It’s money that matters

Filthy lucre is today’s theme in movieland. Really, it’s every day’s theme, but it’s on my mind today.

* Nikki Finke, who actually makes money blogging, notes a pay cut for William Morris assistants, who already work ridiculously hard for the hope of decent money some day, and are expected to work a minimum of fifty hours a week. Presumably they get some overtime (though one wonders if they’re not working actually quite a bit more — Hollywood and Walmart have been known to have a few things in common in the past). They’d better because their boss’s brother is the White House chief of staff. Could get messy, otherwise.

Finke also has an interesting — inasmuch as I can follow it — look at some silver linings amidst the major studio’s fiscals clouds.

* A noted casting change in the third “Twilight” will probably not affect grosses perceptibly, but there’s no stopping those wagging tongues.

* And with all the fuss at Comic-Con, the appearance of anime genius Hiyao Miyazaki got all but ignored by the media, as far as I can tell. “Princess Mononoke” beat “Titanic” in Japan. If it had done so here, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t have been a relative afterthought.

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Sounding off on “Basterds”, a new Spidey writer, movies you didn’t ask for, and Werner Herzog

Some quick items from around the web tonight.

* Quentin Tarantino talks to Mike Fleming about, what else, “Inglourious Basterds” — the movie made simply to confuse my spell checker. And, yes, once again, Harvey didn’t tell him to cut it by forty minutes and it’s actually slightly longer now than it was when it screened at Cannes to all-over-the-place reviews. He made suggestions, however.

* Gary Ross has been brought in to do a new draft of Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman 4.” Ross is a solid writer, and an okay director in his own right. He’s done wonders for Tobey Maguire’s career previously on both the career launching “Pleasantville” and the entertaining but kind of unremarkable “Seabiscuit.” So, perhaps it’s just an attempt to get a script that will work better than the highly problematic Spidey 3. Josh Wigler, however, has some concerns involving Ross’s upcoming Lance Armstrong project.

* They have a director for the big, huge, enormous 3-D Smurfs movie. Do I give a smurf? No mother-smurfing way.

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Dude, Where’s My Oscar? Bullz-Eye revisits recent Academy Award “mistakes”

Dude, Where's My Oscar?

There are times when we swear that “Entertainment Weekly” has either bugged our office or is tapping into our conference calls. Numerous pieces of ours wind up on their pages at almost the exact same time, be it a list of the best sequels, cinematic stoners, or our long-gestating piece on the Bullz-Eye Fantasy Band Draft, which will drop later this year. They’ve even named their hot/not meter “The Bullseye.” Hmmm.

And sure enough, they scooped us once again, when they put the top awards from various Academy Awards results to a new vote, to see how the current Academy would fix the previous generation’s “mistakes.” We’ve been throwing that idea around for over a year, and just when we begin to put pen to paper: boom! — they beat us to the punch. We’re not at all surprised that they saw the appeal in such a topic; every year there is at least one head-scratching moment, one that usually owes more to awarding a long-overdue actor for their overall body of work than for the performance at hand (ahem, Al Pacino, “Scent of a Woman”). Enter Bullz-Eye, Mighty Mouse-style, to save the day and make sure justice is served. We’ve examined recent Academy Award winners and their competitors, and we found a few, um, irregularities. Revisionist history begins now.

Oscar Snubs

Elaine Benes summed up our feelings for “The English Patient” as well as anyone. Actually, that’s a tad unfair; we didn’t think “Patient” was awful, just long and, in the end, anti-climactic. Without Juliette Binoche carrying her co-stars from start to finish (her Oscar, unlike this one, was well deserved), we wonder if “Patient” would have received half the praise that it did. Then there’s “Fargo,” which featured invaluable contributions from its leads, the supporting cast, and even the characters who were only in a scene or two (Marge Gunderson’s Japanese high school classmate had us in tears). It’s funny, shocking, coy, and best of all, normal, an expertly crafted movie all the way around. Guess the Academy wasn’t quite ready for the Coen brothers yet.

Oscar Snubs

To be fair, this one isn’t a staff pick; it’s mine and mine alone. My colleague Jason Zingale loved “Crash,” as did most people. I, however, loathed it like no movie I’ve seen since “Shrek.” The manner in which people would instantly spew the most hateful, ignorant nonsense in scene after scene was just unbearable, and I wanted to throttle Sandra Bullock’s ridiculously underwritten shrew of a character. Granted, “Brokeback Mountain” is not a perfect movie by any stretch, but I’ll take it over “Crash” any day of the week and twice on Sunday for the sheer fact that it didn’t try to beat me into a coma about what a racist pig I am. Fuck you, Paul Haggis.

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