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Brett Ratner Off the Lot?

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I'm not sure if these announcements represent a final decision, or just ongoing tweaks, but both Garry Marshall and Carrie Fisher have been set as permanent judges on Fox's new reality series On the Lot. There is no mention of whether or not Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 1/2/3, X-Men 3) is staying or going. I wasn't even aware the judges panel wasn't already set in stone, since it's been shooting for a while now, you'd figure this sort of thing would be decided on before it even started.

Some E! Entertainment-style TV leech named Adrianna Costa is also joining the panel, which beats out the whole opening "pitch a logline" competition as The Most Retarded Thing Ever®. I wasn't happy about having Carrie Fisher onboard making decisions about directors, but at least she has significant experience working with them for only her entire career.

Just what in the hell does an entertainment reporter know about film making? People like Costa spend their afternoons gossiping reporting about the latest camera-phone snapshot of Lindsay Lohan snorting coke in a club bathroom, or who is the latest celebrity to marry who. And somehow, that qualifies you not just to report on developing film makers, but actually judge them?

Yep, it's a Fox reality show alright. Nothing that makes sense, but fully designed for maximal entertainment value at all costs.

Along with Fisher and Marshall being upped to panel regulars, D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) has been added. This is actually an interesting addition because Caruso is primarily a television director, which is not at all like feature directing.

Feature directors call the shots on the set, can hire and fire actors and change the script at will. If they want, they can even burn the one the studio just paid $600,000 to get, and write one from scratch all by themselves, and like actors, they rarely have to hear the word "no."

TV directors are the exact opposite, where writers run the show (literally called showrunners) and make all the decisions, though the acting contracts are a little more tight. Directors for TV are like grips; they come in, shoot what's in the script and then leave -- they change absolutely nothing and have power over nothing.

First of all, there just isn't time to put up with the creative whims of directors. X amount of scenes have to be shot every single day with as many as three different episodes being worked on at various stages on any given day. There just isn't enough time.

Second, it's just not a directors medium. Writing is the most critical aspect in TV because if there isn't a new script ready to shoot every week, reruns hit the air and networks lose money. Everybody loses money, actually.

If any of these film makers don't go into film, but television (in which case they better learn how to write, fast) then Caruso brings a hell of a lot to the table that nobody else does. That matters a lot, because believe it or not, TV dominates Hollywood. You don't hear about Lost or whatnot bringing in a record $150 million over the weekend breaking all records, but you don't see 22-24 hour long feature films that maintain an impossible pace for half to a third of the year without breaks either, and there's simply more of it.

Each big studio makes maybe about 10 films a year, but you've got literally hundreds of TV channels that need new content every single day. I'd say something like 90% of the writers in L.A. are TV writers, and it's probably roughly the same for the other industries as well.

So it matters, and Caruso (talented or not) is a hugely good addition. Ratner, if he's out, is a very fine trade, but I'd like to have seen him stay anyway..even though he sucks.
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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.