The Queen on a silver platter

[for my consideration]The inflow of screeners has slowed to a trickle, with only The Queen arriving this week. That makes nine screeners so far:

  • The Queen
  • Little Children
  • Babel
  • World Trade Center
  • United 93
  • Notes on a Scandal
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Thank You for Smoking

The Hollywood Reporter claims its FYC has screenplays for download, but I’ve yet to find one for any of the movies it features. If any readers find links to the screenplay contenders, please pass them along.

Carrie Underwood on Parade

In a controversial new feature, I answer questions submitted to Walter Scott’s Personality Parade®. Today’s column comes from December 24, 2006.

[q]After PARADE’s cover story on Carrie Underwood, she won Female Vocalist of the Year and Best Breakthrough Artist at the Country Music Association awards. Has anyone ever won both before?—Allen Cook, Seattle, Wash.

[a]Not only is Carrie’s award unprecedented, it’s uninteresting. So instead, let’s take the next two or three sentences to ponder why you’re wasting Mr. Scott’s time with a question that can so easily be answered online. Are you in prison, Allen? Lonely? Suicidal? If you’re going to “Let Jesus Take the Wheel,” I hope he doesn’t steer you into oncoming traffic. Walter Scott cares about you, and so do I.

[q]Is Tom Hanks still set to star in a film version of the sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land?—Steve Dimeo, Hillsboro, Ore.

[a]This is a genuinely valid question. Hanks’s name has been associated with this project for years, though he is too old to play the lead character (Valentine Michael Smith). He could conceivably play one of the other key roles. Unfortunately, I have nothing mean or snarky to say about Hanks. That’s why I’m glad that the next question is…

[q]Has dancer Cris Judd, Jennifer Lopez’s second husband, recovered careerwise from being dumped?—Jan Cooper, Denver, Colo.

[a]Jan, Jan. Please keep up. Jennifer Lopez is on husband number three: Marc Anthony, who was (kinda) famous before he married her. Before that, she dated Ben Affleck, who is an actual star. Cris Judd, on the other hand, was a dancer, or choreographer or somesuch. While marrying Lopez might have helped his career, divorcing her certainly didn’t hurt it. Please remember: This is a column about celebrities. Cris Judd no longer counts.

[q]You profiled Indy star Danica Patrick. How about info on drag racer Melanie Troxel?—J. Manning, San Bernardino, Calif.

[a]923 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220. She keeps a spare key hidden in the geraniums. Don’t worry about the dog — he’s friendly.

[q]I just rented the animated film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. What does Brian Boitano think of its song “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”—D. Hall, Mexia, Tex.

[a]What Would Walter Scott Do? Perhaps ignore your question about a song featured in a movie that came out ten years ago.

[q]President Bush and Nancy Pelosi, the next Speaker of the House, vowed to get along. What odds do you give them for bipartisan cooperation?—W.P. Dunn, Denver, Colo.

[a]See, this is the kind of question that readers should be sending to Walter Scott: short, open-ended, and completely unrelated to celebrity chatter. Oh, and the answer? 4:3.

[q]Have Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance taken a hiatus from acting since having twins?—J. Graham, Buffalo, N.Y.

[a]They live in my neighborhood, so I’ll ask them next time I see them pushing the tandem stroller or beating their fists on the ground wailing, “Why!? Why are we not getting roles worthy of our talent!?”

[q]A question about my favorite film, Casablanca: Did Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman continue their onscreen affair off-camera?—Mary Taylor, Sioux City, Iowa

[a]Actors will deny it, but what you see in the movies — that’s all real. If it looks like they love each other, they really do. And the sex scenes are never simulated.

[q]In your opinion, why has Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip not been a bigger hit?—Charlotte T., Atlanta, Ga.

[a]Again, great question because you’re asking for an opinion as opposed to a fact or interesting anecdote. So here’s my opinion: Viewers avoid shows with numbers in the title, because they’re afraid they’ll have to do math.

Josh posted

Josh Friedman stepped away from his duties at Skynet to shake the dust of his blog.1 Catch him before he goes offline again.

  1. Yes, I meant, “shake the dust off his blog.” But, in its way, his blog has lain fallow long enough that one could argue it’s become dust itself. (Yes, it’s a stretch.) But in that case, the metaphorically correct phrase would be something like “stir the dust of his blog.” Regardless, there’s something dusty happening.

Four for four, or Hooray for Chad

Longtime readers will note that my former assistants have done well for themselves. Rawson has directed two movies, Dana has become an in-demand screenwriter, and Sean is a TV staff writer with a pilot in production.

I’m happy to add Chad to the list of successes. After many delays, his script “Sydney White” is going into production on February 12th, with Joe Nussbaum directing. Variety has the story in today’s issue.

“Sydney White” is basically Snow White set in college, with Amanda Bynes playing the titular character, and seven outcasts taking over as the dwarfs. The project is a family affair; Chad’s wife Dara is co-producing. You may recognize her as an occasional poster on the site.

What’s the secret behind my assistants’ success? It’s certainly not me. I rarely read their scripts, never take them to meetings, and only sporadically offer advice. I think one main factor may be that there’s only a limited amount of work to do in any given day, so that leaves lots of time for staring at the computer monitor, wondering what the hell they should write.

Another common factor: except for Sean, they’re all Starkies. So I’m hiring from a pool of people who are likely to be successful regardless. But that doesn’t make me any less happy for them.

Raining on my Parade

smug It’s ironic that your “bitchy queen” piece features your own idiocy on parade. Doesn’t Mr. Hollywood Big Shot realize that Walter Scott is a mouthpiece for hundreds of publicists? His job is to mix the press release morsel in with a bit of trivia to make it seem like gossip, and therefore, interesting. Then he adds a question that leads to the fake-gossip answer to make it seem like Middle America is dying to know.

Often, they make up the questions. Other times, they just collect and file questions, and then look up the celebrity in the database when something comes from their publicist.

It’s called publicity, John. Buy a clue.

— TruthInAdvertising

How dare you…no, how dare you suggest that any weekly newspaper supplement featuring Marilyn Vos Savant is less that 100% truthful? She’s a goddamn genius, sir. You think that she’d be fooled by fake letters? Hardly.

Walter Scott’s Personality Parade is pretty much the pinnacle of true grass-roots celebrity journalism. To suggest that it’s simply a collection of ham-fisted intros to publicist-supplied blurbs is cruel, TIA. I reject your conciliatory kisses. I can only imagine where your mouth has been.

What’s worse, your disbelief does a huge disservice to the Mary Jansen and Toby M.’s of the world. Would a newspaper like the Los Angeles Times risk its reputation by regularly running complete fabrication as “news?” Of course it wouldn’t.

No, the only imaginary person here is Walter Scott himself. The column is written by Edward Klein, who is a well-known editor, writer, and lecturer with a distinguished career in American journalism. klein Look, here’s a picture of him. He exists. In fact, he’s married to Dolores Barrett, a “well-known public relations executive.” So to insinuate that he’s in bed with publicists in only conjecture. For all we know, they sleep in separate beds, like Rob and Laura Petrie.

The point of my re-answering questions sent to Scott/Klein was not to imply that he was doing less than a spectacular job, but rather that it was the readers — specifically, the question-writers — who weren’t living up to their end of the bargain. Please, readers: Stop wasting Mr. Scott’s time with questions that could be easily answered with five seconds on Google. Rather, why not ask open-ended questions that allow him to freely express his pseudonymous opinions, such as…

[q]Pete Rose, banned from baseball since 1989 for betting on games, wants to manage again. Should he get a second chance? —Arnold Rosenberg, Fort Myers, Fla.

[a]No. After years of lying, Rose, 64, finally admitted he bet on games. He has shown no real remorse and doesn’t deserve reinstatement.

— February 26, 2006

See! That’s something I couldn’t have figured out by myself. So until readers let up on the dumb questions, I intend to keep up my vigil.