Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #148: United Artists Is Feeling Divided

Paula Wagner has stepped down as CEO of the almost revived United Artists studio, though it is reported as of this writing that she will stay on as co-owner. Now I'm not going to talk about who is to blame for her departure, or comment on the rumours of rifts between her and Tom Cruise, and Harry Sloan of MGM, that's insider stuff, and I'm an outsider.

What I will pompously pontificate upon is what's given as the almost, but not quite, semi-official reason for her ouster.


Despite $500 million in credit and capital stuffed under the studio mattress Senora Wagner kept her finger hovering over the precious green-light button, but wouldn't press it. Executives started to leave the company like swallows making their way to Capistrano for a cappuccino, and the investors started getting antsy.

Because what's the good of all that money lying around, when only two films are given the go-ahead, one a failed attempt to suck up to Hollywood called Lions for Lambs, and the second film, Valkyrie, is taking so long to finish, the making of documentary on the DVD will be called The Neverending Story. (Though they have bumped up the release date to before 2009, but for how long?)

Indecision is lethal, and it's not like working as a mid-level executive or producer for a huge bloated company like Paramount, Universal, or Fox, where one can gather dust in relative peace because there are too many departments, projects, and other executives to keep track of. However, when you're the CEO of a relatively small company like United Artists, and when you have a waiver to work during the writer's strike, and you don't do anything with it, you're in a lot of trouble, and you can't hide it.

Which struck me as odd.

Every producer, writer, filmmaker, actor, Hollywood wannabe, has a wish list of projects that they'd make if they ever got into a position of power at a studio, or, in the realms of wild fantasy, became a studio CEO.

Where was Wagner's wish list?

And if she had one, why didn't she pull the trigger?

Which why, in keeping with a tradition on the blog, I am offering my own services to run United Artists. I'm affordable, and since I'm an outsider, I won't make bad movies only for the Axis of Ego set, my pledge is to make good movies, for good money, that make good profits.

But don't just take my word for it, check out my slick ad campaign...

Awe inspiring, ain't it?

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