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February 22, 2024

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    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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“Jaws,” “King Kong,” “Glitter” – the movie-going public’s fascination with films involving large, dangerous animals is as old as Hollywood itself.

That’s why I’m confused with all the fuss about the latest animal disaster movie to hit theaters, “Snakes on a Plane.” Despite having a premise likely created by a third-grader and a title worthy of a Sci-Fi channel original movie, the surprisingly large amount of hype for “Snakes on a Plane” almost convinced me to go see it.

Notice I said “almost.”

I have much better things to do with my time, like logging on to YouTube and watching yet another person attempt to combine Mentos and Diet Coke. At least with YouTube videos some actual effort appears to be involved, which is more than I can say for “Snakes on a Plane.”

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past six months, I have one question: Are you a snake? Because that’s totally cool if you are, I was just curious.

As for the rest of you – many of who are probably asking, “How did this movie ever get made?” – well, allow me to explain how Hollywood works.

First you have the screenwriters, who come up with ideas. Most of the time these ideas are stolen from other people, but usually no one finds out until the movie makes over $100 million, so screenwriters: Only rip off mediocre ideas and you’ll be totally fine.

Next you have actresses. Everyone in L.A. is an actress, even if they don’t know it yet. Most of the time these actresses will be playing the part of waitresses in real life. This is because they are so dedicated to their part that they research it for days, weeks and sometimes even years.

Seriously, there are so many waitresses in L.A. that often you’ll have two per table. This makes tipping extremely awkward.

The large number of waitresses also presents other problems. Once I was just sitting at a park bench and a lady came up to me and asked if I was ready to order. I told her, “Can I just have some water?” and she slapped me.

But actresses aren’t the only ones who can be harsh – producers are probably the most critical people in the movie-making process. Producers are hired by movie studios to keep movies on time and under budget. This never happens.

Only two movies in history have ever been finished under budget: One was “Titanic” (it had no budget) and the other was “Pirates of the Caribbean 2” – and Johnny Depp’s movie is only on the list because they gave up halfway through filming and just shoved it into theaters.

Usually producers are chosen because they have absolutely no experience in film. For example, Barbara Streisand’s former hairdresser is now a producer. As director Kevin Smith says, “In Hollywood people fail upwards.”

This brings us to the studio executives. These people have the final say on whether a movie gets made, which makes perfect sense because they have even less experience than producers.

Movies also require a lot of other workers; caterers, assistants to the producer, underwriters, interns, grips (i.e., future producers), chauffeurs, those people who install the trailers and keep the air conditioning running, and – how could I forget? – assistants to the producer’s assistants.

Occasionally movies may even have a director, but this is strictly optional. Studios might also splurge and hire a screenwriter, but not always.

For “Snakes on a Plane,” New Line Cinemas hired three screenwriters, none of whom were apparently literate.

You might think this would present an obstacle to the creation of a film that made sense, but New Line solved that problem by hiring Samuel L. Jackson and instructing him to yell every single one of his lines.

Actually, they didn’t even have to tell him to shout. That’s because Samuel L. Jackson is a “hard-core actor” who has won several Academy Awards, all for “Best Swear Sequence.” In fact, he has a clause in his contract that pays him double if he causes hearing loss in anyone who watches his movies.

At this point you’re probably saying, “No way, you’re just making all this up,” and my only possible response is, “Maybe.”

But here’s something that really is true: After weeks of arduous research and countless games of horseshoes, this Not News staffer has uncovered a top-secret, entirely factual transcript of a conversation between studio execs at New Line Cinema:

EXEC 1: We need more money.

EXEC 2: Hells yeah we do.

WRITER: OK, so this movie is like, set on a bus, OK? And the bus, um, totally doesn’t have brakes or something.

EXEC 1: Is that a problem?

WRITER: Well, I mean, yeah.

EXEC 2: Did you say snakes? The bus doesn’t have snakes?


EXEC 2: Because I like snakes. Snakes are cool.

EXEC 1: Almost as cool as airplanes.

EXEC 2: Hells yeah! If only we could somehow combine the two “

WRITER: What if the snakes were totally, like, on the airplane?

EXEC 2: You are SO hired.

WRITER: Actually you hired me yesterday.

PRODUCER: I like spiders.

EXEC 1: Now, we need a title”

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