Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What, Me Worry?

And the Wednesday picks 'o the week

It never rains in Southern California...

Just back in town, I woke up, hopped on the bicycle and headed down to the bank’s ATM to replenish my alarmingly thin wallet – and along the way came across this deluxe homeless rig. Anybody who thinks homeless people aren’t creative and resourceful should take a good look: a nice big mattress with pad, sheets, blankets, and pillows crammed in and atop two shopping carts along with all the necessities of life on the street.

This rig is a veritable Sidewalk Winnebago -- and if not exactly rain-proof, no worries. Just listen to the song.

Still, seeing it made me glad I’ve got a job and am working during such hard times... oh, wait a minute -- actually I don’t have a job and am most definitely not working at the moment. With no word yet on whether the show is coming back, that puts me (like so many Industry free-lancers during the slo-mo Hollywood summer) just one or two degrees of separation from hitting the bricks with my own shopping cart street-mobile.

Sobering thoughts as the sun rises earlier and sets later every day.

Ah well, something will come up. It always has and always will, I suppose -- until it doesn’t. Then I’ll just have to drive off that bridge when I come to it.


I’ve always wanted to put a time-lapse camera up on stage to capture the crazy process of making a pilot, but lacking such a camera, my grand plan has forever drifted on the big puffy clouds of Fantasy Land. Someone with a lot more energy than I have (and a suitable camera) went to the trouble of bringing this vision to life on a pilot that was built, rigged, shot, and wrapped over a recent three week period. Penny – my favorite stand-in who tells her Hollywood stories over at “One Red Cent” -- worked on that pilot, and posted the two-and-a-half minute clip on her blog.

The Sunday LA Times ran an interesting piece on the recent migration of noted film directors from the world of features to television – cable television, to be precise. Given that the big-money feature world is now ruled exclusively by brain-dead corporations – who much like certain dogs I’ve known, make a habit of eating their own shit, then passing it on to the paying public – you can’t blame accomplished, talented directors for fleeing to television. The broadcast networks offer no refuge; with rare exceptions, all they seem capable of these days is producing one giant steaming formulaic pile after another to stink up your television screen at home.

But hey, what do you expect -- it’s free.

That leaves cable, where the creative environment could hardly be better for people who are more interested in doing edgy, groundbreaking work than making the big paychecks that come with ushering yet another comic book to the silver screen. Adding fuel to this fire, the cable world is currently engaged in a creative arms race of sorts, each small (and some not-so-small) cable outfit trying to outdo the others in attracting fresh eyeballs to their channel. Such competition is a good thing for discerning television viewers and picky directors alike.

The opposite side of this ever-spinning coin – a well-respected but not particularly bankable art film director signing on to do a monster comic-book movie – only serves to underline the dearth of creative energy in the corporate feature world. Patrick Goldstein’s recent LA Times column describes how the producer of "Thor" -- rather than take the safe, cover-your-ass corporate approach -- followed his gut instincts in offering the directing chores to Kenneth Branagh. Given Branagh’s lousy recent track record at the box office, this raised eyebrows throughout Hollywood. I haven’t seen the movie, but the strong debut of “Thor” would seem to erase any doubts as to the wisdom of that choice.

But will the soulless corporations ever learn? Never...

And finally I must once again draw your attention to the work of Robert Lloyd, who offers up this brief-but-thoughtful meditation on Gordon Ramsay, the volatile celebrity chef and Reality Television icon. Like all of Lloyd’s writing and observations, this one is well worth your time.

Those are my picks ‘o the week. Check 'em out...


Nathan said...

I don't know if you saw this one, but here's a time lapse of the set being built for Boardwalk Empire.

It's pretty cool.

Penny said...

Thanks for the mention, Mike!

Cheers to that 30 order we're all rooting for.


Michael Taylor said...

Nathan --

I did see that a while back, but it's definitely was worth a second look. Thanks.

Penny --

Eyes shut, face to the sky, fingers crossed...