Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Round Up : 8.31.2008

Here’s the weekend’s box office estimates for the “last” weekend of summer!

1. Tropic Thunder $11.5 million
2. Babylon A.D. $9.7 million
3. The Dark Knight $8.7 million
4. The House Bunny $8.3 million
5. Traitor $7.9 million

Tropic Thunder wins the weekend! Congratulations to Ben Stiller and the boys on that one, there was a point on Friday where the talk was about Babylon A.D. taking the number one spot but alas, it must settle for number two. Is this the first time a Vin Diesel movie didn’t debut at number one? OH – before I forget – this being a holiday weekend, there’s still one more day to go to find out exactly what will happen, so if you’re a Vin Diesel fan then you’ve got one more day to hope.

The Dark Knight passes the $500 million mark this weekend, and is the first picture since Titanic to do so. It’s also notable that it took Titanic thirteen weeks (apparently 13 actually is the luckiest number of all!) to cross that mark and has only taken the Dark Knight six weeks to do so! Six weeks is crazy, y’all. At that point you start to think that absolutely everyone has seen this movie, but it’s ticket sales only declined 17% in it’s seventh weekend! This (in regards to grosses) is going to be the movie of the year.

The House Bunny
hung in there for number four! I, for one am interested in seeing how this movie will affect Anna Faris’ career. I think she’ll be the go to woman for comedy in the coming months.

Traitor impressively earned the number five spot, thanks to its stars Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. I know I was on holiday for a bit this summer, but how did I not know this movie was being released this weekend?! And why did it take me until Friday to recognize that it was, in fact, Guy Pearce in all those pictures? The man is a chameleon! So much so, that when the director Jeffrey Nachmanoff wanted to cast him and was meeting him for lunch, he walked right past him! Guy Pearce was all “Jeff? I’m Guy Pearce.” Well done, Guy, well done.

I debated for quite some time whether or not to bring this up, and ultimately decided to stick to my guns. A couple of days ago, I was reading a newspaper. Hell, it was the LA Times. In general, I’d have to say that the LA Times is much better than ever, especially it’s coverage of the Entertainment Industry (the Industry in LA), whether it be business or reviews. Good stuff goes on over there. But last week they published an article about this summer’s movies, in order to determine each major studio’s biggest successes and flops. Not in the business section where a discussion like that belongs, but in the Calendar section. My other issue was in the writer’s math. I firmly believe, and The Round Up section of this site attests to this, that the way to determine when something is a financial success or failure is to ask what percentage of its budget was made back, and what that percentage means in actual dollars. That is all that matters financially, ask any studio head. The writer spoke about Disney, saying their biggest hit was Wall•E (which it was) and that Swing Vote was their biggest flop (which it wasn’t). This happens all the time, and is frustrating because it makes the jobs of the people who actually make movies much more difficult to continue doing so. To remind everyone, especially that writer who I am sure is reading today after the email I sent him, Swing Vote cost Disney $20 million, and has made $15 million so far. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has made $140 million and cost just north of $200 million to make. I know, I know, only by a small margin percentage wise, Prince Caspian was the bigger financial flop. But consider this: Swing Vote has only lost Disney $5 million, while Prince Caspian has lost them $60 million! I hate to get all aggressive on his ass, but sometimes you just have to bring it.

And that’s the weekend!

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Travis Barker is SICK.

Travis Barker is one creative motherfucker, and may even be the best drummer around right now. For those who’ve been hibernating for the past decade, Barker was the drummer of a little pop-punk band called Blink 182. They broke up as pop-punk bands tend to do, but only after becoming very multi-platinum. He then started his own clothing label, Famous Stars and Straps, and even starred in his own reality show with his then wife called Meet the Barkers. How a reality show about a married famous couple never became trashy, I’ll never know and is a testament to his character in general. And now, he’s re-invented himself again. This time, he’s partnered with DJ AM (a popular DJ here in LA), laying down killer drum tracks to existing pop songs. They decided to release some videos on the YouTube, because how else do you distribute video that will actually get seen? Well, their plan worked and their remix of Souja Boy’s Crank That now has 17.5 million views! On the innerweb! What is so compelling about it is not only the sound he makes, but what an amazing drummer he is to watch. He is addicted to it, and that is watchable. Now, theses two are going to be the House Band on MTV’s Video Music Awards this year. As an artist, I find it inspiring that even after his band broke up, he’s always found a way to do what he loves. Way to go, Travis. Way to go.

Here’s the video, if you not sold immediately, just hang out through the first 45 secs when he gets going. Dag.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

45 Years Today.

Forty-five years ago today Martin Luther King, Jr. made his historic I Have A Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. As we all know, it was a landmark speech whose historical importance cannot be overstated. Period.

It being 45 years ago has been on my mind for the last few days. We have come so far in this country and I am proud of all of the hard work that people of all races have done in order for me to live my life in the way that I do. I’ve also been thinking that 45 years isn’t really that long a time. People still have deeply rooted biases and prejudices that sometimes even they aren’t aware of.

Here’s an example. When I drive from Santa Monica back to Hollywood, I take a short cut through the residential streets of Beverly Hills. It sometimes saves time, but always saves the headache of the traffic on Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. Plus, you get to drive through Beverly Hills, generally a pleasant experience. That person that you almost hit at that four way stop was Samuel L. Jackson! Today, as I was making my way through, I crossed a four way stop and saw a LAPD cruiser coming towards me perpendicularly. I thought nothing of it until he turned to follow me. I have learned to trust my feelings and it felt strange. After three more stop signs, he put his lights on and pulled me over. He walked up, asked for my license and registration/insurance then asked me if I owned my car. Weird feelings again. Why ask when you can read it on the registration that I’m handing you? He walks away to enter info in the computer, finds out that I’m “clean,” comes back to my car and asks “Were you just taking a shortcut…?” I tell him yes and that I do it all the time to avoid the traffic on the Boulevards, which satisfies him and he lets me go. He walked off before I had a chance to ask him why he pulled me over.

Why do you think he pulled me over? I am well aware of my skin color and the reputation of the LAPD. The sinking feeling I got as I drove away was not anger, but of disappointment. It was such a cliché.

It only raises questions: How far have we really come in the last 45 years, and how do we proceed from here on out?

All the information is out there, and has been well publicized. Racism and discrimination of any kind isn’t where we want to go. If so, then why do people not make more progressive choices? It has to do with the way we educate ourselves as children and as adults. Not only do we have to keep putting this information out there in schools, but just as importantly (and maybe even more) we have to expose ourselves to more art of all kinds. We also have to give our kids more experiences creating art so that they will be able to understand more of the art that they come across as they grow for the rest of their lives. Great art has the ability to let people see themselves without their own barriers and also lets them see who they could be. That one thing is how people make choices that cause them to grow from the inside out, so that they can be more compassionate to others and to themselves.

That is exactly why I do what I do.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Billy the Kid

October First is coming up fast, and nobody knows it more than the three kids who will be playing the title role in the new Billy Elliot musical that begins performances on Broadway that evening. Yep, the role is so demanding, that they’ve got three kids rotating through the performances throughout the week, so that none of them will ever have to do two shows back to back. Back in the day, The Tap Dance Kid had a demanding role for an early teen as well, who was in almost every scene but he only got one performance off. Oh well, it was the early 80s.

Employing three actors for the same role is a big reason why this show is the most expensive musical in Broadway history. How expensive? It has a capitalization cost of $18 million. That might not sound like a lot compared to feature films, but chew on this: Wicked was previously the most expensive record holder at $14 million and Billy Elliot costs about three times as much as the film it was based on. By the first performance the three kids will have been in rehearsals for four months, plus two months before that just to get fit for the role. (Let me tell you from experience, singing and dancing onstage for nearly three hours takes stamina.) Once the rest of the cast arrived, they basically had to rehearse the show three times, once for each Billy. Just imagine what tech week will be like when it takes three weeks. The thought makes me shudder. And all of those Billies need keepers and tutors. Dang.

On top of that, Universal and Working Title (the show’s producers) have paid for renovations to the Imperial Theatre to meet their staging demands. Since they don’t have access to the theatre and their huge cast needs to be close together, they have rented out an entire Off-Broadway theater just for rehearsals. Plus another rehearsal space at a nearby studio! All this is fine, I personally think this show will make its money back eventually. But I do have two questions.

What happens when your teen playing the lead role goes though puberty and his voice changes?

What does an $18 million musical really mean for musicals to come?

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The World is Ours!

Right now in LA, the film industry is in the middle of an interesting hiccup. Fearing a possible actor’s strike, most studios completely changed their shooting schedules so their films would wrap on or soon after June 30th. That, combined with tax incentives in other states makes LA a ghost town of major film production right now. The only big budget pictures that are shooting are the Transformers sequel and the Da Vinci Code prequel. It’s not necessarily bad either, all signs point to no strike. But since studios aren’t worried about a strike, everything will gear up in the next 30 days. We’ve all got a mini vacation! Best of all – this is the end of summer and the kids are all going back to school. We get to experience the strange and wonderful phenomenon of having a little time off while the streets are free from kids! The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, indeed!

That being said, here’s a few ideas to help you have fun while on de facto holiday:

Go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. (bring a coke can, two for one tix!) It’s still open every day for now, but with school in session, the park is free for the taking! No lines! No annoying whining, except from that one coworker of yours who is still afraid of roller coasters. At the age of 33.

Throw a game night! Or game afternoon! You could sponsor an Xbox Live Gears of War showdown! A Rock Band battle of the bands! Or your own Wii Tennis US Open!

Go to The Grove! It’ll finally be empty, at least until 4PM. You could probably get an appointment at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar for fifteen minutes from now! Plus, you could go movie hopping and the Pacific Theater’s employees couldn’t care less. You’ll probably realize for the first time that without a ridiculous crowd, The Grove is pretty fucking nice.

Go to Zuma! It’s still nice and hot, but it’ll be empty. And through Labor Day, the food stands are open. Salt water and salty French fries, what could be better?

Clean your garage! Wait – how’d that get in here…?

Call your mom. She’d like that.

Have a softball game! In the middle of the week, there’s no one waiting for you to get off the field, so it can be all relax-y.

Go to lunch with friends and get drunk! We’re all on good behavior all the time here, so wouldn’t this be the time to get a little naughty? The 80s are back, as you already know…

Finish your screenplay. I mean come on! You’ve got all this time off, shouldn’t you be getting something accomplished?

Or, just relax. Take a walk. Or a bike ride. Or a hike!

Stay up all night with your spouse/friend/lover/partner and get to know each other again. When’s the last time you could spare that kind of time…?

Most of all, enjoy it. The weather is warm and the days are getting shorter. Don’t take anything for granted.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

THE ROUND UP : 8.24.2008

Here’ this weekend’s box-office estimates!

1. Tropic Thunder $16 million
2. The House Bunny $15 million
3. Death Race $12.3 million
4. Dark Knight $10.3 million
5. The Clone Wars $5.6 million

8. The Longshots $4.3 million

12. The Rocker $2.7 million

22. Hamlet 2 $435,000

Well, well, well, this weekend is a little… How do you say…? Interesting. Tropic Thunder is proving itself and tops the weekend again. I guess now that everyone has seen The Dark Knight four times, it’s time to see something else?

I am extremely proud of Anna Faris for hitting number two with The House Bunny. I have not read a review in Variety that was so complimentary about every aspect of a comedy since Elf. Anna Faris is funny as fuck and derserves hilarious and more substantial vehicles than the Scary Movie franchise, and this role was written especially for her. It’s also worth saying her performance in Just Friends is an absolute classic. If you haven’t seen that little flick, Anna’s and Ryan Reynolds’ performance make it a more than worthwhile rent (which Variety called as well when it opened, bitches).

Death Race was number three.

A little movie called The Longshots debuted at number eight, which unfortunately for a family movie means this is its best weekend. Family movies are hard, either they win big and kickass or they don’t. Either way, the first weekend generally is their big moneymaker. Unless it’s Kit Kittredge, which platformed itself like a regular indie film to much success.

The Rocker
debuted at number twelve??? I thought for sure that a movie starring Rainn Wilson would have broken the top five, especially when said movie got the reviews it got. I knew I was going to wait for DVD, I just didn’t know everybody else felt that way too. Another example of Soccerboy having his finger on the pulse? I wonder…

A little movie called Hamlet 2 showed up! At $4300 a screen, it’s not going to do gangbusters, but personally, I’m thinking that after DVD it’ll become a cult classic. At the end of the day, what more is there to ask..?

And the little movie that could, Elegy, is doing quite well. It may have only earned $502,000 but it added 86 screens (to a total of 92) and grew a whopping 820%! For those who are about to release their own tiny movie and want to know, that’s good news y’all!

I said it last week, but it deserves to be said again. For the first time in a long, long time, the movies that I have seen this year and the ones that are on the way in the coming months make me excited to make movies! That desire hasn’t ever subsided in me, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten some outside inspiration. And that’s nice.

And that’s the weekend!

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What’s going on at GOOG?

I am a very normal type of boy. I like beer and scotch. Fried Foods. Shuffleboard. Going out on the boat. Calling people bitches, then defending myself by saying that I’m being “endearing,” even when I’m not. I believe you can have breakfast at any time of day and have dinner at six in the morning after a night on the town if the restaurant is still serving dinner food. In regards to fried foods, I’m more adventurous than most. You tell me that some fish n’chips place is deep frying Snickers? I’m there. Some sort of fried carb/cheese concoction that you dip in gravy at the State Fair? Done! Nachos? I can make them as good as any restaurant but at HOME, bitches. I’ve even had wine with breakfast! (A big thank you to France for that experience.) But this is where I’d absolutely have to draw the line. Being from Atlanta, I am a fan of the Krispy Kreme. Being a guy, I am a fan of cheeseburgers. But dag, Google, even I would have never thought of this. Yes they really served this at the google cafeteria. This should totally come with an automatic side of antacid. Or the afternoon off. Defibrillator?

Diabetes tomorrow! Heart Attack TONIGHT.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The smartest thing she’s ever done.

Paris Hilton. “Famous for being famous.” Though, I have to admit that it’s still pretty amazing that we know who the hell she is at all. True, she is the daughter of the person who yada, yada, Hilton, yada yada. But come on, it’s the HILTON, not the Hyatt! The Hilton is the kind of place where executives who often travel refuse to stay, and people in sales know they have finally arrived when they no longer have to stay at one! She almost could have become who she is by only being rich, that’s how little her name was worth. I remember living in New York City and going to Lotus and seeing her and her sister Nicky (remember her?) as teenagers dancing on/falling off the bar! And patrons would applaud! I knew then that if these girls got publicists, they would be famous. Famous for what? For falling off bars. And you know what, that’s exactly what Paris Hilton did. And in a world where it is difficult for actually talented people to become well known, I have to congratulate her on a job well done. Now she sells perfume and handbags and shoes and jeans, and they sell! So is she still famous simply for being famous? I’m beginning to think that she’s becoming “Famous for fully understanding her image and exactly what we think of her and using that to her advantage.”

This video is proof that she knows exactly what we think of her, and that she can play with that idea. And for the first time ever, I applaud Paris Hilton.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

"I'll see you at the debates, bitches." I mean, COME ON! Brilliant.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DID Tom Cruise have a good week…?

Tom Cruise had quite a dynamic week last week. Tropic Thunder is a hit movie, and his cameo performance in it is being called hilarious by just about everyone. And we all know Tom needed any kind of hit right now. Clearly stated, he needed great buzz about a performance of his, and that performance needed to be in a hit movie. Good Job!

Also, Valkyrie’s release date has been moved back up, right smack in the middle of Oscar Season! After the reshoots, people are having renewed confidence in this picture. Way to go!

Paula Wagner left United Artists. Ouch.

Wagner started out as his agent, then became his producing partner, and the two have been working together for the last 25 years! As you know, back in 2006 Cruise/Wagner’s deal was not renewed at Paramount (because Mission:Impossible III was “not a hit” when it made half a billion dollars) and three months later it was announced that the two of them would revive the defunct United Artists and run it themselves. Everyone in town was skeptical, but they announced their first movie would be directed by and would start Robert Redford, and also star Tom and Meryl Streep! What a coup! They gave themselves an instant pedigree, or so we all thought. Cruise and Wagner then had the ability to greeenlight movies that had budgets less than $60 million, they just had to greenlight movies to keep their financing. That was their job, pick movies and get them made. Take it from someone who has literally read thousands of scripts since arriving in the industry, it’s a harder job than it seems. And then it really isn’t. Just. Pick. Movies. Movies similar to the ones people seem to be enjoying, except smarter and funnier. Or dumber and funnier. Or just smarter. Something!

To be fair, It must be difficult to go from shepherding your one project from idea through development, to a final draft, through the production and on to distribution, and then also having to manage many projects at once all the while keeping your pulse on what audiences are paying attention to.

If I may, I would say that their big mistake was that the two pictures they actually got made were Tom Cruise movies. Hollywood secret: A studio can’t have its only two movies star the effing owner!

So, now, it is Tom’s turn to surprise all of you. This is the part of the movie where the chips are down and it looks for sure like the golden boy is in a real tight spot and is about to be blown to smithereens. But wait! All of a sudden, he somehow learns that he always knew what to do, he just never had a reason to use all of his talents at once. Things begin to look worse until he wins big, and is better than ever!

Here’s a hint: in Hollywood, sometimes you know you’re doing a good job simply based on the fact that you haven’t been FIRED. So yes, it may have been tough but Tom Cruise did in fact have a good week.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


In California and especially in LA, there is a large focus on “being green.” You know, the movement regarding every person doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint to help ease the cause of global warming. It’s a good thing. There are hand-washing soap and dish washing detergent that don’t toxify our waters. You see more and more hybrid vehicles on the streets than ever. I’ve even seen a few fuel cell vehicles, those are the ones that run on hydrogen fuel cells and emit water! A Shell gas station nearby has started construction on additional pumps for hydrogen fuel cells! We are making progress. Though the most obvious difference is on the street. With the price of gas forcing people choose gasoline over their $4.50 Chocolate Ice-Blendeds, others are choosing to use bicycles as a source of transportation for shot trips. Yay!

Yay? So now there are more bicycles on the road. It would be cool if… Well for one thing motorcycles and scooters are fine. We are used to them, and most importantly, they always act like vehicles because you need driver’s licenses to drive them. Any thirteen year-old can go buy a bike. The problem is that cyclists don’t always act like vehicles. People want to take up a lane of traffic, which makes perfect sense when you are on the street. But then they also want to roll through stop signs without even slowing down as if it was their backyard with absolutely no regard for a car that may be turning right at said sign! When you want them to act like a bicycle they go and wait in the left turn lane like a vehicle and keep you from turning as the light goes red. The nerve! It makes me want to hit them. Not with my car, but with my fist!

Los Angeles is not like New York City, San Francisco and especially Portland, Oregon, where a relatively high percentage of vehicles on their streets every day are bicycles. LA is much more like an urban experience in a suburban setting, so we’re used to having our blood pressure raised by idiots in cars, not on bicycles. And it is beginning to get to us. Some cyclists are racing through red lights at rush hour! Some pedestrians have even been hit by cyclists themselves, to then only to have these cyclists use their attached horns and beep at them. Not surprisingly, there has been a rise in hostility towards cyclists this summer. Some doctor in Brentwood was charged with assault because he intentionally braked in front of two cyclists, causing one to crash into his rear window and the other to be knocked to the pavement. Dang, who ever said that Brentwood wasn’t The Hood just didn’t know. Another cyclist pulled up next to a car at a red light only to have the back window roll down, revealing a child no older than seven look into his eyes and give him the finger!

Yes, these events are strange and would be called isolated, except that the rate of “isolated incidents” has risen sharply since this spring. What can we do? Well the only idea I have so far is this hint for cyclists: Either ride on the sidewalk like a child and have all the fun you want, or ride in the street and act like a fucking vehicle! Crikey! Cyclists will probably say that we should all “share the road” the way cars do with motorcycles and scooters. That is true, but also misleading. Cars and motor driven cycles all respect the rules of the road first and foremost, the rules that govern our choices which gives off the appearance that we “share the road with each other.” We have to, we all took tests just to have the right to drive in the first place. As soon as cyclists begin to respect those rules first and foremost then they will be sharing the road with us. And that benefits them because when it comes down to it, if there’s some sort of accident between a vehicle and a bicycle, who do you think is going to win…?

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bachelor’s Paradise: Date Night

Date Night is one of my favorite traditions! Now that many of us are no longer eighteen, the time has come to step up our game. The traditional movie and dinner is still a great way to get to know someone a little better, but how do you get the evening started? Do you kick it old school and pick up your date? What if it’s your first date, do you meet at the theater in case you need to make the quick getaway? Assuming you’re past this point, I would highly suggest making an appetizer to share at one of your homes so you can talk before the movie. Yes, this is a little more labor intensive, but well worth the time and effort. Plus, you’ll get points for making a restaurant quality starter. Pomodori al Forno is a traditional Italian antipasto, the kind that you’d find at a traditional Trattoria. And it roughly translates as “Tomatoes in the oven.” It’s the kind of starter that you’d bring to a large family gathering while you’re waiting for the grilled lamb leg to get going. It’s disarmingly simple, basically slow roasted plum tomatoes with goat cheese and a sliced baguette. This can be served year round, thanks to the high quality of canned tomatoes that can be found in better grocery stores! Trust me, this works.

Pomodori al Forno


½ cup (or more) olive oil, divided
1 pound plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian parsley

Aged goat cheese (Bûcheron is rad)
1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted


Preheat oven to 250°F. Pour 1/2 cup oil into 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar, and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again. Bake until deep red and very tender (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes) about 15 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer tomatoes to plate when soft.

Layer tomatoes in medium bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Cover; chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Box-Office Round Up : 8.17.2008

Here’s this weekend’s box-office estimates!

1. Tropic Thunder $26 million
2. The Dark Knight $16.8 million
3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars $15.5 million
4. Mirrors $11.1 million
5. Pineapple Express $11.1 million

10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona $3.7 million

17. Henry Poole is Here $2.0 million

Before we get started properly, congratulations are in order! Today, The Dark Knight became the second highest grossing movie domestically, passing the original Star Wars. In fact, Warner Bros. has the number two and number three movie this week which is a cause celebré, if you ask me. But, back to business.

Tropic Thunder won the weekend! Yes, it did $26 mil over the weekend with a total cume of $37 for the first two days. It seems to be performing less than expected, but will have no problem earning back it’s entire budget plus prints/advertising over it’s theatrical release. That’s good news for all, especially for Tom Cruise. Even though he only appears as a cameo, it’s good for him to be associated with a hit no matter the size of the role.

At $15.5 million, The Clone Wars did well, especially when you consider that it’s an animated feature that started as a half hour cartoon on the Cartoon Network. It’s also interesting to note that this feature is a launching pad for the renewed Cartoon Network show that hasn’t been on the air since 2005. Apparently, they’ve got 100 episodes worth of story for that show, with 30 already finished! Talk about a good plan…

Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona earned $3.7 million on 692 screens, which puts it in the $5300/screen range. As usual for Woody’s pictures, it could use a little word of mouth to get it going. We’ll just have to see how this one grows. In the meantime, check it out and see for yourself what reviewers are calling The Return of Woody Allen. To remind everyone, Woody didn't go nowhere. Just like Prince told Justin Timberlake that Sexy never left.

Speaking of small movies, a little French thriller called Tell No One is playing on about 98 screens here in the States. I have not gotten a chance to see it, having been on holiday, but it looks great, and has earned fantastic reviews from the 100 people who have seen it. It’s difficult to use traditional box-office math/logic with subtitled films because most foreign films are seen by being rented, not necessarily by people going out to see it. That’s okay, I feel fortunate that we even get to see such good pictures at all. In fact, in the coming months, I am excited about many upcoming films for the first time in a long time. Some are foreign but many are American! It feels like an exciting time…

And that’s the weekend!

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Christopher and Madonna Louise : Part II

I did it. I broke down and bought Christopher Ciccone’s book about his relationship with his sister Madonna. I bought it because I felt a need to know one person’s truth about this artist, and that person may have been the person closest with her for her whole life, including her career. It was everything I expected; revealing, scathing, funny, bitchy and sad. Ironically, what I did not expect was honesty. I had amassed enough respect for Mr. Ciccone over the years to know that every word would be true, but I never dreamed that he would put himself under the same lens.

He and his sister have an interesting relationship that many siblings do not. Most people, even if they are great confidants to their siblings do not also create great works of popular art together. To be fair, he had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of any of her music, books, movies, photos or the like. But he was her dresser for her first two tours (the closest position to the artist while on tour), the artistic designer for her third and the director for her fourth. He was the interior designer for all of her homes until 2001, and was her art curator, suggesting and finding art for her personal collection until then as well. He, like no other, has worked with her the longest over her entire career. An unusual relationship, to say the least. And, like most familial relationships, it was full of dysfunction from both parties. He could have written a bestseller without that important piece of honesty, but that book would have far less meaningful.

So why did he write it? A tell-all book would surely end his relationship with her. It is clear that he needed to let go of all of these emotions that were bottled up inside him. Not only is this his memoir, but for Mr. Ciccone, getting perspective on their story was a complete catharsis. And it served as a way of validating his reality by confronting his demons and acknowledging his own strengths and weaknesses.

It is beyond clear that Christopher Ciccone loves his sister dearly, and has the utmost respect for her artistic endeavors. At the end of the day, Life With My Sister Madonna is full of love.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just To Reiterate

This internet series actually is the reason that these guys have their own Broadway show right this second. It's also nice to see real people be hilarious in an authenic way and use this crazy innerweb to create an audience and get to the next step. There aren't words for how proud I am of these peeps. Give it a chance, watch the first three episodes so you can get into their rhythm. What's 25 minutes of your life, especially if you're laughing your ass off the whole way through...?

© MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mind-Blowingly Inappropriate!

It’s gotten ridiculously ridiculous out in the marketplace right now, absolutely anything goes! With American culture reaching new heights of trashiness, the rules have changed. It used to be that a sex tape was a career ruiner (Rob Lowe) instead of a career starter (Paris Hilton). Campaigns and ideas were meant to be elegant, even if the product itself was, well… malt liquor. Remember Billy Dee Williams and Colt 45? You know, it still works every time. Back then you would avoid any possibility of your product being linked to something the public is at odds with. Just ask Pepsi and Madonna. Pepsi paid Madonna a truckload of cash to be in one of their commercials. They were more than proud, they even ran a commercial for the commercial at the Oscars that year! Then her Like a Prayer video (with the burning crosses, stigmata and images of a black saint) was released and they dropped her like a hot potato.

Today, not so much. The watchdog organization Parents Television Council reviewed Gossip Girl and had nothing but scandalous things to say about the show. They basically think and said that this show will ruin your children’s lives and their hope for a sane future. Usually, a network would do all it could to distance itself from those quotes and definitely not respond to them. But the CW marketing department decided to use direct quotes from the PTC over salacious shots of characters as the marketing campaign! Whoever came up with this idea deserves a promotion, a fat raise and a better parking space if you ask me because this is brilliant. This is exactly what it’s all about. And it would never have happened even five years ago. Progress!

We are now accustomed to celebrities having their own fragrances and clothing lines. Generally they are products that go along with the perception of that celebrity’s brand. Sarah Jessica Parker having a clothing line just makes sense. Who the hell knows if she can design, but we already associate her with style. Or the Michael Phelps branded bottled water I’d been seeing at Ralph’s since 2004. Hell, water is about the only thing I associate with Phelps, so good job! But I recently saw something that took me back. I was at the counter of my corner store (that’s a bodega, New Yorkers) where the lighters, lollipops, European candy, and those weird sesame seed bars reside when something caught my eye. It was a picture of the Notorious B.I.G. staring back at me. I was amazed that his estate has moved on from releasing posthumous albums and onto something more physical. So I took a closer look to see what it was. Notorious B.I.G. branded blunt rolling papers. I’m not going to lie, Biggie was well known for smoking some serious weed and I definitely associate that with his image, but dag! Blunt Papers?! That’s when I knew for sure that we’ve definitely crossed the line for good. Like I said, anything goes nowadays. It’s a Brave New World, and the adults just have to watch out. Here we come!

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Press Tour

The Press Tour is a necessary evil in the entertainment industry. Hell, it’s a required element of selling any new product in some form. Even at a party, when someone asks what you’re working on, the smart person will proceed with a very natural sounding sell. Luckily, it’s not on live television.

Media trainers will try to get you to remember a million little things about how to “express the ideas of the movie succinctly” in sound bite form, but all of that is incredibly difficult to remember when it’s 6AM, hot lights are in your face that make it impossible to see anything more than four feet in front of you and Matt Lauer is asking you to tell some story about a your film shoot. Luckily, there are only three absolute rules for the press tour.

Rule number one: Always sell whatever poster is hanging behind you. You might also have a hit TV show or a more anticipated movie coming up, but your job today is to sell the poster that’s hanging right now.

Rule number two: “Just say yes.” Get along with your interviewer, and your costar sitting next to you.

Rule number three: For the love of God, be flirty!

That’s it! With those three ideas, even if you don’t have ridiculously awesome answers, you’ll still be doing your job. BUT- playing by the rules does not always make for good television…

And without further ado, here is an example of great TV, featuring two of the stars from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II. Listen to the Gossip Girl, but watch Ugly Betty.

Ouch. And YAY!

Also, Happy Birthday Casey! You're 33!

© MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Box-Office Round Up : 8.10.2008

Here’s this weekend’s box-office estimates!

1. The Dark Knight $26 million
2. Pineapple Express $22.4 million
3. The Mummy III $16 million
4. Sisterhood/Traveling Pants $10.7 million
5. Step Brothers $8.9 million

Well, well, well… The Dark Knight has done it again and breaking more records along the way! I was sure that given the opening two days, Pineapple Express would easily win the weekend. Though it deserves to be said that with its Wednesday opening, it has already grossed $40.4 million, which gives Sony it’s first hit of the summer! I’m sure many people over at the Sony lot are much less worried about losing their jobs now that this movie is the first one of theirs to make money all summer. Dag. Hang in there guys. Though Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ gross seems low, it did beat the opening weekend of the first installment of that movie, so congratulations! It’s also interesting that when the first one came out, I had no idea of who these girls were except Alexis Bledel. Now it’s got the main Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty, Rory and Joan of Arcadia! OMFG!

Elegy, the movie starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz (which has a killer trailer, btw) opened with $102,000 on six screens. Not bad - $17,000 a screen for a small movie generally means that the main two nightly shows are sold out! We’ll see how this performs as it gains more screens.

It would just be wrong not to mention, even though The Round Up is not about this. Bernie Mac passed away this weekend at the age of 50 from complications due to pneumonia. Its sadness has a lot to do with it’s complete surprise. I had only heard he was sick on Friday evening and by Saturday morning he was gone. This was one seriously funny man. He had the rare ability to have a serious “angry” edge that was tempered with pure heart, which I think is why America loved him so much. He has quite a body of work, but for my money nothing beats his work in all of the Ocean’s movies. The interrogation scene with him and Matt Damon from Ocean’s 11 is an absolute classic! He left us too soon.

“Nuff Said!”

Also, many people may not know this name, but Bernie Brillstein passed away this week as well. Mr. Brillstein was head of his management company, Brillstein-Grey, which he founded with Brad Grey, who now runs Paramount Pictures. You are well acquainted with the results of his actions and the shows that Brillstein-Grey Television produced. One notable fact (and maybe my favorite) is that early in his career, Mr. Brillstein took interest in a young unknown puppeteer in New York City. Brillstein was his champion, and steered that career from unknown until he died in 1990. That person was Jim Henson. I only got to meet Mr. Brillstein twice, but immediately felt that this person was a class act. He fully understood the realities of this business but never let that interfere with his passion for it. Bernie Brillstein will be missed.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I just don't know what to think...

I am a really big fan of the Olympic Games in general and a bigger fan of specific events. When I was growing up, I played three different individual sports that have events in the Olympics. To be fair, I am decidedly not an Olympian, but in these sports (gymnastics, diving and figure skating if you must know) it is impossible to train regularly without the idea of the Olympics coming up. Weekly. If you start one of these sports while you are a kid, you will be trained hard so that if you have the ability and the desire, you have the option of being put on the Olympic track. This is not normal for most kids. For a period of about ten years I (and many people around me) thought about the Olympics a lot. Every. Single. Day. People with that similar experience have an understanding about the Olympics and the reason for their existence. And that’s a good thing.

On top of all that, I grew up in a city that was given the gift of being a host to the Olympics. I got to see first hand a city preparing to have the Games and what that meant. We were not simply hosting the Games, we were hosts to the entire world. See, the Olympics are not about nationalism as much as they are about globalism. It is a festival of competition, yes, but more importantly it’s a celebratory way for so many different countries to come together. Yes, Atlanta grew up a lot in preparation for the games. New Stadiums, new parks, better light rail systems, and new architecture just like every other city that becomes a host. But the citizens themselves also had refurbishments. We were inviting the whole world to see our city! That kind of duty was an honor, and we took it seriously. But we could only change so much about the way our city looked, after that we had to learn to be proud of everything Atlanta had to offer, even if it was old. And that which was old was also part of our city’s history that we were proud to share. We had nothing to hide.

There is one thing that I truly question about Beijing hosting the games. Say what you will about China’s politics in general, and I’d probably agree. But my issues with those politics have nothing to do with the Games themselves, because if bad politics were a reason to not host the Games then there wouldn’t be any country that could host the games. What bothers me is this: The City of Beijing has chosen to build temporary walls to hide “unsightly” areas of town that they feel embarrassed by. These walls cover up businesses, and entire neighborhoods of people and their homes. Let me be clear: The City of Beijing is choosing to hide their own people. I cannot express how much that hurts my feelings. It is the exact opposite of what I love and respect most about the Olympic Games. Somehow, that seems to only be the tip of the iceberg…

And that complete lack of honor makes me feel sorry for them, because at the end of the day, they simply don’t get it.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And We're Back!

After a fantastic holiday, Soccerboy is back in LA! Getting back to LA after being gone for a minute always reminds me of one basic fact. Los Angeles is weird! Obviously, being the center of the Entertainment Universe sets this city apart, but more on that later.

More than any other city I’ve been to, LA has an unusually high percentage of beautiful people. And they’re everywhere! Serving you coffee, pumping your gas, making your copies and generally stopping traffic with their incredibly stupid/selfish decisions. I was at Rock N’Roll Ralph’s early one morning when some dude ran his cart into mine. Accidentally? Absentmindedly? He looked like what can only be described as a bum. Dirty as hell, three months of bedhead and a darkness around his eyes that conjured sleepless nights. As I untangled our carts and moved on, I noticed something. He smelled like shampoo and cologne! I turned around and realized that he was wearing AG Jeans, a shirt from Maxfield and was taking an iphone from his pocket to look at his grocery list. That darkness around the eyes may have been eyeliner! And then it hit me, he chose this look on purpose! I am still surprised that someone was working it so well so early in the morning. I almost applauded.

That’s another thing – this town gets up seriously early. That is mainly because so many people have early calls on set. It’s true, working entertainment professionals make up a very large percentage of this city. So much that when we were hit by the writer’s strike last year, LA had estimated losses that are north of $100 million. My point is, on the weekends, I go hiking early to beat the crowd. I am generally on the hill by 6:30 AM at the latest, and I am in no way alone. At all. This early-to-rise phenomenon complicates other matters as well. In New York City I could roll out of bed at eight to get some breakfast at a restaurant and we’d be one of the five people there. Here, if I get to some restaurants at 8:30, we have to wait in a line that goes out the door! What? You have to be on your game even on Saturday morning!

I will say getting away is an essential aspect of living anywhere for me, and I really had the best time. But – there is nothing like landing in Burbank (the kind of airport where you have to walk on the runway and climb stairs to get to the plane. A pretty fabulous feeling) and seeing the mountains and feeling the soft evening sun and knowing that in twelve hours you’ll be at the beach in your home city to make you ask yourself why the hell you ever needed to leave in the first place.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Holiday Hooray!

This week, soccerboy has been/is on Holiday. HOORAY! So, Soccerboy In LA will return for Cycle Two on Friday 8 August, 2008.

As you may have noticed, we'll always try to run the regular Sunday feature, Box-Office Round Up, whenever we're away.

Try to Stay Cool during these Dog Days.


© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Box-Office Round Up: 8.03.08

Here’s this weekend’s box-office estimates!

1. The Dark Knight $43.8 mil
2. The Mummy III $42.5 mil
3. Step Brothers $16.3 mil
4. Mamma Mia! $13.1 mil
5. Journey/Center/Earth $6.9 mil
6. Swing Vote $6.3 mil

I have to admit, that I am not surprised that The Dark Knight won the weekend (again!), but I am surprised at how small a margin it was. I guess I have to give it up to The Mummy, I’ve always underestimated the financial possibilities of that franchise.

Anyway. Everything else seems to have lined up pretty much as expected. Swing Vote, the movie that brings Kevin Costner back to a starring role only got $6.3, but given the budget, it will make all it’s money back in it’s domestic theatrical release! I am a little proud of Kevin for putting his own money up on a picture he believes in and assuming all the risk when no studio would. (Generally, we are advised not to put our own money into pictures to spread around the risk) It’s not going to do gangbusters, but he will reap most of the profits after the costs of prints and advertising. Profits! That’s what makes a movie financially successful. And heck, I’ll even see it. Well… I’ll see it at home.

The X-Files fell 65% from last week, which is not so fun for Fox, but it will make it’s money back, even though it seemed to come out of nowhere. Oh, Fox... What the hell is going on?

The only other entry I think is important to mention is Miramax’s Brideshead Revisited, starring Matthew Goode. They are going for a platform release, starting with a couple of cities, and moving on from there. Today, Brideshead is playing on 189 screens and made $1.3 mil, which is up a whopping 248% since last week! This is a classic Miramax movie, a period piece set in rural England, and they are displaying their knowledge of what they do best with small movies. Make a good movie, choose a good weekend, start small and use word of mouth as part of your marketing model. Expect to keep hearing good things about this movie for the weeks to come.

And that’s the weekend!

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

Friday, August 1, 2008


In the Hills of Hollywood, there is a 160 acre oasis of hiking trails with spectacular views of LA called Runyon Canyon. It is a mere four blocks up the hill from Rock N’Roll Ralph’s (more on that craziness some other time). It’s a great place to walk your dog, in fact, you should be a dog person if you want to hike. Since the majority of the canyon is an off-leash area, you will definitely receive love from some dogs at some point on your hike. Which, admittedly, is pretty cool.

But - I must say, that this is no easy hike. You go from just a few feet above sea level all the way up to 1320 feet above sea level at Mulholland Drive. And it’s not a very lengthy hike, which makes Runyon no joke at all. I will compare it to this: On the Riviera in France and Italy, you can drive on a seriously curvy highway on top of cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Some friends and I were freaking out about the 200 foot drop into the sea with no railing, when some 80 year old Italian dude on a Vespa flies past us (on the outside!) while smoking a cigarette like it was nothing! Crikey! Well, my first few times up Runyon were akin to that, with less fear but more embarrassment. There I was, huffing and puffing and considering turning around, when some 80 year old man ran right by me! Seriously. RAN. I couldn’t believe it, and the only reason I do now is because I have since learned there are people who’ve been using this canyon for exercise and sightseeing since it was opened as a public park. I’m no athlete, but I’m no couch potato either, I definitely get my regular exercise. It’s been a while since I’ve seriously thought about turning around, but the other day my “heat was up” as we say (namaste) and I was working when a literary agent I know quickly jaunted up behind me, chatted quickly, and was off like the wind. All the while with a baby on his back. On his fucking back!

As you can tell, being right smack in Hollywood makes Runyon Canyon an interesting cross-section of Angelenos. I go often enough to have a good feeling about who is a regular and who is trying it on. One athlete in particular gets his daily exercise by running up and down several times each visit, several times each week! It is not uncommon to see actors or other “celebrities” getting their hike on right along with some random Bubby. Everyone, no matter who, knows that they will not be bothered up in Runyonland.

I will repeat, it is a difficult hike! It is not a gentle stroll in the park. But the views of LA and the hills (including the BEST view of the Hollywood sign) are unparalleled. As a friend of mine said, “I totally thought my heart was gonna to pop, then I saw the most beautiful view of downtown I have ever experienced. I could even see the ocean.”

That is what Runyon Canyon is all about. This city is an urban experience, and I could easily get all of my exercise inside a gym while watching TV but I’d miss the sound of the birds. And the view of the mountains. And the smell of wild rosemary. Or the way only we know what fresh clouds smell and taste like. It’s about balance.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.