Seems like the Hollywood frenzy is as active as ever. Apparently an A-list blogger (captainhoof.tripod.com/blog) who goes by “Rance” is rumored to be a celebrity. At cocktail parties guests try to unveil his identity. Ben Affleck? Matt Damon? Jim Carrey? Still, others do not fall for this nifty trick and suspect that it is none other than an old granny living in South Florida who has just discovered the joys of the Internet. But don’t worry: She is an industry veteran – in catering.

Keeping in theme with the mysteries of the entertainment world, legendary comedian Andy Kaufman is rumored to have come back from the other side. He announced his return, apparently, through a blog: andykaufmanreturns.blogspot.com

Yes, it appears that the blogging world does not appeal merely to A-list movie stars, but also to dead comedians. There you have it.

MOVIES-IN-REVIEW

Meanwhile in the “real world” movies are opening in theatres everywhere. SAVED! Is finally expending to more cities, The Corporation is opening in the US and Shrek 2 is reportedly getting more laughs than the first one. Troy is getting seats in the box office but takes out the fascinating Greek/Roman Gods and instead replaces them with a shabby script and visuals that reminisce those of Xena the Warrior Princess. Coffee and Cigarettes is an addictive series of vignettes with plenty of talented thespians (like Bill Murray) and engaging scenes. And The Notebook, which opens June 25th is a gentle surprise worth catching up with. Ryan Gosling is charismatic and the feel is of the romantic variety, but just with enough realism mixed in to leave a favorable impression.

FESTIVAL/MOVIE-MAKING MADNESS ALERT

For those of you who have film on your mind 24/7 and simply cannot compensate for the film hunger by merely attending the local Cineplex, here are some solutions for you:

The NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness event will happening starting with the first round on July 31-August 14 and Oct 7-8 for the final round. Aspiring filmmakers must attempt to make a movie in merely 2 weeks in a specific genre during the first round. 24 finalists are then awarded $1,000 cash and go on to the final round where they now only have 24 hours to make a film.

VISIONFEST 04 is happening in NYC showcasing truly fresh, and innovative U.S. Film and video projects from emerging talents in categories such as feature, short subject, documentary, experimental/animation, and works-in-progress are selected from a national “call for entries.” Steven Soderbergh, Mark Wahlberg and Kathy Bates are amongst executive producers for some of the 2004 festival entries.

MOVIE Q&A

What implications did the Paramount case have on the classical Hollywood genres, how were they affected?

In brief the U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, et al case where anti-trust laws were put into play in a 1948 Supreme Court decision brought an end to the studio system of classic cinema. As result more independent studios have sprung up and the door was opened much wider for genres typically associated with independent productions. After the Paramount Case studios could no longer deal in block booking and the studios were forced to sell off their theater chains. More than anything, I think, the Paramount decision allowed for more variety within the existing classical Hollywood genres.

Is there a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movie?

After the film came out and hit it big with both film critics and moviegoers there was some buzz afloat about a possible sequel. After milking on the success of the film with the My Big Fat Greek Life the TV show, however, such rumors came to a halt. Looks like Nia Vardalos has moved on to new projects and is letting this Big Fat Greek one rest.

Can you tell me who played Buffalo Bob in the movie "Joe Dirt"?

Buffalo Bob is played by Brian Thompson. Now repeat after me: I-M-D-B.com – now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

That is the name of one of the best-known voices in movie trailer history?

There are basically two announcers who do most of the movie trailers; one of them is Don LaFontaine, but I can't find the name of the other one anywhere.

Note: Mr. Bill Johnson has managed to not only stump me, but also after some thorough investigation, find the answer:

”It's amazing what a LOT of perseverance can accomplish...after many hours of searching, I finally found the answer (and I actually had tears in my eyes as I sat there listening to his voice...sad, isn't it ?)

The man's name is Hal Douglas, and he's based in New York working for a firm called CED something-or-another. If you go to www.cedpromos.com and click on "Hal Douglas", you can hear an example of his work.”

Mr. Johnson assures me that the only people who know this are Hollywood insiders and his parents. Well, thanks to Mr. Johnson’s efforts, readers of the Movie Guru Column are now also in the “know”.

GUEST EXPERT

Movie Picture
This month’s Guest Expert is Michael Giampa – a full-time screenwriter who stepped away from a promising career as a part-time video clerk. He has since optioned several scripts and been hired to write a half-dozen more, working with companies such as CHUM Television and Warner Brothers Studios. He is currently penning two features for Franchise Pictures in Hollywood: one being the action/adventure flick "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" set to shoot in Africa this summer. Mr. Giampa is very happy with his career change and thankful he now has a chance to say more to the general populace than "please be kind, rewind."

1) How much of the writer's voice typically remains once a script makes its way unto the big screen?

Filmmaking has been likened to building a house – a communal process that involves everyone from the contractor to the construction workers, all laboring in happy harmony to make a dwelling. In this analogy the screenwriter would be like the architect – drafting the blueprint in which the film will be modeled. Of course in building a house you don’t get a lot of changes from the blueprint to the finished home. This is not so in the movie process. Often many screenwriters are brought in to rewrite, polish, tweak, fix and finagle a script. And all these changes are requested, suggested, demanded and dictated by Higher Ups such as producers and development execs. They need to justify their jobs - so they make comments.

But my philosophy is to remember that they are all commenting on and altering my work to begin with. So some of me remains in there regardless. And on occasion, if there is a really good foreman (director) that believes in the core of the screenplay and protects it, the voice of the screenplay as it was originally conveyed manages to remain. But that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

2) What do you do/use to come up with ideas for screenplays?

Hmmm? How about “what do I not do/use to come up with ideas. Being blessed (or cursed depending on the day) with a rather pregnant imagination I have no shortage of movie and scene scenarios. Everything from songs to an eavesdropped conversation can be launching points for a screenplay. As testament to this I have file cabinets and shoe boxes full of the seeds to scripts. But the “what if?” factor is my biggest influence of all. And my extreme disdain for reality.

I always find myself bored by what’s around me and thinking about odd things like “what if there was a static electricity that caused human hearts to explode?” or “what if I started receiving emails from the future?” This kind of mental exercising keeps me entertained (and drives my girlfriend insane). It’s also served to make me money.

3) When you write a screenplay, is there some sort of a theme, or larger idea that you try to address, rather than just the story?

In theory “yes.” But considering theme is such an ambiguous and milky term I’m not sure that the writer is always the best one to actually define the working theme of his or her own work. Personally, I never try to work with theme like I would an outline. Getting artsy here – I let theme “happen.” Theme seems to reveal itself after the work is done.

As for larger ideas – yes – otherwise what’s the point? I’m not talking about a message but rather a “tone” or “overall feeling” – even what is referred to as “voice.” Tone is something I consciously try to place in my work to give it cohesion – to help distinguish it from others of the genre. The Sixth Sense is a stellar example of this. Every scene is adding to the general wash of suspense that the screenplay conveys.

I have a greater chance of injecting this sort of desired tone in a spec script than a work-for-hire gig assignment. When writing for others you can try to raise something above the genre average - but if you are told by the producer to have a mule urinate on a man as he drives a convertible – well, then romantic comedy genre be damned – you make that beast of burden pee if you want to keep the job. By the way – that’s a true story.

HOMEWORK

Start your very own blog on behalf of any famous no-longer-living persona from history's dark closet. Send me your url: [email protected]

Best blogger wins fame & fortune (a VERY good surprise prize).

...And as always, keep submitting your movie questions. How else are you going to learn anything?