BLOCK BUSTED They won’t be making it a Blockbuster night. Executives at the video chain have decided to scrap the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards telecast tentatively scheduled for next April because of post-Sept. 11 concerns. ”Due to the uncertainty of the times, we can’t predict consumer response to our show, nor audience behavior — especially media viewing habits — all of which are being affected by world events,” said a Blockbuster spokesperson. In other words, viewers may not feel like watching, and celebrities may not feel like showing up. This past April’s 7th annual ceremony featured appearances by both movie stars (Drew Barrymore, Warren Beatty) and pop stars (Ricky Martin, Creed), who came to collect trophies voted on by millions of rental customers, but Blockbuster officials, who had yet to book a date and a venue for next spring, worried that it could be too difficult and costly to pull off a similar production. No doubt they looked at the example of the Emmy show, which was rescheduled twice out of sensitivity to recent events, had to spend extra money beefing up security, and was still plagued with no-shows among celebrity presenters and winners.
The cancellation underscores the extent to which the ever proliferating awards shows have become less of a celebration of artistic excellence than marketing tools designed to impress a brand name upon a desirable demographic group by associating the sponsor with a live star-studded event. ”Our marketing plans in response to this situation will be much more flexible in timing and content than the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards allow us to be,” said the Blockbuster statement. The company hasn’t ruled out staging the awards again in 2003.
REEL DEALS Goooooood morning, Colonial America! Barry Levinson is going to produce and direct ”Lafayette,” a biopic about the teenage French nobleman who became a hero of the Revolutionary War. ”This is a story no one has ever told,” screenwriter Dan Gordon (”Wyatt Earp”) tells the Hollywood Reporter. ”He was one of the biggest heroes of the American Revolution and at the same time found the father he never had in [George] Washington…. Think Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.” See, that’s what Mel Gibson‘s ”The Patriot” needed: lightsaber duels and space battles….
The next meeting between Hollywood executives and White House officials to discuss ways the industry can boost morale and send out pro-U.S. messages will take place Dec. 6. The last meeting was held Nov. 11 in Beverly Hills; this time, the Hollywood folk are going to Washington. Maybe they saw the D.C. tourism spot shot by Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe.
And what’s the first thing Hollywood is going to do for the war effort? Stage a premiere this weekend of the military-themed thriller ”Behind Enemy Lines” for troops aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, currently on active duty in the Arabian Sea. ”As a first step, we decided to bring ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ directly to those who helped inspire the movie and make it happen,” Fox copresident Tom Rothman, who attended the Nov. 11 meeting, told Variety. The film was shot in part aboard the ship, and some of the crew served as extras. The movie had its U.S. premiere last weekend on another aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz in San Diego, with star Owen Wilson arriving via fighter jet. Costar David Keith will attend the Carl Vinson premiere and spend Thanksgiving with the sailors….
”The Green Hornet” has enjoyed success as a radio drama, movie serial, comic book, and TV series, but for the last 10 years, the property has been hanging around Universal Pictures like an unwanted houseguest. (Not for nothing is the costumed hero’s sidekick named Kato.) Universal spent about $10 million trying to get the film made, coming closest last summer with an ultimately vain attempt to shoot the movie with George Clooney as the crimefighter and Jet Li as Kato, the role that made a star of Bruce Lee on the 1960s TV version. Now Miramax has taken the rights off Universal’s hands for $3 million, though Universal still has the option to cofinance the movie, if one ever gets made. Of course, without Li attached, the idea of a ”Hornet” project lacks buzz.