Thursday, July 16, 2009

7-16-09 Hollywood has Nothing to Fear...Except Fear Itself of Course.

A ha!!! Yes – Surprise – it's a SECOND blog entry today!

Over the course of the last day, Twitter has been…well…atwitter with people who have just gone off about the worsening problem of the "reboot/rehash/remake" disease that has infected the very soul of what used to be a pretty wacky and original place. Yes – I used the word "original." There was a time when Hollywood used to produce some pretty creative things. Sure they produced a lot of crap too – but back then, at least it was creative crap.

So imagine how thrilled I was to read this blog: (Once again I must thank my Twitter acquaintance "Broadus" who said he wanted to read my thoughts on this piece.) So please do yourself a favor and read this! Not only did it have me weeping with laughter, it also had me shedding bitter, bitter tears.

Jay Black, the comedian and author of the eloquent article puts forth...

(*mumble* phloxing grammar – an hypothesis? A hypothesis? Huh – according to the little green thing in Word it says it's "a hypothesis". Yes, "a" before a consonant "an" before a vowel. Duh, Ter.)

...a hypothesis that television sucks big donkey Richards because there simply aren't enough good writers out there; that they have reached a critical mass so to speak, and not only are all the good writers being used, the "suits' have backfilled the void with the leftover crappy writers.

While I laughed all the way through his article, I simply can't agree with this statement. I think there are hordes of incredibly talented writers that just can't get a job. And while I can see his point that the expansion of available channels should actually bring more opportunity to the writers/actors, etc – I'm afraid it all rolls right back around to the same problem that's affecting ALL of Hollywood – fear of the new, the original and the untested.

It really does all come down to money and, using Mr. Black's own method, I'll be working off of two axioms here:

1) Studios aren't openly willing to pay anyone for anything and
2) They only spend money either due to desperation or because they are legally required to do so in some instances.

I know of many, many incredibly talented people…writers, producers, actors – all of whom would love to just get a crack at a role, or having their script produced or a studio buy their show, but the studios simply haven't shown much of an interest in original works, original looks or original ideas.

They fear originality for originality equals risk, and in the post Enron/Sarbanes-Oxley world in which we live risk = possible failure and possible failure = potential shareholder lawsuit and potential shareholder lawsuit = death. And using the ever-loving transitive theory, since death must be avoided "at all costs" therefore originality must be avoided "at all costs."


(I also joked that maybe the really good writers know better than to waste their time putting forth their creative efforts knowing that they'll either be shot down – OR WORSE – losing all control over their creations to some set of paid hacks who assure the soul is surgically removed from most work, so they're not even trying to sell their wares anymore and learning how to enjoy their work by sharing it on the net…GASP…for free.)

I'm sure it's different for the actor – those who would love to stretch their creativity by playing a role – ANY role, as long as it's a challenge.

OMFSM – Another tweet from Broadus produced this gem of an interview: (Ahem, Ms. Megan Fox! You may want to read this! You could learn a lot from this woman!)

Damn, what a gorgeous woman…in more ways than one.

Ms. Okonedo speaks directly to the heart of the problem I think – there is a lot of phlox out there. She's incredibly forthright to be able to tell the powers that be "no" when she's offered that stuff too. She's also built a reputation for taking meatier and better-written roles too. She wields a power that very few actors hold – the ability to say no and still know that they will be sought for another role in the future. She and others like her are simply THAT GOOD.

All of the actors I personally know don't get that luxury. They're faced with either not working – or taking that role in the poorly written dramedy, or cry with joy when they land a commercial, something – just something that gives them a few things more on that resume and headshot. There's simply not enough "good stuff" out there to be able to say no to. It's not that those people aren't capable of being "THAT GOOD" they just don't have the material that allows them to show it.

Mr. Black has a lot of great points but I don't think expansion of the market has caused dissolution of the talent-pool.

When studios stop producing scripted shows in order to save money and they turn to filming "unscripted" dreck – that is what I believe is television's greatest problem. It's not that there are less good writers – the good writers just aren't being used!

Yes, we're getting a lot more material thrown at us as viewers but we're just getting less material that has a plot. We're not getting more dramas, comedies or musicals – we're getting American Idol; Big Brother; Big Brother After Dark; Ghost Hunters; Haunted Castles; Haunted Ships; Haunted Pool Halls; Dark-Haired Survival Guy; Lighter-Haired Survival Guy; Nasty Chef Yells at Poorly Trained Food Service Industry People; Deadliest Catch and Ice Flow Truckers of the South Pacific (where I understand driving a truck on an iceberg is really dangerous!)

Now – I know the writers of these "unscripted shows" don't get paid diddley for their work and I can't imagine that a majority of the people in them are now suddenly members of SAG…

I would have hoped that with the influx of cable channels that we would be able to see a greater degree of opportunity for the writer/actor/electricians/musician/set-builders etc – but when Hollywood realized it could bypass the unions and make money hand-over-twisted claw by avoiding having to hire anyone but a camera operator, a boom operator and maybe a few grips…yeah – cheap to make and huge on the profit ratio.

Sorry Mr. Black – I think the Earth is swimming in talented people and you're definitely one of them.

I just think Hollywood is dying from its own fear.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, found this googling myself (not as dirty as it sounds). Really nice rebuttal to my argument!