Deadline

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I went off to teach a class in yenta-ering at a major university. I then wrote a book about the experience: "On Yentaing Film."

To a young class of Future Hollywood Types (FHT):

Yenta: "Jackass" the movie was #1 its opening weekend and the crowd goes wild. The movie cost a few million and made tons of cash back. Now what does that mean?

Student 1: Moviegoers don't mind crappy video?

Yenta: True, but more.

Student 2: People want to see stunts?

Yenta: NO!

Student 2: They want to see more Johnny Knoxville?

Yenta: Maybe. Not really... more...

Student 2: What! JUST TELL ME! Jeez...

Yenta: People want to see what they want to see. They don't need things watered down or Hollywoodized.

Student 2: THAT MAKES NO SENSE! I'm leaving! This is the last time I go to the Learning Annex.

Yenta: The MTV show "Jackass" was really popular and censured. Then the show was taken off the air, creating a demand for more. If the "Jackass" crew took a script and did a regular movie starring them with an occasional stunt, the opening weekend would've been big, but it would've dropped off fast. People would've been disappointed and the "Jackass" franchise would be done.

Student 3: Like The Jerky Boys. They had a big success with prank calling on records and instead of doing a documentary type film with them pranking people, they made a "movie" with a BS plot. The first weekend brought in $7 million and was the #1 movie in the country. The second week it died a horrible death and we never heard from them again.

Yenta: That's exactly right. Great job.

Student 2: Kiss ass! I'm outta here!

Student 3: The plot of the "Jerky Boys" was as hack as anything can be: a mob guy is chasing them. That's so hacky. Since when were those guys actors? They sucked. Does every movie need a love interest and a car chase? Can't a film just be entertainment in its purest form?

Yenta: Now you're just showing off.

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