Follow by Email

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Zeitgeist The Movie

Ranging from the obvious to the incredible to the terrifying, take the time and watch it. I am not saying its all accurate or that it doesn't point in a certain direction (doesnt the news and media generally). It is, to me, worth your time.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Flower of the Fence

Yes, I like horror movies. I dont mind them at all. But they arent all I do.

Here is a project thats been up and down for four years, before My Brother, before The Insurgents, before any of that. The project is called (now) "The Flower of the Fence." If you're not touched after watching this clip from the real-life people feature on Oprah, you probably need to have a heart transplant. (Dawn, stop crying, its happy).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Day in the Life?

It was a very Hollywood type day today. Well, kinda, sorta in a way.

After working from home this morning on a few issues related to various things not related to Slaughter, I headed in the pouring rain (not very Hollywood, though December and January are rainy in LA) over to CAA with my friend Ki Moon, the Prince (as I call him for his amazing popularity). The rain makes things a mess here, and people cannot drive when it rains. But the trip over to CAA’s new-ish digs in Century City was uneventful, and we got there in plenty of time for the screening of Paranormal Activity.

Paranormal Activity is a movie which was shot super low budget and which will play Slamdance next month. It evokes a lot of different supernatural horror movies, including The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and most of all, The Blair Witch Project, because of the documentary format and because of the nature of the production. I don’t want to pick it apart here, and I am not going to review it, because it hasn’t even been released yet and I don’t want people finding this and having it influence their decisions, in either direction. I went in totally blind with few expectations and I think that is the best was to approach a movie like this, to let it stand on its own merits.

What I will say is that it does have merit, and is genuinely chilling at many moments, and that the acting is excellent. And anyone who reads this blog knows that, in my less than humble opinion, it is good acting that allows a movie to be frightening. Why? Because being frightened at a movie is about empathy with the characters, for the most part, and if you don’t empathize because you don’t believe them, this vital link in the chain breaks down and you have schlock. And this is not schlock. I wish them well.

From the screening, I headed into enormous traffic, the combination of rush hour and the rains. (It was a lotta rain, hence the plural).

I had planned to head home after dropping off Ki Moon, but because of the traffic time was short so I headed straight over to one of the most famous theatres in the U.S., the Arclight Hollywood.

Its very impressive.

The place is like a mini-museum for film stuff, or at least for posters. They play themes from old movies. There is a gift shop and a bar inside the theatre, and the fourteen dollar tickets entitle you to be ushered to an assigned, plush seat in a stadium seating auditorium. It’s a very good place to watch a movie.

I hadn’t eaten since lunch and it was closing in on 7:30 so I got a chicken sausage sandwich, which was a glorified kilbasa but not very expensive, surprisingly (for a movie house). While I was ingesting quickly, so that I wouldn’t be eating in the theatre, after the first big bite, Scott Wolf from Party of Five says to me (seriously, and out of the blue) – “ Hey, that looks really good, did you get that here?” I have my mouth full of food and I was kinda surprised to look up and see him standing over me. I gulped and told him that it was. He inquired what it was, and then he was gone. He was quite Scott Wolffy in his exuberance. Anyone who knows him from TV or maybe from Go will know what I mean. (Last night I sat next to Juno director Jason Reitman in a Japanese place next to the Beverly Center. Ive met him a few times and congratulated him on Juno, which I haven't gotten to see yet. He said he was very much looking forward to the NBR Gala and wanted to thank everyone for supporting him so thoroughly. I told him he made it easy. So its just been that kinda week).

Then Meta, a new friend from LA, and I headed into theater number three for PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.

What can I say? A masterpiece? An instant classic? Yes. And Yes.

Now I don’t mean that he doesn’t have his own imprint. He does. But this was Kubrick – type filmmaking. It was like a Kubrick movie in so many ways, as if Kubrick had directed Citizen Kane. That’s what this felt like. It was so impressive in so many ways. I cannot imagine that this won’t be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I haven’t seen all the contenders, but this sets the bar so high. So high. And DDL and Paul Dano, and Ciaran Hinds and everyone. It’s a wow movie across the board. Don’t miss it.

And then I came home and starting typing. In the rain.

Grumps.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Freddie Fields, RIP (A little history) - From Deadlinehollywooddaily

He passed away last night at approximately 9:15 PM at home surrounded by his family. (Left, Freddie and Corina Fields.) I hear a service is planned for Friday at 2:00 PM in Westwood. During his career he founded and operated one of the world's largest talent agencies, Creative Management Associates (CMA), which today is known as International Creative Management (ICM). Fields' roster of talent at CMA included Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Robert DeNiro, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Jacqueline Bisset, Liza Minnelli, Steve McQueen, and such renowned directors as Arthur Penn, Steven Spielberg, Bob Fosse, Mel Brooks, Sidney Pollack, George Lucas, Francis Coppola and George Roy Hill. Fields also conceived and created the First Artists Production Company with clients Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Dustin Hoffman, forming the first independent cooperative film company in some fifty years. Towering Inferno, Dog Day Afternoon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Papillon, The Sting, American Graffiti, Star Wars, and The Godfather are just a few of the dozens of major motion pictures which were packaged under Fields' guidance during his years with CMA.

In 1981, Fields was named President of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Co.'s motion picture production division. After serving for a year in that capacity for MGM/UA Entertainment Co., he became President and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Film Co.

But it was as one of Hollywood's top agents -- perhaps even the top Hollywood agent of his day, that Fields will always be remembered by myself and everyone else.

Fields with his CMA partner David Begelman were throwbacks to the early days of Hollywood -- a more romantic, more exciting, and, frankly, more fun time when agents were showmen who lived for the glitz and the glamour of their business lives. They loved the prestige, the parties, the lunch tables at Ma Maison. They had more in common with Charles Feldman and Leland Hayward than Lew Wasserman or Abe Lastfogel. They were also the recipients of the first historical upheaval in the agency business with the breakup of MCA. Its dissolution left a huge vacuum: seemingly overnight, the agency business was fragment, an alphabet soup of boutiques all watching and circling one another to see who would make the big move. CMA was seen as hip, sexy, fun -- the agency as ongoing party -- perfectly suited for the new aesthetic and ethos of the ‘60s.

But Fields and Begelman were quintessential dealmakers, the best of the day. Their lucrative movie packages and imaginative backend deals pushed the envelope of how talent was compensated in Hollywood. The knew how to use power, and more importantly, were not afraid to use it. They got a thrill out of bullying studio heads and forcing them to accept rich deals for their stars which in the past would have been considered unthinkable. It was no accident that Fields’ name for packaging was “pre-producing.” The reason they were drawn to studios in the end was because they decided being an agent did not give them enough status; for the true stature in the Industry back then still came with being a buyer not a seller.

Like many agents, Freddie Fields gained entry into show business through family connections. His father, Jack Fields, ran a hotel in the Catskills called the Queen Mountain House and was the first in the summer resort business to see the advantage of booking entertainment for his guests. Soon, the Catskills became a regular stop on the variety tour circuit, and Fields was pulling in headliners like Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. When Jack Fields died at the beginning of the Depression in 1929, his five-year-old son, Freddie, his four other sons and his wife were left to fend for themselves. Fields’ mother worked two job to keep the family going, moving from town to town. Fields worked odd jobs, even once a bellhop in Miami, before entering the service. But even then he knew he was a great salesman. “I was always selling, even when I was a kid,” Fields once told me. “When I was in the Navy, the guys in the military band put a group together, a dance band, and I was booking them.” By the time he left the service, Fields had caught the showbiz bug. He asked his older brother, well-known band leader Shep Fields, to let him play trombone. He wasn’t very good. So one day, Shep asked his agent, Abbie Greshler, if he could get Freddie off his back. As part of Fields’ training, Greshler handed his two stars Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis over to his protege. Then Fields moved to talent agency behemoth MCA with Martin and Lewis in tow.

In 1960, he left MCA to start Freddie Fields Associates. Within two months, Fields’ best friend and fellow MCA agent David Begelman, joined him. Together they renamed the company Creative Management Associates, or CMA. That the name came from rearranging the MCA initials was no coincidence. From the first they decided they wanted an elite management business that would represent only the ten top people who were the best in their field. Fields had left with Phil Silvers, star of The Phil Silvers Show, which had captured the Emmy for best comedy series three years in a row. He also had second wife, the celebrated actress Polly Bergen (Bergen was his second wife; Fields would have four in all). Based in New York, the two managers quickly signed Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Jack Paar and Lauren Bacall. But Fields and Begelman never had any intention of abandoning the agency business. The two men followed closely the Justice Department’s ongoing anti-trust investigation of MCA, which was heating up in 1960, the year they went out on their own, and would continue for the next two years. When MCA was forced out of the agency business, CMA jumped in.

Their specialty seemed to be “difficult” clients, like Judy Garland. Later, when they signed Barbra Streisand, Peter Sellers and Steve McQueen, “we were accused of being masochists,” Fields joked. Fields moved west to open new CMA offices on Sunset Boulevard, while Begelman stayed behind in New York. Fields became a center of Hollywood’s active social scene in a new wave of clubs like the Whiskey A-Go-Go just down the street from CMA’s headquarters. It wasn’t uncommon in the corridors of the agency’s headquarters to smell the acrid odor of marijuana wafting from inside the offices. Fields turned his Mediterranean-style Beverly Hills mansion into a second headquarters, holding morning staff meetings with his agents around the pool. The two-story house, filled with antiques and sporting a projection room and “audition” facility, became one of the town’s hot spots.

Fields savored the killer CMA reputation. When Fields was trying to sign actor James Coburn, hot after Our Man Flint in 1966, Fields showed up at Coburn’s home for a breakfast meeting, took off his jacket, and strapped conspicuously to a shoulder holster was a Colt .45. After a stunned second, Coburn roared with laughter, then signed with Fields on the spot.

The year Begelman moved west in 1968, with protegee Sue Mengers in tow, the two CMA partners also made their first business move to expand their “Cartier” agency, entering into negotiations to buy the General Artist Corporation, which had powerhouse agents Marty Baum and Sam Cohn. Soon after, the partners took CMA public on the American Stock Exchange. Not only were security analysts, who didn’t understand what a Hollywood agent was anyway, lukewarm to the offering, but the reaction of the financial press was devastating. By 1970, CMA’s stranglehold on the talent was so firm Fields and Begelman could indulge their every dealmaking whim. The more unorthodox the deal, the better. Fields and Begelman were masters of structuring contracts that called for incredibly complex and creative forms of compensation for their stars, including percentages on movies’ profits and even rollbacks, an almost unheard-of concept at the time. The duo popularized perks that would later become common demands for A-list talent. The two did and undid deals with such relish, coworkers suspected aloud that they actually broke up a deal on purpose just to see whether they could put it back together again. Fields became the king of movie packaging. But, along with the dealmaking, there was a darker side to Fields and Begelman that made even their most loyal clients keep one wary eye open when doing business with the pair. The two agents had a habit of playing fast and loose with the truth, even to each other. Fields told me of the time an unexpected royalties check for Judy Garland showed up on his desk one day and he told his secretary: “The question is not whether I tell Judy, but whether I tell David.”

But agenting had begun to lose its luster for both men. Fields always had nothing but contempt for the image of agents as, he put it himself, “guys with big cigars who pinch girls’ fannies and carry actors’ golf clubs.” They felt ten percent was fine, but the real glory -- and the real money -- was in producing. Though he denied he was envious, Fields had been prickly ever since his rival Ted Ashley left agenting to head Warner Bros in 1969. So Fields' brainchild was First Artists Production Company, the first star cooperative since Charlie Chaplin’s United Artists fifty years earlier. Then Begelman announced he was leaving to join Columbia Studios. Fields with left behind to fret over petulant stars, skyrocketing expenses and a sinking bottom line. For Fields, the fun went out of the business. There were no more practical jokes. No more good cop, bad cop. There was only a seemingly ever-increasing, ever-suffocating overhead. And a growing sense that the time had come to move on. On November 4, 1974, the Hollywood trades confirmed what had been rumored for years and hotly speculated in recent weeks: that Marvin Josephson’s International Famous Agency was merging with CMA.

In fact, Fields had been negotiating with Josephson on and off for two years. In the 18 months since Begelman’s departure, the CMA chieftain had become increasingly disillusioned. He wanted out. On January 1, 1975, CMA was officially folded into IFA. A new, publicly held superagency was formed. Josephson claimed the title of chairman and named his new company International Creative Management, an amalgamation of both agencies’ names, which was quickly shortened to ICM. The deal called for Josephson to pay $6.10 a share, bringing the total price-tag for CMA close to $6 million. It was a sweet deal for Fields. The agent controlled 147,341 shares of CMA stock; at Josephson’s price of $6.10 a share, he landed an immediate windfall of nearly $900,000. In addition, the CMA founder was named president of ICM, working on a 33-month management contract and drawing a $250,000-a-year salary. But the crafty Fields had negotiated an even more important provision for himself: an escape clause. After just six months, Fields could take his money and run. Josephson, however, never really considered the consequences of an ICM without Fields. In fact, he bought a shell of what CMA had been. Fields had outsmarted him.

Not easy bein' green

For those of you who googled 2girls1cup after i posted about it, here's an amusing and not gross apology (dawn). its funny. en-joy. (because of language, careful where u watch).


Monday, December 10, 2007

The heat is on.

Been in some hot water.

In more ways than one.

Thanks for asking.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hovel Pics


The Hovel Bedroom- in a partial stage of completion. Please note the grubby green, yet perfectly sanded walls.




Hovel, Ext. One. The landscaping, now with most of the garbage removed (some construction materials remain), is actually pretty nice for a "city" dwelling" in central Hollywood.




Hovel Bedroom sheetrock serenade, self explanatory


Hovel Kitchen, with chic missing tile collection. To be upgraded to 20th century next Sunday.




Hovel Hallway, newly primed and partially painted.



the view from the cheap seats



Mike, the occupant of the other half of the Hovel.

Hovel Improvement.

Spent most of the day on hovel, er, home improvement. I sanded all the drywall plaster. Had to pull all the furniture out of the way, and then sanded down the room. I had left this for so long because I didn’t want to do the work unless I knew I was staying. I had the wall put up and the ceiling put up, and now that I know I’ll be here (when in LA) for a while, I have taken the next few steps towards turning this into a bachelor hovel instead of your plain old ordinary hovel.

My bedroom in the bungalow has been painted a sort of army fatigue green. Gives it a nice dirty look that just cheers up the morning. I am thinking, now that the sanding is done, to paint it wine, burgundy, to add some soft lighting, as the first step to take it up a level. Im even considering wall sconces. We’ll see.

But today, did a fair amount of work and its quite a bit more liveable all of a sudden. Less hovel-ly. Which is good.

So with the doors freshly painted, the room sanded and ready for painting, all I need is some heat and we’ll be cooking.

I can’t wait to shower off some of this paint in the 55 degree cold shower. Gonna hit some high notes for sure.

The Coldest Winter

The Rocker Kids are gone, but their legacy lives on (like Foreigner’s?).

Im sitting in the bungalow bundled up in sweats. My blood has apparently thinned to the point where I am cold in 55 degree weather. Chilly. How does this happen so quickly that I undergo physiological changes making me into an Angelino. I don’t know – let me call my life coach and ask her (not!).

But its chilly, and we have no gas til Monday. It will be about a week, all in, with no gas. There is a small space heater in the Bungalow that Mike and I leave in the hallway between the bedrooms, but its cold. These are not the most significant fallout from the lack of heat (and neither is the fact that the dryer is somehow half-gas and half-electric, so it spins the laundry without really drying the laundry).

It’s the shower. No hot water.

I’ve been showering all week in a shower with no hot water. No luke warm water. Nothing like that. Just cold.

Undertake an experiment for the sake of science. Go into your bathroom, and turn on the cold water in the shower. After disrobing, get into the cold water and see how long it takes before you begin to shiver and drool on yourself. If you make a minute, well, you’ve more constitution than me.

I get in there, and steel myself. I try to take showers in less that one minute, because there is a mirror across from the shower, and the sight of me shivering and drooling in the shower, well, it doesn’t swell any part of my being with pride (not that parts of my being, er, are swelling whilst a shower). I gave myself a crew cut this week to speed up the shower process, though people who’ve made films with me know I am likely to do that anyway before starting production on a film.

The gas turns on Monday, so I have only a few more cold showers to which I can look forward. Then its back to the monotony and comfort of normalcy.

On the positive side, the crew of migrant workers that has been retrofitting the house, bungalow and surrounding grounds back to humanity is almost done. They were slow, but I think they’ve finally run out of time. The junk is 90 percent gone, and though there are some construction materials spread around the grounds, I think most of them are getting discarded today. We are actually fairly close to realizing the vision I had of the place when I took it, and Mike and the new house tenant (adults all, rockers none) seem to share the vision.

So there’s that.

Work has been stressful. I am not going to write about it. I may write something about it when its in the past. At least I have a nicer, if chillier place to which to return at the end of my stressful days.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

NBR Announces Awards

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, a venerable awards organization whose Awards Gala I co-produced last year (John Gallagher produced it), has announced their awards for 2007.

Best Film: No Country for Old Men (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)
Best Foreign Language Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax)
Best Documentary: Body of War (The Film Sales Company)
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille (Disney/Pixar)
Best Director: Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd (Dreamworks/Paramount)
Best Actor: George Clooney, Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away from Her (Lionsgate)
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward, Robert Ford (Warner Bros.)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (Miramax)
Best Directorial Debut: Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone (Miramax)


Best Ensemble Performance: No Country for Old Men (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)


Breakthrough Male Performance: Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild (Paramount Vantage)


Breakthrough Female Performance: Ellen Page, Juno (Fox Searchlight)


Best Original Screenplay (tie):
Diablo Cody, Juno (Fox Searchlight)
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl (MGM)


Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)

The Bulgari Award for NBR Freedom of Expression
The Great Debaters (The Weinstein Company)
Persepolis (Sony Pictures Classics)

Top Ten Films (in alphabetical order):
Atonement (Focus Features)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward, Robert Ford (Warner Bros.)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)
The Bucket List (Warner Bros.)
Into the Wild (Paramount Vantage)
Juno (Fox Searchlight)
The Kite Runner (Paramount Vantage)
Lars and the Real Girl (MGM)
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
Sweeney Todd (Dreamworks/Paramount)



Top Five Foreign-Language Films (in alphabetical order):
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (IFC Films)
The Band's Visit (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Counterfeiters (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lust, Caution (Focus Features)
La Vie en Rose (Picturehouse)

Top Five Documentary Films (in alphabetical order)
Darfur Now (Warner Independent)
In the Shadow of the Moon (Thinkfilm)
Nanking (Thinkfilm)
Taxi to the Darkside (Thinkfilm)
Toots (Mememsha Films)

Top Ten Independent Films (in alphabetical order):
Away from Her (Lionsgate)
Great World of Sound (Magnolia)
Honeydripper (Emerging Films)
In the Valley of Elah (Warner Independent)
A Mighty Heart (Paramount Vantage)
The Namesake (Fox Searchlight)
Once (Fox Searchlight)
The Savages (Fox Searchlight)
Starting Out in the Evening (Roadside Attractions)
Waitress (Fox Searchlight)

Career Awards:

NBR Career Achievement: MICHAEL DOUGLAS
William K. Everson Film History Award: ROBERT OSBORNE
Career Achievement in Cinematography: ROGER DEAKINS




2girls1cup didnt make the cut.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

2girls1cup.com

I am not going to say anything about it. Not gonna say what it is. Not gonna say that you should watch it.

Its basically turning into an internet phenomenon in Los Angeles. People continually mention it. They are watching it at the production office of the movie I am producing (thats where I first watched it - it had been sent to me previously and I turned it off after about 3 seconds, which is really just the tip of the iceberg).

I am not sure why. Its like the worst thing I've ever seen. There is no violence in the video, thats all reserved for us, the viewers. Its like the movie of the Ring. Every time someone mentions the video I gag or feel my throat closing up. Its literally like something they would make Alex viddy as part of his treatment in Clockwork Orange. It may have that kind of lasting effect, b/c I see people have that kind of reflexive, pavlovian reaction to its mention after having seen it.

Dont watch it at work (unless you have very liberal employment). Dont watch it around your kids. Or your significant other, lest something be ascribed to you.

Dont blame me if you watch it. But if you do watch it, def watch the hilarious 2girls1cup reaction videos all over youtube, and the John Mayer spoof.

Bug

William Friedkin, Billy. The Exorcist. French Connection. Some pretty remarkable work.

And now, Bug.

I mean, whoa. Holy cow. What the hell was that. Is something burning?

Bug is a play that was made into a movie for Lionsgate. It still sometimes feels like a play. Except for Friedkin’s amazing eye, it would probably feel exactly like a play. Or a very overwritten, very stagy movie.

But Friedkin’s immense talent saves it. And if you think Ashley Judd is boring, see this movie. It will change your mind. She’s terrific - revelatory.

And Michael Shannon, who is this guy. He’s incredible, a ball of energy. So interesting to watch. He doesn’t stop, he never gives the audience a breather.

I feel like the actors were on crystal meth during filming. I can’t recall that level of intensity in movie acting, maybe ever.

Its interesting to note that the movie was marketed by Lionsgate as a horror movie. Even the name of the movie makes it sound like it should be a horror movie. And I suppose that it’s the result of the modern movie marketing machine that a movie has to be classifiable in a genre for marketing bundles and demos. It has to be. It just does (why?).

But Bug isn’t a horror movie, though its cringe inducing and horrific in turns. There is plenty of horror. But if you’re expecting your typical Eli Roth mayhem, or even Rob Zombie or Cronenberg, forget it. Not gonna find that here.

I recommend it. I think for a lot of people it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. I’m a little more love it, but I probably view this kind of work less extremely than a bunch of us. And I appreciate the acting and editing and directorial choices with the camera so much. There isn’t a move in the movie that wasn’t considered. Such a sure hand Friedkin displays. He’s been doing this a long time.

I am rambling. You get the point. Rent it or buy it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Devil's Rejects

It’s a wild crazy ride, and one that’s certainly not for everyone. But it’s a great story, strongly told in its own way but with references to classics both within and outside of the genre.

Rob Zombie’s The Devils Rejects somehow escaped my attention its first time around. Its now come out as part of a three disc set with House of a 1000 Corpses, Zombie’s first flick, together with a behind-the-scenes making of documentary, 30 Days of Hell.

Corpses was a very interesting homage to B-movies, with some great moments. It had style, and it was referential within the genre in its own way. Rejects takes a very big leap forward, though. It sports a great cast of familiar faces and horror icons, but used in a way that never becomes played, because the characters are well written enough that these genre stars get to do something that they haven’t been seen doing time and again.

The soundtrack, coolin' in its own right, gives the film a throwback feeling and drives the story forward. I found the photography, by documentary legend Phil Parmet, stellar, and the editing and vis FX work was amazing. The story was textured through the FX and editing in a manner that made the transitions vibrant and exciting, but without even losing track of the narrative.

For horror fans and filmmaking fans, I very much suggest you check the 3 disc set. With terrific box art and retooled intros and extras on the DVDs, its definitely on the holiday shopping list.

Grumps

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Insurgents Review from NY Press

This Insurgents review is from the NY Press. I redacted it slightly because it has some spoilers in it, but you can check the nypress.com site if you want it unspoiled.

******

The indie thriller The Insurgents addresses political discontent and terrorism in post-9/11 New York more intelligently and honestly than its big-budget counterparts. It had a short run at Cobble Hill's cinema and is now available on DVD.

The Insurgents focuses on a foursome of would-be terrorists planning a Downtown Manhattan attack, and the film's ostensible protagonist is the group’s lone female member, ex-sex worker Hana (Juliette Marquis). The narrative is constructed around her participation in the attack, particularly as she becomes a bargaining chip the men deploy to keep each other in check. Their discontent with the current political climate does not, apparently, include discontent with its misogyny. James (Michael Mosley), the object of Hana’s faked affection, is a pawn to Robert’s machinations. Hana’s slightly more genuine love interest is Iraq veteran Marcus (Henry Simmons), sent home after an accident. Epitome of the emasculated brute type, Marcus articulates a frightening nothing-to-lose abandon that confuses the personal with the political: if he can’t assert his masculinity by fucking women, the logic goes, he might as well die attacking the system that destroyed his manhood (and some less-important things like Iraq). The plot’s mastermind is Robert (John Shea), a charismatic leftist author and ex-CIA agent whose charm and intelligence bring his three co-conspirators onboard. In the most disquieting moments of writer-director Scott Dacko’s film, Robert’s eloquent diatribes tap into viewers’ cynicism and discontent, nearly eliciting our support for his scheme.

As double-crossings and covert agendas emerge, however, The Insurgents starts to focus less on terrorism and more on acting. The talented cast members strive to decipher each others’ performances, all the while trying to maintain their own multiple roles. Between its political drama investigation – how can individual citizens change a spiraling system?– and its more classic thriller elements – how many lies can each character convincingly balance? – the acting and writing in The Insurgents keeps it compelling and nerve-wracking to the last moment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,
Ive meant to write. Really I have. But Ive been so busy, you know. I am in preproduction. I told you that. Not much more than that, but I did tell you that. And because of that, Ive been busy. Really, I have.

Its been a really difficult time so far. Almost like a black clowd following me around. And at the same time, everything is so promising. Its like a soup, half delicious and aromatic and gorgeous, and the other half rotten, rancid and turned. Just like that.

But maybe, today, we turned a corner. We hit bottom, sorta, or the perception of maybe having come through the most difficult of things, random difficult things that were impossible to predict and even harder to avoid.

Dear Blog, I’ve gotten older in the last three or four weeks, certainly a lot in the last two weeks. Stress is my new best friend. I say hello when I wake up, and goodnight when I fall asleep, well knowing that stress will be there to greet me in the morning when I open my eyes. She’s a very faithful friend. But she’s overstayed her visit as a houseguest, and I saw her pack a few things up today, and Im hoping that she’s leaving for good. Or at least for a while.

I always say that producing a movie can be a rollercoaster- Don’t get on. Well, blog, I did. I got on. And I am just hoping to have it level off for a while, perhaps slow down near a side rail, so I can get both feet back on the ground for a while.

Grumps

Thursday, November 15, 2007

South of Pico - First review - Boxoffice.com

http://boxoffice.com/reviews/2007/10/south-of-pico.php

South of Pico

By Barbara Johnson

October 25, 2007 9:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Premiered at the American Black Film Festival

South of Pico is immediately reminiscent of Crash, only better. It's a similar type of film, taking a multifaceted cast, each with their own stories, and putting them in situations that make the audience ask themselves what they would do under the same circumstances. The film, which is based on a real-life incident, is director Ernst Gossner's first feature.


The action takes place over the course of approximately four hours. In trying to deal with their lives during this interval, the five main characters make decisions and struggle against things they can't change. By the time the five storylines intersect, the characters have all been brought to a point where they are ready to… well... to say it would be a spoiler.


The film is not manipulative, nothing is included for shock value, and everything seems to flow seamlessly. Although a film with this kind of structure risks lacking tension, this film gets around that problem by expertly inserting us into the emotions of the five main characters. The pace is slowest at the beginning, as we're getting to know these people, but then the film builds each storyline to a crescendo, and we're glued to the screen.The cast members play well off of one another (this was a consideration during casting), and no one steals the show unintentionally. They each get their moment.


Although the film raises questions, it offers no solutions. There's no Hollywood ending. But we don't walk out of the theater with a sense of dissatisfaction, either. Instead we walk out deep in thought; this film exists to show us what humans are capable of and make us question ourselves. In the hands of a less talented director, writer, and cast, the film might not have worked. There's a delicate balance to be struck in a film of this kind, which runs the risk of being either heavy-handed or inexplicable. But South of Pico strikes exactly the right balance.


Distributor: TBD
Writers: Ernst Gossner, Richard Marcus (story)
Director: Ernst Gossner
Cast: Kip Pardue, Richard Simmons, Gina Torres, Soren Fulton, Paul Hipp, Jimmy Bennett, Car'ynn Sims, Giovanni Lopes
Release Date: TBD
World Premier: American Black Film Festival, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

MAVERICK, ANGEL BABY & SLAMDANCE SLAUGHTER A CAST OF HORROR VETS

SLAMDANCE HORROR SCRIPT COMPETITION OPEN FOR THIS YEAR'S ENTRIES

Beverly Hills, CA November 2007 - For Immediate Release

The Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition winner, co-sponsored by Maverick Films and Angel Baby Entertainment, has landed Shawnee Smith, Erica Leerhsen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Karl Yune, Eugenia Yuan, AnnaLynne McCord, and Jonathon Trent as the cast of Slaughter. Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary, and Cheri Wozniak will produce for Maverick, with Gregory Segal and John Andrew Gallagher from Angel Baby Entertainment and Slamdance's Peter Baxter. The script, penned by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby, will be directed by horror genre helmer, Victor Garcia. Garcia's most recent credits include the just-released Return to House on Haunted Hill for Dark Castle and Warner Brothers, and the online prequel serial 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails for Sam Raimi and Ghost House Pictures.

Smith, the female lead in the hugely successful Saw series, will play the lead role of "Sarah" in Slaughter, a film within a film where three actresses discover that their supposed big break is actually a Japanese snuff film. Erika Leerhsen, well-known to horror fans for her work alongside Jessica Biel in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the upcoming Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, joins the cast in the role of "Jenny", replacing Dominique Swain. AnnaLynne McCord, another horror veteran (Day of the Dead), plays "Lillian", the third actress cast in the snuff film. McCord will join the Slaughter set, upon wrapping a multi-episode arc as Julian McMahon’s seductress on this season of the hit FX series, Nip/Tuck. Trent (Pray for Morning, The O.C.) plays the smug and sarcastic "Steve", tag-along boyfriend of McCord's character.

Tagawa, well-remembered by audiences for his performances in Planet of the Apes, Elektra, Memoirs of a Geisha and Pearl Harbor among others, will portray the film’s director; with Hong Kong Oscar Winner Yuan (The Eye 2, Memoirs of a Geisha) portraying his producer. Yune (Memoirs of a Geisha, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) portrays another actor cast in the snuff movie.

Garcia was quoted as saying “I loved the script and the concept from the time I read it. It is great material from writers who wouldn’t be getting the opportunity of an all star horror cast except for the Slamdance Horror Competition.”

Similarly, Darby and Brookes were quoted as saying “We cannot believe the opportunity that has befallen us. In a year, to go from regular jobs in Dudley (UK) to making a movie with the leads from Saw and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is unbelievable, a dream come true.”

Maverick Films inked the deal with Angel Baby Entertainment and The Slamdance Film Festival which calls for the companies to finance and co-produce three films over a three year period. The films will be the winning screenplays of the annual Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition and will premiere as a special presentation during the following year's Slamdance Film Festival. Previous Slamdance-winning Competition screenplays have included Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace and Nicole Kassell and Stephen Fetcher's The Woodsman. The festival has succeeded in providing an opportunity for emerging first-time writers and directors to receive industry attention.

In addition, Slamdance announces that the Slamdance Horror Screenplay competition is seeking entries for this year’s Competition. Like Slaughter, the winning script will be made into a feature-length motion picture in 2008. The competition is overseen by Slamdance's John Stoddard and Peter Baxter and the deadline is November 21, 2007. A winner will be announced at the Slamdance Awards Ceremony in January, 2008 in Park City, Utah.

Maverick and Angel Baby Entertainment are collaborating on another project, Digger, to be directed by John Andrew Gallagher, currently in pre-production and slated for a winter shoot. Maverick has a number of films in pre-production including Twilight for Summit Entertainment, The Stepfather for Sony - Screen Gems, and The Stanford Prison Experiment to be directed by Chris McQuarrie with Icon Entertainment and Infinity Features Entertainment.

A partnership between Producer Gregory Segal and Writer/Director/Producer John Andrew Gallagher (The Deli, Blue Moon), Angel Baby Entertainment has produced six features and two short films over the past two and one-half years, and has numerous projects in development. Segal's most recent credits include Vanessa William's starrer, My Brother, from Code Black and Universal, and as production executive, ThinkFilm's just released The Ten, directed by David Wain and starring Jessica Alba, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Famke Jansen, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Ron Silver, Liev Schrieber, Rob Corddry, Justin Theroux and Adam Brody.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

gone baby gone

The kids moved out. Of the main house. They left behind a tremendously foul smelling house, two cars (one of which was towed away this evening) and more refuse than one can believe. Its all been ripped from the house by a team of laborers and is sitting in the front of the house, and behind the house. A lovely site, really. At least their gone.

I cannot believe humans, much less, women, live like that. It was so nasty in that house. The laborers were wearing masks to keep out the smell.

Anyway, so the cleanup is underway. The place has a lot of potential and I am just happy that even though its awful right now, hopefully in a few weeks the place will be clean, there will be new tenants, and we can get to cleaning the place up.

Course, in a few weeks I’ll be shooting and probably wont even notice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

South Of Pico official wrap release

11th ANNUAL AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS “SOUTH OF PICO” GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST PICTURE, AND AWARDS “PICO” ACTOR HENRY SIMMONS BEST ACTOR AWARD.

SOUTH OF PICO also awarded Heineken Red Star Award for “Originality, Innovation and Vision.”

(Los Angeles, California- October 2007) – The Eleventh Annual American Black Film Festival, sponsored by HBO, Kodak, and Blockbuster among others, has awarded AFI graduate Ernst Gossner’s feature writing and directorial debut “South of Pico,” starring Henry Simmons, Gina Torres and Kip Pardue, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture, at their awards ceremony at the Sofitel Hotel, Los Angeles. In addition, festival representatives announced that “Pico” star Henry Simmons, best known for his work on “Shark” and “NYPD Blue,” had won Festival honors for Best Actor.

ABFF sponsor Heineken also presented “South of Pico” director Ernst Gossner with its prestigious Red Star Award, awarded to “recognize originality, innovation and vision in film and is demonstrative of (Heineken’s) continued commitment to supporting and fostering unique film experiences.”

With numerous distribution offers in hand after its worldwide Festival debut, “South of Pico” is expected to be released in 2008.

“South of Pico” was written by Gossner drawing off of his experiences while living in Los Angeles during film school at AFI. The script was developed in the Berlin Film Festival Script Clinic. Gossner then connected with Producer Eric Presley and Executive Producer Ralf Mosig through an advertisement the producers had placed looking for projects in Filmmaker Magazine.

Henry Simmons can currently be seen opposite James Woods on “Shark.” His film roles include “Lackawanna Blues,” “Taxi” and “Something New,” as well as the upcoming “The Insurgents.”

Gina Torres is best known for starring on Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and “Serenity,” for her roles in the “Matrix” sequels, and for her lead role in the Chris Rock starrer, “I Think I Love My Wife.”

Kip Pardue, a familiar face to movie audiences for roles in both studio and independent films, stood out in “Remember the Titans” and has received accolades for his performances in films like Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee, “Loggerheads.” He’s recently been seen in a recurring role on “ER” and in the remake “The Wizard of Gore.”

“South of Pico” was produced by Eric Presley, Richard Marcus and Ernst Gossner. Executive Producer is Ralf Mosig. The film was shot by Richard Marcus. The music was composed by John Swihart, best known for his work on “Napoleon Dynamite.”

South of Pico and stuff

A little business to break up the drama. I have started to represent other producers on the sales of their films. I've been doing this on my own films and now started handling films that I haven't produced. In any event one of the first outside films I picked up is an excellent drama called South of Pico. I originally noticed the film because one of the leads is Henry Simmons who also appears in my film, The Insurgents. I helped get the film into the American Black Film Festival which my film My Brother won, last year.

I'm proud to announce as the representative for the filmmakers that South of Pico has won three awards including thr grand jury prize, best actor for henry and the heineken red star award for acheivement in filmmaking. In fact, it won every award for which it was nominated. Great news for the filmmakers: Ernst gossner eric Presley Richard marcus and ralf Mosig.

Hopefully this is just the beginning for South of Pico. With multiple offers in hand the life of pico is just beginning.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

remembrances of things past

What would you do?

Its been thirteen years. After a very bad break-up. I was accused, publicly of many terrible things, things that she knew weren’t true. It was as nasty as it gets, and at the time I just wanted to run away from all of it. But I had a year left in law school and I had to live with it for a year.

But its been thirteen years, and now, out of the ether, comes this ex-girlfriend. And after initially talking for an hour, after returning her call, she’s called me ten times in the past few days. Texted me. Left rambling messages. Wants to keep in contact. Doesn’t want to “lose” me again, whatever that means.

Back up.

She is married, very well-off by virtue of that marriage, with two children. She is no longer a lawyer. She owns a pilates studio in Long Island (she was a dance instructor and aerobics teacher when we dated in law school).

She is clearly missing something in her life. She remembers me, in her edited version, fondly – the “love of her life.” I want very little any such regard. As I’ve said numerous times, this isn’t water under the bridge, its water out to sea. Way out.

She’s asked to get together when I am back in NY. Pass. To give me a hug. Double pass.

She is reaching out to me, I believe, because she isn’t thrilled about where her life is right now. Perhaps without passion. Almost certainly. And I am a symbol of when she had passion in her life – when her life wasn’t staid, when it was full of possibility. When she was young and not locked in. When she was in love.

But that was me thirteen years ago. I’m not that person any more either, any more than she is that person. I’ve moved on – and I have no interest in going back in that direction.

So she is reaching out, she wants to meet, or to talk, once every while. And my feeling is, no, that’s just not part of my life anymore. What we had once is gone. Its been gone for a long time.

So what would you do?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Scream Awards 2007

So sort of last minute, I got invitations to the Scream Awards and after-party (everything in LA has an afterparty, root canals have after parties). VIP passes which were fun, though it seemed like everyone in the whole place had them, so I guess we were all VIP’s together.

The Scream Awards, which SPIKE TV televises, are for fantasy, sci-fi, and yes, horror. The best of the best. The event itself was a ton of fun. I went with my friend Diana, who somehow managed to look great even though I only got her ticket shortly before the show and she might have had thirty minutes to shower and get ready. She gets points. Also, Cheri from Maverick, and Victor Garcia, our director for Slaughter, made the trek to the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park.

The fans know what they like. Spike TV seems to know what they like too. The show opened with the Hero Awards, a lifetime acheivemnent award given to a genre movie superstar. Shia LeBoef presented to who else, Indiana Jones. Han Solo. Decker. Harrison Ford.

They had a great list of presenters and awardees, like the Jessicas (Alba and Biel), Hayden Panawhawha from Heroes (actually, seemed like the whole cast was there), Sig Haig presented with Danny Trejo, Tarantino and Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, and when Bruce Campbell came out, the crowd literally went wild. Victor told me that BC is a god to him, the greatest. Victor obviously has good taste.

Ozzie came on and did his Osbourne thing, and then, the true highlight of the show, was Alice Cooper performing Schools Out with Rob Zombie and Slash. Because its LA, bunches of people had left before this finale, and they really missed out. It was kickin’.

Afterparty was fun. The dude who played Michael Meyers in Zombie's Halloween seemed omnipresent, but that may just be because he's a foot taller than everyone else. He is mammoth. I ended up sitting next to Cris Angel and Tommy Lee for a while. I still havent seen Cris Angel perform (I saw Tommy Lee "perform" with a certain star from Baywatch) and I wouldnt have known who he was. The girls at the Roosevelt Hotel seemed to know who he was tho.

Anyway, it was fun.

Now you don’t have to watch it on TV.

Grumps.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two weeks or a bit more in LA now. Whats going on?

1. Got a call from an ex. Hadnt spoken to her in thirteen years. Yep, thirteen years. That makes me how old? We had what I will nicely call a bad break-up. It was really awful, and I was very surprised to hear that I had a message from her. I called back out of (a) trying to be a mature person, (b) potentially responding to someone I once cared a great deal about who might have been in need, and (c) curiosity. Turns out that she just wanted to see what I was upto, and that her recollection of how bad things were, or even, just how things were, differed greatly from mine. I think she had buried some stuff – we were both very hurt when it ended, eons ago. Anyway, my trepidation seems mostly misplaced, and the conversation was fine, perhaps awkward at times, just a bit, and definitely brought to bear some sense of loss of what had been.

2. We’re slaughtering ahead in preproduction. Looking at locations, FX breakdowns, casting, etc. Its going pretty well. Been a long time coming, and I can see the lighting equipment at the end of the tunnel now. Victor is great, I think he was a terrific choice for us. We’re lucky to have him.

3. I am going to Scream Awards (not to be confused with Screamfest) tonight, I think. Should be cool. I think I have VIP passes too. Do a little promotion, a little networking. That looks like a cool event, even if it is on Spike TV. Have to figure out if I clothing out here that’s right for it.

4. Madonna was at Maverick’s offices the other day when I was there. Nope, didn’t meet her. Maybe next time. No biggie.

5. I cannot believe it, but the kids in the main house are moving out, and when they do I am going to lose internet access for ten days. UGH. I can’t believe this. Again.

Keeping it short, lots to do.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mean Streets - See It Again



What can you say about Mean Streets? Is it possible to determine the overall impact of the movie, Scorsese’s early classic, on not only his later films, but on the entire genre of gangster movies (which Mean Streets is not), Italian-American cinema (which it is), and film acting in general (due to stunning perfs by Deniro, Keitel, and very powerful and realistic supporting characters played by David Proval, Richard Romanus, and Amy Robinson, who was never again in a movie (though she has produced many)).

I don’t want to review this movie here. Its been review to death. Just reminding those who haven’t seen it, or seen it for a while. See it again. It might be Scorsese's best movie. Its like watching a French new wave film shot in Little Italy (and Los Angeles, where most of the movie was actually filmed), with Deniro instead of Belmondo and Amy Robinson instead of Jean Seberg or Jeanne Moreau. Its simply kinetic and realistic. And timely. The movie hasn’t aged, except for perhaps the sequence where the two Riverdale kids get swindled out of the firecracker money.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Second Verse, Same as The First (but shorter)

So I went back to NYC, early July. You may remember that I had this period of wirelessness while I was out here in CA before I left. Stir crazy, restless, wireless nights.

Well, they are back. Or they were.

I woke up this morning to a familiar phenomenon. I had no wireless connection. Not only that, but the wireless router was not even showing on Airport. Ugh. I thought that maybe the router had been unplugged or something.

I was right. But when I went to the main house this AM to check it out, all the doors were locked, a first. I don’t have keys to the main house, so I couldn’t get in to see what the story was.

Story was….

Someone broke into the main house and stole a laptop and the router itself at around 5AM. They also took a cable box. It was someone who knows the ppl in the main house, I think, because whoever it was seems to have been very specific in their theft and also, they weren’t afraid of any of the three dogs that live in the house.

Anyway, so when I finally got in this afternoon, the router was missing. I thought maybe someone had returned it? No clue. But when I found out what happened, I bounced down to Best Buy and had to drop another hundred to get a new one. Im a little incredulous that I am actually back up and online. It took about an hour to reconfigure, and here I am, poorer but still connected.

Bastardos.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Grumpster's Hollywood Reporter Article today

Hollywood Reporter Exclusive, by Gregg Goldstein
NEW YORK -- Dominique Swain will star in "Slaughter," the first film to be made from a Slamdance Film Festival Horror Screenplay Competition winner.

Maverick Films genre arm Maverick Red and Angel Baby Entertainment will finance and co-produce Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby's winning script, with Victor Garcia attached to direct.

Swain will play a young actress who travels to a remote desert location to shoot a film called "Slaughter," only to discover she and her co-stars have been cast in a snuff film and must fight to survive.

Principal photography will begin this month in Los Angeles. Maverick and Angel Baby, in association with Slamdance, will finance and co-produce a total of three features based on each year's prize-winning entry.

Maverick's Guy Oseary, Mark Morgan and Eric Thompson will produce each film with Angel Baby partners Gregory Segal and John Andrew Gallagher and Slamdance president Peter Baxter. Maverick's Cheri Wozniak will executive produce the films. The horror script contest is overseen by Slamdance's John Stoddard and Baxter.

Garcia recently helmed "Return to House on Haunted Hill" for Dark Castle Entertainment and Warner Bros. and the online serial "30 Days of Night: Blood Trails" for Ghost House Pictures. Maverick and Angel Baby have director Gallagher's feature "Digger" in preproduction for a fall shoot.

Swain's credits include "Alpha Dog," "Stiletto" and "Lolita." She is repped by APA and Michael Garnett at Leverage Management. Garcia is repped by UTA and William Lowery at Underground Film and Management.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Airplane Bloggin’: The Walking Dead Edition

So its been a while since I had an airplane blog. I think I spent more uninterrupted time in New York City that I have all year, maybe longer than that. It certainly feels like more time has passed since such an entry.

Also feels like I am typing in slow motion – took a pill for flight anxiety (I am, post-9.11, a passable but not the most comfortable flier), and lets say two things about it. First it works, and I slept the first four hours or so of this flight. Literally feel asleep during takeoff, my moment of typical greatest anxiety I don’t even remember it. Just taxi-ing and next thing, I woke up momentarily over Tennessee. Daddy like.

Second, I have this entirely mellow feeling. I know it will be short lived, I can already feel it wearing off a bit, like the sleepiness did, though maybe I can catch one more nap before I am descending into Burbank.

Modern meds. Use them responsibility and enjoy. The whole travel situation had the capactity to be annoying. I brought a gift from J with me. Didn’t even think about it. Well apparently, it was over the permitted toiletries limit and I couldn’t bring it on the plane, in case I decided to play Richard Reid with my aftershave. I hadn’t planned on it, but they were not buying it. To complicate matters, my ticket had the pre-screening mark on it. That means I was preselected for extra harassment and wanding beyond the more typical screening and Xray that we all enjoy as we head through. When my contraband was discovered though, I was left with the choice of throwing them out (and they weren’t cheap, and were a gift that has some sentimental value to me).

Alternatively, I could head back through security, check the items in a box, which meant that I would have to head back through the whole security check thing again and then, in Burbank, wait for checked luggage – which I never do because I keep clothing and other belongings in Cali so I don’t have anything to carry beyond computers and ipods and cel phones etc.

So as previous texts would indicate, the disconnection process which was supposed to begin with this trip instead was quickly brought into stark relief. Would I endure the hassle to save the gift or would I just dump them in the garbage. I have a feeling that, er, feelings aside, I would have dumped it all to get on the plane. BUT NOOOOO. So I head back through security and do the whole thing (which was not so bad except for now having to wait at Burbank for luggage.

I told J the story while I was waiting for the flight. We’re quite candid with each other about our mental processes (I may be a little more, but I am also a better listener, so I hear more than she’s telling me sometimes, to her occasional chagrin and amazement).

I cannot say how I otherwise feel. I am a little floatie from the drug. Nothing seems to be bothering me too much. I believe, Chillin, would be the right description. And its difficult to get would up about stuff when you’re asleep at 38,000 feet.

Slaughter production office should be open tomorrow I hope. Its kinda far from my apt., but whatever. Not the biggest deal. I’ll be happy to get in the trenches and let the blood start flowing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Daniel Day Lewis Is The Man

Lewis, always a chameleon, in this trailer for the new PT Anderson movie. He sounds like Jack Palance to me, though people are saying John Huston.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fugghedaboudit

Courtesy of WC Dixon's blog, this great little clip requires no fuckin' introduction.


Friday, September 28, 2007

How Cool Is the Coen Bros Movie Poster...

Hanging Ten (PM)

I am hanging in there today. Got a message from J, just saying hi. She thanked me yet again for taking her to the event. She was working and snuck out to send me a little message before heading back to work.

I feel a little like Ive turned the corner, but not entirely. I feel like I am on the rod to disconnection which, again, is something I view with some degree (not a small degree) of ambivalence. I need to do it, for my well-being. But I don’t totally want to do it. I want to hold on to my hope, instead of dashing it against the rocks. Unfortunately, the rocks are probably where my hope belongs. Bottoms up.

Going sailing tomorrow, which I love. With Dave, and my friends Mari and Lalika. I probably wont see them until I get back (though Mari heads to LA occasionally) and these three are good friends. David is my best friend. Mari and Lalli are new friends, but wonderful and caring and terrific and fun, and I’ll miss them whilst I am in LA. Sailing is a nice way to get together before I leave. Weather is supposed to be nice – should be a good time.

I know that this isn’t the normal nature of my writing. I am usually snide and obnoxious, and lest you worry, be reassured that in person, I really still am. In person. Im just a schmoopy fool this week on my blog.

Grumps

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On the way out

Saw a friend last nite – went to a little gathering. It was ok. Not the best party. Thats not waht I want to talk about anyway.

Its more personal than that. This friend, lets call her J – hiding behind the fact that there are plenty of J names for women. J and I have something that is, or has been, at times, more than friendship. I feel for her more than friendship. She, well, she’s felt more than friendship at times, but for her, its best for us to be friends. That’s what she wants. We’ve talked it to death.

Problem is, well, me. I have plenty of friends. I don’t have plenty of women, over the last five years, that I feel for more than just friendship. I don’t know why its so rare now. Its been maybe a handful of times since my last serious relationships (I honestly cannot remember another time). Maybe I am more guarded than most people, maybe the Jeanne relationship was more impactful, even today, then I recognize.

Im going to California for a few months, maybe two? And so it was a good bye for J and I. Or at least so long. Seems like that there isn’t that much to say about this, as its not going anywhere further (maybe someday, she’s said, when she is ready for a “relationship” guy, which is the way I am viewed- she isn’t ready for that given her recent past – nonetheless, I take that all with some degree of skepticism, really, I do, really).

I feel pretty awful at the moment. I don’t have a reason, I haven’t lost anything perhaps. Maybe just some glimmer of hope, the hope that I have the capacity to feel this way as a person still.

Going to California is a clean way to cut off these feelings I have for J. That may help me feel better for the meantime. But then, having cut them off, having suffocated them like I’ve been telling myself to do for the last month, what will I have achieved. It will be to have snuffed out one of the few connections I have had to an emotional connection to another person, to a women, in years. And that makes the prospect of feeling better feel less better.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Going back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali (did I already use this title) - II (Ok?)

I am headed back to LA for a month or more, most likely, on Monday. Back to my LA hovel after a few months of relative comfort in NYC since early July. Slaughter rampin' up, and I need to be out there. So I am booked and on a plane on Monday afternoon. Coolio - kinda, it is what it is (but what is that).

Probably a good and bad time for me to be heading out. I need to clear my head of some personal issues - some disgruntled romanticism that has had me somewhat distracted. A situation. An enticement. Something that isnt gonna go anywhere, at least anytime soon, and soooooo, its much better to be out of sight, out of mind.

Spearheaded by the need to move on, I actually have been dating some. Im so friggin' monogamous, as a general matter, that just liking a woman can often make me drop it with others if I am not feelin' it. I like to focus. But since that primary interest is going nowhere fast,seemed like a good solution and an obvious next move. So I've been on a few dates, collected a few numbers. Even a set-up - though I haven't called her yet. And now all that stuff (though its no great tragedy) will prolly have to be put on hold for a bit. A month. Thats a decent amount of time.

Call it a career. Just dont call it a life. A substitute, maybe. When did the rules of grammar disappear? Why am I asking you?

Anyway, just some ramblings for a Wednesday evening. Heading out soon. Gotta get a shower and a shave.

Later. Grumps.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You might have seen this

I assume most ppl have seen this. After all, it has a zillion views on Youtube.



Its scary. And very popular amongst the youngsters. Its even give rise to a comedy central commerical spoof ( i think its comedy central). From none other than Seth Green, who proves he's a great actor with this bit. Quite good.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Priorities

This is a repost from Filmjerk.com. Its interesting to see what the pre-strike priorities are. There are guild strikes pending for mid-2008, and these are the films that have been earmarked for production, pre-strike, unless the strike is settled. The agencies are circulating these lists because they want to get their clients (and themselves) paid prior to the strikes, which, if they happen, will cause a cash shutdown for some period of time.

There are some big time directors on the list- interesting that this may be the best indication of what their next projects will be. The biggest directors often have a choice of what they want to work on next. In the case of Stephen Spielberg, its the Chicago 7 film. For Robert Zemeckis, a Christmas Carol. Venice (and Oscar) winner Ang Lee has Little Game. Sam Raimi is mentioned for a project for Fox Searchlight called Rabbit Hole (probably slightly lower budgeted than Spidey 3). Ron Howard- Angels and Demons. Clint - The Changeling. Robert Rodriguez, a remae of Barbarella remake (Jessica Alba, anyone?). Some directors, like Martin Campbell, Vadim Perelman, Jay Roach, have multiple projects listed.

******


A list starting circulating around the talent agencies two weeks ago, listing the 300 projects in active development which have become pre-strike priorities for the major studios and a number of top production companies. This list does not mean all of these projects will be completed before the strike date or that they will come together in time. A few titles have already started shooting, some others have set production start dates, and a couple will likely end up on somebody's Best Films Never Made list a few years down the road.

You'll also notice certain directors have their names attached to two or more projects, while a number of them have no director attached. Hell, even Hollywood pariah David O. Russell is getting a bump thanks to the strike threat. Just that these are the films these companies are putting their muscle behind, hoping to keep their distribution pipeline open and flowing in case of a work stoppage.

As of August 29, 2007, there are the main priorities for Hollywood, in case of emergency:

2929 Entertainment
BURNING PLAIN - Dir: Guillermo Arriaga
VILLAIN - Dir: Martin Campbell

BALDWIN
ATLAS SHRUGGED - Dir: Vadim Perelman
INDISCRETION - Dir: Tony Goldwyn
LUNA - Dir: Deepa Mehta

BEACON
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HITMAN - Dir: Kip Williams

DISNEY
ADVENTURELAND - Dir: Greg Mottola
ALICE - Dir: None attached
AMERICAN DOG (animated) - Dir: Chris Sanders
BEDTIME STORIES - Dir: Adam Shankman
BOY SOLDIER - Dir: Oliver Higschbiegel
A CHRISTMAS CAROL - Dir: Robert Zemeckis
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC - Dir: PJ Hogan
DOUBT - Dir: John Patrick Shanley
ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN - Dir: Andy Fickman
G-FORCE (animated) - Dir: Hoyt Yeatman
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 - Dir: Kenny Ortega
JUNGLE CRUISE - Dir: None attached
LIBERTY - Dir: None attached
PRINCE OF PERSIA - Dir: None attached
PRINCESS AND THE FROG (animated) - Dir: Ron Clements and John Musker
THE PROPOSAL - Dir: Robert Luketic
SCHOOLED - Dir: Walt Becker
SNOW - Dir: Francis Lawrence

DIMENSION
CELL - Dir: Eli Roth
COMEBACK - Dir: Fred Durst
PORKY'S - Dir: None attached
SUPERHEROES - Dir: Craig Mazin
WEDDING RINGER (PREVIOUSLY GOLDEN TUX) - Dir: Lavender and Garelick
YOUTH IN REVOLT - Dir: None attached

DREAMWORKS
CAMP CREEPY TIME - Dir: None attached
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS - Dir: Jay Roach
EAGLE EYE - Dir: DJ Caruso
GHOST TOWN - Dir: David Koepp
HOTEL FOR DOGS - Dir: Thor Freudenthal
I LOVE YOU MAN - Dir: John Hamburg
THE RIVALS - Dir: John Madden
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE - Dir: None attached
SIEGE OF FULTON AVE - Dir: None attached
THE SOLOIST (PREVIOUSLY IMAGINING BEETHOVEN) - Dir: Joe Wright
THOUSAND WORDS - Dir: None attached
TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 - Dir: Steven Spielberg
WEDNESDAY - Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
WILL - Dir: None attached

FOCUS
THE SERIOUS MAN - Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen
CURVEBALL - Dir: None attached but looking to Josh Marston
LITTLE GAME - Dir: Ang Lee
NICK AND NORAH - Dir: Peter Sollett
MEMORY OF A KILLER - Dir: None attached
PIANO TUNER - Dir: Werner Herzog
SIN NOMBRE - Dir: Cary Fukunaga

FOX
A-TEAM - Dir: None attached
COOL SCHOOL - Dir: None attached
DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL - Dir: Scott Derrikson
FANTASTIC VOYAGE - Dir: Roland Emmerich
GULLIVERS TRAVELS - Dir: None attached
MAGNETO - Dir: David Goyer
ME TIME - Dir: None attached
RUNAWAY TRAIN - Dir: Martin Campbell
SELLING TIME - Dir: None attached
STREET FIGHTER - Dir: Andrezej Bartkowiak
THEY CAME FROM UPSTAIRS - Dir: John Schultz
TOOTH FAIRY - Dir: None attached
TROUBLE MAN (PREVIOUSLY WICHITA) - Dir: Tom Dey
USED GUYS - Dir: Jay Roach
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS - Dir: Tom Vaughn
WOLVERINE - Dir: Gavin Hood

FOX ATOMIC
BRAD CUTTER RUINED MY LIFE - Dir: Ari Sandel
CAPTAIN AWESOME - Dir: None attached
DON’T SEND HELP - Dir: None attached
I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER - Dir: None attached
PLAYBOYS - Dir: Trevor Moore/Zack Creggors
SPACE INVADER - Dir: Andrew Currie
SMASH AND GRAB - Dir: None attached but looking to John Moore

FOX SEARCHLIGHT
500 DAYS OF SUMMER - Dir: Marc Webb
KIDNAP - Dir: Nate Gwaltney
NOTORIOUS - Dir: George Tillman
RABBIT HOLE - Dir: None attached but looking to Sam Raimi
SECRET LIFE OF BEES - Dir: Gina Prince Bythewood
TOGETHER - Dir: Miguel Arteta
WAY BACK - Dir: None attached

FOX 2000
AFTERLIFE - Dir: None attached
ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY - Dir: Paul Weitz
BACHELOR BOYS - Dir: None attached
BOYS NEXT DOOR - Dir: None attached
CONTACT ZERO - Dir: None attached
DALLAS - Dir: Betty Thomas
LIFE OF PI - Dir: Jean Pierre Jeunet
LUCKY STRIKE - Dir: Tony Scott
MARLEY AND ME - Dir: David Frankel
MONTE CARLO (PREVIOUSLY HEADHUNTERS) - Dir: Tom Bezucha
RAMONA - Dir: Liz Allen
SHADOW DIVERS - Dir: None attached
TOWNHOUSE - Dir: John Carney
WOLF BROTHER - Dir: Catherine Hardwicke

GOLD CIRCLE
ARCANUM - Dir: Randall Wallace
CHILLED IN MIAMI - Dir: Jonas Elmer
FLYPAPER - Dir: None attached
HONEYMOON’S OVER - Dir: None attached

HBO FILMS
CONNIE & RUTH - Dir: Jane Anderson
RECOUNT - Dir: Jay Roach

INTERMEDIA
KILLER’S GAME - Dir: Simon Crane

LAKESHORE
GAME - Dir: Neveldine & Taylor
LINCOLN LAWYER - Dir: None attached

LIONSGATE
5 KILLERS - Dir: Mark Helfrich
ADDICTED - Dir: Peter Medak
ATLAS SHRUGGED - Dir: Vadim Perelman
BACHELOR #2 - Dir: Howard Deutch
CHURCHBOY - Dir: Sonu Gonera
MEANone attachedLLS - Dir: John Whitesell
PARTY BOYS - Dir: Pate Bros.
PUNISHER II - Dir: Lexi Alexander
SHRINK - Dir: Kevin Donovan
THE SPIRIT - Dir: Frank Miller
TULIA - Dir: John Singleton

MANDATE
CURVE - Dir: Charles Stone
DOGS OF BABEL - Dir: None attached
WHIP IT - Dir: Drew Barrymore

MIRAMAX
HERO - Dir: Julian Farino
THE RESURRECTIONISTS - Dir: John Madden

NEW LINE
20,000 LEAGUES - Dir: None attached
$40,000 MAN - Dir: Terry Zwigoff
APPALOOSA - Dir: Ed Harris
CONRAIL - Dir: Ericson Core
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK - Dir: Len Wiseman
FOUR CHRISTMASES - Dir: Seth Gordon
GEARS OF WAR - Dir: None attached
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST - Dir: Mark Waters
HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU - Dir: Ken Kwapis
HONEYMOON WITH HARRY - Dir: None attached
KILLING ON CARNIVAL ROW - Dir: Neil Jordan
KING OF KONG - Dir: Seth Gordon
MILD THINGS - Dir: Frank Coraci
MY SISTER'S KEEPER - Dir: Nick Cassavetes
PAPER WINGS - Dir: None attached
SEX & THE CITY - Dir: Michael King
SNITCH - Dir: Carl Franklin
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE - Dir: Robert Schwentke

NEW REGENCY
BIG MOMMA'S 3 - Dir: None attached
BRIDE WARS - Dir: None attached
CAGE - Dir: None attached
CAPRICORN ONE - Dir: None attached
DALLAS - Dir: None attached but looking to Betty Thomas
MONTE CARLO (PREVIOUSLY HEADHUNTERS) - Dir: Tom Bezucha
VOLTRON - Dir: None attached

OVERTURE
105 DEGREES - Dir: Jon AMiel
HUMBOLT PARK - Dir: None attached
RIGHTEOUS KILL - Dir: Jon Avnet
LAST CHANCE HARVEY - Dir: Joel Hopkins

PARAMOUNT
ANGUS, THONGS - Dir: Gurinder Chadha
CHEF - Dir: None attached
THE FIGHTER - Dir: Darren Aronofsky
GI JOE - Dir: None attached
I WANT TO _____ YOUR SISTER - Dir: None attached
LOVE GURU - Dir: Marco Schnabel
MEN MAKING MUSIC - Dir: Clay Tarver
NOWHERE LAND - Dir: Karey Kirkpatrick
PSYCHO FUNKY CHIMP - Dir: Ruben Fleischer
STAR TREK - Dir: JJ Abrams
THOR - Dir: Matthew Vaughn
TORSO - Dir: David Fincher
UNTITLED CAMERON CROWE - Dir: Cameron Crowe
YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY - Dir: Julian Farino
WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE - Dir: None attached
WORLD WAR Z - Dir: None attached

PARAMOUNT VANTAGE
AMERICAN STORAGE - Dir: Andrew Cohen
CAGED - Dir: Chris Kentis
DON READY (PREVIOUSLY CLAY HUJKO LIKES CARS) - Dir: Neal Brennan
DEFIANCE - Dir: Ed Zwick
DIRT - Dir: None attached

ROGUE
BELCOO EXPERIMENT - Dir: James Gunn
BFF - Dir: None attached
CASTLEVANIA - Dir: Sylvain White
DYNOMITE - Dir: Paul Feig
FIGHTIN' - Dir: Dito Montiel
LABOR DAY MASON - Dir: Will Gluck
LOST SQUAD - Dir: Leger & Mather
NEAR DARK - Dir: Sam Bayer

SCREEN GEMS
ARMORED - Dir: Nimrod Antal
BONE DEEP - Dir: John Luessenhop
THE BURIAL - Dir: None attached
THE CROSSING - Dir: None attached
INSANITARIUM - Dir: Jeff Buhler
LODGER D:David Ondaatje
KINGDOM COME - Dir: None attached
PHENOM - Dir: None attached
UNTITLED MARDI GRAS PROJECT - Dir: Phil Dornfeld

SPYGLASS
ANTHONY ZIMMER - Dir: Lasse Hallstrom
IRONBOW - Dir: Derin Seale

SONY
AGAINST ALL ENEMIES - Dir: Robert Redford
ALIEN UPRISING - Dir: Wolfgang Peterson
ANGELS AND DEMONS - Dir: Ron Howard
BASTER - Dir: Speck & Gordon
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS - Dir: None attached
BOND 22 - Dir: Marc Forster
BROTHERS - Dir: Jim Sheridan
EDWIN A. SALT - Dir: Terry George
FANTASY ISLAND - Dir: None attached
THE GRAYS - Dir: Wolfgang Peterson
I DREAM OF JEANNIE - Dir: None attached
JULIE JULIA - Dir: Nora Ephron
MONSTER HUNTER - Dir: David Dobkin
SAMMY'S HILL - Dir: David O. Russell
SEVEN POUNDS - Dir: Gabriele Muccino
STEP-BROTHERS - Dir: Adam Mckay
THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS - Dir: Steve Zaillian
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 - Dir: Tony Scott
TOKYO SUCKERPUNCH - Dir: None attached
YEAR ONE - Dir: Harold Ramis
VOYEUR - Dir: None attached

SONY CLASSICS
DANCING WITH SHIVA - Dir: Jonathan Demme

SUMMIT
DJINN - Dir: Nicholas Refn
NEED - Dir: Ryan Murphy
PARENTAL GUIDANCE - Dir: None attached
RAT BASTARD - Dir: Gary Winick
SEX DRIVE - Dir: Sean Anders

UNITED ARTISTS
THE BIRDCAGE 2 - Dir: None attached
PINKVILLE - Dir: Oliver Stone

UNIVERSAL
ABSENT HEARTS - Dir: Jim Whitaker
BARBARELLA - Dir: Robert Rodriguez
BIG BROTHERS - Dir: David Wain
THE CHANGELING - Dir: Clint Eastwood
CIRQUE DU FREAK - Dir: Paul Weitz
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON - Dir: Breck Eisner
DARK FIELDS - Dir: None attached
DRACULA YEAR ZERO - Dir: Alex Proyas
FAST & FURIOUS 4 - Dir: Justin Lin
HURRICAINE SEASON - Dir: Billy Ray
I, THALUS (PREVIOUSLY OLYMPIAD) - Dir: Pete Segal
LAND OF THE LOST - Dir: Brad Silberling
THE LOS ANGELES RIOTS - Dir: Spike Lee
LA SCORTA - Dir: Asger Yeth
MAN AND WIFE - Dir: Gabriele Muccino
MY NAME IS JODY WILLIAMS - Dir: Audrey Wells
NOTTINGHAM - Dir: Ridley Scott
ONE NATION UNDER BOB - Dir: Tom Shadyac
PHARM GIRL - Dir: None attached
PLAYBOY - Dir: Brett Ratner
REPOSSESSION MAMBO - Dir: Miguel Sapochnik
RIPD - Dir: David Dobkin
SANDS OF TIME - Dir: None attached
SCOTT PILGRIM - Dir: Edgar Wright
STATE OF PLAY - Dir: Kevin McDonald
SOURCE CODE - Dir: None attached
TRAVELING - Dir: Brandon Camp
TRUMP HEIST - Dir: Brett Ratner
UNDOMESTIC GODDESS - Dir: None attached
UNTITLED CHARLES RANDOLPH PROJECT - Dir: None attached
UNTITLED JON FAVREAU PROJECT - Dir: Jon Favreau
WOLFMAN - Dir: Mark Romanek

WALDEN
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA - THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER - Dir: Michael Apted
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA - THE SILVER CHAIR - Dir: None attached
CITY OF THE BEASTS - Dir: None attached
TORTOISE AND THE HIPPO - Dir: John Dykstra
RELATIVITY - Dir: None attached

WARNER BROTHERS
1906 - Dir: Brad Bird
ALTERED CARBON - Dir: James McTeigue
ARRANGED - Dir: Gary Winick
CARPE DEMON - Dir: None attached
CLASH OF THE TITANS - Dir: None attached
THE DIRTY DOZEN - Dir: Guy Ritchie
FARRAGUT NORTH - Dir: None attached
GUARDIANS OF GA'HOOLE - Dir: None attached
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE - Dir: David Yates
HEART SHAPED BOX - Dir: Neil Jordan
HIMELFARB - Dir: Miguel Arteta
THE INCREDIBLE MR LIMPET - Dir: Chris Columbus
JUSTICE LEAGUE - Dir: None attached, but looking to George Miller
LOSERS - Dir:
MEN - Dir: Todd Phillips
MORTDECAI - Dir: None attached
NIGHTCRAWLERS - Dir: McG
PENETRATION - Dir: Ridley Scott
SHANTARAM - Dir: Mira Nair
SHERLOCK HOLMES - Dir: None attached
SPOOKS APPRENTICE - Dir: Tim Burton
THE TOWN - Dir: Adrian Lyne
YES MAN - Dir: Peyton Reed

WARNER INDEPENDENT
DISASSOCIATE - Dir: Zach Helm
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH - Dir: Jonathan Jakubowitz
MAN WITHOUT A GUN - Dir: Pete Travis
MESSAGE FROM THE KING - Dir: None attached
RUM DIARY - Dir: Bruce Robinson
WHITE JAZZ - Dir: Joe Carnahan

THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
BERNARD THE GENIE - Dir: Richard Curtis
FLETCH WON - Dir: Steve Pink
I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT - Dir: David Frankel
GOING DOWN (PREVIOUSLY MUSKRAT LOVE) - Dir: Andy Fickman
NINE - Dir: Rob Marshall
THE READER - Dir: Stephen Daldry
SEVENTH SAMURAI - Dir: None attached, but looking to Justin Chadwick or Wayne Kramer
SHANGHAI - Dir: Mikael Hafstrom
TULIP FEVER - Dir: Peter Chelsom
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO - Dir: Kevin Smith

WORKING TITLE
BAD NEWS INC. - Dir: None attached
BURN AFTER READING - Dir: Coen Bros
EVEREST - Dir: None attached
FOOD FIGHT - Dir: Steve Brill
IMPERIAL LIFE - Dir: Paul Greengrass
LOST FOR WORDS - Dir: Suzanne Bier
THE RIP - Dir: Roger Michell
ROCK THE BOAT - Dir: Richard Curtis
YOUNG AT HEART - Dir: None attached

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Come On, Its Francis Ford Friggin' Coppola - Youth Without Youth Teaser

What I am Watching

What I am Watching:
300. Whoa. The most testosterone laden movie Ive seen since Peckinpah and Fuller. Lots of fun, too. A true comic book.

The Prestige. Dont miss it, its great. Christopher Nolan's best film and that is saying a bunch.

Bringing Out The Dead (1999) - I missed this somehow, Scorcese and Schrader and Grumpster fave, Tom Sizemore. Really interesting, and definitely dark and moody. Like dessert with Paul Schrader.

What I am Reading:
So You Want to Be a Producer, Lawrence Turman (producer of The Graduate, et al.) - Worth the read, though I dont know if it really addresses an answer to the title.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Great commercial, turns out not a coincidence

So i saw this great commercial during football Sunday. That its great is no coincidence. And that it uses music from Last of the Mohicans, composed by Trevor Jones (I think) is also no coincidence. Why?
Because the commercial was directed by none other than Mohican's director and Grumpster favorite Michael Mann. Check it out.

How I Got Here, Now Six Years Later

I've already posted this, last September 11th. Its a difficult day for me, one that continues to make me examine my priorities. And because I now live across the street from Ground Zero, its not very much a situation of Out of Sight, Out of Mind. I havent even been downstairs today, but I'll go take a look at it soon, the news trucks, the spectators, and other tourists of sympathy and disaster. Im not casting aspersions, it is what it is. And every year, as it becomes more chronologically remote, it becomes something a little bit more and a little bit less for me. More of an arrow, and less of an anchor perhaps.


******Previously posted, Sept. 11, 2006********

I used to work in law, in finance. These are jobs that may be exciting for some, a thrill for some. Others may fancy that they do these jobs for the good of the economy, of the world, in some way.

I did my jobs for the money, and for the freedom that the money would eventually, supposedly, purchase for me.

I was working for Deloitte & Touche, which is one of the largest consulting firms in the world. I sold and developed tax product for companies. Basically, I used my knowledge as a tax lawyer to design and implement tax strategies whose primary aim was to lower the world tax burden of some of the world’s richest companies and families. I’d previously done similar jobs at Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, a white-shoe firm that is the oldest in the U.S.A, and at Ernst and Young, another monster-sized multinational consulting firm. I’d also worked a year in banking for Barclay’s Capital, the investment banking arm of one of Europe’s most venerable banks. Working for Barclay’s, I had made almost 400,000 dollars in one year. That year was perhaps the least happy year of my life.

My rise since graduation from law school at Albany Law School and Union (for an MBA) had been nothing short of meteoric. I spent two years in Boston at EY, before moving to New York. I was doubling my income every two years of so. I was following a path towards what I had originally set out to do.

A few years before, when I was attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut, I had an epiphany. I was following a course of only liberal arts: history, film, language, etc. I had no real career path, I was studying liberal arts. And my realization was that I should, at the age of 19, follow a path that would allow me to use what talents I had to make as much money as possible in as short a period of time as possible, which would allow me to do whatever I wanted to do with the rest of my life, on my own terms.

And what I wanted to do with the rest of my life was make movies. What I had wanted to do, from childhood, was make movies.

I left Wesleyan without even having applied to another school. I saw no point in wasting my parents money continuing to study things that wouldn’t pay off when I graduated (I thought – whether that assumption is right I don’t know, but I met an awful lot of people who went to liberal arts schools on Wall Street). I had to sit out a semester but transferred to SUNY Albany and began to pursue a path towards becoming a lawyer. I skipped through college, law school and business school and had completed the first step towards my eventual freedom.

Now, years later, working for D&T, a job I absolutely hated, a worthless job in my opinion, one that made no mark in the world, I was collecting money for my freedom. Of course, I was so bored with my existence that I often spent almost as fast as I earned. But that was just part of making my existence livable until I was free, could go and make movies.

On September 11th, 2001, I had an early conference call with London. Some project we were doing with a law firm over in London, and because of the time difference, the call was scheduled for 8AM. I normally got to my office right about nine AM more or less, which put me on the train from my then Chelsea apt. at 8:30 or so, and in the basement of the WTC (on the 2/3 train) at about 8:50 AM. I’d go up the escalators, and walk across the platform, and cross the walking bridge to 2 World Financial Center. It was a trip I made every weekday (unless I was on the road, which I was maybe a quarter of the time).

If I had done this at this time, on this particular morning, I would be dead right now, crushed by falling debris like the others who made the commute at the time that I always did.

But that morning I grudgingly made the trip an hour early, got to WTC around 7:50AM, up the escalators, and across the bridge to my office in time for the 8AM conference call.

The call was rather short, and was finished by eight thirty. I was probably hitting baseball scores on the Net when my phone rang. A friend from work, Elizabeth, was calling, which I thought was funny cuz she was always late for work and since she was calling me after 9AM, I thought she was just late again.

She asked me – Whats going on down there?

Me: What do you mean?

Her: A plane just crashed into the WTC?

Me: (incredulous) – What?

As I spoke to her, the second plane crashed into the WTC. It just looked like an explosion on the television I was watching, nothing but a fireball. You didn’t see the plane at all (until they replayed it later at low speed).

We left en masse from the building, and were basically herded out to the harbor that sits behind the World Financial Center. Huge crowds of people were standing, looking up at the burning towers, watching, stunned. Talking in disbelief.

I looked up and saw a piece of lumber falling from near the tops of one of the towers. It tumbled, thousands of feet. I asked someone about it. They told me that it was the tenth person they’d seen jump from the top of the tower.

Not eager to see anymore, to have these images recorded in my memory, I headed north. My best friend Drew lived on Chambers then and I thought I would try to get to his building, give my parents a call from his place to let them know I was OK. I’d spoken to them very briefly as I walked out of the building, but now my cel wasn’t working because the networks were overcrowded.

I got to Chambers St. and Drew wasn’t home. A neigjhbor of his let me into his apartment but the phone lines were busy and I couldn’t get my parents. A bunch of people were milling around in his lobby, including a young woman and her child. She was looking for her husband. He was in Midtown, she thought, but had been trying to get down to find her in the chaos. As we were talking, swapping rumors about more airplanes, we hear the first tower go down. But because we couldn’t see the towers from where we stood, we could only hear what sounded exactly like another airplane flying low in the sky. The sonic boom of the tower coming down exactly, cruelly, mimicked the sound of an airplane overhead. And because of the rumors of more unaccounted-for jets in the air, that’s exactly what we thought it was.

This young woman, I don’t even remember her name, grabbed her son from his stroller and we all took off north up the bike path which fronts the west side highway. The sound of the tower stopped and my heart stopped beating like it had been, in a way that I thought was going to give me a heart attack.

We walked north along the highway. We had nothing else to do. I carried the little boy, as he was too big for his mother to carry too far. We walked for ten minutes, until the first miracle I witnessed that day occurred. Walking perhaps a hundred yards away, in the opposite direction, on the other side of the highway, was this woman’s husband. And somehow, out of thousands of people, they spotted each other and were reunited. Everyone in our group stopped and stared. Seeing these people reunite under these circumstances was simply an event I will never forget for the rest of my life. I don’t remember her name, her face. But I will never, ever forget that moment. Its clear in my mind, five years later.

I got home perhaps an hour later. I lived on 29th street. I think I put the film Animal House on video. I needed something light, I thought, but I couldn’t really watch it.

I never really went back to work in the same way. My heart was never really in it after that. I worked from home, with disinterest. My firm relocated to a hotel in Times Square, but I hated going there, working in a hotel room. I hated most of my bosses, most of the unhappy people for whom I worked. I started looking for something else to do- a friend had opened a restaurant, and that was a business I had always found interesting. As I lost interest in D&T, I spent more and more time at the restaurant, until I began to manage the restaurant. It was merely a temporary thing, but in some very important ways it represented a huge step for me. It was a step away from living for tomorrow, a tomorrow that 9/11 made me realize might never come, and towards living for today.

While I was running the restaurant, a few things significant to my life’s journey happened. My relationship with my then-girlfriend, someone I thought I would spend my life with, fell apart. We were going in different directions, and the relationship shattered into pieces under the strain of these changes. It isn’t about fault, it just happened.

Another thing that happened that day was that I started a film festival. It was my first step into anything film related. The first festival was three films, none very good. About twenty people or so showed up. It has developed into a festival that receives perhaps six hundred entrants a year now.

But what really happened, what really started from the events of 9/11 in my life, was that I decided that all the things that I had put off for later in life, I began to do. I started looking for work in the film business. I started the festival. I got a motorcyle. I CHANGED MY LIFE. Because I realized that you can’t always count on tomorrow and, because of that, today is very, very precious.

I was very fortunate to survive that day. I've been fortunate to have a little bit of wisdom in following the path I probably should have followed from the beginning, one that isnt about financial gain, but about gaining everything else for myself. And I've been fortunate for the support of my true friends and family in making the transition in my life.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Vanessa Hudgens

So what would be people's guess on how much money Vanessa Hudgen's private photos going public, cost Disney. Or perhaps, just perhaps, it made them money, through additional publicity.

On balance, I dont think so. High School musical is aimed squarely at an average american family audience that isnt likely to be too fond of this sort of stuff.

Recent estimates are that High School Musical 2 is worth about one billion dollars of revenue in combined rights to Disney, between the DVD, tv show, soundtrack, merchandize, a planned show, and the peripheral impact on Disney's programming. Thats alot to lose.

Personally, I (1) dont care about VH's decision to indulge in a little private photography and (2) think she looks great to boot. Its not like she wanted the pics public, and its funny how we're so ready to damn someone like Vanessa for a private picture like this, when we should be perhaps asking where it came from. The villain here is Vanessa or Zak. Its the jerk who dropped it. It would really suck if it ruins this young girl's career. Its such a meaningless thing.

Of course, I recently worked with another Vanessa who rebounded quite well from the unexpected publication of some photos. Her career has been spectacular, thank you very much. So who can say?