Will Ferrell Tube
The story behind the Web site FunnyorDie.com.
New School: "The Landlord," a hot new video on the new Web site FunnyorDie.com, features no less a talent than Will Ferrell. The short ersatz-amateur video depicts the A-list comedian as a slacker behind on his rent, confronting his angry landlord Pearl, an adorable toddler who obviously doesn't quite talk yet but can parrot lines that some, uh, adult, has fed her.
Somehow we are not amused by a tiny child who utters such lines as "A------!" and "Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!" while pretending to be drunk, beer bottle in hand. (At the end, she utters a rather plaintive, "Mommy.")
The Funny or Die Web site is all about the money, honey. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it's a collaboration hatched by Sequoia Capital and Gary Sanchez Productions, which is Will Ferrell's company with partner Adam McKay. CAA had a hand in brokering the deal, as did Ferrell's manager-on-steroids, Jimmy Miller. Sequoia has delivered a lot of early funding to big players, including YouTube.
The video may be a giant hit, but it seems to us, in our tragic humorlessness, that it's another depressing instance in which a child is exploited rather than protected. We've written about this kind of thing before: Dakota Fanning, playing a rape scene at 12 in a movie that was critically reviled when it screened at Sundance. Eight-year-old Bindi Sue Irwin, who—a mere four months after her father was killed—was on tour promoting her fitness video and television series.
The greed or desperation that draws many adult outsiders to show business is sad enough. When those adults have a child they can put to use, it's worse than sad. The state of child actors from Britney Spears to Lindsay Lohan to Danny Bonaduce to Mary-Kate Olsen makes it pretty obvious that Hollywood can be very bad for kids. In this case, McKay volunteered his own child to play Pearl. He seems pretty successful, so why he finds it amusing or necessary to exploit his daughter eludes us. (link)
Monday, April 16, 2007
Told you: We are not ones to gloat, but we did report on March 7 that Shia LaBeouf will be in the new Indiana Jones film. Some of you gave us static because the new It Boy made a number of statements that he knew nothing about being in the movie right up until the deal was announced. These Hollywood types, they learn to prevaricate young.
Shia is hotter than ever now that Disturbia opened well, and he may be all that Steven Spielberg thinks—but he should keep an eye on his image. Obviously, he didn't have a choice if George Lucas and/or Spielberg inexplicably made him go out there and deny that he had the Indiana Jones role sewn up, but he might have been a tad less vehement: Once the news was announced, an editor at a Hollywood Web site sent us an e-mail with a subject line that read: "He's a liar!"
In a recent interview with the Austin-American Statesman, LaBeouf not only denied knowing whether an Indiana Jones project existed but then, as he expressed an interest in playing Holden Caulfield some day, argued energetically that J.D. Salinger is dead. "Clearly the young actor relies too much on Wikipedia," the reporter observed tartly.
We can't expect a 20-year-old who grew up inside the child-mauling Hollywood machine to know that much—but again, a little less certitude might have been in order.
Another journalist from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram described LaBeouf as unsmiling, "intense," and "ready to bite your head off." Whew—don't mess with Texas.
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Photograph of Shia LaBeouf by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.