Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 Stories

Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 Stories

Why Aereo’s Defeat Will Be An Eventual Defeat For the Victors

Unless Aereo decides to pay re-transmission fees to the networks it wishes to re-transmit — which is unlikely and would mean higher costs to Aereo customers — Aereo is doornail dead. 

For you and I, this means one things: higher cable bills. That’s not speculation, that’s a promise. In defense of their desire to gobble up Time Warner Cable, Comcast didn’t argue our cable bills would go down, they argued the rate of increase would slow. The demise of Aereo is only going to make Big Cable feel even more invincible. 

And why not? Other than Streaming outlets like Netflix, cable again has no real competition. 

In the end, though, the Netflixes could be enough competition and therefore it is not unlikely Hollywood will eventually rue the day it decimated a competitor that might have done Big Cable more good than harm.

Competition is good; not just for upstarts like Aereo and consumers, but also for the fat, placid Kings of the Hill who are forced to innovate and rethink in ways that usually end up being better for them in the long run. The Supremes, however, just told Big Cable to lay in bed like Elvis with a pile of fudgsicles. 

For 8 long years Hollywood battled the home VCR. They wanted that sucker just as doornail dead as Aereo. Did you know that one Supreme vote the other way and the VCR and the very concept of home video would have been killed forever?

Imagine the price Hollywood would have paid for that “victory.”

Hollywood has not only made untold billions from home video, but home video is what keeps the industry in the black (barely). What would the industry look like today without that added cash flow.

Moreover, it is entirely possible that a loss in the Supreme Court for the VCR might have scared everyone away from developing DVD, Bluray, and the DVR — all of which have benefited Hollywood’s bottom line in too many ways to count. 

So now Big Cable is content to lie in bed with fudgsicle all over its smug face.  But maybe, just maybe they should think about this…

With Aereo, people were still watching their networks and, more importantly, commercials…

With Streaming TV, people are not watching either. Oh, and Netflix and company are also developing original, buzzworthy content which could some day make any kind of network or broadcast television unnecessary. 

People now have two choices: get bent over and raped by Big Cable or do a complete 180 towards something that is completely disconnected (and much cheaper and much more convenient) from Big Cable. 

Aereo was a middle ground, and 10 years from now, Hollywood and Big Cable might wish they had worked with or co-opted Aereo in some way as opposed to legally murdering it. 

There’s still time to work with Aereo. Viacom and Barry Diller own it. They’re in the club. 

Think about it, Hollywood. 

Exclusive: How the Fascist Left Got Gary Oldman to Publicly Grovel on Kimmel

You gotta grovel, Gary. You either grovel in public or lose your career. Your written statement wasn’t enough. Did you watch Jonah Hill a couple of weeks ago? That’s the only way back. 


You see, Gary, it’s not about being sorry. We don’t care if you’re sorry. You can stuff your sorries in a sock, pal. 

Mel Gibson was probably sorry. He called every one of us and personally apologized. It was classy. It might have even been sincere. But he didn’t publicly grovel.

A sock, Gary. 

You’re forgiven, Gary. There was never anything to forgive. We don’t like Jews or gays or blacks or anyone. We hate everyone, especially ourselves. Hate and control are our muse. And we especially hate free-thinkers, unless of course they give us the opportunity to either humiliate them or destroy everything they have worked for. So thanks for that, pal. 

You see, this is about power and control, and definitely not about anyone being truly offended or hurt. Cuz we’re not. Not really. No one is. You’re 56 years old, Gary. You’ve been around for three decades. We know you. We know who you are. We know your heart. You didn’t hurt us. What you did do was give us an opportunity to flex our power in front of the whole world — to tell everyone whose really in charge and what the rules are. 

We control the vertical, Gary. 

We control the horizontal.

There’s still a House of Un-American Activities Committee, Gary. It’s just been updated into something for the 21st Century. The rules are the same, though: Show trials of conformity theater. 

So make an appearance on Kimmel, blink your SOS, scream “bull shit!” on the inside… But either you publicly humiliate yourself or your next job is begging Sly for a cameo in “Expendables 4.”

The Fascist Left

Another ‘Predator’ Reboot, Sequel, Remake, Something or Other

After 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” was a flop-flop, it looked as though Shane Black’s career as a director was over. Eight years later, though, that relationship with “Kiss Kiss” star Robert Downey Jr. paid off in a big way when Black was handed helming duties on “Iron Man 3,” which ended up being the biggest hit of the franchise and the 5th highest worldwide grosser in history.  

Today the world sits at Black’s feet, who had already cemented his legend in Hollywood during the 80s as a game-changing action screenwriter. 

And now with choices galore Black’s circling the idea of directing a new “Predator” movie. 

Black has a very real history with the original “Predator” (1987). To convince the then-wunderkind to polish the screenplay, the studio offered Black a small role, which turned out to be Hawkins, a minor character with some of the best lines: “It’s because of the echo.”

Black is currently working on the script with Fred Dekker, whose history with Black goes back to 1987 when they co-wrote “The Monster Squad,” which wasn’t a big hit at the time but is fondly remembered today.

What Black and Fox need to do first is sort out the Predator mess. I don’t care what anyone says, “Predator 2” is AWESOME. But since then, Predator has been teamed with Aliens twice and then there was “Predators” (2010), which was supposedly “Predator 3,” but not naming it that makes it seem like it’s out there all on its own. 

The mythology is all over the place. Let’s use this next one  to tidy things up.

At its core, this is one terrific franchise: the mano-a-mano premise between a Predator and a whatever will never grow old. 

Eli Wallach Could Do Anything, Couldn’t He?

Thank Heaven for Netflix. With my precious wife doing overnight duty at my mother’s hospital bedside, back at the hotel some night earlier this week, I had trouble sleeping. Overtired. Without knowing Eli Wallach was even in it, I streamed “The Executioner’s Song” (1982) with Tommy Lee Jones, a television movie about Gary Gilmore, a career criminal executed by firing squad. 

Well, I thought it was a television movie … or maybe I dreamt seeing Rosanna Arquette naked…

Anyway, Wallach has a small but pivotal role as Gilmore’s put upon uncle, a workaday guy with a small shoe repair business. Jones is the whole show in an Emmy-winning turn that would launch his film career. But Wallach, who could ham it up every bit as much as Jones, just gets out of Jones’s way and in his own quiet way becomes the heart of the picture. 

Through him, we understand that Gilmore didn’t just break the hearts of the families of his two murder victims, but also members of his own family who did love the charming sociopath. 

RIP, Tuco.

Terrific film, and if I wasn’t dreaming, Arquette looks AMAZING.

Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan Attempt Remake of ‘The Human Comedy’ (1943)

Since I started writing about films, I have repeatedly shouted the praises of “The Human Comedy,” an extraordinary 1943 film that showcases the best The Dream Factory of MGM had to offer at the height of its powers. And not just the biggest star in the world at the time, Mickey Rooney. 

Director Clarence Brown’s beautifully sentimental adaptation of William Saroyan’s love poem to the values and sacrifices of small town America during World War II, is one of the finest studio films ever made.

Here’s part of what I wrote in my review of the Warner Archive DVD release:

It would be easy to write off “The Human Comedy” as a piece of pro-American war propaganda, but that would be a surface interpretation. The themes at work here are those of self-sacrifice, the dignity of the individual, and the human capacity for good. Marcus and Tobey and Juan didn’t go to war to fight for a piece of land, treasure, an ethnicity, or even tradition; they went to war for an idea that makes evil cringe and those who enable it scoff: human liberty. 

The sad fact that one country, America, is the Great Experiment of those noble ideas, does not make the exploration of those ideas a form of nationalistic propaganda.

All of this might sound very old-fashioned to some, but that’s because too many of us have been trained to interpret that which is fundamentally good into something that is hokey, corny, and simplistic. In this jaded era where cynicism and detached irony permeate every part of our culture, where a sitting president and the media that enables him have staked a reelection strategy on division, I would argue that the message of “The Human Comedy” is not only timely and urgent, but also something that might be described as an antidote.

Apparently, Meg Ryan is going to direct in what will be her debut. Hanks is producing and the idea is for them to appear onscreen together. My guess is that Ryan will play the matriarch of the Macauley family and Hanks will play her dead husband, who narrates the story and makes an appearance at the end. 

Man alive, can present-day Hollywood pull this off? “The Human Comedy” is a knife edge of tone. Unless she wants to violate the material in a way that should be a felony, Ryan won’t be  to hide behind irony, sarcasm, cool, political correctness, or emotional distance — all the crutches too many filmmakers use today to come off as smart and deep. 

“The Human Comedy” is about love, family, the goodness of people, sincerity, the pleasures of youthful innocence, the decency of everyday small town Americans and America, faith in God, and self-sacrifice — you know, all that shit the creeps out present-day Hollywood and those who cover it.

For decades Hollywood has been creeped out by sincerity and way too reliant on the crutches I listed above. Even if the goal is to honor Saroyan’s tone, can Ryan, Hanks, and the actors pull it off? Does anyone even know how to do “goodness” anymore, or how to enrich the human spirit and ask us to aspire to a simple kind of Christian decency that is the direct opposite of Hollywood’s favorite “value” of narcissism?

Artistically pulling off sincerity takes real skill and practice, and Hollywood is way out of practice. 

Do see the original, though. Pull the shades, lock the door, make a sandwich, and give yourself over to a movie that is not only a very unique piece of filmmaking but inexpressibly moving. 


“The Arroyo,” a timely narrative feature film about the conflict on America’s Southern border is now available for purchase through Amazon or iTunes. The modern-day Western is written and directed by Jeremy Boreing, a Big Hollywood contributor and current editor of Truth Revolt


‘FrackNation,’ the latest feature documentary from directors Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segieda, is now available on DVD, Bluray, and via Video On Demand everywhere. Mark Cuban’s Magnolia Pictures is the distributor. From the press release:

FrackNation is available for transactional VOD (Rental and Electronic Sell Through) on all Digital VOD services (iTunes, Xbox, Playstation, Amazon, Vudu, Nook, etc.). It is also available on Cable VOD (Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision, Charter and Verizon). 

The DVD and Blu-Ray are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Hastings, Bookstores/Libraries, Transworld (FYI & Suncoast), Family Video, Netflix (physical disc at release date 6/24 on Netflix by mail, and Netflix subscription/streaming at a later date). It will also be available at hundreds of small chains and mom & pop stores across the country.

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