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About "dan-brown"

I do a bit of everything for The Free Press. I edit copy, write columns, report, and blog on lfpress.com. I've been with the paper — which I delivered as a kid growing up in Poplar Hill — since 2005. My main passions are pop culture and local personalities, and I also do a weekly column about graphic novels. Like what you read? Got a beef? Send me an e-mail at dan.brown@sunmedia.ca or tweet me at @DanatLFPress. I look forward to hearing from you!

I don’t care if you had fun making your movie

- April 18th, 2014

Hollywood, I hope you can hear me.

This is a memo to all the directors, producers, stars and starlets.

I can sum up my message in one sentence: I don’t care if you had fun making your movie.

I want to clear this up before the onset of the summer blockbuster season, when Tinseltown makes most of its profits by releasing one behemoth after the next.

It needs to be said now, before celebrities like Tom Cruise, Michael Bay, Scarlett Johannson and even Sylvester Stallone are deployed on the publicity circuit to hawk their latest sensational motion pictures.

It won’t be long before our television screens are crowded with Hollywood A-listers doing interviews on late-night shows and no matter whether the host is Jimmy, Jimmy or Dave, there’s one thing you can be sure every interviewee will say: “I had a ton of fun making my new movie!”

For some reason, it’s important for Hollywood personalities to let the moviegoing public know how much of a treat it was to be on the set every day.

If you’re even an infrequent TV viewer, you will have noticed this trend, too.

If the film features George Clooney as the star or director, there will also be an anecdote about how Clooney played a prank on the person while the picture was shooting.

It could be a superhero film. It could be a comedy. It could be the latest Transformers sequel. Regardless of the genre, it was a sheer joy to make.

But here’s the thing: I don’t care.

No one does.

It’s great that the cast and crew had so much fun. However, that’s not a factor in MY enjoyment of the movie.

All I’m looking for this summer is to be entertained.

So dazzle me. Make me laugh. If you’re really ambitious, make me think.

But you can be sure of one thing: If your movie sucks, no one is going to care how much fun you had.

No sane individual is going to walk out of the theatre and say “Well, that was a complete piece of crap. But I’m just glad they had fun making it!” This has never happened in the history of moviedom, and it never will happen.

You see, these are tough times. Movie tickets aren’t cheap. And some of this summer’s movies ARE going to suck. With each movie that sucks, Hollywood’s lustre is diminished. That will be one more ticket buyer who decides to stay home the next weekend. Or who doesn’t feel so bad buying a cheap bootleg DVD.

I really have no clue why it’s so important for stars to let us know about the bags of fun they had. I guess it’s to make their lives look even more fabulous than we already think they are. In Hollywood, even mundane work is fun!

Actually, it’s only decades later, when the star of the movie releases a tell-all autobiography, that we find out the real story. That’s when we find out making the movie was in fact a special kind of hell.

But I digress.

The fuss over late-night hosts

- April 10th, 2014

Network late-night hosts represent stability in an era of disposable programming, which is why we in the media make such a fuss over them – especially when one of their number retires, as David Letterman has announced he will do next year.

There’s no other way to explain how figures like Letterman, Jay Leno and their younger successors continue to generate so many headlines.

It’s certainly not because they’re big draws anymore: Fewer and fewer viewers are watching shows such as Late Night and The Tonight Show when they air, while the smartest among these hosts– namely Jimmy Fallon — approaches his program as if its main purpose is to generate viral videos.

(You know we are living in a strange world when the next Letterman, Stephen Colbert, is touted as a personality who will appeal to a younger audience. He’s 49 years old!!)

Long gone are the days when viewers would stay up until all hours to watch celebrity interviews and half-baked skits. Instead, we simply PVR them for the next morning or catch the good bits on YouTube at our leisure.

Letterman has had a late-night slot since 1982, first on NBC and then CBS. Johnny Carson’s run on The Tonight Show lasted from 1962 to 1982. There are so few figures in our increasingly fragmented TV universe who have that kind of staying power.

Or look at the format of the typical late-night program: monologue, desk bit, celebrity interview, maybe a comedy act, then a musical number to end the evening. Nothing has changed in decades.

You can say that late night became fossilized long ago, but even if we don’t watch these programs regularly, we get comfort from knowing they are on the air. Late night represents tradition, a powerful idea at a time when there seem to be few certainties.

Any mass medium is based on repetition. Take Leno, for example: Rumour had it he specified in his contract he would have no substitute hosts. He wanted viewers to know they could see him in the same place at the same time every night.

Call that formulaic if you like, but it was Leno’s way of making sure he became a part of the daily routine for millions. And it worked.

In an ever-changing world, late night is a habit. It has outlived many a TV craze. While prime-time programs get cancelled after only a few episodes, late-night hosts grow into icons over the decades.

The obvious exception is Conan O’Brien: When he was booted from The Tonight Show, it was shocking because viewers thought he would be on NBC for years to come.

Now for my two cents. Do I believe Stephen Colbert is the right choice to replace Letterman? I’m not sure the Late Show is the right platform for him. It will depend whether TV watchers want to spend time every night with Stephen Colbert, as opposed to “Stephen Colbert.”

But if we’re still watching Colbert in 2045, I can say for sure it won’t be on TV. He will appear in our living rooms by virtue of hologram, or perhaps we’ll laugh at his jokes as he is beamed via a signal that goes directly into our brains.

Kids’ imagination excels at what Hollywood lacks

- April 4th, 2014

My latest graphic-novel column is about the upcoming X-Men movie, Days of Future Past.

You can read it by clicking here.

As always, I would love to read your take in the comment box below.

My circle of friends is growing

- April 4th, 2014

I know several things about my friend Robin.

Her home is in Los Angeles. She is the mother of two adopted boys. She recently lost her job as a writer on the Fox sitcom Mom. Her favourite Beatle is George Harrison – who is mine, too.

You may have already guessed the punchline: I’ve never met Robin in person.

Even though we’ve shared laughs and deep thoughts, our friendship has been an entirely virtual one.

If you’re a user of Facebook like me, you probably have friends like Robin, too. They’re friends, yet unlike other friends. I don’t call them friends, but Facebook friends.

Notice I didn’t say “Robin isn’t a real friend.” That was on purpose. I consider our friendship to be 100% real. It’s just different.

I figure, at 45 years old, I’m mature enough to have room in my life for more than one type of friend. Never having met Robin doesn’t mean our friendship is fake. Heck, the truth is that Robin has been a better friend to me these last couple years than some of my offline friends.

How did I meet Robin? That’s a column for another time.

As you’ve likely noticed, social media is forcing us to rethink our concept of what friendship means.

Luckily, the term “friend” is similar to the term “family.” It has survived for hundreds of years because it is elastic enough to take on new meanings over time.

When the Christian Bible has Christ saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” does it mean the same thing we mean in 2014? Was Christ talking about besties, drinking buddies, friends with benefits, online friends? Likely not. And that’s OK.

A few short years ago, I would have said emphatically online friendships are not “real.” I’ve changed my mind since then. What happened? I got to know my Facebook friends. I suppose a cynic would say they are just a collection of pixels on a computer screen to me, yet that doesn’t stop them from being damn fine people.

If I was forced to describe it, I’d say Robin is like the pen pals I had as a kid. Remember those? These were friends we traded long letters with, and even though they lived in different places, they became important to us. Now social media allows us to have pen pal-type relationships with others around the world in real time.

The point is friendships aren’t a zero-sum game.

I don’t have to have only “real” friends or “Facebook friends.” I have both.

And some of the people I first met online, I have become friends with offline, too. Facebook friends are a new kind of friend, no less valid than any other. One of the great joys of being an adult is I don’t have to limit myself.

The ultimate irony, of course, is one of the things I have in common with my Facebook friends is we like to complain about Facebook a lot. But for having brought us into each other’s orbit, I am thankful.

Forest City Comicon a celebration of nerd culture

- March 28th, 2014

My latest column is about the Forest City Comicon, which goes Oct. 19 at Centennial Hall.

Read more about it by clicking here!