Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose and Beyonce Knowles in 'Dreamgirls.'
Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake
"Hounddog," the simply awful movie in which 12-year-old Dakota Fanning’s character is raped, has no buyers.
"No one wants it after the terrible reviews," one distributor told me, just as we were sitting down to see another disaster, J.P. Schaefer’s "Chapter 27."
Indeed, the people associated with The Weinstein Company, IFC Films and First Look were among those who instantly agreed that they had no interest in "Hounddog."
At this rate, this exercise in bad taste may wind up being a DVD collector’s item. Same thing for "Chapter 27," from which many fled before it ended in the two audiences that have seen it.
Meanwhile, the producers of "Hounddog" trotted out Fanning yesterday to defend the film in places like USA Today and at another press conference.
It’s come to that, apparently. The people who should be answering questions, however, are Fanning’s parents, and the parents of the other children in the film.
Indeed, 12-year-old Cody Hanford, who plays Fanning’s boyfriend in the provocative and poorly written outing, may actually become more of the focus than even the star.
In the film, his character lures Fanning’s into a barn and then watches as she’s raped. Hanford and Fanning also have numerous kissing scenes, some in which they’re half-dressed.
Yesterday, Variety’s Todd McCarthy was one of several reviewers who echoed my complaints about the hoary plot, terrible dialogue and clichés marking every scene.
With the above-mentioned distributors out, it’s unlikely now that any major buyer will take "Hounddog." And that’s just as well, considering that its release is sure to spark more outrage, protests and calls for investigations.
The strange part is that, in the long run, the movie itself is only offensive because it’s so bad. The real culprits aren’t the filmmakers, but the parents of the young actors.
Yesterday I spoke to Joy Pervis, the Atlanta agent who discovered Dakota and her sister, Elle. She’s since signed Cody and Isabelle Fuhrmann, the other child in the film.
Pervis told me she’s basically in favor of the film and trusts the Fannings’ judgment. "They’re a good Christian family," she said.
But plenty of publicists who’ve worked on movies with either Fanning girl have stories about their mother, Joy.
"She’s a real stage mother," one of them said at the screening. "The negotiations just go on and on."
But back to "Hounddog." Since I am one of the few who’ve actually seen it, let me explain something important. There is no point that I can find to the child’s rape.
Once it happens, it’s never discussed. The culprit is never accused or apprehended. The child never tells her story to anyone. There’s no great moment of revelation that could possibly help someone who’s watching the film. It’s simply there for shock value.
The fact that Kampmeier and the producers have somehow conned rape-assistance groups into using the movie as a public-service announcement is bizarre to me. But I guess it’s no more bizarre than using Dakota Fanning as the public defender of the indefensible.
The stunning news that "Dreamgirls" is not nominated for Best Picture didn’t affect its business on Tuesday, according to boxofficemojo.com. The movie vaulted to No. 1, increasing its business from Monday by 20.2 percent.
The CD soundtrack also remains No. 1, according to hitsdailydouble.com, with another 65,000 copies sold last week. So there!
There are many theories about why "Dreamgirls" wasn’t nominated. Dave Carr had some suggestions in the New York Times, including that the DVDs weren’t mailed in time.
Another theory: That the huge number of Academy members from technical unions probably had no interest in seeing a musical, especially one that was considered pitched toward a gay or black audience. Who knows?
The fact remains that "Dreamgirls" should easily win at least three Oscars, with Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and the song "Listen." It should also hit the $100 million mark by Oscar night. "Dreamgirls" will go into Oscar trivia books as the only film to get the most nominations in one year but not Best Picture.
Much of Sundance starts to slow down now, but the parties continue.
On Tuesday night, Eddie Murphy showed up at Bethany Frankel’s Chef Dance with girlfriend Tracey Edmonds. They were joined by John Singleton, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tara Reid, Darryl Hannah and Jake Paltrow, director brother of Gwyneth, whose film debuts at the festival tonight. …
Gwyneth and mom, Blythe Danner, will be on hand for the premiere. …
Director Darren Aronofsky ("The Fountain") arrived Wednesday. …
Justin Timberlake cited for not showing at the Creative Coalition Visionary Awards at Harry O’s. Rumors he would perform live never materialized into fact. …
But Mandy Moore, celebrating her good reviews in "Dedication," performed live with her band at least three different times over the weekend. Moore is readying her new album for a mid-winter release. The girl is nice, well-spoken and can sing live and on key at the drop of a hat. …
IFC Films is interested in the Joe Strummer/Clash documentary. I hope this works out. The film is very good. …
ThinkFilms is circling "Chicago 10," directed by Brett Morgen. …
Keri Russell, star of "Waitress" — picked up by Fox Searchlight — flew home to New York last night. "Waitress" is going to make her a movie star, mark my words. …
And finally: I hope David Stenn’s "Girl 27" gets a distributor. If nothing else, it would make an excellent Showtime or HBO showcase.
A sort of huge, mega "E! True Hollywood Story," this fine doc tells the hidden story of an ingénue who was raped at a 1937 MGM party in Hollywood. Her life was ruined, and even though she filed the first federal rape lawsuit, the whole thing was quickly hushed up.
Stenn, a tireless researcher, did a remarkable job. His interviews with Patricia Douglas, who was 85 by the time he located her, are startling. By contrast, "Hounddog" is even more ridiculous on the subject of rape. …