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  • Thursday, February 23, 2006


    Star light, star bright.
    First star I try to slight.

    Making movies Posted by Picasa

    In the bright and glittery constellation that is Pajamaline Media there are those who could be charitably called 'lesser lights' or not-so-charitably called, 'dim bulbs'. And then there is Ed Driscoll.

    I have a theory about Driscoll. Back when the Pajamaline ponzi scheme new media paradigm was but a gleam in Roger and Charles wallets, they needed a lawyer with Silicon Valley connections to help pave the way to VC moolah. Enter attorney Nina Yablock who happens to be Ed's wife.
    Well, long story, short deposition it looks as though in compensation for her work tradmarking OSM they agreed to let Ed do some Pajamablogging because he was just hanging around the house being annoying.

    Which takes us to today, when Ed takes on Hollyweird, or in this case Rob Reiner.

    There's a curious flip-over that occurs in any celebrity's career when he or she comes out as a member of the left. On the one hand, the fullblown brass ring of Schwarzenegger/Bruce Willis/Mel Gibson-level megastardom becomes much more difficult to obtain, because you've given audiences in red state middle America a great reason to avoid your movies. On the other, your career is set: you'll never not each lunch in this town again, to mangle the title of the late Julia Phillips' famous tell-all.

    Take for example, Rob Reiner, whom Hugh Hewitt has been hamering(sic) all week.

    Okay, I'm not sure what exactly a "flip-over" is, but I do know that it's been a while since anyone called Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis a 'megastar" and if being rightwing is bankable with the red states, then Houston we have a problem with Bandits, Hart's War, Tears of the Sun, The Whole Ten Yards, and Hostage, although Willis totally kicked ass as the voice of Spike in Rugrats Go Wild!. But this isn't about Willis or Gibson or the Gropinator...no. It's about why do the studios continue to throw money at Reiner:

    Just in time for Christmas, his latest film, Rumor Has It was released, starring Jennifer Aniston of Friends fame. Two months later, it's grossed a paltry $42m in domestic box office.

    Hey, everybody's entitled to strike out now and then, especially with a public as fickle as ours. But if you look at the box office returns of Reiner's movies on IMDB.com for literally the last decade, the last time he directed a film that grossed higher than its budget in the US was the leftwing-lovefest The American President in 1995, and even then, just barely. (About three million over its $62m budget, according to the IMDB. George Lucas and James Cameron don't even get out of bed unless they know their films are going to gross a few hundred million dollars.) And yet somehow, a studio manages to assign Reiner a film to direct every couple of years.

    Now I know to some people foreign money is just funny-colored toilet paper, but, you know, it's still money. But in Ed's world the only money that can count against the budget is the American gross (USA! USA!), so in the case of Rumor Has It, when the numbers look like this:

    Domestic: $42,933,453 51.9%
    + Overseas: $39,800,000 48.1%
    = Worldwide: $82,733,453

    ...we have to assume that that extra $39 million doesn't really count and falls between the cushions of Reiner's fancy Hollywood leather couch for the maid to pocket.

    I couldn't find any information of the budget for Rumor Has It, but let's contrast it with another film that got the conservatives all nipply from last year and compare dollars to arrive at a ballpark figure.

    Ron Howard (who was all-American Opie to Reiners's commie-pinko Meathead) directed Cinderella Man which was released last year. As you can see, Cinderella Man grossed $61,649,911 in the US against a production budget of $88 million. Add in foreign dollars and it grossed $108,539,911 or about $26 million more than Rumor. First off, Rumor is still playing and Cinderella is already out on DVD so the gap will narrow, however slightly. Secondly, we have to assume that Cinderella had a much bigger budget when one considers the costs of Academy Award winners Howard, Russell Crowe, and the piggy-eyed Renee Zellwegger and the fact that it is a period piece. I don't have the background to estimate the cost of Rumor (for that we would turn to Jane at FDL) but I'm guessing, oh, lets call it $50 million tops since that was his budget for The Story of Us with Michelle Pfeiffer and (!) Bruce Willis. I'm thinking lower.

    So who made more money? Who should get to direct another movie?

    Both of them.

    Ron Howard gave us A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (for which we will never forgive him). He also gave us Far and Away, The Paper, EdTV and The Missing.

    And for Rob Reiner, for every The Story of Us , North, and Alex & Emma, he has directed Stand By Me, This Is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men, and Misery.

    Few directors make money with every film. In the case of Terrence Malick, they never make money. But as just about anyone could tell Ed, there is more to the bottom line than the domestic gross (Kingdom of Heaven anyone?). So why the cheap shot at Reiner speculating that he gets work because of his politics?


    Whiskey River (2007)

    Directed by
    Rob Reiner

    Writing credits
    James Webb

    Plot Outline: An American solider injured in Iraq is called back into action before he's fully recovered, prompting his father to kidnap his son in order to save his life.

    Who is James Webb?

    Graduated from U.S. Naval Academy 1968 Served in Vietnam with U.S. Marines Served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy

    Served as Secretary of the U.S. Navy under Ronald Reagan.

    That's got to hurt.

    A lot.


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