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The Report:
Journalistic Opinions On
The Industry State Of The Art -
May, 2013

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Huff Post - 5/4/13:

      Director Baz Luhrmann's new age / period fusion rendition of Fitzgerald's 1925 American Classic THE GREAT GATSBY has those who've never read the book flocking to bookstores and libraries (remember those?) and firing up their Kindles; and at the same time has die hard purist fans of the novel holding bated breath.   Like it or no, this isn't the first time F. Scott's seminal work has been adapted to the screen.  A 1926 silent version with Werner Baxton, Lois Wilson and William Powell so incensed the author, he and Zelda stormed from the theater.  Then there was the 1949 rendition with Alan Ladd; Jack Clayton's sumptuous (though some felt hollow) 1974 take with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and even a 2000 A&E cable TV booting starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino and Paul Rudd, which some feel is the closest in text and spirit to Fitzgerald's romantic "Jazz Age" melodrama.

      iterature Professor / Fitzgerald biographer Anne Margaret Daniel offers up TWO in depth examinations of Fitzgerald's love / hate relationship with Hollywood.  "Writing For The Movies" delves into the author's brief career flirtation as a screenwriter on projects such as A YANK AT OXFORD, THREE COMRADES, THE WOMEN, ... and even a minor draft of GONE WITH THE WIND.  And in "What Did Fitzgerald Think of THE GREAT GATSBY The Movie - 1926" she accesses Zelda's actual letters in presenting a 1st person "at the time of release 'review' of the first of Fitzgerald's work adapted to film.    


"As we head toward the starting line for the summer movie season, which in Hollywood terms begins in early May, it may seem like a difficult time to find stimulating entertainment that doesn't involve superheroes or special effects. In point of fact, several distributors make a practice of releasing some of their best movies at this time of year, as counter-programming, and thank goodness for that.  I have nothing against IRON MAN 3, which happens to be a very entertaining film, but I like variety in my movie diet, which is why I'm happy to recommend some smaller pictures that are now making their way across the country. I'm especially fond of MUD, and I feel confident that Jeff Nichols is someone whose work will stand the test of time".  Also includes reviews of LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, KON-TIKI, and FAME HIGH. 


      Founded in 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler, "Kickstarter" - the "crowd funding" website purview of independent film makers, playwrights,  musicians, game designers and artists, reached a milestone when in March of this year the producers of a prospective VERONICA MARS feature film shattered expectations (and fund-raising records) with nearly $6 million in fan pledges on it's original $2 million goal.   Following in it's wake, WISH I WAS HERE, the new film from Zach Braff (writer / director / star of GARDEN STATE) and producers Michael Shamberg & Stacey Sher, has ignited controversy as many are now crying "foul" in that established (and already financially viable filmmakers - Shamberg & Sher are the producers of PULP FICTION, OUT OF SIGHT, GATTACA, CONTAGION, DJANGO UNCHAINED and more) now seem to be using the Kickstarter format to augment already deep fundraising pockets to the detriment of independent and local artists truly in need.

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SHOWGUYS (Eszterhas vs. Gibson)

by Gary Keenan

      With his broadside against Mel Gibson igniting a bit of a media firestorm, Joe Eszterhas may have stumbled upon a strategy for reviving a stalled career.   Pick a fight with a heavyweight - but a vulnerable, alienated one.

      Eszterhas, Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriter of the 80s and 90s, certainly had built a reputation as a brawler.   His hand-to- hand combat with studio executives and agents is the stuff of industry insider legend.   But this time around, he probably wasn’t looking for a fight.  By his own account, Eszterhas threw himself into Gibson’s MACCABBES project.   It was to be his defiance of the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “no 2nd act” dictum.   For a writer who had never achieved critical acclaim to match the commercial success he enjoyed with such hits as BASIC INSTINCT and JAGGED EDGE (and even of the infamous sort with 1995's SHOWGIRLS), this was a chance to recast his legacy.   Indeed, considering the gravity of the material, MACCABES was to be his magnum opus.

Artist rendition of "Maccabbes" ("God's Hammer")

      For Gibson, who has been drifting ever so surely toward the status of erstwhile titan of the cinema, “ Maccabees” was to be a vehicle to bring him out of the wilderness. More specifically, he needed a way to counter long standing charges of anti-Semitism.  Making the “Jewish BRAVEHEART”, the story of 2nd century hero Judah Maccabbe - who lead a revolt against Hellenist hegemony, was just the ticket.  It was right up his alley.
  But the project has now blown up in his face.  Eszterhas, at least in light of his script being rejected, proved not to be the sycophant that Gibson may have thought he was bringing into his inner circle.   With his alleged psychotic behavior on full display, ranting and raving about Jews, Vatican II, and his ex- girlfriend, Gibson opened the door for a full blown public relations disaster.

      Gibson’s ad hominem retort to Eszterhas, including the salient point – “I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script,” is not likely to gain traction.  Whether or not Eszterhas’ script passed muster is irrelevant.  It is now Gibson’s motives, core beliefs
and antics which will come under greater scrutiny. His trek through the wilderness just got bit longer.

      And Eszterhas comes out the big winner.  He’s back in the public eye.  He’s back on Hollywood’s radar.

      As such, here is a few examples of aspiring comeback kids that might want to take a page out of the Eszterhas playbook.

      * Greece hasn’t been much of anything for a very long time.  Obvious target – Germany.  With the Euro crisis stirring up old nightmares of the Wehrmacht trampling upon the Acropolis, it’s time for the progenitors of Western civilization to reassert a bit of Hellenist hegemony.


      * Newt Gingrich, instead of training his sights on front runner Mitt Romney and on President Obama, should have taken aim at former President George W. Bush.  At the very least, a smack down may have ensued over claim to the title of - “Done the most in the last 20 years to destroy the Republican brand.”

      * Sony, a company struggling to regain its former glory, faces an uphill battle as it takes on Apple.  But surely a Steve Jobs tape exists; chock full of ranting and raving about ex-girlfriends, ungrateful Chinese assembly line workers and less than zealous adherents of Zen Buddhism.

      And assuming his “Maccabees” script continues to collect dust, look for Eszterhas to pen an eponymous “Showguys” for Warner Bros.  But will Gibson direct?  It might be the first time in movie history that the two lead actors never appear on the set together.

                                                                                                                                              GK - April 2012

                  Gary Keenan is a software developer and freelance writer. He lives in Villa Park, IL.
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