Political speeches dominated the Oscars on Sunday night with winners lining up to outdo each other as they spoke out against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel kicked things off when he fired several shots at Trump during his opening monologue.
But as the night progressed, actors, directors and designers quickly started dedicating their Academy Awards to ‘the immigrants’, spoke out against the Mexican wall and went as far as calling Trump’s immigration policy ‘inhumane’.
Hollywood’s United Talent Agency held an anti-President Trump rally instead of it’s usual pre-Oscars party Friday in Los Angeles, featuring Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Keegan-Michael Key and other celebs. More.
Reality check: The other thing that the increasingly politicized Awards culture features is declining public interest. See, for example, from Rick Kissell at Variety:
Oscars Ratings on ABC Down 6% Overall, But Up in Younger Viewers, Key Male Demos
Oscar Ratings: Chris Rock’s Return As Host Draws 34M Viewers In 8-Year Low
There are doubtless other reasons for decline but here is one likely correlation we can expect mavens not to notice: If celebs want to talk to and about themselves and their opinions, as opposed to listening to and interpreting those of their audience, they are in competition with all the other bores out there. It’s a tough market.
Matt Damon’s new film about The Great Wall and zombie-dragons is the perfect movie. And by “perfect,” I mean one that will make lots of money.
Once upon a time, a group of people gathered for the purpose of making the perfect movie. And by “perfect,” they meant one that would make them lots of money. They made an action movie, because those make the most money. They decided to pit the heroes against monsters so as not to offend anyone. They made it PG-13 to maximize profits. It also needed an A-list actor because movies with big names make lots of money. And finally, they set the movie in China because China is the second largest film market in the world.
I’ve written several pieces over the last year about the government controlled monopoly in the music industry. The big boys of music — the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) — have been spending millions to keep their power and their billions. They represent what can be called nothing other than “Big Music”. Big Music has been seeking to maintain control of their dynasty by controlling the politicians in power.
Most monopolies only exist by government sanctions, and Big Music is no different. It all comes down to legalese, fractional licensing, and consent decrees. This has been playing out in the courts overseen by the Obama Department of Justice. Big Music, like most of the world, assumed we’d be listening to music under Hillary Clinton “law and order” right now. They were stunned like every other liberal on the planet that the Trump Train has rolled into DC and set up shop for the next four years.
He goes on to ponder the short-sightedness of Big Music’s kingpins:
Wouldn’t it have been easier to just send a few musicians out to the inauguration? That would have scored a few points for their cause, but in the end, it shouldn’t matter about favors like that at all. The fact that they put their politics on full display only makes it easier for the new administration to do what is right by the law and in the best interest of the people. More.
Reality check: Essentially, like both US political parties, the kingpins got out of touch with their base, in this case, their customers. And then whose fault is it if the customers aren’t onside? To the extent that they don’t understand that the enemy is not Trump, but the internet, they won’t know how to climb back out.
From Anousha Sakoui and Yuji Nakamura at Bloomberg:
Sony CEO Heads to Hollywood in Push to Revive Movie Studio
The move to spend more time at the studio follows a tumultuous period of box office failures, a major cyberattack, the resignation of studio chief Michael Lynton this month and then a $1 billion writedown this week. By Thursday, Hirai will take a seat in his new office on the lot’s new Morita building – named after Sony co-founder Akio Morita. He will take on the mantle of co-CEO of Sony Entertainment and begin the search for a new leader at the business.
“It is all about finding the magic and making movies that excite people,” Barton Crockett, analyst with FBR & Co said in an interview. More.
Reality check: But do people think of Hollywood the way they used to? Isn’t Hollywood now mainly about itself? And you know what they say about people who talk about themselves a lot…
Yet when I ask people in Hollywood if they fear such a fate [as befell music and print], their response is generally one of defiance. Film executives are smart and nimble, but many also assert that what they do is so specialized that it can’t be compared to the sea changes in other disrupted media. “We’re different,” one producer recently told me. “No one can do what we do.”
That response, it’s worth recalling, is what many editors and record producers once said. And the numbers reinforce the logic. Movie-theater attendance is down to a 19-year low, with revenues hovering slightly above $10 billion—or about what Amazon’s, Facebook’s, or Apple’s stock might move in a single day. … Between 2007 and 2011, overall profits for the big-five movie studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Disney—fell by 40 percent. Studios now account for less than 10 percent of their parent companies’ profits. By 2020, according to some forecasts, that share will fall to around 5 percent. More.
Reality check: Essentially, Hollywood is as unnecessary today as the New York Times. That is why, even if the culture industry revolt destroys its nemesis Trump, it will not survive in its present form anyway. Perhaps, at some level, they all know that. Which makes them hate him more.
The stories we tell both reveal and shape our worldview. Often, the myths, legends, and fables we share cast a vision of how we would like the world to be, rather than how it actually is. Fairy tales, fantasies, adventure stories — all tend to portray a world in starker contrasts and greater simplicity. The good guys are wholly good. The bad guys are wholly evil. The right course is clear. Events fit a narrative structure. All problems resolve in the end.
Just days after President Donald Trump issued his executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, Hollywood en masse let him know exactly how they felt as they gathered for the 23rd annual SAG awards.
Several stars, including Ashton Kutcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Moonlight actor Mahershala Ali all used the night as a way to speak out and share their strong opinions about the President’s immigration ban.
If any celebrity is a profile in political courage these days, it sure isn’t Lena Dunham, Alec Baldwin or Lady Gaga. It’s Nicole Kidman.
Kidman, who allows that she isn’t particularly politics-minded (how refreshing), said matter-of-factly, “[Trump is] now elected and we, as a country, need to support whoever is the president,” in a BBC 2 interview posted Jan. 10. “That is what the country is based on. And however that happened, it happened, and let’s go.”
Beijing begins monitoring “irrational” investments in entertainment companies (even while Alibaba pledges $7.2 billion) as one deal falls apart and all eyes focus on Trump.
Chinese companies poured record amounts of capital into Hollywood in 2016 — a trend eagerly embraced by the U.S. film industry. Among the deals: Dalian Wanda Group acquired Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion and Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion; Alibaba made a major investment in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment; and Beijing-based Perfect World Pictures put $500 million into 50 films from Universal.
The late-aughts were disastrous for the movie industry, a disaster Hollywood was just starting to recover from when a shrill Meryl Streep came along Sunday night to lie about Donald Trump, and did so in front of the whole world at the Golden Globe Awards. Streep is now the Face of Hollywood, and many of those peer-pressured into applauding and defending her, did so with a sick feeling in their gut: Oh, no, not another decade of this crap.