March 3, 1995 - Dear Diary, I got a call from Michael Fleming of Variety Magazine today. He asked me all about my video and told me that Variety was "a seed-bed for stories." How cool. This is the first newspaper/magazine to give a damn about my video in the two year since I first made it..
March 4, 1995 - Dear Diary, Went to Jeff Hermann's house and watched RAISING ARIZONA again. He, Lynne, Carol and Illana talked me into going to New York to see my video play in the festival..
March 5, 1995 - Dear Diary, I called Todd to tell him I was coming out. He told me that Miramax had called him and wanted him to stop the story from running in Variety. Pretty funny; a little guy like me creating such a stir!.
March 6, 1995 - Dear Diary, I went over to my PO Box and found a ton of mail requesting issues of Cashiers du Cinemart and copies of my video! It was all thanks to my appearance in the Joe Bob Report!.
March 7, 1995 - Dear Diary, I went over to Borders and picked up a copy of Variety. When I got back I was called by Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News. She interviewed me for her new book on Quentin Tarantino. It was pretty neat hearing her type everything I said. Doesn't it seem a little premature, though, to write a book about a guy who has only made two and a quarter films?.
Bernard was kind of loopy. When she mentioned that she was talking about my tape to a writer from Entertainment Weekly but stopped when the writer began to get interested. When I asked her who it was she asked me suspiciously, "Why, do you want to call and talk to the writer??"
I assured her that I was just curious if the writer was fellow former U of M alum Owen Glieberman..
March 8, 1995 - Dear Diary, That Variety story really created some waves. I got a call today from Bill Jenkins, Ringo Lam's US Manager. I got the feeling that he thought I was some kind of punk kid since I was quoted as calling CITY ON FIRE "awful." Overall he just wanted to touch base with me an assured me that there'd be no legal repercussions. He also refused to let me interview Ringo..
March 10, 1995 - Dear Diary, Michael Fleming called again, this time to do a follow-up piece. He informed me that the Press Screening had been cancelled which bummed me out; I was getting hooked on all this attention!.
March 13, 1995 - Dear Diary, After a slow weekend, my phone started ringing again. Today I got a call from Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Post who filled me in on the Press Screening a little more. The screening wasn't cancelled, just my film - it was pulled at the last moment.
"Hey Todd, what's up? This is Mike White."
"Oh, man, I got Miramax calling me all over the place."
"Really? What are they saying?"
Later I got a call from Louis Beale of the New York Daily News (Jami Bernard's paper) and we talked for a long time. I think I'm getting the feel for handling the press..
March 14,1995 - Dear Diary, I spent the day getting photographed by not one but two AP photographers! Talk about another ego boost!
And, the best boost of all was when I got a call from Steve Schaffer of Entertainment Weekly! My favorite magazine might run a story on me! He told me he'll call me tomorrow morning after he watches the video tonight!.
March 15, 1995 - Dear Diary, I worked until 4AM last night so I took the phone to bed with me in case Steve Schaffer called. The phone woke me up at 10AM with a call from my old friend Jeff Dunlap called. He excitedly read the article from the Post and I delighted in hearing it, as well as relating the "behind the scenes" scoop on Gersh's conversation with me. I was on edge all night waiting for Steve Schaffer's call..
March 16, 1995 - Dear Diary, I talked to Ann Richie from an San Diego radio show and we're going to do an on-air interview next Monday. I also got ahold of Terry McCloud of Fox TV in New York and she wants to do an in-person interview with me next week when I get into New York. My Blockbuster boss, Al, let me know that Ron Castell of Blockbuster Media Control called. I hope it was to discuss the letters I've written to management about BIRD ON A WIRE not being in the Mel Gibson section and not to tell me that I'm in deep shit.
Tonight I got a copy of the latest Variety. It really drove home my suspicions that I can't trust the guys at the NYUFF. I think now the best reason to go is to make sure my tape is actually played. I wouldn't be surprised, at this point, to find out that Miramax decides to fund next years festival in some way..
March 17, 1995 - Dear Diary, I talked to Ron Castell's secretary, a really nice woman. She was pleasant as all get-out and told me that Castell just wanted to let me know "how tremendous it was reading about you in Variety" and asked me to call tomorrow..
March 18, 1995 - Dear Diary, I called Castell - on Blockbuster's bill, of course - and he seemed like a pretty decent dude, though I don't think I was kiss-ass enough to stroke his managerial ego. He asked for a copy of the video and my resume. I won't be surprised if nothing comes of it. I hope Steve Schaffer calls Monday.
I talked to Chris McGraw tonight for the first time in a long time. I'm glad I did because he called me late tonight to tell me he saw a news story about me on Mtv!! I'm waiting to see if it comes on again tonight but I keep seeing stories on Snoop Doggy Dogg. Damn Damny Damn. I think I'll just set up a tape to record each of the news segments tonight..
March 19, 1995 - Dear Diary, Looking at the tape from last night they didn't repeat the story and I tuned in all day at work at a quarter to the hour every hour. I was almost doubting that Chris saw the story (maybe he's suddenly turned to hard drugs) until I was on the phone with Mitch and saw it!!! Man, what a rush, hearing Kurt Loder say my name! Of course, all the facts are wrong (glad Touré couldn't call and get them straight) but it's still fun! It only took five months for Mtv to finally do a story on me...
March 20, 1995 - Dear Diary, I talked to Mtv today to see if they could get me a copy of the story - the girl was a real bitch about it so I made a concession and said, "If you tell me when it'll be on, I'll just tape it myself." (Hoping to set up a deck at work and getting a nice 3/4" copy of it). However, she ended up sending me a copy since it was only scheduled to air twice. Good thing McGraw saw it. I guess I'm just not nearly important enough to rate the amount of coverage that Snoop has gotten over the weekend.
The radio show had their facts as wrong as Mtv (or at least I hope so - everyone keeps saying my video isn't going to air - do they know something I don't?) but I didn't take the time to correct everything. In fact, I didn't have much time for anything. It was quick and painless - almost like a bris, except for the pain thing... and, I think a bris would be longer... okay, bad analogy.
I was hoping that the radio show would take callers - I was hoping for someone to attack me. I kind of got my wish a few hours later when the copy of the LA Weekly arrived at my door. The article by Manhola Dargis sounds like a freakin' Miramax Press Release! Maybe Manhola saw the American CITY ON FIRE, that's the only way I can see that s/he can say that "the occasional similarities between CITY ON FIRE and the superior RESERVOIR DOGS are noticeable but not striking." Huh? Oh, and I found out that I am from the East Coast and have a "hard-on" for Quentin.
At least the Daily News article was nicer! I got that today, surprised by the fact that there were no pictures of me, after all the hassle of sending out a photographer. It's so strange to read quotes of things I've said in the paper. I'd really like to talk to this Marcy Granata from Miramax and ask her where in the hell Quentin "acknowledged the influence of a variety of movies, including CITY ON FIRE." Where was that? Between the two of them?.
March 21, 1995 - Dear Diary, I packed today and sent out a big pile of tapes before I left. I'm so excited to go to New York!.
March 27, 1995 - Dear Diary, Where should I begin??? What a whirl-wind week I had. Let me just say that New York was fun. I took a bite of the Big Apple and really tried hard to not mind the maggots... but it was a tough fight.
The first day was great - our cab crashed into another guy's car on our way to Hillary's from Penn Station. The phrase, "Why you gotta fuck up my shit, man?" were used.
I spotted my first celebrity, Dominic Griffin, the drunk guy from Mtv's "The Real World" at the screening of Jon Moritsugu's MOD FUCK EXPLOSION before going over and seeing Helmet free of charge.
However... the evening was tainted by an article that Andrew Gurland gave me on the way into the dive where we saw Helmet. It was a copy of a USA Today article (boy, I'd like to get my hands on all those press clipping he had, I'm sure I've missed a few) where my boy Todd Phillips was quoted as saying, "If you take any horror film and cut it together with something by Hitchcock, it looks like they're ripping off Hitchcock."
Wow. What a fucking asshole.
Not only am I mad about the complete insanity of that quote (yeah, I guess I could cut MARNIE and PUMPKINHEAD together - they are SO similar) but that this is the festival's organizer, the same guy who played by best bud and who should be kissing my fucking feet for submitting my video to his little festival, saying this crap in a national newspaper.
I'm sure every one of those articles that Gurland had collected had a prominent mention of WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FOOLING, even The Village Voice couldn't deny a mention, even if it was a dig, calling it a "so-what documentary" - so why mention it, guys?
Pulling my video from the Press Screening was a clever move, I'll grant them that. They were responsible for all the hype around the video... but why try to deny the substance of the tape? Why promote a piece just to dis it - and it's creator - in public? And, did they pull it from the screening as a stunt or were they really pressured? Who can believe the back-pedaling and butt-kissing of Phillips? That back-stabbing prick.
I feel pretty responsible for helping the fest get a lot of press, but do I get a handshake or a pat on the back? Nope. I went to New York and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt and ignored. I was basically an unperson to all of them when I got there. Dominic didn't stop tipping the bottle to get a story for Film Threat and Dave Williams couldn't stop kissing Richard Kern's untalented, pretentious ass to get a story for the Video Guide. Hello? News story here!
I wasn't even a nobody - I was just a "somebody" as evidenced by Phillips' appearance on CNN's Showbiz today: "Somebody submitted a film, a twelve minute documentary, comparing scenes from RESERVOIR DOGS with a Hong Kong film called CITY ON FIRE attempting to show that Quentin Tarantino borrowed generously from this film."
Whoa... "attempt"? "borrow"? Wanna be shocking? Wanna get some more attendees? Wanna tell the fucking truth for a change? How about I SHOWED that Tarantino STOLE from CITY ON FIRE. How about that, Todd? Why so wishy-washy?
Could it be that you're (as Shawn put it) Miramax's Meat Puppet? Or, hell, just say that people should really look at the video and make up their own damn minds. I don't care if you disagree with me after you've seen the video. At least you've taken time to look. But who wants to see a video that merely "attempts" to show some "borrowed" scenes?
So, I was just "somebody" to Phillips. Not Mike White. Just "somebody" like he couldn't remember my name and that we had talked on the phone quite a few times. He couldn't remember the name of the person whose video was getting so much attention. Look in the damn paper, Todd. It's Mike White - not too difficult to remember - hell, it's so generic that it's funny.
Did your "friends at Miramax" that the Post refers to drive my name out of your soft skull? Did your old co-workers and fiance from Miramax tell you that it'd be bad news to drop my name any more? Are you too pussy-whipped to go all the way to promote your festival and, more importantly, the independent film makers who make the fest possible?
I mean... shouldn't you be looking out for the interests of your film makers? What would happen if you treated everyone as shabbily as you treated me in that final week before the fest? What would happen if you bad-mouthed every film maker, invalidating their work in USA Today and on CNN Showbiz? I don't even know if you can guess, so I'll tell you - You'd go out of business. You're precious festival would crumble because no one likes to eat shit and be told how lucky they are to be eating it! I'm sure that's just how you feel, like you did me a big fucking favor. I don't think that saying, "If you take any horror film and cut it together with something by Hitchcock, it looks like they're ripping of Hitchcock" really did much for me there, big guy.
Maybe if you had said that if you take any Brian DePalma film and cut it together with Hitchcock you'll see that there's an obvious correlation between the two film makers, but that's not the point! DePalma would be the first to admit that he rips off Hitchcock as often as possible. He wouldn't say, "Sure, I love Hitchcock, I've got the poster for Vertigo in my bedroom." I'm just aghast about the audacity of that statement. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I could make an effective documentary from THE TOOLBOX MURDERS and REBECCA.
To finally see the video(s) keep reading
For more of Phillips and Gurland's antics check out Attention: ENEMY