Worst People in the World

I’m sitting in a little joint on Second Avenue near 11th Street, trying to do a little work and savor the warm mid-afternoon air. But I can’t. I have to pack up and leave. A group of hysterical shriekers sat down about ten or twelve minutes ago — okay, a shrieking man and a cackling woman accompanied by two hee-hee-ers — and all I want to do is see one of them choke to death on a piece of ham. Or…you know, be garroted by one of the waiters.

It has to be said again because this trend isn’t ebbing — it’s getting worse. There’s nothing quite as awful to me (and others, I presume) as people who laugh like drunken coyotes or wild orgasm dogs in restaurants. The key component in any display of obnoxious public behavior is being utterly oblivious to the possibility that you might be offending others. Clearly such a thought hasn’t occured to the gang sitting next to me now. It’s...

A Matter of Who and Why

Harry Brown is “a movie about the one guy who did something,” Michael Caine recently said to Movieline‘s Stu VanAirsdale. “The idea [in making it] was, If you don’t do something, then this is what innocent people will do.’

“A reporter said to me yesterday, ‘Have you ever seen this with a proper audience?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘When you kill those people, they all cheered.’ And I said, ‘That’s exactly what I’m talking about. That’s how far it’s gone.’ You’ve got to do something, because people are cheering the killing.”

Well…c’mon. People have been cheering the right killings for decades. If the bad guy is getting his,...


I just sent an important message to a friend who’s going to the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, and I thought I’d share it with anyone else who’s also going but has never been: If you don’t bring an electrical adapter (i.e., adapteur) that looks almost precisely like the one shown in these photos, then you are dead in Cannes.

I’m not talking about a power converter, but an adapter. And it has to be the exact same shape because all the French power receptacles in walls and electric multi-plug strips are recessed, so it’s not good enough to just have a converter with those two rounded metal plugs — you need the kind I’ve got here because the rounded white plastic base from which the metal plugs extend fits into the recessed area.

American travel stores will sell you French...

Anatomy of a Takedown

Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn agrees with my view that the highlight of the Tribeca Film Festival “was Eliot Spitzer — or, rather, Alex Gibney‘s wry, even-handed account of the disgraced former New York governor’s rise and fall, which may or may not be called Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.” Kohn lists some of the attributes, which I’ve abridged:

Bone Experience

This is probably the classiest and most generally appealing one-sheet of the year so far, and it had better be that, given what it’s selling. Debra Granik‘s Winter’s Bone, which I caught at Sundance 2010, is a straight, earnest and well-honed backwoods tale…but occuring within a grim and scuzzy atmosphere. Joe Popcorn is going to take one look and say, “I work hard all week for insufficient pay at a place I don’t like, and then I’m supposed to watch this when I want to be entertained?”

Aside from Jennifer Lawrence, who plays a steel-backboned 17 year-old trying to fend for her family as he tries to locate her errant...

Kinnear’s Feet to Fire

Two days ago I wrote that Gregg Kinnear‘s decision to play President John F. Kennedy in an allegedly right-wing-friendly History Channel miniseries called The Kennedys “means [he] isn’t all that worried about liberal Hollywood establishment types frowning at this decision, and is willing to risk offending those (like documentarian Robert Greenwald and former Kennedy confidante Theodore Sorenson) who’ve sounded alarms about the tone and political leanings of the forthcoming epic.”

Sure enough, Greenwald went public yesterday with a challenge to Kinnear and Katie Holmes (who’s signed to play Jackie Kennedy) to “insist on a historically...

Summit Gets Game

I wonder what persuaded CAA, River Road Entertainment, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi to cut a deal for Summit Entertainment to distribute Doug Liman‘s Fair Game? Favorable financial terms, I’m sure, as well as a strong p & a commitment and a promise of marketing vigor when it opens. I for one would have had second thoughts in view of Summit’s half-hearted track record with The Hurt Locker, and to a lesser extent The Ghost Writer.

The bottom-line impression (as opposed to whatever the reality may be) is that while Summit is proficient with Oscar campaigns, they haven’t been that tenacious with their theatrical releases. They seemed awfully hesitant when it came to the distributing of The Hurt Locker, taking forever to commit to a release date after picking it up at the 2008 Toronto Film...

McCarthy Joins Indiewire

Recently discharged Variety senior critic Todd McCarthy has announced he’ll be authoring a new online column — Deep Focus — at Indiewire starting on May 12th, or the first day of the Cannes Film Festival. He was probably coaxed into this deal by Indiewire columnist and old pally Anne Thompson, and the benefits are clearly mutual — Indiewire lands a a major brand-name critic and McCarthy gets to play it a bit differently as a pick-and-choose sharpshooter (instead of leading and coordinating a team of Variety critics) while adopting a new bloggy-blog fluidity in his prose.

“With this...

Insider-ish Flavor?

Three days ago ScriptShadow’s Carson Reeves posted a review of an “early draft” of Jez and John Butterworth‘s screenplay for Doug Liman‘s Fair Game, which will be playing in Cannes quite soon. Reeves says that the script doesn’t quite do one thing or the other, which I find intriguing. This sentence caught me especially: “It reminded me, in many ways, of Michael Mann‘s The Insider, which is another film that demands a lot from you.”

Here are the final three graphs:

“Whereas [the first] 60-70 pages [are] about the plot which led to the invasion of Iraq, the script [then] becomes this personal journey about how a CIA operative (Naomi...

Once Again

I’ve noted many times in this space that I understand the plight of Hollywood filmmakers who support Republican or conservative causes. I got into this when I wrote a big piece for Los Angeles magazine in early ’95 called “Right Face,” about how it was easier in the liberal Hollywood culture of the mid ’90s to say you’re gay than confess to being a rightie, which could put you on what Lionel Chetwynd called a “white list.”

So I knew right away what Patrick Goldstein was on about yesterday when he quoted mystery novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan, a leading conservative activist, to wit: “There’s a culture in Hollywood where if you’re a left-winger, you can talk very openly…. If you go in to sell...

Finke, Goldstein, Tilda

Last night I scored a copy of the opening episode of Bill Condon and Cynthia Mort‘s Tilda — a recent draft with the words “Tilda_April” on the top left corner. The cat ran out of the bag eight days ago, of course, when Hollywood Reporter columnist Matthew Belloni ran a combination review and legal assessment piece based on a reading of a February first draft, so there’s nothing to say that’s strictly mine except to call it hugely entertaining and so on. I’ll elaborate in a sec.

(l. to r.) Nikki Finke,...


A longstanding policy at a certain studio has been to provide certain producers and production companies with box-office tracking reports as a courtesy. No big deal, been happening for ages. This morning the following e-mail was received from studio management: “Due to the ongoing debate about the potential trading of Movie Futures, [studio name] has instituted a policy that no one without a studio e-mail address will be receiving tracking reports from this department. Thank you for your understanding.” Thank you , Cantor Fitzgerald LP!

Stay In Your Seats

Julie Bertucelli’s The Tree, a drama about grief recovery and spiritual family nourishment, will be shown in Cannes following the closing ceremony on Sunday, 5.23. The Australian-based film, costarring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Martin Csokas and Aden Young, is an adaptation of Judy Pascoe‘s Our Father Who Art in the Tree.


If someone is in a position to forward relatively recent drafts of the first episodes of Tilda, the HBO series that will star Diane Keaton as a Hollywood blogger somewhat like Nikki Finke, please do so. Bill Condon and Cynthia Mort are in creative control.

Condon + Fangs?

It goes without saying, I presume, that Bill Condon allegedly agreeing to direct the final Twilight movie — i.e., Breaking Dawn — sounds weird. Like he’s slumming, I mean. We all have to keep body and soul together and I wish him the best. Maybe he can make something more out of a franchise that everyone turned on last November when New Moon was seen. It’s been rumored that the latest one, Eclipse, also smells.

Risking Wrath

To me, Gregg Kinnear signing to play President John F. Kennedy in an allegedly right-wing-friendly History Channel miniseries called The Kennedys means one of two things.

One, Kinnear isn’t all that worried about liberal Hollywood establishment types frowning at this decision, which some are certain to do. Or two, he really needs the work and is willing to risk offending those (like Robert Greenwald and former Kennedy confidante Theodore Sorenson) who’ve sounded alarms about the tone and political leanings of the forthcoming epic.

Rabid conservative Joel Surnow is exec producing The Kennedys. The screenplay has been written by...

Crackpots United

Part Two of Robert Welkosarticle about Hollywood Blogger Wars, subtitled “Crackpot Ratings – Nikki Finke, Sharon Waxman, David Poland, Jeffrey Wells” — went up last night. Poland is deemed the crackpot-wackiest (i.e., level 5), followed by the equally-rated Harry Knowles, Tom O’Neil and Sharon Waxman (level 4) and then myself (level 3), and then Scott Feinberg and Sasha Stone (level 2) and finally Nikki Finke (level 1).

Wait — Finke...