Sunday, December 03, 2006

Crazy Train to Hollywood

By now, we have all heard about Michael Richards and his racist rant. Then, just this past week, Danny DeVito was on The View and was acting drunk and confused. Couple this all with Mel Gibson’s incident a few months ago and the Tom Cruise saga, and there appears to be a disturbing trend rising: the old guard of Hollywood is breaking down.

Let’s ignore the social connotations of Gibson’s and Richard’s outburst and concentrate on what is says about Hollywood. Since 2000, a new generation of Hollywood players arrived. From Lindsay Lohan to Jake Gyllenhaal to Reese Witherspoon and Tobey MacGuire, the young guns seemed to be outdueling the previous generation. I am surprised it took this long for the avatars of the 90’s to start to act out of control.

I am sure you are saying that this rise as nothing to do with those falls. After all, there are other huge older stars that seem to be doing pretty well. But remember, Michael Richards was huge with Seinfeld and Mel Gibson owned the previous decade between his acting and directing. Mel had staged a comeback with The Passion of the Christ, but that movie generated a boat load of controversy and didn’t exactly make Gibson popular again.

There is a need to adapt quickly in Hollywood. Look at Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard. Both were former actors who turned to directing when they felt their acting careers were on the decline. But their directorial success did not happen over night. They also work inside the Hollywood system and very rarely have “pet projects”. George Clooney could have been a casualty of the 90’s, but he knew his niche (playboy type roles) and worked in that niche until he could make a film like Good Night and Good Luck. One can say that om Cruise is adapting, and is stuck in his action or romantic roles. And with each carbon copy Tom Cruise role, the box office receipts go down.

However, how many other former stars will make this transition? How many are feeling some pressure and will negatively react to that pressure? I think we will see more of the older stars acting embarrassing. It won’t be anyone that’s been relevant recently, but probably someone who we all once admired. It’s sad to see Hollywood chew up and spit out people, but it is part of being a star.


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