Blog Archives

Listen: Tom DeMichael on Pop Culture Tonight

Tom DeMichael, author of James Bond FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Everyone’s Favorite Superspy, was a guest on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00314951A favorite of film followers for more than  50 years, James Bond is the hero loved by everyone: Men want to be just like him, women just want to be with him. Moviegoers around the world have spent more than $5 billion to watch his adventures across the last five decades. What’s not to enjoy about such a glorious multitude of gadgets, gals, grand locations, and grandiose schemes hatched by master villains and megalomaniacs?

Now, James Bond FAQ is a book that takes on the iconic cinema franchise that’s lasted for so many years. Sometimes serious as SPECTRE, sometimes quirkier than Q, but always informative, this FAQ takes the reader behind-the-scenes, as well as in front of the silver screen. Everyone’s included: Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and Craig; little-known facts about TV’s first shot at 007, the same Bond story that was made into two different films; whatever happened to those wonderful cars and gizmos that thrilled everyone; plus much more. It’s a book for the casual, as well as hardcore, James Bond fan.

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Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

It’s Christmastime, which means gifts, spending time with friends and family, and watching Christmas movies! Luckily for you, Alonso Duralde, author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmashas compiled a list of non-traditional holiday movies for USA Today. He’s also being interviewed on the Turner Classic Movies program A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas, which is being aired tonight at 12:15 a.m. EST. You can find out more about the program here.

1988

‘DIE HARD’

When he was writing his book, Duralde often heard from people – usually in guilty hushed tones – how watching Bruce Willis storm the Nakatomi Building after terrorists strike on Christmas Eve became a December tradition. “It’s 25 years out,” Duralde says. “People can openly admit, ‘I watch Die Hard every Christmas!’ I don’t think that one counts anymore as being a different one.”

1994

‘THE REF’

The squabbling family members central to the film just can’t stand one another when a cat burglar (Denis Leary) takes them hostage on Christmas Eve and becomes a device to bring them together. As funny and harsh as the movie is, Duralde says, “it holds out the idea that this can improve and the family can fix itself and be better.”

To find out the rest of the non-traditional holiday movies that make up Duralde’s top five, go to USA TODAY

Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Don’t waste another second of your valuable holiday time on another boring Christmas movie. Film critic Alonso Duralde highlights the best – and worst – movies of the Yuletide season with this fun and informative film guide. Whether you’re looking for the classics, family favorites, holiday horror, Christmas-themed crime epics, or the most wonderfully awful cinematic lumps of coal, Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas will point you and your rental queue in the right direction. Whether your idea of a holiday classic is White ChristmasBad SantaDie HardEyes Wide Shut, or Gremlins, you’ll find the right film for you, as well as an exhaustively entertaining breakdown of the various screen Scrooges, from Alistair Sim to Jim Carrey to…Tori Spelling? And get ready to encounter movies you may never have heard of from the gritty noir Christmas Holiday, starring 1930s singing ingénue Deanna Durbin in her first hard-bitten adult role, to the loony Santa Claus, a Mexican kiddie movie in which St. Nick teams up with Merlin to fight the devil! Plot synopses, video availability, and fun facts – did you know the actor cast as Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life was also in the running to play mean old Mr. Potter? – make this a stocking stuffed with information you’ll turn to every Christmas season.

Fun in Acapulco

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Elvis musical comedy film Fun in Acapulco. Below is an excerpt from Elvis Films FAQ.

Fun in Acapulco’s got mariachis, muchachas, amigos, and an inordinate number of scenes where Elvis is superimposed on whatever footage the production crew could glean from a quick whizz around Acapulco. There are almost as many rumored reasons why Elvis wasn’t allowed to go down Mexico way as there are songs in the movie. The most favored explanations are, in no particular order: rumors that the star had made derogatory remarks about the country or its women, worries about the expense of the security required if El went south of the border, or Parker’s paranoia about his client leaving the United States to work in a country where his movies were banned (after G.I. Blues triggered a riot in Mexico City). So Elvis, who had been so keen to go on location he bought a matador’s cape, stayed in Hollywood, masking his disappointment by taking lessons to improve his Spanish pronunciation.

Like every other Wallis/Presley movie of this era, Fun in Acapulco would not deviate from the musical-comedy travelogue formula. Yet Elvis might still have been enthused by the musical challenge. In the early 1960s, his music had acquired a Latin flavor, an influence that even Ernst Jorgensen, the greatest living authority on the King’s recording career, admits he cannot explain. Some of the tracks on his 1962 album Pot Luck – notably the lovely “Fountain of Love” – had Latin rhythms and moods, and he had just revamped Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine” into the yearning “You’ll Be Gone.”

In Fun in Acapulco, only “Bossa Nova Baby” is on par with Porter’s classic, but Elvis gives his utmost, even on such nonsense as “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sportscar,” simmers beautifully through the finger-snapping “Margarita” and the suave “You Can’t Say No in Acapulco,” brings an insane conviction to “El Toro” (a song about a morose matador), and soars to meet the considerable technical and linguistic challenge posed by Pepe Guizar’s “Guadalajara.”

O’Curran’s staging of Bossa Nova Baby” is one of the musical highlights of Elvis’s movie career, almost up there with some of the numbers in King Creole as a musical spectacle. The song, the suit, the beat, the urgent vocal are so effective you don’t even mind the fact that the instrumental break sounds like Saturday night in a Mexican brothel.

Even the hard-to-please Roy Carr and Mick Farren say in The Illustrated Record: “The movie soundtracks were now coming thick and fast and, by the standards of the average Elvis film, this was one of the better examples. At least part of its success was due to sticking closely to the Mexican theme, rather than trying to shoehorn a bunch of unrelated songs into a minimal plot.”

The plot in Fun in Acapulco was still minimal. Elvis is Mike Windgren, a trapeze artist haunted by guilt after dropping – and killing – his brother, who has come to Acapulco to find himself. Funnily enough, the rest of the Windgren family seem – a telegram suggests – to live in Tampa, Florida, Colonel Parker’s hometown.

After getting sacked from his job on a boat (after spurning the advances of his boss’s Lolita-esque daughter), he gets a job as a part-time lifeguard (cue for a few too many scenes of Elvis climbing onto the diving board and looking angst-ridden) and, through the offices of a precocious, loquacious, engaging boyish Svengali called Raoul (Larry Domasin), moonlights as a singer at Acapulco’s biggest nightspots and hotels. He catches the eye of Dolores Gomez (Elsa Cardenas), a highly sexed lady bullfighter, and the beautiful Marguerita Dauphin (Ursula Andress), director of entertainments at the hotel where he is working. Marguerita already has a boyfriend – champion diver Moreno (Alejandro Rey) – and her father (Paul Lukas) is a famous chef desperate to work north of the border. The predictable complications ensue, with Raoul doing his best to muddy the waters (“Girls are trouble, Mike, and if I’m your partner, half the trouble is mine”), before Mike conquers his fear of heights and assuages his guilt by making a 136-foot dive off La Perla cliff. This feat helps resolve the romantic quadrangle, as he is reconciled with Andress, and Rey makes do with Cardenas. All that remains is for Mike to celebrate with a rendition of “Guadalajara” that is so rousing it sounds as if every man, woman, child, and stray dog in the neighborhood has been pressed into service.

Elvis Films FAQ

If Elvis Presley had not wanted to be a movie star, he would never have single-handedly revolutionized popular culture. Yet this aspect of his phenomenal career has been much maligned and misunderstood – partly because the King himself once referred to his 33 movies as a rut he had got stuck in just off Hollywood Boulevard. Elvis Films FAQ explores his best and worst moments as an actor, analyzes the bizarre autobiographical detail that runs through so many of his films, and reflects on what it must be like to be idolized by millions around the world yet have to make a living singing about dogs, chambers of commerce, and fatally naive shrimps.

Elvis’s Hollywood years are full of mystery, and Elvis Films FAQ covers them all! Which of his own movies did he actually like? What films did he wish he could have made? Why didn’t he have an acting coach? When will Quentin Tarantino stop alluding to him in his movies? And was Clambake really the catalyst for his marriage to Priscilla? Elvis Films FAQ explains everything you want to know about the whys and wherefores of the singer-actor’s bizarre celluloid odyssey; or, as Elvis said, “I saw the movie and I was the hero of the movie.”

Roger Ebert’s Legacy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGuest Blogger: George Case is the author of Jimmy PageLed Zeppelin FAQ, and Out of Our Heads. Below is an excerpt from his blog.

Always At the Movies

Roger Ebert, the famous film critic who died on April 4, is rightly being remembered as an impassioned defender of cinematic art and a fierce opponent of Hollywood’s lowest-common-denominator ethic. He was a champion of the sleeper and the un-blockbuster. If his aesthetic standards were not as rigorous as those of highbrow reviewers like John Simon or Stanley Kauffmann, they nonetheless informed a generation of moviegoers who learned from him that big budgets and big stars do not inevitably produce great films. But Roger Ebert left another, more troubling, legacy – one he surely didn’t intend but which has nevertheless changed, for the worse, the medium he loved.

When it debuted on PBS in 1978, “Sneak Previews,” the program Ebert co-hosted with Gene Siskel, was a unique show that afforded TV viewers the unusual opportunity to learn about new, old, and little-known films. Today the review paradigm it pioneered – thumbs up, thumbs down; five star, one star; I say, you say; he says, she says – is ubiquitous on television and the Internet. Today movies, TV series, music, books, dance, and just about every other art form are subject to instant judgements passed by countless professional and amateur critics, ranging from highly paid celebrities, as Roger Ebert certainly was, to talking heads on the local news and down to anonymous bloggers and online trolls. Today there are cable networks devoted to old movies, websites devoted to new graphic novels, YouTube channels about television and Facebook pages about radio. Today the opinions of Ebert’s descendants and imitators are themselves praised, panned, and deconstructed by ever-expanding circles of commentary. Today the relationship between even the most populist creators and the least discriminating audiences is mediated by leagues of insiders, second-guessers, and full-time spectators. Today the entertainment and cultural industries are, in a significant sense, their own chief subjects.

Finish the article on George’s blog

 

Led Zeppelin FAQ

In this exhaustive and insightful reference text, rock writer and cultural critic George Case details the key names, dates, figures, and features of one of the biggest and most mythologized rock-and-roll groups of all time: Led Zeppelin. Here, finally, are the answers to the puzzles that have haunted fans for over four decades – puzzles such as the meaning of Led Zep’s enigmatic album covers; the truth about leader Jimmy Page’s involvement with the occult; a breakdown of the sometimes murky roots of their greatest songs; firm data on their musical instruments, live performances, and studio productions; and sordid specifics of the band’s infamously debauched private lives.

But here, too, is a deeply reflective analysis of why Led Zeppelin’s music has endured as long as it has, and of how Led Zeppelin’s mystique has only grown in the years since their official disbanding. Placing the group in the context of their time and place, Case scrupulously compares and contrasts their achievements with those of their influences, rivals, and followers. Led Zeppelin FAQ is not only an indispensable listener’s companion to a classic rock act, but a considered history of rock and roll as a business, an art form, and a worldwide social phenomenon.

Dealing with Change At All Phases of Production

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Guest Blogger:
Gini Graham Scott, author of The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film

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The nature of filming is that it involves frequent changes at all stages of the production, and you  and others in various roles need to be ready to respond accordingly to successfully make your film. Normally, making these necessary changes is successful, because those making films in whatever capacity know to be flexible and responsive to changes in a project, or they won’t perform effectively or be invited to continue to participate in such shoots.

For example, in writing the script, I will typically ask for feedback at script readings and make changes if this seems warranted.  In doing auditions with the actors, I may make changes in the script to incorporate their lines, and if it is not possible to cast an actor for a particular role, I may make changes in the script to eliminate that role or rewrite it for another actor.  In looking for crew members, I will make changes in what people will do depending on who is available; and if someone is ill or can’t come on the day of a shoot, I will make changes that day in who does what and I may take on the role of missing crew members.

There may be other changes when it is difficult to get a particular item for a prop; for example the script may be changed or one prop may be substituted for another.  Then, too, there can be changes when there are problems during the shoot, such as the sun moving so the lighting changes; a battery running down, so the number of scenes and takes has to be reduced; or a microphone placed in the wrong direction, so not all the sound is well-recorded, resulting in making changes in the editing process to use only the good footage that was actually shot.

In short, everyone has to adapt quickly when changes are necessary during pre-production and on the day of the shoot to have a successful shoot. And normally these changes are successful, and the finished film reflect the changes that have been made during all phases of pre-production, production, and post-production.

The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film
The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film
 is a comprehensive step-by-step overview of how to complete and promote a low-budget short film. It begins with how to write a short script, keeping in mind the goal of shooting it in one or at most two days.

It discusses how to finalize your script by getting feedback and then preparing it for production through doing a scene breakdown and possibly a storyboard. It describes how to direct the film yourself or work with a director, audition the actors and cast the short, plan for and participate in the shoot, and work with an editor to finish your film. Finally, it discusses how to get your film shown, including entering it in festivals, and concludes with an extensive list of resources and references, including books, articles, script and storyboard software, conferences, expos, festivals, and more. Available for purchase from Limelight Editions or booksellers nationwide.

Making a Personal Commitment to Your Film

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Guest Blogger: Gini Graham Scott, author of Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low Budget Short Film.

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Just about any short film takes at least several weeks of commitment if not longer to put all the pieces together, except for those very short more spontaneous shoots which some people put together in one day.  But more usually, you can figure on one to three weeks for pre-production, including casting and organizing props and locations, a day for the shoot, and two to four weeks for editing.

So it’s important to keep up that spirit of personal commitment for yourself and convey that to others to keep excitement high about making and completing – and later on promoting – the film.  This kind of commitment will also help to keep you enthusiastic and motivated despite the problems and challenges you may encounter along the way, from rewrites of the script to breakdowns in equipment to cast and crew members not showing up to problems in transferring film to the editor, because it happens to come from an old camera, so you have to take it to a specialty house to get it turned into a format the editor’s computer will recognize.  You need that commitment to keep going and see the film completed in spite of such glitches that seem to be in the nature of making almost any film.

I can also help you keep that spirit of commitment and follow-through by reminding yourself from time to time why you are doing this.  Is it just for fun, or do you hope that these short films will lead to a professional career in the film industry?

For example, I am personally involved in the success of all the shoots I set up, which result in an organization that comes into its brief existence, once people agree to participate as cast or crew.  Then, it continues for the day of the shoot and through e-mail and phone calls until the film is completed and posted on YouTube and other sites.  I am very committed, since I am producing scripts I have written and know that it is unlikely that any of these scripts would be turned into films unless I took the lead in getting them produced myself, rather than trying to find a producer or director to be equally inspired to produce the script – especially since there is normally no money in creating shorts, aside from creating trailers that might be used to get funding to produce a full-length feature.  Then, I am involved through the editing process or in offering suggestions to the DP/Director/Editor to see that my vision is realized.  Another key reason I am so personally involved is that I want to produce a professional-looking product which will eventually result in clients hiring me to write and produce films for them and in my determining what actors and crew members I might like to work with in the future on these paid shoots.

Similarly, think of your own reasons for doing this, which will help guide you in deciding what you want to write, produce, or direct in light of your goals for your role in the industry.

Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low Budget Short Film
The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film
 is a comprehensive step-by-step overview of how to complete and promote a low-budget short film. It begins with how to write a short script, keeping in mind the goal of shooting it in one or at most two days.

It discusses how to finalize your script by getting feedback and then preparing it for production through doing a scene breakdown and possibly a storyboard. It describes how to direct the film yourself or work with a director, audition the actors and cast the short, plan for and participate in the shoot, and work with an editor to finish your film. Finally, it discusses how to get your film shown, including entering it in festivals, and concludes with an extensive list of resources and references, including books, articles, script and storyboard software, conferences, expos, festivals, and more. Available for purchase here.

Creating a Mission Statement to Guide Your Filming

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Guest Blogger: Gini Graham Scott, author of The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film (Limelight Editions)

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Just as corporations create mission statements to guide their organizations to success and individuals create their own personal mission statements to guide them in making career and other choices in their life, so you might create a mission statement to guide you as you write, produce, or direct your own low-budget short-films.

To this end, ask yourself what types of films you want to make and why.  For example, when I went through this exercise, I determined that my mission in making low-budget short films through Changemakers Productions is to complete a high-quality film through a one-day shoot with a low-budget (typically about $100-300).  Accordingly, everything I do and everything done by the cast and crew I recruit is directed towards completing this mission.

For example, all the work I do to prepare for the shoot is designed to result in a successfully completed short film — which is the mission of the organization, and the actors and crew members I recruit to participate are similarly committed and willing to work as volunteers, because they can use these films for their own portfolios to get other work; and they also enjoy participating in these one-day shoots.

So what is your own mission statement.  Keep it short and to the point – typically it should be only about 5-10 words, expressing the essence of what you hope to do as a filmmaker.  Some key questions to ask in formulating your statement include these:

–       What types of films are you making?
–       Why are you making such films? What is your goal or your purpose?
–       Who is the main audience for your work?
–       What else is important to you about what you are doing?
–       What are the main benefits of your films to others?

Then, weave your answers into this single statement of your mission.  As necessary, cut down your statement, so it is no longer than 15-20 words, and preferably 7-10 words – something you might put into a short tag line of up to 72 characters.

Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film
The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film
 is a comprehensive step-by-step overview of how to complete and promote a low-budget short film. It begins with how to write a short script, keeping in mind the goal of shooting it in one or at most two days.

It discusses how to finalize your script by getting feedback and then preparing it for production through doing a scene breakdown and possibly a storyboard. It describes how to direct the film yourself or work with a director, audition the actors and cast the short, plan for and participate in the shoot, and work with an editor to finish your film. Finally, it discusses how to get your film shown, including entering it in festivals, and concludes with an extensive list of resources and references, including books, articles, script and storyboard software, conferences, expos, festivals, and more. Available for purchase here.

Visit Gini Graham Scott at Ginigrahamscott.com
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Follow Gini Graham Scott on Twitter

George Kennedy Reflects on “Another Happy Day”

“Another Happy Day,” starring Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, and Ellen Burstyn, and featuring George Kennedy, author of Trust Me, opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

If “Another Happy Day” is not a hit, it’s not for lack of Ellen Barkin’s pit bull intensity as producer and star with Demi Moore and Ellen Burstyn.  I will always remember Michigan in Sept 2010, after Barkin (who I didn’t know) phoned and asked me to play her father in a full-bore, angst-ridden family brouhaha.  I made her aware I couldn’t walk.  She said she knew.   If I was going to die while there, however, do it while the camera was rolling.

People have often asked me why I decided to become an actor.  I used to pass it off by saying my mother and father were in Vaudeville, so my instincts were natural.  A precise response would have been that I have never not been an actor.  I can’t help but absorb stage and radio drama, play all the parts in a movie or lose fights to Peter Gunn.

The greatest rewards come from your peers.  You finish a shot.  They call “Print..” and then, “We’re moving on…”  The bubble you’ve been operating in disappears, the center of attention is no longer singular and you’re just sitting there, coming back to a real world of cables and film canisters.  But then, my dears, the good fairy takes a hand.  After one take, Ellen Burstyn was looking at me.  She smiled a soft smile.  She nodded slightly, just once.  Life can’t be more rewarding.

There’s a cast photo (below).  The shoot was over.  It was taken after 2 a.m., when I had five hours to get to the Detroit airport and go home. Every smiling actor you see posed this just for me, a souvenir from hearts which had become part of mine.  So I’ll try to share:

Tomorrow will be “Another Happy Day” as soon as your smile brightens it.

— George Kennedy

a review of Another Happy Day (Salon)

Trust Me: A Memoir

“These are memoirs of a kid born in New York City in 1925. His dad, George Senior, was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader at Proctor’s Vaudeville Theatre, and his mother, Helen, played in a classic dance troupe. Hanky-panky ensued. They married, and I soon was the result…

I write like I talk. A long time ago I tried making ‘talking and telling the truth’ one and the same. That isn’t just difficult; it means painfully reviewing things you’ve been led to believe since you were a child. That’s very hard to do. Like many, I have marched along adhering to conventions (sex, color, church, party, gang) without examination. There’s a wonderful, protective ‘togetherness’ in that anonymity. You obey or are damned, less joined together than stuck together. You become an echo rather than a voice.

This book is about what happens when you stop fearing and think.

Available for purchase here from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Developing a Hands-On Detail-Oriented Leadership Style for a Successful Shoot

By Gini Graham Scott

Different producers and directors have different leadership styles in organizing a film shoot.  It is helpful to look at your own style and notice what works or doesn’t for you.  Generally, if you want to have a smooth-running, well-organized and well-cast shoot which results in a high-quality short film it is better to develop a more hands-on detailed leadership style.  When you have a more leave-it-to chance, let’s just go out and shoot type of approach you have more of a risk of things going wrong, such as people not showing up or showing up late, not having the equipment you ideally want for your film on hand, and having actors who don’t know what they are doing.

 I have found a hands-on detail-oriented style works well based on about three dozen one-day low-budget short film shoots which I organized and produced to film short scripts which I have written.  To this end, the production involved several phases, including:

– preparing the script for production by determining the number of shooting locations, scenes, and approximate times for the different scenes;
– recruiting, auditioning, and casting actors;
– recruiting and coordinating the crew;
– making sure that everyone shows up for the shoot;
– obtaining the necessary equipment and props;
– working with the director/director of photography on the day of the shoot to make sure things go smoothly.

Then, on the day of the shoot, the producer might take on these roles as well:
–       making everyone feel comfortable,
–       advising actors about their scenes,
–       getting release forms,
–       making arrangements to slate the scenes and takes by a P.A. or doing it yourself,
–       providing everyone with lunch,
–       taking still photos on the set
–       working with the editor to edit the film

In short, there are many different tasks to be performed for a successful shoot, so it is helpful to be very organized to keep the various elements of the production together from the pre-production phase, which involves doing everything before the actual shoot and during the production.  Then, unless the director/DP is going to edit the film and wants to be left alone to do this, with you only providing some suggestions and feedback, it is good to continue this hands-on, detail oriented style in working with the editor, and if you do your own editing, being very detailed editor comes with the territory.

Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low Budget Short Film
The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film is a comprehensive step-by-step overview of how to complete and promote a low-budget short film. It begins with how to write a short script, keeping in mind the goal of shooting it in one or at most two days.

It discusses how to finalize your script by getting feedback and then preparing it for production through doing a scene breakdown and possibly a storyboard. It describes how to direct the film yourself or work with a director, audition the actors and cast the short, plan for and participate in the shoot, and work with an editor to finish your film. Finally, it discusses how to get your film shown, including entering it in festivals, and concludes with an extensive list of resources and references, including books, articles, script and storyboard software, conferences, expos, festivals, and more. Available for purchase here.

George Clooney: More Oscars on the Way?

In honor of The Ides of March‘s release in theaters today, Applause Books author Kimberly Potts explains George Clooney’s current career, and why we may be seeing a lot less of him in front of the camera in years to come.

All those interviews and late night talk show appearances George Clooney and his Ides of March co-stars have made in the last few weeks have led to a plethora of stories about how a whole lot of celebrities have gone skinny dipping at Clooney’s famous villa in Lake Como, Italy.

But what they haven’t gotten across about the movie is that it could very well lead to the Oscar winner’s next Academy Award nomination(s).

In Ides, which hits theaters today, Clooney plays Mike Morris, the governor of Pennsylvania who’s now a Democratic presidential contender. Ryan Gosling pops up as his campaign leader, and a scandal later, we’re knee-deep in a thrilling political drama that resonates all too strongly with recent real-world political scandals, and sparks all sorts of discussions on matters of politics, ethics and doing things for the greater good.

And while Gosling’s performance is stirring all the buzz, don’t be surprised if Mr. Clooney isn’t a nominee for Ides when Oscar nominations roll out next year. Clooney stars in the movie, he co-wrote the script and directed Ides.

And, as arbiter of all things Hollywood awards-related, GoldDerby.com, points out, the only thing potentially standing between Clooney and Ides of March gold is the fact that his second movie of the year, the family dramedy The Descendants, is so terrific it may steal his Ides thunder.

Still, one-upping yourself is not a bad position to be in, and both movies are payoffs to what has been Clooney’s career philosophy: to agree to star in the movies studios want him to make, and then using his position to get made the movies he personally wants to make.

In the newly revised and updated release of my Clooney biography George Clooney: The Last Great Movie Star, Clooney asserts that his ultimate goal is to work only behind the scenes, making his movies, but not starring in them.

Is that possible? Even Clint Eastwood, whose career I think Clooney’s is modeling, still takes an on-camera role now and then, and it’s tough to imagine a time when Clooney’s face on the screen and name on the poster wouldn’t be a tremendous selling point for a movie.

Besides, I think the book’s title only becomes more and more true every year. With entertainment fans’ attention constantly being pulled in dozens of directions, celebrity of Clooney’s magnitude becomes a rarer thing. He is The Last Great Movie Star.

George Clooney: The Last Great Movie Star

In this updated biography of one of Hollywood’s most colorful leading men, pop culture expert Kimberly Potts traces Clooney’s life from small-town boy to big-screen idol. Potts fills us in on Clooney’s early attempts to break into film (including his Batman flop), his many well-publicized romances, his political and humanitarian efforts, plus a major fight with director David O. Russell on the set of Three Kings. Potts also recounts how Clooney has gained success and acclaim with his shrewd strategy of alternating blockbuster movie roles, such as the Ocean’s franchise, with less lucrative “passion” projects – such as Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck – that reflect his personal ethics. He won an Academy Award for the former and rave reviews for the latter, and has continued to earn accolades and Oscar nominations for smart dramas such as Michael Clayton and Up in the Air.

Available now from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.