Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #460: 1 Hero, 2 Governments, 1 Cranky Blogger

Welcome to the show folks....


Writer/Director Shane Black, who gave the world
Lethal Weapon, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has announced that he's going to do a movie adaptation of pulp novel hero Doc Savage, the legendary Man of Bronze.

For those who don't know their pulp-fiction
history Doc Savage was the lead character of a series of pulp magazine novellas of the 1930s and 1940s. He and his merry band of cronies (The Fabulous 5) would travel the globe, having adventures, battling bad guys, finding lost cities, saving damsels in distress, and saving the world multiple times before breakfast each day.

It sounds like the perfect recipe for a good action adventure, but here lies a trap, and it's in the very nature of Clark "Doc" Savage.

You see in the original stories Doc Savage is quite literally perfect in every way. He's the richest and smartest man on the planet, master of every scientific discipline, is built like
Terminator-era Schwarzenegger, and can fight like Bruce Lee. He's never scared, never does the wrong thing, and always wins clean in the end.

In other words Hollywood could do it three ways:

1. Go decadent: Portray Savage as basically a hypocritical egomaniac, and everything is done in some sort of camp fashion.

2. Go cartoonish: Do it as a period film, with Savage reflecting those period values. Sadly, this was done the last time someone attempted a Doc Savage movie, and it pretty much ended the careers of everyone involved.

3. Go deep: Find something in the nature of Doc Savage and his relationship with the world, that speaks to something more than just the surface material. Then a filmmaker can fashion something that can stand up with the likes of The Dark Knight.

Also casting will be tricky, because it'll be very hard to find someone to play that role that doesn't either induce laughter or the gag reflex.

Now for the government talk:


The head of Telefilm Canada wants to loosen the rules and allow Canadian movies to hire more American actors.

Now a statement like that is probably confusing you, so I'll have to do a little explaining. You see, films made by English Canadian filmmakers cannot get English Canadian ticket-buyers to pay money to see them. That's because most watching most English Canadian cinema is akin to watching paint dry or grass grow.

This means that English Canadian cinema needs government funding to survive, via the agency called "Telefilm," or they might actually be forced to make something that might actually make money. The government, since they love to make rules, decided that each film made must be distinctly Canadian, and have measurable levels of "Canadian content," otherwise known as the dreaded CanCon. That meant that the bulk of people involved had to be Canadian, the setting had to be Canadian, the subject matter Canadian, and the overwhelming percentage of the cast had to be Canadian.

Now there was always a slot open for about one American or British actor, mostly because the majority of Canadian actors are in California doing guest spots on
CSI. But now the head of Telefilm wants to open up more slots for American actors. This is because most Canadian actors who stay in Canada can star in a TV series on CBC, and appear in a commercial, AND IT'S NOT A CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT, it's just an acting job so they can buy groceries.

So the head of Telefilm has wisely deduced that English Canadian films need American actors to make them remotely viable. This could lead to a rehash of what happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Tax shelter laws made Canadian movies wise investments,
especially if they lost money, and hundreds were made very quickly with a lot of American and British actors in them. Canada became the place where stardom went to die.

Which brings up the question: What American actor with
any serious box office appeal would do a Canadian film?


This strikes me as a bit of a stretch, but the Federal Communications Commission is launching an investigation of Fox Broadcasting. Apparently someone was playing around with the answers on the never-aired pilot of the game show
Our Little Genius. The producers and the network found out, and pulled the plug on the whole thing, because in the wake of the 1950s game show scandal, it's just not worth the hassle.

Now you're probably like everyone else outside of Washington and asking "What the hell?" The show never aired, the network and producers acted appropriately when they discovered the malfeasance so why is the FCC investigating.

There are three possible reasons:

1. There weren't enough nipples exposed during the Super Bowl or cartoon characters who might be gay for them to investigate.

2. The FCC needs to justify its existence in a world where media is slipping away from the broadcast networks into realms it doesn't regulate.

3. Someone decided to be a pain in the ass for Fox Broadcasting, which has a lot of enemies in Washington right now.

Either one seems pretty logical, about as logical as this piece of vaguely worded legislation to give them the jurisdiction:
(4) To produce or participate in the production for broadcasting of, to broadcast or participate in the broadcasting of, to offer to a licensee for broadcasting, or to sponsor, any radio program, knowing or having reasonable ground for believing that, in connection with a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge, intellectual skill, or chance constituting any part of such program, any person has done or is going to do any act or thing referred to in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection.
Legalese makes my eyes bleed.

Anyway the FCC is saying that it gives them the jurisdiction to investigate any shenanigans involving any game show whether it aired or not.

Personally, I think it's a stretch, but it's the nature of bureaucracies to stretch in order to get as much power as they can get. It doesn't matter if they waste a few million dollars, it's not like it's their money they're burning, it's the taxpayer's money.

The FCC's next mission will be to find out why Joe Biden's sitcom pilot "That's My Veep," never made it to series.


  1. You know... you're talk about CanCon really explains a lot about Final Sacrifice and Zap Rowsdower! (final sacrifice will be on the next MST3k dvd group, btw)

  2. So far, the Doc Savage stories have failed miserably as movie plot fodder. I think one reason for this is that the main character is a world class fascist. The Doc Savage stories embodied the zeitgiest of the progressive era when people thought you could apply science and technology straightforwardly to a chaotic system like human society. What they got were things like eugenics, gas chambers and Doc Savage literally operating on the brains of criminals to turn them into his henchmen.

    Doc Savage is still a good read now days because that kind of naivity is pretty amusing and you can just forget the darker implications. But in a movie? Not so much.