Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ashton Kutcher interviewed by Ryan Seacrest; The Guardian; The Butterfly Effect

Ashton Kutcher has always been one of the “quickest on his feet” celebrities when doing interviews, and the session with Ryan Seacrest subbing for Larry King on CNN Sept 28, 2006 proved to be no exception. Yeah, he bragged than his favorite coined work, “punked” had made the dictionary. It means, “having put something over on somebody.”
I can remember sessions with Jay Leno, where every sentence started with “hypothetically…”

Kutcher tells his family story, and he might well have become a medical researcher or a physician. His fraternal twin brother had a heart transplant because of viral cardiomyopathy, probably caused by the common Coxsackie B enterovirus that for most people is harmless but that occasionally causes catastrophic organ damage to heart, liver, brain, or pancreas (leading to Type 1 diabetes). There is still no vaccine (why is not clear); people normally become immune or resistant naturally through repeated mild infection, but occasionally it causes severe autoimmune disease. There are various accounts, such as here

Kutcher talked about his production company, Katalyst Films. I checked that as a URL and found a website under construction. A good site with info is TimeWarner’s: Ashton made an interesting comment, the center of this blog review, that the Internet was changing the way people promote their own work. He said that the right thing to do is to “promote your work” rather than “promote yourself.” Since I do that, I hope he finds this blog. Although he did not say so specifically, his comment could be partially motivated by all the controversy over social networking sites and personal blogs, and the way employers are checking them now. (Kids like "self-promotion") and the observation (and concerns) would apply also to Youtube (and similar) videos.

Actually, however, one’s own personal story, whatever it is, has a large effect on a person’s ideas and the credibility of what one says in one’s work. That’s why you have to use your own story to enter the market, however controversial, and even if that can affect other people. It’s interesting to ponder the meaning of the word (spelled with a K) naming his company, since in chemistry it is a substance that facilitates a reaction.

If you read the AOL story about Katalyst, it appears that a lot of the work is for the web, especially AOL. (Katalyst does have a filmography of several major features, including the sci-fi The Butterfly Effect, from New Line, 2004. At least four films are in production.) And even though it appears that he works mainly with major studios, the direction of filmmaking seems to be moving more from the control of studios, to independent partnerships with financing from hedge funds. Technology, DVD’s, broadband, etc are the major reason, and it is right to be concerned about all of the legal controversies (piracy, copyright, the DMCA, fair use) because they can affect both freedom and profitability in different ways.

(Note: IMDB shows a franchise sequel "The Butterfly Effect 2" from New Line Cinema, 2006, dir. John R. Leonetti. Kutcher does not appear to be involved with the film, according to IMDB, and user comments seem to be unfavorable, compared to the original film. The DVD is appearing in Oct. 2006.)

Of course, the motivation for Kutcher’s interview was the new film from Touchstone, The Guardian (dir. Andrew Davis), where Ashton plays a rescue swimmer in training, with Kevin Costner playing the “drill instructor.” Both characters have demons in their past to exorcise or to atone for. A military career in saving lives (rather than combat, as with the Navy) is the character’s way to make amends. But he will have to learn that he cannot save everybody. And so much of our moral debate in today’s culture wars is about that: trying to save everybody, when we can’t and remain free. The movie has a Disney-like, but straightforward, if long, story, and a gripping conclusion. To be in a movie about swimming, actors have to go through some transformations, to be sure.

There is a brief story about Ashton Kutcher in the Sept. 2006 issue of Details ("Ashton Kutcher may just be the best husband in the world") motivated in part by his marriage to Demi Moore. (The story,by Abdrew Goldman, with photo by Tom Munro, is hard to find, it starts on p. 282, way to the back.) There is a handsome photo on the cover. Details has a reputation among reporters as "metrosexual hetero" but on p. 160 of this issue, there is a story on heterophobia. ("Straight me are sort of ... clueless.") If this magazine is straight, it is interesting that the fashion photos emphasize the "beauty" of the male, very much as that occurs in the avian world (where the males have the brightly colored plummage, with some species).

The picture comes from Boca Raton, FL, not likely to need a rescue swimmer—but exposed to hurricanes.

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