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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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.

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KROLL OF THE DICE: A HOUSE FALLS AT WARNERS

from the January 9, 2018 edition of The Ankler For over a year now, The Ankler (and nowhere else) has been reporting on the Game of Thrones in progress on the historic Warner Bros lot.  As the Ankler has long noted, the studio has  been locked in a frozen staredown scrum between House Tsujihara, House Kroll and House Emmerich, each pushing at each other with all their might, jockeying for advantage by the inch, while the frozen corporate situation kept everyone locked together in a death hug. Put less slightly less dramatically: you’ve had a bunch of factions trying to kill each other but no one could do anything until the Telephone People arrived. Six months ago, it seemed that House Kroll had the advantage in that fight, as the Marketing President de tutti Presidents strode alongside Telephone honchos on premiere nights, and the Tsujihara regime seemed ever more lavishly adrift. But the

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