Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nobody knows anything, except for me

William Goldman once said, "nobody knows anything" (or words to that effect, it's been a longtime since I read the book) and people in Hollywood love to quoth the Goldman, "Nobody knows anything! Nobody knows anything! Nobody knows anything!!!!!" The trouble is that while most people LOVE the sound of their gums beating out that particular rhythm to highlight how really awesomely cool they are for working and making it in such a fickle business, what they're actually saying to you is "nobody knows anything, except for me."

Anyone who's had a pitch meeting or discussed a script with a manager/agent/producer will understand exactly what I'm talking about. Anyone who's read a copy of a script that got "passed around" for years before someone picked it up and made it on a shoestring only to spawn a giant hit and a run of progressively deteriorating sequels will understand what I'm talking about. The irony is that this example proves the theorem but of course the reason all those scripts get passed on while other "read, Pear Harbor" films get made is because people, read Hollywood types, really believe they know something.

Case in point: "W" currently tanking at fewer and fewer box offices near you.

Now I'm not a big fan of Oliver Stone but this isn't a critique of one of America's favorite cinematic revisionists, it's really an explanation of why relatively intelligent people would sink $30 million into a film that by definition won't have an ending about a president with approval ratings only slightly higher than Ted Bundy. "Hey, I know, let's make a movie about a president that no one likes, hire a guy who no one trusts to make it and cast a bunch of actors who hate - I mean really HATE the people they're portraying. Now that's GOT to be a winner."


See what I mean? Nobody knows anything. The film tanked. It is not a winner. The problem is that cell phones were ringing all over Beverly Hills because while the prospect on it's face wasn't that great - there were probably a lot of people who just "knew" it was going to be big. How can it NOT be? a particular digitized conversation might go, "We're ALL talking about it."