The following stems from a conversation between myself and Daniel “I taped cotton balls around Bleeding Gums Murphy’s feet in my toy Springfield Universe tableau to replicate the exact moment in The Simpsons, episode “Round Springfield” where Lisa and Bleeding Gums jam to ‘Jazzman'” Arkin:
A series of Hollywood WTFs:
1. The New Spider-Man
Spider-Man 4 is suddenly becoming a Spider-Man origin story sans Director Sam Raimi and the original cast. Why? Because Sony wanted a new Spider-Man movie in the next 2 years and Sam Raimi wasn’t happy with the quality of the scripts and wanted a higher budget than the $230 Million they had planned.
This is upsetting on so many levels. We all know Hollywood (and apparently shareholders in the CORPORATION that wants as much of the aptly named unobtanium as it can get) is all about the bottom line. Money. So I can understand why Sony would not want to spend $230 million on a movie franchise who’s time in the cultural spotlight may be a little past. However, this tactic of going back to another origin story seems to me to be unwise. Firstly, even though the Spider Man 4 script has gone through 4 writers (among them Seabiscuit’s Gary Ross, and Pulitizer Prize Winner David Lindsay-Abaire), Sam Raimi has been resistant because he felt that the script was simply not good enough and that he could not make the start date of the movie and keep the film’s creative integrity.
So there you have it. A studio being impatient and now, having to start from scratch to make a 2012 release date. All business aside, I dont see how an origin story can help this franchise. It had an origin story nine years ago! It’s not that far from people’s minds. Reboot origin stories have worked in the past with Batman, James Bond, “Sister Act I: The Birth of Christ”, “Jingle All the Way I: The First Jingle….AND THE LAST(?)”, “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married” prequel, “Tyler Perry’s Why am I a Baby?” and the upcoming prequel to the yet to be released Miley Cyrus movie, “The Last Song,” entitled (but I think this is just a working title) “The First Period.” These movies have worked because, in the case of Batman and I believe 007, these famous characters had never had their origin stories on film (save for the couple minute introduction in Tim Burton’s Batman). Also, both Batman and Robin, and Die Another Day had strayed so far from the tone of the source material that there was no place else to go but back to the beginning. Both Batman Begins and Casino Royale preserved the artistic integrity of the source material, and carried the same tone. Batman comics were not always campy, silly and ridiculous, and Ian Flemming’s James Bond did not battle villains with fake faces who constructed space satellites intended to harness solar beams to cut through the minefield in the demilitarized zone in North Korea, allowing North Korea to invade other countries and rule the world. The original Bond worked on a slightly smaller scale.
Anyway–2001’s Spider-Man was an origin story that DID capture the tone of the comics. Tobey Maguire played Peter Parker, a high schooler with a crush on a girl, who along with the stress of being a teenager and living with an old geezer aunt, had to deal with super-powers and bad guys. So where do you go from here? A Spider-Man crime noir like the Dark Knight? A Spider-Man in which a naked Peter Parker gets repeatedly socked in the balls by a rope with two brass balls on the end of it (a weapon who’s only purpose appears to be hitting men in the swimsuit area)? Do you skew Spider-Man even younger by casting Zac Efron? Do you make Mary-Jane a little more Chicano?
In this version, when Spider-Man is nervous and excited he breaks out in a song called, “Nervous and Excited.”
Do you cast Jesse Eisenberg and make Peter Parker more intellectual and Jewish? Or do you cast Michael Cera and make Peter Parker a virgin? Do you cast Justin Long and make Peter Parker boring? Or do you cast Zach Galifinakis and make Peter Parker fat and with a beard?
Anyway, as you can see, I’m not too thrilled at the possibilities for this movie….Actually–just save us all the trouble and cast Justin Timberlake. Throw artistic integrity aside. I would totally see that movie. When’s the new album drop J-Tizzle? I think I speak for all of us when we say we’re ready for you to bring Sexy Back…AGAIN!
2. The Whole Conan/Leno Debacle
There already has been so much said on the Internet on the subject that I will try and remain brief. My opinion is this: NBC put themselves in a terrible situation, and did not have a plan B.
First, with the knowledge that Jay Leno was number one in the ratings, they still edged him to retire, and in 2006, all parties agreed that Jay Leno would leave the Tonight Show, Conan would host the Tonight Show, someone new (it turned out to be Jimmy Fallon) would host the Late Show, and Carson Daly would still be a huge tool bag who hasn’t really existed since 2002.
Even with, as Conan himself put it, “more lucrative offers” available, Conan waited it out expecting that as his contract as guaranteed, he would host the Tonight Show. The time came, he was given the show, and all was well….until a big boned butthead decided that he didnt want to retire, even though he had agreed to it 3 years prior. Ok, fine. He’s entitled to change his mind, but the Tonight Show wasn’t his anymore. This is where NBC screwed everything up. They decided that they wanted to keep Jay, as he was very popular. Again, understandable, as he would have otherwise gone to another competing network. But their plan did a lot more harm than good. Not only did they get rid of all of their 10 o’clock dramas, making network TV even more of a wasteland of shitty serials and reality shows, but they also screwed all of their affiliate stations whose news programs were losing viewers because they were coming after Jay, and no one wanted to watch another crappy talk show.
By the way, it should be noted that this year, the dramas NBC has on the air now are: Trauma, Mercy, Friday Night Lights, Heroes and 2 Law and Orders. That’s it. I still love NBC comedies, but seriously? Putting on Jay Leno and having this drama lineup basically says, “We don’t know how to run a network, or find good material.”
Besides the network being an asshole to Conan now, stabbing him in the back and showing him zero support after he moved his whole family, staff, and life, and after only 7 months of show, my biggest problem is this I guess: Why does Jay even want to do a talk show anymore? He doesn’t need the money. He doesn’t need the affirmation–everyone knows he was a successful Tonight Show host for 17 years! Is it for the comedy? The need to put out something original, creative, and innovative? No. Have you seen the Jay Leno show? He just does his same old bits, and then hires OTHER comedians to do field pieces. Does he really like interviewing celebrities? I can’t imagine that. It’s not like he’s really asking them pressing questions anyway.
I know Jay loves stand-up. But NOTHING is stopping him from doing that. He could do stand-up every day in front of a live audience for the rest of his life!
Conan LOVES the Tonight Show. He wouldnt have stayed on NBC this long if he didn’t. He also LOVES comedy and the talk-show format. He is always doing innovative comedy pieces and pushing the limits of what a talk-show can be. Why take that away from someone in order to put on mediocrity? Conan clearly has so much more to give.
I’m sure it all comes down to money, and no one at NBC wants to lose their jobs. But c’mon suits! You’ve become the laughing stock of the entire industry. Start problem solving and figure out a way to keep Conan, because if he leaves (and I believe he will unless something drastic happens) the brands of The Tonight Show and NBC will be tarnished forever.
***In the midst of writing this post it seems that the rumors are that Conan is going to leave, giving NBC a royal f-u, and hopefully recoup the $60 million that his contract entitled him to, if he were to be “fired,” and that Jay will either be given a new show called the “Tonight Show” or will leave too. NBC royally fucked up. Conan is in talks to have an 11-12 show at Fox. I will be watching that show.
****I just realized that I was entirely NOT brief. Oh well.
To end on happier notes
1. Go rent/buy the film: “In the Loop.” It was the smartest, and one of the funniest comedies of the whole year.
2. I’m very excited to see Ricky Gervais host the Golden Globes. Make no mistake, I could give 2 shits about the Golden Globes, but I LOVE Ricky Gervais. He promises to be cheeky, tart, funny, and drunk. If you dont believe me, check out any of his award show appearances ever. Or this clip of him and Elmo, which is one of my favorites:
3. Apparently on February 20th, live at the Nokia Theatre, Will Ferrell is with former Angelino and new Seattletino Pete Carroll, hosting a benefit show with performances from Tenacious D, Tim and Eric, Nick Swardson (who I saw at Century City the other day wearing very low shorts), Demetri Martin, and more. I will not be in town, but if I were, I would definitely get tickets.