Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

‘Groundhog Day’ Should’ve Won Harold Ramis a Screenplay Oscar

When you are knocking around Hollywood hoping to become a screenwriter, you always ask the studios what they are looking for, and more than one development executive told me, “Something like a ‘Groundhog Day.'” This was nearly 15 years after the Bill Murray comedy came out and in an industry where it is always about what was a hit last weekend.

But everyone still knows Groundhog Day was something very unique and special — a simple, compelling concept (a man must repeat the same day until he gets it right) that required genius to execute. Ramis didn’t come up with the concept. That came from a spec script written by Danny Rubin. But Ramis did polish it to perfection, cast the perfect actor, and brought it to life as the director.

That screenplay should have won an Oscar. Period. Ramis and Rubin weren’t even nominated. Groundhog Day is one of the most perfect and perfectly executed screenplays ever written. It is a master class in the three-act structure, overall structure, pacing, smart dialogue, character development, subplots, fulfilling the promise of your high-concept, delivering a satisfying climax, a universal theme and keeping all those plates spinning at once.

The screenplay is so original that no one has been able to duplicate it.

Here is my tribute to Ramis.


Steven Seagal Slams Obama Over Benghazi at Conservative Conference

Over the weekend actor Steven Seagal appeared alongside Herman Cain, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other conservatives at the Western Conservative Conference. During his appearance, Seagal called Benghazi one of the biggest scandals in American history. The actor-turned-deputy sheriff said that Obama would not survive the Benghazi scandal if the truth were to come out.

Seagal has had a very interesting and diverse life. As a young man, he lived in Japan, where he taught martial arts at the highest level. Then he moves to Los Angeles to become a personal trainer, and if the myth is true, on a bet that he could make anyone a star, Michael Ovitz cast him in Above the Law. For the next decade, he was one of the biggest movie stars in America. Now he’s in law enforcement.

Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice, Under Siege, On Deadly Ground, Under Siege 2, Executive Decision… What a run.

After a few duds there was Exit Wounds and then crap.


China China China

In just one month the Chinese box office reached almost $500 million. One month!

Hollywood has already sold its left-wing soul to gain access to a market run by a government that makes South African apartheid look like San Francisco. And the same Hollywood that still rails against the Production Code of old now censors their films to please their Communist Masters. But it is paying off. China is now having box office months that outpace all of 2007.

If you think movies are generic crap now, it is not going to get any better.


Disney Caves to Streaming

Though Disney remains one of the big hold-outs to Ultraviolet (the VHS of streaming) the studio has finally caved and will stream its movies on iTunes (the Betamax of streaming). Disney had tried to go it alone with Disney Movies Online (the Laserdisc of streaming) but had to pull the plug because no one can use a service they have never heard of.

I doubt very much Disney can help iTunes in its battle against UltraViolet. Eventually one of these services will have to become the standard, and it almost certainly going to be UltraViolet — which is much, much easier to use than iTunes. People are just going to want all of this simplified, want their online library in one spot.

In the Beta vs. VHS and HD vs. Bluray wars it was–no joke–the porn industry that was the final decider. If they have a say in this, it is unlikely to be iTunes.


Another Reason Cable TV Sucks and Deserves to Die

Just found out that my TVs that now receive cable without a box will need a box — and those will cost $7 a month.



Quick Hits

Richard Dreyfuss getting emotional over meeting Robert Shaw’s granddaughter…

Rumors swirl about two new Harrison Ford-led Indiana Jones films…

President Obama Makes ‘Caddyshack’ Joke in Tribute to Harold Ramis…

‘CSI’ Crew Member Sued Over Pornographic Pictures, Homophobic Slurs on Set

‘Star Wars 7′ Cast & Plot Rumors; Are Oldman & Cumberbatch Set?


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