Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Excellent Article in Today's Dealine Hollywood

Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood (required reading) gets her hands on a copy of Bill Mechanic's keynote speech from the Independent Film and Television Production Conference, and it's a dandy.  It spells out just about everything that's wrong with the entertainment business. Here's the link to the story:

I'll post the text in features.

Posted on 09/30/2009 3:42 PM by Todd Carr
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
New Fall Season a Lot of the Same Old %$#@

I get quite few people writing to me asking what I think of the new Fall season (as if I know anything more than anyone else).  I'll tell you what I think of it.  Same shit, different year.  As we wrote about today, some stupid modeling show has been 86'd already, and plenty of shows will follow.  The Fall season is a landfill waiting for dump trucks.

Number one, the Jay Leno show sucks.  I've watched it twice, and both times it was totally unfunny after the monologue.  Unlike a lot of people, I don't worship David Letterman and Conan O'Brien.  I think they're great, funny, sharp, different--all those things.  But, Leno has his own charm, and voice as well.  In short, I'm not a Leno apologist.  I like them all for what they are--unique in their own ways, and successful for a reason.   I just think that if they were going to move Jay into prime time, just have him do the Tonight Show.  All of these stupid skits and things they're doing to kill time are unwatchable.  I find it all sad, in a way.

The rest of these new shows--some of them are okay, some of them are horrible--there's just nothing exciting out there.  Nothing like, say, an Arrested Development, or an Office, or even 2 1/2 Men.  It's just brutal.  Every year we hope for something new and different and--it never happens.

As a writer, it's hard because I know some of these people writing these horrible fucking shows and I'm like, this guys has had three horrible shows, why is he still getting a show?  It makes you wonder what executives are thinking.  If maybe they're like a crazy person who just walks around talking to themselves.

Until networks and studios start sincerely taking chances on new writers, this is what we'll be stuck with folks.  The same old shit, different season.


Posted on 09/29/2009 6:22 PM by Todd Carr
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

When I was a kid, I used to love Stretch Armstrong, and games like Battleship.  I'm not sure I'd want to see a movie about them, but they were interesting toys.  It doesn't surprise me that studios are developing these child friendly (and subsequently, adult friendly) properties as films after G.I. Joe made so much money this summer.  But, I find myself disappointed.  Now with the news that Paramount is developing a Matt Steele movie, and Tom Hanks might play Major Matt Mason, I'm just left wondering...what's going on?  It's not like actors, producers and directors have a choice.  If they're in the club, they really are forced to do what studios want.  Particularly if they have a pet project they want to get off the ground.  

Now, CAA signing on to represent Archie, and Michael Eisner's company developing a Bazzoka Joe film, it's all gotten a little...weird.  Bazooka Joe?  Seriously?  Have we gotten to the bottom of the comic book barrel yet?  Or, is there a microscopic comic somewhere you need a magnifying glass to read?  First it was the book frenzy, then comics.  Now,we're in the advent of the Mattel/Hasbro/board game phase.  Can the day where studios are making movies based on 
simple kitchen appliances we all know be far off?  "Ashton Kutcher signs on to play the spatula in Disney's next film."
Now, to be fair, making a film based on a toy or popular board game does take advantage of a built in audinece.  If Hollywood throws enough money at anything, it will look great.  But, the problem with a lot of these toys and board games is, there's no back story.  Comics always have a strong history for their characters.  Books typically have extensive set ups.  But, for toys and games this sort of thing must be created.  Hey--you could easily greenlight a film about Monopoly.  But, who are the characters, other than the tycoon?  A shoe?  A car?  A thimble?  Is it live action, or animated?  Seriously, why would you even bother?  The same goes for a board game like Candyland.  On paper, you could hire Ron Howard, and maybe it's a great family film.  But, WTF is the story?  Can't you find something new and interesting instead?
These kinds of things drive writers crazy, but the saving grace is, writers get hired to pen these scripts, and are typically paid well.  It's just, I would guess we'd all rather be doing something else.
Oh, well.  Guess I'll have to get my pitch for 'Spatula, The Movie' ready.
Posted on 09/22/2009 5:43 AM by Todd Carr
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The Tonight Show, I Mean Jay Leno Show

 Wow, Jay Leno really changed things up on his show.  He got rid of the desk.  It's totally different now.  I hardly recognized Jay, to be honest.  Getting rid of the desk made him look twenty years younger.

Seriously, is this a joke?  

Imagine how Conan O'Brien feels right now.  You get your big break hosting the Tonight Show, and then NBC announces, oh, wait, Jay is going to do a 'not the Tonight Show, even though it will be just like the Tonight Show' show in the 10pm slot.  Thanks, NBC.  Oh, but Conan, Jay will provide a great lead in audience for you (that's how they might have sold it).  Even though we left you twisting in the wind for months this summer.  Oh, and there's this little thing called the news in between the two shows that might kill off your lead in.  Forgot to tell you that.

So, what happened?  The Tonight Show audience, knowing Jay is coming back, moves on, waiting to migrate to the 10pm slot, and leaves Conan holding the bag.  It's no wonder Conan's ratings were so horrible and he was getting beat by Letterman re-runs.  Not to mention Jimmy Fallon taking over Conan's spot.  Fallon is funny, but just isn't a late night host, in my opinion.

Hey, this might all work out in the end.  You never know.  But, personally, I think it was a major strategic error.  Not to mention taking Leno out from behind the desk.  NBC might manage to weaken (or destroy) both of their Late Night franchises--with guys who are not performing well, and are poor fits for the audiences--just to hitch their wagon to Leno, an aging performer.  Think about that.  You get a few years of Leno, and then... have nothing.  Scorched earth.

Look at Brett Favre.  People decide to retire all the time, then undecide.  But, let's call a spade a spade.  NBC basically took the Tonight Show and moved it into prime time.  Which is what they should have just done in the first place--in overt fashion. 



Posted on 09/16/2009 6:18 AM by Todd Carr
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
New Line Finally Settles with Tolkien Family

It's kind of hard to believe, but over five years from when the third installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released, the Tolkien family is finally getting paid for their gross participation in the series.  And, frankly, the only reason New Line is finally paying them is because they want to make The Hobbit. Peter Jackson also had to sue New Line to get his gross point money.  New Line is currently paying a legal settlement to Jackson--who was blocked by former New Line topper Bob Shaye from auditing the studio until Warner Bros absorbed the company in March 2008.

Both matters have finally been settled.
A studio blocking payment is nothing new.  But, when a series of films makes billions for a studio, you'd think they'd at least want to be a little generous.  Not so.  Instead they were dragged kicking and screaming to their check book.  To pay a literary icon's family foundation, no less.
"The Trustees regret that legal action was necessary, but are glad that this dispute has been settled on satisfactory terms that will allow the Tolkien Trust properly to pursue its charitable objectives. The Trustees acknowledge that New Line may now proceed with its proposed films of ‘The Hobbit,"” Christopher Tolkien commented.
According to Warner Bros.’ President & Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn, future litigation won't be necessary. “We deeply value the contributions of the Tolkien novels to the success of our films and are pleased to have put this litigation behind us. We all look forward to a mutually productive and beneficial relationship in the future.”  
Pretty pathetic on New Line's part, if you ask me.  And, Bob Shaye.  I won't be seeing The Hobbit in theaters.  Instead, I think I'm going to send the Tolkien Trust a check for $20, and rent it on Netflix.
Posted on 09/09/2009 3:50 PM by Todd Carr
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Writer/Director Nick Cassavetes Suing New Line

This is always a pickle.  Suing a studio for breach of contract and/or non-payment.  Especially one you just worked for (as Cassavetes did when he directed My Sister's Keeper).  The project in question is apparently (we're not saying New Line didn't pay Cassavetes, because studios never do that kind of thing.  Ever.) some orphan elephant drama called Peacable Kingdom that Cassavetes was attached to back in March.  New Line dropped him like a bag of cement, and according to Cassavetes, without compensating him for a rewrite he did.  Also, Cassavetes claims he passed on several projects while he was working on Kingdom, and once he was let go, those opportunities were no longer on the table.

Now, a studio has never failed to pay me for work I have done.  However (big however), they have taken their sweet time about getting me the money.  I once sold a TV pilot in July, and didn't get paid the full balance of the deal until February.  But, they paid me.  

A lot of times what writer's face is the dreaded, "Oh, those were producer's drafts.  The studio didn't request the revision, so we're not paying you for those drafts.  You need to get the money from the producer."  Oh, okay, because producers are always just walking around shitting money.

I'm not saying that's what happened in this case, but that's what happens.  A lot.  And, most of the time you just have to suck it up. 

As far as Cassavetes wanting compensation for passing on a few projects--he's probably SOL on that one.  People take jobs all the time, or leave them, and miss out on things because of it.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to give him a dime for that--unless he was fired without cause.  

That'll be a much different story.

Posted on 09/03/2009 5:21 AM by Todd Carr