Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 News Items

Michael Bay Rules Hollywood

Action director/producer Michael Bay rules Hollywood right now. The 4th chapter of his “Transformers” franchise grossed nearly $100 million its opening weekend — the biggest opener so far all year. Worldwide, “Age of Extinction” added another $200 for a total take of $300 worldwide — in just a few days.

On television, the Bay-produced “Last Ship” enjoyed the biggest cable premiere of the year.

Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘America’ Opens Wide Wednesday; Off To Strong Start

Two years after the surprise success of Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama film “2016,” which ended up being the second most popular political documentary in history, his follow-up “America” hits theaters Wednesday and has already impressed in limited release:

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary America opened to solid numbers in Houston and Atlanta over the weekend, grossing $39,000 for a theater average of $13,000. …

“After the success of 2016 I knew there was an audience that wanted to be proud of our country and see a film that took an honest look at how this country came to be and where we go from here. We’re grateful to our friends in Atlanta and Houston for their strong support,” D’Souza said in a statement.

 Added producer Gerald R. Molen (Schindler’s List), “What makes this film unlike any today is the history behind it, the truth about American history and the place we have in world history. As we expand to 1,000 screens next week, I call upon all Americans to join us at their local theater to celebrate our great country.”

Here’s the official trailer:

TNT’s ‘Last Ship’: ‘We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists’

If you didn’t see last night’s “Last Ship” on TNT, there are spoilers coming…

Thanks to a screener from TNT, I’ve already seen the first 3 episodes of “The Last Ship,” including last night’s second episode where we all got to see our heroes blow away some actual al Qaeda terrorists.

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

Oh man, that was sweet, and a reminder of just how few movies and television shows have offered a realistic look at the Islamic savages who have been America’s sworn enemy for three decades.

The show presented these terrorists as they really are: soulless, subhuman zealots void of even a shred of human decency or compassion.

After three episodes, I’m thoroughly hooked. Critics arguing the show’s characters lack the depth and complexity of a “Breaking Bad” are premature and missing the point.

“The Last Ship” is a page-turner driven by plot, concept and action. The idea is to hook you on “what happens next?” and archetypes facing impossible choices.

This is “24,” not “The Wire.”

But give the show some time to develop the characters. It took a number of seasons for “24’s” Jack Bauer to develop into a truly compelling and complicated character — specifically because that development was based on what happened after the show began, not before.

The crew of “The Last Ship” are only a few days into a post-Apocalyptic world. They are not fully formed yet.

Chill. Enjoy the spectacle, the violence, the pro-military Americanism, and the hot chicks.

P.S. A great moment in last night’s episode was when one of the female members of the crew talked about her girlfriend.  She said it like it was the most natural thing in the world. No one blinked. No one cared. It wasn’t an issue. It just is what it is and rather than make this character a LESBIAN, she’s a competent sailor who happens to be a lesbian.

Indifference — that’s the proper response to all things identity beyond character and competence.

That moment was finger in the eye of political correctness.

An Average ‘Magical Day’ Working On a Movie Lot

The writer here is now a Hollywood player but apparently started out with an office job at Sony Pictures, which owns Columbia Pictures, which is located on what used to be MGM lot during its Golden Age. Here’s what he describes as an average day at work:

Breakfast at the commissary and seeing the crew of a major sitcom enjoying a meal before a shoot

Doing some work at the computer and seeing the names of the Hollywood elite appear on the drive-on screen for upcoming visits

Taking a ride around the lot on my golf cart and seeing…

Adam Sandler walking his late dog Meatball in front of the Barrymore building…

… Looking down an alley way near ADR and seeing Bruce Willis talking on his cell phone while Christopher Walken walks out of another stage to his awaiting town car…

… Driving past an open sound stage and seeing a stuntman in a Spider-Man suit practicing some wire work, and then…

…Seeing Steven Spielberg rolling past on his own golf cart during a War of the Worlds shoot…

Read it all.

I never worked at a studio but had enough meetings on them to back up this claim. If I had a 2pm meeting and the time, I would always show up a couple hours early to just walk around. Once you are on, you are on and can pretty much go anywhere, even into the sound stages. Over the years, I was able to wander freely around every major studio. And it never got old.

My most embarrassing moment was a Universal Tour trolley packed with tourists catching me in the middle of the “War of Worlds'” plane crash site. If you recall the film, there’s a pretty amazing scene where Tom Cruise and his kids emerge from a house and discover a crashed passenger plane on the front lawn. A drive through that outdoor set is or was part of the famous Universal Studios’ tour.

So I’m walking around the rubble in awe of it all when the trolley arrives. There was no place to hide (and being caught hiding would have been even more embarrassing). About 60 tourists laughed, waved, and took my picture. I thought for sure security was going to toss me out. Nothing happened, so I hung out at the Bates Motel.

Raping a Child Probably Saved Roman Polanski’s Career

Outside of the fact director Roman Polanski has been a fugitive for drugging, raping, and sodomizing a 13  year-old girl since 1977, he has also lost his mojo as a director.   

Since “Tess” in 1979, Polanski has 14 directing credits at IMDB and other than 2002’s “The Pianist,” it’s a heaping-helping of nothing special. 2010’s “The Ghost” and 2011’s “Carnage” were outright mediocre.

My guess is that if the 80 year-old director was not a fugitive child-sodomizer, he’d have a lot harder time getting work as a director, finding funding for his mediocre films, and attracting all-star casts.

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) and “Chinatown” (1974) are legitimate classics, but that was four and five decades ago. He’s done nothing  close since. Does anyone still watch “Tess” or even “The Pianist?”

Polanski is currently prepping a new film in Poland (where he wants assurances from the government he won’t be extradited).

The only thing keeping this has-been director’s career on life support has to be his cool bona fides within the Hollywood and worldwide film community that came with being a fugitive child rapist. There’s no shortage of depraved people in the movie biz and working with Polanski, no matter how bad his films are, has become something of a badge of honor with this group.

Why else would anyone want to be what is almost certain to be a forgettable film?


Quick Hits:

Great Deal on John Wayne Bluray Collection

10 Best Michael Bay Explosions

Amanda Bynes’ Bong-Tossing Case Dismissed

How ‘Seinfeld’ Paved the Way for Tony Soprano

This Is What Happens If You Watch the First Three ‘Transformers’ Movies at the Same Time:

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