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Put Down The Remote

Posted: November 05, 2005

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Executive Producer

It's been a long time since my last editorial, and a lot has happened. Some good (I got married) and some bad (Hurricane Katrina decimated my hometown of New Orleans). I've started to write about one or both of those subjects for Shaking Through many times, and each time ultimately concluded that I didn't have anything to say about either subject that fit into the context of this site. Sure, I could have gone the Clemenza route and just talk about whatever came into my head, regardless of whether it had anything to do with the pop-cultural beat that we walk here at Shaking Through. And maybe I will, at some point.

But it seemed important to me that in the midst of all this change and upheaval -- the good and the bad -- some familiarity, some stability, was needed (at least I certainly needed it). So I made the decision that any editorial would stick to tried-and-true Shaking Through territory. And then of course, I couldn't think of anything to editorialize about within those parameters. And so you've had to stare at my Ten Commandments of Classic Rock for almost three months. It's not the first time we've gone so long between editorials, although hopefully it'll be the last.

Anyway, I thought I'd dip my toe back into the waters by talking about the movie industry. You may have heard it's in a slump. According to MarketWatch, the industry could ring in less than $9 billion in domestic box-office receipts for the first time since 2001, and box-office revenue is down 6.1% from last year and 3.7% from 2003. Entertainment Weekly has the year at down 6.6% -- almost $500 million – from last year, and painted a pretty gloomy picture in an article in its Nov. 4 edition.

Clearly, something's not working, and there don't appear to be any easy fixes. I'm not a film-industry expert or analyst -- heck, I'm not even a movie-geek blogger -- but I've got a couple of wild-stab-in-the-dark suggestions on how to (possibly) improve things. I'll present one here today, and follow up with another one fairly soon.

This one's pretty obvious: Let's stop with the TV-show remakes already. As fun as it is to imagine how Hollywood might approach future cinematic rehashings of favorite and familiar (and even not so favorite or familiar) TV programs -- heck, we've done it twice on this site, here and here -- it's pretty obvious that Tinseltown is scraping the bottom of the barrel, creatively. If you don't believe me, I've got four words for you: The Dukes of Hazzard. Sure, it was a marketer's dream, but c'mon, it made the original TV series (which wasn't exactly Shakespeare to begin with) seem like 60 Minutes by comparison.

I've got another word for you: Bewitched. The day Nora Ephron and crew announced that they were going to take a Charlie Kaufman-style approach to the show, everyone involved should have thrown in the towel. It stands to reason: If you can't find a way to do something with the original source material -- anything at all, never mind something new or innovative -- then you should just call it a day.

Granted, the editorials I linked to two paragraphs back are full of imagined scenarios that bear little resemblance to their original TV-show sources. But those are all in fun, and they at least bear more surface resemblance to their source material than Bewitched did. I can't help but think that Bewitched -- and, to a degree, Adaptation, its most obvious influence -- are acknowledgments of creative failure. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to cook up a two-hour piece of fluff based on the premise of a housewife who happens to be a witch, who keeps trying not to use her powers around her perpetually panicky dork of a husband? Can't do it? Then return the advance and let someone else take a shot. (I smell a new humor piece coming on -- Shaking Through imagines the remakes that should have been.)

So let's propose a moratorium on TV-show regurgitations, at least until some unsung genius brilliantly reinvents 21 Jump Street for the 21st century. Are you listening, movie executives? Put down the remote, and step away from the television. Go read a book or something. In the meantime, let's go out there and support the good movies that deserve to be seen, which would, in a perfect world, lead to better product and, maybe, a healthier industry. Go on; I'll wait while you go see Good Night, and Good Luck. And when you get back, I'll have another idea or two to discuss. Happy viewing.

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Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
Apr. 18, 2002: Celebrity Skim
Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are