Is China Taking Over Hollywood?
| Brandon Kidd photography Get TV Newsletters: Subscribe Follow: “Breaking Bad” is finished, and even though there’s plenty of celebration over Vince Gilligan and Co. sticking the landing , it still feels a little bit like a funeral. It probably doesn’t help that I watched the finale at a cemetery. to the end of “Breaking Bad” It was an awesome event for fans — with tickets selling out in under a minute, and even more being given away by Paul, including a day with Paul auctioned off on Omaze — but it was also a wrap party of sorts for the cast, writers and so many crew members who made the trip from Albuquerque. With “Breaking Bad”-themed cocktails by Bushmills and a photo op with an RV, of course, the event kicked off with a screening of the “Breaking Bad” pilot episode before we watched the series finale, under the stars, projected onto the side of a mausoleum, with gravestones scattered all around. If you’ve seen the episode, you know how fitting that was. (If not, what are you waiting for?) After the finale ended, the cast took to the stage with Jimmy Kimmel to talk about saying goodbye to the hit series and to share a few funny behind-the-scenes stories, including Vince Gilligan’s humble confession about one very poignant scene in the finale. The fortunate accident occurred during the scene when Skyler (Anna Gunn) was on the phone with Marie (Betsy Brandt), and the camera panned to reveal Walt standing in her kitchen. Skyler’s reflection appeared perfectly in the microwave, but Gilligan confessed that it wasn’t intentional. When the editor complimented him on the layers of detail in the shot, Gilligan was shocked to see the cool final effect of something he hadn’t realized he’d even captured. It’s things like that that make fans love the show even more, but it’s also Paul and Cranston’s real-life friendship.
CNN, NBC pull the plug on Hillary Clinton projects: Did the RNC trump Hollywood?
For years, Hollywood has been bowing and scraping to please the Chinese government, which allows the importation of only a handful of non-Chinese films into its theaters each year. The hardball negotiators of Hollywood were willing to roll over, in terms of finance and even content, in return for access to the world’s largest overseas moviegoing audience and soon, the world’s largest moviegoing audience, period. And after all that, the studios still aren’t seeing a dime from recent exports like Skyfall , Life of Pi and A Good Day to Die Hard . The reason, revealed this summer in reports by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, is a dispute over a 2 percent value-added tax that China imposed on movie profits last year. American studios with pre-existing deals in China balked over having this tax come out of their 25-percent share of the profits, so China hasn’t paid those studios in months, withholding tens of millions of dollars. Sure, Hollywood could retaliate by pulling its movies from the country, but at a time when 70 percent of a Hollywood theatrical release’s profits come from abroad, Hollywood needs China a lot more than China needs Hollywood. So expect the dispute to be resolved soon, and probably on terms more favorable to China than to Hollywood. The dust-up is only the latest between Hollywood and China in recent months. In July, China abruptly pulled Despicable Me 2 from its release schedule, citing no reason. A few months ago, Quentin Tarantino agreed to trim some of the gore out of Django Unchained , but Chinese censors yanked the movie at the last minute anyway, until Tarantino agreed to more cuts. Where Does Django Unchained Rank on Our List of the Worst Movie Mistakes? In fact, it’s routine for Hollywood to alter the content of its overseas prints to placate China. Sometimes, it’s a question of outright censorship. For instance, all of Chow Yun-Fat’s scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End were cut because Chinese censors considered his pirate character an offensive ethnic caricature.
“We just wanted to celebrate the park,” said Kathi Northrop, a park host and volunteer who is helping to organize the event. “Even though people may not have visited the park they’ve seen it in just about every beach scene.” Guests will include Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the inspiration for “Gidget,” the 1959 film starring Sandra Dee and one of several beach culture movies that filmed at Leo Carrillo, including “Beach Blanket Bingo.” ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll Also invited to speak at the event is B-movie director Roger Corman, who filmed so many movies at Carrillo it was known for a time as “Corman Beach.” His “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent” and “Monster From the Ocean Floor” were all shot at Carrillo. Two of the big attractions for the park are the unusual rock formations and sea cave, where Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollak and Gabriel Byrne dug a grave for the body of Benicio Del Toro ‘s character in “The Usual Suspects.” “It’s an amazing park,” said Kenneth Kokin, a producer on “The Usual Suspects.” “It’s one of the best beaches and it’s close to Los Angeles. Having that cave there was a great visual.” For the Clint Eastwood movie “Letters From Iwo Jima,” producers used the beach to film a scene in which Japanese soldiers build a fortification in the black, volcanic sand. They imported six truckloads of black cinder from the Calico mines area near Barstow to simulate the dark sand, which was placed on a plastic sheet to separate it from the beach sand. “It definitely helped us keep the production here, otherwise we would have had to go to Hawaii,” said Steve Beimler, location manager for the film. The park’s namesake, Leo Carrillo, was related to early California settlers his great-grandfather was one of the last Mexican governors of California and served for many years on the state beaches and parks commissions, through which he helped the state secure large tracts of coastal parkland, according to California State Parks literature. PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times Tony Hoffman, film coordinator for the Angeles District of California State Parks, said Carrillo is the second-most-requested location for filming among California’s state parks after El Matador State Beach in Malibu. “It’s within the 30-mile zone, it has incredible geography and it’s very affordable,” he said. Productions beyond the zone cost more because union rules require payments for travel time and mileage expenses. The park charges $65 to $1,500 a day for filming, depending on the size of the shoot. Recent productions at Carrillo have included the Helen Hunt surfing movie “Ride,” commercials for Kia and Nike, and episodes of the TV series “Revenge,” “The Mentalist” and “American Horror Story.” “There were all these zombie extras in the parking lot and they were sitting around the catering trucks,” Northrop said of the “American Horror Story” shoot.
“Nobody in Hollywood expected RNC chairman (Reince) Preibus to flex his muscles like this and threaten CNN and NBC over these two movies. This is a clear result of that. The networks simply cannot countenance being excluded from debates and no single project is worth that access being cut off, noted Hollywood producer, Mark Joseph. Preibus is part of a new generation of GOP leaders who are playing by a different set of rules than their predecessors. He played hardball and he won big time.” Other critics are not convinced that Clinton didnt have some personally vested interests in silencing the entertainment productions. The Clintons are very concerned with any large books or film projects that focus on them. Theyre control freaks who expect all their press to be glowing, said Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis for the Media Research Center. The Clintons worry about the new scandals the most the Benghazi debacle and the swirling conflict of interest known as the Clinton Foundation. How did Hillary serve as Secretary of State for four years without reporters suggesting that nations may have funded the Secretarys husbands charity to curry favor with the Secretary? A source with connections to the Clinton camp said that Hillary doesnt have any secrets to hide and likely didnt block the projects for fear of scandals being rehashed, but she probably didnt want to be in the middle of a media and political firestorm. There was apparently also mounting concern that if the film and/or series were Clinton infomercials as worded by the RNC then filmmakers from the other side of the political spectrum could come out with a counter piece that would trash the high-profile figure. And John Ziegler, director of the documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11 about how the Clintons allegedly censored an ABC mini-series in 2006, concurred that it seems like a situation where no one had an incentive to move forward. The filmmaker and CNN would have been in a no-win situation and have saved themselves a massive headache. From a filmmakers perspective, it sounds like they had little choice, but the whole situation is a damning indictment of our broken media and politics, he added. And according to Washington D.C. attorney Margaret Cone, the axing of the projects speaks to how snarky politics has become.