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    • Michael Stuart Kelly

      Major Update to OL (please click to open)   02/09/2016

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but we had to update OL and there have been some serious changes made by IPB. The real bad news is that they had to merge User Names and Display Names. This meant that I had to choose between bad and bad. I opted to keep the log-on information the same, so you can get on OL like you always did, but now your User Name is displayed. If your User Name and Display Name were the same, you will not feel the change. If they were different, you are probably irritated right now. I will figure out how you can change this so you can revert to the Display Name you used before if you like, however this may entail a change in how you log-on. The good news is that OL is now searchable from the very beginning. This means all the old posts from the A-Team in Objectivism (and everybody else) will finally show up when you search for something. I will keep changing this announcement as we adapt to these new changes. It's a pain, I know, but after looking around the backend for a bit, I believe the benefits will far, far outweigh the current irritation. They changed things in a hamhanded way and I don't like that, but I can't do anything about it. Benefit-wise, they actually did a good job, so please bear with us. In addition to this change, many good things are coming over time. You are the reason OL exists and I am sorry you have to go through this. Think of it like birth pangs... (All right, all right, that's forcing it.  ) Michael
tndbay

atlas shrugged, the movie

175 posts in this topic

tom kuhn wrote that the ingredients for a 'paradigm shift' were 2: when the current idea is widely understood to be bankrupt and at the same time there is an alternative idea that is widely understood to be adequate. as i watch the mystics rush headlong to their private Jonestown or literally bankrupt themselves trying to cover up their ugly nature- i also read that Atlas Shrugged may come out as a movie this year starring brad pitt and angelina jolie. does anyone have a presentiment about this?

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The Baldwins said they want to bring Atlas as three movies beginning next year. As I posted they seem very friendly to the book. Karen Baldwin refered to Dagny as the best female character in world!! literature. I am feeling much better about the movies.

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The news from the summer seminar was very good. Howard and Karen Baldwin of Baldwin Entertainment gave an update on the project and answered questions. I think they are very much motivated and have the financing in place to make it happen. :D/

Here's the skinny...

- The film is in pre-production with a release date targeted for spring 2008.

- It will be a trilogy with a budget of $30–40 million for the first film.

- Screenplay is being done by Jim Hart (Contact, Hook) and he is working closely with David Kelley of the Objectivist Center to make sure it stays true to Objectivist ideas. Executive Producer is John Aglioloro, a trustee of the Objectivist Center who bought the film rights from Leonard Peikoff.

- A director is being sought and they have their eye on a young director of Russian descent whose name I do not remember. Other more famous ones are also being considered.

- Casting will take place after the director is in place and he or she will have that responsibility, but there were many good suggestions from the group. The Baldwins are talking to Angelina Jolie, who has expressed interest. No mention of of Brad Pitt though. They are definitely looking for the type of star power to drive the film's success in an international market. (Jodie Foster was suggested as a possibility for Dagny, and they responded that she was being considered as a director).

- Ideally, as far as both director and cast, they would like a buy-in on the general Objectivist ideas, but also realize that may be too difficult a task in Hollywood.

- Casting ideas for the part of John Galt are not being revealed yet. It was suggested that John Galt be a relative unknown and they have a "Who is John Galt" contest to find the talent.

I'm sure there was more, but unfortunately I didn't take notes. Feel free to add to this and if anyone remembers the name of the young director of Russian descent Karen Baldwin mentioned, please let us know.

Kat

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The things I wanted to say about this production were just covered in an excellent summary on Robert Bidinotto's Blog of the session with the producers at the TAS./TOC 2006 Summer Seminar.

The really important parts for me were the sincere commitment to the full spirit of the book (and not making arbitrary changes) by the people in control and the fact that the Estate of Ayn Rand no longer has creative control (veto power) over the production and final product.

I am extremely excited about all this.

Michael

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Michael and Kat,

Thank you very much for the updates on the progress toward bringing Atlas Shrugged to the silver screen. The news sounds almost too good to be true. I personally think that Jennifer Garner would be perfect as Dagny Taggart, but I have no complaints if Angelina Jolie gets the part.

One question: When I saw the early plans for the movie on the Baldwin Entertainment website last year, the summary described two major departures from the novel: Dagny as an airline executive and international terrorism as a major factor in the plot. Did the producers mention whether such drastic changes were a part of Jim Hart's script? To what extent, if any, did they plan to "update" the story to make it more "topical"? (I hope not at all, but that's probably unrealistic.)

Dennis

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international terrorism? wtf?

so now there will be a host of new major characters, motives and plot devices?

i sure hope they don't mess it up. there's no bigger bolt to fire than atlas shrugged and they only get one shot.

pete

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That "current plot summary" has been a placeholder on the Baldwin site for about a year. There's nothing "current" about it, and since it was first posted, there's been a lot of additional writing and editorial input.

My take: somebody needed to post something on the Baldwin site about a year ago; and someone dashed something off based on preliminary discussions.

This is not the shooting script, folks. If it gets to shooting script stage with this sort of stuff in it, THEN is when we have to worry. But at this stage, even the first draft of Jim Hart's Part I script is little more than modeling clay.

Relax, already.

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After hearing the Baldwins and John Aglialoro speak at the summer seminar I feel much more confident that this project will be a success. They have the passion and determination to make this a blockbuster, and with TAS/TOC involved and the fact that they are seeking input from the Objectivist community, I feel far more at ease now.

My friend, Armando, has some pretty exciting things to say about it on his blog. I'm sure he will keep us posted. I hope that the movie site is updated as soon as they find their director. It sounded like they are very close to a decision.

Does anyone have suggestions for the director?

Kat

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"Armando." Heh.

Eeet eees pronounce "Arrrrrmmmmaannndo."

You weeeemen like Arrrrrmmmmaannndo, no?

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(I had posted news of this article from The Objectivist Center before in the black hole of July 17-27.)

News from the Summer Seminar: The "Atlas Shrugged" film!

Here is a tidbit:

Karen and Howard Baldwin spoke at The Atlas Society's recent Summer Seminar about plans for their film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged.

The principals in Baldwin Entertainment Group (BEG), producer of the 2004 Oscar-winning "Ray," appeared in a 90 minute panel session on July 7 with TAS board member John Aglialoro, who holds the screen rights to the Ayn Rand novel and will be co-executive producer with Howard Baldwin, the company's president and CEO.

You can read the rest of the article at the TAS site.

It was really exciting to be there and this is wonderful news!

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I have guarded excitement about the movie. I saw the announcement earlier this summer, and thought Angelina Jolie would do well in the role of Dagny. I'll reserve comment on translation from book to movie, except to say I think it will take creative genius to do it well.

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I have guarded excitement about the movie. I saw the announcement earlier this summer, and thought Angelina Jolie would do well in the role of Dagny. I'll reserve comment on translation from book to movie, except to say I think it will take creative genius to do it well.

I agree. I'd love to see Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, or even Bryan Singer tackle the project...

From the TAS article, it seems that ARI and LP will not play much (or any) role in the film's development...does anyone know if that is true? If so, I certainly find that to be cause for optimism, so far as the potential quality of the film goes.

RCR

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Christian,

John Aglioloro, who purchased the rights from Peikoff years ago for one million dollars, stated openly at the July TAS seminar (at the banquet speech), that he had been dazzled at the time he did that and had left his brains outside in the corridor before going in to the meeting. He expressed great dissatisfaction with Peikoff's business behavior, condemning it in harsh moral terms.

He stated that for the present project, Peikoff will have the right to review the script and submit suggestions, but that he has no script authority or any say in any other aspect of the film. There is no requirement to accept his suggestions.

He also stated that the major consultant for maintaining philosophical consistency (with his name in lights big time) is David Kelley.

The only real control Peikoff or ARI have, and I do not know this for sure since I read it somewhere browsing other forums, is that if they dislike the film, they can require that a disclaimer be inserted stating that ARI had nothing to do with the production and does not sanction it.

Lionsgate, the distributor, has a forum thread open on Atlas Shrugged, but the comments are few and weak.

See the TAS page, Atlas Shrugged Movie News, for other information and future updates.

Michael

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Christian,

John Aglioloro, who purchased the rights from Peikoff years ago for one million dollars, stated openly at the July TAS seminar (at the banquet speech), that he had been dazzled at the time he did that and had left his brains outside in the corridor before going in to the meeting. He expressed great dissatisfaction with Peikoff's business behavior, condemning it in harsh moral terms.

He stated that for the present project, Peikoff will have the right to review the script and submit suggestions, but that he has no script authority or any say in any other aspect of the film. There is no requirement to accept his suggestions.

This is very interesting to me...it is like a CYA move, and to tell you the truth, one million dollars actually seems a little low to give up control of the visual and popularly received soul of Rand's magnum opus. It seems at odds with the mission of ARI (protecting the integrity of Ayn Rand), the purpose of an "heir" and the "the world's foremost authority on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism"; seems like kind of a sell-out. I imagine that Rand herself would have charged (in today's world) a considerably higher sum-if not decline, entirely. Of course, it isn't his work, but, still...somewhere Rand wrote about a the nature of a "man's price".

He also stated that the major consultant for maintaining philosophical consistency (with his name in lights big time) is David Kelley.

Yes, I saw that in the article. Kelly on the film, and likely in the credits, makes things that much curiouser (of course, personally, I think they should consult and credit the Brandens as well). I wonder if that means that there will be a congregation who boycot the film.

The only real control Peikoff or ARI have, and I do not know this for sure since I read it somewhere browsing other forums, is that if they dislike the film, they can require that a disclaimer be inserted stating that ARI had nothing to do with the production and does not sanction it.

Which would be hysterical; I suspect it would also boost ticket sales.

RCR

Edited by R. Christian Ross
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I also attended the presentations by the producers of the proposed Atlas Srugged movie at the TOC/TAS Summer Seminar. While the producers seem to be enthusiastic about their project, I think that there are considerable grounds for Objectivists to be, at the very least, quite guarded in their enthusiasm and expectations about how this project will turn out. To name just a few concerns:

1) ACTORS: While not yet decided, there has been considerable speculation, that Angellina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt may be cast as Dagny and Galt, respectively. I personally do not see any reason, based on their past performances, that their casting for these roles would be appropriate. I think it is much more likely that such casting would bring derision and ridicule down upon this movie before it is even seen. And based on their past performances, I seen no reason to believe that their acting abilities will prove these critics wrong. If you don't know what I mean, go see some of their movies (e.g., Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy) and then read some of their statements that they have made to the media.

2) SCRIPT: Based on the book's length and more importantly, the fact that it is primarily a novel about ideas, not action (the action is secondary and is used to set up the numerous philosophic speeches), I have long felt that these factors would make it very difficult to create a successful translation to the screen. Trying to solve some of these issues by making it into three movies may create more problems then it would solve. If the first installment fails financially at the box office, it is unlikely that the second and third movies will ever make it to the screen. And you can be absolutely sure that the enemies of Objectivism (and unfortunately, some of its supporters - see point 4, below) will do everything in their power to make this movie a financial and popular disaster. These days, if a movie is not a success at the box office in its first few weeks, then it is dead, and is pulled off the screens. Not much chance for "word of mouth" to counter the negative reviews by the media!

3) RECEPTION BY THE (non-Objectivist) MEDIA: Does it need to be pointed out that Ayn Rand is not looked upon favorably by the entertainment media, most of which has an extremely left wing bias? And then there are the conservatives, many of whom have made it abundantly clear, on every occasion that they get, that they despise Ayn Rand and everything that she stands for. BOTH camps can be counted upon to pan this film. Their hostility, derision and ridicule will hold no bounds. To make it even minimally palatable to them would require diluting its philosophic message so much that Rand fans will not even find the results to be recognizable.

4) RECEPTION BY ARI: The current production attempt is not supported by ARI because, among other reasons, those evil "tolerationsts" over at The Atlas Society/Objectivist Center are behind the project. Personally, I think it is great that David Kelley is working on the script, in particular, Galt's Speech. However, in view of trying to get the support of ARI, this association with Dr. Kelley is "the kiss of death." The hostile reaction of ARI is practically (all right, definately) guaranteed. And you cannot expect them to keep quiet about it. So many Ayn Rand fans will be receiving email warnings from ARI about how evil this film is, and why they should boycott it.

In this forum, MSK has mentioned that ARI may have been granted the right to have a statement indicating their opposition to this film to be included in the opening and/or closing credits. Based upon their past and current animosity, it is virtually certain that they will exercise this right. They have made it clear that there will be no cooperation with what they view as "evil," which is exactly how they view TAS/TOC and its policies.

So, let's see, what do we have here? 1) Potential casting disasters; 2) a book whose very character, plot constuction, message, and length, make it nearly impossible to be adapted to the screen; 3) certain opposition and panning by the non-Objectivist entertainment media and critics; and 4) likely opposition and boycott by a large segment of "supporters" of Ayn Rand's philosophy.

And is there any thing good that could come out of this if the film and/or its reception are disastrous? Well, the movie could cause some viewers to go out and buy the book. However, a mediocre movie could also drive away those viewers, thinking, "If this is what Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand are all about, then I don't need to read the books (After all, didn't just see the movie?)!"

Edited by Jerry Biggers
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As I said before, I've also serious doubts about this project, I think this is a bridge too far. In my opinion the biggest problem is your point 2, the script, as I don't really see how you can translate AS effectively to the screen, but also point 1 (actors) may be fatal. I don't think that a bad reception by the media and by ARI could stop a really good film, but I'm afraid that at best it will be some half-hearted success, and it may be much worse. And that won't be pleasant for TOC (or whatever it's called today).

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Jerry,

I have about 40 million reasons to allay your fears. They are the projected budget for the first installment: 40 million bucks.

People who shell out that kind of dough want it back with profit. I have no doubt there will be many, many serious professionals involved who are quite competent at what they do - especially the financial people. But the Baldwins have a fine track record and so do Hart and Lionsgate.

What's funny is that I can translate most of your worries to the publishing of the novel itself (with obvious substitutions) back in 1956/57. And the book still made a hit.

I'm highly optimistic. The thing that makes me most optimistic is that the movie is being made by top Hollywood talent for the general public, not Objectivists - just like Rand's books were. Any ARI-TAS conflict will probably be more beneficial to generating audience interest than in boycotting the film. I would love for ARI to call for a boycott and see what happens, even among ARI supporters. Heh.

(Incidentally, I see Brad Pitt as Galt if he does the acting approach he did in Meet Joe Black, which is a damn fine film for any Objectivist, but maybe easing off a bit on trying to imitate Robert Redford.)

Michael

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In reply to Jerry's concerns:

1. The public announcement of the interest of Pitt and Jolie in this project made worldwide news; I saw links to stories published everywhere, even in remote backwater countries. Those many news stories carried no sneers or derision that I saw--to the contrary, they conveyed an undertone of "This is fascinating!" As for criticisms of the acting abilities of the pair, I have heard criticisms of virtually every other plausible actor who's been suggested; but those criticisms come almost entirely from the very tiny Objectivist camp, and mainly from those who have an axe to grind against the project, due to TAS's involvement. Most ordinary people, who'd constitute the real audience for this film if it's to succeed, don't share these negative views of Pitt and Jolie: Why do you suppose they are on the covers of every celebrity magazine in the world, every week?

2. The view that Atlas "is primarily a novel about ideas, not action (the action is secondary and is used to set up the numerous philosophic speeches)" would send Rand rolling in her grave. In her own articles about fiction writing and literature, she stressed that the most important elements in any novel are "plot, plot, and plot." Go read "The Goal of My Writing" in The Romantic Manifesto. If the film conveys Rand's basic story effectively, it will have conveyed her basic ideas effectively, too, because the "action" is the manifestation of her "ideas" in reality -- not some separate element, unintegrated to and independent of them.

3. Michael has it exactly right: If the hostility of critics were that important, it should have buried Atlas as a novel when it was first published. It didn't: millions have read the novel, and any film now begins with a pre-existing fan base that the novel didn't even have before it became a bestseller. Rand's ideas, once thought beyond the pale, are coming to be seen as more acceptable and worthy of consideration. She is controversial but intriguing to millions of people -- the perfect combination for huge box office success, regardless of what critics think.

4. Do you really have any conception of just how small the entire organized Objectivist movement is? And ARI is a fraction of THAT. No movie could succeed or fail based on whether a few thousand people go see it; film success depends on millions of viewers. Thus film can't be produced simply to appeal to arcane interests of a handful of Objectivists, or it will fail. And anything ARI does to impede or condemn the film publicly will have zero negative impact on its box office; quite the contrary: the controversy will bring more people into the theaters.

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I think Pitt did a fine job in Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Spy Game and Meet Joe Black (Claire Forlani. Mmmm.). And it's not like Galt is a difficult character with lots of complex personality traits that an actor would have to struggle with. Look handsome, speak with confidence, and it's a wrap. Jolie did well in Girl, Interrupted and The Bone Collector. I think she'd have no problem handling the role of Dagny.

Btw, am I the only one who envisions the film in black and white or a sort of diffusion glow sepia? To me, the textures of heavy industry in AS demand it.

J

Edited by Jonathan
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Jerry, obviously I cannot know what the final script or the final film version of Atlas will be, but I do disagree with your reasons for pessimism. (With the exception of your first point about the actors; here I neither aqree nor diasagree, since I am not sufficientlly familiar with their work to form an opinion. However, a number of people whose judgment I respect are pleased with these choices, so I tend to be optimistic.)

You wrote, about the script: :"Based on the book's length and more importantly, the fact that it is primarily a novel about ideas, not action (the action is secondary and is used to set up the numerous philosophic speeches), I have long felt that these factors would make it very difficult to create a successful translation to the screen."

I emphatically disagree with you -- and, more importantly, so did Ayn Rand. The action is not secondary, and it is not used merely to set up the philosophical apeeches. Atlas is first and foremost an action story, not a philosopohical tract. The events themselves carry the philosopohical meaning, and would do so even in the absence of philosophical speeches. It is a story full of cliff-hanging suspense, which is precisely why it can be successrully transferred to the screen.

As for the reception of the movie by the media, it cannot outdo the vehemence of the media's reception of the novel.. But that did not stop the novel. I remember -- and this was typical -- one reader telling me that she read the violently negative New York Times review of the book while at work, and immediately rushed to the nearest bookstore to buy a copy. "All I cared about," she said, "was that the writer of The Fountainhead had written a new novel!" Do you really think negative reviews will keep Atlas' readers away from the movie -- or the readers of The Fountainhead -- or the people who have heard of Atlas for years but have not yet read it? If Granville Hicks and Whittaker Chambers could not kill the book, it will take more than today's movie reviewers to kill the film; negative reviews are more likely to serve as advertisements.

As for ARI, how many of Rand's readers do you suppose have even heard of them? And I am willing to guarantee you that most ARI members will totally ignore anything derogatory ARI might have to say about the film. When the movie of We the Living was first released in Los Angele, I went to see it. I was standing in line outside the theater when a group of about ten young people came up to me to tell me how much The Passion of Ayn Rand meant to them. They mentioned, in passing, that they were studying Objectivism at ARI -- yes, the same ARI that had damned my book and demanded loyalty oaths from its students to the effect that they would have nothing to do with the Brandens nor support their work in any way. It didn't work with my biography, and it certainly will not work with the film of Atlas.

Barbara

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Robert, how did you manage to read and plagiarize my post before I wrote it?

This will teach me to read page 1 of a thread, not just page 2, before I write my own post. But perhaps two people of one mind will have some value.

Barbara

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You could make a good movie of Atlas Shrugged, but, good or bad, it's commercially risky. The first people to see it are going to be the hardcore fans, and they are bound to dislike it because it isn't scene-for-scene and word-for-word like the book, with characters and settings that look exactly like what each individual reader had in mind. These viewers will dominate the initial word-of-mouth, and this will be hard to overcome.

Concerning Johathan's #21, I've said before that I'd like to see a movie in the ca. 1940 streamline-moderne period of the book. Whoever did the current cover art seems to agree. This might include shooting it in black and white.

Peter

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It might be cool to do the film in retro black and white and then have Galt's Gulch in color. It would be just like Oz. :D

Kat

Looters and moochers and altruists! Oh my!

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