Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Birthday R & J and My Solution to the Strike

I salute here, Julia and Richard who are such good old friends and Jan. 30 birthday mates and have kept me from being dead meat, time and again. I love you both and even though I said breakfast was all I was gonna do this year, I’m doing this too, but don’t expect any cards or gifts.

The fact that WGA members now face losing their benefits may hasten an end to the strike. I suggest that a greater tool to force writer capitulation than the threat of lost coverage for psychotherapy might be the threat of ineligibility for Academy Screeners.

For my far flung readers, every year film producers send out DVD screeners of films, sometimes not even yet in theatres, to members of the different guilds eligible to vote for Oscar nominations. Screeners start arriving around Thanksgiving and for many of us inspire a lot more good holiday juju than Frankincense and Myrrh or Latkes. Since the advent of home video in the 1970s, just about everything that was hot in theatres during December existed in a home entertainment media. Being a recipient of Academy Screeners conveyed gravitas and power and in Hollywood is an even better acid test than car model in separating the “haves” from the “have-nots”.

Then, Carmine Caridi wrecked it for everyone. In 2004 Caridi was the first person ever to be booted out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This humiliation came because he had loaned copies of his screeners to Russell William Sprague, who purported to be a cineaste, which he may well have been. Nevertheless, the purported cineaste also was caught pirating the titles he had borrowed from this purported friend, the elderly Caridi. To even further take the fun out of screenertime, Russell William Sprague, age 51, died in prison while serving a sentence for motion picture piracy.

It’s different now. Everyone is uptight about their screeners and they are discussed in the same cadence as a heroin deal. I have a few friends with whom I have practically exchanged bodily fluids from who I may still borrow. A friend of Spuds arrived at a sleepover with a DVD of Sweeney Todd smuggled in his sleeping bag. It was that super rainy Sunday morning and driving was tough. I sprang for breakfast for Spuds and his crew (only because our kitchen is still in tarpation) on our return trip to Silverlake and the kid remembered what had been left in the DVD player back at Casamurphy. I sit here on this beautifully sunny day and try to think of another single forgotten belonging that would have made me decide to return to Casamurphy during the storm watch to retrieve it. A refill of prescription medication would be available at a 24 hour pharmacy. Perhaps a prosthetic limb. But definitely an Academy Screener. That kid would have been dead meat.

BTW, to certain really big, important, Godlike friends , it would be worth a big feed in my new kitchen to see Savages, Atonement, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, In the Valley of Elah, Eastern Promises and the Assassination of Jessie James.


Cari said...

Happy Birthday Richard!!! Even though we aren't blood related, I am proud to call you my beloved Uncle Richard. Your kindness and love for me and Marlene puts you in the category of "Outstanding People in My Life". I hope to see you the next time I come down to LA and we can do more "syringe dueling"...I just got a snazzy new insulin pen, it even comes with it's own hard leather case. Whoo hoo!

Take care
Much Love,

FionnchĂș said...

The LA Times finally covered a couple of "below the line" workers' plight today, but then it transpired both were in unions. One had a monthly bill of $8000 partially fuelled by his Thousand Oaks home and his daughter's private school. He spent some of his down time fixing his car and playing guitar. Not the kind of proletariat solidarity that's going to end this sulky standoff.
I like your idea, Layne, much more, and this damned strike's ruining a lot more than a Foley editor or two with spare time to diddle in his driveway and on the fretboard. May it end soon. Any of you readers believing in the power of prayer and good vibes, send them towards Hollywood now!