The Concession Stand

Friday, April 29, 2016

Not Playing: "Violation of Privilege"

Violation of Privilege

Louella Grant (Ashley Judd) is a high flying attorney who always wins her cases and works alongside the senior partner in the firm. (Morgan Freeman)

Suddenly and without warning, she begins losing cases after the opposition seems to keep getting inside information on the firm's internal conversations.

She enlists the help of the law firm's snarky streetwise PI (Joe Pesci) who discovers that her bitchy sister (Katherine Heigl) with the help of a geeky IT Tech (Colin Hanks) has been spying on her to sell secrets to her opponents. 

Her sister's spying has made some powerful enemies. A high level drug kingpin who lost a case because of the leak (Jimmy Smits) orders a hit on her sister. 

Does she protect her family, or allow the criminals to exact their revenge on her bitch of a sister? Also, she bangs a police detective (Jason Statham) who is investigating the shady drug runners.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rest in Peace, Prince

Famed musical artist and sometimes actor Prince has passed away at age 57.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson, but known as just "Prince" or temporarily as an unpronounceable symbol was born in Minneapolis, displaying a precocious knack for song writing. His debut album was a huge success, leading to him building a massive empire which included a music label and film producing. His biggest movie hit was Purple Rain, which spawned a mega hit soundtrack.

A string of box office disasters led to Prince retiring from filmmaking, though he still contributed to movie soundtracks, the most notable being Batman. His death at such a relatively young age is a shock to his fans worldwide. He may have been extremely eccentric, but he was also extremely talented without a doubt. His loss is a huge one for the music world.

OSHA Rules

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Famous Players Lasky

One of the earliest mega studios in Hollywood was Famous Players Lasky. The result of a merger between Adolf Zukor's Famous Players and Jesse Lasky's Feature Play Company. Adolf Zukor saw the possibilities that awaited those who invested in pictures.

Mr. Zukor began buying up all the shares in the company in an attempt to gain control. He also sought to buy smaller movie companies like Paramount Pictures. Zukor consolidated all of the companies under one name: Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation.

Eventually he settled on one name to rule them all- Paramount Pictures.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Charlie Chaplin Studios

When Charlie Chaplin joined his actor friends in founding United Artists Pictures, he had committed to producing at least five pictures per year. The decentralized management of the studio meant that the partners would not build a central studio lot; rather they would leave it to their own devices to find studio space. Charlie Chaplin chose to build his own lot- The Charlie Chaplin Studios.

Located on an old citrus ranch located on LaBrea and Sunset Boulevards a couple blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, Chaplin built a mini-studio lot where he would film his biggest classics- The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights and Modern Times. Chaplin had outdoor facades, sound stages and production offices onsite. Over the years, the studio grew to fill up the entire lot. In 1942, Charlie Chaplin experienced a money crunch, a common problem in Hollywood due to the European market being shutoff to their films. Chaplin sold off one corner of the lot to Safeway, who built a grocery store. Chaplin soon lost interest in Hollywood, returning to England in 1952. He sold the storied lot to a real estate investor who planned to knock everything down and redevelop the land. 

The rise of television, however, meant that there was huge demand for studio space. The lot was leased to Kling Studios who filmed the classic Adventures of Superman there. In 1960, the studio was purchased by Red Skelton who broke up the property and sold off much of the backlot. He also removed valuable artifacts from the studio, including Chaplin's cement hand and foot prints, displaying them in his Palm Springs home. He eventually sold what was left to CBS who moved production of Perry Mason to the location. Interestingly, CBS erected a sign advertising the show on the lot, in a departure from the usual studio tradition of downplaying filming locations to prevent gawkers. 

At the end of Perry Mason's run, CBS sold the lot to A&M Records who had outgrown its previous headquarters. A&M converted the stages into recording studios. The legendary We Are the World recording took place there in 1985.

Having seen better days, A&M divested the studio in 2000. It then became The Jim Henson Studios and has been used for various Muppet related projects, including the 2011 film The Muppets. A statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Charlie Chaplin stands at the front gate, a tribute to the lot's past and future.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hollywood Legends: Mary Pickford

One of the first Hollywood superstars was Canadian born Gladys Louise Smith, better known by the world as America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford. She began her love of acting after her mother took on boarders and one of them was a theatrical stage manager who suggested that she would be a good choice for local stage productions.

She would soon find herself acting on Broadway, though it would be famed director D.W. Griffith who would give her the first break she would receive- as his studio's highest paid actress. She quickly captivated audiences, moving to Hollywood. Actors at the time were not credited in films, though Miss Pickford became an exception after she could attract audiences. She became one of the biggest actresses in the world, a household name and wealthy beyond her wildest dreams. She soon found herself a Hollywood mogul, co-founding United Artists Studios with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her soon to be husband Douglas Fairbanks in 1919.

This was a time when women were not often seen in the business world. Her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks in 1920 was a sensation, making them the 'Brangelina' of their time. The world was fascinated by their relationship and followed every twist and turn of their marriage. Their expensive estate known as Pickfair became a tourist attraction in itself, drawing large numbers of gawkers who could only stand at the curb and wonder about the wonders within the compound.

Ms. Pickford's marriage soon ended and she retired from the limelight. A shrewd investor, she never wanted for anything and passed away in 1979, one of the last ties to Hollywood's golden, silent era.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Not Playing: "Douchey McFart Fart"

The same study from yesterday that found the three actresses who starred in the worst films also found the actors who starred in the worst films- Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler and Ashton Kutcher. So what if the three of them starred in the very same film?!?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Not Playing: "One & A Half Stars"

A recent study showed that the three actresses who starred in the worst films were Jennifer Love Hewitt, Katherine Heigl and Jessica Alba. So what if the three of them starred in the very same film?!?

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11th- At the Movies

Jackie Coogan had been a huge child star, often starring opposite the big names- like Charlie Chaplin. When he grew up, he was certain that he should have tons of money waiting for him, but his mother and stepfather gave him the bad news- he was practically penniless. How could this happen? On April 11, 1938, Jackie sued his parents to find out. His story would change the law for child actors, requiring their parents to put money away in a trust- still called a "Coogan Account" for the child to have access to after their 18th birthday.


On April 11, 1955 the film Marty premiered. The film would be the first time a television production would be successfully made into a film. The film would become a huge success, winning a Best picture Oscar. The film would also be the first project featuring the young Jerry Orbach in an uncredited role.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

More Gregory Peck Fun Facts


Gregory Peck was nominated for five Academy Awards but only won once- for his performance in To Kill A Mockingbird.


Gregory Peck found himself on Richard Nixon's famed "Enemies List" alongside Paul Newman and Carol Channing.


Gregory Peck was offered the role of Grandpa Joe in 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He passed away before he was able to accept it.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gregory Peck Fun Facts

Gregory Peck would be celebrating his 100th birthday this week. A true Hollywood legend, his integrity and talent made him famous worldwide.


However, he almost didn't become an actor. A devout Roman Catholic, he seriously considered becoming a priest before he decided to try his luck in Tinseltown.


Mr. Peck started out at San Diego State before transferring to Berkeley where he became enamored with acting. He later shared fond remembrances of his time in Berkeley.


In 1986, Disney rebooted its classic television anthology series as The Disney Sunday Movie. The company considered asking Gregory Peck to host the show before settling on the company's CEO Michael Eisner.


Monday, April 4, 2016

The Shaky History of Universal

Despite being one of the most visible studios in Hollywood and the only one that fully opens its gates to tourists every day, Universal Studios has seemingly always been a bit shaky when it comes to the business side of things. It was founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle in New Jersey. Its first cash crunch began as a result of Thomas Edison's overzealous patent lawsuits. Edison felt that every film studio should pay him a royalty for using his or anyone else's film cameras over and above the cost of buying one. Carl Laemmle decided to pack up and move his studio as far away as he could- to Southern California. Not only would it provide adequate distance from Edison's goons, the climate would permit year round production.

Laemmle setup shop on a former egg ranch in the Hollywood Hills, running the ranch alongside his studio until he could finally afford to close it. Mr. Laemmle's money problems would only increase, however, and he was ousted from his studio. Universal was merged with the smaller International Pictures, becoming Universal International.

As the media landscape started to shift in the 1950's, Hollywood Studios became a hot commodity for mergers and acquisitions. Universal was no exception and it soon found itself acquired by MCA, which at the time was solely involved in the recording industry.

MCA's reign would prove to be lucrative and successful. Universal would see some of its most successful years as part of MCA. By the late 1980's the hip new fad was for Japanese electronic firms to buy Hollywood Studios. Sony purchased Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios caught the eye of Matsushita Electronics, better known as the parent company of Panasonic in the United States.

While the Sony/Columbia deal would prove successful, Matsushita's acquisition of Universal would be disastrous. The United States was going through a recession from 1988 through 1992 and Matsushita's clumsy attempts to integrate its new purchase with the rest of the company proved disastrous. Enter the French water company Vivendi. Control of Vivendi had recently been inherited by the younger generation of the billionaire family that founded it. The new generation was bored with running water utilities and wanted to bask in the glow of Tinseltown. This purchase was even more disastrous and almost took down both Vivendi and Universal.

The company's savior would be General Electric. GE had been struggling with its NBC division and feared that it would not be able to sell the network at all. In fact, some feared that it would have to pay someone to take the network off its hands. It sought to round out NBC's offerings to make it healthy and salable. Vivendi was desperately looking for cash so the merger was a match made in heaven. GE bought Universal and merged it with NBC.

The deal worked. Both sides balanced each other out, creating a more desirable business that could be easily sold. Comcast, facing its own issues and unpopularity wanted to branch out into content and NBCUniversal was just what it needed.