Howdy folks, I’ve been a bit distracted by a couple of big pieces I did earlier, but the movie world moves on and, in the tradition of the White House emitting unpleasant stories late on Fridays to avoid too much notice, we have a couple of new bummer items and some more typical stuff from before that I missed.
* Nikki Finke is breaking the news of some possibly very serious fiscal problems at MGM, though I have to admit that these sorts of details are about as clear as mud to this innumerate fiscal ignoramus. In any case, the once-dominant studio has long been a shadow of its former self and isn’t even really a studio anymore (though it owns UA, and boy is that a complicated story for a tired guy to follow/remember right now). It sold off its historic lot in 2004 — where I actually spent a few hours on Tuesday, as it happens — to Sony, which is a change I’ve yet to get used to. Still, they have their fingers in a few pies. As Finke reports, if the not-studio really does go bankrupt, it could affect both the upcoming adaptations of “The Hobbit” and the ever-present James Bond series through its ownership of the also much-smaller-than-it-used-to-be United Artists.
* In news that is worse because it’s certain, the popular Cinevegas Film Festival is taking a break next year and, it sounds like, the year after that and who knows for how long if the overall economy doesn’t pick up. Of course, Las Vegas is probably one of the most shell-shocked places in the U.S. by the real estate bubble and general over-development. During the boom times, I would go to Vegas, look at all the ultra-high end restaurants, spas, and especially the stores and wonder when they’d run out of rich people.
* Anne Thompson has news of the ongoing shake-up at her old digs, Variety. It’s just another chapter in the overall realignment of the media. Just how that realignment ends, I don’t think anyone knows. The important news for this column is that some of its material will still be free once it goes behind the “pay wall” Nikki Finke spoke of a week or two back, though just how that will work out is not known.
* The man who played Thomas Jefferson in “1776” and “The White Shadow” on TV is now the head of the Screen Actors Guild, and the whole story is way too complicated for me right now. To be really superficial about it, this has been a battle of muckraking populists/radicals versus mainstream liberals-to-centrists (real radicals would say “corporatists). The mainstream won, as is its wont.
* I missed the story yesterday about David Cronenberg remaking his own remake of “The Fly.” I don’t have that much to say since I’m still working up the courage to see the original remake. (I’ve seen the original original.) Actually, I should get on with it because the scene I was really dreading — the compound fracture arm-wrestling scene (exposed bones freak me out!) — was foisted on me last year by none other than Stephen Colbert in a bit he did after he fractured his wrist. Another example of the modern use of gore in comedy. Anyhow, even if I missed it, Christopher Campbell brings you the reactions of those that didn’t. And lest anyone get high and mighty on the whole “remakes are always bad” high horse, he has a list of five examples of great directors who’ve done precisely what Cronenberg is planning. If it’s good enough for Hitchcock…