The Summary of All Fears 2018

OPENING MONOLOGUE: THE CIRCUS OF SHPILKIS As I started this letter early in 2017, it was clear many in the industry were consumed by a nameless dread, a sense of impending doom. Dark forces seemed to be closing in from all sides and no one could feel secure about what, if anything, would be left when they were done.  Giving that dread a name and a shape became The Ankler’s central mission in 2017. As the year went on and we turned over those rocks and looked those fears in the eye and to our surprise, they became even bigger. Nothing in 2017 suggested that we were wrong to fear for our lives.  As the events unfolded, they suggested we’d been too modest in our terrors; if anything, they proved the forces arrayed against Hollywood to be even grander and more ferocious than we dreamed.  And new ones came out from under the bed to add to the

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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

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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FROM TODAY’S ANKLER: The good news is, after a hundred years of showbiz, Disney has repealed the Goldman Law.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

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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

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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

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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

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THE WOMEN TAKE THE REINS! FROM TODAY’S ANKLER

Since the Harveyquake first thundered, this newsletter has been flabbergasted, apoplectic and dumbfounded by the total abdication of leadership of Hollywood’s entire poobah class, in the face of the greatest crisis and demonstration of moral insolvency in the business’ history. But now, with the titans refusing to take charge, the women of Hollywood are charging into the leadership vacuum with an effort serious and mega-wattage high-powered enough to redraw the face of the entire industry. The Ankler can now reveal that – sound the trumpets –  a committee has been formed! Assembling under the working name “Time’s Up!” a group has been meeting in secrecy in the labyrinths of the Creative Artists Agency since the dawn of this crisis.  In contrast to the ineffectual wishlists issued by such groups in the past, Time’s Up has been working towards a concrete list of changes to the industry, with hard, verifiable benchmarks to

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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

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WEINSTEIN FOLLIES DAY 19: LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS AS USUAL

From today’s edition of The Ankler: Blazing in triple-digit heat just before Halloween, it feels as though the gods of showbiz are trying to get our attention. Too bad for them, we’ve got air-conditioning; CFC’s be damned. As earthquakes go, Harvey was The Big One, bringing down a couple skyscrapers (Harvey and Roy Price), a few smaller condo complexes, and revealing the crumbling foundation of the entire enterprise, The American Way of disasters, however, is a three step process: Horror and Grieving Declarations that this Changes Everything Change nothing, except the subject, at the first opportunity. Hollywood may not have invented this playbook, but with our poobahs have perfected it.  Hollywood’s ratio of Claims-That-This-Is-Unacceptable to Total-Inaction greater than in the entertainment industry rivals even Washington’s. The thing about Harvey-quake is: things will change now.  Victims have found a voice; their mass silence is not coming back. And now, every time one speaks

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The Path of the Bob: A Six Billion Dollar Tale – Ankler Special Edition!

The Weinstein Way in Hollywood has always been a path of extremes. And it has involved more than just harassment and abuse. It’s a way of doing business calculated to wrench the maximum possible amounts of acrimony, angst and aggravation out of any project or deal.  On that score, The Weinstein Company’s last remaining Weinstein plays no second fiddle to his bombastic brethren. Now that brother two has moved into the limelight and taken charge of the shattered remains of The Weinstein Company, is a new era of sanity and level-headed filmmaking in store? Is Bob just the man to lead this flock away from of the wreckage and the shenanigans? There’s one film project in particular, that brings The Bob Way to life.  It’s the story of a film’s year odyssey that has become a Through the Looking Glass voyage for all involved; a film project that won’t die, thanks to the sheer force of one man, and the

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