The Woman in the Window – Day Three – #40movies40days

fritz_langI selected this Fritz Lang psychological thriller because I hadn’t seen it, I admire Lang as a director and it starred Edward G. Robinson (who rarely disappoints).  And it was available as a “watch instantly” selection on NetFlix.  Again, a somewhat random choice.

The Woman in the Window tells the story of Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) whose beloved wife leaves with the children for a long summer holiday in Maine.  On the way to have a drink at his club, Wanley sees the portrait of a beautiful woman in a gallery window.  His friends arrive to meet him and they too remark on the portrait as their “dream girl.”

One of Wanley’s friends at the club is District Attorney Frank Laylor (Raymond Massey).  The men bemoan the lack of adventure in their lives.  Laylor muses about middle-aged men kicking up their heels and speaks of his experience as a prosecutor:  “Trouble often starts from little things,”  he says. “Genuine actual tragedy issues directly out of pure carelessness or the merest trifle.  It results from the casual impulse, the idle  flirtation or just one drink too many.”

woman-in-the-window-title-stillAnd of course that’s exactly what happens.  As Wanley leaves the club, just a little tipsy, he stops to admire the portrait once again and sees the actual woman’s face in the window.  He is surprised and turns to find she is very real.  The woman occasionally stops by to look at the painting herself (and it amuses her to see the reaction on men’s faces as they admire it.)

She flirts.  Wanley buys her a drink.  They end up in her apartment, where she has a portfolio of other portraits of her by the same artist.  Her jealous boyfriend bursts in and, in a struggle, Wanley kills the intruder by stabbing him in the back with a scissors.  Wanley and the woman discuss calling the police and then decide to cover up the crime instead.   Guilt, blackmail and a tightening noose of suspicion ensue.

Unfortunately an unsatisfying ending was forced on the film by the Hays Office morality code.  It’s a cheat and the easy way out.  In a strange way I suppose it is emblematic of the “easy way out” that ruins Wanley’s character.  Despite this fault, the film is an interesting early version of American film noir.

According to Wikipedia:  (The Woman in the Window is) based on J. H. Wallis’ novel Once Off Guard. The story features two surprise twists at the end. Scriptwriter Nunnally Johnson founded International Pictures (his own independent production company) after writing successful films such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and other John Ford films.  (His partner was William Goetz.)  Johnson chose The Woman in the Window as the production company’s premiere project.”

nunnallyJohnson had an incredibly prolific career and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath and for the Directors Guild of America Best Directors Award in 1956 for The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. He also wrote How to Marry a Millionaire, The GunfighterMy Cousin Rachel, The Three Faces of Eve and The Dirty Dozen. He wrote over 60 films over the course of his career.  That works out to a least one film a year every year from 1933 until 1967 (and often two or three films in a year).

A couple of things struck me about this film.  First of all, by  silly co-incidence, the book Wanley takes down from the library shelf to read in his club is The Song of Solomon.  That poem happens to figure prominently in a project I am working on right now.  I love those odd and slightly thrilling little “signs” that occasionally pop up as you are nursing a project along, don’t you?

The second thing that struck me is the issue of integrity. Wanley is a good a man.  He has loving family whom he adores.  He is a well-regarded professor and a generally decent guy.  He is foolish enough to follow a beautiful charming woman to her apartment.  Although he has no intention of sleeping with her, he is a bit vain and allows himself to be flattered by her attention.  He is surprised by the jealous lover and clearly kills him in self-defense.

If Wanley had called the police, he would have found himself in the center of a scandal.  He would have been embarrassed and humiliated in front of his wife and perhaps might even have lost his job at the college.  But his dilemma is one caused by simple human male stupidity.  The matter becomes criminal when he doesn’t report the death, dumps the body and lies to the police.  He then plots a second murder to cover up the first.  The simple act of picking up the phone and then putting it down strips him of his first bit of integrity.

Evil always starts with a small thing– stupid carelessness, hurtful blurted words, a harmless flirtation, a bit too much to drink, an unchecked impulse.  This quote by Edward Tufte says it all– “Evil does not have horns or breathe fire or call explosive attention to itself.  It is a force (or a fear) that slowly and imperceptibly erodes our standards, clouds our judgements, lulls (or paralyzes) us into submission and, before we realize it, has lead us down a regrettable path from which there is no return.”

We lose our integrity bit by bit, decision by decision, one small choice at a time.  Thoughts (or fears) create action. Action creates habits. Habits build (or destroy) Character. Character creates Destiny.  That’s part of the larger question I am looking at for myself.  Just how do I want to direct my own destiny? What new choices need to be made?  What new habits created?

Here’s the first nine minutes of the film–

Kathryn Bigelow at the DGA

This week (December 10, 2010) the Hollywood Reporter released its list of the 100 most powerful women in Hollywood.  While there are women in power all across Hollywood, especially in the executive suites, one place that still is very difficult to penetrate is the directing ranks.
The Hollywood Reporter list confirmed that fact.  Only one woman director– Kathryn Bigelow — made the list and she was at number 53.
If we created a list of most powerful men in Hollywood (like we need to do that) I would venture to say that there would be several (ok, a lot) of male directors on the list.  Here are just a couple who have the clout to get films made: Tim Burton, James Cameron, Michael Bay, John Favreau, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Judd Apatow, Todd Phillips, JJ Abrams, Roland Emmerich, Tyler Perry… and I know I am leaving out many.  These are the guys that regularly get gigs at the studios and make millions each year (Perry does work with Lions Gate and yes he still makes millions and that he got to direct For Colored Girls.)
Who are the women who are the most powerful directors?
Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron, Anne Fletcher, Betty Thomas, Catherine Hardwicke…and now Bigelow herself. And let’s be honest none of these women makes money anywhere near the guys on the list.
So could winning awards help women get more clout?  Sure.  The prestige factor is a big deal.  That’s how Bigelow got on the list.  Everyone want sto work with an Oscar winner.
But really, does the Oscar nomination help?  I looked at the list of people nominated for an Oscar last year to what life has been like for them since their nomination.
James Cameron made a fortune from Avatar and has announced that he will next direct two sequels to Avatar.
Quentin Tarantino was recently roasted at the Friar’s Club but has not yet picked his next film.
Lee Daniels has been trying to raise funds for Selma a civil rights drama and signed a deal to write and direct The Butler for Laura Ziskin.
Jason Reitman is back behind the camera directing Young Adult written by Diablo Cody and starring Charlize Theron.
Kathryn Bigelow — the winner — did a pilot for HBO, The Miraculous Year, which did not get picked up for series and is now shopping an thriller to be written by Marc Boal before she directs Triple Frontier in 2011.
Let’s look at the last couple of winners:
Danny Boyle – 2008 winner – is back in the running with 127 Hours and is also the artistic director for the London Olympics opening ceremony.
Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 winner – are back in the running this year with True Grit.
Martin Scorcese – 2006 winner – released Shutter Island this year
There are two women still in the major discussions for possible Oscar nods — Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko.  Though it would be another huge deal if another woman gets a nomination for best director this year, the truth is that women directors still have little commercial power.  As LA Times said: “nearly all of the beloved indy female directors are unemployable at major studios…”

kathryn-bigelowLast night I went to the DGA program honoring Kathryn Bigelow for her achievements as a director.  I went with my friend Sister Rose Pacatte, who writes a popular blog on cinema and spirituality.

She was a VIP guest, having been on the first jury to make an award to The Hurt Locker, Bigelow’s break-through multi-Oscar-winning film.  The Ecumenical Jury at the Venice Film Festival was the first to launch the critical acclaim that would carry the film to an historic win for Bigelow as Best Director at the DGA and the Oscars.

The reception was lovely and the program was heart-felt and was a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman.  But I couldn’t help remembering a Women in Hollywood article I had read the week before.  It recounts the rather dismal reality in the aftermath to Bigelow’s stunning achievement.

Let’s look at the last couple of winners:

Danny Boyle – 2008 winner – is back in the running with 127 Hours ($18 Million budget) and is also the artistic director for the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 winner – are back in the running this year with True Grit ($35 Million budget).

Martin Scorcese – 2006 winner – released Shutter Island this year ($100 Million Budget).

There are two women still in the major discussions for possible Oscar nods — Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko.  Though it would be another huge deal if another woman gets a nomination for best director this year, the truth is that women directors still have little commercial power.  As LA Times said: “nearly all of the beloved indy female directors are unemployable at major studios…”

Okay– So am I incredibly small minded for not just enjoying the evening?  But the truth is all this wonderful director could line up after her win was an HBO movie.

As far as my search revealed her next film (at a low $10 million dollar budget) may or may not be financed a year after taking home the Oscar.  Reports are conflicting.

Directors Roundtable: When a scene doesn’t work

Picture 2From the LA Times Roundtables, watch the discussion between Ben Affleck, David Fincher, Lisa Cholodenko, Ethan Coen, Darren Aronofsky and Tom Hooper:

http://allreetnow.posterous.com/directors-roundtable-when-a-scene-doesnt-work

Rom Com Cliches to Avoid

photo_04_hiresHere is an interesting survey of Rom Com cliches and in what movies they appear.  The Daily Beast says:  Cute dog? Clothes montage? Quirky BFF? Last minute sprint?  Working girl in need of balance?  Please — we’ve watched these twenty-four overly familiar romantic-comedy staples a million times, and, well, we think it’s time we started seeing other plot devices.

Here is the slide show and list of films and cliches.  http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20464382,00.html?cid=hp:beastoriginalsC5#20578800

The Role of Persistence and Respect in Filmmaking

UnknownI must say 127 Hours was not a favorite of mine in the 2010 film crop year.  I saw it on a screener and it was a bit like watching paint dry.  But the story was told with integrity and James Franco’s performance was focused and intense.

I did really like what the producer, Darlow Smithson, had to say about getting the film made. Note particularly the last line.  That is a keeper re: how to adapt true stories intelligently.

Persuading Ralston to sell Smithson the rights to his against-the-odds tale was time consuming. “Not long after it happened, the story of Aron’s accident went around the world. Like everyone else, I emailed him,” recalls Smithson.
With his gleaming bald head and cultivated English voice, the producer resembles a character actor forever cast as one of those charming British baddies in crime capers.
Smithson says the climber received “a thousand approaches” from would-be filmmakers. He had given up on the project when “out of the blue” Ralston contacted him six years ago.
Smithson’s entre was, perhaps inevitably, the iconic “Touching the Void.” “What changed everything was that he saw and loved the film,” he says.
Even so, tying down the rights to Ralston’s story took patience. “Lots of big Hollywood players wanted them too. We had to pay a lot of money (he declines to be specific), but I don’t think it was the money that persuaded Aron to go with us. He could have got more elsewhere, but he trusted us to handle the story with sensitivity. People like Aron live with what happened to them every single day of their lives, and letting go of that story is very difficult.”
Originally the climber rejected Boyle’s approach, but in 2009, they reached an agreement.
“It was a challenge to get Aron to go with Danny’s creative vision,” Smithson acknowledges. “He told him, ‘You’ve got to lend me your story; I will tell it and then hand it back to you.’ “
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118032891/

Persuading Ralston to sell Smithson the rights to his against-the-odds tale was time consuming. “Not long after it happened, the story of Aron’s accident went around the world. Like everyone else, I emailed him,” recalls Smithson.

With his gleaming bald head and cultivated English voice, the producer resembles a character actor forever cast as one of those charming British baddies in crime capers.

Smithson says the climber received “a thousand approaches” from would-be filmmakers. He had given up on the project when “out of the blue” Ralston contacted him six years ago.

Smithson’s entre was, perhaps inevitably, the iconic “Touching the Void.” “What changed everything was that he saw and loved the film,” he says.

Even so, tying down the rights to Ralston’s story took patience. “Lots of big Hollywood players wanted them too. We had to pay a lot of money (he declines to be specific), but I don’t think it was the money that persuaded Aron to go with us. He could have got more elsewhere, but he trusted us to handle the story with sensitivity. People like Aron live with what happened to them every single day of their lives, and letting go of that story is very difficult.”

Originally the climber rejected Boyle’s approach, but in 2009, they reached an agreement.

“It was a challenge to get Aron to go with Danny’s creative vision,” Smithson acknowledges. “He told him, ‘You’ve got to lend me your story; I will tell it and then hand it back to you.’ “

Full story here:  http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118032891/

NFL Leadership Styles – Can You Help?

Sometimes it is really useful to look at the Character Types of real people to see how what they do or say defines them.  The SuperBowl and the magnificent victory by Green Bay and their young quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a great example to start off with.

I’d like to type all the major players in the NFL in terms of their leadership styles.  I’m looking for some help here– with quotations or a link to a video as an illustrations.  I did a similar article on Celebrity Chefs on TV and how their cooking and food presenting style reflected their Character Type  Can you help fill out the NFL roster and comment on your favorite players?  Interview or commentary links or player quotes are really useful as illustrations.  See the leadership definitions below.

aaron-rodgersPOWER OF CONSCIENCE

Let’s start with Aaron Rodgers as a Power of Conscience leader.  Notice in his David Letterman interview below he talks about leading by example.  That is what the best Power of Conscience characters do.  He also talks about responsibility, duty, preparation, practicing hard and putting in the time to do the job well. That doesn’t mean he isn’t passionate about the game or inspirational– it just means that those qualities are not the primary attributes of leadership to him.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency, justice and providing a good example.  They believe the rule of law is humankind’s salvation.
The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency and providing a good example.   The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

Here is Aaron Rodgers on leadership in his own words.

Dandy Dozen Movies FootballPOWER OF IDEALISM

Power of Idealism leaders are passionate and emotional leaders. They are inspiring and challenge their followers to give their all to a glorious cause.  They create a sense of special destiny and often link their mission to the grand heroism  or glories of the past.  These characters lead their followers into a lost cause or an impossible battle.  They know the odds are grim and victory is improbable but they charge in anyway.  What they are after is valor, honor and a grand and glorious legacy—the kind of immortality to inspire others in story, song or legend.  Who in the NFL leads in this way?

The player who comes to my mind is George Gipp.  In the film, Knute Rockne All American, Knute quotes George like this:

Knute Rockne: Now I’m going to tell you something I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. He was long before your time, but you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, “Rock,” he said, “sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock,” he said, “but I’ll know about it and I’ll be happy.”

POWER OF REASON

Power of Reason characters are more loners than leaders.  When they are  put in charge (or they take charge) they use their intelligence, expertise, knowledge and technical skills to lead (or sometimes to dominate) others.  They are most comfortable as experts or technicians.

These characters are not very skilled at interpersonal relationships.  They don’t naturally engage or charismatically inspire others.  They usually don’t like the genial chit-chat of team banter and camaraderie. Instead, these characters  attract followers with their problem-solving abilities, technical ability, specialized experience or practical know-how.

When Power of Reason characters want to take command they argue that they are the most experienced or qualified to lead.  They argue that they are in fact the intellectually or skills-based superior choice.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

imagesPOWER OF AMBITION

Power of Ambition characters are most often potential leaders, protégés and young, upwardly mobile strivers.  They are impatient, high-energy individuals who want to get things done and who put a very high premium on accomplishment (right now!).  They are often willing to take short cuts and cut corners to get ahead.  They value fame, popularity and status.

These characters think well on their feet and are flexible and adaptable in a crisis.  They can talk themselves into or out of any situation.  When it serves their purpose they can fit in, with an almost chameleon-like ability, in any situation.  They can be witty, engaging, amusing and “great in the interview room.”  They are very charming and personable, if rather boasters and braggers.

The fictional player who fits this type is Brian “Smash” Williams’s (Gaius Charles) on Friday Night Lights.  He is talented, arrogant and likes taking short cuts and avoiding hard questions.

Smash Williams: Takin’ it like a man, Matty. You know, avoiding the calls, ducking out, hidin’ in the bushes.

images-1POWER OF WILL

Power of Will characters bring many wonderful leadership qualities to the NFL community.  They are decisive and authoritative.  Others naturally look to them to them to take charge.  They are strong, bold and  forceful leaders.  These characters stand out from the crowd with a commanding presence.   Their philosophy is “win or die.”  They see the world as a battlefield where only the strong survive.

Power of Will characters motivate others through the sheer force of their personality and their innate toughness and charisma. They are big dynamic characters who can “fill up a room.” Each wonderful quality of Power of WIll leadership has a set of corresponding Trouble Traits.  Decisiveness becomes rashness when a leader fails to delay action long enough to fully consider the consequences of an action or doesn’t have the patience to listen to others.  Leadership that is unilateral and absolute or will not permit dissent easily slips into dictatorial megalomania and colossal paranoia.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

The person who comes to mind first for me is iconic Green Bay Coach, Vince Lombardi, who famously said:  “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” He was a big larger than life leader who had incredible force of will.

POWER OF EXCITEMENT

Power of Excitement leaders make everything fun and can recast anything as a amusing game.  Their boyish charm and charisma can make them natural leaders. People gravitate toward these characters and follow them quite joyfully, rather like children who follow the lively, captivating music of the Pied Piper.  They have lots of natural or innate talent but often lack the discipline and drive to excel under difficult circumstances.

Power of Excitement characters rarely are happy in a leadership position.  They do not like the responsibility, follow-up and attention to detail that real leadership requires.  If it’s not interesting, amusing or enjoyable these characters get bored, don’t show up or make a quick exit.  Power of Excitement characters excel at  instigating and finding interesting opportunities, but don’t always count on them to bring any crucial item in on schedule.  Is there anyone in the NFL like this?

POWER OF LOVE

Power of Love leaders rarely like to be out in front in a take charge position.  They prefer to exercise their control as the “power behind the throne”.  Power of Love characters usually “lead” in supportive roles.  They are great mentors and excel at providing encouragement and emotional support.

Power of Love characters view leadership as serving others, being of practical use and creating the sense they are indispensable.  These characters get real satisfaction from pushing others forward and seeing them do well.  They tend to bond with individuals more strongly than the team as a whole.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

POWER OF IMAGINATION

Power of Imagination leaders are able to sense the deep internal connections that bind and unify all of us.  They lead by bringing together and inspiring others to see this bigger picture, this sense of common purpose or a larger universal mission.  At first glance, these assembled individuals might seem to be contentious or have little or nothing in common.

Power of Imagination  characters inspire united action by convincing disparate individuals that:  “We’re all in this together” and “If we work together we will all achieve something important or worthwhile.”  They are often gentle, shy or unassuming individuals who are the glue that holds a team together.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

favre vikingsPOWER OF TRUTH

Power of Truth characters often use an initial affable and friendly approach to solving problems, pursuing goals and leading others.  These characters don’t tend to be natural leaders. They don’t generally gravitate toward the front of the group.  They tend to be too suspicious, anxious, self-doubting and second-guessing to expose themselves to the front and center scrutiny of others.

Brett Favre is this kind of leader.  I wrote an analysis of him in an earlier post.  Power of Truth characters value loyalty and commitment very highly, but they can be very unsettled and indecisive. They can become self-doubting and suspicious to the point of paralysis.  At that point, they no longer trust their own instincts.

Brett’s is legendary for his retirement indecisiveness. In their darkest moments, these characters worry that they can’t believe anyone or anything.  They suspect everyone is lying to them and every situation is not what it seems.  They constantly look for little clues to confirm their doubts, suspicions and anxieties.  These characters continually test and probe when operating out of fear. They insist others constantly prove themselves.  They try to read the secret meaning in, or second-guess every move, every action and every decision made by others.

I’d love to fill out these profiles in leadership with your favorite NFL nominees.  It’s most useful if you have quotes or links to interviews or commentary that backs up your choices.  Please comment below or on my FaceBook ETB Page.  Please share it with your football-loving friends so we can get a dialog going.

Modern Day Sherlock Holmes on the BBC

1. Have you seen BBC’s Sherlock Holmes? Thus far it’s a three-episode series set in contemporary London, and to podge a British term, it’s brill. Smart, fast-paced, relying more on intellect and issues about character than on the stars’ appearance, it won thumbs up from all four members of my family.
What they do well, IMHO:
a. Respectful blending of past with present: Watson is a recovering war vet, wounded from a tour as a physician in Afghanistan. He’s a blogger!  Despite modernization, though, the essence of the series feels true to the original books.
b. Technology is important in the sleuthing process, but not the focus. This is not a series about gadgets.
c. There’s a fascinating and believable relationship between Watson and Holmes in which each make the other bigger. Without Holmes, Watson would be limping in a half-existence,  devoid of the risk and stimulation which is his life’s blood. Watson, on the other hand, both grounds Holmes and validates him.
d. The writers have set up a central question about Sherlock, articulated by Lestrade in this quote: “He’s a great man. if we’re very lucky, one day he might be a good one.”
Will Sherlock cross from brilliance into psychopathy, perhaps out of sheer boredom? Will he learn to engage emotion and vulnerability along with his impressive intellect, particularly around the female sex? These are great questions to have a viewer asking within a few moments of beginning a series.

bbc-sherlock-holmesHere is a post from a wonderful blogger Jan O’Hara writing on Tartitude.  She was thinking about Sherlock Holmes and asked if I thought he was a Power of Reason Character.  My answer was:  Sherlock Holmes is indeed a Power of Reason character– Everything can be explained/deduced rationally and logically. “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.” Power of Reason characters care more that something makes sense or is practical and less that it is moral or kind. Moving from a cold clinical analysis toward a more human evaluation (which takes into consideration connection, caring and a real valuing of others) is their journey toward greatness.

Here is Jan’s review of the new BBC re-envisioning of Sherlock Holmes in a modern day setting.  Looks interesting.

1. Have you seen BBC’s Sherlock Holmes? Thus far it’s a three-episode series set in contemporary London, and to podge a British term, it’s brill. Smart, fast-paced, relying more on intellect and issues about character than on the stars’ appearance, it won thumbs up from all four members of my family.

What they do well, IMHO:

a. Respectful blending of past with present: Watson is a recovering war vet, wounded from a tour as a physician in Afghanistan. He’s a blogger!  Despite modernization, though, the essence of the series feels true to the original books.

b. Technology is important in the sleuthing process, but not the focus. This is not a series about gadgets.

c. There’s a fascinating and believable relationship between Watson and Holmes in which each make the other bigger. Without Holmes, Watson would be limping in a half-existence,  devoid of the risk and stimulation which is his life’s blood. Watson, on the other hand, both grounds Holmes and validates him.

d. The writers have set up a central question about Sherlock, articulated by Lestrade in this quote: “He’s a great man. if we’re very lucky, one day he might be a good one.”

Will Sherlock cross from brilliance into psychopathy, perhaps out of sheer boredom? Will he learn to engage emotion and vulnerability along with his impressive intellect, particularly around the female sex? These are great questions to have a viewer asking within a few moments of beginning a series.

“King’s Speech” and “Fighter” lead the SAG Awards

imagesThe 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been announced. What do you think?

Film

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The King’s Speech

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale, The Fighter

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble
Inception

Television

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (TV Drama)
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (TV Drama)
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Comedy Series
Modern Family

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (TV Comedy)
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (TV Comedy)
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Miniseries/TV Movie)
Claire Danes, Temple Grandin

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Miniseries/TV Movie)
Al Pacino, You Don’t Know Jack

Mark Zuckerberg on SNL

the_social_networkThis video is quite hilarious!  It is triple vision– three guys who look scarily alike.  Jesse Eisenberg (who played Zuckerberg on The Social Network) hosted. Andy Samberg joined Esenberg onstage to add his Zuckerberg impression.  Then the real Mark Zuckerberg, the FaceBook Mogul himself, rounded out the trio of “bergs.”

The lesson here is FaceBook and Zuckerberg’s deft handing of The Social Network movie.  Despite being a fictional and immensely unflattering protrait, Zuckerberg wisely refrained from going ballistic in the press– which wouldn’t have helped and would have only made him look worse.  Now he is at the point of being able to laugh at the whole thing and wins points for not taking himself too seriously.

In my opinion, that’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is a much bigger star than Steven Seagal.  Schwarzenegger doesn’t take himself too seriously and Seagal takes himself way too seriously.  To survive and thrive in the entertainment, lighten up and and don’t be afraid to share a laugh at your own expense.  The ability to do that shows a touch of humility and vulnerability– and that is always appealing.

Tony Curtis & The Power of Ambition

Sidney Falco in 21Tony Curtis passed away at the end of September 2010.  Here is what Time Magazine has to say about one of the roles that defined him as an actor, Sidney Falco in The Sweet Smell of Success.  It is a stunning example of a Power of Ambition protagonist falling to the Dark Side.

(In the film) Sidney Falco, Broadway publicist, is telling his secretary Sam how far he wants his ambitions to take him: “Way up high, Sam, where it’s always balmy. Where no one snaps his fingers and says, ‘Hey, Shrimp, rack the balls!’ Or, ‘Hey, mouse, mouse, go out and buy me a pack of butts.’ I don’t want tips from the kitty. I’m in the big game with the big players. My experience I can give you in a nutshell, and I didn’t dream it in a dream, either. Dog Eat Dog. In brief, from now on, the best of everything is good enough for me.”

An actor doesn’t often get a role that upends his Hollywood image and reveals his inner demons. Tony Curtis, who died Wednesday at 85 of cardiac arrest at his home near Las Vegas, found that dream-nightmare part in the 1957 Sweet Smell of Success. Sidney Falco, a name that replaced Sammy Glick as the slick nogoodnik par excellence, is a pretty boy on the make — all hustle, no morals, and with a line of patter like petty larceny…

…Another refugee from the New York streets, and one of the first postwar actors to produce his own movies, (Burt) Lancaster … cast him in Sweet Smell as Sidney, the publicist trying to get his clients’ items in the gossip column written by Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker.

In the script, by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets, Sidney’s status floats between villain and victim — he peddles flesh and secrets, and pins the Commie label on an innocent young musician, before getting climactically framed by J.J. — but (actor) Curtis was the victor in the movie. It’s easy to imagine that, that when the actor first read this script, he thought exultantly, “That’s me all over!” A shark in the Broadway aquarium, Sidney looked like a million bucks, all counterfeit.  FULL ARTICLE HERE

A character driven by the Power of Ambition can be a hardworking, eager, charming optimist with a “can-do” spirit— or a lying, manipulative, backstabbing striver who will do anything to get ahead in life.

The definition and meaning of “success” is at the heart of a Power of Ambition character’s story.  The basic question for this character’s emotional journey is: “What does it profit a person to win the whole world but lose his or her own soul?”

That what we watch Sidney Falco do, lose his soul, over the course of The Sweet Smell of Success.  It is a film well worth watching and a master course in the Power of Ambition Character Type.