BILLY BOB THORNTON’S HEAD NOW THREE TIMES AS BIG AS HIS BODY

HOLLYWOOD – Billy Bob Thornton’s head is now three times bigger than his body.

Fargo and Goliath star Billy Bob Thornton has a head which is now three times as big as his scrawny body. The physical transformation is a result of Croats Disease which Thornton contracted while golfing in Greenland. The Man Who Wasn’t There (as he prefers to be known) dropped by the Studio Exec bungalow to speak EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec:

It’s truly debilitating. I have to wear this more normal-shaped man suit, which I kinda sit in. My huge abnormal head balance on the reinforced collar and I operate it with my feet.

Jesus, Billy that’s terrible.

I know. Then again, sometimes I get drunk and I jump out of it and run up and down the bar. That’s fun. UNless they start throwing peanuts at me. I don’t like that. That’s demeaning.

How’s it affect the work?

I can still act, but I turn down any role that involves horse riding or swimming scenes. To be honest I never did those roles in the past either.

Is there a cure?

My doctor says it will wear off in about three weeks. But he said that six weeks ago.

Goliath is currently available on Amazon.

FRANCES MCDORMAND MARRIES SECOND COEN BROTHER

LAS VEGAS – ‘I’ve got the set,’ shouted an inebriated Frances McDormand from the steps of the small Las Vegas wedding chapel where yesterday she married her second Coen Brother, probably Ethan or Joel.

The Oscar winning actress has already been married to one of the Coens, Joel or Ethan since 1984, but decided she would like to have both sometime in 2006.

Hollywood observer Yank Mayhew said:

Bigamy is becoming the new skateboarding in Hollywood circles. Already you have Goldie Hawn married to Kurt Russell, Russell Crowe and Russell Brand. But McDormand has gone for the jackpot, adding a tinge of incest to the brew. 

Sources close to the Coen Brothers camp reported that the siblings were in fact ‘relieved’ because for some time now they had been unable to remember who was married to the Fargo star:

Genuinely confused

 It would be quite funny as a matter of fact, as they squabbled about it once Frances had left the room. When she came back, they waited for her to say something or make a gesture and then would use that as a clue. I’m afraid to say Frances exploited their confusion to basically go home with the one she wanted. 

All of us at Studio Exec would like to wish the happy trio all the best for the future.

Hail Caesar is on general release.

FARGO AND THE WOMEN

FARGO – What is it with Fargo Season 2 and the women?

Season 2 of the hit FX show Fargo just concluded and the praise received if anything exceeded the first season, which itself had come as a surprise. And yet there was something that disturbed me throughout my viewing of Noah Hawley’s intelligent crime drama: namely the women. I remarked on this in my mid-season review (CLICK HERE to read that) and my perplexity only increased as the show went on. A brilliant essay by Kat George for the Decider website posited the absolute opposite of what I’m going to argue here (read that OVER HERE), so first I better concede some points. First off, Fargo gives women a central role. This is the core of the Coen brother’s original motion picture with Frances McDormand’s  Marge Gunderson, a down to earth police woman whose apparent simplicity firm moral rectitude and sharp investigative nous. The first season we got a riff on that with Allison Tolman’s Deputy Molly Solverson. And season two has a quartet of major female characters, all of whom are intelligently written, well performed and move the narrative: Kirsten Dunst as Peggy, Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt a would be matriarch of the local crime family, Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) the Sheriff’s ailing wife and Rachel Keller as Simone Gerhardt, Floyd’s granddaughter, a would be femme fetale. In the first episode we get a taste of the strong women when a young Gerhardt tries to prove himself by threatening Judge Mundt (Ann Cusack). Her refusal to concede to the male bluster and her resistance is part of what sets off the chain of events that will unravel throughout the rest of the show – Peggy gives the coup de grace driving her deus ex machina – but it should also be noted that she ends up dead. This is a world not kind to strong women. Not kind to anyone, it might be conceded.

So let’s take the Gerhardt’s next. The ‘would be’s a stuck on there are essential here. Floyd and Simone are both responding to and trying to best the patriarchal mob family from opposite ends of the spectrum – Simone is trying to betray it from without and Floyd take it over from within. And they both fail dramatically. Kat George describes Floyd as a ‘rousing, formidable woman’ but there’s not much evidence of this. This is what she would be, but her only moment of anything like control is when she orders a massacre. All her other decisions end in failure and her sons systematically undermine her. As does her granddaughter whose inept betrayals and manipulations show her as naive and easily manipulated.

Next comes Peggy. The hair dresser with a butcher for a husband and a yen for self-improvement (actualization) is the narrative catalyst that just keeps on giving. George describes her as ‘the puppeteer’. However, giving her power as the lead agent fails to see that her agency is fatally compromised by her mental illness. As the hallucinations in the final episode make clear, Peggy is delusional. Diagnosing her is a tricky task, partly because mental health is always at the behest of narrative in such cases but also because she is the re-enactment of that old misogynistic stereotype – the hysterical blue stocking. Her dissatisfaction and yearning for self-improvement is part and parcel of her madness, hoarding travel and beauty magazines and hallucinating lifestyle gurus. In the final episode we have replay of the scene from the original movie when Marge confronts the main criminal Gaear (Peter Stormare) through a rear view mirror conversation in the police prowler. Her interrogation of the silent banal evil sat on her back seat reveals his smallness, his cupidity in stark relief to her basic un-cynical decency – it is the moral core of the film. The gender roles reversed, it is Patrick Wilson’s police officer Lou Solverson who asks the questions and Peggy who gives a passionate feminist reading of the whole situation – the constrictions of small town life, the limitations and criticisms and surveillance a woman is subject to, her inability to become who she really thinks she should be. ‘People got killed,’ Solverson reminds her. All her problems in the context of the dead bodies reads as a petty complaint of a desperate and desperately selfish housewife, whose delusions led to the death of her doltish but basically good husband (Jesse Plemons).

But Lou is not the only person to give a rebuttal to Peggy and her concerns. His wife Betsy is the counterpoint to all of the women striving to dominate their men, striving to realize themselves. Of her, George writes: Betsy ‘is just as threatening to her world as Floyd and Simone were to theirs, or as Peggy is to the world at large. Betsy has mastered the men in her world, managing to be smart, biting, motherly and gentle all at once.’ So mastery has come through being an uncomplaining, saintly, self-sacrificing, self-abnegating mother and housewife? She masters the men by doing the dishes? By waiting patiently at home, dying quietly while her husband does everything he can not to come back, under the guise of duty? Sure she finds the gun and dispenses stern advice to the town drunk, but all this only secures her in the one role that women are allowed to flourish in. She is a matriarch and not without power, but the matriarch is not necessarily a woman who opposes male power; much of the time they facilitate it – the woman who gets to boss the other women in how best to look after their men.

I get that Fargo is set in the mid-West in a nascent Reaganite America. This is a small town conservative homeliness pitted against the forces of darkness, the interlopers – blacks and native Americans, or just people from Kansas city. It is hard to unpick where that conservative world view is being satirized or lionized – a stickiness that is crucial to the appeal of the source film as well as the TV show. But women, at least in my ledger, seem to get the worst of it. They are mad, bad and dangerous to know on one side, or saintly, motherly and imminently dead on the other. And although misogynists all got short shrift as well – ‘You have a woman problem,’ hisses Dodd Gerhardt, the worst offender – one can’t help but feel the show comes down very much on one side – the Nancy Reagans rather than the second wave feminists.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Use that l’il ole comment box below.

For more Fargo, Click Here.

FX TO MAKE HUDSUCKER PROXY TV SHOW

HOLLYWOOD – Following the success of the Fargo TV show, FX have announced they have green lit a spin off TV version of the hit Coen Brothers movie: The Hudsucker Proxy.

Based on the 1994 film starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman, The Hudsucker Proxy TV show will be written by Noah Hawley and executive produced by the Coen Brothers. Hawley came by the Studio Exec Bungalow to talk about the project:

I’m really excited. We’ve done two seasons of Fargo and the third will be a real challenge but now I have enough people in place that I can kind of let it run itself and I am ready for a new challenge. Hudsucker is going to give me that.

How is it going to be different from Fargo?

Well, if you’ve seen the film you’ll know that it is a tribute to the sort of screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s and much less dark than Fargo. So we’re going to be doing that. There will be much less violence. Bruce Campbell also had a great role in the film so we’re hoping he’ll come back for us.

So there’ll be less violence?

Oh absolutely. The whole tone will be lighter and more comic. Plus we’re looking at a totally different demographic. A younger audience. This is going to be fun and youthful, colorful and with lots of music and dance. Oh and they’re going to be the Muppets as well. They are going to be working in Hudsucker Industries int he lower sections.

That sounds… very different. So it’s going to be …

You know for kids.

The Hudsucker Proxy: The Show will be broadcast in 2016.

FARGO 2: REVIEW

FARGO: Season 2 – Mid-Season Review: The second season of Fargo is some great television but its depiction of women though true to the 70s period is pretty hard to stomach.

At the beginning of every episode, Fargo underlines its fictive status with the greatest lie in art ‘based on true events’. Although in the Coen Brothers’ original movie the assertion was slippery – many took them at their word at least at first – in Noah Hawley’s inspired show the repeated assertion of sober truth is weekly reminder that we are watching a brilliant blackly comic fantasy show. Yes it might be set in Minnesota and there aren’t any dragons, but this is as realistic as Game of Thrones using its comically exaggerated aw heck ordinariness as merely a counterpoint to the operatic levels of violence and the Manichean extremes of good and evil portrayed in the snowy wastes.

Season 2 sees the action shift to 1979 and unfurls as a crime turf  war played out against the background of the irresistible rise to power of Ronald Reagan. Everyone is against Carter, whose original sin seems to be the oil crisis which sees people having to queue to fill up their cars as a sign of the decline of America. The characters are drawn with broad strokes. The honorable and decent police officers Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson are played with ramrod moral probity and down to earth wit. No phone footage of them beating up or shooting unarmed black men. Fargo is set before camera phones made the police act that way. On the other side are the wicked criminals, the Gerhardts and the Kansas City crew, both sounding like progressive rock bands and both with a superbly operatic and unrestrained sense of violence. In the middle are the simple folk, the Blumquists played by Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, who have to pay for the consequences of poorly made decisions and ultimately the violence of everybody else. Missing is Billy Bob Thornton’s truly compelling performance as an avenging angel of violence, but his bemused extreme violence remains as does the opposition provided by the down to earth folks. This is a world that could easily bring forth the dualism with crayons of Reagan’s morning in America versus the Evil Empire rhetoric.

Part of this conservative universe is the treatment of women who are either dangerously duplicitous (Rachel Geller as the Gerhardt daughter), dangerously dumb bimbos (Dunst) or saintly and dying (Cristin Milioti as Betsey Solverson). The one person who could buck the trend, Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) Matriarch of the Gerhardts is seen consistently as ineffective and always a step behind her feral offspring as well as her adversaries. Now this is a mid-season review and I’m betting that the worm might well turn at some point but thus far what is really missing from the show is not Billy Bob Thornton’s entertaining grandstanding but Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman)’s strong woman at the core.

Fargo remains one of the best and most unlikely successes of recent television. And it is testament to how good it is that I haven’t even mentioned Nick Offerman’s turn as town lawyer and blow hard.

For more Reviews, Click Here.

FX LINES UP MORE COEN BROTHERS SHOWS

HOLLYWOOD – Following the critical success of FX’s hit show Fargo, more Coen Brothers spin offs are being lined up for the Fall season.

There are currently three Coen Brothers shows in pre-production:

  • Hudsucker will follow the fortunes of Norville Barnes (Zach Braff), a young inventor who’s placed in a position of power by the conniving executive of the Hudsucker company, Sidney J. Mussburger (John Lithgow). An insider says, ‘This will be a Mad Men style period drama but also keeping the screwball comedy of the original.’
  • The Dude sees the return of everyone’s favorite bowler Jeffrey (The Dude) Lebowksi, to be played by William Hurt. The Dude opens a PI office with old pal Walter Sobchak (Hugh Laurie) and each week will investigate crazy cases from a series of LA style off beats, while at the same time trying to progress into the regionals of the Bowling League. An insider tells us: ‘This will be Hart to Hart for the millennials.’
  • Raising Utah sees slacker couple John Krasinski and Ellen Page kidnap a baby and start an epic journey across America. Sam Mendes will direct. An FX executive promises ‘It won’t be very good.’

All shows are due to premier in the Fall.

GEOFFREY RUSH / WILLIAM H. MACY FEUD ENTERS 7TH YEAR

HOLLYWOOD – No one is sure how it began but the violent feud between Geoffrey Rush and William H. Macy has now entered its seventh year, with both actors ignoring calls from various famous luminaries to bury the hatchet.

‘The only hatchet I’ll be burying,’ said the fuming Fargo star, ‘will be a very literal hatchet in the back of that asshole’s cranium.’    

Hollywood commentator Xavier Poulis observed:

The tragedy is the two were very good friends for a long time. When they starred with Ben Stiller in Mystery Men there was a party atmosphere on the set and they would frequently go out drinking, paint-balling and hover-rafting together. But something along the way soured their relationship. To this day nobody knows what. 

John Travolta – a friend of both men – said: 

It breaks my heart. I’ve always looked on the two of them as the finest character actors of our generation. When I saw Shine I phoned up Gebeeza Razooks and said, you have to come to my place for a fish fry. Gebeeza came the next day and there he met Weeeeeeeee Maceron and a friendship developed.  

Over the past years the two actors have perpetrated a series of attacks on each other. These have gone from filling their respective trailers with manure and red M&Ms to garroting each other backstage prior to an important first night.

When will the fighting end? When will peace between the Rush and the Macy come? Only the Studio Exec knows. And he’s not telling.   

COEN BROTHERS ATTACK AFFLECK

HOLLYWOOD – The bad boys of middlebrow cinema, the Coen Brothers, launched a scathing attack against Ben Affleck today during an interview with French culture magazine Chapeau.

‘That asshole stole our movie and he’s gonna pay with his nut,’ they said in unison in a The Shining -Danny-come-and-play-with-.us way that they’ve perfected over the years. ‘His film Argo was clearly a rip off of our film and when we get our hands on him he’s gonna be shy a nut. We’re going to take it off with pliers.’

It appears that the Hudsucker Proxies (as they prefer to be known) were labouring under the false impression that Affleck’s Argo was essentially a remake of Fargo. Joel – the more coherent of the two – flew solo on this one:  

Mr Potato Head

Mr. Potato head thinks he can do anything just because he used to dingle Beyonce or someone. Well, he can’t. Remaking our film and then just taking a letter off the beginning of the title to try and throw us has never worked. Look how we fucked up Spielberg after he tried to make Arton Fink. We broke William Friedkin’s arm when he was planning a script Brother, Where Art Thou?

Ethan continued:

We’re only gonna take the one nut, because the other one’s there as an insurance for good behaviour. 

Matt Damon – who is widely believed to be the origin of the rumour – looked shaken and tried to explain himself. ‘I thought the guys would watch the movie, see that it was obviously not Fargo and realise I’d been pulling their leg. What I didn’t realise was how heavily these guys are into crystal meth. They sat through the whole screening facing the wrong direction and basically saw their film against the blank wall opposite the screen.’