The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood

Sonny Bunch hosts The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, a new podcast featuring interviews with folks who have their finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry during this dynamic—and difficult—time.

TV & Film
Film Interviews
How 'Orphan: First Kill' Beat Expectations
Writer and co-producer David Coggeshall on one of hot horror fall's surprise hits.
42 min
China's Looming Threat to the World of Gaming
Colin Moriarty on CCP efforts to influence the world's biggest (at least in terms of dollars) art form.
39 min
The NFL: Ratings King
Sean McNulty on D23 news, why Disney would be nuts to drop ESPN, and more!
36 min
How to Write a Best-Selling Political Book
Eric Nelson, editor of Tim Miller (and Jared Kushner!), explains the book biz and busts some myths.
55 min
How Anime Can Help Save Theaters
Mitchel Berger of Crunchyroll on cultivating an under-appreciated corner of fandom.
30 min
Freedom of Expression Under Assault
PEN America's Summer Lopez on Salman Rushdie, library bans, oppression abroad, and other threats to free expression.
34 min
Meet the (One-Time) 7th-Most-Powerful Man in Wr...
Former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz on life around the squared circle.
54 min
Why Do Streamers Care About More than Eyeballs?
Julia Alexander of Parrot Analytics swings by to talk the shakeup in streaming.
60 min
Convention Life with the Creator of Effin' Birds
Aaron Reynolds on post-COVID convention life, what big Star Wars stars are worth, and getting a shoutout from Britney Spears.
49 min
Harvey Weinstein's Enablers
Ken Auletta on the predaceous producer and the culture of silence that protected him.
38 min
'John Wick,' Gun-Fu, and the Art of Oral History
Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman on 'They Shouldn't Have Killed His Dog'
49 min
Ron Shelton on the Struggle to Get 'Bull Durham...
The stories behind one of the greatest baseball movies ever made.
48 min
Summer Movies Are Back—But Is Trouble on the Ho...
CNN's Frank Pallotta returns to talk box office.
32 min
What's Up at the Mouse House?
Richard Rushfield on a magic kingdom in flux.
34 min
How to Design an Iconic Movie Mask
Jason Baker on 'The Black Phone' and working with Tom Savini and the WWE.
32 min
Stop Stealing Movies!
Ruth Vitale, CEO of Creative Future, on the costs of piracy.
50 min
Goodbye, Norm Macdonald
Geoff Edgers, the nation's pre-eminent Norm Macdonald profiler, on one of the all-time great stand-up comedians.
34 min
Where Are the Kids Movies?
JVL and Sonny, area Dads, ask why there aren't more flicks for the kiddos in theaters.
37 min
Summer Movie Preview! 'Top Gun,' Dinos, and Buz...
CNN's Frank Pallotta rejoins the show to talk about the upcoming movie season.
37 min
How Ben Fong Torres Defined a Generation
Director Suzanne Joe Kai talks 'Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong Torres'
36 min
The First Draft of (Streaming) History
Dade Hayes, co-author of 'Binge Times,' on Hollywood's battle against Netflix.
49 min
Are Casual Filmgoers Finally Coming Back?
David Herrin of The Quorum talks theatrical resurgence.
39 min
How Hollywood Trade Papers Shaped the Movies Yo...
46 min
NATO Head on the Return to Theaters
John Fithian on how theater owners are getting moviegoers back to cinemas.
40 min
Lloyd Kaufman and a Half-Century of Troma
46 min
The Nic Cage Book Every Fan Needs to Own
Keith Phipps on his new book 'Age of Cage.'
32 min
No One's Seen the Best Picture Frontrunners. Do...
28 min
Why the 'Head of Story' at One of Hollywood's B...
39 min
A Crucial Film to Understand Ukraine's Struggle
'Mr. Jones' screenwriter Andrea Chalupa on the Holodomor and Russia's quest to strangle truth.
44 min
Would You Pay More to see 'The Batman'?
CNN's Frank Pallotta returns to the show to talk Russian boycotts, AMC's variable pricing, and more!
34 min
The Art of Editing
George Folsey Jr. (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Dirty Work) talks five decades of cutting films.
42 min
Can a Lawsuit Against WB Slow the Streaming Tide?
Deadline senior editor Dominic Patten on lawsuits against WB and Alec Baldwin, as well as the Super Bowl's ratings.
36 min
How to Get Your Script on The Black List
Manager-producer John Zaozirny breaks down breaking into the business.
45 min
How Is Chinese Soft Power Reshaping Entertainment?
Sonny talks to Erich Schwartzel, author of Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy
46 min
Janice Min on the Future of Entertainment Media
This week on the show, Sonny is joined by Janice Min, who has teamed up with BGTH favorite Richard Rushfield to beef up Richard’s fabulous newsletter, The Ankler. Sonny and Janice discussed her career from US Weekly to the Hollywood Reporter to the wild world of Substack newsletters, how the Hollywood trades are defying the death of advertising, their strategy for spinoff newsletters, and why the folks at Y Combinator reached out to her and Richard about the potential of The Ankler to become a billion-dollar property. It’s a fascinating, in-depth look into the business, and the future, of entertainment reporting.
34 min
Programming TV's Most Beloved Festival
On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch talks to Rene Reyes, the Paley Center for Media’s Vice President of Public Programming and Festivals. Among other duties, Rene plans the much-loved PaleyFest LA, which has panels featuring some of the biggest and most critically acclaimed shows on television. We talked about the joys (and COVID-related challenges) of in-person festivals and ran through some of the panels that will take place at this year’s event. You can see this year’s full lineup here; highlights include panels on Hacks, black-ish, and a salute to the NCIS franchise. Paley Center members can buy tickets now and they go on sale to the general public tomorrow.
30 min
How Audiences Reshape the Movies You Love
Kevin Goetz talks "Audienceology" and the art of audience testing.
44 min
'The Spine of Night' and the Business of Animation
Sonny is joined by Philip Gelatt this week. In addition to talking about the art of rotoscoping and the years-long effort to get his new film The Spine of Night made, and then released, we also discuss the state of animation more broadly in America and beyond. As a script adapter on Love, Death + Robots, Netflix’s hit animated anthology, he has a lot of experience and wisdom to share in this realm. And if you’re curious about The Spine of Night, check out the trailer here. Full disclosure: it’s not safe for work and not safe for kids. But it is pretty great, especially if you’re into cult classics like Heavy Metal and Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings adaptation.
31 min
'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Co-Writer Chris McKenna
On this week’s episode, Sonny is joined by Chris McKenna who, along with his writing partner Erik Sommers, wrote Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has grossed about $1.2 billion around the world … so far. In this in-depth interview, Chris discusses how a blockbuster of this nature gets made, from pitch meetings to brainstorming sessions to rewrites during the shoot to additional photography to tightening the ship following test screenings. We also talk a bit about the state of the business and why it’ll be a real bummer if the theatrical dies off. Plus, we learn that a very special Spider-Villain is a listener of this podcast! (Or, well, has listened to an episode.)
46 min
The Greatest Movie Ever Made Hits 4K
Last month the Criterion Collection kicked off its new 4K lineup with what is, arguably, the greatest movie ever made: Citizen Kane. And the disc is absolutely loaded with special features, including a rarely seen BBC documentary on the making of the movie, multiple commentary tracks, and numerous interviews—including one with film historian Farran Smith Nehme. She joined Sonny to talk about Citizen Kane, how it got made, how William Randolph Hearst tried to smother it in the crib, and why it’s considered to be one of the great films. We also talked about her new Substack, which you can check out here, and the transformation of blogs into newsletters.
33 min
Tim Miller and Sonny Talk 'Don't Look Up'
Special bonus episode this week, as The Bulwark’s Tim Miller stops by to talk about Don’t Look Up, the new satire from Adam McKay (Vice, Step Brothers), as well as how it felt to return to the multiplex and take in some movies. (You can read Sonny’s review of Don’t Look Up and Red Rocket, two films that are very much about the last five or six years of American life, here.) If you enjoy it, share it with a friend!
35 min
All I Want for Christmas Are ... HDMI Cables?
Tony Davis returns to the show to talk HDR formats, home theater setups, and why it's time to upgrade those cables.
45 min
Tracking—And Recapturing—Movie Audiences
On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to David Herrin the CEO and founder of The Quorum, a film research firm that has done something rather remarkable in making tracking data available to the public in the same way that box office data is available to the public. “Tracking” numbers are the data points used by studios to help determine how a film will perform in theaters, and The Quorum is building a hearty database for movie nerds to dive into. In addition to discussing The Quorum’s new study examining why audiences are hesitant to return to theaters—spoiler: cost and COVID remain the two biggest factors—we also chat about the state of the business and what’s likely to come. I encourage you to poke around at The Quorum’s website if you’re a fan of sites like Box Office Mojo; there’s all sorts of interesting stuff there. And share this post with a friend if you enjoyed our chat!
33 min
A Century of Black Cinema
On this week’s episode, Sonny is joined by Wil Haygood, author of the new book Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World. Haygood’s book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about largely forgotten trailblazers such as Oscar Micheaux, better-known figures like Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, the controversies over movies as diverse as The Birth of a Nation and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, the odd fate of Porgy and Bess, and so much more. Colorization is both breezy and in-depth—the best sort of popular history—and our conversation only scratched the surface of his book. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend!
61 min
Hollywood Goes to War: The Film Industry's Resp...
43 min
'The Beta Test' Director Jim Cummings on Indie ...
On this week’s episode, Sonny is joined by Jim Cummings, whose new feature The Beta Test drops on VOD and in select theaters Friday, Nov. 5. In addition to discussing his few film and its acidic take on the dispute between talent agencies and the WGA, Jim also talks about landing a featured role in Halloween Kills, how he financed and distributed his first feature, Thunder Road, and his horror-comedy The Wolf of Snow Hollow (which topped Sonny’s best-of list in 2020). If you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend!
32 min
What Does a 'Buy' Button Really Mean in the Dig...
When you click “buy” on a digital product at Amazon or Apple, as opposed to “rent,” what do you think that means? Most folks think of it like buying a physical copy of a thing: they can sell it or pass it down to heirs. But as Aaron Perzanowski, a professor at Case Western, notes in his sit-down with Sonny Bunch, that’s not really the case: you’re just buying a license to a thing. And if that license to Amazon or Apple ends? Well, so does your access to the thing you think you “bought.” On this week’s Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny discusses the tricky nature of ownership in an increasingly digital world—and what you need to know before you click “Buy.” If you enjoy this episode, please share it with a friend!
37 min
Netflix's Big Week
CNN's Frank Pallotta joins the show to talk Netflix's numbers, Dave Chappelle, and the box office-streaming conundrum.
37 min
The Business of Sports Ads
Ryan Faughnder of the Los Angeles Times’s Wide Shot newsletter rejoins the show this week to discuss the boon—and burden—of sports betting ads. What are some of the rewards, and the risks, of this enormous advertising market? We also discussed Squid Game and Netflix’s efforts to internationalize entertainment as well as the age-old debate: subtitling versus dubbing. Make sure to sign up for Ryan’s newsletter (it’s free!) and if you enjoyed this episode please share it with a friend!
30 min
Scott Eyman on Daryl F. Zanuck and 20th Century...
On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to Scott Eyman about his new book, 20th Century Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio. Zanuck’s reign as a Hollywood mogul ran through nearly every major technological and business innovation Hollywood saw in the first half of the 20th century and beyond, and Mr. Eyman’s book paints a compelling portrait of a producer as both businessman and artist. You can pick up a copy wherever books are sold (here’s an Amazon link for ease’s sake), and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
36 min
Scott Tobias on the Business of Film Criticism
On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to Scott Tobias, formerly of The AV Club and The Dissolve, about his new Substack endeavor with Keith Phipps, The Reveal, as well as the evolving world of film criticism. With so many local newspapers cutting back on movie reviewers for budgetary reasons and so many websites merely hitting the most popular of topics to generate clicks, it’s interesting—and, frankly, heartening—to see Substack using their Pro program to help critics like Tobias and Phipps (along with Ty Burr and Jerry Saltz) stand up their own newsletters to chase their own idiosyncratic interests. Can the “Thousand True Fans” theorem save the world of interesting film writing?
39 min
Rod Lurie Part 2: 'The Outpost'
Welcome back to the show! Please check out last week’s episode if you missed it; Rod Lurie (The Contender, The Last Castle) had a ton of great stories about transitioning from the Army to the world of film criticism to the world of filmmaking. This week we talked about shooting The Outpost: the difficulty of bringing such a sensitive story to the big screen and trying to decide what to cut and what to keep; shooting the film in Bulgaria; and casting actors like Caleb Landry Jones and Scott Eastwood in key roles. For more on The Outpost, make sure to check out my interview with the author of the source book, Jake Tapper. And please share this episode with a friend if you enjoyed it!
37 min
Rod Lurie on Breaking Into the Biz
This week (and next week!) Sonny talks to Rod Lurie, the director of The Contender, The Last Castle, and The Outpost, among other films and television shows. This week’s episode is all about Rod’s early efforts to break into the business, from Army officer to film critic to writer/director. He tells a great story about his first meeting with Bill Paxton, fills us in on the difficulty of getting funding for just about anything (spoiler: you’re always one actor away from a green light), and the difference between being a showrunner and a director-for-hire on a TV series. Make sure to tune in next week when we talk about The Outpost. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with a friend!
35 min
CinemaCon in Twilight
Plus: Richard Rushfield on Mike Richards's minions and their delight in his demise.
31 min
Jake Tapper on Afghanistan War Classic 'The Out...
On this week’s episode Sonny is joined by Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, to talk about his book on Combat Outpost Keating and its adaptation into the defining movie of the Afghanistan War by Rod Lurie. Why did the book expand from coverage of the rare battle that saw two living Medal of Honor winners emerge to a book about the life an ill-advised and ill-placed outpost in the wilds of Afghanistan? How did the troops feel about American attention, or lack thereof, to the war effort? And what was it like seeing the story brought to life for viewers on screens big and small? After listening to the show, make sure to watch the movie (it’s on Netflix now!) and please: read the book. As the child of a military family, I can assure you it’s both heartrending and, occasionally, more than a little infuriating. But it’s a must-read to understand the War in Afghanistan from a soldier’s-level view.
35 min
Zak Penn on 'Free Guy,' Writing Villains, and t...
58 min
Matthew Belloni on the Changing Ways Hollywood ...
This week, Sonny is joined by Matthew Belloni, author of the newsletter “What I’m Hearing” for the exciting new web publication Formerly an entertainment lawyer and editor for The Hollywood Reporter, Matt joins the show today to talk about Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit, the ways in which streaming economics are upending traditional compensation packages, and Disney’s new “socialism.” Are the days of superstar show runners earning hundreds of millions over? And what lies ahead for actors and audiences alike? We discuss all this and more, and if you enjoy this episode, I really cannot recommend Matt’s newsletter enough: I always learn something new when I read it, which is the nicest thing I can say about anyone’s newsletter.
32 min
Clayton Childress Explains How Taste and Status...
On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to Clayton Childress, an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Sociology of University of Toronto who studies taste, decision, and meaning making in the creation, production, and reception of culture. Clayton is on to discuss a recent study he coauthored with Shyon Baumann, Craig M. Rawlings, and Jean-François Nault about the strange ways elite tastes have both grown more inclusive and more exclusive. What does it mean that those with more education say they enjoy every genre (e.g., horror) but only certain films within that genre (e.g., A24’s horror films like Hereditary or The Witch)? And what does that mean for studios trying to figure out what to make—and what to market?
37 min
Ray Subers on Polling Moviegoers
On this episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny talks to Ray Subers, a vice president at NRG, which has helped Hollywood studios with polling about movies for decades. Currently, NRG’s most interesting and informative efforts have to do with polling audiences on their comfort levels with going back to theaters during the age of COVID and its variants. How are audiences feeling right now as case numbers surge? How nervous is Hollywood? Also: If you’ve ever wondered how movie studios figure out the “tracking” numbers—that is, the awareness levels for upcoming movies—that help them decide on release dates and advertising strategies, Ray’s the guy to listen to. It’s a fascinating science with stakes that involve tens of millions of dollars every single week.
34 min
John Mass on the Future of Content
32 min
Ryan Faughnder on How Valuable You Are (to Stre...
This week on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny talks to the Los Angeles Times’s Ryan Faughnder about arr-poo (that is, RPU, or revenue per user) and how such calculations figure into the value of a subscriber, as well as all sorts of other topics. Make sure to subscribe to Ryan’s newsletter (it’s free!) if you’re into the whole “business of Hollywood” thing, which you are since you’re listening to this show. And if you enjoy this episode, share it with your friends! Everyone loves getting a new podcast to listen to.
33 min
Richard Rushfield on the Latest Hollywood News
On this week’s episode we ask a very important question of The Ankler’s Richard Rushfield: Is Vin Diesel a star? Really, what does it mean to be a star these days anyway? How are the streaming wars shaping up? What’s the deal with Universal’s new pay window? And how beloved is Quentin Tarantino? All this and more on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood.
31 min
James White on Restoring Movies for Arrow Films
How does your favorite movie from the 1970s, '80s, or '90s make the jump to Blu-ray and 4K? Listen to find out.
52 min
Summer Reading!
On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch is joined by Bulwark contributor Bill Ryan and Turner Classic Movie writer Greg Ferrara to talk about some of their favorite film books. This episode was inspired in part by a recurring question Sonny gets about books that can help people better understand film or become better film writers.
61 min
James Emanuel Shapiro on Cannes and the Busines...
On this week’s episode, James Emanuel Shapiro returns to the show to talk about the return of Cannes and what it’s like to be on the business side of a film festival. We all know about the great premieres and the fancy parties, but what about the actual business of these festivals, the markets where films are bought and sold? Plus, we’ll talk about Amazon’s purchase of MGM and, at the end, James shares some interesting data about Prime Video and iTunes’s relative place in the transactional VOD market.
36 min
Jonathan Taplin on Working With Dylan, Scorsese...
44 min
Frank Pallotta on the MGM/Amazon Deal, F9 in Ch...
CNN Media Reporter Frank Pallotta returns to the show to talk about a huge week in movie business news. Amazon has acquired MGM (and half of James Bond) for $8.45 billion. Summer movie season has kicked off in China, with the release of F9 and kicks off this weekend in America with A Quiet Place 2: what do new benchmarks for success look like? All this and more on a news-and-analysis packed episode. If you found the episode interesting and informative, please subscribe to Bulwark+ to help keep the show sustainable and share it with a friend! A recommendation from a friend remains the best way to grow a podcast’s audience.
31 min
Eddie Muller on TCM, Film Noir, and the HFPA's ...
This week Sonny is joined by Eddie Muller, the host of TCM’s “Noir Alley” and the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation. We discussed the Foundation’s reliance on the Golden Globes for the funding it procures to help restore long-lost film noirs to something approaching their original condition. We also talked about the world of film restoration more generally and Eddie offered up some picks for those looking to dive into the world of film noir. And make sure to pick up Eddie’s newly revised and expanded edition of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir. I’ve already ordered my copy! And please: If there’s a noir lover in your life—or someone you hope to convert into a noir lover—make sure to share this episode with them. Just click that little button and pass it along; they’ll surely thank you for it.
34 min
Jon Finkel on 1996's sports movies and athletes...
This week Sonny is joined by Jon Finkel, author of 1996: A Biography: Reliving the Legend-Packed, Dynasty-Stacked, Most Iconic Sports Year Ever. This is a movie podcast, not a sports podcast, so I understand if you’re confused. But 1996 was also notable for having some great sports movies (Jerry Maguire, Tin Cup) and some … not-so-great sports movies (The Fan, Space Jam). Plus: Happy Gilmore! We also talked about how athletes perceive their portrayals onscreen and had a quick lightning round about which classic sports flicks are better. Some controversial choices in that segment, I guarantee you; Hoosiers fans should feel forewarned.
32 min
Jesse Nelson of Diabolik DVD Discusses the Bout...
This week Sonny is pleased to be joined by Jesse Nelson, the co-owner of Diabolik DVD and Cauldron Films. Diabolik is one of the best places to pick up boutique Blu-ray discs from outlets like Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, and Shout/Scream Factory, and he had a number of interesting thoughts about the state of the physical media industry. We also talked a bit about his own label, Cauldron Films, which released a wonderful Blu-ray set of the pictured movie: American Rickshaw. If you’re a fan of physical media or have one in your life, make sure to share this episode with them!
40 min
Chris Fenton on China, the Oscars, and the MCU
Chris Fenton, author of Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, & American Business, returns to the show to talk about China’s influence on Hollywood, and vice versa. Why is the Chinese Communist Party censoring news about Chloe Zhao’s historic win on Oscar night? Should Disney be worried about the fact that she’s the director on the forthcoming MCU tentpole, The Eternals? What to make of recent misfires in the Middle Kingdom like Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon? And why did the CCP not really care that Hong Kong got destroyed by Godzilla and King Kong? All this and more on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood! If you enjoy the chat, please hit that button below and share this post with a friend who also loves talking about movies! They’ll thank you later, trust me.
30 min
Nicholas Jarecki on 'Crisis,' Opioids, Releasin...
On this episode, Nicholas Jarecki—the writer and director of the opioid crisis thriller Crisis—talks about the making and casting of Crisis, the evolving international market for feature films, and the difficulties of promoting a movie when one of the actors is undergoing a PR crisis of his own. We also talk a bit about the evolving nature of film criticism, how one researches a project about drugs while tens of thousands are dying from overdoses, and more. If you enjoy the show, please share it with a friend! Podcasts need love too.
50 min
Megan Ganz on 'Mythic Quest' and Comedies in th...
This week Sonny is joined by Megan Ganz, an executive producer and creator of Mythic Quest, AppleTV+’s workplace comedy about life at the studio behind an MMORPG. Megan has worked on a number of great shows, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Community, so it was fun to pick her brain about the differences in production cycles on a network, basic cable, and streaming service, as well as what it’s like to produce a big show like this in the age of Covid. (Spoiler: It’s tricky!) If you aren’t watching Mythic Quest, you should be. And if you know someone who does watch that, or Always Sunny or Community, but doesn’t listen to this podcast for some reason, please share it with them! Hopefully they’ll find it entertaining and informative.
28 min
Richard Rushfield on Scott Rudin, Bad Boss, and...
The show’s first ever guest, Richard Rushfield, returns to the program to discuss all sorts of stuff. Super-Producer Scott Rudin: bad boss, or something worse? What went down with Ray Fisher and Warner Bros.? Are theaters coming back? What’s the industry hoping for in terms of Oscars viewership? All this and more on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood!
40 min
David Thomson on His 'History of Movie Directors'
39 min
Sean O'Connell on the Grassroots Efforts to #Re...
Snyder Cut week at the Bulwark wraps up with Sean O’Connell, author of Release the Snyder Cut: The Crazy True Story Behind the Fight that Saved Zack Snyder’s Justice League. We talk about his new book, the social media campaign that not only secured the release of Zack Snyder’s four-hour version of Justice League but also raised more than half a million dollars for suicide prevention charities, and how the rise of streaming helped ensure this film could be released at all.
44 min
Tom Shone on Christopher Nolan
This week, Sonny is joined by Tom Shone, film critic for the Sunday Times, to talk about his recent book The Nolan Variations: The Movies, Mysteries, and Marvels of Christopher Nolan. The book is a must-own if you’re a fan of Nolan, as Shone spent hours with the director of The Dark Knight trilogy, Memento, and Inception. On this episode we talk about influences on Nolan’s work like Jorge Luis Borges (whose collected fiction is also a must-own for those looking to understand the director), how fatherhood has influenced his work, and the politics of The Dark Knight.
54 min
Mike Malloy on the Business of Blu-ray Supplements
On this week’s episode, Sonny talks to Mike Malloy about the home video landscape, what it’s like to make supplements for specialty Blu-ray purveyors, and the world of tough-guy cinema writ large. Mike began as a film journalist for newspapers, magazines and the occasional book. After the decline of print media, he moved into filmmaking with larger projects like his EUROCRIME! documentary. But with budgets hard to come by, he has lately settled into the groove of producing—and appearing in—bonus content for Blu-Rays. You can find his YouTube channel here and his Instagram account here.
34 min
Scott Feinberg on the Business of Hollywood Awa...
This week Scott Feinberg, the Hollywood Reporter’s awards columnist and host of the excellent podcast Awards Chatter, joins Sonny to talk about the business of awards season. How corrupt are the Golden Globes? What could improve them? And Sonny asks Scott about his absolute favorite part of Oscars season: The Brutally Honest Oscar Voter Ballots! All this and more on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood.
43 min
Abraham Riesman on the Rise (and Fall) of Stan Lee
Joining Sonny on this week’s episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood is Abraham Riesman, the author of the excellent new biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. We discuss the long-running fight for credit between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as well as Lee’s greatest contribution to the world: the character of Stan Lee, a catchphrase-spouting mascot whose ability to connect with fans and create a sense of community helped shape the idea of fandom to this day. For more on Riesman and his book, make sure to check out his website.
46 min
Harold Mintz on the Past, Present, and Future o...
This week on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny is very excited to have the president of CinemaScore, Harold Mintz, on the show. CinemaScore is the fantastically useful company that polls opening weekend moviegoers for their grades on new releases, and it’s a more accurate and unbiased measure of audience opinion than just about any other easily available metric.
30 min
Alan Zilberman on life as a critic during award...
Alan Zilberman, a critic for the Washington City Paper and the Washington Post, joins Sonny Bunch for a very special episode of The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood in which the two discuss life as a part-time film critic during awards season.
36 min
Glenn Kenny on 'Goodfellas,' Martin Scorsese, a...
This week’s guest is Glenn Kenny, the author of the excellent new book Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas. Glenn is is a film critic whose work appears in the New York Times and Roger Ebert dot com. He has also written for The Current, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the New York Daily news, Playboy, Film Comment, and other publications.
63 min
Frank Pallotta on the State of Streaming
On this episode, Sonny talks to CNN’s Frank Pallotta about the state of streaming. What does it mean that the WWE Network is headed to the Peacock? Are HBO Max’s conversion numbers good enough? Why is Disney trying to charge people $30 to rent a cartoon? All this and more on this week’s episode.
35 min
Peter Labuza on Antitrust, Hollywood, and Big Tech
This week Sonny is joined by Peter Labuza to talk about the past, present, and future of antitrust as it relates to Hollywood. In an age of consolidation and technological advance, how will the end of the Paramount Decrees influence what happens in filmmaking? Peter is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California, where he also earned his PhD in Cinema and Media Studies. His research explores the legal, financial, and political history of creative industries.
44 min
Chris McKenna on 'Community' and Writing for TV...
This week on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny is joined by Chris McKenna. Chris was the co-showrunner on NBC’s (and later Yahoo’s) Community, earning an Emmy nomination for his classic episode “Remedial Chaos Theory.” He’s also the co-writer of the most recent series of Spider-Man films, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Lego Batman. On this week’s podcast, he discusses the differences between writing for TV and movies, his winding path to screenwriting success, and what it’s like to work with the great Chevy Chase.
55 min
David C. Lowery on Making Money by Making Music
On this episode of the Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, David C. Lowery — the singer and guitarist for the bands Camper van Beethoven and Cracker — talks to Sonny Bunch about the economics of the music business, the difficulties of making a living as a middle class musician, and why what’s happening in the world of movies may resemble what happened to the music business in the early 2000s. How does TikTok resemble Spotify, and what dangers does it present to the world? Most importantly: How much would it cost Sonny to license the opening riff of “Teen Angst,” the hit song on Cracker’s debut album, “Cracker”? (Spoiler: way too much for Sonny to be able to afford.)
52 min
James Emanuel Shapiro on the Epic WB/HBO Max Br...
On this week’s episode, James Emanuel Shapiro, the COO of Drafthouse Films who started the analytics department at the Alamo Drafthouse and also works as a distribution consultant, talks with Sonny about the epic, amazing, spectacular, disastrous mess that is the decision made by Warner Bros. to release their whole 2021 slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. Will theaters play ball? Does a shrinking window mean Netflix originals might show up on big screens owned by AMC, Regal, and Cinemark? Will anyone want to work with Warners ever again? All this and more will be discussed on this week’s episode!
41 min
The Nelms Brothers on 'Fatman,' Casting Mel Gib...
Sonny talks this week to Ian and Eshom Nelms, the fraternal directorial team behind Fatman, about the circuitous path to making that film, the vagaries of indie economics and budgeting, the clash between critics and audiences on the film, and the possibility of a sequel on the horizon after its surprisingly strong VOD performance. There’s some spoiler-y conversation in the last 10 minutes or so of the show, so you should rent the movie before listening if that sort of thing bothers you!
40 min
Tony Davis Returns! Why Does Your TV Look Bette...
You may remember Tony Davis as the guy who explained to us why popcorn grease is destroying movie theater projectors. (He also had lots of interesting thoughts on 3D and the economics of the theater business, but mostly, judging by responses I received: popcorn grease.) He’s back this week to explain why the home theater set you can build in your home looks about as good as a standard (read: non-IMAX or Dolby) theater. (Whether or not it sounds as good is a separate issue.) And he has a few suggestions for theater owners as to how they could step up their game.
40 min
Alison Macor on screenwriting 'Top Gun' and 'Ba...
Sonny talks to the Austin-based Alison Macor this week about the life and times of Warren Skaaren this week. Skaaren’s battles with the studios and the Writer’s Guild to get proper credit for his work on Top Gun, Batman, Beverly Hills Cop 2, and Beetlejuice are the subject of her excellent book, Rewrite Man. Consider picking it up after listening to this podcast; it’s a quick read and a great view into a professional script doctor’s process.
37 min
Derek Dye on Family Video and saving our video ...
This week Sonny talks to Derek Dye, the Senior Brand Manager for Highland Ventures, which is the parent company of the iconic Family Video brand. The chain is spearheading the #SaveTheVideoStore campaign, which hopes to raise awareness for those remaining stores. Derek and Sonny discuss the difficulties of operating a video store in general, the extra hardships created by a lack of new content coming from Hollywood, and a good way to save a few bucks while you build up your home video library. Plus: Stranger Things, which will feature the store in their forthcoming season!
25 min
Alyssa Rosenberg and Peter Suderman on post-Tru...
This week, Sonny talks to Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post) and Peter Suderman (Reason Magazine), his old friends from Across the Movie Aisle, about the world of movies and movie writing post-Trump. Is Christopher Nolan right that Hollywood studios should be looking to foreign box office dollars? Does Netflix have buyer's remorse about their mega-deals with super-producers? And now that The Trump Show is coming to a close, will the world of cultural writing be able to focus a bit more on, you know, the culture?
48 min
Shannon Moore on Movie PR in the Age of COVID
This week on the show, Sonny talks to Shannon Moore, the Director of Field Marketing at Allied Global Marketing’s Washington, DC office. Sonny’s been a working film critic for 15 years or so, and the first question he always gets—after “What’s your favorite movie?” which he refuses to answer on general principle—is “How do you see the movies? Do you, like, get a private screening?” So he decided to have Shannon on to talk about this and other facets of marketing movies.
38 min
Natalie Metzger on producing indie films in the...
Sonny is joined today by Natalie Metzger, VP of development and production at Vanishing Angle. She is a Spirit Award nominated producer whose credits include GREENER GRASS, THUNDER ROAD, THE ROBBERY, and THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW.
37 min
Mark Graham on How to Decide What to Watch
This week, Sonny is joined by Mark Graham, the Editor-in-Chief of Decider, a website dedicated to helping solve one of society's most pressing and important issues: What movies and shows should I watch? In this episode we talk about how Mark and his team decide what to cover for Decider and why, looking at how non-traditional audience metrics help determine what’s worth writing about. Plus! Mark offers up some tips for would-be freelancers on getting your work published.
31 min
Phil Contrino on movie theaters and cinema safety
Sonny is joined this week by Phil Contrino, the Director of Media and Research for the National Association of Theatre Owners. Topics of discussion include the state of the movie theater business (spoiler: it’s kind of dire at the moment, given news that Regal’s U.S. screens are shuttering again), the relative safety of moviegoing as opposed to dining out or attending church (spoiler: it’s much safer!), and what role the government might play in helping ensure theaters don’t go out of business.
31 min
Zack Stentz on Camp Cretaceous, Rim of the Worl...
This week, Sonny talks to Zack Stentz (“X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) about his work with Netflix on the film “Rim of the World” and the hit new show, “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.” What’s it like pitching the service that has everything? How is the world of TV evolving as different streaming services aim for different markets? And how can filmmakers working with kids protect them from being exploited?
34 min
The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood With Chris Yogerst
This week, on the Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny talks to Chris Yogerst about his new book, “Hollywood Hates Hitler: Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures.” Chris is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the department of Arts & Humanities. He has written for the Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter, and most frequently at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
35 min
The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood with Chris Fenton
This week, Sonny talks to “Feeding the Dragon” author Chris Fenton. For seventeen years, Fenton served as president of DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group and GM of DMG North America, internationally orchestrating the creative and business activities of DMG—a multi-billion dollar global media company headquartered in Beijing. He is currently CEO of Media Capital Technologies and a Trustee of the US-Asia Institute.
48 min