When “Project Greenlight” first aired on HBO in 2001, it was Ben Affleck whose career was in trouble. After 1998’s “Armageddon” it was all downhill. Between cameos and small parts in films like “Shakespeare In Love” (1998) and “Boiler Room” (2000), Affleck starred in the flops “Forces of Nature” (1999), “Reindeer Games” (2000), “Bounce” (2000), and a Kevin Smith movie.
Hollywood needed a reminder of why they liked him and along came HBO and Affleck’s lifelong pal Matt Damon, who was hot off of “Rounders” (1998), “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), and about to step into “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001).
The reality show lasted a few seasons, and a decade later…
Affleck’s career has exploded. He’s one of the hottest directors around and just grabbed the plum role of Batman in the upcoming Superman and Justice League films. Affleck is also one of a handful of people who have directed a Best Picture winner.
Damon, however, hasn’t starred in anything close to a box office hit since “True Grit” in 2010 (where he played only a supporting role). “Happy Feet Two” (2011), “We Bought a Zoo” (2011), and “Promised Land” (2012) all starred Damon and flopped. “Behind the Candelabra” (2013) ended up on HBO. “Elysium” (2013) and “Monuments Men” (2014) both underperformed.
Now that Matt needs some help, Affleck is stepping up to break the “Project Greenlight” glass.
HBO is reviving the reality show, which plucks a first-time screenwriter and director out of obscurity for a shot at bringing a low-budget feature film to life. Matt and Ben act as the show’s stars and as the film’s producers.
“Project Greenlight” allows Matt and Ben to look magnanimous as they help hopefuls reach for the stars.
What the show really is, though, is a chance for Matt and Ben to grab Hollywood’s attention for an hour each week as they play Matt and Ben. It’s a chance to remind producers and studios and movie-goers that we used to like these down-to-earth millionaire superstars.
THR reports that the rationale behind the reboot is a belief that technology has caught up to the show’s concept.
I have no idea what that means but I do I’m ready for “The Battle of Shaker Heights 2.”
And judging by his own career, so is Shia La-What-His-Name.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC