One of my favorite shows on TV
Here are a couple of clips. Denzel Washington on his interesting negotiations with Harvey Weinstein and Patricia Clarkson on the current state of indie film.
Step 1: Mention your key attraction up top. In this case, it is J.J. Abrams. It's also smart not to mention the specific things he's worked on since saying "Lost", "Mission Impossible III", and "Cloverfield" will probably turn off more viewes
Step 2: If you are contractually obligated to put lesser people on, make sure their names are hard to read and their credits are even harder to make out. In this case, the writers from "Transformers" are credited below Abrams. I'm sorry but you really don't want many people knowing that the people who wrote a film so ridiculous that it almost made watching fighting robots unenjoyable are attached to your project. Maybe Michael Bay rewrote most of it but still the stink remains. (Sidenote: I tried to watch Transformers again since it's on cable and simply couldn't get through it. It is just beyond stupid and doesn't hold up after the initial "Oh cool! Starscream's ripping up fighter jets!" viewing)
Step 3: Don't have the poster actually explain anything and also add a couple of random yellow dots which will have Lost-ies blogging for months about what they could me and what they might be an allusion to.
Step 4: These guys apparently ignored this step but they probably should have done a little more with the title than spending 3 minutes playing with layer effects on Photoshop.
All in all, it's a nicely made poster and looks like the type of show that I'll ignore even though a handful of people at the office swear by it and won't stop discussing it at lunch.
Upon looking over some more episodes, one thing that became glaringly obvious was that, while Blake Lively became the breakout star of the show, the show's Queen is B. Blair holds the show together and her storylines are usually the anchor.
- Episodes 1 - 4 focused on Blair and Serena's relationship.
- Episode 5 was pretty much a standalone aside from the introduction of Jenny onto the socialite scene.
- Episode 6 - 10 focused on the Blair, Chuck, Nate love triangle (with episode 9 being a bit of a break for Thanksgiving).
- Episode 11 was another Blair-centric standalone, this time focusing on Christmas (and her Dad and his lover).
- Episode 12 was pretty much a group standalone, School Ties.
- Episodes 13 - 16 focused on Blair & Jenny
To me, the show started to come apart in Episode 15 because a second A-story was introduced and the show seemed to lose focus. The show's formula didn't really work with the Georgina stoy fighting for time alongside Jenny v. Blair. Because of this, moments that probably should have been stronger, such as Blair discovering that Eric is gay or Asher's character as a whole, were lost and treated almost as throwaways. Even worse, the two A-stories didn't mesh. Dan outs Asher to Gossip Girl/the Upper East side and it's no big deal but Georgina outing Eric to his own mother is somehow pure evil.
But the most problematic piece was that the battle was one-sided. Serena is an almost completely reactive character. She is almost never proactive in any situation (would Blair have let Jenny toss yogurt at her and not have, at least, tried to talk to her?) Even when Chuck was at his worst, Blair had some fight in her. Serena basically lets Georgina slap her around and then whines about not being able to whine to anyone about it. (And hell, she didn't even kill someone. She just didn't call because Georgina told her not to).
The season finale will hopefully tie up the loose ends of the Serena A-story and next season can start with the deflowered and single Blair looking to get her party on in the Hamptons. That way she could possibly be the devil on Serena's shoulder as opposed to Dan's Angel. And perhaps the writers could even let Blair be right a couple of times so that wet blanket Dan isn't always smugly judgemental.
There's hope yet for Gossip Girl but the Georgina/Murder folly is something that should be dealt with, pushed aside, and ignored in the future. Blake can be the star but Blair needs to drive the story.
This episode was the first downright boring episode IMO however the way they solved many of the issues could set it up so the whole murder and Georgina plots could be long gone when next season starts. That being said, it still followed the somewhat ironclad Gossip Girl formula which I've decided to, in between Scrabulous turns, to take a look at. Right now, the basic formula breakdown is:
Act 1: Introduce Big Event, set-up possible tension that could unfold at said event.
Act 2: Prepare for Big Event. Tensions rise and the act ends with secret being revealed (ep. 2: Blair knows about Serena and Nate; ep. 3: Chuck sees Serena going into Ostroff center)
Act 3: Antgonists plot trouble while, elsewhere, the Protagonists try to reach their goal, the efforts meet at the Big Event!
Act 4: The Big Event! Chaos ensues and the act ends as things fall apart as the event comes to a close. (ep.3: Blair calls out Serena as a Ostroff patient; ep. 4: Blair blows up at Serena for being the model/Dan is judgemental about what Serena did)
Act 5: The fallout from the Big Event (usually, everyone's upset) but then the original secret (be it: Serena and Nate, Eric's suicide, Blair confronting her mom about the photo shoot) comes out and sends someone reeling. (In the early eps, it's usually Blair)
Act 6: There's usually a heart-to-heart or two as well as a little morsel for the future (in the first eps, it was hinting about Jenny's turn to a socialite), and it ends with a couple being put together, either in a tumultuous relationship (Nate & Blair in Ep. 1/Jenny & Blair in Ep. 5/Chuck & Blair Ep. 7) or a renewed friendship (Blair and Serena in Ep. 3 or Dan and Vanessa in Ep. 6). I've only looked at the first few episodes in depth but the later episodes often have the couple's secret reveled (Serena catching Blair and Chuck in bed in Ep. 8)
I'm not sure when or if I'll get to a more complete breakdown but I'm hoping to have something for the finale next Monday so all other Gossip Girl fans can spend the offseason constructing their own episodes of Gossip Girl. Granted, I'm not sure any fans actually read this but, at the very least, it's a good study for me in terms of breaking down story and seeing how network shows are constructed.
"Fort Hood" isn't exactly an anti-war song. It's more of a song about my own guilt for living life without thinking of the war every moment. I was invited by the USO to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2006; I went over and gave CDs to wounded guys, most of them in their 20s, most missing limbs. It was tremendously moving. As we left the hospital, I was thinking that I wanted to never lose that feeling I felt, of incredible gratitude for everything in life.
Fort Hood is the base in Texas that's lost the most people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Personally, I don't like the term 'success.' It's too arbitrary and too relative a thing. It's usually someone else's definition, not yours." - Ichiro
In a somewhat confusing move, Cablevision (the TV arm of General Electrics) just purchased the Sundance Channel for 496 million dollars. The thing that seems odd about this is that the Sundance Channel doesn't really offer much of anything. It's not like Sundance has been a great brand name in the mass market (a lot of their prize winning films tank at the box office) and the channel itself hasn't really done much. At first I thought the channel could be a great way to help indie films get distribution. If a film went to Sundance and didn't get picked up by a studio, the Sundance Channel could offer to give the film a short run so that at least someone outside of Park City would get to see the film. That never materialized and the channel became little more than an artsy HBO.
That being said, how much is an artsy HBO, or even HBO itself, going to be worth in the near future. With sites like Hulu offering films on demand and sites like Netflix allowing people to download films immediately, will movie channels be all that viable in the near future? Isn't HBO's future more dependent on their original programming to draw in subscribers? Is The Sundance Channel suddenly going to tap into that sort of market? Some reports had GE looking to turn the channel into an ad driven entity but most of the new original programming is about saving the Earth so I'm not sure what kind of advertising they'll attract. I just can't see "The Green House Effect" brought to you by Mitsubishi and Burger King. At best, I could see Sundance becoming a For Profit PBS but, again, what's the profit in that?
In the end, the only real reason that this purchase makes any sense is so that GE could own the main competition to their current indie channel IFC. That being said, wouldn't it have made more sense just to let the Sundance channel fold as opposed to spending almost 500 million on it? And what exactly is the downside of having a little competition? It's not like either channel is really amounting to much anyway.
Maybe it's my business naivite showing here but it would seem like spending $500 million to improve IFC would make more sense than buying Sundance. That's just me.
"Iron Man" inspired me to write a superhero movie. Not because it was so great but rather because it was so capable and that alone made seems to have made it great. Also, I wanted to create some superheroes so that I could overcome the shortcoming that most every superhero movies struggles with: their character's lack of mortality.
That's not to say "Iron Man" is invincible but there's also no way in hell that he's going to die in the first Iron Man film. Or the second. Or the third. The Joker might be one hell of an antagonist but you pretty much know from the get go that his plan "Kill the Bat Man" isn't going to pan out as he hopes. To me, this presents an issue because then any battle becomes more about "How will they get out of this?" rather than "Will they get out of this?" This limits the tension and, unfortunately, the cleverness of the escape usually isn't enough to make up for it. So while a film about a brand new gang of superheroes won't have the all-important marketing tie-in, I think it could have an upper-hand in having disposable superheroes.
That's not to say that you can just off a superhero and live off of the shock value. X3 and Transformers (spoilers ahead) basically taught Hollywood how NOT to kill beloved characters. In X3, Cyclops dies off camera. Professor X's demise comes with a surprising lack of heft, tension, or even interest. Jean Grey's apparent death in X2 was done much better. You saw the struggle, you could sense loss, you felt the death. In X3, you didn't even see one of the major deaths. You just got a pair of suped-up Ray-Bans floating around. Transformers might have actually been worse because a lot of people who saw the film didn't even know Jazz died. The action in that film was so dizzying that when Megatron ripped the Autobot in half, most people weren't aware what was happening. Perhaps the only thing worse than an off-screen death is an on-screen death that doesn't register at all with a surprising portion of the audience.
Theoretically, I should be able to write a script with some more tension because the heroes aren't attached and any of them could get offed at any moment. That can't be the be-all and end-all of the script. Thankfully, a few years ago I wrote a now-lost-in-the-internet ether article about "How to Write a Summer Blockbuster". I think it's about time I put my money-making-talent-that-isn't-making-me-any-money where my mouth (or, in this case, my fingers) is. The plan now is to try to write one scene a week and post them as they go along. Is that a wise move? Not at all. Then again, making a superhero film without any sort of marketing tie-in doesn't make any sense either so let's hope simple mathmatics holds true in Hollywood and two negatives make a positive.
The going odds of me actually keeping up with this are slim-to-none but hopefully it will get writing more often and help me finish some of my other stalled or embryonic projects (of which there are many).
First Friday Night Lights decides to off a random person and now Gossip Girl has shot itself in the foot by throwing a ridiculous murder plot into an already over-the-top high school schedule. Friday Night Lights waited until the second season but apparently there's not enough to write about in the Upper East Side so Gossip Girl couldn't even make it a season without having one of their characters become a killer. I mean, I didn't expect much out of Josh Schwartz who couldn't maintain more than half a season of The O.C. but the murder angle is just kind of ridiculous. Now mind you, Beverly Hills 90210 went a little batty when Luke's dad came back and then got blown up by a car bomb but at least that happened in the third season and they quickly breezed through it and onto gems like hunting down Burt Reynolds. (No, really)
Is it really that hard to maintain a drama about relationships, especially in high school? And how about a little pacing here? They couldn't have found more stories for Jenny's boyfriend? She meets him one episode and he is gay in the next? They couldn't have maybe done some more with Eric dealing with his sexuality? Show him living a lie and struggling to fit in at school? There were no stories there? They had to go straight to the climax and then launch Serena on a self-destructive binge all the while Dan's character does nothing but judge the whole time? The show started with some interesting characters but they all devolved into one dimensional caricatures pretty quickly. Chuck Bass shows some depth and he's off on a bachelor party or in exile in his hotel room. It's almost like the writers don't know what to do when they are given someone with more than a basic personality.
It's too bad because Gossip Girl had the makings of an interesting show but now I doubt it even last much longer than season three, which is too bad because I'm sure Tiffany Amber-Thiessen could have swooped in as a MILF love interest for Rufus and/or Chuck. I hate to dismiss it completely; Gossip Girl could bounce back, but I doubt it.
No wonder they cast Michael from the Wire as the lead in the new version of 90210. The body count in the hoity-toity socialistas is about even with most of the corner boys.
The Summer Box Office is upon us even though summer hasn't even begun yet. Studios have been moving up the release dates for most of their films and in the last few years, May has become the blockbuster month. This year would seem to follow suit with Indiana Jones opening in the last week of May and Prince Caspian opening the week before (with Iron Man and Speed Racer taking up the first two weekends).
The one thing that seems odd to me is that opening up the summer films early basically negates the whole supposed strength of the summer season. The going logic is that summer is a better time to open films because kids aren't in school. But since these films are now opening while kids are still in class, wouldn't that seem to say that blockbusters don't require an absence of pencils, books, and teacher's dirty looks?
As usual, this summer is packed to the gills with films. And, as usual, May is the beginning of the film season. The first four months of the year are basically empty. Wouldn't it make more sense to move some of these films that are going to be lost in the summer to the beginning of the year? Personally, I see The Love Guru and Get Smart as struggling to find their place in the summer slate but they would have been the best thing in the beginning of the year. If braindead crap like 10,000 BC and Meet the Spartans can make solid money in February and March, imagine how much cash Mike Myers could bring in.
Still, it seems like Hollywood has convined themselves that films must stay in season so we're probably going to be stuck with the typical set-up for 4 months, blockbusters for 4 months, leftovers for 4 months, and Oscar bait (with a few blockbuster films tossed in) for 4 months. In Hollywood, the most common sense usually lacks common sense.