Better late than never

Los Angeles, July 12, 2021

The following “missing submission” from last year’s end wrap for Simesite has now been received seven months later from Mike Malak, but we are pleased to post any informationfrom ex-muggs whenever it may be received.

Dear Muggs,

It’s only July so this annual report is a mere seven months late. We moved to the ocean up the coast a bit where it’s always 72 degrees and anything over 80 a heat wave. I’ve never seen more than two dozen people on our beach, fittingly named Hollywood, on account of being the setting, allegedly, due to Valentino shoots.

We are adopting a granddaughter, Marilyn Rose, two-years old, a glorious child – happy, eager to please, funny, and worth the trips we postponed till she’s old enough to appreciate them. Because there is another little girl, Violet, 1 1/2 , with my son Kyle (Variety House ad alumnus) and daughter-in-law Alison, upstairs we have been cautious of Covid and seldom got out. An in-law died of it a few months ago, and we knew others who suffered losses. Fortunately, when we moved we upsized instead of downsized so there’s enough space for all.

The past year was exceptional in terms of legal client diversity.  A Russian model-artist, the victim of a fraudulent restraining order  by her pop star boyfriend, started the year off in stylish fashion. There was the Trump supporter who bear-sprayed (so-called) ANTIFA affiliates on the Santa Monica Pier in the middle of a Die In. The footage is on the web. There were two sisters 11 & 13, and, of course the frailer of us who seek escape through substances. Was proud of getting one individual probation and rehab instead of 24 years.

For the last year-and-a-half  served as counsel to Gradle, Inc., a build assist international software company regarded as the world’s best in its niche. I reported to the CFO based in Berlin. Clients included Fortune top 10s and down, numerous multinationals, the world’s biggest banking entities, Hollywood Studios, blah, blah. 

I started my political column again at The Dead Pelican, aka The Bayou Buzz, Louisiana. It is a small but influential outlet run by a law professor and activist who founded it in the wake of Louisiana’s worst oil spill. Hence the name Dead Pelican.  

A return to art and antique dealing, as children are expensive, is in the offing. I was once an eBay Sotheby’s Associate and have sold in this category off and on for years. My favorite customer so far was a nightclub owner in Singapore. 

If Norman Scherer reads this, NORMAN CALL/TEXT/EMAIL, if you’d be so kind, as I have two children’s books about which you may have suggestions. I’ll buy one of each of your books if you do contact. Following you in Peter and Ian’s scrap book is always fun.

Mike Malak

Muggs Illuminate History of Reporting Box Office

New York, April 21, 2021

The twisted history of public reporting of U.S./Canada box office—the grosses!—gets a look in a story that cites Variety as the historical pace setter, and quotes muggs Marie Silverman Marich, the late Larry Michie and Peter Besas’ book Inside Variety (Ars Millenii, 2000)

Summary box office has been provided to the press since the mid-1990s, but before that time getting a count of ducats from the wickets was difficult, patchy and inconsistent.

Marie was one of the journos who wrote the “L.A. Box Office” at Daily Variety in the 1980s while Larry wrote the notoriously difficult Washington D.C. box office stories starting in the mid-1960s. Both pieced together raw box office numbers from local theatres to create a mosaic, as was the custom in that era.  

Pulling the historical recollection together, Peter’s book Inside Variety recounts the full history, starting with the Bible of Showbiz coaxing figures out of the then-biggest theatre chain in the period around World War I (that goes back to silent films!).

The website, which just published the analysis article, is connected with Robert Marich’s book Marketing to Moviegoers (in three editions). So Bob relied on no-less-an-authority than his wife, Marie, for eyewitness recollections.

Variety just published a story speculating that national box office summaries may go hush-hush again to some degree, since Hollywood has been patchy in reporting to the press during the pandemic.


Simesite year-end wrap

January 2, 2021

Following are the contributions received from muggs for this year’s end Simesite round-up. We were pleased to see that several came from muggs that had not submitted anything in the past year, such as Mark Silverman, Edna and Dan Fainaru, Debbie Kruger, and Doug Galloway, while others, such as Mike Evans, Tom Gilbert and Bill Grantham failed to respond. In any case, this year’s tally was 21 replies which ain’t bad, considering it has been 38 years since the sale of Variety to the corporates.


Blake Murdoch

Sydney, Dec.10, 2020

Former Variety bureau chief in Sydney, Blake Murdoch, passed away last Tuesday, December 8 in Sydney, aged 58, after a lengthy illness. Blake joined weekly Variety in 1984 and later became the Aussie and Australasian Bureau Chief of the paper.  He ankled Variety in 1993.