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On The Fringe of Hollywood

For various reasons, over seven billion people on Earth live on the fringe of one way or another. First, to survive and then to hang on dreams sustaining their psyche be it culture, profession, talent or ambivalent relationships according to each one's imagination on the fringe of reality... None of these, however, have impacted us worldwide as Hollywood still labeled as the Film’s World Capital, although since its inception in the beginning twenties, many Film and Television Production Centers have appeared various capitals, with some even adopting copycat labels such as "Bollywood" in India and "Nollywood" in Nigeria. Nor, as preeminent as the original Hollywood, mostly because of the American films super entertainment impact backed by large budgets, otherwise unavailable for start up in other countries. The reason, however, was the factor which Hollywood transformed a cultural manifestation into a business-related Industry given the millions of dollars its unique films' extravaganza brought. Its business-like dictatorship had to change, however, along the years, as the interrelationships between its film-factory output which, without the cinemas, nobody could see. And then, of course, without the creative talent in front and behind the cameras coming up with interesting stories and that of technical teams and visionary directors and producers support, the films could not happen, could not exist... Hence, this extraordinary artistic manifestation demanded the participation of hundreds of people for just one feature film to pop up and to satisfy the millions of ticket buyers, given that a cinema ticket was cheaper than a live-theatre stage performance and even more satisfactory due to its real environment vis-ŕ-vis the few theatre sets, as ingenious as they are designed and constructed.

Yet, like with any successful endeavors, waves of secondary and tertiary support personnel are working making a living sustaining the "world of make believe" as entertainment is also being labeled, including the vast press media covering most of its professional and business aspects, but also the behind the scenes successes and vitriolic scandals that humans are capable of. And thus, due to circumstances and the curiosity of the masses mesmerized by the "Hollywood" in their minds, it also attracted riffraff individuals pseudo dreamers surviving by doing any menial jobs, just to 'feel' part of this mental empire, much the way a multitude of deceiving scoundrels around the world live like leaches until they are caught. A not so funny thing being, that few in the public's eye, especially, can defend themselves at different levels despite security precautions. For, even within their ranks, cleverness seems to outsmart many in any walks of life. Let alone these days when, willy-nilly, we are compelled to put up with the novelty of the electronic life.

As for myself, once I became familiar with the existence of Hollywood when on my forth birthday I was taken for the first time to the neighborhood cinema to see Laurel & Hardy In The French Foreign Legion - the Hollywood comedy film, it certainly got my attention and together with other life incidents that seemed to invade my mind and even my being, I understood that knowing more about anything is better than otherwise. I must admit, though, that being the only child and inquisitive boy, many helped 'interpret' what my parents meant, including the two lawyers in my family. Hence, with my grandmother's approval, I declared war on ignorance as a possible remedy I followed all my life wherever I lived around the world. The physical age had nothing to do with it. Starting later as a cub-reporter cum journalist in Bucharest, professional circumstances and a scholarship to an American major University helped me enter the realm of the American Dream and experience being not only a foreign student, but a foreign correspondent! Having survived the Nazis, the Communists and the human scum found in any society, visiting and working in over 50 countries, let alone within the aura of real Hollywood, it fortified my old perspective credo that ignorance is at the root of just about everything negative surrounding us in addition to the imbedded bad genes in our DNA leading to hatred and denial, even that of illuminated knowledge and love. Let alone that only 80% of those already acknowledged of being professional actors find work able to sustain having an actor's life. Thus, a persistent insecurity affecting even the 'stars' thus creating a paranoia less visible in other professions and jobs. And yet, poor or rich, if their call is to be as good an actor as one can be, they will do almost anything to sustain such a life. To each his own... as the saying goes. And yet, despite the fluctuating successes and despair, life in Hollywood along the years, persists like none other.

The last 18 months, however, the entire Hollywood industry has been shaken by the amplified factor, whereby, many of the traditional decision making executives in all branches from studio-heads and major Film/TV Producers to their assistants, agents and managers included, across the veteran generation, started to change their chairs, much like the old "musical-chairs" game, whereby if one does not hurry, risks to find no one available. Hence, the struggle as to whom bring or cancel a project as good as it may be content-wise and commercially worth? Include into this equation also the current Hollywood's dynamics, whereby major behemoth entities bought or gained control over other smaller ones trying to kill competition or strengthen their global market positions. The latest being Disney that bought 21st Century Fox for the meager sum of US$71 billion in order to combat the NETFLIX system which last year had the 'guts' to spend over US$8 billion to develop new stories for the global markets! But, business-is-business many capitalists argue cashing in on people's ignorance, desires and gullibility having merged the notions of culture and commerce into sort of vitriolic borsch that the masses cannot do much about. Unless, that is, they will not buy tickets anymore or subscribe to the bombardment abundance of electronic venues. Can anyone in his or her right mind imagine that feature films or even TV Series are now made also for viewing on the cell-phones? Even smaller than the computer, by comparison with oversized TV sets and the cinemas' big screen whereby once can immerse oneself and really experience an unusual trip?

So, here I am witnessing first hand the do-s and don't-s of mighty Hollywood and those participatory ingredients contributing to things the way they pertain to be, though not hundred percent true of what makes them 'tic'. No more their seven years contracts at $250 per week, never mind that the films made millions for their producing studios. Nor even their millions of dollars for the several months work on film for, after all, would anyone buy a ticket to see unknown faces or their life's innuendos? And yet, the so-called "stars" and nouveau-rich millionaires at that, are still frail as human entities, many surviving their personal physical or mental health status, or others the many disappointments that this kind of entertainment has grown to be veracious vis-ŕ-vis what many of us still remember and enjoy the good-old troubadours appearing whenever we expect less, the blue-jazz poetry of things and the inner rewarding pleasure that good folk and traditional classic music brings.

For, after mountains of interviews as a foreign correspondent, especially with the Hollywood celebrities and also being privy to what made them react to how Hollywood treats them and its impact on each of them and their families and friends, it does result with a logical common denominator affecting, nonetheless, not only their behavioral patterns, but that of both physical as well as Hollywood's "world of make believe" continued imagery.

Ray Arco aka Raoul L. Alteresco
Hollywood, California

Ray Arco from our correspondent in Hollywood    4/17/2019


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