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Documentary

National Enquirer Zig Zags to Whitney Houston Doc

The National Enquirer is certainly not alone in racing to put together a broadcast about the late Whitney Houston. For example, OWN has already announced a special two-hour block for Thursday, anchored around Oprah Winfrey‘s memorable September 2009 interview with the singer.

But the tone of the tabloid’s doc, the first product of a new multi-platform partnership between American Media and UK production house Zig Zag, is decidedly closer to the gutter. Per a report on realscreen.com:

The documentary promises to focus on details of the singer’s much-publicized battle with addiction and provide audiences with a “harrowing” account of her private life… The film is billed as featuring interviews with drug dealers and photos of the singer’s “drug den.”

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Daryl Hannah Cozies Up to Greedy Lying Bastards

First came the February 7 Hollywood Reporter article by Jay A. Fernandez. Followed today by a rip-roaring press release.

All that’s left are the have-fun-with-it headlines in connection with the news that actress Daryl Hannah is on board as executive producer of the upcoming documentary Greedy Lying Bastards. In production since 2009, the screed against the fossil fuels industry boasts a relatively large production budget of $1.5 million. From this morning’s announcement:

Author and political activist-turned filmmaker Craig Rosebraugh documents the impact of an industry that has continually put profits before people, waged a campaign of lies designed to thwart measures to combat climate change, used its clout to minimize infringing regulations and undermined the political process in the U.S. and abroad.

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Cacophony Society Film Screening a Dead Zone for Alternative Press

You may have never heard of the Cacophony Society, but chances are you’ve heard of events created by the group or its members, such as SantaCon, Burning Man, and the Urban Idiotarod. Chuck Palahniuk was a member, and the group’s antics provided the inspiration for Project Mayhem in his book Fight Club. The society, which was founded in California in the mid 1980s, had a profound cultural impact that went far beyond the local art scene – they still hold SantaCon every year in Tokyo, fer crissakes.

So when this fishie headed down to Santa Ana this past Saturday for the screening of Jon Alloway‘s new documentary film, Into The Zone: The Story of the Cacophony Society, and corresponding art exhibit, we expected to see the plenty of press covering the event. But no.

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Gasland Filmmaker Josh Fox Arrested by Capitol Hill Police

Academy Award-nominated Gasland documentarian Josh Fox was arrested Wednesday while attempting to cover a public congressional hearing on the controversial oil extraction process “fracking.” Fox was apparently not properly credentialed to cover the meeting and House Republicans ordered him arrested after he refused to stop filming the proceedings. Democracy Now has the transcripts of how it all went down.

H/T The eXiled

Showtime to Produce Dick Cheney Documentary

Showtime announced today that it has hired the Emmy-winning filmmaker of The War Room R.J. Cutler to make a documentary about George W. Bush‘s former puppeteer…er…vice president Dick Cheney.

“Like it or not, we live in a world defined by the domestic and international vision of Dick Cheney — perhaps the single-most influential non-Presidential figure in American political history,” says Cutler in the release. “But for all the debate that his re-emergence in the public eye has caused, the fact is that Cheney the man remains an enigma, and the manner in which he utilized his power and experience to become such a dominating political figure, have been left largely unexplored. This documentary will shine a balanced and multi-dimensional light on this truly polarizing figure.”

The film is set to be called The World According to Dick Cheney. No word yet on whether Cheney will participate in the film. Or whether he will allow filmmakers to capture his morning puppy, unicorn testicle and angel-wing juicing regimen that sustains his existence.

Documentary Series on OccupyLA Launches Online

Longtime LA Weekly journalist Sam Slovick partnered with TakePart and Slake to put out a five-part documentary series on OccupyLA called Scenes from the New Revolution. Part 1 is posted above.

Slovick covered the LA City Hall occupation for the two months before it was famously squashed by the LAPD last month. More info on Slovick’s project here.

Documentaries Now Need Newspaper Reviews for Oscar Eligibility

All you indie documentarians out there with Oscar dreams may want to start sending flowers to Kenneth Turan. Because new rules put forth by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will require documentaries to be reviewed by either the New York or LA Times to be eligible for Oscar consideration. The move is undoubtedly an effort to deal with the growing volume of documentaries that are coming out these days. This Fishie has a friend who screens films for a festival-that-shall-not-be-named who tells us the number of docs is out of control. And most are TERRIBLE.

The Academy would never likely have to sift though rubbish like our friend. But docs can be produced so cheaply these days, the number of good films screening each year is growing too. The Academy is obviously hoping for a little help with quality control. However, notes the NY Times, there are a few kinks to be worked out.

A draft of the proposed rule did not specify whether the review had to be included in a print edition, or might run only online. It also did not specify length, or distinguish between the sort of capsule review, which sometimes introduces festival films, and a more elaborate piece of criticism. Reviews by television critics were specifically ruled out.

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Joan Rivers Revisits Her Biggest Career Mistake

What more can be said about Johnny Carson that hasn’t already been said? According to Peter Jones, the PBS documentary producer who pursued the late night host for ten years before being curtly turned down, Carson himself certainly believed all had been aired.

Still, for Tonight Show connoisseurs, the upcoming May 14 “American Masters” series documentary on PBS promises a few new tidbits, most notably Joan Rivers revisiting her disastrous decision to not keep Carson properly in the loop about her discussions with FOX. Ray Richmond, the former Hollywood Reporter staffer now helping with Deadline.com’s TCA coverage, has the details from this morning’s Winter Session panel:

“Joan really speaks about that for the first time with us,” Jones said. “She admits that she probably shouldn’t have let Johnny find out about it second-hand. … Johnny never spoke with Joan again. She called him to discuss it with him and he hung up on her. The whole thing with Joan broke Johnny’s heart, it really did.”

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Doc Maker Got Directing Tips from Jerry Lewis

Seven years after profiling Phyllis Diller in Goodnight, We Love You, Gregg Barson is set to unveil his documentary look at another comedy legend. It was in fact while making that previous project that Barson first met Jerry Lewis.

Probably the biggest difference when it came to making Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, which premieres tomorrow night on Encore, was how involved his latest subject was in the filmmalking aspects of the assignment. Barson tells THR reporter Lesley Goldberg that the king of comedy was extremely “hands on:”

“There were points where I’d be shooting him and he’d say to get a shot from a different location,” Barson recalls. “”I thought, ‘Jerry Lewis is helping me direct and giving me pointers.” During the process, Lewis screened cuts of Method and offered notes on the craft, cutting, timing and pacing.

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LA Weekly Does a 2011 Retrospective… In Legos

Sometimes the traditional journalistic methods of reporting and photojournalism aren’t the right tools for the job. That’s where Legos come in.

Below, Lt. Pike pepper-spraying peaceful Occupy protestors at UC Davis.

Other local highlights of the Lego retrospective include Carmageddon, the death of Steve Jobs, and the Conrad Murray trial.

View the full slideshow on the LA Weekly website. All photos by L.J. Williamson.

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