Tags: Writers | Strike

Can Politicians Settle the Hollywood Writers' Strike?

Tuesday, 13 Nov 2007 12:14 AM

By James Hirsen

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 'Bee' Surprises and 'Lions' Bombs at Box Office
2. Robert Redford Not Feeling the Love for Dem Candidates
3. John Edwards Booed at Iowa Rock Concert
4. Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire for Crossing Picket Line
5. Can Politicians Settle the Hollywood Writers' Strike?

 

1. 'Bee' Surprises and 'Lions' Bombs at the Box Office

Some recent major releases are proving to be a boon to the box office while others are bombing.

Jerry Seinfeld's animated family flick "Bee Movie," which last weekend debuted at No. 2 trailing "American Gangster," came in first place this week with $26 million, thanks to the gobs of parents and kids who filled theater seats.

"American Gangster" starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe placed a solid second this week with $24.3 million in receipts, and it is garnering some Oscar buzz as well.

Tom Cruise's "Lions for Lambs," which Variety labeled "backbendingly liberal," tanked, taking in a meager $6.5 million despite its additional big-name stars Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. The anti-war movie directed by Redford placed fourth in box-office revenue and was savaged by critics, achieving a miserable 27 percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes site.

"Fred Claus" includes stars not typically associated with family-oriented holiday film fare, namely Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. Still, the Warner Bros. flick pulled in a respectable $19.2 million to place third.


2. Robert Redford Not Feeling the Love for Democratic Candidates

Robert Redford acted like a politician when asked about the current presidential campaign during a recent interview with the Chicago Sun Times.

In an era in which Hollywood stars toss out endorsements of Democratic candidates as easily as they give out advice on international diplomacy, Redford snubbed the Democrat presidential hopefuls — all of them.

The guy who once starred in "The Candidate" and "All the President's Men" said that he may be engaged in the current political scene but "engagement is different than backing a candidate when you don't think there's anybody out there."

When the liberal Sundance Kid publicly states that he doesn't think "there's anybody out there," he's blowing Hollywood air disses at Hillary, Obama, Edwards, and even E.T.'s bud Dennis Kucinich.


3. John Edwards Booed at Iowa Rock Concert

The artist formerly known as John "Cougar" Mellencamp recently performed at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

At one point during the performance, the rocker motioned to the side of the stage and up popped Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, who strolled to the center to meet Mellencamp.

When the crowd realized who the sleekly coifed sidekick was, they began booing.

Disregarding the boos, Edwards proceeded to give a short speech and then exited stage left.

Mellencamp mentioned that he "had a lot of fun with that guy [Edwards]."

Evidently, the crowd did too.


4. Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire for Crossing Picket Line

According to the Writers Guild, Ellen DeGeneres has more consideration for a dog than she does for her writers.

The comedian-talk-show host crossed picket lines and hosted her show, which has riled writers.

The WGA East issued a statement that said Ellen was "not welcome" in New York for her planned Thanksgiving week tapings in the Big Apple.

"We find it sad that Ellen spent an entire week crying and fighting for a dog that she gave away, yet she couldn't even stand by writers for more than one day," the Guild said in a written statement.

The group threatened that its members would "let Ellen know our dissatisfaction in person" if she tries to tape shows as planned in New York.

Late night hosts David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, and Conan O'Brien have all refused to work during the strike. But DeGeneres crossed picket lines and taped her show one day after the union went on strike.

Ellen announced on the show, "I want to say I love my writers. I love them. In honor of them today, I'm not going to do a monologue. I support them and hope that they get everything they're asking for."

She then claimed that she came to work because of her audience. "People have traveled across the country. They've made plans. They're here. I want to do everything I can to make your trip enjoyable and give you a show," Ellen said.

DeGeneres didn't mention that her contract required her to work despite a strike.


5. Can Politicians Settle the Hollywood Writers' Strike?

Maybe it's because if Los Angeles were a state it would be the fourth largest economy in the nation.

Or maybe it's because the entertainment business generates more than $30 billion annually.

Anyway, here they come, politicians to the rescue of the Hollywood writers' strike.

Former movie star and current California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former labor negotiator and current L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former president and current Hillary stumper Bill Clinton have all offered their services as mediators.

Even Jesse Jackson is here cheerleading the picketers and posing for the press.

The governor seems poised to jump in like an action hero; the mayor has already met with reps from both sides; rumors are rampant that Hillary would like Bill to take a trip to the left coast; and Jesse has the pompoms at the ready.

The problem is that the writers don't trust Arnold because he's been chummy with studio execs, the execs don't trust Villaraigosa because he used to work for unions, no one believes Clinton is going to leave the Hillary campaign when it's in trouble, and Jesse just continues to float from one activist photo-op to another.

One exec described the writers' decision to strike as having "declared war." The writers want a bigger share of DVDs and a piece of the Internet and cell phones. The studios say that the revenue from new technology is an unknown speculative projection, and therefore they can't lock in on a percentage.

A simple solution would be to give the writers a share when the revenue reaches a specified level. If both sides could conceptually agree, it would be the start of talks that could lead to a resolution, and thankfully, more to watch than reruns and reality shows.

Come to think of it, Hollywood really needs someone to settle the strike who's apolitical, able to communicate in monosyllables and is experienced in bringing emotionally charged sides together. Sounds like a job for Dr. Phil.

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