Cadavers in Revolt

NO, Kevin Hart will NOT host the Oscars this year despite self-elected Queen of Us Gays Ellen DeGeneres’ efforts to allow him to do so.

And NO, newly minted Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was NOT smeared when right wing Republicans began re-tweeting a video of her fabulous self doing the Breakfast Club dance back in college.

And CERTAINLY NO, not even newly minted Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) became marginalized EVEN SLIGHTLY when Trump tried to chastise her this week for saying: WE’RE GONNA IMPEACH THE MOTHERF-CKER! 

That way of thinking is SO, SO, SOOOOO 2015.   If you haven’t been keeping up with the times, well, the rest of us have.  So you wanted the guardrails off, well guess what?


Oh it’s about to GO DOWN

Oh, and finally, guess what what?  No way in the god d-mned world will I ever be marginalized, ostracized or slightly, even vaguely, smeared by writing that.  Sure, this is a blog but I do have a watchful editor and as any self-respecting WOKE FEMALE in 2019, SHE (Note: My editor, yeah, she’s a GIRL) is certainly, totally on board with that…and more.

I gotchu Chairy

You can’t have it both ways, kids.  All this faux outrage only works when you recognize there are standards and practices, things you can’t say or don’t say in polite company and intellectual discourse.  Norms one follows and morals one adheres to that are generally accepted by the whole of society, or at least by a majority of Electoral College and/or Motion Picture Academy voters.

But when you spend two years (and in some cases, many more) either subverting or ignoring those parameters in hopes of a Supreme Court justice or two, career fame and fortune or just plain expanding your audience in hopes of world-view domination, you DO NOT GET TO COMPLAIN NOW.

I guess kudos for being consistent #ignorance

All right, sure, you get to complain.  Yell and scream all you want, it’s a free country, right now.  But do NOT expect it to register much.  The general American zeitgeist may not be too swift on the whole but on the whole they do eventually get what’s faux and what is most certainly cadaverous outrage.

This temper tantrum you’re now having about the majority speaking up and grabbing some of the power you slyly and not so slyly stole from us in your attempts to marginalize anyone who didn’t agree with you, or worse yet, render them voiceless, these days registers as nothing more and nothing less than:


You WISH you had these moves

Give me a friggin’ break, Ellen.  People that don’t want Kevin Hart to host the Oscars because he made AIDS jokes in 2004 and apologized by way of saying it was a different time then, are HATERS?  (Note:  Your words, hon, not mine).

And seriously, Congressmen, you’re going to actually BOO Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and no one else when she cast her vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House? And then say they were just playful boos?  What are you, eleven?  Are you playing kickball?  If you have a secret crush on her, why not playfully just go up to her and punch her in the arm?  Right, you can’t do that anymore in the age of #MeToo.  Then just speak to her privately and tell her you like her, despite everything.  No touching, though.

Oh, don’t back away from this, ELECTORAL COLLEGE POTUS and all of your minions and surrogates, one of whom is bound to be reading this.  Or at least, an acquaintance of a friend who might happen to whizz by it while surfing the web at 2 a.m. in search of Chair porn.

I’d rather look at this than “The Mule” #sorrynotsorry

You know for a fact that mother f-cker is just a term you use (Note: or he if you’re a surrogate) first thing in the morning at Mar-a-Lago in reference to your illegal alien cleaning lady when she doesn’t empty the gold plated garbage can of all those tissues you used the night before in your gold glited boudoir en suite.  Open concept, indeed.

Oh, do NOT start with us about mother f-cker, you MO FO.  You might not have been caught on tape saying the “N” word (Note: Yet) but you have proclaimed it’s okay to grab women by their p-ssies and have been widely quoted hurling F, S and B bombs by friends, acquaintances and co-workers on an hourly basis.

I mean….

Of course, you’re also the guy who told a friend that you thought Jared was A LITTLE SWEET (Note: GAY) when your daughter Ivanka first introduced you to her future husband so you’re right, it doesn’t make you quite as homo-hating as Mr. Hart.  Were it not your only offense.




#GrabEmByTheP-ssy (Note:  Repeated for the number of times you’ve said it and it’s been written about over the last two and a half years and we’ve had to listen to it).

So please, when asked about the new Michigan Congresswoman referring to you as a mother f-cker at a bar, do not say stuff like:

I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America

You really missed your calling in standup #HILARIOUS

We’d much rather have you curse.  At least that’d be honest.

For a change.

Because as former POTUS (both Electoral AND Popular Vote) Barack Obama once so eloquently stated:

We Are The Change We’ve Been Waiting For.

Know that you, as well as so many other power brokers in the mainstream (Note: Yes, we’re speaking to ALL of you), helped get us here.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dancing – Breakfast Club Style

Oscars So…

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.54.35 AM

There was a time not so long ago when journalists got up at the crack of dawn to go to the Motion Picture Academy where, at its Samuel Goldwyn movie theatre on Wilshire Blvd., if you were one of them, you’d be among the first non-Academy associated humans to get a white typewritten paper list of Oscar nominees that you’d either phone into your publication or rush back to the office to write about for tomorrow’s edition. There wasn’t a lot for TV reporters to film, except perhaps a bunch of p.r. representatives lingering from the side aisles waiting to pounce on anyone within earshot in all sorts of nefarious ways.

Oh, maybe there was also the dull Academy president announcing the major nominees in front of a red velvet curtain and a larger than life backdrop of a fake Oscar but I wouldn’t swear to it. What I do remember is when I first got here and started covering it, even the presidents lingered, and often nefariously. In Hollywood, everyone lingers – sometimes nefariously and sometimes not – but almost always for too long. It’s one of the many pitfalls of the business.

Anyway, back to the bygone era of the very early eighties that I refer to. It was a time very early in my career when I was an actual show business journalist. Clearly, I’m not as good as I thought because I can’t remember if there was even an actor standing next to the Academy president announcing said nominees or if the prez even or always read them.

Ok.. I'm not THAT old.

Ok.. I’m not THAT old.

What I do remember is that I was very young and very excited to be there. Though more exciting than that was the list the Academy compiled for you stapled to the back pages of the nominees. It totaled up the list of nominees by studio, individual credits and according to how many times, if any, the person(s) had been nominated and/or won before. Why was that exciting? Because there was a time not so long before that when not even this detailed list was provided and a reporter had to navigate the perilous waters of going back to the office and inevitably getting some minute detail of the past or present wrong.

What do you mean fill in name of current nominee never got nominated? How dare you forget that short film they produced when they were 32 that no one ever heard of! I will never read you again! Or –

We fill in name of studio got six nominations this year and not seven – clearly you’re in the tank for fill in name of chief competing studio. We’re pulling all of our ads! Though my favorite was –

You know, fill in name of nominee was NOT the youngest (or oldest) nominee for best sound. In 1938, fill in name of nominee was co-nominated for best documentary and they were 22 (102). That’s a full eight months younger! How dare you! Don’t you know ANYTHING????

Amen, Lady Mary.

Amen, Lady Mary.

Ahh, how times have changed. Or have they?

There will inevitably always be something to complain about when award nominees and recipients are concerned. Especially with the granddaddy (mommy?) of all – the Academy Awards. It’s not that this year’s Oscars are not so white. It’s that, well, they are never fair. Or even-handed. Or even…much of anything except iconic.

Ok... when you see this it does seem pretty white, but I digress

Ok… when you see this it does seem pretty white, but I digress

What you discover as you get older is that this is the case for far too many or our icons. Oh, don’t go thinking I’m on a downer and you don’t want me passing it over to you. Nothing iconic is quite what it seems to be. The Statue of Liberty is older than it looks up close, the Mona Lisa is smaller and most Las Vegas curtains are tacky and made of Mylar. Not to mention…well, you get the picture.

This is not to make excuses for the silly omissions on this year’s list or to say that this and many other show business, in fact all business, organizations, need to be more inclusive – nee color blind, gender blind, age blind and…well, you get the picture. Again. Of course, they do.

But accepting all this to be true or not true and simply dealing with the facts, explain on a macro level:

  1. How can The Martian land seven nominations including best picture, actor and screenplay, and yet its director Ridley Scott is completely ignored?
  2. How is it that Carol gets six nominations, including, best actress, supporting actress and screenplay, and for best picture it receives nary a mention?
  3. How can I, as a lover of all kinds of movies, watch both of the above films and not understand why they were nominated for much of anything because both generally bored the hell out of me???

Therein lies your answer.



This is all a strange conglomeration of opinion, circumstance, institutional prejudice and chance. And, as Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman so famously posited many decades ago in his seminal book Adventures in the Screen Trade, when it comes to the motion picture field: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.

And yet…we all want a piece of the pie, don’t we? We all want to be recognized, and counted, or at the very least, to feel included.

I’ve often read the not so subtle putdowns of the millennial generation and how they need an award for everything. Often this is attributed to mis-parenting and a vaguely sort of overly permissive, socially liberal baby boomer culture.

I bet that cake was delicious

I bet that cake was delicious

Well, perhaps. But I don’t think so. Like all the rest of us, they just want to feel included in the inside game and valued in some way.

Awards and nominations are one way to feel this. But there are others. Lots of them.

Which is not to say I won’t be watching, dishing and live tweeting the Oscars when they air, Sunday. Feb. 28 right here at

And give up show business?? Oh, I don’ t think so.

The Big O


…Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.

– Brenda Ueland, 1938, If You Want to Write

You can choose to be original or you can choose to take the easy road and be derivative.  If this sounds like a value judgment – it is.  Like many entertainment fans, I’ve grown weary of creative laziness, especially in the movie business.  I’m even tired of reading about it.  Certainly, I’m tired of writing about it.  So for at least a single moment I hesitated before deciding it’s a subject that once again needs addressing since the subject is, by definition, not even vaguely original.

But last weekend I went to see a wonderfully original new film called The Spectacular Now at one of the scheduled weekend screenings at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Normally these Sunday night screenings are fairly crowded yet, sadly, this one was less than half-filled.  Which is too bad.  Because after attending about 10 of these free movie nights this summer, which often feature the top creative people from the film in a short talk back afterwards to the top creative professionals in Hollywood (well, they must be the top- they’re the ones who vote for the Oscars, gosh darn it!), this one was by far the best.

Truly Spectacular

Truly Spectacular

The reason this film was so much better than anything else you will see this summer is because it is one of the few movies made by people for no other reason than passion for a script and a story.  The money wasn’t particularly great, there is no chance for a franchise, a television spinoff, or even a videogame, AND the process of getting this project off the ground took five years – much of it spent with its creators seeing little hope of ever making it to that prestigious Sunday night film series.

Still, they persevered.  It sort of gives you hope.  And if it doesn’t, it should.

Nothing about the subject matter of this film is new.  It’s a coming-of-age story about what happens when the funny, fast-talking charmer in high school wakes up after a drunk night on the lawn of the fresh-faced, smart, high school good girl who would be wrongly mistaken as unhip by TMZ.  Their relationship is not an offshoot of what happens post detention in a Breakfast Club type world but it could be seen that way from the trailer.  It is also not a rip-off of a great character arc on beloved television shows like Friday Night Lights or Dawson’s Creek but no doubt some people will be determined to view it that regard.

This is a movie that instead unfolds solely on its own terms and in its own unique way.   The script was adapted by the writers of 500 Days of Summer, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, from a novel written by Tim Tharp that was nominated for the National Book Award.  It is worth noting that 500 Days was an original script and the first movie produced by these writers, and the novel was the first breakout hit for the novelist, who teaches college and lives in Oklahoma.  Neither of them are, as they say, veterans capable of snapping their fingers and getting magic reviews and attention for their work.

In fact, the script languished for three years despite getting excellent buzz from Hollywood. It was only when the wonderful young actress from The Descendants, Shailene Woodley, who plays the female lead, read it and asked her representatives why she couldn’t make THAT kind of film after the former picture came out, that anyone became interested again.  Several directors were also attached during that time and fell out leaving it essentially rudderless.  That is until its tireless producer decided to approach a young director who had just done a similarly themed smaller film that had gained some positive response from other people in the creative community but was by no means any kind of financial hit.  Like everyone else before him, he read it and loved the story, though he was initially hesitant to do so when someone at his production company pitched him the story as a one-liner.  Luckily, he was not yet a jaded enough director who thought he knew better than the people who worked with him and read the script anyway.  And was immediately convinced. As was the producer after they met over beers and the director presented a 50-page book of how he proposed to shoot this film. (Take Note: The producer is Tom McNulty and the director is James Ponsoldt).

Team Perserverance: From left, Ms. Woodley, actor Miles Teller, screenwriter MIchael H. Weber, Director James Ponsoldt, screenwriter Scott Neustadter, producer Tom McNulty and producer Michelle Krumm.

Team Perserverance: From left, Ms. Woodley, actor Miles Teller, screenwriter MIchael H. Weber, Director James Ponsoldt, screenwriter Scott Neustadter, producer Tom McNulty and producer Michelle Krumm.

The Spectacular Now is not likely to go down as one of the top 10 great movies in the annals of film history but it’s a damn good one.    It’s human and it connects to its audience in a deceptively simple way that is only achievable by people who are trying to connect for real.  Unfortunately, that used to be more the norm in the industry than it is today.

Too often we all do creative work for the wrong reasons and once you’ve been in the business for a while you see how it happens.  You need to make a living, you want to keep working, you’re building a brand, you want something (anything) to take your mind off of your lousy life, you’re accepting the best of what’s out there, you need a new kitchen, you’re bored or you simply want to feed your family.  All are perfectly valid reasons but all together they don’t come close to the real reason most people get into the business – to express themselves in their own original way.


Every week the entertainment industry serves up a slew of both derivative and original offerings.  Yes – EVERY week.  They are not often the most promoted TV programs, or films, or live presentations, or online entertainment.  But they are there.  This even includes announcements of new projects or talent, and even promotions in the executive suites.  If you look closely you can take your pick.  There is quite a lot of good or bad, depending on whatever floats your boat.

This week had a host of choices.  There was NBC’s big bold announcement that is was embarking on a huge four hour television remake of the classic film Rosemary’s Baby – one of the only films I’ve managed to show to almost every screenwriting class I’ve ever taught that gets 99% positive reaction.  What is the motivation to remake a classic film that takes place in NY in the sixties and is, for the most part, really about the 60s, and reset it in…Paris?  Is it about originality?  Trying to build on something that could now be original because they didn’t get it right the first time?  I don’t think so.  I SO don’t think so.

A force of nature

Joke all you want about Sharknado, but the filmmakers are not laughing.  The ratings numbers of this recent camp classic have grown from 1.4 to 1.9 million viewers and who knows what the third showing will be next week – or the grosses for the midnight screenings that are now set at movie theaters across the country.  See, original doesn’t have to be high art.  There’s nothing wrong with giving people a good time when you decide that’s what you’re doing and put your talent into doing it the best way you can.  The writer of Sharknado, a man with the distinctive name of Thunder Levin, knew he wanted to make an over the top sci-fi film and did it.  It doesn’t matter that’s it’s known for being campy and silly if that was its original intention all along.  What isn’t admirable is just throwing something together with not an original thought in your head and hoping against hope of getting by while you’re boring us and making money in the process.

A class act

A class act

This week the Motion Picture Academy announced it had hired its first African American president – a terrific woman named Cheryl Boone Isaacs.  She’s a marketing executive who started in the business in the late seventies and I had the pleasure of working with her a bit early in my career.  She was smart, talented and classy  – which is more than you can say for most Hollywood executives who’ve had a career as long as she has.  She also had a terrific brother who was one of the first male African American executives in Hollywood.  His name was Ashley Boone and he was the head of marketing at Twentieth Century and responsible for marketing Star Wars.  He later went on to market Chariots of Fire to a surprising best picture Academy award.  He was also, like his sister, smart, talented and classy.  And, like his sister, an original because unlike a lot of his cohorts he always went about his work in a respectful yet smartly dedicated manner.  You’d be surprised how rare that is still and how original it seemed when he did it back in the late 70s and early 80s.

When you go down an original road you have the ability to not be riding the derivative wave of an established trend for whatever scraps you can keep as they fall off.  You have the potential to be a trend setter – helping to create something that people want to follow.  That thing can be a product, an art form, or you or perhaps some combination of all three.  Which is probably why you wanted to do it in the first place – if at one time you ever liked what you were doing.

Too often it’s too easy to go with the flow and not go with your gut. I’ve done it.  We all have.  Suggestion to not keep doing it: Go see The Spectacular Now and think about why a small movie that shouldn’t work at all seems to work on almost every level.  It might then be wise for all of us to consider not how we can imitate it but what are the simple stories of our own that we want to bring to light in the world.  That’s a thought not only for writers but everyone.   If you don’t believe me read Brenda Ueland’s seminal book about Art, Independence and Spirit mentioned above.  She offered many of the same thoughts and more almost 80 years ago.  But it’s still worth reading because in addition to that it’s all done in her own original way.


If your parents never told you that you are your worst enemy they should have.  (My Mom did and look how much it’s done for me!).  Nothing, nothing – not all of the unfairness in the world or the injustices you might face at the hands of your friends, co-workers or the industry you work in (yes, even the entertainment industry is included) can sink you faster than yourself.  And if you find yourself sinking and are still playing the blame game you might as well tattoo a big neon Titanic sign across your ass because truly – you will wind up so far down below the bottom of the ocean that not even James Cameron’s newfangled crane/camera technology and a slew of nimbly written and expensive press releases plus a year of community service will be able to excavate you to dry land.   At the very least you’d have to join a church, synagogue or mosque, do a year or two out of the public spotlight and write a book and, let’s face it, who has time to consider all of that.

We’re speaking of course of the debacle this week that is called Brett Ratner and Herman Cain.  I use the royal “we” as an homage to Mr. Cain – who seems intent on continually speaking about himself in the third person as if he were the title of a new reality show and not, simply, starring in a real life version of one.

(Charles Foster) Cain

As for Mr. Ratner, the purveyor of the gay slur (“rehearsals are for fags” – I guess I can use the word because I like to rehearse), and kiss and teller of his mastery of oral sex (oy…) and avoiding STD’s to Howard Stern on the radio, he seems to have been banished from the Royal Hollywood Kingdom for the time being by who really knows whom (I suspect more than a few MAJOR Hollywood director/producers dialed him directly) and says he will be helping in the synagogue of GLAAD as a way to stop anybody who speaks or represents said rehearsers in movies the way he referred to them.  For my money, I’d prefer he’d just stop talking and not make it any worse for us rehearsers but hey, that’s probably why I’m not in a position of power or even someone with consultation rights.  Still, I will offer that a better strategy is to just go away and make a good movie but “good,” as all of the rest of us learn as each day of the media circus goes by, is truly in the eye and ear of the beholder – rehearser or not.

For the one or two who don’t know what the hell we’re (royal, again) speaking about, here goes.  U.S. Presidential candidate and former Godfather Pizza founder Herman Cain was accused this week of sexually harassing one  two  three  FOUR women in the nineties (that is at blog press time).  Brett Ratner spouted his use of the homophobic slur this past week while trying to promote his new movie at the Arclight for no reason at all other than, well, he did.  But that wasn’t all — for dessert he kissed and then voluntarily told about his exploits with women in and out of the bedroom on Siruis Radio.  Even though the industry looks at the Stern show on SIRIUS as a bit of a non cost effective audience disappointment and anything but serious, the remarks eventually did land on the ears of enough influential people by the end of the week in the Motion Picture Academy (obviously not Stern listeners, though Stern ironically himself does qualify for membership in the Academy as the star and writer of his 1997 film “Private Parts”) to give Mr. Ratner the final push over the cliff as the producer of this year’s Oscar show.

The latter gave me pause as an “out” rehearser because I couldn’t help but wonder why Academy president Tom Sherak was willing to stand behind Mr. Ratner after his offensive comment about those of us who like to “prepare” (nee rehearse) but yet when he talked grossly about his sex life he was put in the inevitable position of resigning.  Is it worse to talk publicly about your sex life than it is to malign a particular social or ethnic group with a 4-letter slur?  Obviously.  Somewhere in the Academy rule book it must state that using a mean word about the rehearsers in the business is a hand slap but talking about the size of your private part and/or your prowess as a non-rehearser is a fireable offense.  Hmm.  Not sure I would have called it that way but it could account for the sorry state of most studio movies nowadays.  (Perhaps if us rehearsers were a little more represented things might be different.  Not necessarily better but different, which in itself might be at least a momentary blessing).

Who has one thumb and is a huge jerk? THIS GUY!

The drama that is (Charles Foster) Cain continues this week in light of vehement denials and a perhaps planned public press conference with at least two and possibly four of his accusers on some public stage or forum for the no doubt benefit of the public.  In his own press conference several days ago, Mr. Cain, as is his right, categorized one of his accusers as a “troubled woman” and lamented that there were forces that wanted to stop a “businessman by the name of Herman Cain” from being president.   That businessman/presidential candidate’s cigarette smoking campaign manager then separately accused Politico, the publication that first broke the unsavory story of one of Cain’s sexual accusers, of having an axe to grind because it employed the son of said accuser but the following day that allegation was proven to be false and the employment disproven.  As to the sexual allegation, Mr. Cain said he would be happy to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence but then added he’d only do so if he finds it necessary.  Hmmm.  Is it necessary?  I guess I’ll leave it up to you.  Oops, I misunderstood.  I guess the decision is really up to him – whether it be his first or third person doppleganger – (Herman or Herman 3.0)

Everyone has the key to that lock

The bottom line from all of this WORD/PLAY is a lesson that keeps popping up again and again ever since Al Gore invented the Internet and Ted Tuner started 24-hour Cable News.  NOTHING. IS. PRIVATE. ANYMORE.  (Not even your parts).  You can’t speak publicly, online, or even act slightly oddly privately with another living being or recording device of any kind present and not expect it to rear its ugly head and attack you with octopus tentacles that will grab you and put you behind the public 8 ball.  Adult males seem to have a particularly difficult time with this concept.  As if they’re operating from some 20th century paradigm of privilege and have not yet caught up with the fact that the rest of the world is OCCUPYING their zone, too.  Yeah,  AS IF!

We know how this mystery ends...

It’s been difficult for the Chair (that’s me in the third person) to understand all the hysteria about Facebook privacy settings because the Chair has been able to perceive that it wouldn’t take much for any one of its students who are unable to drink in many states (but able to go off to war) to certainly invade not only its privacy but its, well…everything.  Fine.  They can have it all.  Because The Chair will thus live its public and private life in an honest, truthful and respectful way and let all the proverbial chips fall where they might.  As for me in the first person, my Dad is and always has been a gambler (literally!) and gave me this advice long ago.  He didn’t go to college, never produced a megahit movie and doesn’t live in Allan Carr’s old house (check the Ratner real estate records).  He also certainly won’t be running for president or running a Washington, DC lobbying firm (that’s what the Restaurant Association was, guys) or even be founding his own pizza company (he hates cheese) any time soon either.  But as far as life lessons go, he was always right on the money, as gamblers tend to be.  And — as I and my third person Chair can assure you — that’s not just word play.









More updates as they become available!