I will go sit and have tea with people.’” It’s easy to see why Hollywood believes the Iger coronation as close to inevitable as politics can get.  A man who could imagineer the acquisitions of Marvel, Pixar and Lucas and lead the company to

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WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS

It’s been almost a week since I said farewell to CinemaCon, having departed Wednesday afternoon, post-the Universal presentation. I’ve had some time now to digest all I saw, heard and of course, ate and before we turn the page, having heard the theatrical industry’s vigorous defense of the theatrical experience, I had  some final reflections: • In recent years, CinemaCon has been the scene of some dramatic squabbles about the window, formats and where this industry is headed – all the issues roiling the film world. This year: not a bit of that: No fighting, no disagreement, no reference to any of the questions or issues looming over the industry. Apart from the Fox presentation, where it would’ve been slightly odd not to make some reference, not even a nod of the head to the fact that one-sixth of our studios have disappeared since the last gathering and that another

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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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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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