On the season (series?) finale of ''On the Lot,'' Steven Spielberg pops up to congratulate Will and end the show on a hopeful note

By Gregory Kirschling
August 22, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Brian Bowen Smith
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The ”On the Lot” finale: We have a winner

Let’s get this over with.

Will Bigham, the father of two with the ”gee whillickers!” eyebrows and the whimsical worldview, won On the Lot last night. Good for him. In its last five minutes, I found the finale oddly stirring, and vaguely even life-affirming. But before we get to that, I’ll do due diligence and rotely point out some things that reliably sucked.

This was a dreadful finale, yeah? Did anybody not fast-forward straight to the last five minutes? If not, why not? I watched it all so you people didn’t have to, but I don’t even have that much to report. For the second week in a row, we got no new content. We watched the three finalists — and even a few contestants who weren’t finalists — confirm that this was a ”dream come true,” ”everything I’ve ever wanted” kind of experience at least a half a dozen times. (Attention, America: Shira-Lee, sure enough, is more determined to make movies than ever, and ”ready to work!” Hell yes!) There were horrible, time-waster segments on unfunny outtakes, our hard-working actors, ”the wit and wisdom of the judges,” and even the two guys who are responsible for applying the adjective ”Emmy-nominated” to the title of the show. I speak, if you watched, not of Spielberg and Burnett, but of two guys named Mark and Jeff, who wrote the On the Lot theme music that netted this show an Emmy nomination. And you know what? I’m down with that. Never mentioned it before, but the theme music to this show is better than the show. Suppose John Williams had done the score for Body Shots, or Daddy Day Camp, or Phat Girlz, and that’s what the On the Lot score was like.

The worst part of last night’s show was how it let the three finalists — Will, Adam, Jason — each pick their favorite short from another contestant, which was then replayed on the air. Fast-forward button, work your magic! Adam picked Zach’s ”Die Hardly Working,” which Adrianna immediately misidentified as the film du Zach with ”that one looooooooong shot,” which it totally wasn’t. Smooth move, Ex-Lax! Jason picked Mateen’s action movie solely because he liked the part (comprising five seconds of the actual film) where the main actor got hit by a car. And Will — Will simply made us watch one of the worst films of the season all over again. Upon a second viewing (just to make sure), Hilary’s sperm-bank heist movie was so bad, it made me want to take back the endorsement I gave Will last week. I mean, can you imagine Spielberg having to sit through this laughless atrocity even once? You’re forced to re-watch a movie like Hilary’s and you must wonder: Did Spielberg the superdirector have any idea what he was getting into when he helped conceive the show for the summer schedule?

Enough. Will won. Like I said, good for him. I came out of the end strangely hopeful that him, Jason, Adam, Zach, and whoever else get to stay in Hollywood and make a movie — or at least browbeat extras or work the clapboard on a movie, because they deserve it after this 13-week ordeal. The show was bad, but it’s not the contestants’ fault. I don’t even know that it was Spielberg’s fault. One of the only things I might take away from this summer of watching every single episode was Spielberg walking out of the gates of DreamWorks to go greet Will in the last moments of the finale. There he was, baseball cap atop his head, talking up Will’s movies to Will like a real fan, and then palming him the key to his new office. I’m amazed Spielberg actually showed up in person to do it, and it was a magical, moderately big-hearted bit of business — 13 weeks too late, but whatever. It capped off the show with a tiny note of wonder that caught me kind of by surprise.

But what really got me thinking was something Garry said just moments before Spielberg popped in. ”I can only say,” Garry told Will, offering his closing thoughts for the season, ”father to father, filmmaker to filmmaker, that life is more important than show business.”

Garry is surely right. Leave it at that. Okay?

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  • 05/22/07
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