Most members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) last week fired their agents because of the intrusion of finance into their business. Large agencies, some owned by finance companies and no longer partnerships, no longer appear to represent the writers they claim to represent, as the agents have interests on both sides of many deals.
The Association of Talent Agents (ATA) has responded to all these principals firing their agents with questionable logic:
For those of you who haven’t been following, the WGA (for which, until recently, my husband worked as a magazine editor) wants the talent agencies to sign a new code of conduct to ensure the agents do their jobs — getting their clients the best deals possible — and that’s it. No using clients as part of an overall package deal or working with affiliated production companies; too often, the WGA contends, these practices result in writers getting shafted.
The ATA says the agencies will not be signing any such code because the WGA is not the boss of them and writers actually benefit from packaging, which has been going on for years.
So the WGA instructed its members to fire their agents, which almost all of them have, and announced it is suing the four major talent agencies.
In response, the ATA accused the WGA of trying to throw Hollywood into “predetermined chaos” and instructed its members to keep a list of any writers trying to get work without using an agent because, according to ATA reps, this is illegal.
So just to recap: Writers are unhappy with how major talent agencies have been repping them. When confronted with this, the agents refused to make any changes, so the writers fired them. Now the agencies are saying the writers cannot do this because, according to them, writers are legally bound to be represented by people who they believe are shafting them.
Even by Hollywood standards, this is Absolutely Insane.
It's going to be interesting as lawyers and accountants start representing writers.
Note: I'm still going through photos from this weekend, so I'll have the official Park 29 and Park 30 postings up today or tomorrow.
Today actually had a lot of news, not all of which I've read yet:
And now, good night to February.
I've had a lot going on this week, including seeing an excellent production of Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago last night, so I haven't had time to read all of these articles:
And I shall begin reading these...soon. Maybe tomorrow. Sigh.
...is TV Tropes. Try to get out in less than five minutes. I dare you.
Late afternoon on Tuesday, with so much to do before the end of the week, I can only hope actually to read these articles that have passed through my inbox today:
And now for something completely different tonight: Improv and Arias. Which is why I wonder whether I'll actually get to read all of the articles I just posted about.
Jeet Heer, who usually writes about politics, today praised a movie that was horribly underrated when it came out 20 years ago this week:
The shifting critical fortunes of The Big Lebowski are legendary. Roger Ebert initially gave the movie a mixed review because of its ramshackle plot, which “rushes in all directions and never ends up anywhere.” In 2010, he upgraded The Big Lebowski to the status of a “great” movie. Denby also changed his mind, according to a recent Washington Post survey of critics who initially panned the movie. Others either haven’t revisited it or are still put off by it. Daphne Merkin, in her original New Yorker review, said the movie was “drenched in knowingness” and lacked a “narrative structure.” She likes the movie slightly more now, but not by much. “I think it is a quintessential insider movie, one that plays in this shrewd way to groupthink,” Merkin told the Post. “You’re either in on it, or you’re not in on it.” But even Merkin allowed that “the dude and his disconnected dudeness has a certain appeal now, maybe because the world has grown more horrendous or reality is less bearable than when the film was made.”
The Big Lebowski is a grower because the plot is less important than the characters. At the heart of the movie is the improbable friendship of the near-pacifist Dude and the violence-prone Walter. The zinging banter between the two characters is really a battle of philosophies. The Dude (one of the authors of the original Port Huron Statement, “not the compromised second draft”) embodies the spirit of the 1960s counterculture, weatherworn by the 1990s but still wily and subversive; Walter is a knee-jerk hawk, always escalating conflict, often with disastrous results. But to enjoy the movie you have to get to know the two characters and appreciate the nuances of their friendship, which is easier after multiple viewings. The dialogue also becomes richer, as you notice how the characters have distinctive lingos which the Dude, with his sponge mind, absorbs and echoes.
The Big Lebowski is a masterpiece of world-building, but to enjoy it you have to be willing to enter its world on its own terms. Few were willing to do that in 1998. But today, thanks in part to the Coen brothers’ oeuvre, it doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
What else can we say? The Dude abides.
Thirty-five years ago, this was the trailer for one of my favorite movies from childhood:
This is what it might look like today:
(h/t Deeply Trivial)
Watch the "Half in the Bag" review of Last Jedi:
Yesterday started with a performance on local television and ended with a three-hour rehearsal and midnight showing of Star Wars. I'd already planned to go into work late today, but Parker didn't eat dinner last night and he refused breakfast this morning, so I'm waiting to see if I can get him to the vet.
With that and other things up for grabs today, plus two more performances this weekend, posting might suffer a bit.
Carl Abbot, writing for CityLab, discusses Blade Runner's impact:
Blade Runner fused the images, using noir atmosphere to turn Future Los Angeles into something dark and threatening rather than bright and hopeful. Flames randomly burst from corporate ziggurats. Searchlights probe the dark sky. But little light reaches the streets where street merchants and food cart proprietors compete with sleazy bars—a setting that Blade Runner 2049 revisits. The dystopic versions of New York in Soylent Green and Escape from New York are set in a city crumbling from age and overuse. In contrast, Blade Runner uses the imagery of the future for similar stories of deeply embedded inequality.
When it comes down to it, of course, there’s more fun and schadenfreude in imagining trouble striking a big city than a small town. Terminator 2: Judgment Day would not be half so exciting if T-1000 chased Arnold Schwarzenegger along the banks of the puny Miami River in Dayton, Ohio, rather than the concrete arroyo of the Los Angeles River. In the 1980s, the fictional destruction of New York was old hat. Los Angeles was a relatively fresh target and, for the film industry, a logistically convenient one. Moviegoers were increasingly willing to disparage it, too.
Blade Runner was a catalyst for a dystopian decade that was accentuated by the rioting and violence that followed the April 1992 acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King. Moviegoers would soon get Falling Down, whose filming was interrupted by the Rodney King riots, Pulp Fiction, and Independence Day, with its total obliteration of the metropolis. In print in the early 1990s were Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Cynthia Kadohata’s In the Heart of the Valley of Love, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, all depicting a near-future Los Angeles fragmenting into enclaves and drifting toward chaos, capped by Mike Davis’s The Ecology of Fear.
I've got tickets to Blade Runner 2049 already. Can't wait.