I was trawling for tips on Hollywood Boulevard when I was overcome with an irrational craving for that truly American phenomenon: the summer blockbuster. Yes, siree, Uncle Sam, bring on the special effects, the big names, the thundering Dolby sound, and watch the popcorn fly!
As I approached Vine, a woman in a shockingly short skirt gave me a most disturbing tip about one of our Sly-est homegrown blockbusterers. My tipster--with a heart of gold--sent me to the University of California at San Francisco Web site where thousands of famously incriminating documents from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company are archived. The papers were originally donated by an anonymous "Mr. Butts" and helped several state attorneys general put together their lawsuits against Big Tobacco.
But back to the Skinside story: Who would be the last Hollywood star you'd picture conspiring with the lizard-skin cancer peddlers at B&W? You have a future at CAA if your guess is the bizarrely buffed Sylvester Stallone. Yes, it's the rockclimbing Rambo with negative body fat. Floating above Sly's crab-like scrawl on a photocopied document in the above-mentioned archive is his pledge to "use Brown & Williamson tobacco products in no less than five feature films." And I thought Rhinestone was so wholesome! For his promise, Sly expected to puff on a cool half-million dollars. This has to go down with Dan Rather's "Kenneth, what is the frequency" mugging as one of the weirder celebrity revelations in recent years. Look for Rambo Lights at a store near you.
Of all the blockbusters out this year, Men in Black,, "MIB," seems to have grabbed the geek imagination with a particular power. Makes sense, what with federal agents Smith and Jones using all kinds of high-tech gizmos (or is it gizmi?) and effects to subdue enemy ET mutants. But one propeller head who runs un fanzine francais has made a deeper connection and posted a clever parody poster of MIB on his site.
MIB is almost like...mais oui, IBM, forever known as Big Blue for the company color and the standard-issue white-shirt-blue-blazer uniform their employees used to wear. Of course, you all know that the H.A.L. computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey is just one letter-step down from IBM. You did know that, didn't you?
Perhaps the one supergroup of people not to have a blockbuster movie in their honor so far are the drooling space creatures over at the Internal Revenue Service. [Memo to Spielberg: Audit: Where No One Can Hear You Scream has a nice ring to it.] Despite the dearth of IRS action thrillers, a Skinvoice told me that the taxtakers think they've conquered the Year 2000 problem, which will supposedly turn mainframes to mush because they aren't ready to handle "00" in the "year" field.
In the midst of mass hysteria, the IRS says it's actually on schedule to debug its computers in time for the apocalypse, er, I mean the year 2000 rollover. IRS execs posting to Y2K-related newsgroups and discussion lists claim they're shooting for completion by January 1999. January 99? Let's see, that leaves a year-and-a-half to fudge those returns and blame pesky code overhauls.
But if Hollywood really wants to make a great epic cyberfilm, it would have to be Apple: The Greatest Story Ever Told! With Andy Garcia as Steve Jobs, Michael Douglas as John Sculley, Babs Bush as Ellen Hancock, and Ernest Borgnine as Gil Amelio, this film would burn up the screen and climax with the 40-foot image of Bill Gates--played by Rick Moranis--dwarfing Jobs in a haunting finale reminiscent of the "Rosebud" moment in Citizen Kane. Of course, in my movie the final gasp would be "Rhapsody." Sniff...
One scene that would not likely appear in this blockbuster would be a Department of Justice investigation of Apple for antitrust violations, something some of you have hinted since Apple announced its buyout of Mac clone maker Power Computing. Come on folks, do the math with Professor Skinny: With less than 6 percent of the desktop market the company buys a firm with an even smaller share--and that spells "monopoly"? Still, the halls of Injustice are stacked high with Microsoft dossiers, including fresh files about the $150 Micromillion that Jobs, played by himself, accepted in August. This rumor isn't a blockbuster, but Siskel and Ebert aren't quite ready to give it the double thumbs-down. Will I see you at the movies? Send me your rumors, and I'll promise you a cameo in the forthcoming Skinny: DuBaud As I Wanna Be.