We’ll be recording the first episode of the second season of Show Your Work in a couple of weeks. If we were working on it now though, Duana and I would definitely be discussing The Hollywood Reporter’s Producer Roundtable published yesterday. Six “superproducers” are featured in the article: Ridley Scott, Jason Blum, Amy Pascal, Eric Fellner, Judd Apatow, and Seth Rogen.
As we’ve seen, in the time of Peak TV, television is where the best storytelling is happening. This conversation is a good introductory overview about the current challenges facing filmmakers. A lot of it, of course, has to do with money. They rely on so much of it from overseas now that that’s become a consideration for studio executives when a project is being considered: will this play in China, will it play in Russia? What they think will only play in China and Russia are superheroes and pirates.
Seth Rogen brings up an interesting point about budgets – that there’s a budget sweet spot in movies where the studios leave you alone and you can make your movie without interference, which is why he tries to stay in that zone. Is it ironic though that one of the people in this roundtable is Ridley Scott? They all talk to and at him reverently but this is also the director who, in response to the whitewashing accusations on his film Gods Of Egypt, explained it like this:
“I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”
I don’t know how you can have a real conversation about advocating for the kind of stories you want to tell without addressing the compromises that are made, which undermine the authenticity of those stories, in service of the budget. These are the blindspots that people have been trying to challenge in Hollywood. And most of the time, they’re talking around it.
The roundtable happened earlier in October, just a couple of days after the New York Times and The New Yorker published their reports on Harvey Weinstein. Seth reveals that he deliberately avoided working with Harvey for the last decade. Amy Pascal hints at the fact that Harvey is not an “outlier”, that there are more like him. And then they manage to move the discussion away from the issue and half the people in the room haven’t addressed it. They’ll say it’s because there are no easy answers. Sure. But one of the answers that has repeatedly been proposed has been to make a bigger push for women and people of colour to be represented at all levels of production. Note the makeup of this panel though: of the six “superproducers” who are featured, there is only one woman and no people of colour.
It’s now been four weeks in a row where sexual misconduct has been the top story in entertainment. Kevin Spacey has been fired by his agents at CAA and his publicist. Eight House Of Cards employees have now come forward detailing Kevin’s pattern of predatory behaviour while working on the show, which Netflix cancelled this week. Yesterday Vulture published an interview with a man who says that when he was 14 years old, Kevin, then 24, seduced him after they met at a community acting workshop. They began a sexual relationship for a few months in the 80s before ending it one night when Kevin tried to rape the boy – who has chosen to remain anonymous – and he ran away. The man is now in his 40s and, with that distance, is able to give valuable insight not only into how abusers manipulate their victims but why victims, especially young victims, are vulnerable. It’s also an articulate analysis of the complications of “consent”, especially at that age.
While Kevin Spacey’s career appears to be over, Danny Masterson’s, at post time, looks to be just fine. Even though four women have accused him of rape. The Huffington Post reports that “despite overwhelming evidence”, the investigation has not moved forward. Danny has denied the allegations. He has retained the same lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, who represents Bill Cosby. His other lawyer, Marty Singer, represents Brett Ratner and David Blaine. And he is supported by his Church, the Church of Scientology. Several of his alleged victims are former Scientologists and they claim that they were pressured by the Church not to move forward with the accusations. Danny is also the star of another Netflix show, The Ranch. The third season of The Ranch premieres in December. At post time, Netflix is moving ahead with that.
Innocent until proven guilty, of course. For these men though, and the list is getting so depressingly long, it’s always an even longer list of alleged victims. Danny Masterson, so far, “only” has four alleged victims. Is four too few? Again, what is the threshold of belief?
If you’re Ashton Kutcher and you work with Danny Masterson on The Ranch, are you like, pffft. Four. Whatever. Four is basically zero. Or are you like… ummmm…hey, man… so… FOUR!? Isn’t one enough?
Or maybe it doesn’t even come up at all. And I wonder if one of the reasons this has gone on for so long for celebrities is because this has always been their approach to any kind of criticism. People are being mean to me. We’re famous so we’re targets. The tabloids are lying about me. And it becomes a go-to explanation and self-serving insulation that’s applied to every situation.
It’s the weekend. I wonder by Monday who else we’ll be talking about.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,