- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

Star insurance

“Insurance is not a word usually associated with the power and glory of Hollywood — at least not to outsiders. To insiders, especially those involved in the behind-the-scenes decisions of who will be the stars and what movies will be made, it connotes a sine qua non reality of the entertainment universe. …

“Sure, it may help a career to have talent, a well-connected agency, and a hot media image, but unless an actor can get insurance, he or she can’t play a part in a major movie.

“To begin with, movies that receive outside financing from banks or other sources — which nowadays are most movies — need a completion bond. This bond guarantees the financiers that they will be repaid the entire cost of the production … if for any reason a movie loses one of its ‘essential elements.’ …

“In the case of ‘Terminator 3,’ the producers bought a completion bond from International Film Guarantors for $2.54 million that named Arnold Schwarzenegger as an essential element. If Schwarzenegger had been disabled during shooting or had abandoned the film for any reason, IFG would have repaid the bonded cost, which was $181.6 million.”

Edward Jay Epstein, writing on “Nicole Kidman’s Knee,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Lady MacBlog

“Once a right-wing Lady Macbeth flogging her millionaire husband’s 1994 California senate campaign, [Arianna] Huffington swung to the left as a political commentator. Eventually shorn of her husband (who announced he was gay), Huffington morphed into a full-blown progressive. …

“What’s next? The blogosphere, of course. Not content with her own Web site and Web log (or blog), Huffington decided to launch, with massive hype, a group blog, www.huffingtonpost.com, written not just by boring wonks, but by celebrities. …

“When the site launched [earlier this month], people were shocked — shocked — that those who utter dumb things without a script would write dumber things when handed a laptop without an editor.

” ‘It seems like some sick hoax,’ wrote L.A. Weekly scribe Nikki Fine. ‘Her blog is such a bomb that it’s the movie equivalent of ‘Gigli,’ ‘Ishtar’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’ rolled into one.’ ”

Stephanie Schorow, writing on “Arianna accents blog world,” May 19 in the Boston Herald

Critical decline

“In the 1950 movie ‘All About Eve,’ the theater critic is a dapper, cynical charmer with the Old World moniker Addison DeWitt. He’s no hero, but his wry assessments can make or break a production. Characters repeat his phrases throughout the film, in both scornful and reverent tones.

“Almost a half-century later, the television show ‘The Critic’ presented an animated schlemiel, paunchy and balding, voiced by the nerdy comic endomorph Jon Lovitz. This character’s influence on the world in which he lives is nonexistent: His impact comes down to serving as the butt of jokes. …

” ‘You gets arts journalists together these days,’ says Doug McLennan, editor of Arts Journal.com and a longtime Seattle music writer, ‘and it’s what they talk about: their declining influence. They say Frank Rich was the last critic who could close a show.’ Most remember when Time and Newsweek had full rosters of arts critics.”

Scott Timberg, writing on “Critical condition,” Sunday in the Los Angeles Times

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