Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 News Items

James Franco Defends Shia What’s-His-Name

In a New York Times op-ed actor James Franco takes an “empathetic view” of Shia LaBeouf’s “questionable behavior.” This includes LaBeouf’s short film which blatantly and without attribution plagiarized graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. Franco seems to want to write it all off as the need for famous actors to “act out” and separate themselves from their public persona:  

This behavior could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness. For Mr. LaBeouf’s sake I hope it is nothing serious. Indeed I hope — and, yes, I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones — that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona.

Actors have been lashing out against their profession and its grip on their public images since at least Marlon Brando. Brando’s performances revolutionized American acting precisely because he didn’t seem to be “performing,” in the sense that he wasn’t putting something on as much as he was being. …

At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image. In 2009, when I joined the soap opera “General Hospital” at the same time as I was working on films that would receive Oscar nominations[.]

Franco is right in the sense that actors are different from the rest of us. That is neither a criticism or a compliment. You just have to come from different stock to have what it takes to want to perform in front of a camera or audience. Personally, I like and admire actors. The successful possess one of the rarest of human talents and the quality that separates them from mere mortals always makes for  interesting conversation.

Plagiarism, though, has nothing to do with any of this.

Anyone who has spent any time trying to create anything — and this includes actors who create characters from the ground up — understand the sweat equity and value of  “the idea.”  And to steal someone else’s ideas is no different than stealing gold nuggets from an exhausted prospector.

Good, valuable, penetrating ideas do not come easy, and to steal one as your own is unconscionable, especially when you are a Shia LaBeouf who has been marinated in the world of artistry since he was a kid. He knows better and putting a paper bag over his head does not turn an act of craven theft into performance art.

LaBeouf wasn’t trying to separate himself from his public persona, he was trying to earn praise and respect by taking credit for someone else’s ideas.


Fox Has Its ‘Fantastic Four’ For Superhero Reboot

Whatever comes of this the end result can’t possibly be as awful as the two that came before … can it?


Schwarzenegger Returns as ‘The Terminator’

After the horribly disappointing “Terminator: Salvation,” Paramount is rebooting the franchise. All the main characters from the original will be there — Kyle Reese, Sarah and John Connor — and Arnold Schwarzenegger will return “in his iconic role.”

Laugh all you want but if you’ve seen the terrific and underrated “Last Stand” or “Escape Plan,” Schwarzenegger is still a formidable screen presence. Like Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck, John Wayne, and Stallone, pushing 70 has done nothing to diminish his physicality or star power.

Hopefully, the reboot won’t try to CGI thirty years off of him. There’s nothing wrong with a grizzled, weary Terminator.


‘Pompeii’ Hits Theatres Tomorrow

How is this for a wild coincidence: Two weeks ago I was touring the absolutely fascinating ruins of Pompeii and even remarked at the time that the story would make for a perfect disaster film. Today I learn director Paul W.S. Anderson is serving exactly that up tomorrow and in 3D. As expected, reviews are so far mixed.

While driving and walking around Rome I did see giant posters for “Pompeii”  but assumed it was a film for tourists like the “Terminator 3-D” attraction that was so popular at the Universal Studios theme park.

Anyway, when things like this happen it becomes harder to believe the universe does not revolve around me.


‘You are not to talk to Woody Allen’

An anonymous Oscar voter says Woody Allen’s behavior won’t affect Cate Blanchett’s Oscar chances and claims the director is not very well liked in Hollywood:

I think some voters are not going to vote for Woody because of that. I know a couple of people who think he’s disgusting. He’s the most unpleasant person to work for. The assistant director tells you, “You are not to talk to Woody Allen.” Except for the major stars. One woman actor I know tried to approach Woody on the set and she was fired. … There are people that genuinely don’t like Woody, but it has nothing to do with not liking Cate.

This person also sees “Blue Jasmine” as a “Streetcar Named Desire” rip-off, which is a very fair criticism.


Quick Hits

‘Son of God’: Fox’s Big Push to Reach Hispanics With the ‘First Latin Jesus’

‘House of Cards’ star: D.C. reporters sleep with sources

Fan Retells ‘Top Gun’ on Twitter Frame by Frame

Pam Grier To Appear At Film Festival, Redford Theatre, Detroit This Weekend

Patrick Stewart is Not Gay



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Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC