Universal shuttered art house arm Focus Features, Charlie Hunnam was afraid to play Christian Grey, and Jimmy Kimmel sold out while pretending he didn’t
The meek might inherit the earth — but nobody’s taking Hollywood by pussyfooting around.
In a town where confidence and certainty — or at least the appearance of it — are key, flip-flopping and hand-wringing can be a real reputation-killer.
From AMC splitting the final season of “Mad Men” into two, to Sony barely being able to stand up to one shareholder, here are seven moves in entertainment that we weren’t necessarily impressed by.
AMC splits the final season of “Mad Men” in two to keep the show going through 2015
We get it: AMC hasn’t had a breakout hit since “The Walking Dead,” and wants to keep its other flagship on the air given the departure of “Breaking Bad.” But can’t “Mad Men” be given a reprieve from these kinds of scheduling shenanigans? We didn’t mind the extended sendoff for “Breaking Bad” because the show only had five seasons. Splitting the last one in two finally allowed audiences to catch up with the show. But “Mad Men” is going for seven. Everyone’s had time to discover it. After it put AMC on the map as a destination for original dramas, it deserves better than a lingering, awkward goodbye. -- Tim Molloy
If you’re going to sell out, just sell out. Kimmel’s self-mocking “Worst Contest Ever,” a promotional contest making fun of promotional contests, tries to have it both ways, attempting to spare Kimmel’s gutsy outsider image even as he does the kind of flagrant promotion Lucille Ball did for cigarettes in the 1950s. His Dec. 12 “Jimmy Kimmel Live” segment cloaking a chip ad as a sketch provided a disappointing end to a great year for the show. Say what you want about Jay Leno: At least he waited until breaks in “Tonight Show” shooting to start shilling for snacks. -- Tim Molloy
Focus Features remains operational in name only. Universal merged it with Film District and placed Film District executives in charge, deciding there was no profitable strategy for the beloved specialty division. Several other studios have shuttered their division, which is even worse. Focus may still make movies like “Dallas Buyers Club,” but now Focus will mostly be releasing sequels to “Insidious” and “Olympus Has Fallen.” Talk about sullying a brand… – Lucas Shaw
Charlie Hunnam bails on “Fifty Shades of Grey”
If “Fifty Shades of Grey” fans were surprised when “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam was tapped to play kink-happy business magnate Christian Grey, they were doubly surprised when the actor abruptly dropped out of the mommy-porn adaptation. Universal and Focus blamed Hunnam’s “immersive TV schedule.” Hunnam himself suggested that family issues played a part in his decision.
Although Hunnam’s decision can be considered both bold and wussy, it took nerve for Hunnam to walk away from the highly anticipated project. And arguably, it was a wise career move to bail on the movie. (Fans didn’t exactly embrace the casting choice en masse when it was announced.) But if Hunnam’s Jax Teller character ran his motorcycle club with the same kind of flip-floppery, they’d be in even bigger trouble than they are now. — Tim Kenmeally
Rex Reed criticizes Melissa McCarthy’s weight while reviewing “Identity Thief”
The purpose of a film critic is to review movies so consumers can make an informed decision as to whether or not they’d like to spend money to see them. When Observer critic Rex Reed reviewed Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy comedy “Identity Thief,” however, he decided to forgo his responsibility to his readers in order to use his platform to make fun of McCarthy’s weight.
After faulting the Oscar-nominated actress for being “tractor-sized” and resembling “a hippo,” he called her a “gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” Hey, we get it — he didn’t like the movie. What we don’t get is why he resorted to schoolyard bullying tactics to explain why. Some might argue Reed made a bold move by speaking his mind and not backing down after considerable backlash, but there’s nothing brave about bullying. Being bothered by an actress’ weight is his problem. It’s a wussy move to try to make it hers, too. -- Greg Gilman
Sony makes nice with Dan Loeb
Sony may have rejected activist investor Dan Loeb’s proposals to spin-off its entertainment business into a separate company, but the response to his very public campaign against the technological conglomerate wasn’t exactly a profile in courage. Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai publicly said that Loeb’s criticism of the studio’s leadership was “a good thing” and the studio set about cutting $100 million in staff and overhead as a sign of belt-tightening. Yes, Sony gave Loeb a convenient cudgel in the form of its summer of costly film flops like “White House Down” and “After Earth,” but every studio has hits and misses. Because every Wall Street scuffle needs a sacrificial lamb, Sony’s brass bravely pushed out PR veteran Steve Elzer and marketing chief Marc Weinstock, two men who had little to do with the decision to greenlight Will Smith‘s passion project. So much for owning up to mistakes.