Prohibited from reporting on Hollywood by her lucrative settlement with new Indiewire owner Penske Media, Finke has been focusing on finding material for her short fiction website Hollywood Dementia (“Come for the cynicism, stay for the subversion”), which went live last August. Her highest-profile get so far should pique any fan of Robert Altman’s jet-black 1992 classic “The Player,” which was adapted by screenwriter Michael Tolkin from his own novel. On Monday, Tolkin debuted his latest work, excerpted in-progress, on Finke’s site.
After its launch, Hollywood Dementia dispensed with its initial Andrew Sullivan-style TinyPass model of requiring readers to pay $1 to $3 per story and moved toward an advertising model, because the studios still seek Finke’s sizable fan base (288k Twitter followers and counting). There’s a For Your Consideration banner for “The Martian” on the site now along with a large PayPal button for donations (in the right margin). Whether the new setup is yielding much revenue is immaterial, anyway: Finke doesn’t need the money, and Tolkin, currently a writer and consulting producer on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” gets a way to test his new material in public.
The first-person narrative follows a 35-year industry insider who finds himself in search of a job when his patron, a big kahuna by the name of John Brine Trubb, kicks the bucket. It’s rough, but then again, so was “The Player” — which lent itself well to Altman’s style. It’s also, intentionally or not, a reflection of Finke’s own experience, a story of what happens when one redefines an industry, only to be outpaced by it:
“Three weeks of meetings at the networks and the studios and all I learned was what I already knew, the business really had changed in my thirty-five years and I may have pushed those changes along but there was nothing for me, anywhere.”