Making Curriculum Pop

During William Goldman's lecture he discussed his life as a Hollywood screen writer. If I took one thing with me from the lecture it was William Goldman's personal journey, a roller coaster from despair to success. William was living in NYC in his late twenties as a writer but unable to publish a single work. He mentioned how he had faced multiple rejections. Such a struggle is common amongst writers, it is amazing how they hang in and endure the hard times. Goldman was unplagued by the up hill battle to achieve his writing success. Eventually they picked up some of Goldman's work, and his career was launched allowing him to win two academy awards. Goldman attributed his success to a stroke of luck.

Sometimes fame and success are beyond a individuals control and come randomly. Its funny how many people seek fame desperately (especially children/young adults). It might be of some educational utility to offer children/young adults examples of how success can be random. I would like to do this an a effort to keep children focused on realistic goals. What do other educators think? William Goldman offered Clint Eastwood as his example. According to Goldman, Clint Eastwood was digging pools for a living into his early thirties. One day he decided to visit his friend who worked in a Hollywood studio. As Eastwood was looking around the studio, a producer asked him to play a part for a tall man. This led Eastwood into the Spaghetti Westerns, namely a "For a few Dollars More" which was an incredible success and cast him into stardom. Shortly after came; “The Good the Bad and the Ugly and “A Fist full of Dollars.”

Asides from Eastwood other stars had similar breaks that were random.
According to Vanity Fair George Clooney (star of ER) attributes his success to "dumb luck" as he was one of the only Doctors to be cast on one of 2 medical shows in 16 years. Another example is Harrison Ford who was a carpenter on the set of Star Wars. It seems sometimes the success of a show or movie can be attributed to luck as well. Goldman indicated how there were a number of movies that were almost guranteed to be flops, and became great successes. Conversely, movies which thought to be sucesses were flops. For example, the movie "Heavens Gate" from Micheal Cimino director of the "Deer Hunter" was thought to be a great success because of the "Deer Hunter". The movie ended up being a disaster and nearly ruined the studio.

This same notion of the uncertainty of success holds true for the remake of "the Electric Company" which was discussed at the conference. While the original "Electric Company" received a regular audience and lots of government funding. The new show has not been able to draw as many fans. Its possible to attribute this to dumb luck, however, the new show does not have Morgan Freedman or Bill Cosby in its cast. Without such personas the new show has not really been able to take off and has landed itself in a 6 million dollar deficit. At the conference it was mentioned that the new show does not receive nearly the same % of government funding as the old show. Furthermore, the corporate sponsors just are not there. I think this lack of care for the arts ties into Goldman's views at the conference about Hollywood and corporate America. Hollywood executives and corporate sponsors don't care about what is educational or artistic. They simply care for what they can market. However, according to Goldman Hollywood executives would "love" to make quality films, but they are worried about losing their jobs. This reminds me of a scene in "The Player" directed by Robert Altman.

In this scene a number of executives are discussing what future films to make. One of them mentions "The Bicycle thief" (famous Italian film) the other executive acknowledges it as being great. They both comment how "we should make films like that". In the next scene the same executive discuses the notion of doing away with writers all together in order to save money. I believe this exhibits the fear and apathy towards artistic or educational projects in Hollywood. Even though they know what is artistic or educational they choose profit. Hopefully, children can learn about the power struggles that exist in society through film. Educators may benefit from teaching children the financial undertones which go in to making films and give them a more realistic perspective. Any thoughts on describing the behind doors aspect of Hollywood to students?

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