Hollywood Playbook: Wednesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Wednesday's Top 5 News Items

The Fall of ‘Entertainment Weekly’

Ann Helen Petersen has written a lengthy history of the rise and fall of Entertainment Weekly, the 24 year-old publication that is now nothing more than a pamphlet. Online, EW is even worse – everyday relying more and more on user content.

In 1990, I was one of EW’s first subscribers. I still have the premiere issue with k. d. lang on the cover and a bunch of their terrific “list” issues. At 24, I was no teenager either and every week for over a decade I devoured that sucker from cover to cover — the interviews, the reviews in the back. Petersen gets it exactly right that EW was sort of a preview of the Internet with its colored tabs for different sections (verticals), lists, and other aspects of its lay out.

What I loved about EW was that it was populist with a touch of insider. The magazine seemed as excited about the next Batman film as I was but there were also write-ups about what was happening in the independent film world and the entertainment business in general. When DreamWorks formed in the 1994, EW was all over it, and even though I didn’t watch a lot of television in those days, I knew what was going on. Same with books and video games. EW was a way to stay on top of what was happening without having to actually watch and read everything.

 When I canceled my subscription due in equal parts to disgust, disappointment and heartbreak, it wasn’t for any of the reasons Petersen mentions for the magazine’s collapse — it was EW’s sharp turn towards nasty partisanship.

EW was always a liberal publication.

Always.

The feature writers, critics, and overall editorial slant was left-wing from the first issue. Moreover, when I first subscribed, I was a lefty myself. My move towards facts, sanity, science, empathy, reality and decency was still two years away.

In those early days, EW’s leftward tilt could be annoying but that was a small price to pay for the many pleasures the publication offered. Besides, whether it’s my church or work monitoring CNN and MSNBC, for as long as I’ve been a right-wing extremist, I’ve never had any problem being exposed to differing opinions.

I didn’t change, EW did.

After the 2000 presidential election, the publication went from political to hyper-partisan. The Bush Derangement Syndrome was deep, bitter, and exhausting. My memory isn’t good enough to list specifics, but after 9/11 and into the run up of the Iraq War, I can’t count how many times I was attacked for who I was and what I believed in.

Over the course of a couple of years, EW went from disagreeing with me to hating me.

So I hated them back, cancelled my subscription, and found other sources.

After I was covering Hollywood professionally online in the mid-aughts, my work made reading EW necessary again. It had only gotten worse, especially its “star” writers like Owen Gleiberman (who has since been laid off).  

According to Petersen, EW’s decline happened during the aughts. She doesn’t, however, mention EW’s far-left turn into outright ugliness,. And I doubt I was the only right-of-center fan they lost.

From the sounds of it, EW’s demise has been slow, brutal and painful — which is exactly what it deserves.

‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Trailer Arrives

Only the Marx Brothers made me laugh as hard as the original “Dumb and Dumber” waaaaaayyyy back in 1994. And if I wait a few years in-between screenings, it still puts me on the floor. I don’t really know what to make of the trailer for “Dumb and Dumber To” (November 14). I laughed once (the dust gag), which is the kind of joke that makes the original work so well.

You don’t expect the dust gag. It comes out of nowhere and surprises. Surprise was the key to the best gags in “Dumb and Dumber.” Even smaller jokes like, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…?”, came out of nowhere  

I know I’m about to sound like a parody of myself but the trailer unfortunately relies pretty heavily on gross-out gags, even though I laughed at one.

Overall, I just don’t care. If it wasn’t my job, unless word-of-mouth is through the roof, I probably wouldn’t even watch it for free on cable. As much as I loved the original, it’s not as though I built up an affection for the characters and want to spend more time with them.

And the concept stinks. With the Marx Brothers it was “What would they do to an opera, as stowaways, at a university, in a fancy hotel.” Another Harold and Lloyd road trip? Meh.

Paula Deen Outflanks Bigoted Elites with Own Web Network

The destruction of Paula Deen by the national media (and some unforced errors on her part) was a revolting display. I’m not defending what she said — but it was YEARS ago.

The fact is that elites despise Southerners, especially Southerners who speak with a Southern accent and who like to eat. The real bigots in the Deen Drama were the media’s McCarthyite elite.  

Using the miracle of the InterTubeDotNets, Deen hopes to outflank the bigots with her own Web network and series, which is a serious venture backed by a $100 million piece of private equity.

God bless America.

10 Actors Whose Careers Are in Trouble

Starting with Tom Cruise, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith lists 10 actors whose careers are in trouble, and it’s pretty accurate. Among others, Smith lists Crowe, Clooney, Carell, Sandler, Depp, Damon and Will Smith.

Will Smith, I think, has the best chance at a comeback. Age, bad publicity, and their schtick feeling a little tired has brought down some, but Smith looks much younger than 46, still enjoys goodwill from his audience, is a very talented actor and a legitimate movie star. For whatever reason, he slowed his output considerably after 2008. There were 4 long years between the dramatic misfire of “Seven Pounds” (2008) and the surprisingly good “Men In Black 3” (2012).

The public is still willing to see a “Will Smith movie.” He just needs to go back to making them and stay away from vanity crap like “After Earth.”

Hot Lesbian Woman on Gay Man Hollywood In-Fighting

Lesbian writer Trish Bendix is more than a little peeved at Carter Covington, the openly gay creator of the MTV’s series “Faking It.” 

You see, according to Bendix, Covington Does Not Know Lesbian Sexuality:

After eight episodes of MTV’s Faking It, it has finally become clear that the writers have been doing some falsifying of their own. Despite the fact that creator Carter Covington is an out gay man, his knowledge of lesbian sexuality and the tropes that frequently accompany them in television portrayals is in serious question after decidedly gay identified Amy (Rita Volk) slept with straight, cisgender Liam (Gregg Sulkin).

Why do I feel victorious over the fact that I’ve lived 48 years without knowing what “cisgender” means?

Amy’s moments of tenderness or positivity about her newfound sexual identity and burgeoning crush on Karma are overpowered by the overt and often eye roll-inducing Liam and Karma pairing, including a proposed threesome for Liam’s benefit, his taking of Karma’s virginity on top of an art installation and the finale’s terrible ending: Amy and Liam having sex.

Human sexuality is the most tiresome and boring subject in the history of human drama.  Just reading that paragraph makes me want to take a nap. What the topic of sexuality really is, of course, is narcissism; a way to talk about and obsess over yourself.

Gay or straight, if your sexuality is any part of your identity, get over yourself.

Faking It furthers the insult by having the forlorn Amy sleep with a man who not only does not respect lesbian relationships and sexuality (nor women, really), but whom she detests for having taken Karma away from her.

MTV: Prematurely destroying the innocence of American children since 1981.

How many of you have kids and let MTV into your home? If someone sat on your couch and spouted this crap, you’d kick them out. But in the form of the most powerful propaganda tool ever created, we not only invite cable television in, we make it the center of our home and pay for it to be there.

Do you have any idea how insane that is.

Quick Hits:

ACLU Director Says New Pro-Abortion Romantic Comedy Movie “Makes Abortion Funny”

Will Hollywood learn from ‘The Fault in Our Stars?

Oscar-nominated actress Martha Hyer dies at 89

First ‘Star War’ Spinoff to Film in London in 2015

Brad Pitt’s First ‘Fury’ Footage Does Anything But Tank

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