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Burn, Tinseltown, Burn!: Translating Today’s ‘Hollywood Reporter’ Story on the Coming Labor Unrest

Beware! This is just the prelude.Photo: Getty Images

Will the coming labor difficulties in Hollywood — including potential strikes by the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Directors Guild — result in the rushed green-lighting of not-ready-for-the-screen pieces of shit? Let’s read the tea leaves in today’s Hollywood Reporter story, “Warning: Picture Quality Could Be Compromised.”

HR says: “The critical thing is whether anybody has loosened their standards about what they are making,” a top studio boss warned. “For those for whom panic has set in, it could be bad.”

Translation: “My studio has already loosened its standards. We just green-lit a picture based on someone yelling ‘meat loaf again?’ in the studio commissary. All of a sudden I’ve got to get Meat Loaf, Again, a family time-travel comedy starring ‘Meat Loaf’ Aday and Gretchen Mol, in the can by June.”

HR says: “You can feel the stress,” a top production exec confided. “The agents are feeling it, the studios are feeling it and the actors are feeling it.”

Translation: “Sorry, did I say the agents were ‘feeling it’? I meant ‘feeding it.’ Freaking Ari Emanuel texts me ten times a day all, ‘Hey buddy, got your Christmas tentpole yet?’”

HR says: “I don’t care if you’re talking about Jim Carrey or Tom Hanks or anybody else, there are a finite number of (acting) slots and a finite number of people you want in these slots,” a studio chief said. “And all the agents in town are playing that game.”

Translation: “That’s why Jim Carrey is currently signed up for eight dozen movies.”

HR says: As for any danger in overpaying to cast movies, he added: “It’s a picture-by-picture value decision, whether to pay for top talent. If you believe that they are key to the potential success of the film from a creative or marketing point of view, then you probably have to pay what it will take to get them.”

Translation: “I just heard New Line gave that guy from Police Academy who does the sound effects with his mouth $6 million.”

HR says: Of course, the worst possible mistake for studios would be greenlighting a film before a strike but failing to wrap the shoot before a walkout occurs.

Translation: Of course, this will happen a dozen hilarious times.

HR says: “You really have to have the discipline,” said Chris McGurk, the former high-ranking MGM and Universal exec now CEO of Overture Films at Liberty Media/Starz. “You have to step back and not do anything differently because of a pending strike. When you try to force something or rush something, it really can lead to sub-optimum conditions. You have to approach things just as if you did not have the specter of a strike hanging over you.”

Translation: “I, Chris McGurk, have that discipline, and that’s why I’m now the CEO of Overture Films at Liberty Media/Starz!”

HR says: “And rushing the casting process is never a good thing,” McGurk added. “Overall, accelerating production (because of strike features) just leads to a much higher level of execution risk.”

Translation: “In the winter of 2008, the movies will be so bad they might give you cancer.”

Warning: Picture Quality Could Be Compromised [HR]

Burn, Tinseltown, Burn!: Translating Today’s ‘Hollywood Reporter’ Story on the Coming Labor Unrest