By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
If I were a movie mogul, I’d study that episode of Seinfeld when George realizes that, in order to be a success, he should “do the opposite” of everything he’s done to be a failure. Suddenly, life is good: He gets a girlfriend, scores a job with the Yankees, moves out of his parents’ house and into his own apartment. So, I’d order my Hollywood studio during these dark days of empty seats and unprofitability to do the opposite.
I know what you’re thinking: Mea studio mogul? On what planet?
Hey, if a superflake like Elvis Mitchell can go to work for a studio, then anything’s possible, even making an executive out of someone as warped as I am, especially considering two of my favorite films are Legally Blonde and American Psycho. But my point here is that, unless the continuing slump in worldwide box office is reversed, and quickly, the Industry will continue as the lowly loss-leader of Big Media. That means Hollywood needs to rethink its retread product, but even more its retro process, especially when a movie as bad as Bewitchedis released without anyone saying, “This is just a piece of crap, and we shouldn’t serve shit like this to the public.” (Not to worry: Sony’s summer may now depend on that even bigger turd, Deuce Bigelow 2.) It’s not enough to say “stop with the remakes” or “stop with the programmers already,” just stop.
To prove to you that motivating the public to get off their couches and go into theater complexes ain’t exactly brain surgery, I’ll become a studio mogul for as long as it takes you to read this column. (Any longer, and I’d permanently risk losing IQ points.) My first order of business will be to recall the company jet from Camp Allen, the nickname given to this week’s annual Sun Valley investment confab for old- and new-media knuckleheads, where river rafting and hay rides help relieve the stress of computing just how much it’ll cost to keep themselves in perks after they’re fired for hiring Brett Ratner. Instead, I’ll pledge myself to putting money back into the portfolios of those shareholders foolish enough to still invest in Mammoth Media. After all, the S&P 500 stock index has declined less than 2 percent for the first six months of this year, yet shares of Time Warner, Viacom, News Corp., Walt Disney and Sony have plunged 9-to-14 percent.
First, some disclaimers: I like driving my beat-up Volvo (because I break into hives at just the thought of a $3,889-a-month car payment for a Mercedes S600). I hate reading screenplays or taking meetings (when I could be doing something useful like scooping the litter box). I enjoy apartment living (instead of worrying about nutcases from the public-access beach breaking into my Malibu mansion). I don’t have the right attitude about Hollywood (since I think it’s populated by overpaid and under-worked mental midgets; I suspect CAA, AMPAS and MPAA are terrorist organizations; and I wish Oscar would grow some balls).
That said, here’s what I’d do:
Get Rid of Everyone
You know how, when jury-tampering is suspected in The Untouchables, the judge in the Al Capone trial switches juries with another courtroom? To make over my studio, I’ll replace my inbred imbeciles with the execs in charge of a cool company like Target that successfully appeals to a mass audience by hiring expensive talent like Todd Oldham, Cynthia Rowley, Ilene Rosenzweig and Isaac Mizrahi on the cheap.
No More “R” Movies
I’ll show the door to any studio executive who even once asks a screenwriter to pen a script that’s a “Hard R” when common sense dictates the movie could appeal in a big way to the under-17 market (see Pirates of the Caribbean for successful model). I’ll tell them to find employment with the indies or HBO, where full-frontal and buckets of blood are considered integral to the artistry. Believe me, my shareholders understand that pictures that keep sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity to a minimum appeal to the widest audience and make the most money.
More and Mostly Comedies
Let’s say I have a choice: I can make a $180 million movie based on a comic book, or I can make a $40 million original comedy. I say, no contest: Make the comedy. I don’t know about your life, but mine can always use a laugh that isn’t just based on a fart joke. Comedies are cheap to make, and hard to get right, but even the net-profit participants have been paid on Meet the Parents.
I’m Only Worth $1
I’ll restructure my salary, bonus and stock options to reflect some sanity, which means they’ll be based on my sector’s performance. I’ll challenge other moguls in the parent company to do the same. They won’t, of course.