Saturday, March 31, 2012

David Carr of THE NEW YORK TIMES on Keith Olbermann.

Two Keith Olbermann profiles by David Carr--the first post-MSNBC, the second during Olbermann's Current tenure:

Not everyone is overjoyed by the SAG/AFTRA merger.

Yielding the floor to film reviewer/blogger David Poland, who had this to say in a series of tweets yesterday on Twitter:
"March 30, 2012 will be remembered as the day SAG gave up on actors making a basic living as actors and handed the keys to the union to AMPTP.
Apologists for AFTRA and the SAG leadership that crafted this disaster will blame the problems with residuals & pension on industry changes.--
The truth will be that Roberta Reardon [AFTRA head] killed SAG w/disloyalty & a turf grab & that 81% of SAG thanked her for having broken the union.--"

Friday, March 30, 2012

Keith Olbermann fired by Current.

This was just announced a few minutes ago, so very little is known about the reasons for Current's decision.  My theory is that the channel wants to be more centrist Democrat, so I'm thinking that Cenk Uygur of THE YOUNG TURKS--someone not afraid to disagree with President Obama--may be vulnerable to pressures from above.
In Keith Olbermann's case, he allegedly tends to fight Authority until Authority shows him the door.
[UPDATE] Via THE NEW YORK TIMES, Current TV's side of the story:
Here's a post from the entertainment site THE WRAP:,0
[UPDATE]  Olbermann, via Twitter, tells his side of the story:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tim Burton explains for you why DARK SHADOWS is being served with a twist of parody.

For those who don't keep up too often with THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, Geoff Boucher is the designated chronicler of all things Fanboy-friendly.

So, here's an excerpt from his talk with filmmaker Tim Burton on what looks to be Burton's Barnabas-meets-BEETLEJUICE take on Dan Curtis' gothic DARK SHADOWS (a durable property which became a daytime soap from 1966-71, two theatrical films in 71-72 and a short-lived prime-time series in 1991).

Boucher and Burton discuss the appeal of the daytime version.  Let's join Burton here--highlighting and bracket comments by me:

"It's a different animal," Burton said. "If I go back and watch something like STAR TREK, it's not that hard
to analyze what the appeal was, and even if the show is dated you identify what it was that made it work.  The DARK SHADOWS appeal was a little more abstract.  What I loved about it was the fact that it was a melodramatic soap opera, and, well, that flies in the face of any modern studio's interests as far as moviemaking [unless it's a recently-generated source of material such as the TWILIGHT books/films].  But what we've gone for is a mixture, and that's always what I've been interested in.  I think most of my movies are mixtures of light and dark and serious things and things that have humor in them. [what Burton is really saying is that old, unfamiliar TV series now get greenlighted as movies if they're played for laughs a la 21 JUMP STREET--but not in their original form]."

A few comments on THE HUNGER GAMES.

Yes, I broke down and saw THE HUNGER GAMES.  And, no, I haven't seen the BATTLE ROYALE films--so I had no existing bias about comparing one battle-to-the-death vision to another.

It wasn't excellent and it wasn't terrible, either.  Just another opening film of a young-person's-book series (don't like using the word "franchise"), carried handily by Jennifer Lawrence and much of the supporting cast.

Given Gary Ross' track record as a MOR writer-then writer/director (BIG, DAVE, PLEASANTVILLE, SEABISCUIT), I wasn't expecting an action classic like the just-opened THE RAID: REDEMPTION, but THE HUNGER GAMES a la Ross is a proficient-enough film which suffers from some conceptual timidity.

Not having read the Suzanne Collins trilogy of books, I'm not completely aware of how much watering down was accomplished to make the current, reach-for-smelling-salts, edition of the MPAA grant a PG-13 rating.  But it was too easily noticeable that a key violent sequence (beginning of the Games) was cut in such a way that it looked like someone had presssed a Fast Forward button on a VCR/DVD player to avoid dwelling on messiness and particular details of murders (presuming this was the sequence subjected to additional editing by the British Board of Film Censors to achieve the UK equivalent to PG-13).

More on the editing---because a film can be edited digitally on computers doesn't mean that most of the shots have to be chopped to the length of time it would take a person to snap a frail wishbone.  Granted, Gary Ross isn't Michael Bay and the goings-on are intelligible, but it doesn't hurt to hold a shot/shots in a sequence more often for greater effect (such as in the scene involving Katniss and Peeta the night before the games begin).

In terms of the depictions of terror/anguish amongst the young people waiting to see if they will be asked to kill and/or die, I'm assuming that intensity was muted during the scripting stage to avoid uncomfortable parent/child conversations and/or screening walkouts.  And, in a film which depicts a lottery system for choosing participants not unlike the Vietman-era draft, the young people's reactions tend towards the stoic, it's-better-to-obey-than-rebel variety (with Katniss' younger sister being the major exception).  Perhaps to Lionsgate execs, it's a sensible creative decision given that THE HUNGER GAMES, on the day I saw it, played in a multiplex running a US Marines commercial exhorting potential applicants to run towards dangerous situations.

Kudos to Tom Stern (usually a cinematographer for Clint Eastwood) for not overindulging in the desaturated-color-during-shooting-or-in-postproduction process that he went to town on in Eastwood's recent J. EDGAR.

Finally, a footnote: Peter Watkins' 1971 film PUNISHMENT PARK isn't great as human drama (it's intended more as antiwar/antiauthority social commentary), but it's worth a DVD rental as a 60's Counterculture ancestor to THE HUNGER GAMES (the game the youthful participants play in PUNISHMENT PARK is a variant on Capturing the Flag).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Upscale West L.A. film audiences say the darndest things: reaction to THE DEEP BLUE SEA.

Pieced together from various Twitter posts I wrote late last night:

So I saw Terrence Davies' remake of THE DEEP BLUE SEA at upscale Landmark multiplex in West L.A. and audience generally hated it.
I didn't hate THE DEEP BLUE SEA--fine performances from Rachel Weisz and Tom "Loki" Hiddleston. But audience [despised] Terence Davies'....
.....attempts at 40s/50s stylization of the Terrence Rattigan play. So, the kind of laughing at the film and dialogue you wouldn't expect..
....from ostensibly sophisticated West L.A. young/middleaged/older audiences. My wife heard two younger women in restroom wondering aloud.. Daniel Craig could have allowed Rachel Weisz to play such a role. Wondering if the women saying this work in Hwd..
Wife and I both wondered if Terence Davies' earlier films (DISTANT VOICES STILL LIVES, LONG DAY CLOSES, HOUSE OF MIRTH) forgotten....
....or if Davies is super out-of-fashion with today's arthouse audiences.
Two elderly women were talking about THE DEEP BLUE SEA--but just about the use of songs by Jo Stafford/Eddie Fisher on the soundtrack.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Laura Nyro's son and this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

In one of life's little ironies, this appeared on the website of FORBES magazine, which Bono has a part-ownership in (also keep in mind the handle-with-kid-gloves approach of ROLLING STONE to recent U2-related projects like the disappointing recent album NO LINE ON THE HORIZON and the SPIDER-MAN musical).

Roger Friedman, when formerly employed by Fox, was critical of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Curious to see how strong the editorial firewall at will be.

UPDATE 5/7/12: I'm in the process of watching the 2 1/2 hour HBO version of the 2012 ceremony and was happy to see that Nyro's son accepted her award after the heartfelt induction speech from Bette Midler. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Perennial aspiring actor Dennis Woodruff gets a DVD collection.

When I did background acting/stand-in work back in the late 80s-late 90s, I saw Dennis Woodruff on occasion (never met him, though).

Woodruff was essentially known for his ornately-decorated cars and posting DENNIS WOODRUFF: ACTOR photos in public places.  One time, I saw Dennis walking his dog in Santa Monica, cheerfully bellowing to passers-by in mock tribute to James Cameron: I'M KING OF THE WORLD!

Over a decade ago, I wrote a poem for the original HOLLYWOOD POETRY book called "The Randy Culhane Story" about a Woodruff-esque actor who made an end-run around Industry rejection by making his own movies.

At the time, I thought the poem was merely fantasy.  And then, yesterday at the Amoeba Records store in Hollywood, I saw the Troma-released DVD collection linked to at the top of this blog post.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Victor Infante tells you to be careful what you say.

I'm aware I'm eating a sort-of-rhetorical Lay's Potato Chip again by writing this post, but sometimes Mr. Infante can be a good columnist/blogger when talking about the wider world beyond the velvet-rope poetry/slam universe he inhabits.

The above column does manage to somehow work in a plug for sometimes-poetry colleague Amber Tamblyn, plus it contains this priceless passage:
"And you know what? I get it. There is something really cathartic about shouting someone down online. There really is."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Through-lines - with Brendan Constantine and Rick Lupert 03/18 by PSH Live | Blog Talk Radio

Brendan Constantine and Rick Lupert interview each other on their respective books CALAMITY JOE and DEATH OF A MAUVE BAT (warning: echoing during playback).  Giving them props for mentioning the classy-and-now-defunct chapbook series published by Pat Cohee when he and his then-wife Marcia hosted their reading at the old Wells Fargo Bank building in Laguna Beach in the 90s/early 00s.
Through-lines - with Brendan Constantine and Rick Lupert 03/18 by PSH Live | Blog Talk Radio

Jennifer Lawrence explains Hollywood sexism re film casting.

Excerpted from Nicole Sperling's LOS ANGELES TIMES article on soon-to-be-superstar Jennifer Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES):
Despite her reputation as a promising young actress, Lawrence said her career hit a speed bump   after "Winter's Bone." She had trouble landing auditions for more feminine characters, so to   shake up her image, the actress posed in a skimpy bikini for a well-orchestrated photo shoot in   Esquire magazine.      "There's just no imagination" in Hollywood, she said. "I wanted to show people 'Winter's Bone'   for the performance, but it ended up having the opposite effect. People were like, no, she's not   feminine, she's not sexual."      Lawrence endured a good heap of criticism for what many saw as an exploitative play, but it   worked. "A lot of people said, 'Oh, now we have a great actress come along and she's showing her boobs.' But that's exactly what I had to do so I could keep working. Honestly, that photo shoot is   what helped me get 'X-Men,'" she said, referring to the comic-book blockbuster"X-Men: First   Class"in which she played the sexy mutant Mystique.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poet John F. Buckley's blog offers insight into current LBC/OC poetry readings.

Recommending the above blog (which is like a secretary taking minutes of a meeting) to those who may be curious about current readings in LA/Long Beach/Orange County--who attends, what they read, etc.

Commenter on DEADLINE site with appropriate epitaph for HBO's LUCK.

Animal abuse (usually happening when filmmakers cut corners) is, sadly, nothing new in Hollywood.  Go back to the Golden Age of Movies, where horses were made to fall by the brutal "Running W" method, i.e. the Errol Flynn CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE from the 1930s.

Here's a definition of the "Running W'--

And it's sad to see that HBO, David Milch and Michael Mann apparently didn't do enough to protect the horses used on the now-canceled racetrack drama LUCK.  Three dead horses are three too many.

I'll turn the floor over to commenter ScottyB on the site's thread about the end of LUCK:
"It’s really amazing that such a talented crew and creators weren’t able to create racing scenes that were a combo of CGI and stock footage.  I really liked this show (but hey, I am one of the freaks who liked “John from Cincinnatti”) but they kind of deserved their fate after not finding a “work around” after the first two horse deaths.

In Battlestar Gallactica, they were able to fake space battles by showing Edward james Olmos moving ships around on a map, cutting to starfighters in cockpits and then cutting to stock battle footage.

The Mann/Milch team couldn’t figure out something similar with the thousands of hours of horse race footage in existence?"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Poet Nick Flynn deserved better than BEING FLYNN.

Glenn Kenny's review is perceptive in pointing out that poet/author Nick Flynn's BEING FLYNN (adapted from the memoir ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY) has obviously been run through the nibbled-to-death-by-development-notes Hollywood homogenization process.

As coincidence would have it, BEING FLYNN director Paul Weitz' brother Chris' recent A BETTER LIFE (with Damian Bechir's excellent lead performance) seems a model of how to hit a balance between realistic character observation and the demands of commercial narrative filmmaking.

I haven't read ANOTHER.... but I want to now in order to have an idea of what was sacrificed between page and filming.

However, I did read Flynn's poetry volume SOME ETHER, which is a stark, moving tribute to his mother (another great Julianne Moore performance in the film) and the loss young Nick felt after her suicide.

And I sincerely hope at least a few of the theatrical viewers of BEING FLYNN will take the time to seek out/buy SOME ETHER.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Even if JOHN CARTER makes money later on, it's been tagged as box-office bomb.

Tom Shone's article is worth reading, but the "bomb" tag will stay with Disney's JOHN CARTER.

Since The Walt Disney Company decided awhile back to only make blockbusters (with Touchstone now merely a distributor for DreamWorks live-action product), they put themselves in a vulnerable position when they decided to pump at least $250 million into a film based on a series of novels not widely known to today's audience.

Wondering if the same kind of nail-biting is going on in Burbank over the currently-filming THE LONE RANGER (it's been over thirty years since the last attempt at reviving the old Western TV series as a feature film).  Perhaps not, if current Disney studio head Rich Ross is secure in his belief that the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto guarantees a big box-office take.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Physical violence and poetry readings should never mix.

Over a week ago, a poet was punched and injured by an audience member at the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park.  I attended that reading, but left as soon as the closing "group poem" was concluded.  So I missed the incident--not hearing about it until a couple of days later.

Am guessing last night's Cobalt reading was a more civil occasion (I was at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach).

Nonetheless, I very much hope that the Cobalt Cafe owners will once again (as in past years) pay for either a bouncer and/or someone to work the counter on Tuesdays.  It isn't fair to ask longtime host Rick Lupert to do everything on those evenings.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jennifer Lawrence's simple-but-profound remark about today's Hollywood.

Unlike, say, TWILIGHT's Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence is eager to embrace being a star of a big young-adult series ("franchise") of movies based on a group of young-adult novels.

To show you how willing she is to be noncontroversial, here's Jennifer talking to SPIN's Phoebe Reilly in a column relating to Ms. Lawrence's tastes in music:
[PHOEBE REILLY]: What were you listening to the first time you smoked pot?
[JENNIFER LAWRENCE]: I so cannot answer that question.  I'm in a franchise.

The Rush Limbaugh Questionnaire

The sort-of-apology for the words used towards Sandra Fluke while refusing to lose face with his core audience--it didn't stop the continuing loss of advertisers for Rush Limbaugh. So, here's a trio of questions about what the Titan of right-wing talk radio should do next: A. Should Rush have Sandra Fluke on as a guest to make a sincere personal apology? B. Can Rush learn enough about the non-reproductive uses of birth control to talk about it knowledgeably on-air? C. Would Rush be better off if he confesses that he's engaged in distortion and name-calling because he doesn't think his audience would stick around for intelligent talk about conservative beliefs? Feel free to add any further questions/comments to this post.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rush Limbaugh and his latest outrage.

Link reprinted from the right-leaning ATLANTIC magazine website:
Why Does Rush Limbaugh Get Away With Calling a Young Woman a 'Slut'? - The Atlantic

From the article:
I run through this history -- there are more examples -- so that Limbaugh apologists cannot portray these latest remarks as an aberration. They are not. This is what the man is like. He is nevertheless invited to the White House by Republican presidents, praised by conservative magazines, given honorary titles by conservative think tanks and defended by conservative bloggers.What confounds me most about it is that Rich Lowry and Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon, Glenn Kessler of The Claremont Review of Books, Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute, Edwin J. Feulner of the Heritage Foundation, fellow talk-radio host Bill Bennett -- none of these people would ever dream of going before a national audience and calling a female law student half their age a slut and a prostitute. None of them would ever dream of joking that if she wants her health insurance to cover birth control she should put a sex tape on the Internet. If a deranged gunman held a loved one hostage and forced them to make those remarks, as if of their own volition, they'd feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed doing it. Yet when Limbaugh says these things -- when he said other things as indefensible in the past -- he remained and remains a frequently celebrated, seldom criticized figure within the conservative movement. The Dittoheads are kept happy, but discredit is brought upon the movement. No leader of the conservative movement is willing to defend Limbaugh on the merits. They just stay mum. It's embarrassing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart, trickster/distortion artist of the right and the dark art of Winning Ugly.
[Breitbart speaking to CPAC 2012]
[Cenk Uygur of THE YOUNG TURKS on Breitbart the public person]
[London remix of 1986 Rolling Stones track "Winning Ugly"]

Irony: In the 1960s, Breitbart's father-in-law Orson Bean was a regular panelist on a game show.

The show's title: TO TELL THE TRUTH.