Film or Television: the Ewan McGregor edition
One day I’d like to get a liveblog going with Duana and Sarah to discuss or debate the whole Movies vs TV argument. The quality is on television these days, no doubt. But the prestige, the prestige is still, always, in film. They ALL want to be in film. It’s a hierarchy that they, themselves, the Hollywood players, live and die by.
Beyond the fact that the work is more challenging, more interesting on tv right now, there’s also the stability. You get a hit tv show and you’re not worrying about employment for at least 3 years. And that means the money is good too. But they are actors, after all, and they get bored. They want the variety of film. They want to be able to say they worked with this director and that producer. They all want to be Movie Stars. That’s the dream they came for.
But... can there be a shift? Can tv get the respect it deserves?
Well, it has to start with them. And some of them, they’ve seen the present and the future of film. The present and the future of film = The Smurfs 4,5, and 6, a movie about Lego, something to do with Kevin James...
When you put it that way, there’s not much for an artist to get excited about.
And that’s when HBO starts looking really, really good.
HBO isn’t, like, ABC. It’s definitely not CSI: Baltimore. You can still get a pretty good table at the Golden Globes with HBO. Not a table next to the Brange, but not so far away either.
So Ewan McGregor is coming to television.
It’s the HBO pilot for The Corrections based on Jonathan Franzen’s book, adapted by Franzen himself alongside Noah Baumbach. Have you read The Corrections? Between Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, and David Foster Wallace, I’ve always been #1 for Eugenides. Franzen comes second for me and DFW third. I know that’s not the thing to say. I know that you’re spitting on me for not jizzing about the seminal work that was Infinite Jest. But if I’m honest, I never feel when I read DFW like he’s writing FOR me. I always feel like he’s writing AT me, with the exception of his F-CKING BRILLIANT piece on Roger Federer for Play which... I mean goddamn, I’ve read it maybe 10 times and every time it punches you in the face, his gift. Grantland reprinted it a few months ago but they seem to have taken down that link so the only one I can give you is from the NYT and that’s too bad because Grantland had all his footnotes right next to the point on the page; the NYT version makes you click on a separate link that opens a new page. Anyway, whatever, my point is that “Roger Federer As Religious Experience” is one of the few times I’ve read DFW and felt like writer and reader were connected. And that’s a gross pretentious way of describing the reading experience but it doesn’t mean that it’s not true.
This is a much larger conversation and one day I’d love to have one about DFW’s influence on both Eugenides and Franzen and their blatant (though Eugenides denies it) homages to him in The Marriage Plot and Freedom respectively, about how pondering his death, and life, seemed to have weakened their new material. Maybe another time. Right now, we’re on The Corrections which I consider to be far superior to Freedom, and the fact that after confirming Chris Cooper and Diane Wiest as the Lamberts, Ewan McGregor is joining the cast as Chip.
Totally. He is totally, totally Chip. If he can manage the American accent.
Needless to say, Ewan’s decision was undoubtedly motivated by the players involved - Baumbach and also Scott Rudin’s producing - but it’s still a very interesting career decision: to commit to a drama series (if it gets picked up and I can’t see why it wouldn’t), to base his family in LA for production, to go in the direction that seems to be the opposite of what the conventional motivation has been.
Slowly though, more and more of the ones who’ve made their names in movies, slowly they’re migrating over to television. It’s a sh-tty sign for the state of film but it’s great encouragement for where tv might be headed. Does that mean there will be parity one day? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Television has become an option because right now the offerings in film are so sh-t. It’s like eating tofu because the other option is dry chicken breast. The challenge is to make them realise that Tofu should always be the first option, even in the company of lobster and steak.
Here’s one photo of Ewan at the GQ Men of the Year party last week because, again, as I’ve already complained about, those dumbass photographers blew their load on Jessica Biel. So I’m also attaching shots of him at the Go Go Gala a few days before.