Friday, February 25, 2005

The Bittersweet Hollywood Ending

Indiewire's "On The Scene" reports on the mood in Hollywood, influenced by the rains, the various Awards and the ongoing corporate flux:

"With the recent heavy rains in SoCal, party planners have been keeping their eyes on the skies here in Los Angeles. Weather forecasters say that the blue skies that arrived overheard on Thursday will continue through Oscar night.

"While Spirit Awards nominees partied in Santa Monica on Thursday night, MGM and United Artists celebrated their Oscar and Spirit Award nominations with a party at popular LA restaurant Campanile. MGM vice chairman and COO Chris McGurk worked the room greeting well-wishers as guests noshed -- Thursday is grilled cheese night at the restaurant. It was a party with a bittersweet feeling. A consortium led by Sony is closing a deal for MGM and United Artists and once the deal is finalized both the studio and its specialty unit will face a huge shake-up that will see executives from the top down leaving.

"... Meanwhile over at the Pacific Design Center, ICM's Shaun Redick and others hosted the Indie Ball, toasting independent films and filmmakers. Numerous other parties are on tap, many catering to the Hollywood set. While indies are partying and honoring their own in Santa Monica by day, tomorrow night Miramax will toast its 25th anniversary at a Pacific Design Center party that will mark the end of Miramax as we know it, certainly for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Just as MGM's top brass are leaving their company, Miramax's Weinstein's are widely expected to leave Miramax soon to start a new venture. The brothers are said to be in final discussions with corporate parent Disney this week in Los Angeles. So Oscar weekend, with Scorsese's 'The Aviator' in the running, will be a true swan song for Miramax."

And with regards to the sheer amount of swag being given out, one wonders just what is "independent film" anymore (and, like, how can The Corsair get some of that loot?), Indiewire dutifully reports:

"... Back at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, Sundance-style gifting goes to the beach with On 3 Productions again creating swag bags for Spirit Awards attendees. While all 1,400 attendees will take home a collection that includes booze, sweets, Kiehl's products, a 3-month Netflix certificate, and more, the real swag is available only for the big names. A special gift lounge backstage will offer an array of clothing, a Loews Cineplex annual pass, a lifetime membership to Netflix, Ray-Bans, electronics, and much, much, much more, according to a press release."

Of the swag The Wisconsin State Journal writes:

"A huge, perverse industry has sprung up that's dedicated to giving complimentary goods to those who can most afford them: celebrities.

"Remember that 'Saturday Night Live' sketch years ago in which Eddie Murphy disguises himself as a white man and people start approaching him offering money and free stuff?

"It's like that, but celebrities are the designated honkies."

Also regarding the awards, talk of "Big Money" and "David versus Goliath" scenarios will abound, as independent film undergoes some self examination. Indiewire also asks the interesting question, at the end of their article, whether the $7,000 filmmaker get the same swag bag as, say, Samuel L. Jackson, or Quentin Tarantino? Are there gradations of swag? At the Independent Spirits, of all places? They promise to give us the lowdown.

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