Thursday, June 29, 2006

Snakes on a Slow News Day

Although I work on the Internet and have been known to occasionally, when time allows, read a blog or two in my spare time, I'm not one of those "OMG, Old Media Has Gone to the Dogs" or "Why do they even bother with newspapers anymore?" complainers.

Sometimes, though, there are stories that hurt even *my* head.

Case in point, this article from the LA Times written by Dawn C. Chmielewski and published today.

In the story, she breaks the news that there's a movie called "Snakes on a Plane." She reveals that the movie was temporarily retitled "Pacific Air 121," but that the title was changed back after filmmakers insisted upon keeping "Snakes on a Plane." She breathlessly uncovers the information that bloggers have help stir up a little buzz about the movie, including a site called Snakes on a Blog. She seems to have found out that producers went back and reshot parts of the movie to get an R-rating, by adding nudity and even one foul line of dialogue suggested by online people.

Because this is a finger-on-the-pulse piece of reporting, she even comes up with the shocking truth that the Internet is influencing film and television and breaks the news that sometimes people involved with television shows read message boards to see if plotlines are working and respond accordingly.

This is a trend piece in a major urban newspaper, one of the nation's most decorated and read papers. Heck, it's a newspaper located in Los Angeles, the center of the entertainment industry. And it's 1000-plus words and each and every single piece of information in it is around six months old and some parts -- TV producers getting online feedback -- haven't been newsworthy for five or six years at a minimum. The information about the "Snakes" reshoots broke back in March and has been endlessly recirculated, even in the most mainstream of sources, papers like USA Today, and yet it seems to have been the impetus for the story. Did it take her three months to get all of her sources straight? Geez. The only plausible solution I can think is that maybe she was holding out for a quote from the film's director and that New Line had promised an exclusive to another source and then the editor decided to hold onto the story in the hopes that people would just forget that they'd already read everything several times before.

Sorry. Every once in a while, things like this make me want to bang my head against a wall. Having had minimal sleep probably makes things worse.

Tomorrow, I look forward to the LA Times breaking the news that "Waterworld" went over budget and that nobody has found any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Since I (a bad journalist myself) and ranting today about bad journalism, I must point out FoxNews' Roger Friedman's moronic update on the first day box office for "Superman Returns." The figure is $21 million for late Tuesday showings and the full day on Wednesday. The numbers are probably neither great nor awful. They've pretty inconclusive, in fact. Well, they're inconclusive unless you're Friedman (and several dozen other online pundits) and you want to call them "anemic." But whatever.

What really amazes me is that after his box office stuff, Friedman adds this unrelated paragraph: "And just in case anyone who's reading this has any questions about it, there is no implication or any other idea that this Superman is any way a gay character. I don't know how that story started in the media. He is, like most superheroes, entirely sexless, even though it's quite apparent that he's had (heterosexual) sex."

The things Roger Friedman knows about superheroes could, like his non-gossip knowledge of movies and Hollywood, dance on the head of a pin.

Sigh. I need a nap.


  1. Except for the fact that I'm never allowed to sleep again -- more the fault of the LA Film Fest than Montezuma -- I am home and well and sans complaints.

    That's a lie. I'm never sans complaints. But you know what I mean...

  2. Anonymous4:38 PM

    You got me to laugh amidst studying for the bar. That's truly a feat. Mazel tov on that and on getting home safely. RG

  3. Study hard, Rachael. I'm not saying that I'm plannin' on committing any crimes, but I may be needing a lawyer sometime in the future...