On The Lot

Since the summer of 2000 which brought us the debut of Survivor, many people have bemoaned the “descent” of television into “reality” shows.   The interesting thing is the wide range they cover.  There are some I can’t resist watching, no matter how bad I think they are.
Okay, Matt, you like watching reality shows — what does this have to do with movies?

Back in the fall of 2000, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon started an ambitious effort called Project Greenlight.  The idea originally was to have a writer come up with a script and then the prize would be to film that script.  HBO offered to air it as a series, with the premise being to show how a film was made.  Unfortunately, the first film did not do well and the series drew lukewarm support.

Over the next 3 years, PGL had two more contests, tweaking the formula each time.  Unfortunately, TV audiences did not care, which translated to poor box-office showings for the films produced.

So, if PGL did so poorly, why talk about it now?

Say what you will about Mark Burnett, but he is currently right more than he is wrong about what the American public want to see on TV.  So he pitched to Speilberg the idea of combining PGL with American Idol, pulling the best of each together.

There are three judges: Gary Marshall and Carrie Fisher are there every week, with a guest judge each week.  So far, only Michael Bay has come across as a real ass — but is anyone surprised?  Even Brett Ratner seemed more likable and credible than Michael Bay.  Matt Stone and Trey Parker got it right about Michael Bay in “Team America: World Police” — particularly on the soundtrack.   Enough about Michael Bay…

The judges whittled 50 directors down to 18.  At that point, America took over in the voting.  Each week, we are treated to 5 short films and we vote on what we like.  The lowest vote-getter (smallest box-office) is eliminated from the show.

At this point in the season, 15 are being whittled down to 12.  One is already gone, with another awaiting their fate in the next episode.  The show also has all of the films stored online.

My advice: It is better than most reality shows out there and some of the shorts have been very good.  Worth DVR’ing and watching in marathon form as I did with the episodes so far.

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