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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘hollywood’

Film Producer Steve Tisch to Chair Film Festival in Israel

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Steve Tisch, one of the most successful producers in the motion picture industry, will chair the 16th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival at Tel Aviv University May 31-June 7, 2014.

Tisch is a partner at Escape Artists Productions and chairman of the New York Giants is the only person with both an Academy Award and a Super Bowl ring.

Tisch helped launch Tom Cruise’s career with the sleeper hit” Risky Business,” and his credits with Escape Artists include The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, Seven Pounds, Knowing, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Back-Up Plan, and Hope Springs.

He has been involved with the Giants since his father, Preston Robert Tisch, purchased 50 percent of the franchise in 1991. Tisch helped win the successful bid to bring Super Bowl XLVIII to MetLife Stadium in February.

“Our students will have the privilege of learning from Mr. Tisch, a role model of accomplishment and an internationally recognized figure in the film industry,” said Prof. Joseph Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University.

The Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival is the largest in the world and this year will begin as an annual instead of a bi-annual event.

Produced by more than 100 student volunteers, it showcases promising young directors from over 40 countries.

Golden Globes’ Jewish Winners (Video)

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Among the crop of victors at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards were a noteworthy bunch of Jewish Hollywood types.

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture went to Spike Jonze (born Adam Spiegel) for “Her.”

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie is Michael Douglas, who played Liberace in “Behind the Candelabra.”

Possibly the most controversial of the bunch is Woody Allen, who would have taken home the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement if he had shown up. Diane Keaton accepted on his behalf, and Mia and Ronan Farrow dissed him on Twitter.

Andy Samberg scored twice, winning Best Actor in a TV series, Comedy for his role on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which was named Best TV Series, Comedy. If you missed his adorable acceptance speech, check it out here. It was one of the evening’s highlights.

‘Rain on Entebbe’ Producer Daniel Blatt Dies at Age 76 in LA

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Daniel Blatt, who produced “Raid on Entebbe” as well as a cult horror film and an epic science fiction movie, has died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Blatt was born in Rockland County, New York and practiced law after he earned his law degree, but he later switched to Hollywood, where he eventually was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-producing the “Raid on Entebbe” film that was aired on NBC in 1976.

He also produced the cult horror film ”The Howling” and the sci-fi mini-series “V: The Final Battle.”

In an interview with Luke Ford several years ago, Blatt revealed that his favorite work was Entebbe because “it represented the Jews reacting to victimhood in a positive way.

“I grew up in a very Jewish house,” he said. “Then after I was Bar Mitvahed, I said ‘enough of this’ and I moved away from it. And then suddenly to be brought back into this thing was almost like a gift, a circle that I’d completed…. It was coming back to my roots.”

His parents had fled the Nazis in 1934 after his father, a doctor at a Jewish hospital, noticed regulations for Jewish doctors after the Nazis took over the medical facility.

He told the interviewer, “I grew up in a household where persecution of the Jews was drilled into my soul overtly and inovertly.”

Asked if he started observing the Sabbath, Blatt replied, “Let’s not go that far,” but he said he visited Israel “a couple of times.”

He also produced “Common Ground,” about desegregation in Boston in the 1970s,  “Kissinger and Nixon,” I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977) and “The Boost.”

Blatt produced episodes of the CBS crime drama The New Mike Hammer and concluded his film career this year with the Lifetime telefilm “Twist of Faith.”

The Stars Keep Falling on Israel

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Efforts to bring Hollywood stars to Israel have extended to include Latin America, with a delegation of TV personalities and news executives arriving Monday from Central and South America as well as from the United States for a week-long visit.

The trip was announced by America’s Voices in Israel (AVI), part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and is partly sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, David InterContinental Hotel, Inbal Jerusalem Hotel and El Al Israel Airlines.

The latest visitors will tour Israel’s burgeoning hi-tech and medical industries and listen to briefings with the IDF, Israeli diplomats and Knesset Members.

Among the personalities in the Latin-American delegation are superstar Mexican actress and comedienne Angelica Vale, best-selling author Teresa Rodriguez, who also is the first woman to anchor a national newscast in the United States, and media and [political strategist Alida Garcia, who orchestrated a large turnout of Latino voters for President Obama and now works for Mark Zuckerberg’s new advocacy organization.

Also in the group is Otto Padron, President and CEO of the Muruelo Media Holding, based in Los Angeles.

 

Hollywood Collaborated With the Nazi Regime

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

The Hollywood film industry maintained close ties with the Third Reich and collaborated with the regime,  according to a new book written by Harvard University doctoral student Ben Urwand. He charges that Hollywood’s major studios not only passively accepted Nazi censorship, but also further actively collaborated with Hitler’s propaganda machine to protect their interests in the German market.

In the book “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler,” Urwand, whose maternal grandfather and grandmother were Jews who hid in Hungary during the Holocaust, reveals documents that have never before been made public.

The book offers evidence that heads of large Hollywood studios, some of them Jews, edited films, scene by scene, at the request of senior Nazi officials. The results were films that could easily have been used as Nazi propaganda. One document even suggests that Hollywood sent money to Germany to produce munitions.

“Hollywood [in the 1930s] is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany, it’s also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being,” Urwand told The New York Times.

The fact that the Nazi regime intervened in the Hollywood’s film industry is known and documented, but Urwand suggests that the relationship between Hollywood and the Third Reich was much deeper and long-lasting than previously known, that this warm relationship continued until the beginning of the 1940′s.

According to Urwand, collaboration with the Nazis began in 1930, when Carl Laemmle, a Jew who headed Universal Studios, agreed to far-reaching changes in “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) after Nazis who watched the movie rioted.

Later on, in January 1938, the German offices of Fox studios sent a letter with a request to receive Hitler’s opinion about several movies. The letter ends with the salutation “Heil Hitler.” In 1939, MGM studios hosted ten editors of Nazi newspapers on a studio tour.

Urwand says he found a total of nearly 20 films aimed at American audiences in which content was influenced by senior Nazis. The most important point, he says, is that Jewish characters were almost entirely erased from films.

Another discovery included notes by Hitler’s adjutants recording his reactions to the movies he watched each night. He loved Laurel and Hardy but hated “Tarzan.”

Original Schindler’s List to be Sold on eBay for $3 million

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

A list of names of 801 Jews rescued by German industrialist Oskar Schindler went on the auction block on eBay, with a starting price of $3 million.

The 14 pages containing the original Schindler’s List were auctioned off by California collectors Gary Zimet and Eric Gazin, who are hoping to sell it for $5 million. So far, there are no takers, and bidders have until July 28 to stake their claim.

The date April 18, 1945 is written in pencil on the first page. Only male names appear on the German-language list, as well as each person’s date of birth and profession.

The list was named for Oskar Schindler, a German businessman credited with saving more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazis by deeming them essential workers for his enamel works factories.

His story reached worldwide attention after the release of the 1993 feature film “Schindler’s List.” Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie was based on the Booker Prize-winning novel “Schindler’s Ark,” which Australian novelist Thomas Keneally published in 1982.

Of the seven original versions of the list, only four are known to still exist — including two at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum, and one at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The sellers said the copy being offered for sale on eBay is located in Israel, according to the paper.

“It is extremely rare that a document of this historical significance is put on the market,” Zimet said. “Many of the survivors on this list and their descendants moved to the United States, and there are names on this list which will sound very familiar to New Yorkers.”

The JTA contributed to this article.

Has American Society Become Insanely Hypersensitive?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Around a year ago, I was lambasted on the blog for calling a girl a “girl” in a post I wrote, instead of calling her a woman, even though the other female readers of this blog freely use the pejorative “girl” for girls of the same age as the one I talked about.

In the comments I exposed that double-standard, but at the time I don’t recall mentioning the insane hypersensitivity and political correctness that drove the response.

This week I watched with amazement two other incidents (not involving me) showcasing more examples of this hypersensitivity and insane political correctness.

In the first case, Dov Hikind dressed up for Purim as a basketball player. A black basketball player, mind you. And for that he’s going to hell and his career is almost certainly damaged.

Because apparently you can dress up as anything on Halloween or Purim, except as a black man (or am I supposed to say African-American).

In the second case, Seth MacFarlane made some amusing jokes about Jews controlling the Hollywood movie industry, during the Oscar ceremonies. As a result, he was attacked for it by the Jewish watchdogs.

What?!  Are you people insane?

A comedian suddenly can’t make jokes about something that is pretty darn near close to true, or certainly used to be.

This hypersensitivity is out of control.

Neither man had any racist intent in their acts or statement. Neither were aware that what they did would be considered racist or insensitive.

And why should they have?

People don’t costume up as Hassidim? As Italian Mafiosos? As Arabs? As Rastafarians? You can get all those costumes in the store.

But a black man is off limits? Or is it that costuming as a black basketball player if off limits because it’s a stereotype. Though what kind of stereotype can it be when 78% of basketball players are black?

And look how many Hollywood producers and actors are Jewish (or of Jewish descent at least). You’ve got to be an idiot to not see that.

But apparently it’s now wrong to point that out. (Unless you’re John Stewart, in which case it’s OK, presumably because he’s Jewish).

What’s next?

Is it going to be racist to point out how many Jewish Nobel prize winners there are? Is that an offensive stereotype too?

It really is time that this hypersensitivity got toned down, and save it for real racism.

Visit The Muqata.

Hollywood is Dead

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Hollywood has no problem being dumb, sleazy and violent. Those are all known and marketable qualities. What it does not look is appearing desperate. Desperation however is what the Oscars of this year and last year have in common. They stink of an industry desperately racing its own age and irrelevance reaching for gimmicks to try and hang on to a younger audience.

The dirty little secret is that Hollywood hardly exists anymore. The industry is bigger than ever, but its bread and butter consists of 200 and 300 million dollar special effects festivals filmed in front of green screens and created in Photoshop and three-dimensional graphics programs. They star obscure or mildly famous actors and they do two-thirds of their business abroad.

America is still the official headquarters of the global entertainment industry, but many of the bigger projects are filmed internationally with foreign money and intended for foreign markets. What the American corporations bring to the table is the intellectual property which is why the latest spasm of mergers and buyouts has focused on taking control of every treasury of classic marketable properties.

Disney has put Star Wars, Mickey and Marvel Comics under one roof. It’s impressive from a business standpoint, but bankrupt from a creative standpoint. Old Americana is being milked dry for the sake of turning out another disposable movie starring familiar characters. The movies are actually still the same.

The blockbuster has mutated into its final stage. The “individual” movie is almost dead. Forget Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark. The modern blockbuster is seamless and soulless. An impersonal work that renders the director and cast irrelevant. The criticism has been made before, but what is new now is the percentage of special effects and the cost. The more expensive a movie becomes, the more risk averse its producers are.

If a movie is going to cost 200 million dollars to make, then it has to be identical to the other 200 million dollar movies that were profitable. The template is there. All that’s left is to plug in another talented Korean, British, Russian or even perhaps American director, and then roll out the same movie with characters from another property.

The movie must have collapsing skyscrapers, massive explosions and a few slumming character actors. What it cannot have is too much dialogue or plot, because those don’t translate well. How a movie will play in Topeka or even Los Angeles doesn’t matter nearly as much as how it will play in Beijing, Moscow and everywhere else.

Hollywood makes movies on the side. What it really does is manufacture special effects theme parks for other countries whose own entertainment industries are not yet ready for prime time. And the types of movies that it makes can be made nearly anywhere. And will eventually be made anywhere. Tinseltown is pretending to be artistic and creative, even while both qualities are dead as doornails.

These days Hollywood resembles the decline of the British film industry, kept alive by state subsidies and used as a talent base for other countries. At some point, American actors and directors will move on to next conglomeration of capital and audiences in Asia, the way that British actors and directors moved on to Hollywood. The next Hollywood will speak Mandarin. Its executives will buy up American properties and film them in China. The casts will be diverse, the plots will not exist and every movie will be mostly the same. In other words it will be exactly like Hollywood is now.

The blockbuster of 2025 will be Made in China. It will feature 1. Aliens 2. Robots. 3. Buildings collapsing. It will have a pro-China message, but the Western writers hired to insert some topical dialogue for Western audiences will throw in a few relevant lines for the version that is released here. The Indian, Russian and South American writers will do the same thing for their versions.

Hollywood will become the American distribution arm of a new global film industry that can make the same bad movies more cheaply and easily. Its executives will recommend properties for the head office in Beijing to buy up. Occasionally they may even be allowed to make some of their own movies. There will be plenty of nostalgia and the usual tawdry independent movies funded by taxpayer subsidies that you can find in Europe’s own buggy whip movie industries.

The big wheels of the industry already know this. But they don’t have much of a choice. Hollywood has been frantically chasing the youth market with each new incarnation of entertainment technology. Hollywood spent decades making movies bashing television for competing with it for its audience. Eventually the electronics companies that fielded the first television networks dumped their products into the same pool as the movie studios, but by then the internet had begun to take off. And all the movies demonizing the internet haven’t done anything to stop it.

The movie/television/comic book conglomerates are competing for younger audiences against video games and the internet. And the internet is winning. The median age for most of the entertainment industry’s products is old. Some of that can be attributed to demographic collection technologies that rely too much on traditional viewership, but much of it is just reality. Hollywood may bring in James Franco or the creator of Family Guy to host its industry party, but that doesn’t change how old it is.

The entertainment industry dumbed down its products to the lowest common denominator to target the teenager. And in the process the entertainment industry destroyed itself. Television networks killed family hour to chase upscale twenty-somethings and wiped out their own viewership. Their big brothers destroyed the movie theater by making it indistinguishable from an amusement park ride. The television network model killed networks and the cable networks that adopted that same model are about to get whacked by the collapse of the cable bundle business model. The movie model made the movie easy to reproduce by any country with enough capital and digital artists. These days that’s the People’s Republic of China.

Hollywood movies are already being made to Chinese specifications, complete with Communist censorship, and that’s only the beginning. If China’s economy does not collapse, then it will become the tail that wags the Hollywood dog. And Hollywood will be history.

The death of Hollywood would have been a tragedy once, but these days it’s almost a relief. It leaves behind a lot of great movies, almost all of them made in the past, and the best proof of that is the compulsive flood of remakes, reboots and reinventions of old properties. The spirit of the industry is gone and all that’s left is a shambling zombie picking over its own brains and living off past glories while throwing elaborate industry parties that are little more than an expensive glorified reality show.

Hollywood is still chasing relevance and the youth market. The theater conglomerates are figuring out new ways to squeeze twenty bucks out of customers in a bad economy to cover their own expenses which include revamping their theaters for youth-oriented gimmicks like 3D. But the problem is that in an economy where the under 20 and 30 crowd is out of work, those gimmicks are struggling to pay for themselves. Add in the high levels of unemployment among minority young males, who are the industry’s best customers, and the picture looks even bleaker.

The Chinese kid has some money to spend after getting through a long shift of making iPads or grinding for virtual money in an online game. American kids have less money than they used to and the internet offers entertainment, including the latest pirated movies, for free, often offered by sites run by some of those same Chinese kids.

In this solipsistic environment, does the movie theater even have a future? How much room is there for a business model built around digital entertainment that doesn’t run on the internet? Despite the billion-dollar grosses, theater owners are not entirely certain. There’s a reason that a thimble’s worth of soda and popcorn is so expensive and it’s not because movie theaters are doing well. It’s because everyone is behind and running up debt.

Movie studios throw fortunes into mediocre blockbusters and then spend the next three years wrangling over the profits, and cheating everyone from the director to the stars to their distributing partners of their fair share. Movie theaters pay out most of the money from the opening weekends to the studios and count on extended engagements to make money, but the modern blockbuster is one opening weekend after another with no extended engagements.

Everyone is deep in debt and counting on a string of hits to bring in audiences and save their business model. Everyone is merging and clustering together to limit the risk, while increasing the drag.

There’s no future in that and Hollywood knows it. The industry is locking down intellectual properties because it knows that it’s about to turn into Kodak after the digital revolution. An outdated business with nothing to offer except its rights to certain properties that more successful industries will want to make use of.

Hollywood is dead, but its corpse is still trying to carry on with business as usual. The inventive industry that mixed together vaudeville and adventure books into an entire industry that spanned the globe has long ago run out of ideas. Instead it’s marking the time, deadening its nerves and doing everything it can to appear youthful. The parties are still being thrown as if the industry has not changed, as if it’s still a band of salesmen and theater owners who opened their own studios and made and lost fortunes betting on geniuses and big concepts.

What we think of as Hollywood was a byproduct of the need to fill theaters, but the technology of filling theaters is being broken down on a more sophisticated level, without the need for creativity. What the big computers did to Wall Street, they are also doing to Hollywood. The future isn’t a silver screen, it’s a behavioral map of the most reliable ways of getting the industry’s best customers into a theater to watch a product created in slave-labor countries based on templates that run on numbers, not creativity, even of the three-act kind.

Hollywood’s past glories may live on as nostalgia, but it has no future. The industry is history.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/hollywood-is-dead/2013/02/26/

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