How Action Predicted Weinstein and the Hollywood Silence Breakers
October 5, 2017 will be a day that will go down in Hollywood history, the date that The New York Times published their shocking expose on Harvey Weinstein, detailing decades worth of sexual harassment charges. A few days later, another report from The New Yorker, by Ronan Farrow (the son of Mia Farrow and stepson of Woody Allen), levied even more serious charges, with three women coming forward to accuse the now-disgraced producer of rape, including actress Asia Argento, the daughter of famed Italian filmmaker Dario Argento. At some point when these accusations were being first brought forth, I couldn’t help but think of the short-lived satire series Action, especially the series finale. It has always been one of my favorite cult classic shows, because it was so far ahead of its time in terms of its dark humor… and now it serves almost as foreshadowing of the despicable acts that took place in the shadows of the Hollywood spotlights.
Action first aired on Fox in the fall of 1999, with the network giving the show a 13-episode order for this biting satire, starring Jay Mohr as a hit Hollywood movie producer named Peter Dragon. While the show was praised by the critics, it was largely ignored by viewers, causing Fox to cancel the show after just eight episodes, refusing to air the final five, even though they had already been completed. The full 13-episode run would later air on Spike TV and then on Comedy Central, where I first discovered it in the early 2000s, as something I randomly happened to come across at 2 AM after the bars had closed.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, I picked up the uncensored DVD set and watched the whole season in order. I was blown away by how brilliant the show was, and equally blown away by how forgotten the show had become, even though it was basically the precursor to Entourage (but much funnier). I had watched the whole series/season because a friend and I were writing an Action script, set in present day, a decade after the events of the show, which was definitely a fun experience, even though it ultimately went nowhere (Not-So-Pro Tip: don’t write stuff based on an exising IP unless you have the rights to said IP…). Throughout the past 10 years, there were a handful of times when I’d pop in that DVD again and revisit the series, just as a reminder of how brilliant the show is… but that’s not why I re-watched it again over the past few days.
I’m guessing that most, if not all of you reading this, have never seen the show, so I supposed what follows would be a spoiler alert, 18 years later, but it’s kind of a chicken or the egg scenario, since you can’t really be spoiled if you’ve never heard of the show before reading the spoilers… but we’re getting sidetracked. The whole first season followed Peter Dragon as he tries to recover from his first ever box office flop after a string of hits. Peter surrounds himself with some very unique company, such as Wendy Ward (Illeana Douglas), a former child star turned high-end prostitute turned Peter’s new development exexutive, Stuart Glazer (Jack Plotnick), the president of production at Peter’s production company whom Peter treats like a lowly intern, Bobby Gianopolis (Lee Arenberg), the secretly-gay head of the studio who is also married to Peter’s ex-wife Jane (Cindy Ambuehl) and Adam Rafkin (Jarrad Paul), the writer of Peter’s new film, Beverly Hills Gun Club.
Throughout the course of the first season, we follow the process of Peter going through pre-production and the early stages of production on Beverly Hills Gun Club, with a slew of celebrity guest star cameos as themselves (Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, David Hasselhoff, Scott Wolf, Tony Hawk), not to mention some early performances from stars in the making such as Sara Paxton, who appears in two episodes as Peter’s young daughter, Maya Rudolph as a birthing teacher and Leslie David Baker as a security guard. And that’s not even mentioning the talent behind the scenes, with Chris Thompson (Jumpin Jack Flash, Bosom Buddies) creating the show with a writing staff that included Will Forte and Drawn Together creators Dave Jesser and Matt Silverstein. But the season/series comes to close on a rather poignant and, as it turns out, eerily prescient note, offering a hint of Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment, almost two decades before it was uncovered.
In the finale, Peter learns that, while they are already three weeks into production, that he actually doesn’t really own the script that he bought from Adam Rafkin… since he had sold basically the same script with a different title to a pair of overweight super-producers known as The Rothstein Brothers… This leads to Peter meeting with Bill Rothstein (Stuart Pankin) and Elliot Rothsein (Harris Laskawy), to see if some sort of an arrangement could be worked out. Peter meets them at his normal restaurant, Le Prix (likely a reference to the late 90s/early 2000s hot-spot Le Dome), where the brothers are seen pigging out with a massive spread of food at their table. The Brothers’ proposition was for Peter to give them $1 million for the rights to his own movie back… plus they’d both get to spend the night with Wendy Ward, in the Elephant Princess (the show she stared on as a child) costume they had made for her. Peter spends the night in his limo, outside the Rothstein mansion, with Wendy coming out in the morning, handing Peter the signed release from the Rothsteins that gives Peter and Wendy their movie back. However, the unspoken events of that night were so traumatizing for Wendy (even after her years as a prostitute), that she decided to move out of L.A. and to some place “clean.” To this, Peter Dragon has the following response:
“Let me get this straight. You’re quitting show business just because you had Read More…
Via:: Movieweb – Movie News