Review: AMC's Shootout, with Peter Bart and Peter Guber.

Just watched the heavily-promoted AMC talk show Shootout

The show brings together two Peters, Guber and Barts, to discuss the pressing issues in the entertainment industry (I know, that is an invitation for a snide comment, but I’m going to save my snide comments for later in the review)

One of the Peters is soft spoken and smart, and the other one is loud and, well, you get the idea. Peter Bart is, of course, the editor of Variety. Peter Guber is, of course, the infamous producer who caused Sony to lose hundreds of million dollars paying off his employment contract with Warner Bros. As thanks, Sony funded his new studio Mandalay (the one with the cool tiger promo at the start of a film).

Guber is a great producer, having done films like Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia. I’m sure his domineering skill set serves him well in that capacity. Unfortunately, it backfires in a roundtable talk-show format.

On paper, the show sounds very promising. The show aspires to have drama (“The Fireworks Begin at 11:00AM” is the tag line on the website). The first show featured Ed Norton and a studio exec from Fox. The studio executive wasn’t even put on the website, while Norton had an extensive bio. This leads me to believe that the Fox exec was added at the last minute

The selection of topics was way too simplistic for the intended audience (i.e. industry folk, prosumers, etc.). I’ll chalk the topic selection to the fact that this is the first show. However, if the best the show’s producer can come up with is the impact of bigger movie budgets and the proliferation of awards shows, this show will be gone before the ink dries on his first check. I mean, with everything going on in film, there are much more prescient things to talk about. Heck, a loser film student could come up with more interesting topics. I’m sure the topics will evolve (they better).

The show is also completely ruined by the fact that Peter Bart, who has something intelligent to say, was constantly dominated by Peter Guber, who apparently has nothing to say (at least nothing intelligent). There was a 10 minute stretch where Bart basically gave up and let Guber take over. Guber is doing some bad McLaughlin Group impersonation in which he asks a question (i.e. what’s up with all these award shows?) and then lets people start to answer before cutting them off moments later, and giving his grand analysis (i.e. the rules need to be changed). Guber shouldn’t have a talk show. He should be on public access with a fixed camera pointed at his head while he tells you everything he know.

Norton had the best points of the show, and it seemed that Guber didn’t want to alienate him and actual let him speak without interrupting! Norton made the Fox executive concede that mid-market films were much more profitable then big budget films. He also got the group to discuss the cynicism of the film-going audience, as manifested in their belief that award shows are bought. Of course, this was short lived, as the discussion quickly moved to how much money Variety makes off Oscar ads.

Bart’s quip back, a deadpan that Variety was a non-profit, was one of the better moments of the show.

The show ended with a boring point-counter point format moderated by a blond-bombshell type with horrible delivery. The two Peters touched on topics like the relationship between Arnold and Hollywood, as well as the $7 million paid for the movie rights to the best selling book The DaVinci Code. As a total aside, this could have been a great main topic for the show (i.e. the role of writers and the script, or the lack thereof, in Hollywood).

Overallgrade: C

Free advice:

  1. Mr. Guber: It is perfectly fine to cut people off in a group discussion format. However, it is standard operating procedure that if you do cut in, you shouldhave a comment that is of at least equal value, if not more value, then the one you’ve just ended!

  2. Peter Bart: Please get a little bit more aggressive before Guber has this promising show canceled.

  3. Show Producer: Please take the topics up a couple of levels, and don’t be afraid to go a little more in-depth. Anyone who is going to spend part of Sunday morning with you guys is in the business, or aspires to be, and doesn’t want to have to wade through simplistic discussion for a few insightful crumbs. Give us the chunky, deep and gooey stuff.

The show will be repeated on: Mon., Oct. 13 at 1:35 AM / EST; Wed., Oct. 15 at 11:25 AM / EST; and Fri., Oct. 17 at 3:05 PM / EST.