Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #481: Two News Bits

Welcome to the show folks...


Because it just froze over after hearing that I'm agreeing with the MPAA on an issue. Apparently the MPAA isn't too keen on Wall Street starting a futures market based on box-office returns, and I agree with them. I've already expressed why I don't care for the idea, so you can just click this link to read them in full but I'll summarize them for those too lazy to click.

1. It's not an investment, it's a bet. An investment is when someone puts their money into the production of a certain good or service, and succeed when that good or service succeeds.

2. You can succeed from the failure of others. Like any form of gambling people will try to cheat at it, especially when you can win by making a certain film lose. I can't name any specific forms of manipulation, but I'm sure those in the know are cooking up all kinds of scams for this market.

3. The tyranny of the analysts will go bug-shit. There is already too much manipulations, spin doctoring, and just plain tomfoolery with box office analysis that is already being given too much weight. It will get exponentially worse with Wall Street getting involved.


MGM gets another stay of execution as its lenders and creditors strive to figure out what to do in the face of a low-ball auction, and the underwhelming performance of the overpriced ($50 million) movie Hot Tub Time Machine.

I think the company needs to be completely rebuilt and restructured into something functional and money making, but maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #480: Business As Usual

Welcome to the show folks...

Today I have a couple of little stories about independent companies, so away we go...


David Bergstein's Capitol Films/ThinkFilm indie production and distribution mish-mash had a hearing today in bankruptcy court. According to one commenter at Deadline: Hollywood who claimed to be attending the proceedings, one of the lawyers for the creditors called it "the Enron of the Motion Picture Business."


And the sad part is that it's so believable.

The really sad part is that too many independent companies end up in court with creditors and management fighting over the table scraps, and a lot of people not getting paid for their work.

I know it's hard to make money as an indie producer, the risk to return ratio is not great, but it doesn't help when producers leave themselves open to the sort of allegations that are currently assailing Senor Bergstein. When you're an independent producer you have to be like Caesar's wife, not only pure, but
appearing to be pure.


Because the odds are pretty good that everything will go completely to shit when you're an indie producer/distributor. When these things go to shit, you don't want your investors and creditors saying the sort of things in court that could get your pelt nailed to the trophy wall of an ambitious State Attorney General, Assistant US Attorney, or IRS auditor. You want them to say: "Oh well, things didn't work out, but at least I can't accuse you of using company money to cover gambling markers without getting sued for libel."

But alas, it seems to be business as usual in Hollywood for indie producers to act like they're studio execs, and that their companies are their little personal fiefdoms and that they don't owe anything to their investors or creditors. Then comes the acrimony, the allegations, and all sorts of legal crap that end up costing everyone more than either side could want.


Kanbar Entertainment the producers of the animated movie Hoodwinked are as mad as a wet hornet on 'roids at the Weinstein Company over the movie's sequel Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil.

Apparently the film was supposed to be released in mid-January, alongside the toy line at Burger King, but in December 2009, the Weinstein Co. announced that the movie was going to be bumped back to February.

February came and went, and still no movie.

Now Kanbar Entertainment has made a petition to the Superior Court to force some form of arbitration with TWC over the non-release.

My question is:

Why is this news?

The Weinstein Co. is more famous for not releasing movies than for releasing them. To them it's business as usual to sit on a movie until at least 2 years past its sell by date, and then dump it in a way that ensures no one, including TWC, makes any real money off of it.

Which brings me to my next question:

Why are they still in business?

They need outside investors to give them money, and indie filmmakers to sell their films to TWC's own peculiar brand of oblivion, and I just have to wonder why. Their reputation has proceeded them, and while no one has accused them of criminality, they have been accused, repeatedly, and passionately, with being just plain bad to do business with.

Everyone who does business with them has walked away saying that the company operates on a blend of bullshit and bullying. And most of them walked away with nothing but ulcers and high blood pressure to show for their troubles.

So I think it would be news to hear a story about someone whose name isn't Quentin Tarantino being happy with doing business with TWC.

That would be news, and not business as usual.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #479: Miscellaneous Movie/Media/Money Musings

Welcome to the show folks...


Movie theater owners are planning to jack up ticket prices to 3D movies around 20% or more. Now remember, 3D ticket prices are already more expensive than regular movie prices, and this will probably ensure that the 3D fad will eventually crash and burn sooner than I originally predicted. Theater owners defend their move saying that they're trying to bring the industry in line with such "affordable" entertainments as Major League Baseball, and Broadway Musicals that require second mortgages, and the sale of either their children or their vital organs, to buy seats capable of seeing any of the action.

It's only a matter of time before the studios and exhibitors start demanding billions from the government to build their stadiums theaters, because they can't fill them, because everyone's at home, watching hi-def TV and/or playing video games, because they simply can't afford to drop major moolah to take the family out on a movie night. In 1948 65% of people went to the movies on a weekly basis, now it's less than 6%, do they really want it to go all the way down to 0%.


The movie Casino Jack about shady lobbyist Jack Abramoff has landed a distributor. So now moviegoers can ignore it in theaters, instead of just ignoring it at the discount bin at Wal-Mart.


Writer J.D. Shapiro has apologized for writing the legendary big budget steaming pile known as Battlefield Earth. He said that he got involved because an article said that the Scientology center in Hollywood was a good place to meet women.

Gee, do you think that someone from Scientology wrote that article?

Anyway, next thing he knew, he was writing one of the stinkiest movies of all time. Now apologies are all well and good, but there's nothing that redeems a writer more, than not writing shit.

Now I hope to get an apology, and quick from...


...because they're still insisting that their SyFy Channel TV show, which is a mish-mash of
Eureka, Warehouse 13, and The X-Files, is based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid.

It isn't.

I know I've said this before, but I just have to make my point, because these hacks won't quit with this bullshit.

Let's look again at the facts:

Haven- A TV show about a plucky female FBI agent investigating paranormal/supernatural themed cases in a small New England town.

The Colorado Kid- A crime novella about two old newspapermen in a small New England town telling the story of an unsolved death to a plucky female journalism intern.

Just having a plucky female
whatever in a small New England town does make it an adaptation.

It's not even in the same genre.

The only thing Stephen King has to do with this show is that he cashed a check. Now I normally wish people all the success in the world, however, I simply must change my policy because of this rather obvious scam, which is why I'm asking, nay,
pleading, my readers to tell everyone they know, by any means necessary that THEY SHOULD NOT WATCH THIS SHOW.

This show
must fail, it must tank, it must crash and burn.

I hate to say this, but it's the only way to stop this sort of bullshit shell game.

And Stephen King, what's up with you, aren't you rich enough now, or did you lose a lot of money on last year's Super Bowl?


Fox, which distributes the home video product for MGM, is going to make some MGM backlist titles available via on-demand publisher Createspace.

I actually think this is a good idea. Not every movie rates the printing of a million copies when simply having them available on-demand could handle their sales admirably with a minimum outlay.

Now I say take it to the next level.

There's a lot of talk in publishing about a machine called the Expresso or something like that. The idea behind it is that they install the machine in stores, if that store doesn't have the book you want, then you punch it up on the machine, and it will print it for you.

Why can't they do that for DVDs?

It should be a quicker, safer, and better quality alternative to online downloading, especially if they make it affordable, and it'll be a good way to unload the studio back-list to the sort of cinephiles who like their movies off the beaten path.


--then you better fill out this form in total:

The following will serve as an agreement between ____________________ and Tina Fey in regard to their interview for ___________________________ .

Journalist may not use text produced by Tina Fey for any purposes other than what is originally intended without securing the prior written permission of Tina Fey and WKT PR. The obtained quotes may only be used for _______________________.

Journalist may show the completed article as an example of his work, but journalist agrees not to publish any quotes supplied by Tina Fey in any manner without obtaining written consent.

The text may not be used for any merchandising purposes, without prior written permission. Should you fail to strictly comply with the forgoing, our client will have the right to exercise all of his rights and liberties at law and in equity.
There are three possible reasons for rather unusual bit of pre-interview legalese:

1. Tina Fey has run out of material and doesn't want reporters to reveal that she has writers feeding her bon mots via an earpiece.

2. She and her publicists take her and her career way to seriously.

3. She's sick and tired of having her sketches being reported the next day on The View as Sarah Palin quotes.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Discount Bin Film Club: Scanners!

Welcome to the show folks...

The late 70s & early 80s were a strange time in Canadian cinema.

And by strange I mean that Canadian movies were actually getting made. In fact, a lot of Canadian films were getting made. This is because Canada's tax laws had a huge loophole in them for people who invested in Canadian film production.

Now while the loophole got films made, it didn't do much to get those films released. So a lot of movies during the "Hollywood North" era just disappeared, and many of them rightfully so.

Scanners (1980) was not one of them. It was picked up by American distributor Avco/Embassy, and became a modest hit, grossing over $14 million and stood as director David Cronenberg's biggest grosser until The Fly a few years later.

Now I just picked it up for $3.99 Canadian from a discount bin.

So here we go with the review.

The film's story is fairly convoluted. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is a "scanner," one of a community of about 200 or more people cursed with telepathic powers. I say cursed because most scanners are social misfits, misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, unable to function normally in society, and Vale himself is homeless. He is brought in by Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) to work for Consec, an international security conglomerate who are studying scanners. His mission to find Daryl Revok (Michael Ironside) a rogue scanner with a hidden agenda, and a penchant for making heads explode, helped by lady scanner Kim Obrist (Jennifer O'Neill).

The investigation leads to Revok's real plan, some dark truths about the origins of the scanners, and a brain on brain battle royal between Vale and Revok for the fate of the world.

Now I must take a moment to say that the film isn't perfect.

The budget, although the biggest Cronenberg
had worked with until then, was comparatively small. Another complication came from qualifying for the tax loophole, which left Cronenberg only 2 weeks of pre-production, including writing the script. This left Cronenberg doing rewrites every-day from 4-7 AM, going directly to shooting, and scrambling for locations.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Where it works oddly enough is in the location work. The film was shot in winter, making the world of the film cold, hard, and just plain uncomfortable. The chief locations are either institutional slabs of grim concrete, or decaying backstreet locales, with peeling paint and dotted with rust. It was also shot when the urban sprawl that created acres of cookie-cutter suburbs were just beginning. This creates the imagery of massive corporate office towers literally poking up out of the middle of nowhere, surrounded by empty fields. Creating a strange sense of dislocation.

The special effects, especially the exploding head scene, are still pretty good looking even in this age of mega-million FX budgets, and the fact that they were done so quickly and cheaply, makes them even more impressive.

Most of the cast is also game to the challenge, trying their best, with Michael Ironside's Revok, and Patrick McGoohan's Dr. Paul Ruth, even though in his final scenes there are a few false notes*, which seems mostly from the sheer speed they needed to complete the film.

The weak points come from the fact that the film was rushed, and Cronenberg's tendency early in his career to cut his movies down to the bone. It's easy to get lost, there are some parts that could use explanations, and the ending, though I figured it out when I first saw the (somewhat) edited for TV version at the age of 12, does strike a lot of people as vague and frustrating.

Another weak point are the two leads. Jennifer O'Neill got the "star" billing, because she was the world's top model at the time, and that helped seal the film's distribution deal. Yet it's hard that a woman so carefully put together, could be the psychological misfit the character is supposed to be. Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale, even by his own admission, isn't all that much of an actor, though his pale blue eyes do have an extremely expressive quality, especially in the "scanner fights." (He soon quit acting outside of a few cameos, and had a very successful career as a painter/sculptor.) But his manner of speaking seems a little too detached, and seems dubbed, even when he's been recorded live.

Now onto the MGM/UA DVD. It's a bare bones affair, with just the trailer, as the only extra. But the picture quality is about the best has ever looked to me, after years of sub-standard prints on TV and VHS.

All in all, it's a very entertaining artifact of a young filmmaker finding his voice, and a must for fans of low budget science-fiction and horror that tries to go beyond the usual laser guns and gore. While I may not have shelled out the "full price" for it, it was worth more than what I paid for it.

I'll be back to ranting and raving about the business of popular culture on Monday. See you then.

*The false notes come from a conversation Dr. Paul Ruth has with Cameron Vale even though they're in different rooms. Cronenberg didn't quite make the connection between the two characters until the very end of the scene, which mostly looked like Ruth was talking to himself.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Breakdowns of 1942!

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for me to take my usual Saturday break from ranting about business, and have a little laugh.

Today, more classic bloopers from classic Warner Bros. movies of 1942. People over 30 should be on the lookout for a certain future President of the USA, people under 30 probably learn some history.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #478: The Battle of Lionsgate!

Welcome to the show folks...

Corporate raider/shareholder activist Carl Icahn is now in a full blown war of the words with Lionsgate's management and board of directors.

Here's a little video from CNBC where Carl Icahn makes his points (h/t Nikki Finke):

Now some of you won't be patient enough to watch a CNBC business news video, so I'll give you some of Icahn's major points.

1. If Icahn's purchases of Lionsgate stock goes above a certain percentage, the interest rates and repayment schedules on Lionsgate's $600 million debt goes completely bugshit due to some complex covenants in their loan agreements.

2. Icahn calls these covenants a "poison pill" because the sole reason for their existence is to force anyone who wants to buy or sell large amounts of Lionsgate stock to get the approval of the board. This prevents anyone whose name rhymes with Karl Icon from making a serious takeover play without their approval, which isn't coming, because it could cost those same board members and executives their jobs. He has a case, there's no rational financial reason for these debt covenants other than to scotch a takeover.

3. Icahn isn't happy with Lionsgate making a play for MGM, which they recently pulled out of. His case is that it's more ego driven than money driven, because it would require the adding of possibly a billion dollars plus in debt to the already debt ridden company. Icahn's case is to get Lionsgate's own house in order before trying to add on anything else. (Note: Icahn also is buying up a shit-load of MGM debt, which if the MGM auction goes bust, puts him in a position to make a play for at least a piece of that troubled studio himself.)

4. Icahn isn't happy with Lionsgate's movie choices. They have been moving away from distributing independent films, and producing more of their own, bigger productions. The problem is that a lot of those productions lost a lot of money, and isn't bringing in the value that Icahn thinks the shareholders deserve. Icahn's case is to go back to what they did best, and to do it with modest budgets, and not play at being a big studio.

5. The Lionsgate management/board faction claims that Icahn's offer of $6 a share is insulting, and nowhere near the real value of the company. Icahn's argument is that if it's too low, then no Lionsgate shareholders will sell share's to him. Though some reports say that he's willing to go up to $7.50 a share.

Now while I normally revel when rich men fight, I do have a concern that all this fighting will only hurt the Lionsgate staff in the end. I think some sort of accommodation must be made between them, and then maybe they can work together to make Lionsgate a real success story.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #477: Weinstein Company Men

Welcome to the show folks...

The Good News: TV producer, and filmmaker John Wells has inked a deal to have his indie drama The Company Men starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck released.

The Bad News: The deal was inked with the Weinstein Company.

Now it's times like these that I am convinced that Harvey Weinstein has one of those hypno-coins and that he brings it to meetings.

That's the only rational explanation why Wells would let his film go with TWC. Now I'm having one of my legendary psychic flashes, and it's telling me the complete release plane for The Company Men, and here it is:

1. Announce a release date, and a multi-million dollar P&A commitment.

2. 6 months later: Announce a new, later date because the Weinstein Company wants re-edits and re-shoots.

3. 6 months later: Announce another even later release date because they can’t decide how to put the re-edits and re-shoots together with all the lawsuits and counter-suits over those re-edits and re-shoots.

4. After 2+ years of the film propping up a desk with a short leg in the TWC office dump the heavily re-edited movie in DVD discount bins without spending a penny of that previously made P&A commitment.

5. Quash threats of lawsuits over botched non-release and failure to live up to contract with public bullying and threats of massive counter-suits.

6. Ask investors for another $300 million to keep company afloat through another year of massive losses.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #476: 3D or Not 3D?

Welcome to the show folks...

You know Hollywood has gone completely off its collective nut when Michael Bay and James Cameron come across as the voices of reason.

Allow me to explain.

Right now Hollywood is on a Gold Rush that makes the California 49'ers look like people who take things calmly, and deliberately, and don't fall for fads. Hell, they're making Dutch tulip buyers of the 1630s look downright sensible.

The gold that's in dem dar hills comes in the form of a number and a letter, I'm talking about

You see 3D movies have been making a lot of money lately, because the tickets to see them cost more than regular 2D movies. So now Hollywood wants every single movie released in the next 100 years to be 3D whether it's a full immersion fantasy like
Avatar or Alice & Wonderland, or just Johnny Knoxville getting tasered in the testes in Jackass 3D.

The problem is that most of the movies that are being released weren't shot in 3D, and henceforth have to be converted to 3D, which is why Michael Bay and James Cameron are a little gun-shy on the issue. Cameron's iffy because he shot Avatar in 3D right from the get-go complete with special cameras, so there was no conversion needed. His main worry is that a flood of low quality converted 3D films will hurt his next 3D movie.

Michael Bay's concern, and refusal to convert Transformers 3 into Transformer 3D, is that the process would hinder his normally hyper-kinetic style, because he will be compelled to linger on grand 3D vistas like Avatar, instead of cutting right to the big robots beating the snot out of each other. He considered shooting the movie in 3D, but eventually passed, because he thought the cameras were to unwieldy, but also thinks the conversion costs will be prohibitive, and I have to say I think he's right about that.

Let me get into a little more detail:

1. The costs are prohibitive to convert regular 2D movies to 3D. The conservative estimate puts it at $100,000 per minute of movie, while some say the real costs are closer to $120,000-$150,000 per minute. This means that an average 2 hour (or 120 minute) movie will have an extra $12,000,000-$30,000,000 added to the budget before dropping tens of millions more on prints and advertising. Ouch.

2. The type of movie that excels in 3D is prohibitive. We're seeing that what works best in 3D are the sort of full immersion fantasies where literally everything is composed out of pure imagination. Folks may not want to pay extra to see a regular car explode on a regular street in 3D.

3. The nature of 3D is prohibitive. A lot of people don't like having to wear glasses every time they go to a theater, and a lot of people get motion sick watching 3D movies. Then there's the home video market, be it on DVD or download, people aren't going to put on glasses to watch TV, and they're not going to the effort and expense if the stories don't meet the expectations laid out by the visuals.

Then comes the artistic limitations of 3D. You can't do as many quick cuts in your montages, because the studio really wants you to linger on that special effects shot to make it worth the $150,000+ a minute.

And in time the novelty of 3D will wear off. How can I be so certain? Because it's happened before in the 1950s. Faced with competition from TV the studios went whole hog into big screens, full technicolor, and 3D movies. Now I know that the technology is light years ahead of the cardboard and plastic of that era, but the whole sense of novelty and mania is still the same.

I remember the late 1990s and early 2000s, and everything was going to be interactive virtual reality. One guy was even pitching "interactive" movies as the future, where the audiences use computers to vote on the outcomes of the stories.

Where are all those wonderful predictions now?

They're all safely nestled in the dustbin of history with jet-packs, and flying cars.

And they're all waiting for 3D to join them.


Because they all involved the audience working at getting their stories, and while that may catch on for a while, it can't last. People just like to sit back and have you tell them story too much for it to go on forever.

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

Monday, 22 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #475: A Few Thoughts On A Few Things

Welcome to the show folks...


Universal/Relativity Media's sci-fi action film Repo Men died at the box office with a whimper, not unlike an alcoholic's overburdened liver. Now some folks are wondering why. Was it the gore? The violence? The not-to-subtle social commentary?

Well, the problem was the premise.

Let's look at some of the more obvious holes in the premise.

1. The scientific premise is dated. When I was in film school in the 90s, every wannabe screenwriter in Toronto had a sci-fi script involving people stealing or repossessing organs for profit. At the time it seemed edgy, now not so much. We now live in an age where we're bombarded with news about scientists getting closer every day to cloning organs for people using their own non-embryonic stem cells. No threat of rejection, and highly unlikely that the minions of a corporation are going to gut you to sell it to someone else.

2. The evil corporation's business model is really poor. Okay, so this company sells people artificial organs at exorbitant prices that hardly anyone can pay, and then cuts them out if they miss a payment. Think about that. Then think about the gangs of family and friends who lost loved ones to this corporation plotting revenge, and then getting revenge by any means necessary.

Toss in the people with moral/religious/political objections to the company, and it's a free for all with guns and home-made bombs. The company would have to employ an army of bodyguards roughly equivalent in size to the Old Soviet Union's entire military just to keep the CEO alive. The Repo Men themselves would have to travel from job to job in armoured vehicles, live in secret locations, with all the other employees, and generally live on even less borrowed time than their customers. That's expensive, and not a good business model.

3. Where's the government? Any government that allows a corporation to literally gut its citizens over unpaid bills would be out of office very quickly, either by the ballot, or the bullet. Not even the worst big-biz buddy Republicans in the wildest fever dreams of Bill Maher would allow that to happen, even if only for purely political reasons like winning votes, or avoiding open civil war. The wise Marty Feldman said that any sketch or story has to have an internal logic that makes sense, even if only inside the universe of that story. That internal logic is missing in this premise.

4. The technology is dated. Why do they have to send out people to look for the delinquent organ customers, when they could have simply installed a GPS tracker chip and a remote OFF/ON switch at corporate headquarters. Want your legs to bend again? Then you better hobble on down and give us our money! Plus it will be easier to catch them if they can't move, or breath.

There's probably more, but to find them I'd have to see the movie, and I don't have that much time to waste.


You are the gift that keeps on giving. You see the producers of Fox's
American Idol wanted Conan O'Brien to do a brief cameo on their charity show American Idol Gives Back. NBC said ixnay on the ameocay, and Conan was unable to appear on the show.

Now legally, NBC is right. According to the exit deal Conan O'Brien is technically their bitch until Fall, and can't even post a new picture of himself on the internet until then.

But we're not talking the law, what we're talking about are tactics.

Legally right,
tactically stupid.

Basically NBC just gave Conan, Fox, and
American Idol some press, while making themselves look like dicks towards charity.

I think the fact that NBC didn't see something like this coming, especially from Fox, whose executives have some sharp elbows and love to pick fights with rivals, shows that some serious trimming needs to be done of the executive fat, namely the fat at the head.

They could have given some special permission for him to appear on the charity special, in exchange for having NBC named as one of the charities.


Actor Ewan McGregor has inked a deal to play King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne to be with the "woman he loved" an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson, to be played by Vera Farmigia.

Now this sounds like any other costume drama, but here's the kicker. The movie is to mark the directorial debut of aging pop-tart Madonna.

Yes, your eyes are not lying to you.

So let's pause to think about the details of this little film.

Madonna, who has never directed a movie before, and has a box office record worse than Dane Cook, is making a period costume drama about a man who abdicated the crown for love, but then conspired with the Nazis to get it back, and failed. Living the rest of his life in a pathetic state of semi-exile, rife with alcoholism and infidelity on both sides, and only saved from being hanged for treason to keep the scandal from tainting the rest of the royal family.

Who gave this the green-light?

Seriously, put up your hand. Because you need some medical treatment.

Maybe you can get a new brain from the company the Repo Men work for.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #474: More Media Musings...

Welcome to the show folks...


Rosie O'Donnell, who went from "Queen of
Nice," to "Fire Doesn't Melt Steel" 9-11 Truther, and one night variety show star, has expressed an interest in getting back on syndicated daytime TV, and has recruited some people to put the show together. The cherry on top is that it's going to be more about politics than the celebrity ass-kissing she made her name with.

Okay kids, can you say: "
Multi-million dollar boondoggle?"

Because that's what I think is going to happen if she tries the syndicated market. One of the smaller cable channels, maybe, but she's too polarizing, too obnoxious, and too grating to make it in the more mainstream syndicated market.

That's not going to stop her from trying, or even some stations from buying the show. This is because since the end of her talk show, Rosie is what I call a "media appealer." Her biggest fans are the people in Hollywood's incestuous little family. The folks who green-light shows, and the people who cover those shows in the press fawn over her, partially out of fear of her considerable public wrath, but mostly because she's one of them. She floats in the right circles, knows the right people, and says what they think they have to agree with.

Now having Hollywood fans doesn't always translate into substantial numbers of fans in Flyover Country. Especially when she's pledging to make the show all about the things the average viewer really don't like about her. They couldn't even buy her "nice" act anymore if you recall the Thanksgiving turkey she dropped at NBC, which was canceled about halfway through the episode.

So I'm expecting the show to get on the air, it'll be praised to high heaven by all the critics, but its core audience will end up being conservative pundits looking for material to make fun of her with. I just don't see her becoming the next Oprah. Even Oprah isn't being Oprah as well anymore.


MGM's creditors are bumping back the deadline for the company's auction to Monday. Why? Because the sale looks like it's turning out to be a dud.

So I'm putting in my own bid.

$10 Canadian.

Take it or leave it.


Corporate raider/shareholder activist has declared open war on the board of directors and management of Lionsgate, and is making moves for a complete hostile takeover of the mini-major studio.

He had offered to buy up to 30% of the company at $6 a share, but that was rejected out of hand by the management and board of directors. Now he's saying that those very same people are not living up to their obligations to shareholders, and wants to buy up the whole kit, kaboodle, and kitchen sink, then clean house with his new broom.

This could get ugly, because Icahn's stance is now absolute. There is no negotiating, or forming some sort of working relationship, or even an understanding of their status as rivals between him and management. This is an all or nothing, winner take all, duel to the death, contest between the two forces.

Let the best man win.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #473: A Rare Moment...

Welcome to the show folks...

Well over a year and a spell ago, inspired by reports of money troubles with the Capitol Films/ThinkFilm conglomeration run by David Bergstein, I wrote a piece called the 7 Stages of Corporate Grief. Well, recent reports show that I was wrong, there are in fact 8 Stages of Corporate Grief, and here they are:

1. AGGRAVATION: This starts out as rumors that it is getting increasingly hard to do business with the company in question. Especially in areas associated with money.

2. FRUSTRATION: Those rumors become official reports in the media, meaning that there is of a preponderance of evidence to make them libel proof.

3. UNIONIZATION: This is when things start getting official, with complaints and grievances formally filed with the labor unions. Those unions start flexing their muscles and demand that bills get paid forthwith, or the production will be shut down. Like what happened with Bergstein's production Nailed.

4. LITIGATION: This is when the investors and creditors start getting ants in their pants, and the dreaded lawyers get involved. When the lawsuits are filed, it's inevitable that there will be at least one nasty--

5. ALLEGATION: This is the new stage, and even though it burns me to admit a mistake, I won't admit I made a mistake, I just left something out. Now part of the whole litigation process is the plaintiff declaring that the defendant is guilty of a whole catalog of shenanigans. In the case of Capitol Films/ThinkFilm's David Bergstein, he's accused of using company money to cover his gambling markers, among other sins both mortal and venal. If these allegations have even the slightest scintilla of evidence to back them up, then the company is going to get hit with a big fat--

6. INVESTIGATION: All it takes is somebody at the IRS, the SEC, or any of the others in Washington's alphabet soup of regulators, or some plucky state's attorney to decide that a Hollywood scented pelt would look good on their trophy wall. If the company reaches this stage, then it's on the road to--

7. DEVASTATION: Once the lawyers, creditors, and regulators are done, there will be nothing left by the company's name, and a few battered assets sold off to pay off a small percentage of the debts left behind. Also those who ran that company end up facing not only lawsuits, but fines, tax liens, and possibly jail time if any evidence of wrongdoing is dug up.

8. SALVATION: This is the final stage where the CEO of the wrecked company finds Jesus and a new life anointing the sores of hobos with leprosy. Either that, or they talk some investors into letting them start another company, and the process starts all over again.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #472: MGM Updates

Welcome to the show folks...

The auction for MGM is set to enter the final phase tomorrow, and here's a rough guide to the state of play among the bidders right now:

1. Lionsgate- Still technically in the game, but with $600 million in their own debt, and Carl Icahn nipping at their heels, and buying up enough MGM debt to cause a ruckus are unlikely to be the winner.

2. Liberty Media/ John Malone- Out of the game, their valuation of the company was way
below what the MGM creditors are looking for, and Liberty media's also looking to sell its own Overture films.

3. Relativity Media- Out, despite all the rumors, reports, and secret schemes, they are dropping out of the bidding.

4. Len Blavatnik- Still in, but most reports say that the billionaire's making some sort of restructuring type offer with numbers that aren't exactly blowing up the creditor's collective skirt.

5. Time-Warner- Still in, but bidding too low to please the creditors. All they want is the library, and
The Hobbit, and that's all they seem willing to pay for.

6. Qualia Capital- Sort of in, it is reportedly offering $500 million in production/operational financing in exchange for an equity stake in a restructured company.

Some version of Qualia's plan is the likely fate of MGM if something doesn't pop up to get the creditors all hot and bothered. The creditors might very well have to take over the company, and try to make something out of it.

I wish them luck. They're going to need it.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #471: The Pluck Of The Irish

Welcome to show folks...

It's rather fitting that on this day we celebrate everything Irish, like alcoholism, and nationalist motivated car bombings I should have a blog post about an Irish American, Conan O'Brien, doing what the Irish love to do, which is getting even.*

Word is out that Conan O'Brien's live tour will be the subject of a documentary / concert film produced by Media Rights Capital. The plan is to release the film in theaters, which differs slightly from my suggestion of making it a TV special, but I think this is a better plan, here's why:

1. The film will be cheap to produce. It can be made by a handful of cameramen with those Red Digital cameras, and edited on a desktop. With the tour it's chronicling already mostly sold out, those costs will be further mitigated.

2. The film will get lots of media attention. This means a truckload of free publicity / advertising which will save even more money in the P&A. I know that David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel will roll out the red carpet for the red-headed stranger, and let's take a minute to think about Jay. With Conan's angular mug on every show that will have him, Jay Leno's Tonight Show will be feeling the pressure to book him. This is what you call a "golden opportunity." If Jay books him, it's a big story, if Jay doesn't, it's an even bigger story, and Jay looks like an even bigger douche.

3. If the documentary/concert film opens anywhere near the top of the box-office, which is possible, if Team Coco really mobilizes... Well, it's hard to say. Anyone else would feel the burn of failure, but NBC-U honcho Jeff Zucker isn't anyone else, and will probably take credit for the film's success. But I say do everything to make the film a hit, for that slim chance that Zucker might feel a pang of realization that he's not cut out to be a mogul.

4. The film, and its potential success, could make things go a lot easier for whatever Conan decides to do as his next step, whether it's pursuing more movie work, starting a new network late night show with Fox, or going the syndication route. The world will be his oyster.

And now in closing, and in honor of Irish culture, I present this lovely Irish ditty. (NSFW, the Irish are a salty people)

*Before you start writing your comments about how prejudiced I am against the Irish, let me inform you that I'm Irish and Scottish on both sides of my family. And not only Irish, but Ulster (or Northern) Irish. So I'm allowed to make jokes and perpetuate stereotypes about the Irish. You are not! That's the law of political correctness.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #470: Green Zone Puts Universal In The Red Zone

Welcome to the show folks...

Poor Universal, it's rapidly becoming the Corey Haim of major studios, just unable to catch a break in any way. It's latest film Green Zone an anti-Iraq war action film, which has Matt Damon battling sinister neo-cons, has flopped, and flopped hard, pretty much justifying the recent ouster of the executives who gave it the green-light.

The film did cost anywhere between an estimate $100-$130 million to make, and was released in over 3,000 theaters with a heavy ad-campaign that could only have cost tens of millions more. It's a huge flop by any way you measure it.

But the LA Times movie blogger Patrick Goldstein thinks that it's going to cost Universal a lot more than the $100+ million pissed away on
Green Zone.

He thinks that Green Zone has effectively sunk the Bourne Franchise as well.

I think he's right. Universal sold the film as Bourne 4: The Bourne Colostomy, especially having the same star and director, in their ever present ad campaign, possibly in the hope of duping at least a good opening weekend for the movie before the usual Iraq movie ennui sank it.

But that didn't work.

In fact it failed miserably.

Universal, and its NBC-U parent company has more than its share of problems. Its once unassailable late night TV franchise became a joke, its prime-time was almost destroyed, the surprise negotiations to sell faux-indie division Focus Features fell through, and its purchase by Comcast is being debated by politicians, never a good thing.

So far the best ideas Universal Studios has is to do a remake of The Thing, which was already a remake, which flopped in theaters, only to be reborn on home video as a cult film.

Looks like the whole company needs to be shaken down from top to bottom and rebuilt with an all new management and philosophy.

But enough about Universal.

This news also bodes very ill for Matt Damon's career,
he was only slightly better off in the movie star stakes than buddy George Clooney, because outside of the Ocean's movies, he had Jason Bourne being chased around by the CIA to justify his status (and salary) as a movie star.

Without Bourne zoned out, and the Ocean's franchise dried up, Damon is going to have to find something really crowd pleasing if he expects to keep getting his fat paychecks and pet projects made.

Because if he doesn't, and do it quick, he might find himself doing a series... for NBC!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #469: The British Complication

Welcome to the show folks...

Warm up the tea, and have yourself a crumpet, because I'm taking this post on a little expedition to Jolly Old England. (While I stay in Canada, bereft)


Okay, this needs a little history lesson to begin with. Back in the late 1970s some folks started a British film company called Goldcrest Films. The purpose of the company, run by a Canadian named Jake Eberts, was to make British films that could then be sold around the world. A complex network of corporations, trusts, and financial partnerships were set up to take advantage of tax and accounting laws on both sides of the Atlantic.

After a slow start the company took off, dominating awards shows and making money with films like Gandhi, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, and Local Hero.

Feeling their oats, and after some changes in management, the company then tried to compete with Hollywood at its own game. They tried making bigger films, with big American stars, and was promptly smacked with a string of big flops. Attempts were made to rearrange the company, but the overly-complex corporate structure, and crippling debt was just too much to handle and the company collapsed.

Now the owners of the Goldcrest name revived the company first as a post-production service, and then gradually evolved into an investment partner in films like
Tropic Thunder.

Well this new Goldcrest is going back to its roots, investing in independent British films.

This is nice for indie producers in Britain, but I think what's telling is the reason they're investing in British films.


Yep, apparently a change in British tax law means that Goldcrest has to start spending some money in Britain, or get nailed. Also, according to Nikki Finke's report, the words "ferociously complicated" are used to describe the company's corporate-financial paperwork.

Looks like some companies never learn.

Simplicity is always best in business, because complications may seem clever at first, but they will always bite you on the ass eventually. Such trans-Atlantic corporate complexities and playing for tax breaks were what sank the company originally.

Let's hope that this Goldcrest does a little archaeology on themselves, and learns from the company's past mistakes instead of repeating them. I would also add that any company should avoid doing anything that might attract the attention of governments, that's a recipe for trouble.


The venerable British Broadcasting Corporation has recently ended the 6 month freeze on development financing. This means that the BBC will now start paying their share of the bills when it comes to creating new TV content with their independent production partners.

Now the freeze happened because the Beeb says that they're running short of money, and are in a bit of a bind financially. You see the literary costume dramas, absurd comedies, and mystery shows that international audiences buy up with wild abandon, don't really win that many domestic eyes. Also critics say that a lot of their attempts to be edgy and hip, are neither edgy or hip, just grating. Outside of Doctor Who, the BBC doesn't really have the sort of water-cooler hits it once had.

The BBC is supposed to be financed by the television license system, where British people pay a tax for owning TVs and radios. However, the license system has to battle the common crime of license evasion, which has risen to the level of sport in the UK, and governments that tend to find other uses for that money than its original intent.

Which makes the BBC's position tenuous, but also makes me ask a question.

Was the 6 month development financing freeze matched with a freeze on hiring new senior management, raising their salaries, paying for their perks and/or bonuses?

I think probably not.

You see, the BBC is a bureaucracy at heart. Bureaucracies serve one purpose, which is to serve the bureaucrats who run them. It doesn't matter if the organization's mission is to produce and broadcast television, or managing vacant farms and widget production, the mission of the bureaucrat is to build personal empires that ensure their rise in rank/pay, and their own job security.

That means toadies, minions, and henchmen, and lots of them, all suckling on the organizational teat.

And don't let the fact that the BBC was founded by the British government fool you, because this happens all too easily in private corporations. Especially private corporations allow the management to unduly influence the board of directors to favor their mini-empires over the good of the shareholders/viewers.

Which is why organizations must be simple. Because not only do complicated financial deals bite your ass, complicated bureaucracies give lots of nooks and crannies for time-servers, space-wasters, and conniving kingpins to hide in.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Discount Bin Movie Club: The Big Red One!

Welcome to the show folks...

I just realized that it's been a long time since I've taken you on one of my trips into the realm of big box store discount bins for movies for the discerning cheapskate like me.

Today I'm taking a look at Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One. For the uninitiated, the Big Red One was the nickname of the US Army's First Infantry Division. Writer/Director Samuel Fuller was a "dog-face" G.I. rifleman in that division in World War 2, and had fought for years to make a film about his war experiences.

After failing to get it made at Warner Bros. Fuller finally made a deal with TV sitcom powerhouse and occasional movie producer Lorimar to make the movie.

While the film got made, it was taken away from Fuller, and over 45 minutes of the film was chopped out by Lorimar and it's 1980 release, despite the attention for having Star Wars star Mark Hamill, it disappeared at the box-office.

My first memory of the film was watching it on TV one summer when I was about ten or twelve years old. I got the sensation from that experience that it was a merely OK film, that was missing what it took to be a great film.

Turned out I was right.

Those missing 45 minutes are just what it took to take this film to the level of being a great war movie. Without them the story has more holes that Clyde Barrow's carcass. With the missing scenes, it's a masterful blend of brutality and poignancy, or as Fuller himself describes it, a fictional life based on factual death.

Leading the film is Lee Marvin, who gives a sadly underrated performance as The Sergeant (no other name is given). If the complete film had been released he probably would have been at least nominated for his second Oscar. The scene near the end with him and the young holocaust survivor could, as my grandpa would say, bring a tear to a glass eye. His supporting cast of Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby DiCicco, and Kelly Ward (as the 4 Horseman) also give solid performances as young men who are in way over their head. The simple fact that they endure the dehumanizing horrors that surround them makes them heroic in their own way.

And the film portrays the madness of warfare extremely well. The scene that sums it up the best occurs in a Belgian asylum for the mentally handicapped and insane that the Germans are using as a spotting post for their artillery. During a battle between Marvin's squad and the Germans, one of the patients picks up a German sub machine gun and starts firing wildly. And while he's shooting the crap out of the place, he's screaming: "I'm sane! I'm one of you! I'm sane!"

That sums it up beautifully.

Another thing to remember is that Fuller made this film with a budget that was a mere fraction of the one Stephen Spielberg spent on the opening of Saving Private Ryan alone. Which makes Fuller's achievement even more impressive.

Now you can tell in some spots where scenes were restored, but that's not really very distracting, and the improvement over the theatrical cut story-wise makes the occasional glimpse of film grain worth it.

The extra features comes with documentaries on Sam Fuller himself, the making and restoration of the film, a post-war doc about the real Big Red One, an audio commentary by historian Richard Schickel, and tons more stuff. And the greatest irony is that Warner Bros. who had passed on making the film originally, spent the time, money, and expertise, to restore it from the pieces left in the Lorimar vault after they took over that company.

I'm giving this film my highest discount bin rating, I'd have paid full price for it.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Saturday Silliness Cinema: The Ultimate Oscar Movie

Welcome to the show folks...

Time for my to take a break from my usual ranting and raving about pop culture & the business behind it and have a giggle.

Here is the trailer for the ultimate Academy Award winning movie.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #468: The Future Is Now?

Welcome to the show folks...


Investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald has announced that they're planning to open a Hollywood box office futures market. For the uninitiated a box office futures market is where people can put money in on whether or not a film will make it or break it in ticket sales.

Now this bugs me in a hell of a lot of ways, so let me count them off for you.

1. People are calling this an "investment." I beg to differ. You see, to me, a real investment means that you are putting your money into something in order for it to have the necessary capital to succeed and you make a profit from that success. Investment is essentially an act of creation, even if all you're doing is helping someone pay for creating something.

This sort of "investing" with no real input into the film's success or failure isn't really an investment, it's a bet. You're pretty much doing the exact same thing when you put your chips on a roulette wheel in Vegas.

Now some folks are going to say that it's not as wild and wooly as real gambling, because where no mere mortal can predict where the roulette ball is going to land, movies have lots of information available about them. Their argument is that a knowledgeable investor can look at that information, and mitigate their risks, even to the point of betting against certain films.

Which brings me too...

2. Your success can come from the failure of others. You see in real investing you win when everyone involved wins,
no one has to lose anything. When you're placing bets that a film will flop, well, that film has to flop in order for you to succeed. Now I'm not talking about the inherent riskiness in picking success or failure, no matter what the analysts say, instinct almost always trumps their so-called science. What I am talking is when those who bet on failure, try to insure their investment.

Do you catch my drift?

Okay, let me put it in the form of a movie pitch.

Picture it, a studio president of production is pissed that he's been passed over for promotion to CEO in favor of the parent company's CEO's nephew. So he starts buying up futures that some of the studios biggest productions will flop. He then takes those pictures away from the people making them and butchers them in the editing room. Making stories incoherent, replacing CGI with cardboard cut-outs, and inserting musical numbers performed by MC Hammer in their serious historical costume dramas.

He keeps his changes a secret, as well as his betting, and makes sure his pet analysts hype them as the second coming of
Avatar. Then he watches the films tank when the shit hits the fan, and pockets a hefty payout, including a fat golden parachute if he gets caught.

I call this script:
The Great Beverly Hills Blockbuster Boondoggle.

Now I know my pitch is far-fetched, no studio president has that much imagination, but it makes my point: Give people a chance at making money off someone else's failure, and they will do everything they can to insure that failure.

And let's not forget...

3. The tyranny of the analysts. Right now box office analysts have an inordinate amount of influence. Not so much on the real success or failure of a film, but on the
perceived success or failure of that film.

If an analyst predicts a $20 million opening weekend, and it only makes $19,999,999.99, that film is immediately perceived as a failure, and treated as such. Especially when it comes time to pay off the back-end shares. And if the film makes $20,000,000.01, it's hailed as the next best thing to

So the temptation to manipulate the predictions of these analysts, to both low-ball and high-ball possible earnings is immense. It will only get worse when every Tom, Dick & Harry starts playing this game, taking everything they say as the gospel of Jimmy The Greek, and betting accordingly. Control the analysts, and you can control this market, that's a recipe for trouble.

My advice, get out of these crack-pot schemes, which were one of the key reasons the economy had its meltdown a while back, and go back into investing into concrete things, like concrete, or plastics, or something being made, and not just bet on.


Paramount has revealed the name of its new micro-budget division that hopes to make films for less than Ben Stiller's annual back & chest waxing budget, and that name is INSURGE PICTURES.

Personally, I'm not sure what to make of this name.

It implies energy, rebellion, and reaching for heights, but in recent years has been tacked onto "insurgents" who like to set off bombs in schools and crowded street markets. I hope Paramount knows what it's doing, and intends to reclaim that word from those who have misused it.

I also hope that it intends to follow the advice I wrote when word of this project first surfaced. Those words of wisdom contain all Paramount needs to know about how to turn this project from an experiment into a success. You can bet on that.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #467: Corey Haim Is Dead

Welcome to the show folks...

Actor Corey Haim, who became an overnight teen idol in the 1980s in films like The Lost Boys, and License to Drive, has been found dead in his apartment of a suspected drug overdose.

His was the classic child-star implosion story. Having a lot of success as a teenager, only to have drugs, alcohol, and other bad choices destroy first his career, then him, joining this list of famous drug related deaths:
  1. Brian "Crush" Adams (44) - professional wrestler, accidental overdose of painkillers.
  2. Nick Adams (36) - actor, death officially certified as "accidental-suicidal and undetermined", high levels of sedatives found in his blood.
  3. Stuart Adamson (43) - musician, Big Country, self-asphyxiation under the influence of alcohol.
  4. Michael Brent Adkisson (23) - professional wrestler, suicide, overdosed on tranquilizers.
  5. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (35) - writer, committed suicide by overdosing on veronal.
  6. GG Allin (36) - punk musician, heroin overdose.
  7. Bridgette Andersen (21) former child actress, alcohol and heroin overdose.
  8. Pier Angeli (39) actress, died of anaphylactic shock after being given a tranquilizer by her doctor.
  9. Matthew Ansara (35) - actor, heroin overdose.
  10. Chris Antley (34) - champion horse-racing jockey, multiple drug overdose and injuries likely related to a fall caused by the drugs.
  11. West Arkeen (36) - musician, drug overdose.
  12. Howard Arkley (48) - painter, heroin overdose.
  13. Kevyn Aucoin - photographer & make-up artist, kidney and liver failure due to Tylenol toxicity, as a result of a prescription painkiller addiction.
  14. Lester Bangs (33) - music critic, musician, an overdose of Darvon and Valium and Nyquil.
  15. Jean-Michel Basquiat (27) - painter, heroin overdose.
  16. Scotty Beckett (38) - American former child actor, suspected overdose.
  17. Steve Bechler - Major League Baseball pitcher, died of a heatstroke, the coroner indicated that "the toxicity of ephedra played a signifcant role" among many factors in contributing to his death.
  18. John Belushi (33) - of the Blues Brothers, actor, and comedian, heroin and cocaine overdose (speedball).
  19. Wes Berggren - musician, Tripping Daisy.
  20. Leah Betts (18) - schoolgirl, ecstasy related.
  21. Len Bias (22) - basketball player; died of cocaine overdose before ever playing in the NBA.
  22. Bam Bam Bigelow (stagename of Scott Charles Bigelow) (45) - professional wrestler, toxic levels of cocaine and anti anxiety drug.
  23. Count Gottfried von Bismarck (44) - Aristocrat, cocaine overdose.
  24. Mike Bloomfield (36) - blues guitarist, heroin overdose.
  25. Tommy Bolin (25) - musician, Deep Purple, drugs overdose.
  26. Christopher Bowman (40) - former professional ice skater, drug overdose.
  27. Elisa Bridges (29) - model, acute intoxication - combined effects of heroin, methamphetamine, meperidine and alprazolam
  28. Lenny Bruce (40) - comedian, morphine overdose.
  29. Tim Buckley (28) - rock and roll musician, heroin overdose.
  30. Chad Butler (aka "Pimp C") - rap musician, accidental overdose of Promethazine/Codeine "syrup" mixed with a pre-existing medical condition, sleep apnea.
  31. Paul Butterfield (44) - musician, sources report drug related heart failure or simply drug overdose
  32. Andrés Caicedo (25) - writer, drug overdose, consumed 60 pills of Secobarbital.
  33. Casey Calvert (26) - guitarist of Hawthorne Heights, accidental drug overdose through mixture of opiates, citalopram, and clonazepam.
  34. Ken Caminiti (41) - former Major League Baseball player; acute cocaine and opiates intoxication.
  35. Max Cantor (32) - actor, journalist who researched addicts in New York, heroin overdose.
  36. Truman Capote (59) - writer, liver disease complicated by phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication.
  37. Vic Chesnutt - musician, overdose of prescription medication (suicide).
  38. Steve Clark (30) - musician, Def Leppard, accidental lethal overdose of codeine, along with valium and morphine and alcohol at more than 3 times the legal British limit
  39. Bob Collins (61) - politician, suicide from prescription drugs and alcohol.
  40. Natasha Collins (31) - actress - cocaine overdose.
  41. Brian Cole (29) - musician, the Association, heroin overdose.
  42. Megan Connolly (27) - actress, heroin overdose.
  43. Pamela Courson (27) - common law wife of Jim Morrison of The Doors, heroin overdose.
  44. Carl Crack (30) - musician, Atari Teenage Riot, drug overdose.
  45. Darby Crash (21) - punk musician, of The Germs, heroin overdose, reported as suicide.
  46. Robbin Crosby (42) musician with Ratt, reported causes of his death include heroin overdose, and AIDS-related complications, which he admitted to contracting from shooting drugs.
  47. Dalida (54) - singer, suicide, barbiturates overdose.
  48. Dorothy Dandridge (42) - actress, singer, anti-depressant overdose.
  49. Jesse Ed Davis (43) - guitarist, session musician, drug overdose.
  50. Teri Diver (29) - pornographic actress, accidental drug overdose
  51. Kiki Djan (47) - musician, AIDS and drugs related complications.
  52. DJ Screw (the stagename of Robert Earl Davis, Jr) (29) - musician, accidental codeine overdose and mixed drug intoxication.
  53. Desmond Donnelly (53) - politician/ businessman/ journalist, suicide under influence of alcohol/ overdose of barbiturates.]
  54. Tommy Dorsey (51) - jazz musician and bandleader, choked to death while sleeping with the aid of drugs.
  55. John Dougherty - musician, Flipper, heroin overdose.
  56. Eric Douglas (46) - stand-up comedian, "acute intoxication" by the effects of alcohol, tranquilizers and painkillers.
  57. Nick Drake (26) - musician, anti-depressant overdose, disputed suicide.
  58. Michael Dransfield (24) - poet, sources report conflicting causes of death, including infection related to drug use and "acute broncho-pneumonia and brain damage".
  59. Kevin DuBrow (52) - rock vocalist, cocaine overdose.
  60. Bobby Duncum, Jr. (34) - professional wrestler, prescription drug overdose.
  61. Anthony Durante (36) - professional wrestler, fentanyl overdose.
  62. Jeanne Eagels (35) - actress, alcohol and/or heroin abuse.
  63. John Entwistle (57) - musician, bassist for the Who, died from heart failure brought upon by cocaine use.
  64. Brian Epstein (32) - Manager of The Beatles, accidental sleeping pill overdose.
  65. Howie Epstein (47) - musician, ex-bassist with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, heroin overdose.
  66. Chris Farley (33) - comedian, cocaine and morphine overdose (speedball).
  67. Pete Farndon (31) - musician, the Pretenders, drowned/ heroin overdose.
  68. Rainer Werner Fassbinder (37) - playwright, director, cocaine overdose (possible suicide).
  69. Brenda Fassie (39) - singer, initial press reports cited complications of asthma attack while a later autopsy "mentioned cocaine overdose".
  70. Althea Flynt - co-publisher of Hustler magazine, drowned after passing out after drug overdose.
  71. Zac Foley (31) - musician, EMF, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, barbiturates and alcohol in bloodstream.
  72. Katy French (24) - model and socialite, cocaine use.
  73. Sigmund Freud (83) - neurologist, long-term cocaine use, physician assisted morphine overdose (euthanasia).
  74. Danny Gans (52) - Impressionist, Las Vegas entertainer. Accidental prescription drug overdose.
  75. Paul Gardiner (25) - musician, Tubeway Army, heroin overdose.
  76. Judy Garland (47) - singer and actress, barbiturate (secobarbital) overdose. Her death certificate states the overdose was "accidental" however there is speculation it was intentional.
  77. Lowell George (34) - musician, Little Feat, drug overdose.
  78. Talitha Getty (30) - actress, heroin overdose in Rome 1971.
  79. Trevor Goddard (40) - actor, accidental overdose of heroin, cocaine, valium and vicodin.
  80. Dwayne Goettel (31) - musician, Skinny Puppy, heroin overdose.
  81. Adam Goldstein (36) - AKA DJ AM, American club DJ, accidental drug overdose— cocaine, Levamisole, oxycodone, hydrocodone, Ativan, Klonapin and Xanax.
  82. Eddie Guerrero (38) - professional wrestler, "heart disease, complicated by an enlarged heart resulting from a history of anabolic steroid use."
  83. Clinton Haines - (21) computer hacker, heroin overdose.
  84. Bobby Hatfield (63) - musician, The Righteous Brothers, heart attack triggered by cocaine overdose.
  85. Tim Hardin (39) - folk musician, heroin overdose.
  86. Brynn Hartman (49) - wife and murderer of comedian Phil Hartman, suicide after cocaine, alcohol and Zoloft.
  87. Phyllis Haver (60) - actress, barbiturate overdose, suspected suicide
  88. James Hayden (29) - actor, heroin overdose.
  89. Paul Hayward - rugby league player, heroin overdose in prison while serving time for drug smuggling
  90. Mitch Hedberg (37) - comedian, multiple drug toxicity (cocaine and heroin).
  91. Tim Hemensley - indie musician, member of GOD, heroin overdose.
  92. Margaux Hemingway (41) - actress, disputed suicide, overdose of phenobarbital.
  93. Jimi Hendrix (27) - rock and roll musician, respiratory arrest caused by alcohol and barbiturate overdose and vomit inhalation.
  94. Curt Hennig (44) - professional wrestler, cocaine overdose.
  95. Gino Hernandez (28) - wrestler, cocaine overdose.
  96. Abbie Hoffman (52) - social and political activist in the United States, suicide by overdose of Phenobarbital pills.
  97. Gary Holton (33) - actor and musician, heroin overdose.
  98. James Honeyman-Scott (25) - musician, the Pretenders, drug overdose
  99. Shannon Hoon (28) - musician, singer in Blind Melon, cocaine overdose.
  100. Howard Hughes (70) - aviator, engineer, industrialist, movie producer, liver failure - physician administered overdose of codeine at "the highest clinical level ever recorded"
  101. Gertrude Hullett (71) - a patient of Dr. John Bodkin Adams who was acquitted of multiple murder charges including Hullett's death, drug overdose.
  102. Elizabeth Hulette (42) - professional wrestling manager, accidental overdose of alcohol, pain killers, nausea medication and tranquilizers.
  103. Harold Hunter (31) - professional skateboarder and actor, heart attack due to cocaine overdose.
  104. Phyllis Hyman (45) - singer, suicide involving pentobarbital and secobarbital.
  105. Michael Jackson (50) - musician, died June 25, 2009, lethal dose of propofol along with two sedatives.
  106. Steven Ronald "Stevo" Jensen - musician, The Vandals, prescription drug overdose.
  107. Anissa Jones (18) - actress, accidental overdose of barbiturates, cocaine, quaaludes, and PCP.
  108. Rob Jones (musician) (a.k.a. The Bass Thing) - musician - former bassist of The Wonder Stuff, sources report contradictory information which include: heart problems, heart attack, potentially caused by heroin, drug related causes.
  109. Russell Jones (better known by his stage name Ol' Dirty Bastard, 35) - hip hop musician, accidental overdose, cocaine and prescription painkiller
  110. Janis Joplin (27) - rock and roll and blues musician, heroin overdose.
  111. John Kahn (48) - musician, Jerry Garcia Band, heroin overdose
  112. David Kennedy (28) - fourth child of Robert F. Kennedy, cocaine, Demerol, and Mellaril overdose.
  113. Bernard Kettlewell (72) - lepidopterist and medical doctor, drug overdose.
  114. Dorothy Kilgallen (52) - journalist and television game show panelist, fatal combination of alcohol and barbiturate
  115. John Kordic (27) - hockey player, drug overdose following a clash with the police.
  116. Alan Ladd (50) - actor, accidental overdose of alcohol and three drugs.
  117. Karen Lancaume (stagename of Karen Bach) (32) - pornographic actress, overdose of medication (suicide).
  118. Carole Landis (29) - actress, overdose of sleeping pills (suicide).
  119. Heath Ledger (28) - actor, accidental death Combined Drug Intoxication of various prescription drugs, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, temazepam, and others
  120. Bruce Lee (32) - actor, martial artist, died of acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the prescription pain killing drug Equagesic
  121. Gerald Levert (40) - R&B singer, accidental combination of prescription medications.
  122. Frank X. Leyendecker - illustrator, suspected morphine overdose.
  123. Debbie Linden (36) - glamour model & actress, heroin overdose.
  124. Eugene Lipscomb (31) - American football player, heroin overdose.
  125. Mike Lockwood (32) - professional wrestler, "A lethal combination of painkillers was found in his system"
  126. Zoe Tamerlis Lund (37 - model, actress, and writer, heart failure due to cocaine use.
  127. Donyale Luna (34) - supermodel & actress, drug overdose.
  128. Frankie Lymon (25) - musician, doo wop singer, heroin overdose.
  129. Phil Lynott (36) - musician, Thin Lizzy, sources report various causes of death, including: heart and liver failure, heart failure and pneumonia after a drugs overdose,[150] and blood poisoning from heroin addiction.
  130. Billy Mackenzie (39) - musician, the Associates, drug overdose (suicide).
  131. Chris Mainwaring (41) - Australian football player, overdose.
  132. Bibek Maitra - Indian politician, initial post mortem indicated drug overdose
  133. Billy Mays (50) - pitchman, heart disease with cocaine being a "contributory cause"
  134. Jimmy McCulloch (26) - musician with Wings, guitarist, heroin overdose.
  135. Robbie McIntosh (24) - musician, Average White Band, heroin overdose.
  136. Aimee Semple McPherson (53) - Canadian-born evangelist, shock and respiratory failure due to overdose of prescription barbiturates.
  137. Jonathan Melvoin (34) - touring keyboardist for the Smashing Pumpkins, heroin overdose.
  138. Marilyn Monroe (36) - actress, overdose of barbiturate-based sleeping pills.
  139. Keith Moon (32) - musician, the Who, accidental overdose on anti-seizure medication prescribed for alcoholism.
  140. Chester Morris (69) - actor, barbiturate overdose.
  141. Jim Morrison (27) - musician, The Doors, the official cause of death is recorded as heart failure, in his Paris apartment. Sam Bernett claims that Morrison died in Bernett's club, with heroin overdose as the suspected cause.
  142. Billy Murcia - musician, New York Dolls, sources variously report the death as alcohol related, or drowning after a drug overdose or as a drug overdose
  143. Brittany Murphy (32) - actress, "combination of pneumonia, an iron deficiency and 'multiple drug intoxication.'" All of the drugs were legal.
  144. Brent Mydland (37) - musician, keyboardist, of the Grateful Dead, cocaine/morphine overdose.
  145. Bradley Nowell (28) - musician, Sublime, heroin overdose.
  146. Hugh O'Connor (32) - actor, of In the Heat of the Night TV series, suicide under influence of cocaine.
  147. Lani O'Grady (46) - actress, of Eight Is Enough - "multiple drug intoxication."
  148. Johnny O'Keefe (43) - musician / singer, some sources indicate drug overdose while others indicate heart attack
  149. Bryan Ottoson (27) - musician, American Head Charge, accidental prescription-drug overdose.
  150. Marco Pantani (34) - cyclist, Tour de France winner; cerebral and pulmonary oedema potentially brought on by "tranquillisers, antidepressants and sedatives ... against a background of prolonged cocaine abuse"
  151. Robert Pastorelli (49) - television actor, heroin overdose.
  152. Gram Parsons (26) - country musician, of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, morphine overdose.
  153. Chris Penn (40) - actor, brother of Sean Penn, enlarged heart through drug use and a high level of codeine.
  154. Christopher Pettiet (24) - actor, drug overdose.
  155. Kristen Pfaff (27) - musician, ex-member of Hole, heroin overdose.
  156. Esther Phillips (48) - musician, singer, liver and kidney failure due to drug use
  157. River Phoenix (23) - actor, overdose of heroin and cocaine
  158. Rob Pilatus (32) - musician, Milli Vanilli, drug overdose.
  159. Dana Plato (34) - actress, drug overdose
  160. Darrell Porter (50) - Major League Baseball catcher, broadcaster, cocaine overdose.
  161. Freddie Prinze (22) - comic, actor, accidental gunshot wound while under the influence of methaqualone and alcohol
  162. Glenn Quinn (32) - actor, heroin overdose.
  163. Dee Dee Ramone (50) - musician, the Ramones, drug overdose.
  164. Michael Reeves (25) - film director, alcohol and barbiturate overdose.
  165. Wallace Reid (31) - actor, drug overdose
  166. Elis Regina (36) - singer, cocaine overdose.
  167. Brad Renfro (25) - actor, overdose of heroin and morphine.
  168. Rachel Roberts (53) - actress - barbiturate overdose (suicide).
  169. Don Rogers (23) - American football player, cardiac arrest due to cocaine overdose.
  170. Steve Rogers (rugby league) (51) - rugby player, accidental lethal combination of anti-depressants and alcohol
  171. Alma Rubens (33) - actress, illness caused by heroin and cocaine addiction.
  172. David Ruffin (50) - musician, the Temptations, adverse reaction to cocaine.
  173. George Sanders (65) - actor, overdose of sleeping pills (Nembutal) (suicide)
  174. Catya Sassoon (33) - model and actress, overdose of hydromorphone.
  175. Ronnie Scott (69) - jazz tenor saxophonist and jazz-club owner, died from an accidental overdose of perscribed barbiturates.
  176. Jean Seberg (40) - actress, drug overdose (suicide).
  177. Rod Scurry (36) - Major League Baseball relief pitcher, died of a heart attack in a hospital after a drug related incident with the police.
  178. Edie Sedgwick (28) - actress, drug overdose.
  179. Bobby Sheehan (31) - musician and founding member of Blues Traveler, drug overdose.
  180. Eric Show (37) - baseball player, cocaine and heroin overdose.
  181. Judee Sill (35) - folk musician, heroin and cocaine overdose.
  182. Don Simpson (52) - film producer, heart attack induced by cocaine, 20 other drugs in his body at time of death.
  183. Tom Simpson (29) - road racing cyclist, dehydration and exhaustion while cycling, amphetamines as a factor
  184. Hillel Slovak (26) - musician, Red Hot Chili Peppers, heroin overdose.
  185. Anna Nicole Smith (stagename of Vickie Lynn Marshall) (39) - Playboy playmate, actress, reality show star, lethal combination of chloral hydrate and various benzodiazepines.
  186. Daniel Smith (20) - Son of Anna Nicole Smith, part-time actor and director, cardiac dysrhythmia caused by combination of methadone, Lexapro and Zoloft.
  187. Louie Spicolli (stagename of Louis Mucciolo, Jr.) (27) - professional wrestler, some sources indicate drug overdose while some indicate coronary disease that might have been impacted by drug use
  188. Layne Staley (34) - musician, Alice in Chains, overdose cocaine, heroin, codeine
  189. Joey Stefano (stagename of Nicholas Anthony Iacona, Jr.) (26) - pornographic actor, overdose of cocaine, morphine, heroin and ketamine.
  190. Miroslava Stern (29) - actress, suicide - overdose of sleeping pills.
  191. Inger Stevens (35) - actress, suicide - overdose of barbiturates.
  192. Rory Storm (33) - musician, overdose of alcohol and medication.
  193. Margaret Sullavan (48) - actress, deliberate barbiturate overdose.
  194. Paige Summers (stagename of Nancy Ann Coursey) (27) - pornographic model & actress, a drug overdose from a combination of the painkillers codeine and oxycodone.
  195. Warren Tartaglia (Walid al-Taha) (21) - jazz musician & one of six founders of Moorish Orthodox Church of America, heroin overdose.
  196. Chase Tatum (34) former wrestler for the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling organization, apparent drug overdose.
  197. Vinnie Taylor - musician, Sha Na Na, heroin overdose.
  198. Gary Thain (27) - musician, Uriah Heep, drug overdose.
  199. Jotie T'Hooft (21) - poet, drug overdose
  200. Johnny Thunders (38) - musician, the New York Dolls, some sources report heroin overdose or methadone and cocaine poisoning[232] or that the autopsy did not disclose a cause of death
  201. Georg Trakl (27) - Austrian poet, intentional cocaine overdose
  202. D. M. Turner (34) - author of books about psychedelic experiences, drowned in a bathtub while on ketamine
  203. Ike Turner (76) - musician/producer, died from cocaine overdose with high blood pressure and emphysema as contributing factors[236].
  204. Dick Twardzik (24) - bebop jazz pianist, heroin overdose
  205. John Tyndall (73) - physicist, accidental overdose of chloral hydrate
  206. Stu Ungar (45) - Three-time World Series of Poker Main Event winner, heart condition caused by long-term cocaine abuse
  207. Enrique Urquijo (39) - singer, drug overdose.
  208. Paul Vaessen (40) - former professional footballer with Arsenal, drug overdose.
  209. Lupe Vélez (36) - actress, secobarbital overdose (suicide).
  210. Michael VerMeulen (38) - magazine editor, drug overdose.
  211. Sid Vicious (21) - musician, the Sex Pistols, heroin overdose
  212. Robert Walker (full name Robert Hudson Walker) (32) - actor, a reaction to a sedative administered by his doctor.
  213. Dinah Washington (39) - musician, singer, overdose of drugs and alcohol.
  214. Dave Waymer (34) - American football defensive-back, cocaine-induced heart attack.
  215. Rachel Whitear (21) - student, heroin overdose led to anti-drugs campaign in Britain.
  216. Brett Whiteley (53) - artist, heroin overdose.
  217. Alan Wilson (27) - musician, Canned Heat, drug overdose.
  218. Kenneth Williams (62) - actor, author and comedian from Carry On, overdose of barbiturates.
  219. Linda Wong (36) - pornographic actress, overdose on Xanax, chloral hydrate, and alcohol.
  220. Anna Wood (15) - Australian schoolgirl, died after taking an ecstasy tablet.
  221. Paula Yates (40) - British TV presenter & author, heroin overdose.
And that's just a partial list from one wikipedia article.

Which makes me want to ask the current crop of young stars one question as they get ready to drop their first dose of illegal drugs:

Why don't you know any better?

And another sad note, is that Haim's timing pretty much insures that he won't even get a spot on the Academy Awards memorial reel.