Why is Everybody Hating on Doctor Dolittle?

Marketers control the world these days…at least that’s how it often seems. Here’s a marketer’s perception of the failure of the latest version of Dr. Dolittle to grace our local cinema’s. And not just any marketer, Seth Godin, whose wisdom in the eyes of this TVWriter™ minion knoweth no bounds.

The Dolittle effect

by Seth Godin

Why is the new Dolittle movie so bad? Savaged by critics and viewers, it had:

  • One of the most bankable movie stars in the world
  • A story that had previously been the basis of two hit movies
  • The best CGI houses in the world
  • Unlimited time and money

I think the best way to understand why it failed is to look at the reasons above. Ironically, it’s these assets and lack of constraints that created the circumstances that allowed the movie to become a turkey.

Too many meetings.

Too many self-important voices around the table.

And most of all: No one who cared enough or was bold enough to stand up and say, “no.”

That would have been enough. If at three or four critical moments in the development of the project, someone had stopped the assembly line until the work was good enough to proceed, everything would have been better.

Sometimes, the investments we put in place to avoid mediocrity are the very things that cause it.

Don’t just sit there marveling at how much a showbiz non-pro knows about Hollywood. Instead, click on over to Seth’s Blog and see what else he knows and is so willing to share.

Early predictions for the 2020 Oscar nominations

It may seem mystifying to some people, and gratifying to others, but in spite of the fact that ratings for the awards show are down, a hell of a lot of folks are interested in who and what gets each year’s Oscars.

We here at TVWriter™ are interested as well, although some might say it’s because we have a horse we hope will be in the race. That’s the upcoming film, 1917, written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, directed by that very same Mr. Mendes,  and executive-produced by Jeb Brody and Ricardo Marco Budé. (Regular visitors to this site probably will understand one of the references here. If not, well, no worries.)

Where were we? Oh, right. Here: Because of the widespread interest, we’re proud to bring you the following predictions for Oscar noms. “Action!”

by David Canfield and Joey Nolfi

Over the past few months, EW has been offering in-depth analysis of this Oscar season’s (very) early days, assessing potential frontrunners, making the circuit rounds, and tracking the dominant narratives taking shape for 2020. Now, as the last remaining contenders start getting screened and precursor nominations officially trickle in, we’re ready to present our picks for who will make the cut on Jan. 13, when the 2020 Oscar nominees are announced.

We’ll update this post regularly as the race comes into tighter focus. And we’ll soon expand with predictions for every below-the-line category as well. As for now, check out our breakdowns of the directing, acting, and screenplay categories — in addition, of course, to Best Picture. UPDATED Nov. 25


Epic new films by Oscar mainstays Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino lead this race, but a South Korean critical phenomenon and a surprise TIFF People’s Choice winner add plenty of intrigue. Tracking changes: Little Women reviews dropped this week, and it’s looking like one of the year’s best-reviewed films. Screenings of Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and, especially, Sam Mendes’ 1917 have introduced two potential power players this season. And boffo box office for Ford v Ferrari proves this crowdpleaser is a real sleeper in this race.

The Top 10:

The Irishman (dir. Martin Scorsese)

1917 (dir. Sam Mendes)

Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig)

Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach)

Ford v Ferrari (dir. James Mangold)

Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi)

Joker (dir. Todd Phillips)

Richard Jewell (dir. Clint Eastwood)

In the Hunt:

Bombshell (dir. Jay Roach)

The Farewell (dir. Lulu Wang)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (dir. Marielle Heller)

The Two Popes (dir. Fernando Meirelles)


Waves (dir. Trey Edward Shults)

Hustlers (dir. Lorene Scafaria)

Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

Read it all at ew.com

Bruce Lee Was My Friend, and Tarantino’s Movie Disrespects Him

NOTE FROM LB: I didn’t know Bruce Lee, but many of my friends did.

Hey, what can I say? I used to hang out with martial artists. My martial artist friends were all good guys as well as world champions, and they made me feel safe. In many ways it was like being around superheroes.

Yeah, I was very young back then.

Be that as it may, I’ve been hearing from several of the champs recently, and they’re all upset about one particular thing – the completely inaccurate way Bruce is presented in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

There’s a genuine line (and not necessarily a fine one) between an artist exercising their creativity and just plain being a jerk. This article by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says it best.

by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Remember that time Dr.?Martin Luther King Jr. kidney-punched a waiter for serving soggy croutons in his tomato soup? How about the time the Dalai Lama got wasted and spray-painted “Karma Is a Beach” on the Tibetan ambassador’s limo? Probably not, since they never happened. But they could happen if a filmmaker decides to write those scenes into his or her movie. And, even though we know the movie is fiction, those scenes will live on in our shared cultural conscience as impressions of those real people, thereby corrupting our memory of them built on their real-life actions.

That’s why filmmakers have a responsibility when playing with people’s perceptions of admired historic people to maintain a basic truth about the content of their character. Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being.

This controversy has left me torn. Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers because he is so bold, uncompromising and unpredictable. There’s a giddy energy in his movies of someone who loves movies and wants you to love them, too. I attend each Tarantino film as if it were an event, knowing that his distillation of the ’60s and ’70s action movies will be much more entertaining than a simple homage. That’s what makes the Bruce Lee scenes so disappointing, not so much on a factual basis, but as a lapse of cultural awareness.

Bruce Lee was my friend and teacher. That doesn’t give him a free pass for how he’s portrayed in movies. But it does give me some insight into the man. I first met Bruce when I was a student at UCLA looking to continue my martial arts studies, which I started in New York City. We quickly developed a friendship as well as a student-teacher relationship. He taught me the discipline and spirituality of martial arts, which was greatly responsible for me being able to play competitively in the NBA for 20 years with very few injuries….

Read it all at hollywoodreporter.com

Diana Vacc sees “The Founder”

by Diana Vaccarelli


Last week, I watched The Founder, a film I found accidentally, through a friend. It follows the life story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), who took a local fast food eatery owned by a couple of brothers and turned it into the world’s largest restaurant. (McDonald’s is a restaurant, isn’t it? Even though healthy eaters might not agree?)


  • The story of McDonald’s is so interesting that I was on the edge of my seat. Well, metaphorically anyway. Writer Robert D. Siegel has made this a story full of intrigue and excitement. Not only was I amazed by all the historic elements of this story and how much I didn’t know about Mickey D’s, I was astonished at how the script made me care.  I expected a kind of infomercial and instead found drama and humor that swept right into me.
  • Michael Keaton delivers an astonishingly layered performance as Ray Kroc. When we meet him, he’s a struggling salesman who can’t seem to sell a milkshake mixer. Then he goes to the original McDonald’s and is blown away by its speedy system of making and delivering the food. Kroc talks Dick and Mac McDonald into joining with him and franchising the business. It’s a tough road, and the script pushes all my “rooting for the hero” buttons as the franchise becomes a success. And then the twist hits us: Kroc gets too greedy and screws the brothers over. I felt as though my heart was torn out. Well, okay, that’s metaphorical too. But my belief in human nature took a very nasty turn.


  • Watching this film, there was nothing I did not like…except for Ray Kroc’s horrific hustling and inability to see himself as the shameless huckster he really is…and since creating this ambivalence is the whole point of this film, this “badness” is all to the good of the theme.


  • Go and watch this film.  The Founder gives insights into greed and the lengths one will go to to get the almighty dollar that may help you understand our current political situation more than just a bit better.

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Back to the Future” Throwback Thursday Review

It would sound weird, wouldn’t it, if we changed this to “The future was now!” And yet…?

by Diana Vaccarelli

Although This Film is Over 30 Years Old So is There Really Anything to Spoil?

Released back in 1985, Back to the Future follows the story of Marty Mcfly, a 17 year old teenager who takes part in a hilarious time travel experiment and finds himself stuck in the 1950’s and hanging out with his own parents as teenagers.


  • There is so much delicious goodness here. Let’s start with the fun fact that the writer-director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale used the late, lamented and so very exotic Delorean automobile as the time machine. I don’t know which I love more – that concept or that so-cool car.
  • Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett Brown is mind blowingly eccentric in the role. Everything he brought to the character was  original.  The hair, the clothes, and the voice. He was far more than the Doctor Who or Rick (of Rick & Morty) some recent critics have compared him to.
  • Great cast all around.  Michael J. Fox as our hero Marty McFly brings innocence and humor to his role as a young man who brings his family back from the edge of extinction.  Lea Thompson as Lorraine Baines/McFly, Fox’s mother, is so full of warmth and sweetness that you’re completely hooked into wanting her to find true love with Marty’s teenage father, George McFly (Crispin Glover).
  • The filmmakers give us a tale that seems as fresh and original as it was when it first came out, mixing family and sci-fi with such energy that you can’t help but watch over and over again.
  • So much more! The way Marty’s then teenaged mother falls, hard, for a teenager she doesn’t know is her own son! The pseudo-science gobbledygook! Fox’s amazing – and perfect – physical humor. You name it, Back to the Future has it.


  • Some people in our currently repressed age may be a bit creeped out by the Marty/Mommy sort-of-a-romance, but there’s a reason this film has become such a classic ala It’s a Wonderful Life.


I can’t recommend Back to the Future (and its sequels) highly enough. The good news is that it’s available just about everywhere, on so many different media.  You can watch on dvd, on-demand, via netflix. You name it. Binge watch the whole series with your families and have some great fun!

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE