January 21, 2006

George Clooney vs. Steve Sailer in NBC's "Roguish Charm Smackdown"

I was on the NBC Nightly News for 15 seconds tonight, right after George Clooney. With the benefit of that kind of one-on-one comparison, I'll be waiting for leading man offers to pour in from Hollywood producers. Clooney's getting raves for growing a beard and adding 30 pounds to play his role in "Syriana," but, hey, I did both of those things years before he did...

Update: The reviews are in!

"Dad, that was horrible!"

My younger son

Theoretically, you can watch the Clooney v. Sailer Charisma Contest by going to this link here (then click on "Hollywood Takes a Serious Turn") -- but not on Firefox, and I haven't been able to get it to work on Internet Explorer yet either. Presumably, too many millions of websurfers are flooding the NBC servers with requests to see it.

I am told, "You need Internet Explorer 6.0, Flash, and Windows Media Player 10. It takes about 2 minutes to load, then you see a commercial, then the segment with you in it comes on."

Nothing seems more sensible than endlessly fiddling with your computer in order to watch TV on it.

A reader writes:

If it makes you feel any better, your website picture makes you appear older than the TV does. (As a matter of fact...is that website picture you???)

Yes, the picture above shows how I looked six years ago. I guess those monkey gland injections I've been taking are working as advertised!

The thesis of the segment was, according to NBC's website:

"An influx of highly acclaimed movies with serious themes [i.e., leftist politics] is translating into a new brand of big box office hit."

But that's the first I heard that was what they were claiming. On Friday, they wouldn't tell me that was what they were going to say. They just referred to the theme as "topical movies" or "issue movies" or "political movies." If they'd come out and told me what their argument was, I would have said: "'A new brand of big box office hit'? Are you nuts? Movies with 'serious themes' always come out in the 4th quarter each year so they can be remembered at awards time, when movie industry insiders love to congratulate each other on their social consciences. Some of them even sell a lot of tickets. But 2005 was a lousy year for Hollywood at the box office and 'issue movies' sure didn't make it any better."

Indeed, an amusing confirmation of this was that during our 20 minute discussion on tape, the interviewer requested a couple of times that I not mention any of these movies he'd brought up as examples of this "trend," such as "North Country" or "Syriana," by name because, according to him, only a tiny fraction of the TV audience had actually seen them. That of course made my point that Hollywood is missing out on big profits by being out of touch with half the country, because each of these films were seen by only a small fraction of the number of people who paid $370 million domestically to see "The Passion of the Christ," which the Hollywood studios refused to touch.

So, I kept talking about why Hollywood is not having hits, but that wasn't why they wanted me on. Instead, they wanted "balance" by having a benighted conservative say that it was wrong for Hollywood to have hits making smart serious movies about the burning issues of the day.

Let's look at the numbers. So far, the top 17 box office movies of 2005 consisted of 12 children's movies, 4 sex comedies, and 1 Adam Sandler remake of a Burt Reynold's movie. The first serious film for grown-ups on that list at #18 is the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" with $99 million. The highest ranking "issue movie" was "The Interpreter" at #32 with $73 million.

Okay, but what about now? Aren't a lot of these late 2005 issue movies cleaning up during awards season, so the ultimate list for the year's movies will look a lot different.

Nope. Every "serious film" except "Brokeback Mountain" is already just about dead in the water at the box office. Here are the estimated Top 10 for Friday, January 20th, a few days after the Golden Globes were telecast:

2 GLORY ROAD $2,550,000
3 LAST HOLIDAY $2,350,000
5 HOODWINKED $2,100,000
7 END OF THE SPEAR $1,450,000
9 HOSTEL $1,350,000
10 THE NEW WORLD $1,200,000

Friday figures are generally about 30% of the weekend total, so the only hit of this weekend in mid-January is a horror sequel so awful it wasn't screened for critics. Nothing else is likely to make even $10 million this weekend. On this top ten list, only "Brokeback" and "The New World" were positioned as Oscar contending serious movies.

By the way, Sunday night on VDARE, I'm writing about "The New World" versus the real Captain John Smith (hint: he was lot more interesting than Colin Farrell!)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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