Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #852: Hollywood Could Use Someone Like This Now...

Producer Bert Schneider has passed away at the age of 78.  Now many people may not know his name, or his face, but a lot of you know his films, because he was part of the generation that saved Hollywood from itself.

You see in the 1960s Hollywood was a sorry state.  Since the advent of television in the 1950s the entire industry had been flailing around trying to find something, anything, that could butts in theater seats.  They tried mega-budget epics loaded with lots of big name stars and special effects, they tried gimmicks like 3D, and for the most part they dropped more expensive bombs than Curtis LeMay.

Into this stumbled young Bert Schneider, the son of Abraham Schneider, a former President of Columbia Pictures, who had recently been expelled from Cornell, and rejected by the army. His father's status in the industry helped the then aimless Bert get a job at Columbia's Screen Gems TV division under the White Man's Affirmative Action Plan.

However, once he had his foot in the door he started to make a name for himself.  He joined forces with another young go-getter named Bob Rafelson, to form Raybert Productions, and put together a little show called The Monkees.

Not willing to rest on their laurels, or cash from The Monkees franchise, the partners branched out into feature films that attempted to break from the studio dominated norms and target audiences that had either been ignored or insulted by the majors. Their film Easy Rider became a break-out hit, and producer Stephen Blauner soon joined the team which was reformed as BBS Productions. 

BBS Productions then went on to produce such seminal films of the 1970s as Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show before he dropped out of the movie business entirely in the early 1980s.

Now let's take a moment to look at how Hollywood history is repeating itself.

We're seeing dwindling audiences who are finding entertainment from other mediums, skyrocketing budgets, huge gaps forming in the movie market, gimmicks like 3D, over-paid and under-performing stars, and a stifling group-think controlling Hollywood to the point that anyone dwelling outside its permitted attitude range is viewed as either alien at best, or sub-human at worst.

Yep, history is repeating itself... except I don't see any Bert Schneider's coming around to shake things up from the inside like he did.  In fact, I see an industry that would rather risk seeing itself die out completely before changing how it operates.


  1. HW needs to change how it operates, right nowe thy are in a slump because their biggest DEMO would rather play COD:MW3 and Skyrim, for the most part I am doign the same thing, because I cannot remember the last time I saw a trailer for a film that made me say "OMGholyshitIgottoseethat!"

    As for 3D, I saw Immortals in 3D, it would not have made a difference if it was in 2D.

  2. The last ad I saw for COD:MW3 was funnier and more entertaining than most of the movies I saw last year. It had the heavy kid from 'Superbad' who is now rather slimmed down for the ad and BTW they made him look good in the action sequences. That is not always easy to do. Look at some Steven Segal stuff recently and you'll see what I am talking about.

    Anyway my 'embed-fu' is weak. But google COD:MW3 ad and you'll find it. They have 'Shoot to Thrill' as the background music. I never thought stuff I listened to in Jr. High new would still be popular today.

    BTW Skyrim kicks all kinds of ass.


    P.S. I think a good use of Furioso's time would be to get a 'Conan' tv show for cable like 'Spartacus' made in Canada. Start with the stories in their Conan-chronological order (not the order they are written) cap off the series with 'Hour of the Dragon'. Most of Conan is gritty, low magic, i.e. low special effects and with good writers a story like 'People of the Black Circle' would be tremendous.

  3. Hey Furious,

    When are we going to get more question and answer sessions? I want to know why R.E. Howard hasn't been successfully adapted to the little screen (other than 'Pigeons from Hell').

    He has had a deeper influence on the fantasy field than anyone other than Tolkien and his stories are kick-ass action, manly-men, and beautiful women in various stages of undress-distress.

    'The Horror from the Mound' is a classic creepy short story that raised the hairs on my neck when I was a kid.

    Conan has a good name and would guarantee an audience.

  4. Let me do a little digging on the Conan issue and I'll try to answer your question.