Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #571: Money, Movies, Media

Welcome to the show folks...


Reports are buzzing around that Paramount wants Tom Cruise to make
Mission: Impossible 4, but they want him to work for a combination of 'scale' and a healthy back end payout from the 'break even' point, and that Cruise has reportedly agreed.

For those not hep to the lingo 'scale' is the bare minimum weekly salary & perks package as allowed by the Screen Actors Guild. The 'back end payment' means that if the box office revenues reach a certain point, Cruise will get a piece of that money. Now you're probably wondering why someone of Tom Cruise's stature is getting such a deal, well, it's simple.

1. Tom Cruise has made Paramount a lot of money. He's also made a lot of money for himself, through some pretty hard-core deals made when he was at the peak of his star-power.

2. The last
Mission: Impossible movie sold a lot of tickets, but lost a truckload of money mostly because of Tom Cruise's hard-core contract.

3. It's been a while since Tom Cruise carried a major hit, and his last film
Knight & Day didn't even last a night and a day at the box office.

4. For some reason, I don't know why, Paramount is convinced that only Tom Cruise can carry a movie based on a TV show that changed its star without so much as a blip.

5. Paramount wants Tom Cruise, they just don't want to
pay full price for Tom Cruise.

This is why they make a deal where they hope they can make
M:I4 for a price that box office can bear. It's a partial step toward some sort of fiscal sanity in Hollywood.


George Lucas took some time off giving away half his wealth in penance for the prequels has let slip that the long sought for live action TV series set in the Star Wars universe has been benched on account of the high costs.

Apparently they thought too big, aiming to make a big bombastic epic instead of using the small screen for what it does best. A TV series is a more intimate medium than a big 2+ hour movie. It allows for fuller character development and more intimate stories to be told over a longer period of time. While the occasional big bombastic battle is allowed, it's not really what you need to do every day.

So why didn't Lucas look for a show set in the underbelly of the Empire. The show could have followed characters who didn't deal with the fate of the galaxy on a weekly basis, but a scruffy band of outsiders trying to deal with the fate of their next meal on a weekly basis. Then you don't need big battles, armies of extras, or too many special effects. You just need good characters and decent stories.

Then again, maybe I'm asking for too much.


After decades where Spring and Summer are dominated by a made frenzy of pitching and pilot making the major American broadcast networks there's a bit of a drought going on. The nets need scripted shows to attract audiences and please advertisers, but there aren't many producers pitching at them.

There are some reasons for this...

The experts say that the last few years were particularly intense, starting with a mad dash to avoid a strike in 2007, and a lot of people are exhausted from the insanity of it all for such little reward.

I'm not so sure about this. I think it might have more to do with the bogus theory of corporate 'synergy' that's dominated the thinking of networks for the past decade. They demanded more and more, from a steadily shrinking pool of talent, all in the name of keeping production and profits 'in house.' Now that they need the independents to come back, they're not coming. That means a lot of the independents just aren't interested in the hassle of dealing with the networks anymore because they were mostly blocked from dealing with the networks for the past decade.

They're all busy trying to get on AMC, HBO, Showtime, FX and any of the other cable nets that are a tad more open minded.


Fox TV Studios honcho Emiliano Calemzuk, who turned the production division from a money loser, to a money maker with shows like
White Collar and Burn Notice has jumped his Murdoch, so to speak.

He's left Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to work for run Reveille, the US production arm of Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group.

Now I predict that this is just the beginning. Shine Group's modus operandi is to absorb independent TV producers with a sweet deal: They get the clout of being part of a big company, but without the bureaucracy and meddling of being part of one of the major studios.

So I expect 2 things:

1. Reveille will have an aggressive growth spurt. In the next couple of years it will try to put as many shows on as many TV channels as it can.

2. Expect other independent American TV producers to join up with Shine Group / Reveille conglomeration. Watch the major producers of sitcoms, reality shows, and dramas to start signing up one by one. It worked for Shine in England, and with the networks needing more independent material, it can work for Shine in America.

So don't forget to drop what you think in the comments.


  1. "The show could have followed characters who didn't deal with the fate of the galaxy on a weekly basis, but a scruffy band of outsiders trying to deal with the fate of their next meal on a weekly basis."

    It's been done.

    It was called Firefly.

    (Sorry, couldn't resist. :) )

  2. Fuloydo-- Since you were the first to spot my little SyFy Channel moment! You win the grand prize which is...

    NOTHING! :p

    Enjoy your nothing. It's all yours.

    But there is a point beyond my feeble attempt at wry commentary. Han Solo's character touched upon an entire underclass of scroungers, gangsters, and smugglers operating under the Empire's nose. Hire Joss Whedon & Co. and see what they can do.

  3. Blast Hardcheese6/8/10 9:54 am

    I seem to recall an interview with JW where he mentioned that Serenity (the ship in 'Firefly') was his version of the Millennium Falcon. So, in a way, he's already done his version of a 'Star Wars' TV show.

    Backing up to Tom Cruise (ooh, that came out wrong), now all that needs to happen is for Paramount to stop playing silly games with the accounting. If TC actually makes some decent money off of MI4, it could start a trend.

    Nah, that's crazy talk. Paramount will claim MI4 didn't make any money, TC will sue, everybody will get ulcers. Bleah.