Is hollywood in Crisis? Script

According to writer Mark Harris, Hollywood is in deep crisis. He says that the atmosphere in the movie-making capital of the world is so cautious that most executives are afraid to try new formulas. So moviegoers are left with a continuous repetition of the same titles. This year alone, Hollywood has produced “Spy Kids 4,” “Final Destination 5,” more “Harry Potter,” more “Pirates of the Caribbean,” more and more of what we’ve seen before. There are common themes that both filmmakers and brands return to, time and time again.

In his book, Mark Harris asks: How did we get here? Today he has been invited to talk to reporter Barbara Walker about his recent article “The Day the Movies Died” and maybe he will be able to answer that question for us.

BARBARA WALKER: Mark, welcome to our show and thank you very much for accepting our invitation to talk about the situation in Hollywood.

MARK HARRIS: Thanks so much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure being here to talk to you and your listeners.

BARBARA WALKER: So how did we get here? In your book you say that Hollywood has almost completely lost interest in making any kind of movies for adult audiences.

Mr. HARRIS: Well, I think one of the reasons is that it now costs, in many cases, more to market a movie than it does to make the movie: up to $40 to $50 million for a regular studio movie, sometimes more for a big adventure movie. And because marketing is so expensive, the people who pay for it, that is, the advertisers, can decide what movies get made in the first place. And what they want are movies that are brands , and there’s not a lot of room for adult dramas based on just the quality of the story.

BARBARA WALKER: I’m interested in the examples that you offer in your book, and I want you to explain something. You said the problem, that is, the fact that there are very few movies made for adult audiences can in part be found in one specific film, “Top Gun”, perhaps the biggest success by Tom Cruise.

Mr. HARRIS: Exactly. A movie made in 1986. I think that that moment, the “Top Gun” moment, in the mid-’80s, was a moment when movies changed from being about the content to being about the image. In other words, if you put all the right elements together – the star, the noisy soundtrack, the special effects, the poster, and the slogan – you can actually make a movie that will appeal to the largest possible audience, a movie that isn’t necessarily very good quality, but that a lot of people can identify with.

BARBARA WALKER: So after “Top Gun”, what kind of movies stopped getting made? What kind of movies for adults are we missing? Could a movie like “Marathon Man” or “Taxi Driver” or “The Godfather” be made and be successful now?

Mr. HARRIS: Well, it actually can be very good business to make adult dramas, like ‘The Godfather” if you make them for, say, $40 million or less. You know, if you keep the cost under control, you can do very, very well. So, you know, even a movie like “The Social Network,” still needs a movie studio to say yes to it and pay for it, and that’s what’s really hard right now.

BARBARA WALKER: There’s another thing that I want to talk to you about before I let you go. You say that in these days, when marketing is everything, the audience is divided into groups that are based on age and gender. And as I read that sentence, my goodness, it is so depressing to find out that women in Hollywood are basically treated like garbage.

Mr. HARRIS: It’s absolutely true. If you’re over 25, you’re old. If you’re under 25, you’re not. You know, as someone who’s much older than 25, I’m not happy about this either, but if you’re a woman over 25, you’re probably in the most neglected of those four groups. Movie producers really assume that unless there’s a Sandra Bullock movie, moviegoers would probably rather stay at home. And it becomes a vicious circle because, of course, the fewer movies that are made for adults, the more people will stay home.

BARBARA WALKER: One more point before you go. Weíve heard that a sequel to “Top Gun”, Top Gun 2 is in production. Is that correct?

Mr. HARRIS: That’s right, because all of the kids who loved “Top Gun” when they saw it in their late teens and early 20s are now the bosses in the studios. And that maybe is not such great news for those of us who love movies other than “Top Gun.”

BARBARA WALKER: Mark, I’m afraid that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you very much for this very interesting and entertaining chat.

Mr. HARRIS: Thank you.

A journalist in the slaughterhouse script

Charlie LeDuff, 34, is a reporter for the New York Times. He started his journalism career at age 29, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California. Part Native American, LeDuff was one of several reporters who worked at the New York Times series that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in April 2001. He spent one month working at a pork slaughterhouse in North Carolina. Mr LeDuff, where did you get your start as a journalist?

Charlie LeDuff: TheNew York Times was my first newspaper job. I was an intern for three months at the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal. That was my first publication-type job. But the first thing I ever wrote that got published? Well, my Russian friend in the Northeast got killed with alcohol. I just sort of wrote an obituary for the high school paper. And I wrote that and I think I wrote it pretty well. I felt good and I felt like, hey I’m smart enough. I can do this. That’s how I got started. You’ve had a number of occupations before you became a reporter, right?

Charlie LeDuff: Oh yes, I worked as a school teacher and carpenter in Michigan and at a cannery in Alaska. I also worked as a baker in Denmark and as a bartender in Michigan, New York and Australia.  you can see, quite varied and all over the world. Why did you decide to go into journalism?

Charlie LeDuff: I was with some friends in New York and we were talking about what we were going to do and some guy mentioned he was going to journalism school and I thought that would be cool. And it turned out that my parents were proud of my decision, although they didn’t think I could earn a lot of money doing it. Let’s turn to your article now. Why did you pick this slaughterhouse in North Carolina to write your story?

Charlie LeDuff: The editor wanted me to look somewhere in the southern United States. It’s the biggest slaughterhouse in the world. I got to this town and there were a lot of Natives there and that was good. A lot of Lumbee Indians. When you went to the slaughterhouse to fill out an application to work, were you scared or thinking ‘what did I get myself into’?

Charlie LeDuff: What was I thinking? I was excited. I wanted the job. I didn’t know what was going on in there. The Times was going to let me actually work. … I thought… ‘I’m going to get into people’s lives. And I get to write about something important. I hope it’s interesting’, that was what I was thinking. I’m interested in who does the work. What surprised you most about working at the plant?

Charlie LeDuff: Well,what surprised me the most was how mechanically people worked. People living by the hour, living three hours for the next 15-minute break and then three hours for the next 15-minute break. That’s how you live your life. The degree of numbness surprised me . The fact that there were so many Mexicans in the place  surprised me. I didn’t know there were so many. What sort of feedback have you received about the documentaries?

Charlie LeDuff: All kinds. Some people said “Thanks for doing that. Gee I didn’t know.” They were surprised and interested. Other people didn’t like them at all. I guess it was hard for them to accept the way things are in America. One thing is clear, though, it left nobody indifferent. Some say the New York Times race series could win a Pulitzer. Do you thinkit’s worthy of a Pulitzer?

Charlie LeDuff: I couldn’t care less. If it does, that’s great. You know, this business is funny. It’s important to some people, so I hope we do. That would be nice. Is it important to me? Nah! How does being part Native American affect your work as a journalist?

Charlie LeDuff: Either you are or you aren’t. I’ve got white blood, yes, but am I Indian, yeah. How does it affect my work? Well, who I am affect s my work. How I approach people. How I approach elders. Being honest. Trying to stand up if someone isn’t happy with you, you know, face to face. I went down there for another reason. I was attracted to it because it was Indian country. I’m looking to write about Native people, but it’s hard when you’re in New York. It gives me an outlook. It’s me, the person and the way I’m raised. It just affects me because that’s the way that I am. Thank for your time, Charlie and congratulations on your work!

Annoying cell phones script

Pres.:Science for Life, the radio programme which is always first with the big Science and Technology stories. Today’s big story is about “cell phones”. How many working cell phones are there today in Europe? How many mobile phones are there in the whole world? How many cell phone addicts are there who can’t stand being away from their mobiles? And how many cell phone users shout their conversations in trains, supermarkets, museums, stations or parks. Are you one of them? If so, how do you think other people feel when you are speaking on your mobile, for example, in your morning train to college? Dr Bret is with us today to help us understand how people react to cell phones.

Pres.: Good afternoon, Dr. Bret and welcome to our weekly programme “Science for Life” .

DB: It’s a pleasure.

Pres.: Dr Bret is a Psychologist at the University of York in the UK. Doctor, do cell phones get on your nerves?

DB: Yes, they do and I guess they also annoy you and the majority of your audience. Am I right?

Pres.: Well. Personally I love using my mobile, but I also find it very irritating when other people use them. But is it really the same for everybody? Is this a general feeling?

DB: This is precisely the question we asked ourselves when we observed that many people, including cell phone users, reacted in similar ways when exposed to cell phone conversations in a variety of situations.

Pres.: So …

DB: So we designed an experiment to try and answer the question.

Pres.: An experiment? What did it consist of?

DB: It was a simple experiment. We wrote a one-minute conversation about a holiday and a surprise party. Then we asked two female actors to memorize and rehearse the script. They rehearsed and rehearsed until they felt comfortable with it. During their rehearsals we made sure that they could control their voices…err basically they had to be capable of maintaining a consistent volume in their conversation.

Pres.: Then …

DB: Then, when their performance was regular we placed the actors in either the waiting room of a bus station or on a train travelling between the cities of York and Sheffield. In these places they acted out their conversation in two different ways.

Pres.: Which ways?

DB: We called them “”face-to-face condition” and “mobile phone condition”. In the “face-to-face condition,” both actors carried out their conversation in the presence of a passenger. In the “mobile phone condition,” only one actor sat near the passenger and pretended to be speaking on her phone.

Pres.: So, in the face-to-face condition, the passenger saw and heard both people involved with the conversation, while in the mobile phone condition, the passenger saw and heard only one side of the conversation. Right?

DB: Yes. Perfect. We repeated the procedure a number of times.

Pres.: What happened next?

DB: After the conversations, one of the actors approached the subjects and told them that she was conducting an experiment. Then, she asked the different passengers if they could answer some questions about the conversation.

Pres.: What sort of questions?

DB: We asked them whether they had noticed the conversation or not. What they remembered from the conversation and how annoying they had found the conversation, things like that..

Pres.: What did the passengers answer? What did you find out?

DB: We found that the cell phone conversations were more noticeable. They sort of made people feel as if they couldn’t stop listening to them. Also, compared to face-to-face conversations, the subjects felt as if the cell phone conversations were more irritating.

Pres.: Interesting! Did you find any differences between the conversations in the bus station and on the train?

DB: As a matter of fact we did. The most “intrusive” type of conversation was a loud cell phone conversation on a train.

Pres.: So, if I understood well, your results confirm that listening to a person speaking on her mobile is more annoying than listening to two people talking face-to-face.

DB: That’s right.

Pres.: But why? Have you got an explanation for that?

DB: Err. Our guess is that this annoyance is caused by hearing only one side of the cell phone conversation ..

Pres.: Mmm, only one side … instead of the whole conversation …

DB: Yeah. It’s possible that hearing only one person in the conversation alters the attention of the listener. But this is just a guess, you know. Now we are working on a new experiment to test this hypothesis…

Pres.: Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Do you promise to come back to our programme and tell us the results when you complete this new experiment?

DB: Of course I’d love to.

Pres.: Thank you very much and we go now to our photo-mobile contest …(fading)

A champion on two wheels script

Interviewer (Int.) – This evening, at “Pole Position”, our programme for the world of races, we have a very special guest. He has been World Champion three times. He’s starting his career as a GP racer next season: a new challenge to beat. Behind him, a story of self-discipline, courage, hard work and intelligence. This is our guest this evening, Dani Stoner, 20 years old and already an experienced winner.

Int. – Good evening, Mr. Stoner, and welcome to our programme.

D.S. – Good evening.

Int. – Should I call you Mr. Stoner, or do you prefer to be called Dani?

D. S. – Dani, please. I’m only 20 years old, and I don’t think any people my age would like to be called Mr, or Ms, either!

Int. – Dani, then. How do you feel being a world-known idol at your age?

D.S. – To tell you the truth, it is strange, and I am not used to this kind of fame yet. People ask you for an autograph… that’s all right with me; but the feeling of being watched all the time as you walk by, that’s not easy. But I’ll get used to it, I’m sure.

Int. – 240 kilometres an hour, that is really fast! Don’t you ever feel scared?

D.S. – You can’t think about that when you take a bend at full speed and the contact surface of your tyres against the track is just one centimetre wide. No, I can’t feel scared.

Int. – I see… . You ran the last races of the world championship with a broken arm. Can you also control pain?

D.S. – If the pain is very strong there’s nothing you can control. But the pain in the last races was not as strong as that. If you start to run and you concentrate on the race, the bike and your opponents, you don’t think of the pain at all.

Int. – Amazing! Let’s talk about your beginnings. What are your first memories on a bike?

D.S. – I’ve seen some pictures of myself on a battery-operated Vespa that my parents gave me when I was one and a half years old. But my first memories go back to an Italjet 50 that my father tuned up with side wheels when I was four years old.

Int. – Weren’t you scared?

D.S. – I can’t really remember. It was like a game to me, like children when they play football or learn to ski. Of course there were risks, but I guess my parents made sure everything was safe. If you learn a sport when you are very young, you learn to gain control very easily. That is probably the most positive aspect in taking up a sport discipline very early in your life.

Int. – But I’m sure you liked other sports. Didn’t you prefer to play football or basketball with your friends at school, rather that running around on those bikes?

D.S. – Of course I liked playing football, or marbles, the usual things my classmates liked playing. Fortunately, I had time to play with them as well. My life at 7 or 8 was very much like that of my friends. I used to ride my bike at weekends. The rest of the week was like theirs: I did my homework, watched the telly, and played with my friends; that’s all!!

Int. – Later on, you met your present manager, Albert Hill. When was that?

D.S. – I was running in the Movistar Cup. I was only thirteen, and he was a famous driver at that time. I was amazed to meet such a famous person. I got very excited, and nervous! I couldn’t find the words when I tried to speak to him. He said he would give me some advice to become a good rider in the future.

Int. – What was the first thing he taught you?

D.S. – Probably one of the first things was to learn discipline. That has been very important in my career as a race runner.

Int. – We all admit that you have run a fantastic world championship. Do you feel you need a rest? The effort you have made must have been exhausting.

D.S. – The truth is I wish I could have some rest. This season has been really hard. My training, my everyday schedule, my fitness…everything was programmed. I really need some time for myself.

Int. – Some time with no obligations, I guess.

D.S. – Yes, that’s right. I want to get up in the morning and say: What am I going to do today?

Int. – What are your hobbies… apart from bikes, of course!!

D.S. – I like going to the cinema, going out with friends, and mostly enjoying a quiet life. But I also like going dancing.

Int. – Tell me Danni, what are your future plans? Are you going to run the GP championship next season?

D.S. – That is something I prefer to keep to myself.

Int. – That is an honest answer, Dani. Some newspapers say that sometimes you look very sad. They have given you the nickname “The Sad Boy”. Do you agree?

D.S. – How can I be sad!! I have won three world championships. Things are going well, my family is happy and my friends love me. I enjoy my job and I earn a lot of money. It wouldn’t be fair to be sad.

Int. – You’re quite right! It’s not easy to have the chance of speaking to a young champion like you, Dani. I hope you’ll visit our programme again and I’m sure we will talk about new world championships as number 1.

D.S. – I hope so. I’ll be glad to join you.

Int. – Thank you very much, Dani. Next week we’ll be talking to…