Monday, June 22, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: Neda Agha-Soltan. Shot in the heart by an anonymous sniper, a punk following orders, philosophy student Neda Agha-Soltan has become the symbol for the yearning for freedom of the young in Iran.

RIP, Neda Agha-Soltan.

Out: The Two-Minute Commercial Break. The seachanges transforming the television landscape has unearthed a once culturally significant relic: the two-minute commercial. Most people nowadays take that opportunity to go to the bathroom or change the channel. The remote control and DVRs have collectively left the two-minute commercial break all but irrelevant. Curiously, it has taken this long considering how much money is involved. From TheWrap:

"The popularity of digital video recorders is making that 60-year-old TV ad standard -- the two-minute commercial break -- obsolete.

"Next season, network officials say TV viewers will start to see fewer traditional commercial breaks and an increase in innovative techniques such as shorter, more frequent ad stops, a heavier reliance on single sponsors and using actors from the shows in the commercials themselves.

"All are designed to better engage viewers who increasingly skip through the ad breaks using their DVR remotes.

"For the networks, the push to stop talking and really get creative comes amid a slow, recession-stalled 'upfront' selling season, the traditional spring-summer period during which they sell most of their commercial time.

"'We think it works on many levels for both the advertiser and the channel,' says Bill Abbott, the new head of the Hallmark Channel.

"His company has just introduced a commercial format called 'fast break.' Beginning June 23, viewers of Hallmark’s made-for-TV movies will be spared lengthy commercial breaks. Instead, they will be shown a number of single 30-second spots, all from one advertiser."

We will miss this and this, though.

(image via theguardian)

In: Sandra Bullock. Don't ask us to explain why Sandy Bullock -- and not, say, Radha Mitchell or Zoe Saldanna -- is America's enduring sweetheart. We suppose -- to paraphrase Woody Allen, who's film, incidentally, Bullock's beat -- "the heart wants what the heart wants." And shrewd timing. After weeks of bromance and animation and comedy, Americans -- in the thick of the Great Recession -- wanted a romantic comedy and, perhaps, a familiar face. The Observer:

"File this under: If you build it, they will come. The Proposal is the first star-driven romantic comedy to hit theaters since Ghosts of Girlfriends Past on May 1 and it clearly filled a major void in the summer marketplace; 71 percent of the audience classified themselves as 'couples.' For Ms. Bullock, in addition to being the biggest opening of her career, The Proposal marks the first time she’s seen one of her films top the box office since Forces of Nature turned the trick in the spring of 1999. At a time when A-list stars are watching their films fall by the wayside, watch Sandy rising!"

The Proposal marks Bulloch's return to the top of the US box office for the first time in 10 years. Bulloch also has an Executive Producer credit on the film. Bullock's victory notwithstanding, Hollywood still has problems investing in women.

Out: Steven Soderbergh. Is Steven Soderbergh getting too film-schooly? Idie-ish? Francis Ford Coppolesque? It is hard to imagine that a project to which he and Brad Pitt were attached could be zapped. Remember whan Steven and George and Julia were besties, A-Listers able to get whatever their heart's content through the studio system no matter what? From THR:

"Just days away from the start of shooting, Columbia has taken Steven Soderbergh's baseball drama 'Moneyball' starring Brad Pitt off the field.

"Pulling the plug this close to production is extremely rare for studios but sources said Columbia's co-chairman Amy Pascal wasn't comfortable with the script, which had changed considerably since the movie was greenlit.

"The decision, which was made Friday, mystified many since the pic was crewed up and scheduled to start shooting this week, with some wondering how issues with the script could give a studio cold feet so late in the game.

"Soderbergh wrote the screenplay -- the most recent version, drawing from Steven Zaillian's previous drafts, is barely a week old -- adapting Michael Lewis' nonfiction book about the Oakland Athletics and their GM Billy Beane, who assembled a contending ballclub despite a payroll much lower than most other teams.

"Pitt and comedian Demetri Martin were the major actors cast, with other roles to be played by actual baseball players. Soderbergh also shot interviews with real baseball figures, which were going to be interspersed between the narrative."

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