“I was reminded of how badly television used to suck. And you will be reminded if you go buy like a DVD set of any show that was popular prior to, I don’t know 1990-something. And you take your favorite show from the 80s—I promise you it sucks. They’re simpleminded, they’re stupid, television used to be a wasteland. It started to change in some measure with Hill Street Blues, and then suddenly television started getting smarter and movies started getting dumber. And suddenly there were these men who drive Maseratis, and wear Gucci loafers to their offices who realized they could spend 200 million dollars making one movie that has not one thought in it, and nothing for an actor to do, but lots of special effects, and they can make a billion dollars. Interesting thing that’s happened in our business is that the middle class has disappeared. It’s like the middle class in society has disappeared. The middle-class of movies have disappeared.
And that’s why I finally have come around to believing that the 70s were a golden era because filmmakers often got to make their movies. There is no middle class of film’s today. You notice they’re not making A Few Good Men now. Tom Cruise gets to make big action movies, or something on a very small-scale of course he could. But they’re not making movies like that. They’re not making Network, they’re not making Dog Day Afternoon—this would be a good cable movie perhaps. If Sidney Lumet were starting today he’d be doing what he did back then which was working in television, that’s where all the good writing has gone. So much of the writing has fled movies because it doesn’t take any wit, or intelligence, to write ‘more shit blows up…only bigger.’ They don’t want Paddy Chayefsky.”
Frank Darabont (L.A. Noir, The Walking Dead)
Frank Darabont at Zürich Film Festival 2012
(At the 1:20:28 mark of the Q&A)
P.S. I don’t normally post on weekends, but I have one more Darabont quote from that Q&A I’ll run tomorrow with is a perfect lead into a post on the writer of The Life of Pi I’ll run on Monday.
Sidney Lumet on Theme
Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)
Paddy Chayefsky Interview
Screenwriting Quote #134 (Paddy Chayefsky)
James L. Brooks on Chayefsky
Writing Quote #9 (Chayefsky)
John from Cincinnati
Television Vs. Movies