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May 3, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | May 3, 2007 |

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just wanted to drop you a quick e-mail to let you know how things are going in Los Angeles. You two have always been so supportive, so I figured I should keep you informed on what’s happening out here.

Have you heard of Night at the Museum? It was a bad movie starring Ben Stiller. I know that’s a little vague, but stay with me. It was about a museum where the exhibits came to life at night: Robin Williams was a kind of an imbalanced ex-president, or something. Anyway, it was directed by a man named Shawn Levy, whose name I know is meaningless to you, since he’s only directed movies aimed at young people with developmental problems. But the point of the story is that Shawn Levy has been tapped (that’s what we say out here) to direct The Way Back for Fox Searchlight, the specialty films division of 20th Century Fox. (“Specialty films division” is how people in the business refer to the studio departments responsible for producing slightly higher quality films with which the studios can then campaign for awards, the winning of which brings prestige and therefore more money, which allows the studios to keep making broad movies like Little Man.) The film’s logline — its essence distilled to a lifeless single-sentence pitch, if you will — says that the story “centers on a 15-year-old boy’s passage into young adulthood over the course of a fateful summer when his family rents a beach house.” At age 15, I was taking driver’s ed and shoplifting skin mags (once), but then again, real life isn’t as exciting as the movies, so the boy in the film will likely meet a willowy blonde with whom he will share a brief but intense connection, after which he will share a wistful parting set to some British-sounding light emo. Claudia Lewis, president of production at Fox Searchlight, says that Levy “brings such vim and vigor to his comedies,” which is a great example of the kind of empty plaudits that fuel the industry out here. Press releases are full of these things. Besides, what does that even mean? Vim and vigor? Is she referring to Big Fat Liar?

Just kidding about the shoplifting, too.

Anyway, that’s that. I doubt it will be a good film, and probably not even a mediocre one. But you like to know what’s going on.

Speaking of boyhood: Do you remember when I picked up that battered but sturdy used copy of The Dark Knight Returns at the used bookstore when I was 12? It’s still on my shelf, because it’s a great book. Well, that was written by a guy named Frank Miller, whose work has been co-opted by Hollywood ever since Tim Burton used that old graphic novel as part of the inspiration for his Batman in 1989. Miller was also the guy who wrote 300, which was this year’s version of Gladiator, i.e., the braindead action movie that pretends to be emotionally resonant and will soon have a place on DVD shelves in dorms nationwide. Well, Miller wrote a comic miniseries called Ronin, about an ancient samurai who’s reincarnated in a futuristic, dystopian New York. The weird part of the story is that the book is being made into a movie by Warner Bros., and Sylvain White is in negotiations to direct. White also directed I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, about horny young white people who get ritualistically slaughtered, and Trois 3: The Escort, about horny young black people who, well, go for the trifecta. Now, sure, I’m not a diehard Millerite, but I dig the guy’s books, and I think it’s a shame that the adaptation of a work from the man who created the worlds of Batman: Year One and Sin City is being trusted to a guy whose biggest feature credit is Stomp the Yard, about horny young dancers (I think). That’s just depressing to me, as a film lover, a reader of graphic novels, and a human being.

Finally, I’ve attached a trailer for The Savages, which looks to be a solid dramatic comedy about family dysfunction. Sure, I can relate to Philip Seymour Hoffman a bit in the trailer — he’s husky and bearded and has a brunette sister (Laura Linney) — but it also reminds me that, when the time comes, you two are gonna get put in the best home I can afford. Windows, even.

Well, I guess that’s most of the news this week. Did you hear that “Studio 60” will come back for its last few episodes in May? If you ask me, Aaron Sorkin got too preachy. And Pops, I’ll keep you updated on “Friday Night Lights” as that situation develops; I know you love the show. Take care, you guys.

— Daniel

P.S. Send money.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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