When it comes to reading about Hollywood, Breitbart’s John Nolte is my favorite writer. Nolte, who grew up in a crime-ridden Wisconsin neighborhood and is married to a Hispanic woman, lived in L.A. for more than a decade pursing an Indie film writing a career. He grew to despise in Hollywood and was calling out its wokeness long before the word was coined.
Here’s the farewell note to L.A. Nolte published in 2011.
There is very little, however, my wife and I will miss about the city itself. We learned pretty quickly that all the cliches are true about the crime, traffic, smog, tremors, and artificiality of it all. Simply put, this city is a dump with a 10% sales tax where light bulbs are contraband the seasons change from hot to scalding and throwing your garbage in the wrong bin ranks as something close to a capital crime. No offense, but I see Los Angeles as nothing more than a big, fascist, one-story ghetto and those of you who love it are welcome to it.
One skill Nolte has retained from his Hollywood days is how to read box office receipts and put them in perspective. His take on Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake expecting to open in the $10 million range signals the film will become a box office catastrophe. Nolte is delighted by the failure because of the film’s wokeness, which includes no subtitles when characters are speaking Spanish.
Here’s Nolte’s analysis:
How awful is ($10 million)? Well, do you remember that previous woke catastrophe, In the Heights? It opened to $11.5 million.
West Side Story is projected to bomb harder than In the Heights, lol.
Even so, the In the Heights’ production budget was only $55 million.
West Side Story cost $100 million to produce and probably as much to promote.
Now we get to my favorite part, that part where all the Hollywood media suck-ups fire off their lame excuses to appease their Studio Masters.
“So far, moviegoers over the age of 35 are the most leery in terms of returning to theaters,” says the left-wing THR.
That’s what you all said about No Time to Die, which opened to a disappointing $55 million. It seems to me that if the older-skewing No Time to Die could open to $55 million, West Side Story could do the same.
Deadline, of course, is always the biggest whore in this department. Here are five excuses jammed into three sentences: Aside from opening in a marketplace where adults are still cautious  because of Covid, West Side Story‘s biggest hurdle as of this minute are holiday season  distractions, i.e. shopping, parties. Typically the  only movies showing any signs of life before Christmas are event titles like Jumanji: The Next Level and Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse. One  can’t exactly expect big grosses for an adult-demo musical which is a remake of a Hollywood classic  before Christmas, even pre-pandemic.
No shame. None.
As much I admire Spielberg, I’m with Nolte on this one. The original West Side Story film, released 60 years ago, was an enduring classic. Spielberg and his collaborators felt it needed “context.”
From an NBC News story Nolte highlighted:
In the new movie, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner work to correct the original musical and movie’s stereotypical depictions, adding more specificity and historical context around the Puerto Rican experience, and around the issues of racism and racial hostility.
“Context” is a word I’ve come to despise. Self-styled media fact checkers use the word to turn facts they don’t like into lies and lies they like into truths. Spielberg and his Hollywood cohorts arrogantly felt the public couldn’t enjoy and understand the original film on its own merits.
West Side Story ranks among my all-time favorite productions, although I’m partial to the original Broadway play, first staged in 1957. (The film version came out in 1961.) I’ve listened to an album and CD of the original production dozens of times and know almost every lyric of every song. If I had any singing talent, I could walk on stage and almost flawlessly belt out most of the tunes. (If you heard me sing any of the numbers, you’d forever hate them.)
To the L.A. Times, West Side Story “was a production created by four white Jewish men” criticized for racial stereotyping. That’s true, but in 1957 racial stereotyping was common and accepted. How are young people supposed to understand the past if its reformulated and sanitized?
What’s long struck me as progressive about the original stage production was the casting of the lead male Tony. His name was Larry Kert, and he was Jewish and openly gay. In the 1950s, being openly gay could destroy one’s career, as homophobia was quite rampant in America. Yet, from what I’ve read Kert’s sexuality was never an issue when he was cast.
Although he wasn’t open about it, Leonard Bernstein, who scored the music to West Side Story, was also known to be gay. Bernstein is remembered for his musical prowess, not his sexuality.
Steven Spielberg is a great director, but Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, who directed the original film version of West Side Story, didn’t leave much room for improvement. Just as young people are gaining an appreciation for vinyl records, I hope they opt to listen and see classical musical productions in their original form. If they want to watch flicks reflecting modern-day mores and values, they can subscribe to Netflix.
As for Larry Kert, he died in 1991 from AIDS. He was an awesome talent. I will forever remember his voice.