Saturday, 30 January 2010

It's nice to know that someone is reading this blog...

Welcome to the show folks...

I just found out that I was included in Total Film's list of
600 Blogs You Might Have Missed (just scroll down to the bottom of page two). It's nice to have one's existence acknowledged every once in a while in such a crowded blogosphere.

Anyway, as soon as my swelled head shrinks down, from all this attention I'll be back to the regular diet of cranks and rants that you all crave like the salivating dogs that you are.

The Book Report: Amazon Declares War

Welcome to the show folks...

This is a dilly of a pickle, so I'm going to try to explain it as best as I can.

If you log onto Amazon and try to order a book published by one of the many imprints of the publishing mega-giant Macmillan Books, you are pretty much shit out of luck. Reports are bopping around cyberspace saying that almost every title has either had their "buy" buttons neutralized, or have completely disappeared all together.

All I can say is: "WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?"

Okay, maybe I'm jumping the gun, and should explain a little for the folks who are too lazy to click the link.

Amazon is the world's biggest online retailer of books. If you don't already know that, it's time to get out of the cave.

Amazon has an e-book reader called The Kindle. You buy an e-book for $9.99, put it on your Kindle, and read it at your leisure, until the day Amazon decides to take it back like they recently did with some George Orwell books.

Computer and gadget giant Apple just released a new gadget called the iPad. One of the iPad's features is an e-book reader, and they want you to buy books for the iPad for $15. Macmillan is one of the biggest publishers signed onto this deal, and they want Amazon to bump up their e-book prices. to match them Amazon is now punishing them for it with their boycott.

This is a sad result of having too much an industry concentrated into too few hands. When the players become too big, they can't fight the urge to dictate prices instead of letting prices happen naturally.

Amazon tries to dictate prices by using their bulk to demand deep discounts from publishers. They then use those discounts to crush competition, like in my town, which doesn't have a dedicated bookstore anymore, and the only books carried at our local Wal-Mart either involve losing weight, formulaic thrillers with titles taken from nursery rhymes and plots taken from previous thrillers, Harry Potter rip-offs, or tales of whiny teenage girls finding chaste love with sparkly emo-vampire types.

The publishers want to end those deep discounts because they spend a hellacious amount of money on a select few big-name authors, and Amazon demands the biggest discounts on books by those very same big names. This is eating into the publisher's profitability, and they think that they, like Amazon, can dictate their prices and get out of this mess.

Well, that's not good economics.

You see there is a certain inalienable fact that dictates that it's really really wrong to.... well...
dictate prices.

There is a thing called The Price System. The Price System is where prices find their organic balance based on a combination of the costs of producing and selling a product, and the price that a free market is willing to pay for that product. When left to its own natural devices, prices have a way of making everyone happy, producers, retailers, and customers. It is one of the inalienable truths of human interaction, and possibly the most efficient form of communication developed on this planet.

Any attempt to control those prices, be it by a government or a corporation, creates logjams in the Price System. Things go out of balance. Profits shrink, shortages occur, customers are either unable, or unwilling to get what they want, and no one is happy.

So here's my suggestion to both sides, and it's come from hours of deep drinking thinking about the issue, and contradicting myself on several occasions.


It's too big for any one corporation or oligarchy to control, and even if you did succeed in getting control of said market, you'd only screw it up, and not just for customers, but for yourself as well. Thinking you can make a quick buck by controlling things is overly simplified short-term stage one thinking, and ultimately destructive.

E-books have a lower cost of production and distribution than hard-copy books. That's a fact. Once you get past the costs of paying the writer an advance then their royalties, editing the book, formatting, layout and all the other incidentals needed to produce an e-book, you're done. There's no paper or ink to buy, and no shipping that burns fuel. There's just some cheap hard-drive storage, and some bandwidth, that could handle thousands of e-book transactions a second without breaking a sweat or spending a penny.

But here lies the rub as Shakespeare said.

E-books are a new market, and when compared to hard copy books they are a tiny market. In my opinion, they are like the flying car of literature. Their convenience will never completely replace the simple comfort of a real paper book. In fact feuds over digital rights management, file formats, and other pettiness, could sink the e-book market before it even swims.

This means that e-books are currently selling a mere fraction of the numbers of their hard-copy cousins.

The price has to reflect that simple reality. It has to find that organic balance that enables the business to profit, while not alienating customers from a new and potentially lucrative medium.

So I suggest that both sides step back and take a good long look at themselves and their business practices. Then figure out what is the best price the market will bear, and let it all happen naturally.

Letting things happen according to the no-rules rule of Free Markets opens up the field to competition, increased production, and decreased costs for everyone in the long term.

That's what I think, what do you think?

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Smith & Jones

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for me to take a little break from ranting about business, and have a little laugh. Today we are visited by some of our old faves, the British duo Mel Smith and Grif Rhys Jones.

I'll be back to ranting about business as soon as I get my dander up again.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #444: Quo Vadis Late Night?

Welcome to the show folks...

Now that the dust seems to be settled on the Late Night talk show wars it's time for me to stop and think about what the major players should do next, and what they will probably end up doing next.

So, let's get the ball rolling....


WHAT HE SHOULD DO: Realize that overall late night audiences are declining, and will continue to decline, and that even if he starts beating Letterman again, he'll be king of a rapidly dwindling kingdom. Then take a serious look at himself and his career.

Cling desperately to The Tonight Show, booking fewer and fewer comedians, for fear that one might replace him, or at least call him on his past weaselly behavior. Finally realizing that he screwed up and that the dream is over about a decade after it's been canceled.


WHAT HE SHOULD DO: What he shouldn't do right now is jump into another talk show as soon as he's available. I know Fox is sniffing around, but he should offer them an alternative. That alternative is a free form sketch comedy program on their fast growing FX cable channel, with him and Andy Richter as hosts, and a rotating cast of young writers and performers selected from all over the country, using online resources to recruit them.

WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO: Probably jump right into another talk show at Fox.


WHAT HE SHOULD DO: Realize, like Jay, that the overall late-night talk audience is shrinking. He should also realize that he's too condescending, too smug, and too old to attract and hold onto new viewers without the novelty of an NBC implosion, or the exposure of his illicit Viagra fueled lechery. He should spend the next few years to find an heir, maybe even Conan as the ultimate fist-up to NBC, and groom them to replace him at the time he chooses to retire with dignity.

WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO: Cling to his show until the coroner comes to drag his carcass out from behind his desk, while most viewers find alternatives on other channels.


WHAT HE SHOULD DO: Keep plugging himself as the one true alternative to his aging competitor's combination of self-pity and self-importance. He's the youngest guy at his time slot, and should bug ABC to dump Nightline and move himself up half an hour.

WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO: Probably what he should do, and finally marry Ben Affleck, and make an honest man out him.


WHAT HE SHOULD DO: Leave NBC and learn a trade that does less damage, like gardening, as long as he's not allowed to use anything sharp.

WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO: Stay at NBC, using whatever satanic machinations keep him in place, and keep on whittling it down until there's nothing left, then turn his attention to destroying NBC-U's still profitable cable channels.


WHAT THEY SHOULD DO: Fire Zucker, and then try to do something, anything, to fix the mess he's put him in.

WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO: Keep Zucker, and let him run the company into the ground.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #443: Summiramax?

Welcome to the show folks...

Maybe I wrote my last post a tad too soon... or to be more exact, I may have overlooked another option. According to the indefatigable Nikki Finke, Summit Entertainment, flush with cash from those sparkly emo vampire pics, is making some very preliminary sniffing around the remains of Miramax and might purchase the recently deceased former indie titan.

Now anything could happen to scotch this deal, so I'm going to take a moment to weigh the pros and the cons of Summit Entertainment buying Miramax. So let's look at the facts:


PRO: The name represents a certain amount of street cred in the world on independent film. It could make an excellent "art house" or indie acquisition arm for Summit.

CON: The name of this revived company will only be as good as the hustle of the people standing behind it. The people running this revived Miramax would have to start from scratch building relationships with filmmakers and producers, and then fight to keep those relationships strong. Whoever runs this new Miramax has to be willing to burn serious calories to make into something worthwhile.


PRO: The library has a lot of Oscar winners and even a few big hits. It would make a welcome addition to Summit's library, which consists of sparkly emo-vamp pics, and some flicks no one cares about. They could use the clout that the Miramax library gives them in the never-ending battle for store shelf-space and TV sales.

CON: There are a lot of jokers in that deck because of the company's desire under the Weinsteins to own every indie film ever made, and then re-edit them into cinematic oblivion. Plus, I'm suspicious of Disney selling anything that might have a remote chance of generating revenue. What traps lay in this land of make believe? So any buyer should be alert, and have the numbers and the fine print studied extremely carefully.


PRO: Miramax doesn't come with MGM's crushing debt, which means it will most likely not crush an over-extended Summit. And a really big plus is that Harvey Weinstein's white hot rage could be used as an alternative energy source, thus freeing America from dependency on foreign oil.

CON: If anyone does buy the company, they will be pestered by the Bros. Weinstein until one side or the other are in their graves, and even then they'll find some way of making their displeasure known. Though it could be used as material for a new Twitter phenomenon "Shit Harvey Says."

So this is where I go to my readers and ask them for their opinions.

Should Summit Entertainment buy Miramax?

Hollywood Babble On & On #442: Miramax, A Eulogy...

Welcome to the funeral folks.

Friends, business associates, countrymen, lend me your ears, and five bucks, because I got a cab outside waiting to get paid.

But seriously folks, we are here to mark the passing of a company that was both a blessing and a curse to the movies, especially independent film.

I'm talking about Miramax Films.

It was a blessing because it gave a place for filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith a place to develop their talent, and make films outside the studio system.

It was a curse because unless you were Tarantino, or Smith, you were pretty much screwed trying to deal with Miramax.

And let's not forget the money.

Miramax, with films like
Pulp Fiction, showed that big money and major awards could be sucked out of indie movies, and soon everybody and their brother was jumping in the game. Mini-majors, faux-indie divisions, and other variations of the same theme jumped in head-first, many without the wisdom to know the difference between a film being independent and unwanted.

Soon independent cinema went from providing audiences what Hollywood wasn't giving them, to giving Hollywood what the audiences didn't really want.

While some think that the company will live on if its name is successfully transplanted to the Weinstein Co., but we all know, the spirit is gone, long gone.

So we now commend Miramax to the dustbin of movie history. He is survived by his half-siblings, Lionsgate, Sony Classics, Fox Searchlight, Focus Features, and IFC Films. He is predeceased by New Line/Fine Line/ Picturehouse, Warner Independent, Paramount Vantage, Polygram Filmed Entertainment and countless others.

Goodbye Miramax.

You'll be missed, but eventually replaced.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #441: From The Fevered Snakepit of My Brain!

Welcome to the show folks...


Today I made my last payment on my student loan.


My degree is finally 100% mine.

Now maybe it might be worth something.

Anyway, you don't want to read about me, you want to read me ragging on people way richer than I am, so away we go...


Jay Leno will be sitting down with Oprah Winfrey to tell his side of the whole NBC late night debacle. It will be followed by a visit to Dr. Oz, who will retrieve Jay's nuts from the jar in Jeff Zucker's office, and try to reattach them, and attempt a dangerous integrity implant.


Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane will host the Writer's Guild of America (West) awards this year.

His monologue will consist entirely of him saying: "You know this reminds me of the time..." and then someone will act out a lame visual gag involving Kathy Griffin farting.


And I'm not talking about baby back ribs. Though I can understand someone wanting to get their hands on some slow smoked baby back ribs...hmmmmm.....drool....
Oh, sorry, where was I?

Right! The Weinstein Co. wants to spend some other people's money buying back the name of their first company Miramax from Disney. Right now
old Miramax is as moribund as a dodo, and TWC thinks it could bring back some of the old 90s magic to their beleaguered money pit.

I for one think it would be the corporate equivalent of painting the porch on a haunted house.

However, who am I to judge?

Oh, right, I'm an obnoxious internet know it all!

I judge everything!

Hollywood Babble On & On #440: A Few Quick Bits...

Welcome to the show folks...

Here are just a few quick bits for your edification...


NBC has picked up a pilot for a sitcom called Justice. The twist in the tale is that the show is to be made by Conaco, the production company of recently ousted Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien.

Now this development can be interpreted in three possible ways...

1. The left hand of NBC has no idea what the right hand is doing. It's a believable thought, in fact, it's even more believable that the right hand of NBC has no idea what the right hand is doing.

2. NBC wants to prove that there is no room for resentment in business when there's a chance to make money. Though since it's a show on NBC, the odds of that are slim.

3. It's part of an elaborately evil plan to torment the rebellious Conan by picking up the series, and then casting it into TV oblivion where it will die a slow painful death, unseen, and unloved. And the really fiendish part is that there's no way to prove that they treated it differently from any of NBC's other shows. The dastards!!


Orlando Bloom has quit the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. He will now be available for kid's parties, and will work for food.


NBC has hired a new president of a division called "alternative programming." That title is NBC code for all their regular programming which makes people flip the channel looking for alternatives.


Hustler has announced that it's making a porno parody of James Cameron's film Avatar. Even though the film hasn't been made yet, I'm pretty sure it's going to have a more logical plot and better character development than the original.


MTV is wrapping up negotiations for a second season of The Jersey Shore. After seeing the cast in action, I can honestly say that I now fully support global warming and the melting of the ice caps, as long as that piece of shore sinks under the sea.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #439: A Question of Ego?

Welcome to the show folks...

My last post about the ongoing travails of the Weinstein Co. and its creditors sparked a question from a reader.
Nate said...D, I'm curious how it even gets to that point? While I'm sure I missed your fabulous explanation, just going by say... this post, it seems like the Wiesteins went from smart business to insanity. Were they replaced by pod people or what makes successful businesses just stop doing what works?
My short answer to that question was "Ego."

But here's my long answer.

One of the greatest threats to an movie mogul's career is

Don't go clicking away to Perez Hilton, I have a point to what seems like an inane little maxim.

You see when you are a movie mogul, and you have some hits early on, that success can cause a severe case of head inflation. This head inflation can cause you to say things like: "Of course I'm right, I'm rich!"

The problem is that the whole decision making process then gets twisted from being based on the betterment of the company to the betterment of the mogul's ego. They start making major mistakes, but cannot see that those mistakes are theirs and put the blame on the idiocies of others who were just following
their orders.

Now you are probably wondering how one can avoid this...

Well, legend says that in ancient Roman when a general was bestowed a triumphal parade, there was always a wizened old man sitting next to the man of the hour, periodically whispering in the fellow's ear: "Remember, all fame is fleeting."

A good mogul needs someone like that. Someone who can, discreetly if need be, tell the mogul that their idea is as nutty as a squirrel turd, and just as fragrant.

Also a good mogul cannot fear disagreement, in fact they should encourage it. You see any boss worth their salt hires people as smart, or smarter than they are. They also make those people feel that their contributions are valued, even if they're not used. There should be rules of civility in place when disagreements occur, not just to help people avoid saying things they shouldn't, but because it makes a person compose their arguments based on their merits, and not on how loudly they yell.

From just about every source I've ever seen, there is nothing like that at the Weinstein Co. or at their previous home at Miramax. Employees are terrified to disagree on mere trivialities, let alone anything major, and if they do poke up their heads to offer any alternative to the imperial fiats, reports say, it only serves to get those heads bitten off.

Now this bullying and melodramatic style could work for the short term, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but it's not going to work in the long term. It relies too much on being right all the time, and no human is right all the time (except me) and you need someone to let you know when you're about to drive off the cliff.

Also this management style makes a lot of enemies, and relationships that could have been profitable, end prematurely with a lot of bad blood and vitriol.

This is true for any business, but it's exponentially more troublesome in the movie biz where those who enjoy early success are kissed so hard on the ass, it rattles the brain. Also the glamor that a mogul gets from early success, tends to linger on as their "track record." This buys them a lot of forgiveness for future fumbles. I mean Jeff Zucker's still crowing about having the surviving members of KC & The Sunshine Band play on the street outside of the Today Show studio. Sure he's destroyed everything else the network has, but by golly look at that crowd doing the wave.

So you end up where TWC is now, bordering on a full flat-line, with more enemies than friends, and creditors having to take a lot of crap to see some sort of return on their investment.

I hope that answers your question.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #438: New Lease On Life, Or Just A Stay Of Execution?

Welcome to the show folks...

The folks over at the Weinstein Co. have taken a break from layoffs and counting how much money they lost with Nine to announce that the company has a "new lease on life." Since they haven't been revealed as secret shareholders in Avatar, you have to wonder what's got then out of the $500 million hole the company's in.

Well, they didn't get out of the hole, they just stopped digging it any deeper for now.

The company's creditors, headed by the Ziff Brothers Investments and Goldman Sachs, are just staying their hand from dropping the axe and giving TWC a shot at making at least some money. For now at least, nothing's written in stone, so it has to be as solid as an NBC talk show deal. However, I think I know why the creditors have decided to play along with this for now... you see, I'm secretly psychic and I can send my brain through time and space, and listen in on the conference call where the foundations of this potential

Here's how it went....

HARVEY: Okay, I want to stop paying off TWC's debts until the company gets back on its feet.

CREDITORS: Wait a minute, we've been more than patient with your company, and have given you every chance, we have a plan that--


CREDITORS: (exasperated & exhausted) Fine, better to get at least something out of this disaster than nothing.

HARVEY: Don't see how being reasonable makes everything easier. (to secretary) Send them a muffin basket. Pay for it? How the hell do we f*cking pay for things!?! Put on the f*cking credit card! (to Creditors) Where were we?

CREDITORS: We were wondering if we should have invested in NBC instead.
So I think now is a good time to look at the pros and cons of keeping the Weinstein Co. afloat.


1. Harvey Weinstein has a track record of putting out shrewdly niche marketed and carefully budgeted indie films that win awards and make profits that range from modest to bountiful.

2. Bob Weinstein's Dimension Films brand has a track record of shrewdly marketed, carefully budgeted, and occasionally subversive and clever, genre films that make a profit at worst, or pay off as huge blockbusters at best.

3. They have a track record of acquiring independent movies, making them successful, and launching the careers of actors and filmmakers.


1. It's been a long time since any of Harvey's
"indie" films could be described as carefully budgeted or shrewdly marketed. Many of the company's recent releases have been better known for having budgets that greatly outweigh their potential audience, which are then either released big like a studio blockbuster, or only given a bare minimum showing, before disappearing. Basically the company is paying too much, for too little reward outside of the slim chance that Harvey might get another Oscar notch on his belt. Oscar wins don't translate into box-office bumps the way they used to, and putting your hopes on a statuette is as likely as the tooth fairy to pay off.

2. Dimension Films has been having its own problems. It's been a long time since it's done the sort of
Scream level business and dominated the smaller budget genre market and the company's overall troubles are hindering its ability to properly market those films.

3. The time when the Weinsteins "made" filmmakers is long past. Now they're better known for being a nightmare to make a deal with, chopping films to suit their whims, making life hell for the poor filmmakers, and then dumping the films in the DVD discount bin, if they're lucky. If they're unlucky, they may never get off the shelf. They can't even keep Robert Rodriguez, who was practically born at Miramax, and whose next film
Machete, is a classic Dimension genre film, in the family. He's now moved onto Fox. In fact, TWC didn't even have either the will or the money to bid for the film, let alone buy it and get it into theaters. Anyone, outside of the occasional actor looking for an Oscar nom, would be crazy to go into business with them.

So you'll have to forgive my cynicism when I say that I consider this a stay of execution and not a reprieve.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Johnny Carson!

Welcome to the show folks...

With all the late night travails dominating show-biz news, I thought I'd dig up some bits by the man who became the unchallenged (until 1992) King of Late Night, Johnny Carson.

Well, heeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee's Johnny!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #437: Boob Tube Bits

Welcome to the show folks...


They managed to finish the negotiations for Conan O'Brien's exit, the redheaded stranger will be supplementing his staff's severance payments out of his own kick. Now the speculating about what he'll do next has begun in earnest. Will he go to Fox? Will he do cable TV? Will he do movies with Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow?

It's all wide open for him.

People in the industry are now loudly asking how NBC-U honcho Jeff Zucker manages to hold onto his position after this latest in a long line of disasters, with only Mark Cuban agreeing with him. Well I think there are three possibilities:

1. BLACKMAIL: Zucker has some information on the high mucky-mucks of NBC-U's parent company that could result either in firings, indictments, or divorces. Will he be able to use this on his incoming masters from Comcast? I don't know.

2. BLACK MAGIC: Basically a deal with Satan where Zucker gets to destroy a company, yet still get paid large amounts of money, and not get fired out the window.

3. BLACK OPS: The premise here is that Zucker belongs to a secret society bent on world conquest through shitty television.

What do you think?


The AMC channel home of
Mad Men has given the green-light to a television series adaptation of Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comic book.

I think this will be the first TV series based on the premise of a zombie apocalypse, though I am a little puzzled by this cast photo from the pilot:

I know, I'm a stinker.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #436: Musings That Do Not Involve NBC In Anyway... Maybe...If We're Lucky...

Welcome to the show folks...


Even though they're laying off people harder than an American automaker, The Weinstein Co. is also hiring. Looks like they're picking up a couple of soon-to-ex Miramaxers to handle acquisitions.

Which makes me ask a question:
Who the hell would sell their film to the Weinstein Company?

I mean, sure, they managed to talk someone into giving them some money for acquisitions, but let's remember what they do with the films that they acquire.


The bulk of their acquisitions end up either gathering dust on a shelf, used to prop up the wobbly leg on Harvey's desk, or dumped in the DVD discount bin. The days when they would hustle these sorts of films to make money are long over. They acquire films solely to keep those who might actually do things with them from getting them.

Then you add their rep for grinding young filmmakers into a fine paste, and you just have to wonder, why anyone would want to get into business with them.

They're the NBC of independent cinema.

Damn it! I promised not to mention NBC this post!

Well, I promise not to do it again.


Summit Entertainment has given the green-light to a television series based on their movie Push.


Let's look at the facts.

Push, a flick rehashing the plot from Firestarter about telepaths fleeing and fighting a sneaky government agency, made about $50 mil in combined global box office on a $38 mil budget. However, that's not enough to cover production and the Prints & Advertising costs, and when you take into account some of the complications of international distribution it probably lost a lot more than that.

Neither was the film critically acclaimed, rating 23% at Rotten Tomatoes.

So why try to make it into a TV series?

Well there are two possibilities.

1. Someone made a series pitch that took the fundamental concept into wild new dramatic directions, like how much the
Buffy the Vampire Slayer series differed from the more farcical original movie.


2. Jeff Zucker thought it would be a great replacement for the
Jay Leno Show.

Damn it! I did it again! What the hell is wrong with me today?

Anyway, let's move on...


Mel Gibson's making a bit of a comeback as an actor, with a new movie coming out and all, but some folks don't care for it. Look at the comments at this Nikki Finke post, and you can see that there's still some folks giving Mel the old stink-eye.

For those who think the Jersey Shore is relevant, I'll bring you up to speed on the issue. First Mel directed a film called
The Passion of the Christ. Some criticized the film as Anti-Semitic, because despite having a Jewish lead character, an angry mob of Jews calls for that lead character's execution by the Romans.

Mel tossed gas into that fire by getting pulled over while driving drunk and engaging in a liquor fueled rant about how "The Jews" start all the wars in the world.

He also called the arresting officer "sugar-tits."

Now Mel's spent some time in the Hollywood wilderness, in which his marriage fell apart, and he started a new relationship with a much younger woman, and you know that is not going to end well, they never do.

Now that Mel's on the cusp of a comeback, some folks are saying that Hollywood should deny Mel forgiveness for his drunken rantings.

Personally, I think Mel was acting like a total asshole, and should be mocked royally for being an asshole, but I have to put his sin in perspective with past sins that Hollywood has forgiven.

Let's look at this extremely incomplete list:
  • Roman Polanski had non-consensual sex with a 13 year old girl.
  • Rob Lowe had 3-way with another guy and a 16 year old girl, and videotaped it, making him officially a child pornographer.
  • Charlie Chaplin couldn't say no to any underage girls.
  • Pee Wee Herman got caught spanking the monkey in a porno theater.
  • Countless actors have been busted for drugs, drunk driving, and other acts of reckless endangerment at themselves and others.
  • Woody Allen married his step-daughter. Not necessarily illegal, but definitely creepy.
  • Countless other actors engaged in spousal abuse.
  • And let's not forget producer Walter Wanger. He actually SHOT A MAN and resumed his career as a movie producer little more than a year later.
Compared to that list Mel's sin seems more venal than mortal.

His attitude was piggish, obnoxious, and apparently only acceptable in certain circles of academia, but he hasn't actually done anything physical against Jewish people. He hasn't assaulted or shot anyone over their religion, so I say that his punishment should fit his crime.

So I say let Mel make movies.

Then let's make fun of him.

Verbal crime, gets a verbal punishment.

Humiliation can be very educational in the area of piggish attitudes.

Hey, I made it though this piece without referring to NBC!

Wait, I just referred to NBC!

Damn it!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #435: Miscellaneous Media/Money Musings...

Welcome to the show folks...


NBC-U CEO Jeff Zucker told Charlie Rose (the TV equivalent of Ambien) that he's been getting death threats over his recent shenanigans.

Well, since I'm the helpful sort, I've compiled a list of suspects they can investigate.

1. Conan O'Brien, natch.
2. Andy Richter, natch.
3. Pretty much the entire
Tonight Show staff.
4. Shareholders in Comcast seeing their share value getting destroyed.
5. Comcast management in a case of extreme buyer's remorse.
6. Late night TV fans.
7. Jay Leno, for making him a whore.
8. Anyone who has seen the few NBC shows they liked canceled.
9. Everyone he ever got promoted over.
10. The people that promoted him.

Now the list does go on, and on, and on. So I thought I might also help by making up a list of people who want to keep Zucker alive, and in charge of NBC.

1. Rupert Murdoch
2. Les Moonves
3. Roger Ailes
4. David Letterman
5. Whoever's running ABC this week
6. The heads of the CW Network
7. Jay Leno, because NBC told him to (seems a bit two-faced)
8. The homeless guy who lives in the dumpster behind 30 Rock, because the voices tell him to. They also tell him that pants are optional in winter.
9. Some guy named Phil, who apparently likes
The Biggest Loser.
10. Jeff Zucker's mother, but only because he owes her money


Dreamworks has finalized a deal with the family of Civil Rights pioneer Martin Luther King jr. for a biopic.

This is quite a feat in itself, considering how reticent the family's been to see their father portrayed on the silver screen. Dreamworks is all under a lot of pressure to do it right, and not hire Martin Scorsese to direct it, because he'll just cast Leonardo DiCaprio as King, and that would be just wrong.


Fox is sniffing around for a USA version of British sci-fi hit Torchwood, and has contracted creator
Russel T. Davies to put it together, and might even bring over star John Barrowman for it.

For the uninitiated
Torchwood is about a secret agency set in the same fictional universe as the long running Dr. Who series. It's led by the trisexual immortal time traveller Captain Jack Harkness, and its mission is to combat alien threats from their base in Cardiff. (Aliens being fond of eating the Welsh, who apparently go well with a little paprika.)

Now I say why not do a co-production. Fox and BBC can share costs, and locations, widening the scope of the show from one city, to the entire world. Something that could be done since the last
Torchwood miniseries ended with everything being torn down forcing the lead to leave Cardiff to atone for the terrible things he did to save the world.

Plus, they could also bring in co-star Eve Myles, because I think she's cute in a Welsh kinda way.

Hollywood Babble On & On #434: A Late Night Question

Welcome to the show folks...

Reader Blast Hardcheese (pseudonym of Biff Plankchest) asked:
Who was the initial jerk in all this - NBC or Leno? Did NBC say 'Gee, Conan isn't doing so well, let's stick Jay back in there" or did Leno say "Gee, my new show isn't doing so well, I'd like to go back to the Tonight Show." Whatever his faults, Leno seems like a stand-up guy, so I tend to think it was NBC/Zucker who started it.
So I'm going to give my explanation of what I think happened.

In 2004 NBC seeking to avoid the bloodbath that happened when Johnny Carson retired tried to plan ahead. Conan O'Brien was getting interest from other networks, and they wanted to keep him, and they thought the best way to keep him was to give him the
Tonight Show. NBC then made a deal with Jay Leno to leave the Tonight Show about 18 months before the end of his contract.

Now they could have bought off Conan to wait a little while longer and have Jay leave with an even 20 years under his belt, but NBC was impatient. They also wanted to keep Jay around for that remaining 18 months, they just hadn't developed anything specific for him.

The change happened, and that's when things start getting messed up.

The change got Zuckerfied.

NBC-U CEO Jeff Zucker cut loose a brain fart and instead of having Jay Leno do some specials, or at most a weekly show, he put him on 5 times a week. Now the logic behind this decision was to save NBC millions by avoiding paying for the expensive hour long dramas that normally dominate the 10pm time slot.

The fact however was quite different. The fact was that a nightly talk-show is essentially dead air at 10pm creating yet another black hole in NBC's ratings.

Which brings us to Conan.

Yes, Conan was getting beaten by Letterman in ratings.

However, he was tied in some key demographics, and wasn't that far behind overall. In fact, he was doing pretty well, even in comparison to Jay Leno's first three+ years in the job, and Jay didn't have to deal with a 10pm black hole destroying the lead in to the local news, which in itself was the lead in to the
Tonight Show.

While Jay was good at holding onto an older audience, Conan's gift was develop new viewers who normally avoided network television at late night. In time, he probably would have overtaken Letterman with the combo of new viewers, something different on at 10pm, and the fading of interest in Letterman's lecherous employment policies.

However, Conan was not going to get that chance, because he was going to get Zuckerfied.

Zucker put that black hole in the already struggling schedule, burning local affiliates, and the
Tonight Show, but instead of trying to fix it, he decided to make it worse. He cancels Leno's bomb, but still refuses to let Leno go, for fear that Leno might do something successful somewhere else. In Zucker's mind it's better to be an NBC failure, than a success anywhere else.

So Zucker starts trying to jerk around the
Tonight Show, something Conan believes violated his contract and stood his ground. Zucker cannot brook rebellion, and had Conan promptly shit-canned, and then slandered in the media through anonymous leaks, and not-so anonymous statements by NBC house-jock Dick Ebersole.

Conan's out, Jay's back in, and Zucker once again manages to make things worse for NBC-U, while getting his contract renewed.

Now Jay is probably guided more by insecurity over malice. He's so rich that he has yet to spend a penny of his
Tonight Show money, but refused to let anyone guest host the show*, and slashed the number of prominent comedians who appeared in comparison to Carson for fear that he would be replaced by NBC. He probably knew that his 10pm show would be a disaster, but did it anyway, because he can't face life as just a millionaire comedian with sold out Vegas shows, who doesn't appear every weeknight on TV.

Was he expecting the failure of his 10pm show to help him usurp his throne back from Conan?

Who knows.

However, if Leno was a truly "stand-up" guy, he would have stood up to NBC, and said: "Go ahead, cancel me, the show is shit anyway, I should never have done it, and you should at least give Conan the same chance I had." Then driven away on his Stanley Steamer for a new life, knowing that he did the right thing by not playing Zucker's game and screwing Conan.

But he didn't, because deep down, Leno doesn't have a spine. He does what the network tells him, even if it makes him the toady of an incompetently run corporation that couldn't organize a shag in a bordello.

So to sum it all up: Zucker was the original jerk. But Jay made himself as big a jerk by going along, and then playing the "I'm a regular guy" card, and claiming that it was "just business."

You're not a regular guy Jay, you're a multi-millionaire, who would rather have a spot on the smoke-stack of the Titanic, rather than making the sort of stand that might get them a navigator who knows how to dodge an iceberg.

Now please, let's find some other business news for me to gripe about!

*The exception was a
Tonight/Today Show one-shot exchange with Katie Couric, but that doesn't count.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #433: Some Movie-Media-Money Musings...

Welcome to the show folks...

Been a busy day, and I'm running late delivering the blogging goodness that you crave like the salivating dogs that your are. So sit back, and let my words make sweet love to your brain....


It looks like Conan O'Brien has an exit deal to leave NBC. Personally, I won't believe it until Conan's people makes a statement and he's got the money in the bank, because the longer it takes to make it all legal and official, the greater the chance old Jeff the Jolly Jester will thrust himself into the situation and Zuckerfy everything back into the stone age. If he chooses to do so at a Pro-Coco rally, it might get ugly.

Folks are already wondering about the gangly comedian's future. Some think he'd be happy and more at home at Comedy Central. Which got me thinking.

Comedy Central is connected to the Paramount/Viacom empire, which also own CBS in one form or another, which is the home of David Letterman's
Late Show. Now if Letterman wasn't a baby boomer, and thus unwilling to retire until about 5 years after his own death, he'd recruit Conan to do a show for Comedy Central as a Worldwide Pants/Conan Co-Production. Perhaps a show fostering new comedians and bands. Then after a few years, when Dave finally admits his age and young interns and viagra lose their charms, Conan would step in on the Late Show.

He could even have Conan step in as a regular fill-in host during vacations and sick-days. Something Jay Leno wouldn't have done in a billion years. (Something Jay will find even harder, because who will believe his promises of eventually inheriting the show.)

Wouldn't that put an onion in the NBC ointment. It would burn even more if Conan beats Jay, who will probably still be there.

But like I said, there's still a chance to Zuckerfy everything. Considering that one of the few remaining sticky points is who gets custody of the Conan characters and skits. Now outside of totally petty desire to avoid seeing Conan succeed elsewhere with the things they could have had, they have no real use for that material.

Unless.... Zucker's planning a Pimpbot 5000 and Masturbating Bear sitcom for the fall 2010 TV season. But NBC would never go for it. People might actually watch it.


Skipped them.

Probably skip the Oscars again too this year.


Hollywood studios are now becoming more closed to new writers than ever, citing fear of litigation if someone submits without an agent.

Ironically, Hollywood agents have a similar policy, being unwilling to look at anyone they haven't poached from another agent.

Besides, it's all moot anyway since from now on all Hollywood films will be written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Sure, you think I'm kidding, but look at the reports of who is writing what. They're the only writers working these days.

Here's the roll call for the 2011 Writer's Guild Annual General Meeting: "Bob you here?" "Here. Are you here Alex?" "Yep. Roll call complete."

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Hi. I'm Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC-Universal. I'd mention some NBC shows you might watch, but let's face it, you're not watching any of them.

A man in my position gets asked a lot of questions.

Questions like: "Who are you?" "Why are you in my bushes?" and "What is that smell?"

But the question I get the most is "Why haven't you been fired yet?"

I could say that I still have my job because of my record, but you'd know I'd be kidding you. My constant brain-farts turned what was the #1 television network to #4, and an international laughingstock.

So how did I get my contract renewed by NBC's new owners?

I owe it all to a special friend, a life coach, who the tools to succeed by failing. He's known by many names, but I like to call him Lou. Come on out Lou.



Great to have you here Lou.

I'm just telling the good folks out on the internets that you're my secret weapon against unemployment, and you can be their friend too.






That's right Lou.

I got rid of mine, it made things like green-lighting
The Jay Leno Show, and canceling Life really easy.



I had to. It was good show, with an appealing cast, and with proper promotion it could have caught on. Same thing with


But you can see it on TNT.




This is not going to end well.

If you would like to sell your soul, and succeed through failure, then please draw a pentagram on the floor in your own blood, and perform the dark chants of Aztaroth from page 326 of the Necronomicon, or send a large wad of cash, old bills, non-sequential serial numbers to:

1125 Allascam Avenue
Pigsknuckle, Arkansas

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Voyage to the Center of the Leno!

Captain's Log: Stardate January 16, 2010.

It had been a week of upheaval in the Mediaverse. The NBC quadrant of the Broadcast Galaxy had been rocked by a bloody civil war. Little did I know that I was soon going to plunge head-first into that heart of darkness....

Oh, wait, I already parodied Heart of Darkness.... Okay, then perhaps I was going to go on a FANTASTIC VOYAGE!

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Anyway, I was on the bridge, seducing an alien chick from Pandora, when I got a call from headquarters.

"Captain Furious D!" said Admiral Exposition. "We need you for an important mission!"

"I better be really important," I said, "because they say once you go blue, nothing else will do."

"It's very important," said Admiral Exposition. "We need you to solve a mystery."

"Doesn't that belong in one of my Private Eye parodies?" I asked, "This is a sci-fi parody."

"Just get your ship to the NBC system pronto," ordered the Admiral. "And meet an informant on the fringe of the system."

"Fine," I said, "but can it wait until I finish with the lady from Pandora?"

"I guess it could wait two whole minutes."

"Very funny."


The NBC system was a real mess, all but a handful of Cable Channel Planets had been all but destroyed by The Zucker. The Zucker sort of resembled a doughy Death Star, with glasses, and roamed from planet to planet, bombarding it with terrible brain-farts that take once prosperous worlds, and reducing them to rubble.

The Cable Planets were able to ward off The Zucker, and avoid the Zuckerfication, but they couldn't hold out for long. No one knew exactly why the Zucker was allowed to roam free, spreading chaos and destruction, or what made it seem so indestructible. It was only a matter of time before it cast it's vaguely egg shaped shadow on those worlds, and brought them down with the others.

I had to meet my contact in the battered wreckage of canceled shows that drifted in empty space, unseen and unpromoted. I beamed myself onto a piece of wreckage and came to a door marked "Andy Barker, PI."

I rapped three times, specifically "Fuck Da Police," by NWA.

"Come in," said a weak and battered voice, and I went in.

"You're Andy?" I asked.

"Yes," answered Andy Richter sitting in a pool of his own blood. He looked like he had been put through a wringer, then a blender, and after that the digestive system of a polar bear. "I need you to find out something."

"Like why you and Conan got boned off the Tonight Show after seven months," I asked, "even though they gave Leno three years to beat Letterman?"

"I know the answer to that," said Andy. "The Zucker just decided to attack. It didn't need a reason to attack other than to show the world that it could."

"Then what do you need to know?"

"I want to know why Leno went along with this!" barked Andy. "We thought he was a friend, a fellow comedian, and there he goes and becomes the Zucker's bitch, ruining everything for everyone!"

"What do you mean?"

"First he goes along with that 10 PM idea," said Andy, "when everyone with eyes could see it becoming a black hole within seconds. Then when it doesn't work out, he goes along with Zucker and usurps Conan from the Tonight Show. It can't be greed, he's got more money than Xenu, and it can't be revenge, because the change was all Zucker's idea. So why did he do it?"

"I'll find out," I said. "So, you're hiding out here?"

"Until a ship from Fox can come pick me up," said Andy. "And I hope they bring a bottle of Febreeze, so I can get the stench of brain-fart off me."

"I'll catch you later."


I beamed back to my ship. There was only one way I was going to get to Leno, and that was to get to the Zucker.

I turned on my cloaking device, and crept very carefully to the massive lumbering form of the Zucker. An Ebersole probe zipped by, screaming into empty space that it was all Conan's fault, and that all should hail the great and glorious Zucker, while $200 million in burnt bills floated in its wake. I crept by the mouth of the Zucker, the crushed limbs of Pimpbot 5000, and the Masturbating Bear pointing out for just a second before being sucked into its maw, never to be seen, or used profitably again.

I scanned the head of the Zucker, and there was no sign of Jay Leno. In fact there was no sign of anything in that bulbous head, just the noxious chemical reactions that made his brain-farts so destructive.

I swung along the bulk of the Zucker, scanning for any sign of Leno's presence. Then I saw it. Leno was there, wedged deeply in the Zucker's massive mighty rectum. Well, one thing was for certain, I wasn't going to dock there. Not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's your thing, it's just not how this Space Cadet plays.

I activated my transporter, and prepared to beam in to the lower intestines. I was so close to finding Jay Leno I could smell it, or maybe that was the burritos I split with the chick from Pandora.


The lower intestines of the Zucker were strewn with the semi-digested wreckage of shows, both good and bad, all destroyed by the stomach acid of synergy. Good thing I wore my bio-hazard suit.

I turned a corner, and there he was, Jay Leno himself.

At least my scanner was telling me it was Jay Leno, but what crouched before me was an emaciated Gollum-like creature with puffy silver hair, and a massive chin.

"My precious," muttered the creature, clutching something close to its chest, "Jay is nothing without his precious."

"Jay Leno?" I asked.

The creature looked up. It was Jay Leno, but there wasn't much left of him.

"What happened to you?" I asked.

"I got my precious back," hissed Leno. "Leno's nothing without his precious, he doesn't exist unless he's on TV every weeknight. He needs his precious."

"Are you saying that you helped the Zucker screw Conan," I asked, "not out of greed, or revenge, but because of your deeply rooted insecurities?"

"Go away!" hissed Leno. "You want to take Leno's precious! You are like having comedians as guests! They do too well, and they'll take Leno's precious! It's Leno's he's nothing without it!"

"Can I see the precious before I go?" I asked.

"Just a glimpse," hissed Leno. "You can see Leno's precious for a glimpse because you're not funny and can't take his precious away."

Leno opened his hand for just a second, but it was long enough for me to see his "precious." It was the Tonight Show, but it had been reduced to ashes and covered in shit.

It was then, for the first time in my life, I actually felt a glimmer of pity for a multi-millionaire.

Just a glimmer.

Then I turned on my communicator and said.

"Beam me up."

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Robocop Rap

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for one of my erratically timed editions of Saturday Silliness Cinema. This time I have the entire movie Robocop, condensed into a rap song. (Language NSFW)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #432: Mini Musings

Welcome to the show folks...

Here are just a few quick points that have nothing to do with NBC and their late night fiasco.

1. Jackie Earle Hailey is rumored to be cast in the role of Sinestro, for the adaptation of Green Lantern.

I was rooting for Daniel Day Lewis to take the role. Not just because he's a good actor, but for the comedy potential of him staying in character as a purple skinned fascist 24/7.

2. Pee Wee Herman had a big comeback show in Los Angeles the other day. The first row were given rubber smocks and goggles, just in case.

3. Warner Bros is rebranding New Line records to Water Tower Records. Meanwhile the rest of New Line goes down the corporate water closet.

4. A trailer is out for Roman Polanski's new film Ghost Writer. I was relieved to find out that it was a political thriller and not a remake of the 90s kid's show where adolescents solved mysteries. Because that would have been a recipe for trouble.

Hollywood Babble On & On #431: What NBC Has Taught Us

Welcome to the show folks...

Recently David Letterman was reported calling the management of NBC "pinheads." Personally, I think Mr. Letterman should apologize to pinheads... oops, my bad, the "Pinhead-American" community.

I use such strong phrasing because just when you think Jeff Zucker and the brain trust that is currently running NBC into oblivion have hit bottom, they break out the chisels and start hacking at the bedrock. First comes word that Jeff Zucker decided to further "Zuckerfy" the negotiations by threatening to put Conan O'Brien "on ice." That means that if they have to pay O'Brien his going away money, they are going to enforce a rarely enacted clause preventing him from doing anything in front of the camera for the 3 1/2 years remaining on his
Tonight Show contract.

Then came word NBC-Universal has sent Universal Pictures Prez/COO Ron Meyer to smooth the feathers ruffled by Zucker's threats, because it meant starting a war with Conan's agents (William Morris Endeavor) and their sizable legal team.

Now reports are saying that Jay Leno will return to the
Tonight Show, and that, barring any further Zukerfying of the negotiations, Conan will be a free agent with a big fat payoff.

Now let's see what we have learned from this whole fiasco.

1. Comcast paid way too much for NBC. Really, how can they justify the price they paid when they inherit crap like this.

2. NBC management has no idea how to manage. This whole fiasco was caused by the simple fact that it's CEO Jeff Zucker felt that he kept having to foist his brain farts onto the network, with little or no thought on how they're going to do it without turning everything into a money losing disaster. They could have done this right, given Jay Leno a way to leave with dignity on his 20th anniversary, a smooth segue to Conan's tenure, and both would have had a couple of years to prepare for the change. Leno could have tried a weekly show, or maybe quarterly specials, and everyone would have been happier. But no, instead they decided to just jerk everyone around, toss them against the wall, and instead of giving anything a chance to stick, tossed them all out the window.

3. Jay Leno's insecurity has eternally tainted his "brand." Jay Leno makes all his decisions based on the belief that he could end up starving in an alleyway at any second. He blindly does what NBC tells him to do, and while that may look great in the eyes of NBC's management, it makes Jay look like a treacherous back-stabber to just about anyone else paying the remotest amount of attention. Jay's not acting out of malice, he's actually acting out of fear. Why do you think he never let anyone guest host, or had as many comedians on the show as Johnny Carson? Because he was
terrified that NBC would replace him, and he'd no longer be able to piss away millions on steam powered cars. His insecurity made him take the deal for the Jay Leno show, and now it's made him into Jeff Zucker's toady.

4. NBC has managed to do the impossible, and make itself seem an even worse company to work for than it did before.

5. Jeff Zucker must possess incriminating evidence on a lot of major players. Because he must have the power to get CEOs indicted by the Feds to explain his near miraculous ability to avoid getting the pink slip he so rightly deserves. There is now way someone as incompetent as him could destroy a business as completely as he's done, and not be tossed on the street.

I don't see the venerable
Tonight Show recovering quickly or at all from this disaster. If Letterman plays his cards right and suppresses his innate arrogance, and avoid further scandal, he could keep the dominant position in late night. Because while he may be smug, and a lecher, he didn't become Jeff Zucker's bitch and put the blade to a fellow comedian.

Well, here's my artistic rendering of Conan's exit from NBC....

Let's hope he doesn't end on ice, and really puts the screws to NBC. Someone has to, it's the only way they'll learn.