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Stop the Press...Cut! Stop the Press...Cut!
by Asa Butcher
2007-10-07 10:17:30
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It may be ten years, it could be five, but one day Hollywood will decide to film the Ovi story in a big budget, special effects laden extravaganza that will sweep the board at that year's Academy Awards. Thanos will probably be played by Jodie Foster and I'll be played by Eddie Murphy (creative license), but the story of the exciting days of Ovi magazine will dazzle audiences around the world.

The use of the media in the movies is natural, since the world of newspaper journalism, television studios and daily internet magazines are exciting places packed with drama, emotion, relationships and back-stabbing, although there has been plenty of back slapping among the Ovi team. An investigation into how many films have used the medium is quite a surprise, especially the number that won or was nominated for an Oscar.

Case number one is Chicago, one of the worst Best Film winners ever. The film is so bad that I can barely bring myself to even write these few lines about Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart's (Renée Zellweger) fight for fame among the yellow journalists of Chicago in the 1920s. Thankfully, there are four other Best Picture winners involving the media that are far better to discuss than this waste of celluloid.

In Ovi, I reviewed 1931's Cimarron, the third Best Picture winner and first Western to win, which tells the story of Yancey Cravat as one of the pioneers of the West. Yancey's profession was a newspaper editor and he declares early in the film: "I'll show them first crack that the Oklahoma Wigwam prints all the news all the time - knowing no law except the law of God and the government of the United States. Say, that's a pretty good slogan! Top of the page - just ahead of the editorial column!"

Strangely enough, the year that Cimarron won the Best Picture it was up against The Front Page, which, dare I say it, is one of the best journalism films perhaps because it was the first to solely focus upon the medium. You may know it from one of its two sequels, His Girl Friday with Cary Grant or The Front Page with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and follows the story of top reporter planning to quit in order to get married, but the editor has other plans though.

Another Best Picture winner that I have reviewed was Gentleman's Agreement, which moves out of the realm of newspapers and into a magazine, with Peck researching and writing a story about anti-Semitism by posing as a Jew himself. Undercover work also appears in 1935's Best Picture It Happened One Night with Clark Gable as an unemployed reporter helping a runaway socialite in order to get a good story.

Finally, 1950's Best Picture All the King's Men, recently remade with Sean Penn, follows the rise of a politician through the eyes of a journalist, who documents the man's slow turn towards corruption, which has echoes of Citizen Kane, although isn't quite as overblown and pompous as Orson Welles' cinematic masterpiece. Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and have gone down as writing a tongue-in-cheek bio-movie of William Randoloh Hearst, the multi-millionaire newspaper tycoon of the time.

From All the King's Men to All the President's Men is the natural next step, with the latter scooping four Oscars and four other nominations. Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and Deep Throat are synonymous with Watergate and the downfall of President Nixon, so a movie adaptation was to be expected and it allows everybody to understand the process and difficulties Bernstein and Woodward faced.

Another behind the scenes film, albeit far harsher, was The Killing Fields, which won three and was nominated for four others. The story tells of how Sydney Schanberg, a reporter for the New York Times, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Cambodian War. If Cambodia was a little to brutal, why not try the movie version of Graham Greene's The Quiet American starring Brendan Fraser and nominated Michael Caine as a disillusioned British journalist in 1950's Saigon.

Do you remember which film has this quote: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" That's right, Network (four wins and six nominations) that presents the darker side of a TV network exploiting a suicidal TV anchor, who becomes a media sensation. The list of media movies is quite extensive with Michael Keaton as the editor of a New York City tabloid in The Paper, Paul Hogan falling in love with an American reporter in Crocodile Dundee and Hitchcock received six nominations for Foreign Correspondent about an American reporter sent to Britain just before the outbreak of World War II.

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Mr Deeds Goes to Town (two wins and fourteen nominations between them) both tell the story of a man that falls victim to a female reporter looking for a story, but fails to inform them of her profession - both films are fantastic and worth watching for James Stewart and Gary Cooper respectively.

Comic books, media and movies…what a combination! The Daily Planet's Clark Kent and Lois Lane are perhaps the most famous reporters, while Spider-Man is continually harassed by J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle. Thanks to all the movie incarnations of both comic strips, we have seen these characters brought to life.

Before I wrap this article up and meet my own deadline, honourable mentions should be awarded to the following movie media personalities. Jim Carrey's Bruce Nolan in Bruce Almighty, a television reporter assigned to undignified assignments; Drew Barrymore's Josie Geller, a journalist who enrolls in her old high school as part of her research for a story in Never Been Kissed; and Johnny Depp as an oddball journalist in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Yes there are more…Bill Murray as a weatherman reliving the same day over and over in my all-time favourite film Groundhog Day, Eva Mendes' gossip columnist pursuing Will Smith's "date doctor" in Hitch and, finally, Bridget Jones's Diary that presents Chicago's star Renée Zellweger as a TV presenter, also in the sequel. So, we have come full circle and this now gives me the idea of an Ovi movie sequel…the possibilities are endless.


    
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Emanuel Paparella2007-10-07 14:24:59
Informative overview of movies about the media. If I may mention another honorable mention which can be considered a metamedia movie: the 2003 Shattered Glass. I say metamedia because myth is central to a critical understanding of journalism, communication, and culture. Shattered Glass as a case study of the free press myth in action: the popular belief that a privately owned, market-driven press is necessary for the functioning of American democracy and the survival of a free people. The movie, which has been called the most significant about journalism since All the President’s Men, tells of how reporter Stephen Glass fictionalized stories for The New Republic magazine before he was found out and fired in 1998. Contrary to the fears of some journalists that writer-director Billy Ray’s film would encourage public skepticism toward the press, Shattered Glass actually does what films about journalism more often do: It underscores the press’s centrality in American life, in particular the notion that self-regulation of the press works.

Indeed, Hollywood needs a move about Ovi.






Clint2007-10-07 14:34:17
I have just had a call from Clive Owen demanding that if a Ovi blockbuster is to made he's playing me.


Dad2007-10-07 14:48:22
I am stunned that I just read an article by my son, the sad anorak of movies without a mention of his hero the one and only James Bond who took on the egotistical global media magnate Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies. Hold your head in shame.


Asa2007-10-07 23:52:01
Ooops! I admit that one slipped me by and I would guess there are more, yet it is a dishonour to my claim as a Bond fan!


Asa2007-10-07 23:53:03
Clint - I would suggest Clive Dunn rather than Clive Owen.


Emanuel Paparella2007-10-07 23:54:21
Indeed, the list is almost endless: there is the movie on Eduard Morrow: Goodnight and Good Luck, and the one on Mike Wallace (with Al Pacino in it)on whistle blowing on the Tabacco Industry. In these movies the Media is glamorized, romanticized, celebrated to the point that we forget that at times it is not the solution to the problem but very much part of the problem.


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