"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 8 March 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run 03.8.01

Ladies and gentlemen, the circle of life: As one Internet wonder boy comes within hours of seeing his company executed by injunction, another emerges, re-invented and anew, ready to take a second ride on the IPO gravy train.

Say all you want about the rapidly stiffening corpse of Napster; stubble-headed savant Shawn Fanning has got a bright future ahead of him. Oh, sure, corporate American may currently regard the boy as a compiler-wielding thug, a t-shirt wearing yahoo with no more managerial or product experience than, oh, the members of Metallica. But if Napster goes belly-up tomorrow, if all its content disappears, Fanning will be planted (deservedly) in some corner office inside a year, pulling down six or seven figures and sleeping with his secretary. Witness, for example, the second coming of marca.

Marc Andreessen (and his going-public-right-this-second LoudCloud) is now all smooth talk and silk suits, but he was once known as the wide-eyed executive with the baby fat and the bad toe nails, "the Hayseed with the Know-How." Never mind that his last company (a footnote that new arrivals to the Web may not have heard of) rode a wave of hype that makes the Napster brouhaha look like a press release; Andreessen never managed to actually do anything with it, save squeeze Steve Case for a few billion and garner a whole lot of flattering publicity. But publicity is all you really need.

So say a prayer, Fanning: F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. With the right press, the first act is just the beginning.


Although it's sinking like a chimp with an anvil tied to its neck, the live (as opposed to not dead)-action cartoon feature Monkeybone once again brings up a question that's starting to seem age-old: When did we, you know, as a hemisphere, decide that Brendan Fraser was funny?

The question opens a Volkswagen door from which a thousand other clownish queries tumble out: How did Pauly Shore's one-time second banana turn into the "I'll catch it on DVD" Cary Grant of the 21st-century? What does it say about Hollywood today that not even starring in a Harold Ramis remake of Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley can hurt an established male lead's career? A sequel to the remake of The Mummy? Why?

Maybe those are questions better left to future historians of the present-day. It's hard enough to imagine the studio conference that led to Our Man in Hollywood's being cast as the lead in the forthcoming why now? remake of The Quiet American, Graham Greene's indictment of a Yank in pre-war Vietnam, But in addition to all the imaginable studio \ conversations, Monkeybone calls to mind one pitch session that's inconceivable, one that even Kenneth Lonergan couldn't write, one way beyond the Barton Fink-pale, one so extraordinary that it will never, ever happen — not in real life. Cue harp and ripple-screen:

Associate Producer: "Wouldn't it be great for Monkeybone if we could get Stephen King to play himself in Hell?"

Executive Producer: "No. No, it wouldn't be great at all. It would be terrible, it would be stupid, it wouldn't add a damn thing to this fine script of ours that will become our blockbuster movie Monkeybone, a movie guaranteed to please the young and the young at heart all around the world. We should pass on that. No Stephen King. Not this time. Gilding the lily, boys. Two words for that one: unnecessary. But keep brain-storming!"

In the year 2001, Brendan Fraser and the word unnecessary effortlessly swing together from vine to vine. Fraser isn't just George of the Jungle, he's lord of the jungle; he's lord of the contemporary Hollywood dance, too, a little specialty number called The Greenlight. He cradles the concept of the unnecessary remake in his arms like it's a wounded spider monkey needing protection from hunters on the trail of originality — hunters who'd kill and stuff cute, pointless, unnecessary remakes and put them in museums where they couldn't roam free in their natural habitats: the cineplex, the video store and cable-TV. Sure, Fraser's Dudley Do-Right may be mocked (not to mention jeered) today, but in the future it will be seen for what it is: an early-to-mid-career highlight in the filmography of this not-displeasing actor, this blandly competent Everyman, this buffer-than-thou Average Jason who can turn gold into gold-plate and brilliance into airplane fodder. Long Live the King of Unnecessary! He's our only hope for remakes of Huckleberry Hound, Petticoat Junction and The Straight Story in the 2020s and beyond.

In the handful of weeks since Randy Constan's stylistic blend of Peter Pan and Emo Philips boosted him to a sub-Mahir level of web eminence, we've been amused but disinclined to mock. The fey 47-year-old seems to us not so much an object for snickering as an embodiment of our editorial mission to let one's inner beauty shine for all the world to see. We can't be the only ones who suspect every man nurses a secret desire to dress up like Little Lord Fauntleroy; Constan should be commended for being upfront about it. Unfortunately, our support was not enough to persuade the coy fashion plate to do an official Suck interview. "I'm getting requests like this from all over," Constan told us in his deeper-than-expected voice. "Although the world suddenly has an urgent agenda to speak to me in a hurry, I don't share this urgency." Apparently, the eternal boy is now deciding among offers from "hundreds of magazines" and "TV shows from around the country."

"There are some people who want to do a genuine story," Constan said, "and others, like Howard Stern, who just want to mock. I've been getting email from around the world from people who appreciate the way I'm expressing myself." Despite energetic assurances that we were among the appreciative, the pixyish pastor of Through the Cracks Ministries still claims to be too busy sifting suitors to bother with the usually coveted Suck interview forum. If there's a lesson in the spectacle of all that media chasing one guy who just enjoys making little outfits for himself, it may be that the world is not as full of interesting items as we like to believe. Or maybe it says something about accidental celebrities and their sense of entitlement — a sense of entitlement that seems to increase, paradoxically, as the pool of accidental celebrities grows more packed and the number of outlets for their fame shrinks. In an age when even Kimmi can make a serious run at a career as a talking head, it's probably not surprising that a barely-known acolyte of Sandy Duncan appears poised to hire somebody to do his PR.

Although the snub hurt, we took a page from Constan's book, asked ourselves "What would Jesus and/or Peter Pan do?" — and decided to pitch in with the aging swain's search for the Tinkerbell of his dreams. The first obvious match is Jane Norman, the leaping, singing showbiz triple threat who played Pixanne on Philadelphia and New York television throughout the 1960s and '70s. A kind of female Mary Martin on a wire, the erstwhile Pixanne may seem a bit long in the tooth for P.P. Constan; but if anybody can detect inner beauty, we're betting he can. Even if that doesn't work out, there are any number of closet imps and brownies at Chris Brainard's Lavendise Fairy Web Ring. And that's certainly not the whole field. Somewhere out there, a tutu-coveting Ms. Right awaits her Peter. After all, as Francis P. Church advised young Virginia O'Hanlon, you may not see fairies dancing on the lawn, but that's no proof that they're not there. We hope the ever-youthful Constan won't quit until he's got some nice gal's wand in marriage.

courtesy of The Sucksters

Copyright © 1994-2001 Automatic Media Inc. All rights reserved.
Suck is part of Automatic Media, home of Plastic, Feed, and AltCulture.