Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

1. Holy Moly! Amazon Considers Free Streaming Service

Amazon is denying they will do this, but that’s what big companies do in these situations. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is looking at a FREE streaming service of licensed and original content that will be advertiser-based. In other words, the service will be available to everyone for free and monetized with commercial advertising.

The concept isn’t anything new. Streaming services like Crackle are already free and offer older movies and real old television shows.  Hulu-plus has commercials and much newer content but also charges a monthly fee (which is why we cancelled — screw that).

If Amazon can do this right, and Amazon pretty much does everything right, it could be a major move towards where I have always believed Streaming was headed.

Sure, there will always be a Netflix that charges you a monthly fee for ad-free content. But there is just no way Streaming is going to leave behind tens-of-billions in annual advertising revenue. I have always believed, that once all of this shakes itself out, advertisers are going to learn to embrace and love Streaming for one very big reason: Viewers can be stopped from fast-forwarding through commercials.

It has to drive advertisers insane knowing how many of us zip through their ads via DVR. The first time I watched an online video and was forced to sit through an ad that could not be fast-forwarded, I knew this was something advertisers would embrace. If you watch Crackle or any free streaming channel, just like regular TV, the programming is interrupted every ten minutes or so with a few commercials THAT YOU CANNOT ZIP THROUGH.

How can this not be the future?

The over-arching news here is a powerhouse like Amazon competing with broadcast and cable networks for advertising dollars. Bundled cable is already losing the fight for subscription dollars.


2. Coming Soon: Bloodthirsty Tea Party Zombie Movie!

Note the t-shirt of the first zombie. Note how the first victim, wearing Rachel Maddow’s glasses, is supposedly a man but falls like a punk and ends up being a victim.

Our friends at Right Wisconsin have more:

“The Tea Party movement is pretty scary itself,” says Schabow. “I was getting so frustrated with [Tea Partiers] believing this nonsense and I just started writing this screenplay.”

In the interview, Sly admits that he has never met anyone who identifies with the Tea Party. Schabow admits the same, but that didn’t stop him from making the movie.

“I believe the Tea Party itself started as a racist group, honestly,” says Schabow. “There’s a reason why one of the main protagonists is a black female teacher. There’s a reason.”

The fledgling filmmaker needs money to finish his opus.

Politics aside, the trailer is not promising. People make great trailers out of lousy movies all the time. If you can’t even make a decent trailer…


3. Poor Pretty Pouty Paltrow Pummeled In Press

One of the few times I feel bad for the Hollywood elite is when they go through a divorce, especially if one or the other involved is out of favor in Hollywood, like Gwyneth Paltrow is. Stuff like this is just beyond the beyond. The dregs of the entertainment media who grab every opportunity to pluck the wings off the personal lives of celebrities could not care less if there are children involved (Mr. and Mrs. Paltrow have three).

Granted, Paltrow is obviously not helping herself with this kind of princess talk. But if Paltrow were an Angelina Jolie — someone in favor in Hollywood — the divorce would be used as a career-enhancer.

It all depends on whether or not you sit at Hollywood’s cool kids table.


4. The Action Hero Championship Belt

This is a wonderful Friday read from Grantland’s Bill Simmons. You will find plenty to quibble with but a good and knowledgeable writer with an enthusiastic love of his subject is always a joy.

My main beef is Simmons’ claim that Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” stole the Cop That Doesn’t Play By The Rules idea from Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt.” Actually, Eastwood is tied with McQueen for inventing this genre. Eastwood’s “Coogan’s Bluff” came out the same year as “Bullitt.”

Simmons disqualifies phony action heroes from contention like Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Paul Newman, Keanu Reeves, Robert Redford, George Clooney, Will Smith, and Ben Affleck,  “as well as everyone who ever played James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne, Iron Man, Batman or any other manufactured studio hero” because they are not believable kicking ass.

The dreaded thinking-man’s meterosexual action hero, in other words.

I would take Harrison Ford (1976-1995) off that list.

Other than that, bookmark this for your lunch hour.


Joan Rivers Smears Johnny Carson

I recently saw a documentary where Joan Rivers called Johnny Carson “mean” for refusing to talk to her and banning her from the “Tonight Show” some 26 years-ago.

Let’s back up a little… Rivers is no victim here.

Carson not only gave Rivers her start on the “Tonight Show,” he made her his permanent guest host, which at the time was as high of an honor as anyone in entertainment could hope for.

Rivers then repaid Carson by going behind his back to sign a deal with another network that would put her in direct competition with Carson. And…

Only after the deal was done did she tell Carson — and did so by phone.

To THR, Rivers recently played sleight-of-hand with history:

Everybody left the show to go to do their own shows. Bill Cosby. David Brenner. George Carlin. Everybody. I stuck around for 18 years. And they finally offered me my own late-night show. The first person I called was Johnny, and he hung up on me — and never, ever spoke to me again.

Talk about apples and oranges.

Cosby and Carlin did their own shows, but they did not compete directly with “The Tonight Show.” Brenner had a short-lived syndicated late night show but he was not working for Johnny Carson at the time (1986). I’m not sure Brenner ever officially worked for the “Tonight Show” — Rivers did.

Rivers claims she told Carson in advance she was pursuing this. Carson claims she didn’t. Doesn’t the fact that Carson didn’t hold a similar grudge against Brenner tell you something?  Doesn’t the fact that out of respect for Carson, Leno continued the ban tell you something?

Show business is a blood sport. I get that. And I also get that Rivers is not the first and won’t be the last in the business of show to betray the person she owes her career to with a brutal stab in the back.

But  cut-throating cuts both ways. Carson wasn’t “mean,” he was justifiably furious and hurt.

Betrayal does that to a person.

Anyway, I am fine with Fallon bringing Rivers back. It is his show now. Carson being dead, though, does not mean Rivers should go unchallenged playing the victim.      


Quick Hits

Stephen Colbert Says He’s Innocent in ‘Racist Tweet’ Imbroglio

Christianity Today Recommends ‘Noah’

Why Net Neutrality Matters So Much to Indie Filmmakers

6 CinemaCon Takeaways: Fewer Blockbusters, More Raunch and What About the Kids?

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Trailer


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