- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Discount stars

“The genius of the indie film business lies in its use of Hollywood stars. The same actors and actresses who quote Hollywood studios $20 million per movie will work on indie films for a small fraction of that fee. … ‘The total cost of a star can be less than that of running the office Xerox,’ explained one knowledgeable producer.

“The willingness of top stars — including Keanu Reeves, Mel Gibson, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Al Pacino, Angelina Jolie, Pierce Brosnan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, Tobey Maguire, Demi Moore, Sean Penn, and Julia Roberts — to work for near scale in the parallel universe of indie films allows indie producers to take advantage of a star’s cachet to finance the movies. …

“Some stars may find that roles in studio amusement-park movies (that they share with live stuntmen and digital doubles) do not provide the acting opportunities, award possibilities, prestige, camaraderie, or even aura of coolness of indie productions.

“Others may want to work with a particular director, such as Woody Allen, Robert Altman, or David Mamet, or burnish their fading image as an actor. They might also need to fill a hole in their schedule — since, PR hype aside, there is not an endless cornucopia of $20 million parts in Hollywood.”

— Edward Jay Epstein, writing on “The Indie Game,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Geraldo from Yale

“The media has spent the past week congratulating the media for awakening from its long slumber. After years of credulously reciting administration talking points about [weapons of mass destruction] and candy-throwing Iraqis, the corpse-lined streets [of New Orleans] have spurred reporters to finally get feisty with mendacious officials and slippery politicians. The most celebrated hero of this resurgence is CNN’s Anderson Cooper. …

“He seems to appreciate the grotesque nature of TV news, its invasiveness, its frivolity, the gaping moral hole in its middle. At times, he conveys this self-awareness to his viewers with a wink. … While he has garnered a reputation as the heir to Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings, his work doesn’t justify that talk. He is a Yale-educated Geraldo Rivera.”

— Franklin Foer, writing on “The Mole,” Monday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

NASCAR politics

“NASCAR dads. To hear the talk, they put George W. Bush into the White House, gave Republicans control of Congress and have become among the most courted voting groups in the country. …

“Some of my real liberal friends talk about NASCAR as the personification of evil. I take a more inquisitive approach to politics. That’s why … I headed to Fontana, which I recently discovered is in California, to attend NASCAR’s Sony HD 500.

“Upon arriving, I found 15,000 acres of tailgate parties. I was impressed how these people can take a patch of asphalt and transform it into a space much nicer than my home. Maybe they do deserve to decide all the elections after all. …

“Yes, the entire day was an education. For one, the crowd was more diverse than I imagined. Drunk, yes, but diverse. I also learned a lot of NASCAR folk love to hate Jeff Gordon. And just as many love to love Jeff Gordon. They certainly seem to spend a lot more time debating him than they do Social Security or Supreme Court nominees.”

— Jack Burditt, writing on “He’s white, blue and red all over,” Saturday in the Los Angeles Times

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