Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #581: 87th Precint TV & A L'il Q&A

Welcome to the show folks...


Lionsgate TV, and actors turned producers Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci are developing a TV series based on the 87th Precinct novels written by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter, aka Salvatore Lombino).

McBain wrote 50
87th Precinct books over 50 years, from 1956 until pretty much the day of his death in 2005. Now the producers have two directions they can go with this series:

1. Do a standard police procedural, with the McBain characters, but not the original stories.

2. Take a more British route. It's a radical departure for an American network series, but hear me out.

Do the books.

That's where you begin. But it's just a beginning.

Adapt the books into 2-3 part teleplays, and set them in the period they were written in. Do the 1950s to early 1960s books one season. Later 1960s-early 1970s the next season. Etc...etc...

Sure people may snark about the character who don't appear to age as they go through 5 decades in five seasons, but screw those nitpickers as long as it is a quality show. Plus it allows you to be more faithful to the original books, and avoid trying to contrive reasons for them to solve crimes without today's forensic technology.


The United Kingdom Film Council is dead and gone. But the British government still has some film financing commitments, and wonder what to do next.

Well, I'm leery of government financing of film production, while the idea of 'free' production financing sounds great, the reality can become too cliquish and promotes films that are more anti-audience than pro-art. So how can they avoid this?

1. TERM LIMITS: The head of the organization should only serve between 1-2 years then they're out. This keeps them from forming the cliques that dominate such groups.

2. EXPERIENCE ESSENTIAL, BUT NOT PREFERRED: If you must, the person that takes the job must not have pre-existing connections to the industry. Because those are automatic indicators of favoritism, if not downright nepotism. Recruit some hard-ass from the City who knows money, loves movies as a fan, and is willing to put up with producers for 2 years in exchange for scoring young actresses and a knighthood.

3. RESPONSIBILITY: If the films they finance don't sell any tickets, then that should reflect on the new council's budget. Seek a return on investment.

4. SMALL STAFF: In bureaucracies the more staff that gets hire, the more little empires are formed. This new group should be more like the original British Screen organization which only had 4 employees.

Then, maybe then, you might be able to get something functional.

At least until the next election, and the new government changes every around again.

Blast Hardcheese asked... D, how much impact do you think a film like "Inception" will have on the overall decline of 'tentpole' movies? It seems to be doing well (~$600M worldwide) and is by far the smartest and most satisfying 'big' movie I've seen in the last couple of years. With this and Pixar as examples, is there a chance they'll realize that they need to re-focus on well-written movies if they want to raise total ticket sales?
Sadly, probably none.

Hollywood is all about surface and the people running Hollywood avoid discussion of story. This is because story involves things that can't be solved simply by throwing money at it. To solve those things you need creativity, originality, talent, and discipline. Those are things that scare the living piss out of the powers that be in Hollywood.

Besides there's always the multi-billion dollar elephant in the room called Avatar.

That's what Hollywood really wants, it's all surface, cost lots of money, made shit-loads of cash, and had a thin sliver of a story ripped off of Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully.

Intelligent storytelling takes a lot of work, talent, and taste. Redoing Avatar over and over again only takes money, specifically other people's money, and lots of it.

So while small groups of filmmakers may make intelligent films in studios where they have a certain amount of financial clout. Those who hold their fingers on the green-light button in most studios will continue adapting board games and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on them.


  1. D, you think I could start hiring myself out to Hollywood as a script "improver" - thus phrasing editing in a way that makes them think they can fix the movie's problems with money?

    Or heck, let's go into business together!

  2. I reckon some of that spare money could go to..er, Me!