‘Moneyball’ Film is Back On!

The on again, off again movie version of Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, is back on. Bennett Miller, director of Capote, has been brought in to steer this ship home. He will, apparently, be taking the movie in a direction different, and more mainstream, than original director Steven Soderbergh.

Here’s a video of Michael Lewis explaining the origin of The Blind Side. There’s about 15 people in the theater when he does.

If it’s pettiness you crave, here’s a bazillion word, 2 part series on The Forgotten Man Of Moneyball, Eric Walker. In an interesting move assuring a constant bias, the author of the piece is that forgotten man, Eric Walker.

Lastly, I’d like to again ask why Liar’s Poker has not yet been made into a movie.

‘Moneyball’ Film is Back On!

Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair on AIG – The Man Who Crashed the World

Vanity Fair has a habit of posting stub abstracts of their bigger articles. This isn’t exclusive to VF, Rolling Stone does it, too, but it is an annoying way of using the web. Barry Ritholtz takes them to task for this, and then publishes the PDF that they sent him to drum up publicity. If you can’t wait until next week to read Michael Lewis’ take down of Joe C and AIG that explores among other things:

How A.I.G. F.P. became the first stop for Wall Street banks looking to insure the massive amounts of debt they were buying, packaging, and selling: “We were doing every single [credit-default swap] deal with every single Wall Street firm, except Citigroup,” says one A.I.G. F.P. trader. “Citigroup decided it liked the risk and kept it on their books. We took all the rest,”

click above for the full article.

In other Michael Lewis news, you probably knew that the Siderbergh/Pitt vehicle, ‘Moneyball’, got axed last week. Here’s an insider’s version of events that doesn’t make anyone at Sony look very good. Sandra Bullock’s ‘The Blindside’ continues to truck, and still, for some reason, no one has made any moves to make ‘Liar’s Poker’.

Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair on AIG – The Man Who Crashed the World

Pirates and Pictures of Pirates

I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but Monday’s Big Picture about Somali pirates works relatively well to illustrate William Langewiesche’s Vanity Fair article about… Somali pirates.

Two lengthy excerpts from the interesting article:

If you added up the assets already available, or soon to be, the display of French power was impressive indeed. And it was arrayed against what? A band of barefoot natives, Fuzzy Wuzzies in rags, hip-firing their Kalashnikovs with poor aim, and worshipping some filthy G.P.S. as if it had fallen from the sky. They should have surrendered days before, even to the Canadians…They were not particularly bellicose or arrogant, but they refused to be impressed when they should have been. A warship coming at you is supposed to present an intimidating sight…It raised disturbing questions about the relevance of governments and the exercise of power. More specifically, a suspicion crept in that these pirates knew exactly what they were doing, and that they understood the forces at play with more sophistication than had been assumed. Fuzzy Wuzzies they were, but until Paris decided it could accept casualties among the Ponant’s crew, they had stymied the French national will.

Today, almost one year later, Somali pirates continue to ignore the increasingly urgent displays of national power. One of the ironies of the concern being shown is that the shippers being provided with naval protection are the very same people who for years have made a mockery of the nation-state idea. They know that whatever pirate tolls they pay will always pale in comparison with the taxes that would be imposed if global law and order ever actually prevailed. But there is little danger of that. In its place a convoy system has been instituted for crossing the Gulf of Aden. CMA CGM has ordered its cargo ships to use it when practical… Because of an increase in crew pay, insurance, and other piracy-related costs, the company has imposed a $23 surcharge on every standard-size container that it takes through—amounting to a quarter-million dollars for each trip by the largest ships. Given the margins built in, and despite the need for the occasional payout, this means that CMA CGM, its insurers, and its crews are profiting from Somali piracy.

The pirates are professional and don’t typically harm the crews they capture because they know that the ship owners will pay a ransom, covered by insurance companies (AIG in this case) as opposed to allowing the military to mount an attack. This is especially so because everyone is profiting from the current arrangement.

Pirates and Pictures of Pirates

The Making of The Godfather

Long, informative profile on the making of The Godfather. Can you believe I’ve never seen it? Here’s what struck me:

Brando got the role, over the objections of almost everyone, by nailing his screen test.

Brando emerged from his bedroom in a kimono, with his long blond hair in a ponytail. As Coppola watched through the camera lens, Brando began a startling transformation, which he had worked out earlier in front of a mirror. In Coppola’s words, “You see him roll up his hair in a bun and blacken it with shoe polish, talking all the time about what he’s doing. You see him rolling up Kleenex and stuffing it into his mouth. He’d decided that the Godfather had been shot in the throat at one time, so he starts to speak funny. Then he takes a jacket and rolls back the collar the way these Mafia guys do.” Brando explained, “It’s the face of a bulldog: mean-looking but warm underneath.”

In meeting their idol, Robert Duvall and James Caan were moved to…moon him?

Driving down Second Avenue after dinner, Caan and Duvall pulled up beside the car in which Brando was riding. “Come on,” Duvall said, “moon him!”

“I go, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t do that. You’re the king of that,’” says Caan. “But he says, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ So I roll my window down, and I just stick my ass out. Brando’s falling down. And we went away crying laughing. So that was the first moon of my life, to Brando, and it was on the first day we met. But Brando won the belt. We had a belt made, mighty moon champion, after he mooned 500 extras one day.”

Of the iconic voice he used in the movie, Brando said, “Powerful people don’t need to shout.”

Lastly, Caan’s take on Sonny was inspired by none other than Don Rickles.

The Making of The Godfather

Harold T. P. Hayes – Editor of Esquire

I’m not sure where or when I got the link to this (I’m just starting to clean out some old links), but it’s a gracious and fascinating profile of Harold T. P. Hayes, editor of Esquire. Published in January 2007 – in Vanity Fair, no less – this article is fitting now as Esquire rounds out its 75th anniversary. The article is heavy on the stories from the 60s and includes Hayes’ successful battle for power with Clay Felker, the mastermind behind New York Magazine. Check it out.

Harold T. P. Hayes – Editor of Esquire