|Title:||The TV Set|
|10.19.06||Paramount||This Screening is part of event: Austin Film Festival 2006|
AFF 2006. 8 days of... pretty casual festival movie-watching. Thanks to their venues and scheduling, it's really pretty tough to watch more than 2 movies a night all week, but since I've somehow ended up with a weekend badge to get into all the screenwritery day panels, this first weekend will actually be pretty full, which is nice. So if you are a freak for festival coverage and don't want my condensed articles appearing on dumbdistraction.com, you can always follow my adventures detail by detail here.
I guess I just set myself up for a hell of a lot of writing huh.
The festival officially started for me with my buddy Jarratte buying a badge so he wont have to stand in the film pass line alone. It doesn't hurt that the badge is under a hundred bucks and gets him into Saturday's panels... but it did mean he had to wait there in the registration office for over an hour while they didn't print his badge out. He finally had to talk his way into the first film with his receipt and a smile. It's alright though... although the orchestra seating was fairly full for this opening night film, the very fine eldery of the Paramount roped off the balcony so I guess seating isn't so much an issue this year.
Which is weird because This is a conference for screenwriters and The TV Set is a movie about screenwriting, filled with war stories involving familiarly frustrating studio execs, spineless managers, and a constant barrage of compromise in the face of one man's original vision. While it does ring of truth, this is not exactly a love letter to the network TV industry.
Strong performances from David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, and other less famous people... smart writing that seems to come from both experience and a sharp sense of satire, and good music all make this movie pretty funny, especially if you're a writer.
One scene takes place in a network meeting room with a big board of their line-up in the background. I got a particular kick out of the fake show names interspersed with real titles. So much so that I wrote them down. Check them out: Slut Wars, Out of my Way, Stat, Go to Your Room, World's Grossest meals, Malibu D.A., and Bart's Your Uncle.
Sigourney Weavers character, a concotion of the worst stereotypes of every tv exec, also has some particularly choice lines, such as citing some unnamed study that proves "suicide is depressing to like 82% of everyone." When Slut Wars gets particularly good ratings, she pops the champagne and yells in triumph "19 Share, Motherfucker!"
Jake Kasdan was there to introduce the film and answer questions afterward. One particular insight was that Weaver's character was original cast with Ben Stiller. That gives Weaver's foul-mouthed character a lot of context, but I think she's the better choice. Kasdan also brought up an interesting point that in TV, getting 8 million viewers means the show is in trouble. So if every person in LA watches your show but nowhere else in the entire country, you're gonna get cancelled. So, because of that, every show (dependant on ratings for their advertising dollars) needs to reach as wide an audience as possible. Therefore most people in the tv industry are not so much worried about making good entertainment but running the numbers in order to keep their jobs and support their families. That sounds pretty depressing... but this movie is funny.
In a perfect world, this would have been the first half of an opening night double feature with For your Consideration, but this'll do.
Instead of heading to the IMAX to see The Queen, we decided on eating then hitting up Terror Thursday instead.