Hollywood Playbook: Wednesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Wednesday's Top 5 News Items

Why Buy Big Bulky Bigscreen TVs Instead of a Projector?

The AP reports that lower prices have resulted in a big boost in sales for televisions that exceed 55 inches. Overall sales of televisions are still crashing 10% per year since 2010. Even so, the sub-category of behemoth TVs has jumped over 50%.

People are even trading in their 55-inchers for 65-inchers.

Outlets like Best Buy, Walmart, and Costco have or intend to stock up on televisions as big as 75 to 90 inches.

I know they won’t work for everyone, but if you have the wall space for a 100 inch TV and can darken the room somewhat, why not buy a high-def projector? They take up a lot less space (mine is the size of a stereo receiver), the picture is stunning, and some units are a lot cheaper than those black, plastic monstrosities.

I didn’t even buy a screen. A $60 gallon of paint worked beautifully and now I have a 168-inch screen that delivers an actual theatre experience even my dad’s 90-incher can’t.

Last night I watched Barry Levinson’s “The Natural” (1984), and all I have to say is … damn.

Christian Bale Is Moses

Entertainment Weekly has what it calls a “first look” at Christian Bale as Moses in Ridley Scott’s horribly titled epic, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”  See the main photo above. Joel Edgerton is Rhamses below…

The big question of how faithful Scott’s story will be to the Biblical telling will have to wait. This is as close at gets:

A pivotal figure in the Old Testament, Moses was a prophet who fought against Pharaoh Ramses to free 600,000 slaves, whom he then led through the desert to escape from Egypt and its 10 deadly plagues. (Along the way he parted the Red Sea and unveiled the Ten Commandments.) But the biblical journey was even more epic than the director remembered. “What I thought I knew about Moses I didn’t really,” Scott says. “Either I wasn’t paying attention in Sunday school or I had forgotten. I was knocked out by who he was and the basics of the story–it has to be one of the greatest adventures and spiritual experiences that could ever have been.”

I’m mostly curious about the theme Scott will choose. Cecil B. DeMille chose human liberty as the theme for his 1956 masterpiece “The Ten Commandments.”

What will Scott say with his telling?

Entertainment Reporter Jeff Ressner Dead at 56

Variety reports that Jeff Ressner, a longtime entertainment reporter for various publications, including Time, Rolling Stone, and Politico, died of heart arrhythmia last month in California.

I first came across Ressner’s work in Politico, where his fair reporting stood out in the sea of leftism that is that god-awful publication. After Andrew Breitbart hired me in ’08, I got to know Jeff a little bit, including a nice dinner at a restaurant near his home in Los Angeles.

We stayed in touch through phone calls and email. That all ended a few years ago. Jeff called me for a chat that ended with him trying to pump me for information, which was fine. I was used to it. He was a persistent reporter and I had known all along that he had been grooming me as a source. That didn’t mean we didn’t like each other.

I was always happy to shoot the shit with him, talk on the record about things I could talk on the record about, but I never became any kind of background or off-the-record source. That’s just not my style. In fact, I used to say to him, “My ‘no comment’ is off the record.”

The reason that conversation ended up being our last was due to the article he ended up writing. Ressner used a quote of mine to make it look as though I was commenting on one thing when the truth was that  I was commenting on something else. His story resulted in me having to explain myself to people I respect.  

At that point I had to worry that any further contact of any kind with Jeff, including a complaint about the misuse of that quote, might be used improperly. So that was that. I think he knew what he did. There was only one email from him afterwards. I didn’t respond and he didn’t try again.

When it comes to most things, I’m a pretty forgiving guy. I’m friendly and get along with all kinds of people from all walks of life. We can argue, disagree, scream, hurl insults, even get physical. Trust and loyalty are deal breakers — what can you do with someone you believe crossed that line?

I still liked Jeff and was always sorry things had to end like that. But I feel the same about a lot of people who are still with us.

Ressner was only 56. Sad thing.

THR: ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Should Appeal to Devout Catholics

This is why I have never been a “content” social conservative. What I mean is that violence, sex, language and the like have never bothered me. My concern is what a film has to say, not how it goes about saying it.

The G-rated “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” (1992) is toxic to young minds. On the other hand, William Friedkin’s very-R rated “Exorcist” (1973) and Abel Ferrara’s NC-17 “Bad Lieutenant” (1992) both contain horrific acts of sex and violence, but in the end are about the love of Christ and redemption and salvation through the Christian faith.

“The Exorcist” isn’t about a possessed little girl. It’s about Father Karras (Jason Miller), an intellectual priest who has lost his faith before regaining it through the experience of saving and sacrificing himself. “The Exorcist” is about a world where a wicked Satan and loving Christ are real and that moment at the bottom of the stairs when a bloody, twisted, and dying man gratefully accepts Last Rites.

“The Bad Lieutenant” isn’t about a lying, corrupt, drug addicted sexual degenerate cop hunting down the pigs who raped a nun. It’s about how even a lying, corrupt, drug-addicted sexual degenerate can find salvation through Jesus.  

You wouldn’t show either film to anyone under 14 or 15, but to someone emotionally mature enough, both enrich the human spirit and bring you closer to God despite the content.

“Deliver Us from Evil” is in theatres today. It’s another R-rated horror film that looks at demonic possession (apparently based on a true story) but

More aesthetically coherent if less frightening than the director’s 2012 hit Sinister, the pic has a shot at surpassing that outing commercially by virtue of its appeal to devout Catholics. That audience will find Deliver very respectful of their faith, though its nods to religion are genre-appropriate and never preachy enough to alienate the average horror fan. …

Ramirez, shaggy enough to be the Serpico of exorcists but exuding calm wisdom instead of obsessive determination, makes faith look cool. His seriousness enables the movie’s desire to dig into the mechanics of the climactic exorcism — though Sean Harris, drooling and growling and threatening as the possessed man, deserves credit as well. Derrickson’s FX crew careens along the dividing line between excitement and silly bombast, conjuring hurricane-like forces and gory transformations while the holy man attempts to rescue an innocent mortal from his otherworldly tormentors.

I’ll check this out tonight but already it looks like a win for our side in these here culture wars.

Martin Freeman Rules TV with ‘Fargo’ and ‘Sherlock’

No one with any kind of instinct could have watched the original BBC version of “The Office” without realizing that Martin Freeman was destined for great things. In his own quiet, gentle, humane, and very funny way, Freeman almost stole the show from star Ricky Gervais. A sympathetic everyman quality mixed with a genuine acting talent that portrays something deeper (and even darker) has made him my favorite television actor working today.

Because I was away from home and my DVR the past couple of weeks, I wasn’t able to catch up on FX’s “Fargo” or “the latest season of “Sherlock” until this week. Both are shining examples of this outstanding television era we’re lucky enough to live through, and Martin Freeman has a lot to do with it.

The latest and third season of “Sherlock” is streaming on Netflix now. It’s the best season yet, especially the third and final episode that has more plot and delicious twists than any feature film in a decade.

Freeman plays Dr. Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes. Cumberbatch is winning all the praise and fame — and he’s very, very good. Freeman’s John Watson might not be as showy, but he’s every bit as good.

Season 4 of “Sherlock” premieres about 18 months from now in December of 2015.

“Fargo,” the limited 10 episode series that just concluded on FX is even better. As Lorne Malvo, a wily, unpredictable mercenary hit man, Billy Bob Thornton walks away with the show. Freeman, though, is a knockout. The Brit effortlessly steps into the role of milquetoast, hen-pecked Minnesota insurance salesman, who not only turns evil, but ends up being the only real adversary Malvo has likely ever faced.

Overall, I loved “Fargo.” The conclusion was pitch-perfect without being flashy, you lose yourself in the story from the first scene on, and its depiction of Midwesterners and family is shockingly positive. “Fargo is a series I will purchase on DVD and lose myself in many times before I’m dropped in my own dark ice-fishing hole.

Quick Hits:

Pop Stars Go Bust: Robin Thicke Follows Mariah Carey, JLO Into Sales Abyss

Multiple Oscar-Nominee Paul Mazursky Dead at 84

Paul Mazursky Rates His Movies in Vintage Interview

29 Famous Hollywood Impressions Performed by One Guy in One Song

‘The Walking Dead’ Set Videos Tease ‘Brutal’ Season 5

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