"SPECIAL EFFECTS and 3-D will not dazzle on their own merits forever; novelty wears off in the face of exposure to excellence. Sequels will just have to get better and cost less if they are to survive into the future."
So writes producer Lynda Obst in her fascinating, way-inside-the-biz book, "Sleepless in Hollywood."
The Hangover III" did much better than expected. I spent time with these films over the holiday.
I admit I went to "Fast and Furious" because I love Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel. They are adorable when they play non-action roles, but both know on which side their bread is buttered. Also, I like Paul Walker and wonder why he is not up there in Ryan Gosling territory as a leading man. However, considering the money he has (I hope!) saved from this noisy, often incoherent franchise, I'm not weeping for Paul.
As for "The Hangover," producers say this is the finale. Let's hope so. The first two were funny, in an adolescent grossed-out way. The third installment feels exhausted. Bradley Cooper, who has really broken out, with an Oscar nomination for "Silver Linings Playbook," must have been paid a fortune to do it again. And not even his mesmerizing blue eyes can lift this dire movie. Relief comes only from Ken Jeong as the irrepressibly profane Mr. Chow.
I also took in "The Great Gatsby" again. Just to see if I thought I might alter my opinion. The acting, for the most part, is good. But the excesses were still excessive. You know, "Gatsby" is a slight novel. Perhaps someday a director will film it as written by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- incisive brush stroke character studies of shallow people. The story requires imagination from the reader and this director leaves nothing to the imagination, overdoing everything -- even the green light! I say it again -- BBC, are you listening? Remake Scott Fitzgerald as he should be.
"Networks are generally leery of shows that are set in the past ... TV executives think younger viewers don't care about history. And they're always on the hunt for the younger demo, working on the mistaken premise that millennials buy more and change brands more often than profligate and fickle baby boomers. ... It turns out that Washington isn't the only place where ideas go to die ... TV honchos cling to outmoded programming traditions even as many younger Americans, gorging on a moveable feast of platforms, are losing the habit of turning on the TV. ... Watching the derivative and uninspiring fare served up last week by the networks during their previews to woo advertisers, I was flummoxed at the lack of creativity and modernity ... (the) freshest ideas are antiques..."
This is Maureen Dowd of the Times at her best under the headline "Serving Up Schlock." She cites "Breaking Bad," "Homeland," "Mad Men," "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" as what people want to see instead of the dead-on-its-feet network offerings.
I don't know why but the networks are really acting dumb and stupid and against their own best interests! Just read The Hollywood Reporter if you want to see where entertainment is going.
MY FRIEND and maybe yours, the self-appointed PR expert on worldwide celebrities, sends her plans for taking over the world. Peggy Siegal writes that she is off as a juror for the Munich Film Festival June 27 through July 8. Peggy e-mails from the Cannes Film Festival and her conferences at the Hotel du Cap and premieres at the Palais ... all this has ended at the Hotel du Cap every late night. She is going to the Venice Biennial and on the set where George Clooney is directing and starring in "The Monuments Men." I hope to catch Peggy around June 25 before she begins commanding and demanding in the Hamptons of Long Island for the summer. She is always a trip!
The IRS isn't very popular right now and in the music biz it's never popular. They are saying Mary J. Blige of R-and-B, a woman who has won the Grammy nine times and sold more than 50 million albums in two decades, is being dunned by Uncle Sam to the tune of $3.4 million dollars! ... Rosie O'Donnell is setting up her Rosie's Theater Kids 10th anniversary event for Sept. 25, honoring the genius filmmaker of HBO, Sheila Nevins. Call 914-579-1000, or email RTKids(at)buckleyhallevents.com. ... We recently covered the movie "Wiener Dog Nationals" and we weren't wrong in our enthusiasm for this family-type movie. It won the audience award and the outstanding achievement in filmmaking at the Newport Beach Film Festival. One of the actors, Bryan Batt, who played a judge in this movie, is bringing his cabaret show titled "Batt on a Hot Tin Roof" to NYC on June 15 and 16 at 54 Below. This guy lives now in New Orleans. ... If you are a New York/Connecticut type you can tune in to 1010WINS starting now every Thursday and Friday of the summer and hear "Joan Jedell's Hamptons Sheet Scoops." Her magazine with photos is a big hit out on Long Island and adds to the "joy" of getting to and from the Hamptons.
TONIGHT ABC offers a new program titled "The Lookout" starring those denizens of TV news Cynthia McFadden and Bill Weir in one of the rare fresh news shows of the current season. These co-anchors still do the acclaimed "Nightline" on weeknights, but this is something entirely new!
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)