These characters are wining about the life that indie media makers of all kinds live everyday, no regular pay check, hustling for cash, welcome to the real movie biz.
More fun to come, and ,IMO,maybe better movies,TV. Etc.
In Hollywood, the Easy-Money Generation Toughens up
The New York Times
March 23, 2009
In Hollywood, the Easy-Money Generation Toughens Up
By MICHAEL CIEPLY and BROOKS BARNES
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — In the bungalow offices here that house Steven Spielberg’s newly formed DreamWorks Studios, the swagger is suddenly being dialed back a notch or two.
When the company reorganized itself as an independent operation a few months ago, Stacey Snider, a co-owner of DreamWorks and its chief executive, envisioned herself presiding over a grand new empire. It was a nice fantasy while it lasted.
“You’re not presiding over anything,” Ms. Snider, 47, said that she had quickly realized. “You’re back in the trenches.”
After riding two decades of almost nonstop growth from the cable and video revolutions, a new generation of Hollywood power players is finally being forced to test its mettle.
These executives — consummate insiders who enlisted when young and worked their way up — now find themselves pushing 50 just as some brutal problems are pushing back: a collapse in DVD sales, a credit crisis that has curtailed financing for new movies, a group of corporate owners determined to pull more profits from studios to compensate for hard-hit publishing and broadcast television divisions.
“These folks were born from a place where they knew no failure — all they could ever see was up, both for the business and their careers,” said Peter Guber, a former chairman of Sony Pictures who is now a producer and industry elder statesman. “Now they must confront the unsettling truth that failure is close at hand and that it’s on their backs to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
To date, the current leaders have had to focus more intently on becoming masters of organizational behavior than rebooting businesses. “Consensus management is what they know,” said Mr. Guber. But as studios trim staff and producer deals, many are now hoping to emulate some of the entrepreneurial cowboys — David Geffen, Barry Diller and Michael Eisner come to mind — from the generation of moguls that preceded them.
Inevitably, the sudden shift has set off soul-searching among the loose network of allies and adversaries who must rewire the industry in the short span before a next Hollywood generation comes along to replace them. They are tightening belts, lowering expectations and becoming occasionally more cutthroat, but also grappling with some unusually philosophic thoughts about a business for which they now have to fight.
Rough and tumble is not in this generation’s DNA. Most hail from elite universities, in contrast to predecessors like Mr. Geffen or Mr. Diller, who had no college degrees. The co-chairmen of Universal Pictures, Marc Shmuger and David Linde, respectively attended Wesleyan and Swarthmore. Ms. Snider has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles, school of law.
“You’re looking at a business that is recalibrating itself,” said Mr. Linde. The 49-year-old executive, who clambered into show business in the 1980s by way of Paramount’s New York-based legal department, added, “I don’t think we today know precisely how it’s changing.”
Uncertainty breeds stress, even among friends. Last month, for instance, once-close relations between Universal and DreamWorks became strained after Ms. Snider’s company initiated talks, without giving Mr. Shmuger’s studio an expected heads up, about a distribution arrangement with Walt Disney Studios.
“People are living in fear, and sometimes it manifests itself in bad behavior,” said Mr. Shmuger, 50, who started in the business during college as a freelance copywriter for movie posters, and who spoke recently of the general climate, not of a specific incident.
“Darwinian” is one word Patrick Whitesell, a partner at the Endeavor talent agency, uses to describe the current landscape, while Chris Silbermann, president of International Creative Management, calls it “disorganized.” Both agreed that people who were formerly able to succeed by clinging to mediocrity suddenly find themselves without cover.
“Everybody has to dig deeper than they ever have,” said Mr. Whitesell, who came up in television and now represents such stars as Christian Bale and Shia LaBeouf. “That means more creative deal-making, more complete understanding of the economics of the industry, more hard-edged business decisions.”
Mr. Silbermann said: “The only way to survive is to get beyond the knee-jerk resistance to change. What’s scary is that a lot of people in the movie business aren’t admitting that to themselves yet.”
A number of executives and agents declined to be interviewed for this article, citing concerns about competitors or corporate overseers. Among those who preferred not to speak were Richard Lovett, 48, and Bryan Lourd, 49, both of whom are managing partners at the Creative Artists Agency; Rob Moore, 46, the vice chairman of the Viacom-owned Paramount under Brad Grey, who turns 52 this year; and Jeffrey Robinov, the 50-year-old president of the Warner Brothers Pictures Group, which is owned by Time Warner.
They follow a generation of heavyweights who, having come of age with less to lose in the tough economic climate of the 1970s, were more willing to speak openly about their dilemmas. Mr. Lourd and Mr. Lovett were understudies to Michael Ovitz, a highly public superagent who helped to found Creative Artists. Mr. Robinov has climbed rungs under Barry M. Meyer, the eloquent chairman of Warner Brothers who has more than 40 years of show business experience on his résumé.
The people who did speak acknowledged that many outside the glamour industry have it much worse. Hollywood is manufacturing one of the only products consumers are still lining up to buy, evidenced by a surge in box office revenue since December. That uptick is not nearly enough to offset the decline in DVD sales, but other businesses — online streaming, mobile, video-on-demand — are expanding and could pick up the slack.
“I look at it as growing pains,” said Donald De Line, 50, a Disney and Paramount executive who is one of the industry’s leading producers. “We’re going to figure it out, and the revenue streams will get healthy again. That’s the history of Hollywood.”
Enduring financial pain is not why Kevin Misher, a 44-year-old producer who studied finance at the University of Pennsylvania, came to Hollywood. After making his mark as an executive at Universal and Sony, however, Mr. Misher last year lost the comfort of a Paramount producing deal when it was bought out by the studio during widespread cost-cutting.
“You’re ultimately fending for yourself here,” said Mr. Misher. Like more than a few similarly aged “studio babies,” he now operates from an office far removed from the company lots, but is still feeding the system films like “Public Enemies,” a gangster drama directed by Michael Mann scheduled for release by Universal in July.
But he, too, sees an upside: The tough operating environment has forced producers like himself and Ms. Snider deeper into the moviemaking process.
“This is what you love to do, get on with it,” Ms. Snider recalls telling herself lately, even as DreamWorks was scrambling to complete financing arrangements that would let it get another round of films in production.
Ms. Snider added that she and the rest of her generation — having figured out that the real prize is being in the game — might stay in it a bit longer than intended, instead of clearing the way for thirtysomethings awaiting their turn at the top.
“They’re going to have to kick me out,” she said.