posted February 03, 2003 10:17 AM
From Fox News:
How to 86 a Movie in 10 Days
It's not a good time for Paramount Pictures. You know, for example, that it's a bad time when Variety, the trade publication, pans a Paramount movie.
That's exactly what happened last week when reviewer Robert Koelher wrote: "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days will soon be known in the trade as 'How Not to Write a Romantic Comedy.' This is the kind of movie that was doomed on the page, both by an inherently problematic premise and ill-conceived character motivations."
Variety, of course, usually gives Paramount movies a pass even when they're terrible. Variety's controversial editor-in-chief, Peter Bart, once worked at the studio as an exec and maintains close ties there.
For example, in a story I reported some years ago for The New York Observer, several Variety staffers cited Bart for the positive review of the terrible The Godfather: Part III.
Bart is also close to the former head of Paramount, the charming Robert Evans, who executive produced How to Lose a Guy with his partner Christine Peters. Evans also never gets a bad review from Variety. In fact, the documentary about him, The Kid Stays in the Picture, has had lots of support from Bart.
So we can draw the conclusion that How to Lose a Guy is not even as good as the trite Maid in Manhattan or Two Weeks Notice — cookie-cutter romances that conquered the Christmas box office.
Indeed, it must be pretty bad.
Not that there'd be any other way of knowing. Paramount, after a big success debuting The Hours in New York, made sure that columnists and reporters were barred from Sunday night's local "premiere" screening of How to Lose a Guy.
They called the event, which included a party for 1,000 single people culled from some dating service, a "non-premiere." Yikes!
What's worse is that the ad that ran in Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section was full of the usual Paramount junket quotes from people you've never heard of. One such quote referred to stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey by their first names: "Matthew and Kate are the next Tom [Hanks] and Meg [Ryan]." Again, yikes!
Hudson, who already has an Oscar nomination under her belt, had better start making some better choices for her career, or she'll wind up in the land of fine actresses who became almost-were's (Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Minnie Driver, Mira Sorvino).
Even if How to Lose a Guy has a decent first weekend and then fades, Paramount has more problems coming up. Their only big release for summer is Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2.
Now, the first Tomb Raider was so bad it hurt. Tomb Raider 2 is set to be another jumble of script writers trying to make sense of a video game.
Star Angelina Jolie apparently gave the writers lists of things she wanted incorporated in the story for her character. So, as if it were Mad-Libs, the writers have tried to include these points and connect the dots thusly. That should be fun.
Meanwhile, Paramount studio head Sherry Lansing continues to deny that she's leaving her post to head up any number of charitable organizations.
You know what? Lansing has done yeoman service. (Or is it yoe-woman?) She supervised some big hits (Forrest Gump. Titanic) and made a boatload of money for parent company Viacom. Sumner Redstone, Viacom's head, loves her. If she leaves it's because she's had enough.
Who can blame her? The minute The Hours cleans up with Oscar nominations next week, Lansing will probably say goodbye. She'll leave with her head high, and knowing Hollywood, she won't be gone for long.
That still leaves the whole How to Lose a Guy situation. Much of that, I am told, can be laid at the feet of producer Lynda Obst. Even though How to Lose a Guy has an upfront credit that puts Obst third after Evans and Peters, later in the crawl — which is more important —she gets top billing.
Obst, who wrote a funny book about Hollywood called Hello He Lied, has unfortunately made a lot of bad movies because she's insisted on being part of the creative process. One Fine Day, Someone Like You, Hope Floats, Abandon, Contact and The Siege were all manufactured in her factory. A former journalist, Obst is a trenchant observer of the scene but may not have the skill to execute fully-realized films.
Obst's next project is supposed to be another comedy called Jack and Jill, with a good script by Hunter Richards. Hugh Jackman (who flailed around in Someone Like You) is said to be signing on to replace Nicolas Cage, who dropped out somewhere along the way. Naomi Watts (The Ring, Mulholland Drive) was supposed to co-star; no one seems to know if that's still on.
Jack and Jill has apparently gone though the mill over at Paramount, with Obst firing writer Richards, hiring someone else, then re-hiring Richards. If they don't straighten this out soon, Jack and Jill are going to come tumbling down the hill on opening day.