Roger L. Simon

Paramount Studio Stoned

The man who brought us “JFK” – an unintentionally hilarious exercise in paranoia that implied Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination of John Kennedy – is now making a film about the heroes of 9/11. Mickey Kaus – ever a master of understatement – worries that the studio (Paramount) might be “out of touch” on this. I’ll say. Somewhere around Alpha Centauri.

But there is something slightly more sinister in all this than what superficially appears to be a multi-million dollar misjudgment. In a statement released Friday (which we can assume was carefully vetted by the studio – Oliver is no Spielberg in terms of Hollywood power these days) Stone said of his film:

It’s a work of collective passion, a serious meditation on what happened and carries within a compassion that heals. It’s an exploration of heroism in our country – but it’s international at the same time in its humanity.

“International.” I see. That couldn’t have anything to do with the box office, could it? Hollywood, for whom foreign ticket sales are greater than those at home, is ever mindful of how its movies play abroad. Even given his string of recent failures, who better to choose if you’re going to make a film about an American tragedy and don’t want to offend foreign sensibilities than delusional Oliver? Indeed, he can be relied upon to pander to them.

UPDATE: The release of this poll of Brits after their terror bombings of two days ago indicates Hollywood may have miscalculated bringing such a fuddy-duddy, pseudo-leftie as Stone aboard for a 9/11 movie.

ONE MORE THING: Of course, it is also possible that Oliver will pull this off and make a movie everyone will love. Here are my reasons: a. he has some chops as an action director (although maybe not as a writer anymore – that’s the first talent to go… takes more work); b. he reads the handwriting on the wall – every Hollywood movie director is first and foremost a businessman and Oliver’s career is in trouble; c. the studio will have him on a very short leash: no final cut, someone else’s screenplay.