Hahahahahaa, Oh I see my dear Professor.... hahahahaa... Folks, this is soooo wonderful. You see the deal ol Professor was sooooo cocky going into ShoWest... Thought it'd be soooo easy.... But then he got bit with that most vulnerable of human frailities.... the sleep monster. The problem with covering events that run from dawn till midnight is, they don't give you much time to write. But I have to give ol Moriarty credit... he's doing a hell of a job... for an evil genius that is. But upon finding out that he had to 'endure' John Williams conducting live, a presentation from George Lucas, etc yesterday... Well... I imagine the poor ol man's heart exploded with a geekgasmic joygasm. Will these be the last written words of Moriarty? Did hearing the divine music of John Williams kill him? Did Lucas turn him to stone? Did his brain vibrate to pieces? Let's stay tuned today and see... As for now... well, we move on to the tremendous sounding NEW LINE extravaganza...
Hey, Head Geek (and Father Geek)...
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: this is harder than it looks.
Yes, it's fun. Yes, they're showing some great stuff. Yes, it's great to meet journalists from around the world and talk film with them. Doesn't change the fact that I'm so freakin' tired I can't stand up straight.
Following Monday's massive Rip Van Winkle act on my part, I got up insanely early and sent off my first report. When I finished, it was still only 7:30. This left me with what seemed like an ungodly amount of time to kill. In the future, I will call this "nap time." Instead, I picked up the trades, went to breakfast (the Mirage has a bitchin' breakfast buffet), and worked on questions for tonight's press conference.
Today's first event was the State of the Industry address by MPAA President Jack Valenti. I've heard him speak before, and he's always entertaining, even if he is just the slightest bit insane. Today was no exception. He offered praise for Bill Mechanic's speech from the day before and advised everyone who missed it to get a printed copy and read it. He then launched into an analogy using THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR to illustrate the search for clarity in what works in the film marketplace these days. He boiled it down to two truths: people want to be entertained, and they want to get out of the house for that entertainment. He talked about how frightening it was at the beginning of the '90s when so many other industries were starting to actively compete for what seemed to be a finite entertainment dollar. Instead of meaning the end of theaters, though, it turned out to fuel people's urge to be entertained. The more choices they had at home, the more it became an event to go out. The continued refinement of the theatrical experience (with digital sound, stadium seating, bigger screens, more selection) has brought revenues up 50% since 1990. This last year shattered all existing records. The average negative cost of a studio film is actually down this year (not by much, though -- less that $800,000). On the other hand, the costs of P&A are up quite a bit. And what does all this mean to you, the reader? Ah, forget it, Jake... it's Chinatown.
Almost immediately after that session, we were shown in and seated for, in my eyes, the first major event of the convention, the New Line presentation. There were two rooms for this event. The main room, where lunch was served and where the stars showed up, was the Event Center. The backup room, where a fair amount of the press got stashed, was off the Grand Ballroom and featured a closed-circuit system. By some bizarre fluke, I found myself at a prime table in the actual Event Center along with nine fellow journalists. I was floored to learn that all but one of them were familiar with AICN and my work. This is getting a little surreal, folks. As soon as everyone was in, the lights went down and the stars began to come out.
Warren Beatty was first, dressed down in a black leather jacket and shades. I'm amazed by how well he continues to hold up. Second out was a young actress named Kimberly Brown who stars in Fine Line's TUMBLEWEEDS this year. She's evidently a veteran of the soap GUIDING LIGHT. She was followed out by Christian Campbell, star of the Sundance hit TRICK. Ben Chaplin showed up in support of LOST SOULS, one of the films I reviewed last week in my Supernatural Series, and then came Young Indy himself, Sean Patrick Flannery, to promote BODY SHOTS. Has this guy been mentioned as a possible Anakin yet? He's got the build and he's definitely movie star good-looking. Harrison Ford was in both the STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES series, so why can't Flannery do the same? The next guy out, Edward Furlong, doesn't seem to have aged even five minutes since T2. He was there for DETROIT ROCK CITY, Adam Rifkin's comedy.
Then, all of a sudden, the whole trip, all the exhaustion, everything became worthwhile. My future wife, and the costar of AUSTIN POWERS 2, Heather Graham came out in a skintight black dress with a white print front. Just seeing her shimmy across the stage was enough to make me hyperventilate and black out. Thankfully I was revived before Natasha Lyonne, also there for DETROIT ROCK CITY, was introduced. She came out in a floor-length black duster, her trademark mop of curls crowning it. Immediately after her, they introduced the International Man of Mystery, the one and only Wayne Campbell, a man whose monkey I want to touch... Mike Myers. He was looking smooth, his hair still down to a crew cut as it grows in from playing Dr. Evil. The confusingly similarly named Jerry O'Connell and Chris O'Donnell were introduced back to back in support of BODY SHOTS and THE BACHELOR respectively. John Paul Pitoc, who is getting fabulous reviews for TRICK, was brought out just before the intoxicating Tara Reid, who's one of the stars of BODY SHOTS. You might remember her from THE BIG LEBOWSKI as Bunny, the missing wife. You'll definitely know her after May's AMERICAN PIE. She looked great in a floor-length white duster. She and Lyonne could have been bookends.
Adam Sandler couldn't have been more casually dressed in his flannel shirt and jeans. They're promoting LITTLE NICKY, the film where he plays the Devil's son, even though it hasn't rolled a frame of film yet. Garry Shandling got a warm introduction. I must note, just in case he was worried -- his hair looked great. When Brooke Shields, who is co-starring in THE BACHELOR, came out, she literally stopped the show by handing Bob Shaye, who was introducing everyone, a note. He tried to figure it out to no avail and finally just set it aside. Another young star from BODY SHOTS, Amanda Peet, came out next. This film has an obscenely good-looking cast. As Amanda found her seat, someone dropped a lot of dishes at the back of the Event Center. Mike Myers jumped up and made a slashing gesture as if to say, "You're fired!" Finally, the intros wrapped up with Tori Spelling, there in support of TRICK, and the star of this Friday's release THE CORRUPTOR, Mark Wahlberg. Both of them looked like a million bucks. The only hitch up to this point was the complicated slideshow on the massive screens behind the stage. As each person appeared, there was supposed to be a still of them in the middle with their film's title at the top and still from the film framing them on either side. There were several points during the presentation where the slide operator seemd to be very, very drunk.
Thankfully, they served lunch next, giving him plenty of time to sober up. After all the plates were cleared away, the clip reel began. New Line's theme for the afternoon was "Into the Millenium." Their reel began with them summing up past and recent victories. The images flashed by fast and furious, with a particular emphasis on the first AUSTIN POWERS and last year's monster hits BLADE and THE WEDDING SINGER. Finally, as the montage reached its peak, it gave way to the first trailer.
By now, I think we've all seen the trailer for THE CORRUPTOR. I still just think the film looks okay, but I am blown away by how much better Chow Yun-Fat's English is this time around. The theater owners were really impressed by the trailer, though, and applauded like maniacs. DROP DEAD GORGEOUS was met with a little less enthusiasm, and I'm not surprised. It's another trailer that doesn't do much for me. Denise Richards and Kirsten Dunst are both lovely, but the film just doesn't look very funny, a bad sign when you're trying to sell a comedy.
Next up was LOST SOULS. Man, what a trailer! I like the look Janusz Kaminski's chosen for the film. It's not overtly stylish. There's a muted realism to it that should work to sell the picture. John Hurt makes the strongest impression in the trailer, but everyone looks good. This one got a very enthusiastic response from the crowd, putting them in the perfect mood for DETROIT ROCK CITY. This movie looks very, very funny. This is, of course, the Adam Rifkin film about four kids in the '70s who lose their KISS tickets and have to find some way into the show. I noticed one way they try to get money isby having one of the guys jump onstage in a club and strip. Between this and FORCES OF NATURE, where Ben Affleck does the same thing, are we seeing the start of a new FULL MONTY inspired trend?
A hush fell over the crowd as the next trailer began. It's very hard to explain, and there was both so much and so little to absorb. There were four simple images lined up across the screen, simple drawings of items like leaves and frogs, that kept changing, dissolving from one to the next, as a voice-over talked about the random nature of life, about the way people meet. "And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes." An incredible cast list flashed by followed by a single title -- MAGNOLIA. "We may be through with the past," the voice-over concludes, "but the past ain't through with us." Even without a frame of footage, this was an astonishing trailer. Paul Thomas Anderson is a big Altman fan, and this looks like his bid to direct a SHORT CUTS.
The next three trailers left me cold. LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE looks beautiful, but wasn't this the exact same plot of Vincent Ward's MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART? Chris O'Donnell has the unenviable task of trying to fill Buster Keaton's shoes in THE BACHELOR, a remake of one of Keaton's pictures in which a rich man has 24 hours to marry or lose his inheritance. In an effort to make the film modern, the money at risk is $100 million. Rene Zellweger is the girl Chris really loves, but she rejects his first lame proposal ("Okay," he says as he brings out the ring, "you win.") Brooke Shields is the woman he is willing to marry just to get the money. Hal Holbrook is the lawyer in charge of the whole thing. O'Donnell even reproduces the climax of Buster's original with a wild footchase through the streets of San Francisco involving hundreds of women in bridal gowns. THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE was up next. This script was deadly dull, and the SPECIES II meets ROSEMARY'S BABY trailer didn't convince me this was going to be anything but bad.
TOWN AND COUNTRY, though, was a differnt story. This is rumored to be a troubled production, with Peter Cheslom (FUNNY BONES, THE MIGHTY) butting heads with Warren Beatty. That may be true, but the trailer is great. Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Garry Shandling co-star with Beatty in what looks like a sophisticated farce of sexual manners along the lines of SHAMPOO. This is the Warren Beatty that I like a lot, and the trailer is laugh out loud funny in several places. Here's hoping the behind the scenes turmoil doesn't mar what looks to be a smashing piece of entertainment.
BODY SHOTS looks hot, sexy, and dark. A look at the predatory nature of the club scene, the trailer starts like a comedy, wtih bad boys (Flannery, O'Connell) on the prowl for bad girls (Peet, Reid). As one of the guys says, "When I go out with a bunch of guys, I know what I want, and it's not to go home with a bunch of guys." There's a rough sexual encounter on a beach and, as Radiohead's "High and Dry" kicks in, the tone of the trailer changes. Was it rape? Did someone black out? There looks to be some fine powerful work from the young cast, and I'll admit I'm intrigued.
And then New Line, having saved the best for last, unleashed the longer final trailer for AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME. "I put the grrr in swinger, baby," he says as we get our first look at what looks to be a bigger, brighter, and better sequel. I was suprised to see Will Ferrell back as Mustafa, the guy in the fez in the first one. Heather Graham (insert Homer Simpson sounds here) is sizzling as Felicity Shagwell. "Shagwell by name... shag very well by reputation." The introduction of Mini-Me, a half-sized clone of Dr. Evil, in teriffic and surreal. There's a positively filthy introduction for the character Robin Swallows. Austin: "Well, that's an unusual name." Robin: "It's my married name. My maiden name was Spitz." Austin: "Well, which is it, baby -- Spitz or Swallows?" They show a glimpse of Dr. Evil and Scott during their appearance on THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW. Seeing Dr. Evil attack a Klansman in full garb while being bleeped is priceless. To close, there's another STAR WARS gag. "Austin, know this... I am your father." "Really?" "No, not really. I can't back that up at all. I've got nothing." This whole thing brought the house down, the best possible way to close out the presentation. The enthusiasm was amazing and as we left the presentation they handed each of us a t-shirt with a psychedelic "I'm Back, Baby!" logo on the back.
I have to run now to get back to the Fox party, but I've got SOOOOOOOO much more to share with you.
VISIT -- the insane Trade Show!
WITNESS -- Moriarty's first press conference!
ENDURE -- the 5 1/2 hour awards ceremony!
MARVEL -- at Warner's star studded presentation!
GASP -- at the first demonstration of digital cinema!
And that's without me having seen anything yet from STAR WARS. Like I said, it's harder than it looks. I wouldn't trade one demented second of it so far, though, and I hope you're enjoying the coverage. I'll do my best to update later tonight. Until then...