…Can really get you down. Especially if you’re a deposed big time executive.
* Marc Shmuger and David Linde are both now former honchos at Universal. As reported in the show biz paper of record, having a far better and busier Monday are Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley, from the marketing and distribution departments respectively. As for the why, I’m sure it can mostly be summed by a number of fairly expensive/high profile box office disappointments/flops including “Duplicity,” “Funny People,” “State of Play,” and the one that got almost no respect from anyone (except Roger Ebert), “Land of the Lost.”
Still, you can trust Nikki Finke to find a more down and dirty side (Shmuger was “‘The Schmuck'”! Poor Linde was “collateral damage”) while Anne Thompson provides her usual sober assessment and notes that the real killer might have been the lack of any apparent “tentpoles” coming any time soon.
* On a similar note, the Rich Ross ascension at Disney is starting to look like a sure thing amidst an overall shake-up — or at least that’s what they’re saying today at Variety. We’re told to expect “a greater emphasis on tentpoles and family fare.” Not a surprise…gotta have them tentpoles.
UPDATE: Ross’s promotion is official. Anne Thompson has the press release.
* Nikki Finke also has an item to gladden the heart of our own Chris Glotfelty. “Paranormal Activity” has had what the Finke terms “freakishly good” business with $15,000 per screening averages (matching the amount I’m seeing reported as the film’s budget…very spooky!) in a special midnight-only engagement in 33 cities Thursday through Saturday, which means some theaters were making those numbers not only at midnight but even on a day when most people had work/classes the next morning. The film will be expanding into a regular release in 40 cities on Friday.
After reading a few reviews and seeing some comments online in addition to what Chris wrote, I have to say that in the wake of so-called “torture porn” and considering that filmic horror has, long ago, sometimes gone to places so horrible and extreme an awful lot of us won’t even consider following (and I don’t just mean silly gorephobics like me), it’s nice to see you can still scare an audience, including hardy souls like Chris (and supposedly Steven Spielberg), to death with not much more than a big, slow build-up and some very inexpensive atmosphere and basic special effects. Is it possible that our filmgoing innocence still lingers?
* Work on the “Arrested Development” movie continues. Yay.
* Yesterday from Mike Fleming: I’ve never been Michael Mann’s biggest fan — in fact, the only two films of his I actually liked have been “Manhunter” and “The Insider.” However, I’ll be waiting for “Waiting for Robert Capa.” It’s a planned adaptation of a novel by Spain’s Susana Fortes about legendary photographer Robert Capa and his love affair with fellow photojournalist Gerda Taro during the Spanish Civil War, a historic tragedy and precursor to World War II that pitted fascists against leftists of various types and wound up installing a repressive regime that lasted until the death of dictator Francisco Franco in the 1970s. It’s a chapter of history that mainstream filmmakers have largely ignored, with the obvious exception being Guillermo del Toro in “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” I hope it comes out a lot better than the dreary “Public Enemies.”
* Today from Mike Fleming: Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films have picked up a GQ piece called “Will You Be My Black Friend?” The article, surprisingly not written by Stephen Colbert, was by Devin Friedman:
Following a cocktail party epiphany that his entire social circle is the same color as he, the white writer made an unabashed attempt to make black friends, down to soliciting prospective pals in a Craigslist ad. The journo discovers that race aside, it is very difficult to make meaningful friends later in life.
This is being presented as a vehicle for Chris Rock, definitely one of my top five or so favorite living comics, who I presume will be playing the friend that Friedman finds so hard to make. Rock hasn’t had the best luck with movies, but I’m here to say this: I’m the guy who liked “Head of State.” I’ve said it and I’m glad.
But who does Mr. Rock like?