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.

Ands and Ampersands

questionmarkFor “written by” credit, what is the difference between “and” or “&” in cowritten scripts? I recall reading that one is a collaboration and the other is a writer rewriting someone else’s work. Thanks.

— Dennis
Winnipeg, Canada

You’re pretty much right. The decision about which writers’ names are listed in the credits, and the conjunctions between them, falls under the jurisdiction of the Writers Guild.

The ampersand (e.g. “Al Gough & Miles Millar”) means that the two writers are a team, and are treated as one person for WGA purposes. The other version (e.g. “Josh Friedman and David Koepp”) indicates that the writers worked at different times. In this case, the screen credits manual says…

The order of writers’ names in a shared credit may be arbitrated. Generally, the most substantial contributor is entitled to first position credit. Where there is no agreement among the arbiters as to order of names, or where the Arbitration Committee determines that the credited writers’ contribution is equal, then the Arbitration Committee shall order the writers’ names chronologically.

Idiocy on Parade

A new feature in which I answer questions sent to Walter Scott’s Personality Parade®. Today’s column comes from December 17, 2006.

[q]Any truth to rumors that Barbra Streisand will play Mama Rose in a film version of the musical Gypsy?-Mary Jansen, Orlando, Fla.

[a]And this will change your life exactly how, Mary? Let’s say she does get cast. It will be at least a year before the movie comes out. During that time, you can conjecture and kvetch with others in various forums and message boards, discussing whether she’s right for the role, if the role’s right for her, and how absolutely fantastic or godawful her version of “Rose’s Turn” will be. Alternately, you could get a fucking life.

[q]I’m a fan of Jason Ritter, son of the late John Ritter and star of CBS’s The Class. Does he have a significant other? -Jackie N., Washington, D.C.

[a]No, Jackie. He’s saving himself for you. Or are you coyly trying to ask if he’s gay? I have no idea. Let me call his publicist. I’m sure I’ll get a straight answer. Wink, wink.

[q]In her new autobiography, Lessons in Becoming Myself, Ellen Burstyn reveals painful stories of abuse, neglect, incest and promiscuity. Didn’t she have reservations about such honesty? -Toby M., Lansing, Mich.

[a]Probably. But the desire to have her book sell more than five copies helped her get past her reservations.

[q]After you came out in favor of skinny models, two died from complications of anorexia. What do you have to say for yourself now? -Grace Powers, Austin, Tex.

[a]Shove it, Grace.

[q]Masi Oka mostly speaks Japanese on NBC’s hit series Heroes. Is his English as good as his Japanese?-A. Liebman, Spokane, Wash.

[a]It’s called Wikipedia, A.

[q]TV stars like T.R. Knight of Grey’s Anatomy don’t seem to suffer by coming out of the closet. Are there many gay film stars who still hide their sexual orientation, like Rock Hudson did in the 1950s? -Ross McC., Newark, N.J.

[a]No. Every actor in Hollywood is now straight as a lumberjack.

[q]I’m curious about Cheyenne, who won on NBC’s America’s Most Talented Kids and recently had an MTV reality show. Is that her real name? -Cal Campbell, Gallup, N.M.

[a]Jesus, Cal. I’d call you lazy, but licking the stamp on your letter took more work than Googling the answer. So maybe you’re just stupid.

[q]I haven’t seen Steven Seagal onscreen in a long time. Did he retire?-Andy R., Cos Cob, Conn.

[a]No, he transcended this plane of existence. C’mon Andy. I can see wanting your name in print, but do you really want it associated with Steven Seagal? And even if you can’t figure out how this whole interweb thing works, just typing his name into any random box will bring you to his website, which shows 30 upcoming tour dates for his band. Maybe you could ask him in person when Glimmer Man 2 will be coming out.

[q]How will history assess Donald Rumsfeld?-Mark Hughes, New York, N.Y.


On why the site looks a little different

geek alertOne of my self-assigned projects for the holiday break was to rebuild the site — not so much how it looked, but the coding underneath. Inspired by the SimpleBits re-do, and armed with my copy of Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS, I envisioned sparkling new CSS, built on a clear semantic framework. No longer would the site’s undercarriage be held together with duct tape and angle brackets. It would be strong, straightforward and robust.

But that didn’t happen.

Rebuilding a working website is like changing the oil in a moving vehicle. It’s possible, but it ain’t easy. More dispiriting, I realized that all of the vintage hacks and work-arounds I was trying to avoid have simply been replaced with new hacks and work-arounds, such as the Inman clearing method. So, for the most part, I chose to leave well enough alone.

But I did tweak a few things. The headlines are bigger, and the comments sections use significantly more whitespace. I nixed the tree border — that was always supposed to be temporary, but it lasted for more than a year. The box under the brad is gone, as are many of the less-clicked items. I’ve removed the links to other blogs, but intend to restore them at a later date.

Share This

One of the most significant changes is the “Share This” link under every article. It uses Alex King’s AJAX-y goodness to allow readers to bookmark or email a specific entry.

“Share This” takes the place of “Permalink,” and good riddance. For readers who do want to copy the URL of any article, the headline now serves as the permanent link, which is pretty much what every other blog does. The very idea of listing a “permalink” which is not meant to be clicked, but copied, dates back to a specific time in the webosphere, and, well, we’ve moved on.

There are a few other changes on my wishlist, but they may wait until I bring on someone more qualified to implement them. In the meantime, if I’ve broken something that I haven’t noticed, please let me know. That’s one of the driving-while-changing-the-oil pitfalls.

Little Children, a little late

[for my consideration]Yesterday afternoon, I hauled my butt over to the Sunset 5 to catch Little Children. I’d been dying to see it ever since catching the brilliant trailer months ago. (The trailer was better than the movie, which is no slam on the film. The trailer really is that good.)

Today’s mail brought a screener copy of Little Children. Anticipating this will be a trend, I’d like to pre-announce the movies I plan to see soon, so that the studios can be ready with the DVD follow-up: Children of Men, The Good Shepherd, and the Alien Quadrilogy.1

Screeners to date:

  • Little Children
  • Babel
  • World Trade Center
  • United 93
  • Notes on a Scandal
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Thank You for Smoking
  1. Okay, that last one’s not in theaters. But I’d like a copy, all the same.

Sundance catalog is out

ryansThe catalog for this year’s Sundance Film Festival came this week, which was my first chance to see what everyone else’s first impression of The Nines would be. The festival organizers write the descriptions for the films, so you’re sort of at their mercy. Fortunately, John Cooper wrote up a very nice blurb for The Nines.

Three actors–Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy–are a delight playing different roles in the three different scenarios that comprise John August’s film The Nines. In “The Prisoner,” a troubled television star finds himself under house arrest with his chipper publicist and disillusioned neighbor providing his only link to the outside world. “Reality Television” is a Project Greenlight-style show tracing the behind-the-scenes tribulations of a half-hour sitcom. And in “Knowing,” an acclaimed video-game designer and his family have car trouble on an outing and find themselves stranded deep in the woods.

Writer/director August is firmly at the helm of this unique film. The three stories are linked to each other on a metaphysical plane, forming a stylish puzzle of coincidences that questions the underlying notions of both life and art. Does the creator have a responsibility to his or her creations? If we shape the lives we lead on any level, why not on all levels? Are we or are we not responsible for our own happy endings?

If you need tidy conclusions to these and other questions films sometimes pose, The Nines may not be for you. But if you love great writing, direction, and performances and are willing to ask questions, The Nines offers an upbeat, as well as enlightening, adventure.— John Cooper

My only correction would be in the first paragraph: Part 2 concerns a one-hour drama pilot, not a sitcom. The hijinks are more harrowing than hysterical. And for the record, he doesn’t mean that kind of “happy endings.” Shame on you.

You can see the printed version with all of the other information as a .jpg or a .pdf. There’s an online version of the entire shebang at the Sundance website.