Saturday, November 22, 2008

Strike II: The Strikening

Just in time for the holidays, another creative union -- the Screen Actors Guild -- is talking strike. Talks have been dragging on since the summer with no real progress and it remains to be seen if the will exists among the rank-and-file members to put the town through another labor stoppage (especially in a severe economic downturn elsewhere).

As with the writers last year, the sticking point between the producers and actors is residuals for new media, e.g., the internet and digital downloads. Of course, even reaching an agreement with the AMPTP is no guarantee. The WGA filed for arbitration this week against the producers, alleging that they haven't been making any residual payments at all on downloaded works (as was negotiated and agreed to in the latest Minimum Basic Agreement with the Guild). Who could have ever seen *that* coming?

Well, maybe one guy could have.

And just because it can't be said too often, in the words of the owners themselves . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting read

A post about my table read last night at The Attic Theater is up over at The Rouge Wave. Thanks to everyone who came out and made it a great experience!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Phone a friend

The holiday movie season got underway this past weekend with the release of Madagascar 2 (earning $63 million, which is a Pixar-esque number for DreamWorks Animation). It is also the unofficial start of awards season for Hollywood. In addition to the big crowd pleasers like Twilight and Marley & Me, Christmas is when the studios roll out the big guns for Oscar. This year, that includes Sean Penn as murdered gay-rights crusader Harvey Milk in the biopic "Milk," Brad Pitt as the anti-Dorian Gray in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film version of John Patrick Shanley's acclaimed play, "Doubt"; "Frost/Nixon," "Australia," "Revolutionary Road" . . . the list goes on. And that's just the Hollywood slate.

This week, however, a smaller film that is more Bollywood than Hollywood opens that I hope doesn't get lost in the shuffle. "Slumdog Millionaire" is the latest film directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later") and it is said to be amazing. The basic premise of the story is this: Jamal is an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai. Incredibly, he finds himself one final answer away from winning 20 million rupees on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Perhaps too incredibly. Because when the show breaks for the evening before he can answer the last question, Jamal is arrested by the police on suspicion of cheating. After all, how could a boy from the slums really have come by all that knowledge legitimately (NB: WWTBAM is Einstein-level hard in India. Apparently it makes America's look like Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?). We then see, as Jamal recounts the story of his life to the incredulous police investigator, exactly how he came to know the answers to each of the questions from the show. And the real reason that he is competing in the first place (hint: it ain't for the money).

"Slumdog" won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and has been getting boffo reviews in the meantime. I know I'll be in line this week when it opens here in limited release. It feels like this year's little movie that could and hopefully it can build the kind of momentum that has carried similar films, like "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Juno" into recent award success.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

That won