Published December 19, 2007
Irish actor Colin Farrell finally understands his career. He tells me he has a reason to go to work now. He gets it.
This is a far cry from the Farrell who burst onto the scene in Joel Schumacher’s 2000 feature, "Tigerland." Overnight, Farrell became a hard-drinking, partying, womanizing, walking tabloid headline.
Last year he had to skip being in Todd Haynes' "I’m Not There" to go to rehab. Heath Ledger took the role. Now, Farrell is about to open in three movies including Woody Allen’s "Cassandra’s Dream" in January.
Tuesday night at the Woody premiere, Farrell was drinking water and being sober, although still witty and with it as he reflected on his situation.
"I’ve been off for eight months. I’m ready to go back to work," he told me. Along with "Cassandra," he also has Gavin O’Connor’s "Pride and Glory" ready for release this winter. On Jan. 17, he’ll bring Martin McDonagh’s "In Bruges" to Sundance as the opening-night film. But all these were made before his life got out of hand.
What was it like, I wondered, when he first tasted fame?
"It was like this," he said, and waved a hand up close in my face. "I couldn’t see anything. Yeah. It was wild." And it stayed that way.
But he’s 31 now, and even though he’s never going to be tamed, Farrell seems to understand that the party is at least a little bit over. (We wouldn’t want him to be sitting at home, knitting, however.)
"I finally have a reason for all this," he told me. "I get what it is."
And so it seems. At Tuesday night’s "Cassandra" premiere, he was hugged by Joe Pantoliano and congratulated by Allen, writer Doug McGrath, director Julian Schnabel, Rosie Perez, Tom "Ed" Cavanagh, musicians Moby, Deborah Harry and Maxwell, among others. Women flocked around Farrell like geese who’d just found a loaf of Wonder Bread. But he came and went from the after-party at the Soho Grand with little fanfare — at least for now.
"Golden Globes? Not happening. Oscars? Not happening."
That’s the word — or the words — from a Writers Guild insider who knows the score concerning the long-running strike against the studios.
The Guild will, without a doubt, picket the Golden Globes on Jan. 13, my source says. This person knows the business. The Guild also will picket the Oscars, the Spirit Awards and, presumably, the Grammys. They’ll also picket shows such as the People’s Choice Awards.
So far, the WGA has been very effective with picket lines — far more so probably than the studios ever expected. Hollywood already is shut down because of picket lines.
Interestingly, Variety — "the bible" of show business — is taking a subtle pro-studio stand on the strike.
Tuesday night, the publication’s story indicating a Golden Globe picket line made it seem like the physical picketers would be so far from the Hilton that no one would care. Alas, a modern picket line is as virtual as anything else in 2008. If the Writers Guild says it’s boycotting the Globes, its members, and members of other guilds, are highly unlikely to attend.
It’s not just that the Guild turned down requests for waivers from the Hollywood Foreign Press (the Globes, Jan. 13) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars, Feb. 24). That happened on Monday.
According to this high-level source, the Guild will not negotiate a separate deal with Dick Clark Productions, the company that produces the Globes show for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC.
Instead, the Guild will picket the show. And if the strike is still on when Feb. 24 rolls around, the Guild will picket the Oscars, too.
And this means that millions of dollars in advertising spent by the networks and the movie studios will go down the drain. So far, the Hollywood Foreign Press has pretended as if this weren’t happening. But it is.
Jan. 13 is less than a month away. A picket line around the Beverly Hilton Hotel means that big stars like George Clooney and Steven Spielberg will stay away. It’s that simple. And once they’ve announced their intentions not to cross, the rest will follow.
In other words, after years of being mocked, the Golden Globes are finally in danger of extinction. And that would be a disaster, considering the way the HFPA has lived imperiously on the $6 million in tax free fees it receives annually from NBC for the rights to the Globes telecast.
The Globes and the Oscars would be joined by the Independent Spirit Awards (Feb. 23), as well, and most likely the Grammys (Feb. 10). Only the Screen Actors Guild Awards (Jan. 27) would be immune from picketing. There’s no word on the fate of the Critics Choice Awards, formerly the Broadcast Critics Awards (Jan. 9).
The source involved did confirm that the WGA may reach an independent agreement with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants company shortly, returning Letterman and his writers to the air. NBC already has announced the Jan. 2 return of Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, but those shows will function without WGA writers.
In case you’re not in the industry or keeping up with strike news, my source sends the following message: "We are at an impasse. It’s a stalemate."
The main issue, if it can be distilled in just a few sentences: the Internet. Right now, the TV networks offer repeats of broadcast shows on their Web sites for free. They run advertising at full rates between segments of the shows, but pay the writers, directors and actors involved in the shows a minute fraction of their union fees for these rights.
In other words: A writer may sell one half-hour script for a comedy like "Will and Grace" and receive $21,000. The writer is then paid for six subsequent TV broadcasts at proportionately diminishing rates. The second showing is $11,000, and so forth. When that’s over, so is the money. It’s not a fortune, by any means, if that’s all a writer sells in one season.
At the same time, when the network shows the same half hour on the Internet for the first time, the writer is paid $2,600. After that the studios are offering $139 for unlimited re-runs for a year.
In other words, the studios propose that writers give away their work for free on the Internet. They say the re-running of TV shows on the Web is "for promotional purposes." But that would mean they derive no revenue from those promotional showings. In fact, as we all know, expensive ads are attached to all those "streams." The money goes to the networks.
There’s a great explanation of this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ55Ir2jCxk. There’s another one at http://weblogs.variety.com/wga_strike_blog/2007/11/index.html.
The WGA is essentially asking for $150 million to cover the "rebroadcast" of shows on the Internet from the studios. That’s the cost of one medium-priced bomb, such as Nicole Kidman in "The Invasion," Ewan McGregor in "The Island" or Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty."
Studios routinely burn $150 million on one piece of junk. But they are intransigent when it comes to pooling that amount to end the strike and give the writers a fair income.
Television is more imperiled than the movies. If the strike doesn’t end soon, there may be no fall 2008-2009 TV season. The networks are scrambling to pull in cable shows like "Monk" and "Dexter" to fill the void. Some shows, such as "Law & Order" and "Lost" were filmed before the strike began and have yet to play new episodes. But when they’re done, that’s it. Nothing. Nada.
Lynne Spears is the Mother of the Year, 2007. Her 16-year-old daughter, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant. Her other daughter, Britney, of course, is in a custody battle and has been cited as a reckless mother by a family court judge.
What’s left for the Spears family, and how soon before their saga disappears from the media? If we continue to support their behavior, the torture is nothing but self-inflicted. Let them go, people. They are beneath more public discussion. Let government agencies deal with them, unimpeded.