- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Big fat flops

“Because the studios are trying to respond to a clear audience demand for more material that’s fresh and unpredictable, they are greenlighting riskier fare. The results this fall were disastrous. A spate of fall movies crashed and burned, movies that if they had been produced and marketed at the independent level might have worked.

“Twentieth Century Fox released Curtis Hanson’s family drama ‘In Her Shoes,’ starring Cameron Diaz, and the twisted Marc Forster thriller ‘Stay,’ starring Ewan McGregor; Warner Bros. Pictures failed with Niki Caro’s feminist drama ‘North Country,’ starring Charlize Theron, and Shane Black’s well-reviewed ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’; Paramount Pictures released Cameron Crowe’s $54 million ‘Elizabethtown,’ starring Orlando Bloom, and ‘The Weather Man,’ starring Nicolas Cage. None are working at the box office.

“These films were all worth making. But they were too expensive for what they were. And the studios don’t know how to market them. …

“No filmmaker in his right mind wants to give up the fat studio gravy train. But the studios need to wake up and recognize what business they’re in.”

—Anne Thompson, writing on “Hung Up on Tentpoles, Studios Think Too Big,” Nov. 22 in Backstage Online at www.backstage.com

Turkey to go

“How was your holiday? For thousands of would-be cooks from the famous Generation X (or Y and maybe Z), it might well have been a disaster without the help of a nearby gourmet market, ready to deliver a ‘home cooked’ Thanksgiving meal (assuming that Mom didn’t save the day). … [C]ooking is the one thing that mothers don’t bother to teach their daughters anymore.

“Pop culture has certainly taken note of this. Movies like ‘Pieces of April’ (2003) depend for their laughs, and even their plots, on young women not knowing a pot from a pan. …

“If women in their 20s and 30s don’t know how to cook, it’s not really their fault. … The idea that a guy would expect a gal to know how to cook is practically prehistoric: Gender roles are so last millennium. …

“[T]he ability to cook is not a political statement anymore. … Knowing how to cook does not imply that a woman is a homemaker in training, a Laura Petrie wannabe.”

—Pia Catton, writing on “Remedial Cooking,” Friday in the Wall Street Journal

Liberal subsidy

“I once had the occasion to go through the headquarters of National Public Radio in Washington while doing a profile for Fortune magazine. …

“Cubicle after cubicle was plastered with posters for every left-wing cause imaginable — farm workers’ strikes, peace marches, nuclear-disarmament campaigns, liberation armies in obscure African countries. It was if you had taken the most politicized dormitory radical from every university around the country and assembled them all in one place.

“So what’s the big surprise? This is public broadcasting. Everybody knows that National Public Radio and PBS pretty much represent mainstream East Coast liberalism. …

“The one problem is that public broadcasting is paid for with taxpayer money. There really isn’t enough of a liberal audience to support a national radio or television network — as Al Franken and his friends are finding out. Besides, liberals don’t want to have to listen to commercials. That’s why we have public broadcasting.”

William Tucker, writing on “Public Broadcasting’s New Clothes,” Monday in the American Enterprise Online at www.taemag.org

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