Wrote my Eurotrack column for weekly Variety this morning, but I suspect this is one that might not run. My thesis is that all of us in the industry press have fallen for the consumer press’s need for a “hook” to their coverage of Cannes. Everyone is calling this years Cannes “the worst of all time”.
I have noted that our critics have given wonderful reviews to at least 14 of the official selections. But because there is no breakout hit and everyone is searching for this damned “hook,” no one is pausing to ask, “why is it so bad if there’s more than a dozen wonderful films in the festival?”
Had lunch at New World in Soho with producers Jeremy Thomas and Hercules Belleville. We discussed Cannes, where their film Young Adam got a great reception. We all agree that the criticism of Cannes is kind of silly. Like everyone else I’ve encountered, Thomas and Belleville acknowledge that my thesis – Cannes is heavily influenced by the French film industry’s needs – is true, but no one agrees on what that means.
3pm: I hope the Cannes obsession is almost over. Our senior film critic, Derek Elley, has shown me clippings of Variety’s impact on the festival. Between our chief film critic Todd McCarthy’s tough reviews of the Palme d’Or winner, Elephant, and the Lars von Trier opus, Dogville, my tough piece on the hidden hand of the French film industry and David Rooney’s interview with a very cantankerous Harvey Weinstein, who is also very critical of the current state of Cannes, Variety appears to be laying it on. I feel wobbly.
Clicked on to the remote desktop function which shows me the production of Variety in LA. Doesn’t look like this week’s Eurotrack on Cannes is going to run. I hope we can start talking about Venice soon.
1pm: Lunch with Prague-based attorney for McKenna’s, Peter Valert, who represents lots of entertainment firms. We talk at length about all the people we know in Prague and my old screenwriter’s instincts start rumbling. There’s a story in all of these young, hip, ambitious, creative business types in Prague and their dreams, disillusionment, adventures, romantic escapades and fall-down silly mistakes.
7.30pm: Tonight, I’m interviewed on Five as part of Live With… and it’s bizarre to hear the audience cheering and screaming their approval as I say slightly nasty things about Posh and Becks supposed “conquering” of the MTV awards. Now I know how Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator felt. My blood-covered lance falls from my hand.
8.30am: I do my weekly showbiz chat stint on BBC London’s Saturday breakfast radio show with Bill Overton and Amy LamÃ©.
1.30pm: I do an interview on BBC’s Big Picture, the first time I’ve done their show. Sharp, funny, to the point, I’m happy to contribute a little “inside the biz” scuttlebutts for their audience.
10am: This is the only day of the week I get to sleep in.
8.30am: I drive out to the National Film and Television School with Film London chairman Sandy Lieberson. He used to run the producing programme at the school and he’s asked me to present my view on the importance of reading and deciphering Variety. The young producers are generally smart and well-informed, but I think there’s a cultural chasm at work. In Hollywood, my fever pitch shtick is more the norm.
2.30pm: Phone conference with Renate Rose, director of the European Film Promotion Organisation. We’re planning an incredibly exciting project that will highlight the fact that the dynamic ground-breaking film making one once saw in the US indie film scene, is now happening in Europe.
4.30pm: Phone meeting with our LA team and my showbiz partner in Variety London, Eric Mika.
Spent the whole day workshopping ideas for special reports and events with Mika.
11am: Met with studio chief Stewart Till of UIP and his team about plans to collaborate on a very special project.
I credit independent publicist Mark Borkowski with cooking up the idea and Till with having the gusto to help energise the London entertainment business scene. As usual, I find myself quoting Max Bialystock in The Producers. “If you got it, flaunt it.” The London showbiz scene has “got it” but there’s far too much hiding of lights under bushels for this Hollywood refugee to accept.
1.30pm: Lunch with Paul Brett, one of the smartest guys in the UK entertainment scene.
7.30pm: Went to the Mayor Gallery to see work by Natalie Kohn, who’s married to writer-director Menno Meyjes, whose film I’m seeing after the show. Her pieces are great, interestingly taken from work she did for the movie, Max, written and directed by her husband. The film is terrific. John Cusack is very good, but the revelation is Noah Taylor. He burns a hole in the screen.
I wish the film well because it’s a movie chock-a-block with ambition and ideas. I know the world of Hollywood blockbusters is a harsh and violent environment for films like this to thrive. But it’s because of films like this that I love the entertainment scene in London/ Europe. For film, this is where the artistic action is.