Friday, February 06, 2009


Recently my blog was critiqued by a blog review blog. It was a favorable appraisal but I was struck by SutterInk's classification. While other blogs were listed as Music, Arts, Politics, etc, mine had its own category -- Miscellaneous Anger. Unfortunately, I can't argue with the label. Truth is most of my postings are either SOA updates or personal rants. That awareness got me thinking about my own book -- my reputation or the perceived point of view of who I am to my colleagues. It's an interesting inventory process to experience. Uncomfortable and humbling.

Last year I worked with a director who had a bit of a reputation for being a wild card. In my conversations with him, he went on the offensive and made sure that I was aware of my own station in the business. He let me know that I was perceived as a very intense guy, prone to sudden outbursts of anger (I prefer to think of them as very passionate responses to the inferior actions of others). The truth is that I'm a perfectionist who has a very low tolerance for ineptitude. I have a hard time accepting the half-measures of myself and others. In the past, my big reactions have almost always created more chaos than control. I'd like to think that I've learned from my mistakes and that my book is writing a new chapter. One where I am viewed as a mentor and a leader rather than a fire-starter. Age and meds are helping that rewrite.

All this bad buzz about Christian Bale has made me realize just how lucky I am. I don't know Christian, but I know the intensity of production and the ungodly stress that creative responsibility can bring. When the success or failure of millions of dollars rests on your shoulders it can bend your happy inside out. It's mind numbing. I'm not saying that tirades are a good way to communicate, but they happen. God knows they've happened to me. If any of my outbursts were ever documented and posted on the internet, I probably would be pulling espressos at Starbucks instead of running a show, writing and directing. I'm sure every one of us has exhibited behavior that we are glad was never recorded. None of us can know the burden of being a star. Look around you, pop icons and celebrities are imploding every day. The scrutiny is brutal. I know it's part of the deal, you want the cash and prizes, you gotta take the rest. I get it. But I also understand the occasional shit-losing and weight gain.

With this insight, I take a look at my most recent series of posts. I've ranted about the ineptitude of Alan Rosenberg's tenure as SAG President, so now I'm trying to take a step back and put on his heavy shoes. Let's consider that the man has been President of the Screen Actors Guild for over three years. He's put his career on hold and has sacrificed his time and now his marriage for his union. Whether you agree or disagree with his actions and his motives, the man is committed and invested. His tenure as president of the union IS his Hollywood legacy. Not unlike impeached governor, Rod Blagojevich, Rosenberg desperately wants to be remembered as a success. It’s human nature. Maybe his recent maneuvers -- lawsuits, the odd ballads -- are just a desperate attempt to go out with some dignity and prove that his efforts weren’t in vain. He wants to walk away with his head held high or at least pulled out of his ass. He's Nixon praying for a pardon.

Here's my advice to Alan Rosenberg and the new regime -- David White and John McGuire. Alan should officially resign, admitting that mistakes were made due to circumstances beyond his control. That the economic hardship of the country, the brutal WGA strike, the uncertain state of new media, have all created unforeseen obstacles for negotiations of a new contract. The new leadership should let Mr. Rosenberg leave with some dignity. They need to acknowledge his years of loyal service and perhaps allow him to remain an advisor in the ongoing negotiations. This lets Alan step down with some self-respect and still contribute. His legacy could be one of humility and service rather than ego and destruction.

Maybe I’m just a misguided recovering addict who’s deluded himself into right thinking, but I believe that at the end of the day, people want what's best for themselves and their fellows.

At least that's the book I'm trying to learn to write.


Mark said...

I suppose what bothers me about the Christian Bale tirade, is that it is excused by people who often mention that they too have had such outbursts, which means they are A. Allying themselves with Bale, and B. excusing their own bad behavior in a second hand manner.

The excuses generally run toward equating the rants with passion and artistic intensity. Bullshit! I have always believed most people (let's call em actors) behave in such a manner because they can, that normal societal controls are suspended because they are box office, or "important". Most people in the normal world would get their asses kicked for publicly treating someone that way (or they should get an ass-whuppin', anyway).

I am an actor and director on the regional theatre level, where no one is really box office, and I've always tried to surround myself with passionate, REASONABLE people. You can disagree artistically and still be civil. It isn't that hard, if you're mature. In fact, divas need not apply, in my world. Life is much more interesting without them.

If someone were to speak to me like Bale did, or David O. Russell did in his infamous tirade on the set of I Heart Huckabees, he would get his ass kicked. No one should have an expectation of such public misbehavior without consequences In fact, the DP should have whacked Bale for his trouble (though he was probably afraid for his job, which is another reason Bale felt empowered to rant--who's gonna fire Bale?). But no job is worth that.

Remember, Bale isn't really Batman. He's just a guy who can get his ass kicked like anyone else. And maybe an ass-kicking might teach a little maturity and humility. I find it interesting that even his public apology, he mentioned that he still wasn't comfortable with being a "star". I take this to mean he was more sorry for not managing the damage better, not the tirade itself--in other words, he should have handled his bad behavior better. Pathetic.

Day-Dream-Queen said...

Well even if your blog is categorized under "Miscellaneous Anger" I think your posts are clever and your personal rants always find a way to make me smile.

I think we are all very prone to sudden outburts of anger.Your so right in saying that people that have the responsibility of generating millions of dollars on their shoulders are definitley going to be under a lot more stress than your average person. And of course the more well-known a person is the more scrutiny the person is going to receive for their stress induced outburts.
But people need to realize shit happens and you can't always hold back how your feeling when your anger and/or irritation reaches a certain level. Whether people admitt it or not, we've all had our moments were we've let our anger overtake us and made total fools out of ourselves. But being able to admit that we've overreacted and move on is just part of life.

surrounded by carnivores said...

Impressed. It is rare to find anyone willing to sit back and reassess. Not only reassess but to readjust.

Success can make one afraid to change. In your business so many are brinksmen (and women). I am sure there is always the fear that a re-examination could result in something unwanted occuring. Under any circumstance it is difficult to step back for a clear view of oneself and to proceed to write and rewrite the next chapters of your book.

To create a vision is a feat. Next, to have it realized with collaboration with many others, (whose visions may not be exactly like yours) takes amazing organizational and creative talent. Talent to continue to keep your vision before you but to be willing to adjust as others add valuable ideas. AND to be a businessman responsible to and for many. Daunting at best.

Mr. Rosenberg has lost sight of the responsibility to his members and to the community in which they all work. You have offered your process of re-examination to Mr. Rosenberg and SAG. It will remain to be seen if Mr. Rosenberg is willing to do the hard personal work you have just gone through: to reassess and readjust.

Roadkingrider said...

I had stubbled onto your blog while trying to absorb as much SOA as I could get. While being a fan of your wifes for many years (great talent beautiful singing voice) I have come to be a huge fan of yours. Not due to who you are married to but because of your wit, insight and talent.
Keep up ther great work. I love reading your blogs and can't wait until season 2 of SOA !

Dean "D-Day" said...

"Very passionate responses to the inferior actions of others"...

I loved this comment and will definitely be using it where appropriate!

Michael said...

Your introspective honesty reveals a lot about you on many levels. It's a rare find.

I think in the end you will control your own fate since you aren't blind to your own weaknesses and strengths. Most people aren't that lucky.

Great post.

surrounded by carnivores said...

Mr. Sutter:
Thought you might be interested in this if you don't already know about it:

Common Interest - Beliefs & Causes
A group for organizing a peaceful rally to support ending the stalemate between the Screen Actors Guild and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, so that we can all get back to work.

Check here frequently for updates:

Outsider said...

I feel sorry for Rosenberg and it is definitely a time to learn our lessons and heal.

( I was actually partial to the persuasion of his camp prior to the AFTRA schism...but that brought me to my senses).

I do believe he had the best of intentions, but solidarity cannot be achieved through polarization.

On the other hand my take on Doug Allen is different. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him wearing the mercenary soldier suit of consultant to management in 'union affairs' with the ultimate ambition of becoming a studio 'boss of bosses' or something... with special knowledge of the weak spots in the performing union's armor;

kind of like that scott ritter dude who was a hawkish spook that turned against bush regime iraq policy when he saw there was money to be made playing the whistle blower....that's my guesstimation and I could be I will give everyone the benefit of the gr8 degree of doubt I have....I've always been a doubting
Thomas ;p

Outsider said...

About Bale....well he obviously was carrying around alot of stress energy when that cork blew...and hurlbut isn't going to lack for work....I've got to think he knows a bit about DPing if they hired him at the helm of a 200million dollar blockbuster....but then again George Bush was hired by millions of people to run a multi trillion dollar nuclear power into the dirt...
which he succeeded in doing....
So people do get Peter Principled to pay Ponzi Paul it seems ..on a large scale...

I just like saying the name hurlbut....hurlbut got his
'bale'out for sure

Justin said...

"Miscellaneous Anger". Meh... I think that in the realm of cyberspace, intensity is often misconstrued as anger or vitriol. But that's what you have Fallout 3 for, to vent that anger and frustration by playing "Whack-A-Mutant".
Emotion is a tool you use in your writing and it's reflected in your shows - just like it is here.
If you weren't angry, or humorous, or pensive, or thoughtful, then would it be as good?
As long as it's not destructive, it should be part of the process, imo.


Mary Fry said...

We need to allow ourselves to FEEL again. I'm all for being able to laugh, cry, yell, hug, kiss, and express our emotions. We have been anesthetized during the last 29 years. We have become disconnected from life. In it's place we are given products to become connected to. I know some women who are more passionate about their purse or shoes, than they are about their man. What the H is wrong with us? I know some folks who are so eager to avoid all "negativity" that they end up avoiding people. Give me the negative, the positive, and the connection. Oh yeah, have I told you....I'M TELLING YOU BECAUSE I CARE!!!! Besos! Mary