Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #524: I'm Not So Sure

Welcome to the show folks...

In my second blog of the day, I'm taking a moment to discuss a pair of projects that I'm not so sure about, no matter the quality of the ultimate project. First up...


Brad Pitt and Indian media giant Reliance have joined forces to buy the movie rights to the recently released novel The Imperfectionist by Tom Rachman. The book is about the professional and personal life of a reporter working for an English language newspaper in Italy.

And that's what might kill the project at the box office.

In recent years, movies about reporters don't do very well. In addition, print reporters aren't doing all that well either, with the greater bulk of the newspaper industry nearing total financial collapse due to a dwindling and aging readership, and the explosion of alternative sources on cable TV and the internet. Add to that the declining opinion that the American public has of reporters in general, and you have a recipe for movies like the recent
State of Play sinking like a stone.

Gone are the days when reporters were viewed as the scoop hungry comical mugs of
The Front Page, or the noble crusaders of All The President's Men. In its place is an image of the reporter as servant of arcane big money political agendas no matter what side of the political coin the viewer is on. In recent years the only people remotely interested in the lives of reporters are other reporters, and the folks in Hollywood.

I wish the people behind this film luck, I just don't think it's going to put bums in seats.


The upcoming HBO series
Tilda is casting by leaps and bounds, adding Jason Patric to the cast* which already boasts Diane Keaton in the title role, Ellen Page, and Wes Bentley.

While show may boast a stellar cast, and could have great writing and sharp clever direction, I'm just not sure that it's going to catch on.

Here's why:

1. It's about a reporter. Yes, it's an internet blogger, (allegedly not based on Nikki Finke) but a reporter nonetheless, and I've already stated my opinion on journalism related projects above.

2. It's about the business of Hollywood. Hollywood is endlessly fascinated with itself, but the audience, not so much. Entourage does well enough, but it's more of a broad farce about celebrity as opposed to a cutting satire of the business itself. It's basically gossip versus business, and usually gossip wins.

3. It's about Hollywood in general. Recent surveys show that the average moviegoer doesn't think as highly of the inhabitants of the Axis of Ego as they do themselves, viewing them as dippy, often drug addled rich spoiled poodles who hop from each others beds and whatever fashionable causes catch their eye as long as that cause seems to rile up the very same people who pay for movie tickets. If they're not being held up for ridicule, most viewers tend to tune out.

4. It's a very narrow field to work with. When you're doing a police procedural you have a wide range of crime to work with, they are often rife with melodramatic motives and themes, and they have definitive endings with the guilty being punished. In Hollywood there are a wide range of shenanigans that don't involve celebrity bed hopping, however, they all involve the rather dry world of shell-game accounting, which isn't very melodramatic, and they never really end satisfactorily with the guilty being punished for their sins. They just get fired and either go work for another studio, or become producers.

So unless the plucky reporter starts solving mysteries, or it becomes a wildly funny sex farce, it's going to need some hellaciously stellar, nay Shakespearean, plotting and writing to avoid becoming repetitive, and win the sizable audience they need to make it for any length of time.

Anyway, good luck to them, they're going to need it.


*If you read the comments at the article about Jason Patric joining Tilda, you'll find a rather desperate internet troll attempting, poorly, to impersonate me. The terrible quality of the impersonation tells you more about the sad pathetic life of the troll than about me, and my sad, pathetic life.


  1. Your comments about reporters, movies and potential audiences is accurate. The general public does not see them as undercover heroes any longer and they have themselves to thank for that situation.However,State of Play was well done and I enjoyed it.Overall the type of stories the movie going public gets from the movie business appears to be shrinking. Diversity is on the wane.What the development departments should do is check out what the top 100 rentals are at Netflix, currently. The top renter for a year and a half has been Crash,followed by a pretty mixed bag of films,including a western 3:10 to Yuma,Benjamin Button, Departed and Slumdog Millionaire,an eclectic collection.

  2. I think the the entire entertainment industry is suffering from simple overexposure. There are really only a few plot themes and they have all been beaten to death in hundreds of thousands of hours of programming over fifty years.

    In the old days, a person might only see a play or other entertainment a few times in an entire lifetime, but now entertainment is 24/7.

    Also the entertainment industry is much too full of itself. What goes on behind the curtain is hidden in the best entertainment.

    Just my two cents' worth, and probably not worth that.