Thursday, 31 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #139: Flog That Dead Horse!

The undead corpse of New Line Cinema is scratching at the lid of its mouldy corporate coffin and is doing so by trying to revive one of the few successful franchises it had in recent years that didn't end in litigation. I'm talking about them giving the green light to Austin Powers 4.

Now I enjoyed the first one, and was amused by the second one, but I haven't really been able to get through the third one. It just couldn't hold my interest, and seemed to be repeating itself and going through the motions, even with Michael Caine trying to give it the proverbial kick in the pants as Austin's Pa, and Beyonce in tight, skimpy outfits.

And I'm not the only one. All the folks I know who dwell around my remote angry loner style shack in the woods felt similarly, and the strongest endorsement was a "It was all right, I guess."

In fact, I'm pretty sure that lackadaisical lack of interest was one of the key reasons Myers' last project The Love Guru sank so quickly into the toilet bowl of cinematic oblivion. It wasn't just the bad reviews, low-brow farcical comedies almost always get bad reviews, it was that folks just didn't think Myers was worth the price of admission, especially when there was so much else going on this summer.

And I think the problem Mike Myers has is Mike Myers.

Don't get me wrong, I was a fan back during his days in SNL, and remember fondly his time on the show, with Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, John Lovitz, and others, which was in my opinion the Golden Age of SNL for being so consistently funny.

But now he's MIKE MYERS THE BIG STAR, his every whim is to be catered to immediately under threat of hissy fit, and his every brain-fart treated as the golden nuggets of comedy sneezed forth from the nose of Jehova himself.

The evidence is obvious. Outside of the seemingly monthly droppings of Shrek sequels, he's only really played three live action parts in the past 10 years: Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, and the Love Guru.

That's not healthy for any actor, and it's even worse for a character based comedian, which relies on variety, imagination, and surprise to be funny.

And look at the films themselves. He's not only the star, but the main writer, and all follow the same formula: Myers in crazy outfits and foreign accents, a hot chick co-star picked off the cover of People magazine, lots of nostalgia for the 60s comedies he saw on TV as a kid, toss in a few low brow jokes about poop and penises, stir and serve.

He's committed the most grievous sin any storyteller, especially a comedian, can commit, he's become predictable.

He's in a rut, and now it's costing him.

So what does he plan to do?

More of the same old same old.

It's a shame, because I think he's got more funny in him, it just has to be dug out.

My advice: Myers should put any Austin Powers revival on the back burner, or in the shredder. He should take parts in movies that he doesn't write or otherwise control, be a working actor for a while, dwell among the common folks if you will, even if it's in Malibu, and try to remember why he got into this crazy business in the first place.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Boob Tube: On Television, Movies, and TV Movies

1. Last time I wrote about TV I talked about how I was a fan of the original CSI and its star William Petersen. This time I'm going to talk about another long running crime franchise, the venerable Law & Order, or to be more specific, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Now I was a long time fan of the original Law & Order show, it was gritty, realistic, had clever twists, and tackled controversial subjects in a manner that was far more intellectually honest than most Hollywood fare. Then it started to change. A few years ago it dispensed with the gritty realism I enjoyed and somehow half the crime in New York somehow involved the Iraq War, and the other half were being committed by "creepy Christians." It became dull, grating, and worst of all, easily predictable. I tuned out, and judging by the ratings, so did a lot of other people.

Law & Order: CI also fell victim to this on occasion, and its ratings suffered accordingly, but it wasn't as militant as its parent show because it was a bit of a throwback, a more classical style murder mystery program about smart detectives tackling smart criminals.

Recently Chris Noth departed the show, and is being replaced by veteran actor Jeff Goldblum, last seen, at least by me, in the unjustifiably short-lived defective/detective drama
Raines. They also hired new executive producers to run the show, among them veteran writer/producer Walon Green, who wrote some pretty good episodes of the original show. I wish it luck, it could use it, some of the melodrama involving the characters took away from the cases, which are supposed to be the core of the show.

2. An interesting tid-bit, Guillermo Del Toro is developing a remake of the 1973 TV terror tale Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. The original film was part of what I consider the one pop-culture facet of the 70s worth reviving, the scary TV movie. Most of you young folks don't remember this, but through the 1970s and into the early 80s TV movies provided some of the best horror and suspense going.

You see Barry Diller, then an ABC exec, invented the TV movie as a weekly feature, and soon every network was producing their own stand-alone movies. They needed content, and horror and suspense was a guaranteed ratings grabber.

Now these films had tiny budgets, and were bound by codes of what could and couldn't be shown on TV that were much tighter than today, so the easy shock tactics of violence, gore, and aberrant sex, were out. This meant that filmmakers had to rely on
filmmaking to get the job done, and a surprising number of these films were pretty damn effective. Some like The Night Stalker, became cult classics, and Duel became a theatrical hit in Europe and bumped its neophyte director Stephen Spielberg into directing theatrical features, some of them doing very well.

Recently the 1981 TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow, which came near the end of the cycle recently replayed on a rainy afternoon. I had seen it when I was 11 years old and it scared the royal bejibbers out of me, and I was expecting to debunk its power watching it as a jaded adult, but I have to admit, it was still a damn well done scary movie. It reeked atmosphere, and despite its small budget, and lack of gore or elaborate special effects, it still worked.

Sadly, all good things come to an end. TV movies went on the wane in the 1980s, replaced by the miniseries era, adapting big soap-operaesque novels, with large casts, and long stories. But then even the miniseries faded from view, sunk by its own weight, and now, you'd be hard pressed to find any original stand alone movies on network TV.

Which is a shame. I think those films from that "golden era" of TV terror should be required viewing for any aspiring horror filmmaker. To let them know that you don't need to go disgusting to be scary, you just need a good scary story, and some skill.

Maybe Del Toro's film will spark a rebirth of the TV shocker, but I figure it will only lead to more remakes.

Dibs on Dark Night of the Scarecrow!


If you are a rich person in show-business you need to answer these simple questions:

1. Do you have a legion of assistants, minions, and toadies who cater to your every whim?

2. Does the Hollywood press write fluffy puff pieces about how great you are?

3. Do people you don't even know kiss your ass for no reason?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you are in danger of becoming addicted to EGO-STROKING.

In the rarefied air of Hollywood EGO STROKING is more addictive than cocaine, heroin, meth, and chocolate combined.

And it's not only addictive, it's also dangerous.

Long term ego addiction can lead to:

1. Choosing to make films not based on commercial appeal or even quality, but by how many pats on the back it will get you at the country club.

2. Inability to detect the cognitive dissonance of taking a fleet of SUVs to a screening of
An Inconvenient Truth.

3. Thinking Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Malibu accurately represent how average people live.

4. Thinking that paying $400 for a men's haircut is a real bargain.

5. You only want something if it's stupidly overpriced.

6. Your company loses so much money through your bad business decisions that it cuts your annual bonus.

But don't worry, there is a way to beat Ego Stroking.

It's called:


for short.

For $250,000 a week you can enter my carefully structured 4 week program of deep aversion therapy and vicious ridicule that will completely tear you down, build you up again, and then tear you down for good, just so you know that we mean business.

When I and my staff of emotional sadists are through, no amount of ass kissing will make you think the sun shines out of there ever again.

Now some might ask why my program is so expensive.

2 reasons:

1. Because I'm

2. The moment when you leave my clinic and think: "I can't believe I spent a million bucks on that crap!" is the moment you are cured and have recovered your ability to not only think critically, but realize that deep down, no matter what people say, you are an idiot.

So call now: 1-800-555-FAKE and make an appointment.

Also feel free to send donations in small denomination, unmarked, non-sequential bills to:

Furious D Foundation For Profitable Abuse
c/o Banque De Laundrette Argent
227 Rue De Fictionale
Geneva, Switzerland

And if you are reaching for your phone or an envelope, you really do need my help.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #138: Revenge of the REMAKE!

When I was a kid the joke about Hollywood movies was that everything was a sequel to something, and to a certain extent it was true. Hollywood's predominant philosophy was that every film needed a sequel, and possibly more, preferably with the 3rd instalment in 3D.

The concept of the film as franchise was king, and if your film didn't at least have the potential for a sequel, it probably didn't get made.

But now, everything is all about "remakes" and its siblings the pretentious "re-imagining" and the product placement heavy "updating." And as Hollywood chews through many classic films and spits out often lame hack jobs they are running out of material to remake, and you get
reports like this that weave fake remake plans with a real one, and it's all believable because Hollywood is that creatively bankrupt.

To save you even the imaginary pain of thinking about those other remakes,
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the only real remake on the list. Though one has to ask the question: Why? since the original always struck me as pretty weak, even with an audience that was "in on it."

Now remakes aren't completely new. They actually go right back to the early days of Hollywood
where studios would look at one of their silent films, and remake it as a talkie, then remake it again in colour, in cinemascope, etc... etc... And some of these remakes became classics in their own right, like The 10 Commandments, and Ben Hur.

However, these remakes tended to be films of classic stories with famous archetype characters like Robin Hood, the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Ahab, and such. They also tended to stay away from films that were seen to have been "done right" the first time, like Gone With the Wind, and simply re-released them, or sold them to the then fledgling television market.

Things changed in the late 1980s and 1990s when two things began to happen. The baby boomers that came of age in the late 60s and early 70s who had supplanted the TV generation of the 50s and early 60s in the top spots in Hollywood realized that their high-paying cushy jobs walked a razor's edge when it came to career security, and skyrocketing star salaries were pricing productions beyond the realm of reason.

To get increasingly cautious high-mucky-mucks to greenlight a potentially bankrupting project a hook was needed to bring in the punters.

That hook was familiarity.

Now sequels, especially the horror sequels, had flogged many a cinematic dead horse, and audiences were getting pretty sick of them. Especially when films were advertised as THE FINAL CHAPTER and by the end of it you saw that it was all just a set-up for sequel number 10.

Audiences wanted something new, Hollywood was scared of everything new, because new was original, and original entailed risk, so they decided to take the old, and remake it, again and again.

One of the biggest remake trends were the old TV shows baby boomers watched as kids, unlike the Star Trek movies, which were a continuation of the show complete with original cast, these were complete remakes from the ground up, with big name movie stars taking the place of their "lesser" TV counterparts, loads of hip music, and trendy product placements.

Then they expanded to classic and not so classic movies, literally re-imagining the life out of them. Case in point: the upcoming remake of
Friday the 13th, which gives up a perfect opportunity of a twist ending, albeit predictable in an M. Night Shyamalan kind of way, by having the hockey masked Jason Voorheez decapitating camp cousellors from the get go.

How does this ruin a possible twist? Because (
SPOILER ALERT) Jason Voorheez wasn't the killer in the first movie, it was his mommy, he didn't rise from his watery grave until the end of the first film, didn't start killing until second film, and didn't pick up his trademark sports equipment until the 3rd installment. Now imagine an audience that has been raised on the sequels and Jason, but has pretty much forgotten the first one, would react to have Momma Voorheez revealed as the slasher in question?

I even saw a person blow money on Jeopardy for not knowing that one.

But, the film's going to be bigger, bloodier, and exponentially more expensive than the original, which is the only reason it got the precious green-light from the studio. They can't be just do-overs, they have to crank it up to eleven like Spinal Tap, in order to somehow justify their existence. So the low budget familiar worlds of the original films (especially in horror remakes) get replaced with big widescreen spectacles that places the remakes firmly in the realm of fantasy. Now most of these remakes bomb, but the handful that do succeed are used to justify doing it even more. So they just keep on coming.

I'm not saying that all remakes are inherently bad, John Carpenter's The Thing, is a classic in its own right, but that was because he followed the old pattern of digging up the original source material, and exploring its themes of isolation, paranoia, and suspicion, over the original film's fear of the destructive and monstrous other.

My fear, that this trend will continue, and that list of gag-remakes in the link at the beginning of this piece will give some studio boss ideas. Because there's nothing they seem to like better than someone else's creation.

Monday, 28 July 2008

D's Magic Video Lantern: Bollywood Fun

It's been a while since I've done a post just for fun, so here is a video that reminds me of my erratically scheduled translation game. A guy took a Bollywood music video, and added subtitles, not to translate it, but what it sounded like to him.

I laughed my ass off when I saw it.

Enjoy, and I'll get back to picking on Hollywood types probably tomorrow.

That's Odd...

I got a little mystery here, I can't visit the Defamer site. Every time I try to visit, I get caught in a redirect loop to another address which appears to be the address for a Canadian Defamer site but that site doesn't compute with my Firefox.

Most unusual.

And I hate "regional" redirects because it does crap like this.

UPDATE: It appears to be fixed. Now I can find out about just how big a drunken idiot Shia LaBeouf really is. ;)

Hollywood Babble On & On #137: Edgy Without an Edge

Time for one more of my pet peeves:

I just read a little mini-preview of the upcoming comedy
Hamlet 2 headed by British comedian Steve Coogan. The film is about a drama teacher who decides to end his tenure with a bang by staging an original and "politically incorrect" sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet starring a singing, dancing, and time travelling Jesus Christ, and the big moment is a musical number called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus."

That's when I tuned out.

And it's not that it offends me as the poor excuse for a Christian that I am, that sense of offense has been beaten into hard insensitive callouse, what really got on my one remaining nerve was over th
e laziness of the writing and the faux "courage" of the writers. Targeting Jesus and Christianity is the last refuge of the lazy comedy writer looking to be "edgy" without going to the trouble to come up with anything original, while avoiding anything that might upset the delicate sensibilities of the Hollywood elite.

I call it being edgy without an edge.

Sure, attacking Christians and Christianity isn't popular among the common folks, you know, the people who buy tickets and DVDs, but it's safe. You would be really hard pressed to find any writer or filmmaker harassed, imprisoned, or murdered for offending regular Americans. The regular Americans just tune them out, leaving only the lunatic fringe, and the professional grievance mongers to give a crap about them. And that's because of an unwritten and unspoken bargain between them giving the "offensive material" free publicity in exchange for their own publicity and the inevitable donations that publicity brings in.

Now some of you are probably asking: "Aren't you being hypocritical for being an irregular fan of
South Park, who use Jesus a lot in their show?"

Not really. I give South Park a pass because they work hard at attacking the sacred cows of the Hollywood elite, like the near religious worship of Al Gore, self-censorship in the face of Islamic radicalism, Scientology, and other controversial topics. To them it's not just a cheap shot, they, and by they mostly Trey Parker have some sort of point to make. And usually, Jesus isn't the target of the satire, but a rational, calm, and usually forgiving counterpoint to the self-righteous, hypocritical, loony, but sadly often realistic behaviour of the common mortals around him. So it doesn't offend me on either level, they've earned the right to push buttons.

Lately, when someone wants to be called "edgy" or "courageous" or "daring" they slap in Jesus. So you get him as a zombie hunter, zombie, vampire hunter, vampire, gay, womanizing, and for some reason related to French royalty. Every time I see a project like that I just have a vision of a writer/creator looking at their project and realizing that it's hack work, so they decide to slap in Jesus, not for any real creative/spiritual reason, but because it'll both guarantee them some praise from folks who think they're being subversive by all having the same attitude, and an excuse to cover the project's usually inevitable failure. They can say: "Those ignorant inbreds are just too dumb to get me."

The audience isn't too dumb to get you, they just don't care.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #136: Sex Doesn't Always Sell

Comic-Con's going full bore in San Diego, making that sunny city geek capital of the world, and where there are geeks there are movie studios shilling their products, because where there are geeks there is also money, money, money.

Geeks hearts are all aflutter over panels featuring the makers and stars of the upcoming Watchmen and Spirit movies, as well as props, vehicles, and other promotional materials to get that all important "buzz" going.

But some ad campaigns are aiming for something other than the heart.

Case in point: The new poster for the upcoming 2010 release RED SONJA starring producer Robert Rodriguez's mistress muse Rose McGowan.
Subtle, isn't it?

I mean it has it all the marketing people would think it should have in a movie poster. A pretty face, ample cleavage, and the non-too subtle allusion to fellatio by having the titular (in more ways than one) heroine suggestively licking blood off a rigid phallic blade, like the money shot in ancient Viking porn.

I never thought I'd say it, but they managed to make a film about a woman running amok in a chain mail bikini look trashy.

But that's not all, in fact, it's really just a skin deep look at the issue. (pardon the pun)

Take your mind of whats in the poster, if you can. Peel your desperately lonely eyes away from Ms. McGowan's photoshopped cleavage and tongue, and take a moment to think about what's not in the poster.

Did you do it?

No? Still can't stop thinking about the cleavage?

Then think about the poster's model, and remember what's been there before:
Sorry, didn't want to be so cruel, but sometimes you have to be nasty to get the job done.

Now that I have your attention back, let me tell you what's missing from that poster:


I know I might be expecting too much of a teaser for a film that probably doesn't even have a finished script yet, but there are elements of any sort of Red Sonja adventure that could be included. Implying exotic locations, magic, mystery, action, then sex-appeal, is essential because that states that film will actually have an entertaining story, rather than be just an expensive game of cos-play.

All we have in this teaser is a way for wags to say how an actress with questionable box-office appeal got the coveted starring role in a big budget fantasy adventure.

The message this poster conveys is one of laziness, an attitude of "we got a chick in a chain mail bikini, who needs a story." That may not be the case when the final cut is made, but that's what this poster says.

From the laziness of using sex to sell something we got to the desperation of using sex to sell something.

Going by the hype dished out by the CW network and the tabloid machine you'd think GOSSIP GIRL, a show about amoral, oversexed rich kids was the greatest thing since nachos met salsa. Yet its audience consists of... well, CW publicity staff and some tabloid folks. In a desperate attempt to save the show from the cancellation it deserves, it brought out the sex:
Note, I didn't say the ads were sexy. They're not. Sexy requires a certain subtlety, a certain grace and elegance. This reeks of desperation, like some talentless starlet trying to boost their career by leaking a videotape of them having sex with a washed up reality TV reject.

The Gossip Girl people know they have nothing, no likable characters, no entertaining stories, and no real charm, so they ramp up the sex, and toss in some blurbs from people complaining about the show's prurience and tastelessness. The point: to attract the folks in dirty raincoats who will watch anything that offers the promise, even false, of a glimpse of booby, and to attract folks who only watch stuff some self-proclaimed "parental TV watchdog group" has complained about, because, like their emo-haircut, it makes them feel like a rebel.

Of course, these tactics never work, because there is a wisdom in crowds, and while folks may not be able to articulate it, they can smell laziness and desperation a mile away.

Love This Blog?

Do you love this blog and its unique blend of annoying commentary and insipid sarcasm?

Then tell the world, or at least the folks around your cubicle, how you feel with this lovely Furious D Wallpaper:
Share it with your friends, or people you want to annoy.


Friday, 25 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #135: Harvey Weinstein, Blogger

Welcome Harvey to the wonderful blogosphere. Pull up a seat, I see you've got a blog up, is it your first one? Okay... Well, let's take a look at it. Oh, I see that it's about independent movies, and how hard it is to sell them. That's for sure. Let's see what you have to say.
There have been a number of recent articles accusing me of not focusing on films like I did when I was running Miramax. It's simply not the case.
I can believe that, you seem to be focused a lot on Fanboys lately. Perhaps a little too much. I recommend decaf. Okay, now you're talking a little about the critically acclaimed and award winning British film Boy A, and how you're having trouble getting the film the attention you feel it deserves. Well, that's tough to do when you release a small film with a niche audience in the middle of the summer blockbuster/starlet bikini season. Let's see how you got around that...
Believe me, I've tried to appeal to their senses, and even lied and told them that Tom Hanks is in the movie, but then they IMDB the movie and find out I'm kidding. So, you see, its not that I'm not focusing on great independent films, it's just that no one is paying attention to them.
Hmmmm.... Now Harvey, don't get me wrong here, but telling the press that an actor is in the movie, when he's not in the movie, is not going to help you convince them that you're "focused."

Especially when your whimsical jape is centred on Tom Hanks, who hasn't been exactly burning up the charts lately. Sure, he can still sell some tickets, but he's not exactly the king of the mountain he was in the 1990s.

Of course, the 1990s was a time when a lot of people were on top, who aren't on top now.
Anyway Harv, I can call you Harv, right? No? Okay, Harvey. Mr. Weinstein? I called you Harvey before? Fine. Let's get back to your blog Mr. Weinstein.
I remember a few years ago a critic for a very reputable paper said there weren't many interesting movies out, and I asked him if he'd seen Baran, an Iranian film we were distributing at Miramax, and he didn't know what I was talking about.

Let's face it--I know everyone has their job pressures, especially in media, where gossip reigns supreme. So why would the media want to deal with a tough-minded movie when they could write about the youngest young starlet?
Okay. You make a nice point, it is very hard to get people in the press to talk about your film, and not the artificially ample cleavage of the latest starlet to forget her underwear at home, but don't you know that the old dead tree media is, if not dead, definitely gasping as they go down for the third time, and not in a good way. There are new media outlets in the world now. Many of them quite popular, and much more influential than the old New York Times. Yes, I know all your friends read the New York Times, but your friends are not the rest of the country. You know, those folks who live in the unfashionable cities? Yes, people actually live in those places, and they go to movies.
Independent films still are the underdog, and I've been fighting for years to get them seen by audiences. People have been entertained, they've escaped the heat and reality in movie theaters, but have they been impassioned by a movie this summer?
Apparently The Dark Knight seems to be doing this with audiences, while at the same time being a crowd pleaser par excellence.
Have they talked about it long after it ended because it left them seeing something in a different way or questioning reality? And I don't mean trying to recall who designed Carrie's wedding dress--but the bigger questions.
That's what folks have been saying about The Dark Knight. They haven't been the sort of questions you might dwell over while trying to find a non-private profile on A Small World, but folks are talking, and apparently thinking about more than Heath Ledger's death.
Independent films have engaged in a conversation with society and have only made it stronger. That's why my brother and I continue to make films--to take risks on the little-known screenwriter with great vision and challenge the status quo of the entertainment industry. The industry and the entire society thrive when innovation prevails.
I admire that you continue to make films, my question is why don't you release those movies. For there to be a conversation, someone has to say something first. Just a thought. I know it looks good on the books to have a film on your shelves for 2 or three years, but don't you think that an independent company should put out an independent film when there's some momentum behind it? You know, striking while the iron is hot? Remember that little maxim?

And the films you do release, don't exactly challenge the status quo of Hollywood. More like telling Hollywood that they're okay, because they'll watch films no one else will watch. Too bad most celebrities and critics don't pay for their tickets... eh?

Anyway, I'll turn from your dirty look and get back to your blog.
You can blame the economy, you can blame conglomerates, but instead of pointing any blame, it's again time to unleash the passion, courage, and know-how to make smart deals that made independent films great to begin with.
Great idea, why don't you? You even started a company called Third Rail, to be a literal dumping ground for films. How can Showtime be expected to get any viewers from that deal you made with them, for a bunch of films no one has heard of?
The creativity is still there, and the movies are being made. Fifteen years ago, Sundance Film Festival had only 500 submissions, this past year there were 5,000. Just like in the industry, the competition between independent filmmakers has grown, and the dialogue their films created has resonated with the public.
5,000 films, and you'd be hard pressed to find one, outside of Juno, that captured the imagination of the public the way flicks like Reservoir Dogs, did back when Sundance only had 500 flicks. I'm afraid that little festival lost its cachet when Paris Hilton started hanging out there in her designer ski parka and skank-heeled snow-boots.

One of the biggest problems with independent films today is that they gave up trying to resonate with public, choosing the easier path of resonating with an elite clicque of critics, celebs, and monied types who like to fancy themselves as transgressive artists or subversive radicals as they sip Kopi Luwak Lattes in the back of their customized Escalades watching the beautiful people take over Park City.

In ye olden days, independent film tried to fill gaps that the big-studios were ignoring.
Yes, there are a lot of comic book films, and in some cases, good comic book films, being released, but not everybody like that sort of high concept fantasy. They are willing to pay to see smaller, more challenging films, if they know that they will be entertained as well as challenged.

Now they're just too scared of paying good money, only to be bored and lectured at.
What do you think Mr. Weinstein? Where did he go? He just left me all alone in the blogosphere.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #134: Eyes On The Prize, Not On The Blade!

There's an old saying that in Hollywood, if you want loyalty, you get a dog.

It's sad, but it's true.

You see, the movie/entertainment business is different from making widgets, or selling electrified cod-swatters, it's a very glamorous business, where people who are in positions of power are surrounded by beautiful, famous, people who are essentially their employees. It's also a very isolated world, where everyone they meet is either in the business, or wants to be in the business, and they'll be at your feet like supplicants before some exotic potentate.

That can create a greatly inflated sense of power and importance that can warp the average mind into strange and dangerous shapes. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the illusion of absolute power in a world made of illusion is even worse.

Now while half the people are at your feet when you're at the top of the corporate food chain, the other half will be at your throat.

Business as bloodsport as those on top battle those beneath them for supremacy, their weapons: treachery, deceit, and betrayal.

And when that happens, it's a sure sign of a corporate culture that's very, very dysfunctional, and it's going to hurt the business itself.


Because when there's backstabbing afoot, it means that everyone's eyes aren't on the prize, which is making movies that make money, but on the blades they're plotting to stick in each other's backs.

But how can one avoid that sort of often painful dysfunction?

Well, a fish rots at the head. Which means that if you're the boss of a studio, you need to keep your head level, or it will start to stink. So follow these simple steps, some of them I've discussed before, but I think they bear repeating:

1. BE HUMBLE: Remember, you probably got the job because your uncle won a bunch of company shares in a poker game and left them to you. Very few people at the top of the movie business get their jobs solely on merit. Don't you ever forget it, and by that, don't assume that your every little brain fart is going to be a stroke of genius. Know that you don't know everything, I know everything, you don't, and live accordingly. Don't be afraid to listen.

EOPLE SMARTER THAN YOU: I know that's counter-intuitive, but you must do it. Putting stupid people in positions of power is actually dangerous, because the ego-inflating nature of the biz will get them furrowing their brows as their puny brains shift all their power from their work, which they will do poorly, to blading you, which will probably require more luck than strategy. Just make sure that the smart people know that it's you who will ultimately decide their fate in this biz, they'll be smart enough to remember it, and will tie their fortunes to your star, especially if they think you're smart enough to respect their intelligence and treat them accordingly.

3. DON'T HIRE TOADIES: Don't be afraid to have people who disagree with you. The toady who agrees with everything you say is not a bargain. Because while they're stroking your ego with one hand, they're sharpening a knife with another. Disagreements are natural, and their existence is not a threat to your manhood, the snivelling, scheming toady is, because they're only kissing your ass because it gives them a clear shot at your back.

4. HAVE A DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: Among your brighter employees have one that can be discreet, whose duties will be to disagree with you over everything whether they really do disagree with you or not. Stick with me, I have a point. Before every meeting, or presentation, run your ideas past this person first, in private, and their task is to poke as many holes into your idea as possible. This way you can plug those holes before they can sink your career. This can only be done though, if you have already accepted personal humility, or you will end up firing this person. Best scenario: Have two who do not know of the existence of the other.

5. STAY CLEAN: I'm not saying that you should be a monk, but I am saying that you should abstain from anything that can put you in front a judge, be it criminal, or civil. Live within your means, don't fudge your expenses, and live a life that would put any private investigator assigned to watch you to sleep. Because your bad habits are ammunition for your enemies.

6. BE A LEADER: A screaming, bullying, autocratic studio boss is the sort of boss who nowadays ends up with a development deal that doesn't really develop anything, and no studio. Don't be just a commander issuing orders, you have to be a leader, that means setting a positive example for others to follow. Working hard, being respectful, and most of all keeping your eye on the prize, which is running the best and most profitable studio around, and while that may mean taking a few lumps at first, it will result in a better company.

You'll be surprised how few people will be trying to nail you.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Talk Among Yourselves: A Reading Assignment

The UK's Telegraph newspaper did a pretty detailed report on the state of the Weinstein Empire.

Read it HERE.

Then come back here, and discuss it in the comments. And remember kids, you will be graded for grammar and spelling.

Just kidding.

I'm formulating a new theory of what might be behind all their problems, but I'd like to know what you, all two of my readers think.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #133: Run away, here come the taxes!

Nikki Finke posted this little story about how Iron Man director Jon Favreau lobbied California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. No, he wasn't lobbying for a state park to be dedicated to the movie Swingers, he was there about money.

Money, money, money.

And since I'm going to be talking about the rather dry subject of economics, I'll toss in some pictures of the lovely Zooey Deschanel, just to give you a reason to keep your eyes open.

You see California's hurting, a lot of productions are fleeing the city to greener pastures of greenbacks like New York City, Louisiana, and even Toronto despite the rising Canadian dollar. These "runaway productions" are lured to these faraway lands by flexible unions, unique locations, and most importantly in the eyes of studio moguls: Tax breaks and government backed incentives.

So now the studios are getting everyone and their cousin to lobby the Guvernator and state legislators to pony up some tax breaks. Favreau's even dangling the promise of a $600 million studio facility build by venerable comic publishers and fledgeling movie studio Marvel and all the wonderful tax paying jobs it will create.

Now I've always been iffy about the involvement of government, any government, in the field of business. I grew up in a region of Canada during tough economic times. During these times dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses, industries, and entrepeneurs came to our region, lured by job creation programs in the form of generous tax credits, rebates, and even cash up front incentives.

By looking at the numbers my region should be loaded with factories, warehouses, and retail business all bustling with activity, but it isn't. Most of these businesses folded and went away the moment they pocketed that sweet taxpayer money. The lifetime careers they promised disappeared.

And let's not forget what is the inevitable result of government and business interaction: Cronyism.

You see the image of the right wing businessman is really more of a myth. Businessmen are by their nature opportunists, and if they can wrangle some goodies from the state, it's hi-ho socialism for everyone (except for them of course). Politicians are also opportunistic by nature, and any situation that brings them together is a perfect storm of economic disaster.

You see once you get some sort of tax credit/incentive program set up, the politicians will start fiddling with the regulations to get those credits/incentives. Being masters of verbal manipulation they will leave certain qualifying criteria vague, so they can interpret them in their own way, usually giving preferential treatment to those who donate to their campaigns, or hire the politician's dimwitted nephew who needs a job that allows regular weed breaks.

And it get even worse when the glamour of movies get involved.

Canada's film industry is heavily subsidized by the Canadian government, and thanks to that it's basically an elite club, based mostly in Toronto, who feel entitled to free taxpayer money to make movies that no Canadian would actually pay to see. And when the government actually tries to enact the "piper" rule and ask for some say over whether or not the state should finance a film called
Young People Fucking, and they scream like a choir of scalded cats. They want the government cash, but they don't want the government interference. Which is impossible when you are using government money, because no one will actually pay to see it because they don't want people to think they're watching porn.

And in this day and age of global trade, where Hollywood companies are being financed from once far flung places as Mumbai and Dubai, can production moving beyond the narrow confines of Hollywood's Thirty Mile Zone be even considered a problem?

Sure, it's bad for the Californians who are dependent on the industry to survive, but good for film professionals everywhere else. But when you take into consideration that this effect is caused not by the normal business evolution brought about by trade and technology, but by direct state intervention, it could become a house of cards that could hurt all involved.

Which brings us to another perfect storm, one where dysfunctional industry practices meets dysfunctional goverment policies, and they never really end well for anyone.

Hollywood Babble On & On #132: The Fanboys Fandango: Episode 3- The Return of the Fanboys

Sorry folks, no exclusive scoops about the next Batman, or the arrest of Christian Bale, just a tip of the old yarmulke to the fine and fragrant folks at Defamer for this post about the recent victory of the fans and filmmakers of FANBOYS to get The Weinstein Co. (TWC) to release the original film, and not some studio retro-mangled hatchet job.

Now I'm not exactly going to join in the victory dance just yet. Remember TWC has a distribution arm called Third Rail whose sole reason for existence is to become a cinematic graveyard. Hell, they dumped a $20 million picture starring Catherine Zeta Jones in two theatres, with no promotion of any kind, for a grand total gross smaller than an ant's pecker. It is well within the realm of possibility for them to do that to Fanboys even though they spent Xenu-knows how many dollars trying to make their own version of Fanboys, and then trying to put out the fires their bully tactics started.

The fact that they're backing down is a sign of the terrible shape TWC must be in, because if things were going good, old Harvey would have told them to go pound sand. He tried to do that, but harsh economic truth eventually got in the way.

But one has to wonder how TWC got into such bad shape that they had to acquiesce to the wishes of movie goers, well it has several answers, but they all boil down to what drove the decisions behind the crumbling of TWC.

You see there are two drives behind that are the basis of almost every decision in Hollywood, and those drives have two sides.

THE MONEY DRIVE: This is where all decisions are based on the desire to make movies that make money. On the bright side it can lead to wonderfully entertaining crown pleasers. On the dark side it can create films that are both crass, low-brow, and bordering on sleazy.

THE EGO DRIVE: This is where all decisions are based upon feeding the ego over the wallet. The desire to win praise, awards, pats on the back for being "courageous", and good tables at fashionable eateries is a powerful one in the movie business. Now on the bright side it can create passionate, daring, and intelligent works of art that are deserving of praise. On the dark side it can create works of pretentious snobbery geared toward the narrow confines of critics, celebrities, and other denizens of the Axis of Ego. And among executives it gives them the idea that they and only they know what's best, filmmakers and audiences be damned.

The problem with the Weinstein Co. is that they appeared to base all their decisions on the dark sides of those drives. It's the only reason why they could see a film with a tiny budget get a standing ovation at a festival screening.

A proper mogul, with a carefully balanced take on the bright side of those drives would have looked at it and said: "Damn, the audience loves that movie. It's funny, heartwarming, and costs pennies to make. We'll market it through fanboy conventions, and the internet, and let the good word of mouth make us a mint."

Except TWC didn't do that. They bought the film, then canned the people who earned that standing ovation, and started chopping out the things that made that audience stand up and clap.

Why would they add all that extra work and expense to what should have been a simple cash-grab.

The dark side of their Ego Drive mixed with the dark side of the Money Drive, and convinced them that they, not the people who pay money to see the movie in question, knew how to make the film a hit, and in the end created so much ill-will against TWC that it not only hurt that movie, before it was even released but sank their comic book parody Superhero Movie as well.

Now comes the double edged sword. If the film doesn't do well, which Weinstein could arrange, by dumping it, he will strut around claiming he was right all along. If the film does do well, he'll strut around claiming that his work made the film succeed, despite the facts or logic of the case, and use the income to keep his floundering company afloat without changing TWC's terrible business model.

Because that's the beauty of the movies. Characters in movies may learn lessons, but Hollywood folks almost never do.

UPDATE: A tip of my jaunty shako to Defamer's sister site Gawk
er for this little tid-bit that tells you a lot about Harvey Weinstein and how he thinks. The post dealt with the floundering social networking site A Small World. It's essentially a social networking site where millionaires and up can meet and greet among the elite without the peasantry interrupting their discussions of the which vintage of Chateau Pipi De Cheval goes best with what imported Polynesian goat cheese.

It shows a mindset so locked in the world of the rich and famous that it doesn't really realize that it's the great unwashed that actually pays the bills, be it in movies, or in the internet, no matter how rich you are.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #131: On Actors & Money

A tip of the tam o'shanter to the always edifying Nikki Finke who posted this letter from character actor Peter Coyote to Hollywood's alleged "A-List" actors. In the letter he asks that the big names to kick back something for their brothers and sisters in what's both an act of solidarity and an economic help to those who have to actually work for a living.

He does make some salient points, like how the A-List's salaries have risen exponentially, that the incomes of working actors have gone down, and that anyone who can't live on $15 million earned in a couple of month must be either "a moron" or have "bad habits."

My guess is that the A-List is going to fight this. Tooth and nail, at least until they chip a nail, and crack one of their porcelain veneers, but by then they'd find something else to fight this with.


Because the majority of Hollywood's A-List stars couldn't sell tickets to a lifeboat on a sinking ship. They get their big salaries either because their faces and foibles are in the press almost constantly, thanks to scandal or publicists skilled in extortion, or their agents figured out how to get those hypno-coins you order from the back of old comic books to work.

It's only a matter of time before someone at the studios realize that they're pissing away hundreds of millions of dollars a year for little or no return.

And then the A-List will suffer.

Because most of the worst performers on the A-List, are also morons with a lot of bad habits, and I'm not just talking about drugs, because most big stars get their drugs for free as advertising for their dealers. I'm talking about that other addiction that cripples Hollywood's biggest and dimmest stars: extravagance.

A lot of them have multiple homes, with too much square footage to air condition for any amount less than the annual GDP of Burma, and some even have to pay Americans American wages to clean them, thanks to tighter immigration laws. Then there are their luxury cars, and private jets, all sucking down petroleum products like there's no tomorrow because they just have to make a day trip to Milan to get the latest designer shoes.

Now this whole mess wouldn't really be happening if Hollywood was a truly capitalist place. In a land of pure capitalism, everyone would be paid in accordance to what they bring in, no matter their stardom, because the point of capitalism is that everyone gets what they want, and leaves happy, and there'd be net profits raining down from heaven as unicorns frolic beneath shimmering rainbows, and Alyson...

You get the picture.

Hollywood isn't really capitalist when you get right down to the nitty gritty.

It's like a cross between a Ponzi scheme and high school.

You see a Ponzi scheme pays big dividends to the first investors in order to attract the suckers, who are then screwed into the financial ground.

In high school, a very strict hierarchy is formed and enforced, based on the most superficial, and in Hollywood, mostly artifical, reasons.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

In Ponzi High Hollywood, the "cool kids" are the ones getting the fat pay-days when everyone else, gets screwed into the ground.

Ironically, this piss poor treatment, leads to radicalized unions, and more strikes, which end up costing billions of dollars.

And it's not just the actors and other Hollywood peasants, equity investors, who should be raking in the big bucks, are also seeing their cut nibbled to death by overpaid and underperforming "stars."

My advice to Hollywood.

1. Pay actors on a system based on their actual box-office performance. And make them go through mandatory money management training.

2. Use some of the money saved to spread a little of the joy among the lesser peons. I'll bet dollars to donuts that it'll be cheaper than having at least one union go on strike every three years.

3. Use the cheaper production costs to earn more profits, real profits this time, and use that to convince investors that Hollywood isn't just a shell game full of pretty people.

It's just that simple.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Boob Tube: Apres Grissom, Les Deluge?

I don't really blog much about TV, but I have to admit my guilty pleasures. I watch CSI: CrimeScene Investigation, and CSI: NY. I don't watch CSI: Miami, because once you get past the bikinis, all you got are plot too nonsensical even for TV, and David Caruso's particular brand of acting through sunglasses.

The main reason I watch CSI was because of lead investigator Gil Grissom as played by William Petersen, or as I call the character: The UberNerd Triumphant. Petersen's performance, pretty much devoid of ego on the part of the character, made him one of the most watchable characters on TV, even though he is the opposite of what any marketing focus group would look for in a hero. He's unabashedly middle aged and acts his age, eccentric, that's obsessed with bugs, and is definitely not the man of action type. Even his atrocious puns at the beginning of some episodes had a certain unaffected charm. I had the idea of having the CSI's come across two bodies dressed as sailors, and have Grissom say: "I don't think we need to test for the presence of seamen." And have the rest of the team walk away in disgust.

So like a lot of CSI watchers I was saddened to hear that William Petersen, who made the show for me, was phasing himself out of the long running series. Then I heard a rumour about his potential replacements.

One possible candidate was Laurence Fishburne, one of the most reliable actors in Hollywood. When you see his name in the credits you are always assured that at least he will be doing his job as an actor and giving you the best he can give. Also, he would bring a very different characterization to the role of CSI leader, possibly being taken in the direction of being more of a cop, than a scientist. But I don't think he'd leave his pretty steady movie work for the grind of a TV series.

But it was the other candidate in that unconfirmed, anonymous rumour really made my goggle in amazement. John Malkovich.

Now that would be a pretty radical casting coup for any television and would definitely strike me as a pretty wild choice.

But not that far fetched. Malkovich comes from the same Chicago theatre scene that CSI's William Petersen and CSI: NY's Gary Sinise came from, and he's worked with both in the past.

Plus, his taste in quirky indie type films was probably hurt by the dearth of decent quirky indie type films. So a lucrative and secure TV deal for a few season could be just the ticket for him. Plus, he brings an unpredictability to the role that could give the show the kick in the pants it needs after recently losing some cast members.

Still, it's all just rumours, though it was a pretty interesting rumour.

What do you think?

Fictional Freakouts: The Phantom Brigade Issue #8

New to this little piece of literary improvisation? Then check out the earlier chapters.


"We are at heart a peaceful people," said Procurator Wind-Grass.

"I'm also pretty sure you're not native to this planet," replied Thorn, earning a surprised look from Emma.

"You're very perceptive... by the way, you never told me your name?"

"Thorn," he answered.

"Well Thorn," continued the Procurator, "we are not native to this planet, or this system. Our home planet Gesserax was destroyed by an asteroid bombardment over a century ago. My parents came here with the rest of the survivors to this planet as refugees. It was the only habitable world within range of our sub-light ships, and then...."

"You had some trouble with the people already here," added Thorn.

"Sad," replied the Procurator, "but true. We tried to make peaceful contact with the Brutals, form a partnership since neither of us could go anywhere. We offered them our medical and scientific knowledge in exchange for peace. However Brutals have no interest in peace, only in sacrificing to their idols."

"I guess you won," said Emma, not really knowing why.

The Procurator tapped his chin. "We did. Kept them in the enclosures, and tried to do our best to nudge them along the path of evolution."

"How?" asked Emma.

"Eugenics," said Thorne in English, before returning to the Procurator's language. "That's our word for sterilizing the undesirable."

"Then you do understand," said the Procurator. "We did that, and allowed only the cooperative ones to breed, but the sterilized ones started causing acting out violently. We tried exiling them from the enclosures, but they would just come back to attack us. Lobotomizing them just made them even more aggressive. Then we realized a way to use one of their own traditions against them."

The Procurator opened a shiny metallic decanter and poured some green liquid into a glass, he offered some to Thorn and Emma, but they turned it down. Emma because she didn't take anything that didn't come from her own planet, no matter how thirsty she was, and Thorn, because he didn't feel like being a good guest.

"They worshipped the spatial rifts," said the Procurator, "they occur naturally on this world, appearing according to some complex pattern based on natural eddies caused by interactions with signals from a nearby pulsar with the planet's electromagnetic field. The Brutals thought they were the mouths of their gods, and after butchering and burning their sacrificial victims would toss the ashes into the rifts."

"So you would lobotomize them," concluded Thorn, "and toss them into the rift, to our planet."

"We do apologize," said the Procurator, taking a sip of his drink and opening a small box on his desk. "We thought the rifts led to caves on an uninhabited world. It was not our intention to anger a technologically advanced culture like yours." The Procurator took Thorn's pistol out of the box. "I assume this is some sort of a weapon."

"It is," answered Thorn.

The Procurator aimed the pistol at Emma.

"Why don't you tell me how it's made and how it works," asked the Procurator, his tone deceptively pleasant, "so I won't have to test it on your friend here."

"Sure," said Thorn, "but I have to say something first."


"Bad touch."


The Procurator screamed as sparks leapt off the pistol's grip and up his arm. He then staggered backwards, into his own desks, dropped the pistol, and fell to the floor.

Thorn picked up the pistol and put it against the Procurator's temple.

"You know," said Thorn, "I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, give you a chance to explain yourself, but when you decided to pull the old 'threaten the woman' stunt, you just have to go down."

"Fire that thing and a hundred guards will be in here," groaned the Procurator. "Not even that weapon will save you."

Thorn smiled, a chill went down Emma's spine.

"This isn't the first time I've been threatened with an army," said Thorn, "and I've been threatened by scarier people than yours. Now I want you to listen, and listen carefully, because I won't be repeating myself. It's not my job to make you change your ways. I can't change your history, or those Brutals or anything about you. What I can change, what I can handle is how you affect my planet and my people."

"Is your planet going to declare war on us?" asked the Procurator, fear in his eyes.

"If you're lucky," answered Thorn, "but your luck has run out, so you have to deal with me." Thorn then pressed a button on his watch.

"Tanaka here," came a voice from the watch.

"We found out who was using the rifts," said Thorn, "we need to teach them some manners. Initiate the demonstration, about thirty clicks east of portal location."

"On it," answered Tanaka.

"Get up," ordered Thorn.

The Procurator got up, his legs wobbly.

"Go to the window," commanded Thorn. "Look out the window."

The Procurator approached the window. Emma looked out, she could make out a needle thin contrail in the distance.

"Is that a missile?" asked Emma. Thorn remained silent, but she got her answer.

The whole sky went white, then orange, and everything shook as a terrible noise, a hundred thousand thunders, blasted across them.

Emma fell to the floor, her eyes dazzled by the light. In a few seconds her sight returned and she started to hear Thorn over the fading boom.

"Send anything through any rift to my world," said Thorn, "and I will send one hundred thousand of those things to start. And after I've burnt your cities to ashes, I will then get very, very unpleasant."

"What was that?" asked Emma.

"It was a fusion bomb," answered Thorn in English, "just a small one."

"I see," said the Procurator, "I understand."

"I suggest you find some other way to break through to the Brutals," said Thorn, "tell them that little explosion was a demonstration from their gods to seek peace. I don't really care, just don't use my planet to dump your problems."

The Procurator nodded.

"You see," said Thorn, "two different species can break through. Now take us to the nearest portal."

The Procurator nodded.


"Is it sealed?" asked Thorn.

Fahey nodded and turned off a machine that looked to Emma like a something out of the prop-room for Frankenstein.

"Did you really intend to drop a hundred thousand of those bombs on his planet?" asked Emma. For some reason, being in a huge storm drain beneath Los Angeles now seemed positively homey compared to where she'd been.

"No," said Thorn, "we only have a thousand."

"I feel dizzy," said Emma. "I need some air."

Emma stepped out into the night air of her home planet. The concrete banks of the dry riverbed seemed to spin around her.

"Emma," said Thorn, "are you all right?"

"I don't know," said Emma, "should I? I just visited an alien planet, watched you electrocute an alien and threaten to blow up his planet. How should I feel?"

"I'm responsible for six billion lives here," answered Thorn, "sometime I have to be--"

Emma collapsed into Thorn's arms, her eyes rolling upward into her head.

"Shit!" said Thorn.


"She's stable," said Dr. Chambers, his eyes studying the scanner readouts in the Brigade's clinic. "In fact, according to her brainwaves, she in deep REM sleep."

"What happened to her?"

Dr. Chambers shrugged. "It could be a psychological reaction. Not everyone is as mentally.... 'flexible' as you are. Or... What's this?"

Thorn looked at the monitor. In the back of Emma's Grail's brain was a small oval object.

"I think it's some sort of microchip," said Chambers.

"Could it be the reason why she understood the other planet's languages?" asked Thorn.

"Why did those first aliens you met give her one, and not give you one?" asked Chambers. "Why didn't they rewire her brain like they did yours?"

Thorn shrugged.

"Hey," said Fahey, studying his own equipment. "Whatever it is, it's sending a signal. I'm talking terrabytes of data a second."

"Where's the signal going?" asked Thorn.

"It's short range," answered Fahey. "It's going to your office. To you office computer to be exact."

The door to Thorn's office slid open and he walked in alone.

"Still prefer to face the unknown alone," said an extremely familiar voice. Thorn looked into a hologram of his own face.

"That's right," said the hologram of Thorn, "it's me. After all this time I still haven't lost my taste for melodrama."

"You look..."

"Older?" said the hologram. "Yes, we will age, eventually, but only slightly, I won't tell you how long. Let's just say long enough to pack an interactive hologram program into a chip smaller than a the tap shoes of an angel dancing on the head of a pin, and toss in a universal translator to boot."

"The rift must have activ--"

"I remember what happened," said the hologram. "I don't have much time before my program burns out your primitive computer. You remember the third time she met you?"

Thorn nodded.

"Well you were wrong," said the hologram of Thorn. "It was actually the fourth time she met you. She doesn't remember it, because it happened in the future. Yes, your theory was right, time travellers do lose their memories of future events, it didn't just happen to you. But back to my story, it was the fifth time I met her... after a long time, and... damn, I'm just a simulation and it still chokes me up."


"I have included all the information that will prevent the future she visited me from ever happening," said the hologram, "trust me, it'll be better for every one."

Thorn's desktop printer came on and started pumping out pages of data.

"You'll know what to do with this information when the time comes," said Thorn. "I guess I should tell you that the pain will get better, but I was never very good at lying to myself."

"What pain?"

"Time's up," said the hologram, which then vanished in a flash and the smell of ozone and burnt circuits.

Thorn stood alone in his office.

...for now...