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December 2017

Thursday-ish Linkspam

Grab the popcorn, folks: the next step in the Sexual Harassment Merry-Go-Round is the sale of the artist formerly known as the Weinstein Company. Okay, it’s still called Weinstein Co., but it is selling itself and the bulk of its film and television assets to avoid bankruptcy, according to Variety. Possible bidders include Killer Content with the backing of a collection of investors gearing to steer Weinstein profits to nonprofits helping women.

In general, the other companies aren’t really interested in absorbing Weinstein whole; just sort of peeling off its assets. That includes Project RunwayThe King’s Speech, Django Unchained and others. First round of bids came today. (Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly faces two more lawsuits from accusers alleging he violated the confidentiality agreements of their settlements.)

• Speaking of sexism and misogyny! E! News co-anchor Catt Sadler quit today when she discovered that her male co-host earned almost double her salary, even though they did the same job and had started at the network in the same year. She stated that she asked to close the pay gap and was repeatedly denied. “How can I operate with integrity and stay on at E if they’re not willing to pay me the same as him? Or at least come close?” she wrote in her personal blog. “How can I not echo the actions of my heroes and stand for what is right no matter what the cost? How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”

Sadler, a single mother of two, said it is “scary” to quit, but that it is important to stand up for equal pay. “The unknown can be terrifying, but it can also be the most beautiful gift,” she wrote. “How can we make it better for the next generation of girls if we do not stand for what is fair and just today?”

Washington Post dug in deeper, pointing out that women currently make 81 cents for each dollar made by a man, and the gap is wider among college grads, business, finance and legal careers. The White House gender pay gap has tripled in the last year, as the administration halted an Obama policy that would require large companies to report pay broken down by race and gender, according to the Post.

• I thought the NFL was in trouble? Football is still the top-watched show on broadcast networks this fall, including NBC and CSB and Sunday and Thursday… so not that much trouble. The top scripted show is still The Big Bang Theory, in defiance of logic. Rounding out the top ten are The Good Doctor (really?), This is Us, NCIS, Young Sheldon (dammit) and Bull.

In looking at the full 75-show list, no one is ever allowed to complain to me again that there are too many police procedural shows on TV. Of the top shows, at least 17 are police procedurals. This is just like when people say they’re tired of all the violence in the news, but let me tell you what people click first and most often, folks…

Apple is being sued on allegations that it intentionally slows down older iPhones with new iOS releases in order to goad people into buying a new phone. Apple admits that older phones might slow down with later software, but only to keep them from crashing when the processor can't handle it. The suit was filed in Chicago.

Note to Ridley Scott: Shhh. When discussing your need to reshoot All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer instead of accused rapist Kevin Spacey, maybe this comment is not the best choice: “Any form of publicity is useful.”

Oh, Ridley. You were doing so much better when you originally said that one person’s actions should not affect the good work of all these other people, telling this dramatic story. That made it seem like you were trying to preserve art and storytelling, not to mention fine acting, not just scrambling to make a buck and uncaring about the implications of the allegations against Spacey.

Out of context? Not really. Full quote: “If you forget as the director your one priority is to put bums on seats and you better entertain. So any form of publicity is useful. Need I go further?”Please don’t.

• That awful, terrible, illogical, franchise-ruining Last Jedi* is up to $536 million international take - oops, $600 million! Coming up this weekend: Jumanji and The Greatest Showman, with a couple meaningless comedies a few days later. Good luck besting the Jedi, guys.

• I really thought it was a joke, but not-the-Onion reports that they’re seriously going forward with a Quentin Tarantino Star Trek movie. Because his nihilistic ultraviolent style of reveling in blood because pain is funny is just what an optimistic, humanist view of the future needed. (Note: Not a fan.) Mark L. Smith, who wrote that utopian flick The Revenant, will be writing it. Meanwhile, Tarantino is working on a Charles Manson film, which seems much more his style of “let’s watch them squish the eyeballs.”



Heather North, the voice of Daphne for Scooby Doo fans, died Tuesday at age 71 of a heart attack caused by respiratory disease. North began on Days of Our Lives and started her run as Daphne in 1970 in the show’s second season and would play Daphne for 30 years in various formats. She did a lot of TV work and a few movies; her husband, Wesley Kenney directed the most famous season of All in the Family. He died in January 2015; one of her stepdaughters died a week ago.




Trailer Park

 • I can't really tell if the upcoming Chappaquiddick is going to be worth a watch or not. It's an interesting story that is ancient history for many of us too young (or not yet born) to follow the scandal that ended any chance of Ted Kennedy following his brothers in pursuit of the presidency. The acting in the trailer is surprisingly flat; you expect to see their best work. It is not clear what side the movie takes: accident or murder, or something in between?   

• They gender-swapped Overboard, which is one of my guilty pleasures: it’s horribly problematic and yet funny as hell with a good bit of charm. There are a number of comedies like that for me: I can’t help liking them even though every good sense says “This is horrible!” (Note: You’ve Got Mail is pretty much gold-plated in this category.) I was neutral on the gender-swap, leaning positive on the “revenge of blue collar over the 1 percent” theme, but this trailer pretty much tells me this will be the most unfunny flop of the spring.

• There's a real Alice in Wonderland/Narnia vibe to Disney's teaser for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Not even I knew that the Tchaikovsky ballet was based on an 1816 short story by E.T.A. Hoffman, later adapted by The Three Musketeers' Alexandre Dumas. There's some pretty dark stuff in the original source material, and I'm interested to see what the movie does with it, as a fantasy fan and as a former ballet sugarplum. Shh, don't tell anyone. 

* Read: sarcasm.

Monday-ish Linkspam

No, I’m not getting into The Last Jedi. Nope, not at all.

Why should I, when everyone else has done so already? And better than I could.

So I’m not going to talk about it. Yet.

Cartoon by Joe Heller

• It’s Golden Globes time! The 75th Golden Globe Awards have an interesting lineup, including movies that haven’t come out yet. Drama nominees include Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, The Post, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The musical/comedy nominees include The Disaster Artist, Get Out, The Greatest Showman, Lady Bird and I, Tonya.

Yeah, notice that? Get Out is a comedy now. Um, did they watch it? Horror, maybe. Biting social commentary disguised as a thriller? Definitely. Comedy? They were not watching the same movie as I. At least Daniel Kaluuya is nominated for his performance, although he’s up against Steve Carell, James Franco and Hugh Jackman, who are all better known and in actual comedies/musicals. I’ve rarely seen such a genre/film mismatch, and it’s well-known that director Jordan Peele (who was NOT nominated) has made his opinion clear.

Ridley Scott is nominated for All the Money in The World, which hasn’t come out yet and is controversial since Kevin Spacey was replaced at the last minute by Christopher Plummer due to accusations of sexual assault. House of Cards is notably absent from the nomination list for television.

Guillermo del Toro is nominated for The Shape of Water, which just came out. Martin McDonaugh is nominated for Three Billboards, which just came out. Steven Spielberg is nominated for The Post, which we won’t see here until Jan. 12. Christopher Nolan is nominated for Dunkirk, which is the sole not-December movie on the list.

On the TV side: no surprises. Dramas include The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, This is Us, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. Comedies include black-ish, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Master of None, SMILF and Will & Grace.

If you’re keeping count, The Shape of Water has the most nominations with seven, while The Post and Three Billboards have six. Read the full list here.

• Stephen Sondheim will receive the 2017 St. Louis Literary Award, the first musical lyricist to be named since the award’s inception in 1967. The West Side Story lyricist and composer won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. He is currently working on a new play titled Bunuel.

• Nominations for the Dragon Award are now open! Deadline is July 20, 2018; publication date is July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. (Sadly, that knocks out my Moonlight Sonata, because nobody loves me… SNIFF.) Go nominate the best book you’ve read this year. Awards make authors happy and tell readers to buy our shit. These are good things.

• Proving once again that Chris Evans actually IS Captain America, the actor invited the Tennessee boy whose tearful anti-bullying vid has gone viral to attend the Avengers premiere with his mom. If you haven’t seen it, the kid from Knoxville has milk poured on his head and called ugly because he has head scars - from a tumor operation. Among the heroes - which apparently does not include the school staff ignoring such vicious cruelty - is Mark Hammill, who reached out to the boy along with Mark Ruffalo, Millie Bobby Brown, Greg Grunberg and others. Everyone from Donna Murphy to Ed Asner to Idina Menzel.

(And then it went wide that the kid’s mom is a screaming racist based on her Instagram account, only THEN it turned out that Instagram was a fake account operated by a teenager who thought it would be hilarious to paint the kid’s mom as a horrible racist and people who ran with that are now having to retract it except it’s too late and this is why we can’t have nice things.)

• You thought it was just internet trolling when you heard about the Disney World gondolas, didn’t you? Nope! It’s true. The Disney Skyliner will connect theme parks and hotels through the skies of Orlando, with Caribbean Beach Resort as the hub. There will be stations at Pop Century, Art of Animation and Hollywood Studios, as well as the much-preferred International Gateway at Epcot. Launch date is as yet unknown. I personally can’t wait, although the height-phobic may have concerns…


Trailer Park

• Certainly the new trailer for Ready Player One has people in a tizzy. I will confess some reservations about this film: while The Matrix showed us that a fantasy life taken to extremes leads to the degradation of human intellect and evolution, Ready Player One’s first trailer seemed to posit that when real life sucks, just escape into videogames and everything will be cool because it has a lot of nifty 80s nostalgia. This trailer shows a bit more Hunger Games-style rebellion - bread and circuses is as old as the Roman Empire, after all, with the Oasis standing in for the part of the circuses, of course. Is this movie about people tired of being mistreated and living in squalor, pacified only by a fantasy life? Or is it about a nifty videogame that is their only escape and their efforts to save it? Um.

• Natalie Portman stars in the SF action film Annihilation, which seems to create a Del Toro-like world inside our world and she must science it to save her husband. I think. Looks nifty, with bonus points for multiple women characters who actually speak to each other. When a movie passes Bechdel in the freaking trailer, I pay attention. 

Jessica Jones is back! Look, I was a fan from Alias days, and even suffered through The Pulse until it died a merciful death. Now the queen of snark is back, with apparently a new fella, all new bad habits, and smashing people into glass. As one does.

• Hoo boy. The 15:17 to Paris is a Clint Eastwood film about the three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack on a French train in 2015. Starring those actual three guys. Um. Look, heroes and soldiers don’t necessarily make good actors. Take it from one who went through years of theatrical training to discover that not everyone has the gift. Also: Eastwood is not exactly the lightest touch with controversial topics, so I’m not expecting a nuanced vision here.