I don’t remember much about television from my college years (no reason…), save for trying (and failing) to get every last one of my friends to watch “Arrested Development,” the occasional “Power Puff Girls” or “Dexter’s Laboratory” marathons on Cartoon Network (when it was good), and late, non-sober nights watching Cheaters. I actively hate the show, to me it’s like if Pringles were cantaloupe, but I watched because they filmed it in the sprawling DFW Metroplex, and that meant there was always a decent chance witnessing someone I knew ruin their lives. (This was exacerbated by all the Girls Gone Wild commercials that aired during the breaks, wherein I actually did once see somebody I knew - but that’s a story for a different day.) As such, I don’t remember much about the short-lived “Project Greenlight”/”“American Idol” hybrid, “On the Lot.”
In fact, the only thing I clearly remember is Brett Ratner sitting at the judges table. I thought he was terrible even then, so I must have thought, How in the world did Brett Ratner become one of the rotating “filmmaking experts” on this utter pile? (I’m almost certain this was before X-Men: The Last Stand.) This memory was seared even deeper into my brain-steak when Ratner chewed out a contestant for not pitching his film the right way, for not selling it well enough. That is not an entirely invalid critique, as a screenwriter certainly has to get a studio to buy his script before it can ever become a finished film, but this successful Hollywood “director” never once mentioned anything about story or character. Nothing about plot, or motivation, or emotion. Just sell, sell, sell.
This is the one true fact of why Brett Ratner continues to get work, no matter how many times sane people scratch their heads and become convinced that there is no God. His movies make a profit, sure, but so do a lot of directors’ who don’t work nearly as steadily. What separates Ratner is that he’s akin to George Lucas, an idea man who could sell ice to an ice vendor who specializes in selling and distributing nothing but ice. Despite seeing the bulk of the episodes, my only other clear memory from “On the Lot” also involved Ratner: When he didn’t like the contestants’ pitches, he would punch them up during his critiques; put on the spot, he even managed to weave a brand new, whole cloth pitch for an idea that was always far too absurd to ever work. But he made it sound thrilling. It was pretty impressive, if not stomach churning.
All that is prologue to this.
Brett Ratner has ganged up with Talenthouse to… to find America’s Next Top Brett Ratner’s Personal Assistant? I guess? It appears the website is holding several competitions for creative folk in various fields and interests, whose prizes won’t be cash, but the chance to work with the “filmmaker” in some capacity. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this endeavor is, other than maybe, simply, Ratner is getting even lazier, doesn’t feel like paying for services that he needs to make his “films,” and desperately wants to
take pictures of naked girls be an art and fashion photographer. Remember when I talked about the schadenfreude of watching someone ruin their lives? I’m pretty sure any friends and relatives of these “winners” will know exactly how I felt in the long, long ago. In the before time.
Here, I’ll just let this generation’s nonfictional Willy Loman tell you about it in his own words (NSFW after the magazine title “treats!” appears onscreen):
Rob Payne writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show/podcast We’re Not Fanboys, and you can find him on Twitter @RobOfWar. He will be dead in the cold, cold ground before recognizes Brett Ratner as an actual filmmaker, sans ironic quotation marks.