Franco a Fiasco for the Oscars?

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Hollywood is a land of contradictions.

In the aftermath of the sexual impropriety scandal that has engulfed the entertainment capital, the Golden Globes Awards ceremony found itself immersed in the aftereffects of the #MeToo movement, with themes that took the form of black fashion dominating the designer palette, professional presentations being replaced with surreal sanctimony, and a former daytime TV queen toying with a future presidential run.

The sudden explosion of sexual harassment allegations has resulted in a string of unexpected consequences for the entertainment business, including the unceremoniously exiling from the Academy of former Oscar master Harvey Weinstein and the digitally redacting of actor Kevin Spacey from an Oscar hopeful film “All the Money in the World.”

It is expected that the Oscars telecast will follow the lead of the other awards shows and make Hollywood’s sex scandals a frazzled thread woven throughout the proceedings.

Of concern for the Academy, though, is something involving actor James Franco, who in taking home a Globe award managed to increase the awards season buzz for his chances of also snagging an Oscar. Franco additionally won the Best Actor award at the Critics’ Choice Awards, boosting his inflated profile even further.

Franco is scheduled to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards (prior to the Academy Awards) on Jan. 21, where he is nominated for lead actor.

The Hollywood star has been viewed as an actual contender, not only for a nomination for an Academy Award for his work in “The Disaster Artist,” but also as a top tier candidate for a Best Actor trophy at the Oscar telecast.

Critics are raving about Franco’s portrayal of the real-life director of “The Room,” which is said by critics and fans to be the worst film ever made.

The particular predicament for the Academy, at this extraordinary time in Hollywood history, are some allegations that have been raised against Franco concerning sexually inappropriate behavior. Five women have accused him of inappropriate or sexually exploitative conduct, according to an investigation by The Los Angeles Times.

Franco may regret his decision at the Golden Globe ceremony to wear a pin that supported Time’s Up, the initiative recently formed by 300 women in the entertainment industry with the ostensible purpose of combating workplace sexual harassment. The sight of Franco’s donning of the pin during the Globe telecast prompted several women to call out the actor via their Twitter accounts.

Two of the women cited by the L.A. Times sent out tweets, as did actress Ally Sheedy, who posted the following: “James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/tv business.”

The actress had appeared in the “The Long Shrift,” a 2014 off-Broadway production that Franco directed. Sheedy subsequently deleted the tweet.

Franco has denied the allegations. Whether or not he receives a nomination will be decided by the actors’ branch of the Academy, which is the largest group of voters, with over 1,200 members.

Nominations are scheduled to be announced on Jan. 23, and Franco will be facing some stiff competition from other heralded A-list actors, including Gary Oldman for “The Darkest Hour,” Denzel Washington for “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” Timothee Chalamet for “Call me By Your Name,” Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread,” and Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out.”

There was a great deal of consternation when another actor, Casey Affleck, took the Academy Award for Best Actor last year for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea,” despite the fact that he had two sexual harassment suits that he settled out of court.

But that was long before the Weinstein story broke and changed Hollywood forever.

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Hollywood Picks ‘Man Show’ Kimmel to Host Post-Weinstein Oscars

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It is difficult to decipher what exactly is driving some of Hollywood’s questionable decisions of late.

On the heels of the entertainment industry’s choice of Anita Hill as sexual harassment czar, the announcement that former co-host of “The Man Show” and current late-night political pawn Jimmy Kimmel will once again take the Oscar stage as host of the show.

This will be Kimmel’s second consecutive year as emcee, despite the fact that the results of his last go-round were anything but stellar. The telecast scored low ratings, and there was the infamous gaffe in which “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as the winner for Best Picture, when in fact “Moonlight” was the movie that had taken the top spot.

It could be that Kimmel’s recent hyper-political correctness caught the attention of the Academy, particularly when he jettisoned comedy to do opinion pieces on controversial political topics, including health care and gun control. He purposely used his show to lobby against the effort of the Republican Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he received the gratitude of many on the left for helping to thwart the legislation.

CNN went so far as to declare that Kimmel was “America’s conscience.” Oddly, though, the would-be moral authority has been largely silent about the Weinstein scandal and its many offshoots.

There is a good reason for Kimmel’s reluctance to speak. Before he became the darling of the left, Kimmel and fellow comic Adam Carolla created and co-hosted “The Man Show,” a highly sexualized program, which aired on Comedy Central from 1999 until 2003.

Frequently engaging in the objectification of women and showcasing some racially-charged sketches, in a segment from one of the programs Kimmel approached women on the street and asked them to guess what he had inside his pants.

“I’ve stuffed something in my pants, and you’re allowed to feel around on the outside of the pants. You’ll have 10 seconds to then guess what is in my pants,” he said to a woman, adding that she “should use two hands.”

Kimmel later asked another female participant to “put her mouth on it,” and he made sure that another woman was at least 18 years old because “Uncle Jimmy doesn’t need to do time.”

When one of his contestants was touching him in a more aggressive manner, he told her that she was “gonna make a fine wife.”

At the end of the skit, Kimmel revealed that what he had stuffed in his pants was a zucchini with a rubber band on it.

Other crude segments featured on “The Man Show” included a faux commercial for “Bosom Springs,” a fictitious company that provided water for wet T-shirts, and a “Juggy Talent Show” in which women in sparse swimwear attire would demonstrate their implicitly sexual “talents.”

In other shows, Kimmel can be seen asking individuals he encounters on the street if they would show their underwear and enlisting advice from porn stars on domestic chores.

For the first decade or so of his ABC late-night gig, Kimmel stayed away from controversial topics and became well known for his comedic fare, including pulling practical jokes on Hollywood stars or having celebrities read mean tweets about themselves.

A politically charged Kimmel emerged in early 2017, when, after being fed Democrat talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, began attacking GOP legislative proposals. He also politicized the deadly Las Vegas shooting to launch into a gun control rant.

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, noticed Kimmel’s departure from comedy and excursion into activism.

“That show is to entertain,” Iger told The New York Times.

Then the Hollywood executive said something that Kimmel would be wise to pay attention to as he readies himself for the upcoming Oscar hosting gig.

Iger advised, “I think he should be careful.”

Box Office Down Again in 2017

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As 2017 draws to a close, the entertainment industry is discovering it has to deal with the reality that this year turns out to be the worst ever for the Hollywood brand.

The sex scandals surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other major Hollywood players certainly did not help matters. Neither did the vitriolic politics that routinely spewed from left-wing celebrities’ mouths and wound up alienating folks from coast to coast.

This year the movie box office, once the primary gauge of the entertainment business, suffered yet another decline. Despite the fact that over the last twenty years or so gross box-office revenues saw an increase, for the last decade and a half actual ticket sales have consistently taken a dive.

The final 2017 tally for the North American box office appears as if it will be in the range of 2 to 4 percent less than the previous year, somewhere slightly above $11.1 billion.

It is only the third year that the domestic box office has ever made it over the $11 billion level; however, the number of tickets sold turns out to be the lowest amount since 1995.

Basically, a smaller audience is paying a higher price to see movies at the multiplex, and although the price increase is somewhat tied to inflation, it is a combination of factors that is responsible for a shrinking theater-going audience.

Big studios have been relying on existing franchises, and the creation of new ones, to fill the seats. However, the annual revenue performance was down, in part because of some underperforming sequels and remakes.

Additionally, some of the old film franchises are beginning to fade, as seen in the following examples:

— “Alien: Covenant,” Ridley Scott’s installment in the “Alien” series, came in far below expectations.

–“Transformers: The Last Knight” produced the lowest revenue of the franchise so far.

— The attempt to create a DC version of Marvel’s “Avengers” with “Justice League” essentially fizzled.

— Universal released “The Mummy” in order to launch a new “Dark Universe” franchise, but it was dead on arrival.

— “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” “Valerian,” and “The Dark Tower” were all produced and released with the hopes that they would each result in a stream of sequel progenies, but the hopes failed to materialize.

The sequels that fared well created new variations on the super-hero theme. “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” yet another in a series of reboots in the franchise, used a high school setting to insert universal teen angst into the storyline. Similarly, “Thor: Ragnarok” surprised fans of the god of thunder, involving him in a comedic romp.

The horror and comedy genres still have the power to pack the traditional movie setting, thanks to a reliance on the shared audience experience. Unfortunately, the current comedy formula of potty humor laced with profanity produced a series of bombs in “Baywatch,” “The House,” and “ChiPs.”

On the other hand, it is a safe bet that Hollywood will release more films in the horror genre. “It” was a blockbuster, and the box office successes of “Split,” “Get Out,” and “Annabelle: Creation” produced large profit margins due to relatively inexpensive production costs.

Just prior to the start of the summer season, studio heads were taking heart in the early releases that did do well, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fate of The Furious.” In June, the singular DC success “Wonder Woman” ended up scoring well enough at the box office to create a valuable new franchise.

Still, by summer’s end it was clear that the movie business would have to overcome a season splattered with non-performing releases. The summer of 2017 produced the lowest box-office totals in a quarter of a century, placing studio executives under a deep dark cloud.

It was clear that executives were in a box-office hole as a result of the disappointing performances of installments that were previously proven franchises, including “The Mummy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

There was, however, a pleasant summer surprise that arrived in the form of “Dunkirk,” a World War II epic and one of the best films of the year. Director Christopher Nolan demonstrated how one can create a film experience that is exquisitely dependent on theater attendance. He used IMAX cameras in the filming of the movie and promoted the need for filmgoers to view the movie on wide screens as opposed to streaming it on a device.

Hollywood insiders were waiting for the anticipated galactic revenue flow from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” to rescue the year, but here, too, the numbers did not hit the high mark.

No doubt Hollywood’s image has taken a beating in fly-over country and beyond, due to the sexual harassment and assault allegations, outrageous celebrity political posturing, late-night’s unfunny agenda-ridden routines, and the like.

Perhaps the movie business, like the NFL, is simply reaping what it sows.

Hollywood Unravels

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Hollywood is experiencing a seismic displacement that is impacting its business, brand, and future prospects.

Since the disgusting serial behavior of Harvey Weinstein was made known to the public courtesy of the tenacious reporting of journalist Ronan Farrow, some of the most powerful members of the Hollywood community have been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to criminal sexual assault.

The alleged perpetrators comprise a list of some of the biggest and most heralded names in Hollywood, including Ben Affleck (actor and Oscar winning director), Dustin Hoffman (Oscar winning actor), Kevin Spacey (Oscar winning actor), Jeremy Piven (Emmy winning television actor), James Toback (director and Oscar nominated screenwriter), and David O. Russell (Oscar nominated director).

For decades the Hollywood community has in large part ignored and even condoned the contemptible behavior of Roman Polanski (Oscar winning director) and Woody Allen (four-time Oscar winner).

New revelations related to Hollywood’s unseemly side seem to be pouring in by the hour. Now accusations against Spacey are opening up yet another horrific illegality that has been the subject of rumors in the town for years, the unspeakable crime of pedophilia.

Never before has a scandal this dark and pervasive draped the Hollywood community with such ill-repute. And never before has the Hollywood brand been sullied as badly as it has been during this past year.

Adding to the crushing weight of it all is the fact that the entertainment business is suffering damages in a dollar amount that is still impossible to calculate. Many of those who are currently accused of misconduct have potentially profitable current and future projects that have been cancelled or put on hold.

Some of the accused have careers that are, at a minimum, severely impaired. For others it is most certainly over.

As viewers of entertainment industry award shows are able to attest, Hollywood has set itself up as an agenda driven purveyor of cultural norms. Many entertainment figures are infamous for talking down what they view as “fly-over” country.

Middle America is the place that so-called progressives on the Left Coast use to bolster one another’s views with unfounded smug certainty. Even as Hollywood pitches its out-of-the-mainstream worldview, a twisted form of narcissism, self-idolatry, still rules the roost and blinding hypocrisy reigns. This is particularly evident when it comes to the outward display of self-congratulation via the award ceremony industry.

Movies about Hollywood itself seem to be the recipients of a disproportionate degree of attention, e.g., “The Artist,” “La La Land,” “Argo” and “Trumbo.”

The Left Coast is also in the ugly habit of deriding those who promote government reduction, self-defense rights, border enforcement, and the like. Judeo-Christian faith expression serves as fodder for snide comedic skits and perverse story plotlines. Intact marriages and loving families are the stuff of ridicule. And patriotism has been recast as divisive, outmoded, and worse.

There is a consequence to embracing a worldview that is devoid of time-honored values. What we have now in Hollywood is a frayed fabric that continues to unravel with no apparent way of mending.