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Sunday Morning Shootout: Best of Season 1

Delta Entertainment // Unrated // December 27, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted February 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Series

Peter Guber is a veteran Hollywood producer and the present head of Manderlay Pictures. Peter Bart is an accomplished entertainment journalist and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Hollywood Bible known as Variety. Sounds like two guys who really know a whole lot about movies, right? Well, sure.

Too bad they don't seem to know a whole lot about television, specifically the "hosting your own show" department. I'm sure that if I, a self-proclaimed movie supah-genius, sat down for lunch with these two Peters, I'd walk away well and truly amazed by the length and breadth of their collective knowledge, experience, and intelligence. Seriously, I'm not being sarcastic about this.

But as far as their work on Sunday Morning Shootout goes, these seasoned experts seem about as insightful as the leggy blonde on Entertainment Tonight who pops up every Monday to regurgitate the weekend box office numbers. Or maybe it's just the way the show is laid out: The guys pick a few topics for each episode (say, the way in which "tentpole" releases squeeze the "prestige" pics out of the marketplace) and then only manage to dole out the most obvious point-counterpoint arguments before they cede to another potentially interesting topic. I'm not necessarily saying that I could do a much better job, but for two such old-school pros, I'd expect more than a few half-decent points and a bunch of cornball pseudo-banter.

Either way, the series is certainly worthy of a look if you're a hardcore movie nut. The two Petes aren't exactly doddering idiots, mind you. But there's a tacky artifice that runs through the show that I find just a little bit grating. (The setting, for example, is a coffee house of some sort, which means that the background is populated by a half-dozen lip-flapping extras, and that the weekly guest must also pretend to purchase some coffee from the front counter before sitting down with Petey G. and Petey B.)

You'll get a better glimpse of what the Shootout is about if I just run right through the inventory of this 6-disc collection, so why not just go ahead and do that right now:

Disc 1 - The Triple Threat: Actor / Director / Producer

Episode 1 - Guest: Danny DeVito / Topics: Do actors make good directors? & The Matrix: Global release dates and the changing face of movie distribution.

Episode 2 - Guest: Kevin Costner / Topics: Is an excess of research suffocating filmmakers? & Youth in entertainment: Is Younger Better?

Episode 3 - Guest: Sylvester Stallone / Topics: Does the movie rating system need an overhaul? & Do Westerns fit into today's film landscape?

Episode 4 - Guest: Clint Eastwood / Topics: Are audiences ready for the outbreak of gay themed movies? & Are filmgoers sequeled out?

Episode 5 - Guest: Mel Gibson / Topics: The crucifixion of Mel Gibson? The filmmaking miracle of The Passion of the Christ (sheesh)

Episode 6 - Guests: Kevin Spacey & Mike Burns / Topics: Will foreign audiences rule the roost in the film business? & Have PR mavens become the tyrants of the movie promotion business?

Disc 2 - The Directors

Episode 1 - Guests: Ron Howard & Brian Grazer / Topics: Are blockbusters crowding out Oscar worthy films?

Episode 2 - Guests: Edward Zwick / Topics: Do movie trailers misrepresent films? & Do gossip columnists reward bad behavior?

Episode 3 - Guests: Brett Ratner & Pierce Brosnan / Topics: Do movie titles matter? & Will the movie business succeed in exploiting the video game business?

Episode 4 - Guest: Kevin Smith / Topics: Does management turmoil hurt the quality of studio films? & Is there any action in sports movies?

Episode 5 - Guests: Garry Marshall, Matthew Perry & Jonathan Lynn / Topics: Is too much money being squandered on the process of advertising movies? & Will the movie fare this summer be an exact replica of last?

Episode 6 - Guests: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans & Shawn Wayans / Topics: Are so-called teen chick flicks laying an egg? & The legacy of Jack Valenti and the MPAA ratings system.

Disc 3 - The New Breed of Leading Men

Episode 1 - Guests: Edward Norton & Tom Rothman / Topics: Is there an Oscar screener conspiracy? & Is any director worth $2M?

Episode 2 - Guest: Samuel L. Jackson / Topics: Are DVD extras annoying or entertaining? & Will Hollywood soon become vacant land because of runaway production?

Episode 3 - Guest: Robert Downey Jr. / Topics: Has Madison Avenue overwhelmed Hollywood with product placement and cross promotion? & Have gross out films dumbed down the movie industry?

Episode 4 - Guest: Jack Black / Topics: The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado & Are comedy writers missing in action?

Episode 5 - Guests: Jim Caviezel & Rowdy Herrington / Topics: Is Hollywood neglecting its most loyal demo - the over 50 crowd? & Are movies getting longer - or are attention spans getting shorter?

Episode 6 - Guests: Andy Garcia / Topics: Was splitting Kill Bill into two halves a good idea? & Are stars making bad career choices?

Disc 4 - Women in Film

Episode 1 - Guest: Laura Linney / Topics: Which films were the biggest surprises of 2003? & Are actors overpaid?

Episode 2 - Guest: Charlize Theron / Topics: Is sex off-putting to American audiences? & Is today's film going audience irreversibly declining?

Episode 3 - Guest: Sherry Lansing / Topics: Is the plethora of depressing movies depressing the box office? & Is there any room for reinventing franchises?

Episode 4 - Guests: Nancy Meyers, Barry Levinson & Chris Weitz / Topics: Are major studios running out of ideas?, Is there a movie afterlife for long running TV shows such as Sex & the City & Is comedy a function of what the audience wants or what the studio produces?

Episode 5 - Guests: Stacey Sher, Paula Weinstein & Lucy Fisher / Topics: Will both sides be damaged by the battle between Disney and Miramax? & Are films being hurt by the practice of hiring too many writers?

Disc 5 - Executive Shuffle: Revenge of the Hollywood Suits

Episode 1 - Guest: Bernie Brillstein / Topic: Are there too many commercials in movie theaters?

Episode 2 - Guests: Cuba Gooding Jr. & Joe Roth / Topics: Who is hurt when a movie is a bust?, Has publicity surrounding weekend grosses hurt filmmaking? & Who should get final cut - studios or directors?

Episode 3 - Guests: Anthony Minghella & John Calley / Topics: Will technology change the way stories are told? & Do the Golden Globes diminish the value of the Academy Awards?

Episode 4 - Guests: Peter Jackson & Bob Shaye / Topics: Should Hollywood stay out of politics? & are books passé as a source of material for film?

Episode 5 - Guests: Art Linson, Cassian Elwes & Mark Gill / Topics: Is it easier for new talent to "crash" Hollywood today? & Are producers becoming extinct?

Episode 6 - Guest: Harvey Weinstein / Topics: Is the DVD boom here to stay? & Are studios letting their $2M tentpoles get out of control?

Disc 6 - And the Oscar goes to...

Episode 1 - Guest: Dustin Hoffman / Topics: Do film critics really matter? & Smoking in movies - gratuitous or necessary?

Episode 2 - Guest: Anthony Hopkins / Topics: Are power lists useful? & Has Hollywood overdosed on violence? Episode 3 - Guest: Ben Kingsley / Topics: Do today's movie stars measure up to the screen legends of Hollywood's past? & Are development notes the enemy of the art form?

Episode 4 - Guest: Adrien Brody / Topics: Did The Passion and Fahrenheit 9/11 change the way the major distributors view independent pick-ups?

Episode 5 - Guest: Denzel Washington / Topic: Are screen tests a thing of the past?

Keep in mind that the "guests" and the "topics" are usually kept completely separate. The visitors to the Shootout are on hand for the same reason they do Conan O'Brien or Saturday Night Live: They're plugging a new project. And when the visiting filmmakers aren't actively plugging something, they're being adored and outspokenly admired by the Peter Pair. Basically, I think it's just a case of ingesting this medicine in a series of small doses. Mr. Guber & Mr. Bart, for all their knowledge, know-how, and expertise, come off as quite the belabored experience if you watch more than 2 or 3 episodes in a row. Or perhaps it's just that they were just getting used to this fairly unique style of program. This is the "Best of Season One," after all, and as far as I can tell, the show's still going strong on its third season at AMC.

Despite the over-attempts at Siskel & Ebert style chemistry, Shootout has more than enough insight, experience, and debate-worthy topics on display to make it worth your time -- provided you actually care about the numerous topics mentioned above.

The DVD

Video: The episodes are presented in their original full screen format.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, which fluctuates based on who's wearing a microphone and where. There was one episode in which I could barely hear Mr. Bart, while his guests' chatter came through perfectly clear. But hey, it's a low-budget movie-geek talk show, so it's not that big a complaint.

Extras

Disc 4 contains a 13-minute Sneak Peek at Season 2 and a bonus episode entitled The Ultimate Hollywood Shootout, which is not much more than the two Peters talking about themselves and each other.

Disc 6 offers a Primetime Oscar Special, which runs about 65 minutes and features chit-chat with guests like Frank Pierson, Clint Eastwood, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Gary Ross, and Denys Arcand, along with several clips from a bunch of episodes you probably already watched.

Final Thoughts

I know it's an oft-cited philosophy, but I belong to the William Goldman school of Hollywood logic, which says "Nobody Knows Anything." Which means that the more I listen to Peters Guber & Bart rant and rave in their colorful, informed, and somewhat uncomfortable style, the more it all starts to sound like white noise.

Still, these guys know their stuff, and it manages to shine through quite well on occasion. But even if they're not the most astute talk show hosts, the guys are pros of the moviemaking biz, which means their program is something I should try and catch more often. Love 'em or hate 'em, the Petes are talkin' movies, and that's always a fun thing to talk about.

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