MGM’s Lion Sleeps Tonight as “Respect” Falters, “Flag Day” Scores Poor Reviews, But “Soggy Bottom” Story Mystery Solved (Exclusive)

MGM’s fabled lion sleeps tonight.

In the Hollywood jungle, the mighty jungle, MGM is waiting to be purchased  by Amazon. An announcement was made in May. In early July, the NY Times got all excited about the fabled studio becoming Amazon’s biggest purchase since Whole Foods. Amazon would be getting a bunch of cool sounding movies, too: Jennifer Hudson in “Respect,” Sean Penn’s “Flag Day,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s mysterious “Soggy Bottom.”

Down the line, Amazon would get the James Bond movie, “No Time to Die.”

Well, nothing’s happened. There have been no announcements. I actually thought maybe I’d missed something but when I checked, I was told there was no news.

Meantime, “Respect” made $8.8 million over the weekend, not a great opening, and has a lowish 64 on Rotten Tomatoes. Jennifer Hudson will go on to the Oscars, but teh future of “Respect” is shaky.

Sean Penn’s “Flag Day” is coming Friday. Either few have seen it since Cannes, or there’s a rare post-Cannes embargo. On Rotten Tomatoes the reviews are punishing, with a 35% “fresh.” On 17 reviews it’s running 7 for and 11 against. I would go see it Thursday night  in a movie theater, but I’m taking advantage of the free streaming night for A24’s “Green Knight.”

I can tell you a little of what I know exclusively about Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Soggy Bottom.”  (Apart from what I called “Incoherent Vice” I’m a huge fan of “Phantom Thread,” “The Master,” “Boogie Nights,” “There Will Be Blood,” and so on.)

“SB” stars Cooper Hoffman, the 18 year old son of the late, famed Philip Seymour Hoffman, as a child actor in Hollywood in the early 1970s. (PHS was a frequent PTA star.)

Cooper’s character is named Gary, for a reason: his story is modeled on that of producer Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks’s very successful producing partner. Bradley Cooper plays a producer modeled on Jon Peters, the former hairdresser turned Barbra Streisand lover and producer who was played by Warren Beatty in “Shampoo.”

Goetzman is one of the liked people in Hollywood. He’s had a string of successes with Hanks and their Playtone company. starting with “Band of Brothers” and “That Thing You Do!” But few know his story of being a child actor and working in films like “Yours Mine & Ours” with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball; or “Divorce American Style” starring Dick van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, and Jason Robards, written by Norman Lear and directed by Bud Yorkin three years before those two hit it big with “All in the Family.”

Gary should write a book! He was on the classy TV drama, “Family,” he was in an episode of “McHale’s Navy,” and he was BFF’s with Jonathan Demme starting with Demme’s early comedy, “Citizens Band,” in 1977.

So “Soggy Bottom” (if that’s what they really call it) sounds like a continuation in a way of Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But no one will really know until we see it. Two people I spoke to said that early cuts were very enjoyable. Cross fingers.

Will MGM finally be subsumed into Amazon? And in enough time for the latter to shape up the former? And will the lion logo remain? (It must, no?)

This is indeed No Time to Die. Too much happening!

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