Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 Stories

Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 Stories

Heckling a Live Performance: Shia LaBeouf Is No Robert Downey Jr. 

Obviously 28-year-old millionaire movie star Shia LeBeouf has some kind of psychological and/or dependency problem. He needs help and is, in his own obnoxious way, crying out for it. 

Thursday night LaBeouf was hauled out of a Broadway theater for heckling and disrupting a performance of “Cabaret” starring Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming. As of this writing, the troubled actor is facing charges for disorderly conduct. 

If you had asked me earlier this year — after LaBeouf was caught plagiarizing in a well-received short film he directed and produced — what LaBeouf could possibly do to alienate himself from Hollywood even more, I would have told you “Heckle and disrupt the live performance of two well-liked and respected actors.”

LaBeouf is no Robert Downey Jr., an actor who almost lost his career due to harrowing drug and alcohol addiction. Through it all, though, Downey was a tragic figure not an obnoxious punk. 

Whatever his issues, and I pray he gets the help he needs, LaBeouf is assholing his way out of the business. 

Thank Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells for ‘The Alamo’

Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells has been doing God’s work these past few weeks by publicly hectoring MGM to get off their duffs. John Wayne’s labor of love — the project that nearly bankrupted him — “The Alamo,” is deteriorating in an MGM vault somewhere. Apparently, the 35MM version has been restored but not the original 70MM elements. If properly restored, not only will we see the movie in all of its crystal clear 70MM glory, but also the Road Show version; John Wayne’s original 202-minute cut of his Best Picture nominee.

Wells isn’t a big fan of the movie but understands its and Wayne’s place in film history. 

MGM’s behavior has thus far been appalling. Everyone knows the studio (if you can still call it that) is broke and has been for decades. But out of misguided pride or plain old bureaucratic stupidity, MGM won’t even allow someone else to donate the $1.3 million required for the restoration. And there appears to be a willing party. 

As of now, Wells has drafted a letter to MGM head Gary Barber imploring him to allow the restoration to move forward. Best of all, Wells has used his connections to round-up some heavy-hitters to co-sign: Guillermo del Toro, JJ Abrams, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Matt Reeves — A-list directors all. 

Wells and I have tangled over politics more than once, and at the risk of upsetting this goodwill, I do want to challenge one of his observations about the film:

Guillermo and Alfonso were the first to agree. Vaguely ironic, isn’t it, that two Mexican filmmakers were the first to support this effort when Wayne’s film portrays the Mexican forces under General Santa Anna in a somewhat (you could even say markedly) negative light? This issue is about restoration and preservation, of course, and not history or the perception of same. For what it’s worth, there’s a moment at the very end of Wayne’s film in which General Santa Anna offers a gesture of respect to the female and underage survivors of the Alamo siege. A grace note, if you will.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen “The Alamo,” a film I genuinely like, and heaven knows my memory isn’t that good. My recollection, though, is that Wayne’s portrayal of Santa Ana, his rank-and-file, and the local Texicans is overwhelmingly respectful. There’s even a moment when one of the men in the Alamo talks about how the soldiers on the other side are just like the doomed Americans — doing what they believe is their duty for their country.

My wife, who is Mexican and was born in Mexico, is far from hyper-sensitive or politically correct, but like anyone she has little tolerance for stereotypes. She’s very appreciative of the respect and dignity Wayne showed to Santa Ana and his men. She does not, however, feel the same way about the 2004 version which, if memory serves, has one of those sweaty, dirty, gold-toothed drunken Mexican scenes. 

John Wayne married three times, all three of his wives were Hispanic. This means, obviously, that his children are Hispanic. Wayne also spoke Spanish (something I haven’t even bothered to do after being married to a Spanish speaker for 25 years).

Again, my memory is beyond flawed and there might be a moment or two Wells is referring to that I just don’t recall. 

First chance, I’ll give “The Alamo” another look. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it anyway. 

Regardless, Wayne and “Alamo” fans owe Wells a thank you.

Eddie Murphy’s Fourth ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Gets $13.5 Million Rebate From Michigan

Dear America:

Corporate welfare for me but not for thee.
Lower taxes for me but not for thee. 
Reaganomics for me but not for thee. 
The Hollywood rich get richer, the non-Hollywood poor get poorer. 
Tax benefits are only good for Hollywood, not any other business or industry.
Tax benefits only create Hollywood jobs, not jobs for anyone else. 

–Signed, Left-Wing Hollywood. 

P.S. HaHaHaHaHaHa **turns ’round, bends over, wriggles butt in our face** HaHaHaHaHa

Sam Raimi Boards Jake Tapper’s Afghanistan War Drama ‘The Outpost’

What fantastic news. Not only for Jake Tapper and his terrific book “The Outpost,” but for the heroic men who fought and died in 2009 during one terrible day-long battle against the Taliban at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. The odds were 53 to 400 against. Eight Americans died. Medals of Honor followed.

Raimi is a terrific choice to produce (and hopefully direct); a top-shelf talent who has never been afraid to show his love for the Red, White and Blue. (See “Spider-Man 1-3”). 

“‘The Outpost’ is an epic story of bravery, courage, and sacrifice of our men in uniform, and is absolutely a picture meant for the big screen,” Raimi said. “I’m honored to be a part of it.”

If nothing else, after over a dozen anti-war/anti-American/anti-troop critical and commercial flops and the undeniable success of films that do honor our military (like Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor”) the blueprint for critical and box office success is all right there in Tapper’s book. 

I interviewed Tapper about “The Outpost” last year. At the time, I was fairly confident Hollywood would scoop it up, so I asked the CNN anchor about the possibility of Hollywood bastardizing his work:

Breitbart News: Something I see a lot from Hollywood is how they construct a story to make America the arch-villain, even as they present our troops as the good guys fighting some sort of enemy (aliens, terrorists, Nazis). It’s a sleight-of-hand that allows Hollywood to pose as patriotic, even as they portray our national security infrastructure or military brass as incompetent or made up of cold, selfish, calculating types. The Bourne films are a good example; so is “The Dirty Dozen” and the last couple of Jack Ryan films. I’ll admit that, when I read the “The Outpost” dust jacket, my left-wing trope-alert went off, but that’s not the story you told. And with all the mistakes that were made at the highest levels, it would’ve been very easy to tell the story that way. My question is — and I do have one — if Hollywood comes calling (and they should) will you please make sure they don’t change that?

Tapper: Of course. But I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and feeling anything but empathy and admiration for the troops who served at the outpost. Those in Hollywood who have reached out did so because they found the stories so moving and compelling.

I do note some examples of decisions that seem questionable in retrospect made by commanders (and folks in Washington, D.C.) but for the most part they weren’t examples of incompetence or selfishness, they were born from a desire to win the war, they just don’t hold up very well in retrospect given what happened. I tried to make it very clear that the only “bad guys” in the book are the ones with guns trying to kill Americans.

With Raimi on board and the recent success of “Lone Survivor,” I would be shocked if “The Outpost” wasn’t fast-tracked. 

‘Transformers 4’: ‘Cinematic Piss’

Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is guaranteed to make a gajillion dollars at the box office, but the reviews are worrisome. I won’t be able to see the fourquel this weekend due to travel (my mother is improving, thank you very much), but this morning I heard “Fox and Friends” movie reviewer Kevin McCarthy say exactly what I feared (paraphrasing), “I loved one and three; two is one of the worst movies ever made and four reminds me of two — too long, too boring, and a story that makes no sense.”

The reason I feared hearing that is because I completely agree about 1-3. 

Bay blamed the utter debacle that was two (my worst experience ever at a movie theatre — and that includes two fist fights, one of which I lost) on the writer’s strike.

Harry Knowles calls the movie “cinematic piss.” 

Quick Hits

‘Pacific Rim 2′ Confirmed for April 7, 2017, Release

Study: Hollywood Is The New Big Tobacco

Kurosawa Samurai Collection Coming to Blu-ray

Seth MacFarlane Will Match Next $1 Million Pledged to ‘Reading Rainbow’ Kickstarter

The Evolution of Mark Wahlberg: From Calvin Klein Pants Dropper to Mega Box-Office Topper 


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