PART II of Moriarty's Rumblings from the Labs #14: END OF DAYS, DEADER, the Chinese theater horror, Naked Trucker +...
Hey folks, Harry here with the second part of Moriarty's Rumblings from the Lab #14. If you haven't read the first part of Moriarty's work this week you missed an incredible interview with master filmmaker and anime legend Hayao Miyazaki. So click here and enjoy!!! If you have, then by all means, finish up the Rumblings of the dear ol Professor...
I can tell you someone who's got to be sweating his each and every moment right now -- director Peter Hyams. He was actually back on the streets of Los Angeles this weekend for at least three days. This is following the now-notorious test screenings-that-weren't, when various media outlets started shooting their mouths off about the screening before it happened. I've spoken with people close to the film in the past, and I know there is more than one ending to the film. I'm hoping Hyams was shooting for himself this weekend, and not because he lost his struggle with Universal. He's a director who I'd like to see catch a break here, and the word on his darker, more overtly horrific cut of the film has been strong. I'm reserving all judgement on the film until I see it -- Arnold makes me nervous these days, and I'm allergic to the first Andy Marlowe draft of the script -- but I certainly wish Hyams well as he enters the home stretch.
I also wish nothing but well to the fine folks behind Naked Trucker. What, you may ask, is Naked Trucker? Well, it's almost impossible to describe. SNL alumni David M. Koechner and Dave (Gruber) Allen have created an act that is achingly funny, one that you can catch several times monthly at Largo in Hollywood. Allen is the Naked Trucker, a man who wears nothing but a guitar and his god-given common sense as he sings songs about this great country of ours and about life on the road. His side man is Koechner's Gerald "TBone" Timmons, and the combination of the two of them is painfully funny. It's the kind of character comedy that the Groundlings and SNL and Second City and Improv Olympic all encourage and it really pays off here. I saw the act last Tuesday, and I would strongly encourage you to check it out tonight at 10:00, or on October 9, when they'll be playing at 10:30. If you go, I strongly recommend reserving a table. It's a great night out, and I can't wait to see what Dreamworks TV does with Gerald when they shoot their pilot built around the character. He's got the potential to be as real and as funny as the wonderful work Mike Judge and Greg Daniels do on KING OF THE HILL.
Speaking of them, it looks like Fox has signed with the duo to create a one-hour show that looks at the music industry next year, centered around a fictional record label. I'm jazzed about this, and I'm surprisingly excited about another potential series Fox is developing, a weekly one-hour based on LA CONFIDENTIAL. Having read all of Ellroy's work, I believe his characters have enough life to support a series. The writing has to be smart, grounded in the period, and it has to give us a real portrait of how LA has evolved from one corrupt form to another. As we face yet another LAPD scandal, it's a grim reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Enough about what makes me happy. I feel like ranting a little here, and I'd like to start by wishing nothing but ill on the absolutely offensive group of trained monkeys currently staffing and managing the Mann's Chinese Theater. I had an experience at that theater this weekend that just about put me off it for good. To help you understand what this means to me, let me offer this: movies are my church. We all have a place we go that gives us peace for at least the time we're there, a place where they can center themselves. For many people, it's church. For me, it's a darkened movie theater. Always has been. The best theaters are more than just exhibition rooms for me... they're places you get attached to. When I moved to Los Angeles, I truly thought I'd find a culture here that appreciated their movie palaces, that knew the value of a great room. Nothing could be further from the truth. I remember when General Cinema raped the Avco on Wilshire. There used to be a magnificent downstairs screen, the first theater in America to have Dolby Surround, the first to have THX, a landmark house. In 1993, GCC cut the theater in half, and they created two extremely substandard houses that both lean towards the former center of the screen.
Still, the Avco was never an icon like the Chinese is. Any day of the week, the front of that theater is jammed with tourists from around the world. When people lined up for STAR WARS this year, it's no coincidence that the Chinese is where they did it. This should be the finest filmgoing experience the city has to offer, and instead, the place is rapidly degenerating into a dump, a dive, a cavern that is staffed by people that know nothing about the films they're showing, managed by morons who argue with customers, who can't tell when their sound system has stopped working. The experience of seeing a film there has become almost intolerable, and Friday night may have tipped it over past "almost." Harry Lime and I got together to go see SW: EPISODE I again. It's just come back to the Chinese and the Village for one week, and it seemed like our last chance to see the film in a theater. The Labs are walking distance from the Chinese (although most of it's uphill, since we're roughly 300 feet below the street's surface), so we hoofed it for the 10:00 show. There was no trouble with tickets. Hell, there was no advertising outside to even indicate what film was playing. Nothing you could see anywhere said STAR WARS on it. Once inside, we had no trouble finding seats. A few minutes before the film was supposed to start, there was a sudden, startling noise from the front center channel speakers of the theater... a sort of a BWAP! FWAP! BRRRRRRPPPPPPTTT! FWAFWAFWAPPA! sound, but at incredible volume. No one seemed to notice or care, but when the lights went down and the first commercial came up (one of those damn LA TIMES spots), there was no sound.
Actually, that's not true. There was sound, but it was like the speakers had been buried and had concrete laid over them. It was very faint, all front center channel. The next commercial came on, a MoviePhone spot, and it was the same way. A couple of people walked out to complain, and when the first trailer came on, there was finally sound at full volume.
But it was only coming from the rear and the sides.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing as the trailers continued. Dialogue was muffled, while sound effects were overwhelming. Something was obviously wrong. I expected the film to stop, but it didn't. Instead, we just kept right on watching, and the movie started, and the sound was still gone. It was apparent the speakers were blown, but the theater was going to just play the film anyway.
When I went out to the lobby to find the manager, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. When I found the manager and told her what was going on, she looked me right in the eyes and said, "The speakers are fine."
"What?" I asked. "No, they're not. Come in and listen for yourself."
"No, they're fine. Really. There's just not supposed to be sound during those trailers."
I searched her face to see if she was kidding, but she didn't smile at all. This woman is in charge of one of the most famous theaters in the world, and her idea of effective management is to lie to a customer, even if it makes no sense, and let a faulty presentation continue uninterrupted.
I don't imagine the upper management of Mann's is going to care that they lost the business of myself and Harry Lime that night. It's obvious STAR WARS is just a filler booking for them anyway. They couldn't be treating the film worse. But maybe Lucasfilm will care if they hear about how their product is being displayed. It may be the opposite end of the summer from STAR WARS mania, but that doesn't seem to merit this kind of piss-poor presentation that is becoming all too common.
I'd like to offer a quick congratulations to Lorenzo Agius, who shot the new PREMIERE cover. He did something I genuinely didn't think was possible, and his pioneering work deserves credit. He has managed to take the first truly awful photo of Angelina Jolie. Of course, his work would have gone unnoticed if the fine folks at PREMIERE hadn't decided to splash it across their cover. Nice choice. Good work.
To avoid closing out today's RUMBLINGS on a negative note, I'd like to share a story that should serve as inspiration to all aspiring writers out there. It's one of those "overnight" success stories that really does illustrate how talent and perseverence counts more than anything else for people who, like myself, like Harry, and like most of you, are infected by dreams of cinema.
Last week, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER published a small, easy to miss article about Dimension Films optioning a script called DEADER. The logline for the script sounds interesting -- "A woman journalist working for an Underground East Village newspaper investigates a bizarre cult in which the members literally commit suicide, only to be brought back to life" -- but the article doesn't really convey what makes the story so wonderful.
The author of the script is a guy named Neal Marshall Stevens. He's not unknown in LA. He optioned an earlier script, THE SLOW MAN, to 20th Century Fox for Harold Ramis to develop. Still, he was the classic struggling writer, already 43 years old. He'd had a number of agents who never sold anything, and he ended up having his wife, someone who has no industry experience, manage him. Upon completion of his latest script, he had his wife contact Stan Winston's company to see if they would read it. David Greathouse, one of the execs there, read the script but passed on it. When talking to Judy Stevens, Greathouse asked if there was anything else he could read. She sent over two of Neal's other scripts, one of which was a horror film.
And then the great stuff started.
First, they got an enthusiastic call from David, who is in love with the horror script. Stan is also in love with the horror script. They want to send it to a few people.
This is on a Wednesday. Thursday, the script goes out. By Sunday night, Judy finds herself on the phone with Bob "Dimension" Weinstein. Monday, the Stevens' are meeting at Dimension. By the end of that initial "creative" meeting, there's a mid-six figure offer on the table, along with a two-picture option among other things. Just like that, it's sold. Now Stevens is preparing to sign with new representation, he's incorporated, and he's fielding offers for more work.
This is a guy from Boston. He went to NYU Film school, but started without any connections in the business. He's just someone who worked, who kept at it, who built up a shelf of sample scripts and finally put the right one in the right hands.
Is his story remarkable? In the grand scheme of things, no, I guess not. But it's always good to read one of these, and it's good to remember that it happens. It's good to see someone who cares about their craft break through. I'll admit, I haven't read DEADER. I have no idea what I think of him as a writer. I do know this, though... I look forward to finding out.
And now I've got to get back to some of our long-term projects here. I know I have those AMERICAN BEAUTY interviews here somewhere... I just have to put my hands on them. Until then, let me send you out into the world with your homework assignment for this week. I want you to go to the FIGHT CLUB website by CLICKING HERE and send me your best postcards. You'll have to look around to find the postcard maker, but you'll enjoy yourself while you do. It's a cool site. I want postcards. Lots of postcards. Remember... creativity counts.
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Sept. 21, 1999, 6:04 a.m. CST
by Paco J
Really enjoyed the story on Neal Marshall Stevens. Thanks. Stories like that are sometimes just enough to give one hope, or at least enough to go it one more time and see what happens. It may take years, but if you catch the right break, anything's possible. Sorry to hear about Mann's. I wonder if that kind of crap is starting to happen all over?
Sept. 21, 1999, 6:17 a.m. CST
My two most anticipated films of this fall. Actually, I'm also looking forward to Magnolia...and Gladiator, and Man On The Moon, and The Messenger, and Cider House Rules, and Sleepy Hollow. Oh, Damn, I guess there's something almost every weekend now. Hooray for last quarter 1999! http://www.almostcool.org
Sept. 21, 1999, 6:32 a.m. CST
According to Variety, Mann's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and debt restructuring recently. Unfortunately, spokespeople have stated that the restructuring will have no noticeable effect for employees or theatergoers :(
Sept. 21, 1999, 8:32 a.m. CST
It's getting disgusting. I saw Episode 1, and every 15 seconds or so there. . . was. . . a.. . . stutter. . . in the sound. It was infuriating. Of course, I spoke to a manager who came in, and it wasn't happening anymore. He frowned at me and left, and ten minutes later it started happening again. I watched the first half of the 13th Warrior with the lights still on. You gotta wonder - I'm paying 8.50 for a ticket, at least spend some money on better theaters. Nothing is worse than the new, closet-style downsized screens. I'm sure we've all seen these - movies that have been out for a month or so get kicked back into screens so small it feels like watching a 13" screen in a closet. Sad, sad, sad. You'd think a classic place like Mann's would be able to do better, though. But I guess idiocy has no borders.
Sept. 21, 1999, 8:41 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Um...I have to agree with SSZero about the Fight Club site. This is one that I cannot figure out for all its graphics, shockwave, java, etc. It's very confusing...Moriarty, can you just tell us where to look for those postcards? You know, you can make a site look great with graphics and new technology, but sometimes it's just too much and when you get more than one site on your screen (if you're like me and do multiple surfing), it freezes your screen. (I have to turn off java and java script when I come to THIS site.)
Sept. 21, 1999, 9:14 a.m. CST
Are you guys stupid? That Fight Club page is so easy a 10 year old could figure it out. It's called exploring the page. Maybe they made it hard on purpose so you would explore it and not leave it in three seconds. Most of these movie websites take about that long to look over. You read about the cast and crew and that's all they have. Remember, Entertainment Weekly gave the Fight Club website an 'A', the best out of all reviewed. Try a little patience and go into the recruit section.
Sept. 21, 1999, 9:16 a.m. CST
by J.C. Adams
Unfortunately, I can back up the dear professor's bad experience at the Mann's Chinese. Do they even bother training the kids they have working there? How often do they clean the auditorium and bathrooms? Once a year? Bleah. And it will only get worse. They're building an enormous theatre complex right next door that will house the Oscars, but they aren't doing much to widen the streets or account for added traffic, which is already bad. In addition, Mondays and Tuesdays, you can't park on alternate sides of the street from twelve noon to three p.m. due to street cleaning. Figure the logic of that! For three hours in the afternoon, in one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, you can't park on one side of the street or the other. Right when people are shopping, sight-seeing and/or catching matinees, they are forced to shell out for expensive parking lots or garages. What's wrong with cleaning the streets from twelve midnight to three IN THE MORNING? How infuriating. As for crappy L.A. theatres, the Beverly Center is also a nightmare. Their two main theatres are fine, but the rest are no bigger than a closet, plus, you can listen to the movie next door at no additional cost! Let's not get into parking at this complex. Thank you, dear Professor, for bringing up those awful "L.A. Times" ads. It's a Los Angeles tradition. Buy some candy, settle down in your seat, boo the horrid "Los Angeles Times" commercial. So much for the movie capitol of the world.
Sept. 21, 1999, 10:05 a.m. CST
You think that's bad? There are TWO theaters in the Boston area where, as a free added bonus, you get to hear the FUCKING SUBWAY as you watch a movie. The whole theater shakes. I shit you not. And these are big, 10-15 screen multiplexes. It's a travesty of moviegoing.
Sept. 21, 1999, 10:33 a.m. CST
by spike lee
A couple of months ago a naked cowboy wearing nothing but a guitar and a cowboy hat paraded downtown Houston. The local news covered the story and the cowboy was going across country to promote his independently produced country album. About a week later I saw the same naked cowboy on Talk Soup this time in another city.
Sept. 21, 1999, 10:51 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
So I finished my real homework and went on the Fight Club site and found it under Recruitc (the big 2 at the top). I pressed it before, but nothing happened, so I think either my connection was too slow or I just didn't hit the right spot when I clicked. I still think this site is too...busy. Though I love that soap logo and the music is pretty kick ass. I think I'm going to get the soundtrack.***About Mann's going bankrupt, I want to know if Moriarty has read that article in Variety, too. I would really like to hear more about the bankruptcy and the bad state of affairs to find out if it's going to get better. We can only hope. I would hate to see such a landmark crumble. Especially before I get to actually see it...
Sept. 21, 1999, 12:49 p.m. CST
Now I know that this is not precisely related to the main subject of discussion, but on my last few trips to the Old Country (America) I noticed that U.S. theaters lack two features which I am used to at home: namely, reserved seating and intermissions. Some casual research led me to believe that these practices disappeared around the same time as the Studio System, and that viewers take their absence for granted. Are you happy with this? Is there any public yearning to re-introduce them? Or am I hopelessly anachronistic? Because I love them both - the reserved seating, so that I can get my favorite seats (row 4, center) without a hassle; and the intermission, so that I can use the bathroom and have something to munch on for the TENSE part of the movie (I mean really, does anyone have enough willpower to hold a full box of popcorn until the last half hour of a movie, when you really need it?). I'm a non-smoker, but my cancer addict friends go crazy without their hourly hit. But besides all that, It seems to me that these two minor features add a lot of class, even some culture to the moviegoing experience. So please - tell me if I'm right, and show me where I'm wrong.
Sept. 21, 1999, 2:32 p.m. CST
What's so fun about arriving early to get good seats? It's a lot more fun to arrive early and get good tickets and then spend some time window-shopping in the mall, instead of siting down half an hour before the movie starts with your feet sticking to the floor and nothing to do except re-read those stupid slides. As to people looking for their seats - I think that dim lighting and footlights in the aisles work quite well. Also, most people tend to come in before the previews anyway, because an intermission means that there's less congestion at the concession stand before the movie starts. I mean, with those prices, half the people there will hold out until halftime; nobody can afford two helpings of fake butter. As to my country of origin - I hide behind no Hotmail adress (and no, that's NOT Iceland!).
Sept. 21, 1999, 2:48 p.m. CST
Thank You Moriarty for a great set of rumblings
Sept. 21, 1999, 2:56 p.m. CST
Nice to see your killing off you henchman again, and nice choice not to waste those expensive mutants. Just wanted to share what one of the other evil movie watchers in the world was up to... "An Ultimatum to the Government of the United States of America: "The UFCS (Undead Film Critics Society) assumes full responsibility for Hurricane Floyd. This was only a demonstration of our power. We have successfully diverted billions from loans supposedly made to Russian banks for the purpose of secretly building our hidden uplink station in Casablanca and launching our radar-shielded weather control satellite into geosynchronus orbit over Morocco. As you have seen, we can organize and direct a tropical depression into a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale and maneuver it perfectly up the coast to touch upon every major settlement on the American Eastern seaboard. Your citizens were forced to run for shelter, Disneyworld had to close for the first time, and your bottled water and plywood supplies have almost run out. Our time has come. The United States Government has until October 31st, 1999 at midnight to round up and execute all movie studio middle-management executives and turn total control the American entertainment industry over to the UFCS. This is your only warning. And remember, if your name was "Floyd," you'd be pretty ticked off, too."
Sept. 21, 1999, 3:28 p.m. CST
Moriarty, go to THX.com -- I believe they have a section where you can report problems with a films exhibition. They could lose their certification over this...
Sept. 21, 1999, 3:43 p.m. CST
by tommy five-tone
well, perhaps not. but let's do our best to ignore the two steaming brown lumps of van dammage he left on the doorstep in a burning paper bag and go back a few years. 'the star chamber' is an intelligent vigilante thriller, 'running scared' rivals 'lethal weapon' IMHO and 'outland' is a tense little number with some awesome production design. yes, he's been doing it for the payday with a lot of his recent movies, and no, he's not mctiernan, but he's a lot better than many of the directors the schwarz has been working with over the last couple of years. i wasn't looking forward to EOD, but it starting to look more and more appealing as a brainless alternative for a lazy saturday afternoon. five-tone off to bemoan the fact that he's starting to sound like ABking.
Sept. 21, 1999, 5:24 p.m. CST
There is a guy here named Dan Harkins who owns half the theaters in the Phoenix area. All of the screens feature THX, all have wide chairs, most even rock so you can lean back. And best of all $6.75 night admission, $3.75 matinee admission. All the other theater chains (AMC and UA), keep their quality high and prices low to compete. Best of all I have never had a bad viewing experience (not including rude or rowdy viewers) in one of his theaters.
Sept. 21, 1999, 8:01 p.m. CST
by Jacob Corbin
Am I the only one here who's uberjazzed about the prospect of an ongoing LA CONFIDENTIAL series? If it were done right, it could blow HOMICIDE, LAW & ORDER, and NYPD BLUE straight to Hell in terms of sheer quality and coolness. Ooooh...and maybe they could include the elements that were left out of the movie (like Dieterling and the prostitute murders), or even redo the book's story altogether. The possibilities are endless--I'm going to have to go ponder this news for a while...
Sept. 21, 1999, 8:46 p.m. CST
I prefer the Village over the Chinese theatre... I guess its because in the village, no matter where you sit, the screen still looks big, whereas the Chinese, the further back you go, the smaller it gets, but both Theatres have amazing Sound systems that blow away any AMC, Pacific, General Cinema, or Edwards combined!!
Sept. 21, 1999, 11:18 p.m. CST
I work for a Mann movie theatre located about an hour away from LA, as a floor supervisor and sometime booth (projection) trainee. I haven't been to a movie at the Chinese since Matrix, and there were no problems with the show, but I do remember that the bathrooms smelled disgusting. From these reports, I can tell that the company must really be in a hole if they're letting a flagship theatre slide like this. But at my little out-of-the way Mann, we have good management, a hardworking facilities engineer, and a booth operator who really knows his shit backwards and forwards. Lately we've had some projection problems, but we've been working our asses off to fix them and the situation has much improved. I'm sure it's because our employees actually have a clue. Maybe they need to get the Mann mucky-mucks away from the ledgers for ten minutes and down to the Chinese to put the smack down. The behavior of that manager was absolutely atrocious.
Sept. 21, 1999, 11:30 p.m. CST
I must also add the one technically crappy experience I had at a flick. I was seeing the restored print of Tron at the El Capitan with a couple of friends of mine who work booth at several prominent theatres in LA. The print was beautiful, absolutely gorgeous, until the last reel when the sound fucked up. The dialogue dropped out almost completely, and sounded as though it were being broadcast from a walkie-talkie several blocks away. My friends and I informed the manager--actually my projectionist friends did, while throwing around a lot of words like "hertz" without meaning the car rental agency. The manager was very nice and gave us refunds, but the El Capitan projectionist just looked dazed and nodded and said "uh huh" when my friends explained the problem to him in detail. I also hate how Pacific Theatres (which owns the El Capitan) only show one trailer before the film. I like to see LOTS of coming attractions. I also have it on good authority that Edwards Theatres suck because the booth operators never clean out the projectors, therefore accounting for all the little black specks that show up on the print. Also their prints display mile-long scratches because they have been threaded up incorrectly.
Sept. 21, 1999, 11:44 p.m. CST
I'm sorry, but I feel verbose tonight. The advertising situation Moriarty described also went for the Village, which is one of my favorite theatres (I saw Matrix there about five time). Not only was there not a single scrap of Mylar with Episode I printed on it for the purposes of announcing the film therein, but the marquee was cracked and broken! It looked like the fucking theatre was closed! Now that people are hearing the Chapter 11 story, my projectionist buddy says, they then see the depressingly busted marquee and deduce WRONGLY that the Village has shut down! Now, I heard a vague rumor that the reason that there was no advertising was because 20th Century Fox wasn't shelling out for it. Can anyone confirm or deflate this story? It sure doesn't seem to add up to me. And man, the Village is such a cool theatre. It should be treated like the old movie palaces of yore (before they were torn down or defiled into multiplexes).
Sept. 21, 1999, 11:48 p.m. CST
The first time I saw a movie at the Chinese theater was a few years ago for the 1AM show on the opening night of Star Trek: First Contact. It was amazing, everything from crowd of people to the actual presentation of the movie. After that I tried to make it to every opening night 1AM show. I waited in line over night for each of the the Star Wars special editions in front of the theater and even did the month long thing for The Phantom Menace. I did it because I knew it would be a great experience in the theater with a bunch of crazy fans just like it always was when a new movie opened at the Chinese. I was right, it was something I'll never forget. But after the first couple of weeks of Episode 1 it got a lot worse, and its getting worse every time I go there. I think it has something to do with the mass hiring that went on just before TPM opened, they would hire ANYONE. I had an experiance almost just like the evil professor at the Chinese last Wednesday and then again last Sunday during TPM. Everything about the experience sucked, from the beginning of the movie (no sound for a few minutes) up until the end when Vaders breathing couldn't be heard because of the LOUD screeching curtains closing and those were just a few of the problems during the showings I went to. This is getting waaaaay too long so I'm gonna shut up now, Jim Corbin Oh, and a very belated thanks to the evil genius for pointing out a place to get The Phantom Menace novelization a few days before it was released while I was in line. So what if it only cost me my pinky?
Sept. 22, 1999, 12:34 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
I'm glad someone mentioned movie restrooms because I have found they are in a state of disrepair and stink to high heaven! And why is it that the women's bathroom never has any toilet paper? I don't even wanna know what goes on in the men's room. I'm sorry, but some men need to learn to aim correctly.***Over here, Regal Cinemas owns every friggin' theatre in sight. They bought most of the Karmike (I think that's the name) and AMC theatres over here and then raised the price of admission and treats without improving the quality of the movie experience (ie. getting rid of those 70s-orange curtains with the mysterious stains on them...*shudder*).
Sept. 22, 1999, 2:02 a.m. CST
I'm from New Zealand, Porirua specifically just north of the capital (Wellington). Anyway, I recently went to see tarzan at the Local Multiplex, shit its a *HUGE* set up! 5 screens!!! Sorry just taking the piss =) Well, the trailers were playing, Muppets in Space by the way, and a crackle followed by some static came through the speakers.For the 1st 5 mins of the film we had sound from the front/right speaker. Nothing else, apart from the Score and Phil Collins songs. Well, someone complained floor manager came in announced that "they would try something but it would be about 5-10 mins, BUT PLEASE COME TO THE LOBBY AND HAVE SOME FREE POPCORN, ICE CREAMS AND SWEETS!" Classy. They managed to get some sound (Vocals) back, but not all of it. On the way out ( after the film) the Complex Manager was at the door saying sorry and handing out FREE PASSES to a movie of your Choice. Sounds like American theatres are taking their public for granted.
Sept. 22, 1999, 3:26 a.m. CST
UNIVERSAL CITYWALK'S CINEPLEX ODEON THEATERS SUCK. Let's face facts. Having a nice front facet and remodelled lobby does not make a nice theater. I can't tell you how many shitty premiers I've been to, because the people who run that place have their heads so far up their asses, they can see the back of their teeth! Cramming people into theaters and charging them $8.50 per show is not only a shitty thing to do, but it's disrespectful and inhumane-- BUT THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THEY WANT. No one ever complains to the lobby manager, floor manager, concession employee or proper mangement about the problems that multiplexes are suffering these days. This forum is the first place I've seen ANYONE bitch about theaters. What good is it going to do for you to complain about ANDERSON THEATERS or AMC, GCC, PACIFIC or UA on Harry's site. Gripe all you want, I guarantee the Theater Owners of America does not read these talk backs. For Christ's sake, find the ANDERSON website, or MANN'S website and e-mail them. Go down the the theater and talk with the manager about how you won't come back if they don't improve things-- and remind them that you have friends who won't come back, either. Theater owners don't care, because all they see is you handing your $$$ over to them without so much as a peep. If you don't make any suggestion as to how they can improve, then they won't. Therefore, unless you make some kind of organized attempt to communicate with your local theater chains, no one is going to listen to you moan and whine. One more thing: Spec. script sales like DEADERS are not unheard of. Moriarty seems to hail this as some kind of "second-coming," when I can show him a dozen or so articles in the past month alone that show the same kind of "success story" happening for tyro scribes. It's nice to see that Hollywood isn't pulling true to its age-ism issues, but the idea that someone can sell a script with no prior experience or connections <gasp> is NOT unheard of. E-mail me if you want more information. I'd be happy to tell you about some people who I know that do make things happen for those of us with no known doorway into the industry. O.K.-- Flame me. I dare you.
Sept. 22, 1999, 11:05 a.m. CST
koechnor's t-bone character was hilarious on snl. he was the only funny cast member introduced when lorne michaels changed the show around in 1995. why did he leave after only one season? was he fired by the same network pinhead that got rid of the extremely funny norm mcdonald?
Sept. 22, 1999, 1:55 p.m. CST
I would be excited about a LA Confidential series, but Curtis Hansen and Ellroy have no involvement in it and actually objected to it. Ellroy has said it killed the possibility that Hansen would make a sequel. And reports that Fox exec want to emphasize the "male soap opera aspects" aren't encouraging.
Sept. 22, 1999, 2:21 p.m. CST
I agree about Hyams deserving a "break" with End of Days. I still think his 2010 was underrated. In a genre that routinely runs short on character development, 2010 packed in quite a few memorable characters. Go Peter!
Sept. 22, 1999, 3:46 p.m. CST
Strangely enough, I used to work for Loews in Boston as a theatre manager and projection operator. This was several years ago, but I can tell you some pretty nightmarish stories. Poor theatre service is pretty common, and runs much deeper than you might even imagine. It all stems from where most of our service problems come from nowadays, big business has eliminated all your other options, and poor service is cheaper than good service. When I was there most of the Loews theatres in Boston were running on projectors that dated back to WWII, and were very prone to rip and burn film. Even brand new theatres would receive recycled and used equipment to cut costs. To make matters worse, theatre companies are trying to phase out unionized projectionists and have their managers operate the projectors and theatre equipment in addition to managing the theatre. This new position is called a Manager Operator. These extra responsibilities do not come with any extra pay (managers make at most half what a unionized projectionist makes) and effectively more than double the amount of work managers have to do, but the theatre companies generally under-staff their management to save money as well. I worked at a 5 theatre multiplex and more often than not during the week I covered all five theatres, did whatever film build-ups and tear downs were required, and did all my management duties by myself. And worse, manager operators are usually poorly trained by other Manager Operators who don't know the first thing about what they're doing. I was one of the few who actually enjoyed running the projectors, and was lucky enough to have a friend in the union who I could call for advice and learn from (which the union expressly forbids), but I was still grossly unqualified to be operating as a projectionist. The sad thing is that often these big businesses just squander their money on bloated middle management who are 'completely' out of touch with the ins and outs of running a theatre. Loews was particularly bad about this when I was with them. I would give two bits of advice. The first is that you should complain, 'a lot'. And not just to theatre managers, they don't have much power and truthfully are probably just as aggravated with the company as you are, get the e-mail addresses and postal addresses of their division HQ. In Moriarty's case complaining to Lucasfilm is also a good idea, as they take the presentation of their product very seriously. I'm not so sure this will change the quality of service, maybe if enough people complain, but you will get free stuff. Loews gave away movie passes like they were going out of style when I worked for them. I realize this won't make up for a poor movie experience, but its better than nothing. The second is that you don't 'ever' go to a theatre that you know gives bad service. You can dictate this by company, but a really good manager can run a really good theatre, even if the company they work for is crap. Theatres can offer poor service because they know you can't go anywhere else for their product. In many areas if you want to see a particular film you 'must' go to a particular theatre. Well, don't live by these rules. A good film is worth a longer trip to see it in a good theatre. Hell, even a mediocre film is worth it. :) My final comment is not really what people will want to hear in my experience, but it will 'vastly' improve your movie-going experiences if you can manage it. Learn how the system works, and work within it. Take it easy with the people who staff the theatres, don't approach them as a bundle of rage. Understand the best way to get things done. Don't sit in your seat and hope the problem goes away while you fester in anger. For a 6 screen multiplex you will have 1, maybe 2 managers/projectionists on duty, and they simply can't monitor all the films all the time even under the best circumstances and intentions, which usually don't exist. And as the number of screens in a multiplex multiplies, the number of people operating the projectors almost always remains the same. I worked in a twelve theatre multiplex that 'was' unionized, but we never had more than one projectionist on at a time, running back and forth between all twelve films. Every time their is a problem in a theatre there are always lots of people who yell out "Focus!", or whatever the problem is, but they are yelling to no one. Even if there were a projectionist in the booth at that particular moment those booths are sound proofed. :) A sound problem usually goes unnoticed in the booth because there are multiple projectors in a single room, and the sound is turned down on all of them because you simply can't listen to all of them at once, or its a speaker problem, which is only detectable inside the theatre, which is not monitored at all times for the same reason the booth isn't. My point? When a problem occurs generally the only people who know are the audience. The audience needs to let the theatre operators know what's going on, the quicker the better (films can't be rewound, I won't go into why, but trust me, they just can't). This is really a raw deal, for the prices we pay someone should be monitoring the show the entire time, but that's the way it is, and isn't going to change any time soon. In my experience many of the managers love movies and are doing the best they can under incredibly hard circumstances. Most of them want you to be happy, because when you're happy you aren't bothering them. :) I'm not saying you should forgive someone who is inept, but rather don't let your rage build to a point where when you finally talk to a manager they simply shut you down because you're the 100th person whose yelled at them that day for what often, for them, turns out to be no good reason. Remember that for every informed movie goer like ourselves there are 100 idiots who are constantly trying the patience of these managers who are already stressed out to the breaking point. I'd say one out of 10 complaints I would receive were legitimate. Some examples: I had a woman complain because whenever there was a close-up on someone's face, the background would go out of focus. I've had people yell at me at the top of their lungs because the movie is too loud (I was more than happy to adjust the volume, no yelling was necessary), and then another person come out of the same movie right behind them and yell at me because the sound is too low, not to mention the fact that at least twice in a six hour shift I would end up getting cursed out over the prices of tickets and concessions, like I set those prices. :) The majority of complaints I received were these kinds, and the only thing more unbearable than the complaint itself was the anger with which they were directed towards me. In Moriarty's case I seriously doubt the manager he spoke to had any idea there was really a problem, which is horrible, but not quite as bad as outright lying to him. The sound system is geared for the film, not the trailers, and most trailers are recorded in mono sound, as opposed to the stereo, digital, or surround sound the movie is probably in. This often makes the trailers sound too loud, too soft, etc, which is a problem with the system currently in place. The manager probably thought this was the case since she most likely gets a half dozen complaints about it for every showing, which is why she dismissed the complaint so quickly, and if it had been made clear to her that the front speaker had audibly blown out she 'might' have done something about it. I say 'might' because I do think it was inexcusable for her not to investigate 'any' complaint about the sound. I absolutely disagree with this flippant attitude, but unfortunately this is what most people become under those conditions. But learning to communicate with them calmly and patiently can make the difference between a good and bad movie experience. If that doesn't work than send those e-mails and letters, and do what Moriarty is doing, never go to the offending theatre again, which sounds like an especially sound decision given the experience he describes.
Sept. 22, 1999, 3:54 p.m. CST
Moriarty, right on! The Chinese is playing Ep1?! Who knew? There is nothing on the marquee at all. Next to the Chinese is a huge long banner for friggin' Inspector Gadget, I assumed they must be playing that. The Chinese sucks not only because they don't have any technicians who know what they are doing, but because it's so evident that the place hasn't been cleaned sinced the 70's. The ladies restrooms smell continuously of vomit. It's obvious that the carpet needs to be replaced, especially because there are huge holes in it, but also because about a million people have upchucked all over it. THE AVCO is an abomination. I cannot sit in the theatre without having to adjust my equilibrium while warding off minor panic attacks. You are not just sitting at an angle, folks, you are actually leaning to the damned side! Couldn't they have repaved the floor?! Don't even think of seeing a movie at the BEVERLY CENTER, because you will be crammed into a shoebox of a theatre with maybe room enough for ten adult sized humans. Which leads me to THE GALAXY which is on my block. It's not too too bad, I suppose, but I cannot bear those goddamned cannibal condiments! Can GC please for the love of all the gods change that intro?! And another thing for those of you who frequent THE GALAXY: Please pay the stinkin' three bucks to park underground. Those of us who live on this street don't all have those convenient little parking garages that so often come with modern apartment buildings. No, instead, we must park on the street just like any other schlub, circling and circling for hours on the street on which we live. This is just not fair. I have heard rumours of foul deeds being done to the vehicles of theatre goers who are too damned cheap to pay for the alotted parking and are forcing the rest of us who live on that street to wait two hours for your cheap asses to get out of the movies. I hate to think what someone from the crackhouse right behind the GALAXY could do to your car while you are laughing it up about the LA Times piece describing the dancing midget gnome and MovieFone's "Before Popcorn the #1 Treat Among MovieGoers Was...Devilled Eggs" crap. Please folks, be cautious.
Sept. 22, 1999, 6:20 p.m. CST
I feel cheated. I've seen a movie in a theater with only one screen, but it was really just a digital projection of a videotape and I wasn't entirely comfortable with the strange smells, sticky furniture or those two guys being abnormally amorous a few seats away to the tune of the 70's wah guitar. I love the Winnetka 20 (or is it 21?) which is a Pacific theater ('bout .5 hour from Mann's Chinese). It has stadium seating with seats big enough to fit my wide butt and seatarms that raise up when I expand past their already generous spacing. The machines that allow you to buy your tickets outside with a debit or credit card are very cool and make me laugh at the peons in line (until I get the $1 charge from my bank added on my statement [CalFed! I hate you! But just not as much as I hate moving my account.]). Anyways, I've never had an orgasmic experience in a 'classic' theater and I'm 30 and a half. I hate how the theaters don't clean the restrooms enough and that I have sperm older than the employees, but since the theater chains have all moved away from closet screenings to the stadium seating all I am really left to complain about is paying $3.50 for 10 cents worth of popcorn. In a way, I guess I'm glad that I've never had the incredible experience that makes most of the other back-talkers say "!sretaehtnredometahI". By the way, that post by the theater manager was righteous, not that I'm generally into admiring male posts or anything, although there's nothing wrong with that if that's your kind of thing, but just not mine, anyway, c-ya.
Sept. 23, 1999, 8:53 a.m. CST
Being a film fanatic myself, and living just a mere 200 miles from the film Nirvana which is Hollywood (i.e.: the Chinese, Dome, and Pacific as well as the Village, Bruin, National, and what's left of the Avco in Westwood.) I can sympathize with ya Doc! I drive the mileage just to go to these theaters and I'm afraid that I would have snapped royally if that had happened to me. Hell, I was so dissappointed the first time I went to the old Paramount and the Egyptian (both BEFORE they were rennovated) and found them to be so completly neglected that it turned my stomach! I always invisioned myself as being the manager of the Dome, that I would take pride in my movie palace "Where moviegoing is an EVENT!" and try to do the vvery best I could day in, and day out. The sad reality is that these places are nothing more than buisnesses, run by the kind of people who were running Arby's and Midas muffler shops the day before. I'm glad you posted the article, if nothing more than to shame Mann's and inform Lucasfilm. I sure hope some good comes from it!
Sept. 23, 1999, 9:54 p.m. CST
There's no such thing as an ugly picture of Angelina. The Premiere cover may be less sexy than you're used to, but ugly? Puh-lease. But then what do YOU know, you're stuck on Heather Graham.
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