Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 Stories

Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 Stories

Hypocrites at Deadline Threaten All of Hollywood Over Nikki Finke

A self-serving Sunday morning interview between Deadline’s Mike Fleming and Deadline’s Peter Bart at Deadline about how awful Nikki Finke is, is quite the lesson in pompous, passive-aggressive character assassination. My summary:

We wanted Nikki back.
Nikki’s a monster.
It didn’t work out. 
Nikki’s a monster.
We’re sorry it didn’t work out. 
Nikki’s a monster. 
But it’s good it didn’t work out cuz Nikki’s a monster. 

Bart, the consummate insider (ex-studio chief, Variety honcho) made me laugh out loud with this suck-up drivel:

I would argue that the original Deadline style, which was excellently suited to the turbulence of the Writers’ Strike, is no longer relevant to today’s market. Hollywood knows that the ground is shifting under it. Its new leaders are high on cost cutting but low on transparency. What’s needed in terms of reporting is objectivity and analysis, not noise. The news today is all about the potential links between AT&T and DirecTV, between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Who will buy Vice Media and Univision? The era of the celebrity CEO is behind us. There’s no one important (or reckless) enough to ridicule. News sources want to be treated respectfully. They deserve it, in my book.


Even more outrageous is how the interview ends — with a breathtaking warning to all of Hollywood that is not only Nikki Finke-ian in the extreme, but makes it blatantly obvious that despite all its pronouncements about professionalism and objectivity, Deadline intends to be neither:

Since the thrust of [Finke’s] new site seems to be Deadline-bashing, I feel comfortable in making this clear: those who choose to break their news with her will need to be happy with that result. You might get a scant mention, but you’ll find no love here.

Gentlemen, please do go to hell.

In other words, anyone who doesn’t play ball will not be treated with respect, objectivity, and professionalism.

That’s not even a veiled threat. I’d call it bullying but Deadline just isn’t a big enough deal to earn that title. What it really is is the kind of pompousness and arrogance that festers only in elite circles.

Nikki Finke has her flaws, but compared to Hollywood’s Flemings and Barts, she is The Winged Goddess of All That Is Good and Righteous In the World.

‘Erin Brockovich’ Meets ‘The Blind Side’ In Reese Witherspoon’s ‘The Good Lie’

Feisty independent woman with issues of her own grudgingly Gets Involved and ends up Fighting The System. In the end, The White Savior is saved by those she is trying to save…

Boilerplate but boilerplate for a reason. As you watch the trailer, even as your brain screams “I’ve already seen this movie!”, it still kinda works…

“The Good Lie” hits theaters October 3rd and looks like the best project Reese Witherspoon has had since winning the Oscar (and the Oscar curse) 8 years ago in “Walk the Line.” 

If you want to know how slow the gears turn in Hollywood, ten years ago I knew a major producer whose passion project was a film about the Lost Boys of Sudan. This isn’t even his project.

From what I could glimpse, it looks as though one of the Lost Boys can be seen praying in a Christian church. One of the “Blind Side” producers is involved, so it’s not out of the question that “faith based” might become part of the marketing.

Two weeks later, this response hits theaters…

‘Dear White People’ Is Now a Feature-Length Movie

Coming Soon describes “Dear White People” this way:

Set at a Midwestern University that’s been experiencing difficulties between its white and black populations, the movie’sl ” perspective is seen through the eyes of four very different African-Americans including shy Lionel (Tyler James Williams), who is being bullied by his white fratmates, Tessa Thompson’s militant DJ Samantha White, overachiever Troy (Brandon Bell) and Teyonah Parris’ Coco. Things escalate when one of the fraternities decides to throw an “African-American Party” causing even further tension. 

Apparently, filmmaker Justin Simien feels black people are somehow uniquely victimized by Hollywood stereotyping. 

Dear Justin, you need to get out more and over yourself. 

Variety: ‘How Chelsea Handler Changes Our Understanding of Netflix’

Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein is as intrigued as I am by Netflix’s decision to get into the business of the Late Night talk show. This would be Netflix’s first foray into programming that comes with a spoilage date — meaning, like a newscast, topical to a certain day or days. You can watch “House of Cards” anytime, but who’s going to watch a two week old Late Night talk show.

Wallenstein wonders if this is a one-off, a test with this kind of programming, or a sign of things to come: Will Netflix try a nightly newscast next? Most intriguing is the idea that Netflix might snap up the “soon-to-be-expired NBA TV rights.”

Overall, Wallenstein writes off the move into Late Night as a publicity move on Netflix’s part apropos of nothing. 

Netflix might argue that its original programming slate is so daring that shows like “Orange is the New Black” also set it apart from the rest of the TV pack, but that’s a charitable assessment. As amazing a track record as the company has built for itself, Netflix isn’t really doing anything in original programming much different in tone or style than anything else on pay TV.

So Netflix has to do something to up the ante to earn its bona fides as a true innovator. There’s no better way to do that than to take on what is inarguably TV’s hoariest, cliche-ridden format-the talk show-and put Netflix’s own distinctive stamp on it.

Netflix might not offer much different in “tone or style” than FX, HBO, or AMC, but binge-viewing that tone and style has and will for at least another decade completely change the way television is produced.
Imagine, though, if Netflix grabbed the television rights to the NBA. If broadcast or cable television allowed that to happen, it would be their Waterloo. How many millions are holding on to cable simply to have access to the NBA. 

If I were Netflix, I would not yet do everything in my power to snag the NBA broadcast rights, but if I were Old TV, I would surely do everything to hold on to it.

Daily Beast Attacks Eastwood as ‘Hollywood’s Most Overrated’

Over at the Daily Beast, Andrew Romano’s attack on two-time Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood’s directorial skills would be a little more credible if one of the two photos he chose for the piece wasn’t Eastwood mocking Obama as an empty chair.

The butt-hurt remains strong with the Left, especially because Obama’s second term has brought Eastwood’s empty chair metaphor to a terrifying reality. 

That doesn’t mean Romano is wrong, but he’s talking about a living legend who has directed somewhere around 35 films, two (!) of them Best Picture winners (“Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”).

Eastwood has also directed a number of commercially appealing films that are still iconic: “The Gauntlet,” “Outlaw Josey Wales.” “High Plains Drifter,” “Sudden Impact,” “Gran Torino,” “Space Cowboys.”

His run of late — post-“Gran Torino” — has been weak, no question, but what modern-day director considered “great,” hasn’t had a dry spell? Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski, and Oliver Stone have all slipped for a time, especially as they have gotten older.

To compare Eastwood (as Romano does) or any modern-day director to a Howard Hawks or John Ford is a little ridiculous — like comparing a contemporary musician to Mozart. 

Romano’s article reminds me of how critics attempted to deconstruct John Wayne in the 80s and 90s as a lousy actor who made reactionary, racist films. For a time there was even an attempt to write John Ford off as a sentimentalist racist. 

Time of course is the final arbiter of these things, not left-wing critics who think they can affect the arc of time with wishful thinking and propaganda. 

If you want a look at overrated … that would be this guy.

Quick Hits

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