Will you actually be working in the White House?
PENN: This particular office is in the executive building. The White House has two buildings: the actual White House and an old Navy building called the Old Executive Office.
Are you there as long as Obama’s in office?
PENN: A lot of that stuff is up in the air. This is a relatively recent development.
Safe to say you’re taking a huge pay cut?
PENN: Oh, yeah. There’s not a lot of financial reward in these jobs. But, obviously, the opportunity to serve in a capacity like this is an incredible honor.
How long has this been in the works?
PENN: I’ve been thinking about [moving into politics] for a while. I love what I do as an actor. I couldn’t love it more. But probably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service. I went to a performing arts high school, but I still took a bunch of those dorky political science classes. It’s probably because of the value system my grandparents instilled in me. They marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement, and that was always in the back of my head. So the past couple of years I thought about it a little more. And in ’06 I started this international studies program at Stanford, where they actually let you do most of the course work online. So it was something I could do while I was acting. And I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else. The ultimate irony, of course, is that I love being on House. There’s not a smarter group of people that I’ve been surrounded by in television. So I thought about it for a very long time before I went and talked to David and Katie.
What was that conversation like?
PENN: We had a very long discussion. And I remember David saying, “Are you telling me that you’re unhappy with the show and that you want to leave so you can go off and do a different show?” And I was like, “Not at all. I’m actually saying the exact opposite, which is I’m having an incredible time, but there’s something aching in me to do something completely different and take a break from the acting thing for a while.” And with their blessing, we were able to work it out.
Are you retiring from acting?
PENN: Not necessarily. Who’s to say where any path leads? I still have a passion for it. But for the time being, I won’t be acting.
How did you react when you found out how they were writing Kutner out?
PENN: One of the things I love about our show is you never know what’s going to happen. So that news struck me in the same way we hope it strikes the audience: there was a little bit of anger and some depression. You really go through those emotions, especially when somebody dies in that fashion. Ultimately, it was a really interesting choice for them to make. We don’t really know why he did it, unless it’s resolved in the episodes after [I left], which, of course, I’m not privy to anymore. At least in [last night's] episode, we don’t really know why he did it. There’s no note. There’s no explanation. And as a testament to David and Katie, that’s a huge risk. ‘Cause it is going to make people upset, and it is going to piss off some of the audience. And, ultimately, in my opinion, that’s what art really is — when you can conjure up those kinds of emotions. And it’s rare nowadays to be able to do that on network television, but they managed to.
Were you disappointed that you didn’t get to shoot the requisite good-bye scenes with your co-stars?
PENN: From my selfish perspective, you want one last scene with Hugh, you want one awesome bantering scene with Peter, you want something where you and Olivia [Wilde] are doing a diagnostic together. But I had known a couple weeks beforehand [that Kutner would just abruptly commit suicide], so I was conscious in previous episodes of, ‘Okay, this is probably the last time I’m going to get to do a scene with Peter, and this is the last time I’m going to be on screen with Robert.’ And, of course, we’re all still really close friends, so I’ve seen them a ton of times since I stopped shooting.
What were your emotions like on your last day?
PENN: It’s always emotional when something incredible comes to an end. The feeling would have been very different if I was not enjoying myself, and if I didn’t love the job. But because I loved the job and the character and the people I’m working with, I think bittersweet is the probably the best way to describe it. The contrast of knowing that I want to move on and do something completely different, with the incredibly violent and incredibly depressing thing that happens to my character… I think bittersweet is the only way to describe it.
The Rally this week is on Thursday, April 9, 2009 from 11am-2pm at the AMPTP/MPAA offices at the Sherman Oaks Galleria on the NW corner of Ventura and Sepulveda Blvds. Parking in the structure or on side streets.
This is an open invitation to all members of SAG and other unions to join us and fight for our right as professionals to earn a living from our work.
FACT: Universal owns NBC and Hulu.com FACT: Disney owns ABC, in talks to buy into Hulu.com, and has agreed to air clips from Disney & ABC on YouTube.com FACT:Viacom owns Paramount, CBS, CNet.com & TV.com FACT: News Corp owns Fox studios, Fox network, and stakes in YouTube.com and Hulu.com FACT:Warner Bros has a huge cable empire and AOL.comFACT: Sony owns Columbia and MGM, Crackle.com and has tv networks reaching 400 million viewers worldwide
This is only a partial listing of these self-dealing monopolies that are engaged in production, distribution and exhibition of entertainment.
AMPTP says “These [anti-trust] issues have nothing to do with our labor negotiations”. Contrary to what they say, it has a profound impact on these negotiations, which amounts to price fixing.
FACT: we will lose $600 million in network move over to streaming FACT: the fractional pension improvement, one-half of one percent, will be more than wiped out by losses in the move over of 14.8%. FACT: They get 17 to 24 days of free streaming then pay $22.77 for 6 months of constant streaming. FACT: pre 1971 movies: no residuals in New Media FACT: pre 1974 tv series: no residuals in New Media FACT: Non-union production in New Media FACT: Product Integration: 2 jobs - 1 paycheck FACT: Clips: As a condition of employment we lose control of name, voice and likeness
All of these issues are rollbacks.
FIGHT FOR YOUR RESIDUALS, HEALTH COVERAGE AND PENSION BENEFITS
A man shot himself to death in a Eugene, Oregon movie theater just after midnight Monday morning.
Police say about 10 people were watching the movie “Watchmen.”About midway through the film some of the moviegoers told the manager they heard a “popping” noise like a gunshot.A 24-year-old man was found in the rear of the auditorium with a gunshot wound to the head.
Police say the man shot himself and was dead when they arrived.
The patron closest to the man was sitting two rows away.
We were really looking forward to you continuing in Iron Man 2 and 3. What happened?
Howard: Iron Man happened with that. Marvel happened with it. They made a choice. They made a very, very bad choice. They didn’t keep their word. They didn’t honor our contract. They sent everyone out into a field and told them to work and produce a great bounty. You produce a great bounty, and then when it’s all in the storehouse, you are not allowed into the storehouse.
Does that have anything to do with what went on with Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury?
Howard: They did the same thing with Gwyneth [Paltrow], from what I’ve been told. They did it with almost everyone, I think, except Downey throughout the thing. One of the things that actors need to learn to do is take a tip from Friends [whose cast members all held out for higher pay]. You always choose to stick together. One for all and all for one. Our Gang, you know? Let Spanky be our rule.
Does that teach you a lesson about Hollywood politics?
Howard: Yeah, make sure your Ts are crossed twice.
Aren’t you dangerous to them now, since you know the plans for the trilogy?
Howard: Nah, when someone does something wrong, you don’t have to get them back. Everything right will return the favor for you.
Will you be eagerly awaiting Iron Man 2 in theaters?
Howard: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to it. I want to see what happens with that. I want to see Don Cheadle become me. I want him to do better than me. That’s what I really want to see. I think he can. Don Cheadle is the reason I got on Crash. He was one of the producers on Crash, and he called and got me in there. So it’s like Don is good by me, anything he does. He’s given me the greatest gift I could ever imagine having. Don gave me that, so anything I have, I’ll share with him.
“People are always like, ‘So you’re playing yourself, basically,” he says one morning in Manhattan, sitting in a publicist’s borrowed office. “But I’ve never played a really successful, motivated guy. None of my characters wakes up at 8:30, gets coffee and then writes for 16 hours. And that’s what I do most days. I’m not just hanging out, clicking on porn sites.”
“Hollywood has a way of making you very bitter very fast,” he says, “I get there, suddenly I’m on a TV show, which I think is awesome, and I go to a party — and I realize nobody cares. Girls won’t talk to me because my ratings are low … It was insane. I realized it was all a popularity contest. I thought I had left high school and suddenly I was in a whole city that was like high school.”
The experience, Rogen says, “made me angry — I was really an angry, angry guy. … I’d written ‘Superbad’ (with Evan Goldberg) and nobody wanted it. And at the same time I’m getting auditions for these really, really crappy movies. And I’m thinking, ‘They’re making this? And they won’t read our script?’ It took me a while to learn to let that go.”
On Judd Apatow & Jonah Hill:
“One of the things Judd’s taught us most is that a good idea can come from anywhere,” Rogen says. “Jonah came in to do one line, literally, in ’40-Year-Old Virgin,’ but he improvised and we realized he was pretty funny and Judd spent like four hours shooting him, and after that he started getting other jobs, all because of that one line. Where, another director, it’d be ‘Yeah, great, next.’”
On casting people that look like regular people:
“Which shouldn’t be such a giant ideological slant, you know?” he says. “It’s such a simple thing, but it made a huge difference. I mean, I know I didn’t relate to high school movies growing up. The nerdy high schooler in ‘Risky Business’ who can’t get a girl? And he’s played by Tom Cruise? Who relates to that?”
This might be interesting to watch. It’s a 4-part video history of SAG.
Part 5 is where a fraction of members hi-jack SAG and ruin it. That’s the screening I want to see.
Hollywood Guild Members
Join us for a Special four-part Screening of
Behind the Masks: The Story of the Screen Actors Guild
When: Every Tuesday in the month of April
5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 7Part I
Tuesday, April 14 Part II .
Tuesday, April 21 Part III
Tuesday, April 28Part IV(only one showing at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: James Cagney Board Room
5757 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Parking will be validated
The SAG Foundation invites you and a guest to learn about SAG’s rich 75-year history at a four-part screening of Behind the Masks – The Story of the Screen Actors Guild. Every Tuesday in the month of April at 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.(Except Part IV, only one showing at 6:30 p.m.) James Cagney Boardroom. No RSVP required, seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bring your current SAG membership card for admission.
Copies of the four disc documentary will be available for a donation of $100. Cash, checks or money orders only please.
For more information, please contact the Hollywood Executive Office at (323) 549-6459.
The watchdog has learned from a reliable source that SAG Chief Negotiator, John McGuire, will report that he has reached an agreement with the AMPTP in which they have agreed to a two year term on the TV/Theatrical contract.
As I predicted in an earlier post the whole thing was a ruse to make the NY/Branches controlled Task Farce look good; in that they stood up and held out for a two-year deal. Thus changing the main focus from the requisite, repugnant rollbacks in the contract to the term of the contract.
Meanwhile, the LA Times is reporting that it’s a 3 year contract.
After weeks of back-channel talks, Hollywood’s biggest actor union and the major studios appear to have broken their logjam and could be close to reaching an agreement on a new three-year contract, according to people close to the situation.
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