Your Ad Here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Television 'Running Circles' Around Movies, Newsweek Says

In the current issue of Newsweek, Senior Editor Devin Gordon writes that there is a new "golden age of television" right now that is running circles around Hollywood.

"For decades, if film was the Four Seasons, TV was a Motel 6," he writes. "You worked in television for the money, or to reboot your career, or just to hang on. Now actors like Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Salma Hayek go from hit movies to network-TV gigs, and no one thinks they're nuts."

Gordon writes that the difference now with this age is TV is challenging movies on their own turf -- narratively and visually -- and winning.

"The best shows tell their stories slowly, carefully and withexquisite detail, putting viewers inside the experience of another person with unparalleled intimacy. This is the grand achievement of 'The Sopranos,' and it's why the show's final season, which begins on April 8, is a safe bet to be the cultural happening of the year," Gordon writes inthe February 26 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, February 19).

Others weighed in on the debate:

* Actor Denis Leary tells Newsweek that it was an episode in the first season of "The Sopranos" that changed his notions about what television could be. It was the episode where Tony Soprano is driving Meadow to visit colleges and he runs into a snitch along the way and ends up brutally strangling him to death with a coil of wire.

"I remember watching that and thinking, 'Oh, my God ... '," Leary says. "I don't think I blinked that entire episode. The show ended at 10 o'clock, and at 10:05 the phone in my apartment started ringing off the hook. That's when I thought, 'If they can do this, you can do anything in this format'."

* Megamovie producer Brian Grazer, an Oscar winner for "A Beautiful Mind" whose company, Imagine Entertainment, also co-owns "24," says the economics of the movie business have created a climate of "paranoia" in Hollywood.

The average film budget, according to the latest Nielsen figures, is about $60 million, with an additional $36 million in marketing costs. That means the typical Hollywood film is a $100 million bet-with the money paid upfront, before anyone sees a penny in return. That kind of environment has a stultifying effect on artists. "They begin to worry that their movie will never get made, that they'll never hear 'yes' again," Grazer says, "so they end up being much more accommodating to an executive's opinions."

* Carlton Cuse, an executive producer on ABC's "Lost," says in television "the writer is king. We're at the top of the food chain." In the film world, the director is in charge, or the star. "It's almost impossible to write a movie with a big star and not have that person put his or her thumbprint on top of it," Cuse says.

* Last year, when Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana shared a screenwriting Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain," McMurtry thanked his typewriter. During an interview, he grumbles while Ossana sings the praises of modern TV.

"It's not a question of quality," McMurtry responds. "It just means the prestige is still with film, and I suspect it always will be. Put it this way: I'd rather have an Oscar than an Emmy."

* "The movie business is still caught up in how it's always been done," says Todd Wagner, co-president of 2929 Entertainment ("Good Night, and Good Luck"), which has been leaning on studios to release films on several platforms-in theaters, online and on DVD-at once. "Film is still built around a business model where they're trying to get as many people as possible to see something on the very first weekend, at very select locations, for months before it's available any other way. Television isn't doing that. The realization they've come to is, why wouldn't you put it out there?"

* Hollywood is determined to protect the "specialness" of movies, Gordon writes, and if you can get them any time, anywhere, how special can they be? "There's always going to be that excitement where you think, 'Oh, I made a movie! And it's gonna be at a theater! And people will be eating popcorn!'" says Tina Fey, who wrote the 2004 hit "Mean Girls" and created the NBC sitcom "30 Rock." "It's just different."

* "The people working in television right now are the Shakespeares of the medium," says Ira Glass, host of the public-radio program "This American Life," which has been turned into a jewel of a TV series on Showtime and will start airing on March 22. "That's probably a pretentious thing to say, but I also think it's true. It's true in the same way that Leonard Bernstein was figuring out what you could do with a Broadway show when he wrote 'West Side Story,' or in music when Sinatra recorded his Capitol albums."

Bookmark and drop back in sometime.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home