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Patrick Goldstein and Rob Schneider on the Oscars

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Patrick Goldstein and Rob Schneider on the Oscars

Old 02-03-05, 04:45 PM
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Patrick Goldstein and Rob Schneider on the Oscars

Patrick Goldtein of the L.A. Times wrote this piece on the Oscars and the quality of films big studios are putting out:
This Year, the Safe Bets Are Off

Most of the Oscar nominees are artistic gambles financed by entrepreneurs.

By Patrick Goldstein

January 26, 2005

It's a funny thing, but today's movie studios are no longer in the Oscar business. If there's one common thread among this year's five best picture nominees, it's that they were largely financed by outside investors. The most money any studio put into one of the nominees was the $21 million that Miramax anted up for "Finding Neverland." The other nominated films were orphans ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that eagerly remake dozens of old TV series (aren't you looking forward to a bigger, dumber version of "The Dukes of Hazzard"?) or bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic.

Most of the nominees aren't even classic outside-the-system indie movies. They're artistic gambles financed by entrepreneurs. If you want serious cash on the barrelhead for an Oscar picture today, you have to find yourself a cinematic sugar daddy willing to foot the bill. "The Aviator," though released by Miramax, was financed largely by Graham King, who was responsible for roughly $80 million of the film's $116-million budget (the rest coming from Miramax and Warner Bros. Films). "Ray," which earned six Oscar nominations, was financed by real estate tycoon turned media baron Phil Anschutz, who put up the entire $40-million budget after every studio in town had passed on the project.

Even Clint Eastwood, who's been making movies for Warner Bros. since before many of his rival best actor nominees were born, couldn't persuade the studio that spent $85 million on "Scooby-Doo" to put up $30 million for "Million Dollar Baby." So Hollywood's most revered actor-director went begging. When no other studio would make the film, Eastwood persuaded another entrepreneur, Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg, to put up half of the budget, with Warners kicking in the rest.

So how do good movies get made these days? Luckily, in Hollywood, some people just won't take no for an answer, which might be bad if you're a waiter trying to take someone's lunch order but good if you have a yen to see ambitious movies.

Take as an example "Sideways," which earned five Oscar nominations Tuesday. The film's writer-director, Alexander Payne, took the project to a slew of studios with his cast already in place. He got a chorus of noes, not because the studios didn't like the script but because they wanted Brad Pitt or George Clooney instead of relative unknowns Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church in the leading roles. By the time Payne and producer Michael London took the movie to Fox Searchlight, which agreed to make it for a meager $16 million, they'd gotten a yes from only one other studio, Paramount Pictures. One studio told London it was full up with special-effects thrillers "We've already done our one movie about people."

From the studio point of view, the goal these days is to make movies that have the kind of easy accessibility that allows them to perform well in international markets, on DVD and in all the other ancillary revenue streams the studios love to boast about to investors. Without the marketing momentum of Oscar nominations, it was hard to make a safe bet the emphasis, of course, being on "safe" that any of these films would turn a profit. Anyone in Hollywood could recite the excuses the filmmakers heard wherever they went, whether it was "Ray" (sorry, but African American dramas do zero business overseas), "Million Dollar Baby" (geez, too old-fashioned and downbeat), "Sideways" (how do you sell a movie about wine-tasting slobs with two actors no one's ever heard of?) or "The Aviator," which looked like a bad bet being a $116-million movie directed by Martin Scorsese, who had always gone over budget and never directed a movie that made close to $100 million in the U.S.

What a difference a few years of bottom-line obsession has made in Hollywood. In 1997, with Leonardo DiCaprio on board as the star, two studios ended up spending $200 million to make James Cameron's Oscar-winning "Titanic." Today, even though DiCaprio remains a huge international star, it was financier King, not a studio, who took the risk on "The Aviator." Don't think DiCaprio doesn't know it. Hanging in King's office in Santa Monica is a framed picture of the star kneeling in front of one of the film's biplanes, with the hand-scrawled inscription: "To Graham, thank you for being the only one to have the [guts] to make my dream a reality!"

It's no wonder why King alone has produced three best picture nominees in the last five years: "The Aviator," "Gangs of New York" and "Traffic." Unlike the studios, King, who bankrolls his films by selling off the rights in foreign territories, is in the risk-taking business. He says "The Aviator" met with rejection everywhere, even with DiCaprio attached to star. Everyone was scared that Scorsese would be uncontrollable. "The studios all went, 'Pass, pass, we don't like it,' " King told me recently. "And yet they were happy to turn around and green-light some very ordinary action-adventure movie you could see any day of the week."

If there's any lesson to be drawn from Tuesday's Oscar hoopla, it's not just about movie financing but the absence of studio creativity. Of the five best picture nominees, only "Finding Neverland" went through a studio development process, where the studio pays a writer, approves a cast and puts up the money for the production. All the other pictures were made like independent movies, with no studio interference and with essentially only one person making the big decisions. The studios do market and distribute these films and get some of the glory, but it's not the same as taking the risk required to make them.

When you're doing a remake of a TV show, it hardly matters whether the studio marketing chief is in the room, lobbying for a younger cast or more teen-friendly toilet humor. But when it comes to art, the equation is pretty simple: The less meddling, the better the movie. I read scripts all the time that have dozens of different color pages, a sign that they've been endlessly picked apart by various studio kibitzers. When Hilary Swank got the script for "Million Dollar Baby," she was shocked to see it had all white pages no one had done any rewrites at all. There was only one person making the creative decisions: Eastwood.

According to Eastwood, he learned not to mess with a good thing from his mentor, Don Siegel, who directed five Eastwood films, including "Dirty Harry." "I've learned when you have a good draft of a script, you just shouldn't mess with it anymore," Eastwood explains. "When I worked with Don, he'd get a script he liked and say, 'Let's not kill it with improvement.' "

Maybe not taking no for an answer isn't such a bad career move. "Ray" director Taylor Hackford had the rights to the film for nearly 15 years before he got it made. Payne cut the budget for "Sideways" over and over before he got it down to a number at which someone would agree to back the film.

Eastwood has now made two Oscar best picture nominees in a row (last year's "Mystic River" is the other) for which he had to waive his salary to get them off the ground. He considers it a small price to pay for the opportunity to make a good movie. "If I picked the pictures, I'd probably lose the studio a lot of dough because I'd always pick the risky projects," he says with a low chuckle. "The studios would like to not take any risk, but there's no such thing. If you want to make a good movie, you always take a risk."
http://wb11.trb.com/entertainment/mo...an26-lat.story

This did not sit will with Rob Schneider, who took out the following full-page ad in the L.A. Times:

Dear Patrick Goldstein, Staff Writer for the Los Angeles Times

My name is Rob Schneider and I am responding to your January 26 front page cover story in the LA Times where you used my upcoming sequel to 'Deuce Bigalow' as an example of why Hollywood Studios are lagging behind the Independents in Academy nominations. According to your logic, Hollywood Studios are too busy making sequels like 'Deuce Bigalow' instead of making movies that you would like to see. Well Mr. Goldstein, as far as your snide comments about me and my film not being nominated for an Academy Award, I decided to do some research to find what awards you have won.

I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind. Disappointed, I went to the Pulitzer Prize database of past winners and nominees. I thought, surely, there must be an omission. I typed in the name Patrick Holdstein and again, zippo -- nada. No Pulitzer Prizes or nominations for a 'Mr. Patrick Goldstein.' There was, however, a nomination for an Amy Goldstein. I contacted Ms. Goldstein in Rhode Island, she assyred me she was not an alias of your and in fact like most of the World had no idea of your existence.

Franklu, I am surprised the LA Times would hire someone like you with so few or, actually, no accolades to work on their front page. Surely there must be a larger talent pool for the LA Times to draw from. Perhaps, someone who has at least won a 'Cable Ace Award.'

Maybe, Mr. Goldstein, you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for "Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter, Who's Never Been Acknowledged By His Peers!"

Patrick, I can honestly say that if I sat with your colleagues at a luncheon, afterwards, they'd say "You know, that Rob Schneider is a pretty intelligent guy, I hope we can do that again. Whereas, if you sat with my colleagues, after lunch, you would just be beaten beyond recognition.

For the record, Patrick, your research is shabby as well. My next film is not 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo 2.' It's 'Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,' in theaters EVERYWHERE August 12th 2005.

All my best,
Rob Schneider
http://www.nationalreview.com/pdf/Ro...iderLetter.pdf

That may be the funniest thing I've ever read, though to be honest, I'm not sure if I'm laughing at Rob Schneider or with Rob Schneider.
Old 02-03-05, 05:37 PM
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How dare he say such things about Rob Schneider? Everyone knows that he's at least a second-rate comic.
Old 02-03-05, 07:31 PM
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Rob Schneider scored some points with me on that one.

Hell, everyone knows that Buena Vista passed on Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, because they wanted a PG-13 comedy and Mr. Schneider wanted an R comedy. Instead, Sony Pictures let Rob Schneider make Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo in all of it's R-glory.
Old 02-03-05, 08:50 PM
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I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind. Disappointed, I went to the Pulitzer Prize database of past winners and nominees. I thought, surely, there must be an omission. I typed in the name Patrick Holdstein and again, zippo -- nada. No Pulitzer Prizes or nominations for a 'Mr. Patrick Goldstein.' There was, however, a nomination for an Amy Goldstein. I contacted Ms. Goldstein in Rhode Island, she assyred me she was not an alias of your and in fact like most of the World had no idea of your existence.

Old 02-03-05, 08:55 PM
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Rob Schneider rules

Didn't Rob have another humorous reply to something like this before?
Old 02-03-05, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by fumanstan
Rob Schneider rules

Didn't Rob have another humorous reply to something like this before?
Here we go. Rob Schneider attempting to be a member of the Academy.

http://dvdtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=349994

His sense of humor about these things is great
Old 02-03-05, 10:00 PM
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Ouch!

The original piece was actually interesting but that dig on Schneider did seem out of place. Schneider may not be the beacon of 'quality filmmakers', but that's the point. There are tons of movies made by Hollywood worse than Schneider's. But I thought The Hot Chick was absolutely hilarious, so what do I know?
Old 02-03-05, 10:00 PM
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Rob Schneider is a carrot.
Old 02-03-05, 10:19 PM
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Rob Schneider is a stapler.
Old 02-03-05, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DRG
Ouch!

The original piece was actually interesting but that dig on Schneider did seem out of place. Schneider may not be the beacon of 'quality filmmakers', but that's the point. There are tons of movies made by Hollywood worse than Schneider's. But I thought The Hot Chick was absolutely hilarious, so what do I know?
Obviously no less than I do. I thought Deucey was hilarious.

"Did you say steak???"
Old 02-04-05, 05:10 AM
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Rob had it right. Deuce isn't an oscar style picture anyways and to even bother thinking that there is still an "indie" market with all the studios holding their own little "indie" devisions is a laugh. they may not want to invest a lot, but how many oscar winning pictures were really box office hits. You usually see Oscar winners be those that spend a month or two in select cities before getting a pretty low number wide release.

In a business where money is everything, it's rather silly to expect a studio to want to throw $200 million on a picture for an award.
Old 02-04-05, 05:52 AM
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The pictures that are up for awards cost nowhere near $200 million, and that's Goldstein's point. "Titanic" is an exception to the rule. "The Aviator" was pricey, as most of Scorsese's movies have been of late, but "Sideways" was turned down at $16 million: "One studio told London it was full up with special-effects thrillers 'We've already done our one movie about people.'"
Old 02-04-05, 06:05 AM
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Awesome stuff. to Schneider.
Old 02-04-05, 02:33 PM
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Well, truth be told, audiences like simpler, fun flicks. While I'm sure many would like to see more interpersonal dramas, it is rather silly to expect studios to spend all their money and fill all the theaters with films audiences don't really want to see. Instead, I'd prefer they just increase the quality of their blockbusters, but let's be real...most indie fare or "movies about people" are stupid too.

You've got to look out for the really great films, regardless of subject matter or where it's coming from. It just happens to be a lot cheaper to make a movie about people, which is why, in all honesty, there are a lot of films like that. There's just no need to throw 90 million dollars at a small movie like Sideways. When you do that you get...Town and Country.
Old 02-04-05, 02:43 PM
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Old 02-04-05, 04:35 PM
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i worked with Rob Schneider when he came in to give input on the tv spots we were cutting for The Animal. he's a very cool guy, unpretentious. and I remember many of the girls here were surprised by how good-looking he was in person. that aside, I thought Goldstein made some good points too.

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