Daily Call Sheet: SAG Snubs Clooney & Streep, 'Ferris' Returns, and the Death of Cable TV?

THE HELP’ WINS THREE SAG AWARDS, STREEP AND CLOONEY LOSE

This is a good sign for “The Help,” which is a superb film. SAG is one of the most reliable Oscar bellwethers because so much of the Oscar voting pool is made up of actors:

[T]he big winner of the night was Tate Taylor’s The Help, which took home three of the five SAG film acting awards it was up for with Octavia Spencer winning in the Female Actor in a Supporting Role category, followed by Viola Davis taking the Female Actor in a Leading Role award, solidifying her lead over her primary awards season competition Meryl Streep. …

French actor Jean DuJardin pulled an upset himself by taking the SAG Award for Male Actor in a Lead Role for his performance in The Artist over the favorited George Clooney

Because I haven’t seen “The Artist,” or the films for which Clooney and Streep have been nominated, there’s no way for me to judge if this is fair. What I do know is that Clooney’s improved dramatically as an actor over the last decade while Streep’s become a parody of herself, and the snippets I have seen of “The Iron Lady” tell me nothing’s changed.

ANALYST: PAY TV PROVIDERS HAVE ENOUGH MUSCLE TO BLOCK COMPETITION FROM THE WEB

I don’t completely disagree, and there are a few points worth highlighting but also a few to add.

First off, what you’ll read immediately below is why you pay for a ton of crap on cable you don’t watch. Secondly, this is how crap nobody watches stays alive. Finally, and most importantly, this is how a VERY FEW monopolize our popular culture:

Six companies — Disney, News Corp, NBCUniversal, Time Warner, CBS, and Discovery — account for 90% of all viewing hours. They demand that their channels be sold in packages, “and only that way[.]” …

Well, then what’s to stop an online service from creating a virtual cable company — offering packages of channels via the net but for less than current pay TV providers charge? You’d think there’d be room for someone to do that considering that that consumers pay Comcast about $79 a month for programming that costs the company about $29.

Three reasons follow, and each is valid:

1. “Hollywood studios would only help a new competitor if it offered to pay more than the current pay TV guys do. “A subscriber lost to Comcast or DirecTV is also a subscriber lost by News Corporation and Disney,” Moffett says.”

2. “[S]treaming video entails “huge and very real infrastructure costs associated with the massive server farms, transport costs, and hosting fees…For a large scale startup, the cost could run into the billions.”

3. “The cable guys can upend the economics of online video just by adopting usage based pricing for their broadband services.”

In other words, since most Internet providers also provide cable, they can start charging us exorbitant fees to download and watch programming via a provider such as Netflix Streaming. This will offset any savings we gain moving from cable to a streaming service. Moreover, because of the massive start-up costs involved, it’s hard to imagine a Netflix getting into the business of providing internet. Agreed. But…

This analysis doesn’t take a few things into account, like human nature. For starters, it assumes the providers of entertainment and Internet hold all the cards when they don’t. The customers create the market, not the other way around. The entertainment providers can try to blackmail us by withholding their product from streaming venues, but eventually we’re going to stop watching their product. Internet providers can blackmail us by charging huge fees, but eventually we’ll use their product less to avoid those fees.

What happens, then, is the unthinkable (for Hollywood), and that’s fewer eyeballs on the product. And when that happens, Hollywood will have to go to where the eyeballs are, which mean bowing to the Streaming god. This also means the cost of streaming will have to go down (if it increases at all) in order for viewership to increase.

For Hollywood, nothing will ever trump eyeballs on the product. That’s where the real money is for obvious reasons. Therefore, everything will be done to get that product in front of people.

One thing I suspect will happen is that once everything is streaming, programmers will do to their programming what we’re seeing done today with online videos, and that’s adding a commercial or two that can’t be fast-forwarded through. There’s a lot of money to be made in advertising if the sponsors know we’re a captive audience no longer in possession of the power to avoid commercials. Crackle TV does this now to pay for the free programming they stream, and there’s no reason the others can’t.

This is how the inevitable (streaming) can be monetized, and monetizing the inevitable is what everyone needs to be focused on, not fighting it.

RIP: ‘SEINFELD’ ACTOR IAN ABERCROMBIE DEAD AT 77

“Seinfeld” hasn’t aged a day. I’ve been watching the DVDs after work while killing myself on the treadmill (three miles in two hours is pretty good, right?) and the show’s genius for gently mocking self-involved, urban liberals plays even better today. And, it’s just plain ole’ funny.

10 BEST DIRECTOR’S CUTS

Generally I despise director’s cuts and see them for what they really are — a way to cynically double dip fans, but I can’t argue with the choices of “Blade Runner,” “Das Boot,” and most especially Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil,” which went from curiosity to classic after a recut was produced using the director’s very precise notes.

WEAK: FULL MATTHEW BRODERICK AS FERRIS BUELLER SUPER BOWL AD FOR HONDA

Weak. Weak. Weak. They couldn’t get Ben Stein? The final bit is kind of clever, though.

What’s most interesting about this ad is that there’s an ad in front of it.

READER: HOLLYWOOD DOES SELL MEMORABILIA

In Friday’s Call Sheet I wondered aloud why Hollywood keeps and reuses props and wardrobe when there’s a huge market for memorabilia. A reader emailed:

[Y]ou need to watch ‘Hollywood Treasures’ on the SyFy Channel. It’s about a company called Profiles in History, which has regular auctions of Hollywood memorabilia. They’ve done two seasons already, so maybe you can catch them in re-runs or on DVD. You’d be amazed at what some of this stuff goes for — and likewise what doesn’t sell. They handled the Debbie Reynolds collection recently because she couldn’t get anyone in Hollywood interested in building a museum, which is a real shame.

Check it out.

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LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING

Double shot of Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973) on Blu-ray. These are movies you just have to rewatch a couple of times a year. The Blu-rays look great and were really inexpensive. The two-pack was only $9 and included some pretty interesting extras.

If there’s time tonight, it will be my other $9 two-pack: The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983).

Sometimes you just got to get your Dirty Harry on.

A few months after he first hired me, Andrew Breitbart called me up during that year’s Super Bowl halftime. During the conversation he asked me what I was watching. I told him “Sudden Impact.” He said, “I hired the right guy.”

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SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINKTACULAR

AN UPDATE ON DARREN ARONOFSKY’S BIBLICAL TALE ‘NOAH

CINEMA RETRO’S DAVE WORRALL AT “BOND IN MOTION” AUTO EXHIBITION

ROOM 237 DOCUMENTARY ATTEMPTS TO DECIPHER KUBRICK’S ‘THE SHINING

NEW THE ‘DARK KNIGHT RISES’ MERCHANDISE PROMO SHOTS

10 GEEKIEST ONE-SHOT GUEST STARS ON ‘CHUCK

SECOND PHOTO OF VIN DIESEL ON THE ‘RIDDICK’ SET

10 KICKASS THINGS MEL BROOKS DID (BESIDES HIS MOVIES)

‘MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4′ SETS FRANCHISE RECORD WITH $571M WORLDWIDE SO FAR

THE LOST PROJECTS OF HAROLD RAMIS

BUT FOR ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN,’ THERE’D HAVE PROBABLY BEEN NO GRATEFUL DEAD

OSCAR-NOMINATED MOVIE POSTERS: WHAT IF THEY TOLD THE TRUTH?

STEVE BUSCEMI TALKS ABOUT THE SECRET OF ‘BOARDWALK EMPIRE’

ON THE INHERENT DARKNESS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG

READERS BID FAREWELL TO ‘KOTTER’S’ JUAN EPSTEIN

15 FILM FESTIVAL DARLINGS THAT WOULD’VE BEEN BETTER AS TV SERIES

CHRIS ROCK: ‘GROWN UPS’ CAST REUNION MIGHT NOT BE A SEQUEL

EXPLORING THE HIDDEN MYTHOS OF ‘POLICE ACADEMY’ (YES, SOMEONE ACTUALLY WROTE THIS)

‘PHANTOM MENACE’ 3D PREVIEW FROM ‘STAR WARS’ INSIDER

THE MOST RIDICULOUS SCI-FI PLOTS FROM ACTUAL SOAP OPERAS

SEE DON DRAPER ON THE COVER OF SCOTCH & SMOKE MAGAZINE

A LOOK BACK AT ‘THREE CASES OF MURDER,’ STARRING ORSON WELLES

‘TRUE BLOOD’ SEASON 5 TEASER VIDEO

37 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE ‘HARD CANDY’ COMMENTARY

‘GAME OF THRONES’ SEASON 2 TRAILER

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CLASSIC PICK FOR TUESDAY, JANUARY 31

TCM:

8:30 AM EST: Black Narcissus (1947) — Nuns founding a convent in the Himalayas are tormented by the area’s exotic beauty. Dir: Michael Powell Cast: Deborah Kerr, Sabu, David Farrar. C-101 mins, TV-14, CC.

Bizarre, very adult and beautifully filmed classic, one of those films that prove the Production Code made for better films with the limits it placed on artists to tell these kinds of stories through subtext and symbolism. Without those limits, the movie wouldn’t be half as good as it is.

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