News cycle hurts the world of film news

By Scott Mendelson a continuing feature of sorts on how the 24-hour news cycle hurts the world of film news (part I), we’ll be briefly (I hope) discussing the weird phenomenon whereby countless column inches are spent dissecting and analyzing that which is either not-yet known or painfully obvious. Would you have guessed that Warner Bros. wanted a young male heartthrob to play Clark Kent in Zack Snyder’s Superman picture? Most of us would have, yet Nikki Finke reported this obvious fact as some kind of shocking new development. I don’t mean to pick on Finke (her main sins come in the realm of box office analysis… come back next week), and the real problem is that every other blogger to just repeats the rumor/speculation/lie, complete with their own personal casting list or counter-point commentary (“Why Taylor Lautner shouldn’t play Spider-Man!”).

You’d think it was pretty obvious that Warner Bros and Chris Nolan would want a young starlet to snag a major female role in The Dark Knight Rises. But we had countless speculative articles asking ‘Who will play the female lead in Batman 3?’. None of these articles had any inside information, but they all allowed the writers to discuss a popular project and toss in half a dozen sultry pictures of the likes of Anne Hathaway, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, and Keira Knightley. The same thing happened prior to Rooney Mara being cast as Elizabeth Salander in David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or Andrew Garfield being chosen to star as Sony’s newest Peter Parker. Everyone tossed out their own ‘here’s who is being considered’ list, complete with glossy photos and often snarky commentary. Steve Rogers must have been ‘almost cast’ about two dozen times during the summer of 2009. I was even on the ‘short list’ for a couple days, and you probably were too.

The latest ‘let’s report twenty different versions of the same casting news’ came just this week, as Christian Bale, no wait, Viggo Mortenson, no wait… Javier Bardem for real this time(!) will be playing the lead role in the Dark Tower adaptation. But wait, there’s more! Because Tom Hardy and Angelina Jolie are sure to be playing the lead roles in Snow White and the Hunter, unless it’s really Charlize Theron and Viggo Mortenson, with the possibility of Kristen Stewart playing Snow White. None of this is fact, all of it is rumor and/or speculation, but it is being reported and commented on as if it were news. Because there is no easier way to get attention than to scream “Twilight’s Bella to play Snow White!” I eagerly await the next dozen stories regarding various directors who will not be directing Iron Man 3 after all, before landing on whomever actually gets the job (my money is still on Terrence Mallick).

Until you have real knowledge of whom is going to play whom or who is going to direct what, feel free to speculate to your heart’s content. But don’t pretend that you have any real insight into how it’s going to develop. And please don’t try to sell a lie that a casting decision is all-but finalized when you in fact have no idea what’s going on in the casting process. Being short-listed doesn’t mean a damn thing until you sign on the dotted line (just ask ‘he who would be Spider-Man’ Logan Lerman). Don’t pretend that your predictions have any weight to sway the decision. The idea of waiting for the truth has become irrelevant in the Internet age.

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