Monday, 27 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #335: Monday's Musings


Telefilm, the film financing arm of the Canadian government, the Just For Laughs festival of Montreal, and the Canadian Film Centre have announced that they are forming a group to promote and foster the development of Canadian comedy films by new talent. (h/t Cinematical)

I have to admit, that I am incredibly cynical about the whole thing, and I'm pretty sure that it's doomed to failure.

Now you're probably sitting there, staring at the screen, brow furrowed in a feeble attempt to understand why I, a fellow Canadian, would have such low expectations, considering the history of Hollywood comedy is liberally peppered with Canadians from Mack Sennett, and Marie Dressler, to John Candy, Ivan Reitman, Mike Myers, and Jim Carrey, to Seth Rogen, Michael Cera and current big money stand-up Russel Peters. This should be a shoo in.

Well it isn't, and here's why.

When you look at that list, what's one thing they all have in common.

They all went south of the border to find success, because the comedy inside Canada is growing increasingly bland, complacent, and even worse, often un-funny.

Look up the comedy shows produced in Canada over the past 10 years on IMDB. Make a note of how many times the same names pop up on
every damn show. On Canadian television it's not at all uncommon to see the same people writing, and performing on two series at the same time, all the while doing guest spots and rewrite work on other shows. Toss in CBC radio, the traditional entry point for new talent, and you still end up hearing even more of the same people doing pretty much the same material that they just did on television.

My fear is that this program will end up like all the other programs that promise to seek out new talent, and wind up wasting more of Canadian entertainment's finite resources on fewer and fewer people.


The word on the street is that sinking ship called NBC-Universal is losing it's first mate. Ben Silverman, the living illustration of the Peter Principle is reportedly out at the network-studio conglomerate. You're not going to be seeing poor Ben sitting on a street corner with a sign that reads: "Will program your network for food." He's reportedly moving onto a position with another company, so he's their problem now.

There are also reports of shake-ups, scrutiny, and general turmoil at Universal Studios, the studio wing of the company. It's parent GE is allegedly not amused with the weak performance of many of Universal's most recent releases, like
Bruno, Public Enemies, and Land of the Lost.

Now the defenders of the folks in power at the studio are saying that the company is just having a rough year, that recent years have been pretty good and that things are cyclical, in this business, and to an certain extent they're right. This year Warner's is hot right now, thanks to
Harry Potter, The Hangover, and next summer's expected blockbuster Harry Potter & The Hangover of Vegas.

However, a lot of the problems Universal is facing comes from a very simple concept. They're spending too much damn money per movie. Going by the performance of
Borat, should have spent about 1/3 of what they spent on Bruno to maintain a profit. Public Enemies could have been profitable, if the film's budget was under some sort of control. It was a period crime drama, not a special effects heavy comic book blockbuster, and shouldn't have cost over $100million.

Then there's
Land of the Lost.

Which probably shouldn't have been done in the first place, but they still spent way too much to make the damn thing.

Now I'm not the type to shamelessly self-promote myself, but...
You can't blame me for trying. This was how Louis B. Mayer got his start.

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