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Posts Tagged ‘George Lucas’

George Lucas, Jon Meacham and the Usual Suspects

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The media movers and shakers are starting to trickle back into the dining room at Michael’s for another year of power lunches, but the place isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders quite yet. Maybe it’s because the Golden Globes are this weekend (we are so rooting for Downton Abbey to sweep!), but the famous faces and TV titans we’ve become used to seeing were largely absent this week. Luckily, a sighting of Oscar winner and master of the Hollywood universe, George Lucas, more than made up for the dearth of divas. Practically every head in the dining room swiveled in that general direction when he walked to Table One. The force was definitely with him.

I was joined today by Tom Yellin, co-founder and executive producer of The Documentary Group, and Lisa Kovitz, executive vice president and media strategist for consumer marketing at Edelman. Tom, who previously worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings and still consults for the network, has produced a fascinating four-part documentary series, America in Primetime, which aired on PBS late last year and is just out on DVD.

Diane Clehane, Tom Yellin and Lisa Kovitz
Diane Clehane, Tom Yellin and Lisa Kovitz

Each one-hour episode, explained Tom, focused on one character archetype that has remained a prime time staple throughout the decades and has evolved over time. They are ‘The Independent Woman,’ ‘The Man of the House,’ ‘The Misfit’ and ‘The Crusader.’ The idea first came to Tom after he and Jennings had finished the much lauded The Century for ABC, and he became intrigued by the idea of “telling the story of television: the creative process from the perspective of the people who make it.” Tom soon discovered that the problems that arose from trying to produce such a series for ABC and getting the necessary clips from the other networks proved insurmountable.

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George Lucas’ Red Tails Travails Highlight Hollywood’s Racism

The film studios have so little interest in all-black films that even Hollywood royalty like George Lucas struggled to find a distributor for his latest work, Red Tails. Lucas didn’t mince any words when explaining to Daily Show host Jon Stewart the source of the problem:

It’s because it’s an all-black movie. There’s no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.

Lucas spent 23 years making the film, which is based on the true story of a crew of African American pilots who fought in World War II and helped start the civil rights movement. “I financed it myself. I figured I could get the prints and ads paid for by the studios and that they would release it,” he explained to Stewart. “And I showed it to all of them, and they said, ‘Noooo. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.’ It’s not green enough.” And by green, Lucas means profitable.

These are the same yahoos who brought us Mars Need Moms, a film that lost over $100 million. A whackadoodle story about motherless space aliens strikes these dunderheads as a better investment than a classic tale about real American heroes. Because they happen to be black.

Get it together, Hollywood.

View the full Lucas/Stewart interview after the jump.

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UK Video Game Journos Recall Their Favorite West Coast Junkets

Nothing like an anonymous survey of British video game journalists to highlight how the industry has greased palms on the way to overtaking Hollywood’s movie industry.

Lucy Carter of MCV magazine solicited responses from more than four dozen leading industry chroniclers. FishbowlLA’s favorite question, “What’s the best ‘jolly’ you’ve ever been on?”, revealed helicopter flights down into the bowels of the Grand Canyon and above Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Brentwood compound, requisite stints at the Playboy Mansion, and this golden itinerary:

“My trip to Los Angeles in the run-up to Modern Warfare 2’s launch in 2009 still stands out as my favorite… Having Activision splash the cash on VIP tickets to Universal Studios and dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in town is an experience I’ll never forget. After all, you’ve not been on the Jurassic Park ride until you’ve been on it with Jon Blyth and half of Zoo magazine.”

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LA Startup Not Waiting for Superman

There’s a very informative interview today over at SoCalTech.com with CauseCast.com head honcho Ryan Scott. The Culver City firm, nurtured in 2008 by Arianna Huffington (who remains on the Advisory Board), is mainly about helping non-profits master the web and create online pathways at pinnacle media-attention moments.

FishbowlLA had no idea that CauseCast’s co-branded blogger ranks had passed the 1,000-person threshold. Thanks to contributors like George Lucas and Bill Gates, the site gets over a million uniques per month. Scott shares a great example of how the company was able to help extend the underlying mission statement of Davis Guggenheim‘s most recent documentary:

We launched an education section–partially in response to the Changing The Equation effort by the White House, but also because of the Waiting for Superman movie, which catalyzed a lot of the current talk about reforming education. We launched that section with Paramount, with the movie ad as the lead sponsor. It’s doing very well.

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Atlas Shrugs Off Bad Reviews, Does Boffo Merchandising BO

Much gets written about motion picture merchandising deals, ever since a guy named George Lucas showed how profitable that end of the business could be. Today, in an article about the surprisingly strong first-weekend box office average of Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, veteran Hollywood Reporter staffer Paul Bond also reveals some interesting tchotchke info.

Apparently, the marquee item at the movie’s e-commerce store, a $159 bracelet like the one worn by Taylor Schilling‘s heroine Dagny Taggart (pictured), is already on back-order. Producer John Aglialoro says merchandise has been flying off the shelves to six continents. Just imagine if the producers were not limited in their facsimile activities:

When Aglialoro obtained rights to the movie almost 19 years ago, he also got rights to sell such items as T-shirts, mugs, posters, and even jewelry, though not dolls, video games, and other “interesting exceptions.”

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DGA Attendees: Irvin Kershner WAS Yoda

Via a January 13th entry on the LA Times blog “Hero Complex,” filmmaker Peter Briggs shares snippets from a special celebration of the late director Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), held Tuesday night at the Directors Guild of America. The event was hosted by Kershner family members and featured the quiet attendance of both George Lucas and Empire screenwriter Lawrance Kasdan.

What’s most intriguing about the article is how many people who worked with Kershner remarked on his resemblance, nay inspiration-for, a certain Star Wars character. Among those making the case Tuesday night was actor Billy Dee Williams.

When pressed for anecdotes of Kershner, his abiding memory was that Kersh was “impish and mischievous.” Then he added that, really, Kersh was Yoda. That seemed to be a recurring theme for the evening.

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Hans Zimmer Remembers Ronni Chasen

Of all the people sharing fond remembrances of murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, perhaps none was closer to her from a client point of view than German born composer Hans Zimmer.

Shortly after his big Hollywood break in 1988 with Rain Man, which earned him his first of seven Academy Award nominations, the one-time Buggles band member hooked up with Chasen on Driving Miss Daisy the following year. From his twin contributions to back-to-back Best Picture winners, it was off to the races for Zimmer with The Lion King, Gladiator, Inception and much more. Through it all, Chasen was at his side.

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Jon Stewart Interviews George Lucas

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George Lucas was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. Watch for the Jar Jar Binks quip and the short joke. What nerds.

And interestingly enough, the book Lucas is hocking, Blockbusting, much like his better films, he didn’t actually write.

MySpace Starters Get Awards — They’re Just Kids

myspacephoto1.jpgmyspacephoto2.jpgMySpace CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe and president and co-founder Tom Anderson are not only phenomenally rich after their lucrative sale of the kid-friendly site to News Corp. three years ago, now they’re scooping up awards starting with the Producers Guild of America Vanguard prize.

They join YouTube Founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen as 20-something recipients of the accolade. On the slightly more elderly side of the coin, director/producer George Lucas and director James Cameron also took the Vanguard.

The Vanguard, which recognizes achievements in new media and technology, will be presented at the Producers Guild Awards ceremonies Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Palladium.

“Tom and Chris created a lifestyle portal that redefines the Internet for people around the world,” said awards co-chairs David T. Friendly and Laurence Mark. “Their vision resulted in an environment where society interacts at a whole new level.”

DeWolfe and Anderson created MySpace in 2003 and sold it two years later to News Corp. for $770 million.

Kid-friendly (?) News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is having the last laugh. The company is now worth well over $1 billion and climbing.

Carrie Fisher is Freaking Funny

carriefisher.jpgThe Daily Mail is running an excerpt of Carrie Fisher‘s latest book “Wishful Drinking”.

The excerpt is titled, “Dad ran off with Liz Taylor, Cary Grant lectured me about drugs, George Lucas ruined my life: The extraordinary autobiography of CARRIE FISHER”

Remember the white dress I wore all through that film? George came up to me the first day of filming, took one look at the dress and said: ‘You can’t wear a bra under that dress.’

‘OK, I’ll bite,’ I said. ‘Why?’ And he said: ‘Because … there’s no underwear in space.’

He said it with such conviction. Like he had been to space and looked around and he didn’t see any bras or panties anywhere.

He explained. ‘You go into space and you become weightless. Then your body expands but your bra doesn’t, so you get strangled by your own underwear.’

The whole book published by Simon & Schuster comes out on December 1st.

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